Honour for Island crofter

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Mr Neil Macleod, who lives in Stornoway but was born and brought up in village of Garyvard, South Lochs was presented with the British Empire Medal at a social event in Ravenspoint Centre on Friday, November 20th.

Mr Macleod, who was awarded the BEM in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List earlier this year, for services to crofting and the community in the Western Isles, was presented with his medal by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant in the Western Isles, Mr Alexander Matheson OBE (pictured).

Family members, relatives, ex colleagues and friends gathered to hear the Lord-Lieutenant pay tribute to Neil’s commitment and dedication to the crofting and the community for well over thirty years.

On congratulating Mr Macleod on his award he also referred to the unwavering support of his wife Anne-Chris over the years and said that the community owed them a hugh debt of gratitude.

An engineer to trade, Mr Macleod in partnership ran a successful Engineering business in Stornoway for thirty eight years.

Since retiring from his business in 2006 he trained as a Harris Tweed weaver, continues to weave and has served as Chairperson of the Harris Tweed Weavers’ Association and has seen many benefits accrue to weavers.

He has been an Assessor with the Crofting Commission for the South Lochs area of Lewis for many years and is a former Chairperson of the Scottish Crofting Federation. He has been at the forefront of initiatives which encourages young crofters to enter the industry and was a founder member of the Lewis & Harris Rural Training Group.

He was also involved in the setting up of the Lewis & Harris Sheep Producers’ Association, which he chaired for a number of years as well as the Lewis Crofters’ Cooperative and was a key player in ensuring that the Auction Mart at Stenish was re-established to provide local producers with an invaluable facility on the island.

He is a Director of Lewis Crofters as well as sitting on three Quality Meat Scottish Committees. In his earlier days Neil was a founder member of the Stornoway Running & Athletics Club and is a qualified Sports Coach.

Accepting the award Mr Macleod thanked the Lord-Lieutenant and said: “This is a momentous occasion for me to have been considered worthy of this prestigious award.

“The reason for the venue tonight is that this building, now known as Ravenspoint, was my first school many years ago.

“Another memory that ties me to this building is the organisation Co Chomunn na Pairc which successfully runs this enterprise today.

“During the period when it changed direction I was invited to chair the organisation. Today we have the “proverbial phoenix from the ashes” - this was not done without much help from innumerable people and agencies who all contributed to make this place what it is today.

“My recognition has to be shared as I was only articulating the aspirations of many. I hope I have lived up to your expectations”.

A meal was provided for all present and an enjoyable evening was had by all.