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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Movember’ is the annual event which encourages men to grow a moustache during the month of November, in order to raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer and other male cancers, and associated charities. 
Mo Bros, as they are better known, are encouraged in October to sign up at Movember.com, and then on the 1st of Movember, with a clean-shaven face, start their ‘Mo’ growing journey.  By growing a moustache, or a ‘Mo’, men are encouraged to talk about men’s health, raising some of the biggest health issues faced by men – including prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor mental health, and physical inactivity.  In essence, by growing yourself a ‘Mo’, you’re encouraging your friends, family and colleagues to live happier, healthier, and longer lives.

Knowledge is power.  Early detection is key.

This year Movember is also encouraging men to get to know their family history.  This is one of the most powerful tools to understanding your health, and it all starts with a conversation. Talk to your family and take note of illnesses that a direct relative has experienced – and be sure to learn about relatives that are deceased as well.

After two days when 20 debates took place in either the Comhairle’s Debating Chamber or An Lanntair the judges came to a decision as to which four schools would face each other in the semi-final stages of the 2015 National Schools’ Debate competition. 
The four teams who progressed are Nicolson Institute A, Nicolson Institute B, Ard nam Murchan High School and Tain Royal Academy.
These four teams will take part in the semi-finals which take place at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh on Tuesday November 24.

Point and Sandwick Trust, the charity behind the award-winning Beinn Ghrideag community wind farm, has handed over a cheque for £25,000 to Bethesda — and has pledged to give the care home and hospice a total of £55,000 every year for the next 25 years.

It is the biggest pledge that Bethesda has ever received in its 25-year history and means that, for the first time, staff can count on getting a good cash injection every six months to shore up their fundraising efforts.

Finance officer and fundraiser DR Macdonald received the cheque from Point and Sandwick Trust last Wednesday (November 2) at an event in Ionad Stoodie.  He is delighted. “We got a cheque for £25,000 and that’s the first instalment. The other £30,000 will be given in May or June next year. They have pledged £55,000 for the lifetime of the wind farm, for 25 years.”

He said: “We’ve had nothing like that since we opened. In the past, every year we just started from scratch. We did have one other big donation, over five years for £25,000 a year, but we have never had this amount.

“It means a huge amount. It’s about a tenth of what we have to raise every year. We still have to raise over £200,000 over and above that, but the good thing is we now have a cushion to start the year. It’s a big, big thing.”

This donation is the first payment to Bethesda from a pledge made by Point and Sandwick Trust with the signing of a memorandum six years before the wind farm became a reality.

Looking back, DR said: “There were various obstacles along the way. Thankfully we weren’t directly involved but the directors did a power of work behind the scenes.

“It’s early days for Point and Sandwick, because obviously they have to pay back the £14.5million that they borrowed to set it up, but over the next coming years it’s going to make a huge difference.

“We have also had the announcement that Galson Trust have increased their grants, so all these wind farms are going to make a huge difference because they are pumping money into the local economy.”

Angus McCormack, chairman of Point and Sandwick Trust, said: “We are delighted to honour our promise to Bethesda. Bethesda means so much to our community.  PST is delighted to be offering solid support for the next 25 years. We see it as a very good investment and it has been uppermost in our minds since the earliest days of the project. This is a good and very satisfying partnership.”

Point and Sandwick Trust have pledged annual support to six Western Isles organisations or projects. As well as Bethesda, they are An Lanntair, Hebrides Alpha, Western Isles Foyer, plus the Croft Woodlands project throughout the islands and the LED Energy Communities scheme, which relates to Point and Sandwick and is being delivered in partnership with Tighean Innse Gall.  These six will receive priority revenue support from Point and Sandwick Trust, who expect to make a profit of £500,000 a year from the three turbines at Beinn Ghrideag — the biggest community wind farm in the UK in terms of output.

Beinn Ghrideag started generating electricity in July 2015 and became fully operational in November that year. It was named Best Community Project at the Scottish Green Energy Awards last December, in recognition of outstanding performance in the Scottish renewable energy industry. 

 

From left to right, Calum Macdonald, Point and Sandwick Power Business Manager; Duncan Mackay, Point and Sandwick Trust Vice Chairman; Angus McCormack, PST Chairman; DR Macdonald, Bethesda Fundraising Manager; Carol Summerville, Bethesda General Manager; Duncan Maclean, Bethesda Chairman: Donald John MacSween, PST General Manager

Support for the Cambridge Weight Plan across the Islands has projected Stornoway-based Terri McGeoghegan into the top 50 out of more than 3,600 consultants across the UK.

Terri, who herself demonstrates the success of the plan, having lost three stone (19kg), has been providing support for clients through the Cambridge Weight Plan for more than two years.

Formerly working from home, Terri now works partly as Hebrides Harmony beauty therapist and partly as an independent Cambridge consultant from the White Rooms in Bayhead, Stornoway.

Tourists are increasingly visiting the Western Isles to study their ancestry, it was revealed today.

According to those involved with the Hebridean Connections digital archiving project, the availability of online genealogical and historical information about the Outer Hebrides is contributing to 'ancestral tourism'. 

Several recent visitors to the islands have emphasised the role of information found on the Hebridean Connections website in stimulating them to visit in person, it is claimed. This information is derived from the archives of the local historical societies who participate in the project. 

Communication must improve when a doctor is needed out of hours in Harris, a meeting in Tarbert heard last night.

Those in attendance asked that a first point of contact should be established locally, to both reassure the caller and to then determine whether the incident should go to NHS 24 or to 999.

The current NHS 24 had been found to be not user-friendly, especially so for those who were elderly and spoke only Gaelic, and those who suffered from dementia.

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

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

Wednesday 31stOctober saw the launch of the Move More Western Isles programme of activities, aimed at helping islanders with long term conditions, including cancer, to be more physically active.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus MacNeil is calling on BT to take immediate steps to improve the level of service provided to customers after several constituents were left without services for more than two months.

Mr MacNeil is often called upon by constituents to assist in getting phone lines and broadband installed or repaired and in most instances the response from BT is swift, however, a number of recent cases have now prompted Mr MacNeil to criticise BT.

Maybury Garden Centre enjoyed their most successful Christmas lights event ever yesterday afternoon (Thursday November 21st).

Manager Alison Carty said the turn-out and atmosphere at the event was ‘fantastic’ and praised the people of the Stornoway area for their support for Bethesda Hospice, who benefited from the event.

Alison told welovestornoway.com today: “We raised more than £1,500 for Bethesda, which was the highest total ever, and the rest of the numbers are pretty staggering.

“Over 400 children saw Santa and there was face-painting from Michaela all through the afternoon. We got through 500 mince pies, 20kg of hot chocolate and 15 litres of mulled wine.

“We’re feeling shattered today, but also delighted that it went so well. The weather was a great help and it was lovely to see so many people prepared to turn out and support Bethesda, and having such a good time.”

Entertainment through the event was provided by young singer-songwriter Rosie Sullivan, the folk group Dual, Brownies and Guides singing carols and the Sharon Mackinnon Highland dancers, as well as Elizabeth Greenstock performing the dance of the sugar plum fairy from the Nutcracker Suite.

Our pictures by Judi Hayes capture some of the excitement of the afternoon.

There’s an initial free screening of the film ‘The Gate, Dawn of the Bahai faith’ and the local group would love for you to join them to watch it. 

#BeLikeStAndrew is the call from An Lanntair as the arts centre celebrates St Andrew’s Day this week in the first of its three winter festivals – and supports Eilean Siar Foodbank at the same time.
Scotland’s patron saint, St Andrew’s philosophy was simple: share what you have with those less fortunate and be kind to each other.
During the week-long celebration of St Andrew’s Day at An Lanntair – which includes some special performances and a packed bill of cinema treats and films – a collection point for non-perishable food items to donate to Eilean Siar Foodbank will be established in the foyer from Monday, November 27th to Saturday, December 2nd.

The Isles Lottery Team are celebrating today (November 21), having reached their first major milestone of raising £10,000 for community projects across the Western Isles - just three months after the Lottery was launched.

A spokesperson for Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery said: “The Lottery is over 25% of the way to reaching the long term target. We are delighted that a steady support of 1350 weekly tickets, the bulk of which are paid by Direct Debit, can raise so much.”

Community Groups from the Butt to Barra have received their shares of the £7,689 already distributed and are set to receive around £3,500 at the end of this month, varying with the level of support from each area.

The winner of the first Western Isles Lottery SuperDraw was drawn on 20th October 2018 and the Western Isles Lottery Team were delighted to present Mr Roddy MacKay from Balivanich with a cheque for £1,000.

Since its launch in August 2017, the Lottery has gone from strength to strength, raising over £77,000 for the Western Isles, with £22,000 being shared in Prize Winnings.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Befriending Lewis have been awarded £149,958 of Big Lottery Funding through the Improving Lives Fund. 
This money is much needed and will help them to sustain our volunteer Befriending service across the Isle of Lewis for the next three years.
The group say: “We are absolutely delighted with the award of this grant to our service, and would like to thank the Big Lottery Fund for recognising the incredible benefits our service can bring to our community, and having the faith in us to deliver it across the Isle of Lewis. “

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

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

The West Side successfully ‘plastered it purple’ for Glasgow Children’s Hospital during October – and now two fundraising families want to say thank you to everyone who took part.

Christmas came early across the Highlands and Islands for members of HI-Scot credit union.

Canny savers received their Christmas savings in November, leaving plenty of time to get their Christmas shopping done.

“This year, our members saved over £60,000 in total,” said HI-Scot's General Manager, David Mackay, “That's a lot of selection boxes!”

The credit union's Christmas Savers scheme has been growing steadily every year, with more and more members realising the benefits of saving all year round for the festive season.

“We all know that Christmas is an expensive time,” David said, “Having money saved for the occasion could mean that our members aren't running up hefty credit card bills or dipping into their savings.”

The little elves at HI-Scot HQ pay out Christmas savings early in November each year, so members can enjoy a debt-free Christmas without the worry of huge bills in the aftermath of the festive season.

With a Christmas Savers account, saving every month throughout the year really takes the stress out of Christmas shopping (and for lots of money-saving ideas for Christmas, check out HI-Scot's posts on Facebook and twitter from November!)

Saving for Christmas with HI-Scot is easy and safe. Unlike unregulated retail savings schemes, the credit union operates under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, so members' money is always fully protected.

And it's never too early to start saving for Christmas 2020. Christmas Savers at HI-Scot can start putting money aside from December 2019, giving them a full year of saving before the big day next year.

For more information on opening a Christmas Savers account with HI-Scot, see: hi-scot.com/Christmas-Savers

The Pentland Road wind farm is poised to generate its 100 millionth unit of electricity within the next few days.

The windfarm went into commercial operation on 1 November 2013.

Peter Crone, Director of Pentland Road Windfarm Ltd., said: “This is a major milestone achievement. It means that we have very nearly reached our target of 50 million units per year or 50 gigawatt hours. 

“We are very pleased with this performance over the first two years despite the usual teething problems with new wind turbines and very significant periods in 2014 where we were unable to generate due to grid transmission works.

Hundreds of primary school pupils, young people and people of even more years joined in a major march this morning (Thursday November 28th) to commemorate the first 50 years of the Stornoway Primary School building on Jamieson Drive.

The procession was so long that it almost reached the length of Goathill Road from Jamieson Drive to Matheson Road. 

The procession was led by a group of pipers from The Nicolson Institute, some of whom were former pupils of Stornoway Primary.

The event started at Matheson Hall, once part of the primary school of the original Nicolson Institute – but it wasn’t able to follow the route followed in 1969 at the time when the ‘new’ school was built because the new Nicolson Institute has obliterated so much of Springfield Road.

Among the former primary pupils present was Bernard Chisholm, the Director of Education and Children’s Services at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

Police are appealing for witnesses following a serious road crash in the early hours of this morning (Saturday, 23 November, 2019) in Barvas.

Around 1.30am, a blue Vauxhall Zafira crashed into a house on the corner on the A857 road towards Ness after the junction with the A858 to Shawbost.

The car was set ablaze which subsequently set the house on fire.

Several emergency services attended and all occupants of the car (three men aged 22, 32 and 36) and the house (one woman aged 61) were safely removed.

However, in the dark and confusion of the incident it was believed another person was involved and thought to be missing.

The Coastguard search underway…photograph from Coastguard team

So Ness, Bragar and Stornoway Coastguard Rescue Team along with a Duty Officer were called to provide search assistance to Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. The search focused on the area round the crash site, routes out of it and other areas of significance until it was confirmed that all occupants were accounted for and in care of Scottish Ambulance Service.

The car's driver and two passengers were taken to Western Isles Hospital for treatment to serious injuries.

The road - which was totally closed for several hours - was down to single lane traffic thriugh Saturday while police carried out their investigations.

A 32-year-old man has been arrested in connection with road traffic offences.

Sergeant Donald Sinclair, of Stornoway’s Church Street station, said: “Our enquiries into the circumstances of the crash are ongoing and I am appealing for anyone who saw the crash or who saw a blue Vauxhall Zafira being driven on the A857 before 1.30am to come forward.

“I’m particularly keen to speak to anyone who may have dash-cam footage which could help with our enquiries.”

Those with information can contact police on 101, quoting reference number 0366 of 23 November 2019.

Since first being published,this report has been updated with additional photographs and search details 

Everyone must ensure they have a vote on December 12th - and that they use it. That's the view of Angus MacNeil, the SNP candidate for the Na h-Eileanan an Iar constituency.

The deadline for registering to vote is Tuesday 26th November and this is also the last day for obtaining a Postal Vote.

Speaking in Stornoway Mr MacNeil said:“This is a crucial election for Scotland and despite only 6.5 hours of daylight and cold nights it is vital that there is a good turnout at this election.

“In 2015 non-voters outnumbered the supporters of every single political party, if these people had voted Westminster could have been a very different place.

“It is especially important that 18-30 year olds vote. Not only are they the largest block of voters but this election will decide their future – in Europe or out and whether Scotland should be Independent like other normal countries.

“Only by ensuring you have a vote and using it can you choose what kind of country Scotland will be."

