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Only shop on island saved after community buyout – BBC News

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  • By James Delaney
  • BBC Scotland News

Image source, LISMORE COMMUNITY TRUST

Image caption, The Lismore Community Trust raised over £80,000 to take over the shop

An island community has saved its only shop and post office after funding a buyout.

The Lismore store had been threatened with closure earlier this year when the schoolteacher running it returned to the classroom.

A share issue campaign by the Lismore Community Trust (LCT) attracted over 230 backers and raised £80,000.

They now plan to create a central hub for the Inner Hebrides island’s 160 permanent residents.

The trust had initially set out to raise £70,000 in order to purchase initial stock, carry out necessary refurbishments and keep the business operating for about five years.

However, contributions from holiday home owners and regular visitors alongside those of neighbours pushed the final total over £82,000 and growing.

LCT chair Andy Hough said the store’s survival was key to maintaining the island’s ability to provide for local residents without them having to make a three-hour round trip to Oban.

He said: “If the store had closed, it would have been devastating for quite a number of services.

Image source, LISMORE COMMUNITY TRUST

Image caption, The island’s only post office will be open in time for Christmas

“We have a fragile population anyway and it would have added to that feeling of isolation. It could have been the beginning of depopulation.

“But it was heartening to see people from all walks of life, be that permanent residents or second homeowners coming together to engender that community spirit.

“Now people have access to groceries on their doorstep, it is saving them leaving the island on a ferry.”

Nearly half the population of the island, which lies north-east of Mull off Scotland’s west coast, turned out for the ribbon-cutting ceremony this week.

The store will be staffed by full-time workers, but supported on the business side by volunteers.

Image source, LISMORE COMMUNITY TRUST

Image caption, The Trust hopes fully-stocked shelves will lessen the need for islanders to travel for supplies

Mr Hough, 66, who retired to Lismore from the Isle of Wight in 2018, said he was keen for the store to become a draw for the local community, including installing WiFi provision.

But he added the Trust wanted to keep the business “profitable”.

“It is not just somewhere where people buy groceries, it is somewhere people can come, chat, find the craic,” he said.

“We have employed a manager who has two young children. We pay them through the shop, they spend in the shop.

“It is as much a service as anything else, but we do want to make sure it does not make a loss.”

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