Roz Skinner talks to Julie Brook, an artist who has spent many summers on Mingulay…and many months in African deserts

Art is capable of transporting you to any time and place and giving you glimpses into other countries and cultures.  Whether in the form of a painting, a sculpture or a photograph, each work has the power to snatch the audience into another world. 

The work of internationally renowned artist, Julie Brook, is appearing at An Lanntair from today (Saturday March 19) to May 1 where she will take her audience on an adventure that will take their breath away.

The first new dental practice to be established in the Western Isles in more than 30 years opened in Stornoway town centre.

The Castleview Practice, on Cromwell Street, opens under the direction of owner, dentist Mr Sridhar Kalvakuntla, who said: “Opening Castleview is a big responsibility but it is also exciting.

“At Castleview our main priority is to keep our patients pain free. We understand the majority of patients can be anxious about dental treatment, and we put all efforts in to providing a stress-free environment in our new practice.

A new system for approving requests for NHS-funded escorts is being introduced, to ensure that an equitable system is delivered across the Western Isles.

In certain cases, patients travelling off island require an escort to accompany them. The majority of Health Boards across Scotland only fund patient travel on a mean- tested basis, with only Boards covered by the Highlands and Islands Travel Scheme (Western Isles, Highland, Orkney and Shetland) providing financial assistance to patients and eligible escorts regardless of income.

The NHS Western Isles Patient Travel Policy sets out the criteria by which funding of escorts is approved - which is strictly based on clinical need.

The Royal Mail has won praise for its service quality from Stornoway after it even defied the impact of last week's storms.

Mrs C. A. Hardy of 43 Knock, Point, contacted us to say: "How great is our Royal Mail. 

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed an increase of £4.3 million to NHS Western Isles following passage of the Scottish Government’s budget for 2020/21 through the Scottish Parliament last week.

The amended budget delivers on key issues raised by all parties in the Scottish Parliament, where the SNP does not have an overall majority. The agreement builds on key Scottish Government commitments to invest £15bn in health and care services, with NHS Western Isles’ budget rising from £75.7 million in 2019/20 to £80 million for 2020/21 – an increase of 5.7%.

Alasdair Allan MSP said: “In the face of massive Westminster cuts, the SNP has always taken a different, fairer approach to give people living in Scotland the best deal in the UK.

“I’m proud to have voted for a progressive budget which protects our cherished health service, supports our schools and allows us to play our part in tackling the climate emergency.

“I know from my conversations on the doorsteps that our the NHS is people’s number one priority, so I am delighted to see this significant funding increase for health services in the islands.

“Despite being set a backdrop of heightened uncertainty and risk, created by the UK government’s decision to delay their own budget – the SNP government’s budget delivers certainty and stability for our economy, industry and businesses in the Western Isles.”

 

On Thursday March 27th, at 6pm, Professor Graham S. Hall will be giving a talk on ‘A history of cosmology’, in the Lews Castle College lecture theatre. All are welcome!

A Stornoway businessman has lost thousands of pounds in revenue after BT gave his phone line to another customer.

Keith Morrison (31), who runs Wee Studio, says his ordeal has been an ‘absolute nightmare’ and is now warning customers to be on their guard should something similar happen to them.

Keith said: “My broadband provider Zen sent me a message saying I was about to get a letter from BT saying that they were going to give my physical phone line to someone else. 

The UK Government should extend the exemption of Air Passenger Duty (APD) to incoming flights to the islands says Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil.

Currently island communities are exempt from APD for flights from island airports to mainland Scotland but this does not include flights to the islands.

In a letter to Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP ahead of the March 2020 budget, Mr MacNeil said the majority of passengers on flights to the islands are island-based and flights to the islands are the return leg of the journey.

Mr MacNeil said: “It is clear that it is accepted that the essential air services connecting the UK’s most remote communities are worthy of support, given that the exemption already applies for the outward journey, it is therefore a logical conclusion that such flights should be fully exempt from APD rather than only one half of the journey.”

The cost of extending the current exemption to incoming flights to the Highlands and Islands is estimated to be £3.25 million per year (250,000 return journeys x £13 tax).

An exemption for island air services is also consistent with environment objectives as air travel generates lower carbon emissions per passenger than ferry travel.

Full tax exemption for travel to the islands would also be consistent with policies in other countries such as France where flights to Corisca and overseas territories are exempt from the new air travel tax. In the Netherlands too, a new tax from 2021 will also exclude taxation on flights to overseas territories.

A debate about the future of rural policy and support for Scottish agriculture and forestry needs to commence regardless of constitutional uncertainty, Scottish Land & Estates has said today.

At the heart of this debate will be the structure of support for farms and rural businesses.

Scottish Land & Estates supports a long-term strategy of greater emphasis on farming and land management delivering public goods.

Police Scotland is going to clamp down on social movement in advance of the passing of the new laws designed to enforce the latest coronavirus restrictions.
Chief Constable Iain Livingstone QPM said: “We are fully behind the new measures announced by the UK and Scottish Governments to increase social distancing, and I urge and expect everyone to comply with them.
“We are aware of the proposed legislation in relation to coronavirus and are carefully considering the implications in this very fast moving situation, which presents the gravest of threats to the nation.
“In the meantime, Police Scotland has a clear, positive duty to both protect life and improve the safety and wellbeing of people across Scotland, while supporting the government and health agencies in our fight against this pandemic.
“Therefore, until the new legislation is in place, we will be increasing police patrols in key areas across the country to engage with and provide guidance to anyone in contravention of the measures.”
Earlier he said:” "I have always been clear that the Police Service of Scotland operates for the ultimate benefit of our fellow citizens and it is the consent of our communities from which we gain our authority and legitimacy.
"Your assistance, support and co-operation is vital during this critical period and I am grateful to the overwhelming majority who have complied with the significant sacrifices and changes to their lives that are needed to protect society.
"Our officers and staff are displaying great strength and resilience as they support the work of health professionals and wider society in what is a national effort.
"Yesterday, officers served emergency closure orders on the small number of licensed premises failing to comply with a Government request to close on the grounds of the threat posed to public safety.
"We are carefully monitoring the progress of emergency legislation relating to COVID-19 and we will continue to work with the Government about what is being asked of the public and the enforcement we will take where necessary.
"My priority, as always, is to ensure the people of Scotland are protected and policed effectively.
"Those breaking the law will be dealt with appropriately to ensure the public is kept safe from risk and harm.
"I urge you all to stay informed about developments and reflect on how you go about your lives during these difficult days.
"We, in Police Scotland, will continue to focus on public service and we must all work to support the national effort."

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, has said she wishes there was an election every week as it appears to have made the Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, sit up and take notice of what she has been telling him for years – that the rollout of the £148m superfast broadband project in the Highlands and Islands is not ‘rolling out’ very quickly, or very effectively.

Press reports emanating from the Convention of the Highlands and Islands state that the leaders of all the public agencies in the Highlands and Islands, along with Scottish Government Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, have agreed to issue a joint letter to BT to express their concern and frustration over the progress of the £148m superfast broadband programme.

A warning has once again been issued against scam phone calls, after reports that scammers are using 01851 codes so that people will believe incoming phone calls are local.

Trading Standards officers from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar issued the warning yesterday (Wednesday March 6th) after a number of reports from local residents that they’d received an automated call from an 01851 number.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus B MacNeil yesterday met with Mr Brendan Dick, Director, BT Scotland to highlight concerns from constituents about the service they are receiving from BT.

Mr MacNeil continues to receive correspondence from constituents who are experiencing difficulties with their telephone and broadband services and he is happy to raise these problems with BT.

Mr MacNeil said: “We have had straight discussions over service levels.  BT engineers on the ground do work very hard and we can see that on a daily basis.  It would appear to be a lack of communication from the providers’ call centres once customers have reported a fault.  This is a major issue affecting coordination between companies and within companies.  BT have said they are to move many of their call centres back to the UK.  I am also pleased to receive confirmation that BT has committed to improve customer service and that every advisor will each receive an extra 100 hours of training.

Former smokers who are ‘proud to be quitters’ are encouraging smokers across the Western Isles to find their inspiration too, and kick the habit.

Angus Campbell from North Street and Murdo Fraser from Aignish both quit smoking with the help and support of Smokefree Hebrides. They are now both supporting NHS Western Isles to encourage smokers to give quitting a go.

Angus Campbell initially started smoking at the age of 18 and smoked for 45 years, latterly smoking two ounces of tobacco a week. With the support of Smokefree Hebrides, he managed to kick the habit. He has now been smoke-free since last May.

Labour Westminster candidate Alasdair Morrison has hit out at a statement made by the SNP candidate for the North Uist and Benbecula council by-election, saying it is 'worryingly stupid and astonishing'.

But Roslyn Macpherson, who will contest the vacant Comhairle seat on a Nationalist ticket, says Alasdair Morrison has 'misinterpreted' her comments that the Lochmaddy to Uig route should be recognised as 'the shortest and most efficient connection with the mainland for the Uists'. 

Mr Morrison claims this is indicative of advocating closure or downgrading of Lochboisdale harbour.

Coronavirus testing policy in the Western Isles – and across Scotland – is not giving an accurate picture of the presence of the COVID-19 virus, says Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus Brendan MacNeil.

Mr MacNeil has spoken to NHS Western Isles chief executive Gordon Jamieson, challenging the effectiveness of a testing system which shows no confirmed cases of the virus in the islands.

welovestornoway.com has stopped headlining the official figures for Island cases because we are aware there are a number of people in self-isolation on the Islands who are believed to have the virus but who won't be tested unless their condition worsens and they are admitted to hospital.

Mr MacNeil said today (Friday 20 March): “If you don’t test for a virus, you don’t find people who have got it. If NHS Western Isles could test here they would, but they just don’t have the wherewithal and that is the responsibility of NHS Scotland’s procurement team, who have been unable to get testing equipment out.

“This is not just a problem in the Hebrides but in the whole of Scotland. The Republic of Ireland plans to be testing 15,000 people a day in a population of 4.83 million, which is broadly comparable to Scotland’s 5.4 million.

“At the moment we are being told that the peak of cases in the Western Isles will be in six weeks, but we have identified no cases. NHS Western Isles is following Government policy, which is to wait for people to present at hospital with symptoms and, in the past few days, nobody has done so. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have the virus here.”

A spokesperson for NHS Western Isles confirmed that the authority is following Government policy, which is to test people who attend at Western Isles Hospital and who have symptoms of COVID-19.

In addition one of Stornoway’s GP practices has been acting as a ‘spotting practice’, where patients who attend with symptoms are swabbed and the swabs sent away to Glasgow for analysis. It is on the basis of these results that the Western Isles’ current zero cases figure has been established.

The spokesperson said: “The positive news is that we will be getting a testing machine, which is to be sited at Western Isles Hospital, and which will give us a much clearer picture of the current situation. We are keen to follow World Health Authority guidance, which is ‘test, test, test’.”

Mr MacNeil has proposed a quicker method for radically increasing the number of people tested in the islands and has asked Mr Jamieson to look into it.

He said: “In the Faroes they are using ‘passage and test’ virus-testing equipment from the salmon-farming industry, which can be quickly adapted to test for any virus. They are testing 200 people a day in a population of 50,000. I have spoken to Gordon Jamieson about this and he has promised me that he will be investigating the possibility with the salmon farming industry today.”

“We are being asked to wait two weeks for a test kit, but we can’t sit and wait for two weeks. It’s here already and it will be spreading like wildfire now and next week. If we were to test 200 people here in the isles, today, we would find it.”

NHS Western Isles has been approached for further comment.

 

Community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust (PST) has today (Monday 23 March) announced that it is to set up a pandemic support fund for the local community.

Calum Macdonald, development manager for PST, said the trust would use all income not already committed to support the community effort needed to get through the pandemic.

He said: “We are very lucky that there have been no reported infections in the island as yet and we pray that it remains that way. But whatever happens, we will have to pull together to help each other and also to help the fantastic health and care workers we have in these islands to tackle this virus.

“That is why the Board have decided to use all its spare income in 2020, or to the end of the emergency, to set up a Pandemic Community Fund. We will have discussions with local organisations including Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and NHS Western Isles to work out how the fund can best be used. We also hope to have discussions with other funding partners and intend to support work being done locally by Point, Sandwick and Stornoway Community Councils and others.

“The full impact of the pandemic in those countries worst affected has been traumatic. We have to be ready for it coming here, when it will be all hands to the deck.”

The announcement has met with a positive response from Community Council chairs. Bob Walker, chair of Sandwick Community Council, said: “Never since the end of World War Two has our island and nation seen such potential devastation to our society and we must all come together and support and help one another.”

Chris Tom Mackenzie, chair of Point Community Council, said: “With services already stretched and struggling this will provide a much-needed lifeline to many in our community during this difficult time for our island. I would hope that this will also encourage other organisations to also help their communities where they can.”

