THE islanders of Gigha today celebrate the 10th anniversary of their community buyout, which has heralded a 50% plus population increase, reversing 300 years of decline

The figures are expected to improve further with the latest addition to the island due to be born today, which will increase the population to 157 compared to the 96 at the time of the buyout.

It had been more than 700 in the 18th century.

As part of the event, the 17 pupils at the island's primary school will sing a new song specially written for the celebrations entitled Tenacious Gigha.

One of the most pressing issues at the time of the £4million buyout from Gigha's last private owner, Derek Holt, was housing.

The community-led Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust found that, of the 42 houses bought with the estate, 75% were classed as "below tolerable standard" and should not be inhabited, while 23% classed were "in serious disrepair".

It also revealed a high level of hidden homelessness with parents or siblings providing homes for adults.

Lukas Lehmann, the trust's development manager, said yesterday: "Considerable progress has been made on housing, with 26 properties upgraded to a high standard of eco- efficiency and a further two almost complete."

The community was recognised last year by the Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland, with the prestigious Excellence in Regeneration Award.

The island's three wind turbines became the first community-owned wind farm to be connected to the National Grid, generating more than £100,000 profit a year for reinvestment in the community. Around a dozen new businesses have also been created.

Willie McSporran, the trust's first chairman, said: "Ten years ago I couldn't have imagined we would have achieved what we have. We still have a bit to go yet, but we have laid the foundation for securing the island's future."