The build-up to the next Lewis and Harris 40th Reunion is well under way for former pupils of The Nicolson Institute, the Lews Castle School and Sir E. Scott School.

Were you...

  • born in 1976 or 1977?
  • in the Fourth Year leavers class of 1992?
  • in the Fifth Year leavers class of 1993?
  • in the Sixth Year leavers class of 1994?

 If so, then 2016 is your Reunion year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Friday 28th Nov

Ness Hall, North Dell, Ness

7.30pm-late

Adults £5 - Children/OAP £2.00 - Family concessions available

Bring your own refreshments

Free juice for all children.

The emergency 999 phone services has now been restored in the Highlands and Islands area Police Scotland advise.

British Telecom has confirmed disruption to the 999 service which affected some landlines across the Highlands and Islands – including Stornoway – has now been fully restored.

Police Scotland thank residents for their patience and understanding during the disruption.

Other areas which had been affected were Ardersier, Nairn, Cawdor, Kinlochleven and Tain.

Highlands & Islands MSP, Rhoda Grant, is encouraging people with epilepsy in the Highlands and Islands to put ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact details on their mobile phones so that if they have a seizure, the emergency services or even the general public, can get in touch with their named family member or friend.
To further assist emergency personnel, Rhoda Grant has developed a pilot initiative offering free ICEberg wristbands to anyone with epilepsy. These purple and white silicon wrist bands, identify that the wearer has an ICE contact on their mobile device.

With a focus on fitness, raising funds and having a cheeky little bit of fun, island support group The Monday Club presents the Hebridean Men's Health Naked Calendar 2017.

A volunteer run group, established to support islanders affected by stroke, chest and heart conditions, The Monday Club is affiliated with national charity Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland and sees members meet twice a month for lunch and fellowship.

“We are an entirely self funding group, so each year we try to come up with ideas to raise club funds,” said the Club's Alison Tunstall.

With a focus on fitness, raising funds and having a cheeky little bit of fun, island support group The Monday Club presents the Hebridean Men's Health Naked Calendar 2017.

A volunteer run group, established to support islanders affected by stroke, chest and heart conditions, The Monday Club is affiliated with national charity Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland and sees members meet twice a month for lunch and fellowship.

“We are an entirely self funding group, so each year we try to come up with ideas to raise club funds,” said the Club's Alison Tunstall.

Deteriorating weather conditions made it a challenge for the hundreds of people from many different groups and organisations or simply there as private individuals, who marked Remembrance Day in Stornoway today.
During the morning many of those involved were at church services throughout the town and when they went into the services, the weather was showery.  But the strength of the winds increased steadily throughout the morning.

Accounts Assistant

Car Hire Hebrides, Stornoway

If you have an interest in accountancy, a clear understanding of office environments, great communication and interpersonal skills and are computer literate, you might consider working as an accounts assistant for Car Hire Hebrides, based in Stornoway. 

The accounts assistant will provide administrative and clerical support. 

Reporting directly to the management team, the role will involve internal office management along with customer interaction and liaison with external agencies.

Experience of office-based IT systems is essential and experience with software accounting systems such as Xero or Quickbooks would be desirable, although options for training will be available.

The financial management aspects of the role will include:

  • Working with spreadsheets, sales and purchase ledgers.
  • Accounts, payments and invoice reconciliation.
  • Mail and petty cash management.
  • Credit control and debt management. 

The post requires discretion, diplomacy and strong communication and interpersonal skills.

Working as part of a team within a busy and rewarding environment the role can be full or part time and your contract may be permanent or temporary, depending on your circumstances and suitability. 

Salary will be commensurate with hours and experience. 

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

Closing date for applications: Friday December 6th

PATIENTS in the Western Isles are being kept in hospital for longer than is necessary.

This is according to Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan, who has welcomed a commitment from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to tackle the issue of delayed discharges across Scotland's hospitals.

Mr Allan recently raised this issue with both Western Isles Council and NHS Western Isles following concerns raised with him regarding this problem as it affects the Western Isles. 

Albania is the target for the latest Lewis Blythswood appeal…with the volunteers operating under temporary electric light in the former Co-operative furniture store building on Kenneth Street, Stornoway.  2000 shoeboxes of aid should be on their way to Albania by the end of the week…with volunteers young and not so young, working hard from Tuesday to Thursday this week.  Still piled in the former store is some aid left over from the Moldova Appeal which is probably now destined for Malawi and it is hoped that aid for Syria will also travel to the mainland at the end of the week with Blythswood. The group thank D R Macleod who now owns the building for permission to use the premises.

The Scottish Hydro Electric Community Trust is inviting applications for financial support to connect to the electricity network in the north of Scotland.

The Scottish Hydro Electric Community Trust is an independent charitable trust set up in 1998 by Scottish Hydro Electric plc (now SSE plc).

The Trust considers applications for support with the cost of connecting to the electricity network for individual home owners and community groups in the Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) licence area.

The Trust is looking to support up to 75% of the cost of connections for successful community projects and will also support up to 50% of the cost for individuals looking for support to meet the costs of a new domestic connection.

The next round of applications closes on Friday 27 December 2019, with future applications being considered by Trustees on a quarterly basis.

Ron Brown, Trust Chairman, said:“We have been delighted to continue our support for individual home owners and community projects in the north of Scotland. The Trust was set up to help those facing challenges connecting to the electricity network, particularly in some of our most rural and island communities, so it’s great to see this support continue to benefit individual customers and wider communities over 20 years later.

“In the financial year to date, we’ve issued grants worth £63,668 to support individual home owners often facing high costs to connect to the network in SSEN’s distribution area in the north of Scotland. We also awarded grants totalling £30,085 to support connection costs of community projects and are encouraging further applications from groups looking to provide significant benefits to their local communities.”

The Aboyne and Mid Deeside Community Shed received a grant to provide electricity to their premises at Stone Circle Road, Aboyne. 

Mr Philip Lay, Treasurer, said:“This is a major new social development for Aboyne. The facility will offer opportunities for local people, as groups or individuals, to become involved in a range of practical activities, projects or events, as well as a place for daytime socialising in a relaxing woodland environment. The shed will be open to all adults 18+. Persons under 18, accompanied by a responsible adult, will be welcome visitors. The Scottish Hydro Electric Community Trust was selected as a potential funding provider by being a specialist in giving assistance to rural community groups needing a supply connection in the SSEN distribution area.”

Plastic@Bay CIC, Durness received a grant towards the connection of their new plastic recycling workshop, set up in Durness to tackle plastic pollution on local beaches.  Ms Joan D’Arcy, Director, said: “Thanks to the Hydro Trust for the grant to connect our plastic recycling workshop, ‘The Plastic Lab’, in Durness. Most of the plastic we collect is fishing ropes and nets which are not recyclable by conventional means and end up in landfill.  Our aim is to sell enough items made from recycled fishing nets to employ beach cleaners and become self-sufficient in order to continue our good work.”

Urras Dualchas Ratharsair – Raasay Heritage Trust received a grant to provide electricity so that work on their future Heritage Centre, previously a 1760 meal mill, can progress.  Ms Rebecca Mackay, Secretary/Treasurer, said:  “As well as historically important paper material, we have audio collections and a large genealogical data base. The Trust has worked with local Primary Schools, consulted by the Association of Field Archaeologists and helped students in Sabhal Mòr (Gaelic College in Skye), the School of Scottish Studies, part of Edinburgh University and the University of Highlands and Islands.”

The next round closes on Friday 27 December, with further applications welcome after this date as the Trust meets on a quarterly basis to regularly consider applications.

For more information on the Scottish Hydro Electric Community Trust, to apply online or download an application form, please visit www.shect.org.

HIAL can confirm that a revised offer has been presented to Prospect to resolve the long running air traffic control industrial dispute.

This offer sees air traffic controllers receiving the 2019/20 pay increase already awarded to other HIAL staff, along with a commitment to a similar award in 2020/21 subject to any change in Scottish Government’s pay policy. 

In addition, a retention payment has been agreed for a three year period.

The union will recommend the offer to its members in a ballot closing on January 3, 2020.

HIAL managing director, Inglis Lyon, said: “After a lot of hard work and effort from all parties we have now arrived at an offer that Prospect will recommend to their members.

"This offer not only addresses the current dispute, but also recognises the world-wide skills shortage in air traffic control and helps us to secure future service delivery and provide sustainable aviation services for our communities.”

 

Talks this week to resolve the long-running dispute between air traffic controllers and employer Highlands and Islands Airport Ltd (HIAL) have led to a breakthrough, it was announced today (Tuesday November 19th).

ATC union Prospect is to put a revised offer to their membership and is likely to recommend that members accept the offer. A further meeting scheduled this week will finalise the detail, according to an announcement by HIAL.

The steps towards agreement mean that the work-to-rule which is currently in effect will be lifted from 5pm today (Tuesday) and will not be implemented whilst the offer is under consideration. HIAL says that the company welcomes that outcome.

Prospect has not yet advised of the closing date of the ballot, but HIAL plan to provide a further update when the ballot results are known.

Stornoway airport has been among those affected by the work-to-rule, which can mean delays to departures while air traffic controllers take prescribed breaks.

There were also whole days of closure at the airport due to strike action during spring and summer this year.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant has welcomed news that HIAL and Prospect Union have made progress in their talks.  Mrs Grant Said: “After months of stalemate, I am pleased that HIAL appears to have made a more substantive offer to Air Traffic controllers.

“This has been a long time coming, and while the offer obviously still has to be considered and voted on by the Union membership, it is promising that Prospect are recommending it be accepted. This is hopefully an indication that the Scottish Government have finally accepted that the quality of their workers, who have chosen to live and work in some of the Highlands and Islands most rural areas, is deserving of recognition.  Today they argued that the staff of the Scottish National Investment Bank should not be bound by public pay.”

Mrs Grant also welcomed the news that the work to rule conditions which Air Traffic Controllers have been working within will be lifted during the consideration period.

She said: “The ATC staff are an integral part of our community and always go above and beyond to ensure they serve our communities. I know that they have not relished the work to rule conditions, but have seen it as necessary. The fact that they can now step out from this yoke and go back to doing what they do best in time for Christmas is as much a relief for them as it is for those who will be travelling on flights.”

But Mrs Grant stressed that this was only one fight facing the Air Traffic Controllers, and that retention of rural ATC was still to be resolved. “The potential loss of local Air Traffic Control is still looming and should be of deep concern to the Scottish Government which claims it wants to strengthen rural areas and yet continues to centralise services away from local communities."

Concerns regarding aggressive doorstep traders offering free insulation to households have been raised by Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan in the Scottish Parliament.

The local MSP has had several cases brought to him where elderly or vulnerable people have been pressured into agreeing to have free insulation installed.

Householders are typically told that they are signing up for a “government-backed” scheme but are then given little to no documentation.

Serious concerns have also been raised regarding the quality and safety of the work installed.

Alasdair Allan MSP said: “More needs to be done to rein in this cynical behaviour towards elderly and often vulnerable people.

“I have heard of instances where householders have been told that they would be breaking the law if they did not agree to have insulation installed and another where a contractor was seeking to rip out all the insulation recently put into a house by another company, simply so they could claim the funding all over again.

"I have also seen numerous houses left in a terrible and in some cases dangerous condition. 

“These companies seem to be operating under the UK Government’s Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme.

"Angus Brendan MacNeil and I have both contacted OFGEM and UK Ministers highlighting these issues and calling for a review into how this scheme operates to ensure this type of behaviour stops.

“It is important to stress that this does not apply to the excellent work that Tighean Innse Gall (TIG) and Home Energy Scotland deliver through the Scottish Government’s energy efficiency programmes.”

 

“If people are contacted on the doorstep I would urge them to report it to Trading Standards on 01851 822694.”

Three men have been fined after separate offences of consuming alcohol in a public place in the early hours of this morning (Sunday November 17th).

Fixed penalties of £40 each were handed to a 17-year-old youth at 2am, a 40-year-old man at 2.15am and a 21-year-old man at 2.30am.

All were found drinking in Stornoway town centre by police patrols.

 

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has today written to Tory Rural Affairs spokesperson, Peter Chapman MSP, to ask why he has dismissed the crofters on the Scottish Government’s new Land Commission as 'people who have a couple of sheep and a back garden'.

North East Tory MSP Peter Chapman’s register of interests shows he received almost £200,000 in agricultural subsidies last year.

Alasdair Allan, Angus Campbell, and Paul Wheelhouse

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan yesterday met with Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, and Comhairle Leader Angus Campbell in the Scottish Parliament to discuss the UK’s Government decision to exclude 'Remote Island Wind' from its immediate plans on renewable energy. 

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed the news that Loganair is to operate flights “in its own right” from next year onwards.

Loganair yesterday announced plans to end its franchise agreement with Flybe as of 31st August 2017.

The changes will not affect the Scottish Government’s Air Discount Scheme which will continue to run as normal.

THE month of October was almost one of the wettest on record, according to weather statistics.

A total of six inches of rain fell in Stornoway during the last 15 days of the month, something which has only occurred three times in the past 15 years.

NORTH Harris Medical Practice has temporarily relocated to a neighbouring building, while work on the new ‘Harris Health Hub’ takes place.

The practice will be located in the old police station building until March 2015.

Contact details for the practice remain the same. 

A draft masterplan outlining a 20-year vision for the development of Stornoway Harbour has been published by Stornoway Port Authority.

The strategic document — now out for public consultation — was prepared by consultants Fisher Associates, who specialise in port masterplans and other maritime related work.

It identifies a number of projects which would boost facilities for various sectors, from ferries and cruise ships through to renewables and oil exploration, and could dramatically improve Stornoway’s economic future.

FORMER Rangers captain Lorenzo Amoruso visited Stornoway at the weekend.

'Amo', as he is known to his legions of followers, was a guest of the Lewis and Harris Rangers Supporters Club.

The Italian star took part in a question and answer session with club members, before posing for photos.

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

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

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

They include:

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

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

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

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

ANOTHER member of the beleaguered Stornoway Port Authority has resigned from the board.

