President hails ‘nice happening’ as Lifeboat receives £330,000

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Leverburgh RNLI branch Honorary President Hamish Taylor has spoken of his shock and gratitude after the branch were left more than £330,000 by a woman with island connections.

Mary Aida (Maida) MacLeod MacAskill of Edinburgh left the massive donation of £335,377 to the Leverburgh RNLI branch when she passed in September 2015.

Although Ms MacAskill spent her life in Edinburgh she had strong island links where locally she would have been known as Màiri Nèill Iain Bhàin Nèill Gobha, of Berneray.

Hamish Taylor said: “It is a nice happening and generosity like this really perks you up.

“We are very, very grateful she even thought of us. It was afterwards we conducted some research into her links to the island.

“It came as a complete surprise to us all and initially we thought there must be some mistake.

“We learned there was a family tragedy in 1900 where three or possibly four people were lost.”

This legacy was left to the RNLI for use on the west coast of Scotland, and on consultation by RNLI (Scotland), Ms. MacAskill’s executors kindly agreed that it be used for on-shore work at the Leverburgh station. 

It is locally known that Ms. MacAskill’s grandfather, Iain Bàn, her grand-uncle, Iain Òg and one or possibly two of their nephews were lost in a boat tragedy between Lochmaddy and Berneray in 1900.

It appears that knowledge of this accident was influential in the family’s decision on the bequest allocation. 

Leverburgh Lifeboat station is already well into an appeal process to raise £60,000 towards the cost of a fixed pontoon facility, which, once built, will allow safer crew access to the Lifeboat.

This bequest is a very generous sum, which will no doubt be extremely useful in the continuing development of the station in the future.

Leverburgh RNLI Branch has been in direct contact with Ms. MacAskill’s executors to express its deep appreciation of their thoughtful generosity.

Hamish Taylor added: “Whilst the local Lifeboat station is located at Leverburgh, the communities of Berneray and North Uist have taken ownership of the lifeboat in a very supportive way.

“And this legacy, from a family whose roots are embedded in Berneray is further tangible evidence of that generosity.”