Chairman's Report - AGM 2015

Annual General Meeting 2015

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.

T. Edgar our Seanchas editor and Facebook manager resigned in September, having moved off the island.  We miss his expertise, but we’re grateful to Ewen Maclean for agreeing to manage our popular Facebook.  We still have not got an editor for Seanchas.  This must be resolved tonight.  The committee have had a busy time with preparation, training, public meetings etc and the leaders of our three main projects have had a particularly demanding year.  We also dealt with many enquiries about the village history and we supplied the BBC and others with images and material for their various projects.  We also welcomed visitors to the Comann Eachdraidh.  With funding from TCDL Ewen Maclean is to back up our records onto hard drives.  We held Social Evenings and the evening on 10th October with guest speakers S. Matheson and R. Doig was particularly successful.  The display of WW1 memorabilia and class photographs set up for that evening was kept open to the public for a further week. Other public events included Display on Tolsta Shielings 22–27 October; Hebrides People website Presentation by Bill Lawson and Alex Tearse on 10th November 2014; Commemorative Service on 4th August 2014; Cathie Mary gave a talk to the children in Tolsta School in May and afterwards met up with myself and the schoolchildren at the local War Memorial where, after discussion, poppy seeds were sown.  We also had a highly successful mainland trip in June organised by Cathie Mary in connection with the project on WW1.

Projects

 

Hebridean Connections

 

The Hebridean Connection Project aims to build a network of Comann Eachdraidh throughout the Hebrides.  As recorded at the last AGM the Tolsta Brother’s Keeper Records were transferred into the new Hebridean Connections database.  Since then we have edited these records and added all the crofts in the village.  The new Hebridean Connections website was launched in Stornoway Town Hall on 30th September 2014.  The website address is www.hebrideanconnections.com   None of our records are available online yet as they require to be validated before publication on the site.  Our two busy representatives, Anna Mackenzie and Donald Macdonald are doing sterling work but we are seeking to recruit more volunteers.  Full training will be given by Hebridean Connections and volunteers will then be able to work from home provided they have internet connection.

Heritage Sites North Tolsta

 

This project received Heritage Lottery Funds of £6,700.  The project was much more demanding than we had anticipated and so, with time running out, we applied successfully for an extension of the completion date to 31st December 2014.  We received training in interview techniques, GPS and map reading, research and Excel spreadsheets.  Several interviews were conducted and the research carried out using documents and oral recordings was completed.  Several teenagers interested in the project visited the shieling sites and photographed the ruins and recorded the GPS readings.  We then identified the shielings and, using Excel spread sheets, we placed their position on maps together with local place names.  When we submitted our end of grant report on 12th December 2014 we had underspent and £834 of the grant had not been used.  The grant officer wrote back ‘I have now read through the report and must say I was most impressed by what the project has already achieved’  He encouraged us to use the extra money to prepare an A0 hard copy map of the shielings and to produce a booklet of our findings.  We proceeded and the map and booklet should be available soon.

Effects of WW1 on the Village of North Tolsta

 

Cathie Mary has had a very busy time preparing and organising this project in a highly professional and successful way.  I have already mentioned several meetings she organised and she has produced and researched meticulously the history of Tolsta Servicemen in WW1.  The noticeboard at the post Office will display a poppy and cross commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of each of the fallen heroes and Murdo Morrison, the Anchorage, is making a display cabinet so that these commemorative poppies and crosses can be on permanent display in the village hall.  Cathie Mary is also liaising with web designers as they work on the new website for this WW1 project.  The website should be live in the autumn.  Kenny Maciver (28) is also producing maps for both these projects and I wish to thank him for his diligence.  The WW1 project also received Heritage Lottery Funds.

New Build

 

The committee has identified allotment 83b as the most suitable site for the proposed new Comann Eachdraidh building.  The present tenant Mr I. Macleod and the Stornoway Trust have agreed to transfer the allotment to the Historical Society.  After we purchase the site (for title deeds) we would have land for purpose built premises for the CE as well as a café.  This is a much needed facility in the community.  After we have finalised this we will arrange a meeting with the local councillors, the Community Council, TCDL and our MP and MSP to discuss the project as we would like the whole community to become involved.

 

Tolsta Head Walk

 

Mick Blunt, John Muir Trust, regularly takes groups of walkers round Tolsta Head and he has kindly offered to put a few small board walks over some boggy sections of the Tolsta Head Path.  He will supply the money, the material and the volunteers to complete this.  The Grazing Committee have agreed for these boards.

Thanks again for your help and support.  The Comann Eachdraidh work can be demanding but it can also be rewarding.  Having an interest in people is an important part of the work and when people with Tolsta connections (however distant the connection) make contact with us, I, like other members of our committee, get a lot of satisfaction from working out the connection! 

A lot of work has been done but there is still plenty to do.

Donald Murray chairman