Donald John Macdonald tabled his resignation at a meeting of the organisation on Thursday night.

It took the authority four days to compile a statement which has just been issued this morning.

The local community is asked to support European Antibiotic Awareness Day.  Antibiotic resistance is a major public health issue and considered to be a significant threat to the future of healthcare.

NHS Western Isles is supporting European Antibiotic Awareness Day on Saturday 18th November and encouraging local communities to become more aware of the issues surrounding antibiotics.

Emer Friel, NHS Western Isles Antimicrobial Pharmacist, and Janice Mackay, NHS Western Isles Infection Prevention and Control Team Manager, will be in Stornoway Tesco between 10am-11am and the Co-op between 11.15am-12.15pm on Friday 17th November offering practical advice on treating infections and how to deal with coughs and colds without antibiotics.

POLICE are appealing for information after a car collided with another vehicle outside the High Church car park on Goathill Road, on Monday night.

An older-style Vauxhall Corsa, dated around 2000-2007, was seen exiting the car park and bumping into another car before driving off.

The incident occurred at around 9.05pm, and it is believed other people in the area would have seen the collision.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Stornoway Police on 101, or Crimestoppers on 0800555111.

POLICE are appealing for witnesses following a road accident on the A866 at Sandwick which occurred at around 10am on Tuesday November 11.

The vehicles involved were an orange Ford and a silver Daewoo car.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact police on 101, or anonymously on Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A new archivist has been appointed for the Lews Castle Museum and Archive project.

Seonaid McDonald starts her new job next week, having previously been Head of Archives and Museums (Scotland) at Lloyds Banking Group since 2009

In her most recent role she was responsible for managing not only the Bank's Edinburgh archives (which date back to 1695), but also the Museum on the Mound. 

A Harris schoolboy is on his way home from London after a trip to commemorate the centenary of the Armistice which ended the First World War. He attended the service at Westminster Abbey on Sunday (November 11th).

15-year-old Hamish Scott, who is in S4 at Sir E Scott School in Tarbert, was also at Buckingham Palace last week, reading his poem, Scapa Flow, at a tea party for schoolchildren hosted by Vice-Admiral Sir Tim Laurence.

Hamish’s poem was a winner when he was just 12 years old, in a schools’ poetry competition run by the youth project Never Such Innocence, and was written to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of Jutland in 2016.

Lewis and Harris will mark 100 years since the end of the ‘war to end all wars’ this weekend (Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th November) with a series of memorial services and parades.

The Armistice was signed at 6am on November 11th 1918 at Compiègne in France, the guns falling silent at 11am, signalling the end of the First World War.

Around 1,400 jobs are dependent on the Scottish Government ending a contractual dispute between the financially stricken fabrication firm BiFab and the Beatrice Windfarm Project contractor Seaway Heavy Lifting (SHL).

That's the view of the joint trade unions representing the interests of over 600 members across BiFab’s three yards in Fife and Lewis, many of whom joined a protest in Edinburgh yesterday.

Hundreds marched to Holyrood. Earlier Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Week, Keith Brown MSP, stressed the Scottish Government would leave ‘no stone’ unturned’ in their engagements with all stakeholders involved in BiFab.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Artizan, the coffee, art and jewellery shop in Church Street, has come up with an innovation that rewards their customers – and could also help people resolve their struggle to find the ideal Christmas Gift.
This is the new Artizan swipe card which is both a loyalty card and a pre-paid gift card  - and is available to both new and existing customers, giving them a saving of ten per cent on every purchase which can be put towards future spending at Artizan, either in the jewellery and gift section or for more coffees, lunches, cakes, and snacks.
You can register for the card at Artizan on Church Street, where the exact terms and conditions will be explained.  You can then choose how much you money you want to put on it – and it can be in your name - or the name of person you want to give to.

 

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

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

The next meeting of Autism Eileanan Siar is on Monday 9th November at Midday, at Newton Community Association Seaforth Road (Next to MG ALBA).

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

Branch volunteers representing the Lewis and Harris Branch are pictured at the Alzheimer Scotland annual staff and volunteer conference in Glasgow taking place today (Tuesday November 7th)

The Lewis and Harris branch were awarded the Volunteer dedication and branch engagement award for 2017.

The Lewis and Harris Branch celebrated its 30th anniversary earlier this year with a small get-together during Dementia Awareness week in June.

This week, Western Isles Association for Mental Health, and Befriending Lewis became the 17th and 18th organisations to achieve a WAVE Award. 

The WAVE Award (Western Isles Award for Volunteering Excellence) is a local award facilitated by the Volunteer Centre Western Isles. The award recognises those organisations that support and value their volunteers, providing a volunteering experience of a high standard. 

Two Western Isles community nurses, who have collectively worked the equivalent of 45 years as nurses for NHS Western Isles, have received long service awards from the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland (QNIS).

Ann Fraser, retired Community Nurse and Joan Macarthur, Senior Charge Nurse, Eastside Team, pictured,  were both presented with their awards on 7th November at Carloway Surgery in front of nursing colleagues (past and present) to mark their long service for the NHS.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Local businesses and organisations are getting behind a campaign to raise awareness of Domestic Abuse and Coercive Control.

The ‘16 Days Of Action’ campaign launched on November 25, and local businesses and organisations are lending their support to helping to promote the campaign.

The Outer Hebrides Violence Against Women Partnership, represented by NHS, Local Authority, Police Scotland, Fire Scotland and Third Sector, is seeking to raise awareness across the Western Isles during the campaign, which runs until December 10.

The Partnership is encouraging everyone in the Western Isles to help us raise awareness by following our posts on social media (Facebook – NHS Western Isles or Twitter @NHSWI) and liking or sharing our posts  #16daysofactivism  #endviolenceagainstwomen  #domesticabuse

The campaign is an opportunity for individuals, groups and communities around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of gender-based violence. The campaign runs every year from 25th November, UN International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women, to 10th December, Human Rights Day, to highlight the link between violence against woman and human rights.

Domestic abuse is a pattern of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and/or violent behaviour, including sexual violence, by a partner or ex-partner. Domestic abuse is overwhelmingly experienced by women and perpetrated by men. However domestic abuse can also happen to men. It doesn’t matter how old someone is, what race or ethnicity they are, what class they are, whether or not they are disabled, or whether they have children – anyone can be a victim of abuse.

Often when people think of domestic abuse they think of physical violence, but for many women who live with domestic abuse there will be no scars, bruises or broken bones. However, for some it can take over their lives.

Domestic abuse isn’t a one off. It usually happens again and again and the abusive partner will try different things to gain control. It usually gets worse over time, and for many women it can continue even after the relationship has ended.
Domestic abuse can include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Coercive control (a pattern of intimidation, degradation, isolation and control with the use or threat of physical or sexual violence)
  • Psychological and/or emotional abuse
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Financial or economic abuse
  • Harassment and stalking
  • Online or digital abuse

More than anything, domestic abuse is about control. Coercive and controlling behaviour is a pattern of conduct which undermines the victim’s independence and might include monitoring and restricting mobile phone usage, controlling bank account access, dictating outfit choices, meal times or friendships. Controlling behaviour takes away your choices in life and the things that make you, you.

Domestic abuse has hugely damaging effects on victims, their families and communities and can leave victims feeling isolated, frightened and humiliated.

The new Domestic Abuse Law came into force on 1 April 2019.  With 1 in 4 women currently experiencing domestic abuse in Scotland, this new law will make Scotland’s response to domestic abuse fit for purpose for women and children. It allows the police and courts to charge someone for a single offence of domestic abuse, covering both physical abuse and psychological abuse/controlling and coercive behaviour.

The Domestic Abuse Act is the only UK legislation to reflect the harm that can be caused to children growing up in an environment where domestic abuse takes place.

You don't have to wait for an emergency situation to seek help. If domestic abuse is happening to you, it's important to tell someone and remember you're not alone. If you’re not ready to report it, you can still seek support.

If your partner is controlling you, it’s Domestic Abuse.

Regardless of where you live in the Western Isles you can:

Call Western Isles Women’s Aid for support and advice on 01851 704750 Mon- Friday 10am to 5pm. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Women can also call 0808 2000 247, the free 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline run in partnership between Women's Aid and Refuge.

Men can call the Men's Advice Line free on 0808 801 0327 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).

You can also speak to a GP, Health Visitor or Midwife.
 
In an emergency, call 999.

The popular 'Katie Morag' television series has been honoured with a second BAFTA as Director Donald Coutts picked up the award for Best Director at the 2015 Scottish BAFTA ceremony, held in Glasgow, on Sunday, November 15th.

Donald was up against the competition of Gordon Anderson, for TV comedy 'Scrotal Recall', and Hollywood regular Robert Carlyle, with the dark comedy 'The Legend of Barney Thomson), in the Director Film/Television category.

But it was the BBC's Cbeebies' 'Katie Morag' show which won the day, and Donald was presented his BAFTA by actress Neve McIntosh and actor Richard Rankin.

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

‘Crazy Carl’ Easton to dance in Nutcracker ballet.

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

Final preparations are being made for Ballet Hebrides's first production of 'The Nutcracker', which will take place on Thursday December 1. 

The ballet is based on the Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky classic, and there are still some tickets available through An Lanntair. 

All proceeds will be donated to Action for Children Eilean Siar, and guests are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate to Action for Children Eilean Siar.  

Dancers are aged 5 to OAP, from beginner to ex-professional, many are local, some from as far away as America, but all have enjoyed bringing their talents together for this fun, family-friendly ballet.

The audience will join Lord and Lady Matheson at their island Castle for a lavish Christmas Eve Party.  The magic will begin, bringing to the stage life-like dolls, cute mice and dancing snowflakes. 

A seminar focussing on increasing housing opportunities in Barra and the Uists was held this month.

The community-led Housing seminar was organised by the Uist and Barra Housing Group, and had a main theme of ‘Innovation and New Thinking’ to accelerate house building on the islands.

The purpose of the seminar was to explore new ways of meeting the housing needs of the area, particularly in relation for young people and addressing population decline.

Over 50 delegates representing community bodies, housing stakeholders, the Third Sector, and local business attended on the day. A series of presentations set out the local and national housing context, along with examples of innovative housing ideas that have been successful in other parts of rural Scotland. The presentations prepared the ground for two sets of workshops, where delegates had the opportunity to discuss and develop ideas that could be explored further.

The Chairman of Uist & Barra Housing Group, Councillor Iain A MacNeil said: “This was a very useful event that brought together a range of partners from community representatives through to national agencies.

"I was struck by the level of unanimity at the meeting.

"There was a consensus that the challenges around housing should be owned by the community and that everyone had to act in partnership to develop and implement solutions.

“I was particularly pleased the seminar did not dwell on the challenges and that the focus of the participants was very much on exploring new, innovative solutions.

"These ranged from the high-level policy changes required at national level to allow greater local flexibility, through to consideration of trade skills in the construction sector and on to ambitious ideas about establishing a new 'gateway' village.

Mr MacNeil concluded: “There was good consensus today about the issues and what needs to be done.

"It is essential, however, that momentum is maintained and I will shortly be bringing the key agencies together to explore how we move the ideas generated at the seminar into concrete proposals and real development."

CASTLEBAY Community School has swept the board at the 2014 Scottish Qualifications Authority Star Awards.

The school walked away with four awards, including SQA’s Pride o’ Worth Award for centres; the organisations which deliver SQA’s qualifications.

The awards represent a dramatic change in fortunes for the school, which reveived a damning HMI inspection report in 2008.

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

A series of informal events is being held by NHS Western Isles, working in partnership with other agencies, to look at the existing and future needs of those with mental health problems.

The aim is to hear from all stakeholders about how services are being used, which services are most needed, and how they could best be improved in the future.

In Harris there's a meeting on December 3rd  - 2-5pm at Bays Community Centre.
We invite you to join us, for however long you can spare, at an event across the islands to give us your views. We will gather all this information together and use it to help inform us of the “bigger picture” of the health and wellbeing needs and inequalities of the people of the Western Isles living with mental health problems. We will come back to you in Spring next year with some proposals for how we can improve services to see how they would suit you.
Alternatively, you can send us your views on what is going well and what you would like to see changed for services provided for mental health problems This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Or by post to:
Mental Health Review
Division of Public Health and Health Strategy
37 South Beach Street
Stornoway
HS1 2BB

The word from NHS Western Isles is ‘Be Health-Wise this Winter’ as the local health board supports a national campaign to highlight the importance of being prepared for seasonal illness.
‘Be Health-Wise this Winter’ is designed to encourage everyone to take a few simple steps to ensure they can take care of themselves and their families over the festive period.
NHS Western Isles Medical Director, Angus McKellar, said the campaign is an important reminder that opening times in community services such as GP surgeries and pharmacies will change over the holidays.

The word from NHS Western Isles is ‘Be Health-Wise this Winter’ as the local health board supports a national campaign to highlight the importance of being prepared for seasonal illness.
‘Be Health-Wise this Winter’ is designed to encourage everyone to take a few simple steps to ensure they can take care of themselves and their families over the festive period.
NHS Western Isles Medical Director, Angus McKellar, said the campaign is an important reminder that opening times in community services such as GP surgeries and pharmacies will change over the holidays.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The scenic Talla na Mara community enterprise centre held its Grand Opening yesterday (Friday 17th November) with Pairc Niseaboist resplendent and echoing to bagpipe music.

The VIPs were Ben Fogle who became a honorary resident of West Harris after living on nearby Taransay for a year as part of the BBC reality series Castaway almost 20 years ago; and Alex Passmore from Leverburgh Memorial School who won a competition to name the centre.

The event was introduced by Anna Helfrich, the trust’s commercial manager, who explained the centre had been in action already for 10 months and was already a major hub of local activity. Alex Passmore spoke a welcome in Gaelic.

Bespoke Bicycles, who are working to transform Glen House into The Hub have met their target for funding to help them to complete their work on The Hub. 

A crowdfunding page was set up to help Bespoke Bicycles complete the renovation of Glen House to get The Hub up and running. 

The Hub, which is situated in Glen House (on Willowglen Road) hopes to be a cafe for walkers, runners and cyclists, as well as a bicycle repair shop. 

