ARTICLE - THE HEBRIDEAN - 29/04/2005
' Island Idyll hope to grab world wide attention'
INTERNET shopping may be a common practice in 2005 but ebay is now offering a Hebridean deal that you won't find anywhere on the high street.
Described as a share of a Scottish island, the bargain offers customers the chance to be an Associate Owner of Sgarabhaigh in the Sound of Harris - a snip at only £250.
Spiralling a remote, uninhabited island into the commercial world of cyberspace may seem like an unlikely story but Scaravay now has its own promotional website to attract potential shareholders to invest in their island dream.
Scaravay owner Dave Hill explained why this project is the fulfillment of his own ambition: "I bought the island in 2003 after a lifetime of dreams nearly a years detailed background work.
"My own background is in civil engineering and in the latter years of my professional career I got heavily involved in sustainability in its widest sense.
"I linked this experience to a life long love of, and fascination for islands.
"I sought to satisfy my dream of being a custodian of an island, protect the environment of a very special part of Scotland, support the local economy of the islands and provide linkages to the people of the islands and in some small part support social interaction through hands across the sea."
Dave offers people across the world the unique chance to purchase a holding on the island which gives them a lifetime link and a right to visit the island as they please.
And so far he has found there to be a definite market for the concept: "A Holding on Sgarabhaigh will focus people's interest in the islands not only for them, but for their friends and family and then subsequently for future generations as the holding is transferred from parent to child/loved one progressively and hopefully for all time.
"It is a big ambition but it seems to be working, albeit in a small way, at present 30 to date.
"Everyone who has bought to date intends to visit and can't seem to wait to come up there.
"Those that have been are well impressed saying that it is better than they ever imagined."
He continued: "My target for holdings is 5000 over the next five years with possibly only 500 - 1000 being sold here and the rest in the USA/Canada and New Zealand and Australia ."
The uninhabited Sgarabhaigh, which means Cormorant Island, lies four miles off the north east of North Uist and while shareholders have the chance to visit, they are certainly not going to find luxury accommodation for their island idyll with only three bothies available for shelter.
And although Dave id willing to share his island with his shareholders, his first priority is the preservation and protection of the remote and tranquil quality of Sgarabhaigh.
"I prefer people to stay in Leverborough and travel out and back in a day, the island is relatively small, but if they ask me and are able campers and understand the environmental issues they can camp on the island - we will be monitoring this aspect but I hope to stay on the island myself in early June."
And although many of the shareholders still await a trip to their haven, Dave does his best to give them a taste of the remote location by creating the island in a box.
He explains: "I have tried to make the holding a real island in a box with peat and sand from the island and the Sound being incorporated in a package of artifacts of quality and relevance to the island holding.
"The package quality is really beyond the current price but as I make almost all the goods myself or at least customize them, I have been able to launch at a moderate price for a quality item.
"The solid oak box seems to be particularly appreciated but we have been complimented on all elements even our home produced DVD."
And despite his current distance from his dear island, Dave has been delighted by the warm welcome he has received in the Hebridean community.
He said: "Despite not living in the islands I have been well accepted by the local community and hope that I can repay the kindness in a not inconsiderable measure by generating local business for both the local and wider island community.
"I put any local businesses that want exposure on direct links on my website.
"I am in touch with environmentalists of all disciplines to help keep the ecological balance of the island right and hope to help a marine biologist with his marketing of whale/dolphin/seal trips."
Sgarabhaigh may become a centre of international escape over coming years with Dave's enterprising project but for him the island will always be the fulfillment of his own personal life long dream.
He concludes: "The islands are undoubtedly a jewel in the crown of the United Kingdom but this fact is not appreciated by the majority of our own people let alone the wider world population, I believe I am changing minds and hearts although in a very small way."
'The Journal' - July 2004
'The Tamworth Herald' - 15 th July 2004
'The Scottish Islands Network Newsletter - May 2005
'The Shropshire Star' - 8 th August 2005
'The Advertiser' - 12 th August 2005
'The Tamworth Times' - 1 st September 2005