03.25********Glasgow North held by SNP with increased majority. 

02.40********The declaration of the result made by returning officer Malcolm Burr is as follows:

Alison MacCorquodale, Scottish Labour 4,093
Angus Brendan MacNeil, Scottish National Party, 6,531
Neil Mitchison, Scottish Liberal Democrats, 637
Jennifer Ross, Scottish Conservative and Unionists 3,216

There were 65 rejected papers.

He thus declares Angus MacNeil duly elected for the na h-Eileanan an Iar parliamentary constituency.

Mr MacNeil’s first response is: ”That’s the way we do it in the Western Isles!“

He went on to say: “Can I particularly thank staff at tthe count here for their hard work all night and those who worked at the polling stations. Tonight’s election can be viewed as a disaster or a success. A disaster that we are going to be stuck with Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, but a success if it leads to a move to Independence for Scotland.”

02.02********Kilmarnock and Loudon held by SNP: Angus gain for SNP from Conservatives. 

02.01********Labour gains seat from Conservatives with majority of 4774.

01.56*******Two Labour front-bench spokesmen, who had held seats in Workington and Darlington, have been defeated.

01.55*******Conservatives gain the Vale of Clwyd with 1827 majority on a 65.7% turnout.  Labour's vote fell 9%, slightly lower than predicted by exit poll.

01.40*******Ballot papers arrive from Uist and Barra at the Stornoway count. 

01.35*******SNP gain Rutherglen and Hamilton West.  That's a gain from Labour which has already recorded 4 losses.

01.15*******Nine Labour seats held; four Conservative seats held.

00.44*******The plane carrying ballot boxes from Uist and Barra is expected to leave Benbecula in the next 10 minutes, with papers due to arrive here at the count centre around 1.30am. The plane is expected at Stornoway Airport at 01.17am

00.26******Labour holds on in Newcastle-upon-Tyne East

00.05******Results starting to be declared:  The Conservatives have won Blyth Valley from Labour. Labour had held that seat since 1950.

23.58******We have followers on WLS Facebook to our continuing coverage as far away as Japan; Calgary, Canada; the Isle of Man; California, USA;  Edinburgh, Philadelphia, USA; Bali, Mexico and Sussex…plus someone who is hiding behind their sofa!

23.00******Verification of the Stornoway boxes has been completed (checking that the number of votes in the boxes matches the total voters recorded) and counting has now begun in Stornoway North and South wards.  We hear that a helicopter is bringing the Barra ballot boxes up to Benbecula to join the boxes from North and South Uist. All of them will travel together to Stornoway airport on a single chartered plane.

22.35******Counting tables are beginning to look busy, with ballot boxes from Stornoway North and Stornoway South now being opened and sorted. Candidates, agents and electoral staff are allowed beyond the red and white chain to oversee the process.••••••



The Conservatives have won the 2019 UK General Election and Boris Johnson will enjoy a commanding House of Commons majority, the broadcasters' exit poll suggests.

The poll - conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of Sky News, the BBC and ITV News - forecasts the Tories will win 368 seats, with Labour on 191 seats, the SNP on 55 seats and the Liberal Democrats on 13 seats.

To form a majority government in the Commons, a party needs to win more than 325 seats.

Since 2014, voters in the Western Isles have taken part in one Scottish Parliament election, two European elections, two referendums, and three UK General Elections…as well as a local authority poll.

The exit poll suggests Labour are set for a hugely disappointing night, with the party forecast to secure their lowest number of seats for decades.

The exit poll numbers would give Prime Minister Boris Johnson a Commons majority of 86, vindicating his decision to push for a winter election.

The prediction for Scotland sees the SNP taking 55 out of 59 seats.  The exit poll says that Na h-Eileanan An Iar is 99pc likely to be an SNP hold.

SNP candidate Angus Brendan MacNeil is the only candidate standing in this election to have stood at every previous election in this constituency this decade. He’s won the seat four times, every time he has stood, since 2005, when there were just six SNP members of parliament.

At that time he became the second SNP member to represent the Western Isles. Before him Donald Stewart was SNP MP from 1970 to 1987, when he retired and his seat was subsequently won by Labour’s Calum Macdonald. Calum Macdonald stayed in as MP until ousted by Angus Brendan MacNeil in 2005.

The candidates in Na h-Eileanan An Iar are:

  • Alison MacCorquodale is the Labour Party candidate
  • Angus MacNeil is the Scottish National Party (SNP) candidate
  • Neil Mitchison is the Liberal Democrat Party candidate
  • Jennifer Ross is the Conservative and Unionist Party candidate

Counting has begun in Stornoway in Ionad Spors Lèodhais. The result is expected about 3am.

There are 21,106 registered electors in the Western Isles, including 4,710 who have registered for a postal vote.

Stornoway North and South have the largest numbers of electors, with 2,269 and 2,155 respectively. Loch a Tuath, now being verified, has 1,699 voters.

Local MSP Alasdair Allan is talking of a high turnout across the country although he is doubtful that the exit poll is accurate in predicting such a high rate of success in the Scottish seats.

The local count was introduced at 10am by returning officer Malcolm Burr.

Earlier there was in a state of high anticipation as they awaited the first ballot boxes to arrive after polling stations closed at 10pm.

The photo shows some of the counting team beside the door through which the boxes will shortly begin to arrive.

How does the count process work?

“The first stage of the Count is the verification which seeks to ensure and demonstrate that all ballot papers issued at polling stations and returned postal ballot papers have been brought to the Count.

In the presence of the Counting Agents each ballot box will be emptied onto the counting tables where groups of four Enumerators will count the ballot papers, face up, in bundles of 50 secured by a rubber band or clip. The number of ballot papers in each box should match the number on the relevant ballot paper account.

When the verification of several ballot boxes is complete, the votes will then be mixed in bundles and the count stage will begin.

Sorting between candidates and counting votes:

A Chief Enumerator will place 500 mixed ballot papers onto the table. The enumerators will remove the clips and sort into labelled trays. There are two trays for each candidate and one tray for doubtful votes. The votes will not be counted at this stage – merely sorted – between candidates.

Once this stage has been completed the bundles in each tray will be counted into 50s and each bundle secured by a clip. Any bundle less than 50 will be banded by a slip of paper and marked with the number of votes on the bundle.

Once the ballot papers have been counted, the Chief Enumerators will complete a Count Control Sheet and confirm with the Count Assistant that the totals add up to 500. “

As you can see, the process is carefully controlled to ensure there are no mistakes and that totals match up at every stage.

Almost exactly 101 years ago, on December 14th 1918, Western Islanders went to the polls to elect their first MP ever. He was Dr Donald Murray, a popular general practitioner who served as Lewis Medical Officer of Health and Medical Officer for Stornoway.

The result of the 1918 election was not announced until December 28th as so many men were still serving overseas following the armistice after the First World War.

It was the first election held after the enactment of the representation of the people act 1918, so that women aged over 30 and all men aged over 21 could vote.

Dr Murray stood under the slogan of ‘An Islesman for the Isles’. He campaigned on the issues of crofting and unemployment and criticised the development plans of Lord Leverhulme. His chief rival was Sir William Dingwall Mitchell Cotts, a Glasgow shipowner who was standing as a coalition Liberal candidate with Leverhulme’s personal support. In the end, Dr Murray won by 3765 votes to 3375, a majority of 390.

Dr Murray became an MP just three days before the Iolaire disaster. During the aftermath of the disaster he assisted at the temporary mortuary at the Drill Hall at Battery Point on 1st January and personally accompanied the policeman who brought harsh news to many of the homes affected.

He later established a fine reputation in the House of Commons, raising the issue of the Iolaire and keeping it in political consciousness, especially where it related to returned servicemen and the conditions of their lives. In his maiden speech on 10th March 1919 he pleaded for the right of returned servicemen to have crofts from which they could make a living.

After his maiden speech, a fellow MP said: “Those who have listened to my hon. Friend from the Western Isles will realise that he is speaking for a body of Scottish people who receive very little attention in this House because of their geographical remoteness from London in which the House of Commons is situated.”


The best of produce from near and far 13/12/2019

Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Or call 07771645238 to place your order, free delivery within the Town, Broadbay, Point Area. 



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Butternut Squash   




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Garlic Large




Turmeric 200g






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Mushrooms UK




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Golden Wonder




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5 for £1.50


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Cranberries 340g








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Oranges Large


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Islanders are heading to the polls today (Thursday December 12th), with polling stations open until 10pm for voting in the UK General Election.

Welovestornoway.com will be with you through the night as the na h-Eileanan an Iar constituency count takes place at Lewis Sports Centre, and you can follow our live coverage on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/welovestornoway/.

The result is expected to be declared at approximately 2.30am – we’ll give the result, the turnout and extra background detail to you at the earliest opportunity.

A total of 21,106 people are registered to vote in the Western Isles, including 4,710 postal voters. If you applied for a postal vote, you must return it by 10pm today. If you have left it too late to post, you can drop it in at any polling station in the Na h-Eileanan an Iar constituency or at the election office, council offices, Sandwick Road, Stornoway.

Returning officer Malcolm Burr yesterday issued guidance to voters ahead of the poll. He said: “When voting at the Polling Station it is helpful to take your poll card with you although you do not require it to vote. Polling Station staff will give you your ballot paper and answer any questions you have regarding the voting process.

“For this election you will vote for one candidate only by putting a cross (X) in the box next to your choice.”

The Stornoway South and Stornoway North wards are expected to be counted first tonight, with ballot boxes arriving at the count centre soon after 10pm.

Ballot boxes from the southern isles are due to arrive at the count centre at approximately 1.30am tomorrow (Friday).

Voters are being encouraged to make sure they know their Polling Place and get there in daylight if possible tomorrow (Thursday December 12th), as voting takes place in the General Election, on one of the shortest days of the year.

All personal voters will have received a polling card which will state which Polling Station they are to go to, of the 47 between Barra and the Butt.

There are just four changes to the places used in the previous election, which was the European Election in May this year. In Tarbert voting has reverted to the community hall, as used in previous elections, instead of Tarbert Council Offices.

The polling station in Balallan has moved from the community hall into the newly renovated Old School building. Back will see the Free Church hall used as a polling station, instead of the community hut, and in Bragar the meeting house will be used, since Grinneabhat community building is still under renovation.

Depute electoral officer Derek Mackay told welovestornoway.com that the changes ensured better access to all polling stations, with more parking and better lighting at the selected buildings.

Polling Stations open at 7am and will remain open for the casting of personal and proxy votes until 10pm. Postal votes should already have been posted, but completed postal voting packs can also be delivered to polling stations or to the Comhairle’s election office up until 5pm tomorrow (Thursday).

Emergency proxy votes, where somebody votes on your behalf if you are suddenly unable to attend a polling station – for example due to a hospital admission – can be applied for up to 5pm tomorrow.

Four candidates are standing for the Na h-Eileanan an Iar parliamentary constituency. They are Alison MacCorquodale for the Scottish Labour Party, Angus Brendan MacNeil for the Scottish National Party, Neil Mitchison for the Scottish Liberal Democrats and Jennifer Ross for the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.

Politicians and electoral officials are united in urging voters to make sure they get to polling stations during the day, to avoid being held up by the weather or taking any personal risk in dark and wintry conditions. Derek Mackay said: “We are looking at everything we can do to make voting as accessible for everyone as possible, especially given the time of year. It is close to the shortest day of the year, so there will not be many daylight hours to vote and there may also be weather challenges.”

There was a successful hustings event last night (Tuesday December 11) in Stornoway Town Hall, attended by about 130 people.

The event was organised by Lews Castle College, filmed by the BBC, and chaired by veteran journalist and broadcaster Kenny 'Coinneach Mor' Maciver.

News story from BBC Alba 3.43 https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000c7l0/an-la-10122019

UK Parliament election December 12th

Na h-Eileanan an Iar constituency

Alison MacCorquodale is the Labour Party candidate

Angus MacNeil is the Scottish National Party (SNP) candidate

Neil Mitchison is the Liberal Democrat Party candidate

Jennifer Ross is the Conservative and Unionist Party candidate


Angus MacNeil, SNP candidate for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (pictured above in South Uist at the start of this week), has urged everyone to prepare for polling day tomorrow (Thursday 12th December.)

With forecasts predicting colder weather and the shorter days at this time of year this polling day will be very different from the normal early summer elections.

Mr MacNeil said:“With only about 6.5 hours of daylight and the risk of inclement weather it is important to plan how and when you will get out to vote.

“Polling stations are open from 7am – 10pm and I would urge people to vote as early as possible and not wait until later when darkness and falling temperatures could cause problems.

"For those with transport please consider whether neighbours may need lifts to the polls.

“Finally if you are a football fan and are planning a night watching Scottish teams in Europe on the TV remember to vote early and good luck to both Scottish teams!”

UK Parliament election December 12th

Na h-Eileanan an Iar constituency

Alison MacCorquodale is the Labour Party candidate

Angus MacNeil is the Scottish National Party (SNP) candidate

Neil Mitchison is the Liberal Democrat Party candidate

Jennifer Ross is the Conservative and Unionist Party candidate

Sandwick residents and shareholders are being urged to attend a meeting this evening (Wednesday, December 11) to discuss forming community trusts to progress involvement in renewable energy proposals relating to the Arnish Moor wind farm project.

A joint opening meeting is being held by Sandwick/Sandwick East Street and Sandwick North Street grazings committees for all residents and crofting shareholders in North Street, East Street and Lower Sandwick.

It is necessary for open membership community trusts to be formed by the end of this month for interested communities to stay involved in the project.

The Open General Meeting is being held in Sandwick Community Hall at 7.30pm.

All residents and shareholders are invited to attend and the public notice has been advertised in the name of the grazings clerks, Calum J Buchanan for Sandwick/Sandwick East and Nan Morrison for Sandwick North Street.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has called for the introduction of discount schemes for transporting goods to and from the islands, similar to those available on Northern Isles ferry services.

During recent engagement between elected members and the business community in the islands a recurring theme has been the high cost of transporting goods to the islands. 

Islanders are often unable to access goods where additional charges are levied for transport beyond the mainland.

The cost of getting building materials to the islands significantly inflates the cost of building work.  Commercial vehicle fares levied for travel on ferries secured by the Scottish Government through the Clyde and Hebrides ferry service contract are passed on to island based customers and despite much talk of a freight fares review that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar had hoped would deliver a reduction in the cost of moving goods to and from the islands by CalMac’s services, no progress has been made in realising this ambition. The Comhairle has now been told this will be considered in a new Ferries Plan which will not be completed until 2022 at the earliest.

Island hauliers have outlined the very real challenges they face even in comparison to the costs charged on other CalMac routes and on routes paid for by Scottish Government in the Northern Isles.  Unlike in the Western Isles where some key benefits like TRS have failed to be reinstated, hauliers taking goods to Orkney and Shetland on Serco Northlink enjoy a range of discounts including:

  1. Advance Booking Discount up to 21%
  2. Weekend Rate savings up to 43%
  3. Empty Trailer discount up to 78%

In the absence of Scottish Government delivering the promised freight fares review, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is calling on Government to deliver a level playing field for the Western Isles by extending the discounts offered on the Northern Isles Ferry Service contract to routes to and from the Western Isles.

Councillor Uisdean Robertson, Chairman of Transportation and Infrastructure, said; “The cost of getting goods to and from the islands has an enormous effect on the ability to do business from the Western Isles and impacts on everyday life here.  Government should do all it can to foster our fragile island economies.

"The range of discounts that support key sectors in Orkney and Shetland are very pragmatic steps that support the way of life in the Northern Isles. We do not seek to see these removed. Instead we feel Government should extend these excellent schemes to the Clyde and Hebridean islands to bring a direct reduction to the cost of living and doing business in these islands, too.”

Campaigning in Uist on Monday the SNP candidate for Na h-Eileanan an Iar in the General Election tomorrow (Thursday), Angus MacNeil, said: “While other parties make promises, the SNP delivers, namely the investment the Scottish Government has made in transport, housing and key industries over their years in office. A record £1 billion has been invested in vessels, ports and ferry services since 2007, while RET has been rolled out to all ferry routes in the Hebrides network."


Plans are in place to ensure that ballot boxes reach the General Election count centre in Stornoway on Thursday night (December 12th) – whatever the weather throws in the way.

Depute election officer Derek Mackay told welovestornoway.com that there is a ‘Plan B, C and D’ for bringing in the ballot boxes from Barra and the Uists, despite the time of year and the current level of weather disruption.

Thursday night’s Election count begins as polls close at 10pm, with ballot boxes from Lewis and Harris brought by road to Lewis Sports Centre, where a well-practiced count procedure will be supervised by returning officer Malcolm Burr.

A boat has been chartered to cross the Sound of Barra, with Barra’s ballot boxes then travelling by road to Benbecula airport, where they will join other boxes from around the Uists and Benbecula.

The single flight to Stornoway will then ensure that all votes cast in person by Western Isles electors are under one roof for the count to be completed. Postal votes from all other voters will already have been brought to the count centre, with a result ready for announcement around 1.30am on Friday 13th December.

If weather conditions make the flight from Benbecula impossible, a boat has also been chartered to be ready to make the crossing of the Sound of Harris, but Mr Mackay said that boats would only be used where it was safe to do so.

But, he added: “The forecast for the end of the week is looking better than the current situation, so we will be reviewing the plans on Wednesday when we have a shorter-term forecast and it is clearer what we may be dealing with.”

Gusty winds will ease slightly in Harris this afternoon (Tuesday December 10th) after a morning of disruption in the island.

Customers in Horgabost were left without power this morning when overhead lines came down in the area around the campsite. Power has now been restored to all 23 households, according to Scottish and Southern Electricity networks.

The Sound of Harris ferry remains suspended for the rest of the day following the below CalMac update, and the 11.50am service departing Tarbert has been cancelled. A revised timetable is expected to operate this afternoon, weather permitting.

Berneray Leverburgh (Sound of Harris)

Tuesday 10th December

Due to no improvement in weather conditions, this service is cancelled for the remainder of the day.

Wednesday 11th December

Due to weather conditions there is heightened possibility of disruption or cancellation at short notice.

The Met Office has updated a weather warning affecting the Eilean Siar region tomorrow (Tuesday December 10th), as wind speeds increase this afternoon.
The updated forecast issued this morning warns that moderate impacts are likely from rain, which will be heavy at times and accompanied by strong and gusty winds.

The general forecast is for south-westerly winds beginning to build this evening, with gusts up to 60mph forecast. Very heavy rain is expected before midnight tonight and again from the early hours tomorrow, continuing at least until dark.

The Irish Met Office, Met Éireann, has named the weather system as the first storm of the season, Storm Atiyah, after experiencing much stronger winds yesterday (Sunday).

CalMac have cancelled morning sailings of the MV Loch Seaforth between Stornoway and Ullapool for a second day tomorrow (Tuesday). The ferry is currently (Monday 2.30pm) heading across the Minch towards Ullapool, but all further sailings on Tuesday and Wednesday remain subject to disruption at short notice.

Also affected are services between Uig, Tarbert and Lochmaddy, with the 09:40 departing Uig and 11:50 departing Tarbert tomorrow cancelled and a revised timetable, subject to disruption, to be operated. Tomorrow’s early sailings across the Sound of Harris are also cancelled and a review of that service will be undertaken at 11am on Tuesday.

