Pairc community celebrates crossing the finish line

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A community on South-East Lewis held a celebration event on Saturday to mark their local estate coming into community ownership.

Pairc Trust had been attempting to acquire the local Pairc estate since 2003 in order to bring it into community ownership.

Having finally completed the purchase in December 2015 the group are now formally celebrating, marking the occasion with an event for the local community whilst acknowledging everyone who made the acquisition possible.

Purchased for £500,000 the estate covers an area of 28,000 acres, boasting an extensive coastline and incorporating 11 crofting townships. Pairc Trust themselves raised £300,000 towards the cost of the purchase.

During the lengthy acquisition process, Pairc Trust received ongoing support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

The estate purchase was supported with a grant from the Scottish Land Fund, a Scottish Government programme that is delivered in partnership by HIE and BIG Lottery Fund Scotland.

Speaking at the event Angus McDowall, chairman of the Pairc Trust, said: “Pairc Trust are delighted to take ownership of the Pairc estate on behalf of our community.

“Today’s event to celebrate the purchase of the estate brings the long struggle for ownership to a close, and that struggle is now starting to fade into a distant memory.

“Our main focus is now to move forward and develop the estate for the benefit of the Pairc community.

“We encourage the community to contact our new development team of Jen Ellis and Sandra Alston with ideas on how to develop the estate.

“The purchase would not have been possible without the great assistance of many organisations, individuals, and most importantly the continued backing of the Pairc Community. Pairc Trust is thankful for this support. “

Sandra Holmes, community assets sector lead commented: “The buyout celebrations mark the culmination of an extraordinary effort by the people of Pairc.

“The land, together with the talent and commitment of local people, will enable the community to determine their own future, and we congratulate them on this hard-won success.

“The path to community ownership requires vision, resolve and sustained effort - none more so that in Pairc.

“HIE has actively supported the work of the Pairc Trust for many years and we look forward to continuing to working with them as they turn their efforts to managing and developing the estate for the benefit of present and future generations.”

With the estate now firmly in the hands of the community, Pairc Trust are now looking at how they develop the area for the benefit of local people.

The group are holding a number of engagement events which all members of the community are invited to attend.

More information of these events can be found on Pairc Trust’s website: here