Hard work and a lot of nettle rash as the community gets to work

The Lochmaddy community gathered on a sunny Saturday to begin the work of transforming the village playpark.

Clearing a mountain of overgrown foliage the workers uncovered the play equipment and ground ready to be repaired and repainted, and ready for the installation of a new boat swing, a gentle nod to Lochmaddy’s port history.

Local parent Helen Stoddart has been working tirelessly on moving the planning for the new playpark to action, it’s a credit to her hard work that the children will this summer be able to play in the park safely.

Helen told Am Pàipear: “This is just phase one for Lochmaddy. There are plans drawn up for a larger development around the edge of the football pitch, which will have equipment suitable for toddlers to teens. For this to go ahead, Lochmaddy Hall Committee are putting out a call for more volunteers to help with the planning and funding applications to make this a reality. If you can spare a little time and enthusiasm to see a fantastic play facility come to Lochmaddy, please do get in touch to offer some help.”

The Committee was faced with more work than expected, as Helen explained: “A previous announcement on Facebook from RAF Boulmer that their contractor JRC services would make over the football pitch and playpark area did not not come to fruition, so unfortunately, it is back to the Lochmaddy Hall Committee to create this space for the community and visitors to enjoy.”

The funding for the gardening equipment and volunteers lunch was secured by North Uist & Benbecula Locality Partnership through the Community Shout Out Fund supported by CnES, NHS Western Isles, The Scottish Government and Scottish Rural Network.

The plans for the playpark are available to view in Lochmaddy Hall.

Helen can be contacted by email at

UHI Degree Show at Taigh Chearsabhagh

Four long years of study and many months of final preparations are coming to fruition for the art students at UHI’s North Uist Campus, based in Taigh Chearsabhagh.

The annual Degree Show will exhibit the work of graduating Fine Art students Sif Nielsen and Kathrhona Lawson. Sif moved from Denmark to study here, and has been based in Lochmaddy for the past four years. Kathrhona spent the first three years of her degree in Stirling, and came to Uist for her final year. Both artists were drawn to Uist by its natural environment and cultural heritage, and both have chosen to remain here to continue their work, joining a growing and vibrant community of artists that includes the Uist Arts Association, Taigh Chearsabhagh and UHI.
Running along side the degree show, the annual Open Studio exhibition will showcase the work of the other students studying at the North Uist campus, across both the one year NC Art and Design and the BA(Hons) Fine Art. The other students are: Jessie Coldwell, Emily Dodd, Nisha Hallberg, Andrew Wallace (NC Art and Design) Ami Robb, Liz French and Maggie Barker – BA(Hons) Fine Art.

The student population at Taigh Chearsabhagh is small but diverse, and that makes for a unique learning experience, as Course Leader Anne Mackenzie

explains: “Our current students range in age from 17 to 50, and last year we had a 70 year old who graduated from the course. Some are local, or from other parts of the Western Isles, and a good number came from across the UK and beyond to study here. That breadth of experience really adds value to the to the student’s time with us.”

Pictured is Nisha Hallberg, from Brighton, whose award winning designs for signage will be installed in the doorways at the new Cnoc Soillier building this summer. Nisha is heading off to Edinburgh to continue her studies.

Jessie Coldwell, who came to the NC course straight from Lionacleit School, was clear that the course has opened new doors for her: “I wouldn’t have chosen to pursue art as a study option if this course hadn’t been available locally. The portfolio preparation element has been so helpful in getting me ready to apply.” Jessie’s applications proved successful and she will be continuing her studies in Dundee.

The college is very much part of the community, and Anne encourages anyone with an interest in studying art to get in touch: “There are learning opportunities for different entry levels, so if you are a beginner or want to revisit your creativity after a gap, the NC course may be right for you or if you have an existing grounding in visual art and the academic qualifications, the BA (Hons) Fine Art offers an exciting opportunity.”

Both shows open on May 28th, with the Degree show closing on June 11th and the Open Studio exhibition continuing on until June 25th.

By Liam Macphee

Schools from all over Uist and Barra recently took part in the well-known football competition Cuach na Cloinne. The competition is a 5 a side tournament which is aimed at encouraging young people to use more Gaelic in their day to day life – even when playing football.

The football on display in the tournament was brilliant to watch as every team was desperate to win their way to the finals.

Sgoil Uibhist a Tuath 1 (SUAT1) won the regional final at Sgoil Lionacleit and will travel to Bught Park in Inverness to play in the final on the June 1st.

SUAT1 were unbeaten in their group, which was brilliant in itself; they went on to play Sgoil Dhalabroig, who topped the other group, in a great game of football to end off the day North vs South! Sgoil Uibhist a Tuath 1 managed to take the game quite comfortably, with a

4-2 win seeing them book their place in the finals in Inverness.

Am Pàipear took the opportunity to speak to Alex O’ Henley, UEFA’s Scotland Correspondent and award winning broadcaster and Gaelic match commentator, he said:

“You are never too young to get into the winning habit and Cuach na Cloinne is a great opportunity for the stars of tomorrow to showcase their talent while competing against contemporaries from Gaelic schools across Scotland. Sgoil an Iochdair were the first team from the Southern Isles to win this trophy a few years ago and hopefully Sgoil Uibhist a Tuath will go on to emulate them in Inverness. Uist and Barra football offers a development pathway for young talent and North Uist will be hoping that these youngsters will be breaking into their senior side in the next few years.”

Maria Murray, Development Director at Comunn na

Gàidhlig (CnAG) said: “It’s fantastic that we are able to run events like this again. The level of excitement, Gaelic and football are all excellent!”

Sgoil Uibhist a Tuath teacher Dianne Morrison is accompanying the children to Inverness, along with PE teacher Margaret Mary Findlay. Diane was delighted with the school’s performance: “As a school, we are incredibly proud of the children. After two years of restrictions, it’s fantastic to be able to take them away to Inverness for the finals. Many thanks to CnAG for organising the event.”

Pictured left to right are: back – Cathal Dobbie, Alexander MacIsaac, Ruairidh MacRitchie; front – Jack Prior- Pitt, Owen Mathis-Foote, Kyle Stewart.