The Trust's lease with the Scottish Youth Hostels Association (SYHA) for its Natural History Centre in Port Charlotte ended last summer. The very generous terms of £25/annum for 21 years has greatly helped the Trust over the years, but all good things come to an end, and although the SYHA were prepared for us to stay on for at least two more years, they wanted a much more realistic rent of £1000 a year. The Trustees and Committee reluctantly decided we could not afford this and so announced to our members that we would be closing the Centre and would continue to look for another building (which we have been doing for the last two years without success), or perhaps have a mobile centre - a trailer which could also be a classroom.
Anyway, last week, discussions took place with Bruichladdich Distillery who have offered to sponsor the Trust for a period of two years, thus enabling the Trust to continue to operate its Centre instead of having to pack up and leave. SYHA have agreed to draw up a new lease for the Trust covering the next two years, during which negotiations will take place between them and Bruichladdich Distillery. The latter have some as yet unformed ideas about a public display area, possibly relating to the history of distillation on Islay, and/or possibly relating to The Botanist, the distillery’s Islay dry gin. The use of so many native Islay wild flowers in the gin makes an obvious synergy with the Trust’s work on displaying information about Islay’s fauna and flora and its maintenance of a database of natural history records. There is at this point no commitment by either party beyond the two-year sponsorship.
The Natural History Trust are extremely grateful to Bruichladdich Distillery for their sponsorship. Details of this summer’s opening period and hours, and also of other activities, like natural history rambles and family activities, will appear in due course.