A new album showcasing the music of University of the Highlands and Islands students and alumni has been launched at Celtic Connections. ‘The Musicians’ Nest’ (Nead nan Ceòladair) features tracks from artists who crafted their skills at the Benbecula campus of Lews Castle College UHI.

It includes tunes donated by award-winning musicians such as James Duncan MacKenzie, a piper with Breabach, Seonaidh MacIntyre, a multi-instrumentalist from Trail West and Robbie Greg, winner of the 2017 Neil Gow Scottish Fiddle Award.

The album was launched at a University of the Highlands and Islands’ concert at the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow on Saturday 3 February.

At 1320 today (Tuesday) Stornoway Coastguard requested the assistance of Leverburgh RNLI Lifeboat with an incident in the Hoebeg area of North Uist. 

The Lifeboat was launched in Force 9/Storm Force 10 conditions and made best speed towards the area. 

A free screening of archive films about Scotland and the Western Isles taking place at 7pm tomorrow night (Wednesday) in Stornoway Library

All are welcome for a free screening of specially curated films from the local archives and the National Library of Scotland taking place in the unique movie-going setting of Stornoway Library.  

Outer Hebrides Tourism have given many thanks to everyone who responded to their request for feedback on the Calmac proposals for the temporary ferry service between Stornoway and Ullapool – the comments were extremely useful in representing the views of the industry in their meeting with the Minister for Transport and the Islands on Monday. They say:

We had a very positive meeting, and although it was made very clear that there was no possibility of moving the Ullapool upgrade works to later in the year, we did make some very substantial progress on actions to mitigate the impact on tourism, as follows:

BOTH the MP and the MSP for the Western Isles have been accused of 'baffling silence' over efforts to improve ferry services to Uist and Barra.

Parliamentary Labour candidate Alasdair Morrison has written to Angus MacNeil and Alasdair Allan, urging them to campaign positively for improvements, 'regardless of political affiliation'.

Mr Morrison has also called for the Lochboisdale-Mallaig route to be included as an intergral part of the tender document the Scottish Government is due to publish shortly.

It saves around 130 lives in Scotland every year and only takes about 10 minutes – so island women are being urged 'Don't get scared, get screened'.

If you're a woman over 50, the combination of checking your breasts yourself and attending your regular breast screening appointments gives you the best chance of being diagnosed early – and surviving breast cancer.

The Breast Screening bus is now in the Western Isles from February until June this year; and island ladies are urged to look out for and attend their appointments.

The retirement has been announced of one of Point’s most well-known figures, milkman and heating engineer Donnie ‘Mata’ Graham.

Donnie, originally from Portvoller and a long-time resident of Bayble, has decided to retire after many years delivering the milk from Joe Black’s Dairy.

Teachers from the Highlands will be gathering in Plockton tomorrow (Wednesday) for a training day that marks the beginning of a new phase of Gaelic language learning in primary schools in the region — and indeed Scotland. 

Around 25 teachers from 16 schools are expected to take part in this inservice day, being hosted at Plockton High School in Wester Ross.

It is the first training session in an 18-day series to teach them how to use the Go! Gaelic programme of online resources — created by Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig and aimed at enabling primary teachers working in English Medium Education to teach some Gaelic to their classes. 

On October 4th 2015, Calum Iain Macleod of Olivers Brae, Stornoway, passed away peacefully at Raigmore Hospital, Inverness at the age of 71.  Known to his family and friends simply as "Cal", he was a Harris Tweed weaver of extraordinary skill, breadth of knowledge and wealth of experience, built over a lifetime spent within the island industry, one that witnessed almost every aspect of its often tumultuous history.
 
Cal's was a life lived to the sound and rhythm of the loom.  As a very young boy, like so many others, he worked at the pirn winder, spinning yarn in readiment for receiving the shuttles of his father.  It was not long until he took his place at his father's Hattersley loom for himself, starting to weave while still at school, legs now long and strong enough to tread the iron pedals.  Bringing oily cogs to life, throwing the same shuttles he had filled just a few years before, he began producing the intertwined warp and weft of Harris Tweed, with the familiar rattles and clacks that resounded through so many island villages at that time.

The MSP for the Western Isles was notably absent during the Comhairle’s budget setting process, it was claimed yesterday.

Cllr Charlie Nicolson said he would be meeting with Alasdair Allan to ask why he had not taken an interest in the ‘painful’ service cuts decisions the council was faced with.

“Where has our MSP been?” asked Cllr Nicolson.

 

A new TV channel for the BBC in Scotland will begin broadcasting in autumn next year, BBC director-general Tony Hall has announced.

(He is pictured above at Lews Castle enthusiastically explaining his plans for the BBC last year)

The channel will have a budget of £30m and plans for the channel include a Scottish news hour from 9pm that will broadcast stories from Scotland, the UK and the world.

The director-general also announced an increase of about £20m a year for Scotland to make UK-wide programmes – and £1.2m extra for Stornoway-based Gaelic channel BBC Alba, taking its budget to £20m.

Arts organisation An Lanntair has received £10,000 from windfarm charity Point and Sandwick Trust — which will be spent on its Education and Outreach work across the islands.

The money from Point and Sandwick comes from the profits of its community-owned windfarm at Beinn Ghrideag on the outskirts of Stornoway.

It is the first instalment of £20,000 a year committed to An Lanntair by Point and Sandwick Trust. The money is given as core funding and An Lanntair has chosen to spend it on its Education and Outreach programme.

Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery has hit £100,000 raised for local lifestyle improvements within 18 months of launching – and they say everyone taking part deserves congratulations.

The lottery organisers, Western Isles Community Society, announced the landmark moment on Saturday (February 2nd) ahead of the latest clutch of winners in the weekly draw.

The Arora Dementia Friendly Community Team at An Lanntair has been successful in its bid for a National Lottery award for £103,536 from the Big Lottery Fund to continue and develop its award winning Dementia Friendly Community work for a further two years.

The project will have a new name ‘Cianalas’ (meaning belonging in Gaelic) and will move towards academic research to work with Universities and communities, while retaining the core support events of the current Arora project.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP, Alasdair Allan, has welcomed a funding boost delivered by the Scottish Government for NHS Western Isles to support frontline health care and help meet new demands across the Western Isles.

NHS Western Isles is set to receive an extra £2.3 million compared to last year – taking the total investment from the SNP Scottish Government for the year ahead to £73 million.

Four organisations from Lewis and Harris attended a special event at the Third Sector Hebrides centre on Francis Street, Stornoway on Wednesday February 22 to get their cheques from the local committee dealing with the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund.

The SCLF is funded from a levy of 5.6% on all landfill tax paid by landfill operators in Scotland.

The landfill tax paid in the Outer Hebrides relates to Comhairle na Eilean Siar disposal operations at Bennadrove in Lewis and Rueval in Benbecula.

Third Sector Hebrides has gained approved status to administer SLCF and disperse grants, and now wish to promote this fund to eligible local groups across the islands.

Four groups from Lewis and Harris were present to receive their grants in person - Gallan Head Community Trust; Tong Community Council; The North Harris Trust; and The Outer Hebrides Fisheries Trust.

The revamp of Stornoway Harbour takes another step forward as the Board of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) approves £3.5m funding for the creation of a new marina and facilities at Newton Basin.

Deputy First Minister, John Swinney met with key representatives of the Stornoway Port Authority (SPA) and HIE today (Thursday 14 February) during his visit to the town.

There have been major donations to Alzheimer Scotland - Western Isles during this week.

Local organiser Marion Macinnes, centre above, says: “A big thanks to our neighbours at FES, Bells Road, Stornoway for their donation of £1518 from their recent workplace raffle.  Thanks for thinking about us!”

Western Isles-wide Gaelic youngsters initiative Thig a Chluich (Come and Play) needs your help to make sure it wins the race for an award of up to £50,000.
The group is one of only five in the STV North area to be shortlisted in ITV's The Peoples Projects awards which sees up to £50,000 of Big Lottery Fund money presented to projects through public voting.
The work of the island project is set to feature on STV North news at 6pm on Thursday, March 3rd; and it is hoped that Western Isles residents will get behind the Comunn nam Parant run Thig a Chluich and cast them their votes online.

Scottish Government investment in MG ALBA has been warmly welcomed by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney recently announced the £500,000 investment from the Gaelic Captial Fund to develop the MG ALBA media village in Stornoway.

It marks the latest chapter in investment and development of the Seaforth Road cluster of creative enterprise which the Comhairle has facilitated over the past 25 years.

Work is set to start next month on a major project to restore and regenerate the historic Lews Castle Grounds in Stornoway.

A partnership involving the Stornoway Trust, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, the National Lottery and Historic Environment Scotland, will oversee investment of over £5 million in the much-loved public park over the next few years.

Building and civil works contracts with a total value of over £3.6 million have been awarded to two island based contractors by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar in partnership the Stornoway Trust.

 The Arnish Yard in Stornoway could find a major rôle in the future as part of the huge decommissioning industry which will develop as the North Sea oil fields reach the end of their lives, the Hebridean Engineering Society heard at a meeting in Lews Castle last night.

Following a series of meetings with college students, and with officials from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, John Kearney, Technical Director, Wood Group PSN, and Duncan Skinner, who heads the society and helped found PSN, explained how they felt that the Stornoway base could be moved into position to exploit this new industry. (Both pictured below)

Seaweed processor, Hebridean Seaweed Company Ltd, is investing in a new factory which will support the creation of jobs and increase international sales.,

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has awarded funding of £659,000 to the firm based at Arnish Point near Stornoway.

The company has started constructing a new facility at as part of a £7m expansion project and once completed it is expected to double the number of employees to 26.

The Isle of Lewis committee of Cancer Research UK had a moment of pure astonishment at their Annual General Meeting last night (Tuesday February 12th).

Treasurer Norman Macdonald had kept the whole committee in the dark about the total amount they had raised over the past 12 months – which turned out to be a staggering £88,203, almost £14,000 more than the previous year.

Committee chair Amy Macaulay told welovestornoway.com today (Wednesday February 13th). “Norman had told us that the total figure was higher than last year, but when he handed round the treasurer’s accounts you could hear each member of the committee saying ‘Wow!’ as they read the year’s total.


The new Polymer Scottish notes have steadily replaced paper notes over the past three years

There is now less than a month to spend Scottish paper £5 and £10 notes announced the Committee of Scottish Bankers yesterday (Monday, February 5th).
The Committee – on behalf of the Scottish note issuing banks the Royal Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale Bank, and Bank of Scotland – has announced that there are now less than four weeks to go until all Scottish paper £5 and £10 notes are withdrawn from circulation on Thursday, March 1st.
Scottish issuing banks have been introducing Polymer notes into circulation since 2015 as the material delivers significant benefits over paper; particularly when combined with state of the art security features which make the notes much harder to counterfeit.

An electric atmosphere filled an Lanntair arts centre as the 30th Grinneas nan Eilean open exhibition got under way on Saturday evening, the blazing lights and artistic good cheer defying the constant rain outside.
Members of an Lanntair’s “family”, past and present, gathered from all over the world to commemorate three decades since the first show in the Town Hall in 1985, including Sam Maynard, the award-winning photographer whose 1990s vision for internet development in Stornoway proved to be decades ahead of its time.
The room was filled with artists – including Willie Fulton and his wife Moira, who have participated in the show since its inception – and with many of those involved in the stewardship of the arts project since the first gleams of light glistened from a Youth Opportunity Programme back in the 1980s.
Long before the official start at 7.30, the gallery was thronged with people looking at the 350+ works on display from more than 110 artists.

Five-days-a-week air services between Benbecula and Stornoway are set to resume as part of a new deal as Comhairle nan Eilean Siar set its budget for the Financial Year, 2017-18, without making any further reductions to services or employee numbers.

Comhairle Leader Angus Campbell said: “This is the result of good financial planning, and decisions taken over the past few years, which have left the Comhairle with sufficient balances to set against what was a poorer than anticipated Local Government settlement.

“Following the Scottish Budget deal an additional £160m was made available by Scottish Government to councils, from which the Comhairle will receive almost £1m in additional revenue, and £350,000 in additional capital.

For all those young men and women born in 1968 (some in 1967 and others in 1969) the much anticipated 50th reunion event is shortly upon us.

The class of ’86 leaving the Nicolson Institute, Sir E Scott and Lews Castle School (between 1984-1986) are invited to attend a social weekend at Stornoway Golf Club.

The event is being held during the weekend on Friday 04th May and Saturday 05th May with a Sunday brunch provided to conclude the weekend.

Registration is now open and if you wish to register then please simply email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and add your name, address, primary school, telephone numbers and whether you will attend one night or two and whether will you be coming to the coffee, bacon rolls brunch on the Sunday.

The programme for this event includes:
Friday 04th May – Stornoway Golf Club, from 5pm – Drinks reception, photographs, Reunion dinner and 80's live band ‘The Top Guns’
Saturday 05th May – Stornoway Golf Club Charity Football Match (1-3pm) families and partners welcome, Hog roast and all the trimmings (5-7pm), Charity Raffle, 80s Quiz and 80s disco with David Morrison
Sunday 06th May – Stornoway Golf Club – Coffee and Bacon Rolls (12-3pm)

Gaelic publisher Acair is set to release its first book of 2017 later this week.

Acair - which is celebrating 40 years of publishing this year - will launch 'Sreathan anns a' Ghainmhich' by Prof. Donald Meek on Thursday February 16.

