The aims of S4L is to eradicate hunger and poverty from the Community of Bemvu Malawi in a sustainable manner. We are on target for achieving these aims after only three years and as far as the Farming and Feeding programme is concerned to be self sufficient within the next few years.

To enable this to happen in the formative years we not only have to supply funding to achieve these goals but also to supply training and to build a robust management structure over in Malawi which is answerable to a higher authority in order to insure the integrity of the project. Since its inception the Management in Bemvu has been controlled by the Church Authorities however this has proved to have a bias in favour of the Church`s own advantage in as much as some of the decisions have over ridden general consensus and they have continually considered that part of the S4L funding should be diverted to Church funds.

To achieve an Independent Management Structure a Company Limited by Guarantee has been formed after extensive consultation with Scottish Malawi Partnership/independent consultants/Malawi Government Officials /Corra (manage the Grant aid donated by the Scottish Government who were not happy with the Church`s attitude in Malawi) and of course the Community of Bemvu. The Company has been formed with six Directors made up of a cross section of the Community including various religions and genders living in areas throughout the District. This Company will be answerable to and must report back to the Malawi Authorities the same as any other Limited Company as well as to S4L Scotland who in turn report back to OSCR the Scottish Charities Regulator and CORRA who administer grant funding on behalf of the Scottish Government.

There will be a second tier of management in Bemvu made up of a cross section of the community which will act on an advisory basis submitting plans and proposals to the Company.

The project is expanding each year – This harvest which has just finished has resulted in a total yield of 181 tonnes of Maize which has been grown by 120 farmers out of that tonnage 9.85 tonnes is in store in Bemvu for use in the School Feeding programme (Feeding 1200 primary school children) and 49.67 tonnes is being stored in a commercial storage facility this will be held until prices are favourable and then sold – the money going into a Company Bank account held in Malawi to be used once the project becomes completely independent from Scottish funding (the proceeds from the last couple of years sales currently amounts to £6,500 in this account.).The balance of 121.48 tonnes was kept by the 120 beneficiaries for their own use. We are confident that barring any complete disasters we are on the right course for a sustainable future with this project.

September 2019 we sponsored 25 pupils through their four year secondary education an increase on previous years of 20 our ambition for this coming September is 30 pupils, once we start the pupils on their Secondary Education we are committing to the full four year curriculum which is a substantial amount of money none of which is covered by grant aid and we are totally reliant on the generosity of the public to make a donation. We consider that this is a really worthwhile cause as the only way that a Country like Malawi is going to work it`s way out of poverty is through Education which in the case of Secondary Education has to be paid for privately.

Last October we also funded £1,200.00 for the Fertiliser fund which supplies seed and fertiliser to vulnerable people who are old, widowed or disabled this is a gift funded by donation generally through fund raising.

Trees saplings have been provided since the start of the project to be grown for the supply of fruit in order to achieve a more balanced diet or for firewood which is the principle source of heat for cooking in the area. The growth of these trees has had varied success in the past although since vetting the recipients more carefully this season the survival rate appears to be much improved. A nursery has been established for growing banana trees which allows a continual supply of tree saplings throughout the year for general dispersal to the Community.

This growing year we move into our second year of Grant Aid from the Scottish Government but to achieve the timetable for self sufficiency we had also included fund raising in the initial budge , however Covid-19 has seen a halt to this ambition and as we require funds prior to the growing season starting in October it is becoming evident that we shall have to either cut back on what was planned or appeal to the generosity of people to send in any donation that they would feel comfortable. We realise that this is a `Big Ask` in this current climate, Malawi of course is living through the Covid-19 crisis as well, although at the time of writing Bemvu itself only has one recorded case and that was a person who had come from Mozambique. We have made so much progress and it cannot be stressed enough that this is Life Changing to the people in Bemvu who are so appreciative, but their main fear is that we abandon them part way through this Project.

