Chairman's report to AGM 2007

Chairman's report to AGM 2007 - February 26, 2007

Welcome to the AGM and thanks to the committee for their work throughout the year. Thanks also to all our members and friends for their continued support.


• Clachan Crìche
This book of our selection of Tolsta Bàrdachd was launched on Friday 24 th February 2006 in the Community Hall. Readers and singers, Margaret Hulse, Seonaidh Macmillan and Mary Smith, entertained the audience with poems from the publication. The book was given an excellent write-up in the local papers by Mr Murdo Macleod, retired Gaelic Inspector for Schools. In December last year Radio nan Gaidheal broadcast a half hour programme, entitled Clachan Crìche , featuring songs from the book and interviews with villagers, who had connections with some of the bàrds . The programme was produced by Catriona Murray (Macleod). The large number of books sold was an indication of how well the book was received and the Comann Eachdraidh is grateful to the public for their support and to CNAG for their financial support. A lot of hard work by committee members went into this publication.

• Làithean an Iasgaich
This book, which also sold well, was compiled by the North Tolsta Young Historians, from the Comann Eachdraidh records and from interviews with villagers. The book contains extensive information of fishing activities in Tolsta during the last century. All the registered boats from c.1890 with their skippers are listed.

• Tolsta Walks
The path at Abhainn Lìdh has been upgraded, giving easier access to the Tràigh Mhòr and to the picnic tables. The walk round Tolsta Head is now clearly marked with way markers and sign posts. Susan Rabe from CNES gave us excellent support and the Western Isles Country Access Programme financed the project. We still have to produce a pamphlet with information for walkers. The cliff scenery in the Ard is spectacular.

• Genealogy Research and Digitising and Archiving of Comann Eachdraidh Material
The financial assistance for this project is as follows:-

CNES (Community Initiated Projects Grant)   £1,700
Community Economic Development   £4,400
Western Isles Enterprise   £2,700
Comann Eachdraidh Tholastaidh   £1,000
TOTAL   £9,800

We have contracted Anna Munro, Point to digitise the Croft History records, Anna Mackenzie, Tolsta to scan and digitise our photographs and committee members are busy with voluntary work, researching and updating our records. All of this work is going towards the preparation of our material for the larger Hebridean Connections Project. Sarah Egan from Hebridean Connections visited the Comann Eachdraidh last week and was delighted with our progress to date. We are definitely on course to be the next Comann Eachdraidh to join Hebridean Connections, once their funding is finalised later this year. Mark Elliot from Museum nan Eilean has agreed to come down to Tolsta to give advice on archiving.

Other Items

• Enquiries
We continue to meet with visitors in the CE room and we are always happy to do so. We answer their enquiries as best we can and also the numerous enquiries by email.

• Seanchas
We depend on Seanchas and private donations for our running costs. We print 400 copies of Seanchas each quarter and they sell. We now have 100 subscribers and maybe we should consider increasing the number of copies to420, but please, please can we have some contributions? We are grateful for all the donations received and a special thanks to the Yonge family in London , who donated the proceeds of the collection at their mother's funeral in London to the CE.

• Social Evening
We joined forces with the Golden Oldies and hosted a well attended Social Evening in the Community Hall on 13 th September2006. Calum Ferguson was the guest speaker and the topic was the Iolaire – a reminder of how Tolsta had suffered on that fateful night.

• An Caidreachas Eachdraidh
Rita and I attended the Caidreachas meetings. Comann Eachdraidh Tholastaidh has 350 members and we received a per capita grant of £700 this year.

• Hebridean Connections
Angus Murray and A.A. Smith attended meetings in CNES. Sarah Egan indicated at her last meeting with us that she would have some working meetings soon to put the financial package for Hebridean Connections together and she would appreciate our input.

• Links and Skills Training
We took part in the evaluation of the Links Project. There is a feeling amongst Comainn Eachdraidh that progress, inimplementing the findings of the Links Project, is slow e.g. no Development Officer has been appointed. The Skills Training Courses are useful and have come about as a result of the Links Project. Anna Mackenzie, Anna Munro and Rhoda Murray have attended some of these.

• Bill Lawson Publications
Bill Lawson has made a start on producing ‘A Croft History of Tolsta'. He will be working with the CE and we wish him wellwith this publication.

• Office Facelift
Towards the end of last year we had the CE room painted. The room looks fresher and the new pin-boarding allows us to display more of our photos. We have also displayed a profile of the mainland hills, as seen from Tolsta, produced for us by Donald Maciver of 5 North Tolsta. Donald has named all the mountains visible from his croft on a fine day.

3. Population Statistics for Tolsta (including New Tolsta, North Tolsta and Glen Tolsta)

We updated the database again this year and the trend shows a slow, steady rise in overall population. The increase this year is due to the rise in the number of ‘over 60s'. The fact that there were no births this year is disappointing.

 AGM 2007  AGM 2006  AGM 2005  AGM 2004
Pre school children    28   32   30   32
School age children    70   70   64   65
Age: 16-18   9   11   11   7
Age: 18-59   243   243   244   242
Over 60s   158   147   140   140
TOTAL   508   503   489   486
Births (in 12 month period)    0   7   4   7
Deaths (in 12 month period)    2   1   7   11
Holiday homes   15   14   16   13
Unoccupied houses   7   6   5   5

Thanks again to all those who contributed to a successful year at the Comann Eachdraidh.

Donald Murray, chairman.