Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the National Centre for the development of the Gaelic language and culture, on the Isle of Skye, was delighted this week to announce news of a major boost to funding, following the decision by Dutch businessman, Paul van Vlissingen and his partner Prof. Caroline Tisdall, to donate a further £100,000 over three years to the Centre, in the form of the ‘Letterewe Scholarships’.

Donnie Munro, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s Director of Development said,
“This announcement secures the continuation of these important scholarships which have benefited many students since their inception five years ago and brings Paul van Vlissingen’s personal financial contributions to Sabhal Mòr, in recent years, to a quarter of a million pounds”.

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s Director, Prof Norman Gillies, said today,
“This is a magnificent gesture from Paul van Vlissingen and Caroline Tisdall. Quite apart from the significance and helpfulness of the financial contribution itself and of perhaps equal significance to us, is that it represents a further external validation of the work which Sabhal Mòr is doing, from two high profile individuals who are deeply involved in the funding of many international projects”.

Paul van Vlissingen, who is sadly battling terminal cancer and has returned to his family home in Holland, said recently,
“I have been deeply impressed by the commitment of all those involved at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig to the regeneration and development of the Gaelic language and culture and, in particular, how they have approached this, not simply from the point of view of merely seeking to preserve an important aspect of Scottish linguistic and cultural heritage as important as that is in itself, but, in particular, that they have recognised the significance of the language in a genuinely holistic way, to the future economic, social, ecological and cultural well-being of the area. Sabhal Mòr is an institution of huge importance to the future of the language and culture and, for that reason, I am pleased to be able to contribute in some way to its ongoing work”

Prof. Tisdall further added,
“Twenty five years ago, when I came to the shores of Loch Ma-ruibh (Maree) to make a film called ‘The last Post Run’ for Channel Four, I was exploring the way in which the language and the history are embedded in the landscape and also looking for my own MacKenzie roots. The wonderful music from the Recovery album, which Runrig allowed me to use in the film ,reinforced the whole relationship of Gaelic with nature and history. Since then, I have always encouraged the family to contribute positively to the struggle to keep Gaelic alive, something I too will continue to do.
Through our links with Donnie Munro, Paul and I have become great admirers of the work of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, recognising as we do the importance of language and culture to the wider regeneration of the community. We recognise that language is the ‘carrying stream’ of cultural heritage and forms the crucial bedrock on which all world cultures rest and that Gaelic and the wider material culture has a particular resonance and synergy with the world of nature. The language is central to all that Sabhal Mòr does and, as a national institution for Gaelic, it has succeeded in working holistically and innovatively, ensuring that the educational experience is informed, enriched and supported by the wider material culture and The Arts. These new scholarships will continue to provide support for students who might not otherwise have been able to study at Sabhal Mòr and at least one will look to assist with a dedicated piece of post-graduate study into the Gaelic cultural heritage of Letterewe itself. I look forward immensely to my ongoing involvement with Sabhal Mòr”

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s Director of Development, Donnie Munro told the press,
“We are extremely grateful and fortunate to have had the support of Paul and Caroline over these recent years and are particularly moved by the fact that they should have chosen to announce this further contribution to the work of Sabhal Mòr, at this very trying time in their own lives. It is also a very timely announcement, as we move towards establishing the new Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Development Trust, an independent Charitable Trust to be set up shortly with the express mission of fundraising in an effort to ensure that Sabhal Mòr continues to meet the many challenges and demands of a fast changing world and that Gaelic takes its place confidently as a vibrant part of it. Caroline has also very kindly agreed to become the first ‘named legacy donor’ to the new Trust when launched later this year”

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is a recent winner of the Queen’s Anniversary Award for Excellence and Innovation in the field of education and is about to begin the next phase in its estate development with ‘Fàs’, the new centre for the Creative and Cultural Industries at the Àrainn Chaluim Chille Campus on Skye.

For further information contact:
Fiona Dunn, Marketing Officer SMO 01471 888 215
Donnie Munro, SMO Director of Development 01478 612177