Gaelic singing legend Alasdair Gillies donates £3k to Staffin trust appeal

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A legendary Gaelic singer has thrown his weight behind a Skye community’s efforts to build affordable homes and a health centre by pledging £3,000 to the fundraising appeal.

And Alasdair Gillies, whose roots are in the crofting township of Digg, Staffin, has issued a public rallying call to support the charitable organisation working to deliver the long-awaited development.

Staffin Community Trust (SCT) last month launched a crowdfunding campaign to pay for six new family homes, a medical clinic and business units close to the primary school, Bun Sgoil Stafainn.

A four-minute film highlighting the challenges faced in retaining and attracting families and young people in Staffin was released to publicise the campaign.

An architect’s impression of how the development at Staffin will look once completed.
NO F41 Staffin Architect’s Impression

It has been watched almost 4,000 times after being shared extensively via social media with £2,220 raised from more than 40 supporters from all over the world.

Gillies – who is a renowned performer on both stage and screen stretching back several decades – has made a personal donation of £3,000 and his generous pledge takes the current total to £5,220, as the crowdfunder appeal enters the final week.

‘Staffin is in my DNA and I’m delighted to lend my support,’ said the singer, who predicted the development will help sustain the Gaelic language by boosting the school roll with family homes built.

‘Staffin school has an excellent record in its support for Gaelic and traditional music, and the children of Bun Sgoil Stafainn have enjoyed considerable success at national and local mòds.

‘My hope is this will continue to be the case, but only if more young families are able to take up residence, for that is the lifeblood for the future.’

Staffin’s diaspora, including Gillies, have been hugely supportive of the development appeal with pledges from Canada, England and Australia.

Glasgow-born Gillies’s parents were from the north end of Skye. His father, John, hailed from Digg and his mother Euphemia’s people came from Digg and Bornesketaig in Kilmuir.

Gillies hopes his support will encourage production companies and tour businesses who regularly visit Staffin to back the community-led project.

Big budget Hollywood films such as Prometheus, The BFG and Macbeth were shot locally while singer Harry Styles’s debut single Sign of the Times was recorded near the Staffin Slipway and has been watched online more than half a billion times.

This would be the first affordable housing development in Staffin for 20 years and comes as the community has suffered a significant population decline in that time, with a drastic shortage of accommodation for younger people and a prohibitive property market.

SCT is hopeful the new housing will help increase the school roll and the community’s long-term sustainability.

SCT board director Ian MacDonald, who is also from Digg, said having the support of a performer like Gillies was a tremendous boost to the community.

‘To have such generous and genuine support from Alasdair is really encouraging and it just goes to show you can take the man out of Staffin but you will never really take Staffin out of the man,’ said Mr MacDonald.

Anybody wishing to support the appeal has until today (October 10) to do so, via: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/isle-of-skye-housing-health-development

SCT hopes to commence the development construction in 2020, in partnership with the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust (HSCHT) and Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association (LSHA).