With 2024 now well underway South Islay Development would like to take the opportunity to look back on 2023. Here are some of the highs (and lows) from the past 12 months…

In January 2023 South Islay Development (SID) was delighted to be working in partnership with Ardbeg Distillery to identify and fund projects the length and breadth of Islay over the next 5 years. A £ 1million fund, THE ARDBEG ALL ISLAY FUND, has been established following the sale of a rare Ardbeg 1975 cask sold to a private investor for £16m. The fund will benefit organisations, projects, and enterprising activities across the whole of Islay.

The SID Team welcomed Danielle McKerrell, as Community Engagement Officer, to work closely with the community to build upon SID’s events and enhance community engagement in all SID projects.

During February the Playing Field tenders were scored by the design team, the QS and SID Board, on price and quality. The top three tenders were very strong on quality; however with a limited budget SID had to be mindful of costs.

March ended on a high with SID awarding the Port Ellen Playing Fields contract to Procast, a Hamilton based construction firm. Procast worked with SID to ensure the construction costs were on a par with SID’s secured funding. With a signed contract in place SID also ensured that all funding could be used into the next financial year.

In its first year of funding bids, The Ardbeg All Islay Fund Panel was very pleased to have received 41 submissions from all over Islay. Charitable organisations applied for funding towards projects including intergenerational activities, sporting, heritage and capital purchases.

‘Lunch Club on Tour’ began in April, and ran until October. The Senior’s Lunch Club had a fantastic time touring Islay (and Jura!), sampling all the hotels, cafes and restaurants on offer, visiting distilleries and taking part in mosaic glass crafts, pottery painting, chocolate making and much more. April also saw the start of SID’s monthly family ceilidhs, run in partnership with MYCOS and with brilliant input from local musicians and the Highland dancers.

The Ardbeg All Islay Fund was pleased to award funding to 28 local charities to increase or continue their excellent community work. A full list of awards is published on the South Islay Development website:-

In May SID celebrated the King's Coronation by hosting a weekend of community events; kids arts and crafts, the opening of the bowling green, themed games and home baking, followed by a family ceilidh in partnership with MYCOS, Port Ellen Parent Council and Islay and Jura Senior Citizens.

The official Port Ellen Playing Fields ‘Ground-Breaking’ was held in June. May Carmichael from Port Ellen cut the first turf and the project finally got underway. Fizz and cake followed in the Ramsay Hall for everyone who attended.

SID also assisted with the Commonwealth Fly Fishing Championships in June. The Opening Ceremony through Port Ellen started with a parade of all Port Ellen Primary School children, and the Kilchoman Islay Pipe Band, ending with the Highland dancers, a BBQ and local stalls on the green.

Port Ellen Sports Day was held in July. It was a huge success again this year with Junior & Adult discos on the Friday night, followed by bouncy castles, a beer tent, heavy events, archery and races (for both children and adults!) on the Saturday. The party continued into the night with live music from Papa Shandy and the Drams in the Ramsay Hall.

In August the first construction meeting was held for the Port Ellen Playing Fields project, with the design and construction teams meeting onsite for the first time. The footprint of the new Pavilion was cleared, the foundations dug and the concrete poured. Progress then slowed due to the disruption of several fields drains, and areas of flooding. The surface water drainage system had to be redesigned to deal with all the Islay rain!

SID also teamed up with Chit Chat to host a beach party for the children, with a BBQ, tea tent, pies, cakes, sand castle competition and races.

The SID Team welcome Kirsty Izzat to the team as Assistant Manager, working closely with Alyson to support the SID projects and staff.

In September work progressed on the motorhome area and part of the play park was closed to allow the site to be levelled and the gabion baskets installed. At this stage three unexpected cables were uncovered, and work was delayed until SSE and Argyll & Bute Council could be onsite to divert them.

The Oban and Strathspey and Reel Society also visited in September. SID held a concert in the Ramsay Hall with them and local performers and musicians.

