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Decades of genealogical research at Northton Heritage Trust has been secures for the future by a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, announced yesterday (Wednesday 25 August).

The trust has been awarded £98,700 towards Co Leis Thu? Outer Hebrides Genealogy, securing the significant genealogical resource built up by consultant genealogist Bill Lawson.

With support from the Heritage Lottery, the trust has recently appointed Angus MacLean to the role of Heritage Officer. He will work with Bill to complete the genealogical records online for Uist and Barra.

Angus’ role will also see him work with care homes, schools and colleges to expand engagement and help people better understand their heritage and history, as well as encouraging the wider Hebridean diaspora to discover their roots.

As part of the funded work, the Hebrides People website ( will be upgraded to improve accessibility and digital resources will be developed for use via e-Sgoil and through workshops.

Northton Heritage Trust was set up in 1996 to administer the donation of the Cò Leis Thu? genealogical resource by Bill and Chris Lawson.

The trust opened the Seallam! Visitor Centre in 2000 and has successfully run the resource since then.

Bill’s unique work has ensured the collection of oral tradition from older members of the community, from the 1960s onwards, that would otherwise have been lost.

Bill said: “This grant from the Heritage Lottery will assist us greatly in securing the future of this genealogical resource. I am very pleased to welcome Angus to the team, he is a local fluent Gaelic speaker with a great interest in heritage.”

Angus MacLean said: “I am honoured to be a part of the team at Seallam!, and look forward to working with Mr. Lawson to help preserve and enable wider access to his invaluable work on the genealogy and history of the Western Isles."

The picture shows Bill Lawson in 2019, with visitors from New Zealand who were put in touch with relatives still living in Harris thanks to his genealogical research.