Sheila Gilmore: Arran power-cut effort generated lasting goodwill

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A MONTH ago, the Isle of Arran woke up to snow-covered hills. Picture postcard it might have appeared, but with the snowfall came a power cut that in some parts lasted ten days.

Internet, mobile signals and landlines were all disrupted by the atrocious weather. Initially, the outside world was able to respond, through limited images on Facebook, taken by Arran Mountain Rescue Team members as they battled elements to take essential supplies to those most in need.

Local contractors and farmers dug out roads – finding livestock and abandoned cars in drifts that were up to 15ft deep in places. Volunteers worked in every community supporting the most vulnerable.

Then engineers arrived, carrying vanloads of cables and equipment.

Pylons were helicoptered into place; food vans were set up; generators were brought in. And with this came the world’s media. It became commonplace to see and hear local people on the television news … assuming you had power in your home.

Arran, jewel of the Firth of Clyde, is well known as an accessible holiday island. With stunning scenery and unrivalled walking, cycling, golf and adventure, or just as a place to chill, Arran has it all.

But it’s also a community; a community that worked together to deal with a unique experience. The power cuts of March 2013 showed Arran at its most resilient.

The snow has gone now and there are many people that should be thanked, but outwith the Arran community, it was the engineers who staggered through snow, climbed poles and worked in freezing conditions to get us connected again.

To them we, as an island, give our thanks – and today we are sending each one a hamper with a few Arran goodies: oatcakes, cheese and some of our famous whisky.

A small gift but a big thank-you from all on Arran.

We hope that the engineers will return to enjoy a holiday, and that others will also be prompted by images of our beautiful island that were beamed around the world to do the same.

• Sheila Gilmore is Executive Director of VisitArran