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Winners have been announced for a competition encouraging householders across Uist to light up the islands for Christmas.

Earlier yesterday (21st December 2021) on the shortest day of the year, prizes were presented to the homeowners, community groups and businesses that have gone the extra mile to make their districts sparkle this Christmas.

North Uist and Benbecula Locality Partnership organised the island-wide contest, which included categories for households, businesses and community organisations, with sponsorship from the Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery.

Raebelle Steele from Askernish, South Uist, won first prize for ‘Individual Outdoor Display’, while the ‘Community Group Outdoor Display’ award was given to the Christmas Tree Trail organised by North Uist Community Council.

Coralbox Gift Shop on Berneray won ‘Best Shop Display’ and Borve Guest House on Benbecula was named ‘Best Hospitality Display’.

Mary Potton, owner of Borve Guest House, Benbecula, receiving her trophy for 'Best Hospitality Display' from Jemma MacVicar

Full list of winners:

Individual Outdoor Display

1. Raebelle Steele, Askernish, South Uist (£200)

2. Margaret Kennedy, Lochboisdale, South Uist (£100)

3. Charlene MacPhee, Balivanich, Benbecula (£50)

Community Group Outdoor Display: Christmas Tree Trail (North Uist Community Council) wins £200 which will be donated towards NETs cancer support

Best Shop Display: Coralbox Gift Shop (Berneray)

Best Hospitality Display: Borve Guest House (Benbecula)

Raebelle Steele started decorating her home with hundreds of lights more than 20 years ago and it has become a local landmark during the festive season on South Uist. She added a neon-coloured Nativity scene this year, which turned the heads of the judges, and helped her secure the cash prize of £200.  Raebelle, who loves Christmas time, said she was “gobsmacked” to find out her home had won ‘Best Individual Outdoor Display’.  She only had one idea when asked how she would spend the £200. “More lights!”

North Uist Community Council has arranged a Christmas Tree Trail around the island, having first distributed trees around districts to cheer up local residents after the initial hardship of the pandemic in 2020.  Joan Ferguson, chair of the community council, said: “It has been a real community effort, with 14 trees sited across the island, and help from dozens of local volunteers.” Local councillors contributed £300 towards the trail, with additional funding secured from the Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery.  North Uist Community Council received £200 for charity, which will be donated to support research into NETs cancer, which community council member John MacDonald, Lochmaddy, has lived with for some time.


North Uist Community Council members Joan Ferguson and Rachel MacLean receiving £200 for charity from Jemma MacVicar, development officer for North Uist & Benbecula Locality Planning Partnership.

Jemma MacVicar, development officer for North Uist and Benbecula Locality Partnership, presented awards to prize-winners yesterday afternoon (21st December 2021).  “We were delighted to organise this popular competition, with support from the Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery,” explained Jemma.

“We did this to encourage the islands to light up for the festive season and can say that, with dozens of brilliant entries received, our communities have more than risen to the challenge!

“We would like to thank everyone who has taken part and supported the competition, which will have brought some welcome cheer to islanders this Christmas.”
(This report had been provided by Am Pàipear, the Uist community newspaper, via the Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery)