Fire fighters were called to the main road near Coll this morning, where a car had caught fire.

The BMW car had caught light on the main B895 road between Tong and Coll around 12 noon, with the driver alerted to his predicament by other motorists.

A fire crew from Stornoway were despatched after an emergency call, to find that the fire had already been extinguished using powder extinguishers which were being carried by passing van drivers.

No-one was injured and the car was removed from the carriageway. The fire crew were stood down by 12.40pm.

Ferry operator CalMac has this afternoon (Wednesday November 13th) said it is doing everything possible to tackle ‘severe problems’ currently affecting West Coast and island routes.

CalMac boss Robbie Drummond said staff are working round the clock to get Scotland's West Coast ferry service back to normal.

Progress is being made in a bid to get two major ferries back on their routes following technical problems. A period of bad weather, technical breakdowns and the annual overhaul programme have led to severe problems on CalMac's network.

The MV Loch Seaforth remains out of service due to technical issues which emerged en route to Stornoway after completing her annual dry dock overhaul and the MV Isle of Arran is also awaiting specialist contractors finishing work that will see her return to operation.

Calmac Managing Director Robbie Drummond said: "Technical problems and bad weather have hit us hard in the past few days. However, we have our people working round the clock to bring in contractors and to get our service back to normal as soon as possible.

"We know the impact not having these services is having on our island communities and all our focus is on fixing these problems. We are working extremely hard to keep traffic moving within the available fleet resources we have but realise that there will be some inconvenience for passengers which we apologise for."

A number of external suppliers and specialist engineers have been brought in to fix the technical issues. It is hoped that this will be achieved before the weekend.

The MV Isle of Lewis will remain on the Ullapool-Stornoway route until the situation is resolved.

Amended timetables are being put place on these routes for the remainder of the week and some sailings are being operated by alternative vessels.

Robbie added: "We have just instigated our biggest ever programme of overhaul and refit aimed at making our service more resilient. As it happens we are in the peak of that dry dock refit process which has also had an impact on the vessels available to us.

"We have also put in place our own in-house mobile maintenance team and that has made a huge difference to supporting the fleet. I am confident that we can sort these issues quickly and get back to providing our much-needed lifeline services."

The routes affected are Oban-Castlebay and Stornoway-Ullapool.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant demanded that the First Minister listen to the increasingly desperate pleas from communities for improved lifeline ferry services at First Minister Questions on Thursday 14 November 2019.

In the week beginning 11 November 2019 there were disruptions to 25 out of 28 services across Scotland’s network. Something which Mrs Grant said was “unacceptable.”

Mrs Grant said to Ms Sturgeon: “The First Minister will be aware of the chaos that has been caused in the Western and Argyll islands due to the breakdown of the Loch Seaforth and the inadequate ferry provision.

“This has been exacerbated by boats being moved onto routes that they are not suitable for meaning that they cannot sail in poor weather.

“Will she now listen to islanders and ensure that there is enough suitable boats to provide these lifeline services.”

But the First Minister cited poor weather conditions for the turmoil and said the Scottish Government had invested “heavily” in ferry infrastructure and services.

Mrs Grant said: “The First Minister claims that the SNP have spent £2billion on ferry infrastructure and services, but if that’s the case they have very poor results to show for it.  Their vanity projects have sapped money from sustainable ferry procurement.

“These services are continuously failing the communities they serve because they are under too much strain and poorly managed. Crews and staff are doing the best they can with what they’ve been given, but clearly the Scottish Government’s strategy is just to throw money at headline grabbing vanity projects and hope no one notices that they are not doing the job required.”

(This report has been updated since first being posted)

 

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has today (Wednesday November 13th) issued an update detailing 10 affordable housing developments due for completion during 2019/20 – 20/21.

The Goathill Care Home, housing and housing with extra care project is now well under way with preliminary engineering and enabling works nearing completion. The next phase of the development is expected to begin in the New Year and should see construction works commencing on the care home and extra care housing.

Elsewhere, works ongoing throughout the islands include 50 units at Mackenzie Avenue ready for handover in December and ten units in Breasclete on-site and progressing to schedule, with handover expected in March 2020.

Work has temporarily halted at the Tarbert Police Station site, where eight two-bedroomed flats are under construction, but discussions are ongoing with the contractor and it’s hoped they will be back on site in November. The Parc Niseabost development at Horgabost in Harris is nearing completion, with four new units ready for handover next month.

Four units at Cnoc na Runaire, Tolsta should be ready for occupation by March 2020, while An Glib in Point and Edgemoor Square in Ness are each expected to see two units handed over in January 2020. On Scotland Street in Stornoway, work is progressing on six units.

Two potential developments in Lewis are at the master planning stage, at Blackwater and at Melbost Farm West.

A spokesman for the Comhairle said: “The Comhairle and HHP wish to reiterate how grateful we are for the support from Scottish Government, which continues to enable this significant boost to our economy and provides new affordable homes for islanders.”

The picture shows the Mackenzie Avenue development, due for handover in December (CnES).

A delivery of gas in the early hours of this morning (Wednesday November 13th) has ensured that the homes of Stornoway continue to receive supplies from Scottish Gas Networks.

CalMac laid on an extra vessel last night to bring the essential heating fuel while the Loch Seaforth is undergoing repairs in Stornoway harbour.

MV Hebrides made the additional sailing from Uig to Tarbert to carry two tankers of LPG for delivery to the SGN depot in Stornoway town centre. Gas tankers can’t be carried on the MV Isle of Lewis because of her closed deck, which is not suitable for hazardous materials.

A spokesman for Stornoway’s SGN depot said that Calmac had ‘pulled out all the stops’ to ensure the maintenance of supply for domestic heating in the town.

He said: “The running of the Hebrides has allowed us to keep a lifeline service going because the Loch Seaforth is a week late back into service. CalMac has helped us by planning additional sailings which allow us to transport the gas by road to the islands.”

It’s expected that another gas delivery will be scheduled for Thursday night if the delay continues.

The Loch Seaforth is still receiving engineers’ attention, with another specialist engineer now due to arrive into Stornoway by air tomorrow (Thursday November 14th).

She is currently scheduled to remain off the Stornoway Ullapool service until Saturday, with MV Isle of Lewis running a revised timetable, including a night-time freight run.

Hebridean Housing Partnership (HHP) is negotiating with contractors working on the site at the former Police Station in Tarbert, in the hope of getting work re-started on eight affordable housing flats.

The Tarbert development is one of ten HHP partnership projects which the Comhairle says are due for completion before the end of 2021.

The former police station site is being transformed into two-bedroomed flats, but contractors Douglas and Stewart have reportedly left the site following problems with the foundations.

In a bulletin on the affordable housing programme released by the Comhairle today (Wednesday November 13th) CnES says: “discussions are ongoing with the contractor and we hope to be back on site in November.”

The development is to be named “James’ Place” in honour of James Morrison, a policeman with Harris connections, who was killed while off-duty in London in 1991. Detective Constable Jim Morrison QGM died at the age of 26 while serving with the Metropolitan Police. He was off duty when he witnessed a handbag theft and was fatally stabbed by the thief. He is buried in Harris, where his family originated.

Meanwhile four new shared equity units at Horgabost are nearing completion and are due to be handed over next month (December 2019).

Visiting the Bristows SAR hangar at Stornoway airport today is a Royal Navy Merlin Mk2 helicopter, awaiting engineers’ attention after experiencing a technical issue while operating near the Western Isles.

Merlin Mk2s entered service with the Royal Navy in 2014 to supply the UK’s Maritime Force Protection and airborne anti-submarine warfare. Beyond searching for submarines the helicopter is capable of round-the-clock maritime patrol and is armed with Sting-Ray torpedoes and depth charges. It’s also used for troop ferrying, casualty evacuation, and search and rescue. In the future it’s expected to be the replacement aircraft for the Navy’s Sea King Mk7.

Usually based at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall, this individual craft, ZH847 Merlin HM.2, was operational over the Atlantic when the fault occurred. The picture was taken by Jason Spinks.

Would-be summer visitors to the Isle of Harris are being urged to get their accommodation booked for next summer, ahead of a new surge of interest in Western Isles holidays.

CalMac’s summer timetable went live on Thursday (November 7th) prompting one Harris accommodation provider to encourage visitors to make sure they have somewhere to sleep before heading to the islands.

Annie Tempest, who has a holiday cottage and shop in Rodel, said she knew of visitors who arrived in Tarbert last summer without having booked accommodation and ending up sleeping in their cars.

She said: “I am not alone in noticing a massive increase in early bookings. May, June and August 2020 are completely sold out and this is before the ‘Call The Midwife’ effect after the Christmas Day special has screened.”

The BBC series Call the Midwife filmed their Christmas special in and around Lewis and Harris during May, featuring scenes shot at St Clements Church in Rodel and at the Blackhouse Museum at Gearranan.

Annie Tempest’s advice to those planning a holiday in Harris is posted on the Isle of Harris Facebook page. She said: “Don't leave it too late and don't forget to stipulate Tarbert, Harris NOT Tarbert, Argyle when you're booking accommodation. I was speaking to a couple last year who were staying in the flat above the fish restaurant called The Anchorage in Tarbert. I suggested they checked the booking and sure enough it was a different Tarbert.”

That comment rang a bell with some, including an islander who last year met a couple who had booked into Tarbert Hostel for the night – but had actually booked Tarbert in County Clare, Eire.

Annie said: “We all do our best to make sure people aren't left without accommodation but I met a lot of people last year who had turned up without a booking and some just got back on the ferry after sleeping in their car overnight because they were unable to find somewhere to stay.

“Harris's popularity is increasing so stop thinking about booking and actually get booking to prevent disappointment.”

Picture shows the cast of Call the Midwife at the Blackhouse Village in Lewis. The Christmas special is expected to boost visitor numbers still further (BBC).

Two accident and emergency nurses are to swap their duties at Western Isles Hospital for a floating clinic in East Africa this month.

Rachel Macleod from Stornoway and Christine Macaulay from Shawbost will be taking annual leave and spending money they have raised themselves to fund a fortnight aboard a ship that takes healthcare to remote villages in Tanzania. They’ll use their skills to deliver medical attention to isolated, vulnerable communities alongside a small team of other health professionals from all over the UK.

The Jubilee Hope is one of two ships operated by the medical care charity the Vine Trust, taking medical and dental care to shoreside villages on Lake Victoria. The 160-ton former Royal Navy tender was refitted for purpose and launched by HRH The Princess Royal in 2015. Since then she has served an estimated 450,000 people who have little or no access to medical care.

Rachel and Christine will board Jubilee Hope on November 25th and, after just a day of acclimatisation, will spend two weeks as part of a team of six health professionals dealing with everything from HIV to maternity care. The team will include doctors and will work from the floating clinic, which includes treatment rooms, a pharmacy and a minor surgery room.

Christine told welovestornoway.com: “Neither of us have ever done anything like this before, and the furthest I’ve ever travelled is to holiday resorts, but fortunately there’s a theatre nurse working at Western Isles Hospital, Lesley Sangster, who has been on the same trip and has been able to give us some insight.

“We’ve had to raise the funds to travel ourselves and there’s also a contribution made to the Vine Trust to support their work. We set ourselves a target of £2,000 and I’m pleased to say we’ve well exceeded that, but all the surplus we raise will go to support them in continuing to provide an excellent service delivering healthcare to rural communities.”

In fact, over £5,300 has been raised with soup and pudding lunches, bake sales, a raffle and sterling efforts from Christine’s church in Shawbost, where £500 was raised. Christine also did a skydive which raised £700 towards the total.

The duo are now getting ready to depart, but welcome any further donations at https://www.vinetrust.org/fundraising/page/tanzania-medical-expidition-5cfa7783e4cbe9.46288875

Pictures show Rachel (left) and Christine in A&E at Stornoway, and the queue for the health centre on the banks of Lake Victoria during a previous expedition (The Vine Trust).

Island residents who want to continue buying Iolaire poppy pins are being asked to vote for them to be reintroduced for next year’s Remembrance commemorations.

A Facebook survey asking whether people want to see the pins being made once again has been published at https://www.facebook.com/AnIolaire/ with 94% of votes in favour of a new edition of the pin.

Created by the Iolaire Working Group during planning for the centenary of the tragedy, the distinctive pins were an immediate hit with Lewis and Harris people. Over 10,000 were sold, including to online buyers from Canada, New Zealand, West Africa and Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands.

They were worn from the Armistice centenary in November 2018 and all the way through January this year, as the islands remembered the centenary of the Iolaire tragedy. Money raised through the sale of the pins helped to meet some of the costs of the award-winning centenary events.

In the build-up to this month’s Remembrance events some buyers approached both Poppy Scotland and the Iolaire Centre planning group, looking to buy additional Iolaire poppies as a replacement or to give to family members. However, the poppies have not been produced this year.

Votes are open on the Facebook page for the next two days.

CalMac engineers are being flown into Stornoway today (Tuesday November 12th) and tomorrow to work on a series of technical faults on the newly-overhauled MV Loch Seaforth.

And an extra vessel has been scheduled to run between Uig and Tarbert tonight and Thursday, solely to ensure that the households of Stornoway do not run out of gas for domestic heating while the ferry is out of commission.

The Loch Seaforth is receiving attention for three separate faults, which CalMac describes as “arising after annual overhaul.” The ferry returned to Stornoway from a three-week dry-dock upgrade on Sunday (November 10th) but is “unable to return to service as planned.”

She is currently scheduled to remain off the Stornoway Ullapool service until Saturday, with MV Isle of Lewis running a revised timetable, including a night-time freight run.

Low passenger bookings mean that freight traffic can be carried during the day, but the closed deck of the Isle of Lewis means that tankers carrying domestic heating gas for Scottish Gas cannot be brought on that route.

To address that issue, tonight and on Thursday MV Hebrides will leave Uig for Tarbert at 10pm to allow two tankers of gas to be brought by road, arriving in Stornoway at about 1am and topping up supplies in Stornoway as householders turn up their heating for winter.

Meanwhile a specialist CalMac engineer arrived by air this morning and boarded the Loch Seaforth around 8.30am, with more technical personnel expected to be flown in tomorrow. It’s not clear whether CalMac’s new resilience-boosting mobile maintenance team have been brought to Stornoway. Launched in July, they were described as: “a flexible resource that can be deployed immediately to support on-board engineers with any technical issues.”

Loch Seaforth successfully passed her sea trials before leaving Liverpool last week, but since arriving in Stornoway three problems have emerged. There is a technical issue being investigated with her pitch control, a software issue affecting one of the generators and a further issue with the port engine. Between them, these faults have brought her re-entry to service to a halt.

CalMac are working on a worst-case scenario and have planned for the Isle of Lewis to continue on the Stornoway route up to and including Friday. The timetable has been revised to allow for her longer journey time.

CalMac have also negotiated with Citylink, who provide the bus connections between Ullapool and Inverness, and they have adapted their timetable this week to ensure that passengers can travel onwards despite the schedule disruption.
The picture shows MV Isle of Lewis continuing her service on the Stornoway Ullapool route (Chris Murray).

Fancy winning free tickets to a top Historic Scotland attraction?

Now's your chance!

The Blackhouse, Arnol is one of over 30 other attractions included in a ticket giveaway.

The registration for free tickets opens on Tuesday 12 November at 10am at www.ticketgiveaway.co.uk.

Members of the public will have until 5pm on Thursday 28 November to register online and apply for tickets to the attraction of their choice.

This year’s campaign was launched at Jedburgh Abbey, one of the sites participating in the giveaway, encouraging people across Scotland to take advantage of the opportunity to visit some of the country’s most iconic attractions for free.

Commenting on this year’s Ticket Giveaway Stephen Duncan, Director of Commercial and Tourism at HES, said: “I’m delighted to announce details of this year’s Ticket Giveaway, which offers free entry to a host of our winter-opening ticketed attractions over the St Andrew’s Day weekend.

“We’re committed to ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to explore and enjoy our historic environment.

"If you’ve never visited your local historic site, this is your chance to get out and discover Scotland’s fascinating past for free.”

For a full list of participating sites and to apply for tickets, visit www.ticketgiveaway.co.uk

Fans of Stornoway sensations Peat & Diesel were queuing outside the door on Saturday (November 9th) as Western Isles Lottery began sales of tickets for two Christmas lights switch-on concerts.

The old Trading Post shop next to Charlie Barleys was the temporary HQ for Western Isles Lottery, selling tickets for two P&D gigs to take place on the night of the Christmas lights switch-on in Stornoway Town Centre, this year on Tuesday November 26th.

Queuing in the cold paid off for many, as tickets for the under-18s gig, being held at the Nicolson Institute between 5.30pm and 6.30pm that night, sold out in a couple of hours.

It was a big day for organisers of the Western Isles Lottery, which has made a huge impact across the Western Isles since launching in August 2017. Bagging the biggest musical sensation in the islands was a huge boost for them – and one they believe will create a sensational night out for islanders.

Lottery spokesperson Janet Paterson told welovestornoway.com: “Peat & Diesel are phenomenal on the island, but more importantly they’ve put the island on the map and who knows what they’re going to do next. They very kindly offered to do these gigs for the lottery way back in the summer and we were quick to take them up on it.

“We’ve had dozens of messages from people wanting tickets who plan to come from the mainland on the night. This is why we’re selling the tickets face-to-face, so that locals have the best chance of getting the tickets.”

The second concert of the evening is for over-18s only and starts at Stornoway Town Hall at 10.30pm, well after all the other sparkle and excitement has ended for the evening, but lottery organisers planned that with a view to supporting the community.

Janet said: “We knew there were quite a number of other events at the weekends through November into December and we didn’t want to clash with them. We chose a Tuesday, especially as there is a big concert at the sports centre at the weekend.”

Switching the lights on in November has caused some comment, breaking with Stornoway’s long-held tradition of not getting excited too early about Christmas. But it will be a boost for local shops and businesses to have a lit-up atmosphere earlier this year, according to Janet.

“The shops were wanting the lights switched on earlier, in line with the mainland, because we’ve had comments that people come back from big Christmas lights and trees in Inverness and Glasgow, and Stornoway is still in darkness.

“It also seemed a waste of all the money that we spend on the lights every year, to only have them up a couple of weeks. It’s supporters of the Lottery that are funding all this – if they weren’t buying tickets we wouldn’t have the money to be doing this.”

Western Isles Lottery has raised over £155,000 in total to date, with £110,000 handed out for projects in communities from the Butt to Barra and £45,000 given back to individual ticket-buyers in prizes. A new bolt-on prize has just launched of a holiday for two in Malta, or £1,000 cash. Every ticket sold until 28th December will go in the draw to win that.

That made the weekend’s sale of tickets for Peat & Diesel’s shows into something of a celebration of the lottery’s success. Janet said: “Without a shadow of doubt it’s been successful, the committee (Tony Robson, Janet Paterson, Malcolm Paterson, Shona Macleod and Emma Henderson) have worked hard and as a result it’s gone from strength to strength, we’ve never had a dip.

“But even the smaller prizes we’ve given, if someone wins £40 it’s a win, they’re delighted.”

Remaining tickets for Peat & Diesel’s over-18s gig at Stornoway Town Hall on November 26th are now on sale at Events shop on North Beach Street.

Pictures show the queue waiting in the cold for their tickets on Saturday, and committee members Shona Macleod, Janet Paterson and Emma Henderson ready for the rush, with the all-important gig wristbands.

Two minutes of silence were observed today (Monday November 11th) in tribute to the fallen of all wars, after a day of Remembrance marked across the island yesterday.

A parade through Stornoway town centre yesterday lunchtime saw members of uniformed services, politicians and island residents united in tribute to those who have given their lives in the service of their country.

Meanwhile Sunday saw the laying of tributes at memorials across the Isles of Lewis and Harris, with many communities uniting for their own act of remembrance.

At Stornoway War Memorial, those laying wreaths included Nicolson Institute prefects Scott Maciver, Isla Budge, James Mutch, John Alasdair Bain, Jenny Campbell and Lucie Doig (pictured) who were accompanied by depute rector Mr J. Bain.

Also on parade at the memorial service were members of 1731 Isle of Lewis Squadron the Air Cadets, who laid their own wreath, and representatives of 7 Scots, whose wreath was laid by Sgt Tommy Stewart.

Pictures here show the town centre parade (Marjorie Baillie) and the laying of wreaths at Stornoway War Memorial (1731 Isle of Lewis Squadron, The Nicolson Institute, Thomas Stewart). Also shown is the gathering at the Point war memorial in Garrabost (Tom Clark).

A man’s been issued with a recorded police warning after being found in possession of drugs in Stornoway on Saturday.

The 59-year-old man was charged after the drugs were found on his person on Church Street at 9.50pm on Saturday.

Stornoway Police are appealing for public help after two incidents of vandalism in the Cearns over the weekend.

Between 6pm on Friday (8th November) and 3.40am on Saturday four windows were smashed at an address in the Cearns. Police are asking for any information on this incident (NH1578/19).

In a separate incident vandalism was reported at an address in the Cearns at midnight on Sunday 10th, when a bathroom window was smashed and items of furniture damaged. Any information on this incident (NH1581/19) should be given using the non-emergency number, 101.

Between the evening of Friday (8th November) and 11am on Saturday 9th a vehicle parked on Goathill Road had its rear window smashed and scratches to its paintwork. The number to quote with any information on this incident is NH1582/19.

A man is appearing at Stornoway Sheriff Court today (Monday November 11th) after police were called to an incident in Melbost on Saturday.

A domestic incident at 2.30am on Saturday led to a 46-year-old man being arrested and charged with domestic assault.

He’s been kept in custody ahead of his court appearance today.

Stornoway police are appealing for information after cash was taken from a church in Stornoway two weeks ago.

Between the afternoon of Saturday 26th October and midday on Sunday 27th there was a theft of cash from St.Peter’s Episcopal Church on Francis Street.

Police and St.Peter’s Episcopal congregation would be grateful if any member of the public with relevant information would come forward to help, using the non-emergency number 101 and quoting incident number NH1506/19.

 

Councillor Gordon Murray is holding a surgery

at Grianan Centre, Stornoway,

 on Thursday 14th November, at 7pm -8pm.

All welcome.

The SNP remains the most popular party in Scotland with a 20-point lead over its nearest rivals, according to a poll published by YouGov.

The poll found that 42% of voters are backing the SNP at the upcoming UK General Election on 12th December, with support for the Tories and Labour at 22% and 12% respectively. Ths means that Labour is currently running in fourth place behind the Lib Dems whose support has risen from 7% to 13%. The Brexit Party was on 6%, while the Greens are on 4%.

The poll conducted from October 23-25, examining voting intention showed SNP support has risen from 37% to 42% compared to the 2017 general election.

Angus MacNeil, standing for the SNP in Na h-Eileanan an Iar, commented: “This latest YouGov poll is a very interesting and startling poll. It shows the SNP with a substantial lead and Labour in fourth place across Scotland.

"It is still early days and every vote has to be worked for but at the moment signs look good for the SNP.

"And if elected I will continue to do the hard work I have done in the last number of years."

The Lewis War Memorial has turned red for this year’s Poppy Scotland Light Up Red appeal, which is also being marked on the island by a projection of images of some of the islanders who made the ultimate sacrifice in World Wars One and Two.

Point and Sandwick Trust’s engineering consultant Tony Robson fitted red filters onto Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s existing floodlights at the War Memorial and arranged the slideshow projection, which is being shown on the side of the Old Knock School in Point, where the community wind farm charity’s offices are located. The school is also being partly lit by a red LED light.

The red lighting and the slideshow will be visible during the hours of darkness over the weekend.

They were launched last night (Friday) and will be in place until Monday night, inclusive. However, if there is enough interest the slideshow could be left in place throughout the coming week.

Community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust turned its Beinn Ghrideag turbines red for last year’s Light Up Red appeal but this year chose to light up the War Memorial, with all practical matters taken care of by Tony Robson.

Tony also arranged the slideshow projection which is based on the Iolaire slideshow displayed for the 100th anniversary of the tragedy in January – projected on the side wall of the Old Knock School then too – but now features two extra sections, showing images of some who were lost in both World Wars. These images are largely of those who served from the Point area but people are expected to travel to see it, as they did last time.

Beinn Ghrideag developer Calum MacDonald said it was appropriate to light up the War Memorial.  “The War Memorial is something that we’ve all grown up with and sometimes we just ignore it or forget about it but at this time it’s a really important and powerful monument. I think it should be the first building in our thoughts when we’re thinking about lighting up for Poppy Day.”