If you wish to donate, please:

Send Cheques/Cash to:

Project Manager: Dave Alsop, Braeview, Cuan Road, Seil, Oban, PA34 4RA

Treasurer: Gerry Foster, Achnaclach Cottage, Clachan Seil, PA34 4TL

Chairman: Dr George Hannah, Finlaggan, Clachan Seil, PA34 4TL

Bank Transfer: Royal Bank of Scotland, a/c name: SeedforLife.FeedforLife.SCIO

Sort Code: 83-26-04 a/c no 00259439

There is also a very easy way of supporting the project which doesn’t cost anything at all but has the potential of giving S4L extra funds and that is through EasyFunding which Maggie outlines below.

A Message about Fundraising

Fundraising has come to a standstill since the coronavirus lockdown began, so I want to endorse a method of raising money for Seed for Life which is really easy, and which is still possible in the current circumstances.

It is over year since we registered Seed for Life with easyfundraising. We currently have 10 supporters who have raised over £50 in that time, but I think we can improve on that because I am sure there are more than 10 of our supporters shopping online!

Easyfundraising is a really simple way to raise money for Seed for Life when you shop online with over 4000 retailers like Amazon, Argos, John Lewis, eBay and M&S, and it’s completely free. The retailers pledge to give a percentage of the cost of your online purchases to your chosen charity.

Over £31 million has already been raised for good causes in the UK by easyfundraising shoppers, so please help us get our share!

If you haven’t signed up to support us yet, please consider it – it’s easy and completely free. These donations really help us, so it would be great if you could take a moment to get started.

Here is a link to our page:

Please remember to use easyfundraising every time you shop online.

If you think you might forget, then download the Donation Reminder from the website. It provides a pop-up reminder every time you shop online with any retailer who has engaged with the scheme.

Please encourage friends and family to register too. 

Any questions, please get in touch with me.

Thanks for your continued support for Seed for Life. 

Maggie Thorpe

June 2020

On behalf of all the Community in Bemvu can we send a big thank you to all the generous people who have donated so much time, effort and money to this project which not so long ago seemed to be so unachievable. WE ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE AND IT IS A GOOD FEELING.

Coronavirus Caring for People Helpline

A dedicated helpline has been set up for people across Argyll and Bute who may need help during the coronavirus outbreak. The Caring for People helpline brings together partner agencies and covers a wide range of issues including help for those who are experiencing difficulties accessing food or prescriptions, business advice including access to grants and anyone who has financial or personal concerns.

The contact number 01546 605 524 is available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. An answer machine service will be available to leave a message out-with office hours and at weekends. A member of staff will get in touch during office hours. We want to do our best to get help where it is most needed. If you have other options, please leave this line open for vulnerable people who may not be able to help themselves. Thank you.


As part of the partnership approach within Argyll and Bute, local teams will help coordinate the response to requests made through the Coronavirus Caring for People helpline.

The helpline number can be used by British Sign Language users through contactSCOTLAND-BSL.

Access to a browsealoud function for visually impaired and language translation is available through Argyll and Bute Council’s website

The council website has a dedicated coronavirus page providing a central place for people to access local information and links to useful contacts and resources. .

Health Advice

See for advice.

If you don’t have symptoms and are looking for general information, phone the NHS free helpline on 0800 028 2816.

Call 111 if you have symptoms of COVID-19 that worsen while self-isolating or do not clear up after 7 days.  Call 999 in emergencies

Need help or want to volunteer?

For those that need help please ask them to phone the Argyll and Bute Caring for People Helpline service on 01546 605524 open 9-5 Monday to Friday or via the online help form that can be found here

For people looking to volunteer please can they register on the volunteer Argyll and Bute website for everything from telephone befriending to helping with shopping, DIY emergency repairs, dog walking services etc.

Seileachan April 2020

The latest Seileachan is now available as a PDF – just click the image to view or download. 

