Published On: 6 July 2023

Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Charity trustees held on Thursday 18th August 2022 at 8pm in St Ernan’s Church, Creich, Fionnphort.

Trustees Present were Mrs Linda Cameron (chair), Mrs Eleanor Wagstaff (clerk), Mrs Rhona Lindsay (treasurer), Mr John Cameron, Mr John Noddings and Mr John Wagstaff (who left early on account of illness). Attending were Rev Jenny Earl and Mrs Gill Morley.

Apologies were received from Dr Andrew Todd.

Approval of Minutes The minutes of the meeting of Tuesday 7th April 2022 were approved as an accurate record – proposed by Rhona, seconded by John C.

Membership The names of new members were read out by the clerk and unanimously approved by the Board. The total number of full members is now 68, with 29 associate members.

Treasurer’s Report Rhona reported that the bank account is now open and running with internet access. The total in the account is about £650, this being mainly the takings from the Baked Potato Evening and the sale of history books.

Fund-raising The Baked Potato Evening was very well attended and raised £422.96. This included the sale of keyrings, generously donated by Jenny and sold at £2.50 each, and also donations for tea and coffee. Linda has written to Tom Aitchieson to thank him for his contribution to the evening.
She will arrange a piece for ‘Round and About’, thanking all who contributed.
In addition to the keyrings, Jenny has had some sample coasters and cards made up, using photographs supplied by John N. The coasters cost £9.99 per set of four and so can perhaps be sold for £3.50 each or £12 for a set – Jenny will arrange a label for the back of each, naming the location and crediting John N with copyright. It was agreed that, although attractive, the cards were too big. Rhona will ask Janet and Alan Schofield about the possibility of having smaller cards or note-cards printed locally.
Linda’s has received several pieces of silver jewellery donated by Lucy Harrington. It was agreed that, given their value, these should perhaps be auctioned with a reserve price.
Derek Crook has recommended that the Board apply to the MESS fund for support. The Calmac Community Fund also makes contributions to local groups.
Eleanor had done a short interview about the St Ernan’s project for BBC Radio nan Gàidheal. She had since been asked by the producer/presenter, Andreas Wolff, how much money has been raised for the purchase of the building. It was agreed that the exact amount held by the Board should not be disclosed, and in any case should be referred to as ‘a substantial refurbishment fund’ rather than money for acquisition.
It was agreed that Eleanor should contact Iain Johnston of Faith in Community Scotland and arrange a Zoom meeting. At the meeting, Iain is to be asked how we access the grant money awarded to us.
The possibility of holding a Harvest Supper was discussed with a provisional date of 29th

Scottish Land Fund (SLF) Application Eleanor gave the following update on the progress of the SLF application to date:
After the last meeting, the site appraisal document was completed and submitted to Philip Coghill of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). On Philip’s recommendation, Eleanor contacted representatives of three other groups which have carried out similar projects – these were Aideen Denholm of Kererra Development Trust; Malcolm Ward of Clachan Village Hall, Kintyre; and

Megan LacLean of Applecross Community Hub. All were helpful and Aideen in particular gave useful advice and information.
Philip supplied a list of the sort of things which can be applied for at Stage 1, these including various types of land and/or buildings surveys, feasibility studies, business plans, valuation, environmental risk assessments, community consultation and so on. Linda and Eleanor met and whittled the list down to:
• A feasibility study and business plan combined
• A building condition survey
• A valuation survey (SLF requires this, even though the Church of Scotland has already undertaken one)
The list was approved by Philip and a tender brief was drawn up, setting out what the Board might want a potential contractor to do in terms of the feasibility study/business plan and building survey. A first draft was seen by all Board members. On Philip’s recommendation, some minor alterations were made, the main one being that the building condition survey should be offered as a separate package and not combined with the feasibility study/business plan (the two building surveys, i.e., building condition and valuation, can simply be requested by email and do not require a separate tender brief). Eleanor made the recommended changes and a second draft was sent out to Board members. She will finalise details with Philip as soon as he is available.
The Board discussed the revised document and agreed that both it and the two survey requests should be sent out to as many contractors as possible in early September. The list of potential contractors was reviewed with several names added – Jenny will contact Eleanor by email with more. The Board also approved the following timetable: return date for tenders – 14 October; submission date for Stage 1 application – 31 October; SLF decision – 7 December; contractor to be chosen (in the event of a successful outcome) – 14 December; start of contract – 5 January 2023; completion of contract – early April.
Linda asked the Board to give a formal endorsement of the tender brief document. John C proposed that it be approved and accepted, John N seconded the proposal and the Board agreed unanimously. Eleanor was thanked for her work.

Letters of support Jenny has drafted a letter for the Presbytery of Argyll to sign, endorsing the Board’s efforts to acquire and develop St Ernan’s as a centre for hospitality and spirituality. It was agreed that this should be forwarded to the Presbytery Clerk and attached to the SLF Stage 1 application. SLF will also require evidence that the Board is in communication with the Kirk’s General Trustees in Edinburgh – Jenny agreed to pursue this with Elspeth Annan. Jenny reported a slight shift in attitude from local elders and board members – it is possible that they will agree to a reduction in the asking price for St Ernan’s.
Other letters of support (from Argyll Estates, Mull and Iona Community Council and so on) are still to be sought.

Crowdfunding It was agreed that this should be held off until after the SLF decision.

AOCB John C asked if the Church of Scotland was likely to impose a time limit on St Ernan’s by the Loch in terms of acquiring the building. Jenny confirmed that the General Trustees are aware of the SLF application and should therefore appreciate the timescales involved. However, Community Right to Buy remains an option should the Trustees attempt to sell the building before we have sufficient funds.

Closing There being no further business, Linda thanked everyone for their attendance and closed the meeting.