Joan Muir, chair of Stornoway Community Council, said: “Although there have been no confirmed cases in our community there are many affected by the current crisis. By working together, supporting each other in a co-ordinated response we can help our community get through this unprecedented situation.”

 

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP Alasdair Allan has called for ‘preparation, not panic’ as the latest advice is issued on Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Scotland.

As of this lunchtime (Wednesday 4 March) the Scottish Government has confirmed that three people have tested positive for the virus in Scotland. They are in Tayside, Grampian and Ayrshire. They are all reportedly clinically well and are receiving treatment.

Dr Allan today confirmed that he had written to the Scottish Government to ask for information on island resilience plans in the event of an outbreak in the Western Isles.

NHS Western Isles and GP practices in the islands have posted links to public information on how to behave during a virus outbreak. The NHS across Scotland is also contacting people who have spent 15 minutes or more within two metres of someone infected.

A helpline has been set up for people who do not have symptoms but are looking for general information at 0800 028 2816. Those who think they may have the virus or have recently travelled to an affected area are encouraged to contact their GP or call NHS 24 on 111.

Dr Allan said today: “It is critical not to panic, but rather to follow the advice and guidance of health officials. It is likely that more people in Scotland will test positive, however, people can take several basic hygiene measures—such as washing hands frequently—to significantly reduce chances of getting the illness.

“I would like to thank and commend our health professionals for their tireless efforts to reduce the spread of Coronavirus spread in the country. I would also recommend that people visit nhsinform.scot for updates and more information from the NHS.”

A new leisure link partnership with four other areas of Scotland that will see ‘Slàinte Mhath’ members able to access leisure facilities outwith the Western Isles for the first time, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar announced (today March 26th).

The scheme, involving the four other areas will be known as the “Leisure Link Partnership” and it's believed to be the first of its type in Scotland.

‘Slàinte Mhath’ members will now be able to access gym, public swimming and fitness classes at leisure facilities across Highland, Moray, Orkney and Argyll and Bute at no extra cost.

The first dance competition of 2019 was an ‘unforgettable experience’ for young dancers, according to some of their supporters.

The Mackinnon Festival, hosted by Sharon Mackinnon School of Highland Dancing and held at the Nicolson Institute on Saturday (March 2nd), attracted a huge number of dancers, both newcomers and experienced competitors.

Trophies and medals were handed out in all classes – all the overall trophy winners are pictured above. (Photo: Sharon Mackinnon School of Highland Dancing).

Tomorrow (March 14th) is No Smoking Day - the national day which celebrates the success of people who have stopped smoking, and encourage those still smoking to give up for good.

For this year's national No Smoking Day, NHS Western Isles asking you to you to tell us what worked for you and how you stopped smoking.

You can send them a message on 01851 701623, post on their ‘NHS Western Isles’ Facebook page or Twitter #TellUsYourWay (@NHSWI) or even write them a letter telling of how you stopped smoking!

The official opening of the £1.9 million Laxdale Primary School extension and developments took place this morning (Wednesday 21st March). 

The project has provided two brand new pre-school playrooms, a gym and assembly hall, a new canteen and dining area and external improvement works. 

The project was designed and delivered by the Comhairle’s in-house Building Projects team and construction work, which has been ongoing since June 2018, was carried out by O’Mac Construction Ltd.

In just 18 months, loyal Supporters of the Western Isles Lottery in Barra have ensured a variety of benefits for their own Island with £10,981 in proceeds being returned to their own postcode area.

A £1 million pilot programme to boost innovation in aquaculture in the Highlands and Islands is set to go ahead, it was announced yesterday.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has approved the funding package and will run the programme in conjunction with the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC).

The 30-month pilot is expected to attract a similar level of funding from the private sector. It is targeted at helping small to medium enterprises (SMEs) achieve greater commercialisation of new innovative products and services, which will have a positive and sustainable economic and social impact.

Comunn Eachdraidh Nis has announced today (Friday March 2) that renovation works at Sgoil Chrois are due to start in mid-March.

Funding has been sourced from a wide range of organisations to enable this £1m project to proceed. Following a public procurement process towards the end of 2017, the successful tenderer contractor, Neil Mackay & Co, is due to move on site in the next two weeks. 

Annie Macsween, chairperson of Comunn Eachdraidh Nis, said: “The renovation of these buildings has been a goal since the organisation relocated to the former Cross Primary School in 2011. 

Pictured is a fundraising group including partners from the Co-op, HHP, Lewis Builders and Young Musicians Hebrides that raised an amazing £2,000 for the Solas day centre, which is run by Alzheimer Scotland Lewis and Harris.

Councillor Murray and members of the Manor and Castle Residents Association contacted Marion MacInnes, Service Manager at Alzheimer Scotland, about a fundraising project and it was agreed that funds would be used for much needed equipment to support the therapeutic music and singing activities at the Solas day centre.

Equipment purchased so far includes an electronic keyboard used at our monthly singing group, a karaoke machine (with Gaelic karaoke CD), a new record player/radio/CD, percussion instruments. Funds have also been used to upgrade the environment, and develop a ‘quiet room’ within the day centre, which provides a comfortable and private space for people with dementia and their carers to use.

David Blaney Chair of HHP said: "This is another excellent example of how HHP are delivering benefits to the wider community through our new build and investment programmes.  We are grateful to Lewis Builders and our other contractors for the way they have responded to these aspirations."

Dena Macleod, HHP's Director of Resources said: "We are delighted to be able to work with our contractors to support the excellent work carried out by Alzheimer Scotland."

The monthly Singing Group runs in Stornoway the second Tuesday of every month at the Solas Day Centre from 1.30pm-2.30pm.

If you are interested in coming along please contact Ellie Donnelly on 07500762041, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or phone the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Resource Centre, 18 Bells Road, Stornoway 01851 702123.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has written to SSE to highlight the “unsustainable” charges some islanders are facing to connect their new-build homes to the national electricity grid.

SSE’s own website gives as estimated cost of £1,600 to connect a new house in a “rural/ country” area. However, the local MSP was recently contacted by a constituent from a remote area of Lewis who has been asked to pay £21,000. The new build was around 400 yards away from the existing infrastructure. 


An initial 16 'notspot' sites have been prioritised as the Scottish 4G Infill programme progresses

A £25million project to address mobile ‘notspots’ across Scotland – including areas in the Western Isles – has been launched by the Scottish Government.
The procurement process for the Scottish 4G Infill Programme was announced this week as the project aims to fund new mobile telephone masts in locations with no existing 4G mobile coverage to improve mobile connectivity for communities and businesses.
An initial 16 ‘notspot’ sites have been identified – including one in South Lochs and one in Harris –with about 60 to 70 areas in total being targeted throughout the programme; and the majority of the programme will focus on sites completely without coverage in the Highlands and Islands.

Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) is to introduce £3 a day car parking charges at three of its islands airports – including Stornoway, where expansion work on the car parks started recently (above)

This, HIAL says, is part of its long-term programme of sustainable improvement.

The charges are set to be introduced early this summer. 

An outreach support project for island carers will definitely begin again this summer, after its funding gap was closed by a donation of £3,000 from community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust.

An outreach support project for island carers will definitely begin again this summer, after its funding gap was closed by a donation of £3,000 from community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust.

The Carers Trainers Project is run by Western Isles Community Care Forum – the umbrella organisation set up for voluntary care organisations – who are delighted to have secured the project for another year, beginning in June.

A total of £2.1m worth of funding for two projects in the Western Isles has been awarded as part of the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund by the Scottish Government.

Of that,  £368,338 has also been awarded to the Grinneabhat Project to redevelop the former school in Bragar, which closed in 2013. The project has been developed by the community through extensive consultation and will involve the building undergoing a full refurbishment to include an exhibition space to showcase historical and cultural displays and local artists’ work.

The Point Show committee confirms that there will be a Point Show Family Fun Day this year on Saturday 11th July instead of the usual Agricultural Show.

The buildings at Aird School were substantially damaged during the storm in early January. 

The Council and Urras Storas an Rubha are waiting on estimates and a survey to decide whether to repair or demolish the school. Whatever the outcome, the school buildings will certainly not be available to the show this year.

Community spirit and friendship came to the aid of a young couple facing a £20,000 bill to dispose of unwanted earth and rock.

The 5.30pm sailing due to leave Ullapool today has now been cancelled. An additional Ullapool-Stornoway sailing will be arranged for tomorrow. 

There will also be an amended timetable for the Uig-Tarbert route running tomorrow. 

A wealth of new ideas and interest was generated at the first community drop-in event for the Stornoway Wind Farm to discuss how community benefit could be best used across the local area, Lewis Wind Power have said.

The event on 10th March attracted nearly 50 organisations to have their say in how community benefits from the wind farm could be spent.

A special drop-in event for the public was held from 11.30am to 7pm on Thursday 10th March 2016 at Stornoway Town Hall, which followed a smaller event for individuals that had been involved in some preliminary discussions at the Woodlands Centre.

Nearly 200 individuals from some 50 organisations attended the events which were held over the 9th and 10th March. A huge range of organisations were involved in the event, which included many voluntary and grass-roots community groups. Among the organisations represented, there were a number representing youth groups and older people.

Representatives of the Stornoway Trust and Lewis Wind Power were on hand to discuss the Community Benefit and the distribution of profits from the proposed Stornoway Wind Farm ownership option.

Commenting on the event, John Buswell, Project Director, said: “We wish to thank all those who came on the day to give us their thoughts on how the local community can best realise the benefit from the millions of pounds over the project lifetime that this wind farm will generate for the area.

We are delighted at the level of response we have received from the local community. Some great ideas have been generated from across all parts of the community about how these sums should be spent. We will be analysing the responses we have received and will be engaging with the community in due course again to further refine these.”

On the 7th of April, 7 SCOTS of the Army Reserves will be hosting an evening to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Arras, starting at 7pm in the Drill Hall on Church street. The Battle of Arras was one of those largely forgotten conflicts, but one of the bloodiest. 3 Scottish Divisions saw action at this battle, including the 51st Highland Division. Heavy losses were suffered in this short and tragic battle. The evening is open to one and all, and light refreshments will be served.  This will be followed by a church service in Martin's Memorial Church, Francis Street, on Sunday the 9th of April at 11am. 

There will also be a short service to remember the actions of Stornoway's own Ross Mountain Battery in the 102nd year since the landings on the Gallipoli peninsula. This will take place at the Drill Hall at 7pm on the 25th of April. Again, all are most welcome to attend. Please phone Sgt Tommy Stewart on 07759100350 for more information. 

 

Above, a Boeing Flying Fortress from the US Air Force

This year sees the 75th anniversary of the official inauguration of the Royal Air Force flying bases at Stornoway and Benbecula. 

Both airfields were established initially to fulfil a similar role, that of convoy protection from German U-boats in the Atlantic and Minches during World War II.  They both went on to become civilian airports.

This significant anniversary is being recognised by both the local branch of the Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA), some of whose members served at Stornoway post-war, and the RAF at Benbecula.

Prior to 1st April,  a display of mementoes will be on view in the Stornoway Library window, along with items in the library itself, to include a Book of Remembrance for those airmen lost flying from Stornoway during WWII.

Work has returned to the Arnish fabrication yard and a total of 82 jobs have been created after the yard’s operator BiFab was awarded a contract to produce piles worth up to £26.5 million as part of the Moray East Offshore Windfarm development.

Alasdair Allan, SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, welcomed today’s official announcement. “Arnish is an important economic asset for the island and I am delighted to see it officially reopen after a period when it had no work.

A Harrisman who suffered a seizure on Saturday night was left waiting for 90 minutes before an ambulance arrived.

The incident has prompted Isles MP Angus MacNeil to call on the Scottish Ambulance Service to review the ambulance provision in South Harris.

Said Mr MacNeil: “I have been approached by the brother of a casualty who required medical assistance and had to wait 90 minutes for an ambulance to arrive from Stornoway. Thankfully Dr Naylor, the local GP, was on the scene within minutes, however because the ambulance in Tarbert was busy at the time of this incident, an ambulance had to come from Stornoway.

Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) is working to restore electricity  to some 4,100 customers who lost power due to high winds across the north west of Scotland.

Late last night and into the early hours of this morning, winds of up to 90mph hit South Uist with wide spread areas being struck by gusts of 70 and 80 mph.

There are currently 47 faults across the region which have led to the loss of power to around 4,100 customers with Skye, Sutherland and Wick the most affected - power has already been restored to over 10,000 customers since the start of the weather event.

  • Ambulance rumours quashed
  • - Surge in cases warning
  • – Piping contest postponed –

Repeated claims on social media that Island patients affected by the coronavirus COVID-19 would be not be allowed to use air ambulance flights off the Islands have been rejected.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan raised the issue of air ambulances for island patients affected by the coronavirus COVID-19 with Cabinet Secretary for Health Jeane Freeman MSP.

The MSP had been contacted by a number of constituents due to widespread concern that people infected by COVID-19 might be prohibited from flying on air ambulances. 