Following the recent community consultation about the Ramsay Hall, the SID board and staff reviewed the community's comments and how they fit within the wider scope of The Playing Fields. The Sonas Steering Group (Mums and childcare providers) also met with SID in order to discuss the feedback. The NEW plan shows the new location of a potential new childcare/nursery building on The Playing Fields which has it’s own dedicated site and parking. This will complement the potential Ramsay Hall upgrade for large functions/sports/events and the Community Hub building with it’s café, local businesses and smaller function room.

October saw the annual Junior & Adults Halloween discos, with prizes for the scariest and most topical costumes. These were very well attended, with a fantastic display of costumes on show!

Procast continued work on the Playing Fields, clearing an area for car parking beside the Ramsay Hall, as they waited for the cables to be diverted. The installation of the drainage system was also well underway.

In November AMP Transport delivered two spectator’s shelters, and ten bicycle stands to the Playing Fields for installation once construction work is finished. Work on the wider project slowed again due to weather and transport issues, with some building supplies severely delayed.

November the 5th saw the return of the annual Port Ellen Firework display, with the community turning out for the bonfire, fireworks, snacks and hot drinks.

Additional ground workers joined Procast in December and the remainder of the Playpark was closed, and the kit stored safely offsite. The area for the motorhome expansion was levelled and drainage installation began. Elsewhere the septic tank for the new building was installed and glulam and steel for the construction was finally delivered.

SID celebrated Christmas with a lovely afternoon Christmas Fair, with local produce and crafts on sale. The Christmas tree village light switch on took place in early December and included the new Christmas lights for the lamp posts.

The Ardbeg All Islay Fund has opened again on 8th January 2024 for its second year. More information is available on SID's website ( Please do not hesitate to contact Alyson to discuss your projects at the weekly drop-in through out January to March 2024.

A Huge Thank You for all your continued support shown throughout 2023. SID are looking forward to 2024. It promises to be another busy year!

Sonas Childcare & Ramsay Hall Update

Following the recent community consultation about the Ramsay Hall, the SID board and staff have reviewed the community's aspirations and how best they can be met within the wider scope of The Playing Fields. The Sonas Steering Group (Mums and childcare providers) also met with SID in order to discuss the main topics with regards:

The SID Board have pledged to work towards:-

  • The completion of a lease agreement for The Ramsay Hall with Argyll & Bute Council meaning the management of the Hall will be run locally once again.
  • Pursuing new childcare facilities on the Playing Fields site in line with recent Scottish Government guidelines.
  • New upgraded facilities in the main hall which are accessible to all.
  • A multi-purpose accessible space downstairs in The Ramsay Hall which is available to hire for changing rooms or functions.
  • Dedicated storage for the main users - Port Ellen Juniors and Mother & Toddlers.
  • New office or storage rooms for hire in The Ramsay Hall.
  • Increasing the dedicated space for the play park and adding more equipment as funding becomes available.

The plan shows the new location of a potential new childcare/nursery building on The Playing Fields which has it’s own dedicated site and parking. This will complement the potential Ramsay Hall upgrade for large functions/sports/events and the Community Hub building with it’s café, local businesses and small function room.

The Next Steps:-

  • Finalise the plans and submit planning permission with Argyll & Bute Council;
  • Continue to finalise the heads of terms for The Ramsay Hall lease with Argyll & Bute Council;
  • Continue to apply and secure funding towards the projects on the plan;
  • Continue to work closely with all the groups involved.

Copies of the Updated Plans are available in local shops, at the SID Office or online at

The Updated Ramsay Hall Drawings:-

The Updated Childcare Facility Drawing:-

Supporting 28 Local Projects in its First Year

In its first year of funding bids, The Ardbeg All Islay Fund Panel was very pleased to have received 41 submissions from all over Islay.  Charitable organisations which applied for funding towards projects included intergenerational activities, sporting, heritage and capital purchases. The Fund will distribute a total of £1million over the next five years.

As anticipated, the timeframe for feedback to applicants was delayed due to the high demand for funding. The total request for funding in year one was over £700k, with the panel having the hard task to fund only £180k this year.  This was not a task taken lightly, and each panel member handled it diligently and professionally. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the panel members very much for their valuable dedication to volunteering to be on the panel. The SID team looks forward to continuing to grow the partnership with the panel to strengthen the fund’s processes ready for the fund opening in year two (January 2024).