This issue is being sent out earlier than usual (no April lottery results, sorry!) by email to all the addresses we have. Remember, the link on the right is to a PDF – you can print it and put a physical copy through a letterbox if you have a neighbour who cannot access it electronically.



Seil & Easdale Community Council Newsletter

Vol. 24 No. 2 March 2020

Copy for the next issue should be sent to the editor, Sue, by 31 May: email hidden; JavaScript is required The Seileachan is also available on the community website: (together with full minutes and agenda) and on The Slate:

This issue is being sent out earlier than usual (no April lottery results, sorry!) by email to all the addresses we could accrue, data protection or no. It will also be available on the relevant, local, facebook groups. Clearly, deliveries could not be made house-to-house as usual. A few paper copies are being made available for inclusion in selected deliveries from the shop; not everyone has access to email or the internet. Please forward this to anyone you think may not have received a copy and apologies in advance for any cross-postings. Silver lining – a month off for our hard-working distributors!


The Seil & Easdale Community Council (CC) has its own facebook page, which will help with communication with the wider community.

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Remember, help is available – whether you need urgent supplies, prescriptions delivered or would just like a friendly chat. Zim Knight is co-ordinating the team of volunteers and can be contacted via the Seil & Easdale Community Council Facebook page which is updated regularly and includes latest information from the Surgery. Or for those not online please call Julie Ferris 300090 or Anne Foster 300025 and we will get help to you.

Be safe – 99.9% of people are doing a brilliant job supporting each other. Sadly, a very tiny minority will see this as an opportunity to exploit the situation. Stay alert for internet or phone scammers and if anything causes you concern report it to the Police on 101.

There will be no blue bin collections during the lockdown. Flatten your recycling and store it somewhere. Green bin collection is to continue on schedule, as far as possible. The amenity site at Moleigh is closed. Many thanks to the crews for maintaining this vital service at such a difficult time.

The speed with which all our lives have changed since the agenda for the 24 March meeting was initially published is incredible. That meeting was, of course, cancelled so here is an update on the information we would have reported.

Still awaiting decision.

Due to pressure of work and COVID-19, Argyll & Bute were unable to complete agreed works by 1 April to ensure the 418 public service bus would continue to meet the licence conditions as stipulated by Scotland Transport. This Monday (23 March) Seafari agreed to immediately undertake, on behalf of Argyll & Bute, all works necessary to ensure the public service bus could continue to turn at the former Highland Arts.

Seed for Life is an Argyll-based charity. As well as supporting a sustainable food aid programme feeding 1,400 schoolchildren in Bemvu, Malawi, we are funding 25 pupils through four years of secondary education. Education can lead to better paid jobs and break the traditional cycle of poverty. Funding the scholarships is by donation and costs £70 per pupil per year. If you would consider sponsoring a scholar or making any donation please make a direct payment to Seed for Life SCIO (sort code 83-26-04, account 00259439) or ask for a sponsorship form from George Hannah (chair) Gerry Foster (treasurer) or Dave Alsop (project manager).

Unfortunately, due to current public health advice, the Isle of Seil Golf Club is postponing its Come and Try days, Coaching and Competitions until further notice. The course is kept in good condition by our volunteer greenkeepers and mechanics. A priority is to repair the wooden bridge. We have a supporter ‘Friends of The Isle of Seil Golf Club’ membership at £20. We will be offering beginner coaching on Tuesdays; junior 4.30 to 5.30pm and adults 6 to 7pm. In addition to our medal Tees, there are new forward Tees being established to encourage easier play and fun competition. We welcome new members of all playing ability. For further information, please contact the secretary, Pat Mill on 087; or email: email hidden; JavaScript is required

First, many thanks to Nick Bowles for setting up and maintaining the Community website, for the past 17 years.

