Volunteers have taken delivery of more than 400 donated Christmas boxes today (Thursday October 31st) as the annual Blythswood shoebox appeal gets into full swing.

By 6pm tonight a volunteer team had loaded three full pallets and were a good way into the fourth, with boxes arriving in ones, twos and in carloads from around the island.

The collecting point is at the back of the old Co-op furniture store on Kenneth Street in Stornoway, where a team of volunteers were busy between 3 and 6pm this afternoon.

They’re expecting tomorrow (Friday November 1st) to see the pile of boxes climb still higher, as six primary schools and a number of churches, community groups and businesses bring in their collected donations between 3 and 7pm.

Blythswood shoeboxes are filled with warm hats, gloves and scarves, useful household items, toiletries, sweets and toys for children. They’re collected across Scotland, with the island donations due to be shipped off to Blythswood’s depot in Evanton over the weekend.

Lewis and Harris have a tremendous record for generosity each year, with this year’s donations heading off to Romania from the Western Isles. There they will help people living in desperate poverty to survive a harsh winter and to share a bit of winter cheer.

Pictured is seven-year-old Bethany Murray of Stornoway, passing her giftbox to Blythswood volunteer Nana Maclean. Nicola Finlayson of Ness shows off pallet number four as it starts to fill up, and the team pose beside three pallets filled and ready to go – l to r Nan Maclean (Stornoway), Hilda and Willie Bell of Point, front row Erica Buchanan of Branahuie and Nicola Finlayson of Ness.

 

A change to their filming schedule means Versus productions will be in Upper Bayble tomorrow (Friday November 1st) and not closing the Pentland Road as expected.

Forecast adverse weather has meant a change of plan for the huge production crew, who have been filming an international feature film starring Game of Thrones star Michelle Fairley in Point, Lochs and Achmore through this week.

Location manager Davie Burt told welovestornoway.com: “We won't be filming at the Pentland Road tomorrow due to possible adverse weather conditions, so we've moved location to our hero’s house in Upper Bayble.”

The crew are expected to be on site from 6am tomorrow morning and will continue filming through the day.

Scenes on the Pentland Road will be filmed on Monday and Tuesday, weather permitting, with a full road closure between Carloway and the Breasclete junction.

 

Transport and logistics operator, David MacBrayne Ltd, which operates CalMac Ferries, has seen an increasing number of passengers visiting the Scottish western isles.

A service reliability of 99.4 per cent and punctuality of 99.6 per cent were highlights in an excellent year for business, the company claims.

For the first time, CalMac carried more than 5.6 million passengers and more than 1.4 million vehicles as part of yet another year on year increase.

‘I am delighted to report on a very successful last financial year, in what has been a very challenging working environment,’ said DML chief executive, Duncan Mackison.

‘Increased passenger volumes, combined with a higher number of sailings that we have been tasked with carrying out, are placing more and more pressure on our services. 

‘It is testament to the innovative approaches, skill and dedication of our staff that we can deliver an increase in profit on what is a highly specified and detailed contract to deliver ferry services across the west coast.

‘Against a challenging background, our performance, both financially and in our service offering to the travelling public is outstanding,’ said Duncan.

‘We operated 162,335 of 164,089 scheduled sailings, with service reliability of 99.4 per cent and punctuality also running at 99.6 per cent last year, figures any transport operator would be rightly proud of.’

Last year CalMac was crowned ferry operator of the year at the UK Transport Awards.

‘Over the year we have seen improvements that focus on customer service, increased training opportunities for young people and a greater focus on environmental awareness, all helping sustainable economic development across our islands and remote mainland communities, said Duncan.

As part of new environmental commitments, DML is on course to cut our carbon emissions by 5 per cent over the year to come.  This reduction equates to carbon output produced by 1668 cars every year. The significant reduction in carbon produced is mainly down to the use of fuel monitoring systems, increasing operational efficiency and diligent work by all involved in the business.

The company remains fully committed to creating opportunities for young people. Over the past two years the number of Modern Apprentices employed has doubled to 23. More than 90 per cent of the Modern Apprentices live on the islands supported by CalMac and in the last year every single apprentice secured full time employment, demonstrating our commitment to local employment.

The launch of a new Community Fund was also a highlight last year. The Fund, which offers support to groups working with young people in the company’s area of operation, has significantly increased support to charities and events going on across the west coast.

Across the wider DML group the company continues to realise its growth ambitions. After taking over the management of Perth Harbour from the local authority in July 2018, marine traffic into Perth has increased by an impressive 31 per cent.

‘We have ambitions to grow even more over the next few years and continue to add value for our communities, the Scottish Government and Scottish taxpayers,” added Duncan. “The ferry industry across Scotland faces a number of challenges in the future and we stand ready to offer our expertise, innovation and world class experience to benefit the whole industry."

The issue of the replacement of St Brendan’s hospital and care home on Barra was raised with Health Secretary Jeane Freeman by Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan during yesterday’s session of the Scottish Parliament.

It has been recognised since 2011 that there is a need for the facility to be replaced. 

NHS Western Isles and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are currently considering proposals which would integrate the current hospital, health and social care development with that of replacing Castlebay community school and other Comhairle services in Barra.

Alasdair Allan MSP said:“This was a useful opportunity to again raise the replacement of St Brendan’s and the need for the community to be properly informed and involved as the project develops.

“Next week marks an important milestone, as the Comhairle is due to meet to consider the options outlined by the feasibility study. This represents significant potential for the development of public services in Barra and Vatersay, and there is increasing evidence of collaboration and partnership between the Council, Health Board and Scottish Government in the development of this project.

“I am grateful for the Cabinet Secretary’s continued assurances that St Brendan’s will be replaced at the earliest opportunity. The community in Barra and Vatersay have already waited long enough.”

Jeane Freeman said: "Work is under way between the health board, the council and the integration joint board to determine the best approach for delivery of the hospital project and the Castlebay community hub. That joint work must ensure that public infrastructure best meets the needs of the local population and provides an effective and sustainable health and education resource for the future.

"The feasibility study was recently completed and a decision on the preferred way forward is expected to be taken very soon. Along with the health board and the council, we remain committed to delivering the St Brendan’s re-provision at the earliest opportunity.

"We can agree on two important points in relation to the project. First, it is vital that a decision is taken quickly and that the health board and the council take the appropriate steps to implement the recommendation as quickly as possible. Second, the local community absolutely needs to be fully involved and engaged with the whole process, including the design of any new build. The Scottish Government remains fully committed to the project and I expect senior leadership at the health board and the council to move it forward and to deliver against the agreed timescales."

 

The best of produce from near and far 01/11/2019

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)

 

£3.65

 

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

 

White Turnip

 

£3.35

 

 

 

Price Each

Quantity

Little Gem (x2)

 

£1.50

 

Cos Lettuce

 

£1.50

 

Cucumber

 

£1.00

 

Spring Onions

 

£1.00

 

Chicory

 

£0.90

 

 

 

Price Per KG

Quantity

Peppers (Mixed Red, Green, and yellow)

 

£3.95

 

Tomato (Cherry on Vine)

 

£5.95

 

Scottish Tomatoes

 

£3.95

 

Plum Tomatoes

 

£3.95

 

Fruit

 

Price Each

Quantity

Cox Apples (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

 

5 for £1.50

 

Pomegranates

 

£0.80

 

Satsumas

 

5 for £1.50

 

 

 

Price per Kg

Quantity

Bananas

 

£1.70

 

Bramleys

 

£2.95

 

Chillies Red

 

£15.00

 

Scotch Bonnets Chillies

 

£20.00

 

Courgettes

 

£2.95

 

Red Seedless Grapes

 

£4.95

 

Local Fresh Eggs

 

£2.00

 

Business leaders in the Outer Hebrides are invited to attend free workshops that focus on attracting, recruiting and retaining the workforce.

The events are organised by consultants ‘Remarkable’ on behalf of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and will also highlight tips on how to be more cyber aware. 


Advice and information from speakers will include productivity and efficiency in the workplace and developing new, improved ways of working.



Thursday 14 November -  HIE’s office at 9 James Street, Stornoway 10:30-1:30pm. 

There will be an opportunity to hear from local employer Dòmhnall Campbell, Chief Executive of MG Alba. 



Friday 15 November – Data Centre, Taigh Ceann a’ Locha, Benbecula 10:30-1:30pm. 



Presentations by representatives from HIE, Skills Development Scotland and Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC) will be made at both events.

Members of SBRC’s ethical hacking and business teams will offer simple and effective tips on how businesses can protect their data and systems from cyber incidents. 


SBRC provides a range of integrated security services that help businesses assess, build and manage cyber security and respond to incidents. The event will help people understand threats and vulnerabilities and help them build their confidence. 



Other speakers on the day include Mary Leishman from Remarkable who will give a presentation on Investors in People and Investors in Young People.

These standards are about investing in staff training and development and helps employers to achieve business goals, resulting in a happier, motivated workforce. 



Bill McMillan, head of business growth at HIE’s Outer Hebrides team based in Stornoway, said: “These events are valuable for employers who want to future-proof their workforce strategy and for anyone interested in developing and retaining young people. There will be a good opportunity during these events to network and share insights with various agencies and other employers.



Any queries should be directed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 07801 981611.

Events can be booked at:

Fire Scotland have issued a timely reminder about firework safety, with local and community displays set to begin on Saturday (November 2nd).

The senior fire officer for the Western Isles, Group Commander Gavin Hammond, said people would be wise to attend a safely organised bonfire and firework display, rather than lighting fireworks in their own garden or croft.

He told welovestornoway.com: “If you must have a bonfire at home make sure it is well away from buildings, vehicles, trees, hedges, fences, power lines, telecommunications equipment and sheds and ensure that smoke does not cause a nuisance to neighbours or flying embers endanger neighbouring property.”

Community safety advocate Mairi MacDonald said there were simple rules to follow to try and ensure a safer event for everyone. She said: “There’s a list of essential points people should keep in mind if they are holding their own firework party.

“Never drink alcohol if you are tending a bonfire or setting off fireworks. Bonfires should be built from untreated wood and paper-based materials only to reduce emissions of fumes or noxious smoke, and you should keep pressurised containers or sealed vessels well away from bonfires to prevent combustion.

“Never throw fireworks on bonfires and never use flammable liquids to light bonfires –proprietary fire lighters should light the bonfire safely and effectively.

“And don’t forget that smoke from bonfires, sparks, flying embers or burning debris must not endanger nearby property or cause a nuisance to other householders or road users. Finally, never leave a burning/smouldering bonfire unsupervised – make sure it is completely
extinguished.”

Figures show that children are more likely than adults to be injured by fireworks, even though watching a display can be great fun for kids. Group Commander Hammond said:

“Over the past five years over 350 pre-school children, some as young as one year old, were treated in hospital for firework injuries. Be safe and always follow the fireworks code. It is important that people understand current legislation regarding fireworks and their use too.”

There’s a clear code for using fireworks within the law. It is an offence to set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am (or after midnight on bonfire night); to modify, tamper with or misuse fireworks; to throw or set off fireworks in any highway, street, thoroughfare or public place or for anyone under 18 to possess fireworks in a public place.

Causing unnecessary suffering to any domestic or captive animals with the use of fireworks is also an offence. For further safety advice visit SFRS website https://www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/fireworks-safety. or www.saferfireworks.com

The number 13 might be unlucky for some, but not HI-Scot credit union which is celebrating 13 years of serving their members across the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

From humble beginnings as an idea conceived by hard-working volunteers determined to bring an ethical, community-minded option for saving and borrowing to the islands, Western Isles credit union (HI-Scot's original incarnation) opened its doors in 2006.

“HI-Scot has continued to grow, year on year, since 2006,” said General Manager, David Mackay, “In 2011 we expanded to Highland region and the Orkney and Shetland Islands and now have over 3000 members.”

With almost £4 million held on deposit, HI-Scot members are certainly seeing the benefits of saving regularly through the credit union. Many members use payroll deduction, an easy way to save every week or month, and a service offered by many employers, including Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and NHS Western Isles.

Members also benefit from a range of loan products, meaning that a new car, washing machine or kitchen can become an affordable reality. Over the past thirteen years, HI-Scot have approved over £9.5 million in loans and, with a process which considers each application individually, tailor member's borrowing to their personal circumstances. There's no “Computer says no” with HI-Scot!

“As people start to look for more ethical ways of banking, credit unions offer their members something that High Street banks cannot,” David Mackay said, “HI-Scot is owned entirely by its members and so operates with their interests at heart.”

HI-Scot is based in James Street, Stornoway, but the credit union is accessible in all areas of the Highlands and Islands thanks to online services and local Access Points. More information can be found on HI-Scot's website: www.hi-scot.com

“It's been a great thirteen years and the credit union is thriving.” David added, “All of us at HI-Scot look forward to many more years supporting our members across the Highlands and Islands to save, borrow and plan for tomorrow.”

 

The Lochs show Annual General Meeting will be held at the Laxay Showground on Monday 18th November at 7pm, all are welcome to attend.

A road accident in Scalpay on Monday (October 28th) has led to a man being reported to the Procurator Fiscal.

Two cars were in collision on the unclassified ring road on the Isle of Scalpay at 12.39pm on Monday and police were called to the scene. One of the vehicles was badly damaged, although no-one was injured.

A man in his twenties is to be reported to the Procurator Fiscal for a number of road traffic offences following the accident, including for dangerous driving.

People living in Na h-Eileanan Siar along with those living in parts of Dumfries and Galloway, and of Glasgow, have one week left to take part in the census rehearsal.

Around 72,000 households in those areas received a letter this month with information about the rehearsal and details on how to participate. This week they received another letter, reminding them that they have until Thursday 7 November to complete their census rehearsal questionnaire.

Taking part in the rehearsal is voluntary, but doing so helps preparation for Scotland’s census 2021. The census findings are vitally important to the planning of public services such as schools, roads and hospitals.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop visited the Census Rehearsal Helpline office, where staff answer questions from the public and help them complete their census, either online or by requesting a paper copy.

Ms Hyslop said: “Census results are vital for helping the government, local authorities and key services plan for every element of life in Scotland – from the construction of new homes to NHS support. The census also becomes part of our history – in the future our descendants will be able to find out about us and how we lived.

“I’d like to thank the many people in the rehearsal areas who have already filled out their questionnaire. For those who haven’t yet, there’s still time to take part, with one week left until it closes on 7 November.”

Pete Whitehouse, Director of Statistical Service, NRS, said: “The census takes place every 10 years and is a unique count of everyone in Scotland. It is important we get it right in 2021, and taking part in the rehearsal helps us to do just that. By taking part in the rehearsal, you’re helping to shape Scotland’s future and improve the lives of people living and working in Scotland.”

People who live in the rehearsal areas and are looking for more information can visit census.gov.scot or call the census helpline on 0800 030 8333 until 7 November. They can also follow on Facebook and Twitter @scotcensus2021.

Every ten years there is an official count of Scotland’s population. Scotland’s next census, subject to the approval of the Scottish Parliament, will be held on 21 March 2021. This will be the 22nd census to take place since 1801 and the 17th to be managed independently in Scotland. 

The questions being asked in the October rehearsal, and the guidance provided, may not be identical to what is asked in the census, as the rehearsal will help inform decision-making for the census in 2021. The final census questions are planned to be agreed through the Scottish Parliament by summer 2020.

The personal information about individuals is confidential and answers are anonymised and analysed to produce national and local statistics. Records are protected for 100 years. NRS statisticians use the information to calculate facts and figures for Scotland and for local areas, but it cannot be used to identify any individual person.

The man who beat Eric Bristow to become the youngest world darts champion is following in the Crafty Cockney’s footsteps to Stornoway this weekend.

This Friday (November 1st) the Sea Angling Club will play host to former world darts champion Keith Deller, for an evening of exhibition matches and social mingling with island darts enthusiasts.

The visit this weekend comes two years after Eric Bristow and the King of Bling, Bobby George, inspired island darts enthusiasts with a hugely successful evening at the Sea Angling Club.

Keith, who beat Eric Bristow to take the world champion’s title in 1983, still holds the record for the fastest 301 score of 25 seconds, and his winning checkout of 138 in the match against Bristow is still referred to as ‘the Deller checkout’ on the rare occasions another player hits that score.

On Friday he’ll pit his skills against local players chosen at random from names in a hat, before spending the rest of the evening mingling and chatting with darts players at the club.

Andy Dowie, club house manager, said: “We’re delighted to be welcoming Keith, a fomer world champion, following on from the very successful visit of Eric Bristow and Bobby George two years ago.

“The evening gives island darts enthusiasts the opportunity to meet one of the big names from the world of darts at the home of darts in Stornoway.”

Friday’s event begins at 7pm. The next big darts date in the Sea Angling calendar is the 16th Western Isles Open Darts Festival, running for a week at the end of January, with players coming from near and far to take part.

Tarbert, Inverness, Aberdeen…and now Glasgow.  Today is the day for the rapidly growing Essence of Harris brand as they opened the doors of their latest store in Princes Square in Glasgow this morning. (Wednesday October 30th) .

Company founders Jamie McGowan and Deenie Macleod, along with one of their new employees Caris, were on hand this morning to welcome the first customers from 10am.

Jamie said:"We’re lucky to have been able to create seven new jobs here in Glasgow, made up largely of young, dynamic staff members who hail from the Outer Hebrides themselves and who can share our story with consumers within Glasgow. Job creation is one of the key drivers behind our brand.”

Katie Moody from Princes Square said, “We’re delighted to welcome Essence of Harris - a successful and ambitious Scottish business - to Princes Square. Visitors to the centre come from near and far to enjoy the wide range of high quality retailers we have here and Essence of Harris will be a wonderful addition to that list.”

And James adds: “You'll find us on the first floor, just at the top of the staircase!

All the info can be found via this link

The team say: “Looking forward to meeting all you shoppers in Glasgow!”

This article has been updated with additional comments since first being published

 

An island charity which provides goods and services to people in hospital and care homes to make their experience a more comfortable one has had its mission of kindness secured by community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust.

Western Isles Hospital League of Friends provides resources to Western Isles Hospital and local authority residential care homes Dun Eisdean and Dun Berisay, with its prime objective being to provide a level of care in hospital and beyond that is separate to what the NHS provides. 

It runs the tea bar in the hospital in Stornoway and uses the proceeds to buy goods which will make hospital stays more comfortable for patients and enhance their wellbeing.

These range from televisions, radios, table-top fridges and microwaves for hospital wards to the mobile library service providing a range of books and subscription magazines to the admission packs containing items such as toiletries for patients unable to access their own belongings.

They also provide Christmas gifts to the wards, birthday gifts and cards for long-stay residents, gave a contribution towards a memorial garden, do bus runs and ceilidhs over the winter and have provided packs of dementia resources to the care homes.

Although the charity also raises money through raffles, bag packing and collecting cans, most of its funds come from the tea bar, which is open for breakfast, lunch and snacks to patients, visitors and staff.

But disaster struck when their chiller cabinet broke down, severely restricting the food they were able to offer and thereby hitting their income.

Point and Sandwick Trust came to the rescue, however, with a donation of nearly £2,200 which allowed the charity to buy a new chiller and resume normal service once again.

Western Isles Hospital League of Friends chairman Roy Cameron said: “It has a huge impact if we can’t catch all the customers that we can because we’ve got to run our payroll costs and then have something left over, which is distributed.”

The League of Friends relies heavily on volunteers, just as it did when since the charity was first set up in the old County Hospital in 1979, and they are the ones who deliver birthday presents to all care home residents, run the library and staff the tea bar at weekends. However, it also employs a chaplain and four part-time staff to run the tea bar during the week.

On a good year the tea bar will usually make a profit of around £2,000 which can all go towards the services provided by the League of Friends. After its period of restricted service, the tea bar is now happily back on track, raising money for the cause. 

When the chiller in the tea bar broke down, the charity was horrified at the prospect of having to replace it due to the high cost.

The suggestion to ask Point and Sandwick Trust for help came from League of Friends director Gordon Mackay, who is also a board member with the community wind farm charity. 

Treasurer Donna said they were “delighted” to receive the money which “genuinely did make a huge difference”. They also appreciated how easy the process was. “Point and Sandwick Trust were easy to deal with and the form was easy to go through, which makes a big difference when you are making applications. They didn’t demand lots of quotes, which again is quite a lot of work and can be quite onerous for small committees.

“They didn’t push down our prices so we got a really good quality chiller which will hopefully last a lot longer. We could not have bought such a good chiller ourselves.

“They were very supportive from the start.”

From that one grant, Point and Sandwick Trust have enabled Western Isles Hospital League of Friends continue with their many acts of kindness to hospital patients and care home residents.

Gordon Mackay said: “On behalf of Point and Sandwick Trust, we are delighted to be giving the League of Friends money for the purchase of new equipment within the tea bar at the Western Isles Hospital. The League of Friends provide such a vital service with the tea bar which assists families of patients, patients themselves and even the employees of the hospital.

“Yet again the money is being put to good use to benefit the wider community.”

Treasurer Donna said: “It’s the small things that make a difference.”

Volunteers are the heart of the Western Isles Hospital League of Friends and at one time there were more than 95 volunteers. Numbers are much lower now and any new volunteers would be warmly welcomed. Anyone interested should get in touch by email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Stornoway man Malcolm Macleod has been promoted to an executive chief officer post at Highland Council, it’s been announced.

Malcolm’s appointment as executive chief officer - infrastructure and environment is part of the council’s redesign programme.

Originally from Stornoway, Malcolm has been the council’s head of planning and environment for the last seven years and has worked in the Highlands for over 20 years. His most recent roles have included overseeing the delivery of many of the major housing and infrastructure projects across the Highland area as well as managing the council’s corporate change programme.

Announcing his new appointment, a Highland Council spokesman said: “He brings a strong focus on effective forward planning and an emphasis on partnership working with communities and with the business sector to this new role.”

Malcolm said: “It is a privilege to have been offered the opportunity to continue to drive forward growth for the Highlands, while recognising the need to manage the beautiful environment we all love. The Highlands are a fantastic place to live and work in and I am really looking forward to the new role.”

The Scottish Government says that island crofters and farmers will benefit from the first instalment of convergence funding – addressing an “historic injustice”. 

The funding is the first tranche of an £160 million package the UK government has finally returned to Scottish farmers after pocketing EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funding intended for Scotland since 2014.

The initial £80 million will be distributed to support active farming, with a focus on those who farm in marginal uplands, hill farms and island areas.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed the announcement. “This is money that was hard fought for over many years

 “Scottish crofters and farmers have been short-changed by the UK government for years, and the SNP has argued long and hard for that injustice to be addressed.

 “Given that this funding was awarded because of Scotland's low CAP support payment rate per hectare, it is absolutely right that it is now being directed towards those in greatest need: crofters and farmers in island areas, marginal uplands and hill farmers.

 “With future arrangements for agriculture still unclear amidst the turmoil around Brexit, it is vital that the agriculture sector in the Western Isles benefits from the EU support to which it is entitled, while it still can.

 “We now need real commitments over future funding, and an end to the attempted power grab over farming powers that should rightfully be at the Scottish Parliament.”

And the Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) has also welcomed the Scottish Government announcement.

 “Following the long campaign to get the convergence uplift allocated to Scotland, as it should have been,” said SCF chair, Yvonne White, “it is gratifying to see that Scottish Government has listened to SCF’s arguments for a fair and principled distribution of the funding within Scotland.

“Convergence is about raising the income of the lowest paid producers towards the EU average. In Scotland these producers are crofters and hill farmers, many of whom are barely surviving – not helped by the very low payments for rough grazing. The bulk of the money should therefore rightfully go to regions 2 and 3.

 “There has been heated discussion in the media on how the money should be divided up; lobbying by the National Farmers’ Union to get the money aimed at the better-off section of their membership and counter arguments put up by SCF, representing crofters’ interests, to get a fair distribution that reflects the spirit and original premise of convergence.

“The NFUS lobby has been rejected wholeheartedly, even by many farming stalwarts, and it is good to see Scottish Government making an announcement to end the dispute by doing the right thing. The fact that the initial payments will be made in this financial year is a big plus,” Ms White added, “and Scottish Government are to be commended for treating this with urgency.”

 “The Cabinet Secretary’s mention of his commitment to maintain support for farmers and crofters in the Less Favoured Area is appreciated” Ms White continued, “but we have to reiterate that the convergence uplift is not a means of making up for the LFASS reduction caused by Scottish Government failing to join the new European scheme for constrained areas. Taking the money owed to poorly paid producers to make up a budget deficit of Scottish Government’s own making would be wrong.”

Ms White concluded, “The details of the actual mechanisms by which the payments will be distributed to where they belong in our crofting, marginal uplands, hill farms and island areas are yet to be announced and we await these with interest”.

The first licenced fishing of Bluefin tuna has started today (Tuesday October 29th), with a Harris vessel now fishing out to the west of Leverburgh and already spotting the giant fish.

Angus Campbell’s fishing vessel Harmony has received a derogation to allow the fishing on a catch, tag and release basis. He and his son Alexander are out today with scientists Tom Horton from the University of Exeter’s Thunnus UK research project and Samantha Smith from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS). They’re researching the ecology and distribution of the Atlantic bluefin tuna after the huge fish began to appear around the islands about eight years ago.

The licence to fish for sport and to help research has been achieved by Harris Development Ltd, a Community Interest Company of which Angus Campbell is a director. Development officer for HDL Grant Fulton told welovestornoway.com today:

“Angus has been involved in developing the potential for tuna fishing for almost eight years and we have been working with CEFAS, the University of Exeter and with support from Marine Scotland, Duncan Macinnes of the Western Isles Fishermen’s Association and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to secure this opportunity.

“Yesterday we had confirmation that we have been awarded funding from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and Angus and his son Alexander have been preparing the boat to go out today. We have on board two very experienced anglers from the South of England and we are already seeing tuna about.

“The fish are taken on a catch, tag and release basis – we have five satellite tags which we attach to fish before we release them. Five is today’s limit, but we’re hoping this is the start of a huge development not just for Harris but for the whole of the Western Isles.”

Recreational fishing for bluefin tuna has been viewed as a new tourism opportunity since the fish first began to make an appearance between Harris and St Kilda. The season is between October and November and the giant fish are becoming more common as warmer waters draw them further north.

Grant said: “The tuna season is outside the traditional tourism season, so it’s a win-win for hotels, restaurants and other tourism businesses if we can bring people here for sport fishing in October and November.

“We’re planning to expand the pilot project and to achieve licenses for boats throughout the Western Isles. It could help the whole islands and will also feed into scientific knowledge about the fish themselves and about climate change.”

Pictures show Atlantic bluefin tuna and Angus Campbell’s vessel FV Harmony (Harris Development Limited).

NHS Western Isles are urging parents to get their children vaccinated against influenza.

All children aged 2-5 are eligible for the free influenza vaccination, as well as children over six months of age with a medical condition which puts them in an ‘at risk’ group such as diabetes, heart or kidney disease, and breathing problems.

The vaccine takes 10 days to work, so the earlier your child can get the vaccine, the better. The vaccine needs to be given annually to offer protection against the most common types of flu virus that are around each winter. Over the last few years, the nasal spray flu vaccine has worked very well at protecting young children against flu. It has also reduced the chance of them spreading flu into the wider community.

The vaccine is given to children as a nasal spray. A tiny amount of the flu vaccine is given into each nostril. It’s not an injection. It’s quick and painless and there’s no need to sniff or inhale the vaccine. Your child will just feel a little tickle in their nose.

Flu is not just a common cold and in some cases flu can lead to complications. These can include:
• bronchitis
• pneumonia
• painful middle-ear infection
• vomiting
• diarrhoea.

Flu can be even more serious for children with health conditions (for example asthma, heart, kidney, liver, neurological disease, diabetes, immunosuppression or a spleen that doesn’t work fully), and can make their condition worse.

In the worst cases, flu can lead to disability and even death.

The flu vaccine helps protect your child against flu and reduces the chance of your child spreading the virus to friends and other members of your family who are at greater risk from flu, such as grandparents or people with health conditions.

One Western Isles mum, whose two pre-school children have already been vaccinated this year, commented: “Children bring home all sorts of bugs from nursery or just playing with friends.

"The flu vaccination takes seconds, it’s a nasal spray, that doesn’t even cause discomfort.

"Now I know my children are protected from influenza, an infection that could really harm them.

"It’s a ‘no brainer’ for me in terms of protecting my children.”

To make an appointment, contact your GP practice.

Apprentices in the Western Isles will be among the first in Scotland to be supported in the process of accessing low-cost housing as part of a new initiative to encourage young people to stay in the islands.

The innovative commitment is a key feature of a new Charter Agreement which was signed yesterday (Monday October 28) between Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Skills Development Scotland (SDS) at the Convention of the Highlands and Islands in Inverness.

The Charter is a first-of-its-kind agreement between a local authority and Skills Development Scotland, outlining a joint commitment to developing, delivering and monitoring services to ensure the needs of the people in the Western Isles are met in terms of education, employment and skills for the benefit of the Islands’ economy.

The agreement was signed by SDS Chair, Frank Mitchel,l and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Chief Executive, Malcolm Burr, with Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse.

Paul Wheelhouse MSP said: “The provision of good, low-cost housing, the accessibility of education and skills pathways, and the availability of good job prospects are major factors for young people when choosing whether to stay on our islands or seek out opportunities elsewhere. Since the introduction of the Islands Act last year, the Scottish Government has been ramping up our efforts to engage with island communities to help us better understand the key issues, which helps us to make real inroads to ensuring a vibrant, sustainable and productive rural economy. So it’s great to be involved in such a collaborative and innovative project with the same aims.”  

Comhairle Chief Executive, Malcolm Burr, said: “This charter will deliver a unified approach and offer to young people throughout the Western Isles on behalf of the local authority, Scottish Government and SDS, and in full collaboration with local providers. As part of the Agreement, the Comhairle has committed to providing low-cost housing for apprentices as a means to encourage young people to stay in the Islands.

“The Comhairle is committed to reversing depopulation and this Agreement, through the combined offer of an apprenticeship and housing, will enable young people to earn, learn and live in the islands, providing them with further opportunity to stay in their own communities.”

Skills Development Scotland Chair, Frank Mitchell, said: “This agreement will allow organisations across the Western Isles to deliver sector-leading services to young people, including careers, employability programmes and apprenticeships.

“The main premise of the Charter is to sustain population in the Western Isles, to support local employers and to ensure that local people have the skills and support they need to thrive in employment.

“We look forward to working in partnership with the local authority on this exciting new approach. Work is already underway to produce similar agreements with other Island local authorities. This new approach will create real opportunities for the people of the Western Isles, and I look forward to seeing the impact it has on this rich and diverse part of Scotland.”

The Charter will also introduce a new ‘joined-up’ approach to local services, including the development of a new Hub facility in Stornoway which will provide a one-stop shop for local careers and employability services, as well as a new digital hub to widen access to support and information.

The Lewis and Harris Piping Society is reviving its programme of recitals over the winter, beginning with a performance from Callum Beaumont in Stornoway on Saturday, November 9.

Acclaimed piper Callum, who lives in Dollar, Clackmannanshire, and tutors piping students at the prestigious Dollar Academy, has won some of the most famous competitions in the world of piping including the Clasp at the Northern Meetings, two Gold Medals, the Silver Chanter and an overall win at the Pipe Major Donald Macleod Memorial Competition.

He has also won four World Pipe Band Championships and the Dollar Academy Novice Juvenile pipe band, which he teaches, has also excelled.

As a tutor, Callum has been invited to teach around the world and the Piping Society is delighted that he has agreed to give workshops during the day of his recital in Stornoway, which takes place in the Caladh Hotel at 7.30pm. The Piping Society hopes the whole programme will be a source of instruction and inspiration to many island pipers.

Dr John Smith, Chairman of The Lewis and Harris Piping Society, said: “For many years, the Piping Society held anything up to six recitals a year, inviting the best pipers in Scotland. The recitals were initially held in the Royal Hotel and latterly the Royal British Legion Club but for the past few years it’s proven a bit beyond their means to bring good pipers to Stornoway to demonstrate to the youth the standard they should be aspiring to.

“But thanks to a very generous donation from a private individual the Society plan to organise perhaps up to four recitals over the next few months.”

Dr Smith said they were delighted to launch the revival of the recitals with a performance from Callum Beaumont – “one of the most successful young pipers of the past decade”.

He went on: “Ordinarily, he would automatically be invited to the next Donald Macleod competition but unfortunately for us – but fortunately for him – he is getting married on Friday, the 3rd of April 2020, in Melbourne, Australia!

“When I spoke to him at the Northern Meetings to invite him to the Donald Macleod competition after his win, there was a look of horror on his face when he realised that was the day that he was getting married. I told him that in my opinion that was completely out of order… but, seriously, we wish Callum and his fiancée all the best for their wedding and are delighted that he will be giving the first recital in our revived programme of recitals.