Mackay, Betty (nee McCoy) aged 71 years, after a short illness, died peacefully at Bethesda on the 20th of February.  

Beloved wife to Billy of fifty years. Loving mother of Janet. Mother in law of Paul, and grandmother of Chloe.

Sleep dearie Sleep


The Family of the late Betty Mackay (nee McCoy) Aird na Cille, Scalpay wish to offer their heart felt thanks most sincerely to all those who offered so much support during Betty's illness and her passing. In particular the Doctors, Nurses and staff in Bethesda, who made Betty so comfortable in her last weeks.  

Donnie and Peggy Mackay, Christina and Donna Marie Morrison, Duncan, Donna and Laura Macsween. We will be eternally grateful for the kindness and help they unselfishly gave us.

We also wish to thank all those who have given us so many messages of sympathy, personally by card and phone as well as the kindness of those who gave gifts.

Thank you to those who attended the church services and the grave side. The Reverends Mr Macdonald and Mr Coghill, and to all those who have offered prayers. The kind and professional services of A Macrae undertakers will never be forgotten.

God bless you all.

(Billy Mackay & family, Isle of Scalpay)

Islands Parliamentary candidate Alasdair Morrison has urged islanders to complete the short survey indicating which days the ferry, the Isle of Lewis, should provide additional sailings along side the Loch Seaforth. 

Speaking after completing the survey, Alasdair Morrison said: "A concentrated and combined effort from people committed to securing an improved ferry service to Lewis embarrassed the Scottish Government into agreeing additional services to the island during the peak weeks of  the tourist season.

"Outer Hebrides Tourism is running an online survey and have indicated their preference for an additional sailing on a Monday, Friday and Saturday. In my view, their case is well argued and compelling. Additional sailings on those days would greatly benefit tourism providers. We must maintain pressure on the Scottish Government and its agencies to respond and listen to those best placed to take decisions about ferry services.

"The days of taking what mainland based government agencies decree as good for us must come to an end. I’d urge everyone to complete the short survey.”

The survey can be found here.

 

A relaxed and musical atmosphere in the new an Lanntair café/bar on Saturday afternoon

The Air Discount Scheme, which offers a significant discount on air fares for travellers from remote communities, is being renewed for a further four years, Minister for Transport and Islands Derek Mackay has announced.

The current scheme is due to expire on the 31st March 2015, but Scottish Government funding will see it extended until the 31st March 2019.

It offers a 40% discount on core air fares on eligible routes for residents of the Western Isles, Caithness and North West Sutherland, Colonsay, Islay, Jura, Orkney, and Shetland.

Stornoway Coastguard helicopter R948 was sent to St Kilda this morning (Monday February 4th) to airlift a man who had fallen ill on the island.

Stornoway Coastguard received a call asking for advice from a doctor after the 56-year-old man experienced symptoms of a cardiac issue.

The Scottish Land Court yesterday (Thursday February 7th) announced that it had ruled in favour of Melbost and Branahuie Grazings Committee and against Highlands and Islands Airports Limited over land at Stornoway Airport.

HIAL claimed crofting rights at Stornoway Airport had been extinguished when the land was requisitioned during World War Two to enable an RAF station to be built. 

The new councillor for the An Taobh Siar agus Nis Ward is Alistair Maclennan, of Newton Street, Stornoway. 

Originally from Shawbost, Mr Maclennan is a former Comhairle officer, and now runs a guest house in the town.

He was formerly the secretary of the Western Isles branch of Unison.

Mr Maclennan was elected unopposed following the sudden death of Cllr. Kenneth Murray in December.

The Nicolson Institute Interact Club are inviting all to join for a big 'Beetle Drive' this Friday – a fun fundraiser to help restore a Sensory Garden at Western Isles Hospital.

Taking place at The Nicolson Institute, Sandwick Road, on Friday (February 24th), 7pm, the Beetle Drive offers a night out for all the family with complimentary teas and coffees available, as well as home-baking for sale. Entry is donations on the door.

Unsure as to what a Beetle Drive is? Worry not as Interact Vice President Rebekah Murray explains: “A Beetle Drive is a fun event which involves some competition and a great laugh.

An Iolaire Centre Open Day is to be held this month to provide an opportunity to hear about the early plans for the Iolaire Visitor Centre.
Stornoway Town Hall will host the Open Day on Tuesday, February 27th, from 12noon until 6pm. And there will also be an event for local businesses in the evening, from 7.30pm to 9pm in the Town Hall.
The events will provide an opportunity to hear about the early plans for a Visitor Centre in Stornoway commemorating the tragic sinking of the Iolaire in 1919 on the rocks at Holm with the loss of 201 lives.

All sailings between Tarbert and Uig have been cancelled today, due to strong winds.

CalMac have issued an alternative timetable for this route between this Saturday 27th February and Saturday 5th March, citing 'operation reasons'. 

The amended timetable is as follows: 

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP, Alasdair Allan, has expressed his ‘sadness’ at the decision of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, made on the Convener’s casting vote, to close the secondary unit at Lionel in Ness.

Alasdair Allan commented: “Parents in Ness, and the wider community, have put up a very strong campaign in defence of their secondary unit and it is particularly sad that their campaign came within one vote of persuading the council.

“I have met with parents in the past around their concerns and will now seek to do so again. This is very much a decision for the Comhairle to make but I am very willing to help on this issue in any way I can as I recognise its importance to people in Ness.”

 

 

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP, Alasdair Allan, met with Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment, Richard Lochhead, earlier this week to raise the concerns of crofters in the islands about delays on the processing of Basic Payment Scheme payments.  

Alasdair Allan commented: "There have been widely acknowledged delays to the processing of Basic Payment Scheme payments (the successor to the Single Farm Payment Scheme) and I have already raised the concerns brought to me by a number of individual crofters about this.

“I took the chance to question the Cabinet Secretary on provisions for those experiencing hardship resulting from delays in the system, and he confirmed that those crofters should contact the helpline on 0300 300 2222 to make a case for their applications being prioritised."

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has written to Eastern Airways over their decision to change the schedule for their Monday flight from Stornoway to Aberdeen.

The company currently operates a 09.30 service from Stornoway Airport. A number of constituents raised concerns with the MSP after it was revealed this would be changing to an afternoon service.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed the passing of stage one of the Scottish Government’s Budget Bill, following a much-anticipated vote in the Scottish Parliament.

He said that Labour, Tory and Lib Dem opponents failed to support investment for the Isles in the budget – with the three opposition parties “failing to support the budget, and failing or to argue for anything better.”

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed the news that schools in the Western Isles will benefit from a £275,000 funding boost as part of the Scottish Government’s drive to improve standards in schools.

The share each school is due to receive from the Scottish Government’s new £120 million Pupil Equity Fund has been revealed by Deputy First Minister John Swinney, with schools set to receive additional support worth thousands of pounds.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP, Alasdair Allan, has congratulated the people of Barvas on their decisive vote in favour of community ownership of their estate following the count held in Barvas Community Hall last night.

Alasdair Allan commented: “With over 80% of people in the Barvas Estate community voting in favour of ownership of the land by the people who live there, this represents a real opportunity for economic development of this area. The estate, which takes in Barvas and Shawbost areas, as well as North Rona and Sulasgeir, will I hope be the latest in a series of community buyouts in the islands.

“I think that the best people to run Barvas estate are the people who live in these communities and that was clearly the overwhelming view taken by residents themselves. There is, of course, some way still to go in the process and I have written to the Urras asking if I can be of any help in this.”

 

 

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP, Alasdair Allan, has welcomed the introduction of a new law which will ensure carers in the Western Isles are given a greater say about the support given to them.

The Carers Bill, passed last week by the Scottish Parliament, will grant carers the right to request an assessment of their need for support and entitle them to consultation over hospital discharge.

Local authorities will be required to provide information and advice to carers as well as publishing local carer strategies.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP, Alasdair Allan, has welcomed the interim report of the Croft House Grant Scheme consultation which sets out a range of measures which the Scottish Government will implement to revitalise the assistance available to crofters.

Alasdair Allan commented: “The Scottish Government, last year, launched a comprehensive review of the Croft House Grant Scheme, and the details of the interim outcome includes much good news for the crofting community.  

“Aside from substantial grant increases, the review removes barriers such as the minimum size of property and makes the scheme available to owner-occupiers. Many have benefited from this scheme in the past, and this review will go a long way to ensure that the scheme is fit for purpose for future generations of crofters. 

The UK Meteorological Office's Amber Warning for the Western Isles  is now cancelled as winds have dropped below speeds sufficient to generate high impacts, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has stated.  The warning originally extended to 9am today.

Plans to demolish part of Leverhulme Memorial School have met with strong opposition from the local community. 

A special meeting to discuss the issue is to be held a week tonight (Tuesday February 9) in the Leverburgh School gym at 7.30pm. 

A ‘Leverhulme Memorial School Steering Group’ has been established, and they will present findings of a feasibility study at the meeting. 

Colin and Mairi Maciver of Laxay received an exceptionally generous wedding anniversary gift recently – a night’s accommodation at Lews Castle by Natural Retreats, courtesy of a lucky win by Colin’s brother Ruaraidh.

Ruaraidh was the first prize winner in a fundraising grand prize draw run by the North Lewis Maritime Society, Falmadair, who exist to promote sailing and to protect the unique sailing heritage of the Western Isles.

Senior citizens from the Goathill and Springfield Residents Association gathered in the Caladh Inn today (Wednesday February 17) for their annual dinner.

Local councillor Charlie Nicolson, who conducted the raffle, said there were 434 people living in the association area, and the association has a committee of 19.

He said the existence of the association was part of community engagement and helps to build up relationships.  It does a lot of environmental work, such as community clean-ups, and also looks at community safety. 

The association also has a Christmas Lights event, coffee evenings and quizzes. 

Councillor Nicolson puts out five newsletters a year throughout the area which are distributed by members of the group who act as coordinators. 

Music was provided for the occasion by students from The Nicolson Institute

 

The association is on Facebook

The Met Office has issued another ice warning for the Western Isles.

The warning is in place from 9pm tonight until 9am tomorrow (Saturday).

There’ll be a touch of Down-Under about Sandwick Hall tomorrow (Saturday February 2nd) as island-based New Zealanders and Australians get together for their annual social.

It’s the second annual event of its kind, organised once again by Kiwi Megan Macdonald, an occupational therapist at Western Isles Hospital.

Megan said: “There’s quite a few of us on the island and it’s nice to get together once in a while with other people who ‘get’ what you are talking about and understand all your funny little quirks.

Margaret Mackay; Katie Ann Mackinnon; Alexander Matheson; and Donald Martin at Amity House

 

Lord-Lieutenant of the Western Isles, Alexander Matheson, welcomed three new members to the isles' Lieutenancy today, Friday, 19th February.
Mr Matheson was delighted to commission Katie Ann Mackinnon, from Stockinish, Harris; and Alasdair MacEachen, South Uist, as new Deputy-Lieutenants of the Western Isles following approval granted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.


Unfortunately, because of bad weather and ferry cancellations, Mr MacEachen was unable to attend the commission ceremony held at Amity House, Stornoway.


Margaret Mackay, from Ness, was also welcomed as the new Clerk to the Lieutenancy, who will be taking over the role from Donald Martin, currently Vice-Lieutenant.


Prior to Mr Martin's clerkship, the post was held by the late Simon Fraser, formerly of Anderson Macarthur Solicitors; where Margaret works presently as a lawyer.

As part of the annual Skills Development Scotland (SDS) Scottish Apprenticeship Week, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is hosting a series of events to demonstrate how apprenticeships work for businesses, individuals and the economy.

There is commitment to supporting more Modern Apprenticeships as well as the introduction of Foundation and Graduate Level Apprenticeships. One of the aims is to encourage employers to take on apprentices. 

The week will also showcase the successes of apprentices who have chosen to get a job, get paid and get qualified to develop their careers.

 

Celebrating Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2018 (March 5th – 9th), Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is hosting a series of events to demonstrate how apprenticeships work for businesses, individuals and the economy.
Co-ordinated by Skills Development Scotland (SDS), the annual campaign week aims to encourage more employers to take on apprentices; and this year’s theme – Apprenticeships are the Business – recognises the value work-based learning brings to employers across the country.
Comhairle Leader, Cllr Roddie Mackay, said: “Research indicates that there is demand from young people for opportunities to study and work on the islands.
“As a Comhairle we are very supportive of providing opportunities for young people to pursue positive destinations within the islands and in doing so, slowing population decline and strengthening the islands’ economy.

As part of the Sport and Health Calendar, archery contests are being run early in March.

In conjunction with the Lewis and Harris Sports Council, Western Isles Island Games Association is organising Individual and Team archery events in association with Island Archers for S1 to adults.

The events start at 10am on Saturday 4th March 2017 in Coll Centre, Back, at 10am – 1pm.

The BiFab marine engineering yards in Fife and Lewis are expected to close in June with the loss of hundreds of jobs, according to unions.

Unions say 260 jobs at yards in Fife and Arnish on Lewis are to go by early summer, with the possible total closure of the yards by the end of June.

Bob McGregor, regional officer at Unite, said: “The workers there have fought for their future and it is difficult to believe that it can now be snatched away from them. The closures of these yards will turn these areas into an industrial graveyard.”

A man has been arrested in Ness after an incident in the early hours of this morning (Tuesday February 12th).

Police were called to a house in the district at 1.40am and a 23-year-old man was arrested and taken into custody.

