The building of a world-class visitor centre in the Hebrides, which will tell the story of the Iolaire tragedy has taken a step forward after unanimous agreement within a working group of stakeholders to move the project to detailed planning and funding stage.
A thorough project scoping exercise, facilitated by the Iolaire Working Group, has established that there is a viable and sustainable business case for the proposed Iolaire Visitor Centre which will mark the maritime disaster at Stornoway’s Number One pier. A project summary has been set out in an Iolaire Centre Project Overview document released today.
Recruitment of a project manager is now planned to take place to progress the detail of the project plan, business case and funding package required to build the Centre.
Project funding has been committed by Highlands and Islands marine equipment firm Gael Force Group with matched assistance and resource support agreed by HIE and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to fund the detailed development of the project plan through 2019.
Announcing the next stage, businessman Stewart Graham said, “The unimaginable grief that the island suffered as a consequence of the Iolaire tragedy has had a profound and lasting, though largely unspoken of, impact on every aspect of our island life and culture, our population and our island economy. Although quietly marked and told, the story has not had the wider national or international recognition that it should. As well as tragedy there is of course stories of heroism, fortitude, resilience and the quiet dignity shown by islanders in the wake of this tragedy”
“Our shared vision is for a world class visitor centre built in the heart of Stornoway which will along with the wider story of the island’s maritime history and war involvement, tell the story sensitively and with due respect, over a century after the tragedy. We should expect that what we create will encourage people from all over the UK and further afield to make visits to the island to take in this visitor experience as part of an island visit. Not only would this be a lasting commemorative introspection, but as a world class visitor experience the Centre would provide a major, transformational, economic boost for the Islands and look positively towards the future.”
“We are grateful to the public for sharing their enormous support and valuable feedback on the project vision during the initial consultation period earlier this year”.
A website (www.iolaire.org) has been prepared for launch this month along with social media support which will provide the opportunity for members of the public to support the project financially and also keep in touch with the project’s development. Funds raised through the website will be set aside until such time as the building of the centre gets the final go ahead.