On their recent visit to Scotland, Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex opened The Shed, a community based facility in Stornoway. The Prince paid the visit in his official capacity as Lord High Commissioner, The Queen’s personal representative to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
The Shed is a youth and family centre, which is built on the site of what was once an old salt shed, beside Martin’s Memorial Church. The facility aims to help the Church make connections with members of the community, as well as provide assistance to those who are living in the midst of poverty. The goal of The Shed is to form and develop partnerships within the community through a number of support initiatives and other community events. Earlier this year, it received a boost of £2,000 from the STV Appeal 2013.
The minister of Martin’s Memorial Church, Rev. Tommy MacNeil played a significant role in the creation of the centre. When speaking about the project, he said: “As a church we’ve had a strong youth work element for a number of years. We were keen to develop this further to reach more unchurched youth in the town and we were also keen to build more bridges into the wider community. The Shed youth and community centre enables us to meet with youth and community in a neutral place and build relationships and friendships with people”.
The Lord High Commissioner and the Countess of Wessex walked from the Town Hall to the Church grounds on foot, chatting to the crowds along the way. Upon arriving, Their Graces toured the new building, before officially declaring The Shed open and unveiling a plaque to commemorate the occasion. After the opening ceremony, the royal couple were introduced to representatives of CrossReach (the Social Care Council of The Church of Scotland), who shared the work of Dochas, a community service operating from the Lewis Street Project, which provides support to homeless people who face problems with substance misuse.
Other engagements during the day included a visit to the Stornoway Town Hall to meet participants and volunteers for the Duke of Edinburgh Award in Scotland. Prince Edward is set to take over as the chairman of the award scheme after his father, Prince Philip. Their Graces also visited the Harris Tweed Authority and met with representatives of the Stornoway Historical Society.