“The Society have also decided that, since we are bringing top class pipers to Stornoway, we should take maximum advantage of their skills and Callum will be holding a workshop for the junior players on the Saturday morning at 10am and then doing a session with the Lewis Pipe Band in the afternoon at 2.30pm."

Callum said it was “fantastic” that the society was reviving its programme of recitals and added: “I think it’s needed in many ways and not just in Stornoway. It’s a great tradition that we have.  I really, really enjoy doing them, especially in an area like Lewis and Harris where piping is such a great tradition. It’s great to be able to feed off an audience that appreciates it.

“I teach at Dollar Academy full time, so I think it’s very important that we give back to our younger generation and that many of us help the new generation in progressing with their piping because they are the ones who are going to lead it forward.”

The Lewis and Harris Piping Society ran a programme of recitals from the time it was formed in the 1970s until about a decade ago.

 

The community of Pairc said a fond farewell to bus driver Peter Maclennan on Saturday (October 26th) as he departed from his regular route to a new contract.

Peter was lured to a social event at Ravenspoint on Saturday under the pretence that he was one of several contractors who would be thanked for their work on the outdoor classroom at Pairc School.

But instead it was a thank you party for Peter himself, who has served the community of South Lochs for many years with his minibus service and countless other contributions to the community.

Peter and his wife Christine enjoyed a video made for him by children from Pairc School, some singing from local Mòd winners and a specially-made cake in the shape of his own minibus.

One community representative said: “Everyone wanted to say thank you to Peter. He’s so popular, has done so much for the community and is such good fun – just a really nice man.”

The picture shows Peter and his wife Christine enjoying the cake and gifts at the surprise celebration.

Residents at the student accommodation at Stornoway’s Bayhead Bridge Centre were reportedly taunted and intimidated by children throwing stones and fireworks on Saturday night (October 26th).

Staff at the residence said that up to 25 children were caught on CCTV cameras among the trees, running down to the bridge, lighting fireworks and throwing them at the building.

Posting on social media on Sunday, a staff member said: “Fireworks and stones were thrown at the windows of the accommodation from 6.30 - 9pm. At one time the students looked out the windows only for the kids to shout and swear at them, then light more fireworks and throw them at their windows.”

The incident reportedly left residents ‘shaken and confused’, while those living in housing nearby were also concerned about the noise over a long period. One local resident said: “I hope the police track down all 25 kids and give them a severe telling-off, or the police go to the Nicolson Institute to find these kids this week.”

Police were called at the time of the incident but, according to staff, did not attend.

The staff member concluded: “How can these kids afford not only their carry outs but also a three-hour firework display? I feel very let down by both the police and the kids involved. Shame on you all.”

A statement from Police Scotland said: "Police were called to Bayhead Bridge Centre Accommodation, following reports of a firework related disturbance at the property on Saturday 26 October 2019. Due to prioritising demands and available resources at the time, police attended later in the evening, however, there was no trace on arrival.

"Enquiries are continuing into the incident and a number of other reports of youths setting off fireworks in the area.

"Anyone with any information in relation to this incident can contact Police Scotland on 101 quoting incident number 3711 of Saturday 26 October 2019."

(This story has been updated to include the police comment above).

The production company involved in a feature film on location in Lewis have given further details of disruption that local residents can expect while they are at work.

The international crew at Versus productions are working on a Belgian-Scottish-French co-production called Wise Blood, scheduled for release in early 2021.

Location manager Davie Burt told welovestornoway.com that there would be some disruption for local residents, but that the crew were doing their best to avoid disturbing the local population too much. He said: “Our schedule can be very fluid as we work around the unpredictable weather that shooting in October and November brings, but we have outline timings for the next week or so.”

Today (Monday October 28th) the crew started at 6.30am at their location in Portvoller and have technical vehicles parked on the street (pictured) until 4.30pm.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) there’ll be another 6.30am start, this time at Lochs Free Church, Crossbost. There’ll be technical vehicles parked at the top of street and the road is expected to be closed to public, with local access only. Filming finishes at 4.30pm.

On Wednesday the location for filming is Stornoway Town Hall, where technical vehicles will be parked, from 6.30am, on the Star Inn’s private parking area at Quay Street, after the crew have finished unloading equipment in Point Street.

There’s a 7am start on Thursday for filming on croft land between Achmore and Lochganvich, with stop-and-go traffic management in the area to allow trucks to offload equipment and to manage sound while filming.

The Pentland Road will be closed on Friday (1st November) between Carloway and the Breasclete junction, from 7am to 4.30pm. This is to allow filming at a peat bank on Pentland Road. Signs informing residents of the local closure will be in place from Thursday night onwards.

Saturday 2nd November is being held in reserve for filming at Achmore, in case of poor weather on Thursday. If this does happen, the same traffic management plan will be used as on Thursday.

Next Monday and Tuesday (4th and 5th November) a full road closure will once again be in place at the Pentland Road between Carloway and Breasclete Road junction, from 7am to 4.30pm.

Any changes or additions to the filming schedule will be updated via welovestornoway.com as the week progresses.

Picture: technical vehicles will be parked on the road at some locations, as today in Point.

Some familiar faces and well-known names from the television world are now in Lewis, filming for a new English-language feature film set in a Presbyterian island community.

The international film crew are today (Monday October 26th) filming at a disused church in Portvoller, Point as Belgian actor-director Bouli Lanners stars and co-directs in Wise Blood, a Belgian-Scottish-French co-production.

The second co-director is Peaky Blinders’ season three director Tim Mielants and among the cast are Game of Thrones actors Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark) and Julian Glover (Grand Maester Pycelle). Support crew from MG Alba are also on set, along with a number of island extras, including a Dalmatian dog called Nigel.

The story centres on a love-affair between Phil, a middle-aged man living in a Presbyterian community on the Isle of Lewis. After suffering a stroke which causes him to lose his memory, he ‘rekindles’ an affair with fellow church-goer Millie – who fears Phil will one day recover his memory and discover that the affair never was.

Most of the filming is set to take place in the Stornoway area and in Point, although locations in Ness and Tolsta will also feature. Islanders will notice some road closures later this week, with the Pentland Road among the locations expected to be used.

Filming is set to continue at various locations around the island until November 29th, with production company Versus hoping for the film to reach screens at the end of 2020. Wise Blood is expected to be released by Ad Vitam in France, O’Brother Distribution in Belgium and internationally by Playtime.

Pictures show the cast and crew at work in Point today, with star and director Bouli Lanners centre front (Iain Mackay).

A first-of-its-kind Charter outlining a commitment to creating employment opportunities and improving support in the Western Isles will be signed by Frank Mitchell who chairs Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Chief Executive Malcolm Burr ahead of this year’s Convention of the Highlands and Islands today in Inverness (Monday 28 October).

Scottish Government Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands Paul Wheelhouse will also be in attendance to celebrate this new partnership approach to education and skills in the Western Isles.

The new Charter outlines a commitment between the Comhairle and SDS to deliver a more joined-up approach to education, employment and skills across the Islands.

School leavers will be given the best incentive to stay in the region through the combined offer of an apprenticeship and housing, enabling them to earn, learn and live in the Islands.

By encouraging more people to stay in the Western Isles, the Charter will support local businesses and the wider economy.

A new ‘joined-up’ approach to local services will come from the agreement, including the development of a new "Hub Facility in Stornoway" which will provide a ‘one-stop shop’ for local careers and employability services, as well as investment in new digital services for those in more remote areas.

A man’s been charged with careless driving after a single-vehicle road accident at Direcleit in Harris on Friday afternoon (October 25th).

The 34-year-old driver was cautioned and charged by police after his car was involved in an accident on the A859 at 4pm on Friday.

He was charged with careless driving and issued with a fixed penalty of £100, plus three penalty points on his license.

In a separate incident on Friday, a 32-year-old woman was involved in an accident at the Perceval Road roundabout in Stornoway at 4.45pm.

No-one was injured, but after investigation the woman was charged with careless driving and is to be reported to the Procurator Fiscal.

Also on Friday night, a 26-year-old man was observed by police to be speeding at Perceval Road. He was offered and refused a fixed penalty and is therefore to be reported to the Procurator Fiscal.

 

 

Three people are to appear at Stornoway Sheriff Court tomorrow (Monday October 28th) charged with offences after separate incidents.

A 50-year-old man was taken into custody at Stornoway police station at 4pm on Friday (October 25th) after failing to comply with conditions set during a previous court appearance. He’ll appear before the Sheriff tomorrow.

A domestic incident in the Parkend area late on Friday night led to the arrest of a 21-year-old woman, who will appear in court from custody charged with domestic assault.

And in a third incident, a 49-year-old woman had her home searched under a drugs warrant and was arrested after unlicensed items were found at the address.

She’s also in custody for court on tomorrow (Monday October 28th

Appeal after toilet vandalism

Police are appealing for information after a toilet was vandalised within the Co-op store on Macaulay Road in Stornoway on Saturday (October 26th).

At 7.45pm it was reported that the cistern of the disabled toilet in the store had been smashed.

Police are asking anyone with information as to how this might have occurred, or anyone in the store at the time who observed anything suspicious, to contact them on the non-emergency number 101, quoting incident number NH1502/19.

Stornoway Lifeboat was launched at 7pm on Friday night (October 25th), after a call for help from Scottish Ambulance.

Stornoway Coastguard operations centre received the request for assistance when a 49-year-old man was reported to be suffering a possible cardiac issue aboard a fish-farm vessel in Stornoway harbour.

The crewman aboard the barge Beinn Dearg needed to be transferred to land, so the RNLI crew launched the lifeboat and took him to the inner harbour, where Stornoway Coastguard Rescue Team were waiting to help with the transfer from the Lifeboat pontoon to the ambulance.

The man was then taken onwards to Western Isles Hospital and all crews were stood down by 19.40.

The Beinn Dearg, which was brought into service by Mowi early this year, is one of a new generation of landing craft used for transporting hydrogen peroxide for treatment of amoebic gill disease (AGD).

Pictures show the Coastguard Rescue Team getting ready to transfer the casualty (Stornoway CRT) and the fish farm barge at launch (Mowi).

New Scottish theatre company Pearlfisher, founded by Philip Howard, Mike Griffiths and Caitlin Skinner, launched their inaugural production Hope and Joy on Friday 25th October.

This production of Ellie Stewart’s play, in partnership with award winning Stellar Quines, will tour from Central Scotland to the Highlands and Islands.

It is on at An Lanntair, Stornoway on Friday 8 November at 8pm.

The co-production celebrates the strength of female talent in Scotland with, in addition to writer Ellie Stewart and Director Caitlin Skinner, the production features an all-female creative team with designer Becky Minto (How Not to Drown), lighting design by Emma Jones (The Lover) and Sound Design by Susan Bear, recently part of the band in What Girls Are Made Of.

The cast features Kim Gerard (Lost at Sea) and Beth Marshall (The James Plays) both of whom have worked with most of the main producing theatres and touring companies in Scotland and have appeared in award-winning productions.. Completing the cast is Ryan Havelin an emerging young actor who has appeared in Outlander and is one to watch.

Jemima Levick said: “We are beyond excited to be collaborating with Pearlfisher on their inaugural production. Our companies have a shared commitment to new work, to touring and to developing talent so it was an obvious fit for us, but particularly because the lead artists were two of Scotland’s most exciting female practitioners: Playwright Ellie Stewart and Director Caitlin Skinner. Their collective brilliance made it irresistible. 

"This is an exhilarating time for Stellar Quines.  One in which we find ourselves collaborating with the Citizens Theatre, a well known theatrical institution, and Pearlfisher, a theatrical institution in the making.  How wonderful that these two organisations are working with us, and in doing so, are sharing our vision to celebrate the value and diversity of women through the artists we work with and the stories we tell.”

Philip Howard said: “I first worked with Ellie Stewart when she was studying on the postgrad playwriting & dramaturgy degree at Glasgow University.  After she won the inaugural Tron Theatre Progressive Playwright Award for Hope and Joy in 2016, I was employed as dramaturg for their staged reading.  I suggested to Jemima Levick that Pearlfisher and Stellar Quines should join forces and grab the play while it was still available and bring it to full production.  I then went on to direct Ellie’s first produced full-length play, The Return, for Eden Court, Inverness, in 2018.  Caitlin has also worked with Ellie at both Village Pub Theatre, Leith, and Thrawn Craws, West Lothian. So all the planets have aligned perfectly for Ellie to be the writer for Pearlfisher’s first full production, and our first collaboration with Stellar Quines.

"Ellie is one of the most interesting and dedicated of the new, strong generation of women playwrights in Scotland, so it was inevitable that both Stellar Quines and Pearlfisher would want to work with her.  Her plays have a unique combination of strong, female-centred stories, anarchic humour (and often hilarity) and an unexpected dose of grit too.”

Details of all the venues and ticket information is available from hopeandjoyplay.co.uk. This production is backed by Creative Scotland with support from Cumbernauld Theatre.

Stellar Quines is an award winning Scottish theatre company led by Artistic Director Jemima Levick, that celebrates the value and diversity of women and girls by making brilliant theatre, provoking change, nurturing artists and empowering participation. The company has been touring world-class theatre to excite and inspire audiences across Scotland and beyond for over 26 years.

 

Crofters planning for the often daunting and complex process of passing their business on to the next generation are being offered the chance to register for a bespoke webinar.

Crofters face unique challenges whether that be crofting law, remote markets or generally smaller business sizes.

Facilitated by SAC Consulting – part of Scotland’s Rural College – the Crofting Succession webinar will guide crofters through the steps of the succession journey including how to start the conversation, who to involve and how to make sure all generations are heard.

Led by well-known succession expert Heather Wildman, of Saviour Associates, together with SAC crofting advisor Janette Sutherland, it aims to create a starting point for conversations between families and communities on succession.

There are nearly 21,000 crofts in the North West of Scotland entered on the Crofting Commission’s Register of Crofts, of which nearly three-quarters are tenanted and the remainder owned.

Crofting is increasingly attracting new entrants, including both those with an interest in the traditional crofting of sheep and cattle and those looking at diversifying into food and tourism.

Heather said: “It’s never too early to plan for the future. Crofting is unique and it’s important to consider who the right person is to take your business forward and continue your legacy.

“They may not have the right skills at the moment but, by talking and planning, there’s time for them to learn how to ensure your business is in safe hands.”

Janette Sutherland, from SAC Consulting’s Portree office, will also talk through the steps unique to succession within crofting which can include issues such as crofting duties, decrofting and grazing shares. 

She said: “Webinars can be listened to in the comfort of your own home and are very easy to join.”

The webinar, organised by Scotland’s Farm Advisory Service (FAS), will be held on Tuesday 5 November from 7.30-8.30pm. Register here or at: https://www.fas.scot/

Scotland’s Farm Advisory Service (FAS) is a service funded by the Scottish Government and European Union to support farmers and crofters access the latest information to increase their financial and environmental performance.

FAS is a comprehensive service for all of Scotland’s farmers and crofters, including expert advice delivered locally through a calendar of events and workshops across Scotland and a website with technical notes, tools, videos and guidance to keep farmers informed of good practice, new developments and opportunities

All year round, across Scotland, FAS delivers advice on: animal health and welfare; business resilience; Climate Change and the environment; crofts and small farms; crop health; farm woodlands; new entrants; and soil health. It delivers in responsive to the changing needs of Scotland’s farmers and crofters: from running events on important subjects rising up the agenda – such as the role and importance of women in agriculture – to advice on how to cope with extreme weather and other unpredictable challenges.

 

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

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

New dishes and cabinet, Castlebay 

EE Ltd has applied for planning permission to install one 600mm dish, one 300mm dish and a cabinet at Mast Abhainn Na Creadha, Bentangaval, Castlebay. 

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

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

New pole for overhead line, Luskentyre.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks has applied for planning permission to install one additional single wood pole on the existing 11,000 volt overhead between poles number 31 and 32 at the overhead line in Luskentyre. 

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

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

Extension to warehouse, Stornoway. 

Carpet World Warehouse of 48 Inaclete Road has applied for planning permission to build a steel frame extension onto a warehouse at Workshop, Rigs Road, Stornoway.

New agricultural building, Point.

Martin Macleod of 48a Upper Bayble, Point, has applied for planning permission to erect an agricultural building and create a new access at 25 Upper Bayble, Point. The building is proposed to be twelve metres long, eight metres wide and four metres tall. It is to be grey in colour and used as an agricultural storage building. 

New car park and path, Ballantrushal

Airidhanthuim Community Council has applied for planning permission to create a six bay car park and a twelve metre long footpath at Clach an Truiseil, Ballantrushal. 

 

A scheme designed to help GPs rediscover their enjoyment in their vocation has helped to fill gaps in medical practices in Stornoway.

The ground-breaking initiative hosted by the Scottish Rural Medicine Collaborative (SRMC) is called ‘Rediscover the Joy of General Practice’ – but has been shortened to ‘The Joy’ by those taking part.

NHS boards in the Western Isles, Highland, Orkney and Shetland have been taking part, in a bid to address the longstanding problem of recruiting and retaining GPs in isolated communities. Scottish Government money supported the scheme and the result has been a success for the Western Isles.

The first phase of the programme saw 26 doctors signed up to work for 12 to 18 weeks a year in a remote or rural community. They are attached to a rural practice for one to four weeks at a time and are asked to provide two weeks a year of short-notice cover, generally to support single-handed practices at times of sickness or when compassionate leave is required.

One of the doctors who has been working in Stornoway is Shropshire GP Dr Helen Willows. She said: “I started working in medicine relatively late in life, when I was in my 30s, and at 62 I feel I have plenty energy to take on something different. The Joy is certainly that. It’s pretty full-on work but I’m able to practise as what I would call an old-fashioned GP. I can think creatively and independently and I don’t have to involve myself in much of the bureaucracy that can be involved in general practice.”

Also lined up for a stint in Stornoway over the winter is Dr Peter Glennon, 62, who recently retired from general practice in Stafford. He said: “I could have carried on working as a locum in Stafford but I was drawn to the challenge of The Joy. I still have plenty drive and energy, and that’s certainly needed with this work.

“It can be challenging. Working in remote locations, you need to be a super-generalist and be able to deal with just about anything. I understand that some GPs may be apprehensive about working in communities far away from big hospitals, for example, but that’s part of the appeal for me.”

Ralph Roberts, the SRMC’s senior responsible officer, said that although The Joy was still in its infancy, it was one way of helping to improve recruitment to some of the country’s more isolated communities. He said: “For a variety of reasons many rural practices have found it difficult to attract and keep doctors. Working in remote and rural areas isn’t necessarily for everybody but The Joy is undoubtedly making it a much more attractive preposition.”

Martine Scott, the SMRC’s programme manager, is showcasing The Joy and the work of the SRMC at the Royal College of General Practitioners’ annual primary care conference and exhibition in Liverpool today (Friday October 25th).

The weather-watchers of the Western Isles are bidding a fond farewell to one of their best sources of climate facts and forecasts, in November, as Coastguard officer Richard Cooke leaves the islands after 14 years.

But although Richard, who runs the popular Western Isles Weather Facebook page, will be a long way from Lewis, he’ll be even closer to the forecast than ever before.

Richard’s been recruited by the Met Office in Exeter and will be working on the weather desk there from mid-November, in a new role as weather desk adviser which is very much engaged with helping the general public.

He told Events: “People can ring up on the Met Office enquiry line if they’re getting married, planning an event or want information about specific weather forecasts and I’ll be one of the voices they’ll encounter.

“If they’re not happy using the phone, they can also email and I’ll be updating the social media side as well.”

It’s a role Richard is well-suited for, having made weather his lifetime hobby and taken his Western Isles Weather Facebook page, launched in 2012, up to a peak of 18,000 followers.

So it’s obviously a blow to islanders, and island enthusiasts, that there’ll no longer be daily forecasts from Richard to help plan island life.

But Richard said: “The page will change, but will still be active with photos, weather warnings and the Met Office’s YouTube forecast. And I’ll still be coming up on holiday and to see my family, so I’m not gone for good!”

The Met Office public enquiry line is available on 0370 900 0100 or by email on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Stornoway airport is due to see a changed schedule of flights as the clocks go back on Sunday (October 27th), with some new services and some reduced schedules for the winter.

Loganair’s trial service to Manchester airport concluded in September and is not due to be reinstated next summer, after two years running for an eight-week period without generating high passenger numbers.

But new services to East Midlands International airport via Inverness are now on offer five days a week, bringing the cities of Leicester, Derby and Nottingham within reach as well as opening up onward holiday destinations.

In spring there are to be new services to Newquay in Cornwall and to Cardiff, both via Glasgow. The Newquay service will be a summer option with regular Friday and Saturday flights and an additional Tuesday flight at peak season between June and August.

That’s in addition to the code-share agreement between Loganair and Flybe, announced on 17th October, which will bring over 100 new destinations within reach of Stornoway travellers. Straight-through baggage booking and guaranteed connection with onward flights are among the benefits the new agreement promises.

Meanwhile the regular changes to the schedule for the winter-time are set to begin from Sunday, with altered timetables meaning some reduction in flights to Glasgow and other destinations.

95% of the UK is set to receive high-quality 4G coverage by 2025, thanks to a potential £1 billion deal from the UK Government.

A proposal for a Shared Rural Network, meaning a world-first deal with EE, O2, Three and Vodafone, would create a network of new and existing phone masts shared by the network operators.

This £530 million proposal from the UK’s mobile network operators has the potential to be matched by £500 million investment from the UK Government.

Consumers will be able to rely on their own provider’s network to use their mobile phones wherever they are.

Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan said: "We are determined to make sure no part of the country is left behind when it comes to mobile connectivity.

"We are closing in on a deal with the mobile network operators so those living in rural areas will be able to get the fast and reliable mobile coverage they need and deserve.

“Brokering an agreement for mast sharing between networks alongside new investment in mobile infrastructure will mean people get good 4G signal no matter where they are or which provider they’re with.

“But it is not yet a done deal and I want to see industry move quickly so we can reach a final agreement early next year.”

Under the proposal, the four operators will invest £530 million to open up and share existing masts and infrastructure to close almost all partial not-spots - areas where there is currently only coverage from at least one but not all operators. It would also mean additional mobile coverage for 280,000 premises and 16,000 kilometres of roads.

If the operators agree to meet these ambitions on partial not spots, the Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan has been clear government will commit up to £500 million of investment to go even further to eliminate total not-spots - those hard-to-reach areas where there is currently no coverage from any operator.

UK Government-owned mobile infrastructure built as part of the Emergency Services Network will also be made available to all four operators, taking full advantage of government assets. This is expected to contribute to the coverage target by delivering up to an additional 2% of geographic coverage per operator, in some of the most remote, rural locations.

The Shared Rural Network proposal is subject to legal agreement. The UK Government’s ambition is to reach a formal agreement on it early next year.

UK Government Minister, Robin Walker, said: “Connectivity is vital to a strong economy and everyone should have access to this regardless of where they live and work. The UK Government is working with the mobile network providers to extend the access of high quality 4G coverage across all four nations.

“In Scotland coverage is predicted to more than double from 41% to 85% by 2025 as a result of the deal negotiated by the UK Government. It will ensure that people and businesses across Scotland can utilise the best quality connectivity, regardless of location or provider.

“We are committed to investing in the digital infrastructure needed to improve rural connectivity.’

The failure to provide and develop adequate modern ferry and air links to the Outer Hebrides could be a failing on the scale of Lord Leverhulme’s misjudgements at the time of his ownership of the Isles of Lewis and Harris between 1918 and 1925.

That is the view of Gravir man Kenny Matheson, the well-known broadcaster, former footballer and football club director, and retired banker.

Mr Matheson was giving the 16th Angus ‘Ease’ Macleod Memorial Lecture which took place in Pairc School last night (Thursday October 25th) with various members of the family present and actually on the 17th anniversary of his passing.

A large audience crowded the school hall for Mr Matheson to be introduced by his lifelong school friend Donnie Morrison of Comunn Eachdraidh na Pairc.  He remembered that even in the mid1950s Kenny Matheson had been a fan of Manchester United at a time when few of his contemporaries had horizons reaching that far.  He went on play football with Partick Thistle, be a founding director of Inverness Caledonian Thistle and of Aberdeen Football Club…as well as rising to a senior level in the Royal Bank of Scotland before retiring to become a self-employed management consultant.

Mr Matheson said that he had knot known Angus ‘Ease’ particularly well but “I did meet him on a number of occasions and enjoyed conversations with him…Ease is well worthy of his status as one of Pairc’s most prominent sons for many reasons, not least for all the work he has done to document and preserve for posterity so much of our history and culture.”

Mr Matheson’s talk was entitled “The Leverhulme Initiative: An Opportunity Lost or a Narrow Escape for Lewis and Harris?  He was aiming to look at whether Leverhulme’s Grand Plan was fundamentally flawed and as such, doomed to failure from the beginning or whether a different approach might have produced an altogether different.

Mr Matheson sketched in the Leverhulme conflict with the crofters around Stornoway – and looked at the personal and philosophical origins for it. 

And he went on the look at whether lessons could be learned – and whether they had been.

He praised the work of the former HIDB and HIE – and of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.  But he went on: “I would submit, however, that joined-up planning to facilitate business progress is continuing to fall down in one critical area, namely transport infrastructure and, in particular, ferry services.”

This was happening despite intensive well-informed lobbying from within the islands. “The lack of long-term planning and adequate investment in timeously updating the fleet of vessels is inevitably a major competitive negative.”

Both in Leverhulme’s case and with ferry orders, taking notice of community views would have improved the chance of a good outcome, he concluded. 

 

Businesses of all sizes can find out how to make their organisations more digitally resilient thanks to a free workshop delivered by the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC).

The event, which takes place on Thursday 14 November at Business Gateway on James Street, is the first of a series of workshops which are being delivered throughout the Highlands and Islands until February.

During the session SBRC’s team of cyber resilience professionals and ethical hackers will outline the current cyber threat landscape and offer simple, effective tips on how businesses can protect their data and systems from cyber-attacks.

Eamonn Keane, Chief Operating Officer for Cyber Security and Innovation at SBRC said, “Developments and innovation in digital technology mean that geographical limitations on creating and sustaining successful rural businesses are really falling away.

“We want to do all we can to support Stornoway organisations of all sectors to allow them to trade by doing their best to prevent the occurrence of the incidents that may get in their way – in this instance, digital interruptions to day-to-day operations. 

“We hope to welcome as many businesses as possible to our workshops as the advice is relevant to every organisation. We are all interconnected and by sharing best practice and learning from each other, we can make Scottish businesses in all regions more resilient.”

SBRC kicks off its cyber resilience workshops in Stornoway on 14 November with Remarkable who will deliver advice on workforce retention and development, and Skills Development Scotland, who will discuss Skills for Growth and the Apprenticeship Family. 

For more information, or to sign up to the free event, visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/70136172179 

For more information on business resilience, visit www.sbrcentre.co.uk

Three Stornoway men have successfully executed the highest tandem skydive in the world, jumping out of a plane above Florida at 18,000 feet.

Norrie ‘Tomsh’ Macdonald, Bob Rankin and Allan Macleod completed the jump earlier today (Thursday October 24th) at the Skydive Space Centre at Titusville in Florida.

The nine-minute jump has left Councillor, taxi-driver and sports-writer Norrie uncharacteristically lost for words, as he posted: “I will find the words …just not yet!”

Norrie decided to use the challenge as an opportunity to raise funds for Alzheimers Scotland and has already been pledged more than £1,700 at his fundraising page at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/norrietjumpsfromaplane

For his friends and fellow golfers, the jump was just a way to fill time between rounds at TPC Sawgrass, a championship golf course in Florida where they are spending a sporting week off.

Pictures show Norrie, Bob and Allan with proof that they really did achieve the sky-high feat.

A plea has gone to the Seafish authority regarding the exporting of fish to the European Union after the UK leaves the European Union.

Figures contained in the Local Level Brexit Vulnerabilities report shows that rural and remote areas in Scotland could be among the hardest hit by any kind of Brexit. 

Isles MP, Angus B MacNeil said: "“I have been in discussions with Seafish about ensuring that the fishing industry can continue to get their catch to EU markets, unhindered in the event of a No-Deal Brexit. 

“Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 sets out the conditions for the approval of establishments.  Currently, to export to the EU these businesses do not require an Environmental Health Certificate but after exiting the European Union these businesses would require an Environmental Health Certificate which they would not be able to get because they do not have an approved establishment.

“These changes will not apply during the transition period or if we remain in the single market and customs union.

“Seafish is currently looking for a solution to the problem and they are seeking advice on the viability of other possible solutions which include products passing through suitably approved premises such as a fish market or that the business can undertake an approved activity such as wrapping and packing in polystyrene boxes in order to obtain the required approval. 

“It is likely that local fishermen will be selling their catch to an agent who will subsequently export the catch.  Seafish have concerns that to obtain an Environmental Health Certificate, the agent may need evidence of compliance with European Food Law from vessels to export into the European Union. 

“Seafish have flagged up a difficulty and it clearly shows that despite Brexit, EU Regulations are very much to the fore. 

“It is important that we can still sell our products to the European Union despite not presently knowing what will happen if we leave the EU without a deal and solutions need to be found. Leaving the EU was meant to reduce bureaucracy, but this is just one example where exporting to the European Union will require more bureaucracy if we leave the EU.”

 

The best of produce from near and far 25/10/2019

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

 

£1.55

 

Butternut Squash   

 

£2.40

 

Green Cabbage

 

£1.85

 

Savoy Cabbage

 

£1.85

 

Cabbage (White UK)

 

£2.60

 

Red Cabbage

 

£2.40

 

Cauliflower

 

£1.95

 

Romanesco

 

£1.95

 

Celeriac (UK)

 

£2.40

 

Celery (UK)

 

£1.35

 

Fennel

 

£1.25

 

Garlic Large

 

£0.95

 

 

 

Price Per KG

Quantity

Beetroot (UK)

 

£2.45

 

Broccoli (UK)

 

£3.95

 

New Season Dirty Carrots

 

£1.95

 

Ginger

 

£5.00

 

Horseradish

 

£15.00

 

Kale

 

£6.00

 

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

 

White Turnip

 

£3.35

 

 

 

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)

 

£6.95

 

Scottish Tomatoes

 

£3.95

 

Plum Tomatoes

 

£3.95

 

Fruit

 

Price Each

Quantity

Cox Apples (UK)

 

4 for £1.50

 

Gala Apples

 

4 for £1.50

 

Russets

 

4 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

 

3 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

 

Continuing wild weather is set to affect both freight and passenger ferry services between Stornoway and Ullapool in the next 24 hours (Wednesday 23rd and Thursday 24th October).

The freight service on the Hebridean Isles, which was expected to resume at 5pm today, is now delayed to 9pm this evening, returning from Ullapool tomorrow morning at approximately 1.30am.

As a result there’ll be no second run across the Minch for freight, with the 1am from Stornoway and 5pm from Ullapool both cancelled.

The weather is also set to hit passenger services on the Isle of Lewis, with a yellow warning of disruption or cancellation on the 1430 sailing from Stornoway and the 1815 sailing from Ullapool for tomorrow (Thursday 24th October).

Angus MacNeil, MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar,  is calling on the Scottish Government to step in to protect crofting tenure.

Mr MacNeil is concerned that local authorities consider crofts to be an asset which can be used to meet care home costs.  This arises from a number of cases where local authorities are attempting to use croft homes to pay for the care costs of family members.

Angus MacNeil MP said: “I am currently dealing with a case where a constituent is being pursued for the disposal of assets.  I just cannot understand how this case can be viewed in this way, particularly given the family circumstances.  Like many other people, the person in question does not actually own the croft – he is a tenant.

“I raised this matter with the Crofting Commission who are aware of this issue but say they are not clear whether this is for them to take a position on.  I would argue that the Crofting Commission should certainly take a stance on this and fight to secure crofting tenure, its purpose is to regulate and promote the interest and secure the future of crofting.

“I will be writing to Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy.  The Scottish Government need to clarify the legal position and do everything in their power to protect crofting and the security of tenure that crofters currently enjoy.”

 

Police investigations after an incident in the town centre last week have led to a man being fined for driving without insurance.

The 50-year-old man was initially stopped in Stornoway town centre on Wednesday October 16th.

He was cautioned and charged at 9pm yesterday (Tuesday October 22nd) and received a £300 fixed penalty and six penalty points on his licence as a result of the offence.

A 25-year-old man has appeared in court in Stornoway after being stopped for dangerous driving.

The man was at Stornoway Sheriff Court yesterday (Tuesday October 22nd) after being stopped by police on the B895 at Back at 4.45pm on Monday.

He failed to provide a specimen either at the scene or at the police station and was charged with dangerous driving and offences related to failing to provide a test.

After a night in custody he appeared in court and has been released on bail pending a further court appearance at a later date.

