Island hall gets £25,000 compensation for loss of income

Seil Island Hall chairman Seumas Anderson with his donations bucket at last year's Scarecrow Festival.

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Seil Island Hall is celebrating £25,000 government funding to make up for loss of income during the Covid crisis.

The money is a business support grant from the Scottish Government administered by Argyll and Bute Council to compensate for losses suffered due to the pandemic.

The virus forced the cancellation of all the shows, dances, craft fairs, clubs and groups that usually fill out the hall’s calendar year and add to its coffers.

Hall treasurer John Colston said: ‘Even when we open again we won’t be able to do lots of these activities because of the numbers of people. As yet we don’t even have a date when community halls are allowed to open.’

The hall lost all its income after lockdown, including money it should have made from a couple of wedding celebrations, which would have contributed toward repairing the sewage system.

Chairman of Seil Island Hall committee Seamus Anderson said: ‘The money will keep us on track, it means we won’t have to dip into our reserves and can manage to maintain the hall and make sure it is ready for when it can eventually open up again and welcome people back.’

For now plans for the annual panto that packs the hall in January are on hold but there are hopes to  bring back last year’s scarecrow festival that brought in more than £15,000.

Ron Hetherington, who came up with the Scarecrow Festival idea, said: ‘It was a shame we could not do it this year but there was no choice. We are being optimistic and the plan is to go ahead next year and make it even bigger and bring more funds rolling in for the hall.’

The 2019 Scarecrow Festival had more than 130 entries from the Invisible Man to mermaids, fisher folk, surgeons, kayakers and more.

At least the playground next to the hall, owned and run by the hall management, is back open again with safety restrictions in place and a donations box to help its upkeep.

‘We’re just encouraging people to put in a few pennies. I don’t know if many people are aware it’s the hall that owns and runs it,’ said Mr Colston.

Covid and the loss of income has meant the temporary shelving of development plans to extend the hall.

‘We’re hoping once the hall is back in business that people will be as generous as they were before and we can restart our development plans again,’ said Mr Colston.