He also said it was appropriate to expand on the sideshow as this was “about those who sacrificed in all the wars”, adding: “All we can do is give an illustrative sample of photos but I think it’s important to represent the widest range that we can.”

Tony received help from staff in the Stornoway Library and and from Malcolm Macdonald, chair of Stornoway Historical Society and co-author of Iolaire book The Darkest Dawn, in his quest for pictures. Malcolm Macdonald sourced pictures for the projection display from magazines including The War Illustrated and online sites. The graphics were by Steven MacAskill, aged 16, from North Tolsta.

Malcolm Macdonald welcomed the lighting up red of the War Memorial. “I really always admired the fact that the War Memorial was lit up and I think it’s a special day, Poppy Day, with the red of the poppies and possibly the blood as an appropriate colour for it. The War Memorial is an edifice that can be seen from the four parishes of the island. Some people refer to it as the Stornoway War Memorial but it’s not. It’s the Lewis War Memorial.”

The Light Up Red appeal officially runs from November 4 to 11 and is part of the wider Scottish Poppy Appeal, running up to Remembrance Day which takes place tomorrow (Sunday).

The Poppy Appeal has a twin purpose – remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice and to raise money to help those who have been left disadvantaged by their time in Service.

Poppy Scotland have a map on their website (www.poppyscotland.org.uk/get-involved/scottish-poppy-appeal/light-up-red), showing poppies over the places in Scotland which have Lit Up Red for the appeal and that includes a poppy over the Isle of Lewis.

The poppy map can be found at: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1rx_u3FxmJMdGSAwfBSFT6DP7ItKp2pPE&ll=55.4193267756126%2C-3.2634235499999704&z=6

Picture by Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos

orial has turned red for this year’s Poppy Scotland Light Up Red appeal, which is also being marked on the island by a projection of images of some of the islanders who made the ultimate sacrifice in World Wars One and Two.

Point and Sandwick Trust’s engineering consultant Tony Robson fitted red filters onto Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s existing floodlights at the War Memorial and arranged the slideshow projection, which is being shown on the side of the Old Knock School in Point, where the community wind farm charity’s offices are located. The school is also being partly lit by a red LED light.

The red lighting and the slideshow will be visible during the hours of darkness over the weekend.

They were launched last night (Friday) and will be in place until Monday night, inclusive. However, if there is enough interest the slideshow could be left in place throughout the coming week.

Community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust turned its Beinn Ghrideag turbines red for last year’s Light Up Red appeal but this year chose to light up the War Memorial, with all practical matters taken care of by Tony Robson.

Tony also arranged the slideshow projection which is based on the Iolaire slideshow displayed for the 100th anniversary of the tragedy in January – projected on the side wall of the Old Knock School then too – but now features two extra sections, showing images of some who were lost in both World Wars. These images are largely of those who served from the Point area but people are expected to travel to see it, as they did last time.

Beinn Ghrideag developer Calum MacDonald said it was appropriate to light up the War Memorial.

“The War Memorial is something that we’ve all grown up with and sometimes we just ignore it or forget about it but at this time it’s a really important and powerful monument. I think it should be the first building in our thoughts when we’re thinking about lighting up for Poppy Day.”

He also said it was appropriate to expand on the sideshow as this was “about those who sacrificed in all the wars”, adding: “All we can do is give an illustrative sample of photos but I think it’s important to represent the widest range that we can.”

Tony received help from staff in the Stornoway Library and and from Malcolm Macdonald, chair of Stornoway Historical Society and co-author of Iolaire book The Darkest Dawn, in his quest for pictures. Malcolm Macdonald sourced pictures for the projection display from magazines including The War Illustrated and online sites. The graphics were by Steven MacAskill, aged 16, from North Tolsta.

Malcolm Macdonald welcomed the lighting up red of the War Memorial. “I really always admired the fact that the War Memorial was lit up and I think it’s a special day, Poppy Day, with the red of the poppies and possibly the blood as an appropriate colour for it. The War Memorial is an edifice that can be seen from the four parishes of the island. Some people refer to it as the Stornoway War Memorial but it’s not. It’s the Lewis War Memorial.”

The Light Up Red appeal officially runs from November 4 to 11 and is part of the wider Scottish Poppy Appeal, running up to Remembrance Day which takes place tomorrow (Sunday).

The Poppy Appeal has a twin purpose – remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice and to raise money to help those who have been left disadvantaged by their time in Service.

Poppy Scotland have a map on their website (www.poppyscotland.org.uk/get-involved/scottish-poppy-appeal/light-up-red), showing poppies over the places in Scotland which have Lit Up Red for the appeal and that includes a poppy over the Isle of Lewis. The poppy map can be found at: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1rx_u3FxmJMdGSAwfBSFT6DP7ItKp2pPE&ll=55.4193267756126%2C-3.2634235499999704&z=6

 

ends

 

Pictures: The Lewis War Memorial lit up red, Tony Robson making the final arrangements for the lighting, and the slideshow of remembrance at the Old Knock School.

Pictures by Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos (please credit)

Poppyscotland has drafted in ferry operator CalMac to help them educate a new generation of young Scots about remembrance.

For the last six months, Poppyscotland’s Bud truck – a mobile museum - has been inspiring schools, youth groups and the wider public across Scotland to learn more about the history and heritage of the Poppy.

CalMac is helping them bring veterans’ stories to young audiences across its 49 island and remote mainland locations.

Poppyscotland’s Head of Fundraising Gordon Michie said: ‘We would like to express our sincere thanks for the support CalMac is providing to Poppyscotland. Reaching remote parts of Scotland is a key objective of Bud and this new partnership with CalMac will ensure that those living in Island communities can share their stories of reflection and hope, and learn more about the history and heritage of the poppy. By the time Bud celebrates its first birthday next May it will have visited all 32 Scottish local authority areas and that simply would not have been possible without the support of CalMac.

When it reaches its destination Bud transforms into an interactive learning space sharing Poppyscotland’s archive, veteran’s stories and the poppy’s history. A free resource for visitors to explore, it helps to keep remembrance relevant all year round.

‘Many of our former employees used their seafaring skills in the service of the Royal Navy during both world wars,’ said CalMac’s Managing Director, Robbie Drummond.

‘We maintain a close relationship with Poppyscotland and our vessels are regularly used for commemorations at sea so when we heard about the educational message the project was trying to achieve we were only too happy to help.’

Bud was made possible thanks to a £731,200 of funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and a £730,000 award by the Chancellor using LIBOR funds.

A Lewis-based group which supports children or adults with autism or other additional needs has received great help from the community to enable it to maximise the use of its sensory toys and equipment and potentially develop outreach sessions in the future.

Last night (Thursday November 8) Lewis and Harris Accordion and Fiddle Club presented a cheque for £3,322 to Autism Eileanan Siar, proceeds of their fundraising over the past year.

And the Lewis and Harris Accordion and Fiddle Club said theey owed huge thanks to the Co-operative Store for their help.

And help has also come from the Point and Sandwick Trust with a "substantial grant."

Autism Eileanan Siar holds regular play sessions and outings for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or additional support needs and also runs a drop-in support group for families who are affected by the condition.

The monthly drop-in support sessions are on the second Friday of every month between 10am and 12pm in the Failte Centre, Bayhead, Stornoway (formerly the Lewis Retirement Centre).

The fun sessions for children are also held monthly, in the Sandwick Community Hall, on a Saturday from 2pm to 4pm although dates vary due to hall availability. In addition, the group organises a range of events including outings to Spòrsnis in Ness or the Callanish Alpacas, as well as seasonal celebrations such as Christmas parties and Easter egg hunts.

Outwith the group, Stornoway arts centre An Lanntair holds four autism-friendly film screenings a year, which are well attended. Autism Eileanan Siar pushed for these screenings and it also books out the Adventure Island soft play every second month, so that children can enjoy the facility without becoming overwhelmed by noise.

Donna Shearsmith, chair of Autism Eileanan Siar, said: “Because children with autism and additional support needs can’t handle noise, queuing, etc, we hire out Adventure Island in the evening exclusively. We try to do it every second month and it’s where we have our Christmas party.

“We try to give these children the same experience as neurotypical children but set up in a way they are comfortable with.

“We’re also trying to raise awareness – we’ve done a few things this year, including running a schools competition – and we are inclusive of siblings, so our Saturdays in the hall are family days where everyone can come along.

“It’s good because, if a child has a meltdown, other parents aren’t going to sit and say, ‘look at what that child is doing…’”

The organisation received a substantial grant from Point and Sandwick Trust towards the purchase of a trailer, with ramps for easy access. It is now being used as a mobile store for all the equipment the group uses at their play sessions. This includes trikes, scooters, whizzy dizzy spinning balance toys and sand pits.

Donna said: “The kids love the monthly fun sessions but they’re not just about having fun. The sessions deal with their needs too, like motor skills. It’s all about sensory input.”

Around 35 children from Lewis attend the sessions in Stornoway but the group hopes to eventually go out to areas such as Harris and Ness “to show what Autism Eileanan Siar is all about”.

A wide range of treatments can help people with the Autism Spectrum Disorder and everyone is welcome to the drop-in sessions.

Donald John MacSween, general manager of Point and Sandwick Trust, said the community wind farm charity was pleased to be able to help the group financially and also give them moral support.

He said: “Autism Eileanan Siar provide a fantastic service and are making a real difference in the lives of children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder or additional needs and their families.

“We hope we can help raise awareness of the group and their work so that everyone knows about what they have to offer. With so much support available, it would be a shame if people were missing out and we’re happy to do our bit to help.

“We should remember that Autism Eileanan Siar is run by volunteers, like so many other excellent groups in the community, and these groups only exist because of the volunteers’ hard work and dedication. We want to thank them for all that they do. It makes a real difference to people’s lives.”

 

 

Pictures by Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos

 

Stornoway Police station has become a second home for the new Police Scotland drugs detection dog Bear, who started work on October 25th.

Bear and his newly qualified handler, Constable Stuart Wightman, will be permanently based in the Western Isles, replacing the retired drugs dog Jax.

Bear was an instant hit with colleagues. Apart from his obvious enthusiasm for being part of the police team, since starting work, he and his handler have successfully detected cocaine with a street value of £11,000 and cannabis with a street value of £1,000.

The provision of the trained detection dog supports the Outer Hebrides Alcohol and Drugs Partnership (ADP) aim to contribute to a reduction and distribution of illegal drugs entering the islands, thereby helping to prevent access to harmful substances whilst at the same time contributing towards healthier lives for the people of the Outer Hebrides.

Gordon Jamison Outer Hebrides ADP chair said: “I very much welcome the return of a drugs detection dog to the Outer Hebrides and the impact already being achieved. Bear will make a valuable contribution to keeping our communities safe and healthy."

The picture shows Bear and Stuart getting familiar with their new patch (Police Scotland).

Residents of Trust Housing on Matheson Road are still grinning from ear to ear this afternoon (Friday November 8th) after their first experience of an intergenerational project facilitated by the Volunteer Centre Western Isles.

Pupils from Primary 2 at Stornoway Primary School came to visit the residents at Trust Housing as part of a project designed to create new experiences and relationships between old and young.

This morning the pupils and residents had their first encounter, getting introduced and learning each other’s names.

Trust Housing manager Carol Ferguson told welovestornoway.com: “The children were a bit nervous when they first arrived but within two minutes they were chattering away.

“It was great to see the resident’s faces all lit up. They are still smiling from ear to ear. The class has three sets of identical twins, so that was a real talking point and with many of them having grandchildren who are away on the mainland it was great for them to spend time with young children.”

The project, led by Bellann O’Brien, is due to continue fortnightly until Christmas, but there’s a special visit next Friday when the children will be dressed up for Children in Need.

And they’ve also been given Trust Housing’s teddy, Isla Lewis to take back to school for a week, so that she can tell her own tales of life at Stornoway Primary. One resident said: "It is so lovely to see the children, they have so much energy."

Carol said: “In future weeks we’ll be talking about holidays, where the residents used to work, favourite foods and what Stornoway used to be like in the old days. We have five visits planned up to Christmas and we hope to continue the project after that.”

The pictures show P2 children meeting Trust Housing residents today (Trust Housing and Volunteer Centre Western Isles).

MV Loch Seaforth has moved from dry dock and is ready to begin sea trials tomorrow (Saturday November 9th) at the end of her annual overhaul.

She left dry dock in Birkenhead early yesterday and is now receiving finishing touches in Liverpool before her sea trials begin early tomorrow morning. All being well, she’s then set to return to Stornoway on Sunday.

The ship’s annual refurbishment has over-run its schedule due to the application of a new external coating system intended to improve efficiency and extend the lifespan of the hull coating. Weather conditions delayed the application of this finish.

She’s also had her cooling system enhanced, a number of sewage tanks replaced, and a partial cable rewire during the upgrade work.

MV Isle of Lewis has been running night and day to meet the passenger and freight requirements of the Stornoway Ullapool route. She was today (Friday November 8th) reported to be running half an hour late on the return from Ullapool with a technical issue.

She’ll continue to operate the route on Saturday and Sunday, with Loch Seaforth taking up the route as of the 7am sailing from Stornoway on Monday.

The Isle of Lewis will then reposition to Oban to recommence her service between Oban and Castlebay. She’s due for her own annual upgrade from January 25th next year.

The picture shows the view from the Loch Seaforth deck in Liverpool (Christopher Lonie).

Drivers who don't wear a seatbelt, use their phones or speed will be the focus of a campaign next week.

The week-long campaign will promote safer driving and is let by the Road Policing Division with support from Safety Camera Units.

The event will start tomorrow (Satruday 9 November) and run until Friday 15 November.

In particular, officers want to highlight the importance of wearing a seatbelt in the front and rear, regardless of the type of vehicle you are in.

Figures reveal that in 2017, 27% of people who died in cars in Britain were not wearing a seatbelt.

Recent statistics for road casualties in 2018 highlight that driver error or reaction was reported in 65% of all reported crashes in 2018, travelling too fast was a factor in 16% of fatal crashes and driving while using a mobile phone was a factor in five fatal crashes.

Chief Inspector Simon Bradshaw said: “We know that using a mobile phone, driving while distracted, travelling at inappropriate speeds and not wearing a seatbelt are significant factors in fatal and serious injury crashes.

This is why we take the matter seriously as they are avoidable, which makes it all the more tragic when people are killed in road crashes under these circumstances.

“Police Scotland works closely with other road safety agencies and partners to highlight the importance of driving safely but we cannot do this alone. We need motorists to take road safety seriously and to change their behaviour.

“We will interact with drivers through education to influence behaviour but where necessary, we will take enforcement action.”

The Western Isles could play a role in the manufacture of hydrogen in the future.

A seminar was hosted this week looking at opportunities which hydrogen manufacture could offer the islands.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has said: "The manufacture of hydrogen is extremely energy intensive but, with the best wind resource in the Northern Hemisphere, the Outer Hebrides are well positioned to manufacture hydrogen from renewable energy."

A study has been commissioned, supported by Community Energy Scotland, to look at where additional hydrogen opportunities may lie and how they can be accessed.

This work will run in parallel with the Comhairle’s Hydrogen Project – Outer Hebrides Local Energy Hub (OHLEH).

OHLEH is a partnership between the Comhairle, Scottish Salmon Company, Pure Energy Centre and Community Energy Scotland that generates green hydrogen and oxygen from Fish Farm waste at the Creed Recycling Centre in a true, circular economy.

Councillor Uisdean Robertson, Chair of the Comhairle’s Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, said: “The Comhairle has been active in hydrogen since 2010 when an eectrolyser was installed at Creed Park Recycling Centre.

"Now we are powering our own hydrogen Refuse Collection vehicle, one of only five in Scotland, from electrolyser hydrogen and hydrogen produced by the innovative OHLEH project.

"In addition, over the past few months, the Comhairle has engaged with commercial partners to explore the use of hydrogen produced in the islands in local heat networks.

"At the seminar, it was good to learn abouthydrogen innovation taking place here in the Outer Hebrides and further afield and to hear from, among others, Nigel Holmes from the Scottish Hydrogen & Fuel Cells Association, and representatives from the growing Orkney Hydrogen sector.

"In the Comhairle’s revised Energy Strategy, one strand will focus on local hydrogen production and the benefits it offers to all our communities.”

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed a new Scottish Government action plan to kick-start developments in rural areas.

The need for planning permission could be removed for certain types of rural developments to help tackle depopulation and support the economy of the islands.

The changes are being considered as part of a new action plan to implement a radical shake-up of planning laws.

Under this review, small scale developments, such as the conversion of agricultural buildings to deliver more homes in the Western Isles, could automatically be given the go-ahead.

Alasdair Allan MSP commented: “Tackling depopulation and supporting the sustainability of our rural communities are critical issues and the planning system has an important role to play in that.  This planning review is one of a number of actions the Scottish Government is undertaking to grow Scotland’s rural areas.

“I am encouraged by what these changes could do for the islands and I hope they can aid in the fight against depopulation.”

 

A major search was launched in Barra last night (Thursday November 7th) after a man was reported missing by his family.

Western Isles Police called for assistance from all other emergency services after the man was reported missing in a coastal area near Allasdale just after 7pm.

The Barra RNLI Lifeboat was launched and joined Barra police, a Scottish Fire and Rescue team, Barra Coastguard Rescue team and ambulance personnel in the search. Barra RNLI used a flare to light the scene as other services assembled.

Stornoway Coastguard operations centre tasked rescue helicopter R948 to transport members of the Stornoway Coastguard Rescue Team and the area commander from Stornoway to Barra.

Soon after establishing a site search plan, the casualty was located safe and well and was taken into the care of Scottish Ambulance and family members.

Area commander Murdo Macaulay told welovestornoway.com this morning: “An incident such as this underlines the way every emergency service in the islands works really well together. It’s the pay-off for the time and effort we put into training together on such a regular basis.

“Putting the time into preparation and practice means that on the day of an incident everything works smoothly and with precision, and we can often hope for a successful outcome, as we had yesterday.”

Pictures show members of Stornoway Coastguard Rescue Team en route to the emergency by helicopter, and the search site being set up (HM Coastguard Western Isles, Skye and Lochaber).

 

The best of produce from near and far 08/11/2019

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. 

Vegetables

 

Price Each

 Quantity

Aubergine

 

£1.45

 

Butternut Squash   

 

£2.40

 

Green Cabbage

 

£1.85

 

Savoy Cabbage

 

£1.85

 

Cabbage (White UK)

 

£2.60

 

Cauliflower

 

£1.95

 

Romanesco

 

£1.95

 

Celeriac (UK)

 

£2.40

 

Celery (UK)

 

£1.35

 

Fennel

 

£1.35

 

Garlic Large

 

£0.95

 

Turmeric (100g)

 

£2.95

 

 

 

Price Per KG

Quantity

Beetroot (UK)

 

£2.45

 

Broccoli (UK)

 

£3.75

 

New Season Dirty Carrots

 

£1.95

 

Ginger

 

£5.00

 

Horseradish

 

£15.00

 

Kale

 

£8.00

 

Leeks (UK)

 

£2.95

 

Mixed Squash

 

£2.95

 

Mushrooms UK

 

£5.00

 

Onions (White)

 

£1.65

 

Onions (Red)

 

£1.75

 

Parsnips

 

£2.95

 

Golden Wonder

 

£1.95

 

Kerr’s Pink

 

£1.55

 

Roosters

 

£1.55

 

Shallots

 

£4.50

 

Swede (Scottish New Season)

 

£1.55

 

Sweet Potato

 

£2.95

 

 

 

Price Each

Quantity

Little Gem (x2)

 

£1.50

 

Cos Lettuce

 

£1.50

 

Cucumber

 

£1.00

 

Spring Onions

 

£1.00

 

 

 

Price Per KG

Quantity

Peppers (Mixed Red, Green, and yellow)

 

£3.95

 

Tomato (Cherry on Vine)

 

£5.95

 

Heritage Tomatoes

 

£5.30

 

Plum Tomatoes

 

£3.95

 

Fruit

 

Price Each

Quantity

Cox Apples (UK)

 

4 for £1.50

 

Winsor (UK)

 

4 for £1.50

 

Gala Apples

 

5 for £1.50

 

Avocado

 

£1.50

 

Grapefruit

 

£0.90

 

Kiwi Fruit

 

£0.50

 

Lemons

 

£0.50

 

Limes

 

£0.50

 

Yellow Melon

 

£1.95

 

Oranges Large

 

3 for £1.80

 

Pears (Conference)

 

4 for £1.50

 

Plums

 

4 for £1.50

 

Satsumas

 

4 for £1.50

 

 

 

Price per Kg

Quantity

Bananas

 

£1.70

 

Bramleys

 

£2.95

 

Chillies Red

 

£15.00

 

Courgettes

 

£2.95

 

Red Seedless Grapes

 

£4.95

 

Local Fresh Eggs

 

£2.00

 

Work to complete a major engineering contract at the Arnish yard of BiFab is continuing on schedule, according to the on-site project manager.

Workers started in March on the task of building 100 piles for the Moray East Offshore Windfarm, securing jobs at the Lewis site for the majority of this year.

BiFab’s Canadian owner DF Barnes secured the contract and is still seeking further opportunities for the workers. They describe the Arnish yard as one of the best equipped in the company.

But unions said in October that workers were continuing under threat of redundancy. Unite and the GMB reported that six-week redundancy notices had been issued to the employees and described the news as “a major blow to the workers who have had to endure so much uncertainty over recent years.”

DF Barnes denied the claims and said it had issued no notices to staff. A source close to the Newfoundland-based firm told the industry journal Energy Voice that “no redundancies have been issued” to the BiFab workforce.

Despite the continuing uncertainty, work on the major contract is going ahead well. Project manager Ian Potts told welovestornoway.com today (Thursday November 7th) “We have so far loaded out 21 completed piles and are on schedule to complete the manufacturing elements by end of November, with the final loadouts through the first two weeks of December, subject to weather.

“In addition we have taken on a very small bit of work for Quinn Drilling who are doing work on the new Stornoway Marina. That is a very minor piece of work - just four small piles to be modified.”

The first two rounds of the National Gaelic Schools' Debate was held in Stornoway Town Hall earlier this month.

Out of the sixteen teams present, four made it through to the semi-finales, including Sir E Scott School and Liniclate School.

The event, which took place on Tuesday 5 and Wednesday 6 November, saw judges Iain Steven Morrison, Agnes Rennie and Boyd Robertson picking the semi-finalists.

The first semi-final draw will see Inverness Royal Academy B against Liniclate School. In the second debate of the evening Bishopbriggs Academy A will be against Sir E Scott School. 

Semi-finals will be held at the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel in Edinburgh on Wednesday 4th December 2019.

The Final will be held the following evening, Thursday 5 December in the main chamber at The Scottish Parliament and will be broadcast live on BBC Radio nan Gàidheal.

The topic for the debate between Inverness Royal Academy B and Liniclate School will be: “Gadgets like Fitbits are helpful to keep us healthy.”

Bishopbriggs Academy A will debate against Sir E Scott School on the topic: “It is better to follow than be the first.”

The winner of Debate A will face the winner of Debate B in the final on the topic: “In twenty years, the proper Gaelic communities will be in the big cities.”

The SNP candidate for the Na h-Eileanan an Iar constituency in this year’s General Election launched his campaign today (Thursday November 7th).

Angus MacNeil said: "It is a privilege to have been chosen by local SNP members to stand as candidate for the 2019 Election. The Election of 2017 was unexpected but this election has been predicted almost every month since June 2017.

"For Scotland this Election is about choosing our own future – about what kind of country we want to be and about taking control of our own affairs. For the United Kingdom the Election is about Brexit – breaking away from our European partners and exiting the free trade deals we currently enjoy. As Chair of the International Trade Committee, I have seen the World Trade Organisation(WTO) tariffs and how countries try to join together in blocs to prevent having to pay the higher rates attached to WTO deals. There is no good Brexit – no other trade arrangements will give the UK the benefits it currently enjoys – even the Tory Government's own reports show that.

"Today, in Scotland the party that speaks for the people of Scotland is the SNP, the party which continues to govern as Westminster sinks, the party of free prescription, free university tuition , free bus travel for the elderly and the many other privileges that living in Scotland affords.

"I would encourage everyone to vote SNP on December 12th and allow me the honour of representing you in Westminster where I will stand strong in the interests of Na h-Eileanan an Iar and Scotland."

The Stornoway branch of the animal welfare charity Cats Protection is now officially closed, with local branch committee members yesterday (Wednesday November 6th) stating that they had been ‘dismissed’ by the national charity.

The last cats in care locally were re-homed last week and a final home-to-home adoption facilitated by the branch was also completed.