Alasdair Allan also queried the issue with the Scottish Ambulance Service which has been able to reassure him that there would be no such ban, and that the air ambulance would always be an option for such patients.

Alasdair Allan MSP said: “While the Western Isles is yet to have a reported case of coronavirus, it is unfortunately only a matter of time before that happens and we all need to prepare ourselves. 

“I have raised the question about directly with the Scottish Ambulance Service as well as with the Health Secretary. A journey by ferry for affected patients would be extremely long and arduous, and this should only be considered as an option of last resort.

“I was reassured therefore by some of the information which the Cabinet Secretary was able to give in the chamber today about this subject.

“There is clearly going to be a need for as much information as possible in the coming days and weeks, and I have therefore sought more detail from the Scottish Government.”

Meanwhile, Highlands and Islands Labour MSP David Stewart, who is also Labour’s Shadow Public Health Minister, asked the Health Minister Jeane Freeman yesterday (Tuesday March 17th) to re-emphasise the need for self-isolation by confirming that Scotland had been anticipating the same “heavily concentrated burst” of COVID 19 cases as predicted in England.

In chamber at Holyrood, Mr Stewart said: “The chief medical officer for England predicts that nearly all the Covid-19 cases will hit in a heavily concentrated burst – 50 per cent in a three-week period and 90 per cent in a nine-week period.”

Ms Freeman said that the aim of new self-isolation measures announced by the Scottish and UK Governments was to bring down those numbers “as low as we possibly can over a long period and to do that in a way that will allow our NHS to manage those who will require their particular treatment”.

Mr Stewart said: “This is a fight for all of us and we can only do it if we work together in the face of this great challenge. We can only hope the massive ongoing effort to persuade people to self-isolate and to make it financially possible for them to do so will stagger the onset of infections as much as possible to reduce this swell so that our NHS will manage.”

And the P/M Donald Macleod MBE Memorial Piping Competition has been postponed until later in the year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The prestigious competition was due to be held in Stornoway on Friday, April 3.

The Lewis and Harris Piping Society announced the postponement yesterday (March 17) after discussion with NHS Western Isles. 

A junior Donald Macleod competition, due to have been held for the first time this year, has also been postponed until further notice. It was to have taken place on the Thursday, April 2.

Dr John Smith, chairman of the Lewis and Harris Piping Society, said: “The Lewis and Harris Piping Society have decided to postpone the Donald Macleod competition which was due to be held on the 3rd of April.

“We had become increasingly concerned over the national situation over the past weekend and yesterday sought the advice of the Western Isles Health Board’s public health department and their advice was that the competition should be postponed if at all possible. The advice was further reinforced by the advice by government later yesterday afternoon that unnecessary social contact should be avoided.

“We are naturally very disappointed as all the arrangements had been in place and the pipers had been given their tunes and were all set to come to Stornoway for the 3rd of April.

“We are also disappointed for the youngsters who had been selected to take part in the inaugural Pipe Major Donald Macleod junior competition on the Thursday evening.

“Our provisional plan is to look at a suitable date in the autumn – possibly late September, perhaps even late November.”

Community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust sponsors the competition to the tune of £5,000 and will also be sponsoring the inaugural junior competition, by donating commemorative quaichs to all participants, when the time comes.

 

BT have advised Police Scotland of a current issue with landline 999 emergency telephone calls in the Timsgarry area on the Isle of Lewis.

Emergency calls placed via mobile telephones are still working as normal.

BT is working to address the issue as a priority and will restore normal service as soon as possible.

The weather is not in our favour this weekend, with strong winds predicted for Friday and Saturday. We still look to open the stall as usual on Friday and Saturday, weather conditions permitting.

However, we will still be taking orders and doing deliveries as usual on Friday and Saturday.

We can arrange to meet anyone in town, at their place of work or deliver to their home on Lewis.

So, if you wish to get your usual fresh veg and you have never ordered from us before you can give us a ring on 0771645238. Please pass this on to friends and family.

The weather this year has not been very kind to us at the stall - roll on Spring I say!

We should have the Mac Reds for a bit longer this year hopefully to the beginning of April. We also have this week those lovely Yellow Plums (if you wait till they have a tinge of red on the skin they are wonderful), satsumas, rhubarb, and lovely large oranges as well as all the other favourites. 

In the veg we have Hispie cabbage, butternut squash, celeriac and fresh beetroot, with all the other favourites.

Don't get hung up about ordering, you can order in KGs or Lbs, in the number of items you want, in bunches and handfuls or any other measure you care to use. We can adapt to anything.

Click here to view the full list of what the Veggie Box provides. 

A biography of a remarkable man, published in Stornoway and celebrating a deep love for the land, has today (Tuesday March 5th) been named on the shortlist for the Highland Book prize of 2018.

The Assynt Crofter: Allan MacRae, a life, by Judith Ross Napier, seen above, was published by Stornoway-based publishers Acair in 2018 – 25 years after the crofters of Assynt stirred public imagination with their bid to buy their land. The book explores the life of a remarkable man – stonemason, orator, athlete, campaigning writer, but above all a crofter who cared deeply for his beloved Assynt.

A key Gaelic publisher based in The Outer Hebrides is set to benefit from £13,390 funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to help target international markets and increase production.

Acair Ltd was originally set up to provide resources for a new bilingual education project and to this day still publishes and sells books, particularly for children, with many so popular they require to be reprinted.

Based at An Tosgan, the Gaelic hub in Stornoway, Acair is now looking to reach more customers and develop new markets around the world.

A car came off the road at Ceann an Ora before 8am this morning due to weather conditions.

The 0730 Tarbert to Stornoway bus service is running late due to being held back at the scene of the accident.

Emergency services are at the scene. 

Mossend Residents Association

AGM.

Wednesday 19th April,

7pm

Sandwick Community Room.

All welcome.

 

A dispute about pay between Air Traffic Control Officers (ATCOs) and Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) means that disruption to air travel to and from the Western Isles is possible from tomorrow (Monday April 1st).

Air traffic controllers are undertaking industrial action to support their claim for a double-digit wage increase in 2018/19 or a long-term commitment to above inflation pay awards.

Stornoway Airport café has restricted opening hours since Monday (March 11th), as the current franchise holder comes to the end of his tenure in the café.

Airport management has issued a tender call for a new franchisee twice, without finding a new tenant for the café space.

A full-scale emergency was declared around Stornoway Airport this afternoon (Sunday March 26).

Just after 2pm, vehicles from the police, fire service and ambulance serrvice raced to the airport. 

The main road past the airport was hastily closed to all through traffic.

An Lanntair is delighted to be one of a select number of venues to host both the performance and exhibition of Airs in March 2020.

Scottish pianist Mhairi Hall brings together layers of warm harmonium, synergising ambient sounds from nature and archive recordings to present a special collection of historic Gaelic and Scottish slow airs, beautifully interpreted on the piano.

Born and brought up in Aviemore, composer, pianist, and performer Mhairi Hall has performed internationally and recorded with many leading musicians, bands and singers, and is regarded as one of Scotland’s finest and most creative pianists. Her debut album Cairngorm, recorded along with her Trio, was launched at the top of Cairngorm Mountain in 2009; and 2012 saw the release of specially collaborated live album Contours, performed by her Trio, Edinburgh Quartet, and Patsy Reid.

Landscape artist Beth Robertson Fiddes accompanied her throughout the development and recording of the Airs album in Crear, Argyll. Listening and absorbing Mhairi’s work and drawing inspiration from it she composed her evocative mixed media paintings, which so vividly complement and visualise the music.

Beth is an artist based in Ullapool. She studied at Edinburgh College of Art, graduating in 1995 with a degree in sculpture. Since then she has continued to draw and paint, travelling around the West Highlands and Islands of Scotland, including St Kilda, to collect source material and sketches which are then worked up into larger pieces in studio.

An Lanntair Head of Visual Art & Literature, Roddy Murray, said: “We’re particularly pleased to present this exhibition as part of our month of Gaelic. It’s a genuine collaboration: Beth’s paintings of the West Highlands are a ‘pitch-perfect’ response to Mhairi’s music, rooted in the Gaelic tradition. They have nourished each other creatively to produce something singular that belongs to them both.”

Airs was supported by Creative Scotland, and was launched earlier this year at Celtic Connections, Glasgow.

Airs comes to An Lanntair in March, with Beth Robertson Fiddes' Airs exhibition opening at An Lanntair gallery on Saturday 21 March; and Mhairi Hall performing Airs on Friday 27 March.

Deep Pool in Skye
Dun from Hirta

Two paintings by Beth Robertson Fiddes

A tide of anger is sweeping holiday areas in Scotland and in the rest of the UK as people flee English cities to “self-isolate in the countryside.”

Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP Ian Blackford reported last night (Saturday March 21): “I have been contacted by the Nevis Range Centre in Fort William who tell me that they have had to turn away around 30 camper vans, which had travelled from various parts of the UK, who were intending to use their car park as a refuge.

“I urge everyone to do the right thing; follow the Government advice and please do not travel here.  If these warnings are not heeded and people need to be stopped from travelling, then I am afraid that is what will have to happen.  Those in camper vans please go home!”

Reports show the same situation is occurring in Cornwall, the Lake District and in rural Wales.  Colin Ridyard said on Twitter: “The problem is people are frightened and not listening.  We have exactly the same scenario on Anglesey.  We need mobilisation of resources along similar lines to the Protect and Survive plans of the 80s to accept refugees from the cities.”

The Isle of Barra Twitter page has a pinned Tweet: “ISLANDS OF BARRA AND VATERSAY ARE CLOSED. Don’t travel here, don’t put unnecessary strain on our medical staff and limited resources. We will open again and be delighted to see you. But in the meantime, we are looking after our community, the thing that makes us so special.”

As it stands at present (Sunday March 22), no Government has the power to ban travel across the UK

The Coronavirus Bill which will receive its second (and likely third) reading in the UK Parliament tomorrow (Monday March 23), gives both UK and Scottish Governments extensive powers to make regulations, including restrictions for the protection of Public Health and on the operation of ports, should that be necessary.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar itself already has current statutory functions and powers in relation to public health but has no powers to prevent or restrict travel, but we all know that it is impossible completely to isolate a community, as we need providers of services to come to the islands to provide what we require by way of food and medical supplies, at a very minimum.

There is a link to the Coronavirus Bill here: Schedules 18 and 19 cover Public Health and Ports: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/58-01/0122/20122.pdf

It is understood that our island situation and its particular needs are being made clear to Government through the administrative dialogue which is taking place daily, and any further information will be given as soon as it can be. But informed sources say that “it is not likely that Government will put in place measures to restrict travel in one area which do not apply across the whole of Scotland.”

CnES leader Roddie Mackay has told councillors: “ Our response, to date, has been to reinforce proactively the Government’s guidance and – where possible – support people to make adjustments to our social and working lives in order to both delay, and manage, the consequences of illness in the best way possible.

“Our partnership with NHS Western Isles, the use of social media and our resilient approach, is giving us a foundation not only to respond to this now, but to manage the situation for the longer term, if necessary.

“Our officers are doing a great job and it is now necessary for us – as Members – to support them with a consistent and proportionate political message that provides leadership to our community. By working together, we should focus on helping reduce people’s anxieties, whilst encouraging and empowering them to take positive action to protect themselves and others.

“So far, the Comhairle’s use of social media (and other media channels) has been to promote this positive Public Health message. I would urge all Members to work with their communities, consistent with the approach being provided by our statutory services.”

Meanwhile the London-based newspapers Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday sparked widespread outrage with coverage apparently openly encouraging people to travel to remote places, such as the Isle of Jura to enjoy “splendid isolation.”

Michael Russell, MSP reacted to the image below: "Utter crass irresponsibility - my constituents on Jura which has an elderly population, no hospital and very limited facilities are having their lives put at risk by this stupidity. Non-essential travel means exactly that: no tourism no jaunts, no boltholes."

And Brendan O'Hara, the Westminster MP for Argyll and Bute, said: "My inbox is inundated with folk telling of people arriving in Argyll to “escape” the virus. This is hugely irresponsible. Our fragile communities have very limited resources and aren’t equipped to cope with such an influx. Please don’t use our islands or rural areas as a bolthole."

Fishing industry on Isles faces collapse as demand drops 80%.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has raised the case for financial assistance to be extended to vessels over 12m and seafood processing plants with Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy Fergus Ewing MSP.

The islands MSP has contacted seafood processing plants in the Western Isles to better understand the immediate crisis which the industry is facing following the collapse of UK and European markets in the midst of the Coronavirus crisis.

Businesses have reported that vessels may have to stop landing by the end of next week. In light of the acute cash-flow challenges created by a drop in sales of upwards of 80%, the industry risks large-scale redundancies if Government support is not forthcoming.

Alasdair Allan MSP said: “It is critical that the range of support for the fishing industry covers everyone affected.

“I have been in close contact with seafood plants and the Western Isles Fisherman’s Association who have made it abundantly clear that without intervention, there will not be an industry within weeks.

