A Gaelic development officer has been appointed by a community trust which serves the villages of Bragar and Arnol on the west side of the Isle of Lewis.
Euan Macleod has taken on the role at Urras Coimhearsnachd Bhràdhagair agus Àrnoil (Bragar and Arnol Community Trust) which was set up in 2012 to benefit the community of around 600 people of which 70 percent speak Gaelic.
Brought up in the city of Edinburgh and attended Bun Sgoil Crois na Cìse, Euan has strong connections to Bragar, having spent many holidays at his family home in the village. Euan attended Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in Skye and has experience of working with different areas of the community. Most recently he worked as a Gàidhlig Development Officer at Ionad Chaluim Chille in Islay.
The new role is being funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Bòrd na Gàidhlig as a pilot collaborative project which aims to develop a sustainable community hub, with Gaelic at its core.
HIE, along with the Community Ownership Support Service and Awards for All have previously worked with the trust to assist with the acquisition of the former Bragar School, bringing it into community ownership. The facility is now named Grinneabhat after the loch in front of the building, with the sub heading, Cridhe na Coimhearsnachd, meaning the Heart of the Community.
Rachel Mackenzie, area manager, from HIE, said: “We are delighted to work with Bòrd na Gàidhlig, strengthening this local Gaelic community, and seeking to develop their building into a sustainable asset”
John Angus Mackay, chief executive of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, said: “We hope that this project will support community development through breathing new life into an old building, and through creating more opportunities for using Gaelic as a natural element in daily work. It is good to see Euan returning to his family's community and we wish him success in his post and that this will give encourage others to seek a path back to the islands."
The community group is ambitious to develop income streams to achieve long term sustainability. A range of activities and services based in the old school already focus on supporting remote communities to grow, and the promotion and use of Gaelic is an important factor in this.
Catriona Campbell, chair of Urras Coimhearsnachd Bhràdhagair agus Àrnoil, said: “We were delighted to receive support from HIE and Bòrd na Gàidhlig for our project. Gaelic is still in regular, everyday use in Bragar and Arnol, and we are very keen to keep it at the heart of our community. We see the language as a bonus both culturally and also economically, and our plans for Bragar School reflect this dual theme. Euan is central to bringing these plans to fruition.”