Faclan audiences are in for a spine-chilling time on Saturday night (October 28th) when award-winning author Michelle Paver takes to the stage.

The novelist and children’s writer and, now, scriber of ghost stories, will take the Festival’s Ultima Thule theme to the extreme as she heads the final night with a talk about her growing love affair with the all things ghostly.

Paver, an Oxford graduate who ditched a law career to become a writer, is best known as the author of fantasy children’s series Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, set in pre-agricultural Stone Age Europe, and the more recent Gods and Warriors series, set in the Bronze Age. 

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.”

 

Iain ‘Diablo’ Sinclair has been awarded the honorary title of chieftain of Camanachd Leòdhais, after the shinty club’s annual general meeting at the offices of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar last night (Tuesday October 30th).

AN ear-shattering noise which locals on Uist and Barra thought was an earthquake was in fact a sonic boom, the RAF has confirmed.

Terrified residents feared the worst when the southern isles were skaken on Wednesday morning. 

But the noise has been attributed to jets breaking the sound barrier while on exercise in the Western Isles, coupled with high pressure in the weather system.

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).

 

What about going one-step further than avoiding the use of plastic straws by going for reusable and totally biodegradable straws produced in North Tolsta?

Admittedly, the supply is tiny at present…but who knows, if the idea took root, what could grow from it!

Islanders are warned of been reports of a cold calling scam, where the caller claims to be calling from HMRC.

Trading Standards at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar say the caller states that you have underpaid income tax by £900 and that two notifications have already been sent by post.

Imminent court action is threatened unless the outstanding amount is paid immediately over the phone. In some cases the caller has asked for payment to be made by money transfer or by purchasing gift cards ( the consumer is asked to give the gift card numbers to the caller).

The cake was cut be the credit union’s oldest saver, William Macleod, who is 93 and also present were two of the youngest savers, Toby Ross-Jordan with his father Gary, and George Murray with his father Gordon (right)

 

Thousands of people are benefitting from the work of the credit union serving the Highlands and Islands, its tenth birthday party was told yesterday (Wednesday October 13).

The vice-chair of the HI-Scot Credit Union’s board of directors, Roddy Johnston, said it was “safe and wonderful place” for people to keep their money because it is owned by its own members “and it works for the members.”  It has done “ten years of great work.”

At the Hi-Scot Credit Union head office in James Street, Stornoway, the tenth birthday commemorative cake was cut by the oldest saver with the union, William Macleod, who is 93.

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).

A developer’s request to buy the site of Stornoway abattoir on a lease-back agreement has been considered by councillors.

At a meeting of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s  policy and resources committee on Tuesday (October 2nd) councillors were told of plans to redevelop the Newton area  by a partnership including CnES, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Stornoway Port Authority and several private developers.

One of the developers had put forward a plan for development of a Newton Enterprise Park, embracing an area next to the current site of the abattoir. The proposal included purchase of the abattoir site, which would then be leased back to the Comhairle for three years so that the current business could have time “for a relocation of the abattoir to a more suitable location”.

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.

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).

Western Isles MP Angus B MacNeil has spoken at Westminster expressing his disbelief  over the Home Office’s refusal to grant a 14-year-old island schoolgirl a passport because she is unable to provide her mother’s birth certificate.

The schoolgirl, name not disclosed, was left in the care of her father and paternal grandparents by her mother in 2005.

In 2015 the girl’s father passed away and she is now cared for by her paternal grandparents who have Parental Rights and Responsibilities.

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.”

£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.”

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. “

 

RESIDENTS of Marybank, Stornoway were delighted to receive a gift of £10,000 from the Point and Sandwick windfarm for their support and understanding during the development of their three turbines on the Pentland Road.
Angus McCormack, chair of Point and Sandwick Trust, said they wanted to “recognise the goodwill” the people of Marybank showed them during the development of the community windfarm – named Beinn Ghrideag after the hill on which it is built, near the Achmore turn-off from the Pentland Road.
Marybank Residents Association said the money will make a “massive difference” to their community and has even inspired them to try for a turbine of their own — from which they would receive 100 per cent of the profits.

Pictured is Janet Paterson from the Western Isles Lottery presenting a cheque for £2,128.80 to John "Corrags" MacLeod, Malina Morrison and Jonathan Smith of the Westside Agricultural Show Committee. 
The funds were the proceeds raised from Lottery ticket sales from Supporters in the Ness & Westside Area. This follows funding already received in Area 2 by Eoropie Playpark and Carloway Community Centre, making a total of £5,075 distributed to date.

The major economic impact of the Hebridean Celtic Festival and its key role in bringing visitors to the islands is again underlined in a new report.

The 2018 HebCelt, headlined by Deacon Blue, The Fratellis, Eddi Reader, Skipinnish, and Roddy Woomble was held from 18-20 July in Stornoway with all four nights sold out.

Overall attendances reached nearly 18,000 over the four days of the event, its highest ever number, with an estimated total in excess of 7,500 paying festival-goers.

The organisers of the inaugural Hebridean Pride 2018 met last weekend to present a cheque for £350 to Christine Darby-Munro from their nominated charity Penumbra.  Thank you to all who contributed to this amazing charity who are doing incredible things here in the Western Isles.

Back Football and Recreation Club is today celebrating a £5,489 funding boost from SUEZ Communities Trust for their lighting redevelopment project.

Funding will allow the club to update and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of current lighting systems. The outdated, mismatched, awkward-to-work system will be replaced with a new, more intuitive LED system with PIR sensors.

The Western Isles Citizens Advice Service (WICAS) has put half a million pounds into the pockets of local people over the six months from April to September 2017 in the form of compensation, with-held wages and unclaimed benefits.

The four CAB offices – based in Stornoway, Tarbert, Balivanich and Castlebay – collectively saw 2240 clients over the period, with social security benefits and debt cases far outnumbering other categories. The figures are published in the latest WICAS Operational Report presented to their Board of Directors. 

David Blaney, Chairman of WICAS, says: “This has been another busy period for our advisers in all four offices, but we are pleased to have provided much-needed support to so many local people. 

The Isle of Harris Golf Club held their second annual Charity Day on Saturday 27th August 2016.

This year they nominated Bethesda Hospice to receive the proceeds of the day, and Mr Mal Hall, Club Captain is seen handing over a cheque for £700 to DR Macdonald, Bethesda Fundraiser.

The main award - chosen by shoppers - from Tesco's Bags of Help fund (derived from the plastic bags charge) has gone to Alzheimer Scotland Lewis & Harris, for their Dementia Friendly Snooker Club.

Alzheimer Scotland Lewis & Harris said: "We are delighted to be awarded the main award of £4000.

"The activity is now up and running and folks are already enjoying their game of snooker or pool.

Western Isles Citizens Advice Service put a total of £800,000 into the pockets of local people last year, by helping them to access benefit entitlements, unpaid wages and helping them to manage their debt more effectively - according to new figures published by the charity.

WICAS has also revealed that it saw 1378 clients over the year, with the vast majority of cases related to social security and debt. 

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.

A friendship group for older people from Point recently celebrated its 100th monthly meeting – and is inviting other members of the community to join the fun.

Cairdean Og Allt nan Gall held its landmark social event on October 2, at Ionad Stoodie community centre, and enjoyed a talk from Dr Ali Whiteford on the subject of Industrial Garrabost.

Dr Whiteford had also been the Cairdean’s first guest speaker, coming to talk to their inaugural social meeting back in 2007.

The first LGBT ‘Pride’ parade event to be held in the Outer Hebrides takes place in Stornoway today (Saturday October 6th).

Organisers say they have received a lot of support from organisations including NHS Western Isles, Stonewall, the Equality Network and An Lanntair.

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.  

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

4 places to (not) park in Stornoway

  • At home. If you’re considering parking somewhere dumb, just take the bus. Please.
  • On Bayhead. Bayhead is not far away from the centre. However far away you think it is, it isn’t. And walking is good for you. Plus the parking spaces are diagonal and super easy to get into – no parallel parking necessary (success!)
  • (Not) at (insert supermarket with death-defying car park), if you aren’t actually going to shop there. People trying to shop in (insert supermarket with death-defying car park), are trying to park in that car park, so, unless it’s super quiet, don't get in the way.
  • Perceval Square car park. It isn’t (all) free, but it is nice, and handy. Whatever you do, don’t risk it and not pay, this will result in you running faster than you’ve ever run to get into your car before the traffic warden gets to it… welovestornoway.com and its affiliates do not condone such behaviour.

 

6 things to do in Stornoway this autumn!

Often, you don’t realise what’s right on your doorstep... Long gone are the endless days, but, even as the days get shorter, there’s still lots to do!

1. Explore the castle grounds! This is one of the most beautiful times of year when it comes to trees, as the leaves are turning brown, and the sun is low – and that beautiful, deep golden colour – so the shadows are amazing. Pop your headphones in, or enjoy the gentle noises of this wonderful, peaceful place. If you’ve got a mountain bike, take that out and enjoy the numerous new cycle paths that the grounds have to offer!

2. Paint a pot! Whether you’re 9 or 90, grab a pal or two, and go paint something! Enjoy some tea or coffee, and do something a little different on those days when the weather is just pushing you indoors!

3. Go to Lewis Sports Centre. Whether you want to swim, gym, use their high-tech Wattbikes, go wall climbing, or play squash, Lewis Sports Centre is a fantastic resource that is just waiting for you to use it! If you don’t fancy anything too strenuous, go warm up, and sweat out all your toxins, in their spa, which has a Jacuzzi, a steam room and a sauna.  Click here for a full list of the classes and activities available!

4. Watch the Aurora Borealis (AKA the Northern Lights)! We’re lucky to live in one of the few places where you can experience this beautiful spectacle, so get out there! It might keep you up a little late, but keep an eye on Aurora Watch Western Isles so you know when to venture out. Make sure you wrap up warm!

5. Watch the sun rise/set. We might be missing those endless, bright summer’s days, but at least it means that sunset and sunrise are easier to see! Get up a little earlier than usual, and go for a jog, face East, and enjoy! Or sit in your garden/climb a hill, and watch the sun go down. Just take a moment, whenever you can, to notice how beautiful this place is! 

6. Visit an Lanntair! Take a detour during your usual errand-running on Francis street, and see what they have to offer you. an Lanntair is for everyone, not just for artists. Wander their latest exhibition, go to the cinema, enjoy a cocktail or a latte in their elegant bar, or have dinner overlooking the harbour. Whatever you fancy, our local arts centre is here to keep you entertained, not to mention cultured!

Written by Melissa Silver for welovestornoway.com

The Sports Centre in Stornoway could be open from 7am for 4 days a week if negotiations with staff are successful. 

This follows a Council decision last week to allow a trial period to gauge interest. 

 

A big crowd gathered in An Lanntair on Saturday evening (October 28th) during Faclan/the Hebridean Book Festival for the launch of Stornoway publishers Acair latest book…Forradh: Sly Cooking – its title taken from one of the 42 Gaelic words which are profiled within it, both in words and images.

Present for the event was author Catriona Black – far from her present home in the Dutch village of Santpoort-Noord – who is a former art critic for the Sunday Herald, an illustrated children’s book author, and a short film animator.

Stornoway publisher Acair has achieved a huge endorsement of the quality of their catalogue of works, with two nominations for the most prestigious awards in the Scottish literary calendar.

The Saltire Society Scotland announced their shortlists for all categories of books at an event at Waterstones bookshop in Edinburgh on Friday night (October 25th). Acair’s general manager Agnes Rennie was there to hear news that two recent publications by the island publishing house are among those shortlisted in different categories.

Shortlisted for the Saltire History Book of the Year 2019 is Malcolm Macdonald and Donald John Macleod’s definitive account of the tragedy of the Iolaire, The Darkest Dawn, which was published to acclaim just ahead of the January 1st centenary of the disaster.