"The support package offered to vessels under 12 metres should in my view be extended to vessels over 12 metres, such as scallop trawlers, and similar financial support be offered to seafood processing plants.

“Direct support to vessels should directly reflect the number of crew each vessel employs and there must be an assurance that any support given is passed on to crew members fairly.”

Police and Coastguard teams worked together yesterday (Thursday February 28th) after a report that a box of live marine flares had gone missing between Stornoway and Ness.

Police asked for Coastguard assistance when a man who had been towing a small boat from the town to Ness contacted them at 1.30pm to say the flares had gone missing, apparently having fallen from his boat somewhere on his journey.

Family style keeps the customers coming back for more

By Taylor Edgar

 

There has been a butcher’s shop at the Westview Terrace site of Alex France’s Butchers for more than half a century.

The tradition has seen three iterations of butchers shop operate there: the first run by Torquil Macdonald and the second by John Smith.

The current incumbent, Alex France Butchers, was set up in 1975. Son, Billy is now the familiar face behind the counter, joining his father 38 years ago at the launch.

Back then there was an abattoir across the street in what is now Maclennan Place, a Hydro building opposite, William Tawse premises on one side and his father’s bakery on the other. There was also ten or more butcher’s shops in Stornoway then. Now there are only four.

Change, though, is the only constant and Alex France’s has kept pace with developments over the years as the times – and tastes – alter. But one unchanging principle through all that time has been their emphasis on providing top quality meat and a personal service to each customer who comes through the door.

“We may now be using a lot of technology and push button stuff we didn’t have back 38 years ago, but we still pride ourselves on the quality of our meat and customer service,” says Billy. “You really can’t beat coming into a proper family butchers like ours and have the meat cut and packaged in front of you.”

Explaining the longevity of the business, Billy points out that this is down, not only to the quality of produce being supplied, but the personal touch and the rapport that is built up with customers over time

“What makes family butchers like Alex France stand out over supermarkets is the personal touch.  The traditional butcher can offer a far more personal service. You can see the fresh produce and have it cut exactly the way you want it.”

The other hallmark of Alex France has been acknowledgement of the need to adapt and diversify. Once upon a time, for instance, tripe was popular, but not anymore. Tastes and lifestyles vary. Shoppers demand much wider variety.

Now there is much greater expectation on the butcher to ‘add value’ to their meat produce through, for example, creating ready-to-cook curried meats, stir fries, and barbecued ribs etc. 

These innovations, taken along with the traditional fare such as secret family recipes for steak pies, Scotch pies and sausage rolls, gives Alex France’s shop an air of a fine food shop.

This theme of specialisation is taken further as the business has sought to make itself a food specialist, offering a variety of produce that can’t be bought in the big chains.

Take a look at the shelves in Alex France’s and you’ll see a tempting array of honeys, marmalades, mustard, artisan oatcakes from Portsoy and Ullapool, not to mention a range of San Pellegrino fruit juice.

 

If you haven’t visited the shop for a while, you may well be surprised by just what there is on offer. There’s a lot more to Alex France’s than black pudding, chops and Sunday roasts.

 

The Lewis & Harris branch of the Common Weal has launched a group which aims to help tackle food poverty in the islands.

The Common Weal’s vision for a better Scotland is based on a well researched ideas that have proven to succeed, Our Policy Unit is a “think-and –do tank,” an innovative model with two broad aims: “THINK”, To normalise progressive ideas in public discourse, and accelerate the adoption of progressive policies in Scotland; “DO”  Actively work to bring about progressive change in Scotland from grass roots up.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP, Alasdair Allan, has welcomed the news that crofters still waiting for a direct subsidy payment at the end of March will receive a cash advance from the Scottish Government.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday announced that the Scottish Government will use up to £200 million of national funds to provide cash support while Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) claims are being processed.

Alasdair Allan commented: “With extra staff recruited and offices around the country working around to clock to process applications the delays to payments have not been for a lack of effort, and we are now at the stage where the majority of crofters have received their first payment.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP, Alasdair Allan, has welcomed an announcement by Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, that payments under the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS) will be made by the end of March. This will help further support those crofters who are still awaiting Basic Payment Scheme funds.

Alasdair Allan said: “It is well known that, in the face of the most complex reform of CAP payments, there have been significant difficulties in matching the previously excellent track-record of early payments to crofters and farmers.

“Recognising this, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs has already put mitigation measures in place, establishing a £20M loan fund for those affected crofters experiencing cash-flow difficulties at this time, and drafting in additional staff to work through the backlog of payments.

People living in Lewis can expect an ambulance or first responder in an average time of 11 minutes and seven seconds if they are taken suddenly ill, according to a BBC investigation published today (Wednesday March 6th)

The report says critically-ill patients are ‘at risk’ because of the time it takes for ambulances to reach those who live in rural areas. A response should come in six to eight minutes, with people who have a cardiac arrest especially vulnerable to delays.

Am faigh thu lorg air do shròin, do shùilean, do chluasan, do bheul agus do smiogaid? (Le sgàthan)

Can you find your nose, your eyes, your ears, your mouth and your chin? (With mirror)

£5.99 ISBN: 9780861523894

 

Message in a Bottle/Brath ‘sa Bhuideal

A love letter from a boy to his childhood sweetheart is the inspiration for a new multi-media show that will be performed at the 25th anniversary Hebridean Celtic Festival.

Message in a Bottle/Brath ‘sa Bhuideal is a music and audio-visual production by Ingrid Henderson, commissioned by Scottish Natural Heritage as part of the Year of Coasts and Waters.

It will be part of a programme of shows at An Lanntair arts centre in Stornoway during HebCelt.

In 2018 a bottle washed ashore on the Hebridean island of Canna contained a simple message, written ten years earlier by a boy in County Armagh in Northern Ireland, declaring his love for a girl he had known since they were four.

The story, and the romantic notion of casting a message into the ocean and allowing fate, the currents, wind and nature to guide the journey and decide its destination, formed the catalyst for the piece.

Using new music and song, powerful imagery and animation, it explores themes of ocean currents, migration and environmental impact, while also celebrating Scotland’s incredible marine life and coastline. Interwoven within this are ancient Gaelic melodies and songs, highlighting the strong connections coastal communities have with the sea.

Between Islands

Opening the week’s programme on Wednesday 15 July is Between Islands, the culmination of three musical projects devised by An Lanntair with the aim of encouraging collaboration between the culture and heritage communities of the Western and Northern Isles.

An important aspect of the project has always been the creation of inter-island musical partnerships, and the three specific events created to date each featured as the opening night concert for HebCelt.

This year, a performance has been specifically created to celebrate the festival’s 25th anniversary. Those appearing are Arthur Nicolson, Jenny Napier Keldie and Maggie Adamson (Shetland); Kris Drever, Louise Bichan and Saltfishforty (Orkney); and Willie Campbell, Jane Hepburn Macmillan, Kathleen Macinnes and Julie Fowlis (Outer Hebrides).

The project is part-financed by An Lanntair, the Scottish Government and the European Community LEADER 2014-2020 Programme. In 2020 events will take place throughout the Northern and Western Isles and include workshops, lectures, musical events and the launch of a website and publication. Exhibitions on the Between Islands theme will also open in Stornoway, Uist, Kirkwall and Lerwick museums over the summer.

Between Islands Project Coordinator Alex Macdonald said, “It is entirely fitting that we created something unique for HebCelt’s silver jubilee, especially as we have worked in partnership to promote the Between Islands shows in the past.

“This show, however, really is pulling out all the stops as we combine artists from all three previous shows for a one-off performance.

“We are grateful to LEADER for funding the project and we are extremely lucky to be able to present such a stellar line up for the festival. The projects were created on individual themes so the opportunity to present them collectively, and of course for the artists to work collectively, is something very special.”

Freumhan/ Roots

The following evening (Thursday 16 July) Freumhan/ Roots brings together Lewis musicians and long-time friends James MacKenzie, Norrie MacIver and Calum Alex Macmillan for a suite of traditional music and songs, as well as new material which will be performed for the first time.

The music has been influenced by the trio’s Lewis upbringing, with subjects related to their homeland, the island landscapes, legends, characters and communities which they each represent.

Material will also be drawn from the rich musical and Gaelic song heritage of the island with a strong piping influence. Jane Hepburn (fiddle) and Alistair Paterson (piano) will join the group for this celebration of Lewis music old and new.

Fergie Macdonald

Closing the An Lanntair programme will be ceilidh legend Fergie Macdonald. No stranger to the Hebrides, where he has played the length and breadth of the islands for many years, Fergie is still very much in demand.

The button accordion player first picked up the box aged nine and, despite being unable to read or write music, has released 50 albums over the years.

His An Lanntair show will comprise a first half of stories and tunes compered by band mate Alan Henderson and a second half where he will be joined by his band which includes Alan, Addie Harper and Paul Maclean.

Fergie will also be playing at Tarbert Village Hall on Friday 17 July as part of HebCelt’s programme of community shows. These will also feature Atlantic Canada supergroup Còig in Breasclete on Wed 15 July.

HebCelt Director Caroline Maclennan said: “As usual An Lanntair’s shows are strong and full of variety and involve some of the finest singers and musicians to play at the festival over the years.

“It mixes traditional music with new material and will be a centrepiece of HebCelt’s programme during our 25th anniversary celebration.”

The 25th HebCelt will be held from 15-18 July in Lewis and Harris. Already headliners Texas, Seasick Steve and Saving Grace featuring Robert Plant and Suzi Dian have been announced for the milestone festival. Other acts confirmed so far include Skerryvore, Skipinnish, Tide Lines, Julie Fowlis, Trail West, RURA, Kinnaris Quintet and Colin Macleod.

Stay connected with all the festival’s news:

As a result of an electrical fault caused by adverse weather overnight, an Lanntair arts centre is closed to the public today (Saturday).

All cinema showings and Saturday Clubs are cancelled.

Spokesperson Kathryn Lamont Smith said: "We are so sorry for this and to those who have tickets for today's showings. Please contact us next week and we will exchange or refund your tickets. Our sincere apologies."

MP Angus MacNeil’s Bill to reunite refugee families and ease the UK government’s “inhumane” immigration rules has passed its first major hurdle in Westminster today (Friday March 16th).

Despite the UK government’s opposition, the Bill passedits Second Reading in Parliament with the backing of SNP, Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem, Plaid Cymru, Green and DUP MPs. The Bill will now proceed to Committee Stage for further scrutiny and amendments.

The Refugees (Family Reunion) Bill is set to be debated in Westminster today (Friday March 16th), and looks to ensure:

  • Child refugees in the UK would have the right to sponsor their close family to come to the UK, so they can rebuild their lives together and help them integrate in their new community.
  • An expansion of who qualifies as a family, so that young people who have turned 18, and elderly parents, can live in safety with their families in the UK.
  • The reintroduction of legal aid, so refugees who have lost everything have the support they need to navigate the complicated process of being reunited with their families.

The Leanne Fund will host the 10th Point 5k event on June 1st with the addition of a new 10k race.

The annual Islands Study Conference is due to take place in the Harris Hotel, Tarbert on 20th -22nd April 2018.

This year's speakers are Rev Dr Malcolm Maclean of Greyfriars Free Church, Inverness, who will be speaking on "The Trinity in the Christian Life" and Rev Calum Iain Macleod of Back Free Church, who will be speaking on "Living the Christian life in a 21st Century World.

The community shop, An Clachan, in Leverburgh, has now upgraded its pumps to allow fuel sales after hours making it the only 24/7 petrol station in Harris.

This is as well as supplying general groceries, off sales, local crafts and hardware.

Islanders who received a copy of the National Inpatient Patient Experience Survey are reminded to send in their responses as the comments will help NHS Western Isles to improve its services.

The surveys were sent out to a random selection of patients aged 16 and over, who had an overnight stay in Western Isles Hospital, St Brendan’s Hospital or Uist and Barra Hospital between April and September 2015. Patients were asked to provide feedback on their stay.

The survey pack contained a questionnaire which can be completed in several ways. The paper copy can be returned by post. It can also be completed online or by telephone, and details on how to do this are contained within the covering letter.

Stornoway police are asking for information after an incident of vandalism on Bells Road on Friday evening (28 February).

A dark red Vauxhall Corsa car had its rear window smashed between 4.50pm and 7.50pm while parked on Bells Road.

Anyone who may have seen how this happened is asked to contact police on the non-emergency number 101, quoting incident number NH262/20.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant met with apprentices Stuart Buchanan and Scott Barnard and former apprentice Gordon Campbell at Tech Mobile in Bayhead this afternoon.

Mrs Grant also met with other members of Tech Mobile staff in their workshop beside the main shop.

She commented: “I congratulate the company for taking on apprentices – it’s not only an investment in the local economy but an investment in the country’s future.  We need more companies to be like Tech Mobile, to train young people, to fill the skills gap that exists.

Former Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Councillor, Archie Campbell, has died at the age of 76.