Russian artist Sergey Busedsky of Sharmank working on his Hattersley loom sculpture

The magic of Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre and the story of Harris Tweed come to the small screen in new BBC ALBA Trusadh documentary Beairteas na Beairt / Riches of the Loom.

The hour-long programme, which airs on BBC ALBA on Monday, February 20th at 9pm,  combines a fascinating glimpse into the history of Harris Tweed, with an insight into the unique imagination of Sharmanka, the Russian art group, as they create a new artwork using a loom from Harris.

Creating art installations comprised of moving sculptures, accompanied by sound, music and light, Sharmanka – Russian artists Tatyana Jakorskaya, Eduard Bursedsky and their son Sergey – were commissioned by An Lanntair art gallery to make one of their famous kinetic theatre pieces using a disused Hattersley loom; and by so give their unique artistic take on the story of Harris Tweed.

Valentine's Day is fast approaching…that's February 14 for those of you struggling with your diaries!

And Stornoway's newest jewellery shop is all geared up to fulfil your wishes, should you wish to impress your beloved.

Local rockers Astrid have been added to the bill for this year's Hebridean Celtic Festival.

The band, featuring Lewis musicians Willie Campbell and Charles Clark, reunited last year after an 11-year hiatus.

They will play the Main Stage on the Friday night, July 15.

Festival organisers have announced details of 14 acts added to this year's bill. 

A set of military medals due to go under the hammer at the end of the month record the heroism of an island piper more than 100 years ago.

Auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb (DNW) of Mayfair in London have a miniature dress set of ten medals won by Gordon Highlanders piper Kenneth Macleod of Arnol, who died at home in 1938.

The medals include a Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) presented in 1900 after heroic service in South Africa during the Boer War, at the Battle of Elandslaagte in October 1899.

Renowned writer Donald S Murray returned to his roots in North Lewis yesterday (Friday February 8th) to give a creative writing class at Comunn Eachdraidh Nis – now housed in the former Cross school which Donald attended as a youngster.

Greeting many friends and former neighbours in the centre’s temporary café beforehand, he pointed out that he last remembered being in that building when he was a pupil and it was the school canteen.  

Paving the way of innovative solutions to rural healthcare, the work of NHS Western Isles was recognised at the National Scottish Digital Health & Care Awards 2019.

NHSWI eHealth, Tec and IT team scooped the ‘Innovative Remote and Rural Service Award’ at the award ceremony held in Edinburgh on Wednesday, February 20th – one of the four award categories in which NHSWI were shortlisted.

The R J Macleod Quaich was set up in memory of Roddy John ‘Barts’ Macleod by the Isle of Lewis Probus Club to be awarded to someone from the island who has made a significant contribution during the year.

This year it was awarded to Malcolm Macdonald in recognition of the work he has done in the connection with the Iolaire centenary, not just through his book ‘The Darkest Dawn,’ but also in many other ways, visiting schools and talking to pupils, and taking part a number of media events about the centenary.

Oban-based freelance reporter Moira Kerr has been named Diageo Journalist of the Year at the annual Highlands and Islands Media Awards for the second time in three years.

Moira was the unanimous choice of the judges for her strength of writing across a number of categories. She also picked up the Feature Writer of the Year title and was shortlisted in the Top Story of the Year category.

Although Fitness Studio SY's Hebridean Boot Camp doesn't start till April, Melissa has already started her Hebridean Boot Camp Blog. Read about her diet and lifestyle here!

 

Back Football and Recreation Club recently held its annual club dinner, where a number of awards were presented to players and supporters.

Under 15s awards went to Joel Martin for Top Scorer, Stevie Mutch for Player's Player of the Year and David Macrae for Manager's Player of the Year.

Under 18s awards went to James Murray for Top Scorer and Lewis Brett was awarded both Players Player & Managers Player of the Year.

Back Football and Recreation Club (BFRC) will be celebrating International Women’s Day through a weeklong series of events in March.

After successfully applying to the Big Lottery Fund’s Celebrate programme BFRC has been awarded £5,000, which will be used to host a Disco Divas party for all the family, a “Celebrating our Women” art exhibition, a coffee morning and Women’s Conference.

 “We are thrilled to be able to celebrate International Women’s Day in such a big way and involve the whole community.” Explained Terri Davies, Sport and Community Project Coordinator at Back Football and Recreation Club.

 “While the conference is intended as a treat for women aged14+, the whole community are invited to come together to celebrate our women through the art exhibition, coffee morning and the family disco.”

The celebrations start with a family party on Saturday 4th March 7pm. There will be food and as the title “Disco Divas” suggests lots of dancing to music from some of the greatest female artists. Tickets for the party are free but limited, so get yours now from Back Shop.

The art exhibition features the work of local female artists and includes painting, sculpture, photography and crafts. The exhibition is open to the public from Thursday 9th – Saturday 11th March. On Friday 10th there will also be a coffee morning, so guests visiting the exhibition can stop and have some tea and cake too.

We round off the week with a Women’s Day Conference. A real treat, the conference runs from 9am-5pm. Guests can choose to come for the whole day or just drop in for an hour or two. The day includes guest speakers and scheduled workshops such as: make your own knickers, basic car maintenance, first aid or yoga, but guests can also choose from a range of drop-in activities which do not need to be booked in advance such as printmaking, beauty treatments or life coaching. The whole day is free to attend but as places on the workshops are limited you are advised to book in advance by calling Terri or visiting the website: www.backfrc.org.uk

Thursday 9th March also sees Cabraich Community Arts visit us with their Women's Open-Mic Nite. The group meets fortnightly in different locations and linking in to our International Women's Day celebrations the group will be coming to Back on Thursday 9th March 7.30-10pm. Why not join them for an evening of fun and laughter. Meet new people, sing, recite a poem, play an instrument, the group is all about making music and chat, showcasing old skills, learning new ones and having fun.

If you’d like to get involved with the Women’s Day Celebrations please contact Terri on 01851 820745. More details will be published on our website as workshops and speakers are confirmed. www.backfrc.org.uk

For more information about the Celebrate programme please visit: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/celebrate

A man described as ‘the father Christmas of mobile cinema’ is to be presented with the first ‘For the love of film’ award from BAFTA, at their red carpet awards night in London on Sunday (February 10th).

Iain MacColl is the senior operator of the Screen Machine, a welcome fixture in the cultural life of Tarbert in Harris, Castlebay in Barra and 38 other highland and island rural communities. Screen Machine the UK’s only full-time, self-contained mobile cinema and Iain has been with the service since it was launched in 1998

A mechanical problem means the Stag Bakeries mobile shop is not able to carry out its delivery run today (Friday February 15th).

A mechanical problem means the Stag Bakeries mobile shop is not able to carry out its delivery run today (Friday February 15th).

Ballet Hebrides has been nominated for a Voluntary Arts 'Epic' Award - and you can help them win it!

Say the awards organisers: "Opportunities to see ballet in the Western Isles of Scotland are few and far between, so when Ballet Hebrides came into being, they quickly filled a gap in the market.

"An amateur dance group of men and women aged 12+, of any ability, Ballet Hebrides believes that dance should be inclusive to anyone, and has never turned anyone away.

The Royal Bank of Scotland has guaranteed that the bank’s branch in Castlebay - Barra's only bank branch - will stay open until at least the end of this year.

However, its long-term future remains in doubt after the announcement yesterday. (Tuesday February 6)

Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan has warmly welcomed the news.  “RBS got it badly wrong when they moved to close their branch in Barra.


Planning and design consultancy Barton Willmore has been appointed to support the development of two new harbour facilities in Stornoway – helping to bring major economic benefits to the Isle of Lewis.
The Edinburgh based firm has been commissioned by Stornoway Port Authority to support its ambitious plans to regenerate the harbour area as part of its 20 year masterplan.
Planning Director for Barton Willmore in Scotland, Colin Lavety, said: “We are thrilled to be playing a key role in regeneration projects of this scale, which are vital to growing Stornoway’s economy and will have a significant positive impact on the Hebrides.”

It is estimated that more than 1000 children and young people in the Highlands and Islands have seen a parent, brother or sister die at some point when growing up.

The figures for the current school-age population have come from the Childhood Bereavement Network.

Last month, Labour Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart backed the Scottish Cot Death Trust in its campaign to get two books into schools and nurseries across Scotland.

There have been phone calls in the Stornoway area from this fake Western Isles number - there have been numerous complaints about this number.

See https://who-called.co.uk/Number/01876749838

The callers claim to be from BT.

A team comprising the UK’s biggest community energy wind farm, six leading private sector companies and a public sector maritime asset company has been awarded funding by the Scottish Government to carry out a feasibility study into developing a hydrogen-powered ferry service to some of Scotland’s remotest island communities.

The hydrogen for the ferry would be manufactured using local community-owned wind power and, if the project is successful, it would be the world’s first sea-going hydrogen ferry.

Fanks will be crowded with expectant crofters across Lewis and Harris this week, as a busy week ahead of scanning ewes starts the spring cycle of lambing.

Contractor Simon Bedwell has arrived from Garve with a mobile scanning unit, which can be used to scan ewes using the same ultrasound technology as is used for human pre-natal scans.

Working his way through the flock, he then tells crofters whether each ewe is empty, or carrying single, twin or triplet lambs. They can then be marked accordingly with paint marks on the fleece so that their owners know what feed to provide for each sheep.

A motorcycle training school based in Stornoway has the fourth-highest pass rate in the UK. 

Hebrides Rider Training (HRT) scored an impressive 89.7 per cent pass rating, with 26 out of 29 riders getting their licences there in the measured period between April and September 2015.

HRT is the only approved Motorcycle Training Body in the Western Isles and is owned by Calum Maclean.

The offices of Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn/Galson Estate Trust in west Lewis have been hit by a serious blaze overnight.

Emergency services were attending the fire at the Business Centre, Tom na Bà, South Galson, from the early hours of the morning.

In a statement on its Facebook Page the Trust says:

The level of grant support available to help crofters build and improve their homes is to be significantly increased, Environment Minister Aileen McLeod announced yesterday.
From April 1, crofters will be able to apply for up to £28,000 under the new Croft House Grant Scheme – and up to £38,000 if they live in island and specified mainland communities.
After considering all the feedback and evidence, the three previous funding rates will be replaced with a new standard level of grant and a higher level for the islands and some mainland areas.

Scots Trad stars Breabach get set to join the HebCelt 21st party this July

Internationally acclaimed Scottish folk band Breabach head a host of new exciting acts that have been added to the line-up for the 21st Hebridean Celtic Festival as day tickets for the award-winning event go on sale.

The five-piece were voted Best Live Act 2013 and Best Folk Band 2012 at the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards and have twice been nominated as Best Band at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

HebCelt director Caroline Maclennan said: “Since forming in 2005 Breabach have gone on to become a huge hit around the globe. We are delighted they can join us this year.  

Unfortunately, due to low ticket sales, the community dinner planned for Friday the 17th of February has had to be postponed. It is hoped to host a further event later in the year.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus B MacNeil has called on the UK Government to ensure that key funding remains available to fishermen to improve safety at sea after Brexit.

Currently grants of up to 80 per cent are available for fishermen from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) to finance personal protection equipment which includes work clothing as well as Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) and Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs).

If your BT broadband was down this afternoon, you're in good company. 

BT have confirmed that a mass outage affected the whole of the UK, from the Western Isles right down to London.

Thousands of customers were affected, but the service was restored at around 4.40pm.

A report signed by 121 MPs claims that the Western Isles has the worst broadband in the UK.

But HIE, who are responsible for the roll-out of superfast broadband in the islands, say the report is ‘behind the times’ and doesn’t reflect significant changes in connectivity in recent months. 

Nicknamed the ‘Broadbad’ report, the document has been compiled by the British Infrastructure Group. 

The conservation charity Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) has today (Monday February 18th) published evidence that baby dolphins see the waters around Point, Tolsta and Lochs as a nursery.

The charity want more protection for a population of Risso’s dolphins in a ‘hotspot’ around east Lewis, after recorded sightings of the species showed that some individuals have been returning to the same area for at least 12 years.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s budget and council tax setting papers are now available on the Comhairle website here

The Comhairle will set its budget on Tuesday 7th February.

Pupils and staff at Sir E Scott School would like to thank Parent Council members and parents from the wider parent forum for organisng the recent successful Burns Supper held in the school’s performance area on Friday 22nd January.

We had a good turnout on the night, with approximately 88 people (adults and children) sitting down to a delicious meal.

Scottish Water have reported a burst water main in Crowlista, Uig which has led to a number of households losing water supply or experiencing low pressure

Customers in the immediate and surrounding areas reported the problem before 5pm today (Sunday February 17th).

VisitScotland and Caledonian MacBrayne will NOT come to the rescue of Stornoway Bus Station, which the Comhairle have earmarked for closure.

At a recent public consultation meeting, Council Leader Angus Campbell suggested contacting both bodies to see if they could provide any help in keeping the bus station open.

Closing Stornoway Bus Station will save the Comhairle a total of £30,000 in 2016/17.

Dipping your toes into icy cold water isn't for everyone, but it's nice to be able to do it! Looking forward to summer now… 

Stornoway Airport Café and gift shop has taken a bright new step to expand its range of services for customers – by opening a new branch in the passenger departures lounge.

This allows passengers the opportunity to enjoy a drink and snack before boarding their flight – or they can take their food and drink with them as they board the plane and enjoy a coffee and sandwich during the flight.

The SNP’s MP and MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Angus MacNeil and Alasdair Allan, have welcomed confirmation from Citizens Advice Direct that the call-handling centre in Stornoway will be retained.

