1. This has been another successful year for the Book Trust, although financial challenges remain. During the financial year ending March 2014, the Trust delivered a further very full programme of events and publications on island themes.
2. Our big event was a three day conference in Tiree in May 2013, held in conjunction with An Iodhlann, on the subject, ‘The Secret Island – Towards a History of Tiree’. We had a tremendous line-up of speakers, including Professors Donald Meek, Rob Dunbar and Margaret Mackay. The conference was a great success and was very well supported by the local community. A book based on the conference proceedings was published in early 2014.
3. We also held a second conference in June 2013, a two day event held in Orinsay, South Lochs, Isle of Lewis, in conjunction with the Colmcille Initiative. The theme was ‘Slighe Chaluim Chille – Exploring the Life, Legend and Legacy of St Columba in Ireland and Scotland’. Speakers included Professors Maire Herbert and Donald Meek.
5. We also organised and delivered talks in Lewis, Harris, Uist, Benbecula and Barra. We held the annual Angus Macleod Memorial Lecture in October 2013 in South Lochs, Lewis, which was given by Kenny MacAskill MSP; and organised visits to several offshore islands in the Outer Hebrides, Skye and Caithness, with related walks and talks in Gaelic and English.
6. We published a number of well received books and booklets during the year, including ‘Steamers to Stornoway’ by Colin Tucker; ‘George Murray – A Schoolteacher for St Kilda’ by Maureen Kerr; ‘Island Spirituality’ by Alastair McIntosh; ‘Recovering from the Clearances’ with a foreword by Ewen Cameron; ‘Forgotten Star’ by Alex O’ Henley; ‘Nights of Passion at the Scarinish Temperance Hotel’ by Donald S. Murray; ‘Love and Music Will Endure’ by Liz Macrae Shaw; ‘Teaghlach Machair – The Machair Family’ by Donald Sinclair and ‘How an Island Lost its People’ by Robert Hay.
7. The Book Trust is continuing with the management role in relation to the Hebridean Connections project which began in January 2013 and which runs to March 2015. The management fee which we receive for this work is helping to bridge the gap between projected income and expenditure.
8. This year has been a time of change for the Trust. In July 2013 Donnie Morrison stepped down as a Trustee which has been an enormous loss but we wish him well for the future. In September Margaret MacDonald retired. Margaret had worked for the Trust for more than a decade so her knowledge and experience was very much missed. The post was filled temporarily by John Groom until the end of March 2014. In addition to this John Randall stepped down as Chairman in December after twelve years although he has remained as a Trustee. I took over as Chairman in January 2014.
9. In April 2014 we commenced a project funded by CnaG as part of their Business Innovation scheme. We received funding for two part-time marketing posts for a period of nine months. John Groom and Mairi Mackenzie were appointed and commenced work on 1 April.
10. However, we still face a challenge in covering our costs. Although we have received several grants for projects in the last year fundraising is ongoing and I would ask members to continue to do their best to support the Trust and to recruit new members. On the advice of the new marketing officers the trustees have decided to simplify the membership fees by eliminating the Gold and Family categories in the hope that it will prove more attractive to prospective members. Endorsement of this decision is required by members and is on the agenda for today’s meeting.
11. I should like to close by thanking all those who have contributed so much to the development of the Book Trust over past year, and in particular John Randall for his sterling work as Chairman over the past twelve years.