As initially reported by welovestornoway.com three weeks ago, the local branch committee had been told that the local service did not offer ‘value for money’ for supporters of the charity, despite longstanding commitment from local supporters.

A former committee member was asked to stand down with immediate effect after reporting to us that the charity planned to withdraw their support from the local branch. They cited veterinary costs and the availability of ‘alternative services’ such as the SSPCA to provide care for cats in the islands.

The local SSPCA and Stornoway vet Hector Lowe at that time condemned the closure of the branch, saying that neither of them had capacity to meet the needs of the large feral cat population in the islands, or of the unwanted cats and kittens that continued to find their way into charity care.

Welovstornoway.com readers bombarded Cats Protection with enquiries last month, receiving the reply: “It is with great regret that, after much discussion at a local level, Cats Protection has made the decision to wind down branch operations. The charity is currently looking at other ways it may be able to support cats on the island.”

But committee members disputed the claim that there had been discussion or consultation locally on the closure. Yesterday the remaining branch members issued a social media statement saying: “Please be advised this branch of Cats Protection has been officially closed by the head office. The local committee worked hard to prevent this but were dismissed after fighting to stay open.

“We would like to thank you for your support over the years, it has been very much appreciated.”

The formal confirmation of earlier reports generated a new storm of outrage from supporters. Former branch co-ordinator, Karen Cowan, wrote: “I’m actually ashamed now that I gave so much of my time to a charity that can do this to the Islands and has such a complete disregard for the feline population here. I really thought they were different and put the cats first but they pulled the wool over my eyes, profits first like so many national charities.

“I don’t however regret the countless lives we saved over the years, it’s a pretty great legacy when I think about all your babies and their stories. I would like to thank all of you who supported me and my team and I’m so sorry for the new committee that things have ended this way.”

Cats Protection's national media office provided welovestornoway.com with the following statement: "Cats Protection has suspended its cat welfare work on the Isles of Lewis and Harris because we have been unable to reach an agreement for year-round neutering of stray and feral cats with the island’s only veterinary practice. There are differences between our views on the best way to approach the long-term management of the feral colonies on the island.

"Cats Protection’s Feral Strategy aims to improve the quality of life of feral cats through targeted trap, neuter and return (TNR) programmes and by increasing the understanding of the welfare needs of feral cats. We need to ensure any work embraces our welfare ethos and is cost-effective for Cats Protection so that we put our limited funds to best use.

"We are currently exploring alternative ways of working so that we can continue to help unwanted and abandoned cats on the island."

This story has been updated to include a response from Cats Protection's national office.

The picture shows the last kitten adopted with the support of Cats Protection Lewis and Harris branch, re-homed this week.

The Scottish Government has come under attack from Labour and Tory MSPs for the failures of the Islands’ ferry services

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant criticised the Scottish Government’s lack of foresight and strategic approach to the ferry infrastructure and condemned it for ignoring the wishes and advice of local communities.

 “When Loch Seaforth was built for the Stornoway to Ullapool route, the community wanted two smaller boats. This would enable more sailings in the summer and provide cover throughout the fleet in the winter for dry-docking.

“Instead, the Government gave them one large vessel that does not provide sufficient capacity in the summer and sails half empty in the winter.”

Ms Grant went on to say that “The Government brought in RET, another flagship policy, but did so without providing any additional capacity. This means the very policy put in place to help islanders has had the effect of shutting them out of ferries.

“People travelling at short notice cannot get a place on the boat to make these journeys.  People who need to get to hospital, to visit sick relatives and to attend funerals all find that they cannot travel. Port staff do their utmost to help but most people are now routed through the centralised call centre and do not get to speak direct to port staff."

Ms Grant added that the fact that no one in the Scottish Government was measuring unmet need despite ongoing calls from local communities for improvements in service was a disgrace.

 She then raised the ongoing delays to the new dual-fuel ferries MV Glen Sannox and the unnamed Hull 802 which are now almost two years overdue. Ms Grant condemned the mismanaged project.

 “You could not make it up,” said Ms Grant. “It would appear these vanity projects mean that the Scottish Taxpayer is paying much more than they need to for new ferries.”

“We desperately need more new ferries so cannot afford to waste money.”

Ms Grant continued: “And the problems don’t stop there. We are now seeing delays with the Northern Isles Ferry contract where the Scottish Government appears to have again shut out the lowest bidder”

Meanwhile a Conservative motion in the Scottish parliament highlights that since 2007, there has been over 82,000 delays and cancellations across the Clyde and Hebridean Ferry Service network.

Figures from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) show that between January and September this year, the Stornoway to Ullapool route saw 30 cancelled sailings, and has arrived late on 226 occasions.

In a speech to the chamber, Donald Cameron MSP said: “Many local residents on the island are forced to plan ahead and book spaces on this service to travel to the mainland due to space being booked up well in advance by tourists and by haulage.  But even visitors struggle to book onto the ferry, such is the demand during peak season.”

Later Donald said: “Residents across the Lewis and Harris continue to raise this issue with me, and I will continue to highlight this anger to the Scottish Government.  The time for action is now, and I will work constructively with the Scottish Government to ensure residents get the reliable and robust service that everyone wants.”

In the same debate, Alasdair Allan, the SNP MSP said:"It is true that not everything is as it should—or could—be with our ferry services. However, in the past decade, we have seen many improvements. The introduction of RET was revolutionary and we have come a long way from the days when the Western Isles MP Donald Stewart was a lonely voice in the House of Commons when he advocated it. The present Scottish Government has doubled, in real terms, the amount of money that is invested in ferry services. That has been necessary to deal with the previous decade of chronic underinvestment, during which, as other members have pointed out, virtually no major vessels were built.

"Compared with the figures from a decade ago, ferries to the Western Isles now deal with an astonishing 184,000 additional passenger journeys every year. The number of visitors that we now host in May is typically what we would previously have expected to see in July, which is a good thing. It is also a fantastic tribute to the work that the tourist industry and others have done in making the Western Isles a must-visit destination for a huge range of tourists.

"That obviously puts strain on the network, the negative effects of which are felt predominantly by islanders who are trying to get on and off the islands at short notice. Although local people are able to live with that on a few busy weekends, it is asking too much for them to accept it for the whole of the summer. It is clear that we need more capacity on routes to the Western Isles. We also need to listen to what islanders say about how to deal with capacity issues in the short term. Over the summer there were calls for measures such as reserving space for islanders or introducing staggered bookings, and it is right that CalMac should explore the feasibility of introducing those."

(This article has been updated since first being published)

The Town Hall building in Stornoway was the setting for the first two rounds of the National Gaelic Schools’ Debate which took place on Tuesday and Wednesday the 5th and 6th of November. 

The judges; Iain Steven Morrison, Agnes Rennie and Boyd Robertson, certainly had their work cut out whittling 16 teams down to four. 

The four teams who have reached the semi-final stages of this year’s competition are Inverness Royal Academy B, Bishopbriggs Academy A, Sir E Scott School and Liniclate School .

The first semi-final draw will see Inverness Royal Academy B against Liniclate School.  In the second debate of the evening Bishopbriggs Academy A will be against Sir E Scott School.  

The semi-finals will be held at the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel in Edinburgh on Wednesday 4th December 2019.   The Final will be held the following evening, Thursday 5th December in the main chamber at The Scottish Parliament and will be broadcasted live on BBC Radio nan Gàidheal.

The topic for the debate between Inverness Royal Academy B and Liniclate School will be “Gadgets like Fitbits are helpful to keep us healthy.” Bishopbriggs Academy A will debate against Sir E Scott School on the topic “It is better to follow than the be first.”

The winner of Debate A will face the winner of Debate B in the final on the topic “In 20 years, the proper Gaelic communities will be in the big cities.”

The teams who lost out on Tuesday and Wednesday were Mallaig Secondary School; Inverness Royal Academy A; Dunoon Academy; The Nicolson Institute; Glasgow Gaelic School; Gairloch High School; Ardnamurchan High School; Bishopbriggs Royal Academy B; Portree High School; James Gillespie High School; Gairloch High School B; and Castlebay Community School

 

Ambitious plans to create a deep water port at Stornoway harbour are essential to allow the Outer Hebrides to benefit from the burgeoning cruise tourism market and bring new income and jobs to the islands, an event will hear tomorrow (Thursday, 7 November).

The deep water port is part of Stornoway Port Authority’s 20-year Master Plan and will be one of the biggest projects ever undertaken in the Hebrides.

Alex Macleod, the port authority’s chief executive, will outline the plan and how it will help attract future cruise traffic, at a two-day workshop being held in Stornoway.

The event, being held at An Lanntair tomorrow and Highlands and Islands Enterprise’s office on Friday, is part of HIE’s Be Business Brave series and is a partnership with the port authority and Outer Hebrides Tourism.

At present, Stornoway attracts relatively few large cruise vessels, as those over 156 metres in length are unable to berth alongside, and passengers are brought ashore by small tender. To maintain and grow the cruise market, Stornoway needs a facility for berthing cruise ships up to 350 metres long.

This would attract an additional 35-40 vessels a year, creating a significant number of business opportunities throughout the island as visitor numbers entering through the port continue to increase.

Alex Macleod said: “The deep water port is an essential development for Stornoway and the Outer Hebrides if we are serious about maximising the benefits that the cruise industry can bring. Other areas are seeing those benefits but at present we are restricted in the types of vessels we can attract.

“The project offers huge potential for the islands in terms of increasing visitor numbers and the jobs that will help create.”

In April, marine consulting civil engineers Wallace Stone were awarded the contract to design Phase 1 of the deep water port.

The project also includes a new deep-water berth for a freight ferry and for larger cargo vessels; berthing and unloading facilities for renewable energy components and development land for a range of uses.

 

Conal Ferguson, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Operator and Managing Director of Stornoway-based HebDrone, has become the first person to successfully complete the UK’s only training standard for industrial drone operators.

Approved by the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB), the Industrial Drone Operations Training Course was developed by Aberdeen-based Texo Compliance to ensure that the next generation of drone operators attain and develop the skills and knowledge they need to operate safely in heavy industrial environments that have specific operational hazards and constraints.

The development of the new course followed the launch of ECITB’s Industrial Drone Operations Training and Assessment Standard, again the first in the UK.

Conal, who set up HebDrone in November 2016 with his business partner Duncan, has been flying drones for three years. The company, which carries out Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Inspection and survey services throughout the UK and Europe, both on and offshore, operates three different types of drone including the DJI Matrice 210 RTK, which is IP-rated and allows the operation of dual cameras simultaneously, such as the Z30 zoom and XT thermal. They also operate the DJI Phantom 4 Pro, used primarily for aerial mapping, and the DJI Inspire 1 Pro, which is ideal for aerial filming and back-up inspection.

Conal applied for the course to help improve his skillset and knowledge, and to gain an industry-recognised certification. 

“Currently, the only standard for drone operators is the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) permission for commercial operations (PfCO), but the course set up by Texo Compliance and ECITB gives added protection to the client and shows that the operator has met higher standards.”

The past 10 years has seen increased use of UAVs in the industrial environment; however, Conal said that drone operators still face a number of challenges in today’s climate, one of which is convincing companies of the numerous benefits of the use of drones such as reducing risk, time-saving and reduction of cost in areas such as infrastructure inspection, their use has quadrupled in the last two years.

While the need to work at height using rope access, cherry pickers and scaffolding for repairs will always be there, companies can reduce the time needed at height by first conducting a UAV inspection.

The numbers of unregulated UAV operators are also an issue, as they can be of risk to the safety of client personnel as well as assets, and companies who use them may find themselves in trouble with the authorities.

“The CAA is starting to crack down on this and bring in penalties to those operating illegally, or hiring illegally,” said Conal.

“When hiring a commercial UAV operator, you would expect the job to be done safely and efficiently and, currently, commercial insurance cannot be obtained without a CAA PfCO. The operator with a PfCO has met a strict theory and practical assessment and is fully up-to-date with all regulations.

“This new assessment by Texo Compliance and ECITB is of an even higher standard, with a more complex testing procedure that is focused primarily on industrial applications.

“Texo Compliance’s test site itself is a great set-up, and allows for thorough testing of the UAV platform and operator. Everything was very well set out and explained fully prior to the test and the entire experience was fantastic. It was all very friendly and I was made to feel at ease straight away. I would definitely recommend it to other drone pilots.”

Following identification of the need for a national standard, industry employers approached the ECITB with a view to developing a competence model that would look to not only train and assure the competence of individual UAV operators, but also require them to validate ongoing competence over a rolling period.

The Industrial Drone Operations Training Course is available to anyone who has passed the CAA PfCO scheme and can meet the course pre-requisites. It has four stages including off-the-job training at an ECITB-approved centre; this is consolidated through drone operations on a live industrial site with 30 logged flying hours required within three to 12 months of initial training.

The third stage comprises formal technical testing at an ECITB-approved centre using the ECITB technical testing platform, while the final stage is renewal of the ECITB technical test certificate at 36 months through formal re-assessment. If the candidate can demonstrate sufficient experience, they can go straight to the formal technical assessment without the need for initial stage one off the job training.

The next training course will take place on Monday, November 11-15. The one-day Technical Assessment Day will take place on Friday, November 15. For more information about the course, or to apply for a place, please contact Texo Compliance on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

One of the world’s oldest and largest auction houses has set their sights on the Western Isles, with a visit planned for the week commencing November 18th.

London-based auctioneers and valuers Bonhams were founded in 1793 and have sale-rooms in New York, Paris and Sydney, as well as a sale-room in Edinburgh and offices in Glasgow.

It’s from the Glasgow office that director Gordon McFarlan, a specialist in silver, glass, furniture and works of art, is setting out for the islands, on his first ever valuation and consignment visit.

Mr McFarlan told welovestornoway.com: “We go once a year to Orkney and to Shetland and these are very productive trips for us.

“We often find in remote locations that people have retired there, taking their households with them, and the most unlikely things end up in remote parts of the UK.

“As far as I am aware there is no special brand or type of heritage item, although there was a rough-and ready type of pottery known as Barvas-ware. I am a general valuer, but we are a large company and have 500 specialists among our staff, so if I don’t recognise it I will have a colleague who will.”

Examples of items which would interest Bonhams include works of art and items from world travels, including to exotic locations.

Mr McFarlan said: “Throughout Scotland we find people whose parents and grandparents have served far afield, out in the Far East, in New Zealand or South Africa. Items which they may have brought back, including of jade and porcelain, are of great interest at sales.”

But he stresses that Bonhams applies no pressure on anyone to sell precious family treasures – as befits a company with an international reputation.

He said: “We meet someone at their home, see an item, suggest what it might be worth at sale and it is then entirely up to them whether they wish to consign it to us for sale at a future sale in Edinburgh.

“Whatever I find, I am looking forward to seeing the place itself and hope to be getting out and about in the islands while I am there.”

Mr McFarlan will visit Lewis, Harris and Uist in the week beginning November 16th and is available to contact for an appointment at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Picture shows one of an album of 39 views of Orkney by George Washington Wilson, [c.1890] sold for £357 in Edinburgh in May this year (Bonhams).

A woman whose car was involved in a road accident yesterday morning (Tuesday November 5th) has been charged with careless driving.

Police were called to a two-vehicle accident at the junction of Church Street and Keith Street at 7.15am, where the 23-year-old driver had been in collision with another car.

No-one was injured, but following investigations police charged the woman with careless driving and she was issued with a fixed penalty.

Stornoway woman Lynne Maciver has been appointed as the project manager for the planned Iolaire visitor centre in the heart of the town.

The appointment was announced this morning (Wednesday November 6th) by the Iolaire working group as the project enters the design planning stage.

Lynne has considerable experience working with both commercial and community-led projects and will lead the development and design stage ahead to bring a proposed Centre outline to the community for consultation in 2020.

The visitor centre is planned for a site at Stornoway’s no 1 pier as part of a revitalisation of the Stornoway town centre. It arises from strong support for a permanent and world-class visitor experience shown during a consultation with the community in 2018.

The Iolaire centre will commemorate the January 1st 1919 tragedy and its impact on the islands in the following period. Suggested displays could include artworks and photographs which were produced during the commemorations of the tragedy’s centenary between November 2018 and January this year.

A statement from the Iolaire working group this morning said: “The design phase is an opportunity to progress what the space could look like, the way the story is captured and told, and prepare for the raising of funds required to build the centre.

“The vision for the Centre is to create a space that tells not only the Iolaire story but that of the wider context of the island’s maritime history and war involvement. This design stage is an opportunity to tell the story sensitively and with due respect, over a century after the tragedy. It is expected that the Centre would be both a lasting commemorative introspection and a world-class visitor experience that supports a major, transformational, economic boost for the Islands.”

Project funding has been committed by Highlands and Islands marine equipment firm Gael Force Group with matched assistance and resource support agreed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

New project manager Lynne Maciver said: “The tragedy of the Iolaire is one that touched many lives and families on the islands and ensuring the story is told and protected for future generations is at the heart of what the Iolaire centre will do. It is a continuation of the incredible work done around the 100-year centenary commemorations recognising the importance of the story to the culture and heritage of the Islands.”

The Iolaire Centre website www.iolaire.org has further information on how you can get involved and to stay up to date on progress.

There's been a rapid reappraisal of Scottish Government policy on croft payments.

This came after predictions that the Scottish Government’s cabinet secretary for the rural economy could find himself on the receiving end of lively questioning when he visits Lewis tomorrow (Thursday November 7th).

Fergus Ewing MSP will be at Barvas and Brue community centre between 3.45 and 5.15pm tomorrow to answer questions and present information about crofting issues – and last night there was an announcement from the Scottish Government that an additional £10 million will now be targeted at crofters and farmers on Scotland’s most challenging land.

Following last week’s announcement from the Scottish Government regarding plans for the distribution of convergence funding, widespread and grave concerns had been raised over the proportion of that funding which would be going to crofters.

However, after receiving representations from Angus Brendan MacNeil MP,  Alasdair Allan MSP and other MSPs and candidates from the Labour and Conservative parties across the Highlands and Islands, Fergus Ewing has unveiled plans to increase the amount of money going to crofters and those farming in marginal areas.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan said: “This is a step in the right direction and I thank the Cabinet Secretary for listening to the arguments made by Angus MacNeil, myself, and others representing crofting interests.

“Today’s announcement means that a majority of the area-based payments from this tranche of funding will be going towards those crofts and farms which currently receive the lowest level of support. I believe this is much closer to the spirit of convergence than the original proposals, and is fairer towards crofters.

“This was the first of two tranches of money arising from convergence funding, and I will be making further representations to the Scottish Government to ensure that the second tranche is distributed in a way which is fair to crofters and those farming in marginal areas.”

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus MacNeil has also welcomed the announcement. He said: “It is commendable that the Scottish Government has looked again at this issue.  Happily, they have listened to the voices of many concerned crofters and an additional £10 million is to be allocated.

“At the moment the best mechanisms of allocating the £10 million are being sought and will certainly be good reason for further lobbying of the Scottish Government.  One thing that is clear, is that £10 million extra is coming for marginal and crofting land, which is something I am pleased about. 

“Campaigners who have been working on this in the past few days have to be congratulated for getting the Scottish Government to take action."

The announcement last week was about long-delayed ‘convergence money’ from the EU be paid on by UK Government to the Scottish Government. The Scottish Government then outlined how the initial £80 million worth of convergence funding would be distributed. This is part of a £160 million package the UK Government has agreed to pay to rectify a ‘historic wrong’ relating to EU Common Agricultural Policy funding that it failed to pass on to Scotland between 2014-2020.  Crofting organisations protested that Mr Ewing missed a golden opportunity when he announced the formula by which the money was to be awarded, as it did not adequately address the disadvantages faced by crofters on remote and marginal land.

At 5.06pm on Sunday 3rd November, two Stornoway police officers crossed the finish line of the New York Marathon in Central Park, having raised more than £4000 for the PC Nicola Hughes Memorial Fund, (Katie Macleod reports from New York).

Detective Constable Fiona Mackenzie and PC Johan Macleod set off from Staten Island, one of New York City’s five boroughs, late on Sunday morning with the fourth wave of runners, making their way steadily through Brooklyn, Queens, Harlem, and into Central Park for the last few miles of the world’s largest marathon.

They were part of a group of almost 60 police officers from across the UK who were running to raise funds for the charity set up in memory of PC Nicola Hughes, who was killed while on duty in Manchester in 2012. Founded by Nicola’s father Bryn, the charity provides learning opportunities and pre-employment skills to children who have suffered the loss of a close family member because of violent crime.

“When communities can see police officers doing what they’re doing to raise money to help children… it can only be a positive thing. If a police officer’s going to run 26 miles, and it means a child has school uniform for the next few years, that’s an achievement,” Bryn told welovestornoway.com. 

Neither Fiona, who lives in Point, or Jo, who’s based in Stornoway, had ever run a marathon before, but they had been busy training for the last few months, whether it was laps around the Castle Grounds or runs out to the Iolaire Memorial in Holm (where, they joked, the only supporters watching them were the sheep).

In New York, the crowds looked a little bit different. The pair had supporters every step of the way, as city residents came out to support 50,000 runners by clapping, cheering, and waving encouraging signs. “New York came out to party for us for 26.2 miles!” said Jo after the race. “’Go Jo and Fiona, you got this’ was the constant chant from everyone for the whole route. I definitely couldn’t have done it without the support and the buzz of the New York people and all the people who have sponsored and supported me.” 

“We took it super easy and it paid off, crossed the line with smiles on our faces, bodies still intact and I didn’t even hit 'the wall' at any point,” she added. “A few miles we struggled with but at no point did I think ‘I can’t do this.’ I would do one again... now I know I can cross the line in one piece!”

Fiona felt the same. “The people of New York were amazing, cheering you on as if they knew us personally, it was fantastic! A few rubbish points, but we got through it. I wouldn’t have managed without Jo. I will likely do another one, provided my joints hold out! I got literally hundreds of donations while we were running, which is astonishing and overwhelming!”

Although the marathon is over for another year, you can still support Jo, Fiona, and the PC Nicola Hughes Memorial Fund at the links below:

A man has appeared in court charged with assault after an incident in Stornoway in the early hours of Sunday (November 3rd).

The 26-year-old man was arrested and charged with assault on a staff member at licensed premises in Stornoway.

He appeared at Stornoway Sheriff Court from custody on Monday.

A man arrested on North Beach Street in Stornoway on Saturday night has had his car confiscated.

The 25-year-old was charged with drink-driving and taken into custody, from where he appeared in court on Monday (November 4th).

The court ordered his vehicle to be seized as a result of the offence.

Stornoway police were active around the grounds of Lews Castle over the past weekend, in an attempt to reduce misbehaviour among young people.

Between Friday (November 1st) and Sunday alcohol was seized from eight under-age people and two young people are to be reported to the children’s reporter for offences involving disorder.

 

Car damaged in car park

Police are also looking for information after a car was damaged in the golf club car park overnight on Saturday.

Between 9.30pm on Saturday and 12.30am on Sunday the blue car sustained damage, and police would like to hear from anyone who knows how this may have happened on the non-emergency number 101, referring to incident NH1543/19.

 

Drink driver loses car

A man arrested on North Beach Street in Stornoway on Saturday night has had his car confiscated.

The 25-year-old was charged with drink-driving and taken into custody, from where he appeared in court on Monday (November 4th).

The court ordered his vehicle to be seized as a result of the offence.

 

In court for assault

A man has appeared in court charged with assault after an incident in Stornoway in the early hours of Sunday (November 3rd).

The 26-year-old man was arrested and charged with assault on a staff member at licensed premises in Stornoway.

He appeared at Stornoway Sheriff Court from custody on Monday.

 

The expected return of MV Loch Seaforth from dry dock in Birkenhead has been delayed while upgrade work is completed, with further knock-on effects on the timetable.

Loch Seaforth has been away for her annual overhaul since Sunday October 20th, her place taken by the old ferry MV Isle of Lewis and the freight run carried out by MV Hebridean Isles.

Hebridean Isles herself headed off for her annual refit yesterday (Monday November 4th), leaving the Isle of Lewis running round the clock to meet the passenger and freight needs of the Stornoway Ullapool route.

MV Loch Seaforth was due to return on Friday (November 8th), but CalMac is now notifying passengers that Saturday’s service will continue with the Isle of Lewis and her longer journey time, affecting the expected timetable.

It’s not known how long the delayed return is likely to affect the route.

Among upgrade work being carried out on the Loch Seaforth, she is getting an improved external hull coating system intended to improve efficiency with an extended lifespan. Her cooling system is also being enhanced, sewage tanks replaced, and she’s had a partial cable rewire.

