District News, February 5 2021

Argyll and Bute Council leader Robin Currie has welcomed news of the funding.

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South Islay Development secures £746,223 funding boost

South Islay Development (SID) has successfully secured a £746,223 grant from the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Fund towards its £1.36 million project to redevelop Port Ellen playing fields.

The project plans to breathe new life into the much-loved community space by replacing the old dilapidated pavilion building with a new-build community hub encompassing a café, multi-use community function rooms, business/community storage space as well as office space for SID and other organisations.

New parking and an access road are part of the plan as is the relocation of the current play park to nearby the new hub.

The hub will provide a much-needed community facility for the south of Islay, and the island as a whole.

Port Ellen has lost a number of its community facilities in recent times. A new-build, fit-for-purpose hub will be used as a meeting place, a thriving place for all ages, groups and clubs to come together in a stunning environment.

SID believes that a community hub will play a pivotal role in the area’s long-term recovery from the pandemic, joining the dots between people that require support – connecting them to a range of services to promote individual and community wellbeing.

SID already has £250,000 secured in match funding from Glenmorangie, the owners of the nearby Ardbeg Distillery. This existing commitment demonstrates the strong private sector partnerships in place and their support for the island’s communities.

Hamish Torrie, CSR director from the Glenmorangie Company, said: ‘We, the Glenmorangie Company, have been working for many years on the development of this project with SID and the South Islay community.

‘We are delighted that SID has secured the funding which will, at last, enable the playing fields project to move to the next stage of its development. The community hub will be vital in sustaining the fabric of south Islay for the future.’

SID now needs to secure a further £350,000 in match funding to reach its target to deliver the full project. Part of this will be secured through the launch of a community shares initiative within the coming weeks.

This project has been in development for a number of years and is anxiously awaited by the community which has shaped it over the years.

Local development officer Alyson MacGillivray said: ‘SID and the community of South Islay have been on a long journey to get to this point. We are so excited to share this very exciting news with our community, particularly after the challenging 12 months we have all endured – some positive news is just what the community needs at this time.’

SID’s chairman, John Findlay, said: ‘This is a fantastic project that will benefit not only South Islay but the whole of the island. It will give the community a real boost particularly during these challenging times.

‘I would like to take this opportunity to thank the SID staff: Alyson MacGillivray, local development officer; Bonnie Wood, project manager; and Fiona Aitchison, finance and admin officer, for all their hard work on this project and in securing substantial government funding.

‘My thanks also go to the SID board of directors who, through their voluntary roles, have supported the staff every step of the way.’

Robin Currie, leader of Argyll and Bute Council and councillor for the Kintyre and the Islands ward, said: ‘This is tremendous news for Port Ellen and indeed Islay as a whole. This will be a wonderful and much-needed facility for the island and my thanks to SID for all its hard work thus far.’

Fellow Kintyre and the Islands councillor Anne Horn added: ‘It is fantastic news that SID has been successful in securing a grant from the Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Fund to enable the long-awaited development of the pavilion into a community hub.

‘This will be a fantastic asset for Port Ellen and for the whole island of Islay. Very well done to everyone for their hard work seeing this plan come to fruition.’

South Islay Development (SID) has been involved in the development of Port Ellen and its surrounding area since 2011.

The organisation was originally established to help address some of the long-term employment and poverty issues in the area and has seen significant success during its time in operation.

A range of capital and revenue projects has been undertaken including development of the only filling station in the area, new motorhome pitches and the harbour pontoons and office in conjunction with partners.


Organisers announce Fèis Ìle 2021 cancellation

Fèis Ìle, a week-long celebration of Scotland’s most distillery-packed island with whisky, music, dancing and more, has had to be cancelled for the second year running due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Organisers had their fingers crossed that it would be possible to hold the 2021 event between May 28 and June 5, but that has proved impossible.

In a statement, they said: ‘With deep regret we announce that this year’s festival is cancelled.

‘Keeping everyone safe is our top priority. Even if travel to Islay is allowed, the ceilidhs, tastings and large events that make the fèis what it is, will not be able to take place.

‘We also need to allow for the fact that people need to be able to make their plans to travel and stay.’

The dates for the 2022 festival are from Friday May 27 to Saturday June 4 and, regarding those who already hold tickets, fèis organisers confirmed they will ‘be in touch soon about refunds, or transferring to 2022’.

The statement concluded: ‘Islay and its businesses would love to welcome you back when restrictions allow. Slàinte mhath.’