Stornoway band Peat & Diesel were among the winners of the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards last night (Saturday 7th December) at Aberdeen Music Hall in a ceremony honouring the year’s most exceptional traditional musical talent.

Produced by Hands Up for Trad, the evening celebrated Scotland’s rich cultural heritage and flourishing folk scene. Hosted by world-renowned Gaelic singer, Mary Ann Kennedy and award-winning musician, Kim Carnie; guests enjoyed stellar live performances by trad music heroes’ including Skerryvore, Session A9, Benedict Morris, Heisk and Sian during the sold-out ceremony.

After a whirlwind year of wowing crowds at Belladrum and preparing to kick off 2020 with sold-out shows across the UK, trio Peat & Diesel picked up the award for Live Act of the Year.

In their acceptance speech, they paid exceptional praise to Keith Morrison and the Wee Studio in Stornoway for allowing them to get their album together and supporting their work. 

Fellow Lewisman and broadcaster Derek 'Pluto' Murray paid tribute on Twitter to their success. "Live Act Of The Year! NEVER IN DOUBT and thoroughly deserved.  Meallaibh ur naidheachd. The acceptance speech was class."

Keith Morrison commented before the awards: "Whatever happens, you can’t argue with Peat & Diesel's work ethic and drive.  Creating something out of nothing and bringing smiles to people of all walks of life and all the generations.  I’m so so proud of them and believe they are fantastic ambassadors for the good craic, West coast music scene."

The biggest award, The Belhaven Bursary for Innovation in Scottish Music in association with Showcase Scotland Expo supports the winner to progress unique ideas and empower creation.

Financially matched only by the Mercury Prize, the prestigious fund of £25,000 was awarded to Kinnaris Quintet, making them the first all-female band to win the prize.

Breabach were presented with the Album of the Year Award for their sixth album, Frenzy of the Meeting.

Presenter on the night Mary Ann Kennedy scooped up Gaelic Singer of the Year sponsored by The Highland Society of London.

Adding to her list of Trad Award accolades Jenna Reid won Composer of the Year battling against an all-female shortlist. Jenna’s group Blazin’ Fiddles were also awarded Folk Band of the Year. In 2005 Jenna won best up and coming artist and two years later she was nominated for best instrumentalist.

Following ten consecutive sell outs, Tiree Music Festival picked up the award for Event of the Year.

Dubbed by Rolling Stone as ‘forward-thinking folk music’ Man of the Minch took home The Up and Coming Artist of The Year award, which recognises fresh and promising talent.

Club of the Year went to Sutherland Sessions, a newly formed organisation who provide opportunities for young local musicians to play live music and bring local, national & international musicians to Sutherland.

The Citty Finlayson Scots Singer of the Year sponsored by Traditional Music and Song Association went to Steve Byrne.

Event founder and promoter, Simon Thoumire, said: “It has been another fabulous year at the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards. Another great set of winners which include all the new Scots Trad Music Industry Award winners as well! Our scene is in good shape!”

Communications Manager for MG ALBA, Murdo MacSween, said: “It’s been another wonderful year for Scottish traditional music, and we’re delighted that MG ALBA was yet again at the heart of this celebration of our world-class talent. BBC ALBA is an amazing platform for the fantastic acts recognised tonight and we look forward to continuing to showcase them on our screens in the years to come.”

Alan Morrison, Head of Music, Creative Scotland said: “Yet again Na Trads prove that Scotland has an age-old music which lives and breathes in the 21st century. This year’s winners include grassroots heroes and international stars, acts who have blazed a trail for decades and others who are just starting out on a promising career. Congratulations to them all – and to every one of the nominees who make our music the envy of the world.

Congratulations too to Iain Ruari Finlayson, winner of the Youth Music Initiative’s Music Tutor of the Year award, whose work with Skye Youth Pipe Band takes Scotland’s most distinctive instrument to the next generation of players.”

Gordon Muir, Marketing Controller at Belhaven Brewery said: “We are thrilled to award this year’s Belhaven Bursary for Innovation in Scottish Music to Kinnaris Quintet.  Their musical range, innovative arrangements and vibrant stage presence stood out among an amazingly talented shortlist. Since coming together in 2017, Kinnaris Quintet have brought a fresh energy to the trad scene and we look forward to the Bursary helping them spring to the next level.

It has been inspiring once again to see the depth and breadth of innovation in the Scottish folk music scene, with an array of brilliant artists weaving in inspiration from all sorts of genres and cultures to create exciting new sounds.

Belhaven Brewery are proud of our links with this wonderful scene with which we see so much in common – inspired by our traditions and roots, which we use to spur our imagination to create new beers and new music that bring people together for great times.  We are very excited about working with Kinnaris Quintet in 2020 and can’t wait to see where the journey takes us.”

Stuart Fleming, PRS for Music Senior Membership Manager, Scotland & Northern Ireland, said: “Congratulations to all of the nominees and worthy winners. It’s great to see such diverse talent recognised at the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards which continue to showcase the incredible writing and creative talent within the Scottish traditional music community. PRS for Music is proud to once again support the Composer of the Year Award – especially this year with all the nominees being exciting female composers.”

The evening also included a number of exclusive recognitions including The Hamish Henderson Services to Traditional Music Award Sponsored by Edinburgh Folk Club where Dr. Peter Cooke was praised.

The Services to Gaelic Award, Sponsored by Bòrd na Gàidhlig, was presented to Anne Soutar.

The Janet Paisley Services to Scots Language Sponsored by Scots Radio was presented to Sheena Blackhall, well known for her poetry.

The evening continued through to the early hours with Ceilidh Minogue and The House of Song led by Doris Rougvie.

The evening was broadcast live on BBC ALBA and is repeated today Sunday 8th December at 8.55pm with unseen footage shown on a special highlights show on 27th December at 9pm.

Disruption to ferry routes around the Western Isles is expected to be extensive over the next 24 hours.

As of 8am today (Sunday December 8th), CalMac Ferries had cancelled:

The ferry services between Oban and Castlebay; Mallaig and Armadale; Mallaig and Lochboisdale; and the morning sailings between Berneray and Leverburgh.

 A number of services have been retimed.  These included the sailing from Uig on Skye to Lochmaddy and Tarbert, brought forward an hour. 

A series of other services are warned as likely to be cancelled or disrupted. These include the overnight and Monday morning sailings from Stornoway and Ullapool, and the route between Eriskay and Barra today. 

More details from https://www.calmac.co.uk/service-status

A 'Yellow" warning of disruption by rain and winds has been issued by the Met Office today at 9.50am. 

It relates to 6am-3pm on Tuesday (December 10th)

It states: "Rain, heavy at times, will cross Scotland during Tuesday accompanied by strong and gusty winds. Rainfall accumulations widely 20 to 40mm locally 60mm over high ground of western Scotland.

"Much of the rainfall will occur in a short time period.

"Winds will gust widely 40 to 50mph inland with 60mph possible in coastal areas."

(This report has been updated with a weather forecast since first being posted)


The following planning applications are pending consideration by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. 

All information and accompanying documents are publicly available on the CnES website

New log cabin, Northbay

Murray House Design and Build has applied for planning permission to erect a log cabin at 247C Bruernish, Northbay. Work is to include creating one additional parking space. The cabin is to be a twin skin timber lodge consisting of a kitchen/dining/living area, two bedrooms and a bathroom. The cabin is to be used as a dwelling house. 

The following planning applications are pending consideration by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. 

All information and accompanying documents are publicly available on the CnES website

Renovation and extension of derelict house, Uig

Robert McNaughton of 5 Geshader has applied for planning permission to renovate and extend the derelict house at 5A Geshader, Uig. Work is to include creating one more parking space in addition to the one currently there.

Prior notification of farm-related building works

Sandy Granville of 10 Tolsta Chaolais has applied for planning permission to do non-residential, farm-related building works at Agricultural Building, 10 Tolstachaolais. Work is to consist of adding an extension to the existing building. The extension is to be 8 metres long, 5.6 metres tall and 6 metres wide. The roof is to be slate blue box profile to match the existing roof and the walls are to be white wet dash to match the existing walls. 

Extension to house, Stornoway

Colin Morrison of Trimisceir, Eoropie has applied for planning permission to extend the house at 12 Churchill drive. Work is also to include constructing a decking area and parking suitable for two cars.

New house and stables

Maxine Daley of Beauly, 3 Park Carloway has applied for planning permission to build a house and stables at 9A Ballantrushal. Work is to include creating a new access and parking suitable for two cars. The house is to consist of three bedrooms, a living/dining/kitchen area and two bathrooms.  

Conversion of single house to two houses

Kenneth MacPhail of 1 Tong Park has applied for planning permission to convert the house at 1 Mackenzie street into two houses. 


The village of Portnaguran in Point, Isle of Lewis, is believed to be the first in the country to have converted to LED lighting, thanks to a partnership project between community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust and Tighean Innse Gall.

The joint LED Energy Communities project was launched in March 2016 with the aim of installing free LED lightbulbs in all households in the Point and Sandwick area, reducing the community’s carbon footprint and saving households around £100 a year off their bills.

Every household in Portnaguran was directly approached with the offer and 30 of the village’s 31 occupied houses have received free LED bulbs, with the village now completed.

Each house receives a guaranteed minimum number of 14 LED bulbs, with a total of 476 going into Portnaguran. The average energy saving per house is 716w – calculated from the difference between the old bulbs at 843w and the average LED total at 127w – and if lights were on three hours a day for seven days a week, Portnaguran’s total energy saving would be 15637.4kw a year.

The Portnaguran milestone was revealed at the Annual General Meeting of Point and Sandwick Trust on 19 November by Amy Kapherr-Diament, LED Energy Communities project officer.

It is being celebrated by Point and Sandwick Trust, Tighean Innse Gall and residents themselves.

Calum MacDonald, the former Western Isles MP turned community wind farm developer, said: “It’s a brilliant achievement and they put themselves at the front of an electrical revolution that is eventually going to happen right across Britain.”

Norman Mackenzie, chairman of Point and Sandwick Trust, said: “It’s a milestone in our partnership with TIG and in promoting green energy in our area and I would like people to realise it’s not just a question of free light bulbs. That is a door to the possibilities of tackling fuel poverty through better insulation and other advice services. Once TIG are in the door they assess the whole house for what improvements can be made.

“I would also like to thank Amy and her colleagues. Congratulations to Amy and her colleagues at TIG for their hard work and perseverance and we look forward to completing this project through the whole Point and Sandwick district.

“It’s also an example of how remoteness, or what people perceive as remoteness, need not be a barrier in taking the lead in the advancement of new technologies.”

The chairman, who also lives in Portnaguran, added: “The partnership in this is important. It’s not just Point and Sandwick Trust doing this. We’re prepared to make partnerships with people to bring things forward and partnership working is a key element of the ethos of Point and Sandwick Trust.”

Brian Chaplin, chairman of Tighean Innse Gall, said: “I’m delighted to see that this initiative is being so successful and hope to see more villages signing up and becoming totally energy efficient. I’m also delighted that this is a good example of partnership working between PST and TIG.”

Project officer Amy said: “It’s fantastic to have completed our home visits in Portnaguran, installing LED light bulbs throughout the village. This is a great achievement for the project, showing the benefit of partnership working to help our communities save energy and money. Many thanks to Point and Sandwick Trust for their continued support and funding for the project. If anyone has signed up and not had their free LED bulbs from me, get in touch to arrange a home visit.”

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant is among those who signed up to the project as she has a family home in Portnaguran. She described the village as “leading the way” and said: “It’s a really good project – not only are you helping people but it also helps the carbon footprint of the village as well. It’s an excellent scheme and it’s nice as well that it’s some quite tangible from the wind power, where people can see the difference that it’s making.”

The main element of the LED Energy Communities project is the installation of the free LED lightbulbs – but once these have been installed, the attention turns to the whole house.

Energy Performance assessments are offered to establish exactly what energy improvement measures would be appropriate and householders are then advised on how to access these measures and on other ways to save energy and money off their bills.

The project was initially launched for five years, with the bulk of the funding – £375,000 over the five years — from Point and Sandwick Trust, although the Climate Challenge Fund also donated £71,900 to fund the first year of the project. 

Since the launch of the project to date, there have been 538 inquiries. Any householder in the Point and Sandwick area who has not yet signed up to the project is invited to contact project officer Amy at Tighean Innse Gall, either by telephoning the TIG office on 01851 706121 or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Nicolson Institute held their 6th Annual YPI Final (Youth and Philanthropy Initiative) on Wednesday 4th December. 

There were more than 30 teams to begin with, but they were narrowed down to six to compete against each other in the final. 

Each finalist represented a different charity.  The charities represented were Lucky2Bhere who were the overall winners, Lewis and Harris Women’s Cancer Support, Alzheimer’s Scotland, The Salvation Army, Autism Eileanan Siar and Befriending Lewis. 

Judging this year’s competition was Andrew MacNair who is Head of Marketing at CalMac, Christine MacLeod who is head teacher at Stornoway Primary, Charlie Macmillan from Skills Development Scotland and John MacRae who is a former winner and a school student.

The winners for the 2019 YPI Final were Holly Martin, Kate Macsween, Catherine Thomson and Emily Maciver who were competing for Lucky2Bhere.

Councillor Angus Morrison who was present, representing the charity and accepting the cheque on their behalf, said: “I am absolutely delighted that the S5 YPI group chose to represent Lucky2Bhere.

"It would be fair to say that the standard of all presentations was high and I commend the exceptionally high standard of the winners presentation. This win has come at a time where the Western Isles Council has agreed to introduce Emergency Life Support Training within the school curriculum targeting all Primary 5 and Secondary 3 pupils.

"I have agreed with the winners that the prize giving money should be spent on a defibrillator to be situated at a location of their choice and that the remaining money be utilised in the purchase of training equipment for school use.

"I am encouraged that the winning team have indicated their desire to be involved with the work of Lucky2bhere and look forward to engaging with them going forward.”


Lochs-based woodworker Richard Swift is raising money for Wallace & Gromit Children's Foundation – Elizabeth's Footprint again this year.

He made a wooden 'quad' for auction and has been selling tickets himself at various locations. 

He says he would to say "a huge thank you to all who supported him at Co-Op, WI Hospital, Lewis Sports Centre and Adventure Island."

The winner was Ellie Donnelly.

The final of the 2019 National Gaelic Schools Debate took place at the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 5th December.

A very lively debate was heard with Joanne Laing and Marion MacCorquodale from Sgoil Lionacleit going up against Raonaid Campbell and Hamish Scott from Sgoil Sir E Scott.

Sgoil Lionacleit eventually came out victorious.  Raonaid Campbell from Sir E Scott was presented with the best debater award.

The National Gaelic Schools Debate committee would like to thank the organizations who helped to fund and support this year’s Debate - The Scottish Government, Loganair, The SQA, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Skills Development Scotland, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Highland Council, Glasgow City Council, Comunn na Gàidhlig, Radio nan Gàidheal and Education Scotland.


Everyone is invited to come along to the 2019 General Election Hustings at Stornoway Town Hall on Tuesday, 10th December 2019 at 7.00pm…less than two days before Polling Day begins.

You can email your questions for the candidates to

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The event is hosted by Lews Castle College UHI but is open to all.

Angus MacNeil SNP candidate speaking just a week before the election said: “It has been enjoyable going through the Islands and hearing the views of voters from Barra to the Butt of Lewis. On the doorsteps people understand that the choice in this election is between choosing for ourselves what kind of country we want to live in or allowing others to make that choice for us.

“ The recent Ipsos MORI poll for STV shows support for the SNP at 44%  with the Tories in second place 18% behind. Only by voting for the SNP can Scotland help deprive the Tories and Boris Johnson of the victory they so badly want.

“In Scotland the Scottish Government has spent billions mitigating the worst of the austerity imposed by the Tories and unchecked by a weakened Labour Party fighting among themselves rather than for the people they are supposed to represent.

 “In Westminster, the SNP will continue to make the case for free TV Licenses for the over 75’s and to prevent a future Tory Government from further increasing the pension age. We will also argue for the UK Government to match the ambitious climate targets set by the Scottish Government and against any renewal of Trident.

“I would encourage everyone to vote on December 12th  and only a vote for the SNP will ensure we get the fairer, more equal Scotland we want.” 

For the UK Parliament election on December 12th in Na h-Eileanan an Iar constituency:

  • Alison MacCorquodale is the Labour Party candidate
  • Angus MacNeil is the Scottish National Party (SNP) candidate
  • Neil Mitchison is the Liberal Democrat Party candidate
  • Jennifer Ross is the Conservative and Unionist Party candidate

The demolition for the award-winning Buth Bharraigh community shop in Castlebay - which has aroused a protest campaign in Barra - is in line with the wishes of the community, says Comhairle nan Eilean Siar,

In a statement, the Council said: "With regard to the former Co-op building in Castlebay, Isle of Barra, the proposed demolition of the property was included in the Comhairle’s successful ‘South Uist and Barra Regeneration Programme’ bid to the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund in 2013, reflecting the wishes of the local community.

"The successful bid delivered investment of up to £2m in Barra with two new business units in Castlebay, the regeneration of the Vatersay Hall, and included the demolition of the former Co-op store together with funding for environmental improvements, the nature of these to be agreed by the community in due course.

"Bùth Bharraigh was made aware of the Comhairle’s intention to demolish the building prior to the Comhairle facilitating its temporary occupancy of the building in late 2013 and this occupation was always intended to be of a temporary nature.

"Castlebay Community Council confirmed their decision in 2016 that the old Co-op building be demolished as part of the South Uist and Barra Regeneration Programme."

The Comhairle insist that it has continued to support Bùth Bharraigh with alternative premises including specialist advisory support. "The Comhairle continues to make significant investments to support a range of business and community projects in Barra, recognising the contribution which Bùth Bharraigh and other community enterprises make to the local economy."

However, the existing shop has won widespread praise on Twitter with one erpson commenting that two years ago "I stayed on Barra for two months and spent a lot of time at the Bùth. Through them I met a wonderful range of people and was given a true insight into the island community. I got amazing tourist information, brought local produce and crafts."

There's a on-line petition to save the shop.


A 44-year-old man, reported missing from the Stornoway area, has been traced.

Police appealed yesterday (Wednesday 4 December) for information on Stuart McKay's whereabouts.

They said he was last seen on Sunday 1 December and asked members of the public to help.

Police have now confirmed Mr McKay has been located safe and well.  

The final in this year's national Gaelic schools debate is between Sgoil Lionacleit and Sir E Scott School and will be held in the Scottish Parliament this evening (Thursday 5 December).

It will be broadcast live on BBC Radio nan Gàidheal from 7pm. Chairing the event will be Eilidh Grant, a regular face on BBC Gaelic news output. The debating topic will be: “In 20 years time, the real Gàidhlig communities will be situated in the big cities”

In the semifinals, Sgoil Lionacleit's team, comprising of Joanne Laing and Marion MacCorquodale, faced their opponents Lewis Boag and Finlay Maclennan from Inverness Royal Academy. Both teams did their schools proud but it was Sgoil Lionacleit who secured a place in this evening’s final.

In the second debate of the evening, Sorley Johnston and Blair Mills from Bishopbriggs Academy debated against Raonaid Chaimbeul and Hamish Scott of Sir E Scott. Both teams demonstrated some fine debating skills and the judges found it a tough decision but they came to the conclusion that it would be Sir E Scott who would be taking part in the final.