As Community Councillors we receive far too much information to post on our Facebook page, mostly from Argyll & Bute, often involving consultations or surveys. We will try and post anything urgent and the Secretary maintains a mailing list to distribute information, but we cannot inform everyone of everything that could be relevant to them. Please be aware that you can subscribe to the Council’s “Keep in the Loop” service to get notifications about council activities that affect you. Full details in the banner to the website:

The community website,,  has been re-purposed as a central hub to give the community a one-stop shop for information and local news during the Covid-19 crisis, including important information about contacting the surgery and collecting prescriptions, and reduced bus timetables.

* Ferries to Easdale Island and Luing are for their residents and key workers only.


Please ring the disabled bell outside the shop. There is a box outside, at the top of the steps, for you to put your shopping list in, plus cash/card. Go back to your car, and your shopping will be returned to you.

If you ring the shop in the morning, leave a message and Wendy will get back to you in the afternoon. Or email: email hidden; JavaScript is required,uk Deliveries daily, free of charge, by volunteers. She can now take card payments over the phone.

The shop now has fresh granary loaves (large and small), individual granary rolls and lemon & sultana scones, all baked by the Puffer on Easdale Island. Please add to your orders from Wendy, in advance.

A facebook group page has been set up as a place to offer or request help and support for those isolating in our community.



The Seileachan has received an unusual request from someone living Staffordshire who would like to correspond by letter or email with someone on Seil. Please contact the editor if you are interested in taking this any further.

The hall is closed for all events, meetings and club/group activities until further notice. The playpark is also closed. The playing field is still available for walking and general play, but the usual social distancing must be adhered to and no more than two in a group. The goal posts are out of service.

March Lottery winners
£50 Caroline Morgan
£10 Wendy Dugdale, Geordie Lawson. James Fenton


If any of those involved in the Forward Planning exercises which identified community priorities has suggestions for taking issues forward, please let the Community Council know.

We had hoped to open a discussion about road safety at the public meeting. To recap:

The CC purchased the road safety signs with the intention that they would be moved occasionally, since people tend not to notice things once they’ve got used to them. Concerns were expressed about the safety of children waiting for the school bus at Clachan Seil, which is why the CC decided to move the signs there for a while. For whatever reason, someone then decided to move them overnight to the Bridge.

Somehow, we need to make driving without due care for pedestrians, cyclists and other road users as socially unacceptable as it now is to drink and drive. Driving at a safe speed is certainly a key element, but so is leaving a safe distance when passing pedestrians and bikes and generally driving with consideration for others.
At our next public meeting, which hopefully is not too far away, please come and share your ideas and suggestions for making our roads safer for everyone.

Things we’ve considered so far: signs that flash your speed when you pass; stickers such as ‘Slow Down,’ ‘Watch your Speed’ for wheely bins etc; information leaflets on safe driving on single track roads. We continue to value the support from PC MacLeod and will discuss all enforcement/monitoring options available.

Argyll & Bute resources are obviously stretched given the current situation, but we can all continue to report any concerns via their website.

We continue to update the plan to conform with the Argyll & Bute format – but current events show how effective our community is in pulling together in a crisis.

All applications can be viewed on the Argyll & Bute website.

: to be confirmed!


TESCO From Monday 30 March
Mon-Sat 8am till 10pm , Sunday 10am till 8pm
Older, Vulnerable Customers: Mon, Wed, & Fri 9am till 10am
NHS Staff: Tues, Thurs & Sun 9am till 10am

Mon-Sat 8am till 10pm,  Sunday 8am till 8pm

Mon-Sat 9am till 7pm,  Sunday 9am till 6pm

Mon-Fri 8am till 8pm,  Sat 8am till 7pm,  Sun 9am-6pm
Older & Vulnerable Customers:  Mon & Thurs 8am-9am
NHS & Emergency services:  Tues & Fri 8am till 9am

