The community of the Isle of Coll will be celebrating this week when a brand new purpose-built community centre opens its doors to the public.
The building is called An Cridhe, meaning 'the heart' in Gaelic and will officially be opened by HRH Princess Anne on Wednesday 11 July during the four-day opening festival.
The population of Coll has experienced an increase in population by over 60 percent in the last 30 years and currently stands at approximately 220. The development of An Cridhe will ensure there are adequate facilities to meet the demands of the local community and help sustain this population growth.
The multi-purpose centre, located in the village of Arinagour, is managed by Development Coll, the island's own community development organisation, and as well as being used by local people and visitors, it will act as a business centre to provide opportunities for local enterprise. It will also be a place for social gatherings and provide the community with sports facilities, music and exhibition space.
A 14-bed bunk-house has been built as part of the project, providing quality hostel accommodation which will provide an ongoing source of revenue for the community centre.
The An Cridhe centre has been built with environmental sustainability as a priority, using renewable energy and energy saving technologies to reduce the carbon footprint.
The purchase of the land and construction of the £2.5 million community centre and bunkhouse was funded by European Regional Development Funding, BIG Lottery, sportscotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Community Energy Scotland, Argyll and Bute Council and Scottish Natural Heritage.
HIE provided £160,000 to the ambitious project and account manager Donald Melville, said "We have been working with Development Coll for some time now to support them in their plans to provide a facility that caters for the many different needs of islanders and visitors. The community centre will provide a high quality, sustainable and vibrant facility that will serve the entire community."
Emma Grant, project manager at Development Coll, said: "After several years of hard work by the community it is hard to believe that the new centre is about to open its doors. It?s been a real team effort by staff, contractors, volunteers and the community in general. We?re absolutely delighted with the finished building and we can?t wait to kick-off the celebrations."
As well as the official opening on Wednesday, a four-day opening event is to be held for people to celebrate the new facility and find out what?s on offer. Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain will headline on Thursday evening; local talent will showcase on Wednesday evening; Scottish Opera and comedy mime artist Les Bubb will provide entertainment as well as a variety of workshops including film, magic and story-telling; and the week will culminate in a performance by Tiree-based ceilidh band, Trail West on Saturday.
Further information and the full programme of events at An Cridhe this week is available at www.ancridhe.co.uk.