Tributes are being paid to Archie, former member for the Paible electoral ward in North Uist and formerly Chairman of the CnES development committee, who passed away on Friday 6 March.

Archie was educated at Bellahouston Academy before going on to Jordanhill College of Education in 1962 to do his teaching qualifications. Archie was first elected to represent the Paible electoral ward more than 20 years agao, later serving the North Uist and Benbecula ward until he resigned in 2015.

Convener of the Comhairle, Councillor Norman A Macdonald, said: “Archie was a tremendous voice for his community, serving in distinguished roles on the Comhairle, most notably as Chairman of Development.

"He was a robust campaigner for both his community and for the islands and was also a Director of Hebridean Housing Partnership. On a personal level, Archie was a gentleman in how he conducted himself and someone who was revered by his colleagues and friends. 

“Our thoughts at this sad time are with Archie’s wife, Ada, their children Eilidh, Sarah and Alasdair and his many friends.”

Archie was elected to the Comhairle in 1999, representing the Paible ward and took up the position of Vice-Chair of Sustainable Development. He became Chair of the Committee in 2003 and was re-elected to that position in 2007 and 2012.

Archie enjoyed a long career as a teacher, starting at Paible School in 1967 before moving to Iochdar and then to Lionacleit in 1988 where he served as the Principal Teacher of Guidance. He retired in 1997 and was a Fellow of the Educational Institute of Scotland.

At the time of Archie's retirement as a councillor in 2015, the Convener stated: "Archie will be remembered during his time as a Councillor as someone who would weigh up the arguments of a particular discussion, reach a decision and stick with that decision. He always did so with good humour and respect for his Comhairle colleagues."

The Comhairle flags at offices in Balivanich and Stornoway are flying at half-mast.

As it is nearing the Council Elections, and we have had a few enquiries from candidates who wish to advertise their candidacy, we have decided to run a Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Election Candidate feature in the April edition of EVENTS newspaper.

Each council candidate has the opportunity to place an advert with an image of their choice, and some information about their manifesto - at a reduced rate. 

The April edition of EVENTS will run from April 5th until May 2nd, and with a distribution of around 10,000 copies, as well a downloadable PDF version at www.hebevents.com, the adverts will be viewed by people all over Lewis and Harris – who will be making up their minds as to who they wish to vote for! 

Concerns about the lack of apprentice opportunities at Arnish fabrication yard have been raised by Stornoway North Councillor Gordon Murray.

SNP Cllr Murray has now written to Bi-Fab, the firm who have operated the yard since 2009, to seek detail of their long term strategy to ensure a sustainable future for the yard.

Tomorrow night!

Stornoway’s An Lanntair arts centre is closed today (Tuesday 17 March) as they consider their options for the immediate future.

The centre staff announced on social media this morning that they were reconsidering their previous position, which was that films and other events would continue at the centre.

The change of approach has been triggered by last night’s Scottish Government announcement, which said: “To slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) the general public are being asked to stay at home as much as possible and avoid unnecessary social contact.

“People should minimise social contact by avoiding crowded areas and large gatherings, including religious congregations and smaller gatherings such as restaurants, pubs, bars, clubs, cinemas and gyms.”

An Lanntair said today: “In light of this new advice, An Lanntair will be closed today (Tuesday 17th March) whilst we seek further clarity on Government guidance.

“Our top priority is the safety of our staff, audiences, customers, artists and participants. We will provide an update here and on our website for everyone later today on any further changes to our provision. 

“Sending love to all from everyone at An Lanntair in these challenging times.”

The announcement is likely to impact future planning of arts events in the town, with Wednesday night’s One Minute Film Festival at An Lanntair already cancelled.

Also cancelled is an unusual small-venue performance at Stornoway Town Hall by the Glasgow band rock band Mogwai, who announced only last week that they were to perform in Stornoway as part of a Highlands and Hebrides tour in April.

An Lanntair Arts Centre in Stornoway was evacuated this evening (Friday March 29th) after a major flood which affected the building from the inside.

The venue was busy with a sold-out special event in the restaurant and a showing of the popular film The Mule, starring Clint Eastwood, both under way.

A new work of art will be seen by 15,000 multi-national viewers in the space of a few days when it goes on show at the award-winning Hebridean Celtic Festival this summer.
Organisers of the festival in Stornoway in the island of Lewis are to commission an artist or artists to create a contemporary artwork to mark the event’s 20th anniversary.

Athletes and coaches from the Western Isles islands Games Association were feted at a major public event at Harris & Lewis Smokehouse in Stornoway this morning (Tuesday March 19th)

Hebridean businesses were well-represented among yesterday evening’s (Thursday March 21st) successes at the Scottish Rural awards held at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh.

Winner in the business start-up category is HebShuttle, a cycle tour and transfer operator based in Stornoway and Benbecula.

The company offers bike transfers, self-guided cycle trips and hire of bikes, including an opportunity to cycle the complete Hebridean Way road cycle route between Barra and the Butt of Lewis.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, David Stewart, who is Scottish Labour’s Transport Spokesperson, has welcomed the report published by Jeanette Findlay, a Scottish ferry economics expert, which has recommended that Western Isles and west coast ferry routes should continue to be run by CalMac. 

The report which was commissioned by the seafarers' union, RMT, has been hailed by the union as making an overwhelming case for keeping the ferry services in the public sector. 

The current contract is out to tender at present with final bids to be lodged this month.  CalMac, who presently operate the Clyde and Hebrides ferry services contract (CHFS) faces a serious challenge from private operators, Serco, for the £1 billion subsidy to run the ferry network.

The Lewis and Harris Youth Concert Band got a gold at the National finals of the Scottish Concert Band Festival held at Perth Concert Hall on Saturday March 16th.

Band conductor Gavin Woods, speaking from the Loch Seaforth ferry during their return voyage said: "We are delighted."

The new line-up at the Crown Inn in North Beach…Marcus Hird, Sarah Swan, Angela Smith, and Tom Strathmore.  The bar is opening tonight for the first time while the renovation and improvement work continues in other parts of the hotel.

 

New opening hours have been put in place from today (Monday 23 March) at Barra airport.

It’s part of a network-wide change of operations announced by Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) on Friday.

From today, the airport will be open only between 11am and 3pm on weekdays, 10.30 to 3.30pm on Saturdays and for just an hour and a quarter, from 11am to 12.15pm, on Sundays.

The timings will allow scheduled flights to and from the island to continue, but reduce the potential for passengers to meet and mingle within the airport building.

The change has also led the management in the airport’s iconic café to shut up shop earlier than they had intended to. Sharon Penny posted on the café’s well-followed Facebook page on Friday afternoon, saying: “That’s all folks! Thank you to all our customers over our six-and-a-half year tenure but, due to the current situation, we have decided to cease trading earlier than planned. We shall be clearing out and leaving the premises to the new franchisee.”

HIAL is in the process of revising opening hours for all 11 of its airports in the region. On Friday a spokesman said: “The unprecedented global health crisis is affecting every aspect of our lives and it is a particularly challenging time for the travel and aviation industry. 

“In line with public health guidelines, airlines have reduced their scheduled services and we anticipate further reductions in service will come. 

“HIAL's priority is to continue to provide the lifeline services that are essential for our communities whilst maintaining the health and wellbeing of its staff. Therefore, HIAL is reviewing the operating hours at each of its 11 airports to accommodate current airline timetables whilst at the same time maintaining staff resilience to ensure lifeline services can continue. Details of any amendments to airport opening times will be detailed on the HIAL website.”

Inglis Lyon, HIAL's Managing Director said: "These are extraordinary times we find ourselves in, and our overriding priority is the continued operation of the necessary lifeline services for our communities and the health and well-being of our teams.

"Our staff are following the guidelines issued by Public Health Scotland and have appropriate equipment and materials to safely execute their roles. We continue to review the situation and have contingency plans in place to ensure we continue to operate where needed.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank our staff who are working to pull out the stops to do exactly that."

A hill fire which burnt through most of the night last night (Monday 30 March) appears to have been deliberately set, despite a recent warning to suspend muirburn during the COVID-19 epidemic.

The hill at Bogach, near Bruernish in north Barra, was seen to be burning from about 10pm last night and is this morning blackened and smoking.

Scottish Land and Estates last week (25 March) issued an appeal to land managers not to undertake muirburn (controlled burning of heather) during the Covid-19 pandemic, to help ensure there is no chance for any additional strain on public services.

The coming fortnight, leading up to end of the season on 15 April, is usually the busiest time for muirburn. But even careful risk assessment is not enough to prevent a fire getting out of control and needing emergency services to be called out.

Tim Baynes, director of moorland at Scottish Land and Estates said: “We are urging land managers not to undertake any more muirburn for the rest of this season.

“Even though the risk of the fire getting out of control is very small, we want to be absolutely 100% certain that there is no additional call on the fire or ambulance service and the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Muirburn is a strictly regulated and essential tool to manage moorland and has many benefits including enhancing biodiversity and conservation. Putting back a muirburn programme will have consequences, so I urge land managers to keep a record of muirburn foregone because of the current situation, and any impact that has on wildlife and biodiversity.”

Muirburn is the traditional way to manage moorland and has been practised for centuries, resulting in the Scotland’s renowned purple heather landscape.

Barra residents acknowledged that last night’s fire did burn itself out and did not put any property at risk, but still questioned the sense of setting fire during the current emergency.

One resident commented: “No need for it in this year’s climate. Hopefully it puts itself out and doesn’t need the intervention of volunteers that should be able to stay at home like the rest.”

Another said: “We are in the middle of an emergency – think we should be prioritising as a society.”

Pictures show the fire last night (Barrabuddie NonMac) and the hill this morning (Katie Mairi Mackinnon).

Love was in the air – and on the beach – at Barra airport on Saturday (29 February), as visitors Jordan and Ashleigh made a leap of faith and got engaged.

The only witness to Jordan’s proposal was Twin Otter Victor Kilo, which had just touched down on the day’s first flight when he popped his question on the beach runway.

Airport staff were quick to add their congratulations, wishing the couple “a lifetime of happiness together” on social media.

The picture shows Jordan and Ashleigh with their romantic transport to Barra on Saturday.


Sulaisgeir

A Gaelic documentary about a Ness tradition has been honoured at the 54th Chicago International Television Festival, earning congratulations for “exceptional work”.
BBC ALBA documentary, Sùlaisgeir: An t-Sealg (The Hunt), was awarded a Certificate of Merit in the non-fiction programme category at the Festival – the first ever Gaelic language programme to be considered by the festival.
Sùlaisgeir: An t-Sealg, produced by MacTV and first broadcast on for BBC ALBA on New Year’s Day, 2018, followed the Guga Hunt, where men from Ness, Lewis, travel 40 miles north to the rocky outcrop of Sùlaisgeir to bring home their quota of young gannets, a salty delicacy and traditional food source for the islanders.

BBC STARGAZING LIVE – SOLAR ECLIPSE

with

STORNOWAY ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY

Friday 20th March 2015

Live BBC Television Broadcast

Direct from the Callanish Standing Stones, Isle of Lewis

(On the air on BBC Breakfast Television from 6.00am) 

Live interview with:

Donny Mackay BA, BSc, FBRS.

President of Stornoway Astronomical Society

Friday 20th March 2015

Eclipse coverage viewing, weather permitting,

between

08.00am and 10.45am

JOIN US ON THE DAY AT CALLANISH

Callanish Visitor Centre and Cafe open from 06.00am

Stornoway Astronomical Society has obtained over 100 pairs of eclipse viewing glasses. These will be available free of charge to visitors attending the event at Callanish.

For further information, visit their Website or Facebook page. 

The BBC will be joining Stornoway Astronomical Society for a live broadcast of the solar eclipse from Callanish on March 20th, as part of the BBC Stargazing Live programme. 

Said Donny Mackay, president of Stornoway Astronomical Society: “We expect the moon to make first contact with the Sun around 08.30 am and gradually cover the Sun’s disk over the course of the following hour with the maximum coverage occurring shortly after 09.30 am.

 

Local Area Coordinator of the British Divers Marine Life Rescue team in the Hebrides has released a letter of appeal for help to support the work they do rescuing marine life locally. 

David Yardley, Area Coordinator for BDMLR, who is based in Barvas, and is responsible for managing the rescue team for the area between Ness and Berneray, released a 'Very Open Letter of Appeal' on Facebook, urging people to help out by donating and also by sharing the letter to spread the word about what the local BDMLR team does.

Mr Yardley Wrote:

"BDMLR is an organisation of volunteer marine medics that care for the welfare of marine mammals across the UK and has existed on the island for the past 11 years. A month prior to my training with them, I followed closely the events unfolding in Skye, a short video of which can be seen here

"Thanks to a bit of editing, this shows the rescue over a period of minutes, but the events themselves were over hours and days. The video unfortunately, does not show the scenes that even the most hardened of medics found quite distressing. While some would argue it’s a natural part of life, the majority of our responses have been caused by human impact. Since taking this role [last year], my team have responded to 41 incidents within the islands, in all manner of conditions in the name of what we stand for."

