Home   News   Article

'Overwhelming response' as Reay residents look at church proposal

By Alan Hendry

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
Residents in the Reay area have been asked for their ideas on possible community use of the historic church. Picture: Alan Hendry
Residents in the Reay area have been asked for their ideas on possible community use of the historic church. Picture: Alan Hendry

Hopes for a community acquisition of Reay's 285-year-old church are moving forward following a public meeting this week.

Up to 50 local residents gathered in the church on Tuesday night to share their thoughts and ideas about taking on the building as a community asset.

It is hoped that in the coming weeks a committee can be formed and decide on the next steps.

Ahead of this week's meeting, an online community consultation had been launched to gather opinions on potential use of the church which is expected to close in June.

Local resident Fiona Mackenzie, one of the organisers, said: "We had quite an overwhelming response, really. There must have been 40 or 50 folk that came along.

"Lots of people are really interested in retaining a future for the church building. What that might look like obviously has yet to be decided, but a few folk are interested in getting together as a working group or committee to try and progress the project."

Ms Mackenzie pointed out that one of the first tasks for any committee will be "starting up a dialogue with the Church of Scotland to find out what their intentions are".

Dating back to 1739, the category "A" listed building, with its distinctive white walls, sits alongside the A836 – part of the North Coast 500 route.

"There are a few ideas coming forward," Ms Mackenzie said. "Folk are very much concerned about losing the church as a venue to carry out life events such as weddings and funerals, but there's a recognition as well that any future use has to be flexible and sustainable.

"It's often quite a tricky balance – you can't keep everybody happy. It's quite a strange concept, the community looking to potentially purchase a building that is very much viewed as belonging to the community anyway.

"I would hope that a committee would get together in the next three to four weeks."

Regular updates will be given on the Save Reay Church Facebook page and, as ideas take shape, another public meeting is likely.

"I see that as key to taking the community along, to constantly report back," Ms Mackenzie said.

Funding would have to be sought to develop any potential business plan for the building.

"Folk mentioned that as they go west it's a landmark and they value that as well," Ms Mackenzie added.

"People's main concerns are any potential conflict with other organisations and businesses in Reay. Obviously for any future takeover of the church to be successful it has to work in harmony with everything else that's going on in the village."

Last week, a Church of Scotland spokesman said: “We are always open to working with any community groups interested in purchasing one of our buildings, such as Reay church, and would welcome discussing any potential business plan which the community proposes."

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More