The judges in this year’s competition are Agnes Rennie (Manager of Acair Books Ltd), Boyd Robertson (retired former principal at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig) and Iain Stephen Morrison (journalist and editor of Uist community newspaper, Am Pàipear.

The final will also be broadcast live on the Scottish Parliament’s website. Go to www.scottishparliament.tv for 7pm on Thursday 5th December to watch live. It will also be available afterwards to catch up, download and share on demand.


Next week’s meetings of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar will take place in the Nicolson Institute instead of the Comhairle Chamber because of preparations for the General Election on 12th December.

This meetings affected are Audit and Scrutiny and Policy and Resources Committees, the Planning Applications Board and full Comhairle.

Meetings have been transferred to the Assembly Hall at the Nicolson Institute.

There will be no Internet broadcast of these meetings.

Meetings are due to be held at the following dates and times:

  • Planning Applications Board – Tuesday 10 December 11am
  • Audit and Scrutiny - Tuesday 10 December 2pm
  • Policy and Resources –Wednesday 11 December 9.30am
  • Full Council – Wednesday 11 December 5pm

As usual, the public are welcome to attend our meetings.

The newly-launched Hebridean Whale Trail was named a finalist for the New National Treasure (UK) Award.

Launched by the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, the trail is the first of its kind in the UK and connects 33 places for land-based viewing of whales, dolphins and porpoises.

The Trail lost out to the National Maritime Museum at the award ceremony in London yesterday (Wednesday 4 December.)

Alison Lomax, Director of the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, commented: "We're thrilled to have been a finalist for this prestigious award, and hope this success will further promote the Hebridean Whale Trail, which has really caught people's imagination since its launch in June.

"By promoting low-impact marine wildlife watching from land, the trail is championing the importance of protecting the Hebrides' wonderful and globally important marine wildlife.

"Collaboration was key in forging the trail, and its success is testament to the people and communities who have come together to create this exciting initiative."

The Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign is being backed by Angus MacNeil SNP candidate for Na h-Eileanan an Iar in their efforts to secure fairness for women affected by the acceleration in the retirement age - which he says affects up to 1900 in Na h-Eileanan an Iar alone.

SNP-commissioned research found that it would cost £8 billion to reverse the 2011 changes and give WASPI women more time to prepare – significantly less than the £30 billion suggested by the UK Government.

Angus MacNeil said: “Due to the UK Government’s shambolic handling of the process these women have not been given reasonable time to prepare for retirement. This is a gross injustice.  Pensions are not a privilege, they are a contract and the UK Government has broken that contract.

“Sadly this is one area that the Scottish Government cannot do anything about - pensions are fully reserved to Westminster and the Scotland Act 2016 explicitly prevents the Scottish Parliament from creating new pension benefits. Neither can the power to top-up benefits be used because WASPI women are not yet in receipt of a pension.

 “It is right that in their Manifesto the SNP pledges support for the WASPI campaign and that SNP MPs will continue to call on the UK Government to take responsibility, deliver the pension that women born in the 1950s deserve and end this inequality.”

UK Parliament election December 12th

Na h-Eileanan an Iar constituency

Alison MacCorquodale is the Labour Party candidate

Angus MacNeil is the Scottish National Party (SNP) candidate

Neil Mitchison is the Liberal Democrat Party candidate

Jennifer Ross is the Conservative and Unionist Party candidate


A 44-year-old man has been reported missing after he was last seen in the Stornoway area.

Police are concerned regarding the welfare of Stuart Mackay, who they say was last seen at 2pm on Sunday 1 December.

Stuart was spoken to on the telephone on Monday 2 December.

Concerns are growing for Stuart's welfare as he hasn't been seen or heard from since.

He is described as 5' 8", slim build with short fair hair and an unshaven appearance,possibly growing a beard.

He notably has one green eye and one blue eye and has a scar on right side of head.

He was thought to be wearing a blue quilted hip length jacket and grey joggers and speaks with a local accent for the Western Isles.

Any person with knowledge of Stuart's welfare or whereabouts is asked to contact Police on 101 quoting reference Inc: 1547 of 4th December 2019.

Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) has sent the leaders of the Scottish parties a list of questions that are important to its membership, in advance of the forthcoming General Election.

“With so much apparent chaos and uncertainty now and in the foreseeable future,” said Yvonne White, chair of SCF, “it is imperative that Scottish party leaders give a clear indication as to their intentions concerning agriculture in our country and, more specifically, in the Highlands and Islands.

"Our questions to the leaders focus on crofters’ main concerns. For example, we ask for the parties’ aspirations for a trade deal with the EU after the transition period ends. What would they envisage appropriate export and import tariff levels on beef and lamb to be?

“We also ask about environmental and animal welfare standards – something in which crofters take great pride and which gives Scotland a great marketing opportunity. Will we maintain our high standards and will imports have to comply with these?”

Ms White went on to say, “Our current veterinary profession and abattoir facilities rely on skilled personnel from Europe. What provision is being made to ensure that these professions are not adversely affected by leaving the EU?

“We ask what their plans are for a Scottish agricultural support policy, what the levels will be, how they will defend this against competing sectors and how they will protect crofting against the claims of the large-scale agri-businesses.

"We want to know how they intend to show that the production of grass-fed, outdoor-reared meat from the hills and islands is a healthy and environmentally valid way of using ground that can’t produce arable crops to provide food?

“Our crofting communities are a very significant constituency” concluded Ms White. “Now is the time for the Scottish parties to lay out their stalls and demonstrate their understanding of, and aspirations for, crofting and Scottish agriculture.”

Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Alison MacCorquodale says: "The way our crofting sector manages the land will become increasingly important. Our renewable resources must be harnessed to provide clean energy, while a revitalised Arnish Yard will help to build the renewable infrastructure required to meet Labour’s ambitious targets."

She said the contribution from the islands should be built around “the three Es – energy, environment and employment” but it would need political leadership to deliver.

“Voters at this election have a stark choice between a Tory government which evades the problem or a Labour government committed to tackling the issue head on”.

Alison said, “With rising sea levels affecting low-lying areas and increasingly extreme and unpredictable weather becoming the norm, islanders are already experiencing the initial effects of a changing climate.

“This is not something we can leave to future generations,. It requires action now.

“Labour’s green industrial revolution is the radical solution to this massive issue. It will transform our economy to a low carbon one, slashing emissions and creating thousands of jobs in the process.

Alison added: “While the Western Isles are already suffering effects from the climate emergency, we are also uniquely placed to deliver the solutions."

UK Parliament election December 12th

Na h-Eileanan an Iar constituency

Alison MacCorquodale is the Labour Party candidate

Angus MacNeil is the Scottish National Party (SNP) candidate

Neil Mitchison is the Liberal Democrat Party candidate

Jennifer Ross is the Conservative and Unionist Party candidate



An award-winning community social enterprise is under threat from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar because the local authority is insisting on demolishing its premises.

Bùth Bharraigh, a local producer co-operative, visitor information provider and community hub in Castlebay, is under orders from the local authority to move from its current location in the former Co-op building  – but directors of the Bùth claim the new site would put them out of business as it is not located where newly arrived tourists can find it.

They say the unit they are being offered half a mile away is much smaller, more expensive and is not a good location for tourist information. They would have to reduce the amount of services they provide and stock held.

They also say the Comhairle has refused to engage with them, ignored pleas for a meeting, ignored lawyers’ letters on behalf of Bùth Bharraigh, ignored a Freedom of Information inquiry probing the legality of the demolition plan, and failed so far to publicise comments in response to an asset transfer request for their building, which closed on November 22.

Bùth Bharraigh directors are growing increasingly concerned ahead of a meeting of the Sustainable Development Committee at the Comhairle today (December 4) where their fate will be discussed. A report is to be given to the committee by the Head of Economic Development and Planning but was not made publicly available on the Comhairle website ahead of the meeting.

Also, the item will be taken in private – a move which raised concerns still further, as Bùth Bharraigh has not even been informed by the Comhairle that it is on the agenda.

According to the agenda, the item was to be in private because of “information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (other than the Comhairle)”.

Director Sarah Maclean said: “Nobody has been in touch with us from the council. They didn’t tell us it was going to be discussed and they didn’t the last time, either. That’s twice now they haven’t informed us that we’ll be a topic of discussion.

“Taking the item in secret is deliberate so that we can’t find out what they’re up to, frankly. I think it’s so that it will be a done deal until it is too late.”

Three years ago, the community of Barra wrote to Comhairle chief executive Malcolm Burr and the then council leader Angus Campbell to try to save the building. 

In that letter, dated December 5, 2016, they said: “We are writing to confirm that we, the people of Barra, do not want the old Co-op building in Castlebay demolished.” There were 137 signatories.

The debate about whether to demolish the building goes back to 2012 when it was lying vacant and suffered storm damage. However, since 2013 it has been occupied by Buth Bharraigh who have architects plans and costings to refurbish and renovate it. Bùth Bharraigh believe demolition would contravene council strategies and programmes aimed at tourism, creating employment opportunities and encouraging social enterprise.

In the 2016 letter, the community also said: “We have tried since 2014, without success, to make CnES officials understand that residents now want to keep the building.”

Five years on, the message has still not got through to the Comhairle.

After a meeting with Malcolm Burr in May 2017 at which the directors laid out the case for the Bùth remaining in its place.

In its current central location in the old Co-op building, Bùth Bharraigh fulfils multiple functions.

As well as acting as a route to market for around 80 local producers, Bùth Bharraigh serves as a visitor information centre, laundrette – laundry contracts include social care – as well as bike hire, Hebridean Way pit stop and community hub cafe with free WiFi.

They won the title of UK Social Enterprise of the Year in the 2016 Rural Business Awards and were highly commended in the category of Rural Enterprise in the 2017 Scottish Rural Awards, winning the Scottish Rural Parliament Innovators Award for Business 2015/16 and reaching the finals in numerous other awards including Scottish Social Enterprise of the Year, Community Ownership Awards (Scotland) and the Highlands and Islands Food and Drink Awards, as an Independent Retailer. Bùth Bharraigh Ltd is also an Accredited Living Wage Employer.

Residents of Barra who are keen to keep Bùth Bharraigh in its current home gathered for a picture at the weekend, to show their support for their community social enterprise.

Sarah said afterwards: “They were shocked at the fact that Malcolm Burr just didn’t get back to us and they want the building to continue. Regardless of what the council says, most of the people on the island do think the shop is a good thing and doing an important job, but not everybody is going to write a letter or jump up and down about it.”

She also stated the Comhairle were onto their third supposed reason about why the Bùth had to vacate the building.

Their first reason, she said, was that the building was not structurally sound. However, a structural survey proved that the frame was “structurally sound” and drew up plans for a complete renovation in the future. Complete renovation quotes had come in at around £400,000. If allowed to remain, Bùth Bharraigh hopes to raise some of that through crowd funding.

The Comhairle’s second reason, she stated, was that it did not have community support. 

“Then when we disproved that, they said it was about road safety – but a Police Scotland report showed there has never been an accident outside the shop."

With the issue due to be discussed at the Sustainable Development Committee, Sarah expressed concern about what might be in the report due to the content of the previous one which went to the Comhairle’s meeting in September.

Since this meeting, Bùth Bharraigh has hired lawyers to fight its corner and the legal firm sent its second letter to the Comhairle last Friday. The Comhairle has not yet replied to the first lawyer’s letter sent in September and has also failed to answer a Freedom of Information inquiry about the legality of the Comhairle’s process, within the set timescale. 

Sarah said: “They should be working with us to get the best outcome for Barra and our business. We’re a successful community business and we’re under constant threat. We haven’t been able to develop and barriers have been put in our way. We’ve been held back. We have even won Rural Social Enterprise of the Year – and that was a UK award – and it just doesn’t make a bit of difference.

“They will be putting producers’ takings and jobs at risk if they force us to move. 

“We’re open when the ferry comes in and we’ve taken on the tourist information and we don’t get any money for that. That is a big service that we provide and if we move half a mile it’s going to be so difficult for visitors to get accommodation and information on arrival.

“The big thing for me is the frustration that the council don’t recognise what a great thing we are doing. Plus, it’s the frustration that they just don’t get back to us. We asked them for a meeting recently and it was just ignored.”

In their original lease application, Sarah said they asked for a “20 year lease with an option to buy” and were then given a five year lease by the Comhairle in 2013. Problems began afterwards. 

She said: “In these premises, we have been trading and established our business over the past six years. If we moved, we’d have to reduce the amount of stock we carry and we couldn’t do the laundrette. We would probably have to shut the Wifi cafe. But the location is the biggest thing.”

Turnover has been around £750,000 over the past six years but Sarah said the Comhairle’s attitude remains dismissive. “The council have never taken us seriously. We’ve always just been a bunch of women in Barra with a wee project but we’ve grown from strength to strength and we’ll continue to do so if we stay in the same spot.”

Bùth Bharraigh is due to hold its Annual General Meeting on Thursday, December 12, amending its Articles of Association to ensure it will fully comply with the conditions for an asset transfer, should that be approved.

The Scottish Government has confirmed that the Ferguson Marine shipyard has now been taken into public ownership.

The decision could mean a revival of hope for the long-awaited replacement ferry on the Uig triangle route serving Skye, Harris and North Uist, as the dual-fuel ferry for the route has been ordered from Ferguson Marine.

It was announced yesterday (Monday December 2nd) that administrators have agreed the final terms of the transaction with Scottish Ministers.

This follows the conclusion by administrators that three indicative commercial offers for the business were either not capable of being executed or did not represent a better outcome for creditors than a sale to the Scottish Government.

Economy Secretary Derek Mackay said: “We have been working for over two years to find a resolution to the difficulties at Ferguson Marine and our priorities remain the completion of the two CalMac ferries, protecting jobs, and securing a future for the yard.

“In the absence of a workable commercial solution the administrators have concluded that public ownership is in the best interests of the creditors.

“Now that this has been confirmed, I am determined that we continue to work closely with everyone at the yard to progress work on the vessels and achieve the best possible outcome for the yard and its employees.

“Recruiting more staff to Ferguson Marine is a significant step forward in making this happen. Establishing a revised timetable for the completion of the two ferries also remains one of the main tasks for the management at the yard and I will give an update on the schedule and cost for delivery of the two ferries as soon as possible.

“While there is still more to be done, our actions have ensured that there will be a future for Ferguson Marine.”

Among vessels under construction at Ferguson is the MV Glen Sannox, which was expected to be in service during 2018. She was commissioned by Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL), the publicly-owned company who own the ferries operated by CalMac, and was due to be followed into production by a vessel currently known as ‘Hull 802’ which is to serve the Uig-Tarbert-Lochmaddy route.

It’s not known what timetable will now be placed on construction of the new ferry for the Harris route, although work on harbour improvements to accommodate the new vessel is already well under way in Tarbert.
CMAL were in Uig, Tarbert and Lochmaddy last week (November 25th to 27th) providing public updates on the progress of the contract works.

In a separate announcement, CMAL recently announced that it had bought the vessel MV Loch Seaforth outright, paying £36 million in October this year through a commercial agreement with Lloyds Banking Group.

Pictures show Glen Sannox at launch in 2017, showing the expected design of the Skye triangle ferry (Ferguson Marine).

Police are asking for help from the public after two incidents of cash theft which may be related.

In the first incident, visitors staying at the Kenneth Street Hostel in Stornoway between November 23rd and 24th reported that Euros totalling a value of around £300 had been taken from among their possessions while staying in the hostel.

The following week, a visitor staying at Rhenigidale Hostel in Harris reported that £170 in cash had been taken from a pocket in his clothing while staying in the hostel between November 29th and 30th.

Police are appealing for information and are following a positive line of enquiry, including that the incidents may be related. Anyone who can provide any additional information is asked to call the non-emergency number 101, quoting incident numbers NH1721/19 (Stornoway) and NH1722/19 (Rhenigidale).

Picture shows the remote location of the Rhenigidale Hostel (Gatliff.org.uk)

Nine drivers have been issued with fixed penalties by Stornoway police, during the continuing activity under Operation Cedar.

Between the 29th of November and 2nd December drivers were stopped within Stornoway at locations including Perceval Road and Willowglen Road.

They were charged with offences including speeding, driving without a valid MOT and driving without insurance.

Police are continuing to operate regular traffic patrols within the area.

Two men are appearing at Stornoway Sheriff court today (Tuesday December 3rd) on separate offences, both after spending more than 48 hours in police custody.

An 18-year-old man was arrested on Cromwell Street on Saturday (November 30th) just before midnight, and charged with breach of bail conditions.

And a 28-year-old man was in custody for court after being charged with numerous offences on Saturday at 8.30pm.

He was charged with offences including assault, resisting arrest, police assault and obstructing medical staff at Western Isles Hospital.

Report to Procurator Fiscal

Police detained a 32-year-old man in Stornoway on Saturday night at 11.15pm due to his threatening and abusive behaviour.

He was taken into custody and released when sober, and is to be reported to the Procurator Fiscal.

In a separate incident, a 21-year-old man was arrested on Saturday night at 8.50pm within licensed premises in Stornoway. He was charged with failing to quit licensed premises and released when sober, after accepting a fixed penalty.

The Skye-based charity Lucky2BHere celebrated their 10th anniversary last month with a dinner dance and presentation evening in Inverness on November 22nd.

The hard-working charity is continuing celebrations right through the rest of the year, with numerous stories coming forward of lives saved and transformed because of the group’s dedication to their cause.

In December 2006 Skye man Ross Cowie suffered a sudden cardiac arrest while taking part in a quiz at his local shinty club, Skye Camanachd. His life was saved due to the pure luck that an ambulance happened to be passing by, the skills of the crew and the life-saving equipment that they carried.

Unbeknown to Ross, he suffered from a genetic heart condition known as dilated cardiomyopathy. His father, auntie and uncle all died at an early age, so he knew he was lucky to have survived.

He established Lucky2BHere in the hope that it might give others the same chance –and the testimony of many survivors proves that he was right.

The Western Isles group was set up nearly five years ago, after Angus Morrison of Balallan suffered a heart attack. More fortunate than some, he survived the traumatic experience and started thinking what could be done to get help quickly to people in a similar situation.

It set him off on a quest to ensure that easy-to-use life-saving equipment could be made readily available in public places and it set in motion a shift in thinking that has made the Western Isles a model of excellent and widespread support for the charity.

There are now 124 publicly available defibrillators in the Western Isles and 74 in Skye and Localsh. Added to that, numerous workplaces and schools have received essential training in how to give CPR to keep people alive after cardiac arrest until paramedics can get to the scene.

Portree High School was the first senior school to receive training in how to use the essential equipment in 2009, since when thousands of children in schools across Scotland have learnt life-saving skills which will stay with them into adulthood.

Last year John Burgis from Port of Ness became one of three people to have their lives saved within the space of five days across the Highlands and Islands, thanks in part to public access defibrillators and training. Lucky2here trainer Fiona Finlayson was the first to respond to the call in Ness and successfully resuscitated John.

Among Western Isles groups to receive or refresh their training recently are staff at the MG ALBA Offices in Seaforth Road, Stornoway and members of Garrabost Free Church, who have a defibrillator fitted to the external wall of their church.

And this weekend cardiac arrest survivor Michelle Macleod of Stornoway added her voice to the chorus of those keen to celebrate a charity which has meant she, too, is lucky to be here. A Lucky2BHere defibrillator was used to resuscitate her when she suffered a cardiac arrest during the Harris Marathon in August.

