May brings celebration day for community groups on Mull

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Mull’s many community groups are being celebrated at a special showcase day in Dervaig next month.

Dervaig’s community orchard has sown the seeds for the celebration day happening on Friday May 3.

Invites to join in the event have been sent out to groups, organisations and craft-makers across the island who will gather on the day at Dervaig Village Hall from 3pm to 5pm with guest Michael Russell MSP, who donated a whole pile of books from his own personal collection to the new community library.

Tobermory Harbour Association and Mull and Iona Community Trust are just some of the groups who will be there.

Youngsters from the now booming primary school at Dervaig will also be playing a big part in the day, showing Mr Russell round the community orchard, now in its third year, and the library busy building up its book stocks with a monthly drop-off of good reads from Argyll and Bute Council.

Mull Native Woodland Group will be there too, promoting its work to preserve and protect the island’s biodiversity, and there will be a chance to see Dervaig Hall’s newly refurbished bunk-rooms.

Mull Music Makers will be putting on a performance at 4.30pm, receiving donations from drinks and cakes and at  5pm, and Mr Russell will be addressing Mull Native Woodland Group’s first annual general meeting.

Later in the evening, Dervaig chef Iain Hetherington will be cooking up a thank you meal for guests supporting the community orchard project and the library.

The orchard is growing from strength to strength with 150 fruit trees, sponsored by supporters, which include 45 different kinds of apples, it even has some tea bushes. There are plans to build an outdoor classroom in it.

Fundraising, including house concerts and village events and sales, has brought in around £3,000 with help from Argyll and Bute Trust, Mull and Iona Community Trust and also from its Waterfall hydro fund. Although more money is still needed, they are determined to have it up and running by June.

Mike Shilson said: ‘It will be a community build with no walls so even on a dreich day our youngsters and people can come up here and still be connected to the outside.’

A teacher whose friend sponsored a fruit tree in her name was so inspired after a visit to the orchard she created a similar orchard at her school in a deprived area of Edinburgh.

‘From little acorns big trees grow,’ added Mr Shilson.

Land for the community orchard is on a 15-year lease from the Forestry Commission, which also gave a grant towards the trees, next to the orchard on the site of a former tip is a wheelchair-friendly willow maze.

‘What we have got here on Mull is something to celebrate. What we have in Dervaig is really special but there are so many community groups doing great work that we thought lets share the celebration and promote us all,’ Mr Shilson said.

Anyone interested in taking part in the celebration day can email info@mullnativewoodlandsgroup.co.uk.