The challenges of 2020-21 were acknowledged when Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn (UOG) were delighted to welcome a number of members and guests to its Annual General Meeting on the evening of Tuesday November 30 at the new UOG Business Centre, South Galson and online.
Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn is the community land trust responsible for managing the Galson Estate, Isle of Lewis, on the community’s behalf. Galson Estate has been in community ownership since 2007. (For more information, see www.galsontrust.com)
Opening proceedings, Chairperson Agnes Rennie gave a thorough report of the activities of the Trust. Listing efforts such as the Trust’s house numbering scheme and the prescription and crofting supply deliveries throughout the pandemic, Agnes thanked both staff and the many volunteers involved in providing these services.
Difficulties associated with not only the pandemic but also the failure of the SSE subsea cable were also acknowledged. Like many other community groups in the Outer Hebrides, this cable failure handed a devastating blow as it prevented wind turbines from generating power, the three turbines at Ballantrushal included.
With the cable thankfully replaced in September 2021 and the turbines now generating once more, there was also the announcement that the UOG Community Investment Fund will be reviewed, with the aim of reopening the Fund in the spring.
After the financial report was approved, appointments and resignations of directors were announced. Alasdair Smith resigned as a Director of the Board, and thanks were given for his hard work over the years. Agnes Rennie was reappointed.
Neil Mackinnon, Development Manager, and Christine Amos, Operations Manager (both of UOG) gave a round-up of staff activities and projects over the course of the year, including the construction of the replacement Business Centre in South Galson, the success of community projects such as the school-holiday programme Plòigh, and staff changes over the course of the year.
Thanks were also given to former Chief Executive Lisa Maclean for her years of service; recruitment is ongoing for a replacement.
Ending the evening was guest speaker Magnus Davidson. Magnus, a director of Community Land Scotland and board member of both Thurso Community Development Trust and Caithness Broch Project, has become an important advocate for the cause of strengthening Scotland’s most rural and fragile communities.
Many who are following the debates on community regeneration, land use, repopulation and the renewable energy sector in the Highlands and Islands will be familiar with him. A thought-provoking talk was given by Magnus, followed by a lively and interesting subsequent discussion from members of the physical and virtual audience.
In closing, Agnes Rennie invited any eligible person to consider becoming a member of Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn. If you are interested in joining, please contact us using the details seen below.
The business centre in South Galson is also open to the public from 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday.
- Picture caption: Attendees at the AGM listen to guest speaker Magnus Davidson.