Testimonials

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Volunteering on the Isle of Eigg was a very interesting and amazing experience. It was four weeks of exploring, learning and being part of the community and wildlife on the island. The tasks provided are enjoyable and worthwhile; from cutting down overgrown trees and shrubs to selling gifts at the weekly craft fair. I had the privilege of doing some dolphin and whale watches after being trained by the WDC. During my stay it was impossible not to get to know the locals and spend time with them as they are so friendly and appreciative of the work you do in their community.  I really loved it, and I actually miss that long walk to the shops! Rebecca Steele

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 I wasn’t sure what to expect as the boat neared the island, as most of the houses on Eigg are on the other side – I thought, how can I live here for two weeks? It is a rock with no people on it! It was a misty day and An Sgurr loomed above the ferry. However, it was a different story when I left two weeks later and cried when the piper played on the jetty. The warmth and friendliness of the islanders and the positive experience of a group of strangers learning to live and work together as volunteers on a common project, was a unique experience in my life, which is so different (I am an opera singer in Austria). It was great to be included in this work, and I recommend volunteering on Eigg for anyone who is interested in a volunteering experience ‘far from the madding crowd’. As a city dweller, the sunsets on Eigg were amazing and learning to live more simply with the focus on community and nature rather than ‘busyness’ was a good life lesson, hopefully one I will learn from! Lucy Williams

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 Eigg is lovely ! Peacful, wild and beautiful. Amazing landscapes for great hiking times, a rich wildlife full of surprises and a really rich and interesting community. And even the little jobs needed to be done for beach and forest care are almost fun ! Yann Andrieu

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The year I went to Eigg… As I drove up towards Mallaig I had the most awful thought. What are you doing thinking that you can do this physical work and fit it with what is probably going to be a load of grad students from uni – and enjoy yourself?   It was only as I drove that I realised, being in my 50s,I was not really the type of person that would volunteer. And its all true. The work was physical, I did share with a lot of uni students – but they welcomed me with open arms, we got along fantastically well and I can truly say I had a lovely time. And yes I would go back, which was the question that many people asked as I was leaving, but at that point I wanted to wait to let the experience settle before I answered. What was the best bit? Well being on the Island itself I think. The people, feeling like you are part of that community for a short while and because you are a volunteer you get to know the people more than if you were on holiday. I enjoyed helping people on their crofts, feeling good after a hard days work knowing that you are making a difference and sitting down to lunch with them to bacon butties and home made scones. The worst bit? Probably having to say good bye at the end of the trip. What could make it better? For me the volunteer house was great but the design of the windows in the lounge means you have to stand up to see the gorgeous view of Rhum and the weather patterns changing every 15 mins. What’s the house like? I loved it. It was like a home from home student flat and we all got on really well. As people came and left the dynamics changed and I made some great friends. We supported each other brilliantly. Huge kitchen for cooking where we make fresh bread and cakes and experimented with what we had in the cupboards when we couldn’t get things from the shop. Yes you have to walk 4 miles to the shop but you sometimes get a lift back or someone will take your shopping for you.  I took my bike and was glad I did. And volunteering? Tasha was fantastic to work with. She works with you and so it feels like you are supporting the work that the Island needs done. Pulling ragwort, cutting vegetation on paths, helping at craft fare and the work on crofts. Midges aside – it was enjoyable, even in the rain. Would I do it again? Yes I would and would look forward to the swims at the beach and meeting all the Eiggers again. Alison Milne