It’s in contention on a shortlist of six works, while a book of long poems by Christopher Whyte, Ceum Air Cheum (Step by Step) could be awarded the title Saltire Poetry Book of the Year.

Following the announcement, Acair issued a statement saying: “The Darkest Dawn: The Story of the Iolaire Tragedy (Acair, 2018) has been shortlisted for The Saltire Society History Book of the Year. Co-authors Malcolm Macdonald and the late Donald John MacLeod spent over twenty years researching material for this book and they are worthy of all recognition received as a result of the book’s publishing.

“Ceum air Cheum (Acair, 2019) by Christopher Whyte has been shortlisted for The Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year. Christopher’s twelve longer poems cover wide-ranging topics such as anti-Catholic prejudice in 1960s Glasgow, the cage of English and a troubled interaction with Sorley MacLean. Christopher’s work is firmly rooted in Scottish realities while being absolutely international in outlook.”

Author Malcolm Macdonald reacted swiftly to the news, saying: “On behalf of the late Donald John and I, can I say that astoundment is the only word that encapsulates my feelings after 'The Darkest Dawn' was nominated by the Saltire Society in the shortleet for their history book of 2019!”

Sarah Mason, programme director at the Saltire Society, said: “We are proud of the fact that the Saltire Literary Awards shortlists celebrate the diversity, quality and richness of books to come from Scotland over the past year. The Saltire Literary Awards have a proud history of celebrating and bringing wider attention to excellence and we congratulate the writers and publishers who have been shortlisted this year.”

The award winners will be announced at an event in Edinburgh on November 30th, with the winner of each book award receiving a cash prize of £2,000 and going on to be considered for the top prize of Saltire Scottish Book of the Year, receiving a further £5,000.

The Lewis and Harris Accordion and Fiddle Club is now holding its monthly sessions in the Garry Room of the Caladh Inn.

This follows its recent AGM and a subsequent meeting held in early October which led the Accordion and Fiddle Club Committee to accept an offer from the management of the Caladh Inn,  to host and stage their Club nights.

This offer fulfills all the club's requirements regarding venues, together with providing accommodation for their visiting guest artistes.

Club Nights still take place on the first Thursday of each month but they are now in the Garry Room of the Caladh Inn.

The next Club Night is a very special one namely the Ian Crichton Memorial Charity Night. This is on Thursday November 6th at 8pm. Each year all monies raised on this night are donated to local charities within Lewis and Harris, and to date £22,717.00 has been donated to very worthy local organisations. The monies this year will go to Crossroads Care.

The Club has been in existence for 20 years and was formed within the now-closed Royal British Legion where they held Club nights in the Crows Nest. Having outgrown this venue, they moved to the Stornoway Sea Angling Club which has been their home for the last 14 years.

The Accordion and Fiddle Club Committee would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank the Sea Angling Club for all their help and attention in fulfilling their many obligations. It is never easy to change venues after this long length of time.

The committee says: "Come along and join the Accordion and Fiddle Club in our new venue. You are assured of a warm welcome and you will be well entertained by a wide range of local musicians, from the young to the not so young, together with visiting Guest artistes - all representing the very best in accordion and fiddle music."  

The Islands and Highlands have almost double the proportion of population self-employed as the rest of Scotland – and a wealth of small businesses as well.

So they need special backing from Government action on housing, regulations and infrastructure as part of the bid to increase the number of younger people in the workforce.

This is stated in a response by the Federation of Small Businesses Scotland to the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee looking at the Islands (Scotland) Bill.

During the October holidays, a group of young people and volunteers were invited to visit the Castle to see a selection of the recently refurbished rooms. They also went to visit Lady Matheson’s Memorial. This is part of Bridge Youth & Community Group's ongoing Lottery funded Heritage project. Many thanks to Angus Smith from the Castle for organising this very special visit.

It is 50 years ago that writer Adam Nicolson first visited the Shiant Isles with his father, and the experience has stayed with him to this day. “I will never forget the dazzling, entrancing moment when he first showed me the bird colonies there.”

“The sheer density of them, the way in which in a seabird colony you can see the realities of the natural world in action before you.

“That was always exciting to me, and it has been a touchstone in my life ever since. Everything I know and everywhere I have been, I have always measured against that unconstrained vitality of being.”

The booking forms for all Ionad Spòrs Leòdhais After-School Activities for Term 2 are now available on-line by following the link below:
 
www.cne-siar.gov.uk/isl
 
For any further information, you can telephone reception on 01851 822800, says Karen Pickard, Service Support Officer, Ionad Spòrs Leòdhais.

The Air Discount Scheme, which offers a significant discount on air fares for travellers from remote communities, has been increased to 50 per cent.

The announcement was made by Minister for Transport and Islands Derek Mackay at the islands debate in parliament yesterday.

50 per cent is the maximum allowed under the terms of the scheme and will apply to tickets booked on or after 1 January. This increase comes after Mr Mackay announced earlier this year the scheme was being extended to 2019.

The closure of the Bank of Scotland in Tarbert on Fridays is going to cause ‘major problems’ for retailers and tourists, a Harris-based craft trader has predicted.

The Tarbert branch recently announced it was closing on Fridays as well as Wednesdays, and already there have been issues.

A lone-standing ATM at the Tourist Office car park in Tarbert is the only cash machine on Harris. 

For the last two weekends it has been out-of-order – leaving cashback from local shops the only means of getting money withdrawn.

It will be all change to island ferries until March next year

With the MV Isle of Lewis and MV Hebrides currently replacing the MV Loch Seaforth ferry on the Ullapool to Stornoway route until November 7th, operators CalMac has finalised its winter maintenance programme – with more vessel changes in store for Western Isles’ travellers.
Including inter-island services, CalMac runs a total of 50 routes served by 32 vessels, each of which is required to undergo a period of annual dry dock maintenance.
This presents the company with a complex logistical problem to keep all of its lifeline services running with minimal disruption.

Gaeldom's most important event - the Royal National Mod - begins in Stornoway later today. 

Thousands of visitors will descend on Lewis over the forthcoming week, to either participate in or soak up the atmosphere of the premier Gaelic festival.

Proceedings kick off tonight with the annual presentation of the Gaelic Ambassador of the Year award, at 4.30pm in the Town Hall. 

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.

 

AN ANGLER has landed a massive skate in Harris.

Steven Morrison caught the 205lbs fish after an epic struggle in the dark.

He used a whole mackerel on a 14/0 hook to lure the skate to land.

This year’s prestigious Angus Macleod Memorial Lecture will take place at the Old School, Balallan, at 7.30pm on Thursday 22nd October.

Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.

The lecture will be given this year by John Norgrove of Uig, Lewis, on the subject ‘Afghanistan, and how it changed our family’. 

Pictured below are John and Lorna Norgrove in Afghanistan.

The annual Angus Macleod Memorial Lecture will take place on November 2, at 7:30pm in the e-Sgoil premises on Francis Street, Stornoway.

The lecture, in partnership with the new Comhairle nan Eilean Siar e-Sgoil initiative, will be broadcast live throughout the Western Isles which will enable a larger audience to view and participate in the event.

The lecture will be given by Donalda MacKinnon, the director of BBC Scotland. The subject of the lecture will be ‘The Role of the BBC in an ever Changing Global Communications Industry’ and will reflect on how recent political, social and technical development have affected the BBC’s work and its future role, specifically on broadcasting in Scotland.

Entrance is free and all are welcome. If you wish to attend, or want more information on the various broadcasts, please book by contacting Mira Byrne at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone at 01851 822850.

Audiences all over the world can tune into this year's Angus MacLeod Memorial Lecture as organisers try their hands at new technology for the first time.

The annual event is taking place it 7:30pm on Thursday 2nd November 2017 at e-Sgoil, in the former Museum buildings on Frances Street in Stornoway. building can offer.   

And organisers Comunn Eachdraidh na Pàirc and the Islands Book Trust are making the most of the technology available and offering interested parties all over the world as well as local community groups and centres the chance to link to and participate in honour of the former Lewis-man man Angus 'Ease' MacLeod whose life-long historical collection is held by the community of Lochs at Ravenspoint.  

A charity football match taking place on Saturday (October 14th) at Smith Avenue in Stornoway has been moved to the earlier time of 12.30pm.

The 999 Football match takes place each year between the Fire Service and the Police and is always great fun to watch.

All proceeds from the match will go to Neuro Hebrides, a patient and carer led support group for people who live with, or care for someone with neurological conditions in the Western Isles.

Emergency services will be on hand throughout....or should that be feet...?

ANOTHER rare bird has been spotted in the Hebrides.

The yellow browed warbler was recorded yesterday in a private garden in Willowglen Road, in Stornoway.

The bird is usually found in tropical southeast Asia, but very small numbers occasionally make it across to Europe during the migrating season.

Last week, birdwatchers from across the UK were in Barra to catch a glimpse of another rare bird, the scarlet tanager.

The Outer Hebrides Anti-Poverty Plan was launched today (Tuesday October 8th) in an event in the e-Sgoil building in Francis Street, Stornoway.

The plan has been devised by the Outer Hebrides Community Planning Partners.

Speakers emphasised the costs to the community of the impact of poverty on families and children in particular. 

Representatives of various groups - including Tighean Innse Gall and Western Isles CAB - were gathered for the event.

Speakers included Comhairle nan Eilean Convener Norman Macdonald; Dr Maggie Watts, director of public health; and Councillor Angus McCormack, who heads the Poverty Action Group. 

This formed part of a national campaign. Challenge Poverty Week is an opportunity for people to raise voices against poverty and show what is being done to tackle poverty across Scotland.

Organisations large and small supported Challenge Poverty Week last year, and organisers hope even more get behind it this year.

The main aims of the week are to:

  • Highlight the reality of poverty and challenge the stereotypes
  • Showcase the solutions to poverty
  • Increase public support for action to solve poverty

 

THE offices of the Outer Hebrides Fisheries Trust were broken into, sometime between 5.30pm on Monday and 7.25am on Tuesday.

The building is located within the Castle Grounds, and police are appealing for anyone with information to contact them.

They can be reached on 101, or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Local community groups are urged to make their applications as The Outer Hebrides LEADER 2014-202 Programme is delighted to announce another round of funding.
With a closing date for applications on Wednesday, February 14th, 2018, projects must demonstrate innovative solutions to support community and economic development in the Outer Hebrides; and ideally projects should have match funding in place by the application submission deadline.
Works previously supported by LEADER funding include the Harris Marina Hub, which is developing marinas in Tarbert and Scalpay; the Huisinis Gateway project; Trix Pix Multimedia Studio and Marketing Campaign, and the Ploycrub Project operated by Hebridean Castle Trading.

There’s still a chance for projects in the Outer Hebrides to benefit from the Scottish Government’s new Rural Tourism Fund as Round Two closes on October 31.

Around £3 million from the first round of the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) is already being shared among 18 projects across Scotland to help cope with growing visitor numbers. These include the Tourism Outer Hebrides 2020 project which has been awarded more than £240,000.

Helping patients to book their appointments out with opening hours, Group Medical Practice in Stornoway has recently introduced an automated telephone service at its Springfield Road base.
Jennifer Ellis, Practice Manager, said: “Our new automated phone service, available on (01851) 703145, means patients won’t have to wait until the practice opens at 8.30am or wait in a queue to speak to a receptionist to book their appointment.
“The automated service will also help us to release extra appointments in the evening and early in the morning, making it even easier for patients to obtain an appointment more suited to them.”

Companies in aquaculture and related services are being invited to take part in a study to determine the future skills needs of the sector as it grows.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has commissioned ekosgen and Imani Development to undertake the study in response to recommendations in the Industry Strategy “Aquaculture Growth to 2030”.

The strategy makes a series of recommendations to support the growth of the sector and these are overseen by the Aquaculture Industry Leaders Group (AILG).