He continues:

"I am personally asking that you consider making a donation to our entanglement gear appeal available on Just Giving, as this is crucial to have available during migration season and would make our lives a whole lot easier. However, support can also come in other forms. Consider donating a wet suit or dry suit for a medic. Our rocky shores and seas take their toll on our personal gear every year. So replacements are always welcome."

To view the full letter of appeal, click here

Leurbost's own Julie-Anne Mackenzie is set to run the Barcelona Marathon on Sunday March 10, in aid of Befriending Lewis. 

Originally from Leurbost, but currently studying and working in Barcelona, Julie-Anne is determined to raise as much money as possible for the charity that has helped her uncle, and so many others on Lewis. 

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP, Alasdair Allan, welcomed the community buyout vote on the island of Great Bernera, which saw a decisive vote of nearly four to one in favour of community ownership of the estate.

Alasdair Allan commented: “With nearly 80% of people on Great Bernera voting in favour of ownership of the island by the people who live there, this represents a real opportunity for economic development of this area." The vote follows the recent community vote in favour of buying the Barvas estate.

“I think that the best people to run the island of Bernera are the people who live there 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 trust asking if I can be of any help in this.”
 
 

Wednesday 22nd April

7.30pm

Bernera Community Centre

Voters in the Great Bernera Estate area are reminded that the deadline for returning postal ballot papers is 4.00pm today (Thursday 19th March). Electors should have ensured they posted the ballot papers in sufficient time to arrive by the deadline.

However, completed Ballot Packs may be handed in to the Returning Officer at the Council Offices, Sandwick Road, Stornoway by the deadline and they will be included in the count.
 
The counting of votes will take place in Bernera Community Centre today at 7.30pm and will be open to the public.
 

Leverburgh RNLI Branch today (Thursday March 9th)  confirmed receipt of a £335,377.18 legacy, from the estate of the late Mary Aida (Maida) MacLeod MacAskill of Edinburgh, who passed away in September, 2015.

Ms. MacAskill spent her life in Edinburgh, but here, in the islands, she would have been known as Màiri Nèill Iain Bhàin Nèill Gobha, of Berneray.

This legacy was left to the RNLI for use on the west coast of Scotland, and on consultation by RNLI (Scotland), Ms. MacAskill’s executors kindly agreed that it be used for on-shore work at the Leverburgh station.

Claims that the future of Stornoway's Bethesda Hospice will be threatened by a funding shortfall have been met with concern and a declared willingness to talk by the chief officer of the Integration Joint Board (IJB).

Ahead of a planned meeting between Bethesda's trustees and the IJB on Monday (March 25th), claims have been made that the hospice faces a severe funding shortfall if NHS Western Isles and the IJB do not significantly increase their funding support.

Schoolchildren from from Sgoil an Rubha's Primary 4 and 5 classes hosted a Big Breakfast for their parents and the rest of the school on Friday, to raise money for Cancer Research.

Pupils did a presentation on what cancer is, and the work that Cancer Research does. 

Products for the event were Fairtrade to coincide with Fairtrade Fortnight, and the grand total of £400 was raised for Cancer Research. 

A survey of bus passengers in Western Isles brought a massive response last autumn, with over 300 local people taking part.

The results of the survey, run by the Western Isles Citizens Advice Service, are published today (March 7) with both good and bad news for local service providers.

A major fund-raising event on behalf of sufferers from Motor Neurone Disease (MND) was held at the Artizan café, gallery and jewellery shop in Church Street, Stornoway last night.

The Bishop of Argyll and the Isles has issued a message to his parishioners on changes of practice to help contain the potential spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

Bishop Brian McGee sent his message yesterday (Wednesday 4 March) requesting that all congregations throughout the diocese implement the recommended actions with immediate effect and until further notice.

His directive will be followed by congregations in Stornoway, Uist and Barra and come in response to what he called “the confirmed arrival of the Coronavirus in Scotland”.

Bishop Brian said: “I have decided that throughout our diocese the founts are to be emptied of Holy Water.
“Furthermore, during the celebration of the Eucharist the Sign of Peace is to be offered by bowing to each other rather than by shaking hands. Holy Communion will not be received on the tongue and the chalice will not be offered to the congregation.
“I have taken this decision as a precaution and to help safeguard your health and the health of others. The ruling is temporary and I will revoke it when it is considered appropriate to do so. Let us continue to pray for those who, across the world, are suffering from the virus, for those who care for them and that medical advancement will successfully combat it.”

Latest figures published this morning show that confirmed cases of the virus in Scotland have increased to six, with new cases in Grampian, the Forth Valley and Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

As reported on welovestornoway.com yesterday, NHS Western Isles and GP practices in the Islands have posted links to public information on how to behave during a virus outbreak. The NHS across Scotland is also contacting people who have spent 15 minutes or more within two meters of someone infected.

A helpline has been set up for people who do not have symptoms but are looking for general information at 0800 028 2816. Those who think they may have the virus or have recently travelled to an affected area are encouraged to contact their GP or call NHS 24 on 111.

Bishop Brian is pictured during an ordination ceremony in Skye last month (Diocese of Argyll and the Isles).

Saturday (March 19) saw the official launch of the Blue Moon, a rowing skiff which will be the backbone of a new rowing club in Stornoway, open to all members of the community.
NHS Western Isles backed the project with more than £40,000 as part of their Alcohol and Drugs Partnership programme. 

At the launch event at Cuddy Point, the NHSWI chief executive Gordon Jamieson said: “What a fantastic boat this is.  We have had a very small part to play in this, providing some of the resources that have helped to support the work.

“There is no doubt in my mind that everyone who has been involved in this project from the very beginning…should be very proud of themselves and the work they have done.  The perfection in the boat speaks for itself and I would just like to wish everyone, every success.”  He added that he hoped that NHSWI could be involved in projects like this in the future.

Third Sector Hebrides' Chief Executive, Hector Macleod, which supports Staran, the community interest company that backed the Blue Moon project, told the waiting crowd: “The project started in May 2015…it was specifically designed to assist various individuals with issues with alcohol and drugs.”

He praised the work of the volunteers involved in helping the project along.  He drew attention to the high level of skills needed to create a boat of this sort, and paid particular praise to support workers Kenny Maclennan and Carol Maclean for their work on the boat project, with their “can-do” attitude. 

And it was going to be fully used.  There was already a committee in place to form a rowing club.  A number of other skiffs were there at the launch and Mr Macleod thanked the other skiff-building groups on the island for their support during the building of the Blue Moon.

Following on from the success of the skiff-building, Staran has a new venture which will involve learning skills involving wood-working, electricals, mechanics and fibreglass.  The main activities will centre on the refurbishment of the yacht Ahura which aims to provide therapeutic activities.

The Blue Moon Rowing Club –if you would like to become involved or require more information, please contact Staran, 30 Francis Street, Stornoway – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 01851 702632.

Edinburgh-based band, Blueflint, will be playing at an Lanntair on Saturday April 11th. 

For more info, make sure to get your hands on April's edition of EVENTS newspaper! (Out Wednesday April 1st)

Enthusiasts for traditional boats gathered in Stornoway last night along with six examples of traditional sailing and rowing boats – and this previewed an event at midday today (Saturday) at Cuddy Point with the launch of the traditional skiff Blue Moon, built by the Staran Community Interest Company over the past nine months.


Last night’s event, from Tree to Sea, involved a talk by writer and navigator Iain Stephen.  The audience also heard from Iain Macleod, and his father, the Ness boatbuilder John Murdo Macleod, the last in a long line of traditional boatbuilders.  The event was held in the Old Beer Store on Inaclete Road where a variety of community projects are undertaken.

Iain Stephen and John Murdo Macleod


On display were the historic sailing boats, the Broadbay and the Callicvol; and also the St Ayles skiffs – the Saorso, the Yackydoola from the West Side, the Blue Moon; and the Madadh Ruadh. 
The audience heard about the role of the sailing boats in the past – with the establishment of the boatbuilders in Ness in the 19th Century and the possibility that the original of the Sgoth Niseach design was actually in Stornoway which was a major centre for boatbuilding for most of the 19th Century. There were differences in design, including variations in how the two types of vessel pumped water out of their hulls.


Mention was also made of the modern enthusiasm for building the St Ayles skiffs which was spreading across the world.
It is hoped that many or even all of the vessels will be afloat in the harbour to greet the arrival of the Blue Moon, glistening with its new varnish – seven coats are needed to get an effective surface protection.

Senior officials from the Department for Transport (DfT) left a meeting of key Highlands and Islands stakeholders in Inverness on Friday (15 March) with the very clear message that  improved and guaranteed air connectivity is critical to the future economy of the region, say the event's organisers

The DfT delegation were in the Highlands seeking comments on a 200-page Green Paper which has been published by the UK Government outlining proposals for a new aviation strategy to 2050 and beyond, with a deadline for responses of 22 June.

HITRANS, the regional transport partnership for the Highlands and Islands, Highlands and Islands Airports (HIAL) and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE)  hosted the event at Eden Court, Inverness to develop their collective response to the consultation.

Rona Membury (HTN Treasurer), Donald MacDonald (Secretary) with Dawn Davidson, Support Worker WI Sight Action; and Ali MacLennan (Chair of HTN)

Two local charities recently received a much-needed cash boost to support their activities.

The committee of the Hebridean Talking newspapers association - Rona Membury (Treasurer), Donald MacDonald (secretary) and Ali MacLennan (Chair) - presented Alzheimer Scotland Lewis and Harris branch with £1280.58 and The Western Isles Sensory centre with £2000.

The Hebridean Talking newspapers association was established in the early 1980s with the first tapes going out in November 1984 to about 100 blind and partially sighted listeners in Lewis and Harris. But with the advance of modern technology, demand slumped and the group has recently wound itself up.

A camera monitoring conditions on the Braighe could soon help Point drivers to plan trips into and out of town.

Braighe Cam would join Barvas Cam (at the weather station on Barvas Moor) and Clisham Cam (at Maaruig on the Clisham) as the latest road monitoring aid put in place by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

With live pictures facing in two directions, refreshed every 10 minutes, they can be accessed at https://www.cne-siar.gov.uk/roads-travel-and-parking/roads-maintenance-winter-gritting/road-monitoring-cameras/

The Comhairle’s technical services department has been in discussion with police and other services on possible placement of new cameras for some time. Yesterday (Monday 9 March) the Comhairle’s director for assets, finance and resources, Robert Emmott, wrote to councillors to explain the options being considered.

He said: “We have been investigating the possibility of extending our network of web cameras which presently only covers the Clisham and Barvas roads.  These cameras are particularly useful during winter months for both operational staff and the general public to get live images of the prevailing road surface conditions.

“It is evident that this type of information would be of benefit in other circumstances such as monitoring wave overtopping and road conditions. In Lewis, we have identified the Braighe as a key location where the provision of a camera would be useful (due to it being a busy route which is subject to closure several times a year) and initial survey work is now underway.

“We are also considering options for Uist and Barra. This is a more complex matter as there are several potential locations and we have limited resources. However, options are being considered by officers and I will be discussing this with local Members when I am in Barra and Uist later this month in order to get an understanding of local priorities.”

Severe weather conditions can cause the Braighe road to be closed when high tides, strong winds and associated storm surge combine to bring spray and debris over the carriageway. The closures are decided by Police Scotland and safety monitoring is then undertaken by members of HM Coastguard and Coastguard Rescue Team.

Recently a decision has been taken to maintain a full road closure until the carriageway is completely cleared by Comhairle roadsweepers. A convoy system which allows single carriageway traffic to pass under escort is not now being used, leading to longer closures.

Unusually frequent storms and high tides have also meant that the Braighe has been closed more frequently over the past month, leading to traffic build-up on both sides of the causeway.

The pictures show this morning’s images from Clisham Cam and Barvas Cam, and storm spray affecting the road at the Braighe during recent bad weather (top).

Breasclete School’s STEM Club has won Primary Club of the Year following their efforts at the Highland Regional Celebration of STEM in Inverness yesterday (Thursday 5 March).

STEM Clubs are out-of-timetable sessions that provide young people with the chance to explore aspects of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) in less formal settings. They aim to enrich, rather than deliver, the curriculum.

The Breasclete Community Association congratulated the school yesterday on its Facebook page: “Congratulations to Sgoil Bhreascleit for winning Club of the Year at the Highlands and Island STEM challenge in Inverness today. We are very proud of you all”.

More images from the day can be viewed here.

The Hebridean Brewing Company today (Wednesday March 1st)  opened its new brewery, bar and shop in Newton Street, Stornoway. 

The new facility is appropriately named… 'The Edge O' The World Brewery'. 

Under licensee and head brewer, Andy Ribbens, it serves Hebridean Brewery's five ales in the bar, as well guest beers, perry and cider – plus teas and coffees. 