Speaking after the 10th anniversary event, she said: “It’s amazing to be here. I think the work the charity does, including the work in schools, should become more a part of life, so that people know how to save lives, like my own.”

The pictures show:

1. Lucky2BHere founder Ross Cowie (left) with trainer Fiona Finlayson and Uig Councillor Angus Morrison, who set up the Western Isles group.
2. Staff from MG ALBA after their refresher training at Seaforth Road last week.

Pupils from Harris and Uist will continue the National Gaelic Schools Debate in the Scottish Parliament this week (Thursday 5 December.)

The debate will, for the first time, take place on the floor of the debating chamber to mark the twentieth anniversary of both the debating competition and the establishment of the Scottish Parliament.

The four semi-finalists who will battle it out to progress to Holyrood are:
• Inverness Royal Academy B
• Sgoil Lionaclait, Uist
• Bishopbriggs Academy A
• Sir E Scott School, Isle of Harris

The final will be broadcast live on BBC Radio nan Gàidheal.

Presiding Officer, Rt Hon Ken Macintosh MSP said: “Gaelic matters. It is part of who we are and part of Scotland's rich cultural identity.

“The humour, insight and linguistic skill displayed by young people in this competition year after year, convincingly demonstrates that the language continues to flourish.

“It gives me immense pleasure that the final will be held on the floor of Holyrood’s debating chamber, marking this, our joint twentieth anniversary.”

Eight elite athletes are eligible to benefit from a scheme to support travel costs.

The Islands Athlete Travel Award Scheme give up to eight athletes from the Outer Hebrides £1,500 each.

The aim of this scheme is to help the athletes of the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland to gain better access to competitive and developmental opportunities available on the mainland.

The scheme will be available for applications for the 2020-21 financial year from Monday 9 December 2019.

Awards will be allocated through an application process, with athletes required to evidence how the grant will improve their performance, provide them access to quality training opportunities and improve their sports or club environment.

sportscotland has allocated each of the three local authorities £10k, with the Councils then required to top this up with £2k of their own funding plus the equivalent of £3k of management and administrative time.

Stewart Harris, Chief Executive, sportscotland, said: “At sportscotland we recognise the specific challenges faced by island athletes. That’s why we are delighted to continue support for the Island Athlete Travel Scheme, in partnership with the island councils. By working together we can deliver services locally through the sportscotland institute of sport in the Outer Hebrides while providing additional support to allow talented athletes to travel to competitions and progress in their chosen sport.”

”It’s fantastic to hear that the athletes who received awards last year have benefitted and we look forward to working with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to support more island athletes.”

Councillor Angus McCormack, Chairman of the Education, Sport and Children’s Services Committee said: “The Athlete Travel Award Scheme has been a fantastic addition to the support the Comhairle is able to provide our elite athletes. The feedback from the first year has been very encouraging and I would anticipate a high level of applicants for this year’s grants. sportscotland has become a valued partner over the years in our efforts to encourage our young people to get involved in sport and activities, and we are delighted that they have agreed to continue their support of this scheme.”

The scheme opens for applications this week and following an application and selection process, athletes will be identified for support by each local authority.

Application forms will be available from Monday 9th December 2019 on the CNES website.

The deadline for applications is 5pm on Friday 14th February.

To find out more about the scheme contact the Community Sports Hub Officer for your area: -
Kevin Morrison (Uist & Barra) – tel: 01870 603693; email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Euan Macleod (Lewis & Harris) – tel: 01851 822800; email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Community learning and development (CLD) in the Western Isles is not improving fast enough, according to an Education Scotland report published on Monday December 2nd.

Her Majesty’s education inspectors have criticised the governance and performance management of CLD provision in Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, singling out information sharing and planning as areas that need improvement and stating their intention to return for a third time next year to re-examine progress.

They urged the Comhairle to be more transparent after community consultations, so that local people understand how their views influence decision-making.

The report, signed off by HMI Alona Murray, said: “The direction of CLD provision in Eilean Siar is not sufficiently clear. Although partners are making progress against some aspects of work, the governance and performance management of CLD across the authority area continues to require significant improvement.”

The report comes after a follow-up inspection, which itself was triggered in July 2018, when inspectors found that improvements were needed, noting then that: “partners do not yet have a full understanding of their strengths and areas for improvement.”

Today’s report says that, although provision for learners and communities remains of good quality, there has been insufficient progress made against the two main areas for improvement in the original report.

HMI Alona Murray said: “Senior leaders continue to value the role that community learning and development (CLD) plays in contributing to local authority and Local Outcome Improvement Plan (LOIP) priorities. However, the governance of CLD remains a significant area for improvement. The local authority has made very little progress in identifying shared CLD priorities.”

Singled out as good examples of partnership working are the Harris Forum and the CLD partnership in Barra and Vatersay, which continue to work well. Inspectors also cited Comann nam Pàrant’s successful challenge on Gaelic Medium Education in P1 at Stornoway Primary School, saying that it was an example of how the youth and community voice is well supported and strong.

And there were compliments for initiatives within Stornoway, such as the Chill Out Group in the Nicolson Institute and the Full Circle family learning project delivered by Pointers Youth Centre, An Lanntair and the NHS. Inspectors found that mothers are positive about the programme, which is improving their social network and providing peer support.

Community and voluntary organisations and volunteers also garnered praise from inspectors, with the development trusts in both Uig and Harris, the parent-run Còmhla Group in North Lewis, Comunn Eachdraidh Nis (Ness Historical Society) and Kinloch Historical Society all named for the ways in which they are meeting local needs.

However, they said: “There is little progress in developing joint targets and performance measures to better capture the full impact of CLD….Too often teams and partners are unaware of what happens with the data they currently provide or how it can be best used to drive improvement. This area now requires improvement to ensure that the individual and collective contribution of CLD is recorded and recognised.”

Wider public community consultations were noted to be influencing council priorities and planning, but inspectors said that this is not always clear to stakeholders. They said: “There continues to be a need to improve the coordination of consultations and the sharing of findings to avoid duplication and reduce the risk of alienating residents.”

The inspectors concluded: “As we are confident that the provision for learners and communities remains of a good quality, we will not undertake further scrutiny in regard to these aspects of work.

"However, there has been insufficient progress made against the two main areas for improvement in the original report. As a result, we will return around 12 months from the publication of this report to monitor progress against these areas.”

You can read the full report here https://education.gov.scot/media/hyqpn2to/comhairlenaneileansiarcld021219.pdf



Organised by Stornoway Singers, the two-hour long community concert on Saturday December 14th will include all your favourite carols – as well as a bit of the unexpected!

Calum Watt, who will be singing and playing in the brass quintet, explains: “We are performing lots that people can sing along to – as well as ‘For Unto Us A Child Is Born’ from Handel’s Messiah. 

“The reason we’re doing that is because we plan to invite people to join us in what’s called a ‘scratch Messiah.’

“That means that people who don’t normally sing in a choir get to come along and in one day we teach them the notes and all join together for a big concert with orchestra and soloists. 

“That will be held next year, and the aim is to encourage people to get involved and sing with a bigger choir.”

Stornoway Singers are made up of 40 performers, aged from 16 to over 70.  Alan Fish, Stornoway Singers' Chairman, says: “We do a wide spectrum of stuff, from classical to silly. 

“Our latest performance was Bach's St John Passion, performed in Stornoway Town Hall and in Talla na Mara, Harris.  Before that we staged Gilbert & Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance! 

“We put on a variety of concerts and we always do something at Christmas time.  The idea is to get people into the Christmas spirit and spread some cheer.

“Of course, we will be singing all the old favourites, and the brass quintet gives the carols a lovely warm Christmassy feel. 

“But we’ll also be performing more unusual Christmas music, including Tchaikovsky’s ‘The Crown of Roses,’ a modern, minimalist carol by Morten Lauridson entitled ‘O Magnum Mysterium’ and a toe-tapping number called ‘Just Another Star.’

“We will be fund-raising for Catch 23, a mental health charity running (amongst other things) a drop-in centre in Stornoway for people with mental health issues.”

The event, held in The Nicolson Institute, will take place on 14 December at 7:00pm.  “We expect a turnout of around 200,” explains Alan.   “It’ll be cabaret style, with people sitting at small tables rather than in rows, and refreshments will be provided.

"It’ll be a good night, and everyone is welcome to join us in the Nicolson Institute on Saturday 14 December at 7:00pm.  Tickets can be bought at Nicholson's Newsagents, Stornoway."

Dancers from the Claire Wilson School of Dance returned to Lewis, Harris and Dunoon last week with a huge haul of trophies and medals after an extremely busy weekend in Paris (November 20th to 26th).

The girls took part in their first ever International Highland Dancing competition at Disneyland Paris, backed by the fundraising support of many generous islanders.

Full days of competing for over 11 hours a day went hand-in-hand with some intensive sightseeing, as Claire Wilson told welovestornoway.com: “For these girls it was their first time abroad, so on the first day alone we were overwhelmed. We spent some time touring Paris and a trip would not be complete, of course, if we didn't eat lots of crepes!”

The excitement didn’t put the girls off their game, however, as they competed from 7am each day. In the magics competition (Seven years and under) Abigail Gillies of Harris gained good results, including 1st in swords, reel and lilt, earning her two trophies.

Niamh Wilson, Hazel Morrison and Madelyn Mackaskill were also well-placed in competitions on the first day, while Erin Macdonald from Breasclete was runner-up in the beginners 10-years Highland and beginners 10-years national trophies after a series of top-placed dances.

Dulcie Macdonald from Ness was also a trophy winner in the beginners 11-years and over Highland and Breasclete’s Eilidh Morrison gained consistent results across all her dances, including a first place in the reel. Harris’s Ellie Rose Laurie was runner-up novice 9 years and under Highland and carried home a shared trophy. In premier 14 years, Emma Peterson from Harris showed excellent form, including a 1st for her fling.

The girls continued to compete in the Disney-themed cheorography, for which all of them had been travelling up to Stornoway on a weekly basis for the past few months for combined lessons and the following day was similarly filled with competitions and choreographed pieces including a number of duos.

Ellie and Abigail, along with Erin and Eilidh both gained best costume characterisation, awarded to the Duo who best incorporated and portrayed the Disney characters with their costuming, cheorography and performance.

On the last performance day, the girls all took part in the Sea of Tartan Parade down main street in Disneyland Paris. They danced for a solid 45 minutes to Julie Fowlis singing Touch the Sky from the animated film Brave.
On their last day the whole team were able to enjoy the park with no competitions or performances.

Claire told welovestornoway.com: “These nine girls have travelled from the Western Isles and have brought home a haul of medals and trophies that the community should be very proud of. The nine dancers gained 60 medals and 11 trophies altogether – an exceptional achievement for your local dancers. Even the sheer length of time that the dancers were expected to compete for was new and unknown to them and they definitely showed what us islanders can do!”

The pictures show Ellie Laurie, Abigail Gillies, Madelyn Macaskill, Hazel Morrison, Emma Peterson, Eilidh Morrison, Erin Macdonald, Dulcie Macdonald and Niamh Wilson during competitions and sightseeing in Paris.

Endurance swimmer Colin S Macleod and mountain biker Kerry MacPhee have both been recognised for sporting achievement, during a civic event hosted by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to celebrate 20 years of Lewis and Harris Sports Council.

Over £400,000 has been distributed to sports clubs, groups and individuals during the 20 years, and many of those responsible for keeping the sports council going were present at the buffet reception on Wednesday (November 27th).

Convenor Norman A. MacDonald highlighted the work of individuals and coaches who have worked so hard to support the development of sport in Lewis and Harris. Special mention was made of achievements over the last twelve months by Kerry McPhee in mountain biking and Colin Macleod in recognition of his magnificent Minch Swim.

Annette Murray was also presented with a commemorative certificate from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar in recognition of the work done by the Sports Council. Among those present was 82-year-old Ethel McNally, a stalwart of both the running and swimming clubs, who still swims and runs regularly.

Awarding a certificate of recognition to Minch swimmer Colin Macleod, Convenor Cllr Macdonald said: “It’s something that many other people wouldn’t even have considered, even in a swimming pool, far less across the Minch, but Colin has shown his determination, having set a goal for himself and really determined to complete it.

“That is something that is very important for all sports people. If you have that determination then you will achieve what you want to achieve.”

Also due to receive civic recognition later this month are swimmer Kara Hanlon and triathlete Christina Mackenzie, both of whom will be given their awards when they return home for the Christmas holidays.

The picture shows those attending the celebratory event, with Annette Murray, Kerry MacPhee and Colin Macleod centre front.

Emergency services were called on in the early hours of yesterday (Sunday December 1st) after reports that a person was missing following a road accident.

Police called for assistance from Stornoway Coastguard operations centre at about 2am on Sunday, with Bragar, Miavaig, South Lochs, Breasclete, Ness and Stornoway Coastguard Rescue Teams joining police officers and fire teams to carry out the search.

The person was apparently missing following an accident near to Ballantrushal on the west side of Lewis. The search was co-ordinated in the surrounding area.

Search and rescue helicopter R948 was scrambled at 3.25am and assisted with the search from the air. All teams were stood down at 6am and police are carrying out further enquiries.

The picture shows R948 taking off early yesterday morning (Jason Spinks).

This report has been updated to include further information from Stornoway Coastguard.

A huge sperm whale which stranded and died on Seilebost beach on Thursday (November 28th) had a stomach full of marine rubbish, according to analysts.

Images of the dead animal and the graphic sight of its stomach contents fuelled a public outcry on social media over the weekend, with many in despair over the damaging impact of marine litter.

The Inverness-based Scottish Marine Animals Stranding Scheme (SMASS) said the subadult male had more than 100kg of marine debris in its stomach, including plastic net, bundles of rope, plastic cups, bags, gloves, packing straps and tubing. All the material was in a huge ball in the stomach and some of it appeared to have been there for some time.

The whale weighed an estimated 26 tonnes and was 14 metres long, with a number of teams called to the iconic sands after passers-by spotted it and reported it to Stornoway Coastguard and to SMASS.

Tarbert Coastguard Rescue Team were called on at 10.15am on Thursday to provide safety cover for a local member of the strandings team, who yesterday (Saturday) assisted experts from the SMASS as they carried out a necropsy (post-mortem) to fulfil their role of providing a systematic and coordinated approach to the surveillance of sea animals stranded on the Scottish coast.

A statement from the SMASS today said that, despite the stomachful of marine debris, the animal wasn’t in particularly poor condition. They said: “Whilst it is certainly plausible that this amount of debris was a factor in its live stranding, we actually couldn’t find evidence that this had impacted or obstructed the intestines.

“This amount of plastic in the stomach is nonetheless horrific, must have compromised digestion, and serves to demonstrate, yet again, the hazards that marine litter and lost or discarded fishing gear can cause to marine life. It is also perhaps a good example that this is a global issue caused by a whole host of human activities. This whale had debris in its stomach which seemed to have originated from both the land and fishing sectors and could have been swallowed at any point between Norway and the Azores.”

A large number of observers were drawn to the site to see the gruesome process of analysis and later clearing of the carcass, which was done under direction from members of the Coastguard and Comhairle nan Siar’s disposal team.

The SMASS spokesman said: “Surrounded by fragile dune ecosystems, there was no option to move a 20-tonne animal elsewhere, towing out to sea wasn’t an option so it needed to be buried on site. This was completed as light fell yesterday, so if you go to the beach today, there should be almost no evidence that there was a large sperm whale necropsy undertaken there this weekend.”

The SNP’s prospective parliamentary candidate Angus MacNeil said: “The image of the whale on Seilebost Beach has shocked many people and further highlights the problem we have with marine pollution.

“Marine pollution is a problem world-wide which affects the Western Isles as everywhere else. If not controlled marine pollution could adversely affect the fishing industry and tourism which rely on our reputation for a clean environment and increasingly the wild life around our coasts.

“There are a number of different strands to marine pollution – locally we need to ensure that waste – household, agricultural and from those that use the sea is properly disposed of and not just dumped. Individually we need to reduce our use of plastic and single use items, ensure that we do not litter beaches and public places and sort our household waste correctly.

“Personally I often pickup rubbish as I walk the beach at Tangasdale and I know many others do this too. I commend all those who tidy our beaches regularly and for campaign groups such as ‘Clean Coast Outer Hebrides’ for raising awareness of the importance of our coastal environment. We must all play our part to preserve our coasts for use by future generations.”

Pictures show clean-up under way on Seilebost beach over the weekend (SMASS, Aman Toor, local residents).

The following planning applications are pending consideration by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. 

All information and accompanying documents are publicly available on the CnES website

Dormer window and off-road parking, Tong

Donald Macaulay of 12 Aird Tong has applied for planning permission to construct a dormer window and create off-road parking at 12A Aird Tong. 

New house with detached garage, Back

John MacNeil of 5 Back has applied for planning permission to build a house with detached garage at 5A Back. The house is to consist of two bedrooms, a kitchen/dining/living area, two bathrooms and a utility room. Work is to include creating parking suitable for two cars.

New house and garage, Lochs

David Stewart of 2 North Beach House, North Beach, Stornoway, has applied for planning permission to build a house and garage at 88 Balallan, Lochs. The house is to consist of two bedrooms, a kitchen/dining/lounge area, one bathroom and a utility room. Work is also to include creating parking suitable for two cars. 

Dancing went on long into the evening at Ionad Spòrs Leòdhais in Stornoway on Friday night (November 29th) as part of the four-and-a-half hour show that was Dileab 2019.

The oldest member of the audience was reportedly 90 years of age - and there were many youngsters too. The whole event was regarded by the audience as a real representation of the awesome range of talent and skills of local performers from any age-groups, including the first performance by the full complement of the Lewis and Harris Youth Pipe Band under the leadership of Ashley Macdonald and Anna Murray, with help from David Maclennan.

The show was introduced – and the performances linked - by Derek ‘Pluto’ Murray, the acclaimed Ness broadcaster.

He said it had been “one of the greatest privileges of my life. Huge thanks to Dileab2019 and CnES for the opportunity to witness the awesome talents that are Nicolson Institute and Sir E Scott School choirs and “Dual” folk group along with Face The West, The Tumbling Souls, and Skippinish, the headline act. 

On Twitter, the Dileab 2019 organisers said: “A fantastic night ended with our headliners Skipinnish who were brilliant. The crowd loved it and the kids really enjoyed singing with them. Huge thanks to Derek Pluto for being an excellent MC and all the bands and performers for taking part in Dileab2019.”  Along with Derek ‘Pluto’ they emphasised that the next outing for the choirs and musicians is at a major Celtic Connections event in Glasgow next month. 

On Twitter, Dileab 2019 organiser Evelyn Coull said: “A huge thank you to the pupils, teachers, tutors, musicians and families who made the evening so brilliant.”

Earlier Rhona Johnstone had tweeted: “This is my Friday. The big day has arrived. Dileab2019 and all the hard work has paid off.  Delighted to have Skipinnish with us for our big gig tonight. Emotional moment listening to the band and school choirs singing the Iolaire song at sound check.”

There will be more Dileab events during 2020 as part of the national year of Coasts and Waters under the title Dìleab: Air a' Chuan.


A massive oil drilling platform has become a temporary seamark in the middle of the Minch as it awaits clearance to complete a five-month journey around the world.

The Ocean GreatWhite completed virtually a full circuit of Lewis and Harris over Christmas, on the last leg of a journey that has brought her from Singapore via Las Palmas, under tow by the offshore supply vessel Alp Defender.

