Hebridean communities consulted on Great Place Project heritage scheme

Community members discuss the importance of heritage at one of the consultation ceilidhs. Photograph: Comhairle nan Eilean Siar

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A series of consultation ‘ceilidhs’ took place a fortnight ago providing communities with a further chance to contribute to the development of Pròiseact an Fhìor Àite (the Great Place Project).

Despite disruption caused by Storm Brendan, the ceilidhs were well attended by communities in Harris, North Uist and Barra.

The purpose of the Great Place Project is to develop for the Outer Hebrides a place-based Heritage Strategy with a 10-year vision and an accompanying action plan.

Central to the work is identifying strategic approaches to support and deliver appropriate heritage-led economic development, infrastructure requirements and priorities.

The ceilidhs saw members of the community contribute ideas and opinions to the project’s strategy and action plan, while enjoying the talents of local musicians and singers.

Kenny MacLeod, chairman of Harris Development, attended and introduced the ceilidh at the Hotel Hebrides, in Tarbert, Harris.

He said: ‘What a fantastic idea – a consultation that is also a ceilidh! So good to have such a wide representation and to hear all the talking at the various stations.

‘Actually asking people for their views and getting them to shape the discussion – such a refreshing approach … and some beautiful singing and box playing as well! An enjoyable evening with a productive outcome.’

Catherine Maclean, Great Place project manager at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: ‘Heritage is inherent in all that we do as islanders.

‘On every island and in each community there is a wealth of knowledge, talent and cultural richness – each area and community has its own distinct story to tell. This came through loud and clear in our consultation throughout the different communities across the islands.

‘What is truly impressive is the amount of passion and commitment of individuals in the communities towards the work of preserving and sharing our cultural heritage.

‘Travelling through the islands – even in January – has been really important to do as it meant that we were able to experience and learn more about what is happening in each area.’