The Trust which is a company limited by guarantee was formed in 2003 achieving charitable status at the same time. As a company limited by guarantee its members are liable for a sum not greater than £1 should the Trust become insolvent. The Memorandum and Articles of the Trust form the governing document or its constitution - basically the rules governing the activities it can undertake, the structure of how it is to be managed and the rights and responsibilities of directors and members.
Membership of the Trust gives the members a vote each at the Annual General Meeting or AGM. At this meeting the directors tell the members what the Trust has been doing during the past year and present the accounts for the last financial year. If there are vacancies on the Board then members will vote at this meeting to elect new directors. Public meetings may be held at other times during the year to enable the directors to present various options to the community and to assess the opinion of the community. Other means of communication include newsletters, the website and the board in the shop window. This process is formalised in the drawing up of the Development Plan.
Balfour village was built in the 1780s by Thomas Balfour that was originally named Shoreside. By 1841 there were 28 houses in the village, with 116 residents whose occupations included fishermen, shoemakers, tailors, blacksmiths, wrights, millers and a merchant. In 1846 the Castle and village were passed to David Balfour who also brought great change in Shoreside, demolishing the southern part of the village to improve the view from Balfour Castle and turning the rest into a fairly formalised estate village. And about that time, he changed the name from Shoreside to Balfour Village.To this day, Balfour Village retains much of it’s original character, and although it no longer has all the tradespeople it once had, it is once again a thriving area of Shapinsay with many choosing the village tp bring up families, there is still a “Merchant” in the village at Thomas Sinclairs shop, which has been in the Sinclair family for 100 years.
Balfour Castle was the creation of two men, David Balfour and David Bryce. The castle is a rare example of calendar house originally planned with 7 turrets, 12 external doors, 52 rooms and 365 sections of windows. The Balfour family owned the Castle for over a century but by the time the family line expired in the early 1960s the family fortune was gone and the Castle had lost most of its former glory. In 1961 Captain Tadeusz Zawadski and his wife Catherine took on the task of maintaining the Castle and once again turned it back into a family home thus fulfilling a prophecy which a gypsy fortune teller had shared with Tadeusz back in his native Poland - that he would one day live in a castle. Balfour Castle was sold into new ownership in February 2009. With attention to detail and with respect for the Balfour heritage the new owners have sensitively refurbished and restored the Castle and grounds. The greatest of care has been taken to retain its style and its character. Balfour Castle remains first and foremost a family home.
Mill Dam RSPB Bird Reserve
Mill Dams is covered in a dynamic wetland with open water. It's covered in wide swamp plant communities and a range of different plants, especially adaptive to living in damp, marshy places. You will find a wide selection of birds through out the year.
In the summer you look out for the rare pintail and up to nine different species of ducks. Also keep an eye out for the great yellow, one of the rarest British bumblebees that can be found on Shapinsay.
Autumn attracts hundreds of birds every year. The numbers increase as they migrate from the arctic. Greylag geese arrive in October and up to 1000 breeding pairs can been seen at one time.
Later in the winter up to 120 whooper swans and several hundred greylags roost within the safety of the reserve at night. Hen harriers can be seen on the reserve during the winter, attracted by the large flocks of waders and wildfowl.