“Fàs Mòr” (Growing up) a Gaelic-medium childcare centre in Sleat on Skye has won the ‘Gnìomh’ award – the Gaelic Business of the Year 2011.
At this stage there are 75 children registered with the centre, where all activities and conversations take place in Gaelic – and which means the centre is contributing significantly to the future strength of the language in that area.
This is the second year that the ‘Gaelic Business of the Year’ title has been awarded, in a competition run by Comunn na Gàidhlig (CnaG) and supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). The competition is intended to raise the profile of Gaelic by highlighting the number of companies who use Gaelic daily as part of their normal activity.
Fàs Mòr, based on the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig college campus but an independent business, was established 7 years ago. They offer Gaelic-medium childcare for children between the ages of 0 and twelve, everything takes place through the medium of Gaelic – whether the children are there all day, or just for an hour or two.
Applications for the award were assessed by a panel of judges, including representatives from CnaG, HIE and Bòrd na Gàidhlig. They were unanimous that Fàs Mòr deserved the first prize because of the fundamental part Gaelic played in their activities – not only in dealing with the children, but in every poster and publication and on the company website.
Kathryn MacKay is the Fàs Mòr manager. She said: “We are delighted to have won the Gaelic Business of the Year award, and grateful to CnaG and HIE for the prize money that comes with it. Within Fàs Mòr, we encourage and use Gaelic with every child, even if they have no Gaelic when they first arrive. Fàs Mòr relies on funding and grants like this and it’s a real boost to all our staff to get such recognition for the work we’re doing.”
The first place in the Awards includes a sum of £3,000, with prizes of £1,500 and £500 going to the second and third placed companies. This year they were ‘Facal’, based in the north of Sutherland and who offer Gaelic translation and language services, and the Eriskay Community Co-operative shop.
John Watt, Director of Strengthening Communities at HIE said: "We're strongly of the opinion that Gaelic offers employment and business opportunities, particularly in this area, and there's no better proof of that than the applications we've seen for this competition. I am especially pleased that it's a business like 'Fàs Mòr' which has won, because Gaelic is so clearly at the heart of what they do, but also because they're working with young people - and I'm sure these young people will contribute to their communities' confidence in the years ahead."
This year’s prize was presented to Fàs Mòr by new CnaG chairman, and local Highland Councillor, Hamish Fraser, who said: “It was an immense pleasure for me to present this award to a business that plays such an important role in strengthening the language in this community. The value of bilingualism to our young people is clearly understood in this area and it is heartening to see all these youngsters and the staff deeply immersed in Gaelic. They fully deserve this award, and I wish them every success in the years ahead.”