The Western Isles food bank which supplies families and individuals in poverty, is to change how it offers its service – but it will not close, trustees say, despite the split with the national charity Trussell Trust

New Wine Church has been operating emergency food provision for people in distress for more than seven years and, since partnering with Trussell Trust in 2013, Eilean Siar Foodbank has provided emergency food supplies to more than 3,000 individuals, families and children across the Western Isles.

An announcement was issued earlier this month, stating that Eilean Siar foodbank is to part company with the Trussell Trust from next month.

Trustees' chair Catriona Stewart told welovestornoway.com: "After November 15th the food bank will still function but won't be part of the Trussell Trust.

“The trustees came to the decision that, while the Trussell Trust has been extremely supportive, the requirements of remaining in the partnership have made the local branch top heavy with administration.

"From the 15th November we will no longer be called Eilean Siar Foodbank and our existing vouchers can no longer be used, but our premises, our service and our volunteers will still be working to support people who need help.

“The agencies who refer people to us have already been contacted and we have meetings scheduled with a number of churches in the coming weeks to discuss the possibility of a joint venture in our communities.”

Trustees are hoping that churches which already provide food and other support services for people in distress will step in to help deliver the new provision. Eilean Siar foodbank trustee Charlie Nicolson told welovestornoway.com: “The Salvation Army provide support for people who need food, and the Shed Project already runs a food distribution service called Joseph’s Larder from their premises in Stornoway.

“The Trussell Trust have been very supportive to us, but their administrative demands were making it hard for our small voluntary group to sustain the service. They sent up an officer to check our provision recently and we thought we had done well, but they came back with pointers which included that we need a major permanent base for food storage, which is something we just have not been able to secure over the years, despite everything we have tried.”

Between now and November 15th trustees are trying to manage the Trussell Trust’s exit requirements at the same time as negotiating much-needed future support for hungry people. They are also planning for the collection of food for Christmas boxes which are distributed through statutory agencies every year.

The timing of the change has left the annual food collection in Tesco in doubt. The national event is scheduled for November 21st to 23rd, but Tesco Stornoway are still considering whether to go ahead if their own staff have to manage the collection process.

Trustees chair Catriona Stewart said "We are incredibly grateful for the support we've received from local people and want to say a particular thank you to all of our dedicated volunteers for their work over the past six years.

“Now that the ethos of the food bank has been established on the island, we believe it is possible to address these needs on a more informal basis through the support of local churches and agencies across the islands.

"We believe in the vision of the Trussell Trust and the importance of their voice at Government level. Although the administrative partnership is coming to a close, we trust that the friendship and connections made will remain open as we work together to ensure that no one goes hungry."

 

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is welcoming the continued commitment from Ofgem to taking forward a needs case for a 600mw transmission link to export electricity from renewable developments in the Western Isles.

Although Ofgem have stated that they are unable to approve the 600mw link at this stage, the route to securing such a link has been left open, with encouragement of revised proposals for transmission links to Scottish islands.. It is the perceived risk of consumers paying for an underutilised link that has prevented Ofgem giving the go-ahead for the 600mw cable.

The proposal from SSEN for a 600MW transmission link was based on the two largest planned projects, Stornoway and Uisenis Wind Farms, securing subsidies in the recent auction (Contracts for Difference). 

Only the Uisenis project was successful.  However, if the Stornoway Wind Farm was shown to be commercially viable, giving more certainty to consumers that the project would proceed, then the 600mw link could go ahead.

Comhairle Leader Roddie Mackay said: “Whilst developments have not taken place as we would have wished, there is still a way ahead for the 600mw cable which we believe is the best option for the renewables industry in the Western Isles.

“We will continue to engage with developers, SSEN, Ofgem and the UK and Scottish Governments to bring that about.”  

Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron has also welcomed an announcement from Ofgem today (Wed 23rdOctober) encouraging revised proposals for transmission links to Scottish islands.

Mr Cameron, who wrote to the energy regulator earlier in the year about the interconnector for the Western Isles, said: “This clearly shows that, as I argued in August, a 600MW interconnector for the Western Isles is still to play for.

“I look forward to continuing my work with local groups to ensure Ofgem fully understands how important this is for the future of our communities.

“The door is open and it is imperative that we get behind a renewed proposal that secures approval for a 600MW transmission link.”

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP has expressed his disappointment at today’s publication by Ofgem which is delaying progress for the Interconnector.

The Contracts for Difference (CfD) Allocation Round 3 in September awarded just 240MWh

to projects in the Western Isles, well below the 369-400MWh needed for the Interconnector to the mainland.

Earlier this week at Westminster, Mr MacNeil pressed the Energy Minister, Kwasi Kwarteng MP about an interconnector and said it was a “ludicrous policy” of the UK Government which on one hand gives 240MWh to the Western Isles in CfD Round 3 while also requiring 370-400MWh before the interconnector could be built.

Angus MacNeil MP said: “It is disappointing that Ofgem is delaying progress with the interconnector. However, after speaking to SSEN this morning I am encouraged that the door is still open to make progress with the 600MW capacity cable.  SSEN remain hopeful that renewable projects will proceed, providing the 420MWh which will take them up to the 600MW cable capacity.  

 “SSEN is optimistic that progress can be made and is committed to driving this project on to secure a 600MW capacity cable for the Western Isles.

 “Our islands have the best wind resource in Europe and the interconnector is vital for island renewable energy projects, SSEN and renewable developers have the opportunity to provide Ofgem with further information to support the needs case for the interconnector.”

The four townships near Stornoway which are campaigning for the right to develop renewables on their common grazings land have alsoresponded to the Ofgem announcement on the Western Isles Interconnector. 

In a joint statement, Melbost Branahuie, Sandwick North, Sandwick East and Aignish said: “This decision was inevitable given the failure by Lewis Wind Power to win a CfD in the recent subsidy auction. Lewis Wind Power failed to clear the minimum hurdle that Ofgem required for the interconnector to be approved. 

“However, the good news is that Ofgem have said that they will consider alternatives if they are put forward. We therefore earnestly appeal to the Scottish Government and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to consider supporting a new Plan B that has the development of community-owned renewables at its centre. This Plan B should include an upgrade of the cable from Skye and have it reserved for community turbines only.

“It should also include faster progress towards replacing the import of carbon fuels on the islands with renewable energy that can be produced locally from community owned renewables, such as the Council's own excellent proposals to replace the LNG gas used in the town with hydrogen gas made locally.

“Lewis Wind Power have had a fair crack of the whip, but they have lost and they are now in danger of placing the islands in an endless purgatory of frozen opportunity.

“We can't have a situation where multinationals are effectively bed-blocking sites that could be used for a new Plan B that would be far more beneficial to the local economy if the community is placed front and centre, where it ought to be.”

Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant later expressed her dismay at Ofgem’s decision to refuse the proposed 600MW transmission links for the Western Isles and Shetland

“I am disappointed that Ofgem have decided to refuse the 600MW transmission links to Shetland and the Western Isles, though not surprised.

“Ofgem’s assessment of potential power generation disproportionately favours large developments which can afford to seek planning permission with no guarantees, but this does not reflect the potential of renewables power in Scotland’s Islands.

“In the Western Isles 60% of land is now under community ownership, with 72% of the population living on land owned and operated by community trusts and landowners. This is only going to increase. I did a piece of work earlier this year, in order to feed into Ofgem’s consultation, which identified that community trusts and landowners had plans for 519.3 MW of energy generation. Unfortunately they cannot seek planning or funding permission for this until a transmission link is approved.”

Ms Grant previously submitted her views and her evidence to Ofgem as part of its consultation on the Transmission links in May 2019.  “Despite submitting this evidence, and I know Community Energy Scotland submitted a similar response, it would appear that Ofgem has ignored it and remains blinkered to big industrial developments. Given the current climate crisis this seems narrow minded at best. I have now written to Ofgem asking them how they plan to support renewable energy generation in Scotland’s rural and island communities.

Ms Grant added: “Scottish rural communities are clamouring for the ability to provide us with their renewable resources and to achieve economic benefit from their land ownership; the UK is desperate for sustainable energy. I would think that the equation here is simple, but disappointingly Ofgem appears not to have taken this into account in their current assessment.”

Western Isles pet owners has welcomed an initiative from the administrators of the Facebook page Western Isles Noticeboard, listing upcoming bonfire and firework displays.

The post started at the weekend (Saturday 19th October) asks anyone intending to let off fireworks to post their date and time, so that nearby pet-owners can make arrangements to keep their pets safe.

The idea’s been welcomed by animal-owners, with displays and household firework parties being listed.

The earliest display is on Saturday (October 26th) at Newmarket Playpark, but most displays are scheduled for the period between November 2nd and 9th.

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) has warned of potential flooding throughout the Western Isles due to persistent rainfall today (Wednesday October 23rd).

They say: “Heavy and persistent rain … during Wednesday, may lead to a risk of localised minor flooding from small rivers and watercourses to low lying areas during Wednesday and into Thursday morning.

“There may also be some surface water flooding from early Wednesday where the heaviest rain falls on impermeable surfaces and the road network.”

There has already been a report of standing water on parts of the main road in Barra, with the road completely covered at Cuithir.

Heavy rain is set to continue through the day in Lewis, while Harris is set to see up to 2cm falling late this afternoon.

This year’s marks the twentieth year of the National Gaelic Schools Debate.   The competition started in 1999 and has been very successful over the years.  The competition gives pupils a chance to showcase their debating skills, and meet other pupils with Gaelic from across Scotland.  

Preparations for this year’s competition are under way and the competition looks to be excellent again this year!

The competition will see around 40 pupils from across Scotland travel to compete against each other in Stornoway and in Edinburgh. 

The first two rounds will be held in the Town Hall in Stornoway on Tuesday 5th and Wednesday 6th November. 

A total of16 teams from 13 schools are due to compete in this year’s competition.  All the schools will participate in debates over the two days, with the four teams with the highest points, across the two days, progressing to the final stages which will be held in Edinburgh on Wednesday 4th and Thursday 5th December.  The final will take place in the Main Debating Chamber of the Scottish Parliament, ​as part of the Parliament's 20th anniversary commemoration events.  

Agnes Rennie, Boyd Robertson and Iain Stephen Morrison are the judges of this year’s competition.   

Evelyn Coull Macleod from the National Gaelic School’s Debate Management Committee, said: “We are very much looking forward to the 20th year of the National Gaelic Schools Debate, and to welcoming the schools to Stornoway once again.

"Following the success of the 2018 Debate which saw Hannah Macleod and Sandy Morrison from The Nicolson Institute emerge as the worthy winners, a high level of competition was set and we look forward to another year of interesting and thought-provoking debates.”

The first round will begin on Tuesday 5th November at 1pm and then again at 6:30pm.  The competition will continue into Wednesday 6th November from 10:30am until 1pm. It will then begin again at 2pm running until 5pm.  The draw for Round One is as follows:

Morning

Mallaig Secondary School v Inverness Royal Academy A

Sir E Scott School v Bishopbriggs Royal Academy A

Dunoon Academy v Lionacleit School

The Nicolson Institute v Glasgow Gaelic School

Afternoon

Gairloch High School A v Ardnamurchan High School

Bishopbriggs Royal Academy B v Portree High School

James Gillespie High School v Gairloch High School B

Inverness Royal Academy B v Castlebay Community School

Tha farpais am bliadhna a’ comharrachadh fichead bliadhna de Dheasbad Nàiseanta nan Àrd-sgoiltean.  Thòisich am farpais ann an 1999 agus tha e air a bhith gu math soirbheachail thairis air nam bliadhnaichean.  Tha am farpais a’ toirt cothrom do sgoilearan na sgilean deasbaid aca a shealltainn agus coinneachadh ri sgoilearan eile bho air feadh Alba a tha a’ bruidhinn Gàidhlig. 

Tha an obair ullachaidh mu farpais am-bliadhna air tòiseachadh agus tha a h-uile coltas ann gur e deagh bhliadhna a bhios ann a-rithist don Dheasbad!  Siubhalaidh mu cheathrad sgoilear bho air feadh na Gàidhealtachd ‘s nan Eilean chun an co-fharpais ann an Steòrnabhagh agus ann an Dun Èideann. 

Thèid a’ chiad dà chuairt a chumail aig Talla a’ Bhaile Steòrnabhaigh air Dimàirt agus Diciadain 5mh agus 6mh den Samhain 2019. 

Bidh sia sgiobaidhean deug a’ gabhail pàirt ann am farpais 2019, bho trì deug sgoiltean.  Thèid na ceithir sgiobaidhean le na comharran as àirde troimhe chun na h-iar-chuairt deireannach.  Bidh na cuairtean deireannach air an cumail ann an Dùn Èideann air Diciadain agus Diardaoin 4mh agus 5mh Dùbhlachd 2019.  Thèid an cuairt deireannach a chumail anns am Prìomh Seòmar Deasbaid aig Pàrlamaid na h-Alba, mar phàirt den na tachartasan a tha a’ comharrachadh fichead bliadhna den Phàrlamaid.

Tha a’ chomataidh a’ cur fàilte air Boyd Robasdan, Agnes Rennie agus Iain Stephen Moireasdain, a bhios nam britheamhan am-bliadhna. 

Thuirt Evelyn Coull NicLeòid às leth Comataidh Rianachd Deasbad Nàiseanta nan Àrd-sgoiltean, “Tha sinn a’ coimhead air adhart gu mòr ris am ficheadamh bliadhna de Dheasbad Nàiseanta nan Àrd-sgoiltean, agus a bhith a’ cur fàilte air na sgoiltean a Steòrnabhagh a-rithist.  An-dèidh soirbheachas do Hannah NicLeòid agus Sandy Moireastan bho Àrd-Sgoil MhicNeacail an-uiridh tha sinn a’ coimhead air adhart gu farpais a bhios a-rithist aig sàr àrd ìre.”

Tòisichidh a’ chiad chuairt air Dimàirt an 5mh latha den Samhain aig 1f agus a-rithist aig 6:30f.  Cumaidh am farpais a’ dol air Diciadain an 6mh latha den Samhain aig 10:30m gu 1f.  Tòisichidh e a-rithist aig 2f gu 5f.

Chaidh an taghadh airson a’ chiad chuairt mar a leanas:

Madainn

Àrdsgoil Mhalaig V Acadamaidh Rìoghail Inbhirnis A

Sgoil an Tairbeirt V Acadamaidh Dhrochaid an Easbaig A

Acadamaidh Dhùn Omhain V Sgoil Lionacleit

Sgoil MhicNeacail V Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu

Feasgar

Àrdsgoil Gheàrrloch A V Àrdsgoil Àrdnammurchan

Acadamaidh Dhrochaid an Easbaig B V Àrdsgoil Phortrigh

Àrdsgoil Sheumais Ghillespie V Àrdsgoil Gheàrrloch B

Acadamaidh Rìoghail Inbhirnis V B Sgoil Choimhearsnachd Bhàgh a’ Chaisteil.

 

Isles MP, Angus B MacNeil has pressed the Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng MP during Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy questions about an electricity interconnector link to the Outer Hebrides.

Mr MacNeil said it was a "ludicrous policy" for the UK Government to, on one hand, give 240MW to the Outer Hebrides in the Contracts for Difference Round 3 while. at almost the same time, requiring 370-400MW before a cable could be built.

Responding Mr Kwarteng said that interconnectors are an important part of the energy mix.

Mr MacNeil pointed out that at this time of climate emergency the clean, green energy available from renewables in the Scottish Islands should be utilised.

Mr MacNeil said: “If Mr Kwarteng is serious about an interconnector being part of the energy mix then surely an announcement on the interconnector to the Outer Hebrides will happen soon, otherwise these are empty words from the UK Government.

“Orkney and Shetland have already been spurned. No other Government would spurn the Outer Hebrides where we have the best wind resource in Europe.”

Save lives by registering domestic electrical appliances after buying them, urges Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron. 

Mr Cameron said: “Around three quarters of fires in Scottish homes are caused by electrical faults."

He said many of these incidents are caused by faulty appliances which were later recalled by manufacturers but, unfortunately, as most weren’t registered after being purchased, the owners won’t receive the recall notices and will remain unaware of the dangers.

“That’s why I’m supporting the “Do It now” campaign of charity Electrical Safety First  and am urging my constituents to register their electrical appliances.

“To find out more please check out their website - www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk – and follow the advice in the guide. It really could save lives.”

The guide is supported by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Services (SFRS), as David Dourley, its Head of Fire Investigation explains: “We are regularly involved in fires, some of them fatal, which have been caused by faulty electrical appliances.

“So we’re urging people to protect themselves from these risks by always registering their products.”

Leverburgh RNLI station gave a good send-off to lifeboat operations manager Chris Ross this week, as he hung up his pager after seven years of involvement with the Harris station.

Chris volunteered in 2012 as the new RNLI station was being set up, serving for three years as DLA (deputy launch authority) and four years as lifeboat operations manager (LOM).

Chris is seldom more than a few yards from the Shannon Class lifeboat, the Stella and Humfrey Berkeley, since his ‘day job’ is running the iconic Butty Bus on the pier.

From the time the RNLI successfully established a station in Leverburgh, Chris became training coordinator – conducting navigation classes for the crew as the station was being established. Using his maritime skills, he was always on hand when the pager went off, ensuring the crew were ready and able to respond.

When John Maclean retired in 2015, Chris stepped up to be LOM and has overseen the launch of the lifeboat on 108 shouts since then. He oversaw the arrival of the new lifeboat in April 2018, ensuring a smooth transition.

Chair of the RNLI LIverburgh branch Neil Campbell said: “Chris’s dedication to being part of saving lives is a real inspiration and he should be proud of his achievements at Leverburgh.”

Jill Hepburn, area lifesaving manager, added: “On behalf of the RNLI, I would like to thank Chris for the effort and commitment he has made as the volunteer lifeboat operations manager at Leverburgh. Chris has witnessed the trial, arrival and placing on service of the Mersey Class Lifeboat and the later arrival of the Shannon, of which he should take great pride in the success of the roll out. I would like to wish Chris all the best with future endeavours.”

Pictures show Chris Ross at the Butty Bus and the full RNLI Leverburgh crew on the Stella and Humfrey Berkeley (RNLI Leverburgh)

The smell of household gas distributed through the town of Stornoway is to change from Monday (28th October).

SGN, the company that distributes natural and green gas across Scotland, is also responsible for the liquified petroleum gas (LPG) distributed in Stornoway.

LPG is completely odourless, so an additional smell is added to the gas before it enters Stornoway’s gas network, to help people smell gas leaks and report them quickly.

Project engineer Luke Macdonald, who has been managing the changeover, said: “Currently, we use tetrahydrothiophene to add an oily or tarry smell to our gas. The replacement odorant – ethyl mercaptan – is generally described as more organic and likened to the smell of decaying vegetation. You may already be familiar with this smell from using portable gas cylinders for camping or barbecues.”

Customers are being reminded to report any smell of gas at any time, before, during or after the change, to the National Gas Emergency number on 0800 111 999.

Scottish Water is urging customers to help stop bogus callers as conmen try to take advantage of the clocks going back.

Householders should follow three simple steps – CARD, CHECK and CALL – to confirm the identity of anyone calling at their door asking to carry out work.

With clocks going back this weekend, customers are being asked to be vigilant with the onset the winter months.

Last winter there were seven incidents of bogus callers across the country with conmen purporting to be carrying out work on water networks.

Scottish Water Chief Operating Officer, Peter Farrer, said: “Scottish Water employees are in local communities every day of the year and are highly visible. Unfortunately, there are some who take advantage of the essential work we do by posing as bogus water employees.

“We would like to remind all our customers of our essential advice – if we knock on your door, check our photo ID and follow our Three C’s rule: Card – Check – Call. All our employees, and anyone working on our behalf, carry photo ID which they will happily show on request – so don’t let anyone into your home until you are sure of their identity.

“If you are on your own or feel you need more support then call a neighbour or a friend. If you are unconvinced by a caller to your door, contact the police straight away. Our advice is easy to remember – just 3C’s – Card, Check and Call.”

Card – Anyone calling on behalf of Scottish Water, whether it is a Scottish Water employee or a contractor working on our behalf in your area, will always carry a photo ID card or letter. You should always ask callers to pass their ID card or letter through the letterbox so that you can check their identity.

Check – Check the ID card carefully: Is the photo on the ID card the same as the person at the door?  Has the card been tampered with in any way? If you are not confident that they are a genuine caller, then send them away! 

Call – If you are in any doubt about the caller’s identity, before you open the door please call our Customer Helpline on 0800 0778778 and we can help you confirm the caller is genuine. We advise customers to contact utility companies by using phone numbers found in telephone directories or the internet, but not from ID cards or letters, because these could be false. 

Further information is available on our website www.scottishwater.co.uk/boguscaller. Additional information about home and personal safety can also be found at: www.scotland.police.uk/keep-safe .

Customers can now receive free texts (SMS)* to keep up to date about our work or service updates, such as having no water supply, in your area – please text ‘Update’ with your postcode to 82228. 

* For more info and T&Cs visit  www.scottishwater.co.uk/textterms

 

A poor forecast over the next two days means cancellations to the freight service between Stornoway and Ullapool from tonight (Monday October 21st).

Southerly winds gusting above 40 knots have forced the master of the Hebridean Isles to cancel the freight service after the return of tonight’s crossing.

The replacement freight ferry – covering the run while MV Loch Seaforth is in dry dock – left Stornoway two hours early, at 3pm this afternoon, and is due to return at 7pm from Ullapool.

On reaching Stornoway she will tie up and is not likely to sail again until the 5pm crossing on Wednesday (October 23rd).

CalMac’s Stornoway ferry terminal manager Iain Don Maciver told welovestornoway.com: “The weather is not going to affect passenger services on the Isle of Lewis, which are expected to run to schedule, but we are not accepting any further car bookings in order to leave space for essential freight.

“Any vehicle bookings already made will be honoured and the passenger service will run, unless there is further unexpected deterioration in the weather.

“As things stand we are not cancelling bookings or passenger sailings and, if the forecast weather blows through more quickly than forecast, we will return to freight sailings earlier.

"However, we currently expect the 5pm crossing on Wednesday from Stornoway to be the next service that the Hebridean Isles undertakes.”

Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) is inviting Harris residents to a public meeting next week, to update them on the programme for upgrading Tarbert Ferry Terminal.

The session is to be held next Tuesday (29th October) at Tarbert community centre, with people invited to drop in any time between 4pm and 7pm.

CMAL owns Tarbert harbour, and has awarded a £14.3 million contract to civil engineering and building contractor, RJ McLeod Limited to carry out the upgrade works. Representatives from the contractors will also be at the meeting.

The upgrade is part of the Skye Triangle Infrastructure Programme, which will see significant harbour upgrades at Tarbert, Lochmaddy and Uig.

The work is designed to improve and modernise harbour facilities and prepare the way for new vessels.

Work is underway at Tarbert and is expected to be completed in spring 2021. CalMac will continue to operate ferry services during the works.

Brian Sydney, senior civil engineer at CMAL, said: “Work is now underway at Tarbert and the main contractor is on site to begin the schedule of works.

"This is an ideal time for a community meeting, which will allow locals and ferry users to ask questions about the work. We encourage people to come along to the meeting to find out more about construction over the coming months.

“The project represents significant investment in the island’s transport infrastructure.

"Once completed, passengers travelling to and from Tarbert will benefit from a much-improved harbour and ferry experience.”

The replacement ferry service for the Barra to Oban route has started off on the wrong foot, with a technical issues affecting the MV Isle of Arran today (Monday October 21st).

Islanders had already expressed dismay that the elderly vessel was unfit for service on the route, but was expected to cover the service while MV Isle of Lewis is in Stornoway providing the cover there as Loch Seaforth is in dry dock in Birkenhead for her annual service.

A notice was posted by CalMac early this afternoon stating: “Due to a minor technical issue with MV Isle of Arran, today's 1430 sailing from Oban may be liable to disruption or cancellation at short notice.

"The issue will be addressed upon the vessel's arrival in Oban, therefore there may be a slight delay to the 1430 departure.”

One islander described the announcement as a ‘poor show’ with people already queueing for the ferry before the problem was announced.

The livestock sale season ended last week (Thursday October 17th) with the final sale of all classes of sheep in Stornoway.

Lewis and Harris Auction Marts have limited the sales to five this year, in a bid to avoid any market turmoil following an October date for Brexit. On Thursday auctioneers Dingwall and Highland Marts Ltd sold 1,362 sheep of all classes at the Steinish mart.

A total of 591 lambs sold to £60 gross for Texel crosses from 100 Cross Skigersta Road, Port of Ness while 560 ewes sold to £60 gross for Suffolk crosses from 10 Tong. Gimmers sold to £130 gross for Texel crosses from 22 Laxay and 93 feeding sheep sold to £150 gross (twice) for Cheviot rams from 8 Sand Street, Stornoway.

Mart director Kenny Macleod said prices were slightly down on earlier sales in the season, as is always the case. He told welovestornoway.com: “October sale prices are usually back compared with other sales, but the numbers are comparable with previous years and compare well to mainland prices.

“The season overall was very good. In the first two sales, prices were extremely good and the cattle sale earlier this month also saw good prices. There was a lot of uncertainty in June and July because of Brexit, but that didn’t translate into any drop in prices.”

There are also signs of crofter confidence in the future, with local buyers still buying sheep and breeding activity continuing as usual. Kenny said: “There is a lot of good stock about, so we’ll see what next year brings.”

Stornoway fire station’s manager has left the island with a final message for householders – keep safe!

Station manager Craig Lauder is on end-of-service leave back in his home town of Alloa ahead of his formal retirement on October 31st, but returned to Stornoway on Saturday (October 19th) for a send-off from Fire Scotland colleagues.

He admitted to feeling ‘a bit emotional’ after being presented with Harris Tweed, whisky, gin and a framed photograph of Stornoway town centre at the retirement celebration at the Rangers’ Club.

Craig told welovestornoway.com: “I’ve enjoyed my time in the Western Isles. When I came here 18 months ago I knew it would probably be my last posting and I have not only enjoyed the job, but the experience of living in the Western Isles, the people and the fact that my role has allowed me to travel the length of the islands.”
Craig has been with Fire Scotland for 22 years, joining the service after eleven years with the RAF, of which six were spent working on the Queen’s flight, the aircraft which transport the Royal Family around the UK and beyond.

After a working lifetime in public service, he’s now intending to take some well-earned time off until Christmas, spending time with wife Margo and with family, friends and neighbours, before deciding what his next role might be.

“Finishing my fire service career in Stornoway has been excellent,” he said. “I like the town and have been able to get to know people a bit better through my involvement with football, too. When I arrived I volunteered my services as a referee, as there are not a lot of qualified football referees in the islands.

“I really enjoy refereeing in the islands league. It’s different from the mainland – you get a lot more respect from the players and games are well supported, there’s a lot of enthusiasm for football here.”

Craig intends to return to the islands during his retirement – perhaps even as a visiting referee – and he’s hoping to do some of the ‘touristy things’ he didn’t get time to fit in during a busy working 18 months.

Meanwhile he finishes his service in the way that’s consistent with his dedication to fire safety, with a final warning for householders.

“I’ve been in the fire service for so long that I can’t help saying to everyone ‘keep fire safety in mind. Make sure your smoke alarms are fitted and working’. I’ve attended too many house fires, here and elsewhere, to say anything else as I sign off.”

Pictures show Craig in his Fire Scotland role at Stornoway fire station, and on the field during a Lewis and Harris league football match.

The MV Isle of Lewis has today (Sunday October 20th) returned to her old duties between Stornoway and Ullapool, standing in for the Loch Seaforth which has gone for annual overhaul.

The Loch Seaforth is now on her way to Birkenhead, where she’s due for her annual refit over the next two weeks.

The Isle of Lewis will be on the passenger run on the cross-Minch route, with her longer journey times meaning a disrupted timetable into November. Each crossing will take 15 minutes longer, bumping the scheduled times up by a total of one hour each day.

Meanwhile the freight service is due to be taken over tonight by the Hebridean Isles, which arrived into Stornoway harbour today (Sunday).

She’ll continue the crossing twice each night until leaving for her own overhaul in the first week of November, when the Isle of Lewis will complete the replacement schedule with a round-the-clock service.

MV Loch Seaforth is due to return to Stornoway on the evening of Friday November 8th.

 

A driver who crashed his car into a roadside barrier in the early hours of Saturday will be appearing before the Sheriff tomorrow morning (Monday October 21st).

The 20-year-old man was involved in a single-vehicle road collision near the James Street/Sandwick Road roundabout in Stornoway at half past midnight on Saturday morning and police attended the incident.

He was found to have broken a number of laws and is being kept in custody for a court appearance tomorrow, charged with a variety of road traffic offences.

A man who appeared in Stornoway Sheriff court on Tuesday (October 15th) is being kept in custody for a further court appearance.

The 29-year-old man was arrested at an address in Stornoway late at night on Monday 14th October, where he was acting in a threatening and abusive manner.

He was charged with breach of the peace and with breaching earlier bail conditions and has been remanded in custody to a future date.

 

Marine pyrotechnics and flares collected by Coastguard officers in Stornoway will be carefully destroyed tomorrow (Monday October 21st) by a specialist company contracted by HM Coastguard.

The controlled destruction is timetabled for tomorrow afternoon at a safe coastal location outside Stornoway and away from residential property.

Commercial explosives specialists EPC-UK visit the islands twice a year to carry out controlled destruction of hazardous material. Elsewhere in Britain, they collect and return the flares for destruction at their own base at Alfreton in Derbyshire, but the challenge of transporting potentially unstable pyrotechnics on passenger ferries means that the Western Isles and Shetland both need their own disposal arrangements on-island.

Time-expired pyrotechnics (TEPs) are regularly handed in at the Coastguard Station in Stornoway and dedicated collection days are organised by the Coastguard, the last of which was on Saturday 5th October.

Flares and other pyrotechnics are also sometimes found on shorelines. Coastguard Rescue Teams are sent to investigate such finds and, if it is safe to do so, to recover the item. Each CRT carries a box in their vehicle known as a short-term mitigation cage (STMC). The steel boxes are perforated with many holes, allowing gases to escape but retaining solid materials. They’re specially designed to allow the safe transportation of flares and affectionately known as 'Tetley boxes' after the teabags, which built a reputation on thousands of perforations.

The kind of flares recovered for safe disposal can vary widely, both in condition and in where they are found. Kept in boats or sheds, sometimes for many years, or washed up on shorelines, they can pose a hazard to anyone handling them.

Last week, Stornoway Coastguard Rescue Team were tasked to pick up three flares that had been dumped at the landfill site at Bennadrove and during a recent collection day, some flares which went out-of-date in 1962 were handed in.

While they await safe destruction, out-of-date flares and other pyrotechnics are sealed into boxes and locked away in a purpose-built store at the Coastguard station in Stornoway.

Part of the safe handling process calls for an integrity check on each item. If there’s any concern about their condition, or if they're more than 25 years old, these flares are kept away from the main store and put into a segregation store, providing contained storage for flares many years out-of-date and others badly corroded by sea-water or damaged by rough handling.

When Coastguards collect flares a record is made on an online database. The record is monitored by EPC as part of their contract and, when the amount in the store reaches a certain trigger point, they get in touch to set the date of their visit.

On Monday EPC-UK will carefully empty both the main and the segregation store and will transfer the flares into their own tanks, the size of a large Belfast sink and made of inch-thick steel. This will be filled, then locked down and wired up.

When the 'burn' of the flares commences, says Carl Taylor, senior coastal operations officer for the Coastguard: "it's more of a whimper than a bang. There's a lot of smoke and the occasional pop, but even people who live relatively locally should not be aware of what's happening. The smoke goes straight out to sea and we are nowhere near houses."

"Everything is done in the safest possible way, including our own internal procedures and the full safety rig we wear when we open the store or handle the flares.

"I've occasionally seen situations which caused a great deal of concern. I once found that a leisure fisherman kept a dozen red parachute flares in a bin-liner under the seat of his boat, where they were soaked in sea water. When I pointed out that they were wet and all out-of-date, he told me not to worry, because he would take them in and dry them in front of the fire a couple of times a year!

"We've had someone bring a sack of flares to our open day that had been dumped in a community skip and we've been called to the Creed Park recycling plant because council workers found flares that had been put into a bin. 

"There are, unfortunately, people that don't realise quite how dangerous these items can be. These can cause serious injury if not handled correctly or kept after their expiry date".

If you have marine pyrotechnics that are out of date or need to be disposed of, contact Stornoway Coastguard on 01851 702013 for advice on how and where they can be disposed of. If bringing flares in to the Coastguard, it's worth calling in advance, to make sure qualified and trained staff are on hand to accept them.

At a separate event in Benbecula yesterday (Saturday October 19th), 405 out-of-date pyrotechnics were handed into Coastguards, of which some were 42 years out-of-date. These will be destroyed at a location in Uist under the same safety precautions.

