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Business / Islands funding for Foula Wool ‘transformational’

A UNIQUE business project aiming to keep the entire process of producing knitting yarn from local sheep on the tiny island of Foula has been awarded a second tranche of government money.

Magnus Holbourn of Foula Wool said that thanks to a further £48,000 from the Islands Community Fund (ICF) the full value of the wool business could now be retained in the local community.

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Foula sheep. Photo: Foula Wool

Foula Wool produces naturally coloured knitting yarns from the island’s native flock of Shetland sheep, also known as Foula sheep.

Previously the business had received just under £100,000 for the project. Holbourn described the additional funding was transformational and like a dream come true.

The grant funding from the Scottish Government is part of a £600,000 allocation to seven organisations and businesses based on Scottish islands, including £45,000 each to the British Red Cross in Shetland and in Orkney for a community transport project.

Holbourn said: “This is a genuine transformational opportunity for our island business, we have worked extremely hard over a number of years building up a customer base and establishing our Foula Wool product range.

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“To now be able to bring all of the physical processing work that goes into creating the product back to the island, retaining its full value in the local economy is simply a dream come true.

“The fact that all of the yarn processing machines will be running on low carbon renewable electricity generated by Foula’s own off-grid network not only increases overall island resilience but also allows us to significantly lower our business carbon footprint.

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We are really passionate about the environment, and it makes us so happy to know that we are going to be able to produce our product in a responsible way, supporting our community and our unique sheep at the same time.”

Announcing the funds on Saturday islands secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “Last summer, we received more than 180 applications for this fund which shows us that our islands are focussed on making Scotland a greener and fairer place. They will play an important role in helping us meet our ambitious climate change targets.

“The additional funding will enable even more projects to help people, businesses and communities on our islands thrive.”

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