The communities of North Uist and Berneray have appointed a local development officer to help them deliver an economic, social and cultural plan for future growth.
Elaine Cleary, 29, from County Tipperaray, Ireland has been appointed to the post which complements the existing Comhairle community coordinator post. They will jointly lead on key economic and environmental projects to achieve the community's long term vision.
The North Uist Development Company (NUDC) will provide strategic direction for the post although Elaine will be managed day to day by Urachadh Uibhist who will host the post on behalf of the wider community.
Presently based at the Claddach Kirkibost Centre in North Uist, Elaine's post is funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and EU LEADER as part of community account management programme.
Lewis Mackenzie from HIE said: "We are really pleased that Elaine has been appointed to lead on community development projects in North Uist and Berneray. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience that will be an asset to the community and from day one Elaine has fitted in really well and shown great enthusiasm and dedication."
Elaine moved to North Uist a month ago to start the new job after studying a MSc in Biodiveristy and Conservation at the University of Leeds and a BA (Hons) in Rural Development in the Tipperaray Institute.
Elaine said: "I have always wanted to work in a rural area and I am delighted to be appointed here. I'm looking forward to working with the local community to take forward the ambitious plans for growth in the area."
The NUDC is a community company set up in March this year to replace the former North Uist Partnership. Elaine will work with the NUDC to deliver a range of projects as outlined in local plans. A current priority is to assist the second phase of a project to improve access to a community owned woodland managed by Urras nan Craobh Uibhist a Tuath (The North Uist Woodland Trust) which will also include planting new trees.
The NUDC is currently seeking new members who are interested in assisting them with their community development effort in the North Uist and Berneray area. The directors and Elaine will be available at the Claddach Kirkibost centre for an open day between 11am and 2pm on Saturday November 13. Free membership forms will be available and an opportunity provided to put forward new ideas for community projects or for raising awareness of existing projects which need to be prioritised within a local plan. Anyone is welcome to attend.