She gave the west coast of Lewis a wide berth and rounded Ness late on Saturday (December 29th), moving into her current position yesterday afternoon (Sunday December 30th). She’s now anchored within viewing distance of residents of Point and Lochs and close to the Stornoway Ullapool ferry route.

A team of explosives experts have been called to Rodel in south Harris after reports of suspected ordnance on the shore just below the former Rodel Hotel.
Coastguard volunteers were asked to check the reported silver cylinder, spotted above high water mark on the shoreline around 12.30pm on Sunday (December 30th).
The incident is being co-ordinated by police and the Explosives Ordnance Department are sending a team from Glasgow, who are due to deal with the object tomorrow (Tuesday January 1st).

People joining the mv Loch Seaforth for the Iolaire commemoration sailing in Stornoway Harbour tomorrow have been warned that they must remember to be on time, to bring their tickets and fill the tickets in properly.

A total of 250 free places on the ferry were made available to view the centenary commemoration of the Iolaire tragedy from the sea beyond the Beasts of Holm, with priority given to people with mobility issues who would have no other way of gaining access to take part.

NHS Western Isles Nurse Director Chris Anne Campbell has taken retirement following almost 40 years of service to the National Health Service.

“I am proud of our health services,” Chris Anne said. “It has some challenges, but I’m very proud to have been involved in so many things which have brought the service forward.”

A gasp of astonishment was the universal reaction from people crammed into An Lanntair’s Gallery on Saturday afternoon (December 29th) for the launch of Margaret Ferguson’s amazing artistic tour-de-force, Iolaire 100.

More than 100 paintings – all dedicated to and derived from the Iolaire disaster and almost all being portraits of victims from across Lewis and Harris – form the show.

These are the product of more than three years of work – and are a feat of inspiration that few could hope to match.

The timetable relating to Iolaire Remembrance in Carloway District, on January 1st 2019 is:

2am – The Carloway Free Church bell will be rung to mark the approximate time that the Iolaire grounded.

The first event on Tuesday January 1st 2019 to make the centenary of the HMY Iolaire disaster takes place in Tarbert.

It may be the cup that cheers, but it seems tea is no longer the beverage of choice for travellers with ferry operator, CalMac.
Latest figures released by the company show that over the summer season it sold more than twice as many cups of coffee than the more traditional choice of hot drink.

A special, Community Iolaire Commemoration Service will be held at 11am on Tuesday 1st January 2019 in Bernera Church of Scotland, Great Bernera. 

At the conclusion of this service wreaths will be laid at Breacleit War Memorial.

The centenary of the Iolaire tragedy is being commemorated with a series of exhibitions, musical compositions and memorial services. 

The Sandwick Hall exhibition tells the story of the disaster with specific references to the local areas of Point through to Sandwick and Stornoway.  The exhibition will be open on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 2pm until 5pm and Thursdays from 2pm until 8pm. Pictured above, by Chris Murray, the Beasts of Holm, site of the disaster.

On December 28th 1918, the new Parliamentary constituency of the Western Isles returned its first Member of Parliament.

Former Labour MP and Government minister Brian Wilson tells www.welovestornoway.com about this largely forgotten centenary

The past year has provided a steady flow of centenary commemorations, all related to the closing stages of the First World War and, in the case of Lewis and Harris, its terrible immediate aftermath.

Less attention has been paid to events which were unfolding at home, far removed from theatres of war.

A search was launched in Tarbert yesterday (Thursday December 27th) for the defibrillator from outside the CalMac offices in the port, which had vanished from its storage box.

A big appeal was made on social media for its return…and it was later located in the nearby car park.

Highlands & Islands (including Moray) MSP and road safety campaigner, David Stewart, re-launched his social media campaign in relation to driving this winter called SNOW.

A 56-year-old man was arrested in Stornoway town centre in the early hours of Christmas Day (Tuesday December 25th) and spent part of his Christmas morning in custody.
The man was charged with being drunk and disorderly and with possession of a class B drug, and was kept in custody until sober. He was released after receiving a recorded police warning over his behaviour.

NHS boards in Scotland should be banned from buying fax machines and a date should be made for them to be phased out entirely, says a Highlands and Islands MSP.

David Stewart, Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, previously asked health boards in Scotland how many had fax machines and was shocked to discover that more than 1,200 were still in use across the country.

The Department of Health in England has now banned the buying of machines and said their use should be phased out by 2020.

New Year's Day Church Service - Order of Service
(Commencing at noon) 
1. Psalm 
2. Prayer 
3. Bible Reading 

A search for a missing person continued through much of today Wednesday December 26th) in Stornoway, according to Western Isles Police.

The search began at 6.41am, when a report came in to police of the person missing. Additional crews were called to assist from the Coastguard service at 9.45am and from Fire Scotland at 10.45am.

The main B895 road at Coll was closed for a time following a two-vehicle accident this afternoon (Wednesday December 26th) at around 2.30pm.

Eye-witnesses said there was fuel spilled at the site, which meant the road had to be closed between Back and Tong.

Police, fire and ambulance crews attended the accident and some of those involved were taken to hospital by ambulance as a precautionary measure.

Police said the road has now (4.50pm) completely re-opened.

Nearly 25,000 1kg salmon escaped from a fish-farm off Barra in November, according to a report submitted to Marine Scotland this month (December 2018).

New and ‘robust’ equipment installed by Marine Harvest at the Hellisay sea site was not up to the battering the site took from storms during November, and the fish escaped from torn netting in a single cage.

The company said they had reported the weather conditions and the potential for escape on November 11th, and when staff were able to access the site safely their inventory confirmed that 24,572 salmon, each weighing approximately 1.1kg, had escaped from one cage.

There was an early Christmas present for one Stornoway family as baby Florence Macmillan made her arrival at lunchtime on Christmas Eve.

A first child for mum, musician Jane Hepburn Macmillan, who works for the Harris Tweed Authority and dad, joiner Kevin Macmillan, Florence had been expected to arrive on Boxing Day.

She’s already made her first stage appearances as a bump affectionately known as ‘baby HepMac’, with Jane continuing her performances right up to December, when she was on stage with Colin Macleod at An Lanntair and as one of the musicians in the Dileab concert at Ionad Spòrs Leòdhais. Mum, dad and baby HepMac have also featured in a video blog throughout Jane’s pregnancy.

The main B895 road at Coll is currently closed following a two-vehicle accident.
Police and ambulance crews are at the scene of the accident, which happened at about 2.30pm.
Police will update as soon as the road re-opens.
Police were active in Stornoway over the busy pre-Christmas weekend, and a number of people were charged with offences.
At 5.30pm on Friday (December 21st) police were called to Perceval Road in the town, where a 19-year-old man was arrested and taken into custody. He was charged with breach of the peace, vandalism, police assault and possession of a class B drug and was kept in custody until sober. A report has been submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.

Stornoway’s Salvation Army is gearing up to serve Christmas dinner for up to 50 people tomorrow (December 25th) with an open invitation to anyone to come and join them. 

The annual dinner served by members of the Stornoway corps is aimed at making sure nobody has to be alone or hungry on Christmas day, with families and anyone who has no plans for Christmas lunch urged to come and share the company. A spokesman encouraged people who are undecided: 

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The weekend’s fine, still weather proved just perfect for some pre-Christmas activity in Stornoway town centre and out on the waters of the harbour.

On Saturday (December 22nd) a crowd of runners in Santa suits took to the streets of Stornoway for the annual Santa run.

Meanwhile Western Isles skiffs and rowers gathered for a festive row in the harbour on the calm waters of Stornoway harbour.

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Christmas is going with a swing for the over 60s in Point and Sandwick thanks to donations totalling £3,100 from Point and Sandwick Trust.

The community wind farm charity gave festive grants to three friendship groups for the over 60s so they could put on Christmas parties without having to worry about the cost.

Tarbert will be in festive mood tomorrow (Saturday December 22nd) as Santa leads his parade through the village on his way to his grotto.

The annual Santa parade starts at 4pm at Tigh mo Sheannar and there’ll be a merry band of fantastical companions accompanying the great man, as he’s pulled around the streets on his sleigh by members of the volunteer Coastguard Rescue Teams.

Police Scotland have released more details about a report of dangerous driving in Stornoway, in a bid to find the person or people responsible.

A silver Skoda Octavia car was reported stolen in the Newvalley area in the early hours of Tuesday morning (December 18th).

On Friday, 14th December, North Tolsta Historical Society declared their new premises at the Schoolhouse open with a special Iolaire Commemoration Exhibition.

The building was full to capacity with schoolchildren, parents, grandparents and friends eager to see the refurbished schoolhouse.

On behalf of the Comann Eachdraidh, Murdo Morrison, The Anchorage, and Iain Angie Murray, son of Domhnall (Brus) Murray, presented each child with a boxed Iolaire Pin Brooch.

The family of a Barra RNLI lifeboatman have pledged to make 2019 the year that he and his crewmates get the recognition they deserve, 40 years after a shout where the whole crew nearly lost their lives.

Lifelong RNLI supporter and fundraiser Christine Macintyre has just (December 11th) received a promise from the RNLI that the crew of the 1970s lifeboat R A Colby Cubbin No.3 will be recognised, with a plaque on the future lifeboat station due to be built in Castlebay.

But she still believes that individual RNLI medals should be awarded to every man in the crew of eight, in recognition of exceptional service on the night of November 18th 1979.

Labour in the Western Isles has slammed the SNP government for again cutting the cash available to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to provide vital services.

Alison MacCorquodale, the Labour Party’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the Western Isles, said:  "On a direct comparison, the Comhairle will be £400,000 worse off next year than at present.

"However, the situation is worse than that since there is a further £2m of the Comhairle's allocation which is ring-fenced for SNP priorities which do not accord with the most urgent needs facing the Western Isles".

Stornoway police are asking for public help in tracing two men who were seen to smash windows at a home using a ladder last night (Wednesday December 19th).

A resident of Cearn Flodaidh was at home at 7.30pm when two panes of glass in his back door and two ground floor windows were smashed with a ladder, which was being carried by two men wearing dark clothes and with their hoods up.

Barra schoolgirl Catriona O’Carroll will be flying the flag for Scotland from January 2019, after being selected for the national Under-14s team.

Catriona, of Earsary, who has just celebrated her 12thbirthday, will be attending training at the Toryglen football training centre, across the road from Hampden Park in Glasgow, from the end of January onwards. She’ll also travel for international matches – fixtures will be published in January.

CalMac has joined 40 organisations from across the UK to pledge to take action to tackle the challenges of climate change.

The company has signed up to the Prince of Wales’ ‘Waste to Wealth Commitment’ organised by his responsible business network, Business in the Community.

Leaders from business, government, academia and civil society joined the Prince at the initiative’s launch in London. The pledge is designed to help tackle the challenges of climate change by committing to actions to prevent the destruction of natural habitats. The target is to double the nation’s resource productivity by using them more efficiently and to reduce avoidable waste by 2030.

The 2018 Crofting Census will be issued on Monday 7 January 2019.

The Crofters (Scotland) Act 1993 stipulates all crofting tenants and owner-occupier crofters have a legal obligation to complete and return their census form to the Crofting Commission.

Rod Mackenzie, Convener, said: “Last year saw a 14% decrease in the number of forms returned whereas in previous years the percentage was increasing.

A petition seeking escort expenses when patients travel for life-changing medical treatment looks set to burst through its 1,500-signature target, less than a week after being launched.

A consortium of Western Isles patient support groups, including organisations from Lewis to Barra, got together to launch the petition, which calls on NHS Western Isles to review their policy on patient escort travel expenses.

The petition on change.org opened on Friday (December 14th) and is gathering pace, with signatories added by the minute. An initial target of 1,000 signatures was passed on Tuesday (December 18th) and a new target of 1,500 signatures now looks highly likely to be reached later today.

The Pairc Trust are celebrating a Christmas bonus for their community-owned estate, after picking up the keys to the old care unit in Gravir yesterday (Tuesday December 18th).

Exchange of contracts yesterday meant that not only are the Trust ‘in for Christmas’ at the property, but that renovation work can start and be completed next year, allowing two families to take up tenancy in the building by Christmas 2019.

Police activity in Lewis has led to the arrest of three people for drugs offences this week.

At 10.25pm on Sunday (16th December) a 37-year-old man was searched in Stornoway under the the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. He was found to be in possession of a class A drugs in sufficient quantity for supply to others, and of a large amount of cash. 

Primary school children are being offered ‘sport and elf’ activities on Christmas Eve, while the grown-ups finish preparing for Santa’s arrival.

On Monday December 24th there are activities at Ionad Spòrs Leòdhais from 10am, with morning sessions in sports and water confidence for P1 and P2 children (10am to 11.30am) and P 3 and P4 children (11.15am to 12.45pm).

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan recently visited the Stornoway delivery office to see first-hand the operation of delivering Christmas post and to pass on early Season’s Greetings to its dedicated, hardworking staff.

The islands MSP was shown around the office by Delivery Office Manager Andrew MacDonald and was introduced to the local posties, who will be pulling out all the stops to sort and deliver mail across the Western Isles in the forthcoming busy Christmas period.

Early bird tickets for Hebridean Celtic Festival 2019 have sold out, it was announced today (Tuesday December 18th).

The tickets for HebCelt 2019, set for July 17th to 20th, were available in limited numbers at last year’s prices of £93 for a weekend pass and £30 for children.

Larger coaches are being brought into to improve journeys for Inverness-Ullapool passengers

  • Changes to 961 service provide more seats for passengers
  • 61-seat coaches replace 49 seaters
  • Vehicles replaced following customer and stakeholder feedback
  • Service improvements in place from Monday (17th December)

A pile of Santa suits is gathered at Ionad Spòrs Leòdhais awaiting the runners setting out on Saturday’s (December 22nd) annual Santa run in Stornoway town centre.

The suits in sizes large and small are available to runners and walkers who’ll be making the streets festive and raising money for the Lewis branch of Cancer Research UK at the same time.

Travellers wishing to head to the mainland from Barra were being urged to ‘travel today if possible’ (Tuesday December 18th) by CalMac, with continued weather disruption on the ferries forecast.

Today’s ferry from Castlebay to Oban was retimed to midday, arriving Oban at 1700.

The Darkest Dawn author Malcolm Macdonald’s book signing event in Point yesterday afternoon (Monday December 17th) was a great success, with staff from Buth an Rubha having to rush out to get extra copies to keep up with demand.

People who had bought the book on the Iolaire tragedy queued for the author's signature and commemorative inscriptions as it emerged that publishers Acair are looking at doing a third print run in January, because of demand.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil is asking constituents to name and shame companies who charge excess delivery charges to the islands.

Working with cross party colleagues in the House of Commons, Mr MacNeil is seeking assistance from the people of the islands to compile a list to be presented to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has announced this year’s winner of the annual school competition to design his official Christmas Card.

The winner was chosen from among hundreds of different entries from primary schools across the Western Isles.

Stornoway’s drugs detection dog Jaxx was with police officers on Friday (December 14th) when a drugs warrant was executed at an address on the outskirts of Stornoway.

The work of the police team led to arrest of a man aged 34, and he was charged with possession of drugs.

The man is to be reported to the Procurator Fiscal.


Befriending Lewis celebrated a true milestone on Saturday (December 15th) as small-change donations completed a mile of pennies collected for the group.

The charity, which tackles loneliness and isolation by providing group activities and one-to-one befriending support, set out to make a mile of donated pennies in July this year.

The oil tanker Sarnia Liberty returned to Stornoway harbour today (Sunday December 16th) after losing steering in heavy seas just off Stornoway.

The 80-metre-long vessel was leaving port just before 1am, after discharging her load of fuel oil, when she contacted Stornoway Coastguard to say she had difficulty with her steering mechanism and was not able to go to sea.

Local charity Falmadair (Gaelic for tiller) is holding a raffle to raise funds for equipment and running costs for the four traditional sailing skiffs based in Stornoway.

Falmadair was originally set up to work with Comunn Eachdraidh Nis to look after the Sgoth Niseach Jubilee after her first renovation in the late 1970s.

Jubilee SY233 was built in 1934 by John Finlay Macleod, the man who swam ashore with the rope from the stricken Iolaire on the morning of 1st January 1919. The 1970’s renovations were carried out by his son, John Murdo Macleod. Sadly, John Murdo passed away recently at the age of 96. He has left a legacy of beautiful boats and passed on his skills and inspiration to many people during his time as a teacher.

The community group leading the development of the 40km coastal path from Stornoway all the way round the peninsula of Point holds their AGM today (Tuesday, December 18) at 2pm.

The meeting, in the offices of Point and Sandwick Trust at the Old School in Knock, is an opportunity for the Point and Sandwick Coastal Community Path group, a registered charity, to review the start of the £1million project as the first phase nears completion.

Demand for the latest and most comprehensive book on the Iolaire tragedy is so high that another reprint is being planned.

And 'The Darkest Dawn' author Malcolm Macdonald will be doing a book signing event in Point at 3pm tomorrow (Monday December 17).

A great exuberance of music and song; sombre two-minute silence; a heart-rending list of villages and victims and a line-up of talented performers ranging from Primary School pupils to those for whom that is an all-too distant memory…

That was the formula for the Dìleab concert, hosted by The Nicolson Institute and the Comhairle nan Eiean Siar Department of Education, Sport & Children’s Services, which took place last night (Friday, 14th December 2018) at Ionad Spòrs Leòdhais.

David MacBrayne, parent company of CalMac Ferries, has reported another year of increasing passenger numbers as the total for the group broke through the 5.5 million barrier in 2017/18.

The transport and harbour operator’s continuing carrying growth is helping deliver social and economic benefits for the communities it serves, the company says.

The first cross country race in the Stornoway Running and Athletics Club season is tomorrow (Saturday December 15th) with a massive field of 255 entries.

Saturday's race one in the Lewis and Harris cross country series is sponsored by I A & C Maciver and Woody’s Express Parcels and will be photographed by Iain James sports photographers.

SRAC officials described the entry level as ‘outstanding’.

A Harris councillor says the reprieve for mobile library services in the Western Isles is ‘just the start’ of a long battle to protect services against budget cuts.

Councillors voted 16/12 in favour of an amendment tabled by Councillor John Mitchell at the full meeting of the Comhairle on Wednesday night (December 12th) in which he suggested keeping the mobile library service and buying new vans to maintain its future. Council officers had instead recommended replacing mobile library services with ‘community hubs’, manned by volunteers and offering a range of services.

Weather warnings have been issued for much of mainland Scotland ahead of heavy snow and blizzards this weekend (Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th December).

Strong south-south-easterly winds mean cancellations to the Stornoway Ullapool ferry today (Friday December 14th) with a very high risk of more disruption tomorrow.

Tonight’s 5.30pm sailing from Ullapool has been cancelled, as has the freight sailing from Stornoway at 10.30pm tonight.

Strong winds mean ferry cancellations for Barra today (Friday December 14th) with the services between Castlebay and Oban cancelled for the day.

The Sound of Barra (Ardmhor to Eriskay) ferry is suspended for the morning, with a review due at 1pm on the resumption of services.

The forecast today is for strong gale force south-easterly winds, gusting up to 53mph this afternoon, and for gusts up to storm force 10 tomorrow (Saturday).

Patients receiving life-changing diagnoses and treatments should be treated with more compassion by the Western Isles Health Board, according to a group of patient support organisations.