Picture: The MV Isle of Lewis continues on the Minch run between Stornoway and Ullapool. Picture by Chris Murray.

There’s growing concern about the well-being of domestic pets and livestock as bonfire night parties and firework displays gather pace today (November 5th).

An increasing number of pet-owners are joining a national movement seeking to reduce or even ban firework displays due to concerns about animal welfare. Sainsburys supermarket has stopped the sale of fireworks and the radio station Classic FM is playing soothing music and dog noises tonight to help dog-owners provide distraction for their pets.

In an attempt to help animal-lovers, the Facebook page Western Isles Noticeboard is carrying an open list of firework events scheduled.

They include:

Tonight (November 5th) – Cearns firework display; Arnol 6pm; Tarbert 7-8.30pm; North Lochs; Gravir Old School 6.30pm.

Friday November 8th – Laxdale school; Sheshader 6.30-7pm; Barvas machair; Shawbost Old School 5.30pm; Gress; North Tolsta 6.30pm.

Saturday November 9th – Knock, Point 6pm; Upper Bayble 6pm; Laxay showground; private party Newmarket 6.30pm onwards; Tong community bonfire 7pm; Borve, westside; Melbost; North Street Stornoway.

You can add more details by joining Western Isles Noticeboard at https://www.facebook.com/groups/211832955678408/ or you can enter firework events in the welovestornoway.com calendar by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Scottish Government’s cabinet secretary for the rural economy could find himself on the receiving end of lively questioning when he visits Lewis on Thursday (November 7th).

Fergus Ewing MSP will be at Barvas and Brue community centre between 3.45 and 5.15pm that day to answer questions and present information about crofting issues.

His visit coincides with a fast-moving and, at times, angry debate about payments to crofters, after an announcement last week that long-delayed ‘convergence money’ from the EU was to be paid on by UK Government to the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Government then outlined how the initial £80 million worth of convergence funding would be distributed. This is part of a £160 million package the UK Government has agreed to pay to rectify a ‘historic wrong’ relating to EU Common Agricultural Policy funding that it failed to pass on to Scotland between 2014-2020.

Crofting organisations believe that Mr Ewing missed a golden opportunity when he announced the formula by which the money was to be awarded, which does not adequately address the disadvantages faced by crofters on remote and marginal land.

Angus MacNeil MP said: “Clearly there are concerns that the convergence money is not being distributed to where it is most needed.

“The Scottish Government must review and make good the concerns of crofters and meet the original hopes for this funding. We know that this money was delayed by Westminster for a number of years and that the current money has to be distributed by March 2020. It would seem that the Scottish Government has rushed to announce this funding in order to meet this deadline.

“This is certainly a moving situation and I hope that after Fergus Ewing visits Lewis this week, he will take on board the concerns that will no doubt be raised with him and allay the fears of crofters.”

His view has been endorsed by Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP Alasdair Allan, who said yesterday that he had raised crofters’ concerns regarding the allocation of EU convergence funding directly with Mr Ewing.

Dr Allan said: “The Scottish Government should be credited for finally prising the long-withheld EU convergence money for farmers and crofters from the UK Government which for so long withheld it.

“Now that the detail has been published, it is very clear that the basis on which the first £80 million is to be distributed remains contentious, particularly the share of money that is going to the best land. While it is welcome that those on the least-favoured land are getting the highest percentage uplifts, these are of course high percentages of what were in many cases tiny grants to start with.

“Like my colleague Angus Brendan MacNeil MP, and others, I have spent much of this weekend speaking to government, and in particular to Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing, to raise these concerns. I have also been in touch with a number of crofters in the islands.

“The conversation with Mr Ewing was constructive, and I hope has left the Cabinet Secretary in no doubt just how strongly so many in my constituency feel about this issue. I welcome the fact that Fergus Ewing has been prepared to listen on this, and I hope he will now be able to respond directly to the concerns which crofters have expressed.”

 

A dog cut off by rising tide was safely brought to shore by members of Stornoway Coastguard Rescue Team on Sunday morning (November 3rd).

Stornoway Coastguard operation centre took a call from the dog’s owner, saying that their dog was 200 yards offshore at Tong beach, on the area of sand known as the cob, or ‘fideach’.

Stornoway Coastguard Rescue Team made their way to the Sand Street area, where it was established that the dog had entered the water and come ashore on headland. The dog was successfully reunited with its owner a short time later.

A spokesman for Stornoway Coastguard told welovestornoway.com: “Very often dogs get out of tight spots themselves, but if owners think they need help they can put themselves in danger, and our priority is to prevent that risk.”

Picture shows a wet but safely returned dog at Tong beach (Stornoway Coastguard Rescue Team).

Stornoway historian and author Malcolm Macdonald was proud to represent a pivotal moment in Lewis history when he attended the annual gathering of the Glasgow Lewis and Harris Association on Friday night (November 1st).

Malcom arrived home from the event yesterday aboard the MV Isle of Lewis, carrying with him the Cuach awarded by the association to recognise his own work, and that of the late Donald John MacLeod, on the book about the Iolaire disaster, The Darkest Dawn.

The annual award of the trophy, presented to the GLHA 50 years ago by Ewan Cameron of Lochearnhead, is made to those from the islands who have been seen to have promoted the islands best in the previous year.

The annual gathering and dance of the Glasgow Lewis and Harris Association was held at Glasgow University Union and was chaired by Hearach Angus ‘Govig’ Maclennan, head teacher of e-Sgoil and a board member of the Harris Tweed Authority and Storlann.

The evening featured performances from Ceitlin Lilidh – who was yesterday announced on the MG Alba Trads shortlist as Gaelic singer of the year – James Graham and a host of other musicians, while the dance was to lively music from the Beinn Lee Ceilidh Band.

Befriending Lewis have been invited to attend a Ministers Reception being held at the Scottish Parliament today (Tuesday 5 November.) 

The reception, which is taking place during National Befriending Week, is to be hosted by Monica Lennon MSP, to celebrate the success of Befriending organisations across Scotland. 

Three staff and three volunteers from Befriending Lewis will be attending, with Tina Macleod, Befriending Lewis’ Service Manager delivering a presentation about the impact of Befriending and the phenomenal difference it has made locally.

Tina, who is also a Director of Befriending Networks UK said: “It is important that the voice of our community is brought to this national event and that the very real and meaningful impact that Befriending is having on the lives of the people we support, their families, and our valuable volunteers, is recognised.  ”

Befriending Lewis attends the Parliamentary Reception along with Befriending Networks UK, as the rural voice representing the people of Lewis & Harris.  There are currently over 140 people supported by Befriending Lewis, and over 120 local people who have come forward to volunteer.  People are supported by one-to-one befriending and group events to help reduce loneliness and social isolation in the community with the service being described as a “lifeline” by many.

Befriending Lewis are always looking for new volunteers to become Befrienders and support volunteers.  Referrals to the service have topped 250 and there is a long waiting list for people in need of a Befriender.  The next volunteer induction day is planned for Wednesday 13th November and people who are interested in volunteering are encouraged to get in touch.

Befriending Lewis does not receive any local Government or NHS financial assistance.  Local support has come from the Horshader Community Development Trust, Muaitheabhal Community Windfarm Trust, Western Isles Development Trust and Groundworks – Tesco Bags of Help, as well as donations from local groups, organisations and individuals.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better – Heorna mhor! Peat & Diesel are in the shortlist for Na Trads!

Hands Up For Trad has placed the ground-breaking trio on the shortlist of acts which could be named best live act of 2019, and lines up alongside Fara, Rura, Talisk and The Outside Track to win the people’s vote at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/scotstrad2019

Reacting with some shock to the announcement, which came at 12 noon today (Monday November 4th), drummer Uilleam Macleod told welovestornoway.com: “It’s just unreal. We are over the moon to even be nominated and a bit overwhelmed to be honest.

“We’re just three guys who started to play for a bit of craic and it just keeps moving forwards, it’s grown arms and legs. We’re just doing our best to cope!”

Also on the shortlist is Mischa Macpherson of Sandwick, who has been nominated as composer of the year, and Ceitlin Lilidh Smith, from Ness, who’s on the shortlist as Gaelic singer of the year.

The announcement of the winners of all categories will be made at Na Trads at Aberdeen Music Hall on Saturday December 7th, with bands performing including Skerryvore, Session A9 and the Susan MacFadyen Scottish Dance Band.

A Garden of Remembrance has been started outside Stornoway’s drill hall this morning (Monday November 4th) as Remembrance events are planned across the island.

The garden at the Ross Mountain Battery memorial outside the drill hall will remain open through the week for anyone to lay a cross in memory of a loved one.

Remembrance Day services at churches and memorials around the islands will commemorate the fallen of the wars on the Sunday closest to Armistice Day, Sunday November 10th. Events in Stornoway begin with a procession of uniformed services starting from the former Royal British Legion clubhouse at 10am.

From 10.45am on Sunday people will assemble at Martin’s Memorial Church, where the Lord Lieutenant of the Western Isles and representatives of the British Legion, RAFA, Merchant Navy Association, Army Reserve, Army Cadet Force, Air Training Corps, the Queen’s Own Highlanders and Stornoway primary school will be gathered.

St Columba’s church will see pupils from Laxdale school join the Boys Brigade and Girls Brigade and representatives of Fire Scotland, while at St Peter’s Episcopal Church HM Coastguards will assemble for remembrance.

Meanwhile the service at the High Church on Stornoway will see representatives of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, the Red Cross, RNLI, St Andrew’s First Aid and the Nicolson Institute.

After the services, uniformed services and associations will march through Stornoway and Lord Lieutenant Donald Martin will take the salute at Carn Gardens. At 12.30pm a bus leaves the bus station for the memorial gardens below Stornoway War Memorial, where Rev Tommy MacNeil of Martin’s Memorial Church will conduct a dedication service.

There will be further services and dedication events at churches and memorials around Lewis and Harris on Sunday 10th and Monday 11th November.

Roads on the West Side and in Broad Bay will be closed during this week as filming continues on the international feature film Wise Blood.

The crew from the mixed Belgian, French and Scottish production are at work today (Monday November 4th) and tomorrow on the Pentland Road, as earlier planned, and the road is to be completely closed between Carloway and the Breasclete junction.

There should be little local disruption on Wednesday, as filming moves indoors at a house in Brue, but on Thursday and Friday Gress will be the location for more outdoor filming.

There’ll be stop and go traffic control on the long straight of the B895 in Gress throughout the day on both Thursday and Friday. This is to allow filming without excess traffic noise.

Versus productions, who are making the film and working in conjunction with MG Alba, say that there’ll be further intermittent disruption through the rest of November, including:

Saturday 9th November: parking disruption South Beach Street, Stornoway

Friday 15th November: traffic control on the A866 at Flesherin, Point

Monday 25th November: morning disruption to parking on South Beach Street and traffic control between North Beach and South Beach in the afternoon

Thursday 28th November: traffic control at Cromwell Street in Stornoway

The production team have apologised for the inconvenience caused to islanders and will be making a donation to local community causes in gratitude at the patience and welcome extended to them.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar this morning (Monday) issued a statement welcoming the film crew to the island. They said: “We are delighted that Wise Blood have chosen to come to Lewis to make this film and warmly welcome the cast and crew for the duration of their stay here.

“The investment such productions bring in terms of spend and job opportunities is significant, as well as the added benefit of promoting our islands on the global stage. However, we do recognise that whilst the filming activity is ongoing there can be low-level disruption for local residents and we are grateful for people’s patience and co-operation with that aspect of the project.”

Any schedule changes will, as before, be advised via welovestornoway.com.

(This article has been updated to include new information from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar).

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus B MacNeil and Highlands and Islands Scottish Conservative MSP Donald Cameron have both warned the Scottish Government to heed the concerns of Scotland’s  farmers and crofters after details of the proposed payment allocation were revealed.

Mr Cameron spoke after the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, Fergus Ewing, was on the receiving end of bitter criticism from both the Scottish Crofting Federation and NFU Scotland.

Labour’s candidate for Na h-Eileanan Iar, Alison MacCorquodale also protested.

Ms MacCorquodale said; ‘It was a scandal that successive Tory governments refused to pass on the convergence money . The decision in September to finally acknowledge this longstanding injustice and pay the convergence money to the Scottish Government represented a golden opportunity for Fergus Ewing to right a historic wrong.’

Ms MacCorquodale said: “It was meant to bring the average payment rate per-hectare closer to the EU average and should have been used to increase payments to those regions furthest from that average, those being Regions 2 and 3.

‘While I welcome the proposed increase in Region 2 payments, crofters across the Western Isles are justifiably furious with the decision to use this money to increase the already significant Region 1 payment further while only increasing the payment to the poorest land in Region 3 by a pitiful £6 per-hectare.

‘To add insult to injury the decision to use £13 million of the funding to plug the gap in LFASS funding, which is of the Scottish Government’s own making, is nothing short of disgraceful.’

The Labour candidate added: ‘Fergus Ewing promised he would use this money to benefit hill farmers and crofters. Instead he has used it to further support those on the best agricultural land in a shameful attempt to win back support from Tory voters in the SNP’s former strongholds of the North East.  This is yet another example of the SNP showing contempt for crofting and crofters."

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan said: “The Scottish Government should be credited for finally prising the long-withheld EU convergence money for farmers and crofters from the UK Government which for so long withheld it.

“Now that the detail has been published, it is very clear that the basis on which the first £80 million is to be distributed remains contentious, particularly the share of money that is going to the best land. While it is welcome that those on the least-favoured land are getting the highest percentage uplifts, these are of course high percentages of what were in many cases tiny grants to start with.

“Like my colleague Angus Brendan MacNeil MP, and others, I have spent much of this weekend speaking to government, and in particular to Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing, to raise these concerns. I have also been in touch with a number of crofters in the islands.

“The conversation with Mr Ewing was constructive, and I hope has left the Cabinet Secretary in no doubt just how strongly so many in my constituency feel about this issue. I welcome the fact that Fergus Ewing has been prepared to listen on this, and I hope he will now be able to respond directly to the concerns which crofters have expressed.”

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP, Angus B MacNeil said he had has spoken to Fergus Ewing following growing protests about the convergence uplift funding for crofters.

Angus MacNeil said:“Clearly there are concerns that the convergence money is not being distributed to where it is most needed.

“The Scottish Government must review and make good the concerns of crofters and meet the original hopes for this funding.

“We know that this money was delayed by Westminster for a number of years and that the current money has to be distributed by March 2020. It would seem that the Scottish Government has rushed to announce this funding in order to meet this deadline.

“Fergus Ewing has assured me that he remains keen to ensure that active crofters and farmers in upland and sheep areas do benefit proportionately from this money and that LFASS will be protected.

“We would see a lot more money in our communities if support for crofting in Scotland was on an equal par with support given to similar activities in other European countries and this convergence money should be a step in the right direction.

“This is certainly a moving situation and I hope that after Fergus Ewing visits Lewis this week, he will take on board the concerns that will no doubt be raised with him and allay the fears of crofters.”

Earlier the Scottish Crofting Feberation SCF’s chair, Yvonne White said: “Whilst the announced allocation of the convergence funding is a slight improvement over the NFUS proposa, it is still a disgraceful misuse of the money that was intended to help those on very low payments. This is not ‘true to the principles of convergence’ that Fergus Ewing sanctimoniously claimed - to the Scottish Parliament - he has upheld. Quite the opposite in fact. We have all been misled.”

Highlands and Islands Scottish Conservative MSP Donald Cameron said: “Fergus Ewing has managed to annoy just about everyone in the sector with his misjudged decision over convergence allocation.

"Rarely can a minister with responsibility for farming have received such a stinging rebuke from industry representatives.

“It is quite clear that the SNP Government is proposing to use the payment allocations to cover funding gaps they themselves have created in LFASS payments.

“This money was secured by the persistent lobbying of Scottish Conservative MPs at Westminster and it is shameful that the results of their hard work is being set aside in such a cynical way.

“Mr Ewing needs to return to Parliament and explain himself to MSPs and to their farming and crofting constituents.”

Ness crofter Donald ‘Sweeny’ Macsween is one of those affected by the way in which money is to be allocated. He holds 200 hectares of common grazing shares on rough moorland and just 22 hectares of better quality, agricultural or permanent grassland.

He said that he ‘got his hopes up’ after last week’s initial Government announcement, but is now becoming increasingly angry, voicing his outrage in a series of social media posts.  On Friday (November 1st) he said: “The money was paid by the EU to go to those of us who have Region 3 ground, like moorland and hills. I claim for 200 hectares of this, through common grazing shares. Announcements this week from Scottish Government were that the money was going to go to those who needed it the most, crofters and hill farmers on upland and marginal land.

“Turns out we were lied to by our government. 50% of the funding is going to Region 1 land, meaning that the big farms all over the country will be getting a larger cut of this, rather than those it was supposed to help."

Yesterday (Sunday November 3rd) he added: “A quick search of the internet lead me to several examples of Fergus Ewing MSP criticising the UK Government for withholding convergence funding from Scottish hill farmers and crofters, those it was supposed to help.

“Perhaps you can understand why I am so angry with the decision he has announced to spread this money across all of Scotland, shafting those it was supposed to help. Yes, I am furious, disappointed but, funnily enough, not surprised in the slightest. The Scottish Government deem us crofter plebs to be expendable.”

(This article has been extensively updated since first being published.)

 

 

The roller-coaster ride of success for Stornoway band Peat & Diesel hit another new high this weekend, with news that two new beers are to be named after them.

Small craft brewers Ben Nevis Brewery announced on Thursday (October 31st): “Yes a'bhalaich! New beer! 'Peat' is smooth, spiced and warming, 'Diesel" is dark and strong. These will be bottled up in the next fortnight ….What d'ya think, Peat & Diesel, does Boydie approve?”

The bottled beer is to be launched at Ben Nevis Brewery’s own Bonfire at the Barn event in Lochaber next Saturday (November 9th), but brewer Freja told welovestornoway.com: “ We’ll definitely post to Lewis – we think there’ll be a few boxes of Peat and Diesel going that way.”

The band learned the news of the new brews as they headed north for a sold-out end-of-season gig at Durness’s Sango Sands Oasis bar, a restaurant at a campsite half-way along the famous North Coast 500 route.

In fact, the night’s performance rolled into the next day, with an impromptu bar performance on Sunday, not to mention some celebrity photostops with fans on the way.

Next on the list as they head home is the festive round, with tickets for a Christmas lights switch-on gig presented by Western Isles Lottery going on sale next Saturday morning (November 9th) at 11am at the old Trading Post premises next to Charlie Barley’s at Ropework Park.

Tickets for that concert, which starts at Stornoway Town Hall at 10.30pm on November 26th, cost £10 and are over -18s only, but there’s also an under-18s gig on the afternoon of November 26th at the Nicolson Institute, tickets costing £3.

The picture shows Boydie, Innes and Uilleam of Peat & Diesel getting a once-over from police officers at the Durness concert on Saturday evening.

 

A full plane of Stornoway-bound passengers was turned back to Inverness this afternoon (Sunday November 3rd) after pilots reported warning lights in the cockpit.

The Loganair flight took off at 12.38pm with around 30 passengers on board, but turned back to Inverness after 14 minutes in the air.

Passengers were disembarked and waited at the airport while engineers checked the fault, which the pilot later explained as a false alarm caused by the wet conditions.

The Saab 340B later re-embarked all passengers and arrived in Stornoway an hour and ten minutes later than scheduled, at 2.39pm.

 

Scalpay is top of the charts again as two Western Isles eateries have been named among the best places in Britain to taste fine food, with the announcement of the Good Food awards 2020 on Friday (November 1st).

North Harbour Bistro in Scalpay has a Good Food Award for the second year in a row.

Judges said: “North Harbour Bistro have now been awarded the prestigious Good Food Award for 2019 & 2020.

"Over the last 12 months we have evaluated customer feedback and these premises have demonstrated exceptional levels of food quality, service and value when compared to our industry benchmarks in their category.”

Stornoway’s Digby Chick has also been named among Britain’s best, with judges saying: “Local chef and proprietor, James Mackenzie, uses the finest quality local produce to produce seasonally changing menus.

"Local fish and shellfish are a specialty of the restaurant with daily fish specials available with whatever has been landed that day.

“The Outer Hebridean shores provide a diverse and superior larder; these are cooked with flair and originality. A wine list, sourced from around the world, complements the menu, with a whisky menu offering a selection of Scotland’s fine malts.”

One of the volunteer members of Tarbert Coastguard Rescue Team is to stand in honourable tribute to the fallen of all wars in London on Sunday November 10th.

Social worker Aman Toor, of Seilebost in west Harris, has been selected among the small number of Her Majesty’s Coastguard to attend the national Remembrance Sunday commemorations.

He’ll be one of just a dozen Coastguard representatives, including officers, volunteers and staff, who will be at the national ceremonies at Westminster Abbey and at the Cenotaph, although he won’t know until the day which location will be his official place for the events.

Aman, who completed his Coastguard Rescue core training in November 2018, underwent a selection procedure before being told he’s to travel on Tuesday (November 5th), leaving Stornoway at 8am and arriving at his accommodation around 10.30pm.

He’ll be issued with full dress uniform, including a greatcoat, and will then attend several days of drill at Collingwood Naval Base before the day itself. On Sunday 10th, he’ll be expected to march and to stand for up to six hours alongside members of all the other uniformed services.

Aman told welovestornoway.com: “I see it as a great honour to represent the Western Isles at this national commemoration, but I will also be paying tribute to my own grandfather, wearing his wartime medals under my greatcoat.”

Aman’s grandfather, Major Harjit Singh Sandhu, was a career soldier who served with the Indian Army, beginning as a cavalryman before the Second World War and serving with distinction throughout the war.

His medals, which include the North West Frontier medal and the Africa Star, will be worn on the right side of Aman’s uniform, denoting that they belong to his ancestor.

The pictures show Aman during his Coastguard Rescue Training in Lewis, and his grandfather, Major Harjit Singh Sandhu.

Digby Chick in Stornoway have just been awarded a prestigious Good Food Award for 2020.

Over the last 12 months the restaurant on 5 Bank Street has been evaluated for customer feedback and the Good Food Award citation says: “These premises have demonstrated exceptional levels of food quality, service and value when compared to our industry benchmarks in their category.

“In recognition of this achievement they have been duly awarded the 2020 Good Food Award.

“Local chef and proprietor, James Mackenzie, uses the finest quality local produce to produce seasonally changing menus.

“Local fish and shellfish are a specialty of the restaurant with daily fish specials available with whatever has been landed that day.

“The Outer Hebridean shores provide a diverse and superior larder; these are cooked with flair and originality. A wine list, sourced from around the world, complements the menu, with a whisky menu offering a selection of Scotland’s fine malts.”

This award is a continuation of plaudits down the years won by James along with his wife, Marianne and his staff.  In an interview with former EVENTS writer Taylor Edgar in 2013, James looked back at progress since opening almost ten years earlier which itself followed two years working from the former Seaforth Hotel, now the Caladh Inn.

 “You don’t want to be doing the same things all the time, we need to push ourselves and not become repetitive. You need to change the menu and keep things fresh; you need to move with the times,” he said.


He told Taylor that sometimes when drafting menus, he would look back at bills of fare of a decade earlier and be amazed at the difference ten years can make.

But while tastes have definitely changed in the intervening period, the desire to push harder in the kitchen and “do that bit extra” shines through.

James pointed out that while the likes of TripAdvisor had been vital in generating business from visitors, a large part of the clientele all-year-round are local people, many of whom readily recommend Digby Chick to visitors by word of mouth. Quite often visitors have been travelling the length of the Hebrides and arrive at Digby Chick on the back of advice received on their travels. As a consequence, Digby Chick does not have what would normally be recognised as quiet months, and even in January trade is brisk.

One of the core values of the Digby Chick team is to always treat customers in the way they themselves would expect to be treated when dining in a restaurant. And that means ensuring guests have a good night out in a relaxed, casual atmosphere and not being stuffy.

The Good Food Awards were formed in 2002 to synergise awards throughout the catering industry.  The organisers say: “Our awards programme has gone from very humble beginnings to the great success it is today.

“Some premises will appear in our awards programme regularly, but they must earn their place every year by maintaining the same high standards that gained them initial entry into the Good Food Awards.  The Good Food Awards are compiled, scored and written each year so there are always new entries and deletions.”