 

Today the countries of the United Kingdom stand once again on the brink of a decision to abandon almost 50 years of close links with the other countries of Western Europe and the expanded European Union.

Students from across the Highlands and Islands were travelling down by bus from Inverness overnight to attend the Peoples’ March in London today (Saturday  October. 19th) demanding that the London minority Tory government gives the people a final say on the outcome of the Brexit process.

The Highlands and Islands Students’ Association (HISA) have arranged the opportunity for students attending the University of the Highlands and Islands to attend the march at no cost, to ensure the voices of their students are heard.

The Highlands and Islands Students’ will join hundreds of thousands of others to march on Parliament. HISA is proud to stand with their EU and International students and will continue to do everything they can to secure their place in this country, and to secure a people’s vote.

Commenting on the effects Brexit will have on her studies, HISA Lews Castle College Depute, Florence Jansen said:“Being able to attend the People’s Vote in London is so important for students from UHI, especially island communities. 

"It’s not always easy to stand up for our beliefs, however, we are living in one of the areas that will be most impacted by Brexit. It has turned into an overcomplicated, scary and very real situation for myself and other EU students. The government is not giving us the answers we need and doesn’t seem to care.  

"The insecurity and uncertainty is causing stress that should not be put on any student’s mental wellbeing. When I started my studies in Stornoway I made a choice to contribute to the community and student life here, Brexit makes these contributions seem invalid and often makes me as an EU student feel unwelcomed.

"It is like sitting between the seats. I shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not I can finish my studies if I will be able to afford extortionate fees in a year’s time or will be forced to leave the country I now call home.

"So many opportunities will be lost for so many as a direct result of Brexit.  The government is acting in such an irresponsible way by trying to make out the effects will be minimal. They are making decisions that will directly impact our lives, our students and our communities in an awful way.  I can’t stand by and just watch without acting.”

HISA Vice President of Higher Education Andrew Bowie said: "It's really exciting to be able to have the chance to take this group of passionate students down to London with us.  This is a moment in history and one that will affect every single person in the country, young people and students most of all.

"We are also very proud at the University of the Highlands and Islands to boast a diverse community of students, and our international and EU students are one of the cornerstones of this fantastic diversity.  It will be a travesty if more of them are forced to leave Scotland as a result of Brexit.

"We are marching in support of a people's vote, to give all the people of this country their rightful chance to have the final say on the UK’s relationship with the EU. Young people who were not heard last time deserve the right to be, and we are proud to be championing their voice this weekend."

Earlier. responding to the Prime Minister’s announcement that he had struck a deal with the EU, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “The deal the Prime Minister has negotiated with the EU is great news for Scotland and the whole of the UK.

“This deal allows us to get Brexit sorted, and leave the EU in two weeks’ time as one United Kingdom.

“It is a real Brexit which ensures we take back control. For Scottish fishermen, this means taking back control of our fishing waters and freeing them from the hated Common Fisheries Policy. For Scotland’s farmers, we will create a new a system of support to help them prosper outside of the Common Agricultural Policy.

“We will no longer be bound by EU laws, and the Scottish Parliament will receive a raft of new powers as they return to the UK from Brussels. We will be able to strike our own trade deals around the world, opening up huge opportunities for businesses across Scotland.

“It is now time for Scottish MPs from all parties to vote for the Prime Minister’s deal and deliver the result of the referendum. It is time to put the national interest above political opportunism. If MPs do not vote for a deal then they are voting for no deal, and will have to explain that to their constituents.

“Outside of the EU, Scotland and the whole of the UK will thrive. We have a bright future as a country. People now expect their elected representatives to do their duty to deliver that.”

 

 

There’s growing anger and dismay among island animal-lovers after news that the national charity Cats Protection has decided to wind down its support for rescuing, neutering and rehoming cats in the islands.

A local branch committee meeting scheduled for today (Friday October 18th) has been cancelled after three committee members resigned in protest at the decision by the national charity.

The resignations included that of former committee member Morag Smith, who first alerted welovestornoway.com to the planned closure of the branch on Tuesday.

She was asked to resign with immediate effect by her Cats Protection line manager and has also been told to surrender the foster kittens currently in her care, which were receiving veterinary treatment this morning.

Morag told welovestornoway.com today: “I am having to pass the kittens I am caring for to another fosterer, after Cats Protection threatened to send someone from the mainland to remove them from me. To say that I am upset would be an understatement.”

Local cat-lovers have been bombarding the charity’s headquarters in Sussex with demands for information and questioning why the decision has been made. One supporter received this response: “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.”

Among those putting pressure on the charity is Stornoway councillor Gordon Murray, who told welovestornoway.com: “I am very sad to hear the news that Cat Protection has withdrawn its support from the excellent local branch in Stornoway.

“The local Cat Protection branch are so important in the treatment of cats and not only will it affect cats, but all wildlife and birds. The feral cat population will grow exponentially without a neutering programme. The welfare of cats on the island will be adversely affected.

“I’d like to pay tribute to all the volunteers who have worked at Cat Protection over the years and have made a huge difference to cat welfare on the island.

“I have written to our MP and MSP regarding this matter and I am awaiting a response from Cats Protection HQ.”

Much of the local protest movement is being shown by cancelled donations to the charity. A total of 27 individuals have notified the local branch that they are stopping their giving, one supporter saying: “I’m stopping all my donations to the Cats Protection League following this – previously my go-to charity. Shameful they have abandoned you.”

And there’s been comment on Cats Protection’s reported concern about the lack of value for money in the Lewis and Harris branch. One supporter said: “The running costs were substantial, but that reflects the amount of cats that were helped over the years.”

There’s still some hope for future cat welfare services, with the potential for the national charity to send trapping and neutering teams up to the islands to control the large number of feral cat colonies.

It’s also thought that an island-based and run alternative organisation could be established, with volunteers putting forward offers of help and a meeting currently being discussed among interested parties including the vets’ practice, SSPCA and RSPB.

Supporters commented on social media: “Please show your support in any way you can as this is a real loss. I do hope everyone supports the local team and voices their concerns to the charity nationally, as this is a huge blow for the welfare of animals on the islands.”

Cats Protection has been approached for further comment on this story.

 

If it’s been a long time since you cleared out your underwear drawer, now is the time to turf out any old bras!

That’s because October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and the women of Lewis and Harris are being urged to chuck out old bras as part of a drive to fund life-saving research.

Karen Macdonald of Harris has been running her any-old-bras collection since 2013, when a feature on Lorraine Kelly’s morning TV show got her started.

She told welovestornoway.com: “We’ve all got drawers full of bras, but we only ever wear a few favourites. If you chuck them my way during October I pass them on to the charity Against Breast Cancer, who get £700 per tonne collected towards their research campaign.

“It doesn’t matter what condition they are in – those grey bras that accidentally went into the wash with your dark clothing, sport bras, crop tops, anything.”

The charity Against Breast Cancer says: “The same bras also help to support small businesses in Africa. Together with our recycling partners, our textile recovery project prevents these bras going into landfill before giving them a new lease of life in developing countries such as Togo, Ghana and Kenya, where bras remain too expensive to produce locally.

“Successful ventures like this keep many families in developing countries out of poverty whilst providing employment for people at home in the UK. Any bras that are genuinely beyond redemption are dismantled and disposed of properly.”

It’s win-win for your unwanted undies, and Karen says island women have taken the message to heart.  “The first year I just got about 80 bras, but last year it was close to 300 that I sent away. The collection is only supposed to be in October, but now that people know that I collect them they do tend to drop them in whenever they have a clear-out.”

Karen’s collection point is at Brownie’s in Tarbert, where she works, and for the past three years she’s been supported in Stornoway by Nicola Nikpavlovich at the Caladh Inn – where this year three bin-bags full of bras have already been collected.

Nicola told welovestornoway.com: “There’s been a phenomenal response from Stornoway this year and, because it’s Wear It Pink day for breast cancer awareness today (Friday October 18th) we’re hoping to see you turned out in pink and carrying a bag of old bras!”

The bra collection continues at Brownies and the Caladh Inn reception until October 31st.

Picture shows Nicola (right) and Caladh Inn manager Christina Miller wearing it pink with some of the donated bras.

Choirs from the Isle of Lewis and the Isle of Harris carried the Western Isles banner with pride at the Royal National Mòd in Glasgow yesterday (Thursday October 17th).

Choirs from Carloway, Back, Lochs and Harris will be carrying home trophies galore today, after a day of success in the rural choirs competition.

The coveted Lorn Shield was carried off by Còisir Sgìr' a' Bhac, after their rendition of the prescribed song, a famous sailor's song about the steamer 'Kia Ora'. The song itself was composed by Murdo Morrison (Murchadh Beag), of Hàbost in Ness, in the late 1920s and later made famous by Calum Kennedy.

The Lorn shield competition saw a clean sweep for Lewis choirs, with Back Choir’s conductor Avril Allen winning the Mrs C MacDonald Silver Baton for the conductor of the winning choir. Avril, who also conducted the winning Nicolson Institute choir during the children’s competitions earlier in the week, said: “What a day.....week! Well done to my choirs who sang their hearts out, and of course I’m delighted with the results ! “

Back choir also carried off the Hamish Graham (Strath) trophy for the highest marks in Gaelic in A300, A305 and A306, the Dalriada Cup for highest marks in Gaelic and the Capt Angus Stewart trophy for highest marks in music.

In the Lorn Shield competition, second-placed Còisir Ghàidhlig Chàrlabhaigh shared the Sangobeg Investments Ltd prize with Back and with third place Còisir Ghàidhlig nan Loch, who also shared the trophy honours in Gaelic and music with Back.

Back choir finished off their fantastic day with a third place in the Grampian Television trophy competition, a contest in which Còisir Bhan na Hearadh took the silver position and shared the An Comunn Gàidhealach Prize.

Meanwhile Còisir Ghàidhlig Chàrlabhaigh were awarded the top prize in the puirt-a-beul competition, together with the Calum Robertson memorial trophy for highest marks in Gaelic, Evelyn Huckbody memorial trophy for highest marks in music and the An Comunn Gàidhealach Prize. Their conductor also brings home the John Young Memorial Baton for the Conductor of the winning choir, sealing the result as their most successful Mòd yet.

Còisir Ghàidhlig nan Loch came third in the puirt competition and shared the An Comunn Gàidhealach Prize.

The picture shows Còisir Sgir’ a’ Bhac, conductor Avril Allen centre, following their success yesterday.

Over £10,000 has gone into the Barra community this year, thanks to the Western Isles Lottery.

Proceeds of over £10,000 were awarded to Barra community and almost £3,500 has been won by supporters in Weekly Cash Prizes.

Coimhearsnachd Bharraid agus Bhatarsaidh (Barra & Vatersay Community) received all funding since the commencement of the Lottery two years ago. The Committee have identified eligible local causes via applications received from a variety of local groups and have managed the transfer of funds to those successful.

Applications must meet one of the three eligible criteria of Aesthetics, Amenities and/or Events to be considered for funding.

During the first, the Xmas Lights display received a significant upgrade. The Herring Trail barrels were all replaced and a community Public Announcement System was purchased. In year two, Northbay Playpark received £1,887. A new wall is being built around the Annie Jane Memorial at a cost of £700 and the Barra Ladies’ Day Event was helped by £300. In addition, Garadh a Bagh a tuath received £1,000 for their summer planting displays, brightening up areas around the Island.

Most recently, Barra Games received a cheque for £1,636.90 to purchase new inflatable equipment and Barra Football Club received £1,146.00 to purchase a new marquee. All this equipment is accessible for ongoing, wider community use.

Janet Paterson of the Lottery Team said: “We are absolutely delighted to have increased the amount raised for Communities in Year 1 from £62,500 to £85,600 in Year Two. Support of the Lottery continues to grow and the more support that comes from residents of a specific Area, the more funds we can return to them.

“Being the smallest in population of the six geographical areas receiving funding, the Isle of Barra has done exceptionally well and we are delighted with the variety of projects we have already been able to support. This is entirely credited to the continued support from local Barra Supporters. Without local support, the Lottery would not have been successful and we thank each and every one of you who have purchased tickets to make this happen!

“We are looking forward to further increasing the funding levels during Year Three and wish Barra the very best as we go forward. Funds continue to be raised every week and if any group in Barra would like to be considered for funding, please do not hesitate to contact Coimhearsnachd Bharraid agus Bhatarsaidh for application details. Enquiries are also invited to email us direct at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

"Anyone with a UK Postcode is eligible to join in online at www.westernisleslottery.co.uk or by calling the Ticket Line on 0300 30 20 444.  As their motto goes 'Where There’s a W.I.L.L. There’s a Way!'"

Over £2,000 was given to Commun Eachdraidh Nis (Ness Historical Society) earlier this month,

The directors and staff received a cheque for £2,093.30 from the proceeds raised by supporters of the Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery in the Ness/Westside area.

The funds will go towards carrying out external work to the former Cross school building which Commun Eachdraidh Nis took over from CnES in 2011. 

Extensive renovations have already been completed, extending and transforming the old school building into a modern museum with archive and artefact storage facilities as well as a public café.

Anne Macleod, Development Manager, said: “This is a fantastic boost to help us complete the final items on our external works programme and would not have been possible without locals from the Ness and Westside Area Supporting the now very successful Western Isles Lottery to whom we are very grateful."

Janet Paterson of the WILL Committee said: “We are delighted to have been able to support such a significant project which will be of great benefit to the local community."

Loganair has announced a new co-operation agreement with Flybe that will open up travel options for island customers across the UK and beyond.

The new codeshare agreement announced yesterday evening (Thursday October 17th) sees over 100 new connections bookable immediately via Loganair’s website.

Stornoway customers are among those who will benefit from what’s being described as: “renewed co-operation between the UK’s two leading regional airlines.”

Loganair and Flybe routes meet at Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Manchester. Customers making a single booking for a connecting journey between Loganair and Flybe will be able to check bags right through to their final destination, with the assurance that they will be re-booked to their destination free of charge if weather conditions or other delays lead to missed connections.

The new codeshare agreement also offers savings for customers as they no longer have to pay the multiple Air Passenger Duty charges they faced previously when buying separate tickets from Loganair and Flybe to build their own connecting itinerary.

Alan Tune, Flybe’s director of sales, alliances and strategic partnerships, said: “The new codeshare agreement with Loganair offers unrivalled connectivity between most of the main cities, islands and regions of the UK, and onwards to several key European cities, too.”

Jonathan Hinkles, Loganair’s managing director, said: “This new partnership with Flybe will bring tremendous benefits for customers through assured connections, reduced travel costs and convenient through check-in. The new codeshare agreement will link all of the communities that we’re proud to serve as Scotland’s airline with major destinations throughout the UK and Europe, and I’m sure that this will be fantastic news for UK tourism, business and by making it easier to visit friends and family.”

The Scottish Government’s cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity, Michael Matheson, said: “Regional airlines provide essential links for Scottish businesses and our tourism sector, so this agreement between Loganair and Flybe is very welcome. It further enhances connectivity for the Highlands and Islands with the rest of the UK and provides seamless connections which will be a great benefit to passengers.”

Competition winner David Mackay officially opened Sealladh a’ Chliseim, Leurbost, Isle of Lewis yesterday (Thursday 17 October 2019). 

David was the deserved winner of a competition run by Sgoil nan Loch, Leurbost to name the development prior to being completed by Calmax Construction Ltd in April 2019.

The 10 properties for affordable rent cost £1.6million of which £1.06million was is being funded by Scottish Government Grant, £522,000 by Hebridean Housing Partnership and £30,000 by the Comhairle.

Housing Minister Mr Stewart said:“Working together we can provide the right homes in the right places which meet people’s individual needs. These ten new quality, accessible, affordable homes in Leurbost will support and strengthen the local community and are a result of the effective partnership between Hebridean Housing Partnership, the Comhairle and the Scottish Government.

“Making sure everyone has a safe, warm, affordable place to live is central to our vision for a fairer Scotland. Developments like this keep us on track to deliver our ambitious target of 50,000 affordable homes by 2021, backed by record investment of more than £3 billion.”

HHP’s Chair, Norman Macleod said:  “Thank you to David for attending the official opening of Sealladh a’ Chliseim today.  We are proud to see the completion of this development, particularly the specially adapted property allowing one family to stay in the area.  We were pleased that the Comhairle were able to contribute the additional funding to this project allowing it to proceed.” 

Kenny John MacLeod, Chair of Communities and Housing Committee added:“The Comhairle is very pleased that this development went ahead with the additional funding. We are encouraged to see new homes in this area and like HHP, we are delighted to see a family from the area benefit from an adapted home. Once again, we are grateful to Scottish Government for their assistance as we continue to demonstrate our commitment to building additional homes in rural locations.”

A Royal Air Force Association event tomorrow (Saturday October 19th) will combine fundraising, awareness-raising and fun, according to organisers.

The RAFA ‘Brew for the Few’ is to be held at the Salvation Army in Bayhead . The Salvation Army’s Lt Callum Newton is also branch welfare officer for the RAF association and has helped organise this and other events in the area.

The RAF Association recognises that RAF personnel and their immediate families dedicate their lives to their country and aims to ensure that their sacrifice does not result in suffering, poverty or loneliness.

Stornoway’s RAFA branch is the only one in the Western Isles and has around 50 members. Veterans and serving personnel in the Royal Air Force can become full members, but associate membership is also open to anyone who supports the service.

The Stornoway branch holds monthly meetings and raises money to support the national appeal, as well as maintaining a local fund to support members of the RAF family. As welfare officer, Callum can also access sums of money from the RAF benevolent fund to support anyone experiencing hard times, but the association is also there for fellowship and fundraising all the year round.

Callum told welovestornoway.com: “Saturday’s event is intended to raise funds for the Wings Appeal, but it’s also a chance to say thank you to the many people who support us through the year.

“There’ll be tea, coffee and cake and we’ll have a flight simulator which you can have a go on, a display of model aircraft and RAF merchandise. Our local air cadets will be helping out and it’s also a chance to have a chat and find out more about the RAF and the cadets while you are here.”

The Brew for the Few is open to drop in to between 12 noon and 4pm on Saturday at the Salvation Army on Bayhead.

Pictures show some of the model planes which will be on display, and the flight simulator in action during last year’s event (RAFA).

The Harris & Lewis Smokehouse has signed the Armed Forces Covenant.

So veterans, reservists and serving armed forces personnel are especially welcome at the H&L Smokehouse on Sandwick Road, Stornoway.

Gerry Corish, the marketing director of the Scottish Salmon Company which owns the Smokehouse, is seen with Lieutenant Colonel Matt Sheldrick of 7 Scots at the Army Reserve Centre on Church Street on Tuesday 15th October.

The Covenant is a pledge that together we acknowledge and understand that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, should be treated with fairness and respect in the communities, economy and society they serve with their lives.

The covenant supports serving personnel, service leavers, veterans, and their families. And is fulfilled by the different groups that have committed to making a difference.

These include:

  • Central government, overseen by the Ministerial Covenant and Veterans Board
  • Single services (Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force)
  • Businesses of all sizes
  • Local government
  • Charities
  • Communities
  • Cadet forces and their adult volunteers

 

 

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

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

New house, Ardhasaig

Mr T and Mrs K McCluskie of 1 Akbyn Drive, Corpach, Fort William, have applied for planning permission to erect a house at 10A Ardhasaig. The house is to consist of three bedrooms, a kitchen, a dining room, a lounge, a study, a utility room and two bathrooms. Work is to include creating a new access and installing an air source heat pump. 

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

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

New agricultural building, Uig

Sean Kettle of 2 Timsgarry has applied for planning permission to erect an agricultural building at 3A Ardroil, Uig. The proposed building is to be 13.15 metres long. 6.36 metres wide and 4.88 metres tall. It is to be clad in dark-stained timber.  

New house, Tong

Raymond Mackenzie of 1 Ford View, Tong, has applied for planning permission to build a three-bedroom house at 4B Tong. The plan includes creating a new access to the road. 

New agricultural building, Newmarket

Kenneth Macphail of 25 Gleann Dubh, Newmarket, has applied for planning permission to erect an agricultural building at 22B Benside, Newmarket. The building is to be 10 metres long, 9 metres wide and 3.19 metres tall. The walls are to be made of box profile sheeting in goosewing grey. 

New lattice tower and access, Lochs

EE Ltd has applied for planning permission to erect a 20-metre lattice tower and associated 15.5 metre by 10 metre compound for equipment cabinets at Telecommunications Tower, Ranish, Lochs. Work will include creating a foul weather enclosure, one generator and creating an 80 metre access track.  

There's a new Christmas Shoebox Appeal starting.

Organisers say: "It is indeed that time of year again. As the nights draw in, our thoughts begin to turn to Christmas.

"As we give to friends and loved ones, can we extend our giving to those who are far less fortunate than ourselves, those who are living in poverty.

"Blythswood Care has recognised the support and generous giving from our island communities over many years. It is greatly valued and very much appreciated.

"Blythswood Shoe box leaflets can be found in the Blythswood Charity shop on Kenneth Street, or obtained from churches, shops and schools.

"If you can fill a shoe box with the essential items highlighted on the leaflet, you can deliver it to the ususal collection point at the Blythswood Shoebox Appeal Centre at the back of the Old Co-op furniture store, on Kenneth Street which is opposite Lodge Fortrose in Stornoway, or alternatively it can be handed in to the Blythswood Shop on Kenneth Street or any of the local schools or rural centres.

"Great thanks to D.R. Macleod (Stornoway) for the use of the Old Co-op Building.

"This year the Shoebox sorting is to be carried out at the Blythswood headquarters in Evanton and the shoeboxes sent from our islands will be sent to Romania.

"If you cannot find a shoebox and would still like to donate, please hand the items that you wish to send to the local Blythswood shop/school or the Appeal Centre in the Old Co-op and it will be sent on to Evanton where a box containing the items will be made up for you.

"Schools and Rural centres have requested that the boxes be sent in to them by Monday 28thOctober.

"Alternatively you can send them directly to the Appeal Centre at  the old Coop on Kenneth Street on Thursday 31st October and Friday 1st November from 3pm – 6.30pm.

If you have any queries regarding any aspect of the Shoebox appeal or require further details, do not hesitate to contact any of the co-ordinators:

Dorothy Kennedy (Back) 07733 401254

Charlie Nicolson  07717 816476

Chris Martin 01851 706143

The Isle of Barra Beach Hotel have recently received an EatSafe Award. 

The Eat Safe Award is granted by the Environmental Health Service of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar in conjunction with Food Standards Scotland.

The award is available to all establishments selling food directly to consumers.

The main aim of the scheme is to provide an incentive to food businesses to strive for food hygiene and food safety management standards beyond those required by law.

It also helps consumers make informed choices about where to eat out by providing a recognisable 'sign' of excellence in standards of food hygiene.

Councillor Donald Manford was delighted to hand over the award on behalf of the Comhairle.  

Councillor Manford said “The Eat Safe award is presented only to businesses that have achieved hygiene standards beyond the legal requirements and their commitment has to be commended. I encourage all businesses within the Outer Hebrides to aim for this award.  It is provides valuable information to their customers of commitment to produce food safely.”

 

Social Security Scotland has announced that the Young Carers Grant will be open for applications from 21st October this year.  The Grant of £300 is available to young people in Scotland aged 16 -18 years who care for someone in receipt of certain disability benefits for an average of 16 hours a week.

Angus B MacNeil, the Islands' MP said:“There are many  young people throughout Scotland and in the Islands who willingly take on the care of a family member who  needs regular support.

"This new benefit from Social Security Scotland is designed to help these young people  and to show their care contribution is valued by society.

“I would urge any young person in this situation to look into this new benefit and see if they qualify for this welcome help.

"This is an age group who may not previously have engaged with Social Security Scotland but  they should consider applying for this small amount of money which could be of huge benefit to them.

“Information on applying for this Grant is available on the Young Scot website or at https://www.socialsecurity.gov.scot/what-we-do/stakeholder-resources/young-carer-grant  and I would encourage all young carers who are eligible to apply.”

 

The best of produce from near and far 18/10/2019

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

 

£1.65

 

Butternut Squash   

 

£2.40

 

Green Cabbage

 

£1.85

 

Savoy Cabbage

 

£1.85

 

Cabbage (White UK)

 

£2.80

 

Red Cabbage

 

£2.40

 

Cauliflower

 

£1.95

 

Romanesco

 

£1.95

 

Celeriac (UK)

 

£2.40

 

Celery (UK)

 

£1.35

 

Fennel

 

£1.45

 

Garlic Large

 

£0.95

 

 

 

Price Per KG

Quantity

Beetroot (UK)

 

£2.45

 

Broccoli (UK)

 

£3.95

 

New Season Dirty Carrots

 

£2.15

 

Ginger

 

£5.00

 

Horseradish

 

£15.00

 

Kale

 

£10.00

 

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

 

£2.15

 

Kerr’s Pink

 

£1.85

 

Roosters

 

£1.85

 

Shallots

 

£4.95

 

Swede (Scottish New Season)

 

£1.55

 

Sweet Potato

 

£2.95

 

White Turnip

 

£3.35

 

 

 

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)

 

£6.95

 

Scottish Tomatoes

 

£3.95

 

Fruit

 

Price Each

Quantity

Cox Apples (UK)

 

4 for £1.50

 

Gala Apples

 

4 for £1.50

 

Russets

 

4 for £1.50

 

Avocado

 

£1.50

 

Clementine’s

 

5 for £1.50

 

Grapefruit

 

£0.90

 

Kiwi Fruit

 

£0.50

 

Lemons

 

£0.50

 

Limes

 

£0.50

 

Yellow Melon

 

£1.95

 

Oranges Large

 

3 for £1.50

 

Pears (Conference)

 

4 for £1.50

 

Plums

 

4 for £1.50

 

Satsumas

 

3 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

 

Two Stornoway police officers are among a contingent from Police Scotland heading across the Atlantic to run in the New York marathon in two weeks’ time.

Detective Constable Fiona Mackenzie and PC Johan Macleod are raising funds in memory of a police officer who was killed while on duty in 2012.

PC Nicola Hughes had been called to a routine burglary call in the city of Manchester, where she lived and worked, together with a colleague, Fiona Bone. In fact the un-armed pair had been lured to a false call, and were brutally murdered on the doorstep of the house they’d been called to.

DC Mackenzie and PC Macleod are set to leave the island on October 31st and to meet up with other Police Scotland colleagues, including former Harris Sergeant Katie Mackinnon, who now works in the central belt.
They’ll be part of a UK-wide response bringing 60 police officers to the USA. Alongside them will be Bryn Hughes, father of the murdered police officer, who has run marathons including the North Pole marathon in his daughter’s memory.

One of Fiona and Jo’s colleagues, DC Louise Henderson, has also been fundraising for Nicola’s memorial charity over several years, but is missing this year’s big run for a very good reason.

She told welovestornoway.com: “My little sister in Australia found out that she was expecting twins and, wanting to visit her, I had to cancel the New York marathon for one closer to home. I ran the Loch Ness marathon four weeks earlier than I planned to run, last Sunday. Delighted to say I finished it in five hours and seven minutes and I have raised over at £800.”

All of the British police officers running will be wearing embroidered badges made in Harris by Katie and Doug from Hebridean Embroidery, at their workshop in Ardhasaig. It will make them easy to distinguish as part of the PC Nicola Hughes Team, as well as flying the flag for the islands.

Although the officers won’t be running as a group, so as not to hold each other back, they’re looking forward to the camaraderie between police colleagues – British and American. Officers from New York Police Department among many others meet and greet British police along the route, and there’s usually a big gathering after the run at one or more of the city’s bars.

You can support Team Stornoway by following the link to their Virgin Money Giving pages at: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JohanMacleod and https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/FionaMachorse

The picture shows DC Louise Henderson (left) and her colleague DC Fiona Mackenzie.

There’ll be a second chance to view precision formation flying this morning (Thursday October 17th) as the RAF aeronautical display team, the Red Arrows take off from Stornoway airport on the final leg of their transatlantic crossing.

The 12 fighter jets flew into Stornoway in formation shortly after 6pm last night, providing a waiting crowd alongside the airport approach road with a superb demonstration of skills as they peeled away from the flight to land in succession and taxi down the runway.

The team spent the night in Stornoway, their first UK landfall after 11 weeks touring the USA and Canada. Wing commander Andrew Keith said that it was ‘good to be home’ after the team touched down

He admitted the overnight stop was unscheduled after they ‘ran out of daylight’ during the crossing of the North Atlantic via Greenland. Flying at an average speed of 450-500mph gave them fuel economy, but with a headwind to battle against they were at the extreme edge of their 700-mile range as they approached Stornoway, escorted by the Danish air force for search and rescue support throughout the whole transit from Canada.

Flying without engineers for safety reasons means pilots have to get down to work themselves this morning to service and refuel their jets in preparation for take-off, although this is something Wing Commander Keith said the team were trained and prepared to do when necessary.

The team will return to their home base at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire this morning, where they will be reunited with the air transport carrying the engineering and ground crew and will complete a handover before some well-earned leave.

And welovestornoway.com was flying high, too, with our coverage of the landing on our Facebook community page last evening…

https://www.facebook.com/welovestornoway/videos/516555012499531/

By 7pm today, after around 24 hours, this video had been viewed almost 60,000 times and

the post was determined by Facebook to have reached nearly 135,000 people.

 

The catalogue has been published for the last livestock sale of the season, due to take place tomorrow (Thursday October 17th) at the Steinish Mart.

Lewis and Harris Auction Marts are expecting 1,618 sheep of all classes to go under the hammer from 9.30am, including rams not sold at the previous sale last week.

Auctioneers from Dingwall and Highland Marts conducted two sales last week in Steinish. On Monday October 7th 196 rams sold to £450 gross for the reserve champion, a shearling Blackface from 5 Borrosdale, Leverburgh.

The following day saw the only cattle sale of this season, with judge Mr B Duffton awarding the following prizes:
Overall Champion and first prize heifer – Mr A J Corbett, 12 Lionel, 220kg, £900
Second prize heifer – Mr A J Corbett, 12 Lionel, 286kg, £780
Reserve Champion and first prize bullock – Mr I MacLean, 100 Cross Skigersta Road, 377kg, £1,000
And second prize bullock – Mr D J MacInnes, Atlantic View, 277kg, £700.
A total of 73 cattle were sold in all.

The livestock sale season is closing early this year, with no Christmas show and sale, due to the uncertainty of impacts on the market from Brexit.

News has emerged today (Wednesday October 16th) that the national charity Cats’ Protection are to withdraw their support from the Isle of Lewis with immediate effect.

The news has shocked the animal welfare community, leaving doubt over how stray and feral cats and kittens will be cared for across the island in the future.

An emergency committee meeting of the local branch is to be held on Friday (October 18th), but there’s little hope of any future support from the Sussex-based national charity, who issued a single-line statement saying: “Cats Protection are winding down branch operations on the island and are unfortunately unable to help.”

Vet Hector Low described the decision as ‘misguided and very sad.’ He told welovestornoway.com today: “It’s very sad to see them deciding that we aren’t worth supporting and I find it hard to understand. The attitude to cats in the island has radically improved over the past 30 years and that’s been brought about by the local Cats Protection branch, who have done so much to improve the position of cats in the time they have been here.”

Scottish SPCA chief inspector Iain Allan said: “We are sad to hear about the closure of the Cats Protection branch in Stornoway. Over the years we have worked closely with them to help cats on the island and the closure will have a huge knock-on effect to our team based there and on animal welfare on the Western Isles.”

The closure has been foreseen by committee members, with one saying the new committee, which has been in place since early this year, have been made to ‘jump through hoops’ to try and secure the future of the branch.

Committee member Morag Smith, speaking in a personal capacity, said: “We have done everything they asked of us and they have asked us to achieve far in excess of what any other small branch in Scotland has achieved. We formed a new committee, had it in operation for three months, attended training on the mainland and identified kitten fosterers and a location for the approved Cats Protection pens.

“Three weeks ago we had a visit from the CP welfare team, who approved our fostering placements and the places we had set aside for pens. Then we heard from our regional manager that our vet’s service is too expensive and is not prepared to carry out certain procedures in the way they require.

“This week they said they could not continue to support us and that the service we provide is not good value for money for their supporters. They also say there are other resources on the islands to provide support to stray cats.”

Cats’ Protection has identified the veterinary practice and the two-person Isle of Lewis SSPCA team as alternative resources. A spokesman for the vet said that they had, in recent months, provided some accommodation for cats while the local CP branch was re-structuring, but could not continue to do so. They said: “Our kennelling is for animals who have had operations, for emergencies and to support the SSPCA. We don’t have the space to keep stray cats.”

Meanwhile the local SSPCA has also housed cats in emergency cases, but needs the space for sick, injured and rescued animals ranging from seals and birds of prey to stray dogs.

