Firstly, can I welcome you all to this year’s AGM. The past 12 months has seen the Clan Macquarrie Centre return to something resembling normality after the heavy impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
During the financial year to 31st July 2022, the Committee was able to complete some further improvements around the Centre - significant funding was secured from the Islands Communities Fund towards aspects such as a new 11-metre Polycrub, tarmacking of the remainder of the carpark, drystone walling, picnic tables, outdoor raised beds for horticulture, creation of a new website for our Hebridean Community Garden Project etc. We are extremely grateful to Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn and to their HCG project officer, Christopher Smail, for securing the necessary funding for these improvements.
Further smaller grants towards the Garden project were also sourced during the year - e.g. from Finnis Scott and from Tesco Bags for Help.
With a donation of materials from Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn for erecting an outdoor classroom, we successfully installed this during the year. The Urras have been very supportive as always - helping us with staffing for our Hebridean Community Garden joint project as well as providing a grant for premises improvements towards Covid-19 risk mitigations (spent on hand dryers, new washable floor coverings, deep cleaning).
Normal out-door maintenance work by volunteers and our own committee also continued during the year (painting, weeding etc).
Importantly, we were able to attract users and groups back - Young at Heart group, dance classes, cooking demos, art/craft classes, committee meetings (Grazings Committees, Community Council), parties, parent and toddler group, fundraising lunches plus other private hires and a community engagement event. Also encouraging is the re-emergence of wedding bookings for 2023.
We are grateful to the contractors who so efficiently completed major works for us during the year, also to all our funders and, as ever, to our volunteers.
Energy costs have increased however we take some comfort from the fact that we were able to enter into a 3-year fixed rate contract with Scottish Power from 1st December 2021, which provides a relatively cheap tariff compared with the subsequent prices on offer to consumers/businesses.
Funds generated via Feed-In Tariff by our two wind turbines plus hire income, donations and non-specific grants have again contributed towards a general break-even cashflow, after utility, insurance, accountancy and maintenance costs for the year. Wind turbine breakdowns have impacted during the year, however our cash reserves have allowed us to cope with these repair costs/income loss.
Cashflow was further assisted by additional Covid-19 financial support via HIE's wedding fund and by the Performance Grant received from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. We are grateful to HIE and CnES for their assistance in this regard.
As touched on earlier, projects to enhance the Centre's facilities and surroundings have been carried out during the period and these have generally been fully funded from specific, non-recurring grant support from the organisations mentioned earlier in this Report.
Prior to the outbreak of coronavirus, the Centre operated in a generally consistent manner each year - with our own Committee and our community volunteers successfully delivering events and activities in our own right, and providing hire and activity opportunities to a diverse range of other users from the local and wider community.
The Committee hope to see the Centre continue gradually returning to these types of activities and events - progress has already been made during the last year and is also encouraging when looking forward, especially with our employment of a part-time Development Manager just recently. This fully funded two year post, via Crown Estate funding, aims to help us to engage with new users, to encourage returning users and to collaborate with other community organisations etc. It also marks the first time that the Centre will have had a paid employee to support its efforts and activities.
The Committee and the Development Manager will of course continue to look for opportunities to improve the facilities and surroundings at the Centre, as and when funding permits.
I’d like to personally thank the committee for their continued support, along with the wider community who continue to support the Centre in various ways, volunteering at functions and assisting with the general maintenance and landscaping etc.
Norman Smith. Chair
14th November 2022