With the help of 180 backers, The Stornoway Trust and Stornoway Sawmill, Bespoke Bicycles has raised £7,580 (the target was £7,500) with 37 days still to go. 

Customers on the Ullapool-Inverness coach route should again benefit from extra capacity following the extension to an agreement by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Scottish Citylink and the Highlands and Islands Regional Transport Partnership (HITRANS).

Scottish Citylink, which operates the service, deployed 48 additional coaches over the summer to cater for whenever bookings for the service exceeded the capacity more than 48 hours in advance of the departure time.

As the coach operator runs the service on a commercial basis without any public sector investment, it cannot guarantee that it can add in extra vehicles to the route with less than 48 hours' notice unless the level of demand covered the operational costs.  

Customers on the Ullapool-Inverness coach route should again benefit from extra capacity following the extension to an agreement by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Scottish Citylink and the Highlands and Islands Regional Transport Partnership (HITRANS).

Scottish Citylink, which operates the service, deployed 48 additional coaches over the summer to cater for whenever bookings for the service exceeded the capacity more than 48 hours in advance of the departure time.

As the coach operator runs the service on a commercial basis without any public sector investment, it cannot guarantee that it can add in extra vehicles to the route with less than 48 hours' notice unless the level of demand covered the operational costs.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Pictures by Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos

 

THE Lewis and Harris Select football team are competing today in their first ever North Caledonia Cup final, in Alness.

The team will go head to head with Golspie Sutherland at Dalmore Park, at 1.30pm, as they attempt to take the silverware back across the Minch.

A bus full of supporters left on the early Stornoway ferry to cheer the boys to victory.

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

Children in the Western Isles are enjoying much better dental health than they were in the recent past, with new figures showing that 82.8% of primary seven pupils have no obvious decay.

This compares to 54.5% of primary seven (P7) children in the Western Isles having no obvious decay in 2007.

Children from all the health board areas in Scotland have their teeth looked at every year for the National Dental Inspection Programme (NDIP). In alternate years primary seven and primary one children are offered a dental inspection.

This year the Scottish average for children with no obvious decay was 75.3% and this year’s result for the Western Isles has been warmly welcomed.

A major on-line fundraising event is being held by local charity The Outer Hebrides Fisheries Trust (OHFT).
This was formed as the Western Isles Fisheries Trust (WIFT) in 1996 and is a community-based organisation conducting scientific research into wild fish stocks and advising on freshwater fisheries management.
The Trust has received donations from the local estates around the Hebrides for salmon and sea trout fishing for next season, as well as a Macnab Challenge, (which involves bagging a salmon, stag and brace of grouse within one day between dawn and dusk), deer stalking, a Greys GTS500 Fly Fishing Reel, and a 15ft Sharpes Gordon 2 Spey Salmon Rod.

More than 120 people of all ages turned out in bright sunshine in Tarbert this morning (Saturday) for a Remembrance Day parade.

Almost 20 different organisations from the Scottish Parliament to Leverburgh RNLI were represented and laid wreaths in memory of those who lost their lives in the World Wars of the 20th Century and other conflicts.

The event started with a service at the Church of Scotland overlooking East Loch Tarbert which was followed by a procession across the village via the waterfront road through to the war memorial in the centre of the village overlooking the road to the village's ferry quay.

The wreathlayers gathered on the village's Main Street while the crowd threaded its way through the well-maintained memorial garden to fill the area around the war memorial itself.

Mr John Murdo Morrison officiated at the memorial, calling forth representatives of the various organisations, including community landowners and local schools. 

Grinneas nan Eilean, the Islands’ Open Exhibition has returned to An Lanntair for another run until February 2, 2020

In reality, less an open exhibition than a community installation, Grinneas dates back to the 1970s and predates An Lanntair itself.

It is the opportunity for practising artists – professional and amateur – who are residents or from the Western Isles to be displayed at a major public gallery.

An Lanntair held the official opening on Saturday afternoon (November 23rd) and later said on Facebook: “A great exhibition opening for Grinneas nan Eilean: The Islands Open Exhibition 2019 this evening...a super turn-out and what a wealth of artistic talent our island artists and artisans have delivered this year! Just wow!”

Back in the mid-Seventies the Islands had no exhibition space. Opportunities were for local artists were literally limited to a once-a-year, two-week slot in Stornoway Town Hall for the original Grinneas nan Eilean.

The festive season is coming early to Artizan on Church Street, Stornoway, which is running a Black Friday shopping event this week - they are offering 20% off the prices of everything in the gift shop upstairs.

And they are staying open late on Friday (November 25th) …until 8pm.

At the same time, they have launched their new festive menu including Gingerbread Latte – a smooth gingerbread syrup latte topped with whipped cream and caramel sauce with a gingerbread man on the side; Terry’s Chocolate Orange Hot Chocolate - Hot Chocolate Orange, whipped cream, caramel sauce and a slice of Terry’s chocolate orange; or there’s Cinnamon Cappuccino - Cinnamon infused cappuccino served with a gingerbread snap.

All this comes almost exactly a year after the café, art, jewellery and gift shop first opened.

The Arnish BiFab yard will see the departure of 35 workers today (Friday November 15th) – with 15 more workers to lose their jobs next week.

The yard’s owner, DF Barnes yesterday confirmed that 50 jobs were going from the company, but said they were confident about future contracts.

Workers union GMB challenged politicians to come down and face the workers losing jobs before Christmas, rather than continually talking about possible future contracts.

Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty and GMB Scotland Scottish secretary, Gary Smith said: “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. It’s a national scandal and politicians must be held to account.”

Labour’s candidate for the Na h-Eileanan an Iar constituency in the current General Election, Alison MacCorquodale, said today that there was a real risk of the Arnish yard being mothballed unless urgent action is taken.

She said it would be "a miserable Christmas present" for the Arnish workforce to have job losses and the threat of further pay-offs hanging over them. She added: "I am in close touch with the unions and will support any action they can take".

The Arnish workers have been working on the construction of 100 pin piles for the Moray East Offshore Wind Farm since March, with regular shipments leaving Stornoway and the contract expected to be completed by the second week of December.
Project manager Ian Potts told welovestornoway.com last week: “We have also taken on a very small bit of work for Quinn Drilling who are doing work on the new marina, but it is very minor ¬- four small piles to be modified.”

GMB spokesman Gary Smith told the industry newsletter Energy Voice today: “We’ve got politicians of all stripes on the campaign trail telling us about the jobs of the future. I’d ask them to come to Arnish and tell our members who are facing unemployment for Christmas all about it.”

Picture: BiFab Arnish

Blythswood Care began in 1966 and so this year it celebrates its 50th Anniversary.

A dinner to commemorate this milestone is being held in the Caberfeidh Hotel in Stornoway, tomorrow  (Friday - 11th November) at 6pm for 6.30pm

James Campbell, the Chief Executive of Blythswood Care;  Finlay Mackenzie (Projects Manager) and Charlie Nicolson will share something of the work of the charity throughout the evening.

Tickets can be purchased from the Blythswood Shop on Kenneth Street, Stornoway.

Please come along and help us celebrate together, say the organisers.   Everyone is warmly welcome.  

 

Sir E Scott School have once again had a very successful response to the Blythswood Shoebox Appeal. 

A total of 151 boxes were donated this year, representing the biggest response the school has had since the Appeal began many years ago. 

The generosity of the pupils, parents and members of the Harris community is very much appreciated by the organisers. 
 

Donations totalling £272.50 were also contributed to help defray the cost of carriage. 

This year, two parents kindly provided wrapped shoeboxes which encouraged greater participation.  

Pictured are pupils Gemma Finnegan and Sarah Helfrich.

Stornoway RNLI Lifeboat volunteer crew launched at 23.57hrs on Friday (November 2nd) in response to a fish farm support vessel which had issued a Pan Pan (urgent assistance message) after suffering a loss of propulsion whilst at Lemreway.

The weather conditions on passage down the coast to assist the stricken vessel were extremely challenging with winds of 50 knots and seas up to 7m.

A LIMITED number of early bird tickets will go on sale next week for the award-winning Hebridean Celtic Festival which is gearing up to mark its 20th anniversary in 2015.

The tickets for the internationally-acclaimed festival, which was voted Best Event or Festival at the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards earlier this month, will be available to buy online at www.hebceltfest.com from 10am on Monday 1 December.

It’s an opportunity for fans to grab a bargain as they are being held at the 2014 prices of £79 for the weekend (£61 for concession and £19 for children under 14) for the main arena events.

Comunn Eachdraidh Nis is to host an exhibition and launch event heralding the re-publication of a photographic tribute to details of a past lifestyle.

Dan Morrison’s book Nis Aosmhor, first published by Stornoway publishers Acair in 1997, shows 114 images of Ness life, with captions in English and Gaelic.

Acair's new edition of the book has enhanced the photographs using digital restoration techniques, to create a crisp new presentation that does justice to the stunning photographs.

The launch on Tuesday November 26th will include short presentations by Finlay Macleod, Iain Gordon MacDonald and Iain MacLeod, who was a relative of Dan Morrison.

CEN is also opening an exhibition of 20 of the newly restored images, which generate nostalgia for a way of life which is already changing out of recognition. It depicts the distinctive Hebridean crofting way of life and shows landmarks, scenes and landscapes which have changed beyond recognition.

The event starts at 7pm on Tuesday 26th, books will be available for purchase and refreshments will be served. The book is also available to pre-order at www.acairbooks.com or by phoning the office on 01851 703020.

 (TIG) has recently completed and allocated the two Rent to Buy properties at Esplanade Court, Stornoway. 

TIG’s Rent to Buy Scheme is a Comhairle-backed initiative which enables TIG to develop housing for families and individuals who are struggling to get onto the property ladder and are looking for a low cost home ownership option.

The core of the Salvation Army Stornoway Corps

Words and picture by Melissa Silver

‘Nobody leaves here with an empty stomach’ is the motto at the Salvation Army Stornoway Corps, where they pile the plates high for anyone who walks through their door for breakfast on a Friday morning, or for lunch on a Tuesday and Thursday.

But, lately, the numbers - particularly for the breakfast club - have dipped, and the Salvation Army is looking to the community to support this much-needed service. 

It was a cold, blustery Friday morning when I went to have a chat with Callum and Emma Newton, Commanding Officers of the Salvation Army Stornoway Corps. I was greeted by the smell of cooked breakfasts, the noises of the bustling kitchen, and the smiling faces of the team that make it all happen every week. 

Through the doors, in the hall, were tables set out, and people sitting, chatting, laughing, enjoying their breakfast - a breakfast made up of “good quality meat,” Callum states, “all sourced from local butchers,” as well as Stag Bakery rolls, and fresh, local eggs, brought in by a volunteer. Emma adds: “I think all that comes from the supermarket is the baked beans and tomatoes!”

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

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

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

Superfast broadband is reaching more communities in Lewis, Harris and some offshore islands in the next few weeks and months.
The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) project is progressing ahead of schedule with parts of Back and Barvas already able to order the new high-speed services.
Additional connections will start coming through for some in Point and Shawbost within weeks.

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

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

The Stornoway Gazette newspaper hit the national headlines this morning for all the wrong reasons – prompting BT to use it as a warning on sharing social media passwords.

A number of comments criticising the local newspaper and its editor were posted on the Gazette's official social media sites last night.

And this morning, although comments were deleted from the Stornoway Gazette Facebook page, several tweets on the paper's Twitter feed remained public.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar will be holding a budget consultation meeting in Tarbert on Tuesday November 10 at 7pm, in Sir E Scott School. 

The meeting is part of the Comhairle’s budget setting preparations, which also include staff consultations, and is an opportunity for members of the public to have their say in the prioritisation of services.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar will be holding a budget consultation meeting in Stornoway on Wednesday November 11 at 7pm, in the Nicolson Institute. 

The meeting is part of the Comhairle’s budget setting preparations, which also include staff consultations, and is an opportunity for members of the public to have their say in the prioritisation of services.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar will be holding a budget consultation meeting in Barvas on Monday November 16 at 7pm, in Sgoil an Taobh Siar. 

The meeting is part of the Comhairle’s budget setting preparations, which also include staff consultations, and is an opportunity for members of the public to have their say in the prioritisation of services.

PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF DAY SINCE THIS WAS FIRST POSTED

Contest success…Councillor Donald Crichton presenting an iPad to Sean Kettle

The winners of the Outer Hebrides Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme Business Ideas Competition were recently announced to coincide with Global Entrepreneurship Week.

Business Gateway would like to say a huge thank you to all those who entered the competition, which was run in conjunction with the “OHYES” grant scheme – a joint initiative between Scape Communities ReInvest Fund and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. 

Are you thinking about starting a new business or expanding your existing business?  Do you require funding, some general business advice, or just fancy a chat about your business activities?  If so, these events may be for you!  The joint Business Gateway and Prince's Trust team will be holding advice and information sessions in Lewis and Harris during November. They will be based in the following locations:

Clan MacQuarrie Centre, Borve - Tuesday 10 November, 12pm to 4pm 

Comhairle Offices, Tarbert  - Thursday 12 November, 11am to 3pm

Uig Community Centre - Thursday 26 November, 12pm to 4pm 

Are you thinking about starting a new business or expanding your existing business?  Do you require funding, some general business advice, or just fancy a chat about your business activities?  If so, these events may be for you!  The joint Business Gateway and Prince's Trust team will be holding advice and information sessions in Lewis and Harris during November. They will be based in the following locations:

Clan MacQuarrie Centre, Borve - Tuesday 10 November, 12pm to 4pm 

Comhairle Offices, Tarbert  - Thursday 12 November, 11am to 3pm

Uig Community Centre - Thursday 26 November, 12pm to 4pm 

Are you thinking about starting a new business or expanding your existing business?  Do you require funding, some general business advice, or just fancy a chat about your business activities?  If so, these events may be for you!  The joint Business Gateway and Prince's Trust team will be holding advice and information sessions in Lewis and Harris during November. They will be based in the following locations:

Clan MacQuarrie Centre, Borve - Tuesday 10 November, 12pm to 4pm 

Comhairle Offices, Tarbert  - Thursday 12 November, 11am to 3pm

Uig Community Centre - Thursday 26 November, 12pm to 4pm 

Trading Standards are encouraging consumers to buy carefully on Black Friday.

