Who We Are
CCDC is governed by a board of volunteer directors who are elected by the community of Coigach. They bring a wealth of skills and experience. Our current (2023) board members are:
Rich works for the John Muir Trust, as part of the fundraising team, with direct involvement on specific projects and community partnerships in the North-West Highlands, including the Knoydart Foundation, of which he is a Board Director. Prior to JMT Rich had a ten-year association with Tanera, for five years of which he lived on Tanera, more recently managed the sale and transfer of the business to the current owner. During this time, he also managed the Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape Partnership Scheme. Rich lives at Achvraie, with Lizzie, Rosie and Xander and gets his kicks on and off the water in boats and on bikes
Ben was brought up in Coigach where he now lives and works. Ben was for many years a self-employed fisherman creel fishing in local waters for shellfish for export and was a key member of the pier users group. He now runs his own contracting and haulage company. Ben was one of the first directors of CCDC when it started in 2010 and now leads our housing sub group. In his “spare” time, Ben keeps highland cattle on his croft, has built his own family home and is a member of the local retained firefighter team
Iain is a Chartered Management Accountant, with an MBA and is a Chartered Director. Iain worked for the three largest construction companies in Scotland. He joined a nursing home business in 1998, progressing to Managing Director, looking after 5,500 older people and responsible for over 7,500 staff. Since 2004, Iain has worked as a self-employed non-executive director primarily working with small companies helping them to raise funds and grow. Iain, who has had a home in Achiltibuie for 17 years, has been a director of CCDC for 10 years. Iain is responsible for all financial matters relating to CCDC, CCDC Trading and Coigach Community CIC.
Julie has several jobs – on Wednesdays she runs the local library, other days she is the administrator for the Community Hall, and is a director of Achiltibuie Garden which grows and supplies fresh produce. (As a former employee of the Hydroponicum, Julie and her colleagues set up in business there when there was a change of ownership and operating model). Achiltibuie Garden now have their own premises and Julie’s business includes catering for events and functions. Julie is also a member of Coigach Community Council and undertakes local fundraising for several national charities.
Sheila was brought up on the family croft in Achnahaird, Coigach and after studying in Aberdeen she moved to Edinburgh to take up a post as a business studies teacher. After marrying, Sheila located to London and worked in a large comprehensive school as head of the business studies department. In 1978 Sheila and David moved north to Strathpeffer where they owned and ran a successful hotel business. The couple returned to Coigach with their young family in 1984. Sheila then taught business studies at Ullapool High School before retiring in 2016
Alison is a professionally qualified building services engineer. She has worked with community organisations developing social enterprise initiatives and for CCDC as development officer for the former Achiltibuie Smokehouse building. She has also completed a housing options' appraisal for CCDC, as well as working as Powerdown Officer for Lochbroom, promoting and developing community renewable energy schemes. Alison is the chair of Coigach Community CIC, CCDC's Community Interest Company.
Robin’s current role is Land and Community Manager for Summer Isles Enterprises where he manages all aspects of work to do with the land, livestock and community on a large restoration project on the Isle of Tanera Mor. On the mainland he has the use of a croft where he and his wife raise their own livestock. Robin is an enthusiastic member of the Coigach Coastal Rowing team. The original Hydroponicum was the brainchild of his grandfather Robert Irvine who also ran the Summer Isles Hotel before passing it on to Robin’s aunt and uncle. Robin has a PhD in Social Anthropology, specialising in human, animal and landscape relationships.
Iain Angus Macleod
Iain recently joined the CCDC team and is looking forward to getting involved and helping with projects within the local community for its benefit. He grew up locally in the village of Altandhu and currently works on a prawn creel fishing boat out of the local harbour.
If you, or someone you know would like to stand as a director please complete the form below and return to our office.
CCDC Director Nomination Form
CCDC has two subsidiary companies:
- Coigach Community CIC is a Community Interest Company that owns and operates our wind turbine. Annually, the company gift aids its profits to CCDC
- CCDC Trading holds the community share in Ben Mor Hydro, which entitles it to 12.5% of that company’s profits. Annually, it also gift aids its profits to CCDC.
Here are the directors of these smaller boards who you haven’t already met from the main board:
Steve has over 30 years' experience of renewable energy, in that time having supported many community projects throughout the UK. With a strong community ethic, he has worked on the community owned wind turbine and the hydro electric scheme.
Ann was, up till November 2022, a CCDC director, being a founder member, but remains as a director of the CIC. She is proud of the contribution the CIC will make towards community sustainability in Coigach. Ann came to Coigach at the age of 18 and has lived here most of her life. She has a background in various employment but mainly social care. She is a member of the Community Council and the North West Highlands Geopark.
Iain was Chair of CCDC for its first 10 years, standing down in 2021 though retaining directorships of Coigach Community CIC and CCDC Trading. After many years away working as a practicing vet and subsequently in the veterinary pharmaceutical industry, where he became involved in business management and development at senior level, he returned with his family to his native Coigach and began working with Highlands and Islands Enterprise providing development advice for businesses and communities. Latterly, as an Official Veterinarian, he has been heavily involved in providing services supporting the export of fish and other products to the EU and beyond.
Laura Hamlet Managing Director
Laura joined CCDC in April 2023 to support the Directors and staff after a successful nine years in similar roles within the North West Highlands UNESCO Global Geopark management body.
Although her background is in Geoarchaeology (with a PhD from the University of Stirling), she has a passion for effective communication, sustainable development, and charity governance.
She is also a Trustee of the Wester Ross UNESCO Biosphere and is involved with the Assynt Mountain Rescue Team. Laura lives in Achiltibuie with her young family, and feels incredibly privileged to be able to work to build a thriving community here.
Julia started life in Achiltibuie Schoolhouse – and was delighted to have been instrumental in her old home becoming a community asset when CCDC took ownership in 2015 – developing it into community-owned flats. She studied at Glasgow School of Art, graduating with a degree in Fine Art. She has previously worked in arts development and events management in Ullapool at the Ceilidh Place, then for local authorities in the Central Belt. She returned to Achiltibuie in 2010 so her young son could attend Achiltibuie Primary School, pulled by the appeal of the Highland lifestyle, and has been working for CCDC since 2011. Like many people here, Julia has several hats and is committed to community life – volunteering with Coigach Heritage, co-chairing Coigach Community Hall’s committee, taking part in local creative projects and enjoying the very sociable aspects of life here. She is a member of Community Housing Trust’s board as a community representative and has been on various committees here and there. She is currently trying to finish a modest contribution to the Spirit of the Highlands – a giant, collaborative embroidery involving stitchers from all over the Gàidhealtachd.
Ann Marie Firth-Bernard
Ann Marie has been working with CCDC since 2019 and has managed several arts' projects and a new heritage trail for the area and is now (2023) working on a pilot community growing project. Her background is in the arts: she studied English at Durham University and is a musician and visual artist. In 2010 she set up her own business as a textiles designer-maker and joined the Achiltibuie Artists cooperative which ran a gallery in the village. She is on the board of directors of Highland Community Broadband. She lives in Polglass and has three boys, Joe, Jack and Ali, partner, Ewen, and a rescued Belgian Malinois called Suki. email@example.com