Whisky Galore fans get chance to live the dream

Chris and Diane Dillerstone say they are really enjoying their life on Barra and are planning to expand the post office
Chris and Diane Dillerstone say they are really enjoying their life on Barra and are planning to expand the post office
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A YORKSHIRE couple who are lifelong fans of Whisky Galore have bought the only post office on the remote Hebridean island of Barra, where the film was shot.

Chris, 46, and Diane Dillerstone, 53, had been holidaying in the Highlands for years, with Mrs Dillerstone first visiting Barra 30 years ago after watching Whisky Galore.

“There’s no cricket and no Yorkshire beer”

Chris Dillerstone

The Ealing comedy, inspired by the Compton MacKenzie novel about a group of Scottish islanders who raided a shipwreck for its consignment of Scotch, was set in Eriskay but filmed on location in Barra in 1948.

Mr Dillerstone said they were “extremely pleased” to give Castlebay post office a new lease of life after taking over the business earlier this month.

He added: “It is already a lifeline for the local community, who draw their pensions, license their vehicles and pay their bills at the branch, but we want to expand the business to become a visitor attraction.

“Our tea room will be named Macroons after the postmaster in Whisky Galore, which was filmed on the island.

“We’re really enjoying our life here on Barra. We lived in a rural location in Yorkshire but this is completely different.

“There’s no cricket and no Yorkshire beer, but you can’t have everything.”

The couple, who purchased the business for a six-figure sum, received a substantial funding package from Clydesdale Bank to acquire the business, as well as investing their life savings.

When Mr Dillerstone, formerly an accountant, was made redundant last year the pair decided to start their own business.

A search of post offices for sale revealed that the Castlebay branch was on the market. They travelled to the island in July to view the post office and begin the process of acquiring the business. Less than six months later, in December, they moved from their home near Selby to live on Barra.

The couple plan to convert the unused shop space in the post office, which is located close to the ferry terminal, to incorporate the tea room and eventually hope to create a self-catering apartment in the building’s loft.

Chris Rennie, business development manager at Clydesdale Bank’s Business Direct service, said: “It’s always a pleasure to help people become self-
employed but it has been especially rewarding to work with Chris and Diane, who as a result of our support are now living their dream.

“We are continuing to work in partnership with Chris and Diane to assist their expansion plans.”

Barra recently came first in a “Most Beautiful Island” competition, which focused on its tranquillity, distinctive culture and history. It is popular as a starting point for visiting and exploring neighbouring islands the Uists and Benbecula.

The island is eight miles long and four miles wide and has white sand beaches and seven lochs.

The population is approximately 1,300 and many of them are Gaelic speakers.

Castlebay was once a 19th century fishing port and today is the island’s main town. It is home to a couple of hotels.

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