The Icing on the Cake for Castlebay Christmas Tree

Castlebay Christmas Tree was enjoyed by many on Barra and beyond when it was erected in December 2019 and throughout the festive season.

We are now delighted and honoured to announce that we have been shortlisted for an Epic Award (Scotland) 2020 and the People’s Choice Epic Award.  The Epic Awards are the premier awards for voluntary arts and creative groups across the UK and Republic of Ireland, with 29 groups shortlisted in total.  A winner and runner-up for Scotland will be chosen from seven Scottish groups shortlisted for this year’s Epic Award.

The Tree had been months in the planning.  People had been busy crocheting and knitting squares on the islands and across the globe to be a part of our Christmas decoration.  Crochet classes were organised.  Much thought also had to go to the structure of the tree, it needed to be well anchored and to withstand our winter winds.  We thank every single volunteer who played their part to make it happen.

Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery was also instrumental in making this project happen by providing the funding for the structure and the lights.  Janet Paterson of the Lottery Team said ” we were very impressed with this initiative which fully met the objectives of the Lottery. We therefore had no hesitation in approving the application for funding. The uniqueness of the project and how it inspired people from all over the world to join in was outstanding.

Full funding has now been made available for the construction of this year’s second tree and we can’t wait to see the result”.

The other Scottish Projects are

  • BeeKind – A community drama show in Aberdeenshire that took inspiration from the collaboration and teamwork of bees.
  • Bridgend Eco-Bothy – A group of volunteers in Edinburgh who transformed a disused building into a hub for community and creative activity.
  • Campsie Fest – A twice-yearly festival in East Dunbartonshire that keeps the village hall open with its fundraising.
  • Comrie Cinema Club – A volunteer-led events club in Perthshire that stopped locals having to travel a 52-mile round-trip to visit the cinema.
  • The Spit it Out Project – A group of young artists in Edinburgh who use visual and performance art to heal trauma and promote sex positivity.
  • Stirling Photography Festival – A volunteer-run festival that celebrates local and international photography, working with partners throughout Stirling.

 Jemma Neville, Director of Voluntary Arts Scotland said: “We are always so impressed by the range of projects that enter our annual Epic Awards, and this year is no different. The groups on our 2020 shortlist not only make a huge difference in their own communities, but are shining examples of what can be achieved when volunteer effort and creativity come together. Picking a winner and runner-up will be no easy task for our judging panel, but we hope members of the public will join us in this endeavour by voting in the People’s Choice Award.

Sarah MacLean, one of the Christmas Tree Team, said “we are extremely honoured to be included in this shortlist with these other fantastic projects and we were all delighted with how well the Christmas Tree was received.  We are already planning tree two and look forward to again adding some sparkle to Castlebay this Christmas.  We are extremely grateful to Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery for supporting us.”

Members of the public now asked to vote for their favourite in the ‘People’s Choice Award’ Place your vote here:  Voting closes on 20th September.

Since last Christmas, the Christmas Tree Team have planned another tree.  Through the COVID pandemic, they have also been busy developing and delivering online crochet classes through lockdown and beyond, not only on Barra but to people throughout the UK.  Sarah MacLean added “The online crochet classes have been super, giving people a chance for a chat and to meet new people while also learning a skill.  We have had many squares already arrive from different countries to be part of this years tree.  Making a square/s is a small positive project people can do at this time.”

If you want to get involved in Castlebay Christmas Tree you can make a square/s (12cm x 12cm) and send it to us.  You can contact us through FB and Twitter @BarraBunting.



Castlebay Christmas Tree is a project managed by Beairteas Bharraigh Ltd.

Beairteas Bharraigh translates as the Wealth of Barra.  Beairteas focuses on increasing island sustainability, promoting local skills, developing local produce and reducing waste.


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