When we came back to the UK in 2002 it was to move into a house we had bought four years earlier. We slowly got dragged into village life and never realised how our lives would change through joining our Community Council.
In the fall of 2002 Edward, my husband became Vice Chair of the Community Council only because he turned up and got voted on! Others had the sense not to turn up to an AGM! Two years later he found himself Chairman, a role he still holds today. Nobody does it as well it seems or does he just have a big stamp on the forehead saying Mug! He is without doubt though, good at the job.
The Community Council equivalent in England is the Parish or Town Council
One year on and I was elected to the council, to find I obviously had the same mug sign too as I was elected Secretary, a role I stepped down from in April of this year.
During this time we have represented the village at planning enquiries, meetings withe Scottish Canals, Scottish Environmental Health Agency and Scottish Natural Heritage as well as Argyll and Bute Council. We have been trained in all sorts of exciting things such as governance!
We looked around the room sometimes and asked ourselves what we were doing there as the only unpaid people present!
A wind turbine base being delivered
The major task we undertook was to become a partner in the Allt Dearg Community Wind Farm. Lots of photos of this online and we even run a free Windy Bus on the first Saturday of the month so you can go and get up close to a wind turbine.
Signing a cheque for £1.3 million, our share of the costs, was a nail biting moment!
The revenue from our share of the money generated by the wind, is in excess of £100,000 per year while we pay off the mortgage and goes to benefit the village and its inhabitants. This will rise to £200,000 eventually.
The money comes in twice a year and has allowed us to buy Christmas lights, play equipment, marquees for the Gala Day and restore the War Memorial, but our biggest purchase is a hall being sold by the church. Renovation on the Hall has already started by putting in new double glazed windows and an air source heating system. It is hoped a new kitchen will be in place later this year.
Mid Argyll Pipe Band palying at the switching on of the Christmas lights
The Christmas Lights switch on has become a big night in the Village with Carols round the tree. Mulled wine and mince pies courtesy of a local charity and the Co-op.
You have not lived if you have never heard Jingle Bells or Rudolph the Red nose reindeer played by our local pipe band, one of the groups who have received money from the wind farm
Wet, windy weather does not dampen our spirits. And of course a visit from Father Christmas on his sleigh.
New play equipment arriving
We have also spent money on improving both of our play parks / field. New equipment and tables and benches were bought and Argyll and Bute Council have drawn up a written agreement with the village to maintain it on our behalf. They had no money for purchase of the equipment but happy to look after it now it is in place.
New spire net being tested!
Where do we go from here? Paths to be laid through a wooded area, a mini hydro scheme using a local stream and some new exciting projects in collaboration with our partners in the regeneration of the village, Argyll and Bute Council and Scottish Canals.
A lovely whiskey barrel
Wheels move at a very sedate pace up here but we started the regeneration by putting out half whisky barrels and filling them with flowers each year. Each barrel has been sponsored by a local business
I am taking a bit more of a backseat now but somehow don't see the Chairman doing the same!