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.”

American-style trick-or treating is being shelved in favour of traditional guising in some parts of Lewis, as Hallowe’en, or Samhain, marks the onset of the winter season.

Youngsters in Tong will be out guising on November 1st, following a route from the Tong shop from 6pm.

The Artizan coffee, art and jewellery shop on Church Street. Stornoway, is opening late three nights during Mod week as hundreds of additional visitors are in town during the run of the Royal National Mod.   And in another development, on Saturday, it added hot soup to the range of snacks, cakes and drinks on offer.

Voluntary Arts Scotland has decided to run free digital skills training sessions in the Outer Hebrides for members of the public who are 50 years or older, who support cultural and heritage groups, to equip them with better digital skills and to become more experienced with new software.

Through Digital Scotland and the Scottish Government, Voluntary Arts Scotland has been able to survey over 90 cultural volunteers in order to specifically tailor the sessions to those involved in this field.

Fin Wycherley, a digital specialist will run the sessions. This will cover things such as running and maintaining Facebook pages and groups.

Reviewed by Nick Smith

One of the key films of Faclan 2017 is the 1937 film The Edge of the World, fittingly subtitled “Ultima Thule”. The effort invested in the film by director Michael Powell alongside his cast and crew make this an important part of British cinema history, even without reference to the plot.

Filming on Foula in the late 1930s was a triumph of determination with no flights, intermittent radio communication, and the need, before their months of work could begin, for the crew to build their own accommodation.

Their reward was the opportunity to capture stunning images of Foula’s landscapes and wildlife in the context of a story of love, traditions, and depopulation recognisable 80 years later. Foula becomes Hirta, in real life the major island of the St Kilda archipelago, although the plot relies on Foula’s true location in the Shetlands.

Author Liz Macrae Shaw from Skye will read from her novel Love and Music Will Endure, based on the life of Màiri Mhòr nan Òran, the renowned bard and campaigner, on Thursday 20th October at 5.30pm at Stornoway Library.
This reading, which takes place during the week of the National Mod in Stornoway, will be followed by an opportunity for discussion and book signing.
Màiri Mhòr nan Òran, poet and political campaigner was born into a crofting family in 19th century Skye.  Her powerful voice was only unleashed in middle age when she was falsely accused of theft.  She poured her rage and despair into songs about the plight of her fellow Highlanders who were being driven from their homes.  Through force of character she overcame the barriers of background, class and gender to become their champion and inspiration.

The next meeting of Autism Eilean Siar is on Wednesday 8th October at 10.30am at the Advocacy Western Isles meeting room in Bayhead.

 

Autism Eilean Siar is a voluntary support group, which aims to raise awareness, help and support families, and champion full and inclusive lives for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
 
They aim to support everyone in the Western Isles affected by the condition; parents, partners, family and friends.
 
Contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

So, the days are getting shorter, and the nights are getting longer. We're settling in by the fire, ready for a long winter.

This time of year can be hard, but look how beautiful it is!

 

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.

Local baby massage classes are proving a popular choice with parents, on Barra and other islands.

The free classes, which are held over four to five weeks and led by trained baby massage instructors, continue to attract good attendance by parents and carers across the islands.

The Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) have expressed bewilderment that the Convener of the Crofting Commission is still in place despite it being clear that he now stands alone.
“The Crofting Commission board meeting last week was certainly an eye-opener”, said Russell Smith, Vice-chair of the SCF. “It quickly became apparent that the Convener had lost the support of his board and it came as no surprise that he left the meeting with his tail between his legs. What is astounding though is that he still has not resigned. What does it take for him to get the message?”

An application to replace an existing wind turbine at Balallan’s Community Hub with a bigger and more effective model in line with other community buildings in the Islands is being considered by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s planning department

The proposed 10 kilowatt, Aircon 10S galvanised steel turbine would measure 15.5 metres in height and be situated on a crofting apportionment approximately 300 metres to the north east of the building which was formerly Balallan Primary School. 

Holding a barbecue in Stornoway in October…surely a triumph of hope over experience?  But yesterday it worked for the Western Isles Foyer project.

The official invitation did not downplay the risks – stating “Subject to weather conditions we are aiming to host an official gardening opening event, with inside/outside BBQ depending on the weather, to thank everyone who has been involved with the project (including volunteer team).”

But in blazing sunshine, people young and less-young gathered to mark the transformation of the land to the rear of the Foyer building at 36 Bayhead.

There's been a Barra winner for the sixth time, organisers of the Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery have announced. 

Meanwhile Lewis Crofters Limited are the latest local company to support the Lottery and news of November’s Bolt-On Prize will shortly be announced.

The Lottery has now shared out £2,331 in Cash Prizes and over £1,500 has been banked in the Community Funding Pot to be distributed at the end of October taking the total raised so far for Community upgrades to £6,200.

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.

 

Be seen, warm and dry as the dark winter nights draw in with an island favourite - a Fladen suit!

Available from the Fisherman's Co-op as separate jacket and trousers or all in one floatation suit (also great as a an outdoor boiler suit) - the Fladen range will keep you warm and toasty wether out on sea or land, fishing or crofting, or even just walking the dog on a dreich evening.

If you really need to be seen grab a hi-viz reflective warm jacket, as shown below, different styles and sizes available. 

Success spurs Suzanne to set up beauty therapy salon

Want to be ‘beautified’? Then you need go no further than Bells Road in Stornoway, where Suzanne Stewart has recently relocated her beauty therapy business, Beautify.

She opened her new salon on September 9th, after working from her kitchen at home since she started Beautify in November 2013.  “It just outgrew my house, it got really busy,” says Suzanne, who with the help of her family turned what had been a shop (Dragonfly Bay) into a sleek salon in just one week.

The colour scheme inside is modern and monochrome, with flashes of pink giving it a softer edge, and a throne-style cushioned seat positioned in front of the nail bar.  It’s here that Suzanne offers Gelish manicures, on both natural nails and extensions, which can last up to three weeks.  She can also offer nail art, the growing trend for intricate patterns painted on nails.

Beautify is the only salon in Stornoway to do HD Brows and LVL Lashes.  Trained by HD Brow professionals, Suzanne works with her customers on a seven-step treatment that includes tinting, waxing, threading, and tweezing, ultimately reshaping the brow.  It’s an important service: as Suzanne points out, well-groomed brows “can completely change the way the face looks.”

LVL Lashes – the initials stand for length, volume, and lift – are a striking alternative to false eyelash extensions.  By making the best of your natural lashes, the treatment straightens and tints them to give the impression of longer, fuller eyelashes.  Suzanne doesn’t offer eyelash extensions, but one client was so impressed with the change after the LVL treatment that she initially mistook her own lashes for extensions.

Other salon services available at Beautify include teeth whitening, waxing, and tanning.  The Collatan Twist tan cab is the newest, most up-to-date tan cab on the market, and uses a combination of regular tan lights and special collagen-releasing ones to rejuvenate the skin and reduce blemishes, while also tanning.

Beauty therapy is something that Suzanne, a former dental nurse, has “always been interested in.  It’s always been something I wanted to do but never had the chance, so when the chance came I just took it.”  The fact that Beautify has grown so rapidly in less than a year is evidence that her hard work and determination is paying off.  

“It’s really really busy, the diary is chock-a-block all the time,” says Suzanne.  And the hard work doesn’t end with relocating to a modern, chic salon.  Beautify is open late during the week, 11am until 8.30pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, 9.30pm on Thursday and Friday, and 6pm on Saturday – perfect for those nine-to-five workers who need a beauty boost but can’t make it during the day.

So what are you waiting for? Go and get ‘beautified’ on Bells Road.

Article by Katie Macleod can be found in October's issue (issue number 104) of EVENTS magazine.

Having a haircut or beauty treatment often feels like a treat, a relaxing pick-me-up that leaves you looking and feeling great.  At The Cutting Room and Allure Beauty Therapy in Barvas – a quick ten minute trip from Stornoway – the atmosphere and treatments on offer only add to the enjoyable experience.

Open six days a week, the salon has been seeing more and more clients since the doors opened two years ago.  It’s become so busy, in fact, that the business has recently expanded, with new staff meaning more appointments and treatments than ever before.

“We’re really busy, but instead of having to turn people away, we’ve expanded, and made it a lot easier for people to get appointments,” says hair stylist Sandra Maclean, who started the business two years ago and has seen it go from strength to strength.  With two hairdressers and two beauty therapists now on hand, it’s easier than ever to get an appointment; even late night slots are available for those fully-booked with work and other commitments during the day.

Beauty therapist Carolyn MacLure (of Allure Beauty Therapy) joined Sandra in The Cutting Room last year, the same year she won the PYBTS Regional Business Award, and was receiving so many requests for treatments that she decided to look into finding a fellow beauty therapist to share the space.  This saw Chrisanna Campbell start in the salon last month, after six years of experience in salons and spas in Inverness and London.

Because they are so busy, the team are able to start looking at providing innovative new treatments; plans are already in the pipeline for the introduction of IPL hair removal, for example.  “We’re really excited about it, we always like looking for new treatments that no-one else in the island does,” says Carolyn, who has worked as a beauty therapist for three years.  When she goes on maternity leave at the end of October, Chrisanna will be holding the fort.

They already offer the full range of traditional treatments (think manicures, massages, and waxing) as well as threading hair removal, Skinbase Microdermabrasion, CND Shellac Nails, Fake Bake and Xen-tan Spray Tan, and ‘Hi Brow.’  The latter involves an eyebrow consultation on shape and colour, and progresses into tinting, waxing, tweezing, and threading, leaving your face perfectly framed.  When it comes to all-important skincare, Carolyn uses Eve Taylor Aromatherapy, while Chrisanna’s treatments use Temple Spa.

“We’re busier than ever,” says Sandra, who has seen the business go from strength to strength.  “Pretty much every day there’s a new client coming in the door.” This summer also saw a second hair stylist join the team.  Tanya Macleod, who received her training at Jennifer’s in Stornoway, joined The Cutting Room in June after being on maternity leave.

With such a wide range of experience and skills across hair and beauty, The Cutting Room offers an excellent set-up for wedding packages, hen-party pamper sessions, and even ‘Little Princess’ packages – special beauty treatments for 6-12 year olds.

A brief ten-minute drive across the moor from Stornoway, and centrally situated for the rest of the island, The Cutting Room and Allure Beauty Therapy sees clients (men and women) come from all directions, from Harris in the south to Tolsta and Ness in the north.  

Inside, the space is bright and airy: luxurious-looking wallpaper and carved mirrors give it a modern edge.  With a relaxing interior, all the latest treatments, and friendly, professional staff, The Cutting Room and Allure Beauty Therapy is the ideal place for a pamper and an escape from the cares of everyday life.

 

Find The Cutting Room and Allure Beauty Therapy on Facebook, and on their website

Article by Katie Macleod can be found in October's issue (issue number 104) of EVENTS magazine.

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."

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.

Bethesda hospice is holding a new fundraising event: a sponsored cyclathon in the Bethesda shop on Bayhead, Stornoway, on Wednesday 19 October 11am - 4pm.  Please come along and support those giving of their time and energies to raise much-needed funds for the local hospice, they say

ISLANDERS are being urged to be vigilant if approached by doorstep sellers offering tarmacking, household repairs, or similar services.

Earlier this year the law changed to give consumers 14 days to change their minds when buying goods and services from the doorstep. 

The seller must also give you notice of your cancellation rights and other information in writing.

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).

On the 29th October 2016 from 10-4 there will be a Big Bike Revival event in Stornoway on behalf of Cycling Uk.

The event will be hosted by Lewis and Harris Youth Clubs Association and The Bridge Centre Youth Group.

Thanks to Cycling UK and the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar this day is open to all public and is FREE.

