MacPhail: permanent tribute to Eilidh MacLeod

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It is nearly two years since Eilidh MacLeod from Barra lost her life in the Manchester Arena attack and in that time the sense of needless cruelty surrounding her loss has not diminished.

Last week, the Eilidh MacLeod Memorial Trust, a charity formed in her memory, revealed the design for a permanent memorial to Eilidh to be erected on Barra. A Highland dancer and piper, Eilidh’s musical gifts and encouraging character are to be symbolised by the sculpture.

The press release from the trust that accompanied the unveiling of the design read: ‘The design is intended to reflect Eilidh’s love of music, particularly the bagpipes, and her willingness to support others in the island community where she grew up.

‘Eilidh loved to play her pipes at community events in Barra and Vatersay. She was also immensely proud to be a member of the Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band which includes children from throughout the Uists and Barra.

‘The bronze, life-size sculpture is to be located in a newly created memorial garden overlooking Vatersay on the Isle of Barra in the Western Isles where Eilidh lived.

‘The sculpture is not based on any individual but is a collection of personal attributes held by many. It is a visual representation of the love, unity, resilience and diversity of the island community. The memorial has added significance in that it is thought to be the first permanent sculpture portraying a female piper.’

Having got to know Eilidh’s family over the past year, I have been deeply impressed by the dignity, wisdom and strength they have shown and continue to show in these terrible circumstances.

Life is a fleeting flame on a vast ocean, but memory can give continued meaning to the lives of those who have left this world. A permanent memorial is a fitting way to remember a bright and talented young girl whose life was taken long before it should have been and in such a tragically cruel way.

Funding for the sculpture, which is a major project, was donated from the Ardonagh Community Trust and the Eilidh MacLeod Memorial Trust continues to fundraise towards the completion of the memorial and for the ongoing work of the charity.

Last year, mainly through generous donations from the public and from the proceeds of the download release of the song Wishing Well, Skipinnish contributed £6,048.94 towards charity. In comparison to the overall costs, this is a tiny amount, but we were very happy to help in a very small way.

With this in mind, we will again be joining Team Eilidh for the running events in Manchester and Edinburgh on May 19 and 26.

This Friday evening (April 19) we will be launching a Justgiving page and again will be hoping to raise some money for the charity through sponsorship. There will be a link set up on our Facebook page and any donations large or small will be greatly appreciated.

‘The Star of the Sea in clear island skies
Gives the guidance of old and the light never dies.
Your spirit was strong, now silent your song
But your soul with the Polestar shines on.’