 

 

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

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

Variation of a planning condition for Residential Development, Stornoway 

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has applied for planning permission to erect a 52-bedroom Care Home, 50-bed Housing with Extra Care facility and 74 semi-detached houses with Air Source Heat Pumps at Residential Development, Perceval Road, Stornoway. Work is to include the construction of roads, foot paths, car parking spaces, retaining wall, covered cycle storage and provision of landscaping, public open space and drainage. Planning permission has already been granted but this is subject to removal of Condition 33 (the requirement for a gas protection membrane beneath the ground floor slabs is not required as further site investigation has shown that gas protection measures are no longer required) and to amend Condition 23 (the effect of which will be to phase the landscaping of the site). 

Improvements are continuing in the spread of the 4G Emergency Services Network (ESN) across the Hebrides

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus MacNeil recently met with EE and BT to discuss the service rollout

Mr MacNeil has been persistently lobbying the UK government and mobile operators to ensure that improvements are made to mobile connectivity in the Hebrides.

Mr MacNeil says he had an informative and fruitful meeting with Duncan Warne from EE and Henry Parker from BT at Westminster.

Mr MacNeil said: “There are now 44 operational 4G masts across the Hebrides, 31 new masts have been built adding to the 13 masts which were previously in existence. There are another 8 new masts in the pipeline; 5 in Lewis, 1 in Harris, 1 in North Uist, 1 in South Uist and an upgrade of the mast on the west side of Barra.

“In Lewis there are currently 19 4G masts; 8 in Harris, 6 in North Uist, 1 in Benbecula, 5 in South Uist, 1 in Eriskay and 4 between Barra and Vatersay.

“I also raised the issue of 4G outages and calls dropping as people travel throughout the Hebrides.  EE are aware of this, they have performance indicators and they will be aiming to improve the service.

“On some of the new mast sites there are issues with ownership and access, planning permission has been granted for most of them. 

"EE tell me that we should have a continually improving 4G network in the Hebrides, the Emergency Services Network should be all be built by October 2020, and operational in the months thereafter.

“I hope that many people are finding the improvements to the 4G service to be useful in their daily lives, it has certainly been quite a struggle to get to this point but following my meeting with EE and BT, I am optimistic that progress is being made to enhance the 4G service.”

 

Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) is spelling out crofters’ outrage at Scottish Government allocation of convergence uplift.

“Whilst the announced allocation of the convergence funding is a slight improvement over the NFUS proposal“, said SCF’s chair, Yvonne White, “it is still a disgraceful misuse of the money that was intended to help those on very low payments.

"This is not ‘true to the principles of convergence’ that Fergus Ewing sanctimoniously claimed - to the Scottish Parliament - he has upheld. Quite the opposite in fact. We have all been misled.”

The original intention of ‘External Convergence’ was to ensure a more equal distribution of direct agricultural support between Member States. Member States that had direct payments per hectare below 90% of the Union average were to close the gap between their level and this average, with all Member States arriving by financial year 2020 at a minimum level representing roughly 75% of the Union average.

Ms White went on to say, “Scottish Government has clearly disregarded this intention in allocating the greatest proportion of the money to Region 1, land that already receives 91% of the European average! This is a shameful injustice – the very words Mr Ewing used to describe the UK Government’s original misappropriation of this money. The justification given by Scottish Government is cringingly weak and demonstrates warped political will. It looks remarkably like a ruse to give more to those that already have. It does not, as Mr Ewing claimed, help ‘those who need help most – those who farm on our marginal land’. These producers on Region 3 land still receive a pitiful amount.

“The written information has been careful to not mention LFASS but Mr Ewing has made it clear in his address to parliament that he sees this money as a way of making up the LFASS shortfall caused by the Scottish Government by not introducing a new system based on Areas of Natural Constraint when they had the opportunity. Is this even legal? It would be blatantly stealing money that has a clear purpose to fill a self-inflicted funding gap.

"We reiterate our assertion that the convergence money exists to compensate producers who have received very low per-hectare payments. The LFASS gap will need to be filled, as Mr Ewing has pledged, but from elsewhere.

“Crofters are very cynical about this allocation” concluded Ms White. “Scottish Government has perverted the intention of convergence and is taking money that rightfully should be only used for those with payments below the threshold and instead is giving it to those above. There can be no moral justification for this no matter how cleverly the sleight of hand is performed.”

A 2020 'Goth On the Croft' wall calendar is aiming to raise more funds for The Sophie Lancaster Foundation and also for The New Arc wildlife rescue centre.

The organisers have got together with a number of organisations including Historic Environment Scotland and The Arnol Blackhouse along with The New Arc in Ellon to create a 2020 'Goth on the Croft' wall calendar.

The aim is also to raise awareness and promote tolerance of subcultures, and minority groups within the community. A number of local people and companies are involved in this project.

The pictures have been taken across Scotland including Aberdeenshire and the Isle of Lewis, and at the New Arc itself.

July features a person with cerebral palsy on his wheelchair with another person dressed as a mermaid at Stonehaven harbour.

October’s page features a witch inside the Arnol blackhouse and another for January at the Callanish stone circle.

November has a woman who is trained in circus performance dressed as a vampire dangling from ropes attached to Slains castle at Cruden Bay.

There are also a number of pictures involving models dressed in alternative gear with animals residing at The New Arc wildlife sanctuary in Ellon, including a goat, horse, cats, a pig, chickens and seagulls.

Goth On The Croft, run by Spectra Vox who lives in Newmarket, and Lindsay Gault, is a fundraising project and community of like-minded individuals who strive to promote acceptance and tolerance for subcultures and minority groups.

About five years ago, Spectra moved out to Lewis. Having experienced prejudice towards herself and friends for being associated with the goth subculture, she felt bound to raise a few eyebrows. “I’ve always felt a bit like the ‘black sheep’… and seeing the odd black sheep in amongst the white struck my imagination. I started thinking of myself as the black sheep or the ‘goth on a croft’, and how that image exemplified the incongruity that people who express themselves differently feel in everyday life.

“Not many people expect to see goths on a croft- and why shouldn’t they be there too? We are just people who do everyday things- sometimes with a little added spookiness!

“Being inspired by this image of goths on crofts, I wondered if I could use it to promote tolerance and acceptance of people who look different- the misfits, the minority- those who suffer prejudice due to the way they dress or because of their: race, religion, disability or sexuality- basically anyone who stands out from the crowd. And thus, Goth on the Croft was born’.

The first 2018 Goth on the Croft calendar was a big success, reported in articles across the UK.  It sold 300 calendars and raised over £2000 for the Sophie Lancaster Foundation- a charity which aims to ‘stamp out prejudice hatred and intolerance’.

“This year we will again be raising money for The Sophie Lancaster foundation, but have decided to split the profits 50/50 with The New Arc wildlife and animal rescue centre as a thank you to the fluffy and feathery residents who are feature in this calendar.”

Following the horrific murder of Sophie Lancaster, her family wanted to ensure a lasting legacy to their beautiful, bright creative daughter and so The Sophie Lancaster Foundation was established. It became a registered charity in 2009

The aims and objectives of the Charity are as follows:

To create a lasting legacy to Sophie.

To provide educational group-works that will challenge the prejudice and intolerance towards people from alternative subcultures.

To campaign to have the UK Hate Crime legislation extended to include people from alternative subcultures or Lifestyle and Dress.

The calendar is available on Ebay

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/GOTH-ON-THE-CROFT-2020-Charity-Wall-Calendar-Sophie-Lancaster-New-Arc-/133215005214

www.etsy.com/uk/shop/GothOnTheCroft

Staff at Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) in Stornoway will join Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (CnES) at its HQ on Sandwick Road during next week.

HIE and Business Gateway are co-locating with the Comhairle’s economic development team at the public sector building, on the ground-floor of the wing to the left of the main Sandwick Road entrance. .

The move will build on the collaborative approach HIE and the local authority share and will provide a central point for all the islands’ business community.



The relocation will significantly reduce HIE’s overhead costs while freeing up the privately-owned premises on James Street for other interested tenants.



Rachel Mackenzie, area manager at HIE’s Outer Hebrides team, said: “The move will not only benefit HIE, the Comhairle and Business Gateway, but also the businesses, community bodies and social enterprises looking to access the services we provide.

"Our focus is on delivering our key priorities of growing successful, productive and resilient businesses, creating the conditions for growth and building strong capable and resourceful communities. This relocation gives us a unique opportunity to collaborate more and have a better offering for our clients.”



Calum Iain MacIver, director for communities said: “The Comhairle and HIE have been working close partnership on a range of strategic projects as well as business and community investments over the past period.  

"This co-location of our services is a logical next step in that partnership. It offers the opportunity for greater collaboration and a greater sharing of knowledge and experience between both organisations.  

"It will also allow the efficient deployment of scare resources, but more importantly it will allow for a more coordinated offering to the business and wider community that will ultimately help the overall performance of the local economy”.

The Scottish Salmon Company (SSC) has supported Macaulay College near Stornoway with a donation towards new woodwork equipment in a recent round of its community fund awards.

Macaulay College offers a programme of activities to those with additional social and educational requirements, including school children, adults with learning difficulties and nursing home residents, with each project led by the interests of the attendees.

A recent project has seen the College assisting on the restoration of Bayhead Miniature Golf Course, creating entertaining and engaging features which can be enjoyed by the local community.

The SSC Community Fund was established in 2017 as part of the Company’s Community Charter and gives its staff the opportunity to nominate local groups, charities and organisations that support health and wellbeing, for a funding grant of up to £250.

Macaulay College was nominated to receive the valuable funds, which have been used to purchase a new bandsaw, by Paul Condy, Sustainability Coordinator of SSC Marybank in Lewis.

Craig Anderson, Chief Executive of The Scottish Salmon Company, said: “We are committed to promoting health and wellbeing in the communities where our staff live and work, and we are delighted to support Macaulay College. It is a great initiative which contributes to the wider community on the Isle of Lewis.”

Roland Engebretsen, Director of Macaulay College, said: “This funding has contributed to new woodworking equipment, which will open up a whole new world of art, craft and construction possibilities for our members.

“Macaulay College is a small social enterprise that has a big impact on the local community. We are very grateful to The Scottish Salmon Company for their kind donation.”

 

Right now too many people with advanced dementia are not getting the health care support they need, says Alzheimer Scotland

The Fair Dementia Care Commission, established by Alzheimer Scotland, published the 'Delivering Fair Dementia Care For People With Advanced Dementia' report.

The report sets out a firm definition for advanced dementia for the first time. It also identifies the inequality people living with advanced dementia face in terms of access to health care.

It sets out the following recommendations:
    •    That the Commission definition of advanced dementia is used and implemented in practice
    •    That advanced dementia is recognised as a continuum which includes but is not confined to end of life and dying
    •    That the Scottish Government commits to recognising that the needs of people with advanced dementia are health care needs and ensure equality of access to appropriate health and nursing care, which is free at the point of delivery
    •    That the Scottish Government commits to investigating the costs of implementing appropriate and free health care for those living, and dying, with advanced dementia
    •    That the Scottish Government, COSLA and Integration Joint Boards commit to ending the current lack of transparency, complexity and variability in current non-residential care charging provisions across Scotland
    •    That the recording of dementia (including advanced dementia) prevalence across all health and social care settings is urgently required to support better understanding of demand, allocation of resources and improved care and support
    •    That all local authorities/health and social care partnerships make local charging policies accessible and readily available The following video clip shares with you the importance of achieving the above recommendations.

https://www.facebook.com/events/415783492447395/

Are you interested in finding out more about the Alzheimer Scotland Fair dementia care campaign?

Marion MacInnes, Locality Leader, Western Isles, Alzheimer Scotland, says: "It is an issue I am sure that is very important and of great interest to many people in the local area."

There is an event planned for Monday 4th November, 12-2pm (with light refreshments), Dementia Resource Centre, 18 Bells Road, Stornoway, HS1 2RA

The format of the event will incliuding showing the video clip below in full 

https://www.google.com/amp/s/stv.tv/amp/1441260-former-stv-journalist-s-film-to-highlight-dementia-care/ 

This is to be followed by a discussion, recording any feedback/issues and access to hard copies of the report.

Marion says: "Hope to see you there. If you are interested in finding out more about the recently published Fair Dementia Care report, background information is below.

https://www.alzscot.org/our-work/campaigning-for-change/current-campaigns/fair-dementia-care

The licensing of the Reverend Canon Peter Moger as priest in charge of St Peter’s Episcopal Church Stornoway and St Moluag’s Eoropaidh takes place at St Peter’s today (Friday 1 November 2019). 

The service is to be led by the Right Reverend Kevin Pearson, Bishop of Argyll and the Isles and the licence read by the Synod Clerk, the Reverend Canon Simon MacKenzie.

Following the service a reception is set for the Cabarfeidh Hotel.

Peter has come to Lewis from York Minster where, since 2010, he has been Canon Residentiary and Precentor, holding responsibility for the cathedral’s worship and music. 

Prior to that, he served in the Church of England in parish ministry at Whitby and in Godmanchester, as Precentor of Ely Cathedral, and as Secretary of the Liturgical Commission.

Peter is married to Heather, a musician and teacher who specialises in work with pre-school children using shared music-making as a means of personal formation and building community. 

In early November she will join the Full Circle creative arts team at An Lanntair. 

Heather and Peter have two married adult sons, Thomas and David, and are excited to have recently become grandparents to Micah Oliver.

 

More than 1,000 households and businesses in the Lochs area of Lewis are without power tonight (Friday November 30th) following a faulty on their main supply line.
SSE say: "We’re sorry for the loss of supply. We currently have a fault affecting the area…Our engineers are on site working hard to get the power back on as quickly as they can.

A team of Westside First Responders have won recognition for the vital service they provide, less than 18 months after setting up the group.

Ness and Shader First Responders were runners-up in the volunteer award section of the Scottish Ambulance Awards, recognising the service they give to people in emergency on the Westside. They were invited to attend the SAS award evening yesterday (Thursday November 29th) at Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow.

Police in the Western Isles are urging local residents to keep heating fuels secure to prevent thefts this winter.

Officers have received recent reports of bags of coal being stolen from outside properties in the Stornoway area.

Enquiries into these incidents are ongoing - and officers are now urging people to make sure they keep their fuels secure to deter thieves.

Ferry services between Stornoway and Ullapool are once again be hit by cancellations as renewed gales affect the Western Isles today (Friday November 30th).  The next scheduled sailing is the 17.30 from Ullapool.

 

 

Police have issued an appeal for information after repeated thefts of coal from an address in Stornoway.

Between 10pm and 11.30pm last night (Wednesday November 28th) a 20-kilogram bag of coal was taken from beside a home at Stile Walk in Stornoway.

A man has been reported to the Procurator Fiscal after being stopped driving while under the influence of alcohol in Stornoway town centre.

Police were called to Bayhead in Stornoway at 2.45pm on Saturday (November 24th).

 

Stornoway police were called to deal with two separate incidents of assault in Stornoway over the weekend of 23rdand 24thNovember.

In the early hours of Friday morning (November 23rd) police were called following a complaint made at licensed premises in Stornoway town centre.

Have you ever wanted to be part of a fun stage production, but are worried about public speaking? 

Ballet Hebrides needs amateur adult (age 16+) actors and dancers of any ability to play the role of party guests on the evenings of Tuesday 11th and Wednesday 12th December in a charity fundraising production of The Nutcracker at An Lanntair.

Girlguiding Harris are holding a Quiz Night in Leverburgh Hall this Friday, 30 November.

They are also running a Cafe in Tarbert hall, also on Friday.

Both events are fundraising for the Guides' first international trip next summer. A group will be spending 9 days at the World Guiding Centre 'Our Chalet' in Adelboden, Switzerland, where they will share Western Isles culture with other Guides from across the world and take part in some extreme challenges including hiking and climbing.

 

Community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust won the title of UK Environmental Social Enterprise of the Year at the UK Social Enterprise Awards last night (Wednesday, Nov 28).

Wind farm developer Calum MacDonald picked up the award at the event in the Guildhall in London and admitted he was “very surprised” but “delighted” to have won.

A whole string of sausage dogs lined up to have their photo taken at the start of the first Hebridean Sausage Walk on Saturday (November 24th), with the scenic route alongside Stornoway harbour their backdrop.

Ten dachshunds – smooth, long-haired and wire-coated – brought their walkers along for a get-together celebrating the unique appeal of the little dogs with big character, in a quality event featuring tweed coats and waiter-service refreshments.

Carloway Football Club is under new management after the club’s annual general meeting last night (Tuesday 27thNovember).

The change of team was triggered by the retirement, at the end of the season, of Graeme ‘Windy’ Miller after five years in charge.

Emergency service teams were called upon to search for a missing person last night (Tuesday November 27th) – the second such search in less than a week.

A 28-year-old man was reported missing in the Stornoway area late in the evening, with Western Isles Police calling at 11.50pm for support from Coastguard Rescue Teams, Hebrides Mountain Rescue and other emergency service colleagues in the search.

Angus MacNeil, MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, has opened up his constituency office as a donation drop off point for Eilean Siar Foodbank in the run up to Christmas.

Eilean Siar Foodbank are working hard to provide food packages for islanders facing crisis situations and the weeks before Christmas are one of their busiest periods.

Coinneach Morrison, Jane Morrison and Caroline Maclennan, from the Hebridean Celtic Festival, with Moira MacAulay, Margaret Ann Maciver and Christina Maciver, from Macmillan Cancer Support

Music fans attending the award-winning Hebridean Celtic Festival have helped support the work of Macmillan Cancer Support to the tune of £14,000 over the last decade.

There is a series of coming events organised by Alzheimer Scotland - Western Isles.

These include a Soup and Pudding event on Saturday from 12:00-14:00 at The Clan Macquarrie Community Centre in Borve.

Thursday night (November 29th) sees the first of two late-evening chances to see what shops on the West and North of Lewis have to offer in the run-up to Christmas.

And the outlets involved are pulling out all the stops.

A very unsettled spell of weather is expected tomorrow (Wednesday November 28th) with strong winds, combined with widespread and in places heavy rain, according to the UK Meteorological Office.

Ferries are cancelled on routes from Tarbert, Lochmadddy and Castlebay today with warnings on other routes and for later in the week.

Urgent action needs to be taken to improve the regulation of the Scottish salmon farming industry and to address fish health and environmental challenges, a Holyrood Committee has concluded.

Following its in-depth inquiry into salmon farming in Scotland, the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee has determined that, if the industry is to expand, there is a need to introduce enhanced and more effective regulatory standards to ensure that fish health issues are properly managed and the impact on the environment is kept to an absolute minimum.

The Convener of the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, Edward Mountain MSP, said:  "The salmon farming industry offers significant economic and social value to Scotland, providing jobs and investment in rural areas. There is a desire within the industry to grow.

CalMac have issued 'Be Aware' service updates on all ferry routes operating from Outer Hebridean Ports due to SSE winds predicted to gust upto 45 knots on Tuesday and 55 knots on Wednesday.

Sailings from Stornoway, Tarbert, Lochmaddy, Lochboisdale and Castlebay across the Minch and the smaller inter-island services from Leverburgh and Eriskay had warnings issued today, Monday 26, that services are liable to disruption/cancellation at short notice on Tuesday and Wednesday, the warnings are due to be reviewed later today or Tuesday morning.

Check current service status information visit at: www.calmac.co.uk/service-status

There’s probably one headline which the whole world thought could never come…

‘Crazy Carl’ Easton to dance in Nutcracker ballet.

But this will only happen if you pay to get him on stage at An Lanntair next month (December).

The four crofting townships looking to develop community-owned wind farms on their common grazings land near Stornoway are holding two public consultation events in Stornoway Town Hall, all day today and tomorrow (Monday 26 and Tuesday 27).

Sandwick North Street, Melbost and Branahuie, Aignish and Sandwick East and Lower Sandwick have lodged planning applications with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar for a total of 21 turbines and representatives from all the townships will be at the event in the Town Hall to share information, answer questions and receive comments. 

NHS Western Isles is seeking the comments of island residents in a Public Consultation meeting to be held on Thursday, November 29th, regarding revisions made in the NHSWI Gaelic Language Plan.

The refurbished NHSWI Gaelic Language Plan (GLP) has been produced in line with the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005, which requires every public body in Scotland to create a GLP.

There's been rapid progress since last Monday (November 19th) on the first phase of what it is hoped will become a £1million project to develop a 40km coastal path from Stornoway all around the Point peninsula.

This first phase of work will secure 100 metres of coastline and also the Ui Church’s graveyard wall, which was under extreme threat of erosion.

A film about sexual abuse inside a family is raising money to spend additional time filming in the Isle of Lewis.

Duck Daze is described as a Scottish short film about a woman who gets revenge on her childhood abuser and the community that enabled him.

The film is being created by Dresden Pictures, based in London, and has received £15,000 in funding from Scottish Film Talent Network.

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Two students at Lews Castle College won major recognition at an awards ceremony in Inverness last night. (Thursday November 23)

They took part in the University of the Highlands and Islands Business Competition 2018.

The winner of last night’s youth entrepreneurship award was Noah Stubbings who impressed with his scrap metal business plan.  His award was presented to him by one of the event's guest speakers, Jamie McGowan, founder of Essence of Harris.

Isles MP Angus B MacNeil says he is standing up for Na h-Eileanan an Iar’s fishermen in Parliament .

He has warned the Tory Government that all eyes are on them as they negotiate the future of the fishing industry.

In a speech during the Fisheries Bill debate on Wednesday(November 21st), he outlined the many issues facing West Coast fishermen as highlighted to him by the Western Isles Fishermen’s Association.

The Stornoway Trust has welcomed the announcement of the Scottish Land Court hearing to be held in Stornoway from December 12th.

In a statement, it says this is a mandatory step in progressing a 19a Scheme for Development – the legislation under which Lewis Wind Power is seeking consent to build its 36-turbine Stornoway Wind Farm.

Stornoway Trust Chairman, Norman A MacIver said, ‘We have been waiting some time for this date to be set, and we’re very pleased that it is due to happen next month.

Come along to our 7th Annual Christmas Lights Switch On - for a FREE festive fun filled day, with donations taken in aid of Bethesda Hospice, say the family at Maybury Gardens on North Street, Sandwick.  

On this afternoon and evening are:

(A Loganair jet at Inverness Airport - photographs by Inverness Aviation Photography)

Passenger services using a jet aircraft will return to Stornoway Airport after a gap of more than 10 years.

Island representatives heard from Loganair that a second 49 Embraer 145 jet will be added to Loganair’s fleet in December and will fly the Glasgow-Stornoway route. It will also fly to Benbecula on summer weekends.

A pilot scheme to replace the human voice with an automated weather and safety announcement is being tried out at Stornoway Coastguard Operations centre – and is not being welcomed by seafarers.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s three-month pilot of a text-to-voice announcement system is currently under way at Stornoway, with a meeting being planned for the end of this week (Friday November 23rd) to evaluate the initial impact of the new system.

Stornoway Coastguard broadcasts maritime weather and navigational safety Information on VHF and MF (medium frequency) radio as part of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety Systems (GMDSS).

Since 2004 various automatic broadcast systems have been introduced, including a weather bulletin broadcast every three hours after being recorded by a staff member speaking the information.

The main power network supply from the mainland is expected to be reconnected to the Western Isles late tomorrow tonight (Thursday November 22nd), according to Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN).

Power for the islands has been generated by island power stations since Monday November 12th, when a landslide near Invergarry in the Highlands toppled pylons and brought down the main supply line serving Skye, Lochalsh and the Western Isles.

A Lewis music student has just learnt she’s been awarded a coveted place at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, one of the top ten performing arts colleges in the world.

Caitlin Mackenzie, of Back, who is 18, was among 300 students auditioning for just four available places to begin a course in September 2019, in the study of vocal music including opera and classical singing.

A broken power line left 1,300 households on the Westside in the dark this morning ( Wednesday November 21st) with power supplies interrupted from 8.30am onwards.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) said that homes and businesses from Barvas to Ness were affected by the outage.

A total of £1,028,084 has been paid out to Island groups and causes over two years from 2016-18, the AGM of community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust heard last night (Tuesday, November 20)

The meeting at Ionad Stoodie in Point welcomed a large audience of members and guest speakers Adam Frew from the Wood Group spoke on the progress of the Hydrogen Ferry project, while Shane Wilmott from Enercon referred to renewables opportunities.

Windfarms throughout the Western Isles have been unable to supply power to the national grid since the main power line to the Outer Hebrides was swept away by a landslip at Invergarry on Monday November 12th.

That was explained by Point and Sandwick Power director Calum Macdonald during wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust’s Annual General Meeting last night (Tuesday, November 20).

Two rugby teams are set to battle it out on Saturday (November 24th) in a friendly game with serious intent.

Stornoway Ladies will cross the Minch to meet Craig Dunain Ladies at Bught Park in Inverness for a bruising battle in aid of Cancer Research UK.