On the day, a number of local business will work together to provide the following services free of charge for those attending the event:

1. Bike Mechanics - free drop-in basic bike services. There will be two fully qualified bike mechanics attending.

2. Basic MTB skill sessions – Fully qualified MTB leaders giving basic skills training for those looking to just get a bit of confidence to use the local bike paths and trails. 

3. Road bike skill sessions – Bikeability Volunteers and Police Scotland will be providing cycle training for novices upwards to get families confident about being out on the roads safely. 

4. Police Scotland and their Youth Volunteering scheme will provide bike security stamping.

5. Local bike club Hebrides Cycle Club will be providing advice, local club opportunities, facilities.

6. Equipment swap/donation station. –If you have a bike that you feel you could donate to someone why not use the swap station?

7. Free Information leaflets showing the local cycling infrastructure and facilities.

8. Make your own healthy, pedal-powered smoothies with a bike blender.

9. Highland Cycle Ability Centre – bike sessions for all physical abilities

10. Promotional Freebies

11. Bouncy castle

12. Face painting

The day will be first come first served so don't miss out.

The aim is to celebrate all things cycling, and encourage everyone to get their bike out of the garage and back on the road.

The event is supported by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

For more information, click here

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."

It’s all change in the centre of Stornoway just now…with construction and refurbishment work on two new shops.

On Cromwell Street, Lewis Builders are involved in the creation of a new Iceland Store in the premises last occupied by the short-lived WeeW company – while right across the road shop-fitting is going on inside the former Hydro shop for the imminent move of Influence from Francis Street.

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.

 

There's another community action day tomorrow (Saturday) at the Newmarket playpark at Riverside Gardens, rescued earlier in the year by an upsurge of community concern and activity.
The aim is to site 29 information signs that they need to dig holes for and then concrete in place - with work starting at 9am and with free refreshments on offer. 
Also the organisers  are hoping to get the tops on all the lampposts.
There will also be some general tidying cutting of shrubs and plants  to do across the site and they will have a community skip there which is open to the community to get rid of their general non-recyclable waste. 

 

As with other days of work and play at the Newmarket playpark, the more the merrier!

A fundraising event for Carloway war memorial is being held on Saturday (27th October) at 12.30 pm in Carloway community centre.

There’s a Soup & Pudding lunch along with bottle/tombola stall and baking stall.

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.

Island crofters turned out in good numbers for the Crofting Roadshow 2016

The Crofting Roadshow, held in the aptly named Croft Room at the Caladh Inn tonight (Wednesday, October 26th) drew a healthy audience, keen to air local views on the crofting industry and the Crofting Commission.

Opening the Roadshow, Western Isles Murdo Maclennan updated those present to the achievements of the Commission over the past year, including a 20% reduction in application processing times, the roll-out of the new Croft Information System in February this year, and the success of delegating simple decisions to be made at Commission staff level.

He revealed that the work of the Commission had increased by 50% over the last twelve months and spoke of the need to look at current regulations and turned to the importance of the Crofting Census in gathering an evidence base to support legislative change.

Local people poured into the newly refurbished and extended Stornoway Fire Station for its Open Day on Saturday (October 28th)   

Families took the chance to take a look around as the new Retained Community Fire and Rescue Station on Robertson Road opened to the public to view the extensive refurbishment work and new facilities provided which include showers, locker rooms, training facilities, meeting rooms and a small gym.

Police in the Stornoway are appealing for information following the theft of three bicycles from an address in the town.

Between 6pm last night (Monday October 17 )and 8am this morning, a blue bike, black bike and a yellow and black bike were removed from an address on Plantation Road.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Police Scotland on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 if they wish to remain anonymous.

Officers would also remind local residents to consider their home security arrangements as daylight hours reduce and ensure any valuable items are stored and/or secured out of sight.  

The programme for this year’s Blas Festival has launched today (Friday 18th October) and revealed an outstanding line-up of musicians from Scotland and further afield for this year’s Gaelic music festival which will take place next month in venues throughout the Highlands. 
 
Blas, which means ‘taste’ or ‘sample’, is organised by Fèisean nan Gàidheal in partnership with The Highland Council and will take place from 22-30 November, culminating in a variety of events across the Highlands to celebrate St Andrew’s Night.  It aims to celebrate Gaelic culture and the thriving Scottish traditional music scene over eight days of concerts, cèilidhs and workshops in venues across the Highlands and Islands.  
 
In a programme which really does offer something for every member of the family, as well as the 20 main concerts and cèilidh, there will also be daytime cèilidhs, a series of song lectures and a special schools programme which will see some of the musicians visit locals schools for performances and workshops.
Acts at this year’s Blas, which takes place at venues from Aviemore to Barra include the Gary Innes Band, Tideline’s Robert Robertson and Ross Wilson, Iain Macfarlane and Ingrid Henderson, an outstanding piping night at Inverness Town House and neo-trad trio Project Smok.
 
As always there will also be special performances from an overseas act. Two of Cape Breton’s finest fiddlers and step-dancers, sisters Dawn & Margie Beaton, will be entertaining audiences in Gairloch, Resolis, Ullapool and Roybridge, alongside Gaelic singing trio, Sian, and singer Kathleen MacInnes.
 
This year will also feature two special partnerships. Blas and Smalls Halls Festival will present shows in Kyleakin and Edinbane featuring a world-class line up of musicians including Capercaillie’s Donald Shaw, fiddler Duncan Chisholm, Granton-on-Spey multi-instrumentalist and composer Hamish Napier and BBC Young Folk Award winner, uilleann piper Jarlath Henderson. The Highland capital will host a show by electronic celtic fusion super group, Niteworks, at Ironworks, a partnership between 432 and Blas Festival.
 
Fast-becoming a Blas tradition, three birthdays will be celebrated in true Highland style this year with an impressive array of special musical guests. Gaelic singer, John ‘Seonaidh Beag’ Macmillan will celebrate his 80th birthday alongside Donaidh Macleod who turns 90 this year. Celebrating with the Lewis men, at An Lanntair in Stornoway, will be Gaelic singers Kathleen Macinnes and Iain Mackay, Allan Henderson, members of the Lewis Pipe Band and other special guests. Also celebrating a special 80th birthday will be Barra’s Chrissie Macdonald, or Chrissie Denny as she is commonly known, who will be joined by Mary Ann Kennedy, Allan Macdonald, Alasdair Whyte, Còisir Ghàidhlig Bharraigh and The Cèilidh King, Fergie Macdonald at Barra’s Northbay Hall. 
 
Currently showcasing their work in Canada, Fuaran, will take to the stage to showcase the fruits of their recent work. Fuaran, a heritage initiative established by Fèisean nan Gàidheal to encourage a new generation of Gaelic speakers and singers to actively engage in the research and collection of Gaelic songs in their local area, will perform alongside tradition bearer, singer and piper, Rona Lightfoot, and Gaelic singer Margaret Stewart, who both supported the young singers with their research. 
 
Arthur Cormack, Fèisean nan Gàidheal Chief Executive, said: “Blas Festival has become an important event in the calendar for communities across the Highlands and Islands since its inception in 2005. This year’s programme is no exception and with its outstanding cèilidhs, and concerts will celebrate and promote Highland culture to audiences coming from far and wide. We are delighted to be able to put on Blas Festival this year, once again, to showcase and celebrate our homegrown talent.”
 
Shona MacLennan, Ceannard, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, said “Bòrd na Gàidhlig is delighted that Fèisean nan Gàidheal has been successful in ensuring that the much-valued Blàs festival is running again this year.  The high quality and range of events in the progamme promote a very positive message about the Gaelic language and culture.  We know that the arts are a key driver in attracting people to learn Gaelic and in strengthening its use and  Blàs, along with other festivals, add significantly to Scotland’s culture and its attractiveness as a country.”
 
Councillor Alister Mackinnon, Chair of the Gaelic Strategy and Implementation Group and Chair of Corporate Resources, Highland Council, said: “The Highland Council has supported the Blas Festival since its inception 14 years ago. The Blas programme is educational and entertaining especially as we celebrate the Year of Indigenous Languages, and includes events from Kyleakin to Lochinver and Gairloch to Strathy on the North Coast".
 
The full programme of events can be found at www.blas-festival.com along with details of how to purchase tickets.

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.

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.

 

Last year, over 2200 shoe boxes went to Romania from Lewis and Harris, and it's that time of year again!

Leaflets can be found at the Blythswood Charity Shop on Church Street in Stornoway or you can print them off from the Blythswood Website

The appeal centre will be based in Stornoway in the old Coop store on Kenneth Street, opposite the Lodge Fortrose. (Grateful thanks to DR Macleod for the us of the store)

The appeal centre will be open the following times only:

Tuesday 3rd November, 3PM – 6PM

Wednesday 4th November, 3PM – 6PM

Thursday 5th November,  3PM – 7PM

Volunteers are needed to help sort the shoeboxes please contact Chris Martin, Shoe Box coordinator Lewis and Harris, on 706143, or Charlie Nicolson on 703325, if you can give a few hours to help - bring the family or office staff to help sort the boxes. You will be helping someone whose only present at Christmas might be the shoe box you have given or packed.

Stornoway Coastguard received calls for assistance following two separate boat breakdowns yesterday afternoon.

In the first incident, a call was made at 4pm from a RIB which had broken down off the island of Pabbay, with three people on board.

A passing fishing vessel was able to respond to the call, and the RIB was towed back to dry land.

THREE people were rescued after their boat capsized in Harris this afternoon.

Stornoway Coastguard received a report of an upturned vessel in East Loch Tarbert at around 3.30pm.

The search and rescue helicopter was immediately dispatched to the scene.

THREE explosive devices found on Steinish beach are being examined by experts.

The mines were reported to Stornoway Coastguard by a member of the public on Sunday, and the stretch of beach, near Stornoway Airport, has been cordoned off.

An Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team from Northwood, Hertfordshire, arrived in Stornoway last night, and if necessary they will perform controlled explosions later today.

Headline writers at this year's Faclan, at An Lanntair, Stornoway, from Wednesday 25th – Saturday 28th October, include bestselling novelist, Michelle Paver, and mountaineering legend, Doug Scott.

It opens on Wednesday 25th with a variety of events, including Murdo Macleod and Finlay Macleod discussing the place of photography in Acair’s publishing programme over the last 40 years.  They look particularly at the work of Dan Morrison, James McGeoch and Robert Adam and how each chose to depict the faces of Hebridean culture.

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”.

The local lottery committee are delighted to be dishing out community funds

Community Groups from the Butt to Barra received their share of £4,674 from the Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery at the end of September. They are now to receive a further £3,015 being the proceeds from the Lottery for the month of October.
The Lottery Committee say they are delighted to be returning such large sums back to the community every month.
In addition, £3,100 has been shared in Cash Prizes by winners across the Western Isles.

The 2016-2017 Annual Report of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the principal public body in Scotland responsible for promoting Gaelic development, was published yesterday (Monday 30 October) at a meeting of the Convention of the Highlands and Islands in Oban. (Pictured above are Allan Macdonald, who chairs the board, and Deputy First Minister John Swinney)

The report highlights the key developments undertaken by Bòrd na Gàidhlig over the past year which have included the development of the third National Gaelic Language Plan; the Gaelic provisions of the Education (Scotland) Act 2016 being implemented; collaboration with a growing number of public bodies on the production and implementation of Gaelic Language Plans; support for the promotion of Gaelic language, music and culture nationally and internationally; support for early years and Gaelic medium education; the provision of funding for professional development for teachers and for students undertaking teacher training.

An Lanntair launches its new Café Bar Menu this Saturday (29 October), following the introduction of their new Head Chef, Kenny Mackay. 

Kenny joins the team at An Lanntair from the renowned and award-winning Stravaigin Restaurant in Glasgow. Bringing over ten years’ experience at top end restaurants, Kenny’s creative flair and passion for local produce will offer An Lanntair’s customers in Stornoway a superb new dining experience.