Islanders planning a summer holiday should ensure they are prepared for a potential No Deal Brexit, warns Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil.

  • Check passport expiry dates
  • Get travel insurance to cover medical emergencies

The uncertainty of Brexit has been blamed as plans for a new distillery in Barra are put on hold for an undefined period.

Isle of Barra Distillery had launched a crowdfunding project in December, after a ‘soft launch’ at the community centre in Castlebay. They were seeking £1.5 million of investor funding through a share offer which promised returns for supporters.

The share offer had attracted 33 investors, some pledging over £1,000, and had reached 4% of the target total by last week. It was expected to close on March 31st, but directors Peter Brown, Malcolm Fraser and Neil Mackinnon announced this week that they were withdrawing the share offer for a time, until the economic uncertainty around Brexit had subsided enough to plan for a more certain future.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s democratic services officers are laying contingency plans in case the UK does not leave the European Union before the next European elections.

European elections are due to be held between May 23rd and May 26th although, under the plans for Brexit, it had been expected that the UK would no longer be part of the EU by that date.

SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar Alasdair Allan has joined with colleagues from across the political parties to oppose Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal and call for the threat of No-Deal to be taken off the table.

Speaking in the chamber during a Scottish Government debate on EU withdrawal negotiations, MSPs from the SNP, Scottish Labour, Green Party and the Liberal Democrats highlighted the growing support across Scotland for an extension to the Article 50 process to avoid a No-Deal scenario on 29th March.

Leabhar le flapaichan a chòrdas ri clann. Cò tha a' falach air an ath dhuilleag?!

A book filled with flaps and fun that you can read with your child. Who is hiding over the page?!

£4.99 ISBN: 9780861525270

The funeral of the well-known former Stornoway-based Harris Tweed manufacturer Bruce Burns took place on Tuesday March 14th in St Columba's Church, Lewis Street, Stornoway. 

The family have kindly allowed the republication of the eulogy which was read by Rev William Heenan for Bruce Burns at his funeral.

"Bruce was born in Western Australia in 1930 in a small place named Bruce Rock near Perth. His family returned to Scotland when he was aged five and eventually settled in Joppa, Edinburgh and Bruce then attended George Watson's school where his love of rugby and choral singing first flourished. 

BT has stated that it is 'obliged' to meet any requests from service providers to take over existing phone lines.

The phone giant was responding to an enquiry from www.welovestornoway.com after we told how Stornoway businessman Keith Morrison had his phone line taken from him and issued to another customer.

BT commented: "Mr Morrison is a victim of 'slamming', which is when another service provider issues a request to take over the line. 

"BT is obliged to meet that request and that’s what happened here. 

"His telephone line was restored on Friday last week and we are waiting for a request from his third party broadband provider to restore his service. 

"We’ll discuss compensation with him after his broadband service has been restored."

For the full story, click here

A construction kit to create a detailed model of MV Loch Seaforth went on sale this week (Wednesday March 13th) via CalMac’s new online shop.

Passengers awaiting flights from Stornoway airport were evacuated from the terminal this morning (Wednesday 4 March) after smoke sensors warned of a possible fire in the building.

The airport’s on-site fire crews were called to the front of the building after an alert of smoke and all members of the public were asked to gather outside in the airport car park.

An airport spokesman said the false alarm appeared to have been caused by burning toast and that no flights were delayed arriving into or leaving from Stornoway as a result.

Our picture was provided by reader Campbell Morrison and is used with thanks.

Bus services, public toilets and household recycling facilities are all closed, say Comhairle nan Eilean Siar

Having considered the extremely low number of bus users today and yesterday, and taking account of the number of businesses that have now closed – including most of the building trade – all bus services will cease from the end of today, Tuesday 24 March, says the Council.  

Key workers requiring transport to their work should contact the Comhairle’s Transport Office on 01851 600 501.

The Stornoway Bus Station will also close as of tonight.

All Comhairle related public toilets will be closed from tonight, Tuesday 24 March.

All Household Waste Recycling Centre are closed to the public.

Bennadrove Landfill Site is also closed to the public.

Only commercial and industrial waste collections are accepted at Bennadrove Landfill Site.

Through the use of technology, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s COVID-19 Planning Group, continues to, and will continue to, meet on a regular basis to discuss safeguarding and protecting clients, services, members and employees throughout the Western Isles.

The following are updates on other Comhairle run services.

Education: All schools are closed for pupils. However, they remain open for the children of Key Workers enabling them to continue in their employment. We would encourage Key Workers to fill in the online registration form https://bit.ly/2UjT6Ys so that we can continue to provide necessary support. Please note that online applications will close temporarily at 5.00pm tonight to allow us to prepare records for Wednesday. Registration will re-open tomorrow morning at 8.00am.

Residential Care: Local Authority Care Homes continue to operate as normal other than the revised visitation policy. Families have all understood and accepted the reasons for the one named visitor policy. There are no current plans to change this policy.

Home Care: Both the Lewis and Harris Home Care Service and the Uist and Barra Home Care Service continue to operate under these challenging times. A number of staff have had to self-isolate for various reasons, which has presented challenges in service delivery across the Western Isles.  A significant number of families have assumed caring responsibilities which has gone a large way in alleviating the pressure on the Home Care Service. We are most grateful to these families for stepping at this critical time.    In addition to this, the remaining Homecare Staff continue to work extremely hard in maintaining service delivery. We are also in the process of recruiting additional staff following a very positive response from the wider public in terms of our appeal to the public for help.

Refuse Collections: Residential and Commercial Refuse collections continue as per normal schedules.

 

Due to the forecasted high wind speeds the following evening bus services have been cancelled:

7.30pm and 9.40 pm,  Stornoway to Ness and Westside / Carloway

7.40 pm and 9.45 pm, Stornoway to Point district

7.40 pm and 9.20 pm, Stornoway to Back and Tolsta

7.35 pm and 9.35 pm, Stornoway to  Newvalley and North Lochs

More than 250 businesses across the Western Isles are still waiting to learn the outcome of their business rates appeals, almost two years after the new valuations were issued.

New SNP Government figures published today show that as of 31st December 2018, of the 378 who appealed their revaluation across the area, 263 are still waiting for a decision from the assessor.

An image taken from the Butt of Lewis has won a major photography award for the visitor who took the picture.
The picture, titled Three Rocks, has been announced today (Tuesday 31 March) as the overall winner in the Scottish Nature Photography Awards.
It was taken by Norfolk photographer Ruth Grindrod on a windy day last summer.
Ruth said: "I am more than delighted to win Scottish Nature Photographer of the Year 2019. It is a great honour to be selected and I thank all the judges for their time and effort particularly during this most difficult time of the Coronavirus pandemic.
"My particular love in terms of photography has always been the sea and coast, regardless of the weather and the conditions. My journey to Scotland is always a long one as I live in Norfolk, but I never fail to be excited by some of the best landscapes and seascapes in the world. When life returns to normal I will certainly be back shooting in Scotland.
"Three Rocks was taken on an extremely windy day at the Butt of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. Rather than shoot the lighthouse, I chose the formation of these three rocks from a slightly elevated position to capture their shape and form as well as the
churning seas. The conditions were tough but persistence paid off with this final capture."
Judge Niall Irvine said: "Ruth's image has beautifully captured the drama and power of the sea. The light, composition and depth of detail in the image is remarkable, particularly the movement caught in the water."
Also featured among the competition winners was Maya Reid of the University of the Highlands and Islands, who was placed second in the student class of the awards with a portfolio of beach images taken at the tidal islet of Baleshare in North Uist.

Friendly faces and willing helpers in Stornoway, Inverness and Glasgow are needed for a new service for people travelling for cancer treatment.

The call went out last week (Thursday 5 March) for people who can drive and who have some spare time to become Travel Buddies as part of a Macmillan Cancer Support service.

Helping Matters offers the chance not only to make arduous trips for hospital treatment easier for those with cancer, but also for people with island connections to give something back to their community – even when they live away from home.

The drivers are wanted to meet patients at Stornoway, Inverness or Glasgow airport and to drive them to their hospital appointment. Good listening skills, patience and respect for confidentiality are essential, as is a car and the willingness to give some time.

Western Isles Cancer Care Initiative (WICCI) development manager, Helen Sandison, said: “Travelling to hospital appointments can be very stressful, and people really don’t need the extra hassle of finding taxis or trying to work out bus routes.

“We need people in Glasgow and Inverness for island patients, and in Stornoway to meet patients travelling from the Southern Isles. People with island links would be ideal as they will have the knowledge and empathy to make a real connection with the patients.

“This service is not just for people travelling alone, but for people who already have a patient escort. Both may need some help with the transport arrangements to and from the airport, or it may be that a car will simply smooth the path for their travel.

“By choosing to join us as a Travel Buddy you will be doing something amazing for people at a difficult time.”

The Macmillan Helping Matters Travel Buddy scheme is already in operation from other parts of Scotland remote from the mainland hospitals. 

To find out more about the role and offer your help, contact Helen Sandison on 01851 706721 or call into the WICCI office on Cromwell Street. 

A new ‘Scotland Cares’ campaign has been launched to encourage people to volunteer.

While the most important ask for the public remains to stay at home and follow the essential public health guidance, people who are healthy and not at risk can volunteer to provide practical or emotional help to those most in need.

Those wanting to volunteer to support their communities have three options which are signposted from the Ready Scotland website:

• returning NHS workers will be directed to existing voluntary arrangements in NHS Scotland
• people wishing to offer their support to our public services, including the NHS and local authorities, will be directed to a site co-ordinated by the British Red Cross
• those looking for opportunities with other charities or community groups in their area will be directed to Volunteer Scotland for information

SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar Alasdair Allan commented: “The weeks and months ahead are going to be difficult, but I have been heartened by the number of people across the islands who are looking to make a difference in their communities.

“While not everyone will be able to volunteer, this new Scottish Government campaign will help people to make a real difference.

“The Scottish Government is working closely with local government and a range of partners to co-ordinate the volunteering effort across Scotland.

“Through the readyscotland.org website, people can be connected to where their contribution is most needed in their community. For some, that may involve roles responding to specific needs in health and social care. For others, it may be that we draw on their skills, enthusiasm and energy in the weeks and months to come.

“It is important to remember that the most helpful thing many of us can continue to do to help the NHS is to stay at home and follow all COVID-19 guidance.”

Support Helpline

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has established a dedicated service to collect details of individuals throughout the Western Isles who are looking for support during Covid-19.

Those seeking help are being asked to complete the Request for Support Form to provide their contact details and the type of support they require. For those who cannot access online services please call the Council on 01851 600 501

Enquiries can also be channeled to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Comhairle will gather the information about who needs support and work alongside community groups to both coordinate and provide local support across the Western Isles. 

 

Celebrity spotters should keep their eyes open next week in Harris and Lewis, as the Christmas special episode of the BBC drama Call the Midwife begins filming in the islands.

Homes, workplaces and iconic landmarks will be going dark across the world for Earth Hour this Saturday, in the world’s biggest demonstration of support for action on climate change.

This year’s switch off event takes place at 8.30pm on Saturday 25 March.

Urging her constituents to join in, Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant commented:“Supporters of Earth Hour grow year on year and I’m more than happy to support it.

Urgent action continues to be needed to support the west coast of Scotland’s fishing industry, repeats Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil.

Mr MacNeil submitted a parliamentary question to the UK Government’s Secretary of State for the Home Department, Priti Patel, last month asking what plans she has to enable non-European Economic Area (EEA) fishermen to gain employment on fishing boats on the west of Scotland.

Currently skippers, including those on the islands, are struggling to recruit crews and need, like on Ireland, non-EEA fisherman.

Mr MacNeil said the response to his question from Kevin Foster, Parliamentary Under Secretary for the Home Department, was “very disappointing” and “vague” and he will continue to press the UK Government to set a date for when non-EEA fishermen will be permitted to join crews.

The response stated: “From 1 January 2021, we will introduce the UK’s points-based system.

“The future points-based immigration system will prioritise attracting the high-skilled workers we need to contribute to our economy, our communities and our public services.”

Mr MacNeil said: “This response from the UK Government is very disappointing and vague and displays little understanding of the current situation facing our fishing industry.

“Boats are being tied up due to lack of crews. This is damaging for skippers, the processing sector and our economy.

“I will continue to pressure the Home Office on this issue.”

Hollywood is coming to Stornoway with the launch of an exciting new dancing class.

Is the reality of life in a hum-drum world getting you down? Do you long for an age of glamour and excitement, when all the men wore hats and all the women's complexions were flatteringly monochrome?

Then step back in time with dancer Alex Jones as she teaches you to jive, Charleston and generally get all Fred and Ginger!

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus MacNeil, and MSP, Alasdair Allan, have backed calls for the UK Government to freeze duty on fuel in the 2016 Budget, due to be published on Wednesday.

