The last month saw a few remarkable donations to Islay Charities which I'd like to share here, the first one was a large donation to the Islay Lifeboat station and the second one a generous donation from Laphroaig for the Islay Museum.
Â£10,000 gift to Islay lifeboat
The Islay lifeboat station has been presented with a cheque for Â£10,000 thanks to the generosity of the Company of Stationers of Glasgow. The cheque was handed over by Samuel â€˜Hamishâ€™ Thomson, a former president of the Stationersâ€™ Company and received on the stationâ€™s behalf by Hugh Smith, the press officer for the island lifeboat. The Company of Stationers of Glasgow, first established in 1837, has now been wound up and its assets have been distributed to a number of worthy charitable causes, including the local lifeboat.
Islay Lifeboat press officer Hugh Smith receiving the cheque from Hamish Thomson of the Company of Stationers of Glasgow - Photo: Islay MacEachern
The former company president Hamish Thomson, who was accompanied by his wife Dorothy and other family members, is no stranger to these shores. He had a home in Frederick Crescent in Port Ellen for close on ten years in property which had previously been owned by the Shanks family. He now lives in the Glasgow suburb of Milngavie. At the presentation ceremony, Hamish Campbell, chair of the local RNLI branch management committee, thanked the donors for their great generosity and gave a brief outline of the Port Askaig-based lifeboatâ€™s life saving activities. Continue reading....
Laphroaig provides Â£5,145 for the Museum of Islay Life in Port Charlotte
The Museum of Islay Life is delighted to have received the support of Laphroaig Distillery in funding a new heating system for the museum building in Port Charlotte. To maintain its fully accredited status, the museumâ€™s collection of thousands of artefacts, books, clothes and photographs must be kept at a steady temperature 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Historically this had proved extremely difficult (and expensive) to achieve using a combination of old-fashioned storage heaters and direct electrical radiators. The cost of heating the building had risen to the extent that it consumed some 25% of the total overhead, which quite apart from the environmental implications was simply not financially sustainable.
A programme of improved loft insulation (provided courtesy of the Climate Challenge Fund through Islay Energy Trust) and an environmentally-friendly air source heat pump was proposed as the way forward, and this has now been implemented. Laphroaig Distillery has long had a close association with the Museum of Islay Life. Back in the very early days during the 1970s, when the museum was being set up by local visionaries such as Bobby Hodkinson, Gordon Booth and Colin Roy, the big problem was finding enough material to populate it. Cultural heritage was nothing like as important to Islayâ€™s distilleries back then but Laphroaig had the good sense to offer a substantial collection of old material from their workshops and cooperage to the fledgeling organisation.
Graham Holyoake and Douglas Reid of Laphroaig present a cheque for Â£5,145 to Violet Cusworth, Malcolm Ogilvie and James Macaulay of the Museum of Islay Life
As time passed, the local community contributed more and more to the project and space became tighter and tighter in the old Free Church building in Port Charlotte. Laphroaig on the other hand were becoming more and more conscious of their own heritage - eventually deciding to create a museum and visitor centre of their own. The distilleries are always going to be in a better position to present the history of distilling than the Museum so it therefore made sense for both parties to repatriate the Laphroaig collection. The Laphroaig material has now been very beautifully displayed as part of the visitor experience at the distillery. While there is no direct connection between any of these events, when the Museum of Islay Life needed a partner to assist with itâ€™s energy conservation project, Laphroaig was of course the first place to call - and they have been happy to oblige.
Museum chairman Dr Malcolm Ogilvie said: â€œIt would be difficult to overestimate the importance of the support from Laphroaig here. The museum is a vital part of Islayâ€™s cultural identity, and even if we only visit occasionally, everybody needs to be confident that the unique collections and documentation it contains are being kept in the best possible condition. We are holding them in trust for the generations to come.â€ Laphroaig manager John Campbell commented â€œWe have always taken a keen interest in the Museum of Islay Life and are delighted to be able to step in and help ensure an environmentally responsible, sustainable future for this important community asset. We are pleased to be able to help ensure its long-term future.â€