ACT came to life in 2009 when we wanted to lease the playing field on the edge of the village. Since those early days we have grown in confidence and experience, and today we aim to make a difference to all aspects of community life.
Our projects now include education, culture, housing, recreation, employment and the environment. In the last few years we have acquired and completely refurbished the Land, Sea and Island Centre, taken over the Arisaig loos, transformed the playing field and helped many villagers make their homes warmer and more energy efficient.
We work closely with the Community Council and other organisations, but because ACT is an independent company we can take action more quickly if we need to. We can also buy or lease property and raise funds on behalf of the community.
Who we are
I’ve lived in Arisaig since 1996, raising my family and working as a District Nurse and Midwife locally. I have been a Director on the Board since retiring and became Chair in 2017. I enjoy being part of a group who love Arisaig as much as me!
I’ve been coming to our home in Arisaig for 25 years and finally retired here in 2015. As a former partner in one of Scotland’s largest law firms I think I contribute some business acumen, a general understanding of how the law works and a strong eye for detail. I enjoy working with a good bunch of people with different skills and like the fact that the Trust works on interesting and useful projects, which are then actually delivered for the benefit of everyone.
My family belong to the Arisaig area and I was born here – next door to our current residence! Following a period of just under 20 years living in other parts of the country I returned permanently and my husband and I brought up our two daughters here. Both moved away to study and one has since returned to Arisaig, working as a Solicitor in Fort William. My early career was largely in Business Studies, lecturing in Accounting in Further Education and teaching Business Studies and Economics in High Schools. A career change beckoned in the late 80’s when I moved to the Primary Sector and was head teacher in Mallaig and Upper Achintore Primaries for a number of years. Prior to a welcome retirement my swan song was to spend 12 years managing 100 Highland Council schools. A substantial but very enjoyable challenge. I hope that there is something in the above that provides a foundation for looking after the ACT Accounts!
I started visiting Arisaig in 1966 with my parents, John and Freda. We’d travel up to Arisaig every year for a three week holiday and it was during these times I formed a lasting and deep attachment to Arisaig and the people who live here. I now stay with my wife Sheryl in the house my folks built and lived in during their retirement. We spent the previous seven years on a yacht and sailing halfway across the world. Prior to that I spent 15 years in the Royal Navy, flying and testing Sea King helicopters and after that another 15 years in the aerospace industry in various roles including business and project management. Hopefully my skills and experience will be an asset to ACT and the wider community in the years to come.
Born and raised in Arisaig, I left the area in 2006 to study law at the University of Dundee, later completing the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice at Strathclyde University. After (a couple!) of gap years, spent in Canada, Australia and South America, I eventually moved back to the UK and decided to base myself in Glasgow where I undertook my traineeship and practiced as a Solicitor in the Real Estate Banking team of a leading UK law firm for 2 years. I couldn’t, however, stay away and ultimately decided home was calling! I returned to Arisaig in 2018 and now practice as a private client solicitor in Fort William. I am delighted to be able to give something back to the area and look forward to working with some fantastic people on all the ongoing projects, and those yet to come.
“Knowing that we make a positive difference to the sustainability of the village is really rewarding and I’ve particularly enjoyed helping to breathe new life into the Land, Sea and Islands Centre.”
Structure of the Trust
Director Iain Macniven explains how ACT differs from the Community Council:
Arisaig Community Trust
ACT is a company which is set up under the Companies Acts. It consists of members who join from the locality and is run by a board of directors, who are subject to periodic re-election or replacement, as voted on by the members. The board can also co-opt people who have particular skills that the board may need to call upon from time to time. Full membership is open to anyone on the electoral register residing in the PH39 area.
ACT is also a registered charity. Its stated purposes are to benefit the community by, for example, providing recreational facilities, advancing education and the arts and culture, advancing environmental protection and improvement, and advancing community development.
Examples of this in practice include: ACT leasing the playing field from the Estate; acquiring and running the Land, Sea and Islands Centre; taking over ownership and running of the public toilets; organising numerous environmental initiatives; and securing funding for energy efficiency works to houses in the village.
Arisaig and District Community Council
ADCC is part of the government structure in Scotland. Community Councils were set up under the Local Government (Scotland) Acts and sit as a tier of government under the hierarchy of the UK Parliament, the Scottish Parliament and local authorities. In the case of ADCC, the relevant local authority is the Highland Council, and the area it represents includes not only Arisaig, but also Lochailort, Ardnish and Roshven. Community Councils are given annual funding from their local authority and also receive notice of all planning and liquor licensing applications in their area.
- The stated purposes of Community Councils include:
- communicating to local and public authorities and private agencies the views of the community in relation to matters for which these bodies are responsible
- taking appropriate action on behalf of the community in relation to such matters
- being ‘a voice for the local area’