Community buy-out bid for stone skimming quarry

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Islanders on Easdale are hoping funders will give them £10,000 so a community buy-out of the World Stone Skimming Championships quarry can go ahead.

A decision from charity Scottish Land Fund is expected by May, according to Eilean Eisdeal chairman Duncan Smallman.

Each year, hundreds of people trot across the globe to take part in the skimming event, which last year was won by Keisuke Hashimoto from Japan.

‘We are going through the process to try to purchase the stone skimming quarry. We finally got agreement from the landowner that he was willing to sell and we consulted with people on Easdale that they were happy for us to be going ahead with it,’ said Mr Smallman.

The funding application is in two phases and, after a successful first stage, Eilean Eisdeal has now moved onto the second part, he confirmed .

Mr Smallman added: ‘The submission will be in March and then there will be a decision in May. We won’t know until then.

‘If  we get the funding it will save us about £1,000 a year, possibly more. We’ve been charged for using the quarry over the past few years but before that the former owner let us use it for free. It’s been a challenge since then and it didn’t exactly chime with supporting an island community but we are pleased they have agreed to sell to us.’

Eilean Eisdale got the quarry valued independently and Mr Smallman said the £10,000 price tag presented to them was ‘bang on the cuff’ of what was potentially available for the project from the Scottish Land Fund.

The island group has already purchased and developed the community hall and other projects have included the museum and the harbour.

Planning for the 2018 World Stone Skimming Championships has already started and includes organising the pre-skim bash gig and work on developing an online register which will move the event into the ‘digital age’, said Mr Smallman.

‘It will help with the registration process. It doesn’t mean we will be increasing the numbers though – the limit is still 350 people to take part – but it will help speed things up a bit and move us into the digital age, getting the results out quicker and sorting out the award presentations.’

The official stone skimming rules are that the stones must be no more than three inches in diameter and formed naturally of Easdale slate.

To qualify, the stone must hit the water three times and sink within the designated lane, with skims judged on the distance thrown rather than the number of bounces.

This year’s championships will be on Sunday September 23. To find out more go to www.stoneskimming.com.