Cats Protection reportedly claims that their decision to withdraw also hinges on the expense of veterinary treatment and neutering services for feral cats, but Hector Low of the Old Mill Veterinary practice on Sandwick Road – the only vet service in Lewis – says that he is annoyed and upset to be asked to over-ride animal welfare concerns in a bid to save money.

He told welovestornoway.com: “They wanted to neuter cats between May and September, when the only cats to be trapped are heavily pregnant or nursing mothers. I will not neuter them at that time because it puts the lives of their kittens at risk. They also require us to neuter cats under 2kg in weight. These are often very young kittens and putting a young animal under anaesthetic is stressful.

“We like to wait until they are strong enough to cope with it. I’ve got a conscience, I like cats and I’m not comfortable doing things that are not fair on the animal just to try and make the process cheaper. I’m very annoyed and upset about it, especially as I have phoned their veterinary contact more than eight times to try and discuss the issues they raise about neutering and cost and have not had a reply.

“Cats Protection are a large and wealthy charity and what has been happening here in recent times is that we and the local SSPCA have been paying to support them. It’s nonsense to claim that they care about cat welfare because if they did, they wouldn’t be closing the branch. The suffering that is going to cause is to cats here in the islands.”

Committee member Morag Smith also pointed out that the local branch generates financial support for the national organisation, including regular donations from island residents. Hector Low added: “The first thing I am going to be doing is removing the Cats Protection collecting box from the surgery counter. That brings in substantial sums, which in future will be going to the SSPCA.”

Pictures: Feral kittens are cared for by local branch volunteers before being re-homed.

Junior island choirs were celebrating yesterday (Tuesday October 15th) after a stunning set of results at the Royal National Mòd in Glasgow.

Choirs from the Nicolson Institute and Sir E Scott School in Tarbert were in continual contention for the top prizes, with the Harris school sweeping the board at junior level and the Nicolson Institute achieving the top results in the 13-18 age group.

The Nicolson Institute took top honours in the choral puirt-a-beul 13-18 and the Belle Campbell trophy, and were also top in the choral unison class and the two-part harmony, winning the Oban Times Challenge trophy in that class and the Janet Kelly Brown (Uist) memorial trophy for a high school choir from an island community, gaining the highest marks in junior choral competitions.

The Nicolson Institute choir is conducted by Avril Allen, and among the huge haul of trophies they brought home were awards for highest overall marks in both Gaelic and music, including the Mrs Campbell Blair trophy, Susan Paterson Caledonian MacBrayne trophy, Reverend Archie M. Beaton trophy and the Heather K Moore cup.

Sir E Scott’s senior choir achieved bronze position in the 13-18 years competitions, while their junior choir were in gold position in the under 12 puirt-a-beul, winning the Mrs Schroder cup. Juniors also took gold in the choral unison under 12s, with the Aberfoyle and district branch trophy and the Susan Paterson Caledonian MacBrayne trophy, and gold in the choral two-part harmony, with the Mrs Ann Grant of Laggan memorial trophy.

The Sir E Scott choir is conducted for the first time this year by Jayne Macdonald, following the retirement after many years of music tutor Iain Maciver. Jayne yesterday described herself as: “The proudest choir conductor in all the land. A clean sweep for the Junior Choir, and beautiful performances from my lovely senior girls. Not only proud of them on their incredible successes yesterday but too for how genuinely lovely and hardworking each of them are - they’ve made every practise (with added games and snacks...!) such a pleasure. Thankful, too, for all the help and encouragement from the fabulous Mòd committee and most of all to my ‘old’ choir conductor (Iain Maciver) who didn’t leave me with the smallest shoes to fill.”

Pictures show the Nicolson Institute choir with their trophies and the Sir E Scott junior choir at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall yesterday.

Junior island choirs were celebrating yesterday (Tuesday October 15th) after a stunning set of results at the Royal National Mòd in Glasgow.

Choirs from the Nicolson Institute and Sir E Scott School in Tarbert were in continual contention for the top prizes, with the Harris school sweeping the board at junior level and the Nicolson Institute achieving the top results in the 13-18 age group.

The Nicolson Institute took top honours in the choral puirt-a-beul 13-18 and the Belle Campbell trophy, and were also top in the choral unison class and the two-part harmony, winning the Oban Times Challenge trophy in that class and the Janet Kelly Brown (Uist) memorial trophy for a high school choir from an island community, gaining the highest marks in junior choral competitions.

The Nicolson Institute choir is conducted by Avril Allen, and among the huge haul of trophies they brought home were awards for highest overall marks in both Gaelic and music, including the Mrs Campbell Blair trophy, Susan Paterson Caledonian MacBrayne trophy, Reverend Archie M. Beaton trophy and the Heather K Moore cup.

Sir E Scott’s senior choir achieved bronze position in the 13-18 years competitions, while their junior choir were in gold position in the under 12 puirt-a-beul, winning the Mrs Schroder cup. Juniors also took gold in the choral unison under 12s, with the Aberfoyle and district branch trophy and the Susan Paterson Caledonian MacBrayne trophy, and gold in the choral two-part harmony, with the Mrs Ann Grant of Laggan memorial trophy.

The Sir E Scott choir is conducted for the first time this year by Jayne Macdonald, following the retirement after many years of music tutor Iain Maciver. Jayne yesterday described herself as: “The proudest choir conductor in all the land. A clean sweep for the Junior Choir, and beautiful performances from my lovely senior girls. Not only proud of them on their incredible successes yesterday but too for how genuinely lovely and hardworking each of them are - they’ve made every practise (with added games and snacks...!) such a pleasure. Thankful, too, for all the help and encouragement from the fabulous Mòd committee and most of all to my ‘old’ choir conductor (Iain Maciver) who didn’t leave me with the smallest shoes to fill.”

Pictures show the Nicolson Institute choir with their trophies and the Sir E Scott junior choir at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall yesterday.

Wednesday 10.30am UPDATE: The Red Arrows aeronautical display team are now due to arrive into Stornoway at approximately 5.25pm, and not this morning as earlier indicated.

The Red Arrows display team are set for an unexpected visit to Stornoway airport tomorrow morning (Wednesday October 16th).

The Hawk T1 jets from the RAF aerobatic team and an Atlas transporter support plane are en route back to their home base at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire after touring the USA and Canada.

The re-fuelling stop at Stornoway has just been requested and, with forecasts looking good, is highly likely to go ahead between 11.30 and 12.30am tomorrow.

The Red Arrows’ 11-week tour of the USA and Canada has seen them stage more than 20 displays and 98 ground engagements across the continent, with a team of 108 pilots, engineers and ground support staff.

They completed displays and flypasts at events including the Chicago air and water show and Thunder over the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, as well as at the New York, Toronto and Spirit of St Louis airshows.

The Red Arrows were last in Stornoway for an official display marking Stornoway Port Authority’s 150th anniversary in 2015.

Tomorrow the jets are expected to land in formation at the Gaydon Hangar at Stornoway airport.

Pictures show some of the jets at Stornoway airport during their 2015 visit and the Atlas Transporter plane (RAF).

Demand from west coast youth groups for CalMac’s new Community Fund has been so strong the company is expanding it. 

The ferry and harbour operator is looking for a further round of applications from non-profit organisations looking for support for a project or activity that will benefit young people aged 26 and under. Organisations based in a mainland port or island the company serves can apply for £500 to £2000. 

So far, the Fund has supported 39 projects from woman’s football in the Outer Hebrides, to the Campbeltown Sea Cadets and a Gaelic youth club on Skye. 

CalMac’s Director of Community and Stakeholder Engagement, Brian Fulton said: ‘We have been bowled over by the demand from groups up and down the west coast. There is clearly a need for this type of support within the communities we serve, so I’m delighted to announce the extension of the Fund for another round this year.’

‘So far we have made awards to some truly innovative projects that will really make a difference to the lives of young people in our island and coastal communities. I’m really looking forward to seeing what this next batch of applications brings in.’ 

CalMac is the UK’s largest ferry operator and last year carried nearly 5.5 million passengers and 1.4 million vehicles. It services 26 routes to island and remote mainland communities across the Hebrides and the Clyde with a fleet of 33 vessels. 

Organisations who have applied unsuccessfully are welcome to submit a new application, but successful applicants cannot apply again. 

Application form and full terms and conditions at www.calmac.co.uk/communityfund

It is ‘shocking’ that the Scottish Government has abandoned plans for crofting reform to be introduced in this session of the Scottish Parliament, says Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant.

“The Cabinet Secretary, Fergus Ewing, gave a statement to Parliament last month (10 September) advising that “Members could be assured that his officials continue to work on reform of crofting legislation” and now, just a few weeks later, he advises that work on the Crofting Bill will be suspended ‘for the foreseeable future’.”

The Cabinet Secretary was challenged last month by Labour’s Rural Economy spokesperson, Colin Smyth, who stated that“Two years ago, the programme for Government stated: “We will ... consult on and develop proposals to reform crofting law”.

“A year ago, the programme for Government stated: “We will take forward work on a Crofting Bill and publish a national development plan for crofting”.

“Just six months ago, at the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, the Cabinet Secretary said: “I committed to seeking to introduce a crofting bill in sufficient time for it to be passed before the end of the session. That commitment remains.”— [Official Report, Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, 24 April 2019; c 7.]

Mrs Grant said, “So many times we have heard Fergus Ewing extol the worth of crofting in the cultural heritage of Scotland.  He’s also stated that crofting continues to contribute to the sustainability of remote and rural communities and that that is partly as a result of the support and attention that the Scottish Government and its predecessors have provided in the past and are providing now.”

“Even his own SNP colleague, Alasdair Allan, said last month that he was disappointed to hear about the timetabling problems relating to a crofting bill.

“Fergus Ewing was happy to take the praise for the value that crofting contributes to the sustainability of remote and rural areas yet just weeks later, his officials get pulled away to deal with Brexit, leaving these vulnerable communities high and dry, ignoring the needs of crofters.

Mrs Grant concluded “The SNP used their last majority to force through damaging legislation and now won't take the time needed to sort it.  I would think crofters the length and breadth of the Highlands and Islands will be feeling very let down by Mr Ewing and his SNP colleagues as they turn their backs on the needs of this industry.”

 

Twelve schools in the Western Isles registered for Unicef UK’s Rights Respecting Schools Award (RRSA) since September 2018.

Out of the 12 Western Isles schools registered:

  • 8 schools achieved the Bronze prize: Rights Committed
  • 1 school (Daliburgh School) achieved Silver prize: Rights Aware; and
  • 1 school (Balivanich School) has achieved the Gold prize: Rights Respecting

Unicef UK’s RRSA is based on principles of equality, dignity, respect, non-discrimination and participation. The RRSA supports schools across the UK to embed children’s rights in their ethos and culture. The Award recognises achievement in putting the UN Convention on the Right of the Child (CRC) at the heart of a school’s practice to improve wellbeing and help all children realise their potential.

The RRSA takes a staged approach for schools to become Rights Respecting:

  • Bronze: Rights Committed is awarded once schools have audited their current practice and written an action plan
  • Silver: Rights Aware focuses on the commitment of school leadership, knowledge of the CRC and the setting up of the school infrastructure
  • Gold: Rights Respecting is reached when the values and ethos of the rights respecting framework are fully embedded in policy and practice, and there is evidence of impact from children

The Award is reaching an increasing number of schools with more than 5000 in the UK currently involved in the RRSA, 18% of all schools in the UK and over 55% of schools in Scotland, reaching 1.8 million children.

Chairman of the Education, Skills and Children’s Services Committee, Councillor Angus McCormack, said: “This is very welcome news and I would like to congratulate all of our schools involved in this award, particularly Balivanich School on achieving Gold and Daliburgh School on achieving Silver.

“It is important that our young people feel safe and happy in our schools and the Comhairle is committed to continuing to work with staff and parents to ensure that is the case. Well done to everyone involved in this worthwhile initiative.”

Meanwhile, Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron has highlighted the achievements of schools in the Western Isles which have received sportscotland School Sport Awards. Mr Cameron submitted a motion to the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 15th October in which he praised the efforts of students and staff for successfully participating in the sportscotland initiative.

He said: “I am delighted that so many schools took part in the scheme. Engaging in sport can make a very positive contribution to a young person’s health and welfare.

“And sport can also give young people the invaluable experience of working, and achieving,  as part of a team. These life skills will hold them in very good stead for the rest of their lives.

“My congratulations go to everyone who has participated, or supported, these activities. I very much hope they continue to go from strength to strength.”

The Stornoway branch of Save the Children opened its shop doors back in 1984 and has been generating a large amount for the charity every year through shop sales and monetary donations directly to the branch. 

Back in 2009, it warranted a visit from HRH The Princess Royal, now Patron of Save the Children, to recognise the work done for the charity in our small community.

Save the Children was founded in 1919 by sisters Eglantyne Jebb and Dorothy Buxton and now works in over 100 countries and is currently responding to emergencies with appeals for Yemen, East Africa and Syria.

Pat Maclean, manager, spoke of the success of the local branch, which is staffed entirely by volunteers.

“Our volunteers are the heart of the shop.  We have some who have been with us for many, many years so we've got something right.  There is a good atmosphere as people get on with the daily jobs required to keep the shop running.  Of course, volunteers benefit too by making friends, learning new skills and most importantly, helping others less fortunate.'”

Since 2012, the civil war in has displaced 11 million in Syria with Save the Children continuing to respond with essential items and reuniting children with their families.

All the charity's programmes focus on five main areas: health, education, protection, child poverty and child rights with over 27 million children reached through the charity's health and nutrition programmes last year.

The Stornoway branch is very well supported by the local community through a variety of fundraising events each year, with collections at supermarkets, donations from local schools, businesses and organisations, as well more recent ideas like the Christmas Jumper Day and Peppa Pig Muddy Puddle walk. They also recently held their annual soup and pudding with proceeds of over £600 being donated towards areas affected by cyclones Idai and Kenneth in East and South Africa.

Kitty MacCuish, Branch Chair, noted the importance for those donating to be able to make the link between their donation and how it helps people on the ground. “The cyclones hit Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe in mid-March, destroying areas of crops just when they were to be harvested.

“As well as providing united aid, Save the Children assisted with the provision of seeds so that farmers could replant for a second growing season which were necessary to prevent food shortages and to make families self-sufficient again. The creation of sustainable long-term models for development in these affected areas bring about vital changes following disaster.

“It takes several years to rebuild villages and their infrastructure e.g. health centres and roads, in areas affected by disaster. Vital projects to reduce the impact of flooding and cyclones, such as reforestation and flood resistant crops, take a long time to be established.”

Having made huge progress over the past century, Save the Children's need to continue the fight for children sadly does not lessen, with children more at risk in conflict that any time in the last twenty years, with one in six worldwide affected by war.

If you would like to help, the Stornoway branch on Kenneth Street are looking for enthusiastic volunteers in a range of roles, whether it is serving in the shop, processing Gift Aid donations, ironing, pricing or speaking out about the charity's work in the community – there are always jobs to be done. The shop has over thirty volunteers from a range of backgrounds and age groups and those who are interested can request an application form or telephone the branch on 01851 705713 to find out more.

“We are really well supported with local donations,' says Pat, 'which, of course, the shop couldn't exist without. It takes a dedicated team to run the shop on a weekly basis and we're always looking for committed volunteers who can spare few hours. Anyone aged over 18 is welcome to pop into the shop for an application form and we'll take it from there.'

For those who wish to donate goods, the shop readily accepts donations of clothing, shoes, bags, household goods, music/DVDs and bric-a-brac, which can be handed in during the shop's opening hours on Mondays-Saturdays 10am-4.30pm.

Wednesday 10.30am UPDATE: The Red Arrows aeronautical display team are now due to arrive into Stornoway at approximately 5.25pm, and not this morning as earlier indicated.

The Red Arrows display team are set for an unexpected visit to Stornoway airport tomorrow morning (Wednesday October 16th).

The Hawk T1 jets from the RAF aerobatic team and an Atlas transporter support plane are en route back to their home base at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire after touring the USA and Canada.

The re-fuelling stop at Stornoway has just been requested and, with forecasts looking good, is highly likely to go ahead between 11.30 and 12.30am tomorrow.

The Red Arrows’ 11-week tour of the USA and Canada has seen them stage more than 20 displays and 98 ground engagements across the continent, with a team of 108 pilots, engineers and ground support staff.

They completed displays and flypasts at events including the Chicago air and water show and Thunder over the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, as well as at the New York, Toronto and Spirit of St Louis airshows.

The Red Arrows were last in Stornoway for an official display marking Stornoway Port Authority’s 150th anniversary in 2015.

Tomorrow the jets are expected to land in formation at the Gaydon Hangar at Stornoway airport.

Pictures show some of the jets at Stornoway airport during their 2015 visit and the Atlas Transporter plane (RAF).

Stornoway police are asking for public help after a car was damaged yesterday afternoon (Monday October 14th).

The blue Peugeot was parked in a car park behind Western Isles Hospital when the windscreen was damaged, apparently by an object being thrown, around 4.15pm on Monday.

Police have asked anyone who saw or heard anything connected with the incident to contact them on the non-emergency number 101.

An assault in Stornoway town centre around midnight on Saturday (October 12th) has led to a man being reported to the Procurator Fiscal.

The 31-year-old man assaulted another man, who received slight injuries to his face and attended A & E at Western Isles Hospital for treatment.

The attacker was arrested and charged with assault and is to be reported to the Procurator Fi

Two men appeared in court in Stornoway yesterday (Monday October 14th) after spending two nights in police cells.

A 27-year-old man was charged with assault after an incident on Garden Road at 11pm on Saturday, in which another man sustained serious facial injuries including losing some teeth.

While police were in the process of arresting the assailant, a 29-year-old man intervened and was arrested and charged with police assault.

Both men were kept in custody until Monday when they appeared in court. The original assailant has been remanded in custody and the other man bailed, both to appear in court again at a later date.

Bus drivers working for Galson Motors have said a sad farewell to routes they have driven for many years, as council budget cuts hit routes between the Westside and town.

Saturday night (October 12th) saw the last night services to be run by a large coach to the Ness and Westside area, as the next seven-year contract is likely to be provided by a 16-seater minibus and by another company.

Next week’s new half-term will see a new contract period for school bus services, and Galson Motors have not been re-selected to provide services on some of these or on some public routes.

As the 72-year-old company closed the door on an era in island transport history, they posted a farewell message on social media, saying: “Most people will be aware that we have lost most of our services in the recent tendering process. The Comhairle’s budget constraints meant that they accepted a timetable option that offered greater savings than our proposal.

“Although we will not be operating public service or school buses from Ness to Stornoway, we will still be serving Sgoil An Taobh Siar and Shawbost School from the Westside area. Yesterday (Thursday October 10th) was the last day for us on the Borve and Ness school contracts to the Nicolson, and Galson to Sgoil an Taobh Siar.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the passengers and customers over the years for their support and hope to be of service to you all again in the future. We would like to thank all our drivers and mechanics, past and present, for their commitment and dedication to help us serve the community over the last 72 years.”

News of the impact from the service cuts, which includes drivers losing their jobs, has both saddened and angered many who have used the services over the years. One Westsider commented: “So sorry to be reading this. Going over the Barvas Moor without seeing ‘bus a’ Mhilleachan’ just doesn’t seem right.” While another said: “A very sad day. It is particularly sad that an operator which has consistently shown the highest standards with excellent customer care away beyond what one normally sees even in rural communities should have lost this work.”

Galson Motors is to expand their garage service, with some of their bus mechanics moving into the garage business, and will still be offering minibus and private coach hire.

The picture shows some of Galson Motors’ drivers after signing off from the final evening service to Ness and the Westside on Saturday (Galson Motors).

Glasgow’s Royal National Mòd is proving a goldmine for Lewis competitors, with medals and trophies set to come back to the island.

The Nicolson Institute’s Aaron Ingram was one of the first to set the tone in the junior piping classes on Saturday (October 12th), with a gold badge for a Piobaireachd. Stornoway primary school’s Alice Reid followed up with a silver badge the same day playing a Gaelic air and a march, Strathspey and reel on the fiddle.

Roy Morrison of Ness added another gold on Saturday with his accordion instrumental in the under-13 age group. He was also awarded the Daniel G R Burt (Chapelhall, Airdie) Memorial Trophy and the Smith Mearns Trophy.

Lochs youngsters continued the run as Monday competitions opened. Under the direction of conductor Iain Maciver, Coisir Og nan Loch won gold and silver in the under-13 choral unison classes, together with the Olive Campbell MBE Trophy and the Macintyre Cup.

Meanwhile Dual, the Fèis Eilean an Fhraoich folk group, won the Allan Thomas Mitchell Trophy in the under 19 folk group competition and Point’s Alice Macmillan pulled off a superb performance in the under 19 solo singing, open only to first prizewinners of solo singing competitions at previous Royal National Mods. She took first place and was awarded the Skelmorlie and District Highland Association Quaich.

Nicolson Institute girls Talia Graham and Kirsty Nicolson took silver and bronze in the , as well as sharing the Alexander Hamilton Trophy for the highest mark in Gaelic in C102 and C103 and the Jean Graham Memorial Trophy for the highest marks in music in C102 and C103.

And both Stornoway and Lochs were represented in the girls 11-12 learners’ singing competition, where Kyla Mackenzie of the Nicolson Institute took first, the Ronald MacEachan Memorial Cup and shared the Dunoon Observer and Aygyllshire Standard Medal with Sgoil nan Lochs’ Aimee Macleod in second place. Seumas MacRae of the Nicolson Institute won silver in the same competition for boys.

In poetry recitation, Sgoil nan Lochs’ Lily McDowall and Cormac Sandison are bringing home a gold and a silver medal in their age groups and Mary Morrison of the Nicolson Institute a bronze.

Even the youngest competitors from Lewis did the island proud, with five-year-old Magnus Montgomery from Sgoil a Bhac taking gold in the learners’ poetry recitation and silver in the solo singing for his age-group.

Celebrations continued this morning (Tuesday) as the Nicolson Institute choir won both the Puirt a Beul and the unison singing competitions. Childrens’ competitions conclude today with solo, duet and choral singing, story-telling and bible reading among the disciplines to be decided.

Pictures show Coisir Og nan Loch with conductor Iain Maciver and the Nicolson Institute choir this morning.

Glasgow’s Royal National Mòd is proving a success for Barra competitors, with badges of gold, silver and bronze already set to come back to the island.

Saturday’s junior piping competitions began the successes, with Craig MacNeil from Castlebay School taking gold playing a Gaelic air on the chanter and Donald MacLean following close behind with a bronze medal.

Eosaph Galbraith continued the winning streak on Saturday playing a jig on the pipes and winning a silver badge for his efforts.

And on Monday Eoligarry School’s Robbie Donald MacLean, aged eight, took gold in the solo singing for learners.

Childrens’ competitions conclude today with solo, duet and choral singing, story-telling and bible reading among the disciplines to be decided.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP, Angus B MacNeil has tabled another parliamentary question to the Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack requesting an update on the Islands Deal.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Orkney Islands Council and Shetland Islands Council have been working together to develop ambitious proposals to include within a Deal for the Islands.

In a previous parliamentary question in reference to the Prime Minister’s announcement of 28 July 2019 on City Region and Growth deals, Mr MacNeil asked Alister Jack MP, the Secretary of State for Scotland what information had been made available to(a) Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, (b) Orkney Islands Council and (c) Shetland Islands Council on a deal for the Islands.

In his response, Mr Alister Jack said, “My officials continue to engage with the Islands partners and most recently met with the Islands Deal Programme Director on 2 August and 4 September to discuss next steps. 

"Officials also spoke with the Leader of Orkney Islands Council on 27 August. We expect to receive the latest suite of proposals from the Islands partners later this month.”

Angus MacNeil MP said:“The Prime Minister confirmed on 28th July that there would be Growth Deals for the Islands, however, since this announcement the Government has fallen silent in providing further details on the Islands Deal.

“The three Island Councils have invested a great deal of time in taking forward a Deal for the Islands and it really is important that the UK Government make an announcement soon.”

Following the decision of the Supreme Spanish Court to jail nine Catalan prisoners, Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil has tabled parliamentary questions to the Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth, Dominic Raab, to find out what discussions he has had with his counterparts in Spain and each country in the European Union.

The Spanish court sentenced the nine pro-independence leaders to between 9-13 years in jail for sedition.

Former vice president Oriol Junqueras, an elected member of the European and Spanish Parliaments, will serve 13 years behind bars, with former ministers Jordi Turull, Raül Romeva and Dolors Bassa getting 12 year sentences. They were all found guilty of sedition and misuse of funds for their role in the 2017 Catalan referendum.

The former Speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell, was sentenced to 11 and a half years while Former ministers Joaquim Forn and Josep Rull were convicted of the same time, getting 10 and a half years each, while civic activists Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart have been sentenced to 9 years each, also for sedition.

They are all also barred from office for the same length of time. Mr MacNeil has met on many occasions with Catalan politicians during his time in Parliament.

Angus Brendan MacNeil MP said: “This is a shocking and unjust decision by the Spanish courts. The fact that political leaders in Europe are being jailed for their beliefs is sickening, but worse again is the silence from leaders across Europe on the Catalan situation.

"The UK Government should be doing everything in their power to defend these Catalan politicians and frankly address Spain for their abhorrent behaviour.

"The Spanish government have allowed police violence, censorship of the Catalans and now jailed Catalan leaders for holding a democratic referendum in 2017. This is not a precedent which should be allowed.

"The 9 political leaders were simply expressing their democratic rights, with the court’s decision the nine politicians jail time adds up to some 99.5 years in prison.

"My thoughts are with the prisoners, their families and supporters at what must be an incredibly distressing time.”

 

The Stornoway Amenity Trust and the Western Isles Lottery have announced on Facebook that Stornoway's Christmas Light Switch-on will take place earlier than usual, on Tuesday 26th of November.  They say that hotel and shop window displays will be judged the weekend prior to the switch-on.

(picture from Western Isles Lottery facebook)

Ferry passengers are facing the possibility of more disruption to travel, as the annual drydock programme takes MV Isle of Lewis off the Castlebay Oban route from next Saturday (October 19th).

The Isle of Lewis is heading for Stornoway to run the cross-Minch service to Ullapool while Loch Seaforth is away for her annual overhaul. Meanwhile Barra is to be served by the 35-year-old MV Isle of Arran – smaller, slower and older than the regular vessel.

An amended timetable starts on the Oban/Castlebay route on Saturday, with the Isle of Lewis leaving as scheduled at 7.55am to make her last run to Oban. MV Isle of Arran will then leave Oban at the usual time of 1.30pm but arrive 45 minutes later than usual at 7pm.

From Sunday the MV Isle of Arran will operate an amended timetable daily, but on the winter timetable, so there’ll be no sailings on Thursday or Saturday. The crossing will take five and a half hours and return later each day.

Passengers have reacted with dismay to the news that the Isle of Arran is once again to be their winter replacement vessel. One said: “Can’t believe they’ve given Barra the Isle of Arran for the winter run. Five and a half hours on the Minch in that boat, awful, come on!”

CalMac have apologised for the changes to service, which are scheduled to last until November 9th.

In a footnote to the switchover, MV Isle of Arran’s third officer Marino Giorgetti’s work on board has landed him a prize in an international photography competition. The CalMac crewman's picture (above) of him changing a lightbulb on the main mast of the MV Isle of Arran impressed judges at seafarers' union Nautilus and is now to hang in the union’s London HQ.

Nautilus International general secretary Mark Dickinson said the image illustrates how seafarers often work far from home away from families in order to deliver 95% of the world's goods. Marino was presented with his prize at the Nautilus annual general meeting in Rotterdam.

Dry-dock service for MV Loch Seaforth means changes to the Stornoway Ullapool service from Sunday (October 20th), as the Loch Seaforth heads off to Birkenhead for her annual overhaul.

Two ferries will operate the route for most of the 19-day absence of MV Loch Seaforth, with MV Isle of Lewis taking up her old passenger route on Sunday afternoon.

Her journey time, which is 15 minutes longer, means the timetable will be amended. Morning departures from Stornoway at 7am will continue but the afternoon service will leave Stornoway at 2.30pm, half an hour later than normal.

Meanwhile the night-time freight service will be run by MV Hebridean Isles, starting with a single crossing at 11pm on Sunday night, October 20th. Thereafter she’ll leave Stornoway at 5pm each afternoon and 1am the following morning, making two return crossings to make up for her smaller size.

Hebridean Isles leaves for her own drydock overhaul on November 4th, and for the three days between then and the expected return of MV Loch Seaforth on November 8th, Isle of Lewis will be running round the clock, with an overnight sailing at 10.30pm each night as well as the scheduled passenger sailings.

The demand on MV Isle of Lewis is bound to cause some passenger concern, especially as the old ferry – in service since 1996 – has been dogged with technical problems through the late summer on her usual route between Castlebay and Oban.

A planned switch-off will see 1,040 homes in Point without power tomorrow morning (Tuesday October 15th) as maintenance and upgrade work is completed on the electricity network.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) have notified all affected households that the power will be off between 9am and 1pm tomorrow, while the work is carried out.

In Garrabost a transformer is being upgraded and there’ll be some additional maintenance work between Garrabost and Claypark.

Meanwhile the site for positioning an emergency generator on the road towards Tiumpan Head lighthouse is also to be extended to accommodate the new, larger generators used in case of a major power outage.

A spokesman for SSEN said: “While the work is being done customers will be without power for the shortest time necessary. The safety of our customers and staff is at the heart of what we do and would like to apologise for the inconvenience this causes.”

There was a Western Isles triumph for the women's football team in Glasgow yesterday (Saturday October 12th).

The score was 3-0 to WI against a Young Glasgow City FC team full of very talented future stars, said the WI team on Twitter.

They added: "Thank you Mòd Ghlaschu 2019 for inviting us to be part of this historic day.

This match was the first ever Female Mod Cup Game and was held on Glasgow Green.

Euan Macleod, Head Coach of the Lewis & Harris/Western Isles Women's Football Squads, explained earlier in the week how the match came about, saying: “We were approached by the Mod Committee a number of weeks ago about the possibility of playing the first ever Females Mod Cup Football Match.

“We are very excited by the prospect of playing in Glasgow and very flattered that the Committee have made this decision to highlight the Women's game.”

“For the game we have decided to limit the amount of Island based players as most of them are still in school and have had a long tiring season.

“We do, however, have a large number of Island Girls playing football in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling and Glasgow who are coming together to pull on the Western Isles shirt once again."

 

The Befriending Lewis has just hung an exhibition by their art projects ‘Creative Cèilidh’ and ‘Breakthrough for the Housebound’ upstairs in An Lanntair arts centre in Stornoway.
Elaine Murray, Creative Project Coordinator at Befriending Lewis, says: "‘Befriending Lewis Arts Projects ‘Creative Ceilidh’ and ‘Breakthrough for the Housebound’ are delighted to be able to showcase a fantastic selection of works upstairs, in An Lanntair cafe bar, which are the result of both individual and group creative sessions over the past year. The aims of this project are to tackle isolation and loneliness through arts engagement and social interaction. 
"'Creative Ceilidh’ are a lively, dedicated and supportive group who continue to experiment with new ideas, share their skills with one and other, while developing their individual art practice. 
"In the Round Room we ask ‘What does Community mean to you?’ We have both our group and individual responses hanging from above!
"Why not share your thoughts? On the wall we have a fence, paper streamers and pens waiting for you! Help us create a wonderful collaborative installation!! The exhibition will be up until 16 Nov!
"Huge thanks to everyone who helped get us to where we are with this project."
These backers include the Postcode Community Trust, An Lanntair, Musueum nan Eilean, and "of course, our wonderful volunteers."

This article by Jonathan Hinkles, Managing Director, Loganair, appeared recently on LinkedIn

Transport Scotland announced early this month (October) that Loganair has been awarded the essential air service contract to serve Barra, Campbeltown and Tiree from Glasgow for a further four years. 

We’re delighted and privileged to be chosen as the operator for these vital air links.

We’ve just launched our Summer 2020 schedule but there’s a unique extra twist in Loganair when establishing our schedule, on top of the usual things like airport opening hours, slot times, onward connections, maintenance requirements and crew working patterns.

How do you decide – up to a year in advance – the times of flights to an airport where the beach is the runway, and the tide washes the runways twice a day?  

That’s our challenge in Barra – the world’s only beach airport with a scheduled air service.

It all starts with the UK Hydrographic Office tide tables.  These are published up to two years in advance, forecasting both the time and height of the high tide.

We then look at the height of the tide.  If it’s a tide of 3.1 metres or less, a flight has to be airborne from Barra at least 30 minutes before high tide and can’t be scheduled to land until 30 minutes afterwards once the tide-washed beach will be usable again for flight operations.   If it’s more than 3.1 metres, we have to leave extra time (again, calculated to a set formula) before we can plan flights – after a 3.6 metre tide, we have to wait for two and a half hours, which means a “runway” closure of five hours in all around the times of high tide. 

