Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn (Galson Estate Trust) celebrated its tenth birthday today (Thursday January 12th) , and in so doing launched a new £10,000 grant funding stream as part of its Community Investment Fund. 

This comes just months after the opening of a £5,000 stream.

The Trust took over the 22,260 hectare Galson Estate on 12 January, 2007. 

Around 1900 people live on the Estate, which comprises 616 crofts in 22 crofting townships.

A key development in recent times has been the installation of three wind turbines at Ballantrushal, near Barvas, at a cost of £5.1 million. 

In addition to commercial finance, £705,800 of funds was raised through a community share offer.

A Strategic Plan was launched in November 2016, outlining overarching priorities for the estate for a 20-year-period.

At a special celebration event at the Trust’s Business Hub in South Galson this morning, Agnes Rennie, chair of Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn, said: “After ten years we are uniquely placed to shape the kind of community we aspire to see in the future, with a new and expanding investment fund, a refreshed vision and a cohesive strategic plan. 

“I need to thank fellow directors, past and present, our staff over the years, and many others who have played important roles in supporting the Urras. 

“Progress in the years ahead will be dependent on partnership and collaboration and I look forward to making the most of shared ambitions and mutual interests both within and outwith the Estate as we move forward.”

David Cameron, chair of Community Land Scotland, commented: “We congratulate Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn on ten years of community ownership and all that has been achieved in that period. 

“Community land ownership has grown significantly in ten years and, despite land reform sceptics, ambitious landowners like Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn have proved themselves more than capable of effective management and unafraid to push boundaries when required.”

The first four years of ownership saw management of the Urras being undertaken by the volunteer board of directors, with some initiatives being supported by short-term project staff.

Over subsequent years, with an increase in projects and the move to in-house administration of crofting records, staffing has grown to a team of nine people, situated in the Business Centre in South Galson and the Habost Household Recycling Site.