Comunn Eachdraidh Nis (CEN) was established in 1977 when the need for a facility to collect and preserve local history was realised.
Minutes from the first meeting read:
“29th June 1977
Four members of the community met this evening to discuss what can be done to collect and preserve the history of the area. It was agreed that use should be made of the ‘Job Creation’ programme and, since applications need to be put forward in the next few days, it was agreed to put together a proposed project. The project will aim to collect old books, photographs, poetry, songs, fishing history along with church and school history. It was also agreed that a board/society should be formed to help steer the project…”
A team was gathered and employed through the Job Creation scheme. They began by visiting homes with their trusty recorders. Little by little, interest in the Comunn Eachdraidh grew and it became obvious that there was a want and need for such a group in the community.
CEN has come a very long way since those early days. We recently celebrated our 40th year and in 2012, we moved to our present premises, the old Cross Primary School in the village of North Dell. We have a cafe and gift shop on the premises which employ four members of staff. We rely on a band of volunteers who come in each week and assist with the upkeep of the archive room records. CEN has become more than just a historical society. It is a community hub for the North Lewis area.
We hope you pay us a visit if you are in the North of Lewis.
Annie Macsween (Chairperson)
Annie is former Head of Gaelic at Lews Castle College, UHI. She is a Depute Lieutenant for the Western Isles and was awarded Urram nan Gàidheal – Lifetime Achievement Award – in 2016. Annie is a former Vice-chair of Bòrd na Gàidhlig and a founder member of CEN. She has chaired the board since 2010. She also runs her own Cultural Services Agency (Gaelic translation and proofing).
Joan Mackay (Vice-Chair)
Joan Mackay, 68, joined the board in 2008. She is a graduate of Aberdeen University and Jordanhill College and taught Mathematics in schools in Glasgow and Lewis for 35 years. During this time she also held Guidance and Senior teacher posts. She is convener of the Lewis and Harris Women’s Cancer Support Group and treasurer of the local Young at Heart Group, as well as being a committee member of the local school’s parent council and the Lewis-South Carolina Youth Exchange Group.
Donald Mackenzie (Treasurer)
Donald MacKenzie, 69, retired as a bank manager with The Royal Bank of Scotland plc in 2000, having given more than 34 years unbroken service since joining the former National Commercial Bank of Scotland in 1966. For more than half of his banking career, Mr MacKenzie served in various managerial capacities, mainly in the Tayside area of Scotland. In the course of his work, he gained vast experience of analysing financial data and making major lending decisions. Over the years, Mr MacKenzie has, in a volunteer capacity, served on numerous committees, mainly in the role of treasurer. He joined the CEN board in 2007.
Iain Gordon Macdonald (Secretary)
Iain Gordon taught in island secondary schools for over 37 years. Finally, he was head teacher of Shawbost School on the west side of Lewis, from which post he retired in 2013. He has served on a number of community organisations over the years. At present he is chair and secretary of Ness Cemetery Assocation and grazings clerk for Habost township in Ness. He has recently written educational materials for the SQA and Stòrlann. He joined the CEN board in 2014. School in 1976, latterly serving as head teacher and was there until the school closed. She then taught in Airidhantuim School until she retired. Chris has served on various local committees over the years. She has been on the CEN board since 2008.
Mary Ann Morrison
Mary Ann, 70, spent most of her working life in the catering and hospitality industries. Twenty five years were spent at the same establishment and several of those were as manager. She also partnered in a bakery business, supplying local shops, cafes and mobile shops. Latterly, she worked in the Ness F.C. Social Club. She serves on the North Lewis War Memorials Committee and has been a director of CEN since 2011. She also volunteers at the local charity shop.
Donald is a joiner with a wealth of experience, having worked on various contracts throughout the Western Isles. He has a passion for classic motors and is a member of the local Classic Car Club. For a number of years he has been a member of the North Lewis War Memorials Committee. Donald is also a keen photographer who has built up a vast archive of images from all over the island over the years. He joined the board of CEN in 2013.
Mary Catherine Campbell
Mary C Campbell, 71, joined the board in February 2016. She graduated with a Diploma in Education (Primary Teaching Qualification) from Jordanhill College and taught in primary schools in Glasgow and Lewis for nearly forty years, both full time and part time. Now retired, she helps in a voluntary capacity at the local charity shop and at CEN.
Donald John Campbell
Donald John, 68, began his working life as a butcher. He was a member of the first fire brigade to be set up in the district and was a founder member of Ness F.C. Social Club. He served on the Ness F.C Committee for several years and was widely involved in local youth work. Donald John was the warden at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig from 1996 to 2015. He was in charge of the maintenance team and provided 24 hrs emergency cover on site. His interests include DIY, gardening, fishing and walking. He joined the board of CEN in 2016.
Murdo has been running his own electrical business since 1985. He is a former pupil of Cross Primary School and has a keen interest in history. He is a member of The Transport Preservation Group and serves on the North Lewis War Memorials Committee. He has been on the board of CEN since 2012.