An Lanntair’s new menu is sourced from a whole host of local suppliers, including Isle of Lewis Cheese, Williamsons, Grillburger, Nenna’s mussels from Loch Leurbost, and W. J. Macondald butchers. They will also use locally sourced fresh fish.

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

 

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).

An event including tea, coffee and a flight simulator will be held at the weekend (Saturday 20 October).

Brew for the Few will raise money for the Wings Appeal (link https://www.rafa.org.uk/get-involved/wings-appeal/ #RAF100) and will take place at the Salvation Army in Bayhead. Featuring RAF Merchandise and a model display, the event will take place from 12pm until 4pm.

Click here for more info

ITV's Britain's Got Talent will be in Stornoway this month, scouting for talent! 

A few lucky islanders will be given the opportunity to showcase their talent, as 21 slots will be available.

Auditions are to be held in Chili Chili, 13 South Beach, Stornoway, on Friday October 31. The first audition is scheduled for 8pm, the last for 11pm. 

The competition is open for all acts, of any ability. Singers need to prepare a cover to perform, and other acts need perform for no longer that 2 minutes. 

To request more information, and to book a slot, private message their Facebook page, here

A BRONZE Age hoard of pottery has been unearthed in Point.

Over 100 items were unearthed by Scottish Water, who called in archaeologists from Fife to investigate.

Alastair Rees, from Archas Ltd, said the discovery was made in early September but has only been officially confirmed now.

He said he estimated the artifacts to date from around 2000 BC.

 

Earlier this week, EVENTS appealed to BT on behalf of Broadband users on the Islands for a detailed explanation of what the problems were with broadband in Lewis and Harris.

In response, Mr Mitchell Reid, Senior press officer BT Scotland, told EVENTS today:  "We’re aware that a number of people have been experiencing slower broadband speeds than usual and we’re sorry for the inconvenience this has caused. 

Western Isles Citizens Advice Service is urging local people to complete a new survey about local bus services.

The ‘Your Bus, Your Say ‘survey aims to collect the views of bus users on issues like cost, frequency and quality of service.

The survey runs till 22 October and is available online, but paper copies are also available at the local Citizens Advice Bureaux in Stornoway, Tarbert, Balivanich and Castlebay.

Swimmers from the Western Isles have been busy improving their strokes and reducing their times in the past months.  

On Saturday the 24th of September Swim Western Isles members took part in the first of four time trials to be held over a year.  

By rosie, 93 Cromwell Street, Stornoway

Beautiful and unique Harris Tweed creations, handmade in the Outer Hebrides.

Harris Tweed bags, hoodies, sporrans, accessories...

 

 

 

October is Lupus Awareness Month and Caitlin Fry, aged nine, from Stornoway decided to raise money for Lupus UK by 'Going The Extra Mile' because her mum Louise has Lupus

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can damage organs in your body and leave you suffering with pain and fatigue.

Today, Saturday 15 October, she was joined by 30 family and friends and they walked four miles round the Castle Grounds. She has raised £560 to date, although her original aim was just £20.

She would like thank the Co-op Macaulay Road for donating water and bananas and Mackinnon Dancers for donating lovely medals for the walkers.

Louise says she is extremely grateful for everyone's support and very proud of Caitlin's achievement.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Louise-Fry1?utm_medium=email&utm_source=ExactTarget&utm_campaign=20161015_70371

HI-Scot Credit Union will celebrate its 10th Birthday on Wednesday (October 12th 2016).

Since HI-Scot first opened its doors in late 2016, it has provided loan and savings products to its members.

Despite an extremely challenging economic environment for much of its life, including the worst recession in living memory, HI-Scot has continued to grow and now serves over 2,600 active members across the Highlands and Islands.

In its Western Isles base, HI-Scot is an established alternative to the mainstream banks. As an example, HI-Scot has enabled much of the local workforce to get around by approving over 500 loans for motor vehicles.

Are you in a band that's free on New Year's eve 2019?

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

Martin Dorchester, Managing Director of CalMac Ferries Ltd, and Chief Executive of its parent company David MacBrayne Ltd, has announced his intention to step down from the company at the end of March 2017.

His decision comes in the wake of the company successfully securing the £900m contract to operate West Coast ferry services for up to 8 years, and David MacBrayne Ltd’s successful joint bid with GBA Ltd, for the £1 billion contract to operate the Marchwood Military Port in Southampton for the next 35 years.

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."

Details of CalMac's most well-used ferry routes in 2017 have been revealed.

The Ullapool to Stornoway crossing proved to be the sixth most used route - with 275,737 passengers and 437 coaches coming on board last year.

The Uig to Tarbert and Lochmaddy ferry routes carried 195,752 passengers last year and 358 coaches.

CalMac are urging customers to make any ferry reservations or changes to booking in the next 24 hours, as the online reservations service will be unavailable for a day from 6pm tomorrow (Tuesday 9th October).

The system shutdown is due to a planned period of essential maintenance.

Caledonian MacBrayne has been shortlisted in two categories for prestigious UK-wide awards.

Representatives from the company, which undertakes some 135,000 individual sailings a year, carrying 4.63 million people to remote locations across Scotland’s western islands and mainland areas, will attend the National Transport Awards in London tomorrow (October 13).

One of the award nominations is for Frontline Employee of the Year, while the other is for Ferry Operator of the Year.

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.

 

Against stiff competition from across the world, Scotland’s Caledonian MacBrayne has won the best ferry company category at The Independent Travel Awards.
Nominees for this inaugural international competition were selected by public vote and industry experts, and the winners were chosen by a panel of judges, including Sophie Lam, Head of Travel for The Independent, The Independent on Sunday and i: The Independent’s Senior Travel Editor and well-known broadcaster, Simon Calder; and broadcasters and travellers Ben Fogle and Stephen Bayley.
The judges said: “The winner, Caledonian MacBrayne, prevailed thanks to its artful combination of providing lifelines from the Scottish Highlands to the islands, while at the same time offering an expanding range of tourist opportunities - such as the West Coast Whisky Pass.”

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

Cancer patients are getting the chance to give their views on the care they are receiving through the first national cancer patient experience survey.

The survey, which is jointly funded by Macmillan Cancer Support and the Scottish Government, has now been sent out to a cohort of cancer patients.

They are those with a confirmed cancer diagnosis between July 2013 and March 2014 and who also stayed in hospital between January 2014 and September 2014. Patients who had lymphoma or melanoma have been excluded from the cohort and will not receive the survey.

 

Carers support venture Crossroads Lewis has welcomed a £10,000 funding boost from Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn (The Galson Trust).

The organisation, which is part of a national charity, has been providing support to family carers in Lewis for the past 30 years and delivers around 800 hours of care in Lewis each month.

 

Carers support outfit Crossroads Lewis has welcomed a £10,000 funding boost from Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn (The Galson Trust).

The organistation, which is part of a national charity, has been providing support to family carers in Lewis for the past 30 years and delivers around 800 hours of care in Lewis each year.

Music fans are in for a big treat this Christmas at the Town Hall, as the Stornoway Singers and Stornoway Swing Band bring their talents together for the Singers annual Christmas concert.

Taking to the Town Hall stage on 13th December, the big choir and big band will be combining the best of traditional carols as well as upbeat swing songs for the audience who will of course be encouraged to sing (and swing) along with the festive numbers. 

Gavin Woods, Music Director of the Stornoway Swing Band, is working on the programme with the Stornoway Singers, which looks set to be one of festive fun for all the family.  The Christmas carols will have a brass accompaniment, while the more upbeat numbers, like Bing Crosbys Let It Snow, will enjoy the backing of the full big band.  It should be a phenomenal sound,says Cath Fish, Conductor of the Stornoway Singers.

This years Christmas concert will have the same fun, relaxed festival feel as last years, with the audience seated around tables, a bring-your-own-bottle policy, and tasty home baking provided by the singers. 

It follows hot on the heels of the choirs cabaret performance, A Night at the Musicals, which was being held at the Caberfeidh Hotel on November 8th.

With the Town Hall decked out in Christmas decorations, and the Stornoway Singers and Swing Band serenading the audience, the December evening will be full of entertainment.  Tickets can be purchased at Nicolsons Newsagents and By Rosie, both on Cromwell Street.

Written by Katie Macleod for EVENTS newspaper and welovestornoway.com

Na h-Eileanan an Iar  MP Angus B MacNeil today (Monday October 16th)  took the case of the Island schoolgirl who is unable to obtain a passport, directly to Immigration Minister, Brandon Lewis MP at Home Office Questions at Westminster.

Last week, Mr MacNeil publicised that The Home Office was asking a 14-year-old schoolgirl who was born and raised in Scotland, to register as a British citizen because they are unable to confirm that she is a British citizen.

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”.

A major event held at the restored Lews Castle last night (Saturday October 7) raised thousands of pounds for the group developing the Ionad Hiort (St Kilda Centre) plan.

Echoing the social calendar of the Castle’s past, the Ionad Hiort Gala Dinner and Dance was held in the Castle Ballroom and other function rooms and included a raffle, an auction and other fundraising events.

The evening began around 7pm and lasted into the small hours with music by Portrona. Videos focused on St Kilda ran throughout the event.

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.

A HOUSE window in Cearn Phabaidh was smashed at around 9pm on Wednesday October 15.

Police are asking members of the public who may have seen anyone acting suspiciously to contact them on 101, or on Crimestoppers by dialling 0800 555111.

Ceilidh Hebrides, organised by a group of friends from the community, managed to raise over £4,000 for Action for Children.  

The event took place in the Town Hall on Friday, selling 150 tickets for the charity ceilidh, featuring Deoch 'n' Dorus. 

The night included a silent auction, as well as a raffle, and saw people dancing right up until the event finished at midnight.

 

It has been announced that Ceilidh Hebrides #2, which took place on September 25 2015, raised £2,000 for Action for Children.

This follows £4,000 that was raised by the first ever Ceilidh Hebrides.

Ceilidh Hebrides has already had a great impact locally, as the money raised by Ceilidh Hebrides #1, which took place in September of last year, was spent entirely in the Western Isles, providing: new double swings at the Action for Children base in Bayhead, Stornoway; upgrading and landscaping work with wheelchair access to Bayhead garden; outdoor toys for the garden; plants and planters so young people can grow vegetables and strawberries; board games for Hillcrest Residential Unit; art equipment for both Hillcrest and Bayhead; and trips and activities for children resident in Hillcrest. 

Ceilidh Hebrides was organised by a group of friends, Alison Ross, Allan MacDonald, David Mackay and Erica Murray, taking inspiration from similar ceilidhs they had been to in Glasgow. One organiser, Erica Murray, told welovestornoway.com: "The atmosphere at them was always great, and they were a fantastic, fun way to raise money for a very worthwhile charity!

"We've seen first hand the difference Action for Children make to some of our most vulnerable children and families, so we were very keen to support them."

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.”

 

 

 

 

 

Police in Stornoway are carrying out enquiries into the theft of arrangements of flowers from Barvas cemetery.  

This theft occurred between 5 pm on Monday 24th October 2016 and 5 pm on Tuesday 25th October 2016.

Police are appealing for anyone with information to contact Stornoway Police Station on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 if they wish to remain anonymous.

Police in Stornoway are carrying out enquiries into the theft of arrangements of flowers from Barvas cemetery.  

This theft occurred between 5 pm on Monday 24th October 2016 and 5 pm on Tuesday 25th October 2016.

Police are appealing for anyone with information to contact Stornoway Police Station on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 if they wish to remain anonymous.

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.

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.

Challenge Poverty Week runs from October 16-22, and it is now in its fourth year.  It is an opportunity for you to raise your voice against poverty and show what is being done to tackle poverty across Scotland.

Almost one million people in Scotland are currently living in poverty, 220,000 of them are children and most are in a household where someone works.  In a rich country like ours this is unnecessary and unacceptable.