It’s not quite that easy though.  As Barra is an airport where our pilots fly visual approaches and we don’t have the instrument landing aids found at larger airports, we can only fly in and out in daytime.   We therefore have to layer the hours of sunrise and sunset over the tide calculations to see when we can fly – and around the shortest day of the year in December, a combination of daylight and tides can mean that our window of opportunity to plan a flight to Barra can be as little as 45 minutes. 

After that, we then look at all of the other usual criteria like crew working time, availability of slots at Glasgow and – importantly - how the Barra services fit with our flights to Campbeltown and Tiree that are all operated by the same fleet of Twin Otter aircraft supported by Transport Scotland, an agency of the Scottish Government.  We also have to leave a separation gap between each flight given the procedural nature of air traffic control into Barra.

It’s certainly a unique challenge for Richard Craig, our Schedules Planning Manager, and one that none of his colleagues in the industry have to work with!  The process has been carefully refined over many years – we’ve flown to Barra since 1974 when Loganair took over the route from BEA’s Scottish Division.

Do we always get it right?  Well, yes - but we can’t avoid occasions when the elements conspire to confound our planning, such as when spells of low pressure mean that the tide’s regression from the beach is slower than usual, or if strong winds keep the tide up the beach.

But if you’re wondering how we can say with certainty that our flights to Barra in 2020 will operate at a given time – which changes from one day to the next – then it’s the output of work which has been taking place in Loganair for the 45 years [so far] in which we’ve been custodians of Barra’s lifeline air service.

This year’s prestigious Angus Macleod memorial lecture, to be given by Kenny Matheson on Lord Leverhulme’s ill-fated plans to transform Lewis and Harris a century ago, is to be broadcast live over the internet.

The lecture will take place at Pairc School, Gravir, South Lochs, Lewis, at 7.30 pm on Thursday 24th October. Admission is free and a warm welcome is extended to everyone who can come along for what is always a wonderful evening. Refreshments will be provided following the lecture.

But, if you can’t be there, it will still be possible to see and hear the event at a number of other venues, including e-Sgoil at 44 Francis Street, Stornoway (contact Mira Byrne at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for details) and Comunn Eachdraidh Nis at the former Cross School in Ness (contact Anne Macleod at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ).

Finally, if would like to listen to the lecture on a home computer or device, this can be done by using the link http://www.e-sgoil.com/2019-angus-macleod-lecture/

If you need further information on any of these arrangements, please contact John Randall of Comunn Eachdraidh na Pairc at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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

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

New house, Uig.

Tim Vaughan of 1 Monkhams Farm Barns, Waltham Abbey, Essex, has applied for planning permission to build a house and create an access at Site 2, 6 Reef, Uig. 

New agricultural building, Point.

John Macleod of 14A Melbost, Point, has applied for planning permission to erect an agricultural building at 14A Melbost, Point.

New lattice tower, Lochs. 

EE Limited has applied for planning permission to erect a 15 metre high lattice tower with associated 118.9 square metre compound containing 3 equipment cabinets at the Telecommunications Mast and Compound, Lemreway, Lochs.

New polycrub, Lochs

Murdo Macarthur of 10 Cromore has applied for planning permission to erect a polycrub at 10 Cromore, Lochs. The polycrub is to be 5.3 metres long, 4 metres wide and 2.6 metres tall, and it is to be covered in clear polycarbonate. 

Change of use of building, Stornoway

Iain Murray of Underground, 10 Francis Street, has applied for planning permission to change the use of the office space at 10A Francis Street into retail space. The work is also to include external painting work. 

The Larbour Party on the Western Isles has lashed out at the SNP Government over the jobs crisis at Arnish with prospective Labour candidate Alison MacCorquodale calling for urgent action to protect jobs at BiFab Arnish and to ensure a flow of work which will give future security to the yard.

Ms MacCorquodale said: "Once again we see the threat of redundancy hanging over Arnish workers. The lack of certainty and continuity is a disgrace which flows directly from the Scottish Government's failure to invest in and properly support the offshore renewables industry.

"Arnish is dependent on BiFab but they are left at the tail-end of a chain, fighting for crumbs from the big offshore wind contracts because of lack of investment in the Fife yards.

"The SNP has had a decade to prepare for the certainty of offshore wind developing in a big way off the Scottish coast, yet nothing has been done to put the necessary infrastructure in place to compete for major orders.

"Indeed, the only reason Arnish is in a position to carry out the work passed on to it is the investment which took place under previous Labour administrations, specifically with the renewables market in mind."*

She said that unless there was a change of policy and a real commitment to investment in renewables infrastructure, Arnish would remain a "stop-start innocent victim" of failings elsewhere.

UK Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said:"It is an outrage that these workers are still facing uncertain futures. It's quite straightforward - BiFab needs certainty and investment just like other green industries of the future. Labour, through our National Transformation Fund and National Investment Bank, will provide the investment that Scotland needs in places like the Arnish yard in the Western Isles.

"Labour is absolutely committed to tackling the climate emergency but we will not do that by watching our engineering base lose out on work.  A Labour Government will take a far greater role in planning this part of our economy so we can protect existing industries and jobs as well as creating new ones as part of our green industrial revolution. And I can tell you this, that if the Scottish Government - just like the Tory UK Government - won’t, we will make the investment that our green industries need as soon as we get elected."

 

 

An Lanntair last night (Friday 11 October) welcomed a deeply personal photo-essay on the links of family across continents to its main gallery – with photographer Arpita Shah.

Roddy Murray, the Head of Visual Arts & Literature, introduced Arpita saying the show was one that went across the world, cross-cultural and cross-generational, bringing together photographs and memorabilia.

Arpita said she had started the project in 2015 after her grandmother had been unwell and in a coma for 15 days and she realised she had never looked artistically at the history of her own family.  Her grandmother said that when she was in the coma, she dreamt she was in the ocean between East Africa and India and this concept inspired the project called Nalini.

And today (Saturday 12th), at 3pm, Arpita will host an informal walk and talk tour around the show.   Nalini focuses on Arpita, her mother and grandmother to explore ancestral intimacies and how their histories, memories, and bodies are intertwined.  A personal journey developed across India, Kenya, and the UK, the process includes portraiture, forgotten family photographs, shared and individual memories of objects, places, and family stories.

Arpita Shah was born in 1983, in Ahmedabad, India, and has been based in Edinburgh for 17 years where she works between photography and film, exploring the fields where culture, heritage, and identity meet.

Nalini is presented in association with Street Level Photography as part of the Purvai Festival programme and runs at An Lanntair gallery until 16 November.

 

Police are classifying the death of a number of sheep in South Harris as failure to report a road traffic collision (RTC).

The sheep died between Monday 30th September and Wednesday 2nd October after being struck by one or more vehicles on the peat road between Leverburgh and Finsbay.

Police last week appealed for information, asking anyone with information to call 101 and cite reference NH1379/19.

They said the incident resulted in significant loss to the owners of the animals and that any collision with such an animal is a reportable RTC, meaning police must be contacted.

Anyone who has information is requested to call 101 and quote reference number NH1379/19. Alternatively, information can be given anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

(This article has been updated to include further information about the incident provided by police).

A new CalMac team has delivered more than 15,000 extra car spaces over the past year thanks to more efficient on-board deck management.

Since the introduction of a new dedicated team dealing with island businesses, the ferry operator says it has successfully freed up deck space much earlier to the travelling public than would have been possible previously.

This is making space available equivalent to 185 sailings of the MV Caledonian Isles over a 12 month period.

The team was established to manage businesses that have a requirement to block book space on board. Its introduction is in response to feedback from community groups across the network who had identified this as a key issue affecting their service.

'We are aware that as demand for our services has increased and capacity become constrained, the block booking system has become a target for those frustrated by the lack of available space.  However, it goes to the heart of providing a "lifeline" ferry service,' said CalMac's Managing Director, Robbie Drummond.

'Hauliers need to travel almost every day to provide the essentials island communities depend on. They are also critical to local economies and businesses carrying produce, like whisky, from the islands to markets on the mainland and beyond.'

'By getting to know their specific business needs and ways of operating, we are now in a much better position to manage deck space. Thanks to this more highly focused relationship approach we can now monitor and reallocate unused space as required more effectively.'

Demand for space on ferries has never been greater. Vehicle traffic has increased more than 31% since 2011 with CalMac now carrying 350,000 more vehicles annually than it did eight years ago.

Meanwhile ferry and ports owner Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) has acquired the MV Loch Seaforth from Lloyds Banking Group for an undisclosed amount.  The bank financed the building of the ferry and leased it to CMAL, which is Scottish government-owned, for the past five years.It is claimed that, under the initial deal, the ferry service to the Western Isles would have cost taxpayers at least £67 million by 2022 - but the bankers would still have owned the passenger ship.

 

Confusion exists tonight (Thursday October 10th) over whether a new threat of redundancy hangs over workers at Burntisland Fabrication’s (BiFab) yard in Arnish, according to unions Unite and GMB.

The two big unions said a “major blow” had been dealt to the Isle of Lewis workforce.  A Unite representative claimed that staff were told that the site would be down-manning to zero, with most workers handed a six-week notice period.

But the Energy Voice newsletter states that the yard’s Canadian owner DF Barnes has denied the claims and said it had issued no notices to staff.  A source close to the Newfoundland-based firm was quoted saying that “no redundancies have been issued to BiFab”.

It comes just months after a job-saving contract got underway to build 100 monopiles for the Moray East Offshore wind farm, revitalising the Lewis facility back in March.

In July it was revealed that BiFab had secured work for eight of the 53 jacket foundations for the Neart Na Gaoithe (NnG) offshore wind farm off the coast of Angus,  It is thought the deal could create up to 200 jobs at the firm’s Methil yard in Fife, but no contract has been agreed.

In a joint statement, Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty and his GMB counterpart Gary Smith said there is a “major cloud of uncertainty” over the future.

They said: “The news of redundancy notices to the workforce at Arnish is a major blow to the workers who have had to endure so much uncertainty over recent years.”

BiFab was rescued from the brink of administration by the Scottish Government in a £25m agreement before being purchased by Canadian firm DF Barnes last April, although hundreds of jobs were shed.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said it was “in regular contact” with staff and would “provide support for any staff affected”.

“Some contracts are nearing completion, but by working with the company to secure new business, we hope to provide the best means of creating jobs in the longer term for both the Fife and Isle of Lewis communities.”

Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty and GMB Scotland, Scottish Secretary, Gary Smith went on to say: “It was only in March that we had the Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse announcing a contract award with over 80 jobs being created.

“There is a major cloud of uncertainty over the future of the BiFab yards in Arnish and in Fife which can only be lifted by the awarding of new contracts and investment into the yards.

“Unite and the GMB have been working tirelessly to ensure that the BiFab yards secure work from EDF’s £2 billion Neart Na Gaoithe (NnG) offshore wind project.

“However, we have been waiting on this announcement for months now and it’s time for the silence to end because the workforce needs some stability and certainty.”

“It’s also clear that this latest development in Arnish is part of a long-running and sorry saga regarding the abject failure of the Scottish and UK Governments to ensure working-class communities benefit from the so-called green revolution.

“To date minimal work and minimal jobs have been directly created in Scotland by the billions of pounds being invested into the renewables sector in Scotland.

“It’s a national scandal and politicians must be held to account.”

A deeply personal photo-essay on family across continents that explores the shared narratives of migration and the Indian Diaspora opens in An Lanntair gallery tomorrow  (Friday 11 October) at 5pm.

And on Saturday 12th, at 3pm, Arpita will host an informal walk and talk tour around her latest show.

Entitled ‘Nalini’, the exhibition displays stunning works by photographer Arpita Shah as she focuses on her mother, grandmother, and herself to explore ancestral intimacies and how their histories, memories, and bodies are intertwined.

A personal journey developed across India, Kenya, and the UK, the process includes portraiture, forgotten family photographs, shared and individual memories of objects, places, and family stories.

Arpita Shah (b. 1983, Ahmedabad, India) is based in Edinburgh where she works between photography and film, exploring the fields where culture, heritage, and identity meet.

Her work has been exhibited internationally, and ‘Nalini’ is presented in association with Street Level Photography as part of the Purvai Festival programme.

The exhibition opening of ‘Nalini’ is free for all to attend.

‘Nalini’ runs at An Lanntair gallery until 16 November.

 

The greatest concentration of tree planting under the Western Isles Croft Woodlands Project has been in the Point and Sandwick Trust area, it has emerged.

There have been 413 inquiries into tree planting through the project, since it was set up in 2016, with 73 of them from Point and Sandwick townships – making 18 per cent of the interest.

The rate of interest has been revealed by the Western Isles Croft Woodlands Project following the news the project is on course to have planted 100,000 trees across the Outer Hebrides by 2020.

Community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust support the Western Isles Croft Woodland Project to the tune of around £70,000 a year, making it one of their flagship projects, and announced earlier this year that it would be extended for a second five-year phase.

SNH Chief Executive Francesca Osowska has hailed the Western Isles Croft Woodlands Project as “incredibly inspirational in terms of its reach into crofts across the Outer Hebrides, the number of trees planted, the practical support that is being offered to crofters” and the “drive and enthusiasm” of Project Officer Viv Halcrow.

Francesca added: “I was really impressed by the commitment of Point and Sandwick Trust to using wind turbine revenue to support the local community.”

Geographically, although Croft Woodlands schemes have been planted throughout the islands, Point and Sandwick districts have had the greatest concentration of them. Eleven croft planting schemes have been planted so far. Another two are scheduled for this winter and more are in development.

Five free tree packs, supplied by Woodland Trust, have been given out and planted around football pitches – one pack around the Sandwick pitch on East Street and four packs around Point FC’s pitch in Garrabost – to give screening and shelter. Free tree packs can contain between 30 and 420 trees and most people have been choosing packs of 420 trees.

Viv Halcrow, Western Isles Croft Woodlands Project Officer, said: “There has been a huge amount of interest in tree planting in Point and Sandwick. Of course, people are also planting trees without help from the project. With the continuation of the Croft Woodlands Project I hope to be able to help many more people to plant areas of trees on the croft, develop schemes suitable for common grazings, and help community groups with Free Tree packs.”

Viv said there had been a planting scheme “in most of the townships” in Point and Sandwick, with particularly good engagement in Garrabost, Lower Bayble, Aird, Aignish, East Street and North Street – and more than one scheme in several of these villages.

Viv believes Point and Sandwick Trust’s strong public engagement is part of the reason the Croft Woodlands project has been so successful in the Point and Sandwick Trust area.

However, she noted that people had been keen for more trees to be planted before the project was established and these views had emerged in the Trust’s original community consultation about how people wanted to spend the profits from the Beinn Ghrideag wind farm.

She also believes there is a knock-on effect as more and more people see others planting trees.

“As people see trees being planted on their neighbour’s croft they think ‘ooh, I could do that’,” she said. “Maybe word is getting around and when the original community consultation was done the idea of having a lot more woodland – native woodland particularly – came out very strongly. People are looking to diversify their crofts but it’s the Point and Sandwick Trust involvement locally that’s brought it to people’s attention and to people’s minds.”

Viv is delighted the scheme is being extended and said people with influence “sat up and took notice” when Point and Sandwick Trust announced the second phase at the Croft Woodland conference in May. “It’s a fantastic commitment on Point and Sandwick Trust’s part and it has encouraged the other partners that support the Croft Woodlands project in the rest of the crofting counties to also come on board and commit to the next five years.”

The project was set up by Point and Sandwick Trust in partnership with the Woodland Trust and also involves Scottish Forestry and the Scottish Crofting Federation.

Viv said: “I think it’s been really popular and seems to be working in helping people do something they’ve maybe been wanting to do for quite a while.” She added the key was being able to provide “advice, practical help and access to grant schemes”.

Parents should “trust the facts” and make sure their child is vaccinated for flu this winter, says Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan.

Last week, the Scottish Government has launched its annual national flu vaccination programme – with a focus on people with health conditions and children aged 2-5.

Every year thousands of children are hospitalised with flu. Even healthy children can become seriously ill from it. Protecting children can also stop the virus from spreading to family, friends and others.

To date, more than 1.6 million doses of the nasal vaccine have been given to 2-11 year olds as part of the Scottish childhood immunisation programme. But more parents and carers are being urged to take up the offer.

Everyone aged 65 and over, pregnant women and people at most risk of serious illness are offered the flu vaccination on the NHS.

Alasdair Allan MSP said:“Getting your kids vaccinated is free and only takes a few minutes but it helps to protect against the flu bug for around a year.

“The flu is no joke. There’s plenty of misinformation about vaccines online but it’s important that parents in the Western Isles trust the facts.

“Staff at NHS Western Isles are doing a tremendous job with a tough time of year ahead and we should all do our bit to not add unnecessary pressure on the health service.

“If you or your children are eligible, make sure that getting the vaccination is a priority and book an appointment with your GP practice or health board as soon as possible.”

The following groups are eligible for the free flu vaccine:

  • Children aged 2-11 years old. 2-5 year olds and not yet in school will be vaccinated at their GP practice. 5-11 year olds will be vaccinated at school during the autumn term. Children must be aged 2 on 1st September 2019.
  • Those over 6 months of age with a medical condition which puts them in an 'at risk' group such as diabetes, heart or kidney disease, and breathing problems. For a full list of health conditions, see NHS Inform.
  • Pregnant women (including those with at risk health conditions).
  • Those aged 65 years of age and over.
  • Unpaid carers.
  • NHS Scotland workers.

 

 

The Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity (REC) Committee is seeking opinions from islanders on the priorities set out in the Scottish Government’s proposed National Islands Plan.

The Committee is today (Thursday October 10th) launching a call for views, which also invites comments from local authorities and others with an interest in island communities, to inform its scrutiny of the draft Plan.

Currently, the Plan sets out 13 strategic objectives aimed at improving outcomes for island communities.

These objectives include measures to address population decline, improve and promote sustainable economic development, and improve housing and transport services, as well as expanding digital connectivity.

In its Stage 1 report on the Islands (Scotland) Bill, the REC Committee said that it expected the Plan to “set out both a clear strategic direction and practical approaches to delivery”.

Speaking as the call for views was launched, Committee Convener, Edward Mountain MSP, said:

“A key recommendation in our report on the Islands Bill was that the Scottish Government must ensure that the priority areas featured in the National Islands Plan reflect the actual priorities of islanders.

“To that end, this call for views gives islanders the opportunity to express their opinions on the objectives set out in the draft Plan.

“The Committee has a limited timeframe within which to consider the proposed Plan. It is therefore crucial that we hear as wide a range of views as possible in order that we are able to fairly judge the Scottish Government’s proposals.”

Other objectives of the Plan, which is being developed as part of the implementation of the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018, are to improve and promote health and well-being and education, to support arts, culture and language, and to empower diverse communities.

The Plan also seeks to improve and promote environmental well-being and deal with biosecurity, and to ensure that Scottish islands are at the forefront of measures to tackle climate change. 

The Convener added:“This Committee supports the empowerment of island communities and local decision making, and the views of islanders will inform our recommendations to the Scottish Government in its preparation of the final Plan.”

More information can be found online at www.parliament.scot/rural-economy-committee

The Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has welcomed the draft National Islands Plan.

Councillor Roddie Mackay said: “I very much welcome the publication of the draft National Plan for Scotland’s Islands which came about as a direct result of the Our Islands: Our Future campaign.

Based on consultation with island Authorities, individuals and other agencies, the draft Plan sets out the priorities for Islands including improving outcomes for Island communities. These outcomes include:

  • Increase in population levels;
  • Improving and promoting: Sustainable economic development; Environmental Wellbeing; Health and Wellbeing; and Community Empowerment;
  • Improving Transport Services;
  • Improving Digital Connectivity;
  • Reducing Fuel Poverty;
  • Ensuring effective management of the Scottish Crown Estate; and
  • Enhancing Biodiversity.

It is recognised from the introduction to the Plan that the overall purpose is to improve meaningfully outcomes for Island communities, aligned with a commitment to sustainable development goals, and, critically, a human rights-based approach.

The Comhairle looks forward to continuing to work with the Scottish Government and our other partners in improving lives for those in our communities, and developing the actions to be taken to implement the Strategic Objectives . The Islands Plan is an important step in taking that forward and we hope that that is complemented by appropriate resourcing, for instance through the Islands Deal.  We also look forward to seeing the guidance on Community Impact Assessments which are due in December of this year and will be an integral part of ‘Island Proofing’.  We will now examine the draft Plan in detail and respond to Government as appropriate.”

 

Parents, staff and pupils at Pairc School gathered for a major event yesterday (Wednesday October 9th) to mark the opening of their new facilities to encourage outdoor learning. 

These aim to relate what’s learned inside the school to things outside the building, encouraging understanding of how the learning can be actually used.

Headteacher Pauline Macleod said the development – involving facilities such as a bug hotel, wildlife camera, a story-telling chair, a seating area, stone circle, polytunnel, and outdoor equipment for the pupils themselves – has been high on the agenda on the school development plan for a couple of years,

“The evidence shows that when children are familiar with a context and understand the world around them, they become more engaged in learning and that can lead to higher attainment.  Outdoor learning is a fantastic way to do this.” 

Children in the school’s catchment area – with the school itself a 40-minute drive from Stornoway and many homes further away – are at a disadvantage about what they can access in terms of clubs and activities. 

The school applied successfully to a charity called Learning Through Landscapes (formerly Grounds For Learning) for support for their project and the charity also provided training. 

Then the project won support in cash and in kind from local firms and their employees, as well as parents and other members of the community. Breedon Northern and Mowi were among the commercial backers, along with Scottish Salmon.  Also supportive was Peter Maclennan who provided a donation towards buying outdoor clothing for the children at the school and performed the official opening by cutting the ceremonial ribbon.  

Mrs Macleod told those attending the opening event that the school’s surroundings provided a wonderful environment for the pupils to learn in, which made what the school offers unique and different.  “We have got this wonderful area which we can use to engage the children’s learning and enhance it.”

The event coincided with a fundraising coffee and cakes afternoon in support of Macmillan Cancer Support – and with a presentation, official thanks and the showing of a short commendatory film for Peter Maclennan who has provided regular services as a bus driver to the school for as number of years.

 

Harris Tweed is well represented in Japan this week, marking Scotland's participation in the Rugby World Cup finals and the partnership between Harris Tweed Hebrides and Scottish Rugby - but just as the company's home village of Shawbost can't escape the Atlantic storms, the team in Yokohama are on tenterhooks awaiting the arrival of a typhoon.

A number of events are planned for the next few days with the Princess Royal - a great supporter of both Harris Tweed and Scottish Rugby - in attendance.

On Sunday, Scotland are due to play Japan in their final group stage game which will determine which side progresses to the knock-out stages.

However, the threat of a typhoon hitting the Tokyo area over the week-end has thrown all these arrangements into doubt.

Speaking from Yokohama, where the Scotland party is based, HTH chairman Brian Wilson said: "As well as the game itself, there is supposed to be a lot happening over the next few days but it is all up in the air. 

"It could pass us by or else Tokyo and Yokohama could be in lock-down with everything cancelled".

Japan is the leading export market for the fabric and the World Cup offered a rare promotional opportunity with two high-level receptions at the British Embassy in Tokyo, extensive media interest and a range of other events and meetings.

Along with the leading Scottish retailer, Walker Slater, Harris Tweed Hebrides are now official partners of Scottish Rugby for the next two years. They have supplied the formalwear for the team and officials who travelled to Japan.

The British Ambassador, Paul Madden, hosted a reception for Scottish Development International at his residence in Tokyo where both Harris Tweed Hebrides and the Harris Tweed Authority were represented along with other prominent Scottish textile firms.

Paul Walker, managing director of Walker Slater, co-partner with Harris Tweed Hebrides and Scottish Rugby, (to rear of picture) was among the guests.

 

Centenary commemorations for the anniversary of the Iolaire tragedy in Stornoway could be recognised tomorrow (Thursday October 10th) with an award celebrating the very best in local government initiatives.

The winner of the 2019 COSLA excellence (local matters) awards will be announced on Thursday evening at the Fairmont Hotel in St Andrews.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s commemoration programme – HMY Iolaire: A Community Remembers – is shortlisted by the local government organisation COSLA for the local matters category of their 2019 excellence awards.

A team of three from Stornoway were invited to make a formal presentation in Edinburgh in mid-September, after judges ranked the initiative in the top three from a list of ten local authority projects.

Colin George Morrison of CnES, Nicolson Institute pupil Hannah Macleod and historical authority Malcolm Macdonald went to the mainland and made their presentation alongside finalists from Highland Council’s parcel delivery law website and representatives of the Clydesdale integrated community support team from South Lanarkshire Council.

Malcolm Macdonald told welovestornoway.com: “The final presentation went as well as it possibly could have. Hannah’s presentation in particular was very accomplished and well-delivered. We felt like we acquitted ourselves well and can only now wait for the outcome.”

A panel of judges including experts from media, local and national government, the Scottish Parliament and the private sector will make the final decision, based on innovative practice. The awards are designed to celebrate effective responses to the major challenges that councils and their partners face.

HMY Iolaire: A Community Remembers was a commemoration event which included public services, performances and exhibitions and which culminated on the night of December 31st 2018 with a free concert and parade featuring commissioned music and local performers.

This was followed on January 1st 2019 with the unveiling of a new monument just yards from the site of the tragedy at the Beasts of Holm. The unveiling was attended by HRH Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and by representatives of all the armed forces, and was accompanied on the water by a flotilla of vessels including the CalMac ferry Loch Seaforth, fishing vessels and the RNLI lifeboat.

Educational activity surrounding the centenary was delivered at all schools in Lewis and Harris. This included the Dileab music and performance project and construction of a new memorial designed and constructed by school pupils in Stornoway town centre.

Inspired by a talk from John Norgrove, 1st Laxdale Scouts have raised £650 for the Linda Norgrove Foundation with a sponsored hike up the Clisham.

Scouts learnt about the history of Afghanistan, about Linda’s life and the work that the foundation is doing today – funding education, health and childcare for women and children affected by the war in Afghanistan.

After camping in Harris the night before, the Scouts enjoyed mostly dry weather for their ascent of the Clisham and, as can been seen in the photograph, were rewarded by clear views from the top.

More information about the work of the foundation can be found online at lindanorgrovefoundation.org

The elderly and disabled will soon be able to have dental care delivered in their own homes, following upgrades at the Uist and Barra Hospital.

A proposed four-chair dental suite will operate from the hospital site in Balivanich, which will allow the service to be co-located with other clinical services.

It is expected that the new arrangements will come into place within the next 18 months.

The new service will focus on reducing the existing waiting times for registration, while continuing to provide high quality dental care. 

The service will also operate outreach provision, to provide dental care to frail older people and disabled people in their own homes or in a local environment.

By deploying new mobile dental chairs, the service will become more flexible and can be set up safely and effectively in a variety of environments, from community centres to care homes. 

Work will be undertaken over the next few months to develop an implementation plan, which will describe the physical changes to the hospital and will describe how the new service will operate.

In the meantime, the existing dental clinics at Lochmaddy and Liniclete will continue to operate, meaning people should continue to use the service in the same way.

The wider redesign of the hospital site is part of an ambitious longer-term plan to deliver sustainable health and social care services for the Uist community. In addition to bringing the dental team on site, it is also planned to bring the Benbecula Medical Practice and Scottish Ambulance Service into the hub as well. Over the next few months, a bid will be worked up in support of these proposals.

None of the existing clinical services provided within the hospital will change. While there will be a need to reconfigure the physical space, all of the essential and existing medical services will continue to be provided, including emergency medicine. A team of local clinicians and managers is currently working on the redesign proposals, to ensure that patients’ needs are fully met.

NHS Western Isles will continue to keep members of the public informed as these new arrangements come into place.

A landmark football game between the Lewis and Harris Women’s football club and Glasgow City XI will take place this weekend.

This match will be the first ever Female Mod Cup Game and will be held on Saturday 12 October at 2:30pm.

The game will take place this Saturday, 2.30pm v Glasgow City XI, Glasgow Green.

Euan Macleod, Head Coach of the Lewis & Harris/Western Isles Women's Football Squads, explained how the match came about, saying: “We were approached by the Mod Committee a number of weeks ago about the possibility of playing the first ever Females Mod Cup Football Match.

“We are very excited by the prospect of playing in Glasgow and very flattered that the Committee have made this decision to highlight the Women's game.”

“For the game we have decided to limit the amount of Island based players as most of them are still in school and have had a long tiring season.

“We do however have a large number of Island Girls playing football in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling and Glasgow who are coming together to pull on the Western Isles shirt once again.

“Catherine Ann Macleod will be Head Coach for the day. This will bring a nostalgic edge to the match as she Coached all of the Girls in the Squad to many a victory in the Scottish Schools Cup, with the Nicolson Institute in previous years.

“It would be great for the Central Belt Islanders to come along and give their support to the Island Girls and that we can give a good showing of ourselves for the match.”

 


 

Stornoway Port Authority will shortly be allocating a limited number of marina berths for the period from 1 November 2019 to 1 May 2020 

Owners of vessels up to 14 metres in length requesting a berth should apply in writing by 1700 on Wednesday 16 October 2019 to Stornoway Port Authority, Amity House, Esplanade Quay, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, HS1 2XS or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Brexit uncertainty and changes are a big threat to Western Isles shellfish industry. 

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan yesterday raised the concerns of the live shellfish sector during a Ministerial Statement to the Scottish Parliament on preparations for a “no-deal” Brexit.

Responding to Alasdair Allan, Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP said that one of the specific priorities of the Scottish Government had been to secure much greater clarity and assurance for the shellfish sector about their ability to get their product to market timeously.

While they have not reached a specific point of agreement with the UK Government, the Deputy First Minister said they are hopeful of getting to a position where the UK Government at last understands the need for shellfish to get to market as quickly as possible.

In a recent answer to a Parliamentary Question regarding shellfish, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy Fergus Ewing MSP said that the Scottish Government was not aware of any contingency plan by the UK Government for Scotland's shellfish, and that they have repeatedly urged the UK Government to consider special arrangements for hauliers of perishable goods, such as live shellfish, so that vehicles carrying products are prioritised on the way to the border in order to reduce delays.

Shellfish landings play an important role in the economy of the Western Isles, accounting for around 90% of total landings.

Alasdair Allan MSP said:“Presently, shellfish exporters in the Western Isles face challenging enough circumstances in delivering via ferry and road produce to their primary export markets in France and Spain – all while ensuring the shellfish stay alive during journeys of up to thousands of miles.

“However, the threat of “no-deal” and post-Brexit export tariffs, border delays and the need for extra documentation such as Export Health Certificates are causing real anxiety to local producers.

“This is a vitally important part of the island economy and yet another example of why, whatever your views on the merits of Brexit, a ‘no-deal’ Brexit has to be avoided at all costs.

"The UK Government need to provide much greater assurances as to how shellfish producers can continue to export to the continent in this scenario.”

 

 

Low levels of pay for those in work, not levels of joblessness, are the key cause of poverty in the Outer Hebrides.  That’s one of the key facts revealed by the Outer Hebrides Anti-Poverty Strategy outlined yesterday (Tuesday October 8th)

This is also part of a national trend which has seen the UK Government subsidising low-pay through tax credits far more than similar payments to those out-of-work.

And the situation relating to fuel poverty and wasted energy is far worse in the Islands.  A total of 57.9% of dwelling places were rated not energy efficient in 2016, compared to a Scottish average of 34%, while households in fuel poverty (roughly those who have to spend more than 10% of their income on heating) total 55.6% compared to a Scottish average of 31%.

Speaking at the launch of the strategy in an event at e-Sgoil in Francis Street, Stornoway, yesterday, Councillor Angus McCormack, who chairs the Anti-Poverty Strategy Working Group, said: “Growing up in poverty can have a lasting influence on a child.  Whether it is physically, emotionally, or academically, it can be a daily struggle for a family. “

He said the local policy was developed from the Child Poverty Act, introduced in 2017, and adapted to local circumstances. 

“The latest statistics for child poverty in the Outer Hebrides show that 767 children in the area are in low income households.”  However, this measure is not necessarily accurate – a recent report indicated the Outer Hebrides were among the top third for concentration of child poverty in Scotland.

In a report issued as part of Challenge Poverty Week, which is running at the moment, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said that poverty levels had fallen between the 1999-2002 period and 2015-18 but they had now started to rise again across Scotland.  The report reckoned that more than 1m Scots were struggling in poverty conditions, including 240,000 children, 640,000 working-age adults, and 150,000 pensioners.

Councillor Norman A Macdonald, the convener of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: “What is vital to the success of this strategy is a willingness to address the very real problems experienced by some in the our community.”

Recent research concludes that the budgets required by households to meet a minimum acceptable standard of living in remote and rural Scotland are between a tenth and a third more than in urban areas of the UK. While Island living costs were the highest of all.  This was then compounded by the level of wages being lower. 