A petition is being launched today (Friday December 14th) by the group, pleading for better understanding and a smoother system when patients ask for help with travel costs for escorts travelling with them to mainland appointments.

Scottish government budget proposals mean more cash for Island health services – but less for industrial development across the Highlands and Islands.

And the entire plan depends on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. 

The draft budget announcement says health services in the islands will receive a £2.7m boost next year.  

Stormy weather and ferry cancellations are affecting tonight’s Iolaire memorial concert in Stornoway.

Castlebay School from Barra has had to pull out of the event, tweeting: “So disappointed we won’t make it, hope it all goes well.”

Cleascro Road in Lochs is currently closed, Highland & Islands Police Division have announced.

At 15.10 today (Thursday 13 December) police said the Cleascro Road between Cameron Terrace and Achmore is currently closed following a road traffic incident involving a lorry tipping over.

The closure will be in place until appropriate recovery can be arranged.

Do you have any old jars of coins or pennies rattling about in a drawer? Why not donate them to the Befriending Lewis mile of pennies fundraiser!

They only need 8000 more coins to reach the target of one mile and will be in Iceland in Stornoway on Saturday. If you cannot make it down to Iceland on Saturday why not drop of your bags of spare coins to them at their office at Third Sector Hebrides, 30 Francis Street.

Weather warnings have been issued for much of mainland Scotland ahead of heavy snow and blizzards this weekend (Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th December).

Although the islands look set to avoid the worst of the winter weather, there could be disruption to flights as well as to mainland travel services on trains and buses. 

The first acts for next year’s Hebridean Celtic Festival have been confirmed as the event has been shortlisted for another leading award.

Tide Lines, Talisk and FARA will be part of the line-up for the 2019 HebCelt which will be held from 17-20 July in Stornoway.

Tide Lines, who are appearing in two sold-out shows in Stornoway last night (12 December) and are due in Tarbert tonight, will be returning to HebCelt for the third successive year, this time as headliners on the Thursday evening, two years after making their festival debut.


Two kindly giraffes are looking for a new home with children who will love them, just in time for Christmas.

The hand-carved rocking giraffes are the handiwork of Lochs woodworker Richard Swift and will soon be completed with Harris Tweed saddles, manes and tails, ready to set off to their new homes.

Richard’s put the beautiful toys up as raffle prizes, with tickets going on sale from tomorrow (Thursday December 13th). The raffle’s part of his fundraising venture, the Wallace and Gromit Foundation, and will be raising funds for terminally-ill children through the charity Elizabeth’s Footprint.

Footballers will gather in force on Saturday night (December 15th) for the annual Lewis and Harris Football Association awards night.

LHFA player of the year awards and league medals will be presented at the home of 2019 league champions Point FC, Ionad Stoodie in Garrabost, with the evening’s guest speaker Sgire an Rubha councillor and former player Alasdair Macleod. 

Two kindly giraffes are looking for a new home with children who will love them, just in time for Christmas.

The hand-carved rocking giraffes are the handiwork of Lochs-based woodworker Richard Swift and will soon be completed with Harris Tweed saddles, manes and tails, ready to set off to their new homes.

Volunteers and co-ordinators at the Eilean Siar Foodbank last night (Tuesday December 11th) completed the mammoth collection and packing of food boxes for people at risk of going hungry at Christmas.

Leverburgh lifeboat was called out by Stornoway Coastguard yesterday (Tuesday December 11th) afternoon, after reports that a fishing vessel was in trouble off Bernera.

The skipper of the fishing boat Ceol na Mara, working alone off Bernera, called for help at 2.43pm when the propeller of his vessel was fouled by rope, leaving him unable to make any progress.

A remembrance row for the Iolaire is to be held on 2nd January departing Cuddy Point at 12 noon. The Western Isles St Ayles Skiffs will head to the Beasts of Holm, where they expect to arrive by 2pm to release small paper boats with a light and the name of one of the men lost in each of them. Spectators are welcome, a good view point will be from the Iolaire Monument, please wrap up warm.

The group of skiffs is made up from various island groups: Florence (Row-Flo), Fir-chlis (Westside rowers), Yackydoola (An Eathar), Blue Moon (Staran) and Madadh Ruadh (Stornoway rowers). For more information contact Rosemary Macritchie - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Anna Mackenzie - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


A wreath is to be taken down to the wreck of the Iolaire on New Year’s Day 2019 as a ‘humble and respectful tribute’ to the men who lost their lives when the ship sank 100 years ago.

Former Royal Navy diver Chris Murray has secured permission from the Scottish Commemorations Panel and from local organisations including coastguard, police and Stornoway Port Authority to make his dive soon after the close of the memorial service on January 1st.

Chris has dived at the wreck site on numerous occasions and his photographs and filmed record underwater are the only images of the wreck as it now is, 100 years after the tragedy.

Harris Football Club is to return to competitions in the 2019 season, competing for the first time since 2014.

A social media announcement on Saturday (December 8th) heralded the senior team’s intention to take its place in the Lewis and Harris League and cup competitions after a five-year absence.

The club, first established in 1920, has been resigned to occasional appearances in friendly matches and as part of the Eilean an Fhraoich cup competition, but struggled to achieve good results with so little playing time as a team. Their last appearance was in June when they beat Ness 4-3 in the second leg of the Eilean an Fhraoich cup, still losing 4-10 on aggregate. That team are pictured below at Rally Park in Tarbert.

Stornoway Rugby Club junior teams were away on the mainland at the weekend (Saturday December 8th), with the under 14s and under 16s travelling to Invergordon to take on Ross Sutherland.

The U14’s had a cracking game, full of action, winning 65-21 against Ross Sutherland. U16’s had a couple of players missing and were caught cold, going 17-0 down within the first 10 minutes. A further three tries and a conversion from Ross Sutherland left the half time score at 34-0, but a much-improved performance in the second half at least kept the scoreline there.

An adventurer walking the whole coast of the UK has appealed for help from the people of Lewis and Harris, after stepping off the ferry in Stornoway on Wednesday (December 5th).

An adventurer walking the whole coast of the UK has appealed for help from the people of Lewis and Harris, after stepping off the ferry in Stornoway on Wednesday (December 5th).

Chris Lewis, an ex-serviceman who has been through challenges since leaving the armed forces, has been trekking the length and breadth of the UK since summer 2017. He’s raising funds for the armed forces charity SSAFA and is accompanied on his walk by his dog, Jet.

He’s decided to remain in the Western Isles for the whole winter, to ensure he covers every inch of the coast, but after suffering a mouth infection and having a tooth removed, Chris has realised that he’s going to need help to make sure he gets through winter safely.

On Sunday (December 8th) he set off from Stornoway to walk up towards Ness, at the same time putting out a plea to islanders to help with the logistics of his island winter.

Chris said: “Good people of Stornoway, I need your help. I cannot physically carry the amount of food needed for our next leg and want to walk every inch of this coast so I’m looking for anyone who may be able to assist with drop offs at chosen points along the route, where I can cut in off the coast and meet you on a road to re-supply.”

He’s asking for people to contact him via his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/chriswalksuk/or via his website chriswalks.com if they can help.

Apart from the logistics, Chris is setting his sights on a memorable visit to the islands. He’s already walked the coasts of Barra and the Uists, and now intends to visit every cove and bay in Lewis and Harris.

He said: “It’s always been on my mind that I’ve wanted to be in the Outer Hebrides and here it is – yeah we’re going to be here through the winter and it’s going to be hard work, but it’s all been hard work!

“All of a sudden here I am arriving in Stornoway to go and see what I think will be possibly some of the most beautiful places in the United Kingdom. I cannot tell you how happy I am.”


Our picture shows Chris and Jet in Barra earlier this year.


Winter weather couldn’t spoil the spectacle of the Christmas lights switch-on in Stornoway on Friday evening (December 7th) – especially as the town centre gained two new landmarks.

Police, the RNLI lifeboat crew, Barra fire crews and Coastguard Rescue Team volunteers worked together to trace a man missing in the Northbay area of Barra on Saturday evening (December 8th).

Police called for assistance from other services after the man, described as ‘high risk’, was reported missing from an address in Northbay.

A ground-floor flat was left with a smashed glass door pane in the early hours of Sunday morning (December 9th).

Stornoway police were called to the address on Plantation Road soon after midnight to reports that the main entrance to the flat had its window broken.

Cooking is the 'Number One' cause of Scotland’s 5,000 accidental house fires a year.

The elderly are most at risk – in 2016/17, 52 per cent of house fire deaths were of people aged 60 and over.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) say many of the most serious fires leading to injury or death result from people cooking while under the influence of alcohol, or when they are over-tired.

Lewis and Harris residents young and old are smiling bright as NHSWI Dental Centre announces the end of its patient registration waiting list.

Meanwhile, the first new dental practice to establish in Lewis in 30 years gears up to open its doors; and national inspection results reveal island school pupils’ teeth in excellent condition.

Air traffic control centralisation need not be in Inverness, MSP Rhoda Grant told MSPs on Thursday (December 6th).

At General Questions  in the Scottish Parliament, the Highlands & Islands Regional Labour MSP questioned the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Michael Matheson, in relation to the centralisation programme being proposed for Air Traffic Control.

Rhoda said “ I asked the Cabinet Secretary if the proposal to centralise Air Traffic Control  was island-proofed, if an impact assessment had been carried out and if he would reverse this decision, which was to base the HIAL Central Air Traffic Control System in Inverness.

Following the successful launch of the Islands Athlete Travel Award Scheme in March 2018 up to eight élite athletes from the Outer Hebrides are again set to benefit from the continuation of the pilot scheme designed to support travel costs in the islands.

The aim of this scheme is to help the élite athletes of the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland to gain better access to competitive and developmental opportunities available on the mainland.

Eight individuals could benefit in the Outer Hebrides with £1,500 available per person this year.

The ‘Clann an Là Dè’ (Yesterday’s Children) older people’s group from Shawbost, Lewis, had a good natter with Karen Peteranna, NHS Western Isles Health Improvement Practitioner, recently about opportunities for physical activity and the challenges to being physically active.

Physical active can have many benefits to your health, improve your sleep, help maintain a healthy weight and manage stress. 

Scottish and Southern Electricity Network engineers are working on two faults caused by gales today (Friday December 7th), with around 150 customers currently without power in Lewis and Harris.
A power pole has come down at Gravir in South Lochs, leaving a handful of homes without electricity. That fault was reported at 8.15am and power is expected to be restored about 5pm tonight.
In Harris, 147 customers in the Bays are still without power after overhead lines came down. Engineers are on site and power is expected to be restored by 2.30pm.
SSEN apologised for inconvenience to the customers affected.
The big Christmas lights switch-on in Stornoway town centre is set to go ahead tonight (Friday December 7th), despite the rough weather, with an amended programme to help keep everyone dry.
Organisers said the Christmas switch-on had gone to ‘plan B’, with all the events going ahead within the Town Hall, plus added activities indoors.
Not to be outdone by the luxury trees at the Harris Tweed Authority and at the Isle of Harris Distillers, Lewis Tyre Services has created their own characterful version of the definitive Christmas tree.
The tyre tree with a smile on its face is the artistic work of Lewis Tyre Services employee Mark Macpherson, who was easily persuaded to pose with his creation.
That might be the winner of this year’s challenge!
There are ferry cancellations and power cuts today (Friday December 7th) as stormy winds sweep across the islands.
High tide this morning coincided with the strongest winds and police called on Coastguard teams to help them close the Braighe from 8.30am. A convoy system was operated before and after the closure, with sweepers removing debris from the carriageway. Western Isles police said the road is now (10am) fully open, and Coastguards said there is some spray, but winds are diminishing.
 The Isle of Barra is on a short-term lockdown as storm winds sweep across from the Atlantic, with transport services suspended this morning (Friday December 7th).
Ferry services have been cancelled between Ardmhor and Eriskay, with a review due at 1pm, and there is no sailing between Castlebay and Oban.
MacNeil Coaches have suspended all public bus services on the grounds of safety, with a review at lunchtime in the hope of running the 13.20 service, weather permitting. All school buses have also been suspended.
However, flights from Glasgow to Barra are currently expected to depart as scheduled.
Barra is experiencing wind speeds gusting over 70mph this morning, with the forecast showing continued gales, diminishing in strength through the day.
A Met Office weather warning and a SEPA flood warning are in place for the remainder of the day, and SSEN are on storm alert in case of any power supply issues. 
Engineers from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) headed for the Bays of Harris this morning (Friday December 7th) to find the source of a power cut which has hit homes in the area.
147 properties in Lickisto, Finsbay, Manish and Rodel are without power, reporting the loss just after 7.30am this morning as winds built in strength.
SSEN said an engineering team were due at the site around 10am to identify the problem, and hoped to have power restored by 11.30am. They apologised to customers affected by the outage.

New research from Citizens Advice Scotland has found that 1 in 4 people who responded to their survey from the Western Isles say they can’t afford to eat balanced meals and are worried about food running out before there is money to buy more.

The 'Bringing Food to the Table' report from Citizens Advice Scotland is based on survey responses from 2,651 people across Scotland, with more than 200 responses from the Western Isles area.

People filled in an online survey or a paper version in their local Citizens Advice Bureau, in September and October this year.

There are plans for action to improve road safety in Assaye Place, Stornoway – a long running issue of concern for local residents.

Councillors at this week’s meeting of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee agreed that a Traffic Regulation Order should be implemented that would prevent vehicular access to Assaye Place from Willowglen Road, except for local access, for a trial period of eight months.

Trading standards officials at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are advising residents not to respond to a scam Euromillions Commonwealth Lottery letter currently in circulation in  the islands.

The letter “notifies” the recipients that they have won £490,000 in a Dublin lottery, the letter has an Australian address and a Gold Coast 2018 logo on the top right hand corner.

A severe weather warning from the Met Office was updated this morning (Thursday December 6th) and now predicts a ‘high likelihood of lower impacts’ in the Western Isles area tomorrow, Friday.

The updated yellow ‘be aware’ warning predicts strongest winds from about 5am until midnight tomorrow, with possible impacts including transport disruption, short-term power interruptions and spray or waves affecting coastal routes.

The chief forecaster said: “A deep depression will move eastwards across northern Scotland on Friday bringing widespread gales. Inland gusts of 50-60 mph are likely quite widely, with gusts of 70-80 mph in exposed locations across northwest Scotland. Heavy rainfall may be an additional hazard across parts of northern and western Scotland.”

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With the big Christmas switch-on coming up in Stornoway on Friday (December 7th) some people further afield have been trying to show how it’s done with creative takes on the Christmas tree.

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One of Stornoway’s landmark buildings for young people is under threat of closure, with supporters launching an appeal today (Tuesday December 4th) to ‘Heal our Hall’.

The unassuming building of the Scout and Guide Hall on Keith Street has provided decades of activity and safe space for young people in the Scout and Guide movements and beyond. Up to 220 youngsters still use the hall every week, but its physical condition is fast deteriorating and needs urgent refurbishment.

Primary school children in Gaelic Medium Education will be treated to the extraordinary tale of Seocan agus am Bogsa-ciùil (Seocan and the Accordion) from tomorrow (Wednesday December 5th) as the Gaelic language pantomime tours the Western Isles.

Fèisean nan Gàidheal brought the live stage performance to Castlebay Community School yesterday, and will be at Sir E Scott School in Tarbert tomorrow morning (Wednesday) to give pupils from Harris primary schools the chance to watch the fantastic story of how a boy called Seocan tries to earn some money for Christmas with the help of a Highland genie and a less-than-giant giant called Murdanaidh Mòr.

 The Isle of Harris learnt with sadness yesterday (Monday December 3rd) of the death of one of Harris Tweed industry’s great supporters, Maureen Mackay of the Luskentyre Harris Tweed Company.

Maureen came to Harris on holiday from her home in Rugby, Warwickshire and met her husband, the celebrated tweed weaver Donald John Mackay, during her visit. Their marriage provided tremendous support to both and helped the expansion of Donald John’s business to reach royalty and international fame.

The first taste of winter brought casualties this morning (Tuesday December 4th) as temperatures fell to as low as -5ºc in Lewis.

A 51-year-old woman who slipped and fell on icy pavements on Seaforth Road was discovered by Coastguard officers heading to work this morning.


The Met Office yellow 'be aware' warning of very strong winds on Friday was updated at 9.55am today (Wednesday) and now predicts gales affecting the whole of the Western Isles.

The Chief Forecaster said: "A weather system will move eastwards across the north of the UK on Friday bringing widespread gales. Inland gusts of 60-70 mph are possible across north Wales, northern England, northern Ireland and all of Scotland, with gusts of 80 mph in exposed locations in northern Scotland. There remains some uncertainty in the track of this system and where the strongest winds will occur. Heavy rainfall may be an additional hazard across parts of northern and western Scotland."

CalMac has advised that Friday's (7th December) sailing from Castlebay to Oban and return has been brought forward to tomorrow (Thursday 6th December) due to the forecast wind conditions on Friday.

The new timetable for Thursday is:

Depart Castlebay 1100
Arrive Oban 1600

Depart Oban 1700
Arrive Castlebay 2200

Sailing times are approximate and foot passengers are asked to ensure they check in 30 minutes before sailing. (Updated Wednesday 5th December at 4pm.)

Loganair have also made plans for possible travel disruption on Friday, offering booked passengers on all flights that day the opportunity to adjust travel plans without charge. Passengers who wish to change their plans can re-book on an alternative flight between now and Friday 14th December with no change fee or difference in fare payable, as long as there is a seat available.

Robert Currie from Scottish Salmon presents Uist and Barra Foodbank volunteers Katie Walker and Gavin Elliott with new scales

The Scottish Salmon Company (SSC) has supported the Uist and Barra Foodbank, based on the Isle of Benbecula, with two new sets of scales, following its latest round of Community Fund awards.

Uist and Barra Foodbank make an emergency 3-day supply of food and toiletries available to those in need, as well as offering advice to explore issues and suggest possible solutions.  The Foodbank also works with partner organisations to help users grow their own fruit and vegetables, which can aid good mental health.

Highlands and Islands Green MSP John Finnie has pledged his support to the crofters who will be facing EDF Energy in the Scottish Land Court next week.

He said: “It’s an easy call, to be honest. Let’s see, local folk or a multinational corporation? It’s no contest, really.”

The four crofting townships of Sandwick North Street; Melbost and Branahuie; Sandwick East Street and Lower Sandwick; and Aignish are making final preparations with their lawyers ahead of the Land Court’s first hearing in their case, being held in Stornoway on December 12 and 13. 

Bus services across Lewis and Harris are being reviewed by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar with a view to reducing their costs.

And users are being asked to say what they think from today (Monday December 3).

The Council says:  "In recognition of the need to find nearly £10m of savings over the next four years the Comhairle agreed a service redesign programme as part of the 2018/19 Budget in February 2018.

Top piper Stuart Liddell is to do a recital in Stornoway this week.

This is part of a two-day visit which was organised by the Lewis and Harris Piping Society and funded in collaboration with the newly formed Lewis & Harris Youth Pipe Band (LHYPB) and the established Lewis Pipe Band (LPB).

Stuart will entertain the audience with a piping recital at 8pm on Friday 7th which will also feature performances from some of the island’s talented youth players. This event will now take place in the Garry Room of the Caladh Inn - not the eSgoil building. 

This event has now been cancelled.