The Ardbeg All Islay Fund is pleased to award 28 local charities to grow or continue their excellent community work in the next coming months.  A full list of awards will be published on the South Islay Development website.  (

Ruth Thomson, CSR Manager at The Glenmorangie Company said: ”Ardbeg is delighted to support and develop enterprising and sustainable projects across the whole of the island, and the panel was impressed with the calibre of applications received. We look forward to seeing the projects selected this year grow and develop following the distribution of the funds. ”

The fund is pleased to support the following projects in 2023:-

Islay Karate Club – The club will support members of the community to access karate lessons, covering everything they will need to start including uniform, equipment, insurance and grading.

The Museum of Islay Life - The museum will be safeguarding, displaying, and promoting the twelve thousand years of the island’s history. The museum would like to build an extension to this to provide adequate room for its collection thus preserving Islay’s precious and irreplaceable cultural heritage.

Islay & Jura Youth Wind Band – The support from the fund will reinvigorate and raise the band's profile and sustainability, benefiting the lives of young people and the wider community of Islay & Jura. Securing new instruments for young musicians and enhancing their learning experience through visits to mainland music events and playing alongside professional musicians.

Pat McGrann, Chair at SID said “South Islay Development is delighted to be the linchpin for the distribution of the unique and generous donation of The Ardbeg All Islay Fund. The panel of local folk has worked very hard considering all the applications.   There is plenty of activity and enterprise to support and develop our community.  We look forward to monitoring the successful grants and encourage all those disappointed to consider round two next year.  I’m sure there are plenty of ideas waiting to be funded.”

The Ardbeg All Islay Fund encourages all applicants to reapply next year and applicants are invited to work with Alyson MacGillivray SID Development Manager, to receive feedback to strengthen their application in year two. A programme of workshops will be considered in the Autumn ready for the fund reopening in January 2024.

Funding Awards - Year One

Ballygrant Hall - £3,000

Bowmore Community Association - £1,500

Bowmore Lunch Club - £2,500

Bridgend Bowling Club - £1,000

Bruichladdich Hall - £2,500

Islay & Jura Bump to Birth - £4,850

The Cantilena Festival - £1,000

The Finlaggan Trust - £5,000

Feis Oigridh - £18,946

Friends of Portnahaven Church - £3,000

Greater Kilmeny - £6,000

Islay & Jura Youth Wind Band - £12,000

Islay & Jura Community Enterprise - £4,000

Islay & Jura Highland Dancers - £12,000

Islay Archers - £5,000

Islay Pipe Band - £2,500

Islay Rugby Club - £4,970

Islay Book Festival - £4,000

Islay Natural History Trust – £5,000

Islay Karate Club - £4,460

Museum of Islay Life - £19,000

Port Ellen Playing Fields - £5,000

Port Ellen Christmas Party - £500

Port Ellen Mother & Toddlers - £2,000

Port Ellen Sports Day/SID –  £2,500

SideKick - £24,000

Sonas Childcare/SID - £11,500

Portnahaven Hall - £2,000

SID are excited that construction work is finally due to begin on the Playing Fields in May 2023!

The successful contractor is Hamilton based Procast, who are keen to expand their community-based work. They will be responsible for both the community building and the motorhome expansion, and joined onsite by locally based McEachern Bros.

SID would like to extend a big Thank You to the project funders at this point, all of whom have continued to provide support despite numerous project delays. Funding has been received from the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund, Visit Scotland’s Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, The Glenmorangie Company, the Scottish Government’s Rural & Island Communities Ideas into Action fund, delivered by Inspiring Scotland, Argyll & Bute Council, the Scottish Government’s Islands Infrastructure Fund, the Scottish Government’s Investing in Communities Fund, The Suez Communities Trust, South Islay Trading Company, Elixir Distillers, the Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES), managed by Local Energy Scotland, The Garfield Weston Foundation, and Islay Energy Trust.

Huge Thanks also for all the continued support shown by the community during this process, especially when external factors have meant progress has been much slower than originally planned. SID are looking forward to the next steps now and beginning the build. An update on construction will be provided as soon as possible!

