What’s happening in the South Islay Development Office?

At last the staff are back in the office from Monday to Friday after an absence of 2 years and they are available for chats and questions.

Three members of staff are there to welcome you:

Alyson MacGillivray – Development Manager

Rosie MacLellan – Port Ellen Playing Fields Project Manager

Rose Reis – Admin & Finance Officer

Things have certainly not stood still and whilst SID wait for the outcome of the planning hearing for the permission to build the new Playing Fields Pavilion there have been many other developments.

Securing funding is the crux for any development organisation and it takes many hours of application filling, nail biting waits and sometimes rejection!

The staff have, however, managed to successfully secure the revenue funding for the above posts for the next 2 years from a variety of sources, complementing the whole community, and allowing SID to work alongside local users and groups.

This funding will, of course, run concurrently with the capital funding which has already been procured for the Playing Fields community building. SID are grateful to the Investing in Communities extension funding from Scottish Government, the David & Avril MacDonald Fund, Foundation Scotland, Elixir Distillers Ltd and the National Lottery – Community Led Fund. This revenue funding will allow a diverse range of smaller campaigns and projects to continue in the south of Islay and will secure the capacity and growth of the charity.

Loads of things are happening in the community and can now keep progressing with confidence that funding for staffing continues. This includes pulling together community feedback, building the additional outdoor activities and equipment in to the Playing Fields plan, working with volunteers to care and maintain the Playing Fields and Community Garden, events planning in the shape of Port Ellen Sports Day, the wonderfully popular Play and Stay sessions and Community Garden afternoon teas. The aim is to continue to work with other local groups to hold events like the Port Ellen Lunch Club, indoor bowling and soft play sessions in the Ramsay Hall.

SID is also building resilience in the community - providing training opportunities for volunteers, continuing the development of the South Islay Community Action Plan and, of course, managing the community owned Filling Station.

Obtaining the revenue funding is a huge success for the community and runs in parallel with the larger capital projects:

  • Funding secured for an upgrade of the fuel pumps and shop interior at The Filling Station
  • ‘New Pavilion’ building on the Playing Fields
  • Extension of the motorhome services at The Filling Station
  • Continuing the current work with Argyll & Bute Council, Sonas Childcare, Port Ellen Senior and Junior Football Clubs and Live Argyll to create a feasibility study of the Ramsay Hall. SID aims to feed back to the community early April with the results of this study.
  • Part of the funding has been secured to re-roof the memorial shelter for the local groups and users to use.
  • Introducing more new toddler friendly play park equipment in the relocation of the playpark

All of these projects are working closely together to ensure they complement the needs and aspirations of the community and groups who use and will use the facilities.

So that’s about it! Not that much going on. All the directors of SID are right behind all the projects in South Islay and it is a great testament to the hard work of the SID staff that the funding for these projects has been secured for the south of Islay.

South Islay Development is excited to announce that it has successfully secured a £746, 233 grant from the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital fund. This means that alongside a £250,000 grant received from The Glenmorangie Company's Kildalton Fund, and funding received from Investing in Communities, over £1 million has now been raised towards its £1.4 million project to revitalise Port Ellen Playing Fields in South Islay.

The project plans to breathe new life into this much-loved community space by replacing the old Pavilion building with a new Pavilion encompassing a café, multi-use community function rooms, business and community storage spaces, as well as office space for local organisations and SID. New parking and an access road are part of the plan, as is the relocation of the playpark from the current site closer to the new Pavilion, and the expansion of the existing motorhome site.

The new Pavilion will provide a much-needed community facility for the South of Islay, and indeed the island as a whole. Port Ellen has lost a number of its community facilities in recent times and the new building will provide a thriving facility for all ages, groups and clubs to come together in a welcoming and pleasant environment.

SID believes that the Community Hub will play a pivotal role in providing long-term community recovery from the recent pandemic, connecting the people that require support to a range of facilities and services which promote individual and community wellbeing.

Following extensive community consultation an application was submitted for planning permission in August 2021, and SID hopes that construction work will begin onsite in the first quarter of 2022. In the meantime, SID continues to work alongside their design team, to finalise the overall building design. Work is also ongoing to secure the necessary funding required to fully finance the project.

SID hopes that construction work will begin onsite in May/June 2022.

The Islay Resilience Group (IRG) continues to thrive and evolve.

Started by a group of like-minded people, the Islay response to Coronavirus has been nothing less than extraordinary and a partnership of local charities and organisations continues to drive the IRG forward. Unprecedented times necessitate unprecedented action. Without exception everyone on Islay continues to come together to make sure that everybody is cared for, looked after and most importantly not alone. The Group is an island-wide collaboration with many island bodies setting aside their own priorities to come together with the aim of supporting and protecting those in need – both physically and emotionally.

Guided by a local coordinator, depending in which area you live, assistance has been and is available for those who may need food provisions, medical deliveries, fuel or a friendly voice (on the phone or at a safe distance.) Looking across the world it is evident that the sense of community spirit is strong and when the tide turns the worst thing will be if we have learned nothing from this virus.

