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our history

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The Buyout - Latha Mòr Ghabhsainn

"B' ann air an là seo, 12mh Fhaoilleach 2007, a ghabh muinntir Oighreachd Ghabhsainn sealbh air an fhearann aca fhein." 

“On this day 12th January 2007 the people of Galson Estate took ownership of their land.”

 

Friday 12th January 2007 will be remembered as a historic day for the community of Galson Estate. On this day, the 56,000 acre estate passed into community ownership, to be managed on their behalf by Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn.

 

A full programme of events was planned for 12th January and the day was chosen to symbolise the start of a new year and a new era for the community. The celebrations began at 2pm at Galson Farm; a location closely associated with the tumultuous events of the 19th Century in this area. Over 100 people gathered in the yard, despite the storm, to witness this momentous occasion and when the pipes skirled a loud cheer went out to acknowledge the land now belonged to the people.

 

A commemorative stone was then unveiled by Donald MacLeod, one of UOG’s oldest members, and the youngest member, Kellie Offer. The stone has now been placed at the Urras Business Centre in South Galson.

Leading up to the buyout - Ar slighe

In 2001, a steering group was formed with the intention of purchasing, for the community, the 22,260 hectare Galson Estate, in the north of the Isle of Lewis.  The Estate at that time was under private ownership with minimal estate management or development. 

 

A feasibility study was carried out to identify the economic, social and environmental potential of the Estate, involving an in-depthanalysis of the estate’s existing assets and business, the development options and the opportunities presented. This was done with a wide-ranging community-based review and assessment of community requirements. Public and individual meetings were held with local businesses and township grazing committees and information was disseminated through Fios, the local newspaper.

Following the completion of this study in September 2004, the steering group continued with further studies and community consultation and proceeded with an application for grant funding to achieve a community buyout. There was overwhelming support from the community as 85% supported the buyout, and 1153 (75%) became members of Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn (Galson Estate Trust). Membership is open to those over the age of sixteen who are resident within the estate boundaries. 

Of those eligible to vote in the Trust’s Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 Part 3 buy-out ballot, there was a 72% turnout and an 85% majority ‘YES’ vote (830 individual votes out of 976 returns).

The Board of Directors was elected in November 2004 - 30 nominees put themselves forward for 10 volunteer directors’ posts. 76% of the Trust’s membership turned out to elect the directors.

 

In April 2006, the Trust was awarded funding of £450,488 from the BIG Lottery’s Scottish Land Fund (SLF) and £188,250 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).  

 

During the rest of the year, it raised the remaining funds required and the purchase of the Estate was concluded on 12th January 2007.

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Fifth Anniversary Celebrations/
Còig Bliadhna

Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn celebrated the 5th anniversary of the buyout on 12th January 2012. An event was held soon afterwards to mark the occasion and also to celebrate the official opening of the new business centre.

 

Pictured; Agnes Rennie (Chair of Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn) and Stewart Stevenson, MSP, Minister for Environment and Climate Change, unveiling the 5th Anniversary Harris Tweed wall hanging at the event.

Ballantrushal Wind Energy Project
Crainn-ghaoithe Bhail' an Truiseil
Renewable energy was identified as a key driver for long-term sustainability for the Galson Estate in the early stage of its community buy-out process.  After a long process starting in 2005, one turbine was installed in autumn 2013 and two additional turbines were installed in summer 2015.

The net profits from the three Enercon 900kw wind turbines are distributed to the community of the Galson Estate through our Community Investment Fund, a great asset for the people of this community. 

Our 10 Year Anniversary/
Deich Bliadhna

In 2017, the community celebrated the 10th anniversary of the community buy-out of the Galson Estate, an important milestone, but also a point for everyone coming together to "look ahead" or "Coimhead Romhainn". As a community we participated in a series of events and activities which celebrated, but also captured the contemporary face of our rural community. We endeavour to work together to celebrate all that is unique, versatile and vibrant within the community and seek to capture this through a number of events celebrating the language, music, environment, rich culture and heritage, food and drink, but mostly celebrating the people who make up the communities of the estate.

 

As part of the 10 year anniversary, a flexible strategic planning document was produced for 2017-2037 for the Urras to look ahead to plan and build a sustainable future for the communities of the Galson Estate. 

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Our 15 Year Anniversary/
Còig Deug
Bliadhna

On Thursday 3rd March 2022, the board and staff of Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn welcomed Kate Forbes MSP to the official opening of its business centre in South Galson, Isle of Lewis.

 

The opening forms part of a series of events planned across the year for Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn, commemorating the fifteenth anniversary of the Galson Estate community buyout.  At the event, Kate Forbes MSP, gave an address, as well as unveiling a special fifteenth anniversary tapestry commissioned for the year.  The wall hanging was designed and produced by local artist Alison Macleod, who created the commemorative piece to replace her original artwork lost in the fire.

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