Island community secures funds to enable former school purchase
The Isle of Kerrera Development Trust has been awarded £119,167 from the Scottish Land Fund which will enable them to buy the island’s former school from Argyll and Bute Council and turn it into a much-needed community hub, as well as employ a part time project worker for a year.
The Isle of Kerrera is a rugged wee gem known for its stunning landscape, abundant wildlife and the striking ruin of Gylen Castle, attractions which bring 15,000 visitors a year over on the short ferry ride from Oban.
The beautiful island is also home to a small but vibrant full-time community of 64, but despite the thriving community and visitor numbers, it has no public facilities of any kind – shop, pub or village hall -and the school closed its doors to pupils in 1999.
Residents have long held an ambition to bring the former school building back into community use.
For islanders, accessing social, recreational or learning opportunities on the mainland can be tricky with the regular ferry service ending at 6pm, and there’s no place on the island where people can get together to discuss the issues that affect them, or just socialise. With a booming population of sixteen children and some residents heading into retirement, the community feels a place to meet is more important than ever.
Chair of the Isle of Kerrera Development Trust, Martin Shields, said: “We are absolutely over the moon. Taking the school into community ownership will be a genuine game changer for our island community and provide us with a place to gather for the first time in living memory.
“I’d like to thank our local councillors and the Lorn Islands Partnership for supporting our bid to purchase the school and we look forward to working in partnership with the Counciland other local organisations. We can’t wait to get the building back into use - now the hard work of fundraising for the renovation begins.”
Councillor Robertson, on behalf of the Oban Lorn and Isles Area Committee, said: “We are delighted that a recent Argyll & Bute Council meeting, it was agreed to sell the former Kerrera school building to the Isle of Kerrera Development Trust. This community ownership project is great news for all concerned.”
Sebastian Tombs, chair of the Lorn Islands Partnership, said: “Fantastic projects like this demonstrate the value of our Partnership and of Easdale, Lismore, Luing and Kerrera pooling their resources to enable great strides forward in securing the sustainability of our small island communities.”