ARTICLE – SUNDAY EXPRESS 18/03/2007
‘Brand new sixpence minted to raise funds for nature reserve’
It disappeared more than quarter of a century ago amid a huge public outcry. The shiny sixpence, which was immortalised in rhyme and as a symbol of good luck, vanished despite a wave of nostalgic patriotism. But now 36 years after it ceased to be legal tender, the silver tanner has made a comeback to help save an uninhabited Scottish island.
Dave Hill, 57, has reissued the coin as part of his own currency for tiny Sgarabhaigh, in the Outer Hebrides. The retired engineer, who bought Sgarabhaigh four years ago, is selling the £16.99 souvenir coins as part of his campaign to transform the tiny outcrop into a nature reserve.
He hopes to raise £1million by offering buyers the chance to become “Associate Owners” of the rock, inhabited only by sheep and cormorants, for £125 or £250. In return, they get visiting rights, a certificate of ownership, a DVD about the island and soil and sand samples. So far more than 50 Sgarabhaigh shares have been snapped up with filmmakers planning to tell his story in a television documentary.
It’s hoped the newly minted coins will help boost the project’s international profile and increase tourism to the Western Isles. The Sgarabhaigh Sixpence is based on a design produced during the reign of James VI.
Mr Hill, a married father-of-two from the village of Elford, near Tamworth, Staffordshire, said: “We have had a lot of interest in the coin and believe it is quite an appropriate choice because this is also a joint Scottish and English venture.
“Sgarabhaigh and the islands really are a jewel in the crown of the UK but this fact is not appreciated by most people. It’s one of the most beautiful and unspoilt environments in the world – very unrestricted, no fences, nothing – it’s wonderful.
“This is all about generating a lasting interest and affection for the islands and has nothing to do with pieces of land with titles often being sold-off across Scotland.”
The tiny island, which lies in the Sound of Harris between North Uist and Harris, is home only to sheep, cormorants (Sgarabhaigh means cormorant island in Gaelic) and three ruined bothies.
Getting there involves a flight to Stornoway, then a boat from North Uist or Harris.
For more information go to www.scaravay.com.
'The Journal' - July 2004
'The Tamworth Herald' - 15 th July 2004
'The Hebridean' - 29 th April 2005
'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
'Stornoway Gazette - 15th March 2007