Mon-Fri 8am-8pm,  Sat 8am-7pm,  Sun 9am-6pm

Mon-Sat 9am till 4pm

9am till 3pm

Mon-Sat 9am till 4pm

Mon-Sat 9am till 6pm Sun 10am till 5pm

Mon-Wed-Fri 9am till 1pm

Mon-Sat 9am till 4pm Closed 1.30-2.30 for lunch

Mon-Fri 11am till 6pm Closed 1pm-2pm for lunch

Mon-Sat 10am till 5pm Closed 1pm till 2pm for lunch

Mon-Sat 7am till 6pm

Mon-Sat 7am till 6pm, Sun 8am till 6pm

Mon-Sun 7am till 7pm

Mon-Sun 7am till 6pm

Mon-Sun 7am till 8pm

Mon-Fri 6am till 6pm, Sat-Sun 6am till 5pm

Shop closed but doing local delivery

Online ordering only. Can collect from store

CLOSED online home delivery available


Argyll & Bute Council – changes to bins, roads and amenity services

Keeping people safe from the spread of coronavirus means making changes to how we work.

We must concentrate on the services that will help to keep people safe, and that the council must deliver by law.

To ensure we have enough people to do what we need to do, we have made some changes to services.

We will continue to:

  • Collect the general waste bins, maintaining the current schedule. Please put your general waste bin out on your usual day and we will collect it as soon as we can.
  • Providing burial and cremation services but limiting attendance to immediate family members only (up to a maximum number of 8);
  • Limit ferry and air travel via our ferries and Oban airport to emergency/essential travel only
  • Make repairs to dangerous defects in infrastructure and follow up inspections as required;
  • Respond to emergency call outs and winter maintenance as necessary; and
  • Provide any home to school transport as required for essential/key workers.
  • Commercial waste uplifts for businesses that are permitted to continue to trade and have a contract with us. Those that deal with food will have their food waste collected separately.

These are services which we have had to stand down
to comply with government guidelines around social distancing, for the three weeks that current guidance on staying safe is in place, and to meet staff shortages:

  • Public conveniences to be closed.
  • Emergency road repairs to continue; all other road works to cease on account of lack of materials and staff. All roadworks to cease and current jobs will be made safe and traffic management will be removed where possible.
  • Following Scottish Government instructions, play parks will close immediately, along with outdoor gyms. Football pitches should no longer be used for matches, but can be used for exercising as long as social distancing is respected.
  • Civic amenity sites will close to the public immediately.
  • We will not be collecting blue bins/bags. Please store your recycling where possible or flatten your recycling to get as much as possible into your blue bin and bag any extra.
  • We will not be collecting glass or domestic food waste.
  • There will be one more collection of commercial waste for businesses that have to close as a result of the response to Covid-19. It will then stop for customers who don’t need it. There will still be a service for businesses that are open and have a contract with us eg supermarkets.

The situation is fluid and we may need to make changes at short notice. Urgent changes will be posted on our website: Service Disruptions Page. Information on longer-term changes will be issued on our social media channels, website and local press.

We would appeal to members of the public to work with us during this challenging time. We are working hard to protect our frontline staff. You can help us by reading the guidance about waste disposal if someone in the household has or is suspected of having COVID-19: NHS Coronavirus Self Isolation Advice.

We will resume services wherever possible. Until then, our focus is on maintaining the most vital services.

Kind regards,

Argyll and Bute Council

Balvicar Shop

25th March 2020

The shop is open and will stay open but if you feel unwell or wish not to come in then please do not come in.

There is a box outside for shopping lists, post and electric keys to be left in. For post, please put a note in about whether the parcel is to be first or second class etc. For electric keys, leave a note of how much you would like on the key.

Ring the disabled bell, at the bottom of the stairs and get back in your car. Shop staff will process your wish (with gloves on) and put it back in the box for collection.

A delivery service is available for the vulnerable isolated. The shop can take card payments over the phone.



Balvicar Stores and Covid19

Balvicar Stores is fully stocked with everything you could need.

There is a delivery service available and Wendy can now take card payments over the phone.

Just ring on 01852 300373 or e-mail

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