Andrew Bartlett, Chief Executive Officer, Citizens Advice Direct has confirmed this in a letter to Angus MacNeil MP and follows meetings held between Citizens Advice Scotland, representatives of the local workforce and the islands’ two parliamentary representatives.

Angus MacNeil MP said: “Having met with Unison and a staff representative from the Call-handling Centre in Stornoway, I know just how concerned staff were about their future.  The announcement that the jobs are safe is certainly very welcome news. 

The search is on for former school pupils to reunite as planning for the Lewis & Harris 40th Reunion 2015 moves up a gear.

Organisers of the Reunion which takes place on 3rd and 4th April 2015 hope to hear from ex-classmates and are keen that no-one should miss out on two days of catching-up.

Planned events over the two days include a golf competition, Dinner and Disco with funds being raised for the Eilean Siar Foodbank and the RNLI.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, David Stewart, has tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament congratulating BASF Pharma (Callanish) Ltd on winning the Export and International Trade Award at the Scottish Enterprise Life Science Awards, which were presented at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh on 2 February 2017.

The awards celebrate the outstanding achievements in Scotland’s internationally renowned life science sector over the last year.

David Stewart said: “It is widely acknowledged that Scotland’s life science sector comprises of a vibrant and active community of successful business people, world-renowned researchers and clinical experts.  It is fantastic therefore that the Callanish-based company, which is part of the world-leading chemicals company, BASF, has been recognised for its pioneering work manufacturing omega-3 products.

A new management team at the Callanish visitor centre are looking ahead to the 2019 visitor season with confidence – and they’re buzzing with ideas.

Victoria Harvey and Gregor Macleod took the helm of visitor service provision at Callanish after the retirement in January of Angus Mackenzie, centre manager for nearly 10 years.

Angus has plans to spend more time on his croft, and for a big trip to Canada in autumn this year, but Gregor says with relief: “He’s just down the road, and if we need anything, he’s always there.”

If you were born in 1978-79; were a 4th year school leaver in the class of 1994; a 5th year leaver in 1995, or a sixth year leaver in 1996, of The Nicolson Institute, Lews Castle School or Sir E Scott – then this year is your 40th Reunion.

Registration for the celebration weekend is now open. With this year being a bumper intake – something very special happened in 1978! – make sure you book your place as soon as you can and definitely before 5th March.

Calling all 40 years olds – it's time for your school reunion!

If you were born in 1976 or 1977; were a 4th year school leaver in the class of 1992; a 5th year leaver in 1993, or a sixth year leaver in 1994, of either The Nicolson Institute, The Castle School or Sir E Scott – then this year is your 40th Reunion.

And with only one week left for registration, it's time to make sure you have your ticket for a weekend of catching up with old school chums.

CalMac representatives will be on the road through the Western Isles this month, starting from Castlebay, promoting the availability of their new fund to support children and young people, which was launched on Tuesday (January 29th).

The CalMac Community Fund will support community-led activity with funds for projects for children and young people. Throughout 2019, grants of £500 up to £2,000 will be awarded, with around six grants expected to be awarded in each area.

Benbecula, Eriskay, Berneray, Grimsay, North and South Uist. are set to benefit as CalMac Ferries launches a new national marketing campaign ahead of the 2019 tourism season, designed to raise awareness of Uist as an unmissable getaway.

The ‘Sea Uist Soon’ campaign is spearheaded by CalMac Ferries and supported by Outer Hebrides Tourism (OHT).

The campaign will comprise marketing, PR, experiential, digital information and social media activity which will encourage visitors to ‘seek out the extraordinary’ throughout the islands.

Caledonian MacBrayne has become the first ferry company to take VisitScotland’s ‘Taste Our Best’ seal of approval to the high seas.
Seven of the company’s Mariners restaurants on board the larger ships have been awarded this accolade – particularly special as CalMac prepares to embrace Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink.

The Two Eejits, and Brian, explore Scotland's islands in the CalMac advertising series

Caledonian MacBrayne's first campaign foray aimed specifically at millennials has been shortlisted at The Travel Marketing Awards.

Nominated in the Digital Marketing category, the ferry operator's 'Two Eejits' advertising campaign – developed by Edinburgh-based The Lane Agency – presented a fun and innovative short film series to appeal to a younger audience, showing that travel to the islands is inexpensive and easy to plan.

The 'Two Eejits' are played by BAFTA Scotland nominated Something Something duo of Ian Greenhill and Jordan Laird; and in their 'eejit' roles are accompanied by CalMac's own representative, a Harris Tweed clad puppet called Brian Ferry, as the trio explore the islands of Scotland's west coast.

The family of a Point man who was refused the Arctic Star medal are to have their case looked into by the Prime Minister.

Angus MacNeil MP has written to David Cameron on behalf of the family of the late Donald John Mackenzie, was refused on the grounds that the application did not meet the criteria for the Arctic Star.

The Arctic Star medal is awarded for Operation Service of any length north of the Arctic Circle from 3 September 1939 to 8 May 1945.

People in the Western Isles are being urged to act on their instinct if they think an adult is being harmed, neglected or taken advantage of.

The Western Isles Adult Protection Committee is supporting the Scottish Government’s ‘Seen Something? Say Something’ campaign, aimed at raising awareness of adult harm and encouraging people to act on their gut instincts that somebody may be experiencing harm, or is at risk of it.

The Western Isles Adult Protection Committee draws its membership from senior staff in social work, housing services, NHS Western Isles, Police Scotland, and the Third Sector. Its principal functions are to ensure the best level of cooperation across local services, take an overview of professional activity in adult protection, and promote training for frontline staff. 

The Outer Hebrides Child Protection Committee is supporting the first TV campaign in the UK to tackle child sexual exploitation, which was launched in Edinburgh last week.

It comes as new research shows 93 per cent of parents have heard of child sexual exploitation, but almost a third (29 per cent) know little about it and over a third (36 per cent) believe it won’t affect their family.

In 2014/15 ChildLine in Scotland provided 635 counselling sessions to children and young people worried about child sexual exploitation, with the NSPCC responding to 62 inquiries from adults in Scotland in the same period. Yet experts feel these figures may be the tip of the iceberg.

The strong bonds of history and culture that link Canada to Scotland will be embraced through music at this year’s Hebridean Celtic Festival.

HebCelt is hosting three acts from New Brunswick, one of the country’s smallest provinces, to strengthen traditional ties during the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation.

The confederation was the process by which the British colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick were united into one Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867. Many of the early Canadian settlers emigrated from Scotland, including the Hebrides, and that heritage is still celebrated in songs on both sides of the Atlantic.

A hike of more than 30% in council-run care home fees is to be discussed at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s budget meetings tomorrow (Tuesday February 19th).

The scale of the increase is causing concern among councillors, who will be asked to vote on whether to accept the proposed new fee scales.

The proposals come from the Western Isles Integration Joint Board (IJB) which last week (Wednesday February 13th) met to consider a wide range of budgetary and strategic issues for 2019/20.

The IJB is the body set up to implement a new integrated approach to health and social care provision, with representation from the Comhairle and NHS Western Isles and from health professionals, carers and third sector representatives.

The Western Isles Integration Joint Board (IJB) is currently reviewing the use of the three Care Units in Lewis.

Over the last few months, they have been engaging with staff, stakeholders and community representatives to discuss changes that could be introduced. 

Work is now under way on putting together the damages claim from Cala Hotels owner Kenman Holdings against Comhairle nan Eilean Siar over the tendering process relating to hospitality provision at the restored Lews Castle in Stornoway.

Speaking to welovestornoway.com, Cala Hotels Chief Executive Mr Kenneth Mackenzie said: “In the coming months we shall be building our petition for damages. “

But the sum that will be claimed is unknown at the present time.

Click here to read all about An Lanntair's Catherine and her adventures in India!

British Science Week is a celebration of the best in science, technology, engineering and maths.

And the Western Isles are taking part in the fun.

Stornoway Library is holding various events in their new makerspace room - The Space - in March.

The Lynn Maclean School of Dancing will be staging an event at An Lanntair on 28th February 2018.

There will be a Matinée Performance at 5:30pm featuring the Dance School performing Celtic Dance by all Highland and Ballet pupils.

Lewis running legend Kirsty Wade has declared herself surprised at news that a speed record she held for 31 years has finally fallen to a new young superstar – because she didn’t realise she still held it.

Kirsty’s British indoor mile record had stood for an astonishing 31 years, before falling to Scot Laura Muir in Birmingham on Saturday (February 16th).

A new feature has been added to welovestornoway.com - http://www.welovestornoway.com/index.php/mp-s-life-from-a-z/5420-an-mp-s-life

Angus MacNeil MP said: “I was very pleased to work with EVENTS/welovestornoway.com to create this brief overview of my work as an MP.

“The task of creating an A-Z of my work was a difficult one as there are many different issues and elements to my work. Things also move on and change very quickly but I will strive to keep this information as up to date as possible.

Tolsta Community Development Ltd (TCDL) has recommitted itself to a programme of spending which gives priority to the people of its own village.

Murdo MacIver, Secretary of TCDL said: ‘We are very happy to be in a position to assist some island-wide charities, like Bethesda and Alzheimer Scotland. That’s our privilege.

“However, the main reason we exist as a company is to oversee the development of Tolsta as a viable community in which to live and work.

Support for the Iolaire memorial tweed produced from Kenneth Mackenzie’s mill off Sandwick Road, Stornoway, has netted more that £5600 for local charities.

A statement from the Mill today (Friday February 15th) said: “Everyone at Kenneth Mackenzie’s Limited would like to thank those of you who purchased our Iolaire tweed.

The National Mod cheese and wine fundraising evening scheduled for this Saturday night has been postponed to a later date. 

Toxic pesticides from fish farms that can harm wildlife and human health have contaminated seven lochs around the Western Isles according to Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).

The SEPA data was obtained via freedom of information request by anti-fish farming campaigner Don Staniford, Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture; and shows that at least 45 lochs around Scotland have been contaminated, according to a report published in the Sunday Herald (February 26th).

The lochs affected by the chemical pollution in the Western Isles include Loch East Tarbert; Loch Boisdale; Loch Erisort; Loch Roag; Loch Seaforth; Loch Shell, and Loch Skipport.

Campbell Scanlan (centre) with award-winning design team mates Tiernan Haugh and Jamie Spratt.  Photo: University of Dundee

A former Nicolson Institute pupil and Mangersta resident has landed a top spot in international UNESCO competition, the Shenzhen Digital Award for Young Talent, in China.
Campbell Scanlan, also a well-known talented fiddle player, was part of a team of three students from the University of Dundee which designed a device to measure the amount of time people spend on their phones in a traditional Scottish pub.
Called the ‘Sociometer’, the device has the look of a seismograph and records the bandwidth data being used by phones on graph paper, visually capturing how many pub patrons are on their phones rather than indulging in a pint and patter.

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Charity walker Chris Lewis is setting out on the last section of his island coastal walk in Lewis, having endured the coldest nights of the winter on the hardest part of the trek.

Chris and his dog Jet are walking the whole UK coastline to raise money for SSAFA, the armed forces charity, in tribute to the support that ex-paratrooper Chris had from the charity in hard times.

 

 

Dawn MacIver, D R MacDonald (Bethesda) and Kathryn Graham

Members and staff at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar recently held a Christmas Hamper Raffle in aid of Bethesda Hospice, raising a total of £1023.

 

 

Stornoway Reformed Presbyterian Church has moved its services to the Bridge Centre, on Bayhead.

Previously the congregation worshipped in Coulregrein Mission House, on Perceval Road, but a more suitable building was required for the growing needs of the congregation.

Citylink coaches boss, Peter Knight, has met Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant over the problems with travel connections to and from the Ullapool-Stornoway ferry.
 
The MSP met with Citylink’s Operations Director recently after having again been contacted by numerous constituents complaining of difficulties in accessing bus connections to and from the Ullapool ferry. 

But the Citylink chief said the company had no complaints about the Ullapool-Inverness bus service.

An additional vessel may join the Stornoway-Ullapool ferry route in the summer, it was announced today (Friday February 2) by Comhairle na Eilean Siar.

CnES Leader, Councillor Roddie Mackay, has raised the matter of ferry capacity with MSP Keith Brown, the Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work in what has been described as a very positive meeting.

This may see the return to the service of the Clipper Ranger, at present sailing from Liverpool.

Closing the Stornoway Abattoir would be a ‘horrendous decision’ for the crofting community, it was stated today.

The facility faces the axe as part of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s proposed public service cuts. 

A phased approach would save a total of £70,000 over the next two years. 

The tourist information point in Tarbert is not going to be run by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, the council confirmed yesterday (Wednesday February 13th)

A council spokesman said that discussions were continuing with VisitScotland about the facility which is based in a Council-owned building in the centre of the village’s main car park that also includes toilets and a waiting room for bus services.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar yesterday (Tuesday February 27th)  held "a very positive seminar" at which isles councillors heard that the Western Isles is on the brink of major renewables energy developments, CnES announced in a media release.

Comhairle Leader, Councillor Roddie Mackay, said; “This was a very informative and productive seminar at which we discussed the facts in relation to the renewable outlook for the Western Isles and the major potential for huge investment in these islands.

Both Co-op stores in Stornoway have recalled their 'Truly Irresistible Camembert' as a precautionary measure due to the possible presence of Listeria monocytogenes. 

The recall affects Co-op stores nationwide.

Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium that can cause foodborne illness, particularly among vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, unborn and newborn babies, those over 60-years-old and anyone with a weakened immune system. 

Coastguard Rescue Teams are involved in exercises across the Islands over coming weeks.

They announced yesterday that: “We will be conducting some training in the Castle Grounds, Stornoway (Marybank Lodge and sawmill area) over the following dates:

  • Saturday 9th February - day time
  • Tuesday 12th February - evening
  • Wednesday 13th February – evening

Kyle of Lochalsh RNLI and Mallaig RNLI took the casualty under tow to hold her against the strong currents. Photo: Kyle RNLI

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Leader, Cllr Roddie Mackay, has called upon the UK Government to reinstate the west coast based tug after yet another incident took place on Sunday morning.
The 65m (213ft) ‘CEG Universe’ was heading through the Kylerhea Narrows between Skye and Glenelg when it became stuck with a broken rudder.
RNLI lifeboats from Kyle of Lochalsh and Mallaig RNLI were paged at 7.30am yesterday morning and sped to the vessel which was using its anchor to try and hold position in very strong eight knot tidal currents.

 

Comhairle Leader, Cllr Angus Campbell, will host a Facebook question and answer session at 7pm on Tuesday 28th February on the Scottish Government’s Consultation on Crown Estate Proposals.

Questions must be submitted to the page by 7pm on the evening of the 28th and the Leader will answer as many of these questions as possible between 7pm and 8:30pm. Questions can be submitted on the Comhairle’s Facebook page.

The formal launch of the Kinloch Community Inclusion Project is to take place at the Community Hub located in the Old School, Balallan, on Friday 15 February at 3.30pm.

People from the Kinloch area are encouraged to attend, but this invitation is open to all who are interested in learning more about the project.

Delighted to announce that the final stage in the delivery of the first turbine has been achieved. Carola from Galson Energy/UOG is seen receiving the keys to the turbine from Enercon after it sailed through testing at the end of January without any faults. The turbine is performing well and in line with forecasts for this time of year.

Today (Monday) is a very sad day for Cancer Research campaigners and the rest of the community in Lewis as the news broke that local Cancer Research chairperson, Kay Mackay, sadly passed away in the early hours of Sunday morning.

“Kay was respected and loved by the Committee and her constant motivation to fundraise for CRUK was inspirational.  Our thoughts are with Jackie, Gregor, Roger, Sophie and her brother Malcolm at this time,” said Cancer Research UK Isle of Lewis Committee on their Facebook Page.

According to members of her family on Facebook, her wake is on Wednesday evening at St Columba's Church in Stornoway at 9pm. The Funeral will be at St Columba's Church at 1.30pm on Thursday with a Funeral Reception in the Caladh Inn after the procession.

Only last month Kay MacKay told EVENTS newspaper how she was ‘overwhelmed’ to be awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List for her work with the Cancer Research UK Isle of Lewis Committee.

Former nurse Kay dedicated over 35 years to fundraising for Cancer Research UK with the Isle of Lewis Committee.
Established in October 1975, Kay joined the Lewis Committee in 1980 and became a driving force behind one of the most successful fundraising committees for the charity throughout Scotland.

Under her leadership as Chair, the local Committee has progressed from raising an average of £2,000 in the 1980s to an average of £70,000 annually for Cancer Research UK.

Pictured are the top three participants in Lewis and Harris to complete the ‘Walk 500 Miles step count challenge’: Murdo Maciver (2nd), Jane Bain (1st) and Sarah Marnoch (3rd).

NHS Western Isles’ Walk 500 Miles step count challenge won the Healthy Staff Award at the Scottish Cancer Prevention Network (SCPN) #WeCanICan Conference in Edinburgh on 5th February 2018.

NHS Western Isles’ Health Promotion Department submitted a written brief on the step count challenge along with a three-minute video showcasing the initiative.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Western Isles Police are seeking the support and cooperation of the public tomorrow afternoon, Friday 3rd February.

At 1:15pm there will be a large funeral gathering at Kenneth Street, Stornoway, for the late Rev. Dr Iain D Campbell and the public are asked, where possible, to avoid the area - unless attending the funeral - as there will be a significant increase in the volume of traffic in the town centre between 12:15pm and 3pm.

There will be restricted access to some parts of the town and the public are kindly asked to arrange their travel appropriately around these hours.

Electricity consumers in the Western Isles are paying a levy on their household bill to cover the cost of protecting underwater cables.

A call has now been made to ensure that work to protect cables is only done where absolutely necessary.

Scottish and Southern Energy (Distribution) recently hosted a workshop in Stornoway, exploring the relative costs and benefits of protecting the underwater electricity cables laid by the company in the future.  

Under the current regulatory regime, the cost of protecting these cables, by burial in the seabed or by rock ‘mattressing’, is passed onto electricity consumers in the North of Scotland.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is again pursuing the case for an Emergency Towing Vessel (ETV) to be based in the West of Scotland, after a large cargo ship ran aground near Ardnamurchan Point in the west Highlands earlier this week.

The 'Kingdom of Fife' tug arrived on the scene after travelling north from the Clyde whilst the Orkney-based ETV, the 'Heracles', was also deployed but took 24 hours to arrive on the scene.

Comhairle Leader, Cllr Angus Campbell, said: "This is another occasion when, thankfully, there were no injuries but which could have been a vastly different story. The removal of the ETV from Western waters has increased the risk to mariners and to the environment. We call on the UK Government to reassess and find a long term solution to this crucial issue."

Responses to the proposed Comhairle service cuts are now available to view online.

The Comhairle is looking to save £9.8 million over the next year, after a drastically reduced budget settlement from the Scottish Government.

The crunch decisions will be made at a public meeting of the full council next Wednesday (February 17).

To view the public responses to the proposed cuts, click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following their meeting with Loganair this afternoon, a Comhairle spokesman said: “We very much welcomed the opportunity to meet with senior representatives from the airline in what was an open and frank discussion of the challenges facing them.

"We were given a very clear and honest explanation as to why they think their performance in terms of reliability and punctuality has dropped in the last several months and, perhaps more importantly, what the airline is doing as part of a structured programme of improvements to recover from this."

Council redundancies will have a serious knock-on effect on the local economy – not only for the individuals and families directly affected and for public services, but on others working in the wider community.

The Labour MSPs for the Highlands and Islands, Rhoda Grant and David Stewart, have been researching what job losses could mean for other business and services in local communities.

For every 100 jobs going on the council, another 50 could be affected out with the local authority.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar continue to pressure both the Scottish and UK Governments regarding Highlands and Islands Airports (HIAL) Ltd proposals for a centralised air traffic tower system – and the potential loss of over 20 jobs in the Western Isles.
The Comhairle is to continue making representations to both Governments due to concerns over the arrangements and preferred option proposed by HIAL for the future of its air traffic management arrangement.
The local authority is concerned about HIAL’s proposal for remote tower and centralised approach surveillance technology as part of the company’s 2030 strategy.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have refused to accept a cheque for £11,400 to go towards a trial opening of Ionad Spòrs Leòdhais on Sundays.

The money had been raised by Families into Sport and Health (FiSH), via a crowdfunding campaign which was backed by a sizeable donation from the Scottish Secular Society.

FiSH argued that a decision the Comhairle took in October – to reject a Sunday opening trial - had been made on religious, and not financial grounds.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar yesterday (Wednesday 7th) set its budget for 2018/19.

The Comhairle started considering its forward budget strategy in June 2017 when it created a budget Board, comprising Councillors from all wards and parties, to oversee its implementation. This has provided the opportunity for feedback from across communities in the process.

The Comhairle’s original projections, based on the recent series of one-year settlements from the Scottish Government, were that savings of up to £20m could be required over the term of the Comhairle including £6.3m in 2018/19. This estimate has been revised in light of an improved settlement.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has set its budget for 2019/20 described by Leader Roddie Mackay as ‘more challenging than any the Comhairle has faced in its history.’

The Comhairle agreed recommendations for a 4.79% increase in Council Tax which will mean an increase of between 60p and £1 per week for most people in the Islands.

Comhairle Leader Roddie Mackay also moved that care home charges be increased by 3%, overturning a recommendation from the Integration Joint Board - which combines CnES and NHS Western Isles - of substantial increases.

Council tax in the Western Isles is set to rise by 3%, councillors have agreed.

Members heard the authority faced a £6.6 million funding gap, with government funding having been reduced from £121 million in 2010, to £102 million this year.

Cuts agreed last February as part of a two-year plan are expected to save around £3.1 million.

SNP Comhairle Group Leader Gordon Murray has welcomed the Scottish Affairs Committee’s focus on crofting when they visit the Isle of Lewis on Monday February 18th.

The MPs are due to meet with crofters and hold a public discussion in Stornoway on the potential impact of Brexit on crofting as part of their wider Inquiry into the future of Scottish Agriculture post Brexit.

Councillor Murray said this would an opportunity for discussion of current and future challenges facing crofting communities.

The needs of local people, staff and users are being ignored in the rush to rationalise care unit provision on Lewis, says Councillor Norman A Macdonald of Uig.

A member of the Western Isles Integration Joint Board (IJB, Cùram is Slàinte nan Eilean Siar) Councillor Macdonald has hit out at their use of ‘rhetoric that suits their agenda’ on the future of small scale care units in rural areas.

Councillor Macdonald, one of the four voting members who represent Comhairle nan Eilean Siar on the IJB, says the current consultation process is flawed because of the way information has been presented to the board and public.

A two vehicle crash on the Lochs Road this morning is causing traffic hold-ups, although police anticipate delays should not last too long.

The accident, which took place at the big bend beyond the 'Halfway Garage', has resulted in the road being open to single lane traffic only as police deal with the situation.

As a result large tailbacks are occurring, but police hope to open both road carriageways soon.

Postal voting packs for the four contested constituencies in the Crofting Commission elections have been issued to electors. 

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Election Office spokesperson, Mairi Sine Macdonald said:  “I would urge Postal Voters to take the time to read the guidance enclosed and ensure that they have completed the ballot paper according to the instructions. Completed ballot papers must be returned in the reply paid envelope provided by 4.00pm on Thursday 16 March 2017."

The Crofting Commission confirmed today that it has received the governance review, undertaken at the request of the Scottish Government, of the Commission.  

The findings of the review are being carefully considered, as Chief Executive of the Crofting Commission, Bill Barron, explains: “A number of important points have been made in the governance review and we are committed to ensuring robust processes are in place to achieve a high standard of governance within the organisation.  I will be putting in place a full action plan to ensure these points are addressed, as requested by the Rural Economy Secretary. 

Crofters get a chance to air their fears over Brexit and other national policies - such as over sea eagles - tomorrow night in Stornoway (Thursday February 7th).

The new vice-chair of the Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) Donald Mackinnon of Arnol says the SCF is ‘a very political organisation’ and: ‘the only organisation solely dedicated to campaigning for crofters and fighting for the future of crofting.’

The massive Stornoway and Uisenis wind power projects are progressing towards a crucial stage in what has been a story almost 20 years in the making, it was said at the opening of the venture’s new office in Stornoway this week.

And the Stornoway Trust and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have pledged to work closer together in relation to their shares in the two projects by exploring “the establishment of a joint venture vehicle to bring the two ownership stakes together to allow us to achieve economies and to ensure that the potential for ownership within our community is maximised.”

Mark Vyvyan Robinson, one of the directors of Lewis Wind Power, a joint venture between the Wood Group and EDF Energy Renewables, which already has extensive investment in renewable energy across Scotland, spoke about the project’s progress.

The Cuban Brothers

The Cuban Brothers are set to stop off in Stornoway in May as part of the group’s 20th anniversary Highlands and Islands tour.

In 2006 they appeared at the Isle of Skye Rock Festival where the audience was left stunned by their on-stage – and diving-off-stage – antics.

And tickets for their Stornoway show – taking place in Stornoway Sea Angling Club on Tuesday, May 1st – are already on sale.

 
The Police message is clear - be seen and be safe when cycling in darkness

Police in the Western Isles are reminding cyclists to make sure they are visible if they are taking to the roads during the hours of darkness.
Officers are urging cyclists to make sure they have suitable lights and reflective clothing to ensure the safety of all road users.
Sergeant Jane Mackenzie said: "We don't want to discourage anybody from cycling but we would urge anybody taking a bicycle onto the roads to make sure they are visible to other road users.

A 20-year-old man has been charged with dangerous driving, after a road accident which closed the A857 Barvas road on Wednesday afternoon (February 6th).

Police were called to the accident, one mile north of Newmarket, at 3.30pm on Wednesday, where two cars had been involved in the accident, with one ending up on its roof.

A 20-year-old man has been arrested and charged with dangerous driving, after a road accident which closed the A857 Barvas road on Wednesday afternoon.

Police were called to the accident, one mile north of Newmarket, at 3.30pm on Wednesday where two cars had been involved in the accident, with one ending up on its roof. No-one was injured in the accident.

The road was closed for a time to recover the vehicles and the driver of one of the cars is to be reported to the Procurator Fiscal.

A 20-year-old man has been arrested and charged with dangerous driving, after a road accident which closed the A857 Barvas road on Wednesday afternoon.

Police were called to the accident, one mile north of Newmarket, at 3.30pm on Wednesday where two cars had been involved in the accident, with one ending up on its roof. No-one was injured in the accident.

The road was closed for a time to recover the vehicles and the driver of one of the cars is to be reported to the Procurator Fiscal.

