The Gallan Head Community Trust, the Outer Hebridean charity that bought the most northwesterly headland in the UK last year from the Ministry of Defence, is holding a ceilidh and torchlit procession to celebrate its first year as a community land owner.

On the 29th January 2016, the Gallan Head Community Trust successfully completed the Community Right to Buy process and became the legal custodian of Gallan Head, the former RAF Aird Uig Cold War Radar base – allowing the general public to access the remote headland for the first time in over 60 years.

From its remote and blustery home on the most northwesterly coast of the UK, the charitable trust, made up of an eclectic bunch of talented and dedicated volunteers, has much to celebrate: in the 12 months since becoming a community landowner, it has successfully purchased and converted a house on the edge of the headland in to a popular restaurant, crafts shop and community and visitor hub.  As well as being supported by the Scottish Land Fund and Highlands & Islands Enterprise, it has raised additional funds from the Woodlands Trust and Scottish Landfills Community Fund for further land remediation works and landscaping.  In November 2016, the Trust appointed a part-time Development Officer to support their work over the next two years: thanks to a successful application to the People’s Health Trust for £30,000 funding for this post, along with £10,000 for projects.

The community landowner’s vision is spearheaded by an exciting project to develop a major tourist attraction on Gallan Head – “The Cetus Observatory”.  Cetus will be a ground-breaking, multi-purpose space for observing the dark skies, changeable weather, listening to and spotting whales and getting absorbed in every aspect of nature and science.  The observatory will hold an internet operated robotic telescope, a small radio telescope, a small radar, a solar telescope, a planetarium, a space exhibition / display, giant wide field binoculars for viewing cetaceans and birdlife, nature webcams, a café, educational facilities, and a small shop.   Outside the centre there will be a circular path around the headland, in some places leading to observation shelters, excellent for daytime marine life spotting walks or night-time star gazing.

John Brown, Astronomer Royal for Scotland and Patron of the Cetus Observatory, said: ““I am delighted by the progress the Trust is making – we seem to be on track toward opening the Cetus Observatory to the public by 2020. I look forward to visiting Gallan Head again in the next few months. I am sorry to be missing the Burns Night and bonfire on the 28th but my thoughts will be with Gallan Head and I will be raising a glass to the project on January 27 at the New Cumnock Burns Club, with one of whom I am working on a cosmic poetry project.”

Chair of the Gallan Head Community Trust, Jill Smith, said: “We as Trustees are working hard to be sensitive, considerate custodians of this magical landscape.  The Cetus Observatory will inspire and invigorate its visitors, and will bring life back to our community, jobs to our area and will attract young people back to our villages.  This weekend we are celebrating both what we have achieved so far, and the great potential we have to make a real difference to our island community.”

ENDS

FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

Gillian Davies, Project Development Worker:

gallanhead@hebrides.net Office: 01851 672211 or Home: 01851 672300.  Mob: 07969549450

Jill Smith, Chair:

Tel: 01851 672738

John Brown, Patron:

Tel: 07976270904

 

NOTES TO EDITOR:

Gallan Head Community Trust was established 2014 as a Community Body serving the community of Aird Uig. The Trust has recently successfully concluded a Community Right to Buy process and now owns the former MOD Aird Uig. Amongst other roles, the Trust is now custodian of land and property on behalf of the benefit of the community.

To find out more see the Gallan Head Community Trust website: www.gallanhead.org.uk

Gallan Head Community Trust is supported by the People’s Health Trust with money raised by HealthKind through the Health Lottery.  HealthKind is a Community Interest Company committed to raising money to address health inequalities in Aberdeenshire, Highland, Aberdeen, Moray, Western Isles, Shetland Islands and Orkney Islands . www.healthkindcic.org.uk  The Health Lottery is operated for and on behalf of 51 Community Interest Companies across England, Scotland and Wales, all holding society lottery licenses issued by the Gambling Commission. www.healthlottery.co.uk  People’s Health Trust is an independent charity addressing health inequalities across Great Britain. It works closely with each Community Interest Company distributing grants. www.peopleshealthtrust.org.uk