Donations have continued to pour in via the Go Fund Me page; donations from international visitors, local businesses and individually from all ages within the community – some donating ‘piggy bank’ money or hard-earned pocket money! Other donations and funding have also been given or applied for giving a boost to the bank account.   The marvellous band of 148 island-wide volunteers are visible with their lanyards and shopping bags, clutching lists from their neighbours and friends, making sure that nobody feels alone. All monies are being channelled to an island wide fund named the Islay COVID-19 Fund.

The Islay COVID-19 Fund has been set up and applications to the Fund can be made to a panel of representatives made up from Islay bodies – Islay Resilience Group, Islay Community Council, Emergency Planning Group, Islay and Jura Community Enterprises, Dunlossit and Islay Community Trust, Islay Development Initiative and South Islay Development.   This funding has been established as part of an investment package to provide financial support targeted through community organisations working in partnership within the community and public services, to coordinate efforts in response to the Islay Covid-19 pandemic.

Due to the nature of this pandemic and the ever-changing situation, the Islay Covid-19 Fund will be administered centrally through SID. Applications are welcomed from groups or organisations with a registered address on Islay.  Projects should provide clear benefit to the wider community of Islay.

In the first instance please request an application form from the Local Development Officer at SID by email:

Grants from £250 to £2,000 can be applied for and the panel will assess the applications quickly and in a timely manner.

Sonas Childcare is a registered SCIO set up by a group of volunteer parents on the Isle of Islay in Argyll and Bute who recognised a gap in the market for a day care facility for pre-school children.

There is currently no childcare facility on Islay for children under 3 years old. Provision of a facility of this type for this age group is not a regulatory requirement for Argyll and Bute Council. Sonas was set up to respond to the urgent and important need that exists to establish this service. A dedicated childcare facility will not only provide vital early years setting support to the children growing up on the island, but also provide a service needed for parents to allow them to return to work and support the island’s economy.  In addition, given the planned economic growth, it is vital that this service is available to attract new families to Islay.

Sonas Childcare began responding to the gap in provision two years ago with the intention of establishing a facility on Islay. It has worked with Argyll and Bute Early Years Team to seek a viable option for the establishment of a nursery, but unfortunately no suitable building could be found. In 2019 Sonas began working with South Islay Development (SID) a community run development trust and anchor organisation. The organisations have worked in partnership to seek funding and establish a facility in the south of Islay. 

SID and Sonas Childcare are very pleased to have been awarded Crown’s Estate Funding to develop the initial stages of this project, working closely with professionals to look at suitable buildings within the community. Sonas Childcare and SID are looking forward to working with the community over the next few months to develop a sustainable option to take forward.

The MV Lochiel started her career in Oban, before moving to the Islay run late in 1939, following the modification of the pier at West Loch Tarbert. She served as the mail boat for Islay, Gigha, Jura and Colonsay, avoiding requisitioning during WWII. Her mainmast, which is now the centerpiece of the Port Ellen Community Garden, was added in 1953.

SID, in conjunction with The Museum of Islay Life, have been working on installing a sign  to tell the story of the Locheil, the last surviving mail boat of MacBrayne’s Ltd.

The sign will be in both English and Gaelic and will be erected in the Community Garden when the design is finalised.

This will be a lovely addition to the green space and will bring to life the Locheil’s long history.

Port Ellen Lunch Club has enjoyed meeting up together in the Islay Hotel and SeaSalt over the past few years, catching up with new and old friends and listening to the occasional guest speaker as well as a glorious lunch with exceptional baking! We have been truly spoilt with the lovely food and warm atmosphere which awaits us every Wednesday.

Everyone in the community over 50 is welcome to come along and enjoy the lunch club special menu.  Please check out posters or Facebook for further details, dates and cost of the lunch.

SID, along with Mactaggart Youth and Families Outreach Services, has been accepted on to the Co-op Food Share Programme. This is a new initiative whereby Co-op Food Share donates food that stores have been unable to sell but are still good to eat. SID and Mactaggart Youth and Families Outreach Services have co-ordinated a collection service to be made on scheduled days throughout the week for all four primary schools across the island. The food collected mainly includes fruit which is then prepared and offered to children as a healthy morning snack.

The benefits are numerous, not only does it save school funds, but the provision of a healthy nutritious snacks has already made a noticeable difference. In Port Ellen Primary School, Mrs Macdonald, Headteacher has described how there is now a calmness amongst school children, they are more focussed on their work, and come lunch time children are hungrier and finish their food which means less wastage. There is noticeably less litter in the playground and the children are more willing to try out different types of fruit. The programme has been rolled out across the island with great success. They are a caring, sharing Co-op!

South Islay Development Logo
​​South Islay Development is a registered charity (SC042384)
and company limited by guarantee (SC400320) registered in Scotland.

Registered Address:
The Ramsay Hall, Port Ellen, Isle of Islay, Argyll, PA42 7BY.
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Website Design © 2024 Ben Shakespeare Photography.
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