The good news is that poverty is not inevitable.  There are things that we can do.  The Scottish Parliament has new powers in the pipeline, including the power to top up reserved benefits and the power to create new benefits.  These are meaningful tools which could be used to make a real difference to the lives of people on low incomes. 

The Western Isles Development Trust is currently inviting applications from community groups to gain funding for projects with a focus on alleviating fuel poverty and promoting renewable energy. 

To date it has given almost £80,000 in grant payments to promote these objectives.  Beneficiaries include Cothrom Limited, South Uist; Kinloch Historical Society, Lewis; Western Isles Association for Mental Health, Stornoway; Back FC, Lewis; the West Harris Trust and the Hebrides Energy Community Interest Company, Stornoway.

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At the EGM held on 17 September 2015, following a unanimous vote, members agreed to a Name and Constitution Change.

The Lewis and Harris Breast Cancer Support Group shall now be known as The Lewis and Harris Women’s Cancer Support Group.

Following application for permission, and authorisation from the Scottish Charity Regulator, OSCR, these changes are now in place, and women suffering from any Cancer (as well as the family and friends of sufferers) are welcome to join and participate in the group going forward.

The group, initially formed in 1998 by its present Convener, Mary MacLeod, has been concerned for some time at the lack of support for women suffering from cancer other than breast. Following discussion with various organisations, the group became aware over a considerable period of the demand for such support. With that in mind, the initiative was taken to consult members about the possibility of opening up and facilitating the changes needed to implement support for women with other cancers. Members of the Breast Cancer Support Group responded positively to this initiative with a unanimous vote for change.

Anyone wishing to be involved or needing further information please call either of the following telephone numbers:

01851 850296 / 704138

 

 

CalMac ferry services are disrupted today as high winds are forecast – with sailing time changes and cancellations on many island routes.
Today, Monday October 16th, the 1pm sailing from Eriskay to Ardmhor (Sound of Barra) has been brought forward to 12noon, with travellers asked to check in no later than 11.40am.
The Castlebay to Oban ferry service has been cancelled completely today due to impending weather forecast of strong gale force winds.

Two local charities have benefitted from grants given by the Corra Foundation, formerly Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland.  

Each year, Corra Foundation distributes just under £1 million through its Henry Duncan Grants programme to grassroots charities working in their local communities.

Hebrides Alpha Project has been awarded a £4,000 grant towards the costs of travel and insurance.

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.

HOUSEHOLDERS in the Western Isles are being asked to ensure their chimneys are clean as winter approaches.

With the onset of colder weather, people will begin to start using open fires and chimneys again, and the fire service are asking that chimneys should be clean, with a working smoke alarm in operation. 

Alex Smart, of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Fires can start accidentally in your chimney. Soot and fuel residues slowly build up in chimneys over time and sometimes these leftovers can catch fire. 

"If this happens, the chimney could send burning soot into your living room or start fires within the roof space or on other floors of the house. 

"You can help prevent this by having your chimney swept regularly.”

A delegation of Chinese academics in Scotland on an exchange visit with the University of the Highlands and Islands have visited a wind farm for the first time – and it was Point and Sandwick Trust’s community-owned wind farm at Beinn Ghrideag near Stornoway.

The visit to Point and Sandwick Trust’s award-winning wind farm was organised by lecturers from Lews Castle College UHI, who help deliver a degree to the Hunan Institute of Engineering, where this group of professors and senior engineers had come from.

While other choirs took to the stage at the Royal National Mòd today (Thursday 20 October), the female members of the Isle of Mull Gaelic Choir had an impromptu sing-a-long after competing, conducted by honorary mascot, 16 month old Archie.


In only their second time competing in the Royal National Mòd, Barra Gaelic Choir walked away winners of the prestigious Lorn Shield today (Thursday 20 October). 

 


Dingwall Gaelic Choir walked away with a clean sweep of trophies in this year’s prestigious Lovat and Tullibardine Shield competition for Area Choirs, with conductor Kirsteen Menzies is pictured with the shield itself, at the last day of competitions at the Royal National Mòd in the Western Isles.  Also pictured is  choir member Steven MacIomhair after the winning of the prestigious Lovat and Tullibardine Shield. The choir also walked away with a clean sweep of all prizes available in the competition for Area Choirs.
 
In the last day of competitions at the Royal National Mòd in the Western Isles today, Lochaber Gaelic Choir were crowned worthy winners of the coveted Margrat Duncan Memorial Trophy.

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 funeral took place at Sandwick Free Church Continuing on Wednesday October 4, of well-known traditional storyteller and TV scriptwriter Chrisella Ross, from Upper Bayble on Point, who has died at the age of 55.

Most recently, Chrisella was a scriptwriter for the Gaelic drama Bannan, produced by Young Films in the Isle of Skye. Earlier this year (2017) producer Chris Young said of her: “Chrisella is one of my favourite scriptwriters. Her writing – a unique and powerful mix of originality and authenticity infused with her own rich sense of humour – creates characters with a depth of emotion and humanity that makes for great drama.”

For more information, visit their Facebook page

I still find myself surprised about just how much you can get here!

For Christmas, this is the ideal place, really. The town is full of shops selling local products - bags, jewellery, stuffed toys, clothes - so it is really easy to get something that little bit special, something unique. 

Our 'Made in Stornoway' and 'Shops in Stornoway' pages will help you to find exactly what you need in this lovely town.

It's so important to support local businesses, so we hope you will, this Christmas! 

(Product from Hebridean Cottage Crafts, Point Street)

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).

There are also Junior classes for 16 and under in the Barvas and Brue Community centre every Wednesday evening starting at 7pm.

Bus operator Citylink have confirmed that they will run a larger bus than the current 49-seater between Ullapool and Inverness from next year.

The move follows pressure from Western Isles politicians Angus MacNeil MP and Alasdair Allan MSP, who were contacted by constituents complaining about the existing service.

Several travellers were unable to secure bus seats on the route over the summer, despite trying to book over a week in advance.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency is today (Tuesday October 23rd) celebrating the tireless work of unsung heroes behind the co-ordination of rescue operations in Stornoway, as part of International Control Room Week.

Pictured are staff from Team 1 at Stornoway, senior maritime operations officer Toby Reynolds (centre) who has been in post for nine years, and maritime operations officers Donna Maclennan (left) and Richard Cooke (right) who have served in post for three years.

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.

 

The partnership between Lewis Wind Power and Lews Castle College UHI in providing graduates with vital engineering experience is now into its third year and going from strength to strength.
Each year Lewis Wind Power takes on graduates from the college and gives them experience of working at a variety of wind farm sites across the UK.
“EDF Energy Renewables and Lewis Wind Power have supported the college and our graduates with graduate placements and have contributed towards development of the Engineering Degree curriculum, delivered in partnership with the University of the Highlands. Specialists within the organisation have also delivered a number of guest lectures and have helped with technology research in recent years".

The University of the Highlands and Islands has announced its 2018 Student of the Year winners, with all three of its top awards going to students who were enrolled at island campuses – including Lews Castle College UHI.
Crisdean Saunders, pictured above, from Lews Castle College is Further Education Student of the Year; Rhea Kay from Shetland College is Higher Education Student of the Year; and James Ellsmoor, a distance-learning student with Orkney College, is Postgraduate Student of the Year.
Crisdean Saunders, aged 27, who lives in Stornoway, completed a horticultural employability programme. He was nominated for the Further Education Student of the Year award by his tutor, David Bell.

POLICE are looking for the driver of a green Citroen Xsara which collided with another vehicle on Sandwick Road on Wednesday October 22.

The driver drove away immediately after the collision, which took place at around 1.10pm.

The Xsara was seen to have frontal damage to it, and as the road was busy at the time, police are sure other drivers will have seen it drive away in the Point direction.

Anyone with information is asked to contact 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800555111.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar will be holding a series of budget consultation meetings throughout the Western Isles over the coming weeks.

The meetings are an opportunity for members of the public to have their say in the prioritisation of services.

The meetings are part of the Comhairle’s budget setting preparations which also include staff consultations.

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

 

 

 

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has questioned the results of a review of skills and enterprise services which proposes a new Scotland-wide statutory board to co-ordinate the activities of Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

The Comhairle welcomed the retention of HIE but called for a more community based focus in economic development and for the principles of Our Islands: Our Future to be retained in the restructuring.

The SNP Group on Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have warmly welcomed the £6 million Rural Tourism Fund recently announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the SNP’s 83rd annual conference in Glasgow.
John Mitchell, SNP Councillor for Na Hearadh Agus Ceann A Deas Nan Loch (Harris and South Lochs) commented: “The Rural Tourism Fund is a very progressive initiative that will undoubtedly benefit many communities across the Isles.”
The fund is expected to launch in early 2018 and will be delivered over two years (2018/19 and 2019/20) to help ensure the services and facilities tourists and communities need are provided.

Trading Standards Officers at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are urging Islanders to always contact Home Energy Scotland before considering offers of free heating, insulation or other similar schemes following concerns that unsolicited companies are offering deals.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has welcomed comments made at Friday evening's Royal National Mòd 2016 official opening event by President of An Comunn Gaidhealach, John MacLeod, calling for further preservation of the language and its culture in the Western Isles.

In his address to those gathered at the official opening of the week-long Gaelic showcase in the Lews Sports Centre, Mr MacLeod said:"I firmly believe that the Western Isles should be specifically supported as a language preservation and development area. That does not mean that this is the only area where Gaelic will survive. Gaelic will survive elsewhere in Scotland where the number of speakers continues to increase, but if the special environment that still exists in the Western Isles is lost, the very heart of the language will be lost.

"I have previously called for consideration to be given to seeking a UNESCO World Heritage designation for the distinctive language and culture of the Western Isles, but my focus this evening is on the special cultural significance of our “seann nòs”.  Since 2008, nearly 400 cultural traditions throughout the world have been listed by UNESCO as meriting support to maintain their unique “intangible cultural heritage”, ranging from oral traditions to performing arts, traditional dances and craftsmanship. Interestingly, none of these is in the United Kingdom. I believe that the distinctive “seann nòs” of our Gaelic heritage in Scotland, and in particular the Western Isles, deserves to be recognised alongside these other cultural traditions."

Convener of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Norman A MacDonald commented: "Anything that can be done to preserve, enhance and develop Gaelic as a language is to be warmly welcomed. The Callanish stones already has a UNESCO designation and St Kilda has dual World Heritage status - the only site in the UK to do so - one of which is for the culture and one for the environment. Such a designation being proposed for Gaelic would ensure that the heritage and culture of the Hebrides is put on a par with similar cultures and traditions around the world. The Comhairle has been, and continues to be, very supportive of Gaelic in all of its operations and that support will continue in the future. We would, of course, be fully supportive of An Comunn's calls for Gaelic and the traditional cultural heritage to be given UNESCO World Heritage status. We look forward to assisting An Comunn with their efforts."

 

THE Comhairle has been honoured for the way it acquires goods, services and works from local suppliers.

At an awards ceremony in Glasgow, the local authority was named 'Team of the Year for Local Authorities' and was in the company of some of the country’s leading procurement innovators who included the Scottish Prison Service and The University of Glasgow.

The GO (Government Opportunities) Awards Scotland recognise public sector procurement excellence, celebrate Scotland’s thriving business community, and for the past seven years have been the benchmark by which progress in public commissioning has been measured.

Outer Hebrides LEADER has announced three grant awards to projects in Lewis worth nearly £235,000.

LEADER grants totalling almost £115k have been awarded to ‘First Love Music Ltd’, ‘Hebridean Castle Trading’ and ‘Kinloch Historical Society’ - also levering-in almost £120,000 of external funding.

A PROPOSAL to erect wind turbines in Uist has been knocked back because of the effect they would have on military radar systems.

