Murdo Mackay, Chairman
I work as a Development Manager with the local authority, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. I moved to Harris from Achmore in Lewis in 1981 after leaving college in order to start work; I spent 25 years in the aquaculture industry working for various companies and also independently for five years. I acquired the croft in Luskentyre in 1989 and since 1990, when we built our house, have lived on the croft with my wife Isobel. We have three children and they all attended the local school in Seilebost. I have worked the croft in various ways since 1990 including stocking with sheep and cattle and latterly with a few ponies too. We diversified the croft enterprise into tourism from the start initially by renting a caravan and then building two self-catering cottages. This has proved to be a successful venture and has created a viable croft business that would not be possible from agricultural activity alone.
I have been living in Seilebost, Harris, most of my life apart from four years spent undertaking a university degree in Glasgow and while teaching five years in Inverness. I returned to the island in 1994 to take up the post of Head teacher at Shelibost Primary School where I spent nineteen happy years until the school closed in June 2013. I feel that at a time when so many school roles are falling it is an important aim of any island trust to strive to reverse population decline in our island communities. I currently teach in Leverhulme Memorial School in Harris and through my work, I am involved in several Gaelic organisations e.g. Harris Mod Committee, and also as an Associate Assessor for Education Scotland. I value the importance of our island heritage and culture and appreciate all that the beautiful West Harris environment has to offer.
Finlay MacLennan, Director
I was born, raised and schooled in Seilebost before moving onto Sir E Scott School and Inverness Royal Academy. Thereafter I worked on the mainland for 6 years before returning home to take over the running of the croft and have since worked locally. I am married to Nan and have a grown up family of three with two grand children. I have been actively involved in community affairs over many years as Chair of Shelibost School Board, member and Chair of South Harris Community Council, Director at Harris Development Ltd, Treasurer of South Harris Show Committee and Clerk and Chair of Horgabost/Seilebost Common Grazings. Nowadays, I’m a grazings committee member and treasurer of the Harris branch of the Associated Presbyterian Church. I work for the local authority as a driver/labourer and am a part-time crofter. I believe that community ownership promotes development, results in better collaboration among the crofting townships under the Trust’s control and produces a more pro-active approach to re-population. I believe, also, a resurgence of traditional crofting would benefit the area, making better use of the land resources which we’re privileged to manage, and would enhance the sustainability of the community
Norman Ian Mackay, Director
Born in Edinburgh and fortunate to have been brought up in Luskentyre and educated in Seilebost primary school. I recently moved home to Luskentyre after an absence of 15 years in September 2011 with my wife Leona who is from the Isle of Skye. Our son Jack was born in April 2012 and we are determined that he will enjoy the priviliges and benefits of a Hebridean upbringing. I currently work from home for an Aberdeen based company managing their E-commerce presence and believe this type of home working is a major opportunity for rural locations like ours to attract young families without having to rely on major external investment.
Neil Campbell, Secretary
I was born and brought up on the Isle of Skye. Following my marriage in 2001 my wife Rhoda and I decided to settle on her family croft in Scaristavore where we have developed luxury self-catering accommodation, Blue Reef Cottages. I believe strongly in community empowerment and take an active role on Harris as a Director of NHS Western Isles; and Clerk of Scaristavore township. I was formerly a senior partner in a Skye based Chartered Accountants practice serving the Outer Hebrides, Skye and Lochalsh. Rhoda’s grandfather was one of the initial tenants settled on the Estate by the Government in the 1940s. At Blue Reef Cottages we promote a very strong ‘green ethos’ and I am particularly keen to see West Harris develop the abundant natural resources available of wind, hydro and, in the longer term, wave energy.
Richard Maclennan, Director
I was born and brought up in Harris and attended Seilebost School. I’m passionate about crofting, especially the livestock sector, and run a mixed breed flock of sheep using native and continental breed rams. As well as being a Trust director I take an active role in community organisations including committee member and Chairman of the South Harris Agriculture Show. I am also a retained fireman and Clerk to Borve common grazings. Together, my wife Lena and I run our crofts, a guest house and the Horgabost campsite along with a mobile food trailer trading as Blas bhon Iar. Lena is also the part time local post mistress.
