Young island brothers raise funds for charity

A pair of young farmers on the Isle of Iona came up with an idea with a difference for a charity fundraiser.

Cameron and Jamie MacInnes prompted a round of applause from the normally-reserved ringside bidders at Caledonian Marts in Stirling this week.
They hand-picked their best lambs for the market but they had a more charitable motivation than profit.

The boys selected two home-bred suffolk cross lambs from the family flock at Culbhuirg Farm, Iona, which were specially auctioned on Monday this week, proceeds of which will be split between My Name’5 Doddie Foundation and Iona Village Hall’s community campaign #belongtoiona.

Each of the charities was carefully chosen – Doddie Weir is a great role model within the farming and sporting community, and the new Iona Village Hall will be transformative for their remote island community.

The boys were anticipating around £70-80 per lamb, knowing that in small communities every bit counts. They were thrilled when bidding reached £150 before the hammer came down. They were purchased by John Gilvear, Graystale, Stirling.

Farmers, especially, know how much time and hard work goes into getting good lambs to trade and, particularly in what has been a difficult year for farming, will understand the value of this support – far beyond pounds raised – to both communities.

The lambs were auctioned by Caledonian Marts auctioneer Alistair Logan, who recently celebrated 30 years with Caley Marts and is a ‘well kent’ face in rural, farming and rugby circles.

Bucking the trend of the Highlands and Islands, and despite being extremely vulnerable to population decline, Iona is a success story with a growing population – rising from around just under 140 residents in 2012 to almost 170 in 2017 (near 20% increase).

The primary school roll has risen from six pupils in 2010, to 27 today.

Along with the rest of the island, the children are focussed on their Village Hall, as in a remote setting like Iona, where the hall is the only public building, it plays a crucial role in sustaining the thriving yet vulnerable island community.

Not only is it their only indoor running space but all communal activity takes place in the hall from vital public meetings and school PE, to playgroup, winter film nights and the annual music festival. It’s the place where island children grow up, have birthday parties, perform their school plays, dance and get married. It forms the backdrop to the collective memory of a community.

Village halls are truly the hearts and engines of remote communities like Iona. In an age of choice and aspiration, they stand for community and commonality.

The My Name’5 Doddie Foundation aims to raise funds to aid research into the causes of Motor Neurone Disease and investigate potential cures. To make grants to individuals suffering from MND, to enable them to live as fulfilled a life as possible.

Doddie Weir is one of rugby’s most recognisable personalities. He earned 61 caps for Scotland during a successful playing career, represented the British and Irish Lions on their successful tour to South Africa in 1997, and won championships with his two club sides, Melrose and Newcastle Falcons.

A talented, committed and athletic lock forward, Doddie is now facing his biggest challenge. In June 2017 the Scot revealed he was suffering from Motor Neurone Disease.  In November 2017 Doddie and his Trustees launched the registered charity My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.