Drop Rosie an email at, or pop in and see us at the SID office if you have any questions or queries.

Ardbeg Islay single malt Scotch whisky established a £ 1million to support community and environmental projects on Islay.

Working in cooperation South Islay Development (SID) and Ardbeg were delighted to launch the Ardbeg All Islay Fund on the 30th of January 2023 inviting applications from groups and projects right across the island. The fund will run over a 5-year period with £200,000 per year to be allocated and distributed.

A series of open-day sessions were held in Port Ellen, Bowmore, Ballygrant and Port Charlotte for the SID team to meet the community groups and give them an opportunity to ask questions and become more informed about the fund.

SID has been delighted by the enthusiastic interest in the fund and has worked hard to ensure due diligence was undertaken to ensure the process works for all parties, including establishing an independent cross-Islay panel.

By the deadline on the 13th of March, there were 41 completed applications received from projects spanning the whole of Islay. All applicants have had acknowledgements of their applications.

Now for the hard work! All applications are being assessed next week and the SID staff will then send all the applications to the independent panel. The panel meetings will be held end of April with a provisional set for the beginning of May. The successful applicants will be informed by the beginning of May at the latest.

Thanks for all the interest and support – this is a very exciting fund which will allow many organisations to fulfil their ambitions for a wonderful community to flourish and prosper.

We will continue regular updates as The Ardbeg All Islay Fund progresses.


South Islay Development (SID) is delighted to be working in partnership with Ardbeg Distillery to identify and fund projects the length and breadth of Islay over the next 5 years. A £ 1 million fund, THE ARDBEG ALL ISLAY FUND, has been established following the sale of a rare Ardbeg 1975 cask sold to a private investor for £16m. The fund will benefit organisations, projects, and enterprising activities across the whole of Islay.  SID and Ardbeg have worked together over several years in the planning of a new Community Hub for Port Ellen. 

£200,000 will be available annually over a 5-year period from the fund. It is vitally important that the fund is set up and administered diligently and to this end there will be a panel of 7 people recommending, advising, and approving all applications. 2 SID directors, 5 members of our community and one Glenmorangie Company director. This will take time and commitment from the panel and SID are seeking expressions of interest from those who may be interested in joining the advisory panel. Experience of funding applications be may an advantage.

John Findlay, chair of SID commented: ‘This is a real one-off donation to Islay, and we are now very excited to see and hear about the projects and ideas across the island which this money could help.’

Working together, SID and Ardbeg will launch THE ARDBEG ALL ISLAY FUND early in 2023, inviting applications from groups and projects right across the island which meet some of the following criteria:

  • Supporting Active Lives: ensuring access to a range of physical and healthy activities;
  • Building Community Resilience: helping residents access learning and training, supporting carers to access external services or supporting local cultural activities and facilities;
  • Enhancing The Environment: establishing or supporting environmental schemes such as CO2 reduction, recycling, or land use, including biodiversity improvements and peatland restoration. 

So, get your thinking caps on! There is still some work being done to establish the exact timeline for the launch date and application forms are being drawn up, but expect to hear more in the New Year, both in the Ileach and on SID’s social media pages.  

Please direct any questions or express an interest in being on the panel

to Alyson MacGillivray at or pop into the office for a chat.

As 2022 draws to a close it seems like a good time to give an update on the last year at Port Ellen Playing Fields. Although construction hasn’t yet begun SID have been working hard behind the scenes to ensure that the project continues to move forward. Here’s a round-up of the last 12 months…

January 2022
The year got off to a good start as SID went out to tender for a construction team on Public Contracts Scotland. SID and the design team optimistically expected building to begin in Spring 2022!

Islay Energy Trust awarded funding towards an air source heat pump and solar panels to be installed on the new building. This will help keep running costs down in the long term. This funding, alongside all other project funding, is currently secured until construction is underway.

February 2022
SID received the news that a decision on the Planning Permission had been delayed. Further delays occurred due to a lack of construction tender returns. In the post-covid building boom there were so many building projects underway that no contractors could commit the time or workforce to the project. While good news for Islay’s builders, not such good news for SID.