A stalwart of the Gaelic music and culture scene has been rewarded for decades of hard work with a place in the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame.

Peigi Maclennan, now living in Newton but originally from Breasclete, was inducted into the Hall of Fame during the annual award ceremony for the MG Alba Scottish Traditional Music Awards (Na Trads) at Perth Concert Hall on Friday (November 30th).

Court for drink-driver

A 49-year-old man is to appear in court from custody on Tuesday (December 4th) following the court holiday tomorrow, Monday.

Stornoway police were called to a location in Point after receiving information regarding the man’s driving and arrested and charged him with drink driving.

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A unique collaboration between Harris Tweed Hebrides and Pakistan’s leading fashion designer has created a stunning couture collection that was showcased last night (Friday) at Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow.

Hassan Sheheryar Yasin - known as the designer HSY - was invited by UK Medical Aid to Pakistan to design a collection using the iconic fabric as the centre-piece for their annual fundraising dinner which is being held outside London for the first time. 

[gallery ID=114]

A unique collaboration between Harris Tweed Hebrides and Pakistan’s leading fashion designer has created a stunning couture collection that was showcased last night (Friday) at Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow.

Hassan Sheheryar Yasin - known as the designer HSY - was invited by UK Medical Aid to Pakistan to design a collection using the iconic fabric as the centre-piece for their annual fundraising dinner which is being held outside London for the first time. 

[gallery ID=113]

Influence in Cromwell Street brought Alasdair Allan, SNP MSP for the Western Isles, to their counter to publicise Small Business Saturday UK today (Saturday December 1).

This is a grassroots, non-commercial campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to 'shop local' and support small businesses in their communities.

Twenty years of support for children and young people in the Western Isles were celebrated on St Andrew’s Day (yesterday, Friday November 30th) with a birthday party for Action for Children Eilean Siar.

The offices in Bayhead were buzzing with staff, supporters, family and friends as the national charity marked two decades working in the islands with a cake, speeches and colourful displays showing how far they have come.

Army Reserves winter Highland tour

If you've ever wondered who the Army Reserves are and what they do, Sgt Tommy Stewart has some facts, figures and further information about their next 'Look at Life' event on the 18th of January:

"Christmas is over, the days are short, grey and cold with nothing to look forward to until Easter time, or so you thought! The Army Reserves are in town offering you a wide variety of roles and jobs that can all be undertaken in your spare time, while at the same time helping you gain vital spare cash for your summer holidays.

Some of you may have heard the phrase “Voluntary Army Reservist”, but just who are the Army Reserves and what do they do? And how do they affect me? These are questions I will get to shortly, but first I must dispel some myths about the Army Reserves.

Mrs Kay (Katherine Mary) Mackay has been awarded the MBE in the New Year’s Honours list for services to Charitable Fundraising.

Mrs Mackay is Chair of the Isle of Lewis Local Committee of Cancer Research UK and has dedicated more than 35 years to fundraising for Cancer Research UK.

Ullapool Harbour is to benefit from additional funding from the Scottish Government for a fully accessible toilet and changing facility which will be installed following the extensive renovation of a disused building at the harbour.

The new Changing Places development is being part-funded from the third round of allocations from the Ferries Accessibility Fund. The award of over £43,000 is being made on a match-funding basis.


Further ice warnings affecting Eilean Siar and the Highlands have been issued by the Met Office: Yellow warning: Ice between Thursday 28th 15:00 and Friday 29th December 12:00

Icy patches are expected to develop on Thursday night and Friday morning on some untreated roads and pavementss, as well as where showers continue to fall washing off treatment. Some injuries from slips and falls on icy surfaces are possible.

Showers of rain, sleet and snow are expected on Thursday night before largely dying out on Friday morning. The extent of ice will vary across the area with inland areas most prone whilst coastal areas exposed to the northerly winds are less likely to be affected. 1 or 2 cm of snow may accumulate above about 100 m.

Seafish, the Seafood industry body, is urging Western Isles commercial fishermen to apply for a funded place on a locally-run training course run by the Western Isles Sea Fisheries Training Association to help improve safety at sea.

The funding for free training, which is available to all commercial fishermen to refresh and advance safety knowledge and skills, is available until 31 March 2018, when current funding is due to end. It can be used to attend a wide range of locally held safety courses; from basic training and safety refreshers, to more advanced courses such as navigation, engineering and stability awareness and a Skipper qualification.

The call from Seafish comes as the industry reflects on a ten-year period that saw over 3,300 accidents involving UK fishing vessels, with over 500 fishermen suffering serious injury and almost 100 losing their lives.

The Lewis Pipe Band will be hosting their annual traditional Burns Night Supper on Saturday 27th January 2018: An evening to celebrate the life of Scottish Bàrd Robert Burns with food, drink and dance!

The night, to be held the Caladh Inn, starts at 6.30pm with a traditional three course Scottish meal, which will be followed by a ceilidh with entertainment that will ensure your feet are tapping all night long.

Tickets cost £25 per person and will be available from band members and the Caladh Inn reception from 8th January 2018.
For more information, please visit the Burns Night event page on Facebook

The Met Office have issues a Yellow (be aware) warning for ice between 15:00 today, 27th December, and 12:00 Thursday 28th December for Eilean Siar and the Highlands.

Icy patches are expected on Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Icy patches are expected to develop on untreated surfaces, pavements and where showers wash off treatment. Some injuries from slips and falls on icy surfaces may occur.

Showers of rain, sleet and snow are expected on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, with snow most likely inland away from immediate coastal areas and over hills. The extent of ice will vary across the area with inland areas most prone whilst coastal areas exposed to the northerly winds are less likely to be affected. 1 or 2 cm of snow may accumulate above about 100 m, with perhaps 5 cm or more locally over the higher ground of North Highland. Temporary deposits may also occur at lower levels, mainly late in the night.


Drugs with a 'street' value of £30,000 have been seized in the Highlands and Islands throughout December as targeted action continues to take place across the region.

Under Operation RAM 26 search warrants were enforced resulting in 18 drugs seizures and the recovery of £7,000 in cash. Five people appeared from custody in relation to these warrants and enquiries into a number of cases are ongoing. And 54 searches were also carried out on people in the street or in vehicles which resulted in further recoveries.

Detective Chief Inspector Michael Sutherland, who leads Operation RAM, said: "Over the last few weeks we have used information supplied to us by concerned members of the public to target those involved in the sale and supply of illegal drugs across the Highlands and Islands, directly leading to the results we are sharing today.

Flybe will soon offer early morning departures from Stornoway on Monday and Tuesday mornings on flights operated on its behalf by Eastern Airways to Glasgow.

With effect from Monday 8th January, 2018, flights will depart at 0740 and arrive at 0845, which is 40 minutes earlier than at present.  This is in order to better align capacity with customer demand.
To facilitate these schedule changes, an extra northbound flight has been added to the current Sunday schedule with the aircraft departing Glasgow at 1755, arriving Stornoway 1900.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP, Angus Brendan MacNeil raised concerns with the Minister of State for Transport Legislation and Maritime, John Hayes MP in October about delays in the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) process of tasking Lifeboats following a distress call.

]Mr MacNeil subsequently met with the Maritime Minister John Hayes MP and Sir Alan Massey, Chief Executive, MCA who have now followed up on this meeting with a letter confirming what steps have been taken since the tragic loss of the fishing vessel Louisa.

There was a special Christmas gift to Bethesda Care Home and Hospice from Maybury Gardens in North Street, Sandwick, this week.

A cheque for £2000 was handed over by Irene Smith and Alison Carty, of Maybury Gardens to Anne Macleod and Catherine Gomez from Bethesda Care Home and Hospice.

Ferry operator CalMac has premiered a new innovative on-board safety video to try and better educate passengers on what to do in an emergency.

The three-minute film uses allegory and imagery of the scenery, occupations and wildlife across the west coast to bring its safety message to life. All the actors were local residents from Arran.

‘The message behind our safety announcement is a serious one, it is about giving passengers the information they need in the unlikely event of an emergency,’ said CalMac’s director of Health, Safety, Quality and Environment, Louis de Wolff.

If you, your family, friends or homecoming students are planning some holiday get-togethers and have found yourselves wondering what's on and where's open in Lewis and Harris over the festive season, then look no further! Our dynamic, searchable What's Happening calendar of events is updated daily. Click on the category links below for related listings for the next two weeks, or on the selection of individual events for more information. 

Music and Dance

There's a wealth of live music and entertainment scheduled for the holiday period, and there's sure to be something to suit lovers of every music genre.

The Edge O'the World has a Wee Winter Shindig on the 27th (tickets required - limited numbers available), live accoustic music with Felix Saunders on the 28th and their monthly House and Electro set with Frazer and Del on 29th - all until 2pm.

On Thursday the 28th we have the usual Open Mic night at McNeill's and the Crown's weekly trad music session. In Harris, Spanish will be playing Hotel Hebrides.

It's An Lanntair's annual end of year extravaganza with Willie Campbell and friends on Saturday the 30th, Rock Island Line rock the year out at the Rangers Club and Kroftwerk play at Hotel Hebrides in Tarbert. 

Era Stornoway has 12 party nights to choose from right through to new year and beyond, and will be open until 3am for most of them! 

The Sea Angling Club will be host to a variety of events: it's EDM night on the 29th, Pandejo on the 30th and Strange Brew welcome in 2018 on New Year's day.

For more family orientated fun, there's a Family Ceilidh with Hò-rò at An Lanntair on Wednesday the 27th, and a Pre-Hogmanay Family Ceilidh at Barvas and Brue Community Centre on Saturday the 30th.

Don't forget, many venues offer free soft drinks for your designated driver - ask at the bar!


There are lots of great films showing at An Lanntair over the next few days, classic Christmas animation The Star, Batman and Wonder Woman recruit a team of metahumans to save the world in Justice League, and for something more grown up there's Murder on the Orient Express directed by Kenneth Branagh who also stars as Hercule Poirot.

There are also art exhibitions in the main gallery and bar area of the Arts Centre - which will be open for a trial period on the last Sunday of every month until March -  and an Open Gallery at Talla na Mara.

If there's anything you'd like to add to the calendar, it's completely free of charge - just email a poster or details to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we'll do the rest!  Do feel free to share any of the events online.

All the best for the New Year from everyone at welovestornoway.com.

A petition is available throughout the Western Isles for people to sign in protest against the Royal Bank of Scotland’s plans to close its branch in Castlebay, Isle of Barra – and reduce opening hours at its branch in Lochboisdale.

The newly announced plans for a revised service in Lochboisdale and Castlebay are ‘ill-conceived and not thought through,’ says Isles MP Angus Brendan MacNeil.

He is calling for people to sign the petition and make your views known to Government – it is available from SNP councilors throughout the Islands or from the MP’s constituency office in Bayhead, Stornoway.

Lewis community groups which combat social isolation by putting on events and good craic for their senior citizens have enjoyed Christmas parties thanks to donations from Point and Sandwick Trust.

Point and Sandwick, the charity behind the community-owned wind farm at Beinn Ghrideag just outside Stornoway, donated nearly £2,000 to two community groups to help with the festivities.

Cairdean Og Allt nan Gall, one of the biggest and longest-running groups for the elderly on Lewis, received £1,000 towards the party in the Caladh Inn on December 5, attended by more than 40.

Confusion at the Royal Bank of Scotland about the provision of banking services on Barra was laid bare in a letter to Alasdair Allan MSP made public yesterday (Monday December 18th).

In the letter. the RBS CEO, Personal and Business Banking, Mr Les Matheson said he was “sorry to learn of your disappointment at our decision to close the Castlebay, Isle of Barra branch.”

Quite how RBS expected a joyful welcome for the closure of the Island’s only bank is not explained.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar advise that there are a number of planned changes to island Refuse and Recycling Collection points during the festive period from Christmas Day (Monday, December 25th) to Monday, January 1st, 2018.
“Collection times may vary and the revised day of collection may be before the usual day of collection,” advise the local authority, adding: “Householders are requested to present their wheeled bins at the kerbside by 8am on the revised collection day."
In Lewis, for Residual and Organic collections (black bins), there will be no refuse collection in the Inner Point area on December 25th. Instead there will be a collection for Inner Point (Aiginish, Garrabost, Bayble Upper & Lower, Eagleton, Swordale, Knock, Seaview Knock) on Saturday, December 23rd.

Cutting bills: From left to right, Poverty Action Group chair Angus McCormack, TIG chair Donald Nicholson and TIG director Stewart Wilson at the launch of TIGSWITCH.

The first dedicated energy switching site for customers in the Western Isles has been launched by Tighean Innse Gall, who are working to eradicate fuel poverty and improve housing conditions.
TIGSWITCH.COM is the first switching site in the UK which takes into account the unique situation for gas customers in Stornoway, where they cannot switch supplier away from Scottish Gas due to the structure of the local network.
For these customers, the website displays an obvious message, warning them they will be unable to switch gas supplier, saving a lot of time and confusion down the line. When it comes to electricity though, the website will research all the available suppliers and tariffs and could save customers hundreds of pounds.

Roddy Macdonald and Flybe Country Manager Scotland, David Patterson

Stornoway paramedic, coastguard and life-saving charity champion, Roddy Macdonald has been honoured as Stornoway’s first ever Flybe Community Hero.
The award ceremony took place yesterday (Thursday, December 14th) at Stornoway Airport and was attended by Roddy’s friends and family.
Roddy was nominated for the Community Hero Award by Christine Schofield who highlighted the positive work Roddy has to put in to island life saying: “Roddy could be described as a leader, a teacher, a mentor, a counsellor, a friend and a father but most of all a role model to those on Stornoway.”
He is a familiar sight to those on the Isle of Lewis, working as a paramedic, supporting the vital First Responder Community and training local people in essential lifesaving skills, all on top of his dedication to the coastguard which he has served for the last 30 years.

The Outer Hebrides Chief Officer’s Group for Public Protection (COG) met this week following the tragic incident at The Nicolson Institute on Tuesday which saw the passing of S4 pupil, 15 year old Anton Michael.
In a statement issued today members of the COG - which comprises of senior officers from health, education and social work to co-ordinate public protection – said that they wish to convey their heartfelt sympathies to the family of Anton Michael at this safe time, and ask that the family's privacy be respected as they come to terms with their loss.
“The exceptional work done by staff from all agencies, especially school staff, is greatly appreciated by all,” continues the statement. “The staff were met with very difficult circumstances, but did everything humanly possible to save Anton.

Leverburgh RNLI lifeboat

A call upon the UK Government to reinstate the west coast tug has been issued by Comhairle Leader Cllr Roddie Mackay and Islands MSP Alasdair Allan as yesterday (Thursday, December 14th) saw both Stornoway RNLI lifeboat and Leverburgh RNLI lifeboat launch to the aid of a stricken cargo vessel in trouble off Harris.
“Lifeboats from Leverburgh and Stornoway have had to assist the freight ship until the ETV from Orkney arrives more than 12 hours later,” said Cllr Mackay. “It is unacceptable.”
Both volunteer RNLI crews at Leverburgh and Stornoway launched at 6pm last night in response to a ‘Pan-Pan’ call – one level down from a full distress Mayday – from the 54 metre cargo ship ‘Fame’ in difficulties after losing propulsion power west of Scarp, on the west side of Harris.

Point pupils in the new strips with PST director Sonja Macleod (left), principal teacher Anne Macphail and PST general manager Donald John MacSween

Point school pupils have been given an edge in future sports competitions after community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust kitted them out, head to toe, in new strips.

The Trust sponsored two full sets of the strips for Sgoil an Rubha after its principal teacher, Anne Macphail, told PST general manager Donald John MacSween they were in need.
The school’s supply of strips had dwindled over the years to the point where they no longer had a full set — and those they did have were not in the best condition. Parents had begun to ask questions about why Sgoil an Rubha did not have strips, when so many other schools did, and the Parent Council had begun looking into where they could find the money for some.

Islands MP Angus MacNeil delivered a speech on Amendment 7 during yesterday evening's parliamentary debate

UK MPs will now have a legal guarantee of a vote on the final Brexit deal struck with Brussels after a parliamentary debate – in which Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil delivered a speech – voted 309 to 305 on Amendment 7 yesterday.
The amendment now passed will ensure that MPs have a legal guarantee of a vote on the final Brexit deal struck.
“The actions of this Tory Government is akin to setting sail on the Titanic and refusing to take a lifeboat,” said Mr MacNeil. “This is a Laurel and Hardy Brexit – it is a fine mess and all due to vanity.”

Options for getting a polycrub in the Western Isles have just got a lot better as Shetland community company nortenergy teams up with Western Isles construction company AMK.
“I am delighted that we have come to this agreement with Alec John and Jayne of AMK,” said nortenergy Chair Drew Ratter.
“They are now stocking materials for the polycrubs, and their staff have been trained in kit assembly and erection. Anybody looking for a polycrub anywhere in the Outer Hebrides should get in touch with AMK to make their arrangements.”

A link up between Lewis and Finland is aiming to develop a unique, energy initiative which will utilise clean energy and reduce household bills.
Lews Castle College UHI and Tighean Innse Gall have linked up with the University of Oulu in Finland to promote the use of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems.
“Our project aims to address fuel poverty in our islands and areas with a similar climate by using some of the heat used in people’s homes to generate electricity,” said Dr Alasdair Macleod, Lead Researcher in Energy Engineering at Lews Castle College UHI.

Be on your guard in both the actual and virtual worlds this Christmas as Police Scotland reminds communities against the risk of online fraud over the festive season.
There has unfortunately been a number of incidents targeting individuals and businesses online with scams in the Highlands and Islands alone.
And as the festive period means a higher number of transactions being completed online, some unscrupulous groups and individuals will actively seek out opportunities to put these frauds into action.

A confidential 24-hour telephone helpline service has been set up to help pupils and staff of The Nicolson Institute following the passing of S4 pupil Anton Michael.
Anyone affected by the Anton’s passing is urged to contact the helpline on 01851 705600 for support.
Support is also being offered with two counsellors now based within the school until the end of term and available to pupils and staff.

Stornoway Golf Course was a busy place on Sunday as over 100 families and friends enjoyed some winter sledging fun

The question ‘Should all sport taking place in the Castle Grounds be treated in the same way by the Stornoway Trust?’ was answered by over 740 voices in an online survey open for only four days.
More than 75% of survey responses were in favour of all sports being given the same standing in Lews Castle Grounds.
And community landowner, the Stornoway Trust, is now in negotiation with Stornoway Golf Club to open the golf course to family play on a Sunday.

A special Beatles album to be personalised by Sir Paul McCartney raised more than £3300 at auction today (Wednesday) to aid the families of two Scottish island teenagers caught up in the Manchester bomb attack.
Sir Paul was moved by the plight of schoolgirls Laura MacIntyre and Eilidh MacLeod from Barra in the Outer Hebrides who were both attending their first big pop concert.
Eilidh, 14, a keen piper, was one of 22 people killed in the attack at Manchester Arena. Laura, 15, has bravely returned to the island's Castlebay Community School after spending many weeks in hospital being treated for serious, and initially, life-threatening injuries.

Comann Eachdraidh Loch Rog an Ear and the Breasclete Community Association invite you to the unveiling of a memorial commemorating the tragic loss of 3 lighthouse keepers of the Flannan Isles in 1900.  The ceremony will take place on Friday 15th December at 2pm on the Breasclete shoreline of Loch Roag, and will be followed by a reception at the community centre to mark the opening of an exhibition based on the tragedy.  Everyone is welcome.

