Midlem hall nets £15k to buy field

Midlem is one of the first four Scottish communities to be given a grant by the Scottish Land Fund to help it “take control of its future”, writes Sandy Neil.

The £14,877 award will allow Midlem Village Hall Committee to purchase an area of land behind Midlem Village Hall, and make it the focus of social and community events.

Lawrence Robertson, secretary of Midlem Village Hall Committee, said: “This is a great award for us. The hall is truly the heart of the village. Our wee community works really hard to provide lots of lively events throughout the year.

“Now that we have funds to acquire land next to the hall we are all excited at the prospect of enlarging the scope and of transforming a piece of unused rough grass into a great asset for Midlem.”

There are no level playing fields in the area and the plan is to use the additional land to create a patio area suitable for a wide variety of sports and activities which will generate additional income to improve the long-term sustainability of the hall.

Mr Robertson added: “Everybody at Scottish Land Fund has been very helpful at all stages and sensitive to the needs of small communities like Midlem.”

Launched last year, the £6million Scottish Land Fund is funded by the Scottish Government, and delivered by the Big Lottery Fund in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise. The recent awards, of more than £¾million, in the Borders, Cowal, Moray Firth and Wester Ross means these four communities can now purchase land and assets “ensuring they are able to shape their own future”.

Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment, said: “These innovative and diverse projects will bring clear long-term benefits, making each community stronger, resilient and more sustainable. I would urge other communities to look at these projects to see how community land ownership and funding from the Scottish Land Fund can make a real difference to them.”

Scottish Land Fund Committee chair John Watt added: “We know from experience that communities can achieve great things when they own and manage local land and land assets.

“Land ownership helps build independent, resilient and confident communities which benefits, not only themselves, but the country as a whole. The Scottish Land Fund, with funding over three years, aims to empower more rural communities, giving them the tools and resources they need so they can achieve their plans of local sustainability.”

Alex Paterson, chief executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “These first four grants, each for very different projects, will empower these community groups and help them to determine their own futures. This announcement is only the beginning of the journey for these groups and for the Land Fund itself.”