Chairman's Report - AGM 2014


Annual General Meeting 19th March 2014 Chairman’s Report  

Welcome to the AGM and thanks to the committee and to all those who helped with the work of the Comann Eachdraidh throughout the year.  The CE welcomed many visitors, who were researching their roots and enjoying the fantastic scenery.  Information plaques, walks and Cladach Road from an earlier project are proving popular with visitors and locals and the Heritage Lottery Fund used this project in their literature when advertising ‘an example of a successful project’ which they had sponsored.  We did have a little local difficulty with the Cladach Road.  We hosted two public evenings; Colin Tucker’s talk on Steamers to Stornoway and Alison Eade’s relaunch of Murdo Donaldson Macleod’s Book.  The CE website and especially our Facebook page are very successful with thousands visiting these sites.  Thanks to Tobar an Dualchais our audio tapes have now been digitised and are much easier to access.

The CE successfully applied for Lottery funds for two projects in the village – Heritage Sites and WW1.  We are also part of the larger island projects – Hebridean Connections and Museum nan Eilean.  Our three councillors donated £200 each from their Ward Initiative Fund to go towards our expenses and we thank them.

Hebridean Connections 
Ten island CE are full members of this project.  Our Brother’s Keepers records, along with those of another two Historical Societies, have been imported by Aberdeen University onto the Hebridean Connections system, making an impressive total of 12,800 new records.  Although this data import incorporates family relationships, links with crofts and other kinds of records have to be created and also checks for duplicates have to be carried out.  Training is provided for this work and CE would be grateful if more volunteers could be enlisted to help with this exciting work.

Museum nan Eilean
Plans are now well advanced for this development.  Our CE has given some material to make sure that Tolsta is represented.

Heritage Sites in North Tolsta
Heritage Lottery Fund provided £6,700 towards the total eligible project cost of £8,260.  This project will include a record and survey of the ruins of the historic sheilings on our moor; a record of the older history of these sites through interviews in Gaelic and English; the training of members in the use of maps, GPS and digital memory boards; training in interview techniques and research methodology.  Once complete the project findings will be shared with the public.  Some research has been done and training in interview techniques and in the use of GPS has been carried out.  We would like you to identify anyone who can pass on to us any sheiling stories or any other historical information regarding local place names.

The Effects of WW1 on the Village of North Tolsta
The Lottery Fund has given a grant of £9,000 for this project.  The start date was 1st November 2013 and the project will last for two years.  The service records of villagers who served in WW1 will be examined and the effect this war had on the village at the time and for years afterwards will be recorded.  Interviews will be carried out with Tolstonians and family memories of this period will be recorded, so if you know of any suitable interviewees please let us know.  Cathie Mary Smith is the project leader and Public meetings will be held in the Community Hall with various speakers.  Meetings involving the school and the Youth Club will also be arranged.  The CE plans to visit various historic war sites in the UK to glean more information relating to Tolsta servicemen.

The colour pages in the last three editions have brightened up the magazine.  The generous donations we received from supporters during the year were greatly appreciated and thanks also to those who sent photos and articles for Seanchas.  I’ve been the editor of Seanchas for the past 13 years and I’m stepping down as editor of Seanchas.  The meeting tonight will appoint a new editor.   

Thank you all for your help and support.  The friendly atmosphere at the CE makes the chairman’s work easier and enjoyable.  Training of some committee members and the use of technology had to play a large part of the CE work this past year, because of the nature of some of our projects.  But we remember that our main aim is to keep in touch with the village and keep villagers involved. The CE belongs to the whole community and the committee members have all played their part in keeping the community informed and involved. Looking back one realises that an astonishing amount of local history has been recorded since the relaunch of the CE and there is still plenty to record.     

Donald Murray, chairman.