Chairman's Report - AGM 2013

Category: Publications

Annual General Meeting 20th February 2013

Chairman’s Report  
Welcome to the AGM and thanks to the committee and to all those who helped with the work of the Comann Eachdraidh throughout the year.

In March 2012 the committee accepted an estimate from to upgrade our website  This was for downloading and installing Joomla on the web space; full build and redesign of the site; one training session for users; populating pages with existing content; updating existing content as required.  Total cost £1,500.
We are now able to add new material to the site.  Our email is still This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Hebridean Connections
As reported at the AGM 2012 there had been several setbacks with the progression of this ambitious project. These difficulties have now been resolved and funding of £300,000 over 2.25 years has been secured.  Details of this project can be viewed at the Comann Eachdraidh office.  The project will be managed on behalf of Hebridean Connections by the Islands Book Trust.
Discussions have taken place between the Caidreachas and Hebridean Connections about developing a network of local heritage organisations throughout the Outer Hebrides.  This would be very useful.
At the last Caidreachas meeting Catriona West, Heritage Manager, gave an update on the Lews Castle Project.  She reported that text and images for the new galleries were under preparation with the opening still planned for 2014.

Digital Mapping
A start has been made on this project, where the place names in the Tolsta villages and common lands of Tolsta will be noted with G.P.S. coordinates and photographs of the various sites added.  We also wish to record any village incidents associated with these places.  This again is an ambitious project but I hope a younger group will help us oldies in progressing this.  This project will be closely linked with Hebridean Connections mentioned above.  This project could qualify for Heritage Lottery Funding.

Cladach Road
Repairs to the Cladach Road was part of our main project in 2011-12.  The source of water ingress of this road has now been identified and resolved.  The road channels will have to be cleaned and some minor repairs carried out.  I have asked for estimates and I hope the Grazings Committee will help towards the cost of maintaining this village asset, which is well used by Tolstonians. 
The 2011-12 Project was mainly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and representatives of the Comann Eachdraidh attended a ‘Meet the Funders’ day in Barvas on 22nd May 2012.  It is worth noting that 130 community projects in the island have received Lottery Funding and since then Tolsta has done well out of Lottery funding.

After twelve years of typesetting Seanchas Alastair Maciver, 28 North Tolsta decided to step down.  Alastair always produced professional work at a modest cost, but after forty-five years in this line of work, in Stornoway and at home, he felt it was time for a break.  Alasdair wrote, ‘With Rhoda’s input and no obvious meddling from any quarter, Seanchas was always a painless process’.  Thank you Alasdair for helping us over these years.
Catriona Maciver (18) has typeset the last three Seanchas and we thank her for her work.
 I would like a subcommittee to be set up tonight to produce future editions of what is a very popular magazine for Tolstonians.
Sadly several of our subscribers passed away during the past year and we extend our sympathy to those touched by their passing.

Cemetery Lairs
Work on the Cemetery Lairs Records is ongoing. Anna Mackenzie has done a considerable amount of work on this project to date.  She is now getting help from her cousin Karen Roach and, with possible help from the Cemetery Trust, records may be produced in the coming year. 
Meetings and Visits
The committee members have had several meetings and training sessions throughout the year.
The village Fun Day was held on Saturday 11th August 2012 and the Comann Eachdraidh Office was open to visitors throughout the day.  Many visited the office and enjoyed browsing through our records.  We have had visitors throughout the year and I particularly enjoyed a visit last week from the pupils of P.5, 6 and 7 with their teacher Jennifer Kearns.  It is important that the school children are aware of the village history.  In September 2012 the committee enjoyed a fact-finding visit to South Lochs.
A steady stream of interesting enquiries some by telephone, others by letter or email keep our work varied and worth while and this is especially true after every edition of Seanchas.  Already we have had several enquiries and some Feedback following the Spring 2013 edition.
We did not have any Social Evenings during the past year and hopefully we’ll get suggestions tonight for Social Evenings for the coming year.
Thanks again to all those who contributed to another successful year at the Comann Eachdraidh.      
                                                                                          Donald Murray, chairman.

Update of the Village Population
It is encouraging to see from the statistics that some of the houses that were unoccupied last year are now occupied and the same is true of some of the holiday homes, but the greatest change is in the increase in the number of school age children.  Tolsta Primary School has benefitted from this increase and the School Roll is now a healthy 51 and there are nine in the Nursery.

AGM 2013  AGM 2012  AGM 2011  AGM 2010  AGM 2009  AGM 2008  AGM 2007  AGM 2006  AGM 2005 
Pre school children 23 27 22 22 31 33 28 32 30
School age children 91 81 75 77 76 75 70 70 64
Age: 16 -18 4 5 12 6 8 6 9 11 11
Age: 18 - 59 225 224 213 215 237 250 243 243 244
Over 60s 180 169 176 175 167 165 158 147 140
TOTAL    523 506 498 495 519 529 508 503 489
Births in 12 month period


3 3 1 4 6 0 7 4
Deaths in 12 month period 4 10 7 2 6 6 2 1 7
Holiday homes 14 17 15 15 13 12 15 14 16
Unoccupied houses 12 15 14 10 8 4 7 6 5