Ninety children and staff from North Uist's new school, the Sgoil Uibhist a Tuath, came together to celebrate the 50th anniversary of RSPB Scotland's Balranald nature reserve at a special event last Friday. The school, which opened for the first time in August, brings together all the primary school children from across the island for the first time.
The children were given the task of painting their own individual wooden tile which was then attached to a large mural board to create the final piece of group artwork. The artwork reflects the special wildlife and habitats found at Balranald as well as the crofting system which creates the habitats.
Jamie Boyle, RSPB Scotland's site manager for Balranald, said, "We had a really great time and the enthusiasm of the children, staff and volunteers was infectious. We have always seen Balranald as an integral part of the community so getting together with the next generation of the community makes a lot of sense."
Jamie said that they wished to create an artwork that reflects all the different aspects of Balranald. "The reserve could not exist without the work of the local crofters. Crofting is absolutely fundamental to Balranald and the future of the reserve is linked to the future of crofting. We were very keen that the children understood that as they are the crofters of the future. As well as the wildlife many of the pictures in the artwork reflect the animals of the crofts and the various occupations associated with crofting.
"If the enthusiasm of the children is anything to go by then the future of Balranald and of crofting in North Uist looks very positive!"
Jamie reported that there were plans to have further events later in the year which would also mark the 50th anniversary of the nature reserve.