Games committee launches community buyout proposal for Knock Park

Some Lochaline Pirates enjoying the Morvern Games and Gala Week in 2014. PICTURE IAIN FERGUSON, THE WRITE IMAGE

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Morvern Games and Gala Week (MGGW) committee are conducting a consultation on a possible community buyout of Knock Park above the village of Lochaline.

Residents, visitors and supporters worldwide were urged to complete an online survey or paper copy by May 27, while community groups and local employers can return theirs by June 10.

Highland Games have taken place at Knock Park for most of the last century, with generations of Morvern folk taking turns on the committee.

Little ones take part in a boys race at Knock Park in 2014. Photograph: Iain Ferguson

Secretary, Megan Whyte, who can list parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and great grandparents who were involved told us: ‘MGGW being cancelled for the second year due to the pandemic is devastating news for all concerned, but it has given us the opportunity to direct our energies to looking at the long-term future of the games.

‘Every year we spend a fortune on toilets and drinking water for the field, which has no mains services. We thought it be great if we owned the land and built a dedicated building with running water and flushing toilets.’

Riona Whyte (right) sold ‘Deal or no Deal’ boxes to riaise funds for the Mod Club in 2014. Photograph: Iain Ferguson

The committee is well aware that a better building will need to cover its running costs, but it also presents opportunities to incorporate other facilities for the village and activities for residents. Ardtornish Estate, which owns the land, and has supported the games for years, has agreed to consider community ownership and also to an examination of the potential for the surrounding land to be considered if it helps the finances of the facilities.

Additional support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, MGGW have successfully applied for funding from Stage 1 of the Scottish Land Fund to explore the possibility of purchasing Knock Park and surrounding areas for the community.

They have commissioned James Hilder and Dale Meehan of An Roth Associates (Mull) to carry out a survey and produce a feasibility plan.  If a viable plan can be identified, a business plan will follow later this year which will again be sent out for community comment.

A short questionnaire has been delivered to every household, drop-in sessions at the Knock Park and Drimnin, and Zoom meetings organised, and boxes placed at Lochaline Stores and Drimnin Post Office for residents to drop off their completed forms.

Megan continued: ‘This is just the start of, what we hope will be, an exciting journey.

‘Nothing has been decided. Various ideas have been suggested and it will all take time.

‘We hope everyone will take this opportunity to have their ideas heard and be a part of shaping Morvern for a brighter and healthier future.’

Anyone who missed the survey or would like to offer their help with the games can contact MGGW via social media or email