The contract for the development of 10 new homes for affordable rent at Cleascro Road, Leurbost was awarded today to Calmax Construction.  Preparatory works are underway with a view to the building works commencing in January 2018 and keys being handed over to new tenants in November 2018.  The total cost of the project is £1.52m of which just over £1m will be funded by Scottish Government Grant. The Comhairle are contributing £24k to the project demonstrating their commitment to developing homes in the rural areas. HHP will provide the remainder of the funding.

Pupils and staff at The Nicolson Institute face news today of the death of S4 pupil Anton Michael yesterday (Tuesday, December 12th).
The tragic incident occurred at the secondary school in Stornoway yesterday afternoon as it was reported that a 15 year old boy had been found injured within the school building.
Emergency services were called to the scene at around 2.30pm and Mr Michael was conveyed to Western Isles Hospital where he later passed away.

The Scottish Salmon Company has announced Sgoil na Pairc as a winner of its winter show competition in partnership with the National Theatre of Scotland.

The school has been awarded a funding package to help plan and produce their end of term show ‘A Fairy Tale Adventure’. The prize includes a special one-day winter workshop with the National Theatre of Scotland plus £500 towards props and costumes.

A theatre practitioner from the National Theatre of Scotland visited the school visited Sgoil na Pairc on Friday 8 December and offered the children help and advice on how to develop a script and how to design their set and staging.

Western Isles Hospital Theatre Department has been praised for good standards of cleanliness, positive leadership in infection prevention, and good compliance with waste management.
NHS Western Isles has welcomed the latest Healthcare Environment Inspectorate (HEI) Inspection Report, which praises the Department for a good standard of cleanliness throughout, positive leadership in infection prevention and control and good compliance with the management of waste and sharps.
The HEI, part of Healthcare Improvement Scotland, published its report today (Tuesday, December 12th ) which relates to an unannounced inspection visit to the Hospital’s Theatre Department on October 3rd and 4th this year.

‘Very positive’ with a ‘lively discussion’ was the description of how the first meeting of the independent Caledonian MacBrayne Community Board went recently.
Set up to provide an insight into the issues affecting island and rural communities for ferry operator CalMac, the Board met for the first time last month.
Board Chairman Angus Campbell, former Comhairle Leader, said: “The first meeting was very positive with a lively discussion about the purpose of the Board and a universal commitment to make sure it was as effective as possible.”

Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron

It has been revealed that over 700 hospital appointments in the Western Isles have been broken in 2016/17.
Information obtained by the Scottish Conservatives show that there were 713 instances where a referral had been made where the patient “did not attend”, meaning that hundreds of appointments that could have gone to others were wasted.
Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Donald Cameron, said: “These figures are very concerning, particularly in light of the fact that so many people have not been treated after they were referred by a GP within 18 weeks.

Dr Allan with Francesca and her winning design for the MSP's official Christmas Card this year

Selected from among hundreds of entries, the winner of the design for Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan’s Christmas Card this year is announced as Sgoil Tholastaidh Primary 7 pupil Francesca Greenstock.
Dr Allan is delighted to announce Francesca as the winner of the annual schools competition to design his official Christmas Card – which will be sent out to over a thousand people and organisations locally and nationally.
There were hundreds of different entries from primary schools across the Islands, and runner-up in the Christmas Card competition was Calum MacLeod from Sgoil Uibhist a Tuath.

The islands' fishing industry has benefited from Revolving Loan Fund support

Comhairle councillors have agreed to a transfer of £141,000 to the authority’s Revolving Loan Fund (RLF).
The Sustainable Development Committee agreed to transfer the funds, which were earmarked for the Global Guarantee, to the RLF which provides loans and micro-loads to local businesses.
Administered by the Comhairle’s Business Gateway team, and with the total value of the fund currently standing at in excess of £1.2million, the RLF also encompasses the Outer Hebrides Fisheries Investment Scheme (OHFIS) – enabling the council to provide support to the fisheries sector also.

Comainn Eachdraidh and other community organisations are invited to attend the Heritage Network Conference, due to be held at Sgoil Lionacleit, Benbecula, next month.
Taking place on January 17th, 18th, and 19th, the theme of the 2018 Conference will be ‘Building a Heritage Strategy for the Outer Hebrides’, and will include a comprehensive piece of work mapping the heritage sector.
The work includes analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing heritage organisations and prioritisations of project ideas.
And speakers at the Heritage Network Conference include Alison Boyle, The Highland Museum of Childhood; and Lorna Cruickshank of Highland Council who will discuss the level of support and resource shared between Highland Council and independent museums in the area.

Santa was escorted to the Stornoway Christmas Lights Switch-On by members of the Stornoway Coastguard Rescue Team on Friday night

Coastguard Rescue Teams around the Western Isles were kept busy as Storm Caroline brought in the winter weather.
On Wednesday (December 6th), members of Stornoway Coastguard Rescue Team assisted Western Isles Police in monitoring the Braighe causeway in Lewis during the period over high tide as waves were overtopping the sea wall.
The islands’ Coastguard Teams were out again on Friday (December 8th) as Barra Coastguard Rescue Team were tasked at 0928 hours to prepare the helicopter landing site at Saint Brendan’s Hospital for the Coastguard Helicopter R199 to carry out a medical evacuation.

Evening bus services to and from Stornoway 

All services are scheduled to operate this evening, Friday 8th December, but may be subject to disruption or cancellation at short notice due to the ongoing wintry conditions and a high risk of snow and ice. Passengers are advised to contact bus operators directly using the contact phone numbers within the current public bus timetables. Timetables are available on the Comhairle website. 

Community-owned wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust have, along with Tesco and the Western Isles Lottery, stepped into the breach left by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s withdrawal of funds to ensure that Stornoway can have Christmas lights after all this year.

The Comhairle’s decision to pull the plug on funding completely this year, after a number of years of reducing their grant to Stornoway Amenity Trust for the festivities, had been met with dismay — but the community rallied round and the switching on ceremony will take place tonight (Friday, December 8), between 7pm and 8pm.

As ever, the event will take place in the town’s civic square. There will be some speeches and prizes will be awarded for shop window displays and the like, ahead of the official switching on.  New Lord Lieutenant of the Western Isles, Donald Martin, will be presiding.

Vandals have seriously damaged the Lady Matheson Monument in Lews Castle Grounds.

According to Western Isles Police, the incident involved a red aerosol spray and occurred between the morning of Monday December 4th at 9am and 11am the following day.

Funding for the two local Sports Councils through devolving £13,000 to the Lewis and Harris Sports Council and £8,500 to the Uist and Barra Sports Council has been agreed by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Education, Sport and Children’s Services Committee.

The Sports Councils operate a grant aid programme for their memberships.

The Sports Councils also work with the Western Isles Development Trust to distribute the £60,000 fund donated by Transocean following the oil rig incident near Dalbeg in 2016.

Funding for the two local Sports Councils through devolving £8,500 to the Uist and Barra Sports Council  and £13,000 to the Lewis and Harris Sports Council has been agreed by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Education, Sport and Children’s Services Committee.

The Sports Councils operate a grant aid programme for their memberships.

The Sports Councils also work with the Western Isles Development Trust to distribute the £60,000 fund donated by Transocean following the oil rig incident near Dalbeg in 2016.

All the schools in the Western Isles were closed yesterday  (Thursday December 7) because of the high winds from Storm Caroline, apart from e-Sgoil!!  But one class from Sir E Scott School tuned into their Religious Moral & Philosophical Studies (RMPS) class from the comfort of their homes.

Representatives of Neuro Hebrides were stunned last night (Wednesday December 6) to receive £5483.15 as a donation from the annual Charity 999 Football Game organisers, which brings together Stornoway-based police and fire service personnel every year in fund-raising rivalry.

In a departure from usual practice, those involved with the group – which had just held one of its regular meetings – had no idea how much has been raised until the 999 organisers unveiled the giant cheque. They said they were “speechless” when the total was read out and promised they would make very good use of the donation which is far bigger than others received so far.

The police team won the match held on Saturday October 14th on the all-weather pitch on Smith Avenue and the organisers thanked local businesses for their continued support for the game that enabled such suns to be raised for a good cause.

 The team at the new Iceland store in Cromwell Street take a moment out from last-minute preparations for opening at 8am today (Thursday December 7th)

One of Scotland’s most successful and enduring bands, Deacon Blue, will headline the multi-award-winning Hebridean Celtic Festival next year as part of a tour to mark their 30-year career.

The band, known for a string of best-selling songs including ‘Real Gone Kid’, ‘Dignity’, ‘Wages Day’ and ‘Fergus Sings the Blues’ in the 1980s, have enjoyed a resurgence in recent years, with new albums bringing their music to another generation of fans.

Their 2018 ‘To Be Here Someday’ tour will celebrate their entire back catalogue, which now spans four decades.


#stormcaroline impact!

** Met Office yellow 'be aware' warning issued for snow and ice in the Western isles from 16:00 Thursday until 23:59 Thursday and 00:05 Friday 8th and 18:00 Sat 9th

**All council services, including buses, are expected to be running as normal tomorrow, Friday, but travel disruption is likely and local conditions will vary. The public are advised to travel with care.

++All schools and nurseries in Lewis, Harris and Uist are closed to pupils TODAY (Thursday 7th December)  but expected to be open tomorrow (Friday 8th December), local decisions will be made in the morning. 

**Loganair from Glasgow - due at 11.30 - arrived at 13.38.  First flight of day arrived from Inverness at 14.39

++Flights to and from Stornoway and Glasgow, Inverness, Edinburgh and Benbecula earlier this morning were cancelled.  See www.hial.co.uk/stornoway-airport/

**The flight to and from Aberdeen has been cancelled.

++ Ferries cancelled today on Leverburgh to Berneray route

**Sailings cancelled on Eriskay-Barra route

++Ferries cancelled to Arran, Coll & Tiree, the Small Isles and Mallaig to Armadale

**All ferries from Stornoway to Ullapool are cancelled on Thursday and Friday.   The freight ferry on Saturday morning is also cancelled.  Further services remain under review.

Martin's Memorial Church, Stornoway, invite you to enjoy the second year of their beautiful Christmas Nativity, this Friday 8th December, between 7pm and 9.30pm.

Free tea, coffee and warm mince pies will be available, along with crafts, games and toys for the children. Everyone welcome!

A long-time Stornoway tree has a new job to do this Christmas as it takes pride of place as the town’s official Christmas Tree in Perceval Square.

Stornoway Amenity Trust, together with Stornoway Trust, were asked by Mrs Annie Mary Macleod of Sand Street to cut down a spruce tree which was threatening to fall on her home.

A mother who lost her young daughter to a rare and tragic illness is preparing to walk non-stop from South Harris to Ness to help raise money for other critically ill children.

Exactly two years after five-year-old Elizabeth Spencer’s life support machine was switched off, grieving mum Natalia Spencer, now living in Stornoway, will walk 80-miles from St Clement’s Church, Rodel, to the Butt of Lewis Lighthouse as part of her ongoing Elizabeth’s Footprint campaign.

Natalia, 42, plans to complete the journey in 24-hours, departing from Rodel at midday on Saturday, December 9th and arriving in Ness around lunchtime on Sunday December 10th.

More than 1,000 people a day are continuing to sign the on-line petition against the Royal Bank of Scotland’s attempt to undermine the Isle of  Barra’s economy and wellbeing as a community by closing its only bank branch.

At 5am today (Wednesday December 6) the total passed 7,500.

And protests continued in the Scottish Parliament.

A report published by Citizens Advice Scotland has shed light on the ‘postcode penalty’ which sees island residents pay up to four time as much for delivery than consumers elsewhere in the UK.
With a debate set to be heard in the Scottish Parliament tomorrow (December 6th), the Consumer Futures Unit (CFU) of Citizens Advice Scotland is publishing research which shows that people in northern Scotland pay a ‘postcode penalty’ of up to 50% in surcharges imposed by delivery companies.
The new report – ‘Postcode Penalty: Delivering Solutions’ – sheds light on the issue as CFU hope to work with the Scottish Government and local authorities to identify ‘suitable trial projects’ aimed at reducing costs in 2018.

The Leanne Fund committee members and Tea in the Tent organisers Nicola Libby and Cat Campbell are delighted by its success

Posh frocks and wellies helped raise more than £4,000 for The Leanne Fund this summer as island ladies enjoyed Tea in the Tent.
The event, held on Lews Castle Green in June, saw all enjoy a vintage tea party in a marquee, followed by a hog-roast barbecue and dance.
Guests were treated to an array of tasty sweet and savoury courses, along with musical entertainment from Rosie Sullivan, Eleanor Nicolson, Iain ‘Spanish’ MacKay and Catch 22 throughout the afternoon and on into the evening.

Could Sunday golfing at Stornoway Golf Course become a reality in the future... 

The issue over a ban on playing golf at Stornoway Golf Course on a Sunday has been raised again as Stornoway Trust member Callum Iain Macmillan seeks islanders’ opinion via an online survey.
Under a historic clause in the Golf Club lease with community landlords the Stornoway Trust, teeing off on the Sabbath is banned at the local club.
But Trustee Mr Macmillan believes the ban to be unfair, and that ‘all sport should be encouraged, not restricted’.

Get set for strong winds this week as Storm Caroline is expected to bring gales and gusts to the islands on Thursday (December 7th).
A Yellow Wind Warning has been issued by the Met Office today for between 8am and 11.55pm on Thursday.
Gusts of 60-70mph are expected quite widely in northern Scotland, with gusts to 80mph possible near north facing mainland coasts and across the Isles.
“Road, rail, air and ferry services may be affected, with longer journey times and cancellations possible,” warns the Met Office.
“Some short term loss of power and other services is possible,” the warning continues. “It is likely that some coastal routes, sea fronts, and coastal communities will be affected by spray and/or large waves.”
To keep up to date with Met Office forecasts, visit www.metoffice.gov.uk 

Time for some festive fun this Friday as Stornoway’s Santa Dash kicks off the town’s Christmas Lights Switch-On this weekend.
As part of Stornoway’s Christmas Lights Switch-On event, a half-mile Santa Dash will take place at 6.30pm on Friday, December 8th, to get everyone warmed up for the festive celebrations.
Open to all ages and levels of fitness, participants can run or walk the route and are asked to wear festive or Christmas attire.

A new Gaelic language pantomime will be visiting Lewis and Harris schools this week as part of a fifteen-day national tour. 'Anna Bheag a’ Chòta Dheirg', a re-imagining of the Little Red Riding Hood fairy-tale, features Calum MacDonald, MJ Deans and Ellen MacDonald. It is the tenth successive year that Fèisean nan Gàidheal has produced and toured a Gaelic language pantomime for children in Gaelic-medium education.

The pantomime, supported by Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Creative Scotland and HIE, was written and directed by Fèisean nan Gàidheal’s Drama Officer Angus Macleod.

Angus said: “The play updates the traditional Little Red Riding Hood story and gives it a martial arts twist. The three experienced actors bring lots of fun and energy to their roles and the audience interaction will make this an engaging and enjoyable experience for children and adults alike.”

Community Upgrades will benefit this week from another £3,883 - the proceeds of the Lottery for the month of November.
This is the third pay-out since the launch of the island lottery in August, bringing the total raised so far to £11,575. And the lottery team emphasis that this could be so much more if everybody joined in by supporting from as little as just £1 a week.
The aim of setting up the Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery was to improve the aesthetics, amenities and events throughout the Western Isles.

Uist & Barra 'Making a Difference' Youth Engagement Conference, supported by LEADER 2007-2013 Programme. Photo: Outer Hebrides LEADER LAG

The Outer Hebrides LEADER 2014-2020 Programme is delighted to announce the launch of their unique fund, specifically designed to support Young People.
Being delivered in partnership with Comhairle nan Eilean siar and the Bridge Community Centre, the LEADER Youth Fund is available to provide funding to projects aimed at supporting young people and yuth initiatives.
What is unique about this fund is that all decisions on applications are fundamentally decided upon by young people, through LEADER’s newly established Youth Local Action Group (Youth LAG).

Capturing the spirit of the landscape, history and culture of Islay, Gaelic publishers Acair is proud to launch its latest title – ‘Òrain Ìleach: Òrain Ghàidhlig à Ìle’ (Gaelic Songs of Islay).
Edited by Lynn MacDonald, the book features a wide range of classic Gaelic songs from Islay, some which are very well know, and some which have been heard by very few.
‘Òrain Ìleach’ was released at a celebratory event at Islay House in Bridgend, Islay, on Saturday November 25th, with a variety of renowned Gaelic singers performing – including Mod Loch Abar 2017 gold medallist Alisdair Currie and Coisir Og Ile – alongside Islay Gaelic Choir.

The Western Isles is better protected with 100 AEDs available throughout the island chain

The Western Isles are one of the best protected communities in the UK in terms of life-saving training and equipment thanks to a collaboration between Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and charity Lucky2bhere.
The 100th automated external defibrillator (AED) on the islands was presented last week to the management of The Cabarfiedh Hotel in Stornoway – the result of the proactive approach taken by the local authority and Lucky2bhere which has provided more concentrated access to AED, and comprehensive Emergency Life Support Training (ELS), than anywhere else in the UK.
Comhairle Councillor Angus Morrison has been instrumental in the campaign both as a Councillor and a Volunteer Trainer and Co-ordinator at Lucky2bhere.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan is encouraging people in the Western Isles to shop locally tomorrow (Saturday) and support the local economy this Small Business Saturday (2nd December).[He is pictured above with  Louis MacIver of Tech Mobile, Stornoway.]

Small Business Saturday boosted takings for small shops by £717m last year in Scotland, and with research showing that money spent locally is more likely to stay in the local economy, a key aim of this campaign is to encourage lasting, year-round support for small businesses.

There are 1,175 small businesses in the Western Isles, employing 5,410 workers.

The owner of a fishing vessel was fined a total of £4000 at Stornoway Sheriff Court for failing to secure the safe operations of his vessel in a prosecution brought by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency. 

Austen Campbell, owner of the fishing vessel ‘Ocean Spirit (SY2)’ pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 100 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, in that he failed to secure the safe operation of the vessel.

He was fined £4000.

Isles MP Angus Brendan MacNeil welcomed today’s rapid U-turn by the Royal Bank over ripping out the ATM in Castlebay as part of its plan to close the branch, the only bank on the island.

But he is now calling for a rethink of the whole scheme as it affects Barra.

Angus MacNeil MP said: “From the correspondence the RBS has sent me they had suggested that a local alternative ATM could be in Portree, Tobermory or indeed Oban. That is the equivalent of telling the people of Dover that they can go to Paris to access a cash machine.

The successful Nicolson Debate team - John Alasdair Bain and Calum Maclennan

The Nicolson Institute topped the National Gaelic School Debate competition this week, scooping the winning spot from Lochaber High School.
The final of the 2017 National Gaelic Schools Debate took place at the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, November 29th and a very lively debate was heard with Clare Frances MacNeil and Iain Gillies from Lochaber High School going up against John Alasdair Bain and Calum Maclennan from The Nicolson Institute A.
And it was the gentlemen from The Nicolson who came out victorious to bring the national silverware across the Minch.
The committee would like to thank organisations who helped fund and support this year’s Debate: The Scottish Government, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Skills Development Scotland, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Glasgow City Council, Highland Council, and Comunn na Gàidhlig.