Outer Hebrides LEADER has announced three grant awards to projects in Lewis worth nearly £235,000.

LEADER grants totalling almost £115k have been awarded to ‘First Love Music Ltd’, ‘Hebridean Castle Trading’ and ‘Kinloch Historical Society’ - also levering-in almost £120,000 of external funding.

Colin Gilmour, Chairman of the Outer Hebrides LEADER Local Action Group (LAG) said: “The LEADER LAG is delighted to support three projects which deliver economic benefits through income-generation opportunities in local communities, with a range of cultural and social benefit spin-offs in addition.”

In Kirkibost, Great Bernera, ‘First Love Music Limited’ will set up a residential recording studio ‘Black Bay Studios’, delivered and managed by Pete Fletcher. This project will invest in the capital redevelopment of a former fish processing factory at Kirkibost Pier, converting it to a world-class recording studio, aimed at the biggest artists and labels in the UK and beyond.  This project will promote the Gaelic Music Culture, provide training educational and employment opportunities, support local musicians and promote the Outer Hebrides as a destination.  It is hoped that the Studio will be operational in 2017.

The ‘Hebridean Castle Trading (HCT) Polycrubs’ project – which is adjacent to UHI (Lews Castle College) in Stornoway is a Community Interest Company and will erect two polycrubs to expand both the business and the opportunities for the current service users, and install paths to improve accessibility. This new project will increase the existing client base and provide scope for further social inclusion. The main beneficiaries of the project are disabled, elderly, vulnerable people and volunteers.   It will create opportunities for the voluntary sector and provide an area which can be used by the community for allotments, while additionally providing training and education opportunities.

The Kinloch Historical Society will employ a Community Hub Manager to support the volunteer committee to deliver a wide range of key developments.  The appointment of this post is critical to furthering the Society’s endeavours, working in partnership with volunteers and partner agencies to develop the range of existing facilities, such as the rental sector and launderette, to maximise their potential.  A key part of this will be to identify, develop and market new and existing opportunities, such as the Mackenzie Initiative, as well as take forward Museum Accreditation.  The Society is looking to deliver improvements to the buildings by undertaking an ambitious redevelopment programme that will lower costs, improve conditions and provide additional revenue, to ensure long term viability.

The Outer Hebrides LEADER Programme is administered by the Outer Hebrides LAG – comprising of representatives from across a wide range of sectors, encompassing both private and public. The LAG was awarded £3.2m from the European Union LEADER Programme 2014-2020. LEADER has been active in delivering significant community-led local development (CLLD) opportunities in local communities across the Outer Hebrides for over 25 years. 

The LEADER staff team is accessible in the Comhairle’s Stornoway and Balivanich offices to support properly-constituted groups and small businesses with projects that create opportunities with tangible local development outputs.