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Grimsay Boatshed Trust
Who’s Involved – 3rd Sector: Grimsay Boat Shed Trust
Headteacher: Sgoil Lionacleit is a community sixth-year school based in Benbecula and it serves pupils from the islands of Benbecula, North Uist, South Uist, Eriskay and Berneray.
Grimsay Boatshed Trust representative 1: I’m Mary Norton; I’m the secretary of the Grimsay Boatshed Trust. The Boatshed Trust is involved in preservation and continuing traditional wooden boat building in the Western Isles.
The Grimsay Boatshed [Trust] began in 2003 but it’s actually the continuation of a very long, historical process that began in the 1840s when the Stewart boat builders came to North Uist.
There was no course available in Scotland, or indeed in the UK, for traditional boat-building. So, we wrote one and worked together with Ronald John to write the course and then, together with the council, to get it through the SQA (Scottish Qualifications Authority) approval process.
They built a boat over two years and they do all the steps from learning how to lay out the keel and lay out the major framing through steaming and planking and learning all the structural members, like ribs and thwarts and things like that.
They also learn something of the history of the Grimsay boat and they learn the Gaelic terms that were used, here on Grimsay, for boat building.
Pupil: I thought it would be pretty good to learn the ins and outs of making the boats. It’s much better than just sitting in a class [because] you're actually doing something. You can see the progress, which is good.
Grimsay Boatshed Trust representative 1: They have the chance to work with somebody who’s a first class craftsman, who's able to support them in their learning and critique them in a way that doesn’t make them feel bad, and really bring them on.
Grimsay Boatshed Trust representative 2: Well, it’s teaching the kids traditional skills and it’s also giving them the insight of how to use the traditional tools that are used in boat building. They're working together and they're building to achieve something. Teacher: This really is a win-win situation because the school gains pupils that are inspired and motivated to work and they transfer their enthusiasm from The Boatshed into their other subjects.
Grimsay Boatshed Trust representative 1: The Boatshed is just really pleased that we’re able to be that intermediary; that we’re not just dealing with maintenance or just dealing with history, but [that] we are dealing with the whole interconnection between learning and tradition and skill and the future and present practical needs of the community.
Headteacher: It’s about now, but for me, it’s also about the future. It’s about understanding that skills that we nearly lost are important. And it’s imparting that these young people were contributing to maintaining and developing those skills. We can’t just let it pass us by; we have to grab the opportunity now and move with it, while taking past aspects of that past culture into the future. That’s the only way we can be sustainable.