Dr Maggie Watts, the director of public health for the Western Isles, explained that there were going to be a series of ‘Get Heard” local engagement sessions being held about the strategy over the next five months throughout the Islands.  The aim is to get more evidence and actual experience of the reality of poverty in the Isles.  Along with input from other related organisations throughout the Isles, this would be used to update the strategy in the future. 

Child poverty means growing up in families without the resources to ‘obtain the type of diet, participate in the activities and have the living conditions and amenities’ which are the norm in 21st century Scotland.

Children are considered to be living in poverty if they live in households with less than 60% of median household income. This is the key measure used by UK and Scottish Government.

From latest figures (2015-18) a family is considered as in poverty if they are living on:

  • Less than £363 a week or £18,900 a year for a single person with children aged five and 14
  • Less than £463 or £24,100 a year for a couple with children aged five and 14

Alexander “Sandy” Moffat, the distinguished Scottish painter, has been appointed artist-in-residence to the Royal National Mòd 2019, and commissioned by Glasgow Life in partnership with the Hunterian Museum and the University of Glasgow to create an original artwork marking the Mòd’s return to Clydeside for the first time in almost three decades.

The Mòd was last held in Glasgow in 1990, during its year as European City of Culture. Some 29 years on, Gaelic – which has been spoken in the city for centuries – is flourishing. In fact, Glasgow is home to the largest number of Gaelic speakers outwith the Highlands and Islands and a growing number of citizens are speaking it, learning it and participating in Gaelic cultural events. In July this year, the revival was accentuated with Niall O’ Gallagher’s appointment as the first ever Bàrd Baile Ghlaschu (Glasgow’s City Gaelic Poet Laureate).  

It is this important moment in the city’s Gaelic history that will be immortalised by Sandy Moffat OBE RSA, as the Mòd makes its return visit to Glasgow on Friday (October 11). During the nine-day festival, the artist will immerse himself in the atmosphere, observe events and research the city’s Gaelic past and present. Those impressions will feed into an original artwork, which will be unveiled in Glasgow in January 2020.

The Gaelic Poet Laureate and the Artist-in-residency bookend Glasgow Life’s contribution to Gaelic in the city during the Mòd with a programme of free screenings, talks, workshops and language tasters all taking place at the CCA (Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow).

The Mòd provides opportunities for people of all ages to perform across a range of competitive disciplines including Gaelic music and song, Highland dancing, instrumental, drama, sport and literature and during the week, a host of fringe activity will also take place.

Thanks to the new residency, Alexander Moffat’s illustrious body of work will now be complemented by a brand new painting, which is destined, like his famous depictions of poets and folk musicians, Poets’ Pub and Scotland’s Voices, to be enjoyed by art lovers and Gaelic cultural enthusiasts for generations to come.

Sandy Moffat said: “I’m really excited about this opportunity to observe and make work during the Mòd. It’s a unique opportunity to get close up to this great Gaelic festival.”

Councillor David McDonald, Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of Glasgow Life said: “The Mòd’s return to Glasgow is a momentous occasion that will give many thousands of people the opportunity to engage with Gaelic heritage and culture through music, song, poetry, storytelling, sport and much more.

“It will be fascinating to see Sandy Moffat’s take on this event. The late, great Gaelic bard Sorley MacLean featured prominently in his famous painting, Poets’ Pub, while the contemporary piper and Gaelic scholar Allan Macdonald is celebrated in Scotland’s Voices – and I’m looking forward to finding out how Gaelic culture in Glasgow, and the 2019 Mòd, will be depicted in his forthcoming new work.” 

Professor Roibeard Ó Maolalaigh, Professor of Gaelic and Vice Principal and Head of the College of Arts / Colaiste nan Ealain at the University of Glasgow, said: “We are delighted to partner with the city of Glasgow to help celebrate Gaelic culture in our city. It is an exciting time for the language in Glasgow as we have seen an increasing demand for Gaelic-medium education, music and culture, all of which will be celebrated in this year’s Mòd.

“We feel that Sandy Moffat is the perfect person to take on this project. Over the course of his career, he has created a kind of ‘history painting’ capturing iconic moments in our cultural renaissance. This has included both the 1980 Poets’ Pub of major poets and writers working in Scotland at that time including our own Edwin Morgan and its more recent companion painting called Scotland’s Voices celebrating the oral tradition in Scottish culture.

“We look forward to seeing how Sandy Moffat captures Gaelic culture in contemporary Glasgow.”

 

A representative from the Ministry of Energy in Chile met recently with Point and Sandwick Trust to learn from their experience in building Beinn Ghrideag, the biggest community wind farm in the UK, so that Chile can develop its community energy sector.

Chilean community energy co-ordinator Francisco Merino Jofré met with wind farm developer Calum MacDonald and Point and Sandwick Trust general manager Donald John MacSween, chairman Norman Mackenzie and honorary president Angus McCormack.

Francisco received advice from Calum MacDonald about how to overcome financial  barriers and begin persuading commercial lenders to invest in community projects.

Chile has a number of community-owned renewables projects in development – in solar, wind and hydro power – but these projects, although fully consented, are unable to proceed because they cannot get finance, due to a perception that community projects are higher risk.

Calum, who secured the £13million finance for Beinn Ghrideag before the financial model existed for banks to invest in community groups, gave Francisco several key contacts in banking which should help the Chilean government to make a breakthrough and create a financial system for community projects.

Calum, a former MP for the Western Isles, said it was “a great pleasure and honour to host Francisco at Point and Sandwick” and spoke of his hopes that the Chilean government would be able to follow up on the meeting and make progress with their community sector.

He also said: “We learned about the power of community energy from pioneering projects in places like Denmark and Germany where almost 50 per cent of all the turbines are now community owned.

"So it’s extremely satisfying as a Scottish community wind farm to think that we’re now passing on some of these lessons onto our colleagues in Chile and it’s very inspiring to think that there are rural communities in the remote parts of Chile that could be taking a lead from what we have achieved in the Western Isles.”

Calum recognised that Chile’s biggest problem was trying to convince commercial investors like banks to lend to community-owned wind farms.  “That was a problem we had as well,” he said. “We know that problem very well because we faced it when the Co-op bank went out of business and they were the only people who were lending large sums of money to commercial energy in the UK. So we had to go banging on doors of various banks till we finally got one that was willing to take a punt on us.

“Now it’s different, of course. There’s a huge appetite out there for investing in community energy but as our Chilean colleagues were saying, getting that started is the hard bit.  We gave Francisco contacts in the banking sector including the Spanish banking sector who are very active in Latin America so I’m hopeful that they’ll be able to follow that through and make some good progress on their projects.”

Francisco was in Lewis to meet with Point and Sandwick Trust for a knowledge exchange as part of a research trip to Scotland.

He visited a number of community projects around the country but said before the meeting that he believed Point and Sandwick Trust was “the best match for me to make the most of my visit and to strengthen the ongoing experience between the Chilean State and Scotland”.

He said the UK’s experience in renewables and its initiatives and policies were a model to follow for Chilean energy strategy, with his main interest being in what the community projects could teach in terms of local organisation, finance and community management. The intention was for his insights to lead to modifications in Chile that would affect industry, stakeholders and finance.

Speaking in a personal capacity afterwards, Francisco said the visit had been “very useful” as an exchange of knowledge about community energy and that he hoped it would be a link between the two countries, coming up as the next two hosts of the United Nations’ climate change summit – Chile in December 2019 as host of Cop25 and Scotland as host of Cop26.

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Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is now a Living Wage employer.  

As well as paying the living wage to employees the Comhairle has also decided to pay the living wage rate to Apprentices.

Peter Kelly, Director of the Poverty Alliance, said:  “We are delighted that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have become an accredited Living Wage employer. They join a movement of over 1500 Scottish employers who choose to go beyond the legal minimum and ensure that all their staff receive a rate of pay that is based on the cost of living.

The announcement comes during Challenge Poverty Week when more than 200 groups and organisations across Scotland will be showcasing the action we need to tackle poverty, including what can be done to address in-work poverty.

With more than half of children in poverty in Scotland living in a household where someone works, employers choosing to take action to loosen the grip of poverty and pay a real Living Wage that reflects the cost of living has never been more important.”

Comhairle Leader, Councillor Roddie Mackay, said: “The Comhairle is pleased to be taking part in Challenge Poverty Week. With today’s theme being “Employment and in-work poverty”, it is very appropriate that the Comhairle has today announced that it has gained accreditation as a Living Wage Employer.

“We are committed to our successful apprenticeship programme and I look forward to seeing the benefits which today’s announcement will bring. It is important that we do everything we can to try and reverse depopulation and make it appealing for people to work in the Western Isles.”

Jack Evans, Living Wage Scotland Manager said: “Congratulations to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar on becoming a Living Wage accredited employer. Their accreditation is a signal of their commitment to tackle low pay and in-work poverty. It is also an important milestone for the Living Wage movement as now over half of Scottish Local Authorities are accredited Living Wage employers."

  • Intermedia Services (Stornoway) Ltd, producer of www.welovestornoway.com, has been a Living Wage employer since 2017

 

 

 

It's consumer day today (Tuesday October 8th) at Decorex International, Europe’s leading event for interior design professional, being held in London, and Harris Tweed Hebrides, from Shawbost, is there flying the flag for the Island's most internationally renowned industry.

They say: "Come and see us upstairs at stand N262 if you’re visiting."

Established in 1978, Decorex 2019 is running at Olympia London exhibition centre on the 6th-9th October.

Each year they curate a four-day show presenting next-level design from across the world, presenting interior products, projects and perspectives – and the people who create them.

The organisers say that exhibitors at Decorex push the boundary of fine design and visitors can see their newest collections, source original products, and build relationships with the designers.

And there is also a packed programme of talks for exhbitors featuring industry names discussing and debating craft, lighting, hotels, yacht design plus much more.

The Islands of Great Bernera and Grimsay are among the pioneers in a communications revolution which has hundreds of people involved in the constructing a new broadband hetwork leading to people's homes and businesses.

Alasdair Allan MSP quizzed engineers from Openreach about Scotland’s digital future during a drop-in session at the Scottish Parliament.

The MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar heard about the work being done to upgrade the country’s broadband network and how politicians can help industry investors to speed up the build.

He also tried connecting tiny glass fibres used to transmit data at the speed of light and chatted to some of the 220 new apprentices taken on by Openreach in Scotland this year.

Alasdair Allan MSP said: “Scotland’s at the start of a digital journey from old copper cables to full fibre technology, where the fibre doesn’t stop at the street cabinet but goes all the way to the home. It’s more resilient and future-proof as well as faster – with fibreoptic cables as thin as a hair able to deliver gigabit speeds.

“This was a great opportunity to learn what that will mean for local people, businesses and future public services like education, healthcare, transport, energy, water and housing. Good connectivity supports productivity and economic growth but also brings really valuable new opportunities for sustainable communities.”

According to thinkbroadband, the UK's largest independent broadband news and information site, over 77% of people in the Western Isles can currently access superfast broadband at 30Mbps+.

More than 2.6m Scottish households and businesses can connect to Openreach’s digital network through their service provider – including household names like BT, Sky and TalkTalk.

However, the focus is now shifting to ‘ultrafast’ full fibre, as the copper network reaches the end of its life. Openreach is the UK’s leading full fibre builder, with plans to reach four million homes by March 2021.

Residents of Grimsay and Great Bernera recently become the first in the Western Isles to have full fibre broadband installed as part of the Scottish Government’s Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme.

Where previously those communities had top download speeds of around 2Mbps and restricted data allowances, they now have access to a full fibre network capable carrying services at 1Gbps - around 18.5 times faster than the current average speed across the UK.

The drop-in event on Thursday, 3 October was hosted by Brendan Dick, chair of the Openreach Board in Scotland, who said: “We can’t build a new full fibre network for Scotland without support from our public sector partners. It won’t be quick or easy, but action to reduce red tape and remove barriers will speed things up.

“The Scottish Government has already reduced the tax on fibre infrastructure but we also need to make street works and getting access to land and blocks of flats simpler and mandate full fibre for all new housing developments, which we think is a no-brainer.

“But this is not simply about putting wires into the ground. It’s about what full fibre technology can do for Scotland, helping to answer long term challenges like energy use, climate change and sustainable rural communities.”

Openreach is recruiting 220 trainees in Scotland this year, building on its biggest ever recruitment of 400 new engineers last year. They join its 3,200-strong Scottish workforce.

It has invested more than £500,000 in fibre training centres in Livingston and Dundee to make sure engineers have the right skills to deliver the new full fibre network.

FTTP is capable of delivering the fastest residential broadband speeds in the UK – up to 1Gbps – that’s around 24 times the UK average speed of 44Mbps (according to Ofcom) and enough to stream 200 HD Netflix movies simultaneously, based on Netflix internet connection speed requirements.

Crofters face losing out of their fair share of £160m in European Union aid, says the Scottish Crofting Federation.

The SCF suggests a more just and principled use of the ‘convergence uplift’ received from Europe.

“Having righted the wrong concerning the CAP convergence uplift, whereby the £160 million has finally been allocated to Scotland as it should have been“, said SCF chair, Yvonne White, “It is now imperative that the use of this payment aligns with the principle under which it was devised in the first place.

“The EU Multi-Annual Financial Framework set out the aim of redistributing CAP payments more equitably across the EU, that all countries receiving less than 90% of the EU average would receive a funding uplift. The UK only qualified for an uplift because of Scotland’s low average and Scotland has a low average due to very low per-hectare payments to crofters and hill farmers on the poorer ground. It is therefore logical and just that the uplift must be directed to those who enabled Scotland to qualify for it.”

Ms White went on to say, “There have been reports in the media of suggestions that the money should be allocated across all Scottish producers, including those above the 90% of EU average payment. This surely emulates the unfairness which the UK government has practiced on Scotland and which we all fought so hard to redress. We have won that battle, and it would be shameful were Scottish Government to do the almost exactly the same thing now that the money has crossed the border.

SCF, the crofters’ representative group, says it agrees that the money should be used for increasing Basic Payments and should be allocated to currently active producers, but "that is where we depart from suggestions on distribution published last week. We believe that to follow the fundamental principle of convergence means that the uplift must be allocated to the areas falling below the 90% EU average threshold only."

“There is work to be done on the funding mechanisms” concluded Ms White, “and we will be pleased to contribute to that. But at this point it is critical that the basic principle on which the payment has been made is adhered to. We urge Scottish Government to make fair use of the convergence uplift.”

Are you in a band that's free on New Year's eve 2019?

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On 29th and 30th October 2019, in countless settings and places throughout the world, people will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Bab, whose revitalising message prepared the way for the coming of Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith.

Both the Bab and Baha’u’llah describe the human race as standing now on the brink of its collective maturity. In that sense humankind must pass through a gateway as it takes up the responsibilities of maturity.

The Bab was the “door” through which humanity was prepared for the coming of an age of transformation. It implies an organic change in the very structure of society and in the relationships that sustains it. To see ourselves as members of one family, to end estrangement and prejudice and to come together. To be protagonists in shaping our future and ultimately a just and peaceful civilisation.

Countless artistic expressions have been created by individuals and communities around the world for the occasion of the bicentenary of the birth of the Bab. A few examples are:

Dawn of the Light   a film which will be shown in one of the events, portrays several individuals from different continents as they relate their own personal search after truth and meaning. They share their discovery that God has sent two Divine Manifestations—the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh—whose teachings are revolutionising human thought and behaviour, changing darkness into light. The film shows glimpses of how this same discovery is inspiring the efforts of many across the globe to serve humanity and to contribute to building a new pattern of life.

A slideshow on YouTube of beautiful graphics celebrating the Bicentenary of the Birth of The Báb by Joe Paczkowski www.joepaczk.com

The Irish Bahá'í community has produced 19 short videos. #bicentenary2019 #twinbirthdays #BahaisofIreland. Hopefully we can show these at other occasions.

Close to the Bicentenary and on the day, there will be thousands of broadcasts similar to the celebrations that marked the Bicentenary of the birth of Baha’u’llah in 2017, a glimpse of which can be seen on YouTube ‘Global Bicentenary Celebrations and Music for Birth of Baha'u'llah’.

To celebrate the Bicentenary birth of the Bab on Lewis we have invited special guest, Gaelic musician & singer Christina St. Clare.  She is originally from Isle of Barra, studied Celtic Studies at Edinburgh University.  This will be the only bicentenary celebration round the world with Scottish Gaelic songs and music.

There are two events planned:

A families’ day on Sunday 27th October at 2-6pm in the Fàilte Centre, Bayhead, Stornoway, free and open to all.

On Monday 28th October 7-9pm, we’ll have a befitting devotional as well as showing of the film Dawn of the Light, at the Fàilte Centre, Bayhead, Stornoway, free and open to all.  

A new £21 million contact to operate Scottish Government-supported flights to and from Barra has been awarded to Loganair.

The service improvements that were announced earlier this year have been built into the new contract.

The contract will run from Friday 25 October and will run for the next four years.

The contract also includes operating flights to and from Tiree and Campbeltown.  

The routes from Glasgow to the three airports will be operated using HIAL’s Twin Otter DHC6-400 planes.

Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said: “I’m very pleased to award the contract to operate these vital air links for the next four years to Loganair.

“We have listened to local communities to find out what we could do better and the improvements we announced earlier this year have been built into this new contract to make sure we are supporting them.

“These flights transport people, goods and services, playing a crucial role for service industries and ensuring that residents have access to specialist healthcare. They also enable visitors to reach the islands easily, boosting local tourism.

“I congratulate Loganair on winning this contract and l look forward to seeing these enhanced services bring benefits to the communities they serve.”

Loganair Managing Director Jonathan Hinkles said: “I’m delighted that Loganair has been selected as the operator to maintain these vital air services, continuing our record of service to the three communities which first began in 1974.

“The award of this new contract represents a vote of confidence in the Loganair team to maintain these lifeline links for a further four years, and we will do all that we can to ensure that confidence is upheld.”

There's a big change coming for the Western Isles Weather service, it was announced at the weekend.

Richard Cooke wrote: "In a few weeks time, I will be leaving the island to move to a new job with the Met Office. I am very excited about the new challenge and getting to work in the weather has been a life-long dream of mine. My earliest memories as a child were about the weather. The passion for the weather has grown and grown.

"In 2012 Western Isles Weather was born and it really has become bigger than I ever expected it would.

"So what happens now to Western isles weather going forward? There will be a few changes. The forecasting aspect of this page will stop. So the end for the morning brief, weather watch and the evening forecast.

"However, the page will still exist. I will still be asking for your morning reports. I will still be sharing Met Office warnings. I will also still be sharing beautiful photos from across the Western isles. I still will be ever appreciative of you share those with us. The reports still help to build up a true picture of what is going on.

"This really has been an incredible journey over the last seven years. From weather talks to forecasting bad storms to podcasts.

"I also want to take a moment to thank each and everyone for helping to make this page as great as its become. It’s been an incredible community over the years.

"I have loved and appreciated every single photo, video and reports sent to us. This little bit of social media has given me so much. An outlet for my love of the weather and I have even been able to make friends for life thanks to Western isles Weather."

Ferry services throughout the Hebrides are disrupted this morning (Monday October 7th) by bad weather conditions.

Today's sailings between Castlebay and Oban, and also between Lochboisdale and Mallaig are cancelled and tomorrow's are in doubt.

The first sailings of the Eriskay-Barra and Bermeray-Leverburgh services have been cancelled.

The Tarbert-Lochmaddy-Uig services are operating a delayed schedule.

The early morning Stornoway-Ullapool service is cancelled. The 10.30am from Ullapool is expected to be the next service. 

From Sunday 20th October, as a result of the MV Loch Seaforth needing to go for her annual overhaul, MV Isle of Lewis will operate the following amended timetable:

Depart Stornoway - 08:00
Arrive Ullapool - 10:45

Depart Ullapool - 11:45 (11:30 sailing delayed)
Arrive Stornoway - 14:30

Depart Stornoway - 15:30 (15:00 sailing delayed)
Arrive Ullapool - 18:15

Depart Ullapool - 19:15 (18:30 sailing delayed)
Arrive Stornoway - 22:00

An oil lamp has been taken from St Moluag's church in Eoropie, Ness, it was reported at the weekend.

A post on the Western Isles Noticeboard Facebook community page explains the lamp vanished "during the last few days".

The church may date from as early as the 1100s.  By the mid 1800s the church stood as a roofless ruin. An appeal was launched by the Scottish Episcopal Church to fund its restoration in 1910, and the funds were assembled and the work complete by 1912.  The Scottish Episcopal Church continues to hold services there.

The post encourages whoever took the lamp to simply return it .  "If you just nicked it hoping to rub it and get three wishes from the genie....please put it back, or at the back of St Peter’s Church [in Francis Street, Stornoway], no questions asked." 

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

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

 

New house, Coll.

Malcolm Boyd of 16 Nethermains Road, Milgavie, has applied for planning permission to erect a house at 100a Outend, Coll.

 

New house, Point.

Gillian Smith of 16 Swordale, Point, has applied for planning permission to erect a house with air source heat pump and detached garage at 57 Swordale, Point. The one-storey house is to consist of four bedrooms, open plan living/kitchen/dining area, two bathrooms and a utility room, Work is to include creating parking suitable for two cars.

 

Patio door with balcony, Point.

Douglas Jenkins of 45 Flesherin has applied for planning permission to add an upper floor patio door with Juliet balcony to the house at 45 Flesherin, Point.

 

Alterations to house, Bernera.

Gerald Shearman-Earp of 24C Valasay, Bernera, has applied for planning permission to alter, extend and add an air source heat pump to the house at 24C Valasay, Bernera. The work is to include converting the attic

Charles Young of 7 Fivepenny successfully completed the Great Scottish Run Half Marathon in Glasgow on 29 September to fund-raise in support of two great Ness projects, namely the Sgoil Lionail football pitch redevelopment community project and the Comunn Eachdraidh Nis expansion project.

The funds raised will be divided equally between the two projects.

Charles said after completing the Great Scottish Run “The noise at the start in George Square and at the finish in Glasgow Green was deafening. The atmosphere all through the run was electric with thousands of spectators lining the route. The weather was surprisingly very warm and sunny during the first half of the run and took its toll on many runners. At the finish I was pleased to meet and grabbed a photo with Sally Gunnell, British Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth track and field champion, and Jenni Falconer, TV and radio presenter.

"As the photo shows, I was wearing the Guide Dogs running vest which I always wear at big running events because it gives this well deserving charity much needed publicity especially when the race is being televised live by BBC Sport.”

Charles added “My training in Ness meant that I had a good level of fitness prior to the run, but I must admit that I hadn’t anticipated it being so warm in Glasgow especially at the end of September. I’m glad that Cuilean, my faithful German Shephard who accompanies me on some of my Ness training runs, wasn’t running with me!

My normal time for a Half Marathon is around 2 hours but in this race my finishing time was 2 hours 14 minutes.

"I accompanied a fellow runner who was really struggling for the last 20 minutes or so, but it was worth it when I saw the pleasure on his face when he successfully crossed the finish line.”

The Great Scottish Run is Scotland’s biggest mass participation running event and this year had a field of over 20,000 runners participating in the 10K and Half Marathon. It attracts runners from all over the world including many club and Olympic athletes.

There’s still time to sponsor Charles.

Sponsorship forms are available in local shops and post offices.

There is also a Virgin Money Giving online fundraising page:

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/charlesrunsforness2019                                                          

Anti-poverty groups from across the Western Isles are coming together to call for more compassion to break the grip of poverty on people’s lives.

Tighean Innse Gall are hosting an informal drop-in session at the TIG offices, 13-15 Francis Street, Stornoway on the 10th October 10am-1pm to show how we can help those on benefits or low incomes tackle high energy costs, poor facilities in their homes and help with low-cost home ownership.

They say: "This is a Scotland wide campaign designed to show that poverty exists and affects us all in some way.

"We can work to end poverty by reducing costs of living and boosting incomes in our communities."

Stewart Wilson TIG CEO said: ‘Our biggest task in the Western Isles is tackling fuel poverty. We help hundreds of clients each year lower their energy consumption and bills through insulation measures, energy efficiency works and energy advice.

"Our highly skilled staff are able to help make such a difference to people’s lives by informing them of their rights to benefits and signposting to sister agencies, helping clients understand their usage and how to insulate and heat their homes. We would therefore really encourage people to take advantage of our drop-in session this week. 

"They can make sure their home is ready for the winter months and by acting on our expert advice they could save significant sums of money.’

Public meetings, run by Community Led Support, will be held in Uig, Tarbert and Carloway next week to discuss and explore Health and Social Care issues.

The meetings in Uig and Carloway will focus on keeping people healthy and well at home for as long as possible in their own communities.

Themes for discussion will include:

  • Better outcomes for people who use services – with easier access & more responsive
  • Creating a holistic, person-centred delivery of services - that empowers people
  • Have awareness of and trust in more person-friendly services
  • Helping people maximise their potential, be valued & connected in their community
  • Helping communities become resilient and sustainable through the whole community being involved and empowered and making the best of community assets
  • Better use of resources across the system – Best Value

The Tarbert meeting will be around Community Led Support for people with learning disabilities. Themes will include:

  • Helping people maximise their potential, be valued & connected in their community
  • Helping communities become resilient and sustainable through the whole community
  • Being involved and empowered and making the best of community assets
  • Making better use of resources across the system – Best Value

 The meetings are scheduled as follows:

Tuesday 8th October, Uig Community Centre, 4-7pm

Wednesday 9th October Tarbert Community Centre 10-1pm

Wednesday 9th October, Carloway Community Centre 4-7pm

If you intend to attend any of the meetings please contact Catriona at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or telephone 01851 822706 to assess numbers for tea, soup and sandwiches.

The Dìleab EP, which contains five specially commissioned songs, by Willie Campbell, and features pupils from across the Western Isles, is now available for sale. 

The themes of the songs include emigration, the impact of war, the Iolaire tragedy and protest and politics - themes which have impacted the islands greatly.

Local musician Willie Campbell, said “The Dìleab EP is the culmination of many people’s efforts. The contribution from the islands young people are to the fore across the collection of songs and their voices come across beautifully in the recordings. It was a privilege to be asked to write songs about the chosen themes, and I’m delighted with the final product which I hope people will enjoy listening to as much as I enjoyed taking part in the making of it.”

Evelyn Coull Macleod, Multi Media Manager said, “The EP is available from the Comhairle buildings in Stornoway, the Town Hall Customer Services desk and An Lanntair. 

"It will also be available from Sir E Scott School and Harris distillery in Tarbert, as well as Castlebay School in Barra and Balivanich School in Benbecula, and costs £7.

"The digital download will be available from Friday the 18th of October, through Bandcamp @ dìleab.bandcamp.com and will cost £5.99. 

We hope that the community will continue to support this innovative project, with all the funds raised going towards the continuation of the Dìleab project in schools.”

You can also order an EP or get further information from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Public meetings, run by Community Led Support, will be held in Uig, Tarbert and Carloway next week to discuss and explore Health and Social Care issues.

The meetings in Uig and Carloway will focus on keeping people healthy and well at home for as long as possible in their own communities.

Themes for discussion will include:

Better outcomes for people who use services – with easier access & more responsive
· Creating a holistic, person-centred delivery of services - that empowers people
· Have awareness of and trust in more person-friendly services
· Helping people maximise their potential, be valued & connected in their community
· Helping communities become resilient and sustainable through the whole community being involved and empowered and making the best of community assets
· Better use of resources across the system – Best Value

The Tarbert meeting will be around Community Led Support for people with learning disabilities. Themes will include:
· Helping people maximise their potential, be valued & connected in their community
· Helping communities become resilient and sustainable through the whole community
· Being involved and empowered and making the best of community assets
· Making better use of resources across the system – Best Value

The meetings are scheduled as follows:
Tuesday 8th October, Uig Community Centre, 4-7pm
Wednesday 9th October Tarbert Community Centre 10-1pm
Wednesday 9th October, Carloway Community Centre 4-7pm

If you intend to attend any of the meetings please contact Catriona at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or telephone 01851 822706 to assess numbers for tea, soup and sandwiches.

The St Kilda archipelago is already known as a bird-lovers’ paradise, but one feathered visitor seems to have decided to make Hirta home.

A snowy owl nick-named Snedge captured world attention early in September, when island rangers challenged the internet to spot the snowy owl – surprisingly well-camouflaged against the rocks.

Now rangers have become used to seeing Snedge during their daily patrols. This picture of Snedge, apparently enjoying the afternoon sun, was snapped on Tuesday (October 1st) as ranger Sarah headed out on her rounds.

 

A programme of big-name films is set for Tarbert, as tickets went on sale this week (Wednesday October 2nd) for the next visit of the Screen Machine.

The rolling cinema is coming to Tarbert on November 6th and 7th, bringing four box-office smashes to the Harris audience.

Kids’ favourite The Lion King, in its new computer-animated version from Disney, is to be shown on Wednesday afternoon (6th November), with tickets already selling fast.

The same evening Renée Zellwegger’s surprise incarnation as Judy Garland is the first Oscar-tipped offer for Harris audiences. It’s set in London in 1968 as screen legend Judy Garland embarks on a series of sell-out shows in what was to be the last year of her life.

Thursday November 7th brings the much-anticipated feature-length Downton Abbey to the rolling screen, with a royal visit and all the usual drama upstairs and down.

And later in the evening Joaquin Phoenix brings a dark interpretation of Batman’s nemesis, Joker – a misunderstood loner in Gotham City.

All tickets are for sale online now at https://www.screenmachine.co.uk/locations/east-tarbert/, with eight tickets for each show held back for sale on the door on the night.

Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron says that decisions about how to spend a £1.7m windfall in the Western Isles must prioritise the long-term sustainability of its coastal communities.

The Scottish Conservative MSP spoke after it was announced that the money would be awarded to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar  from the Scottish Crown Estate’s marine assets following its first year of devolved management.

Mr Cameron said: “This is good news, especially in the context of the squeeze that public services have experienced in the Western Isles following years of unfair financial settlements from Nicola Sturgeon’s government.

“However, it is vital that we listen to the coastal communities and make sure that the money is spent in a way that helps to sustain them over the longer term.”

Councillor Ranald Fraser (Sgir’ Uige Agus Ceann A Tuath Nan Loch ward), said: “Here in the Western Isles, we face all kinds of challenges to securing a sustainable future for our communities and, in particular, retaining and attracting young people which are our future.

“Therefore, I am pleased that we seem to be getting this funding from the Crown Estate and hope that further co-operation can ensue as we deal with the financial challenges facing our council. “

 

The Lewis and Harris league football season ends on a thriller on Saturday afternoon (October 5th) with Point and Westside battling it out for the league title.

It’s the first time ever that a league decider has been needed, after each team played their 16 matches and stayed tied at 40 points each – Westside with one more win and Point with no defeats.

A league spokesman said they were hoping for great support for a great performance from two teams who have been too close to call throughout the season. Each has beaten the other and both have taken home silverware.

The spokesman said: “The performances of each player in their squads is the reason that we haven’t been able to separate them. This is the first time ever that a league decider has been required and the game will be broadcast by Radio Nan Gaidheal on Facebook live. We’ll post a link on the day of the game.” (https://www.facebook.com/lewisandharrisfa/

The match is also to be the last hurrah on the island for referee Craig Lauder, who is retiring from Fire Scotland after almost 34 years, the most recent as station manager at Stornoway Fire Station. Craig has officially finished work in Stornoway, but is returning to the island for this all-important match.

Lochs FC are hosting the match at Creagan Dubh and providing the hospitality. The league is sponsored by Specialist Welding Services and kick-off is at 3pm at Creagan Dubh, Lochs. Teas, coffees, refreshments and a licensed bar are available and parking attendants will be in place to direct the traffic.

Newly painted double yellow lines have been added on the approaches to Lewis Sports Centre, in a bid to improve safety for pedestrians around the centre and council buildings.

The two new sets of lines are intended to remind drivers not to block emergency vehicle access and to make sure that pedestrians – especially children – are safe when entering and leaving the building.

A sport centre spokesman said: “We would be very grateful if customers did not park in these areas. Don't forget that in the evening it is possible to park in the Nicolson Institute car park at the rear of the building - handy if the weather is misbehaving! Many thanks for your cooperation.”

Pupils at Tong school had the chance to see how it feels donning a nurse’s tunic at an event on Monday (September 30th).

Staff from NHS Western Isles staff participated in the Developing Young Workforce event at Tong School and took mini-tunics, medical equipment and bandages along to give children a flavour of a day at work as a nurse.

The tunics are part of a national initiative to help tackle gender stereotypes and encourage children to think about nursing as a career. Future nurses had a go at listening to their own heartbeat and learning what kind of jobs are involved in nursing.

Tong School Head Teacher, Carol Ann Maclean, said: “We held a Developing the Young Workforce event to explore the world of work. All children from Nursery to Primary 7 were able to select careers or voluntary opportunities that they were interested in and find out about the different skills involved in that job.

