STAFFIN'S new health centre - which will be called Tobar na Slàinte - was officially opened by Isobel MacDonald.

Isobel unveiled the plaque at an opening event watched on by former colleagues Joan MacPherson and Lesley MacDonald and NHS Highland chairman Boyd Robertson and chief executive Pam Dudek, respectively.

Isobel, a widely respected retired district nurse, spoke about her delight at the new centre being delivered for the community given the need for purpose-built health facilities in rural areas like Staffin.

Angus Ross, Mairi MacDonald, Simon Clayton, Brian Irving and Sylvia Porter of Staffin Community Trust and Staffin Community Council were also in attendance at the opening on March 23, as well as former community council chairwoman Norma Young, current NHSH nurses and staff including the new locality manager Dawn Pridham, representatives from Highland Council, Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association and the building contractor James MacQueens. Staffin's newest resident Ada Wilson, who is only several weeks old, was also in attendance with her mother Sophie Issacson, who is north Skye's health officer.

It coms almost six years after Staffin Community Trust and Staffin Community Council made a joint submission to NHSH seeking support for a new health facility, amid concerns at the condition and suitability of the Nurse’s Cottage.

Isobel MacDonald performs the opening, watched on Boyd Robertson.

The new centre cost £250,000 and is an integral part of the new Taighean a' Chaiseil development including six family homes and two business premises tenanted by local aquaculture form Organic Sea Harvest.

Tobar na Slàinte means Well of Health. It refers to an important well which sits below the Quiraing and supplies all of the Staffin households with mains water.

The location and age of the cottage - which housed nurses up until the mid 1970s and then a weekly GP clinic - made improvements challenging. NHSH embraced the community proposal and has worked in collaboration with SCT ever since. It is now a long-term tenant of the new facility which hosts a Thursday morning GP clinic by the Porte Medical Centre. Other NHS services and health related organisations will be able to use the centre vi booking system.

The Nurse's Cottage was built by the Staffin Nursing Association six years prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, and 15 years before the creation of the NHS. It illustrated what the Staffin community was capable of achieving as the building was entirely funded by local fundraising. There are parallels with Tobar na Slàinte builds on the tradition of the community working together to deliver something that is tangible and delivers real benefit to Staffin now, and for the future.
SCT will now be purchasing the Nurse Cottage from NHSH with the intention of providing an affordable housing opportunity in the near future.

The Nurse's Cottage

At the opening event Hugh Ross of SCT thanked the Stenscholl township and 'The Department' (SGRPID) for supporting the sale of the site, plus:

  • Project funders including Highlands and Islands, LEADER, SSE Sustainable Development Fund, Scottish Land Fund, Rural Housing Fund, Ecology Building Society and the Quaker Housing Trust
  • Particular mention was made of the support of Staffin residents and our far flung diaspora for SCT's crowdfunder appeal which raised more than £7,000. There were 65 supporters in total including the acclaimed Gaelic singer Alasdair Gillies, Norman and Elizabeth Drummond, Alasdair MacLeod, Marion MacDonald, Gus Graham, Sylvia Porter, Rev Rory MacLeod, Allan Herbert,. Iain Wilson, Helen Atkins, Seumas Gillanders, Neil Jolly, Anne and Ian Marr, James MacDonald, Josie Macleod, Rowan Paterson, Stephen Morrison Marie Claire Tully, among others :
  • A number of NHSH staff including Kate Earnshaw​,​ Helen Emery, Ross MacKenzie, Heather Cameron​ were involved from the start and we have also enjoyed getting to know and working with​ Paul Weller​ and ​Les Cannon and ​their colleagues who are a diligent and dedicated team.​ The support of Boyd and the NHSH board has also been heartening.
  • Melanie Newman, Dr Hannah MacLeod, Dr Phillipa Marson and their colleagues at Portree Medical Centre.
  • SCT's partners, LSHA and the Communities Housing Trust, were pivotal to this project, with special mention of Ronnie MacRae and Susan Hunter who attended all the meetings in Inverness from the very start. John Lamont and Iain MacIvor ​at LSHA were also integral to the health centre project coming to fruition and SCT's solicitor Johnny Bell, of Twin Deer Law, has also worked extremely hard on the project for several years.
  • SCT has had excellent and invaluable support from our Skye Highland cllrs including John Finlayson, Calum Munro and Drew Millar and staff at the authority which we have not forgotten. Our national representatives including our constituency MSP Kate Forbes, her predecessor Dave Thompson and the retired regional MSP David Stewart have also provided help and backing for some time.
  • Organic Sea Harvest is also a long-term tenant and will be the neighbour of Tobar na Slàinte and SCT is looking forward to seeing their staff working out of Taighean a' Chaiseil
  • MacQueens and Rural Design as the contractor and architect for the development which has won four national awards