Now the Comhairle is urging the government to facilitate discussions with the MoD so future developments can go ahead unhindered.

Scottish Ministers refused a planning application for community turbines at the Dark Island Hotel in Benbecula, and at Bornish, South Uist.

Until 6pm tonight, you have the opportunity to win tickets to the Scottish Open Snooker final by entering into BBC Radio nan Gàidheal's competition

First prize is two tickets to the Scottish Open Snooker final on Sunday December 18th 2016 (sessions at 1pm and 7pm), as well as the chance to go backstage during the tournament and play a frame of snooker against one of the top stars on an official tournament practice table.

There will also be three runners-up, who will each receive two tickets to both semi-finals on Saturday December 17th 2016 (sessions at 1pm and 7pm).

The prizes have been donated to BBC Radio nan Gàidheal show Siubhal gu Seachd le Pluto by World Snooker, following the 24-hour Snookerthon that saw Derek 'Pluto' Murray compete against 24 opponents for an hour at a time, in March 2016.

Derek said: "The Snookerthon was the first time World Snooker were involved in Comic Relief or Sport Relief, so as a thank you they put these prizes up for my show."

The competition closes at 6pm tonight. For terms and conditions and details on how to enter, please click here

The convener of Western Isles Council has sent a letter of condolence to a school in South Carolina where a pupil last week shot and killed another pupil, and injured two others.

The incident occured in Townville Elementary School in Anderson County. 

Stornoway is twinned with Pendleton in Anderson County.

The Conservative Party in the Western Isles is at its strongest in decades, those attending the Annual General Meeting of the Western Isles Association heard when the meeting took place on Monday 10th October 2016 at the County Hotel Stornoway.

Ranald Fraser, the Chairman in his annual report gave an account of the activities of the Association during the past 12 months.  He indicated that on reflection the Association had a very successful and encouraging time during this period in its history. 

The Association focussed on the Scottish Parliamentary Election which was held in May 2016.  He felt that it was a great honour and a privilege to have been selected to represent the Association as their candidate. 

The Comhairle's approach to Gaelic language into the future will be the subject of a six-week public consultation starting today (Tuesday 10th October, 2017). 

The Comhairle is seeking the views and comments of the communities of the Western Isles, of local and national Gaelic organisations, and of public authorities across Scotland, regarding the content of its Draft Gaelic Language Plan which, once finalised, will cover the period 2018-2022.  

PROPOSALS to redesign the home care service in Stornoway and Broadbay are being drawn up by the Comhairle.

Consultation has already started with home care staff and service users in the area, and a copy of the consultation documentation will be available for all service users or their representatives and to home care staff, in addition to questionnaires for completion.

Partner organisations and stakeholders will also receive a copy of the consultation documentation for comment.

Meetings are currently being arranged with representatives from the Comhairle's Social and Community Services Department to discuss the redesign proposals in more detail.

Stronger financial controls, better forward planning and improved links with service providers and users are essential if Scotland’s ferry services are to be maintained and developed in the future.

That’s the verdict of a major report from Audit Scotland on Transport Scotland’s ferry services, issued today (Thursday October 19th) which shows that Government subsidies to CalMac ferries have risen 185 per cent in ten years. This is mainly due to an increase in services, new vessels and the introduction of the Road Equivalent Tariff (RET).

There are an estimated 66 scheduled ferry routes in Scotland, managed by a range of public and commercial operators.

After a debate lasting about 30 minutes tonight, the full meeting of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar voted by 19 votes to 9 with one abstention to retain the status quo over Ionad Spòrs Lèodhas and keep the sports centre facilities in Stornoway closed on Sundays. 
This confirmed a decision taken by the Policy and Resources Committee earlier in the day.  Councillor Angus Campbell, who chairs the P & R committee, said this had been largely because of concerns over finance.
Councillor Philip Maclean proposed an amendment to the official position of the Council which would have led to a year-long trial of the Lewis Sports Centre being open for three hours every Sunday.  He pointed out that the people of the Southern Isles already had sports facilities open to them on a Sunday.  He said he could not understand why the Council had two different systems in operation.  He said the Council had a responsibility for the health and wellbeing of all the Islanders.

Police on Lewis are encouraging motorcyclists to slow down following complaints from residents. 

Officers will be doing speed checks to address the complaints and to promote road safety.

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.”

 

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.”

 

The Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) has called on the Cabinet Secretary for crofting, Fergus Ewing, to halt the waste of public money and to oust the Crofting Commission Convener, Colin Kennedy, following his stated intention to stay.

“This dreadful humiliation of crofting regulation and complete waste of public money has got to stop”, said Fiona Mandeville, Chair of the SCF. “In his latest statements to the media, Mr Kennedy has said that he intends to stay in place as Convener of the Crofting Commission.

"He still refutes any wrongdoing and claims to have operated within the law, despite the fact that lawyers and the Cabinet Secretary for crofting, who is himself from a legal background, have said he is wrong. That is some arrogance. 

The Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) has rejected assurances from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar about proposals for the sale of the current Stornoway abattoir site to a developer.

This follows a report before the Comhairle’s Policy and Resources committee on October 2 which outlined proposals for the sale and leaseback of the current Stornoway abattoir site to a developer and the relocation of the service after three years.

Councillors decided “to authorise the Director of Development, in consultation with the Director of Technical Services and the Director of Finance and Corporate Resources, to engage with the appropriate parties with a view to presenting options for the future use of Stornoway Abattoir and provision of abattoir services to the Policy and Resources Committee in December 2018.”

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.”

A meeting in Stornoway tonight will give people the opportunity to find out more about the upcoming crofting elections and will be a chance to discuss crofting issues.

The Crofting Commission along with Registers of Scotland, Scottish Crofting Federation, SAC Consulting and NFUS are hosting a series of Crofting Roadshows over the next two months.

Join them at the Caladh Inn tonight from 7.30pm to 9pm to find out more about the elections, the role of the Commission and Commissioners and the importance of making your voice heard.

THE Crofting Register amounts to nothing more than a tax on crofters, it has been claimed.

Cllr. Donald Crichton, Vice Chairman of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar's Sustainable Development Committee, has written to Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse, calling on him to undertake an immediate review of the register.

Since November last year, crofters have been legally required to register their crofts at a cost of £90.

01851 705422  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  www.crossroadslewis.co.uk

More than 40 cruise-ships – including one with 81 ‘Holy Bikers’ on board – stopped off at Stornoway port this season, making it one of the busiest summers to date.
The last vessel of the cruise season, the Hebridean Princess, enjoyed berth at the Lewis port on October 12th and 13th.
She was the 42nd cruise-ship to visit the islands during the 2015 season – a summer which saw a total of 15,000 cruise passengers discover the Western Isles.

During September, there was a major trip for 13 Pendleton, South Carolina students – across the Atlantic and on to Lewis.

The trip, which is looked forward to by many Nicolson pupils and the local community alike, took place from September 15-20, part of a series of exchanges which have place since the early 1990s.

The South Carolinian flag was raised outside of the Council Building in Stornoway, as will the Western Isles flag be raised in Pendleton when 24 pupils of The Nicolson Institute depart across the Atlantic next Easter.

Pictured is Caitlin Macdonald, aged 13, from the Lynn Maclean School of Dancing. 
Caitlin, along with seven other dancers from Lynn's dance school took part in the North of Scotland Championship on Saturday 10th October. 
The girls have been practicing hard for months for this, their biggest competition of the year.  Highland Dancers compete from all over the Highlands and the North of Scotland. 
Caitlin won her "Pre-Champs" which means that she is now ready for the next level - dancing in a Championship Competition.  To win your Pre-Champs you need to have the Highest Points over your four Highland Dances only. 
Caitlin also won the Trophy for the National Dances and is pictured here with both her trophies. 
Caitlin is the second of Lynns' dancers to win their Pre-Champs this year.  There were more than 300 dancers on the day at the with 12 judges, which is quite daunting for Island Dancers who are used to much smaller competitions with only two judges. 
All of Lynn's dancers placed well on the day and they all won medals, and Kirsty Maclean age 11 from High Borve also won a National Trophy in her section. 

Time to get ghoulish and dare to scare as acclaimed Glasgow band The Ramoaners make their way to Stornoway for a charity fundraising Halloween Party in Stornoway Golf Club on Saturday, October 28th.

Raising funds for local charities Alzheimer Scotland Western Isles branch and Crossroads Lewis, the Ramones tribute act headline an evening of entertainment, with support coming from a ‘one-night-only-all-star’ cover band ‘The Bonglies’, comprising of local talents Colin Rankine, Neosa, Del Gunn, Jason Laing, and Angy Murray.

Hoping for a good turn out next Saturday, event organisers Claire MacDonald and Brian Montgomery said: “We’re looking forward to a great night and our thanks go to all who have helped us so far.

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.

The programme for the first ever Hebridean Dark Skies Festival launched today (Thursday 4 October).

The first tickets were on sale from midday at the festival website, www.lanntair.com/darkskies

It will take place at An Lanntair and across Lewis from 8-21 February 2019.

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.

The largest ever darts exhibition to be staged in the Outer Hebrides will take place on Friday, October 27th, as Stornoway Sea Angling Club plays host to champions Eric Bristow and Bobby George.
And islanders are also in with a chance to play with two of the games’ finest in a night that’s looks set not to be missed.
The trip the Stornoway will be a first for ‘Crafty Cockney’ Eric Bristow, whose skill and personality helped turn darts into the worldwide spectator sport it is today.

Born in 1979 (or thereabout)?  Is the big four “oh!” just around the corner? 

Did you start S1 in a Lewis or Harris school in 1991? 

If so, it’s about time we had a big party with all our former classmates at our first reunion!

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.

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.”

Islanders are being invited to find out more about dyslexia and visual issues with dyslexia specialist Fiona Dickinson.

Fiona will give an overview of some of the visual difficulties experienced by some people with dyslexia or literacy difficulties and what can help at 6.30pm on Monday November 9 at Stornoway Town Hall.

Everyone with an interest is very welcome to this free event.

THE first employees set to work at the new distillery on Harris have been selected.

Four locals have been successful in job applications to Isle of Harris Distillers, which is scheduled to begin operation in early 2015.

It is hoped that once up and running, the enterprise will employ 20 people.

Isle of Harris Distillers director Ron MacEachran said: “We want to create a long term, commercially successful business which will have a catalytic effect on the economy of the island and make a contribution to the national economy."

To find out more, see here

This year marks 100 years since the clocks went back for the first time in Britain – as part of the efforts to improve productivity during World War One.

This weekend, we once again turn our clocks back at 2am tomorrow (Sunday, October 30), which officially signals the end of British Summer Time for 2016.

Most Autumn Winter Evening Classes at Lews Castle College start this Tuesday (October 23rd)

So this is the last call, say course organisers - please contact LCC on 01851 770 000 – don’t miss out!

These courses include:Timber Carving; Upholstery; Art; Welding; Sewing; and Photography.

One of the great annual sporting events on Lewis and Harris takes place this Saturday with the return of the charity football between the fire service and police.

The great play-off is set for Saturday 14 October starting at 12.30pm on the All-Weather pitch on Smith Avenue, Stornoway.

The focus of fundraising at this year's event is Neuro Hebrides.

Stornoway’s Coastguard operations room found themselves co-ordinating two rescues at the same time yesterday afternoon (Tuesday October 9th) with two separate incidents in the Uig area.

At 4.17pm yesterday afternoon Western Isles police notified Stornoway Coastguard of a woman who had fallen while walking her dogs, near Scaliscro Lodge. She had injured her knee and was unable to move without assistance.

Coastguard teams from Miavaig, Breasclete and Stornoway were tasked to the scene and police officers identified the location of the woman, who was treated on the spot by coastguards and a doctor.

Bereavement and Grief

The loss of someone we love is likely to be one of the most painful experiences we will ever have to face. Whether death comes suddenly and unexpectedly, or after a long illness, it is likely to leave us in a state of shock and numbness.

