Breasclete Community Association is a registered charity (SCO10214) and a company limited by guarantee, formed over thirty years ago, being constituted in its current form in 2001. The association aims to promote the well being of the community resident in the Breasclete School intake area by associating the local authorities, voluntary organisations and residents in a common effort to further health, to advance recreation and social, moral and intellectual development, and to foster a community spirit for the achievement of these and other such charitable objects.
The Breasclete community includes the villages of Breasclete, Callanish, Garynahine, Linshader and Lochganvich and has a population of approximately 450. The population is fairly stable currently, though this is set against a backdrop of steady population decline. Breasclete Primary school serves the community and has a roll of fewer than 30, a recently declined figure, but with good intakes anticipated. The large majority of children are in Gaelic medium education. On leaving primary school children travel daily to the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway for secondary education, some 17 miles from Breasclete, many then leaving for tertiary education on the mainland. Employment levels are reasonable, the community being in travel-to-work distance from Stornoway, having a notable local employer and having the range of employment opportunities typically offered in such crofting townships.
Cultural heritage of the community is essentially that typical of the Western Isles – a strong Gaelic tradition. Two strong pillars of this tradition are music and song and this underpins two annual events – the Hebridean Celtic Festival and the Feis nan Eilean Siar week, both Stornoway based but which the community centre as the outlying venue. Built heritage is dominated by the international recognised Callanish Stones which date from before 2,000 BC. Approximately 40,000 people visit the site each year – a considerable number in Highlands and Islands terms. Infrastructure includes two piers, at Callanish and Breasclete which are used for aquaculture purposes and by pleasure craft including flit boats transferring passengers from occasional visiting cruise ships. There is a regular bus service to Stornoway and the community has broadband connectivity. The community is served by one community council, thereby easing administrative matters.
The association owns and manages Breasclete Community Centre which is located within the heart of the community. It provides a first-class facility for all the groups involved in community life and culture, covering all ages from children and youth, elderly and disabled, adult learning and outreach counselling. The centre enables current groups to improve and develop, encourages the formation of new groups, and gives the opportunity to invite other organisations to promote their services, hold public meetings/presentations/exhibitions, provides training and stages theatrical and musical entertainment to a wide audience.
Across the Isle of Lewis, Breasclete is known to be one of the most active communities in the island, and other areas look to Breasclete Community Association for advice and inspiration as to how to keep their community alive and encourage people to support their events and activities.
It has become evident that the community has grown stronger and more resilient with the building of the community centre; a very positive ‘can do’ attitude prevails. The benefits to be achieved through co-operation, voluntary effort and shared vision have been assimilated in a new culture of empowerment and self-determination. Breasclete is marked out in the Western Isles as a dynamic community determined to succeed, and it has found its voice through a number of initiatives which have been taken by the association and hosted in the community centre. Among the projects being pursued by the association include creating a play area, an alternative energy scheme, an all weather sports surface and introducing wild salmon to the adjacent Breasclete River.
With the longer term in mind, and acknowledging the relentless population decline suffered by the Western Isles, it is seen that one of the principal gifts the community can bestow on youngsters is a portfolio of rich and rewarding experiences to cherish, a set of values to inspire and guide them and a way of life to aspire to. The reward of even a small proportion being convinced to stay in the area as adults or move back to the area after studying or working elsewhere, so sustaining the community and their cultural inheritance, is enough to repay the effort.
The association is an entirely voluntary organisation, with all directors being nominated representatives of the various groups in the area and currently comprise the following elected members:-
Elizabeth MacArthur, Neil MacArthur, Merrilyn MacAulay, Lesley MacDonald, Noreen MacDonald, Norman MacDonald, Joan MacKay, Malcolm MacKay, Angus A. MacKenzie, Helen MacKenzie, Caroline MacLennan, Jessie McCulloch, John Monaghan, Joanna Morrison, Angus Smith, Cris Stubbington.
Kenny John MacLennan, Chairman Cathie Ann Smith, Secretary and John Smith, Interim Treasurer