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Great good can come from great ill and if ever we need to be reminded of this, the Eilidh MacLeod Memorial Trust is where to look.
Set up in memory of Eilidh MacLeod from Barra who was killed in the Manchester Arena attack of May 2017, this newly formed charity had its official launch night in the form of a Tartan and Tiaras ball at Glasgow’s Oran Mòr on Friday September 6.
As is known to most Oban Times readers, Eilidh was a talented piper and Highland Dancer, and music is at the heart of the charity’s long-term aims. As well as erecting and maintaining a permanent memorial to Eilidh on Barra, the trust will use its fundraising efforts to nurture and to encourage young musicians across the country in the same way as Eilidh herself was nurtured and encouraged.
The first donations made by the charity were deeply fitting, with Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band, of which Eilidh was a member, and the Manchester Community Pipe Band each receiving £1,500. The emotion felt by the Pipe Major of Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band, Domhnall Bàn MacDonald who was one of Eilidh’s piping tutors, and Colin Murphy of Manchester Community Pipe Band could be clearly seen when they received their respective donations on stage at the event. While presenting the two donations, Barra’s Iagan MacNeil, one of the event’s organisers, spoke powerfully of the help and encouragement that Eilidh had received from her community and her tutors Domhnall Bàn at Sgoil Lionacleit and Donald Nicholson at home on Barra.
As well as reflecting Eilidh’s musical background, Iagan, one the charity’s trustees, said the two donations were made specifically to represent the now strong link between the islands and Manchester.
I have had contact with the charity founders since early last year and it has been an honour to be involved in some of the fundraising, and to see the charity launched officially.
Suzanne White, Eilidh’s cousin and the primary source of energy and drive behind the trust’s formation is an inspiration to behold. Her natural gift of being able to pull everyone together for fundraising is immense and the success of the launch event is testament to her ability and to her dedication to this cause.
I hope that I will never have to endure what Eilidh’s immediate family has, but if ever I do, they are the first people from whom I would seek guidance in dealing with such a cruel tragedy. The lack of bitterness, the lack of seeking blame, the lack of desire for retribution, the lack of hatred and the steadfast dedication to moving forward with nothing but healing, remembrance and positivity is a strong example of how to deal with the very worst that in this world one can experience.
That positivity could be felt instantly on entering the Oran Mòr on September 6 and the Eilidh MacLeod Memorial Trust will continue to spread the power of memory, music and healing far into the future.
‘Your spirit was strong, now silent your song. But your soul with the Polestar shines on.’