Over the last year the Crofting Commission has undergone significant change with a comprehensive review and streamlining of the organisation's processes.

A number of improvements have been implemented which aim to ensure crofters receive the best possible service.

A milestone in this work will be the roll out of a new Croft Information System taking place on Monday 22 February.  

The Comhairle have issued a final reminder that ballot papers must be in no later than 4pm today, Thursday 12 February 2015, to be included in the count.

The counting of votes will take place in Barvas Hall at 7.30pm and the count is open to the public.

A new document that details the proposed partnership agreement between NHS Western Isles and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, for health and social care integration, is still available for comment, until the end of tomorrow (Friday).

The Integration Scheme has been approved for consultation by the Health Board and Comhairle. The Integration Scheme is a high level document (the format of which is prescribed by Government) which includes information on the model for health and social care integration, the functions (services) which are to be delegated, and how the delegated services will be delivered and monitored.

A permanent defibrillator will soon be situated at the Point Football Club building (Ionad Stoodie).

Free training is offered at Ionad Stoodie at 7.15pm on Monday, 6th March.

Please come along to learn how to save a life.

There’s still lots of mystery over Brexit Day on March 29th – but there’s no doubt about what’s happening on April 1st – and the Taxman will be making a real fool of you if your firm is not ready for the big ‘Making Tax Digital” changeover for VAT submissions.

Now local accountancy firm, Mann Judd Gordon, are holding seminars about MTD across the Outer Hebrides on Wednesday 13 February.

The seminars will cover the new Making Tax Digital rules that are coming in to force from 1 April.

Caledonian MacBrayne’s managing director and chief executive officer for the David MacBrayne Group, Martin Dorchester, has announced that he will remain in post.

In October 2016, he made the announcement that, with CalMac having been awarded the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services (CHFS) contract, he felt the time was right to seek new challenges and that he would leave the company at the end of March this year.

Speaking about the decision to stay, Martin said: “Towards the end of last year, I announced my intention to leave my position as CEO of David MacBrayne and MD of CalMac at the end of March 2017.

Caught using your phone whilst driving could land you a £200 fine, six penalty point, or even lose your licence

A Police Scotland campaign has started today (Monday, February 20th) in the run up to a change which will see both fines and penalty points double for driving offences relating to the use of mobile phones.

On Wednesday, March 1st, the penalty for using a mobile phone or hand-held device whilst driving will increase from £100 fine and three penalty points to a £200 fine and six penalty points.

And new or young drivers caught for such an offence, who have held their licence for less than two years, could end up losing their licence altogether.

Cancellations of driving and bike tests in January and February have prompted Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus MacNeil, to contact the UK Transport Ministers asking for explanations and demanding solutions so that monthly driving tests in the Western Isles are re-established as soon as possible.

Angus MacNeil said the political pressure had worked, as the Driving Standard Agency (DSA) actions has immediately made three examiners available to undertake the February tests and to clear the backlog of car and towing tests arising from the January cancellations.  

However, DSA is still offering bike tests seven weeks apart, which makes things very difficult for both the people waiting to take their test, and Driving and Rider Schools.

Drugs charge

A man has received a recorded police warning after being found to have a quantity of controlled drugs in his possession.
The 24-year-old man was stopped by police as he was a passenger in a vehicle at 12.29pm on Monday (January 28th). He was charged with possession of drugs and issued with a warning before being released.

Crofters facing threats from geese, eagles and deer, survey reveals.

The Scottish Crofting Federation has recently carried out an online survey about conflicts between wildlife and crofting, which demonstrates that there are some wildlife species whose numbers are threatening crofting incomes and livestock welfare.

Project Officer needed for delivery of cutting edge energy efficiency project in the Outer Hebrides, led and delivered by Tighean Innse Gall.
 
Tighean Innse Gall is delivering the Edge of Scotland Project. It is designed to promote the take up of energy efficiency and renewable energy in both domestic and non domestic properties across the Outer Hebrides. The Edge of Scotland project will involve extensive travel across all islands talking with homeowners, business owners and people who run community facilities, encouraging and supporting them to take action on energy. This project is being delivered in partnership with the Scottish Government, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Home Energy Scotland and Resource Efficient Scotland.
 
We are now recruiting for an enthusiastic: 
 
Edge of Scotland Project Officer
Fixed Term to 31st March 2020 PA13 - 16 (£25,905-£28,567)
 
To be based in our Cothrom office in South Uist with extensive inter-island travel.

A review into educational psychology services in the Western Isles has identified a number of areas which could be improved.

The review was conducted by HM Inspectors from Education Scotland worked in partnership with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and the Educational Psychology Service to carry out a validated self‑evaluation. 

Mobile customers who use EE have hailed the arrival of 4G in Stornoway. 

EE's network will be supporting an emergency services network as part of a Home Office contract to modernise emergency services communications.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil said that getting to this stage with mobile connectivity had been ongoing for a long time. 

 

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The future of car hire has arrived in Stornoway – and it’s electric.  Ten brand new electric cars are now available to hire for as little as an hour at a time, offering a green, convenient and economical alternative to standard vehicle ownership.

The new venture is a collaboration between Zero Carbon Marine Ltd (operators of the Pentland Road Windfarm), Car-Hire Hebrides Ltd and E-Car Club, who operate entirely electric car clubs across the UK. The fleet consists of one Renault Kangoo Z.E van and nine Renault ZOE hatchbacks, which can achieve around 70-90 miles on a single charge and feature climate control, cruise control and satellite navigation as standard.

A move to abandon Brexit is being made today (Thursday February 14th) at Westminster by na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus Brendan MacNeil.

Mr MacNeil is to table an amendment in the House of Commons asking MPs to support revoking Article 50 before March 29th, to avoid inflicting economic damage on all countries of the UK.

Stornoway's favourite 'greasy spoon' cafe, The Coffee Pot, closes for the last time today.

Owner Peter Scaramuccia is approaching retirement-age, and says a downturn in trade coupled with crippling rates has prompted his decision to close.

The building has been bought by Neil Mackay, who plans to open a painting and decorating shop on the premises.

Projects that tackle isolation, put generations in touch with each other and show the value of memories are to be run by Comunn Eachdraidh Nis (CEN) with money from the European Social Fund.

The sum of £41,860 was announced on Friday (February 15th) as a grant to CEN from the Aspiring Communities Fund, which has aims including to support inclusion and improve people's lives through heritage and local history activities.

A Lewis-based nurse was recently awarded the 2016 Exceptional Mentor Award, on behalf of University of Stirling and NHS Forth Valley.

Catherine Jacek, who is employed by NHS Western Isles as a Mental Health Nurse covering Lewis and Harris, was nominated by final semester nursing student Robert Murray, who had firstly undertaken a placement with Catherine through NHS Forth Valley, and then subsequently requested a return to her to undertake his final consolidation of practice placement.

An additional £330,000 Scottish Government funding is to be delivered to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to support development of Gaelic Medium Education.
Members of the council’s Education, Sport and Children’s Services Committee noted a report on the Gaelic Specific Grant Application for 2018/19 at a meeting this afternoon (Tuesday, February 20th).
Committee Chairman, Cllr Angus McCormack, said: “The Comhairle submits an annual application for the Scheme of Gaelic Specific Grant for Gaelic Education and has been in receipt of Gaelic Funding since 1986.

Those wishing to get the bus from Ullapool to Inverness on Friday (17th February) morning will now be able to, following a request to Citylink by Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP, Alasdair Allan. 

Alasdair Allan MSP said: "I understand some people were having problems booking the Ullapool to Inverness Citylink bus for Friday morning. I got in touch with Citylink earlier today and I'm pleased to say the company promptly agreed to my request to put on an extra bus. The service is now fully bookable on their website.

"This bus connection is absolutely vital for travellers. Over the years I have been in touch with the company numerous times to raise constituents' concerns. I will continue to press Citylink to make sure their service meets the public’s needs all year round."

Extra Sunday sailings during summer months have been announced by Caledonian MacBrayne for the Stornoway-Ullapool route. 

Additional sailings are scheduled on Sundays between 26 June and 4 September, 2016.

The extra sailings will depart Stornoway at 8am, arriving in Ullapoool at 10.30am.

The normal Sunday sailing will depart for Ullapool at 3pm instead of 2.30pm, as is currently timetabled. 

It has also been agreed to reschedule the departure from Ullapool on a Saturday evening to 7pm for the entire summer timetable.

The Kevin Carmichael Extreme Stunt show will this year be performing at the airport Drag Race and stunt show organised by Lewis Car Club. it was announced today (February 9th)

For 2017, the world champion stunt rider Kevin is now riding 180bhp tyre-shredding KTM Superbikes, say the club.

A series of meetings for prospective council candidates is to be held across the Western Isles next month. 

Local government elections are to be held across Scotland on Thursday May 4, 2017.

The schedule of meetings is as follows:-

Former Rangers stars Derek Ferguson and Charlie Miller were on Lewis over the weekend as guests of the Lewis and Harris Rangers Supporters Club.

The pair hosted a question and answer session with fans before posing for photos and signing Rangers memorabilia.

Miller later tweeted about how thrilled he had been having attended a function at the largest Rangers supporters club in the world.

The stormy weather is threatening to disrupt island ferry services.

Sailings between Harris, Lochmaddy and Uig are on amber alert, while sailings between Stornoway and Ullapool are being monitored, with cancellations possible.

Tonight's freight ferry service has been cancelled.

To keep up to date, click here.

Strong winds are causing disruption to island ferry services today. 

The 1030 sailing from Ullapool to Stornoway is liable to be delayed or cancelled, while in Tarbert, sailings are currently suspended due to adverse weather conditions. 

There will be a review at 1100 with regards to later sailings from Tarbert.

Gale force winds have affected all sailings across the Western Isles today.

The 10:30 sailing from Ullapool and the 14:00 sailing from Stornoway have been cancelled due to adverse weather.

The service will resume at 17:30 departing Ullapool, weather permitting. 

A Holyrood Committee has supported a Bill to reduce fuel poverty in Scotland. However, the Committee has called for additional measures to put an end to thousands of people lacking the means to keep their homes warm.

The Local Government and Communities Committee published a report on the Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill today, following months of expert evidence and hearing first-hand from people across Scotland, including a visit to Stornoway where they took evidence from a focus group of ten people.

‘Dealanaich’ the youth group from Comunn na Gàidhlig’s ‘Iomairt Ghàidhlig Iar Thuath Leòdhais’ - West Side of Lewis Gaelic Initiative, won ‘Best youth group film’ at this year’s FilmG awards ceremony in Glasgow last Friday. 

This is the fifth time the Initiative has made it to the finals of this prestigious competition.

The first of the 2019 series of beach cleans have been planned by campaign group Clean Coast Outer Hebrides, with distressing evidence already this year of the impact of marine litter on island wildlife.

On February 1st a seal was found tangled in a fishing net on Dalbeg Beach. The net had cut into the seal’s neck and reduced its ability to hunt and eat, leaving it thin and vulnerable. It had eventually died of starvation.

The group Families into Sport for Health (FiSH) has been approved by Comharle nan Eilean Siar (CnES) to participate in improving health and wellness.
FISH - which campaigns for Sunday opening of sports facilities - says this is the first and so far only participation request in the Western Isles under the Community Empowerment Act 2015.
A CnES spokesperson said: 'There has been no change in the Comhairle's position regarding the opening hours at Ionad Spòrs Leòdhais.

At Harbour Seafoods you can find a variety of fresh fish: fillets, steaks or whole, and plenty of shellfish and seafood or if you prefer they also have a good selection of smoked and salted fish - all you have to do is decide!

The community organisation Families into Sport for Health (FiSH) will be presenting a cheque for £11,400 to the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (CnES) in Stornoway at the rescheduled time of Friday 24th February 2017 at 3:45pm in front of the council buildings.

The cheque presentation will be the official offering of funds to the CnES for a 12 month trial of Sunday opening hours of ISL.

A FiSH representative said: "We feel it is necessary to hold a public event for this offering as throughout this campaign there has been public confusion. The community saw the crowdfunder as a solution to the stated financial problem as precedent had been set with the swim club. We would like the CnES to provide an official and public statement in light of funds now being available as reasons against opening on Sundays have been ever-changing and the process for achieving community engagement ambiguous.

"Community groups such as FiSH welcome open and productive interaction with their local council. It is with great hope that the funds raised by a keen and willing community organisation will be received without hesitation and put to use towards a trial of additional ISL hours at the weekend."

A fishing boat registered in Stornoway is currently being towed back to town after it began taking on water.

Crew of the 'Prevail' raised the alarm at around 3am this morning, 31 miles east of Montrose.

A helicopter from RAF Lossiemouth was tasked to the scene, as was the Montrose lifeboat, which now has the 'Prevail' under tow.

None of the four crew members on board were injured in the incident.

 

 

 

Ann Palmer, aka Gaia the Garbage, appears to have been awarded 7 Blue Flags by a joker!

Ann found the flags in a line on the roadside between Gress car park and the river bridge. 

She's keeping the flags as mascots for her anti-litter campaign!  Or until the rightful owner claims them!

 


All flights between Stornoway Airport, Edinburgh and Glasgow have been cancelled for today (Thursday March 1st) as snow emergency continues in Central Belt

Check departure boards for latest information

LATEST>>>

Flights from Stornoway to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow have been cancelled for today, the flight to Benbecula is currently showing it will depart. 

Due to the severe Amber Weather Warning in the Central belt all flights departing Edinburgh and Glasgow are now cancelled until Friday morning (2nd March). 