The Trading Standards North of Scotland Safety Partnership is asking consumers to consider the following:

  • Ask - do I know where this seller is based? Not all .co.uk websites are based in the UK.

  • Can you establish where the online selling platform operates from? It may be the USA, China or other countries which are not subject to the safety requirements applicable in the UK and EU.

  • On well-known selling platforms do not assume that the goods are being sold by the platform - look closely at the listing and any returns information. Often the goods will be shipped from countries outwith the UK and EU.

  • Search the listing fully – this can lead to the details of the seller being available.

  • Do your research on the product you wish to buy – is it being offered for sale at a price much lower than it would normally retail at. This can indicate that the item is a cheap copy which has not been subject to any safety testing.

  • Look at any reviews, whilst bearing in mind that it may be possible for positive listings to be made by people who have an interest in selling the item.

  • If packaging can be seen, is the information given in proper English? Spelling errors and grammatical errors can be an indication that items are made outwith the UK.

  • Are the manufacturer’s or importer’s details on the packaging? Apart from being a legal requirement, this provides a route for Trading Standards to try to help should you receive unsafe products.

  • Use online review websites to see what people are saying about products and sellers, and in general see what is being said online.

  • Legislation exists to try to ensure that goods manufactured in the UK and EU are safe - whether that is safe generally, or safe in terms of specific legislation in respect of goods such as toys, cosmetics, electrical equipment and many other items that are popular.

A spokesman for the partnership said: “Safety legislation is in place to try to protect members of the public from unsafe products.

"The increase in online purchasing, and the supply of goods from outwith the EU where the safety legislation does not apply, makes it an ever increasing problem to try and make sure goods that arrive on the doorstep will not cause injury to people or property.

"Online platforms and websites provide a great variety of goods for consumers, but also make it more difficult to ensure that goods delivered direct to consumers from outwith the UK are safe.

"Many websites and online selling platforms are outwith the jurisdiction of UK authorities. We would very much like everyone to enjoy their purchases safely.”

By Rosie's fittingly beautiful, new website is now live! Go check it out!  

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

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

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

 

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

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

THERE is significant demand for an extra daily flight between Stornoway and Aberdeen, it has been found.

A report recently commissioned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise says a survey of public opinion revealed demand for a morning and evening flight, as opposed to the one afternoon service currently in operation.

The report also highlighted concerns of the public regarding excessive fares, with some flights costing almost £400 return.

To view the report in full, see here

The Chair of the Outer Hebrides Community Planning Partnership has emphasised that Renewable Energy has the potential to transform the economy of the Outer Hebrides if Government provides the required assistance and works with local agencies.

Angus Campbell said: “It is ironic that the day after a two day seminar on depopulation and migration affecting the Outer Hebrides that we get an announcement from the UK Government that the Islands will not be included in the next round of Contract for Difference –which is required to make island windfarm projects viable.  It is fully accepted that renewable energy offers an unprecedented opportunity to transform the economic fortunes of the islands by bringing investment and creating jobs and training opportunities.

"To make that happen we need Government to set the right conditions and this latest announcement is extremely disappointing."

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is calling on the UK Government to use part of the new cash fund announced in yesterday’s Autumn Statement for Civil Resilience and Community Safety, to be used for a second Emergency Towing vessel (ETV) based on the west coast of Scotland.

Yesterday the Chancellor announced that £102 million of LIBOR fines collected from banks who break banking rules would be used to fund emergency services charities and armed forces, including emergency service personnel; children’s hospitals, air ambulances and emergency responders; and museums and memorials, over the next four years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(This report has been updated since first being posted)

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ORCA wildlife officer Andy Gilbert will be seconded to CalMac full time from March next year for an eight month period

Ferry operator CalMac has seconded a full time ORCA wildlife officer to help educate crew and passengers about marine life across the west coast.
CalMac has been partnering with wildlife charity ORCA for four years monitoring mammals in the Minch and the two organisations are now working together to expand their conservation work next summer.
Andy Gilbert has spent decades pursuing his passion for wildlife and conservation first as a volunteer, and most recently as an ORCA wildlife officer in both the Bay of Biscay and in the Hebrides aboard the MV Loch Nevis.

He will now be bringing his experience to the west coast in 2018, working as a full-time conservation expert across the CalMac fleet.
“The opportunity to spend 2018 working in the Hebrides and helping deliver the ORCA Wildlife Officer programme, in partnership with CalMac, is an exciting next step in my career,” said Andy.
“I can’t wait to start helping to spread the message about marine conservation across their network of routes.
“The more we learn about the diversity of what lives in our seas, the greater understanding we will have about how to conserve it for future generations.”

Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne is refreshing its online ticketing to make it easier to use.

The new look web system will introduce a step-by-step timeline across the screen to help customers follow their booking process, as well as a helpful summary of their reservation. It will also be fully scalable across all devices.

The Community Board set up by ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) to provide an insight into the issues affecting island and rural communities, is meeting for the first time on Friday, November 17.

Board chair Angus Campbell, former leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: “The focus of the first meeting will be agreeing the way the Board will operate, including how the members will engage with the communities they represent and report back to them the activities of the Community Board.

CalMac's customer service updates team has been named team of the year by the Contact Centre Association (CCA) for the quality of their customer care.

The ferry and harbour operator beat off competition from major international brands such a Vodafone and SKY to pick up the prestigious UK excellence award. The team is responsible for delivering consistent and clear messaging to customers at times of disruption.

CalMac Managing Director, Robbie Drummond said today (Monday November 18th): “They are the voice of the company when disruption occurs. Their job of keeping our customers up to date with what's happening is essential if they are to get to where they're going with the minimal of fuss.”

The team’s success was reflected in more than 500 letters of thanks they’d received from customers, and judges were impressed by the commitment to communicate disruption to customers within eight minutes of being alerted.

They also noted an innovative use of social media, developing a following of just 1,500 to reach more than 18,000 in just three years. Over the course of last year they published 13,513 social media posts and responded to more than 45,000 messages and emails.

Robbie said: “The pressure on the team during times of disruption, for reasons more often than not outwith our control, is intense. Customers rightly need to know what's going on and having staff who can keep calm under stress can do a lot to determine whether a customer's experience is a good one or not.

“I'm delighted for the team, being recognised by their industry peers as being the best in the business is a great accolade and one they fully deserve. This responsiveness and commitment to first class customer service is a huge asset for us.”

There are five people in the updates team, operating round-the-clock monitoring on more than 160,000 sailings and looking out for potential disruption, as well as monitoring other transport operators for events that could have an impact on ferry services.

“It is our goal to try and speak to customers in a way that suits them. Our team is committed to embracing the very latest communications channels to keep passengers informed quickly about any changes to their planned sailing,” added Robbie.

Picture shows the team celebrating their win on Wednesday November 13th (CalMac).

An event that took place 50 years ago will be recreated this Thursday – and you are invited to join in!

In 1969, Stornoway Primary school pupils and staff walked from Matheson Hall to the new school on Jamieson Drive. That iconic walk will be re-enacted on Thursday 28 November at 10am.

Donalda Riddell of Stornoway Primary said: "The children from our school will start the walk from Matheson Hall at 10am.

"We are looking for members of the public who did the walk originally – the first pupils and staff who came to the new Stornoway Primary school – to help recreate what they did 50 years ago.

"We currently have around 500 pupils plus staff who will be taking part in the walk – along with pipers from The Nicolson Institute.

"We have had a few members of the public get in touch and say they are excited to join but anyone else who wants to take part is welcome."

The event will be followed by a sing-song and refreshments at the present primary school.

To find out more information or take part in an actual walk down memory lane, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Investigations are continuing after a car hit a wall in the Willowglen area of Stornoway last night (Saturday November 23rd).

Police were called to the scene where an individual was believed to be missing from the vehicle.

The person was traced safe and well and enquiries continue as to the cause of the incident.

Meanwhile enquiries continue following Saturday morning's car crash with a house.

http://www.welovestornoway.com/index.php/articles-auto/15322-four-saved-in-car-crash-blazes

Engineering and construction works around the Western Isles Hospital will cause disruption for the next month and official advice on changes to visiting times and reduction to parking has been issued.

The public are advised that first, the carpets are being replaced to the Level 3 corridor and main stairwell from Monday, November 30.  To allow this work to be done, visiting to Medical 1, Surgical and Maternity wards will need to end at 8.30pm for the week commencing November 30.

Also, work is to begin on the helipad, with the contractors saying they are in a position to start work next Monday which is again, November 30.

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

A Careers Convention held in Harris this week has been hailed a great success.

The venue for the event was Sir E. Scott School, which last hosted a Careers Convention seven years ago.

A total of 29 companies and organisations were on hand to provide information for pupils on a wide representation of training, further and higher education opportunities. 

Carloway FC Season 2014 Prizegiving, dinner and dance will take place on Friday November 21st at 7.30pm in Breasclete Community Centre. 

For more info, click here.

A series of informal events is being held by NHS Western Isles, working in partnership with other agencies, to look at the existing and future needs of those with mental health problems.

On is on December 2nd - 2.30-4.30 pm at Carloway Community Centre

The aim is to hear from all stakeholders about how services are being used, which services are most needed, and how they could best be improved in the future.

NHS Western Isles has been working with its partners to look at the services we provide for people with mental health problems.

The partners include Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Penumbra, Alzheimer’s Scotland, Western Isles Association for Mental Health, Tagsa Uibhist and Cobhair Barraigh.  We are doing this work because we think we can make the services better by redesigning them.

We invite you to join us, for however long you can spare, at an event across the islands to give us your views. We will gather all this information together and use it to help inform us of the “bigger picture” of the health and wellbeing needs and inequalities of the people of the Western Isles living with mental health problems. We will come back to you in Spring next year with some proposals for how we can improve services to see how they would suit you.

Alternatively, you can send us your views on what is going well and what you would like to see changed for services provided for mental health problems to:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Or by post to:
Mental Health Review
Division of Public Health and Health Strategy
37 South Beach Street
Stornoway
HS1 2BB

PUPILS of Sir E. Scott School and The Nicolson Institute are to take part in a prestigious music weekend next summer.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar was recently awarded £10,000 from the Awards for All - Big Lottery Fund. The funding will go towards running a National Youth Orchestra of Scotland Residential weekend in Summer 2015.

NYOS will work with Young People on a pilot project for young people in Sir E Scott School, Harris and the Nicolson Institute. There will be places for 25 young people on the course  - wind, brass, violin, cello and double bass. 

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


An appeal has gone out today (Tuesday November 19th) for funds, food and bedding for unwanted cats, as animal-lovers step forwards to rescue a family of kittens left out in the cold.

Former cat protectors found they were unable to sit back and do nothing when they were alerted to a new feral colony in a garden near Stornoway.

There’s now no rescue service in the island for unwanted cats, since the national charity Cats Protection withdrew its support from the Lewis and Harris branch. Feral cats and kittens have filled all available spaces both at the Old Mill Veterinary practice and at the SSPCA.

But a mother cat with three new kittens and three almost-grown adult kittens has spurred cat-lovers to get back to work – despite the fact that they have no financial backing for the expenses of feeding, keeping and neutering the cats.

Former committee co-ordinator Karen Cowan said: “We received a message asking for help with a colony of feral cats living in a garden near town. If we left them there within a few months there would be real problems.

“Now we need your help to raise funds to neuter all the adults and care for them all. You’ve all been so supportive about starting something locally so we hope now you’ll agree that that family is worth saving.”

Having successfully trapped the three older kittens, volunteers are now seeking donations of food and cat litter, which can be ordered by phone or in person from Maybury Gardens, where the former charity ordered supplies.

Carers have already been found to provide safe shelter for the kittens, when they can be trapped, and it’s hoped they can be socialised and provided with homes.

It’s also hoped that an online funding page can be set up to meet the costs of neutering all the adult cats, before finding them a safe barn or other home.
The picture shows the two generations of kittens, found under a hedge in a Stornoway garden.

Graeme Bell, general manager of Inverness Airport, for category sponsor Highlands and Islands Airports, presents the commendation to curator Catherine Maclean and musician Dalbir Singh Rattan of the Purvai Festival 

Catherine Maclean ended her 12 years work at Stornoway’s An Lanntair arts centre on a high point when the Purvai festival received a commendation at the annual Highlands and Islands tourism ‘Oscars’.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are celebrations in the world of Gaelic culture today (Wednesday November 20th) after news of awards for islanders at last night’s Scottish Gaelic awards ceremony in Glasgow.

The Scottish Gaelic Awards reward all aspects of the Gaelic language and culture and the awards night was hosted by the Daily Record, alongside headline sponsor Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

Broadcaster and Producer Cathy MacDonald announced recognition for Stornoway-based publishers Acair, who received the best contribution award for the individual, group or organisation that has contributed significantly towards the growth or development of the Gaelic language locally, nationally or internationally.

Acair posted later: “Thanks to all of Acair’s writers, illustrators, independent readers, proofers, editors, translators, designers and every other contributor at every stage of the publishing process.”

Meanwhile Marisa Macdonald and Sgoil an Rubha were recognised with a community, heritage and tourism award for the group, organisation, community or school that has done most to utilise Gaelic within its community, in highlighting its heritage.

The award was made for the production An Oidche mus do Sheol I, a successful community event in remembrance of the Iolaire tragedy, performed to acclaim at Sgoil an Rubha in November 2018.

Also celebrating were representatives of Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn (Galson Community Estate Trust) who were awarded recognition as event of the year at the award ceremony. The event, Dùthchas, was a week which celebrated language, culture and heritage in many different ways, including food and drink demonstrations, traditional skills and history and genealogy.

Posting the news today, a spokesman for UOG said: “It was a huge honour to pick up the event of the year award on behalf of our community for Dùthchas week at the Gaelic awards. A huge thank you to everyone who was involved - we’re very much looking forward to Dùthchas 2020!