March to May 2022
At a Pre-Determination Hearing in March SID presented the project to Argyll & Bute Council. Planning Permission was finally granted, by a unanimous vote from all the Councillors present! This was fantastic news and the SID Board began to look forward to getting the new facilities up and running.

In April SID received further good news that the Building Warrant for the new building had been approved.

A revised tender was issued in March; however it took until May 2022 before two tenders were finally received. Unfortunately due to rapidly increasing construction costs at the time both of these were significantly over budget, and SID were unable to appoint a contractor.

June to August 2022
The difficulty in securing a construction team was new territory for everyone involved. SID worked alongside the design team and funders to try and secure extensions for the existing funding while also finding a way to progress the project.

Alongside this, work continued to discharge the Planning Conditions. Argyll Archaeology carried out a site evaluation, and confirmed the good news that no detailed archaeological investigation was required prior to construction!

SID successfully secured additional funding from CARES. This was added to the funding from Islay Energy Trust and will eventually go towards the renewable technology within the building.

September 2022
SID took advice from Highlands & Islands Enterprise, and began work with a procurement specialist to try and secure a construction team.

Work continued on the new playpark plans and Port Ellen Mother & Toddlers choose two new pieces of playpark kit to be included in the relocated playpark.

October 2022
Following feedback from contractors and the procurement specialist the decision was made to split the project into two smaller lots and retender. Lot 1 now includes the relocation of the playpark, the access upgrades, roads and parking and the motorhome area. Lot 2 will be the new community building. This allows contractors to bid for either one or two lots, depending on their available resources and will ensure both lots progress as quickly as possible.

November to December 2022:
Following a positive response from interested contractors the tender was reissued. SID and the design team expect tender returns in early January and all going to plan, work to begin onsite in Spring 2023.

Fingers crossed that 2023 will bring some positive changes to the Playing Fields as construction begins! Thank you all for your patience and continuing support throughout 2022 and please keep an eye out for the next Playing Fields update early next year.

The Sonas Childcare charity continues its work to resolve some of the island's childcare issues. The SONAS Board are pleased to announce that five new committee members have come forward to join the board, which will come under the auspices of South Islay Development (SID).

Stepping up to join the board are Rosie Gordon, Dionne Johnston, Gillian McGregor, Joanne Beckett, and Pat McGrann. Between them, they have a wealth of experience in parenthood, childcare, medicine, and charities, all of which will benefit the project immensely. 

The new sub-group and SID would like to thank everyone who has helped shape the Sonas Childcare charity to date. As with any charity or funded project, it is an ongoing process and there is a lot of hard work which has already been done by the previous members of the board in identifying and trying to secure premises for a much-needed childcare facility.

The Sonas committee has been working with AMP Architects and Argyll & Bute Council to look at the Ramsay Hall as a potential building for housing childcare. Within this building, they have looked to retain the community hall with improved services (kitchen, bar, storage), a childcare facility for children under 3 years (with access to outdoor space on Port Ellen Playing Fields) and improved upstairs space (investigating changing rooms or office space for SID).

So, what happens next?

  • Develop the principal drawings for The Ramsay Hall with community consultation in the New Year.
  • Update the business plan for the building.
  • Continue to work with local and national partners to secure childcare facilities.

Following the Argyll & Bute Planning Committee Meeting on 23rd February, the decision was made by the Council to carry out a pre-determination hearing to decide the outcome of the Port Ellen Playing Fields Project Planning Permission.

The hearing will take place on Thursday the 24th of March, and SID expect a final decision on the planning application to be made on the day.

SID would like to thank everyone who has helped get to this stage – not just all Board and staff members past and present, but also all the members of the community who have given their time and support over the years.

A big thank you to the following organisations for supporting the project so far: The Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant Fund and Investing in Communities, The Glenmorangie Company, North Highland Initiative, Foundation Scotland (D&A MacDonald Fund), CARES, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Islay Energy Trust, Elixir Distillers, Visit Scotland (Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund), Inspiring Scotland (Rural Communities Ideas into Action), SUEZ Communities Trust and Argyll & Bute Council.

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​​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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