News / Summer 2016 Newsletter

At long last, the old village hall came down. As a sad looking reminder of Morar's past it bore little resemblance to the lively, happy place of memory. From Mrs. Shaw Stewart's annual Christmas Party for the village children with a grand finale of Laurel and Hardy films to clubs, whist drives and social evenings (a mixture of dance/games/singing and, of course, humour) the hall was the community's meeting place. Of course, there were the dances at weekends, too, where the dance floor was reckoned to be one of the best. Alas for the last twenty years, with Ewan MacDonald's dance classes being amongst the last of the community events held there, it sank further and further into dereliction when serious structural defects were found.

It is worth reflecting on those who made the hall possible like the trustees who obtained the feu from Lovat Estates and built a hall – Mrs Stirling, Mrs Shaw Stewart, Monsignor MacNeill, Alexander MacKinnon, (Morar Shop), and Calum MacKellaig, (Morar Hotel) Then there were all those who gave their voluntary time over the years to ensure the vibrancy of the hall as a community space. Like all such community effort, though, enthusiasm comes and goes with the years and the hall also had its time of dormancy when it came under threat. During one crisis, the late Donald Buchanan became secretary and galvanised young people in the community to take their turn to run weekly events or risk losing their hall. Too numerous to mention some of these young people are now amongst Morar's senior citizens!

However, whatever happy nostalgic memories abound, our work now is the creation of a new community space to test Morar's remaining community spirit.

AJ Gower Trust

For some years, Morar and Arisaig have been beneficiaries of an annual grant from the AJ Gower Trust. In the past, the community councils distributed the grant to local applicants but this year there has been a change in that the Gower Trust have now decided to disburse the annual cheque to the Community Trusts of both villages because they are registered charities.

In Morar, a joint panel from Morar Community Council and Morar Community Trust will meet to allocate the fund and all villagers who are involved in local community clubs, organisations or other good causes which benefit the people of Morar are being asked to apply. Application forms may be requested by writing to Gower Trust, Station Building, Morar, Mallaig. PH40

Morar Village Survey

The community trust have embarked on a conversation with villagers to ascertain what developmental priorities there are in the village. The results, so far, show that the games field is recognised as the major community asset.

At this time, though, its development for sports and leisure are being held back by the need to have facilities which in turn are being delayed by some access issues that are being progressed.

Morar Community Trust has always advanced the notion that the facilities on the games field would need a tourism related community business to offset all running costs and it is heartening to find that, in general, the people of the village endorse this view.

There will be more on this when we compile what we have collected and we'd urge anyone who has not been asked about their ideas for Morar to get in touch with us. A wee note through the West Word letter box is all that is needed to get your ideas to us.

The Morar and Mallaig Games Field

Morar Community Trust have been, for many years, pursuing the possibilities for a community building on the field which would largely focus on the necessary facilities for sports field use but could also contain additional community space. The field is owned by Nevis Estates and the lease is held for the communities of Mallaig and Morar by a trusteeship which has all but come to an end. The management committee for the field is chaired by Nick Murray and, at the recent AGM; a newly revamped committee was formed. When the access issues are fully resolved Morar Community Trust are poised to take on the lease and in the meanwhile are working in tandem with the management group and Morar Community Council to help fund field improvements.

The Gala Day

As usual this was a most enjoyable afternoon in a lovely setting overlooking Morar Bay, a cup of tea and home baking in hand and enjoying the music of the Lochaber Wind Band. More photos are available on Morar Trust's Facebook page. The children's races were enthusiastically run (indeed so was the fathers' race) and the children's art competition produced some fine masterpieces on the theme of trains. Thanks to all who helped, too numerous to mention, except perhaps Nick Murray who erected the “art tent” under severe attack from the midges and two young students, Anna Biddulph and Caitlin Muir, from Mallaig High School for their highly efficient and patient management of the Art Competition.

Morar has lost so many community meeting places over the last number of years it is felt that all opportunities for getting together as a community are important and the gala event is intended to help fill this gap. The photographs illustrate that the local community spirit is still there.

Membership of Morar Community Trust

Membership is open to all residents of Morar with a PH40 postcode. If you would like to join, please complete the attached booking form and post it in the letterbox of the Westword or hand it to one of our committee members: Mairi MacLean, Deirdre Roberts, Anna Cornelius, Grace Henderson, Eleanor Read, Andrew Carr, Audrey MacEachen or Maureen Sutherland.

Our AGM, when board members are elected or deselected, is held each year in September (this year’s date is still to be confirmed). Each year two existing board members step down to create vacancies at the election and all Trust members are encouraged to help maintain this democratic exercise by coming to the AGM and offering to take a place on the board.

Company Secretary

We are pleased to announce that Andrew Carr is now our company secretary. This is not to be confused with the day to day secretarial role of the MCT secretary and Andrew’s role is purely to liaise with Companies House and the Charities Commission.

Fundraising

Following the costs incurred from the demolition of the Old Hall the carefully accumulated coffers of Morar Community Trust were greatly depleted and we are now rebuilding our bank balance in order to help and to work with all interest groups to achieve the best possible community space on the Mallaig and Morar games field. We are grateful to Highland Council and the MacKintosh Foundation for sponsoring this year's gala.