A key staff appointment has been made by a north Skye community organisation as it prepares to deliver a major heritage project.
Angus Murray is the new programme manager for the Staffin Community Trust’s (SCT) Skye Ecomuseum II.
Angus, who previously worked for Museum and Tasglann nan Eilean in the Western Isles, will manage a wide-ranging activities programme for the project. It includes a new curriculum resource to be developed for Skye primary schools, children’s craft and storytelling events, health walks for older residents, archaeology/wildlife events/workshops, a local history society, a walking festival, business forum, guided walks and tours, etc
It comes as the SCT has been awarded the final tranche of funding needed for the project, which includes a viewing platform and new car park at Lealt Falls, footpaths and interpretation.
The Coastal Communities Fund has awarded SCT £108,049. It will allow SCT to fully deliver the exciting revamp and investment in the ecomuseum, which opened in Staffin almost a decade ago. The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and SSE Sustainable Development Fund have also awarded significant grants for the project. HLF will fund the programme manager post for three years.
Also known as ‘Ceumannan’, which is Gaelic for footsteps, the ecomuseum has been a resounding success in illustrating Staffin’s heritage and boosting the area’s economy since it opened almost a decade ago.
Ceumannan is an outdoor museum with ‘no walls and a roofless sky’ and includes a footpath network across the district. Interpretation illustrating the story of each area focuses on the heritage and landscape, which includes the famous Staffin Beach dinosaur footprints, crofting, use of the Gaelic language, past industries, wildlife, geology, archaeology, etc.
Creating employment in Staffin is a key objective for SCT, as the north-east Skye community has suffered significant population decline in recent years and is classed as economically fragile by the Scottish Government.
Angus has worked on two HLF projects connected to heritage since 2012 in Dunollie Museum, Castle and Grounds, Oban, and the recently completed Museum nan Eilean, Lews Castle, Isle of Lewis. Brought up on the Isle of Benbecula, he studied an undergraduate degree in History in Glasgow and continued his studies at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in 2010. Having worked on the dual language content of Museum nan Eilean’s new home at Lews Castle and projects including an outdoor interpretation trail whilst at Dunollie, Angus said he is eagerly anticipating working on Ceumannan II.
Both previous posts had wide education and events remits and Angus is looking forward bringing his experiences to a wide range of learners and building up relationships with groups in Staffin and on Skye.
Angus said: “I’m very much looking forward to contributing to the work carried out by the Staffin Community Trust. The funding and vision for Ceumannan II will allow for a fantastic range of events, activities and learning opportunities in Gaelic and English. It is a great opportunity for me to help build up partnerships throughout the island and make a real difference to the community of Staffin.”
SCT chairman Sandy Ogilvie said: “Angus’ experience and skills made him the perfect candidate for this important job and we look forward to him working closely with the local, and wider island community, and visitors to Staffin.”
An economic impact report estimated that the Staffin economy would be boosted by an additional visitor spend of £165,000 through the project. This is particularly welcomed in Staffin, which has suffered a 6.6 per cent population drop, between 2009 and 2013, and lacks permanent employment opportunities.
Angus’ appointment means that SCT now has two full-time employees. SCT’s local development officer Hugh Ross’s post is funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise's Community Capacity Building Programme for fragile communities. Hugh will continue working on delivering SCT’s major projects including the Storr, affordable housing, the Staffin Slipway and the Ceumannan II capital works.