Since the trust was formed it has significantly increased the population of West Harris, helped to create new housing with the majority having young families staying in them which is fantastic to see children playing outside once again, it has also created Talla Na Mara which is a huge asset to the place and creating numerous new jobs. Income to the estate has now increased hugely due to renewable projects.
Roddy Macdonald, Director
I returned to my native home of Harris in 2008 after working forty-one years with BT. I currently serve as Secretary of the Isle of Harris Golf Club and as a member of their Development Committee, which has completed a major investment to enhance the facilities there. This complements my work with The West Harris Trust in its economic strategy of a healthier objective, promoting visitor access and the enjoyment of local amenities. My wife Morag and I have been married for thirty-nine years and have a grown up family of three. I am very interested in the history of the West Side, having returned to live in the original family home which was built in the 1930s. For me the Trust is a means to encourage and rejuvenate the West Side of Harris and turnaround the population decline. The Trust has had a very successful seven years with a significant increase in the population and the construction of social housing which is mainly occupied by young families.
Another added bonus has been the creation of approx 20 jobs associated with the new community centre “Talla na Mara”.
Douglas Ferguson, Director
I was born in Newton Mearns and as my Great Gran was born in Benbecula my family have been holidaying in Harris since I was 10. My wife Ann and I were fortunate enough to be able to buy land in Seilebost in 2007 and have spent the last few years realising our dream by building our new home and holiday cottage. I work as a Joiner for a local construction company. Since joining the trust I have seen significant changes that have been beneficial for the community Hydro scheme, Wind Turbines Affordable housing and a new Community Centre with three business units attached.
Chris Loye, Director
I grew up in the countryside in Ayrshire. After 10 years of adventures with my partner Nicola traveling to over 40 countries, I never in my wildest dreams thought we would choose to settle in Scotland. When we arrived to Harris we fell in love with it’s beauty, outdoor lifestyle and great sense of community. We have lived here almost two years and we finally have a place to call home. As a young couple who moved to the island we are thankful to be given the opportunity in November 2016 to move into one of the newly developed houses at Pairc Niseabost, West Harris.I trained as a professional chef for 4 years at the City of Glasgow College and worked in various high end restaurants throughout Scotland before heading off to Australia, where I gained my first Head Chef job on Thursday Island. This gave me a glimpse of the island lifestyle and I learned to free dive and spearfish, hobbies in which I can now enjoy in my spare time in Harris.I was able to transfer these skills to set up our own business Flavour on the Harris where I am a private chef catering for local estates and self catering accommodation, I also a operate pop-up restaurants in various locations, organise food festivals/events to promote local sustainable produce and attend the local craft markets selling artisan chocolates. Nicola also has a childminding business, which is much needed on the island.
The West Harris Trust means that the community has the chance to create a sustainable future for generations to come. As a new director I aim to be a voice for the local community to support and develop new projects needed in the area.
Diana Calvert, Director
Little did I know how my life would change following our first holiday to Harris in 2011! It was to be the start of a new chapter in our lives as we both fell in love with the island and decided to move here after getting early retirement. My last job had been working for the Environment Agency on Climate Change Adaptation but my main career had been working in scientific publishing, both on scientific journals and finally on encyclopaedias.
Following our second visit here in January 2012, we learnt about the house plots for sale with the West Harris Trust. We immediately applied to buy the single plot at Scarista and eagerly awaited the decision. Finally we received the news we were waiting for and proceeded to plan for our move here and to have a house built. We had the groundwork done in the summer of 2014 and moved here from Oxford in January 2015, 2 weeks after the big storm. We rented a house in Scarista while the house was built by RHouse on Skye. In December 2015 we were able to move into our dream house.
Even though I’m now retired, my days are very busy with various community roles, including being Honorary Treasurer for Leverburgh Lifeboat Station. I’ve recently taken up golf, archery and Scottish dancing. I’m a member of South Harris Women’s Institute in Leverburgh and was their Media Secretary for the last two years. Finally I seem to spend many an hour baking for various events.
I feel very privileged to be able to give something back to the Trust in my new role as a Director. I feel very strongly that the community should be served by the Trust in many different ways, both in the business and social aspects. It’s still early days so I look forward to seeing how the Trust will evolve