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A truck loaded with 1,909 shoeboxes, each filled with warmth and cheer for families in poverty-stricken areas of Romania, will tonight (Tuesday November 20th) leave Stornoway bound for the mainland.

The Scottish Land Court has announced dates for its first hearing of the case between Stornoway Wind Farm Limited – Lewis Wind Power’s planned scheme for 36 turbines on common grazings– and the crofters who want to build community turbines on the same grazings.

The hearing is for Stornoway Wind Farm’s Section 19A application under the Crofting Act – which seeks final permission to go ahead with a plan, even when shareholders in the common grazings that are affected are opposed to it.

The hearing will take place in Stornoway on December 12 and 13, with December 14 also reserved in case it runs beyond those two days.

Stornoway police have asked for public help finding out how a car was damaged while parked overnight in Stornoway town centre.

The blue Vauxhall Zafira was parked on Mackenzie Street overnight on Saturday (November 17th).

A group of airport staff who cycled from Eilean Glas lighthouse to the Butt of Lewis in September have quadrupled the cash they hoped to raise for cancer charities.

Fifteen cyclists, including airport firefighters, security staff and air traffic controllers, made the 135 kilometre trip ‘Lighthouse2Lighthouse’ from Scalpay to Ness in glorious sunshine on Saturday September 8th, planning to raise £1,500 for two cancer charities.

A survey of crofters’ attitudes taken this month by the Scottish Crofting Federation shows that crofters are wary of the future of the livestock industry in the Highlands and Islands.

Only 14% of respondents are confident about the future, as compared to more than twice that number who are despondent (31%). Fifty five per cent said they were uncertain, citing Brexit and the knock-on effect that might have on prices and support payments.

Crofters and farmers are having to make decisions on stock numbers without knowing what sort of market they are going to be selling animals into. With both sheep and cattle producers, more people are reducing stock numbers than increasing them.

A major appeal takes place in Stornoway on Friday and Saturday (November 23-24)  for assistance to the work of Glasgow City Mission.

Donations are needed of new socks and underwear for both men and women; sleeping bags; new towels, and tea, coffee, sugar and diluting orange juice – as well as money, of course.

The appeal is being organised by the Stornoway High Free Church.

Blar Buidhe Care Home in Stornoway is celebrating having received a glowing report from the Care Inspectorate.

Volunteers and staff from Alzheimer Scotland – Lewis and Harris branch had a busy day at the Alzheimer Scotland Staff and Volunteers conference in Glasgow yesterday (Monday November 19th).

Tributes have been paid to the esteemed Gaelic writer and educationalist John Murray (Iain Moireach), of Barvas, whose death was announced on Saturday (November 17th).

He was 80 years old and had for some months been resident at Dun Eisdean care home in Stornoway.

Stornoway RNLI Lifeboat launched today (Monday 19th) at 1420 hrs after Stornoway Coastguard received a call from a vessel with two persons on board which was suffering engine problems off the Butt of Lewis.

The Ness, Bragar and Breasclete Coastguard Rescue Teams were also tasked to keep watch on the vessel from the shore until the Lifeboat arrived on scene at 1530 hrs, a little over an hour after launch, established a tow line with the stricken vessel and proceeded to tow the casualty to Stornoway Harbour, arriving back at 2100 hours.

The ‘Tom Sanderson’ RNLI lifeboat was refuelled and ready for service at 2215 hours.

(This article has been updated since first being posted yesterday afternoon to incorporate the safe return to Stornoway Harbour.)

 

Living in the Hebrides one thing that comes with winter is gales, which can lead to power cuts. Last week saw the first major loss of power of the season so it's time to make sure you are prepared.

The Fisherman's Co-op have all you need for when the electric goes off:

  • Portable gas stove - from simple gas burners to boil a kettle on to double grills to cook on, easy to store for emergencies so you can still make an essential cup of tea and won't go hungry.
  • Battery powered lamps - we all keep a few candles in a drawer just in case but a camping lamp is much brighter and can be safely carried around to light up what your doing.
  • Hot water bottles - yes they even have hot water bottles with a variety of covers! when the heating goes off simply boil some water on your camp stove and fill it up to keep warm and toasty.
  • Much more - you can also find long johns and winter thermals, torches, hats, gloves, winter jackets and much more in stock.

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Sunshine and a brisk winter’s day greeted a big crowd of supporters and guests this morning (Monday November 19th) as works were starting on site at the seaward side of the Ui Church part of the Braighe.

Their aim is to enhance coastal protection and allow repairs and improvements to the pathway beside the Ui graveyard.

The death has been announced of Neil R Galbraith, former long-time director of education at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, and serving chairman of the board of NHS Western Isles.

His funeral is tomorrow (Tuesday November 20th) in Stornoway.

The Convener of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has paid tribute and the Comhairle flag is flying at half-mast.

Staff at the Woodlands café in Lews Castle grounds started their week tidying up the mess left behind by other people.

A large amount of broken glass was discovered this morning (Monday November 19th) as staff arrived to open up the café ahead of business.

Family members from Australia and friends from Glasgow are to travel to the Isle of Berneray to attend the funeral of Sophia Dale, also known as Sophia Mara, who died at her home on November 5th.

Australian-born Sophia (53) had lived in the old school for several years and was a popular and respected member of the island community, attending many social functions and singing at ceilidhs in English, Gaelic and Manx. An artist and musician, she presented a show called The Tide on An Radio, the Uist-based community radio station.

The Lewis and Harris branch of the national pet rescue charity Cats Protection is to close its rescue centre with immediate effect (Sunday November 18th).

Stornoway Lifeboat was launched on Saturday evening (November 17th) at 6.50pm, when two fish farm workers off the Isle of Harris called for help as their vessel grounded on a falling tide.

Stornoway Coastguard issued a ‘pan-pan’ call for all nearby vessels to assist, with the fish farm vessel Fame responding to the call and standing by to help Coastguard communications.

The carcass of a 16-foot-long tuna has washed up on the beach at Traigh Mhor, Tolsta, attracting the attention of passers-by during sunny Sunday afternoon walks.

The main A857 road between Stornoway and Barvas was closed for several hours on Saturday morning (November 17th) after a single-vehicle road accident and a missing driver were reported to police.

Investors have agreed to wipe out more than 60 per cent of the £220m debt owed to them by Johnston Press after taking over the regional publisher through newly-formed company JPI Media today (Saturday November 17th), the UK Press Gazette reports.

The bondholders have agreed to extend the deadline for repayment of the outstanding £85m debt to December 2023 and have also announced £35m in additional funding for the new business.

JP announced late last night that it was going into administration, putting an end to the sales process through which it had sought a buyer to take on its considerable debts.

An international war of words has erupted over the fate of Johnston Press, owners of the Stornoway Gazette, The Scotsman and more than 200 other newspaper and website titles.

The group, which also includes the I newspaper, and The Yorkshire Post, is preparing to enter into administration, the company confirmed last night (Friday November 17th).

But one of the company’s main shareholders – with around 25 per cent of the now worthless stock – has denounced the deal on Twitter as “simply a disgrace and a vulgar display of the worst elements of capitalism.”

All the training and participation in two great runs has paid off for Charles Young of 7 Fivepenny, who has raised the fantastic total of £1366 in support of two Ness charities.

These are Comunn Eachdraidh Nis and Eoropie Dunes playpark.  The funds raised will be divided equally between the two charities.

Johnston Press, the group of newspapers which owns the Stornoway Gazette, has given up its long battle to survive.

The group, which includes the i, The Scotsman and The Yorkshire Post, is preparing to enter into administration, the company confirmed last night (Friday November 17th).

The publishing group was trying to refinance £220m of debt that becomes repayable in June 2019.  Over the last 10 years, it had succeeded in cutting its debt mountain back from a reported peak of £793m. 

Lewis Wind Power, the developer of the proposed Stornoway and Uisenis wind farms, is a sponsor for this year’s festive lights and switching on ceremony on December 7 in Stornoway, the town’s Amenity Trust has announced.

Will Collins, Project Manager for the company, said: “We know that the Christmas lights are an important part of the run up to the festive period across the country, so we are delighted to do our bit to help make sure that Stornoway again has a great display at the very heart of the town.

Foodbank usage is soaring in the Western Isles - new figures covering this summer show a 26% increase compared with last year.

Figures published by Britain’s biggest foodbank provider, the Trussell Trust, showed that 289 three-day emergency food parcels were provided to people in crisis by foodbanks in the Western Isles between 1st April 2018 and 29th September 2018, compared with 229 for the same period in the previous year.  

Across Scotland, foodbank use has risen by 15%. Foodbank providers have said the rise is largely due to the in-built minimum wait of five weeks for a first payment for those migrated to Universal Credit – with many more people forced to wait even longer than five weeks.

Eilean Siar Foodbank are asking for a double dose of help from island shoppers and businesses as they approach the busy time of their Christmas box appeal.

This year the foodbank, which meets the needs of people who can’t afford to feed themselves year-round, not only needs donations of food but also a place to keep it.

Eilean Siar foodbank administrator Sarah Macdonald told welovestornoway.com today (Friday November 16th): “Our former storage area, which the owners kindly let us use for as long as they could, has now had to be sold.

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Two student artists from Macaulay College in Stornoway are making a festive splash with their artwork – just in time for Christmas.

Their distinctive drawings and designs are behind the launch of a new company, Power Up Designs, which is producing greetings cards including a unique range of Christmas cards.

A charitable trust has been formed in the name of Eilidh MacLeod, the Barra schoolgirl who died during the Manchester arena bombing in May 2017.

The Eilidh Macleod Memorial Trust was registered as a CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation) on the 29th October 2018 and has two main aims:

Those attending the annual partnership event held at the Cabarfeidh Hotel yesterday (Thursday November 15th) were treated to an inspiring address from Craig Mathieson, of the Polar Academy in Bo’ness, West Lothian.

More than 25 tiny local businesses have already signed up to take part in a major ‘Shop Local’ weekend event being pioneered by Stornoway Golf Club.

They are going to have a Black Friday – Shop Local - weekend event in the club on Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th November from 11am-7pm.

Stornoway's Christmas Lights Switch-on event will take place on Friday December 7th with a jam-packed schedule of attractions.
The event, organised by the Stornoway Amenity Trust, includes an evening of entertainment in the town centre.

Drink-drivers in the Highlands and Islands are carrying on with their anti-social and dangerous behaviour despite police activity and tighter restrictions.

That’s the view of Highlands & Islands Regional MSP and Road Safety campaigner, David Stewart.

In December 2014 a new law came into force which cut the legal alcohol limit from 80mg to 50mg in every 100ml of blood.  Campaigners believed the new limit would cut the number of deaths and serious injuries on Scottish roads.

Hard-done-by hens are looking for a new life in Lewis, with a chicken re-homing charity planning a flying delivery on Tuesday December 11th.

Hebridean Housing Partnership's existing scheme at Tom Na Ba, Galson has been complemented by four new homes, which were officially opened by Alasdair Allan MSP on Monday 12 November. 

Alasdair Allan said, “It was great to visit Katie in her new house today, and was an honour to declare all four new houses at Tom na Ba officially open.

Entries are already coming in fast for the Hebridean Dark Skies Festival photography competition…and there are still eight days to go (after today, Thursday November 15th).

The best entries will be exhibited at An Lanntair throughout the new festival in February 2019 – and the photographers can win free festival tickets

The Lewis and Harris Accordion and Fiddle Club proudly present their Island Showcase at An Lanntair arts centre tonight (Thursday 15 November) in support of The Hebridean Men’s Cancer Support Group.

Two men who were arrested in Stornoway town centre in the early hours of Friday (November 9th) appeared at Stornoway Sheriff Court yesterday (Tuesday November 13th).

At 11.30pm on Thursday (November 8th) police went to a residential address in the town after complaints of disturbance to neighbours. One man, aged 32, became hostile and aggressive and was arrested and charged with breach of the peace.

Work to restore the main power connection between the mainland transmission network, Skye and the Western Isles is now under way, according to a spokesperson for Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks.

The Western Isles have been running on electricity generated by diesel-fired power stations through the island chain since mid-morning on Monday (November 12th), when the main supply was severed by a landslide near Invergarry.

Two crews of retained firefighters from Stornoway were called to the Halfway Garage north of Cameron Terrace in Leurbost on Monday evening (November 12th) after passers-by spotted sparks and flashes coming from a pole-mounted power supply.

A report came in at 8.30pm on Monday, during a challenging day for power-workers, that the equipment connected to the power pole nearest to the garage seemed to be sparking dangerously.

A family temporarily lost their home in Stornoway after a fire started in their kitchen on Monday (November 12th), following that day's island-wide power cuts.

Neighbours alerted Fire Scotland in Stornoway at 3.10pm when smoke was seen pouring from the house on Assaye Place. No one was at home at the time.

Three Fire Scotland appliances, crewed by two Stornoway fire crews and the Shawbost crew of retained fire-fighters, and two officers from Stornoway fire station were quickly on scene, remaining for four hours to tackle the fire and make all safe.

Western Isles Citizens Advice Service have been successful in being re-accredited for Scottish National Standards to provide advice and information in Housing, Welfare Benefits and Money Advice

Chairman of WICAS David Blaney said, “The skill and experience of our staff and volunteers throughout the Western Isles has been acknowledged by the Scottish Government with this award in these three topics.”

Western Isles Citizens Advice Service have been successful in being re-accredited for Scottish National Standards to provide advice and information in Housing, Welfare Benefits and Money Advice

Chairman of WICAS David Blaney said, “The skill and experience of our staff and volunteers throughout the Western Isles has been acknowledged by the Scottish Government with this award in these three topics.”

Those who were successful in securing tickets for the Dìleab concert on 14th December in the Lewis Sports Centre can now pick up their tickets.

Tickets are available for collection from the Town Hall, Point Street, Stornoway, until Friday 30th November (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm).

But if you don't go and get them, you will lose them!

Stornoway Rugby Football Club juniors are dressed for training in all weathers in branded club kit thanks to a donation of £3,000 from community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust.

The grant means the club have been able to provide weatherproof training tops to junior club members free of charge, saving families the expense and furthering a sense of team spirit and club pride among the youngsters taking part.

Drivers on the roads at dawn and dusk should make sure they have their headlights on.

That's the plea from Highlands & islands Regional MSP and road safety campaigner, David Stewart.

He is highlighting an issue which seems to be occurring just around sunset and also around sunrise with drivers using their vehicles in poor visibility yet not displaying their lights.

A 71-year-old man has been reported to the Procurator Fiscal after a number of road traffic offences in Stornoway at the weekend.

The man was stopped while driving on Rigs Road in Stornoway at 7pm on Saturday (10th November).

The Gael who will be chairing the public meeting in Stornoway on Thursday with the purpose of officially setting up ‘Comann nam Pàrant Steòrnabhaigh’ has spoken in support of such a group.
Calum Iain Macleod, former Development Director of Comunn na Gàidhlig, said he was “delighted to support current efforts in establishing a local group of Comann nam Pàrant” and stressed the role it could play in boosting the development of Gaelic education in the area.
“With the numbers enrolling in Gaelic education in Stornoway, as well as other areas of the Western Isles, growing year on year, it is important that parents are provided with support and advice on all aspects of Gaelic education. A local Comann nam Pàrant group would provide this.
Island power stations will continue to run for at least the next week, with the main power connection to the mainland cut for the foreseeable future by a landslide yesterday morning (Monday November 12th) near Invergarry, on a 35km-long stretch of single track road alongside Loch Hourn.
Scalpay, Huisinis and Urgha in Harris - along with Coll in Lewis - will be without power on various days this week for planned maintenance work.

A Harris schoolboy is on his way home from London after a trip to commemorate the centenary of the Armistice which ended the First World War. He attended the service at Westminster Abbey on Sunday (November 11th).

15-year-old Hamish Scott, who is in S4 at Sir E Scott School in Tarbert, was also at Buckingham Palace last week, reading his poem, Scapa Flow, at a tea party for schoolchildren hosted by Vice-Admiral Sir Tim Laurence.

Hamish’s poem was a winner when he was just 12 years old, in a schools’ poetry competition run by the youth project Never Such Innocence, and was written to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of Jutland in 2016.

More than 20,000 customers throughout the Outer Hebrides and many others as far to the east as Kyle of Lochalsh were without power from around 9am this morning (Monday November 12th).  Many remained still without power at 1pm.

This followed a landslip that damaged part of the overhead transmission network.  Originally this was said to be on Skye.  Now SSE say it's on the mainland.

Dr Kay Macleod from Lewis (pictured above in her office in 2013) has been named November “Scientist of the Month” by the Chicago chapter of the Association of Women in Science.

Kay first became interested in science as a school pupil.

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The Isle of Harris distillery announced on Friday (November 9th) the appointment of their first apprentice distiller, school-leaver Rebekah Morrison.

Stornoway Rugby Club’s under-16 and under-14 teams were away to the mainland on Saturday (November 10th) for matches against Caithness RFC in Thurso.

On a fantastic November morning, in bright sunshine the under-16s joined Caithness U16's at Millbank, kicking off early to accommodate the islanders’ evening ferry home from Ullapool. 

Bright winter sunshine, stillness and emotion were the hallmarks of Remembrance weekend throughout the Western Isles this weekend (Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th November).

Imagine waking up in Lewis and Harris on New Year's Day 1919, expecting your husband, brother, son or fiancé to be returning from the war.

Highlands & Islands Regional MSP Rhoda Grant says she wants to clear up confusion over her stance on kelp harvesting.

Rhoda said "I have met with representatives from both those against and those in favour of kelp harvesting in the last few weeks. I feel it is always important to listen to both sides before making a judgement.

Thousands of people across the world are seeing a stylish new documentary about the Harris Tweed cloth.

Made by Parisian Gentleman : the French voice of sartorial excellence, it was viewed almost 7,000 times in in its first three days on-line.

The Youtube Channel entitled Sartorial Talks has 36,000 subscribers.

Seen recently at Inverness Airport, one of Loganair's recently introduced jet aircraft.  Photographs by Inverness Aviation Photography

Loganair has introduced a discount fare for members of the armed forces veterans and the armed forces community.

The airline has teamed up with Poppyscotland and The Royal British Legion.

Lewis and Harris will mark 100 years since the end of the ‘war to end all wars’ this weekend (Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th November) with a series of memorial services and parades.

The Armistice was signed at 6am on November 11th 1918 at Compiègne in France, the guns falling silent at 11am, signalling the end of the First World War.

Strong winds and rough seas have led to the cancellation this afternoon (Friday November 9th) of ferry services between Oban and Castlebay, Tarbert, Uig and Lochmaddy and between Stornoway and Ullapool.

The MV Loch Seaforth will not return from Ullapool at 5.30pm, although she is expected to make her crossing from Stornoway this afternoon. The 10.30pm freight sailing is also cancelled.

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A man who fell 200 feet from a cliff top in Lewis has made an emotional return trip to the island to thank all those who helped him survive.

But music executive Andy Godfrey was not able to track down everyone who provided him with care, and has turned to welovestornoway.com to make sure everyone involved in his life-saving care knows of his gratitude.

A public meeting is to be held in the County Hotel, Stornoway, on Thursday, November 15 at 7.30pm with the purpose of officially setting up ‘Comann nam Pàrant Stèornabhagh’.

This group would represent the views of parents and carers of children and young people in Gaelic Medium Education (GME) in the Stornoway area.

The group would take in Stornoway and Laxdale primary schools and The Nicolson Institute – and representation is very much being sought from all three schools to have an input into the Comann nam Pàrant Stèornabhagh group.

The Town Hall building in Stornoway was the setting for the first two rounds of the National Gaelic Schools’ Debate which took place on Tuesday and Wednesday the 6th and 7th of November. 

The judges - Am Pàipear editor Iain Stephen Morrison; Acair manager Agnes Rennie; and Boyd Robertson, former principal of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, certainly had their work cut out whittling 16 teams down to four, organisers say.

Teenage musician Rosie Sullivan from Barvas is heading home from London today (Thursday November 8th) after a star-struck night on one of the most iconic stages in the UK.

A secret society of dachshund owners is planning to come out into the open with the first Hebridean sausage walk later this month.

At least 14 dachshunds will stretch their tiny legs along a route in Lews Castle grounds on Saturday 24th November, after a dachshund owner decided to see whether the interest was there for such an event in the islands.

Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant is backing the company proposing a controversial kelp harvesting plan off the Western Isles.

Mrs Grant has today (Thursday November 8th) issued an invitation to all MSPs to a briefing meeting with Marine Biopolymers Limited (MBL) next Wednesday, (14th November) ahead of the Scottish Crown Estates Bill, which will have its third and final reading at Holyrood on Wednesday 21st November. In its current form, the bill would ban MBL's business as unsustainable and harmful to the environment.

A major appeal is being launched in Stornoway for assistance to the work of Glasgow City Mission, which is facing increasing demands on its support for those in difficulties.

Donations are needed of new socks and underwear for both men and women; sleeping bags; new towels, and tea, coffee, sugar and diluting orange juice – as well as money, of course.

The appeal is being organised by the Stornoway High Free Church.

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Lewis Blythswood has set up shop at the Drill Hall on Church Street, Stornoway, for the annual collection of shoeboxes filled with gifts and goodwill for needy families.

Graeme Bell, general manager of Inverness Airport, for category sponsor Highlands and Islands Airports, presents the commendation to curator Catherine Maclean and musician Dalbir Singh Rattan of the Purvai Festival 

Catherine Maclean ended her 12 years work at Stornoway’s An Lanntair arts centre on a high point when the Purvai festival received a commendation at the annual Highlands and Islands tourism ‘Oscars’.

Stornoway police are appealing for information after a light was damaged outside the Porter's Lodge at the entrance to Lews Castle grounds.

The damage to a dome-shaped glass light fitted into the ground took place between 1pm on Friday (November 2nd) and 1pm on Monday (November 5th).

Although the light was already slightly damaged, it was further damaged by the incident and police would like to speak to anyone who knows how this happened on the non-emergency number 101.

Community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust are celebrating after scooping a prestigious win at this year’s Scottish Social Enterprise Awards – held in the Scottish Parliament last night (Tuesday, November 6)

The community wind farm organisation, which runs the Beinn Ghrideag wind farm near Stornoway with the sole aim of ploughing all the profits back into the community, was named ‘Environmental Social Enterprise of the Year’ in the Social Enterprise Awards Scotland 2018. It had also been shortlisted for ‘Social Enterprise of the Year’.

It is the third major award for Point and Sandwick Trust and the second this year.

The sale of almost 10,000 Poppy Scotland pin-badges, specifically designed to commemorate the loss of the Iolaire, has kindled worldwide remembrance of a tragedy which spent most of the past 100 years almost shrouded in the silence of grief.

HMY Iolaire foundered on the Beasts of Holm near Stornoway in the early hours of New Year’s morning 1919, with the loss of 201 returning servicemen after the Great War. Commemorations of the centenary of the tragedy include a new memorial at Holm and performances of commissioned music, as well as the special Iolaire Poppy badge now on sale.

Organisers from the Iolaire Working Group have asked those buying badges to share their location on social media, with comments and memories flooding in from around the world.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar as education provider has been criticised by national inspectors of Tong Primary School and Sgoil Àraich who call for work to be done to provide an outdoor play area for nursery school pupils.

In September 2018, a team of inspectors from Education Scotland and the Care Inspectorate visited Tong Primary School and Sgoil Àraich.

Their report states that; “The provider must, within six months of the publication of this report, provide a suitable outdoor play area for Tong Nursery School.“

Lewis singer Josie Duncan is among the shortlisted nominees for the coveted Gaelic Singer of the Year award at the traditional music awards ‘Na Trads’.

Organizing body Hands Up for Trad announced the artists shortlisted for this year’s MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards today (Tuesday November 6th).

A company of architects based in Achmore have won the recognition of their own profession with an award for their own home.

Duncan and Fiona Porteous were told at an awards ceremony in Inverness on Friday (November 2nd) that their converted mission house had been highly placed in three categories of the Awards for Architecture 2018, winning the top prize in one.

The West Side successfully ‘plastered it purple’ for Glasgow Children’s Hospital during October – and now two fundraising families want to say thank you to everyone who took part.

Two Harris Guides and their leader bumped into their own MP, Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil last week (Wednesday October 31st) while they were visiting the House of Lords as part of a continuing celebration of the role of women in public life.