Yet in the natural course of our lives it is likely that we will experience it at least once, and may even do so several times, it is part of living which is part of dying.  How and when it will come is outwith our control.   

The dictionary definition of bereavement and grief are, “the condition of having been deprived of something or someone valued, especially through death, a deep or intense sorrow or distress”

Dragonfly Bay, 10 Bells Road, Stornoway, HS1 2QT

Beautiful and unique interior accessories and painted furniture.

Commissions welcome. 01851 706719

 

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.

Police in the Highlands and Islands are urging motorists not to drive under the influence of alcohol following a number of recent reported incidents.
The safety message comes after five drivers were detected to be over the legal limit or refused to give a breath sample over the course of the last weekend alone.
Chief Inspector Iain MacLelland said: "The people caught drink driving this weekend will face the courts but the results of behaviour like this can be much more serious.

Stornoway’s only dry-cleaning firm is to stay open until spring 2019, even though business owner Louis Shields has retired.

The business at James Street, Stornoway has been open under Louis’s management for 30 years and was expected to close when he retired.


Dyslexia Scotland Hebrides is organising a special event on Monday 7 November from 7pm – 8.30pm in Stornoway Town Hall, (main entrance), entitled Study Skills for Dyslexia.
This is a chance to come and learn some practical tips and ideas to help children and adults with dyslexia improve study skills. Everyone very welcome to this free event, says the group.

A 10-strong fleet of 100 per cent electric Renault vehicles powered almost entirely by renewable energy can now be hired by E-Car Club members in Stornoway.
The nine ZOE hatchbacks and a Kangoo Van Z.E.  have been introduced through a unique partnership between E-Car Club and the Pentland Road wind farm operators. 
E-Car Club – the UK’s first entirely electric pay-per-use car club – chose the Renault ZOE and Kangoo Van Z.E  following the success it has experienced with the models, including its St Andrews operation which opened earlier this year. 

Ten brand-new electric Renault vehicles arrived in Stornoway this week – part of a scheme where most of the electricity used to power the fleet will be produced by the island’s wind turbines, making it one of the cleanest, greenest mobility solutions the world has ever seen.
The scheme is a joint venture between Zero Carbon Marine Ltd – operators of the Pentland Road wind farm–  and E-Car Club Ltd which operates entirely-electric car clubs across the UK.
On-island support will be provided by Car Hire Hebrides Ltd. The scheme is currently in a test phase but in the coming months, the cars will go live for the general public to collect from specific points across Lewis & Harris on a pay-as-you-go basis, with 24/7 access possible thanks to E-Car’s online booking system.


The official launch of the scheme coincided with the official inauguration of the Pentland Road wind farm today at an event at the Caberfeidh where a large wall display showed the power being generated throughout the event by the turbines – and where the silent Renault electric ZOE cars transported tens of guests up to the Pentland Road site.
People from many island businesses, the Council, Lews Castle College, and various community groups were present at the event along with the MP Angus Brendan MacNeil and MSP Alasdair Allan.

Pentland Road Wind Farm, the largest on any Scottish island, which was officially opened on Friday, could lead to a self-sufficient all-electric future for the Hebrides if enough people invested in electric cars.
And there are a variety of other benefits and possibilities for the future.
Representing an investment of £24 million and developed over a 12-year period, Pentland Road Windfarm is so efficient and the suitability of the local climate to support wind power so great, that the six turbines will supply sufficient electricity to meet the entire domestic load of the Outer Hebrides.
Pentland Road Windfarm Director Peter Crone explained how –because of limits put on power generation in the Islands by the size of the power link to the mainland – they could generate power for the new fleet of electric vehicles.

The Elephant Session performance planned for tomorrow (Friday 12 October) has been cancelled.

The performance, which was due to take place at An Lanntair at 8pm, has been moved to Thursday 27 December at 8pm.

The Harris Sports Centre in partnership with Skye based Charity Lucky to be here are hoping to provide Emergency Life Support training with defibrillator awareness to members of the public.

 Starting on Friday 11th November between 7pm and 9pm, this two hour course will be run every week with the aim to equip members of the community with the skills and knowledge to make a difference in the event of an emergency situation, where there is no immediate professional help. The aim is to keep class sizes to between 6 and 8 people at a time so booking in advance is essential.

History professor and author Marjory Harper will be giving a talk on emigration on Friday night (26th October) – an event which has been made possible by sponsorship from community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust.

Professor Harper of Aberdeen University will speak on the subject of ‘Voices from the Diaspora: Recollections of Scottish emigrants in the Twentieth Century’.

A local charity has celebrated 40 years of supporting people in Lewis and Harris who have learning or other disabilities.  ENABLE Stornoway & District Branch was formed in 1976 by a group of parents looking to support their children who had disabilities.

They began raising money to campaign for abetter life for those whose unfortunate circumstances prevented them from enjoying what everyone else took for granted. Once established they formed a pressure group to lobby local councillors and attend council meetings until the Ardseileach Day Centre at Willowglen, Stornoway was built in 1979.

Through the council and the new centre people who had disabilities had access to services ranging from swimming to pre-school and nursery facilities, disco nights, and the PHAB club.  But it hasn’t all been plain sailing.

To celebrate Self Management Week 2015, NHS Western Isles are launching My Patient Journey, a personal guide to help patients, as well as their family or carers, to record information they may receive at clinical appointments.
Many people find it difficult to process information they receive at clinical appointments, and after leaving, find they are unable to remember exactly what was discussed, or what the next stage of treatment may be.

Hebridean Talking Newspaper Association will be holding an AGM and an EGM on Tuesday (October 31) in Lewis Pipe Band Hall, on Bells Road, Stornoway, at 7.45pm.

Hebridean Talking Newspaper Association has been providing taped recordings of readings from local newspapers since 1984, when 100 tapes went out around Lewis and Harris. By 1996 this had dropped to 60 tapes and by 2010 only two dozen tapes and disks were being sent out.


Dan Morrison with Norma and Dan Nicolson at their home in Flesherin, Point

A project aimed at making Point and Sandwick the first LED community in the UK made big strides forward over the summer with referrals from around 140 homes for the free lighting upgrade.
Tighean Innse Gall are working with community windfarm charity Point and Sandwick Trust on the five-year project to convert the whole peninsula to energy-efficient lighting in a bid to tackle fuel poverty in the area while also addressing the issue of climate change.

Photo: John Mayer Photography

Netty's Tree on Eriskay has been named as Scotland's Tree of the Year. The spruce tree will go on to compete against trees in Ireland, Wales and England to be the UK's European Tree of the Year.

Originally nominated by Eoina Wilson, the spruce was, until recently, the only tree on the island.

It was planed over 100 years ago by poet, priest and land rights activist, Father Allan MacDonald.  Netty MacDonald lived on the nearby croft and encouraged all the island’s children to play on the tree as their cries and laughter reminded her of her own family who had grown up and moved away to work.

On announcing the four national winners last night (Wednesday October 17), BBC's One Show opened voting for the public to decide which of the four trees should represent the UK in the European contest which is run by the Environmental Partnership Association.

A JOURNALIST with EVENTS magazine has won a prestigious award in London. 

Katie Macleod, from Point, scooped the 'Best Travel Blog' section of the 2014 Cosmopolitan Blog Awards, with her blog 'Stories My Suitcase Could Tell'.

Check out Katie's writing here.

Review by Nick Smith

The eight British expeditions to conquer Everest between 1922 and 1953 were a series of attempts to assert the superiority of Empire planning and technology over the planet’s most inaccessible place. Self-financed by the 1924 expedition's official photographer John Noel, The Epic of Everest toured worldwide and elevated explorers George Mallory and Andrew Irvine to the status of national heroes following their disappearance and death during an attempt to mount the summit.

Noel’s film begins as a travelogue, illustrating the landscapes of Tibet and the living conditions of its people. He records family life, musicians, religious ceremonies, and agricultural practices, but his shots nearly always include the team’s true goal of the peaks lofting beyond.

At first Noel betrays the arrogance of empire: while Mallory and Irvine are shown walking amongst yaks dressed in pith helmets and ties, we are told that the Tibetans never bathe, live in their own filth, and despite their instruments and religious songs cannot be considered a musical people. But as the base camp approaches a new respect emerges for the sturdiness of their local companions and the religious blessings the explorers receive.

In response to a commission from An Comunn Gaidhealach, Harris Tweed Hebrides of Shawbost have created an exclusive design to celebrate the return of the Royal National Mòd to the Western Isles. 

The Mòd will be held from 15th to 22nd October with several thousand visitors expected to descend on Lewis and Harris.  

There is further cause for celebration as this is the 125th anniversary of An Comunn Gaidhealach's founding.

Bus operator Citylink has confirmed it will put on more buses on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, to cope with increased demand due to the Royal National Mod in Oban.

People travelling to take part in the Royal National Mòd in Oban and families enjoying the school holidays had found that, by Monday afternoon, these services had already become fully booked. 

After several constituents had been in touch, Alasdair Allan MSP made a request for the bus company to run further vehicles on these days.

“I’ve always been involved in art, in one way or another,” says Catriona Black from her home in the Dutch village of Santpoort-Noord.

As a former art critic for the Sunday Herald, an illustrated children’s book author, and a short film animator, Catriona’s art career has been wide and varied – and is about to take another turn when her first solo exhibition is launched at Faclan, the Hebridean Book Festival, later this month.

 

Faclan:the Hebridean Book Festival returns from 31 October to 3 November - and now on welovestornoway.com there's a chance to read interviews with some of the key authors for both main Festival and the Children's Festival - available on 

Highlights announced last month include the launch of The Darkest Dawn, a new book marking the 100th anniversary of the Iolaire tragedy, in which over 200 men from Lewis and Harris lost their lives only tens of metres from a beach in a massive storm.   

Faclan 2018’s line-up of authors – many of them reflecting on this year’s festival theme of Fear– includes Peter May and Malcolm Mackay, both discussing Hebridean Noir; Sir Christopher Frayling on the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (following a screening of the classic 1931 film); Finlay Macleod on the true history of a semi-mythical 19th century bogeyman who stalked the moors of Lewis and Harris; and Louise Welsh, who will reflect on the role of fear in her work.  In a very different approach to fear, Kathryn Mannix will explore the various taboos around death.

Other highlights include a Saturday night appearance by leading spoken word performer  Hollie McNish, a screening of vampire classic Nosferatu with a live piano score by  Peter Urpeth, a voyage into the underworld with composer Jessica Danz; and a tribute to the late Gaelic writer, playwright and storyteller Chrisella Ross.

In addition to the packed programme of author and musical events, there will be daytime film screenings throughout the festival, also focusing on the theme of Fear – Psycho, Village of the Damned, The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, Rosemary’s Baby, Schalcken the Painter, The Babadook, and classic ghost story Whistle and I’ll Come to You, which this year marks its 50th anniversary.

There will also be a programme of events for schools, Faclan Òga, running throughout the festival.

The full Faclan programme is online at www.lanntair.com/faclan

Twitter @anlanntair, #Faclan2018

Facebook www.facebook.com/anlanntair

Faclan:the Hebridean Book Festival returns from 31 October to 3 November…and you can read about some of the authors on http://www.welovestornoway.com/index.php/faclan-2018.

These are interviews from the EVENTS newspaper team of Katie Macleod and Roz Macaskill and most of them are also available in print in the current edition.

There is a Yellow Warning from the Meteorological Office for windy weather between 12:00 on Monday October 16th and 23:55 on Monday 16th.

The Met Office says that this spell of very windy weather is associated with the aftermath of hurricane/storm Ophelia.

Road, rail, air and ferry services may be affected, with longer journeys times and cancellations possible. Power cuts may occur, with the potential to affect other services, such as mobile phone coverage.