The pictures show Fiona Rennie (left) and Shona Nic a' Mhaoilein of UOG at the awards ceremony (below) and pupils from Sgoil an Rubha performing their work (above).

The restored Outer Hebrides Chamber of Commerce was launched last night (Thursday November 28th) in the refurbished Willow Room at the Caberfeidh Hotel.

More than 30 people were involved in a largely informal evening with a buffet supper and plenty of opportunities to network and meet fellow business owners.

Stewart Nicol, the chief executive of the Inverness Chamber of Commerce, said this was a significant step, not just for businesses in the islands, but also the wider Highlands and Islands business community.

Inverness Chamber of Commerce is now 126 years old and was delighted to be able to assist the newest member of the chamber family. Its international trade team has provided invaluable support to the new organisation, allowing businesses to grow by taking advantage of export opportunities and offering guidance on regulations governing overseas trade.

The new chamber is also now part of the Highlands and Islands Export Partnership, which provides SMEs across the region with increased opportunities for their goods and services, and Open 4 Business Highlands and Islands.  It's also part of the wider Chambers of Commerce Network in the UK and internationally.

 

Over 200 crofters attended the recent Crofting Roadshows, organised by the Crofting Commission and working in partnership with SAC Consulting, Scottish Crofting Federation and Registers of Scotland.

Six roadshows were held across the crofting counties over the last six weeks providing crofters with a one-stop shop to discuss crofting issues.  The meetings were open for anyone to attend and consisted of a short talk on key crofting issues and ended with a question and answer session where the public put questions to the organisations present which also included Scottish Government’s Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate.

Crofting Commission Chief Executive Catriona Maclean said:“The roadshows have been a great opportunity to meet with crofters to talk about the changes currently happening within the Crofting Commission, answer questions and listen to how we can help crofters.

Western Isles Lottery has announced final arrangements for the much-anticipated musical events which will accompany the switch-on of the Christmas lights in Stornoway next Tuesday (November 26th).

With Peat & Diesel’s under-14s gig at the Nicolson Institute fully sold out, the timetable has been tweaked so that the late evening gig at the Town Hall is now open to all ages, although under-16s must be accompanied by an adult.

Doors will open at the Town Hall at 9.30pm and Peat & Diesel will be on stage at the earlier time of 9.45pm, with a projected finish time of 11.30pm. Remaining tickets for the Town Hall gig are on sale through Events shop on North Beach.

To make the gigs even more special for young fans, Western Isles Lottery have got hold of some blow-up guitars, mics and trumpets, allowing Boydie, Innes and Uilly to get the benefit of a full back-up band.

The Christmas lights event starts its build-up tonight (Friday November 22nd) as Stornoway Amenity Trust judges set out on their judging round for Christmas window displays.

Stornoway Port Authority has announced changes to its board membership.

Following his relocation to Inverness with his family, Alasdair Morrison has resigned from the Board of Stornoway Port Authority.

The Board thanked Alasdair for his membership and contribution to the work of the Authority over the past few years, and wished him every success in his new life on the mainland.

Yesterday saw a massive effort to load the gifts of people from Lewis and Harris to less fortunate people beyond our shores.

EVENTS newspaper just received this message on behalf of a good cause which we are happy to publicise.

It's from Kirsty Ralston who lives on Point.

"Hello, my name's Kirsty Ralston and I am 13 years old.

"This month I decided to raise money for Action For Children to help with Christmas funds. Elspeth from the Lews Castle College has offered to shave my hair on the 1st of December. I have so far raised £270 and my target is currently at £350."

https://www.justgiving.com/Kirsty-Ralston?utm_id=57

She told us: "I was hoping you would be able to share the link on your page to raise awareness."

We are happy to do so.

VEHICLES transporting live shellfish across the Sounds of Harris and Barra will soon have similar concessions to those which apply on routes from the Western Isles to the mainland.

The deal was announced by SNP MSP Alasdair Allan, when he was joined by members of the Barra community yesterday in a meeting with Transport Minister Keith Brown.

"I am pleased that the Transport Minister was able to confirm that these arrangements will now be made, something which I believe will benefit the shellfish industry throughout the islands," said Mr Allan. 

"A range of other issues were discussed, including problems faced by all island communities during those periods when ferries are cancelled because of bad weather."

He added: "This was a productive meeting and one which I believe serves as a good model for all island communities to engage with the Government about vital lifeline services."

Dr Kay Macleod from Lewis (pictured above in her office in 2013) has been named November “Scientist of the Month” by the Chicago chapter of the Association of Women in Science.

Kay first became interested in science as a school pupil.

Katie Macleod interviews Sudha Bhuchar

This month, An Lanntair marks the end of its Purvai Festival, examining the connections between the Hebrides and the India, with a performance of Child of the Divide.
Set during the Partition of India in the summer of 1947, “it’s a play that’s got the stories of children at its heart,” says Sudha Bhuchar, the award-winning playwright and actor behind Child of the Divide, which will end its current UK tour at An Lanntair on Friday 17th November.

Fire officers in Stornoway have issued a warning to householders over the risk of chimney fires as temperatures drop.

Fire Scotland’s group commander for the Western Isles, Gavin Hammond, said there had been a noticeable increase in calls to chimney fires in recent weeks, with half a dozen incidents since the beginning of October, in Stornoway and in rural areas such as Ness.

He said: “Fortunately there have been no injuries, but a chimney fire is a frightening and messy experience for those involved, and potentially expensive if it involves the need to redecorate afterwards.”

Community safety advocate and firefighter Mairi Macdonald said: “Since I joined as a firefighter I have noticed an increase in calls to chimney fires. There are over 1,000 in Scotland each year.

“Making sure your chimney is swept and checked regularly can significantly reduce your chances of having a chimney fire. 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.

“The type of fuel you burn will determine how often your chimney should be swept – at least once a year for smokeless coal or oil, twice a year for peat and quarterly if you burn wood regularly. A chimney should be given a clean sweep in winter as dust and debris can build up if it has not been used.”

Fire Scotland recommends using a registered chimney sweep and strongly advises that you don’t light fires using flammable liquids like petrol or paraffin. Don’t overload the fire, use a fireguard and check your loft and roof space for smoke or soot if you are able and it is safe to do so.

Mairi said: “Signs of a chimney fire include burning soot or debris falling down your chimney, a roaring sound coming from the chimney, the chimney breast or upstairs walls being hot and sparks or flames coming out of the chimney.

“If you do have a chimney fire, put up the fireguard if it is safe to do so and, if it is safe, put water on the fire and cut off the air supply by closing vents and blocking the fireplace with a metal plate if you have one.

“Get everyone out of the room, close the door, stay out and dial 999. Ask for the fire service. There is no charge for the fire service to attend a chimney fire and firefighters will ensure it is fulling extinguished before giving advice on further action you may need to take.”

Stornoway fire station can provide free home visits, giving advice on smoke and fire alarms and including testing any alarms you already have. To book a free home safety check, call Gavin Hammond or Mairi Macdonald on 01851 705051.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stornoway Amenity Trust Christmas Lights Switching On Ceremony

Friday 9th December 6.30-9 pm, Perceval Civic Square

6.20pm Christmas Santa Dash and Character Fun Run

The Christmas Santa Dash and Character Fun Run will take place from 6.20pm from the Lazy Corner on South Beach Quay/Cromwell Street Quay. Participants will run from Lazy Corner out to the Spar Roundabout and back, finishing at Lazy Corner.

Prizes will be awarded to the first adult and first primary child, as well as the best dressed Christmas Adult and Christmas primary child who participates in the run. More details coming soon. 

All money raised from the Santa Dash will be donated to the Lewis Branch of Cancer Research UK. 

Lewis Pipe Band will be in attendance to wow the crowds with some of their award-winning playing. 

Award for best shop/hotel Christmas window display will be presented. (Shops and hotels please note the judging will take place on Tuesday 6th December so make sure to have your displays ready!)

The night will also play host to some of our fantastic local dancers from various groups.

The George Newhall Shield will be presented to the individual or group that has done the most to promote Stornoway in 2016.

The switching on of the lights will be done by by Alice Macmillan. multi-prizewinner at the National Mòd 2016, and the Christmas Message will be given by Mr Iain Macmillian, Principal of Lews Castle College UHI.

Christmas music will be provided by the Lewis and Harris Junior Concert Band, who will lead the cèilidh dancing in the Civic Square. There will also be carol singing to join in on!

The fair will be in the Fisherman's Car Park and Santa will be in Pointers.

The Town Hall will host numerous charity stalls. (To book a stall, please phone Nellie Macaskill on 703073)

Come along for a night of Christmas fun.

Dress up for this Christmas night, starting at 6.30pm in the Town Centre.

Please note: the road will be closed from the Crown Hotel to Scotland Street from 6pm - 8.30pm on Friday 9th December 2016

Christmas Lights

Switching On Ceremony

 

Programme of events

Thursday December 4th, Perceval Square

6.30pm   Brass band, and giving out of carol sheets and programmes

6.50pm   Guests to be seated

6.59pm   MC welcomes all

7.00pm   Pipe band play

7.10pm   Presentation of Stornoway at Christmas display winners

- Best dressed shop window display

- Best Christmas window display

- Best hotel/restaurant display

- Most creative Christmas window display

- Best overall display

- Award presented to the individual or group that did most to promote Stornoway in 2014

7.25pm   Christmas carols

7.40pm   Christmas message

7.45pm   Switching on Christmas lights

7.50pm   Big Band

8.05pm   Kirstie Anderson's Dancers followed by Lynn Maclean's Dancers

8.15pm   Steven Drummond/Faram and Friends – Ceilidh dancing in Perceval Square

9pm   Finish and clear-up

 

 

Throughout the evening, there will be:

A children's winter wonderland in the old WeeW building

Craft stalls in the Town Hall

Free mulled wine and apple juice, and mince pies on Perceval Square!   

 

 

 

Embrace the "reason for the season!"

Friday December 9, Martins Memorial Church, after the switching on of the Christmas lights in Stornoway

Come along and enjoy our beautiful large-scale nativity scene, and enjoy listening to some old favourite Christmas carols.

Free tea/coffee and warm mincemeat pies.

All children especially welcome.

(Martins Memorial church is directly opposite An Lanntair and will be open after the switching on of the lights. We look forward to seeing you.)

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

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

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

Stornoway looks set to see one of the biggest gatherings of classic cars for many years tomorrow (Tuesday November 19th) as enthusiasts turn out to show off the island collection.

The gathering in Lews Castle grounds is being planned to welcome the entire editorial team of Practical Classics magazine, who are today heading north through Scotland with their own posse of practical classics.

The magazine’s team of editor Danny Hopkins, James and technical contributors Matt George, John Simpson and Matt Tomkins are each driving their own classic car – ranging from a 1989 Saab 900i to a Nissan Micra. They’re being brought to Lewis as part of the magazine’s continuing mission to encourage the use and enjoyment of classic cars in all weather conditions.

Previous runs in the Practical Classics ‘winter warmers’ series have taken them to the Netherlands and the Swiss Alps to show off what a classic car can do. This year they chose a challenging destination closer to home, setting off from their Peterborough base yesterday.

The cars they’re driving have been bought and restored for under £1,000 each and some of them will find new owners in the islands. Two of the five have already been sold and editor Daniel Hopkins says the plan is for the team to go home on the bus if necessary, as long as their cars find new homes.

Deputy editor James Walshe told welovestornoway.com today (Monday): “We’re on our way with cars we bought and restored for less than a grand! We’re in Ullapool tonight and will be arriving at lunchtime in Stornoway. Look forward to meeting you all!”

Western Isles Classic Car Club has co-ordinated the response from island drivers, fielding a likely turn-out of 25 or more island-based classics. They’ll be rallying in the castle grounds at lunchtime tomorrow ready to greet the magazine team.

Among the cars which could be there are a number of Escort Mark 1s, a Triumph Spitfire Mark IV, an Austin 7 and a Jaguar. Island drivers have been applying spit and polish and even the weather looks ready to play ball, with sunny intervals forecast and very little chance of wind or rain.

The picture shows the Practical Classics team with their cars during an overnight stop in Northumberland last night (James Walshe).

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A man who fell 200 feet from a cliff top in Lewis has made an emotional return trip to the island to thank all those who helped him survive.

But music executive Andy Godfrey was not able to track down everyone who provided him with care, and has turned to welovestornoway.com to make sure everyone involved in his life-saving care knows of his gratitude.

Point and Sandwick Trust chairman Angus McCormack has urged his councillor colleagues at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to “start backing the community energy movement” following the UK government’s failure to include island projects in the next round of the Contract for Difference auction.

Councillor McCormack, who represents Steornabhagh a Deas, said: “The announcement by the UK government that Remote Island Wind will not be considered in the CfD auction is a wake-up call for island renewables. There is now to be ‘a consultation on the treatment of non-mainland GB onshore wind projects.’

Co-op Macaulay Road are once again collecting toys for Action for Children. If you are wanting to donate anything please just put it in the in-store sleigh. Toys must be in their original packaging.

The collected gifts will be going to children for their Christmas who otherwise may not receive anything.

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

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

A WOMAN fell and broke her ankle while walking near the Butt of Lewis lighthouse on Saturday afternoon.

Local coastguard volunteers were alerted after a call was received by Stornoway Coastguard at around 12.20pm.

The injured woman was carried away from the boggy terrain and transferred to Western Isles Hospital for treatment.

Councils across Scotland face significant challenges in the year ahead states a report from the Accounts Commission into Local Government finances.

Responding to the report the Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Angus Campbell, said: “It is to be welcomed that the Accounts Commission recognises that Councils have managed their finances well. They are also right to emphasise that significant challenges lie ahead for Local Authorities.

“The Comhairle has a good track record of managing finances but the financial pressures that are ahead cannot be understated. And this is made more difficult by the annual nature of recent local government settlements.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has expressed deep frustration and disappointment at the announcement by the UK Government that the islands would not be included in the next round of Contract for Difference – which is required to make island windfarm projects viable.