Rangers Catherine MacDonald from Tarbert (left) and Kelly MacKay from Cliasmol (right) joined Harris Girlguiding leader Matilda Lomas-Mackenzie on the terrace outside Westminster for a photo-op with their MP as part of an unforgettable day out in London, in celebration of 60 years of women as peers and during UK Parliament Week, which helps to get young people involved with democracy. 

A fish farm barge which sank in the Sound of Harris on Sunday (November 4th) is still awaiting a decision on how to raise or salvage it.

Stornoway Coastguard operations centre were notified by Loch Duart Fish Farms that a barge had capsized and sunk south-west of Rodel, close to the small island of Grodhaigh, during rough weather on Sunday morning.

There's an event in Tarbert planned as part of the nationwide Day of Commemorative Events marking the centenary of the end of the First World War.

The aim is to pay tribute to the millions, from all nations, killed or wounded in battle, and those on the Home Front who struggled amidst pain and loss.

North Harbour Bistro on Scalpay has been awarded the prestigious Good Food Award for 2019.

Stornoway RNLI Lifeboat volunteer crew launched at 23.57hrs on Friday (November 2nd) in response to a fish farm support vessel which had issued a Pan Pan (urgent assistance message) after suffering a loss of propulsion whilst at Lemreway.

The weather conditions on passage down the coast to assist the stricken vessel were extremely challenging with winds of 50 knots and seas up to 7m.

Harris-based nursing student Sara Wood-Kwasniewska graduated alongside Olympic curler Eve Muirhead in Inverness yesterday (Friday 2 November).

Sara, 47, graduated from the University of Stirling, after undertaking a BSc degree in Adult Nursing at the Western Isles campus.

The winner of the first Western Isles Lottery SuperDraw was drawn on 20th October 2018 and the Western Isles Lottery Team were delighted to present Mr Roddy MacKay from Balivanich with a cheque for £1,000.

Since its launch in August 2017, the Lottery has gone from strength to strength, raising over £77,000 for the Western Isles, with £22,000 being shared in Prize Winnings.

Uig powerboat owner Seumas Macleod is planning to make a living with speed, after spending the past week breaking UK and world inland water speed records.

24-year-old Seumas is at Lake Coniston in the Lake District of England, taking part in Coniston Power Boat Records Week. His powerboat, a small RIB called Black Pudding, is competing in the PF850 class, powered through the water by an 850cc Yamaha outboard engine which has been stripped down and rebuilt by Seumas at his own workshop in Miavaig.

Today (Friday November 2nd) the hard work of many months has paid off, with the latest of four consecutive records set in flat calm conditions on the waters of Lake Coniston.

This weeks fish focus from Harbour Seafood's is the classic Cod and Haddock.

Everyone loves these flaky white fish and they are such a versatile ingredient, there's the go to battered fish with chips but also many other ways to cook these delicious fresh fish: in a curry, with garlic and herb butter, in a seafood paella, a hearty seafood pie, fish goujons, make your own fish fingers for the kids etc, etc. 

A Berneray soldier who served in the First World War will be one of those commemorated during an art installation which will be created on November 11th – and washed away by the sea.

Duncan MacKinnon (1893 – 23 March 1916) was one of six brothers who all went to war. Out of the six, he and his brother Neil (born 1899) were killed.

Rain and wind forecast for the weekend will mean disruption from this afternoon (Friday November 2nd) across the Western Isles.

Some ferry services across the Minch are cancelled from this afternoon as a spell of windy weather moves into the Western Isles and a Met Office yellow ‘be aware’ warning of heavy rain has been extended to cover the Western Isles throughout Saturday.

There's fundraising going on today at Iceland Stornoway in Cromwell Street on behalf of the Western Isles Kidney Patients Association.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has welcomed a series of recommendations made by the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee on Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services.

In a letter to Michael Matheson, the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, the Committee stressed It is essential that lifeline ferry services deliver services that fully meet the needs of island communities, businesses and tourism.

On Monday in Stornoway, a breakfast meeting of business and agency leaders at Highlands and Islands Enterprise in James Street, heard criticism of the use of the phrase ‘lifeline’ services to describe the sea links.  No one refers to the A9 trunk road as a lifeline link to Inverness or Caithness and ferries are just the ‘roads to the Islands,’ it was stated.

The closure of Broadford’s only 24-hour petrol station has led to warnings for drivers coming to Skye about making sure they have enough fuel to complete their journey.

CalMac has advised travellers heading for Uig ferry services to ensure they have enough fuel for their journey, especially as many filling stations in Portree, Uig and around Kyle operate business hours only, and some are not open at weekends.

Marine engineering company Gael Force, which was founded in Stornoway in the 1980s, is continuing its expansion with the acquisition of Corpach Boatbuilding Company.

The ‘strategically significant move’ will allow the company to fulfil its objective of building a new range of steel feed barges for aquaculture customers.

Gael Force was founded in 1983 by Stewart Graham as a start-up business in Stornoway to design and manufacture a ‘better’ fishing creel, supplied direct to the boat owner.

Ross County Football Club announced on Tuesday (October 30th) that Point footballer Matthew Wright, 16, has signed his first professional contract with the club.

Matthew, a former Sgoil an Rubha and Nicolson Institute pupil, has been with the Ross County Football Club Academy since March 2017, travelling from the Western Isles with his parents to participate in youth games.

The Stornoway Media Centre - by SignPrint (http://www.sign-print.co.uk/) and Intermedia Services (Stornoway) Ltd, (www.intermediaservicesstornoway.co.uk) was launched today with an open day started by the cutting of a commemorative cake by Dolly Macleod - whose husband "ND' Macleod formerly ran his business in the building.

This was followed by speeches by Laura MacIver of SignPrint Ltd, Chris Corden, non-executive director of Intermedia Services (Stornoway) Ltd and Fred Silver, director of Intermedia Services (Stornoway) Ltd and editor of EVENTS and welovestornoway.com

Both companies are joining to show off the opportunities offered by the new centre and its constituent operations including a full range of design, printing and media operations. The building is open throughout the day.

 

CalMac has issued an early warning of possible ferry disruption on cross-Minch routes for the weekend, with strong winds forecast.

The Oban-Castlebay service has warnings of disruption or short-notice cancellation on Friday and Saturday, both passenger and freight sailings on the MV Loch Seaforth could be disrupted or cancelled between Stornoway and Ullapool on Saturday (November 3rd). Check Calmac service status for further information www.calmac.co.uk/service-status

The Met Office forecast shows strong southerly winds from late afternoon tomorrow (Friday November 2nd) and through Saturday, peaking in the early hours of Sunday before dying away later. 

 

An appeal for witnesses has gone out from Stornoway Police after windows
were smashed at a house near the airport.
The vandalism happened at an address in Branahuie while the residents
were not at home.

A 21-year-old driver who abandoned his car after turning it over in a single-vehicle crash is in court today (Thursday November 1st), charged with drink driving.

Police were called to the Braighe Road, near Stornoway airport, at 7.30am yesterday ((Wednesday October 31st) after reports that a car was on its roof just off the road.

There’s an initial free screening of the film ‘The Gate, Dawn of the Bahai faith’ and the local group would love for you to join them to watch it. 

Wednesday 31stOctober saw the launch of the Move More Western Isles programme of activities, aimed at helping islanders with long term conditions, including cancer, to be more physically active.

A new state-of-the-art radar, replacing the former weather radar at Lewis in the Western Isles, opens today, St Andrew's Day, Thursday November 30th.
The new radar can, for the first time, capture the size and shape of raindrops and snowflakes - new scientific advancements which will ultimately lead to improvements in the accuracy of rainfall estimates, particularly during high impact weather events.
The new radar has also begun to capture wind speed measurements. They are the latest step by the Met Office to upgrade its 30 year old Radar Network – one of the longest established radar networks of its kind in the world, consisting of 15 radars across the UK.

The Calanais Visitor Centre and Lews Castle are joining 400 other participating National Lottery-funded visitor attractions across the UK by saying 'thank you' in acknowledgement to the people who have raised money for good causes by buying a lottery ticket.

The Calanais Visitor Centre are offering free entry to the Story of the Stones exhibition to anyone bearing a National Lottery ticket or scratchcard between 11th to 17th December 2017. This is their 'thank you' after receiving Heritage Lottery Funding towards the cost of the series of lectures they held this summer. The cafe and shop will also be open to visitors in the run up to Christmas.

Museum nan Eilean and Lews Castle by Natural Retreats will be holding an open day on Wednesday 13th December 2017 offering free guided tours of the castle and museum. Visitors to the recently refurbished Lews Castle on Wednesday 13th December, can enjoy free access to the building, which reopened in 2016 and now houses the museum galleries, function rooms, luxurious self-catering accommodation, Storehouse Café and Outfitters shop. The tours will take place between 10am and 4pm (starting at 15 and 45 minutes past the hour), offering a behind-the-scenes look at the castle's contemporary new apartments, usually restricted to the general public.

Charles Macleod Ltd from Stornoway and Isle of Harris distillery from Tarbert are exhibiting their produce at a UK Government reception in London today [Thursday 30 November] as part of a ‘Taste of Scotland’ celebration at the Scotland Office.

Scotland Office Minister Lord Duncan will host today’s reception at Dover House where hundreds of influential guests, including foreign dignitaries, ambassadors and MPs, will be welcomed by a bagpiper and enjoy a range of unique Scottish goods.

UK Government Minister for Scotland Lord Duncan said: “St Andrew’s Day is the perfect opportunity to open the doors of Dover House and showcase the finest that Scotland has to offer, giving our guests a true experience of our world-class produce.

The Royal College of Midwives is urging more pregnant women in the Western Isles to get their flu vaccine to help protect themselves and their babies this winter.

The call comes after statistics highlighted that nearly half (48 percent) of those pregnant in the Western Isles took their flu vaccine last winter and that, nationally, flu was the cause of death among one in 11 women who died during, or shortly after, pregnancy.

Pregnant women who contract flu are also five times more likely to have a stillborn baby, or for the baby to die in the first week following birth.


Alex MacLeod, Stornoway Port Authority Chief Executive with Economy Secretary Keith Brown in Stornoway

Stornoway Port Authority has been chosen as one of the first recipients for a funding award from the Scottish Government’s Decommissioning Challenge Fund.
The SPA has been offered nearly £73,000 to support several projects it is undertaking at Arnish.
And the award is one of only seven projects in total across Scotland which have been offered a share of a £1.1 million tranche of funding.

The word from NHS Western Isles is ‘Be Health-Wise this Winter’ as the local health board supports a national campaign to highlight the importance of being prepared for seasonal illness.
‘Be Health-Wise this Winter’ is designed to encourage everyone to take a few simple steps to ensure they can take care of themselves and their families over the festive period.
NHS Western Isles Medical Director, Angus McKellar, said the campaign is an important reminder that opening times in community services such as GP surgeries and pharmacies will change over the holidays.

The word from NHS Western Isles is ‘Be Health-Wise this Winter’ as the local health board supports a national campaign to highlight the importance of being prepared for seasonal illness.
‘Be Health-Wise this Winter’ is designed to encourage everyone to take a few simple steps to ensure they can take care of themselves and their families over the festive period.
NHS Western Isles Medical Director, Angus McKellar, said the campaign is an important reminder that opening times in community services such as GP surgeries and pharmacies will change over the holidays.

This is the fifth year of Tearfund Scotland's Christmas Tour, and they'd love you to join them for a festive night of inspiring Christmas carols and original Christmas songs from 7pm on Wednesday 6th of December at Martin's Memorial Church.

A great line up of Scotland’s finest Christian singer-songwriters and musicians - Yvonne Lyon, Allan McKinlay, Ellyn Oliver and David Lyon - will welcome in this season of Advent.

The rage of a long-forgotten night-time storm surrounded a crowd packed into the main library in Stornoway last night (Tuesday 28th November), as the timbers of a vast wooden sailing ship cracked and splintered.

Shivering and praying in almost complete darkness, the audience felt how much of the masts and rigging were swept away leaving the Annie Jane adrift at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean in an immense storm which took thousands of lives all up and down the west coasts of Britain and Ireland.

Then with her cargo of iron shifting in the holds, a vast wave swept across the deck taking all the remaining structures away…along with the lives of almost all those who had fled to the deck from the pitch-dark watery hell below.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is seeking local option from Newton residents in Stornoway as the authority’s Regeneration Team host a public consultation next week.
Chairman of Sustainable Development at the Comhairle, Donald Crichton, said: “I would encourage local residents and businesses in the Newton area to come along and view the potential developments in the area.
“The Regeneration Team, developers and other stakeholders are working collaboratively to seek funding in order to regenerate former mill buildings and bring them back into productive use and create jobs.”

Island ferry operators Caledonian MacBrayne warn travellers on the Ullapool to Stornoway route to ‘Be aware’ as ferry services are ‘highly likely’ to be cancelled today (Tuesday, November 28th).
“Please be advised that the 1400 from Stornoway and the 1730 from Ullapool are highly likely to be cancelled due to swell conditions in the Minch,” states CalMac, adding: “Customers are advised to travel from Tarbert to Uig at 1150 and from Uig to Tarbert at 1815.”
It is anticipated that the freight ferry services between Stornoway and Ullapool may also be affected by the heavy swell and warn customers to ‘be aware’ that the 2230 Stornoway-Ullapool service, and the 0300 Ullapool-Stornoway service, may be disrupted, delayed, or cancelled at short notice.

The cold-snap experienced across the Western Isles recently still remains as the Met Office issue another Yellow warning for ice tonight.
The forecasters anticipate icy patches likely to develop between 6pm tonight (Tuesday, November 28th) and 10am tomorrow (Wednesday, November 29th) on some untreated roads, pavements and cycle paths.
Wintry showers may bring additional hazards, including causing wash-off on treated roads, and may lead to one to two centimetres of snow accumulating on ground above 200m.

It is vital that members of the public take precautions to help prevent them catching or spreading the norovirus (commonly known as the ‘winter vomiting bug’) to others, says NHS Western Isles.

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that spreads through direct contact, from contaminated surfaces including food, and from vomit droplets. The first sign of norovirus is usually a sudden sick feeling, followed by forceful vomiting and watery diarrhoea.

Budding young artists from the Western Isles are being urged to enter the fourth annual John Byrne National Drawing Competition.
Since the launch of the competition in 2014, thousands of pupils have submitted their artwork to be judged by the renowned artist and playwright John Byrne.
The competition, sponsored by John, in partnership with Education Scotland, invites children and young people from P4 – S3 to submit a drawing.

Laxdale Primary School pictured after their RNLI fundraising walk in Lews Castle Grounds

Laxdale Primary School pupils have displayed their generosity donating a magnificent total of £2,552 to Stornoway RNLI.
Laxdale Primary One class collected £258 worth of 1ps and 2ps towards the Stornoway RNLI ‘One Million Pennies Appeal’ – which was added to the sum raised by the entire school when they completed a sponsored walk to Lews Castle Grounds recently.

#BeLikeStAndrew is the call from An Lanntair as the arts centre celebrates St Andrew’s Day this week in the first of its three winter festivals – and supports Eilean Siar Foodbank at the same time.
Scotland’s patron saint, St Andrew’s philosophy was simple: share what you have with those less fortunate and be kind to each other.
During the week-long celebration of St Andrew’s Day at An Lanntair – which includes some special performances and a packed bill of cinema treats and films – a collection point for non-perishable food items to donate to Eilean Siar Foodbank will be established in the foyer from Monday, November 27th to Saturday, December 2nd.

Budding junior musicians, it’s time to get practising – for Isles musical showcase, the Western Isles Young Musician of the Year competition, is making a comeback.

After a five-year break, the competition will run again in February 2018 with a grand finale at Lews Castle.

But that’s not all, for the new competition is accompanied by a brand new contest – the Young Western Isles Singer of the Year - also open to young people from primary age and up.  The final date for entries for both competitions is January 19th, 2018.

Police and contractors have appealed from help from the public after a series of attacks on newly-restored fencing around Aignish Cemetery on the Braighe near Stornoway.

The barbed wire strands on top of the stock-proof fencing were systematically cut through and prepared, laminated notices left claiming barbed wire should not be used as it endangers dogs.

Western Isles Police have appealed for help saying on Twitter: “Between Friday 17/11/17 & Monday 20/11/17, damage was caused to barbed wire fencing around Aignish Cemetery. We'd like to appeal to anyone who has any knowledge of, or information about this incident, or suspicious behaviour at the Cemetery to report it to us. NH4465/17 refers.”

Charles Dewhurst gets set to take on Everest in aid of The Leanne Fund charity

A former Isle of Lewis resident is taking on the world’s highest mountain in an effort to raise funds for The Leanne Fund.
Charles Dewhurst, former employee of Duncan Mackay and Sons Ltd, is undertaking a trek to Everest base camp at 17,600ft - or ultimately 19,600ft where his insurance runs out, Camp 1 - to raise funds for The Leanne Fund and St Abbs Independent Lifeboat.
Fifty-six-year-old Charles, who now works for Scottish Water’s alliance partner Caledonia Water Alliance, is in training to climb higher than base camp on Mount Everest in December.

Police in the Highlands and Islands have made 16 significant drug recoveries in the past four weeks across the north of Scotland.
Activity by Police Scotland officers has resulted in seizures in the Inverness, Shetland, Ross-shire, Lochaber, Badenoch & Strathspey and Western Isles areas over the past few weeks.
The activity has resulted in tens of thousands of pounds worth of illegal drugs being intercepted before they are sold on.

ORCA wildlife officer Andy Gilbert will be seconded to CalMac full time from March next year for an eight month period

Ferry operator CalMac has seconded a full time ORCA wildlife officer to help educate crew and passengers about marine life across the west coast.
CalMac has been partnering with wildlife charity ORCA for four years monitoring mammals in the Minch and the two organisations are now working together to expand their conservation work next summer.
Andy Gilbert has spent decades pursuing his passion for wildlife and conservation first as a volunteer, and most recently as an ORCA wildlife officer in both the Bay of Biscay and in the Hebrides aboard the MV Loch Nevis.

He will now be bringing his experience to the west coast in 2018, working as a full-time conservation expert across the CalMac fleet.
“The opportunity to spend 2018 working in the Hebrides and helping deliver the ORCA Wildlife Officer programme, in partnership with CalMac, is an exciting next step in my career,” said Andy.
“I can’t wait to start helping to spread the message about marine conservation across their network of routes.
“The more we learn about the diversity of what lives in our seas, the greater understanding we will have about how to conserve it for future generations.”

The three turbines at Beinn Ghrideag on the Pentland Road near Stornoway are producing enough power for every home on the Isle of Lewis, the Point and Sandwick Trust AGM heard earlier this week.

The Trust chairman Angus McCormack asked why anyone could support EDF’s plans for a corporate wind farm in Stornoway over a community-owned one like PST’s.

The three turbines at Beinn Ghrideag now generate £900,000 in profit each year, with every penny going back to the community. That is exactly the same sum of money which Lewis Wind Power (EDF and Amec-Foster-Wheeler in partnership with Stornoway Trust) plan to give to the community if they get the go-ahead for their wind farm — which has 36 turbines.

Co-op Macaulay Road are once again collecting toys for Action for Children. If you are wanting to donate anything please just put it in the in-store sleigh. Toys must be in their original packaging.

The collected gifts will be going to children for their Christmas who otherwise may not receive anything.

It's that time of year…and Maybury Gardens in North Street, Sandwick is already resplendent with festive fun as its Christmas launch gets underway today (Thursday November 23)

Islanders are urged to take care tonight as roads and pavements look set to become icy

Yellow weather warnings for snow and ice have been issued today by the Met Office – and islanders are urged to take care today and tomorrow as ice in particular is expected on the roads overnight.
Today (Thursday, November 23rd) a Yellow Ice warning has been issued from 6pm through to 10am tomorrow morning (Friday, November 24th) to expect some icy patches to form on untreated roads, pavements and cycle paths overnight.
“There is a risk of slippery surfaces and difficult driving conditions,” say the Met Office. “Snow showers are expected, mainly over higher ground, in the north and west of Scotland, with longer journey times possible.”

Contest success…Councillor Donald Crichton presenting an iPad to Sean Kettle

The winners of the Outer Hebrides Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme Business Ideas Competition were recently announced to coincide with Global Entrepreneurship Week.

Business Gateway would like to say a huge thank you to all those who entered the competition, which was run in conjunction with the “OHYES” grant scheme – a joint initiative between Scape Communities ReInvest Fund and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. 

Support for the Cambridge Weight Plan across the Islands has projected Stornoway-based Terri McGeoghegan into the top 50 out of more than 3,600 consultants across the UK.

Terri, who herself demonstrates the success of the plan, having lost three stone (19kg), has been providing support for clients through the Cambridge Weight Plan for more than two years.

Formerly working from home, Terri now works partly as Hebrides Harmony beauty therapist and partly as an independent Cambridge consultant from the White Rooms in Bayhead, Stornoway.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, David Stewart, says he is delighted that the Western Isles Foyer, based at Bayhead in Stornoway, was awarded £6,118 from the National Lottery Awards For All Scotland yesterday (Wednesday November 22).

The Foyer will use the funding for a pilot project in which 24 young people will participate in an ‘accredited tenancy-training course’ which will enable them to demonstrate their readiness before applying for their own tenancy.

Skipinnish are set to entertain HebCelt crowds next summer

Skipinnish, Blazin’ Fiddles, and Tide Lines are all set to entertain Stornoway next summer as the Hebridean Celtic Festival reveals the first acts for the 2018 party.
An enticing mix of international artists and home-grown talent make up the first acts announced for the multi-award-winning Hebridean Celtic Festival’s 2018 line-up.
HebCelt director Caroline Maclennan said: “This is a fresh, lively set of artists which is in line with HebCelt’s aim to bring a mix of established and young talent from different cultures to our audience.

Exploratory test holes will be bored in the seabed at Stornoway harbour

Tests will start this week to help pave the way for the creation of a deep-water port at Stornoway, bringing major economic benefits to the town.
A deep-water port is a crucial part of Stornoway Port Authority’s ambitious 20-year masterplan and the exploratory work represents a key milestone in its commitment to the development.
The test holes in the seabed will determine the depth of rock and the soft material above it, providing the information to determine the design and construction of a facility that will help stimulate growth in a number of vital sectors.

Isles MP, Angus Brendan MacNeil and a group of other MPs met today (Wednesday November 22) with Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis MP to discuss ways of enabling non-EEA crew, principally from the Philippines and Ghana, to work on fishing boats on the West Coast of Scotland.

Commenting after the meeting Angus MacNeil MP said: “This was a very useful meeting.   Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis MP was very open and had a fresh and honest eye to the possibilities of what could happen.

Western Isles’ residents are being warned of a telephone scam currently circulating locally.
Trading Standards at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are warning residents of the phone scam where the caller states that your bank is under investigation and in order to protect yourself, you are instructed to move your money to a different account.
The caller then provides the sort code and account number to enable the transfer.
The caller sounds genuine, and will tell you that you need to act urgently. They will also say that you must not disclose the information with anyone, including bank staff.
A local authority Trading Standards spokesperson said: “This is a scam. A banking institution will not contact you in this manner.
“Our advice is to hang up, wait five to ten minutes, and call your bank on the legitimate phone number printed on your bank statements.”

Lewisman Calum Iain Macleod has been elected to take up the role of national Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales from 1 January 2018.
Mr Macleod, who originates from Eagleton on Point, said: “I am honoured and privileged to be elected to the role of chair; with that comes the responsibility of ensuring that the organisation truly represents the views of rank and file police officers across England and Wales.
"Our organisational reform is nearing completion and now we must focus all our energy on achieving positive change for our members. Let’s not sugarcoat the current situation that we are facing – policing is in a critical state.

The semi-finals of the National Secondary Schools’ Gaelic Debate will take place next Tuesday, 28 November - including a team from The Nicolson Institute. 

The event will be held at the BBC’s Pacific Quay building in Glasgow, starting at 6.30pm. 

The first semi-final will see the Glasgow Gaelic School battle against Lochaber High School, when their topic of debate will be, “Too much recognition is given to sport in this country”. 

The countdown to Christmas is officially on with just over two weeks until Stornoway’s Lights Switch-On event which will take place in Perceval Square on Friday December 8th from 6.30pm with a packed itinerary of activities for all the family including a half mile Santa Dash, musical performances, the funfair and topped off with a large fireworks display.

The funfair will be in the Fishermen’s Car Park from Wednesday to Saturday of that week.  This year, organisers Stornoway Amenity Trust have been striving to enhance the town lights displays by raising additional funds through alternative funding streams. The Trust were lucky to secure support from Tesco’s Bags of Help initiative and are also benefitting from the proceeds from Western Isles Lifestyle tickets sales in the Broadbay area.