Glasgow Airport issuing further updates on plans for tomorrow’s schedule later today. They advise passengers not to travel to the airport today and anyone with travel plans should contact their airline directly for specific flight information.

EARLIER>>>>

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has issued a flood warning for the Western Isles for Wednesday morning (February 20th).

The warning advises that there is a risk of coastal flooding during early morning Wednesday due to a high spring tide, surge, wind and waves. Isolated properties and coastal roads are at risk from waves and spray.

The risk is greatest around 7am on Wednesday, in areas exposed to the south west.

Flybe is abandoning its service from Stornoway to Glasgow next month but dramatically increasing flights between Aberdeen and Stornoway.

Flybe franchise partner Eastern Airways is to add 12 flights a week including  a new Sunday service between Aberdeen and Stornoway – starting on Monday 5th March.

The new service will link to London Heathrow, Manchester and Birmingham via Aberdeen - and to the rest of world via long-haul codeshare partners.

 

Calum MacDonald, the former MP for the Western Isles, and the developer and manager of Britain’s largest community-owned wind farm at Beinn Ghrideag, in Sandwick, has called on the UK Government to introduce a new scheme to promote the growth of community energy projects.

Mr MacDonald made his call after a meeting today with the Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell MP, in London.

Mr MacDonald, who operates the Beinn Ghrideag scheme for Point and Sandwick Trust, is pressing for a new category of community-owned wind farms to be included in the Government’s Contracts for Difference (CfD) subsidy scheme which is currently restricted to only large-scale offshore wind farms.

Four Syrian refugee families - consisting of eight adults and 10 children - arrived in Stornoway last night to settle into their new homes.

The new arrivals come after two Syrian families were resettled in the town last year. 

Comhairle Leader Angus Campbell, on behalf of the Outer Hebrides Community Planning Partnership, welcomed the families to the Western Isles, and appealed for help from within the local community in assisting them to settle.

The Farm Advisory Service (FAS) and SAC Consulting are holding a free meeting for anyone interested in finding out more about the importance and practical application of soil and nutrient management on crofts.  Speakers will include senior agricultural consultant and drainage expert Gavin Elrick from SAC Turriff, senior consultant Bill Crooks from SAC Auchincruive and Rob Black of SAC Stornoway. Discussion will cover funding applications, drainage options, soil management technique and on-site assessment, with troubleshooting of specific cases and outdoor demonstrations. 

The meeting will take place on Saturday the 3rd of March at Ionad Stoodie in Point, from 10.30am and 2.30pm.  Completely fee of charge and open to all, but booking is essential for catering purposes. Don't forget your wellies!

Outer Hebrides Tourism (OHT) businesses are being handed a ‘virtual’ invitation to create Our Hebridean Welcome Ambassadors with free interactive online training. 

Offering this is one way that OHT is leading the development of the Outer Hebrides as a tourism destination, recognising that outstanding customer service is absolutely key to this.

Ian Fordham of OHT said: “The Outer Hebrides is famous for Hebridean hospitality. We want all visitors to our islands get a taste of that welcome and hospitality. 

Outer Hebrides Tourism (OHT) businesses are being handed a ‘virtual’ invitation to create Our Hebridean Welcome Ambassadors with free interactive online training. 

Offering this is one way that OHT is leading the development of the Outer Hebrides as a tourism destination, recognising that outstanding customer service is absolutely key to this.

Ian Fordham of OHT said: “The Outer Hebrides is famous for Hebridean hospitality. We want all visitors to our islands get a taste of that welcome and hospitality. 

Stornoway solicitors kfmLAW has teamed up with Marie Curie through its HM Connect partnership to offer a free Will writing scheme to those aged 55 and over.

The scheme is available until 31 March 2015 and kfmLAW joins local solicitors across Scotland to enable people to make or amend their Will, with the option to include a gift to support Marie Curie. The charity helps people living with a terminal illness either in their own homes, or in one of their nine UK hospices.


Library Assistant, Helene Lagrange, with a member of the library’s Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize panel. The Makerspace area will support an increased range of similar activities that encourage people of all ages to have fun while learning and creating.

Exciting plans are underway to redevelop the old Stornoway Library Coffee Shop into a Makerspace – and open it again to the community to encourage and support a range of activities for all ages.
A Makerspace is a shared space for adults, young people and children to make, learn, create and explore using a variety of tools and resources.
A number of authorities in Scotland have set up Makerspaces within their libraries with great success, and the Comhairle’s library service was inspired by these to create a similar opportunity for local residents.

Alasdair Allan, SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, earlier this week backed the Fuel Poverty Bill at Stage 1 in the Scottish Parliament.

The islands MSP spoke in the chamber and raised fuel poverty issues relating specifically to the Western Isles.

This Saturday Museum nan Eilean at Lews Castle has another Family Fun Day at a slightly altered time of 2pm till 4.30pm.

This is part of National Tell a Fairy Tale Day on Saturday 25th February .

Chrisella Ross will be telling stories in both Gaelic and English in the galleries, and kids will enjoy making related arts and crafts in our Education and Community Room.  

These have been great fun and very popular, all welcome - £2 per child.

The museum explains that: "We have made this change as we have just recieved word of an interruption to our electricity due to planned works.  As a result, Museum nan Eilean Lews Castle will not open until 2pm this Saturday."

 

Donald Cameron, Highlands and Islands MSP

The new general practice contract agreed by the SNP Government and the British Medical Association (BMA) will see funding slashed for all GP practices across the Western Isles, warns Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron – with Barra’s GP practice set to lose more than half of its present funding.
“The fact that one practice on the islands is set to lose more than half of its funding should send shockwaves to SNP politicians,” said the Tory MSP.
The new contract is the first Scotland-only contract and was accepted by the BMA Scottish GPs committee following majority backing from a members poll in which only four out of ten GP’s took part in.

A public appeal to get Isles FM back on the air has been given the backing of Isles MSP Alasdair Allan. 

The station has been off-air since January, when transmission equipment suffered a major fault.

There is a fundraising campaign ongoing (see here) to raise the £8,000 needed for new equipment. 

The timing of the funeral service for the late Rev Dr Iain D. Campbell has been announced in Stornoway by undertakers Archibald Macrae.

It will take place from the Free Church in Kenneth Street, Stornoway on Friday (February 3) at 2pm for interment in Sandwick Cemetery.

The service will start at 1.15pm and there will be a Thursday evening service, also in the Free Church, Kenneth Street, starting at 9pm.

Collections will be taken at both services in aid of the Samaritans.

As one weather warning expired at noon today (Friday February 1st) a new Met Office warning immediately comes into force.

The new warning is for ice and snow across the whole of the Western Isles between 12 noon today and the same time tomorrow, Saturday, with concurrent risks of travel disruption and slips and injuries for people walking on untreated surfaces.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus MacNeil, and MSP, Alasdair Allan, have today welcomed the announcement that HTT Manufacturing Ltd, located in Carloway, has been purchased by a new company, The Carloway Mill Ltd.

Alasdair Allan MSP commented: “It has been clear for some time that Carloway needed new investors and I have been working closely with the Scottish Government and its agencies, as well as the with the Comhairle, towards this end.

A specially commissioned Gaelic drama with a strong Isle of Lewis basis, will be performed in Glasgow for the first time this month.

Às an Dorachadas has been created by Catriona Lexy Campbell working with actor Beth Frieden, Beathag Mhorisdean, Kenny Lindsay and Sandra Steel. Together with musicians from Scotland’s ground breaking traditional music organisation, Fèisean nan Gàidheal, and Tramway, the project comes as part of Glasgow Life’s commitment to developing world class Gaelic Drama.

Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn (Galson Estate Trust) is set to recruit a Gaelic Development Officer as it undertakes a three-year project which will see the Gaelic language and culture being actively supported and promoted throughout the community.

The Trust manages 56,000 acres on behalf of the community in the North West of Lewis.

The £102,513 initiative is backed by Bòrd na Gàidhlig and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Scots Gaelic has become one of 13 new languages to be added to open translation website Google Translate.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan – the Scottish Government Minister responsible for Scotland's languages – welcomed the news.

Six Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Schools have decided to proceed with Gaelic Schools Status in 2014/15. These schools are: Bernera, Breasclete, Castlebay, Iochdar, Leverhulme Memorial and Sgoil an Taobh Siar.
 
Dr Alasdair Allan, Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland's Languages, today visited Breasclete School to mark the announcement and also met with Comhairle officers in relation to the Gaelic Action Plan.
 

NHS Western Isles’ new Speech Therapy and Gaelic online resource, STaG.got a major boost yesterday (Thursday February 14th) from Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Mr John Swinney.

During a series of visits – which included meetings at Lews Castle College, at the threatened TalkTalk call centre, and with CnES education staff – Mr Swinney officially launched STaG.

A 40-strong group of youngsters from across Scotland are taking to the slopes this weekend as part of a Gaelic medium ski trip being held by Comunn na Gàidhlig (CnaG).  CnaG’s ski trip sees young people from Inverness, Skye, Barra, Glasgow, Tain, Lochaber and Lewis gathering at Badaguish near Aviemore for three days of skiing and other activities.
The 2016 ski trip builds on previous events and enables participants to use Gaelic in a fun and supportive environment.  Starting in 2012, CnaG has expanded its skiing operation and views opportunities such as these as being critical in maintaining and developing fluency in the language.  CnaG has recently invested in its own ski equipment and a minibus which are available for use by other organisations and groups.  This represents a significant investment by CnaG in the future of Gaelic and its focus on providing opportunities for young people. The new minibus will be used for the first time at the ski trip.

The Met Office has issued a yellow 'Be Aware' warning of wind for tomorrow (Wednesday), valid from 3am until 3pm. 

West to northwesterly severe gales are expected for a time on Wednesday, bringing gusts of 65-70 mph and locally 75-80 mph over parts of the Northern Isles.

This may to lead to some disruption to road, air and ferry transport.

UPDATE 1120 - CalMac have warned that there is a heightened possibility of disruption to tomorrow's 07:00 sailing from Stornoway and the 10:30 sailing from Ullapool due to high winds forecast.

Due to high winds there is also a heightened possibility of disruption to the 22:30 (21/02) and the 03:00 (22/02) freight ferry sailings.

A "Yellow" weather warning for high winds has been issued for this afternoon (Monday February 6) by the Met Office, and several ferry services have already been cancelled.

"It will become very windy through this afternoon. Gusts of 50-60 mph are expected widely with isolated gusts of 65 mph in the north of Northern Ireland and in exposed coastal districts, whilst 70-75 mph gusts are likely in parts of the Western Isles.  The forecast for Stornoway is gusts around 40/45 mph."

CalMac Ferries say that: "There is a heightened possibility of disruption to the 14:00 sailing from Stornoway to Ullapool due to forecast of wind gusts exceeding 50 mph."

The 17:30 from Ullapool has been cancelled due to these high wind conditions, as has the overnight freight sailing. 

On the Tarbert-Uig route CalMac say for Monday 6th February : "Due to forecast South Easterly winds gusting up to 60 knots, all sailings for this route have been cancelled."

A surge of support from individuals and organisations has helped Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn (Galson Estate Trust) begin the long process of getting back to business.

The trust has shaken off the shock felt by employees, trustees and local residents, after a massive blaze completely destroyed their business centre and headquarters at South Galson. Their focus now is on getting back to work.

A dedication service for the permanent granite wreath to be laid in memory of the Iolaire will take place at Garrabost Memorial Gardens on Saturday, March 2 at 11am.

The sculpture in remembrance of the disaster at the Beasts of Holm on January 1, 1919 has been commissioned by Point War Memorial Committee and paid for by community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust.

Stornoway Amenity Trust are calling for anyone interested in helping to improve the town to attend the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Monday March 5th.

The Trust have had a busy year with the most recent project being the Christmas Lights display and Switch on event in the town centre which was bigger and better than previous years due to additional funds.

A proposal to close all Comhairle-operated public toilets in the Western Isles could increase the risk to health, according to NHS Western Isles.

As part of its service cuts proposal, the Comhairle also recommend withdrawing funding to community-operated toilet facilities.

The local authority says the move would save £65,000 over two years.

At the end of February, 28 squadron from the 10th Queen's Own Ghurkha Logistic Regiment (QOGLR) will be exercising up here on Lewis and Harris.

The unit is made up of 120 men and women, mostly Ghurkhas and mostly drivers.

You will see packets of 3 – 5 Man SV trucks roaming around these isles from about March 1st to March 8th.

On top of this, they will be holding a cultural event in and around Percival SQ on the afternoon of Saturday the 4th of March.

They will be bringing a taste of Nepal with them as they have a tasting session of Nepalese curries. There is also going to be some of their Pipes and Drums present.

Also on display will be some of the vehicles they drive around in, so people can get up close and see them first hand.  

Members of the local Army reserve from 7 SCOTS will also be present and they will have with them the Regimental mascot, a Shetland pony called LCpl Cruachan IV.

Keep your eyes peeled! 

The largest semi-submersible drilling rig in the world is once again due to be passing through the Minch next week (Monday February 25thonwards) as she leaves the port of Kishorn after re-fitting work.

The internationally-celebrated Hebridean Celtic Festival has elevated an already star-studded line-up this year with the addition of The Fratellis to its headline acts.
The Glasgow trio, known for hits such as ‘Chelsea Dagger’ and ‘Whistle for the Choir’ release their fifth album, ‘In Your Own Sweet Time’ next month and will be touring the UK and US this year.
It was announced today (Thursday, 15 February) they will headline the Friday night programme for the award-winning HebCelt, which will run from 18-21 July.