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 Volunteering on Eigg was my first ever experience of residential volunteering. I had just started a six-month sabbatical from work and was looking for an adventure and keen it should be within conservation. I wasn’t really sure where to start to find an opportunity. It turns out that if you are looking for a residential voluntary place, most organisations advertise around January, February time. I didn’t start my sabbatical until the beginning of May. So, I looked for a website that would display environment related jobs and voluntary opportunities. It was here that I came across the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust. Eigg is just one of those places you fall for. It is a stunning Island around 10 miles off the west coast of Scotland and is one of the Small Isles that also contain Rum, Muck and Skye. Not only is its scenery breathtaking, with the distinctive Sgurr dominating the skyline, Hen Harriers and Golden Eagles punctuating the vistas. There is the much-missed sound of the cuckoo around most corners during the summer and powder soft beaches including the sands that sing. It is also the home one of the most fabulous community of folks I have had the pleasure to meet. Arriving at Eigg to see the pier poking out from white sands, the Sgurr as the backdrop, blue sky and the sound of the bagpipes I was full of excitement as to what my two weeks would be like. The Volunteer Manager, Tasha, met me from the ferry and we headed off to the volunteer accommodation on the other side of the island in quite possibly the noisiest vehicle on the planet. On the plus side we would always know when Tasha was coming and did laugh when a very small item arrived in the post that Tasha was convinced would solve all of the noise creating issues. Tasha was terrific from start to finish keeping us organised and also great fun. The other volunteers were a very international bunch from all over the world. I was quite nervous at first being a bit older but my housemates over the two weeks were terrific and it was a real giggle hanging out with them and eating lots of cake and losing a lot at cards. My days started with a good walk to a different location most days. The tasks including clearing forest paths, chopping back hedges, removing brambles, helping out at the community school gardens, beach cleaning and two great days helping out on a couple of crofts. I thoroughly enjoyed all of it and thought I would do lots of thinking and set the world to rights, but actually for the first time in a long time my mind was clear. We also had a terrific opportunity to receive training from the Scottish Whale and Dolphin Trust on how to undertake Shore Watches so that valuable information can be captured to build up a picture as to the movements and stability of cetaceans around the Scottish coast and we continued to plan in shore watches whenever possible. Another activity I enjoyed was to welcome visitors off the ferry on a Monday and direct them to the weekly community Craft Fair, where we also manned the Heritage Trust stall. This gave me a chance to chat to some lovely people visiting the island and even better have a good old natter with some of the smashing and amazingly creative islanders, eat home made ice cream and enjoy a fabulous lunch courtesy of the Eiggy Bread Ladies. Oh and sell a few things of course. My time on Eigg was a fantastic experience, from being outdoors in spectacular scenery everyday doing all sorts of different and rewarding tasks, to sharing a cider or few at the Pier and thinking I was getting everyone’s name wrong. Brione Slaney

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Having worked as a volunteer for many years through (B)TCV and also the East Lothian Ranger Service there are generally two types of project. Either those where the volunteer contributes a week of their time (commonly residential) or (usually to the volunteer) the days [communicated by email] which the volunteer can manage. With the full spectrum of experience in conservation volunteering I can honestly say my time tree planting on Eigg was both the best and also the most real. It is a wonderful island and mainly because of the people who live there and what they share. Many of them do drink quite a lot – but so do many people in Britain. I like the way that, since my excellent time on the island, the little extras I find out about the place since my visit, complement the snippets I learnt from my time there. The true nature of Scotland is that we can never predict the weather and we deal with what is before us to get the task done, together. Tasha is really cool and the best team leader you could wish for – cue “yeeha”. A week on the island is perfect to get a feel for the place – make sure you climb the main summit whatever the weather and enjoy the people and the fragility and cooperation that they stand for. Douglas Gordon

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 As a volunteer with the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust I had the opportunity to explore and get an insight into island life on this wonderful wee west coast island. We worked Monday to Friday with the community helping out with whatever needed done – manning the craft fair stall, pulling up ragwort, helping out on local crofts. In the evenings we had fires on the beach under the stars, made jam with wild berries, ate fresh mackerel the neighbours caught, walked on sands that sing, swam in the Atlantic with dolphins never far away and hiked the trails for views unimaginally beautiful. The island is stunning! But what makes Eigg really special is the people; warm, lively and spirited, they’re always keen to meet new people, get a good story and have few drinks with you! I can’t wait to go back. Louise Emslie

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 My time volunteering on Eigg was everything I’d hoped it would be. During my two week stay, I got to know my way around the island and had ample opportunity to enjoy the landscape and soak in the beauty. We got to try our hand at a range of tasks (path marking, bracken clearing, crofting, seed collection), and get a real sense of Eigg’s community. The balance between work and play was very fair, and I always felt the work of volunteers was appreciated. Being here is like living in some moneyless utopia where cash and door locks are abstract concepts – brilliant! Top tip – forget your deodorant. Embrace the mud. Helen Jack        

Louise clearing the drainage ditch

 

 

 

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