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The first Sir Iain Noble Memorial Lecture

The inaugural Sir Iain Noble Memorial Lecture will be delivered at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig by Allan Campbell next week. Sir Iain passed away on the 25th December 2010 and the Gaelic college Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and Urras an Eilean (the Island Trust) have established the memorial lecture to honour the work and achievements of Sir Iain, especially with regard to the college, Gaelic and the Isle of Skye.

It was through the vision and efforts of Sir Iain that Sabhal Mòr Ostaig was established in 1973. The college is now part of the University of the Highlands and Islands and offers courses in various subjects at under- and post-graduate level all through the medium of Gaelic. Sir Iain was a successful merchant banker and business man, but is, perhaps best remembered in the Highlands for his continued and proactive support of Gaelic.

In addition to his being instrumental in the founding of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, he was a tireless campaigner for the Gaelic language in all areas of his life. He was behind the erection of the first Gaelic road signs in Scotland, he was the first person to use a Gaelic cheque book, which he received from the Bank of Scotland. And he was always ready to promote the use of Gaelic as the language of the workplace in his various business interests in Sleat on the Isle of Skye.

Professor Boyd Robertson, Principal of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig commented:’Sir Iain had a remarkable impact on the economy of Sleat and on the development of Gaelic in Scotland and it is fitting that two organisations in which he was so much involved have come together to honour his memory and to reflect on his achievements. Who would have thought when Sir Iain founded the college in a disused barn at Ostaig in 1973 that it would become a National Centre of Excellence for the Language and Culture and a partner in the new University of the Highlands and Islands.’

Appropriately Skyeman Allan Campbell will give the first memorial lecture. Allan was a Trustee of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig for nearly 20 years and for many years he has been at the heart of much of what has been achieved for Gaelic and its status. He is a former Head of BBC Highland, and as the Chief Executive of Comann na Gàidhlig he was at the forefront of the campaign for a Gaelic Language Act. He was also the first Chief Executive of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the principal public body tasked with securing the future of the language.

Mr Campbell said:’No one individual can hope to have all the answers but occasionally people appear who have the vision, enterprise, and aggression to enable them to address challenges in a way which enables progress. Iain Noble possessed great ingenuity, and he was always looking for new ways to develop the local community and economy, particularly in relation to the revival of the Gaelic language and culture and increasing the number using the language regularly. Iain’s legacy of achievement is undeniable and it is most appropriate that an annual memorial lecture will be given in his name at the College which gives tangible evidence of his vision to the world. I am very proud to have been asked to deliver the inaugural lecture.’

The lecture will take place on Wednesday 21 March at 7.30pm in Talla Dhonaidh Chaimbeil at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. All are welcome and entry is free. The lecture will be given in Gaelic, and simultaneous translation will be provided for those without Gaelic. The evening will include music and refreshments afterwards.

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