The Fratellis, which consist of lead vocalist and guitarist Jon Fratelli, bass guitarist Barry Fratelli and drummer and backing vocalist Mince Fratelli, were formed in 2005. They won a Brit Award for Best Breakthrough Act, performed at Glastonbury, headlined NME’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Tour and T in the Park within three years. In 2009 they took a three-year break to pursue solo projects.
In 2016 the band embarked on a UK-wide tour to mark the tenth anniversary of their first album ‘Costello Music’, which helped launch their career.
Last year they announced they were in Los Angeles to record their fifth album, teaming up again with six-time Grammy and Mercury nominated American producer Tony Hoffer with whom they collaborated on ‘Costello Music’.
The Fratellis join Deacon Blue, Eddi Reader, Roddy Woomble, Niteworks and Skipinnish on the HebCelt bill, along with a host of other international acts including Dante, TRIP, Martha L Healy, Blazin’ Fiddles, Tide Lines, The Tumbling Souls, Kinnaris Quintet and Trail West.  Vishtèn and the Yves Lambert Trio, from Canada; and Habadekuk, from Denmark are also part of this year’s diverse and exciting line-up.
Festival director Caroline Maclennan said: “We very much look forward to welcoming The Fratellis to the 23rd HebCelt. They are one of Scotland’s great Indie rock bands and a fantastic live act.  The quality of this year’s line-up had already created a buzz of excitement and it’s about to get much louder with this announcement today.”
Weekend tickets for HebCelt 2018 are available exclusively from the festival priced £93, £83 concession and £30 (6-14 years). See www.hebceltfest.com.
Further line-up additions are expected at the end of this month, when day tickets for all events will become available.
 

Make a difference this summer by taking on a new challenge in one of Scotland’s most scenic locations while raising crucial funds for those affected by Cystic Fibrosis.

The Golden Eagle challenge will take place across North Harris on Saturday July 14th organised by The Leanne Fund, the foremost charity offering Cystic Fibrosis support services across the Highlands and Islands and Grampian.

The challenge consists of a 10.6 mile run and 19.7 mile cycle and is being held to mark what would have been Leanne’s 30th birthday.

Isles MP Angus MacNeil says the UK Immigration Minister must ‘Take Control’ on a commitment he made to look at re-introducing a scheme to address the crew shortage crisis facing the West Coast fishing industry.

With several fishing boats tied up across Na h-Eileanan an Iar due to a lack of crew, Mr MacNeil has been pressing the UK Government and the Minister Robert Goodwill MP to consider re-introducing a scheme to allow non-European Economic Area workers into the country to assist skippers to keep vessels at sea.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, spoke in Parliament yesterday (Tuesday) in a debate on broadband connection.

Speaking after the debate, Mrs Grant said, “It is a really important issue for the whole of the Highlands and Islands.  Scottish Labour has campaigned for many years to have broadband infrastructure improved throughout the Highlands and Islands."

More than 100 members of 28 Squadron, The Queen's Own Gurkha Logistics Regiment, are based at Arnish this week as part of Exercise Kukhuri Thistle. 

The exercise - part of a three-week sequence - is intended to hone driving skills, and test the reliability of the vehicles along with the maintenance skills of the team.

 

The exercise continues until Friday when the Squadron will start to move on to the next stage of the exercise. There will be a public display involving some of the soldiers and equipment in Perceval Square that day.

Over last weekend, members of 28 Squadron, The Queen's Own Gurkha Logistics Regiment arrived on the Isle of Lewis. They are driving about Lewis and Harris during this week in MAN SV trucks, Mastiff Protected Patrol Vehicles and other vehicles. They have kindly invited all veterans to come along to their Arnish base camp on Thursday March 1st to view the vehicles, weapons and equipment used by a modern British logistical unit as well as a bit of Gurkha culture. On Friday they will be in Perceval Square with pipe band, display stand, vehicles and equipment but - unlike on a previous visit - no curry unfortunately.

With the start of Mòd nan Eilean Siar 2016 just eight months away, the local organising committee are actively raising funds before the week-long event kicks-off on the 14th of October.

A number of events are being held over the coming weeks and months, starting with a hamper raffle. Tickets for the hamper are £1/strip and will be sold in the foyer area of the Western Isles Hospital between Tuesday 9th February and Friday 12th February.

The draw will be made at 5pm on the 12th and the winner will receive a wonderful hamper which has been kindly donated by local business, 'Delights'.

A book of poetry celebrating the 150th anniversary of Stornoway Harbour has been launched.

Penned by renowned Lewis author Donald S. Murray, 'SY StorY' features a wide range of entries, capturing a broad selection of moods.

The sinking of the 'Iolaire' is recorded, as are the heroic exploits of the Stornoway herring girls.

The book, illustrated by Douglas Robertson and priced £12.99, was launched at a well-attended event in the Woodlands Centre on Friday night. 

It is available now from the usual local outlets, and online here.

 

A boat trip operator from Harris has become an overnight sensation in the USA, following the airing of a programme on tuna fishing. 

Angus Campbell, who operates Kilda Cruises, was the star of the hugely popular series 'Monster Fish' which is broadcast on the Outdoor Channel to more than 39 million viewers.

In the episode, fishing expert Fred Lavitman heads out on Angus's 'Orca III' vessel to hunt blue-fin tuna, and while initially sceptical, is thrilled to find the elusive fish thriving off Hebridean waters.

To watch the programme (PC only), click here.

TWO Harris restaurants have been singled out for praise by adventure travel agents Wilderness Scotland.

The North Harbour Bistro in Scalpay was opened last year by George Lavery, and has garnered rave reviews ever since.

Says Wilderness Scotland: "A tiny restaurant with a big passion for fresh local produce and a real talent in the kitchen. We have been getting rave reviews from guides and clients alike who have enjoyed stunning dishes with incredible local ingredients."

The Western Isles Lottery have given Harris Football Club their first result of 2019 by announcing they will receive all funding currently being raised by supporters of the Lottery across Harris.

All proceeds raised will go to the Football Club to ensure they receive the best start to their resurgence into the Lewis & Harris Football League.

Harris Gin is the favourite gin of Scottish drinkers – and that’s just been made official for the second year in a row.

A national online survey of gin-drinkers saw 21% of the 6435 voters choose Isle of Harris as the only Scottish gin they would want if they had to pick just one.

The survey was conducted by the Scottish gin society, which announced the results on Tuesday (February 19th).

Harris Tweed’s orb trademark has been recognized as a coat of arms.

For years, the symbol has identified tweed made from cloth woven by hand in the Western Isles.

Now, Lord Lyon, King of Arms, has ruled that the orb can be the industry’s coat of arms.

Guest speaker at the Harris Tweed exhibition opening was fashion designer Patrick Grant

From the Western Isles to Cumbria – Harris Tweed is being celebrated in a new exhibition in the Rheged Centre, Penrith, as popular photographer Ian Lawson explores the Outer Hebrides and the production of the unique cloth.

The Cumbrian landscape photographer joined forces with The Harris Tweed Authority to produce his personal narrative 'Harris Tweed: From The Land'; a 400+page book with over 250 images.

And the home of Harris Tweed, its people and places, form the focus of the Rheged Centre exhibition comprising of images, words, film and artefacts – including a Hattersley loom – connected to the island industry.

A new document that details the proposed partnership agreement between NHS Western Isles and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, for health and social care integration, is now available for comment, during a period of consultation.

The Integration Scheme has been approved for consultation by the Health Board and Comhairle. The Integration Scheme is a high level document (the format of which is prescribed by government) which includes information on the model for health and social care integration, the functions (services) which are to be delegated, and how the delegated services will be delivered and monitored.

Over the next few weeks, the Chief Officer and the Chief Finance Officer of the Integration Joint Board will host a number of public information sessions, to highlight the proposed financial savings across health and social care services. 

It was big smiles all round as staff from NHS Western Isles handed over a cheque for £251.10 to the Stornoway Lifeboat Ladies Guild.

The money was raised by staff at the Health Board Offices on South Beach Street, Stornoway, in December by holding Christmas Jumper Day and a raffle for a hamper. 

As winners of the ‘best decorated office’ at Christmas, accountants Kathleen Maclennan and Nicola Pearson were given the choice of which charity should get the funds – and plumped for the RNLI, a cause close to their hearts.

More acts for this year's Hebridean Celtic Festvial have been announced.

Joining already announced Afro Celt Sound System, Treacherous Orchestra and Elephant Sessions are a host of International acts including Karen Matheson, Raghu Dixit, Le Vent du Nord, Chastity Brown, Iain Morrison, Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys, Jamie Smith's MABON, Siobhan Miller and many more.  

The story so far can be found in Heb Celt's news pages and arena artists are listed here

Talla na Mara are showing a selection of films as part of Heb Cinema's Go to Film Project.

The Go to Film project aims to encourage and enable young people between the ages of 13-30 in Lewis and Harris to engage in attending film screenings in their rural location, where the Heb Cinema venues have been developed.

Talla na Mara will be screening the below programme of archive film, current national and international cinema. There are films suitable for all ages and everyone is welcome.

HebCelt organisers are aiming to ease accommodation pressure in Stornoway by joining forces for the first time with Pitch Village to bring a new style of camping to the festival.

Pitch Village will provide 50 tents initially – pre-pitched and fully-equipped – on a site at Willowglen, allowing festival goers the chance to pre-book accommodation for two to eight people. 

The site will also offer showers, toilets, storage facilities, phone charging and dedicated security.

A prestigious stage slot in front of an international audience at the 20th anniversary Hebridean Celtic Festival this summer is awaiting the winner of a talent contest which launches tomorrow (Friday)
The CalMac Culture Music contest, introduced last year by CalMac Ferries Ltd, is aimed at finding the best amateur singers and musicians.
This year the search has been extended to include bands as well as promising singer/songwriters.
 From tomorrow, entrants can submit a video of a performance of an original piece of music to YouTube using the #CalMacCulture and the title CalMac Culture Music and then encourage fans to view and like the video.

The MV Hebrides should be returned to the Uig-Lochmaddy-Tarbert route ‘as soon as possible’.

This has been stated in a letter to Transport Scotland by Iain Mackinnon, the Comhairle’s Director of Techincal Services.

A report to the Council’s Transportation Committee reads: “CalMac Ferries Ltd advised the Comhairle in September 2015 of its proposals to replace the MV Hebrides on the Uig-Lochmaddy-Tarbert route with a combination of the MV Isle of Arran and the MV Hebridean Isles for the period 3 January to 26 February 2016.

The Western Isles Health Board spent over £1.6 million keeping patients in hospital last year despite them being fit to go home.

Figures published by ISD Scotland and revealed by the Western Isles Labour Party more than 500,000 lost bed days throughout Scotland in 2018.

The estimated cost of each day of delay is £234 – at 7,054 lost bed days the Western Isles is proportionately one of the highest contributors.

A decision to close the Hillcrest Residential home in Stornoway has been deferred by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. 

The controversial proposal recommended that children currently looked after in Hillcrest should be placed in foster care, saving £350,000 in 2016/17.

Councillors decided this afternoon that they needed more information on the proposal before the facility was wound down.

The issue will now be deferred until 2017/18.

A committee at the Parliament is being asked to look into impact of Tourist Office closures in rural areas by Angus MacNeil, MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar.

In a letter to Joan McAlpine MSP Chair of Holyrood’s Committee on Culture Tourism, Europe and External Affairs, Angus MacNeil MP has asked for the impact of the closure of Tourist Information Centres to be investigated.

The Scottish Crofting Federation has just concluded a short tour of membership meetings in Lewis and Shetland which had as their theme ‘Threats to Crofting’. A very encouraging turnout and intense degree of engagement at the meetings keenly illustrated the high level of concern amongst crofters.

SCF vice-chair, Donald MacKinnon, from Lewis, commented that meetings such as these, with nearly 100 attending in Stornoway, for example, “demonstrate the fierce commitment to crofting still out there, and the continuing strength of crofting culture in places like Lewis and Shetland. SCF will continue to lobby hard on these issues on behalf of our members”.

Bethesda Hospice, which provides end-of-life care and support to island families, has received another £30,000 from community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust.

The money is the latest tranche of funding from the award-winning Point and Sandwick Trust, which owns and operates the Beinn Ghrideag wind farm for the sole purpose of generating profit to reinvest in the community of the Western Isles.

Point and Sandwick Trust has a 25-year commitment to support Bethesda and will be giving the hospice a total of £55,000 every single year for the lifetime of its turbines. The grant on Friday brings its support for Bethesda to £110,000 over the past two years.

A multi-million pound claim for damages faces Comhairle nan Eilean Siar from Kenman Holdings Ltd, the company says.

This follows a court case brought by the local hotel group - owner of Stornoway's Cabarfeidh and Royal Hotels, and the Caladh Inn,

The group announced yesterday (Friday February 3) that it had won its appeal against an earlier decision favouring the Comhairle.

With the people of the Outer Hebrides reporting the highest levels of happiness in the UK in a recent survey, you may think that living in the Outer Hebrides can’t get any better; or you may disagree.  Either way the Outer Hebrides Community Planning Partnership (OHCPP) would like to hear what you have to say.

The OHCPP has set out a survey to find out what you think of the area in which you live. What are the facilities like? Do you feel included in your community and how could the organisations of the Outer Hebrides improve your experience?