“The children spent 20 minutes learning about a career before moving to another choice as a workshop format. It was a very successful event with over 30 partners involved! We look forward to hosting a similar event next year.”

The 2019 Butt to Barra cycle raised a whopping £25,000 for local charities, it was announced yesterday (Wednesday October 2nd).

Cheques are to be handed over to three charities at an event at the Rangers’ Club in Stornoway on Saturday evening.

Bethesda Hospice will see the benefit of a cheque for £9,086. 95, while the Hebridean Men’s Cancer Group will get £8,607.50. Crossroads Lewis will take delivery of their cheque, for £7,305.92, at the same time.

A party of 32 cyclists, plus support vehicles and a mobile repair service, covered the 175-mile route from the Butt of Lewis to Castlebay in Barra over three days in July. En route they experienced pouring rain, dense fog and even some dry, warm weather.

The target total for the epic cycle was £5,000, easily reached before anyone put their foot on a pedal. The exact amounts to be given to each charity are based on totals donated to sponsored individuals, with GiftAid contributions on some online donations.

Announcing the total on social media yesterday, a spokesman said: “Butt to Barra Charity Cycle 2019 would like to say a massive, massive thank you to (those) who have supported this year’s cycle. Without your support the charity cycle wouldn't have been able to raise £25,000 for three local charities. Thank you to everyone who donated/sponsored, the amount raised wouldn't be possible without your support.”

Picture shows cyclists leaving the Sound of Barra ferry at Ardmhor on the final leg of their journey (Butt to Barra).

Tighean Innse Gall (TIG) are offering free chimney balloons, underfloor insulation, draught proofing and loft insulation to help reduce energy use in the home.

Singer-songwriter Karine Polwart, Sky at Night presenter Chris Lintott, and arts and astronomy project Creativity and Curiosity will be among the headline events at the second Hebridean Dark Skies Festival.

Now in its second year, the Hebridean Dark Skies Festival – led by An Lanntair in partnership with Stornoway Astronomical Society, Calanais Visitor Centre, Gallan Head Community Trust, Lews Castle College and new partners including Uig Sands - will bring two weeks of arts and astronomy events to the Isle of Lewis. The 2020 festival will run from Friday 7 February to Saturday 22 February, with an ambitious and exciting programme spanning theatre, live music, film, visual art, food, astronomy talks, and stargazing.

The first tickets for the festival are now on sale, including special ‘early bird’ day tickets for A Day of Creativity and Curiosity, a whole day of events on Saturday 8 February, curated by An Lanntair with Ione Parkin and Gillian McFarland of Creativity and Curiosity. A Day of Creativity and Curiosity will include Chris Lintott and jazz musician Steve Pretty comparing notes on the cosmos, Karine Polwart in conversation with astronomers, a ‘visual moonbounce’ event with media artist and trained radio telescope operator Daniela de Paulis, magic and poetry with Scotland’s Astronomer Royal John Brown, visual artist Kate Bernstein and Sian Prosser of the Royal Astronomical Society on working together, and lots more in a day-long meeting of minds between artists and astronomers.

Tickets for all festival events will go on sale on Monday 4 November.

The Outer Hebrides have some of the darkest skies in the whole of the UK. Many astronomical sights can be seen through the naked eye including the Orion Nebula (over 1,500 light years away), the Milky Way Galaxy, and one of the Milky Way’s companion galaxies the Great Andromeda Galaxy. The Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis, can also be seen from the islands, one of the very best spots in the UK for watching this incredible phenomenon. 

Hebridean Dark Skies Festival 2020 highlights will include:

  • Universe (of Music) with Chris Lintott and Steve Pretty, in which a leading astronomer and a jazz musician team up for an evening of ‘conversation, contemplation, science and music’.
  • The Only Light Was Stars by Karine Polwart, an exclusive early glimpse at the the singer-songwriter’s supernova-themed follow up to her hit show Wind Resistance.
  • Creativity and Curiosity, an exhibition in An Lanntair’s main gallery inspired by collaborations between artists and astronomers, to be launched with A Day of Creativity and Curiosity, a packed day of events on the festival’s opening weekend.
  • A brand new Dark Skies photography exhibition, consisting of shortlisted entries in this year’s photography competition.
  • Cosmos Planetarium – returning for a second year, the popular portable planetarium will present a new programme at An Lanntair and across Lewis.
  • Dark Skies film programme bringing together four science fiction films - Solaris, Contact, Interstellar and Ad Astra - that explore human connections across the cosmos.
  • Stargazing events across the island presented by Highland Astronomy Tours and Steven Gray from Cosmos Planetarium.
  • To close the festival, a revival of this year’s popular restaging of Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds by Lewis musicians.

The Hebridean Dark Skies Festival is part-funded, for a second year, by Outer Hebrides LEADER. It is being promoted as part of #winterinthewild, a new tourism campaign highlighting some compelling reasons why the Outer Hebrides is a perfect getaway outside of the summer season, with extraordinary scenery and a programme of high quality cultural events at An Lanntair. The #winterinthewild campaign is a partnership between An Lanntair and Outer Hebrides Tourism, VisitScotland, Hebridean Hopscotch Holidays, Loganair, CalMac, Glasgow Airport, Cala Hotels, and Lews Castle, with support from Creative Scotland, Event Scotland and Outer Hebrides LEADER.

Festival programmer Andrew Eaton-Lewis said: “We’re really excited to be announcing our second Hebridean Dark Skies Festival programme. We were very encouraged by the hugely positive response to our first festival and will be working hard to build on that success in 2020 – hopefully there will be a few opportunities for stargazing along the way. Even if it’s cloudy though there will be loads to do and see for audiences of all ages. We’ve got a few returning favourites; Chris Lintott, a big hit at our first festival, will be back, and we’ll also be staging a new photography exhibition. And we’re boldly going to new places. We’ll be doing a whole day of events with Ione and Gillian from Creativity and Curiosity, a partnership that has inspired us to explore the connections between astronomy and the arts in all sorts of new ways. And we’re thrilled to be supporting the development of Karine Polwart’s new show with a work-in-progress performance and discussion event that we hope will be a source of inspiration for Karine, our visiting astronomers, and our audiences.”

The Hebridean Dark Skies Festival will run from Friday 7 February to Saturday 22 February, with more events to be announced in the coming months.

For updates visit www.lanntair.com/darkskies. Tickets can be booked via An Lanntair‘s box office on 01851 708480.

Community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust is making a “significant contribution” in the fight against climate change in the Outer Hebrides, according to Scottish Natural Heritage.

This is partly because 100,000 trees are on course to have been planted throughout the Outer Hebrides by 2020 under its Croft Woodlands Project. This number of trees will have been achieved in four years for an investment of around £280,000, compared with the £10million that has been set aside by the Westminster government to encourage the planting of 130,000 trees around England’s towns and cities. 

The Western Isles project was describing as “inspiring” by new SNH Chief Executive Francesca Osowska during a recent visit to the Isle of Lewis, which she described as a “brilliant” experience.

Francesca was accompanied on her visit by David Maclennan, SNH’s Area Manager for Argyll and Outer Hebrides, and they met with wind farm developer Calum MacDonald, one of the architects of the Croft Woodlands Project, and Project Officer Viv Halcrow, who has been advising island crofters on how best to plant trees and how to access grant support.

The theme of Francesca and David’s visit was around climate change. David, who is also chair of the newly-formed Climate Change Group in the Outer Hebrides, said they had been looking at a range of issues from Vatersay to Lewis. The issues included coastal erosion, drainage, dune management, peatland restoration and woodland creation.

Due to the role woodlands play, David said they were “pleased to have the opportunity to meet Viv and Calum to hear about the Croft Woodland Project”. 

He said: “It was inspiring to hear about the level of interest to date throughout the Outer Hebrides and the number of projects that have been supported from the Butt to Barra. Small areas of woodland on good ground are exactly what we need to see in the Outer Hebrides – they will, over time, have a positive landscape impact, and by using largely native trees there will be benefits for biodiversity. With over 100,000 trees expected to be planted by 2020, that’s a significant contribution – and there is clearly potential to do a lot more.

“As well as the landscape and biodiversity benefits, these new trees will also help to absorb carbon from the atmosphere and contribute to our collective efforts to respond to the climate challenge. We’re now looking forward to further engagement with the Croft Woodland Project, and considering what role we can play in supporting the project going forwards.”

David added: “We can’t be certain about how our climate is going to change, but we know it is already happening, and we can expect a combination of more extreme weather events, rising sea levels – so we need to think about how we can adapt to those changes.

"Climate Change is one of the biggest global threats to nature, but a nature-rich future can be one of our best assets in our response to Climate Change – and this is especially true in the Outer Hebrides.

“Our dune systems and offshore kelp beds are vital for protecting the machair – so we need to think about how best to manage and protect them, so they protect us.

“We have vast areas of peatland in the Outer Hebrides. They are a huge store of carbon, and actively absorb carbon from the atmosphere. In some areas they are degraded, and would benefit from restoration – making them even more valuable to us in our response to Climate Change.”

The Western Isles Croft Woodland Project was set up by Point and Sandwick Trust in 2016 in partnership with the Woodland Trust. It was a five-year project and in May this year both parties made a commitment to extend the project – which also involves Scottish Forestry and the Scottish Crofting Federation – for a further five years due to its huge popularity and success. 

At the time the second phase was announced, 103 schemes had been planted across the Outer Hebrides, comprising 17 Forestry Grant Schemes, 67 MOREwoods schemes and 19 school and community packs. The schemes range in size from 0.1 hectare to 3ha.

More than 50 villages across five islands – Lewis, Harris, Barra, South Uist, Benbecula and North Uist – have taken advantage of the opportunity and the project is on course for planting 100,000 trees in four years.

Local versions of the project exist in all the crofting counties but Point and Sandwick Trust is thought to be leading the way in its early commitment to funding a second phase of the project in the Western Isles and earmarking a budget for it of £400,000 over five years. 

Calum MacDonald, the former Western Isles MP who piloted the first Crofter Forestry Act through Parliament in the 1990s, is delighted the new wave of crofter forestry is proving so successful.

He said: “This shows that community wind farms are in the vanguard of the fight against climate change. Not only has Beinn Ghrideag funded the planting of 100,000 trees and more through the Croft Woodland Western Isles Project but we also followed best practice in terms of peat restoration during the construction phase of the wind farm in order to minimise the peat disturbance and the amount of carbon it released. This method was so successful, in fact, that research by Lews Castle College at Beinn Ghrideag showed it had a carbon payback time of just 47 days – a drastic reduction on the previous estimate for wind farms of 2.3 years.”

The Princess Royal provided an object lesson in public involvement for any aspiring community leader during a flying visit to Lewis which took in a major visit to Balallan Old School Community Hub and a series of engagements in Breasclete.

Unhurried, always attentive, constantly involved with people to whom she was talking from a whole range of organisations and of all ages, Princess Anne appeared just as fresh and focused after several hours of chatting and questioning as she had at the start, sometimes laughing and joking with members of the various local groups as if she had known them all their lives.

The schedule which began much earlier in the day to enable an arrival in Balallan just after 11am would have daunted many people much younger than someone born in August 1950.

The visit to the Balallan hub included a detailed tour of the Charity Shop, Museum, Archive Room and the Hall itself to meet community members and volunteers – as well as councillors and representatives of supportive agencies – and to examine the various displays and shop arrangements.  Finally, after a short speech, she unveiled a commemorative plaque and received a gift of a bolt of Harris Tweed.  She formally signed the Visitors Book with a flourish and then had a private lunch provided by the hall café, as this event was hosted by Kinloch Community Association/Historical Society.

After lunch she crossed the island to visit the Flannan Isles Memorial down by the shore before the road down to Breasclete Pier.  Then the next call was the Lighthouse Keepers House on the hill behind the village to look round the dilapidated building and have a look at the plans for restoration and development before unveiling a plaque to commemorate the handover of the building from Hebridean Housing Partnership to the local community.

Next was the nearby Community Centre, to tour the Exhibition in small room upstairs and join community members and representatives in the hall.

 

The impact of Warmer Homes Scotland on fuel poor households in the Outer Hebrides has been welcomed by Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan.

Over 350 households in Mr Allan’s constituency have benefitted from the scheme’s help since it was launched in 2015, each of them saving over £300 on their energy bills per year.

The £224million Warmer Homes Scotland scheme provides a step-by-step service to help make homes warmer and more comfortable. Assistance can include installing new and efficient boilers, fitting new radiators, insulating lofts or even working with partners to install gas mains to make heating homes in hard to reach areas more affordable.

All work is carried out by registered and accredited local sub-contractors, who work to rigorous quality standards across the country.

Warmworks is the managing agent of Warmer Homes Scotland and receives referrals to the scheme from Home Energy Scotland. The work undertaken in Mr Allan’s constituency relies on the support of local agencies such as Tighean Innse Gall, who work closely with Warmworks and play an important part in referring people to the scheme for help to heat their homes more affordably.

Alasdair Allan MSP said:“I welcome the impact that Warmer Homes Scotland has made in my constituency. For too many families, living in fuel poverty is a harsh reality and it is great to know that they are now living in warmer, cosier homes with greatly reduced fuel bills.

“I would encourage others to check if they are eligible to receive help under the scheme, as improvements could make a significant difference this winter and for years to come.

“I am also delighted that our local community led scheme, delivered by Tighean Innse Gall, on behalf of CnES and Scottish Government, has led to even greater help. Most MSPs do not have such a wonderful local scheme in their constituency, and I am proud of the work that’s done here. I also note that TIG refers more people to the national scheme than anywhere else in Scotland – a real achievement!”

Fuel poverty remains at the forefront of the Scottish Government’s agenda having released a route map, Energy Efficient Scotland, which outlines the path the Government wishes to take to make Scottish homes more efficient by 2040. The Fuel Poverty (Targets, Definition and Strategy) Scotland Act has also recently been passed, which makes a statutory provision to help those who are living in fuel poverty.

Stewart Wilson, Tighean Innse Gall’s chief executive said: “It is great that Alasdair is so supportive of action to tackle fuel poverty. At our AGM just the other night, he showed considerable support for our partnership working. It’s great to know that by working together there is help for local folk in need, both from the national scheme and from the local, trusted and for the community Tighean Innse Gall.”

Ross Armstrong, Warmworks’ Managing Director said:“The most valuable difference that Warmer Homes Scotland can make is to give people the comfort and peace of mind that they can afford to stay warm in their own home. We are delighted to have helped over 350 households in Alasdair Allan’s constituency and we hope to build on our efforts in the years to come."

 

Public bus services throughout Lewis and Harris have been redesigned to meet the Comhairle’s Budget Strategy objectives of providing an affordable and efficient transport service. As a result, some changes have been made to service timetables and routes starting from Monday 14th October 2019.

New service timetables are now available on the Comhairle website and paper versions will be made available at Stornoway Bus Station, Tarbert Tourist Information and on main buses week commencing 7 October.

The Harris Community newspaper Dé Tha Dol celebrates its 40th birthday tomorrow (Thursday October 3rd) with a quiet birthday party at Tarbert Community Centre.

The fortnightly community paper was initially established in 1979 with support from the Dutch Van Leer charity, which responded to a ground-breaking initiative from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to create community infrastructure in Harris, Ness and North Uist.

Morag Macleod of Scalpay was the paper’s first editor and, since 1981, it’s been published fortnightly at Harris Voluntary Service. Locals can pick up their copy regularly at shops around Harris, with a few copies also made available on CalMac ferries.

The archive of back copies was seriously affected by the net store fire in Scalpay, but HVS still has copies dating back to 1981.

Tomorrow night’s celebration features displays of old editions and speeches from former editors Morag Macleod and Morag Munro, with local councillor Paul Finnegan doing the honours as MC.

There’ll be a buffet and hot drinks, and old copies to leaf through for the memories. The event is scheduled to begin at 7pm.

Picture shows a masthead from an edition earlier this year. (Harris Voluntary Service).

A new exhibition being hung today (Wednesday October 2nd) at Museum nan Eilean will re-awaken memories of Stornoway’s fishing industry in the late 1970s and early 80s.

‘Fishing the Minch’ opens on Saturday and features the photographs of David Gordon, who as a young man boarded the Fiery Cross, a fishing boat based in Stornoway.

With skipper Donald MacDonald and his crew, he sailed the Minch as the crew trawled for their catch. The resulting photographs were uniquely exhibited in what was described as “the first flyposted exhibition in the country” by the Half Moon Photography Workshop in the East End of London in 1980.

Today, almost forty years later, the entire edit of these historic images has been rediscovered, scanned and printed. They show the wider fishing industry and daily life in Stornoway – a fascinating glimpse into a world of work and play that has now all but disappeared.

Shot in a classic 35mm black and white documentary style, Gordon’s narrative takes the viewer from the rough seas of the Atlantic back to the photographer’s boyhood town. In the Young’s factory women hand-peel prawns; in Rolf Olsen’s processing plant, fish is frozen and salted. On a Friday night, the chip shop is full. In a bar, a drunk sleeps off his whisky at closing time.

These tender, quiet images are a portal back to a lost past, yet in their simplicity they echo a rhythm that is timeless and entirely recognisable.

This exhibition was produced by Street Level Photoworks and is a partnership with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Museum nan Eilean.

The Stornoway-based charity the Leanne Fund is to expand its activity into Tayside, thanks to £15,000 in support from the NHS Tayside Community Innovation Fund.

The new territory takes the Leanne Fund’s activity coast-to-coast across Scotland, from the Western Isles to Aberdeen and from Shetland to the central belt.

It’s a huge boost for the organisation, which already brings practical and emotional support, treats, complementary therapies and a positive attitude to more than 150 people living with the life-long condition in the Highlands and Islands, Moray and Grampian.

The Leanne Fund was founded in Point in 2010 by the family of the late Leanne Mitchell, who passed away at the age of 21. Working with a group of Western Isles supporters they set out to give real and practical help to those affected by Cystic Fibrosis. Their personal experience of treatment and available health services helped them to understand the very specific needs of CF patients and their families.

The Leanne Fund has now been delivering their unique and empathetic support across the Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland for nine years. Working from a base in Stornoway, the organisation expanded in 2016 to offer further support across Moray, Aberdeenshire, Orkney and Shetland and will now also provide support in Angus, the City of Dundee, Perth and Kinross.

The funding will allow a new post, advertised this week, to be created in Stornoway. Development manager Chrisetta Mitchell will be joined in the Point Street office by an administrative assistant, freeing her time to develop personal relationships with more CF patients and their families.

Patients and families will be able to choose from existing services such as Pamper Hampers – mood-lifting packages of snacks and toiletries for patients undergoing lengthy hospital admissions. Complementary therapies, counselling and support through the Get Active fitness programme will also be extended to up to 71 new contacts in Tayside.

The new post is to be advertised this week (Friday October 4th) and the service delivery in Tayside is scheduled to begin on November 4th.

Development manager Chrisetta Mitchell said: “The NHS Tayside Community Innovation funding is a huge boost to the Leanne Fund. We always want to help more people but we have to take things slowly to ensure that our support remains consistent to the people with Cystic Fibrosis in all the regions where we work.

“My own workload has not so far allowed the additional time for this expansion, but an additional member of staff will deal with duties such as organising our own fundraising events, admin and secretarial support. This will free up a significant portion of time, in which the great successes we’ve seen in growing the work of The Leanne Fund can progress into Tayside, as we have seen in other NHS regions.

“Cystic Fibrosis is a life-limiting, progressive disease and the burden of treatment and permanent presence of symptoms can be very stressful. We focus on creating services which meet the needs of individuals, because no two patients are exactly the same, and on creating happy memories now to last a lifetime.

“Our aim is to help children and young people affected by CF and their families have access to services and funds that make life a little easier. We can’t wait to offer that service in Tayside.”

Graphic – the area now covered by Leanne Fund support for CF patients.

 


 

Stornoway Port Authority will shortly be allocating a limited number of marina berths for the period from 1 November 2019 to 1 May 2020 

Owners of vessels up to 14 metres in length requesting a berth should apply in writing by 1700 on Wednesday 16 October 2019 to Stornoway Port Authority, Amity House, Esplanade Quay, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, HS1 2XS or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

£1.7 million from Crown Estate revenues will be coming to local communities.  

In the past, revenues from developments in the Outer Hebridean seas went to HM Treasury in London.

Speaking at a meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee today (Wednesday 2 October), Comhairle Leader, Councillor Roddie Mackay, said: “As a result of vigorous lobbying by the Comhairle and others, the Smith Commission of 2014 recommended that these revenues be returned to the communities hosting the developments and now Scottish Ministers are honouring that recommendation with £1.7m of Scottish Crown Estate revenues returning to the Outer Hebrides from the first year of devolved management.

"Alongside this, the Comhairle and Galson Estate Trust are working with Crown Estate Scotland to develop a pilot for local management of Crown Estate assets. 

“We are now starting to see real, tangible benefits from our many years of sustained lobbying – our communities will now have a say in how the marine estate is developed and revenues from these developments will now return to those same communities. The Comhairle, as initial recipient of these revenues, will now develop a protocol for their disbursement to communities.”

NHS Western Isles is urging women to be aware of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer during this year’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Detecting cancer early is vital to saving lives.

In fact, you’re five times more likely to survive breast cancer if it’s diagnosed and treated at the earliest stage.

Most women know that a lump can be a sign of breast cancer. Lumps can be found anywhere in your breasts, armpit or around your collarbone.

If you do find one, or any other symptom of breast cancer such as leaking nipples, skin like orange peel, nipple becoming turned in, bleeding or crusty nipples or dimples, it doesn't necessarily mean you have cancer.Breast changes can happen for many reasons, and most of them aren’t serious. Many women have breast lumps, and 9 out of 10 are not cancerous. So stay calm – remain in control. However, you do need to get it looked at by your doctor – just to rule it out.

Of course, your breasts will look and feel different at different times of your life but if you’re worried about a change, see your doctor. After all, breast cancer is much more treatable these days and the earlier it’s found, the easier it is to treat. If you or anyone you know is concerned about any of these symptoms, please visit your doctor. It’s probably nothing serious but it could be a sign of something that needs treatment.

As part of this year's Breast Cancer Awareness month, NHS Western Isles is grateful to be sharing the story of breast cancer survivor Shona MacInnes from South Uist who, at only 33 and with a young family, was diagnosed with breast cancer. It is hoped that Shona's story will encourage women to carry out their own breast self-examination on a regular basis, and become ‘breast aware’.

Being ‘breast aware’ simply means knowing what your breasts look and feel like normally, being on the outlook for any unusual changes and getting them checked out by your doctor. Lumps are vital to look out for – but there can be other important signs too.

NHS Western Isles Director of Public Health, Dr Maggie Watts, said: “Women need to be breast aware, which means knowing what their breasts look and feel like normally, so that they are aware of any changes and can get them checked out by their doctor. Lumps are of course vital to look out for but there are other important signs too, such as changes to size, shape, texture and discharge.”

One in eight women in Scotland will develop breast cancer but, if found early enough, it is treatable. In fact, you’re five times more likely to survive breast cancer if it’s caught in its earliest stage.

If you do notice any changes in your breasts, it's important to see your GP. There's no need to feel embarrassed as your doctor is there to help but if you would prefer, you can request to be seen by a female doctor or practice nurse. You could even take a friend along with you - the most important thing is to get checked.

As part of this month’s awareness campaign, staff from Health Promotion are also providing breast awareness sessions in a number of workplaces and, as part of Macmillan Cancer Support's coffee mornings, breast awareness information will be provided.  In addition, further promotional literature and posters have been distributed to GP surgeries and workplaces to remind and encourage women on how to carry out their breast self-examination.

Finally, a Zumba class is currently being organised on Barra to promote breast cancer awareness

To find out more about breast cancer go to: www.getcheckedearly.org/breast-cancer

 

The number of family planning clinics NHS Western Isles is offering to access contraception and family planning services has recently been increased.

Three clinics are now available on a weekly basis at the Western Isles Hospital (Monday 2pm-5pm, Wednesday 9am-1pm and Thursday 9am-1pm) and individuals can simply book their appointment by telephoning 01851 708035 to obtain information, support and access to family planning services.

Clinics will be held by the Consultant Gynaecologist and although aimed at supporting access to Long Term Acting Reversible (LARC) forms of contraception – the most effectiveform for family planning and for women who wish to space their pregnancies - other forms of contraception will be available to suit individual needs.

Individuals are reminded that family planning and sexual health appointments can also be booked at any GP Practice, even if it is not at their own regular GP Practice.​  Free condoms and lubricant gel are also provided by NHS Western Isles and are available from a number of locations which include:

  • GP Surgeries throughout the Western Isles
  • Health Information & Resources Service (HIRS)
  • Pointers Youth Cafe
  • Health Promotion (Stornoway and Benbecula)

HI-Scot, the credit union for the Highlands and Islands, is taking part in a worldwide celebration of credit unions during October.

Thursday 17th October is International Credit Union Day 2019, a day which highlights the history and achievements of the movement, as well as raising the profile of the work of credit unions in local communities, reflected in this year's theme: 'Local Service, Global Reach.'

“HI-Scot has been working across the Highlands and Islands for thirteen years and, in 2019, we have over three thousand members,” said HI-Scot General Manager, David Mackay, “In that time we have approved over four thousand loans. That's a lot of money benefiting people in our communities.”

From their base in Stornoway, HI-Scot serves one of the largest geographical areas of any credit union in the UK. Membership is open to anyone living or working within the area. New members can join by visiting one of the network of local Access Points across the Highlands and Islands or using the secure online system at: www.hi-scot.com

As high street banks close branches throughout the Highlands and Islands, HI-Scot has seen steady growth in its membership. David Mackay explains the ways in which the credit union differs from traditional banks.

“HI-Scot – like credit unions across the world – is not run for profit,” said David, “There are no sky-high charges or 'fat cat' bonuses. HI-Scot operates to benefit its members, whether you're saving for special occasion or borrowing with one of our competitively priced loans. We won't try to 'upsell' our products and don't have any hidden extras.”

HI-Scot operates under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, which means that members' accounts are protected in the same way as at any high street bank.

On this year's International Credit Union Day,  HI-Scot will join credit unions in 117 different countries (with a global membership over 260 million) in raising the profile of the unique way in which credit unions operate: established with a co-operative ethos, owned by their members and committed to providing accessible savings and loans to the communities they serve.

David Mackay said that International Credit Union Day this October offered people throughout the Highlands and Islands a unique opportunity. “It’s a good chance to get in touch or look us up online and see for yourself what HI-Scot, your local credit union, can do for you.”

 

 

 

 

 

Preparations are beginning for the second annual NATO exercise, Joint Warrior, scheduled to begin on Saturday (October 5th).

The major multi-national exercise is led by combined UK forces and involves troops and military hardware from nations including the US, Norway, France and Spain. Up to 10,000 troops are reportedly expected to be involved in the second of this year’s exercises.

Most activity happens well offshore, though local marine users are advised by the Royal Navy to be aware of elements of the exercise which they may encounter.

Stornoway Coastguard broadcasts briefings on military activity at 7.10am and 7.10pm each day of the exercise. A Fisherman’s Hotline telephone number is available 24-hours a day through the exercise, on 01923 846364.

There will be submarine, mine-warfare and live firing activity between October 5th and 17th, with a programme of exercises conducted by land forces, warships, submarines and aircraft across the UK. The maritime element includes activity in the offshore and coastal waters north west of Scotland.

A Royal Navy statement said: “Exercise Joint Warrior is the largest military exercise in Europe, bringing together the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force and the British Army, as well as forces from other nations.

“This massive multinational war exercise involves warships, aircraft, marines and troops from UK, NATO and allied forces. The exercise doesn’t only allow participating units to hone their specialist roles within a larger war-style setting – it also helps foster vital links between the UK, NATO and other allied militaries.

“The aim is to provide a complex environment in which the participants can train together, honing tactics and skills in preparation for deployment as a Combined Joint Task Force.”

The EP of music from the Dìleab project has hit the shops in Lewis and Harris and will soon be available online.

Dìleab: a legacy, features pupils from across the Western Isles, working with singer songwriter Willie Campbell on themes including emigration, the impact of war, the Iolaire tragedy and protest and politics - themes which have impacted our islands greatly.

In physical form, the EP is now available from An Lanntair and from Comhairle buildings in Stornoway, including the Town Hall customer services desk. Later this week it'll be available from Sir E Scott school, the Harris Distillery and Castlebay school in Barra.

The digital download will be available from Friday the 18th of October, through This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

This week Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s education department announced that Skipinnish are to headline the 2019 Dìleab showcase event in the Lewis Sports Centre on Friday 29th November.

They will be joined the Tumbling Souls and Face the West, along with local bands including Fèis group Dual, the Lewis and Harris youth band, Sir E Scott School choir and The Nicolson Institute choir.

Tickets for the showcase event will be available on Eventbrite from 9am on Monday (7th October) priced £25 for Adults and £15 for U18s.

Skipinnish are celebrating their 20th year performing in 2019, and said: “Since Skipinnish began, the people of Lewis and Harris have given us huge support and we are delighted to be playing for them during our 20th anniversary year. It is always magical to see our lead singer, Norrie MacIver perform on home turf. Keyboard player, Alasdair Iain Patterson also has strong family links to Lewis and these island connections will be felt strongly on the night. This will be a concert that we will all remember for years to come.”

Stornoway police are looking for information after vandalism in the town overnight on Sunday (September 29th).

Between 5pm on Sunday and 8am on Monday damage was caused to a door at an address on North Beach Street, Stornoway.

Anyone who saw or heard anything suspicious in the area is asked to contact police on the non-emergency number, 101.

Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal, Princess Anne, will be in Lewis tomorrow (Wednesday October 2nd) for a visit to Kinloch and the Westside.

The Princess Royal will officially open the Kinloch Community Hub at Balallan Old School before heading off to indulge her passion for lighthouses at Breasclete.

The community hub is run by Kinloch Historical Society and has a tea room, which is closed for the day tomorrow, and a variety of community services including a launderette, electric car charging points and an active programme of social events.

Her Royal Highness will also visit the Flannan Isles memorial, exhibition and former Keepers' Shore Station at Breasclete. The memorial exhibition, which commemorates the tragic and mysterious loss of the three lightkeepers in December 1900, is open until 31st October.

Princess Anne is uniquely well-informed about the mysterious story behind the Flannan Isles lighthouse. Patron of Northern Lighthouse Board since 1993, she spends time aboard the lighthouse vessel Pharos and visits offshore lighthouses, including the Flannan Isles.

A lifelong interest in lighthouses was famously sparked by a visit to Tiumpan Head lighthouse when the Princess was just five years old. She has a life-time ambition to visit all the UK’s lighthouses and, at 69, is well on her way to achieving that ambition.

15,000 Western Isles households are to be invited to join a census rehearsal, ahead of Scotland’s next census in 2021.

The Census is a unique and comprehensive count of Scotland’s people. Scottish Government and other public bodies use census information to help make decisions including how money will be spent on essential services like schools, roads and hospitals.

Census rehearsal helps make sure the next census, planned for 21st March 2021, runs smoothly. The National Records of Scotland (NRS) plan to make the 2021 Census more digital, with completion online as well as on paper. The rehearsal is intended to test systems and processes and provide invaluable insights.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar joins Glasgow City and Dumfries and Galloway as a test area for the new format, with letters due to be sent to 15,000 households in the Outer Hebrides from October 7th. A helpline to assist those filling in their rehearsal return will open on 7th October and will close on 7th November at 0800 030 8333. Two reminder letters will be issued around 23rd October and 28th October.

Unlike the census itself the rehearsal is not a legal requirement, but a spokesperson said: “We would urge everyone in the Outer Hebrides who receives a letter to take part in the census rehearsal. This is a major preparation for the next census in 2021 and it is important that as many people as possible take part in the rehearsal so that the actual census runs as smoothly as possible. All those taking part are making a valuable contribution to the future provision of services.”

Scotland’s next Census, subject to the approval of the Scottish Parliament, will be held on Sunday 21st March 2021, in line with other censuses taking part in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on this date too. This will be the 22nd census to take place since 1801, and the 17th to be managed independently in Scotland.

The annual conference for Gaelic education practitioners takes place in Aviemore tomorrow (Wednesday, October 2) and Thursday, October 3, and is being opened this year by the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney.

More than 170 delegates from all over the country will attend the An t-Alltan conference of workshops and other learning opportunities, which takes place in the MacDonald Aviemore Conference Centre and has been organised by Gaelic educational resources organisation Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig, based in Seaforth Road, Stornoway.

The opening address by John Swinney, is one of the expected highlights, along with a preview of a new resource aimed at teaching Gaelic to learners in the early years environment.

Confirmation that Mr Swinney will open the conference was met with appreciation from Stòrlann and hailed as further evidence of high-level Government support for the language by Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

The new online resource to be previewed at the conference is Gàidhlig nan