The announcement was made by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark MP, this morning who also announced that they would go to consultation on remote island wind.

THE Comhairle has always paid the Living Wage to its employees, it confirmed today.

The local authority had been accused by union UNISON of being one of only two councils nationally not to adopt the Living Wage structure.

But a spokesman said today: "The decision which the Comhairle took in February 2014, to pay the Living Wage to all its employees without taking account of Islands Allowance, represents a further attempt by the Comhairle to give its lowest-earning employees the best possible deal, while at the same time taking account of the grading structure and budgetary constraints on the Comhairle.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has welcomed an expanded schedule of flights on Loganair services.

The new schedule will see larger aircraft with increased capacity being used on Stornoway-Glasgow flights and new flights which will see a service from Stornoway to Manchester via Inverness or Glasgow.

A series of community consultation meetings will be held across the Harris estate next month.

The meetings are held by the North Harris Trust and will enable those who attend to find out more about the work currently being done, as well as helping form plans for the future.

Anyone who wishes to attend is invited to the following meetings:

Thursday 3 December - North Harris Trust Offices, Tarbert at 7:30pm.

Thursday 5 December - Hushinish Gateway at 7:30pm.

Tuesday 10 December - Scaladale Centre at 7:30pm.

Tuesday 17 December - Scalpay Community Centre at 7:30pm.  

 

FIVE community developments are celebrating a cash injection from the Comhairle, as part of its Community Capital Grant Fund.

Projects totalling over £2million were awarded £234,977 in funding from the CCGF.

Cllr Alasdair Macleod, the Comhairle’s Sustainable Development Committee Chair said: "This is the third round of grants awarded to community groups from the Comhairle’s Community Capital Grant Fund. We have seen very high quality applications from community groups wanting to develop facilities. In this round we have helped shoreside enhancements, community facilities, marine development and tourism projects.

"The Comhairle’s Economic Development service is accessible throughout the islands to support and assist properly-constituted groups with projects that will continue to create real economic development opportunities within local communities."

Budding young artists from the Western Isles are being urged to enter the fourth annual John Byrne National Drawing Competition.
Since the launch of the competition in 2014, thousands of pupils have submitted their artwork to be judged by the renowned artist and playwright John Byrne.
The competition, sponsored by John, in partnership with Education Scotland, invites children and young people from P4 – S3 to submit a drawing.

Over 190 delegates gathered at the Cabarfeidh Hotel yesterday (Thursday) to take part in the 2015 'Progression through Partnership' event hosted by the Comhairle's Education and Children's Services department.

The hugely successful event attracted participants from across various local organisations and businesses, networking to see how they can improve conditions for young people living in the Western Isles.

For a full report, see December's issue of EVENTS.

THE delay in establishing an interconnector between the Western Isles and the mainland is losing the islands billions, it has been stated.

The Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee has written to Dermot Nolan, CEO of Ofgem, calling on him to address concerns of residents of the Outer Hebrides that potential renewables projects in the area are being undermined by the lack of action in securing the connection.

It is estimated that around £2 billion could be invested in renewables projects in the Outer Hebrides, creating jobs and boosting the local economy, but the continued delays in establishing grid connections are holding such investment back.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil said: "The Scottish Government has been actively campaigning for interconnectors to our islands, but for too long there has been only delay after delay from Ofgem and Whitehall.

"Ofgem need to wake up to the damage that their delays and inaction in this area are causing and explain their failure to make progress."

[gallery ID=107]

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

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

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

A contingency plan has been announced for when an ambulance is not available in Harris during a medical emergency out of hours.

NHS Western Isles today confirmed that a list was being put together of off-duty GPs, paramedics and nurse practitioners who were prepared to be called by the Scottish Ambulance in the event of the ambulance being 'out of area'.

Dr Angus McKellar, Medical Director, said: "I have put my name on that list – as a GP, not Medical Director – and so has Dr Anthony Latham. 

WESTERN Isles Council is to vote on a recommendation to pay the Living Wage, exclusive of Distant Islands Allowance.

A report going before the Policy and Resources committee recommends that payment is made for the current financial year and would be backdated to 1 April 2014. 

A further recommendation is that the Comhairle would commit to pay the Living Wage in future years by removing spinal column points below the level of the Living Wage, subject to an Equalities Impact Assessment.

A major row has erupted between Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and the Point and Sandwick Trust about renewable energy policy in the Islands.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have fiercely rejected the earlier claim from Point and Sandwick Trust  that the council has not been supportive of the community energy movement.

Earlier, Point and Sandwick Trust chairman Angus McCormack, who is also one of the CnES councillors for Steornabhagh a Deas,  urged his councillor colleagues  to “start backing the community energy movement” following the UK government’s failure to include island projects in the next round of the Contract for Difference auction. "

But in a statement tonight, Comhairle Leader Angus Campbell said: “The Chairman of the Point and Sandwick Trust is incorrect to state that the Comhairle does not back community renewables projects. 

THE Western Isles Council is seeking a meeting with Cal Mac 'as a matter of urgency' over controversial changes to services planned for early next year.

Cllr John Mackay, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Chair of Transportation and Infrastructure, said: “It is disappointing that these arrangements were not discussed with the Western Isles community as they will have a direct effect on both the travelling public and the business community.

"There are other options for dealing with the disruption caused by the necessary works at Ullapool which the Comhairle should have had opportunity to discuss with Cal-Mac."

THE Comhairle will put forward proposals to benefit crofting when councillors and officials meet with Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse on Thursday.

Councillor Donald Crichton Vice Chairman of Sustainable Development and Calum Iain Maciver Director of Development will push for improvements to the Crofter Housing Grant, as well as discussing Crofter Registration, the transfer of crofting estates, CAP Reform and Less Favoured Areas. 

Councillor Crichton said: "This is an excellent opportunity for us to discuss with the Minister a range of issues that are of importance to us and we hope that we will receive a fair hearing. 

"Top of our agenda will be putting the case for increasing the Crofter Housing Grant to a realistic level to help young people and families tackle the increased costs they face building new homes in remote and rural areas."

He addd: "With the Housing Grant review taking place and current concerns on the Registration of Crofts and CAP Reform this meeting is timely.  We want to emphasise to the Minister that serious support from the Scottish Government for crofting can have positive social and economic impacts across our communities."

 

Councillor Gordon Murray is holding a surgery

at Grianan Centre, Stornoway,

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

All welcome.

A 21-year-old driver who abandoned his car after turning it over in a single-vehicle crash is in court today (Thursday November 1st), charged with drink driving.

Police were called to the Braighe Road, near Stornoway airport, at 7.30am yesterday ((Wednesday October 31st) after reports that a car was on its roof just off the road.

AN EMERGENCY meeting to discuss changes to Cal Mac's timetable has taken place in Stornoway.

The Western Isles Emergency Planning Co-Ordination Group (WIEPCG) met to discuss the implications of the six-week change in ferry services that will mean vehicular traffic travelling between Stornoway and Uig on Skye.

The change in service is planned between the 22nd February and the 7th April and will reduce the number of vehicular crossings, but no consultation has been held over the possible impacts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

The Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) has welcomed the review of the Crofting Commission recently initiated by Scottish Government, stating that the governance of crofting is at stake.

“We asked for a review of the way in which the Crofting Commission has handled itself over the past six months”, said Fiona Mandeville, chair of the SCF.

“Three grazings committees have been removed and ordinary folk, trying to do a difficult job in maintaining this crofting asset, have had their reputations dragged through the mud. This cannot be the correct way for a regulator to behave.

ISLES FM has just two days to raise £2,000 - or else face being removed from the airwaves.

The community radio station, which is 100% run by volunteers, needs to raise £6,000 before Friday for a licence to stay on air.  

The station, which has been serving the community for 20 years, had to let Ofcom know by today if it was able to apply for a new licence.   

This year’s first term at Providence Christian School, Stornoway, has proved to be most encouraging for all connected with the School, the school says.

As well as seeing five new pupils and four new families joining the School community through the term, the School also welcomed a new Headteacher, Mr Mark Musty, pictured above. 

The rage of a long-forgotten night-time storm surrounded a crowd packed into the main library in Stornoway last night (Tuesday 28th November), as the timbers of a vast wooden sailing ship cracked and splintered.

Shivering and praying in almost complete darkness, the audience felt how much of the masts and rigging were swept away leaving the Annie Jane adrift at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean in an immense storm which took thousands of lives all up and down the west coasts of Britain and Ireland.

Then with her cargo of iron shifting in the holds, a vast wave swept across the deck taking all the remaining structures away…along with the lives of almost all those who had fled to the deck from the pitch-dark watery hell below.

An Lanntair in Stornoway was the setting for the second round of the BT Scotland National Gaelic Schools Debate, which took place yesterday afternoon.  The judges - Duncan Ferguson, Maggie Cunningham and Angus MacDonald - picked four teams to go to the semi-final stages of this year’s competition: The Nicolson Institute A, The Nicolson Institute C, James Gillespie High School and Dingwall Academy A.

The first semi-final draw will see the Nicolson Institute C battle against their fellow schoolmates The Nicolson Institute A.  Edinburgh’s James Gillespie pupils will be debating against Dingwall Academy A.

The semi-finals will be held in the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh, on Tuesday the 25th November 2014.  The Final will be held the following evening in the Scottish Parliament, and will be broadcasted live on BBC Radio nan Gàidheal.

The Management Committee would like to thank: BT Scotland; Comunn na Gàidhlig; the BBC; Comhairle nan Eilean Siar; Bòrd na Gàidhlig; MG ALBA; Pròiseact nan Ealan; and the Management Review Group for Gaelic.


Alex MacLeod, Stornoway Port Authority Chief Executive with Economy Secretary Keith Brown in Stornoway

Stornoway Port Authority has been chosen as one of the first recipients for a funding award from the Scottish Government’s Decommissioning Challenge Fund.
The SPA has been offered nearly £73,000 to support several projects it is undertaking at Arnish.
And the award is one of only seven projects in total across Scotland which have been offered a share of a £1.1 million tranche of funding.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A POTENTIAL lifesaving piece of equipment is now available for use on the island of Scalpay.

A defibrillator or AED, which can be used as an aid in the event of someone suffering a Cardiac Arrest has recently been installed outside the Scalpay Dental Clinic. 

'Heartstart Harris' consists of members of the community that have come together after receiving training to become trainers, through Skye based charity Lucky2Bhere and members of 'Heartstart Skye'.

This is the second defibrillator to be installed by Heartstart Harris into the local community. The other one is located outside the share entrance to Sir E Scott School, the Library and The Harris Sports Centre.

A POTENTAIAL lifesaving piece of equipment is now available for use on the island of Scalpay.

A defibrillator or AED, which can be used as an aid in the event of someone suffering a Cardiac Arrest has recently been installed outside the Scalpay Dental Clinic. 

'Heartstart Harris' consists of members of the community that have come together after receiving training to become trainers, through Skye based charity Lucky2Bhere and members of 'Heartstart Skye'.

This is the second defibrillator to be installed by Heartstart Harris into the local community. The other one is located outside the share entrance to Sir E Scott School, the Library and The Harris Sports Centre.

A POTENTIAL lifesaving piece of equipment is now available for use on the island of Scalpay.

A defibrillator or AED, which can be used as an aid in the event of someone suffering a Cardiac Arrest has recently been installed outside the Scalpay Dental Clinic. 

'Heartstart Harris' consists of members of the community that have come together after receiving training to become trainers, through Skye based charity Lucky2Bhere and members of 'Heartstart Skye'.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A DINGHY boat was stolen from a store in Lochcarnan in South Uist, sometime over the weekend of October 24-27.

Stornoway Police are asking that anyone who might have information should contact them, either on 101, or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800555111.

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

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

 

Car damaged in car park

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

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

 

Drink driver loses car

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

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

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

 

In court for assault

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

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

He appeared at Stornoway Sheriff Court from custody on Monday.

 

Police Scotland are advising island residents of the 'partial failure' of the 999 emergency service number affecting LANDLINE telephone lines in Stornoway.

British Telecom have today (Monday, November 7th) made Police Scotland aware of the partial failure of the 999 service in Stornoway, as well as in Ardersier, Nairn, Cawdor, Kinlochleven and Tain.

Work is ongoing to restore the emergency response service as soon as possible.

Calls to 101 from landlines and 999 calls made from mobiles are not affected.

Police Officers are patrolling in the local area and Police Stations are open to the public in Stornoway, and in Inverness, Nairn, Tain and Fort William on the mainland.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CNES Trading standards Officers are reminding residents in the islands that they can print off Doorstoppers signage from the Doorstoppers Campaign page on the Comhairle’s website www.cne-siar.gov.uk/doorstoppers/documents/card.pdf

Doorstep sellers ignoring the displayed signage may be committing an offence and should be reported to Trading Standards on 01851 822694 or the Police on 101.

Some Doorstoppers signage may also be available at Council Offices, libraries and Police stations in the Western Isles.

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

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

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

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

Dr You – Talking About Disability

Disability can arise in a number of ways, and is described as anyone who has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out daily activities. 

In simple terms, these impairments may include: loss of limbs; a visual or hearing impairment; long-term health condition such as cancer, arthritis, multiple sclerosis and heart disease; learning difficulties; and mental health problems such as autism, eating disorders, depression and dementia.

Disabled people are often talked about as though they form one group. But every disabled person faces different challenges and health conditions.  In fact, more than 80% of people with a disability were born without it and find they have to adjust.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The nationwide impact of e-Sgoil since being launched in August 2016 has created such interest from other authorities – now eight in total – that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is covering the costs of the project out of its income from providing services to their schools, Mr Bernard Chisholm, Director of Education and Children's Services, told the Partnership Event at the Cabarfeidh Hotel last Thursday (November 16).

Although e-Sgoil teaching takes place electronically, it is still done directly, with a teacher “in front” of a classroom at all times. Thanks to new digital tools, children can do work online in one school, while their teacher at another school can see it and make comments on it in real-time. The e-Sgoil has its own headteacher and staff to provide its service and one teacher has already returned to live on the Islands to work with the project.

e-Soil has meant, for instance, students in Sir E Scott wishing to study Higher Religious, Moral, and Philosophical Education can be taught remotely by staff at The Nicolson Institute, while students in Uig were taught fiddle classes from e-Sgoil on Francis Street.

