A new tourist attraction on the Isle of Skye marking mountaineering history is set to be created after a local community heritage group successfully reached their £117,000 target.
A bronze sculpture will now be commissioned and erected at Sligachan, against the backdrop of the Cuillin Mountains – paying tribute to two renowned mountaineering figures – Professor Norman Collie and John Mackenzie.
The pair are credited with creating many of the routes across the Cuillin range, and are held locally as pioneers. John Mackenzie was from the crofting village of Sconser and began climbing the Cuillin range at the age of 10 – he went onto become the first ever native Scot to become a professional mountain guide. Mackenzie met Professor Collie, an internationally renowned scientist and mountain expert, on Skye – and the pair formed a climbing partnership and friendship that spanned over half a century.
The heritage group have already successfully raised £200,000 to complete the first stage of the project, which included the formation of a 21-space car park, information panels, stone seating and the removal of an unsightly overhead power system.
Now that their second fundraising target has been met, they are planning a Skye celebration of the Cuillins later this year to mark the historic occasion of the unveiling of the new tourist attraction.
As well as their local MSP Kate Forbes, other notable supporters of the project include First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Ian Blackford – Skye’s MP and SNP group leader at Westminster.
Kate Forbes MSP said: “This is an incredible feat of fundraising. It is amazing to see that the Collie Mackenzie Heritage Group have finally fundraised their target to build a monument.
“The project team have never given up, even when the fundraising target seemed far beyond their reach.
“Their persistence has paid off, finally, and this monument will be erected in honour of Professor Norman Collie and John Mackenzie.”
Morag Nicolson, chair of the Collie and Mackenzie Heritage Group, said: “We are so pleased to be able to share this news with everyone that has supported and encouraged us over the last 16 years.
“Our funding target has been reached, and we cannot thank every one enough for their donations towards this project.
“The sculpture of Norman Collie and John Mackenzie has now been commissioned.
“We are now making plans for the unveiling of this iconic Bronze sculpture at Sligachan in September.”
Skye councillor John Finlayson added: “Members of the steering group should be congratulated on their dogged determination to get to this stage and I really appreciate the opportunity I had to be involved in the project at an early stage when I was a head teacher and also to be able to support the group in more recent times.
“I am sure like just like me, all those who have so kindly supported the group over the years, cannot wait to see the impressive sculpture in place”
The group wishes to thanks everyone who contributed, and specifically MOWI, the Struan Community Trust, Suez Communities Trust, EB (Environmental Body) Scotland and the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund. Over 80 per cent of the money came from private donations.