The Isles Lottery Team are celebrating today (November 21), having reached their first major milestone of raising £10,000 for community projects across the Western Isles - just three months after the Lottery was launched.

A spokesperson for Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery said: “The Lottery is over 25% of the way to reaching the long term target. We are delighted that a steady support of 1350 weekly tickets, the bulk of which are paid by Direct Debit, can raise so much.”

Community Groups from the Butt to Barra have received their shares of the £7,689 already distributed and are set to receive around £3,500 at the end of this month, varying with the level of support from each area.

Today saw the launch of Scottish First Aid Week, the aim of which is to provide as many people as possible across Scotland with basic CPR skills, by way of demonstrations and 'hands-on' experience.

St Andrew's First Aid launched the week at Glasgow Airport at 10am today and invited Stornoway volunteers to coincide with them by kicking off the week with CPR demos at Stornoway airport.

Proposals for a Waterfront Walk in Stornoway have been shortlisted in Scotland’s FutureTowns Design Competition which is being voted on this week.

Identified as Stornoway’s ‘greatest asset’ in a plan for the town developed earlier this year by 360 Architecture, the Waterfront Walk offers the potential for Stornoway to return to its origins in its relationship to the Waterfront, creating connections throughout the town and its surrounding areas.

A few tickets remain for the fundraising evening in aid of the Motor Neurone Disease charity in the Artizan Art & Jewellery Café in Church Street, Stornoway, on Thursday (November 23rd).  

The nationwide impact of e-Sgoil since being launched in August 2016 has created such interest from other authorities – now eight in total – that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is covering the costs of the project out of its income from providing services to their schools, Mr Bernard Chisholm, Director of Education and Children's Services, told the Partnership Event at the Cabarfeidh Hotel last Thursday (November 16).

Although e-Sgoil teaching takes place electronically, it is still done directly, with a teacher “in front” of a classroom at all times. Thanks to new digital tools, children can do work online in one school, while their teacher at another school can see it and make comments on it in real-time. The e-Sgoil has its own headteacher and staff to provide its service and one teacher has already returned to live on the Islands to work with the project.

e-Soil has meant, for instance, students in Sir E Scott wishing to study Higher Religious, Moral, and Philosophical Education can be taught remotely by staff at The Nicolson Institute, while students in Uig were taught fiddle classes from e-Sgoil on Francis Street.

In November 1995 two Stornoway sisters embarked upon a new initiative – opening a ladies clothing store in the town centre. Roll on 22 years and Influence is a major part of Stornoway’s shopping experience, now attracting even more new customers to its much-expanded new store on Cromwell Street.

Despite some teething troubles caused by telecoms problems, the store has been a runaway success since opening a fortnight ago.

From left,  Mr D A Maclean, D R Macdonald, Donald Macdonald, Mrs Mairi C Gillies (widow of Dr Neil Gillies), Mrs Christine Macdonald, Sandy Matheson, and Carol Sommerville, general manager of Bethesda.

Harrisman Donald Macdonald, executive chairman of Macdonald Hotels and resorts, has presented a significant donation to the Bethesda Hospice in Stornoway of which he has been a supporter over many years.

Isles MP Angus Brendan MacNeil says he is delighted that the threat to Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab) has been lifted.

A financial package to complete the contract has been provided by Seaway Heavy Lifting, SSE and the partners to the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm project, JCE Offshore. 

The scenic Talla na Mara community enterprise centre held its Grand Opening yesterday (Friday 17th November) with Pairc Niseaboist resplendent and echoing to bagpipe music.

The VIPs were Ben Fogle who became a honorary resident of West Harris after living on nearby Taransay for a year as part of the BBC reality series Castaway almost 20 years ago; and Alex Passmore from Leverburgh Memorial School who won a competition to name the centre.

The event was introduced by Anna Helfrich, the trust’s commercial manager, who explained the centre had been in action already for 10 months and was already a major hub of local activity. Alex Passmore spoke a welcome in Gaelic.

WINNER - Arts & Culture – Alex MacDonald with Cathy Macdonald and Claire Byers (2nd right) and Laura Cameron-Lewis (far right from Creative Scotland)

The 5th Scottish Gaelic Awards were held at the Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow on Wednesday 15 November with more than 200 guests in attendance.

The main award of Lifetime Achievement was bestowed on Dr Finlay MacLeod from Shawbost and Adabrock – the widely-respected author, broadcaster, teacher and historian.

Isles MP Angus Brendan MacNeil yesterday (Friday November 17th) visited the Arnish Yard near Stornoway to speak with management and unions about the effect of the ongoing difficulty affecting Burntisland Fabrications (Bi-Fab) which runs the yard.

Angus MacNeil MP said: “There are difficulties with the contracts, we must remember that the work is high-quality, the fundamentals of Bi-Fab are right.  The difficulty is down to contract and cash-flow, we have to make sure that we bridge through this period.

A call for more action over challenges facing the Outer Hebrides came yesterday from Mr Bernard Chisholm, Director of Education and Children's Services at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, as almost 200 people from a wide of projects serving the community gathered for the annual Partnership Event.

Mr Chisholm explained to the meeting at the Cabarfeidh Hotel how the department had instigated the Partnership Events in 2011 with a far smaller number attending. They arose from the recognition that without a total support system around young people we could not be successful.

Since then a series of improvements had enabled the service – in partnership with others – to greatly improve the context for young people to progress.

Around 1,400 jobs are dependent on the Scottish Government ending a contractual dispute between the financially stricken fabrication firm BiFab and the Beatrice Windfarm Project contractor Seaway Heavy Lifting (SHL).

That's the view of the joint trade unions representing the interests of over 600 members across BiFab’s three yards in Fife and Lewis, many of whom joined a protest in Edinburgh yesterday.

Hundreds marched to Holyrood. Earlier Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Week, Keith Brown MSP, stressed the Scottish Government would leave ‘no stone’ unturned’ in their engagements with all stakeholders involved in BiFab.

NHS Western Isles won a prestigious award at the national EHI Live 2017 event at Birmingham NEC on October 31-November 1, for innovative work on the Morse app which came first in the ‘Best App for Clinicians’ category.

The Morse app, which was developed with supplier Cambric as a key strand of NHS Western Isles strategy to go digital, enables staff to manage their caseload entirely whilst working in the community.

This means that appointments, case-notes, assessments, referrals and other patient information are available within the app, based on the clinical role of the user. This enables forms and notes to be completed by staff away from their base, which are securely electronically transmitted back to base and automatically filed within the patient’s digital health record.  

NHS Western Isles MS Specialist Nurse Rachel Morrison was delighted to be given a Judges Special Award at the national QuDoS MS Awards on 10 November in Leicester, in recognition of the digital innovation being used in her local service.

Rachel (left) is shown accepting the award being presented by Professor Dawn Langdon, who chaired the 2017 judging panel and is Professor of Neuropsychology at the Royal Holloway, University of London.

The national QuDoS MS Awards highlights innovation and excellence in MS care management and service delivery, recognising the valuable contribution of individuals and teams in improving the quality of life and experience of care for those with MS.

Customers on the Ullapool-Inverness coach route should again benefit from extra capacity following the extension to an agreement by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Scottish Citylink and the Highlands and Islands Regional Transport Partnership (HITRANS).

Scottish Citylink, which operates the service, deployed 48 additional coaches over the summer to cater for whenever bookings for the service exceeded the capacity more than 48 hours in advance of the departure time.

As the coach operator runs the service on a commercial basis without any public sector investment, it cannot guarantee that it can add in extra vehicles to the route with less than 48 hours' notice unless the level of demand covered the operational costs.  

Customers on the Ullapool-Inverness coach route should again benefit from extra capacity following the extension to an agreement by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Scottish Citylink and the Highlands and Islands Regional Transport Partnership (HITRANS).

Scottish Citylink, which operates the service, deployed 48 additional coaches over the summer to cater for whenever bookings for the service exceeded the capacity more than 48 hours in advance of the departure time.

As the coach operator runs the service on a commercial basis without any public sector investment, it cannot guarantee that it can add in extra vehicles to the route with less than 48 hours' notice unless the level of demand covered the operational costs.  

People organising markets and sales on the Islands need to comply with the law, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has warned.

There are regulations and legal requirements which must be met, traders and organisers are being told.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP, Alasdair Allan, has welcomed the ruling from the UK Supreme Court that minimum unit pricing for alcohol can now proceed.

Alasdair Allan said he hoped the law would “help prevent some personal tragedies in the islands and across Scotland.”  The measure was passed overwhelmingly by the Scottish Parliament in 2012, but implementation has been delayed due to successive court challenges from sections of the alcohol industry.
 
Prior to implementing the policy, Scottish Ministers will conduct consultation on the proposed 50 pence per unit price.

The Community Board set up by ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) to provide an insight into the issues affecting island and rural communities, is meeting for the first time on Friday, November 17.

Board chair Angus Campbell, former leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: “The focus of the first meeting will be agreeing the way the Board will operate, including how the members will engage with the communities they represent and report back to them the activities of the Community Board.

The Community Board set up by ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) to provide an insight into the issues affecting island and rural communities, is meeting for the first time on Friday, November 17.

Board chair Angus Campbell, former leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: “The focus of the first meeting will be agreeing the way the Board will operate, including how the members will engage with the communities they represent and report back to them the activities of the Community Board.

The local community is asked to support European Antibiotic Awareness Day.  Antibiotic resistance is a major public health issue and considered to be a significant threat to the future of healthcare.

NHS Western Isles is supporting European Antibiotic Awareness Day on Saturday 18th November and encouraging local communities to become more aware of the issues surrounding antibiotics.

Emer Friel, NHS Western Isles Antimicrobial Pharmacist, and Janice Mackay, NHS Western Isles Infection Prevention and Control Team Manager, will be in Stornoway Tesco between 10am-11am and the Co-op between 11.15am-12.15pm on Friday 17th November offering practical advice on treating infections and how to deal with coughs and colds without antibiotics.

This year’s first term at Providence Christian School, Stornoway, has proved to be most encouraging for all connected with the School, the school says.

As well as seeing five new pupils and four new families joining the School community through the term, the School also welcomed a new Headteacher, Mr Mark Musty, pictured above. 

An independent Scottish electricity company has challenged SSE to explain why it has far more of its customers on the most expensive tariffs compared to any other supplier.

More than 90 per cent of SSE customers – many of them in the North of Scotland – are on Standard Variable Tariffs which are widely condemned as the main source of excessive energy bills.

Paul Richards, managing director of Clydebank-based Together Energy, said that SSE’s use of Standard Variable Tariffs reflected “a cynical abuse of customer loyalty to the Hydro legacy”.

The first intake of Islanders on a new hospitality Modern Apprenticeship aimed specifically at the merchant marine industry are about to embark on their new careers.

A partnership between City of Glasgow College and ferry operator CalMac, the nine successful MAs will now take up full time roles as stewards with the company.

The year-long MA Hospitality with Maritime Enhancements involved classroom learning mixed with time spent training on-board some of CalMac’s 32 strong fleet.

Trading Standards at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are aware of a local scam call from a withheld number, claiming to be from the Town Hall.

A spokesperson said: “The caller states that you are in Council Tax arrears, and requests payment over the phone.   Trading Standards advise that you should delay your call for at least 10 minutes after the initial contact as scammers could keep the line open without your knowledge, or alternatively phone the Council’s tax Team on the number, below, using a different phone or a mobile phone.”

Any resident concerned about Council Tax arrears should contact the Comhairle’s Council Tax team on 01851 600502.

Point and Sandwick Trust is bidding a fond farewell to one of its founding members, Jenny Pain, who is retiring to a life in the sun. (She is pictured receiving her retirement gift.) 

Jenny and husband Richard, who have handed over the running of their Tiumpeanhead Kennels business to their daughter and son-in-law, leave for Tenerife at the end of November.

Jenny remembers clearly that initial meeting in the old Bayble school in 2005, when the community decided to form a steering group to pursue the possibility of building a turbine on their land.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus Brendan MacNeil has today (Monday November 13) spoken to Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy in his concerns about the workforce at Arnish.

The Minister has confirmed that work is ongoing with the lead developers SSE and others, the main contractors and Government accountants to do their upmost to keep the successful engineering company BiFab going.

Flybe has announced that from 9th November 2017, customers will receive one free 15 or 23kg hold bag on all ticket types when booking flights within Scotland (intra-Scotland), offering savings of up to £52 on a return flight.

The airline has taken this step having listened to customer feedback following the September start of services to the Highlands and Islands operated by Eastern Airways on behalf of Flybe, and also of those using the intra-Scotland flights operating as part of the new franchise agreement between the two airlines that started on 29th October.

Those booking flights on the seven named routes at www.flybe.com, through Flybe’s Contact Centre or via a travel agent, will be able to upgrade a their JustFly ticket to a GetMore ticket for £6.50 per person per sector. 

The free hold bag and discounted GetMore upgrade applies to the following five Flybe routes operated by Eastern Airways:

Glasgow to Stornoway and Glasgow to Sumburgh

Aberdeen to Kirkwall and Aberdeen to Sumburgh and

Edinburgh to Sumburgh

And also on the two routes operated by Flybe’s franchise partner, Eastern Airways from

Aberdeen to Stornoway and Aberdeen to Wick John O’Groats

In addition, customers booking onward connections via www.flybe.com will now only be charged for one item of hold luggage on the non-Scotland sector of their journey. For example, a customer travelling on a Just Fly ticket with a 23kg bag on the routing Stornoway (SYY) – Glasgow (GLA) – Southampton (SOU) would pay as follows: SYY-GLA (free hold luggage) + GLA-SOU (£26).

Flybe’s Interim Chief Commercial Officer, Ronnie Matheson comments: “Following overwhelming customer feedback received during previous visits to the Highlands & Islands, I am pleased to announce Flybe is removing charges on the most popular hold luggage choices on these selected routes within Scotland.  Flybe is committed to listening to our customers and we will always do our best to action wherever possible any changes that will enhance their overall experience of travelling with us.”

 

 

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus Brendan MacNeil last night (Saturday November 11)  expressed his concern at media reports - on the BBC and in the Scotsman amongst others - that Burntisland Fabricators (BiFab) is on the verge of calling in administrators.
Bi-Fab runs the yard at Arnish which employs in the region of 150 people, in addition to two yards in Fife, meaning it employs around 600 in all.
The firm builds large-scale equipment for the offshore oil and gas industry, as well as platforms for offshore wind turbines and tidal generators.

Two Western Isles community nurses, who have collectively worked the equivalent of 45 years as nurses for NHS Western Isles, have received long service awards from the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland (QNIS).

Ann Fraser, retired Community Nurse and Joan Macarthur, Senior Charge Nurse, Eastside Team, pictured,  were both presented with their awards on 7th November at Carloway Surgery in front of nursing colleagues (past and present) to mark their long service for the NHS.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed the recent publication of the Scottish Government’s discussion paper, which considers the role of income tax in Scotland.

Since the paper’s publication, the Isles MSP has received correspondence from dozens of individuals in the islands, keen to play their part in a national conversation on how best to support our public services.

Katie Macleod interviews Sudha Bhuchar

This month, An Lanntair marks the end of its Purvai Festival, examining the connections between the Hebrides and the India, with a performance of Child of the Divide.
Set during the Partition of India in the summer of 1947, “it’s a play that’s got the stories of children at its heart,” says Sudha Bhuchar, the award-winning playwright and actor behind Child of the Divide, which will end its current UK tour at An Lanntair on Friday 17th November.

Successful intervention by Isles MP

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus B MacNeil is delighted to confirm that the case of the Island schoolgirl who was unable to obtain a passport because the Home Office was unable to confirm that she is a British citizen has now been resolved.

Mr MacNeil took this case up with Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis MP, at Home Office Questions at Westminster. 

A new wave of phone and email scamming is hitting the Western Isles, according to recipients posting on the Western Isles Noticeboard community Facebook Page in the last few days.
One warns: “Be aware, folks. Just had an automated call claiming to be the Bank of Scotland Fraud Unit.
“I switched off the phone and called the number on the back of my card, needless to say, it wasn’t the bank.

The e-Sgoil building in Stornoway was the setting for the first two rounds of the National Gaelic Schools' Debate, which took place on Tuesday and Wednesday the 7th and 8th of November.  The judges; Iain Stephen Morrison, Christina Walker and Angus MacDonald, certainly had their work cut out whittling sixteen teams down to four.  The four teams who have reached the semi-final stages of this year's competition are: The Nicolson Institute A, Gairloch High School, Lochaber High School and Glasgow Gaelic School.

 

The internationally-acclaimed Hebridean Celtic Festival is centre stage again after picking up its third award in three weeks.

The Stornoway-based event was named Best Cultural Event or Festival in the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA), a title it also won in 2014.

HITA recognised the economic, cultural and musical impact of the festival. Judges highlighted the fact HebCelt has been running for more than 20 years, during which time it has generated in excess of £20 million for the islands, and that it attracts a wide overseas audience, including from across Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. They add that HebCelt is a "clear demonstration of hard work, commitment and enthusiasm".

Branch volunteers representing the Lewis and Harris Branch are pictured at the Alzheimer Scotland annual staff and volunteer conference in Glasgow taking place today (Tuesday November 7th)

The Lewis and Harris branch were awarded the Volunteer dedication and branch engagement award for 2017.

The Lewis and Harris Branch celebrated its 30th anniversary earlier this year with a small get-together during Dementia Awareness week in June.

Ferry firm David MacBrayne Ltd (DML) announced today (Tuesday, November 7,) that its Chief Executive Martin Dorchester, who is also Managing Director of CalMac Ferries Ltd, will be leaving the company to take up a new role as Chief Executive of Includem, - a specialist Scottish charity supporting some of the most vulnerable young people and their families across Scotland.

David McGibbon, Chairman of DML, said:“On behalf of everyone at David MacBrayne Ltd, I thank Martin for the commitment and drive he has shown in leading and developing the organisation and in building such an exceptional team.

Small scale hydro production in Scotland faces further uncertainty over its future due to proposed new SEPA charges, businesses have warned.

A new fee regime for the monitoring of hydro schemes, which has been placed for public consultation by SEPA, would see larger hydro providers have their costs reduced whilst smaller schemes, previously exempt from monitoring charges, face new bills of thousands of pounds per year.

The British Hydropower Association estimate the average business, operating 0.1-2MW schemes, will be hit by new charges averaging more than £3,000 per annum. There are nearly 300 such schemes in Scotland.

At the AGM of Hebridean Housing Partnership on 6 September 2017, a decision was made to donate £5,000 of its 2017/18 surplus to locally based charities.  On Friday 3 November 2107, Kevin Paterson, one of HHP’s Board Members presented £1,000 each to the following five locally based charities.

• Young Musicians Hebrides;
• Stornoway Phab;
• Western Isles Carers Support Network;
• Macmillan Nurses; and
• Westerns Isles Community Care Forum.

The charities receiving the donation were delighted with the funds and explained to HHP’s staff how the funds would be used.

Jane Grey (Young Musicians Hebrides), Liz Carmichael (Stornoway Phab), Fiona Macleod (Western Isles Carers Support Network), Agnes Macleod (Macmillan Nurses) and Peggy Mackay (Western Isles Community Care Forum) are pictured being presented with their cheques by Mr Kevin Paterson.

 

Members of the Western Isles Kidney Patients Association are shown receiving a cheque for £764 from The Co-operative Superstore Stornoway. This sum was raised from customer donations at the check-outs as well as from the sale of bags.
 
 

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan today (Monday November 6) welcomed the new Scottish Living Wage rate of £8.75 and encouraged more employers throughout the Western Isles to sign up as accredited Living Wage Employers.

This came as the local MSP visited Lewis Builders to congratulate them on becoming one of the latest island firms to sign up to the Living Wage.

Alasdair Allan MSP is due to visit Lewis Builders Ltd during Living Wage Week on Monday 6th November as they are believed to be the largest company on the islands to join the scheme so far, with over 65 employees.

A Living Wage is independently calculated each year which is usually called the real Living Wage - the UK Government also calculates a Living Wage which is consistently less each year.  Each year a separate rate is also calculated for those living in London.

The people of the Highlands & Islands must make sure they have their say on the future of the bus pass in Scotland, says Labour MSP Rhoda Grant.

Despite promising to protect the pass in their 2016 manifesto, the SNP Government has cut £9.5 million from the bus pass budget and are consulting on the future of the scheme. The First Minister and the Transport Minister have refused to rule out raising the qualifying age from 60 to 65.

Congratulations to this week's winner of free glasses, Emily MacLeod of Shader!

Visit our shop to find out how you could be next week's winner!

It’s been 10 years – and an incredible 7,000 NHS patients - since Canadian-born optometrist Claire Whyman first set up shop in Stornoway.
That’s a lot of spectacles. But more important, for Claire and her team (pictured above)  at Claire Whyman Opticians, it’s a lot of time spent on one-to-one care, making customers’ vision a priority.
Now, to celebrate a decade of dedication, the business on North Beach Street is planning a month of giveaways. Every customer throughout November will have their name and number put in a lucky dip and the owner of the winning ticket pulled each Friday will win a refund of the cost of the glasses that they have just purchased.

Moving from Aberdeen city centre to settle on the Isle of Lewis might come as a culture shock to many people – but for Spectra Vox (aka Dr Claire Gerrard), a software developer, artist and singer who came to live on Lewis with her partner and young daughter two years ago, the fact she embraces the Goth subculture brought further uncertainty that this was a good move to make. 

“When I first moved to Lewis I was at the height of feeling homesick and out of place,” said Spectra. 

Leona Rawlinson was delighted to open her ‘Tweedtastic’ shop in Stornoway this summer taking her online business on to the ‘High Street’.
And already the Church Street shop is proving popular – as are Leona’s exclusively designed Harris Tweeds.
“The first roll of my ‘Taihla’ Harris Tweed, a pink and grey shadow check, sold out within ten days,” said Leona. “It was such a great surprise!”

Traffic delays spread around Manor roundabout in Stornoway this afternoon (Wednesday November 1) after firemen were called to a house near the roundabout.  Police directed the traffic around the affected area where the incident was attended by at least two fire service appliances and other vehicles. It's believed that no one was in the affected flats at the time of incident which began before 3.30pm.

The Western Isles had the highest percentage increase in the number of supported smoking quit attempts between 2015/16 and 2016/17, says NHS Western Isles.
 
The percentage of successful quit attempts at 12 weeks in the Western Isles was 55%, significantly higher than the overall Scottish figure.

The percentage performance of each Board against their individual standard also showed a significant performance of 136% in the Western Isles.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed the publication of figures which show the Scottish Government’s Small Business Bonus scheme provided a record level of £1.8 million worth of support to small businesses in the Isles this year.

Across Scotland, the Small Business Bonus Scheme helps more than 103,000 firms by reducing their rates liability and taking some firms out of business rates altogether.

Timetable changes to improve bus and train connections are among the service improvements being made by ferry operator CalMac.

Transport Scotland has agreed a total of 15 timetable changes for Summer 2018 after an extensive consultation with communities across the west coast. These include:

Stornoway - Ullapool: Extension of the double Sunday timetable from a 10-week period to the full duration of the summer timetable.

Uig – Tarbert - Lochmaddy: The peak summer timetable and late Friday sailing extended from 10 to 18 weeks.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus MacNeil is calling on BT to take immediate steps to improve the level of service provided to customers after several constituents were left without services for more than two months.

Mr MacNeil is often called upon by constituents to assist in getting phone lines and broadband installed or repaired and in most instances the response from BT is swift, however, a number of recent cases have now prompted Mr MacNeil to criticise BT.

The ladies of Stornoway Lifeboat Ladies Guild invite all to join them for a cuppa and some of the best cakes in town at their annual Lifeboat Christmas Afternoon Tea on Saturday (December 3rd).

Taking place from 2pm-4pm at Lewis Retirement Centre, Bayhead, as well as teas, coffees and delicious home-baking, the Ladies Guild will also have a stall set up selling RNLI Christmas Cards, Calendars and a selection of Lifeboat souvenirs.

And Stornoway optician, Robert Doig, will present a talk on the life of his grandfather, Dr Doig, during the Afternoon Tea.

The Stornoway RNLI Shop, on Cromwell Street, is also now open for all your Christmas gift buying – every Thursday and Saturday from 11am to 3pm.

 

Embrace the "reason for the season!"

Friday December 9, Martins Memorial Church, after the switching on of the Christmas lights in Stornoway

Come along and enjoy our beautiful large-scale nativity scene, and enjoy listening to some old favourite Christmas carols.

Free tea/coffee and warm mincemeat pies.

All children especially welcome.

(Martins Memori