 
Pictured are Evelyn Coull MacLeod and Alick Matheson from the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar's e-Stòras website which won the award for Innovation in Education at last week’s Gaelic Awards 2015.

A call for more action over challenges facing the Outer Hebrides came yesterday from Mr Bernard Chisholm, Director of Education and Children's Services at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, as almost 200 people from a wide of projects serving the community gathered for the annual Partnership Event.

Mr Chisholm explained to the meeting at the Cabarfeidh Hotel how the department had instigated the Partnership Events in 2011 with a far smaller number attending. They arose from the recognition that without a total support system around young people we could not be successful.

Since then a series of improvements had enabled the service – in partnership with others – to greatly improve the context for young people to progress.

The Eilean Siar Foodbank will be collecting donations of food from Tesco, from Thursday December 3rd to Saturday December 5th, 9am-10pm. 

Eilean Siar Foodbank, based in Stornoway, first opened its doors in September 2013, and is open 3 days a week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 11am-2pm) to provide emergency food to those below the poverty line in the islands. 

Volunteers are needed December 3rd-5th, 9am-5pm, to help sort donations, and distribute suggestion lists to customers. 

For more information, to volunteer, or to see how Eilean Siar Food Bank can help you, visit: www.eileansiar.foodbank.org.uk, call: 01851 706650, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Don't forget, the foodbank needs volunteers all year round!

Have you got spare time on your hands? Are you caring, compassionate, reliable and discreet? Eilean Siar Foodbank needs your help. We are looking for able-bodied volunteers who can help out regularly at our Stornoway distribution centre with a variety of tasks including greeting clients, sorting food, handling admin and applying for funding. If you feel you could help in any of these areas and would like to find out more about being a volunteer, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information. Please note that volunteers must be able to climb stairs.

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

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

 

 

 

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, David Stewart, has pressed the Scottish Government to intervene in the row over Highlands and Islands based customers of energy giant SSE, who are being charged an extra 2p per unit of electricity due to the transportation costs to the area.

During Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth portfolio questions in Parliament yesterday afternoon, Mr Stewart asked the Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing, “Is the Minister aware of the work of the Western Isles Poverty Action Group, who have called for an end to the 2p electricity surcharge in the Highlands and Islands.  Many consumers in the North are living in fuel poverty facing higher fuel and transportation costs with a bleak and Dickensian winter in prospect.  Will the Minister write to Ofgem and the Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, to rid the Highlands and Islands of these unfair charges and, instead, introduce the sharing of all network costs equally across all GB consumers?”

Speaking after question time, Mr Stewart said “The Minister strongly agreed with the sentiment of my question and has agreed to write to Ofgem and to Ed Davey.”

The energy price cap announced by OFGEM today will only help in a very small way. Tighean Innse Gall's (TIG) concern is that with the price of wholesale energy rising, the cap will effectively disappear from the next review in April 2019. Because of energy transmission and distribution costs being higher in the Highlands & Islands it is only a modest cap anyway. 

Stewart Wilson, TIG Chief Executive commented on the energy price cap:

“We recommend more effective ways to reduce energy costs. Firstly insulate your home and TIG can do this for you. Secondly, reduce your costs by not wasting energy and our energy advice team can help with this. Thirdly, shop around for your energy provider, and www.tigswitch.com can help with this, or compare with Hebrides Energy’s, local tariff. In any case ring or email TIG and we will help immediately or attend our open day on Friday 9th November. For those in Barra & Vatersay or Uist, we are organising fresh events there shortly.”

TIG delivers the Home Energy Efficiency Programme Scotland Area Based Scheme on behalf of Comharile nan Eilean Siar and Scottish Government. TIG delivers TEAS, The Energy Advisory Service which provides free energy advice home visits, telephone advice and online support for all Western Isles residents.

TIG set up the local switching service , www.tigswitch.com which is a free service dedicated to supporting residents of the Western Isles with energy providers switching information and they are a partner in the delivery of Hebrides Energy, the local energy tariff for Western Isles residents, details https://our-power.co.uk/hebrides 

Tighean Innse Gall (TIG) 41a Point Street, Stornoway HS1 2XF
t: 01851 706121  www.tighean.co.uk

The Living Wage Foundation is pleased to announce that Intermedia Services (Stornoway) Ltd, publishers of EVENTS and welovestornoway.com as well as other local publications and websites, has been accredited as a Living Wage employer.

The Living Wage commitment will see everyone working at Intermedia Services (Stornoway) Ltd, regardless of whether they are permanent employees or third-party contractors, receive a minimum hourly wage of £8.45 - significantly higher than the national minimum wage of £6.95 and the new minimum wage premium for over-25s of £7.20 per hour introduced this April.

The Living Wage is an hourly rate set independently and updated annually. The Living Wage is calculated according to the basic cost of living using the ‘Minimum Income Standard’ for the UK. Decisions about what to include in this standard are set by the public; it is a social consensus about what people need to make ends meet.

Charles Dewhurst gets set to take on Everest in aid of The Leanne Fund charity

A former Isle of Lewis resident is taking on the world’s highest mountain in an effort to raise funds for The Leanne Fund.
Charles Dewhurst, former employee of Duncan Mackay and Sons Ltd, is undertaking a trek to Everest base camp at 17,600ft - or ultimately 19,600ft where his insurance runs out, Camp 1 - to raise funds for The Leanne Fund and St Abbs Independent Lifeboat.
Fifty-six-year-old Charles, who now works for Scottish Water’s alliance partner Caledonia Water Alliance, is in training to climb higher than base camp on Mount Everest in December.

Experts have predicted that very soon, small drones will ‘fill the sky’ across the UK - and the photograph above, taken with the permission of the Stornoway Trust, gives a drone's eye view of Stornoway.

It comes from HebDrone, a newly-established local firm, which is hoping to tap into exciting new drone technology which negates issues of height and distance to deliver stunning clear images and footage of previously inaccessible angles.

HebDrone is run by father and son team Ruaraidh and Conal Ferguson.  Ruaraidh said: “We’ve had the idea for HebDrone for around a year but we needed time to fully research the idea with regard to the most suitable technology and training.

The M&Co shop in Cromwell Street is putting on a Fashion Show to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support tomorrow (Friday13th Nov) at 7pm in the store.

Tickets are £5 each and can be bought in the store just now or at the door on the night.

Sailings between Stornoway and Ullapool have been cancelled because of a heavy swell out at sea.

Both the 2pm sailing from Stornoway and the 5.30pm sailing from Ullapool are cancelled.

A decision on the freight service for this evening will be taken today at midday.

Several ferries have been cancelled today due to high winds.

All sailings on the Stornoway-Ullapool and Tarbert-Uig routes have been cancelled.

The freight services between Stornoway and Ullapool have also been cancelled.

Winds are expected to peak this afternoon, with gusts of up to 65 mph predicted at around 4pm.

For more info, see here.

 

 

 

High winds are affecting sailings to and from the Western Isles today.

Both the 7am sailing from Stornoway-Ullapool, and the 10.30am sailing from Ullapool-Stornoway have been cancelled.

The next scheduled sailing is Stornoway-Ullapool at 2pm, weather permitting.

Rain and wind forecast for the weekend will mean disruption from this afternoon (Friday November 2nd) across the Western Isles.

Some ferry services across the Minch are cancelled from this afternoon as a spell of windy weather moves into the Western Isles and a Met Office yellow ‘be aware’ warning of heavy rain has been extended to cover the Western Isles throughout Saturday.

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

 

 

The CalMac ferry Loch Seaforth is set to return to service tonight (Friday November 15th) after successfully completing sea trials from Stornoway harbour this morning.

She’ll take up the freight run tonight and is due to resume her usual duties between Stornoway and Ullapool thereafter.

Loch Seaforth has been receiving engineers’ attention at the pier since returning from her annual overhaul last weekend, with three separate faults needing to be addressed.

A specialist engineer from Denmark who has been working on the pitch control, and another from Germany who has been directing work on the generator control system, have both left from Stornoway airport today, having seen repairs completed.

MV Isle of Lewis, which has been operating on the Minch crossing for almost a month, will tie up in Stornoway tonight and is expected to head south tomorrow, ready to return to the Castlebay route from Sunday onwards.

Today’s service between Stornoway and Ullapool has been running late due to the northerly swell affecting the passage, according to CalMac.

The picture shows an unusual night-time view of the Loch Seaforth during her round-the-clock repairs (Chris Murray).

Strong winds and rough seas have led to the cancellation this afternoon (Friday November 9th) of ferry services between Oban and Castlebay, Tarbert, Uig and Lochmaddy and between Stornoway and Ullapool.

The MV Loch Seaforth will not return from Ullapool at 5.30pm, although she is expected to make her crossing from Stornoway this afternoon. The 10.30pm freight sailing is also cancelled.

Ferry firm David MacBrayne Ltd (DML) announced today (Tuesday, November 7,) that its Chief Executive Martin Dorchester, who is also Managing Director of CalMac Ferries Ltd, will be leaving the company to take up a new role as Chief Executive of Includem, - a specialist Scottish charity supporting some of the most vulnerable young people and their families across Scotland.

David McGibbon, Chairman of DML, said:“On behalf of everyone at David MacBrayne Ltd, I thank Martin for the commitment and drive he has shown in leading and developing the organisation and in building such an exceptional team.

The Community Board set up by ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) to provide an insight into the issues affecting island and rural communities, is meeting for the first time on Friday, November 17.

Board chair Angus Campbell, former leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: “The focus of the first meeting will be agreeing the way the Board will operate, including how the members will engage with the communities they represent and report back to them the activities of the Community Board.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(This article has been updated since first being published)

The inter-island ferry service between Berneray and Leverburgh has been cancelled this afternoon.

This was a result of "a medical emergency involving a crew member", CalMac Ferries reported.  

It was announced at 13.25 that both the 13:45 service departing Berneray and the 14:55 departing Leverburgh have been cancelled.

There were no other services scheduled for today (Monday November 25th)

The next scheduled service is at 08.15 tomorrow from Berneray and from Leverburgh at 0925.

Passenger numbers and revenues on the CalMac ferries both increased over the past year according to the latest David MacBrayne Ltd (DML) annual report and accounts.

The ferry and port operator, parent company of CalMac Ferries Ltd, reported passengers up by 2% to 5 million and vehicles by 9% to 1.2 million for 2015/16. Total turnover increased from £172 million to £190 million.

But despite growth in both carryings and revenue the company made a loss of £4.6 million for the year, up from £2.3 million in the red over the previous 12 months.  Total numbers employed by the company rose by 86  from 1,482 to 1,568 over the course of the year.

The Storm Abigail statement from WIEPCG this afternoon said that all Calmac ferry services to the Islands were cancelled for today and tomorrow.The wording was: "Caledonian MacBrayne has confirmed that all ferry services to and from the Western Isles are cancelled for Thursday and Friday."

However, it seems this statement is not wholly accurate. As reported on the EVENTS Facebook page, and on the CalMac website, the Hebrides sailed from Uig to Tarbert today. In addition, CalMac are asking all traffic booked onto the Hebrides for the 0730 service tomorrow from Tarbert to check-in by 0900 with a view to a departure soon after.

In addition, the afternoon sailing from Stornoway to Ullapool tomorrow is still scheduled, albeit on amber alert. For that matter, the Sound of Harris ferry is not shown by Calmac as cancelled tomorrow, only on amber alert. Even on the Sound of Barra, CalMac have only cancelled the first sailing tomorrow so far.

And the Oban to Castlebay and Lochboisdale service tomorrow afternoon is still scheduled to depart, although with a warning that the sailing may be disrupted or cancelled.

For further details, see the CalMac website

Other updates as of 1930 today (Thursday) the causeways to Vatersay and the Braighe road to Point are shut; the main road on North Uist is shut near Baleshare; and delays are reported to air services in and out of Stornoway airport, with the last plane to Glasgow now scheduled to leave at 2020.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has welcomed a series of recommendations made by the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee on Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services.

In a letter to Michael Matheson, the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, the Committee stressed It is essential that lifeline ferry services deliver services that fully meet the needs of island communities, businesses and tourism.

On Monday in Stornoway, a breakfast meeting of business and agency leaders at Highlands and Islands Enterprise in James Street, heard criticism of the use of the phrase ‘lifeline’ services to describe the sea links.  No one refers to the A9 trunk road as a lifeline link to Inverness or Caithness and ferries are just the ‘roads to the Islands,’ it was stated.

THE makeshift Cal Mac ferry timetable to accommodate repairs to Ullapool Pier will be dependent on tides - with some sailings departing Stornoway at 3am.

And the temporary arrangements are to be in place for longer than previously thought - from February to April.

The 'MV Isle of Lewis' will transport passengers with cars from Stornoway to Uig in Skye at various times during the day - and night. 

The freight ferry 'MV Clipper Ranger' will also convey vehicles between Stornoway and Uig.

This means that along with the existing Tarbert-Lochmaddy-Uig service, three Cal Mac vessels will be docking at Uig Pier during the interim period.

The new 'MV Loch Seaforth' will operate a passenger-only service between Stornoway and Ullapool.

For the full timetable breakdown, see here.

 

FES FM and Hebridean Housing Partnership (HHP) have been selected as the winner for the PFM Award for Partners in Expert Services, in the Property Management category. 

This was announced at the awards ceremony held in London on Wednesday November 4 2015. 

David Blaney Chair of HHP said: “We are delighted to have won this prestigious award with FES FM. Our partnership makes a real impact on communities in the Western Isles by improving standards of rented housing, providing new homes and creating employment opportunities. This award provides recognition to the whole team that their hard work and dedication has made a difference.”

The shortlisted finalists for the Partners in Expert Services – Property Management at the 2015 PFM Awards were: 

  • FES FM with Hebridean Housing Partnership
  • Zurich Insurance Group with Pembroke College, Cambridge
  • Propertyserve UK with Cushman & Wakefield