This follows warning signs that Chancellor George Osborne is considering upping the tax on petrol in an attempt to fill the black hole in his Budget. Tax currently makes up 70% of the total price of a tank of petrol or diesel. 

Angus MacNeil MP commented: “A rise in fuel duty would hit motorists in Na h-Eileanan an Iar more than anywhere else. We already face higher fuel prices than other part of the UK and any price hike would put additional pressure on households, businesses and in particular the haulage industry. The Chancellor should maintain a freeze on fuel duty to help stimulate the economy and not punish motorists in an effort to balance the books.”

West Coast Ferry operator CalMac is on course to cut its carbon emissions by five per cent this year.

Caledonian MacBrayne is giving away 1000 free tickets as part of National Ferry Fortnight.

Passengers will be able to buy one return ticket and get another free on any of the company's 19 bookable routes. CalMac sails to remote mainland areas and 24 island destinations across a 200-mile long stretch of Scotland’s beautiful and wild west coast.

National Ferry Fortnight runs from March 5-19 and this year is aimed at encouraging first time ferry users to get on board. Passengers must buy their ticket within a fortnight of March 5 to take advantage of the offer and can use the tickets purchased until September 30. The offer applies to foot passenger only and excludes vehicles tickets.

Bookings for this promotion must be made via CalMac's freephone number 0800 066 5000.

Caledonian MacBrayne has been shortlisted for two major awards recognising its role in supporting rural economies across Scotland’s west coast.

The nominations both underline contributions made as a business rooted in the communities served by the UK’s largest ferry network and the difference made to those who live within those areas.

The company’s network stretches from Campbeltown and the Isle of Arran in the south through to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in the north – a distance of some 200 miles – and includes 24 islands and two mainland-to-mainland routes.

CalMac is to stop taking new bookings on all of its services with a travel date of before 15 July as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

And the serving of fresh hot food will cease on board from tomorrow morning to free up staff to crew our vessels.

Customers will not be able to book any service in advance for sailings due to take place up to 15 July. This is to reflect the four-month period advised by Scottish Government as being the initial period of COVID-19 disruption.

Bookings that have already been made up to that period will be honoured where services are running. Priority will continue to be given to emergency services and medical emergencies.

Catering services on board will also be reduced to offer tea, coffee and pre-packaged foods, such as sandwiches only. Bottled and packaged drinks and snacks will also continue to be offered.

Robbie Drummond, Managing Director of CalMac said: “The COVID-19 outbreak is creating an ever-changing landscape not just for CalMac but for all transport operators and indeed all businesses.

'Whilst we are currently able to continue operating our normal timetabled service we have to plan for the impact of the virus on our staff on vessels, ports and support services. It has been prudent, therefore, to put in place an immediate stop on customers being able to book services in advance.

“We will effectively be operating a turn up and go service on all of our routes. This will reflect arrangements we already have in place permanently in a number of locations across the network, such as Wemyss Bay and Rothesay.

'We also know how popular our food service is on board some of our routes, but we need to free up as many staff as possible to help with cleaning and other on-board duties. We are seeing a drop in the amount of food purchased at this time in any case, so this decision makes sense.

'As the situation is changing on a daily basis, we will keep this situation under constant review.'

CalMac Ferries Ltd has submitted its final bid in the process to select the operator of the next Clyde & Hebrides Ferry Services (CHFS) contract, with managing director Martin Dorchester confident it will make the firm a clear winner when a decision is made in a few months’ time.

The current contract expires in September and the Scottish Government’s transport agency, Transport Scotland, has been running a competitive process to select a provider of the services from 1st October 2016, for a period of up to eight years. 

CalMac is up against one other bidder, Serco,  for the £1 billion contract with ministers expected to decide between the two bids before the end of May.

Caledonian MacBrayne, together with The Lane Agency, has won the digital marketing campaign of the year category at The Travel Marketing Awards.

The company and agency were recognised at the UK-wide event in London for The Two Eejits series of short films – CalMac’s first campaign aimed specifically at the millennials sector.

Edinburgh-based The Lane Agency developed the fun and innovative film series for CalMac to appeal to a younger audience, showing that travel to the islands is inexpensive and easy to plan. Called ‘The Two Eejits’, it also sought to face head-on perceived issues of bad weather and the lack of anything to do, with plenty ideas for great adventures regardless of rain, hail, sleet, snow or anything else the notoriously fickle west coast weather gods can dredge up.

As the 10 new HHP homes at Sealladh a’ Chliseim, Leurbost, Isle of Lewis near completion Calmax Construction Ltd donated £500 to the Sgoil nan Loch library project as part of HHP’s Community Benefit requirements.

Online Travel Agents are using technical loopholes to strip hoteliers, self-catering businesses and bed & breakfast providers of vital cash during the current crisis, claim tourist businesses on the Isle of Skye

Evidence gathered by Tourism Management Organisation, SkyeConnect, reveals that OTA’s are unilaterally refunding holidaymaker deposits regardless of the accommodation provider’s cancellation policy.

Accommodation providers are seeing cash disappear from the business as OTA’s use “Force Majeure” clauses to fully refund customer deposits, while allegedly retaining their own commission.

Many businesses who have invested money in improving the visitor experience ahead of the start of the season simply do not have the cash to offer these forced refunds.

Dave Till, the Chair of SkyeConnect, said: “We constantly hear the phrase ‘we are all in this together’, but that is certainly not the case where the Online Travel Agents are concerned. They are not operating in partnership with accommodation providers. They are profiteering at the expense of SME’s who were already facing a cash-flow crisis. I fully expect to start hearing of business failures any day now. It is a disgrace.”

In one case, a Skye-based self-catering operator had a lot of bookings for April and May on ‘non-refundable deposit’ terms. In good faith, the operator contacted each and every customer to offer credit notes to enable the booking to be honoured at a later date. The vast majority of customers – understanding the cashflow crisis facing the sector – agreed to accept credit notes and leave their deposits in place. But, without warning, Booking.com stepped in.

“…..and then this morning (25th March) I woke up and there were cancellations free of charge…and so, guests have agreed credit notes which meant we thought we had that funds (sic) to tide us through….... And then Booking.com sent out mass emails to everyone with a check-in date up to the 13th April and said you can now cancel free of charge…and of course Booking.com are still taking a fee.”

Another Skye Business offering Bed and Breakfast accommodation claims the behaviour of the OTA’s has had a devastating effect on the business and their family. “We just went from being financially stable to being on the breadline within a week. At the moment I have a small income but that doesn’t cover anywhere near our outgoings. So, we have got our mortgage holiday and we are putting all our food on to credit cards at the moment, but we only have a certain amount of credit. We reckon three months and then we are going to run out of credit avenues.”

SkyeConnect’s, Dave Till, is urging Government to step in and prevent further distress in the sector. “Small businesses are powerless against these global giants.  It needs governments to bring the OTAs into line and prevent thousands of small family businesses, as well as larger hotels, from running out of cash and going bust.

"SkyeConnect is working with VisitScotland, other industry-bodies, the Chamber of Commerce network and other business organisations to press the case for urgent action.”

Today is the first day for new Essence of Harris shop in Tarbert.

They have moved to a new shop right in the heart of the village, opposite Hotel Hebrides and across from the ferry terminal which was formerly the tourist office.

For Mags Ralston, the love of candle making came almost by accident. It was November 2016 when she responded to a local advert selling small jars, which she had planned to use for crafts. When Mags realised the seller was also offering their candle-making supplies, she bought them on the spot – and Taigh Dubh Candles was born (writes Katie Macleod).

“I had never made a candle before, but from the minute I started I absolutely loved it,” says Mags, whose business has been going from strength to strength through local support and word of mouth.

Created in her work shed at home in Point, the candles come in a range of scents, sizes, and styles, and can be found in community shops like Buth an Rubha, Cross Stores, and Ravenspoint, as well as at the Stornoway and Tarbert craft fairs. There are even plans to sell online in the coming months, too.

 

Dà sgeulachd ann an aon leabhar mu dheidhinn caoraich agus gobhair. Tha cothrom ann coimhead airson an tunnag bheag bhuidhe air gach duilleag cuideachd.

Two farmyard stories in one handy book, where children have the opportunity to look for a little yellow duck on each page.

£4.99 ISBN: 9780861523344

Galson’s community-run energy company, Urras Energy, is to announce plans for releasing capital first loaned to the company by shareholders in 2015.

The announcement of the capital repayment to shareholders is to be made at the company’s Annual General Meeting on Tuesday 17 March. 

£705,800 was raised from 167 shareholders at a share issue which closed in February 2015. The money financed much of the construction cost of Galson Energy Ltd’s second and third 900kW wind turbines at Ballantrushal, as the company awaited loan finance from the ethical bank Triodos.

At this month’s AGM, details will be given about how an initial capital repayment scheme will work.

Also to be reported on at the AGM is progress on replacing the business centre at South Galson, which was destroyed by fire in February last year. Planning permission and a building warrant are in place for a new business centre of a similar size but more modern layout to the original.

Urras Energy Ltd’s AGM is to be held at Comunn Eachdraidh Nis at North Dell and will include a tour of the recently refurbished building and refreshments.

Pic courtesy of Stornoway Coastguard

Coastguard teams were called after reports of a car in the water at Cuddy Point last night. 

Units from Stornoway and South Lochs Coastguard attended the scene at 7.20pm, accompanied by Stornoway Lifeboat.

They were able to confirm that the car was unoccupied, and its owner was safe. 

Tolsta Community Development Ltd has donated £10,000 to the Andrew Macleod Memorial Fund in order to enable them to run a two-day cardiac screening event in Stornoway.

The donation will cover the entire cost of the screening sessions, scheduled for September 2020.

Murdo Macleod of AMMF said: "The committee is very grateful to TCDL for its generous donation, enabling us to continue to work with CRY and provide future cardiac testing opportunities within our island communities".

This will be the seventh annual screening event, aimed at identifying cardiac problems in young people. Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) has produced statistics which report that an average of 12 young people die each week in the UK from previously undiagnosed cardiac conditions. Of these, approximately 3 – 4 deaths occur in Scotland.

The Fund was set up in memory of Andrew Macleod, a 21-year-old trainee marine engineer who died suddenly in 2011 whilst on board ship in Hong Kong. He was discovered to have been suffering from a cardiac condition which had produced no symptoms, and of which he was completely unaware.

Despite being subject to regular medical examinations because of his chosen career, Andrew’s condition remained undetected because, like many cardiac complaints, it required targeted diagnostics to identify its presence – something which is not a standard part of routine medical examination.

Murdo Maciver of TCDL said: "Our board felt very strongly about supporting the Fund with this donation. The entire community was touched by Andrew’s story and we are impressed by AMMF’s commitment to the screening programme, which is expensive to run, but incredibly important. It is our privilege to be able to supply funding for another screening event and we hope that as many young people as possible take up the opportunity to be tested."

Further information on the services provided by Cardiac Risk in the Young can be found on their website www.c-r-y-.org.uk

Blar Buidhe Nursing Home in Stornoway is at the centre of controversy today, after it was revealed a review is underway into the dietary programmes of residents.

Admissions to the care home have been temporarily suspended.

Residents, families and/or their representatives will be contacted and a report will be compiled detailing what, if any, action is required. The process is being undertaken in line with Adult Protection guidelines.

Monday 20th April

7.30pm

Carloway Day Centre

Preaching this Sunday (8th March)

11am Rev George Macaskill

6pm Rev George Macaskill

Prayer meeting on Wednesday (12th March) at 7.30pm

Crèche and Sunday school meet during the morning service.

Carloway CoS AGM

Wedesday 25th April

7.30pm

Carloway CoS Hall

Do you know a charity in need of a bit of a boost?!

This year, the Lewis Carnival Committee is organising something a bit special for the start of summer: The Carnival Midsummer Charity Ball!

Each year, the Lewis Carnival donates hundreds of pounds to local charities chosen by the committee after the event. This year, the committee would like YOU to give them a hand in finding charities who could benefit from a donation from the Carnival Committee.

Money raised from the Carnival Midsummer Charity Ball will be put back into the local community by way of donation to local charities and organisations.

THREE lucky charities/organisations will be chosen to each receive a share of the money raised by the Charity Ball!

Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to put your charity forward to be in with a chance of benefiting from what is guaranteed to be a fantastic event!

This year, Stornoway will host the first ever Carnival Midsummer Charity Ball, organised by the Lewis Carnival Committee. The night will also hold the final of the all new Carnival King & Queen Competition.

The ball promises to be a night of glitz and glamour, raising money for local charities.

The ball, which will take place in Stornoway Town Hall on Friday June 10, will commence at 6.30pm, when guests will be treated to a wee drink on arrival, and dinner is scheduled to be served at 7pm.

Castlebay Co-op will be closing at 8pm this evening (Tuesday 24 March.)

Staffing levels have been cited as the reason for the early closure.

The shop will be back open tomorrow (Wednesday 25 March) at 7am.

 

The Bevvy Sisters return to Stornoway - and invite islanders to a singing workshop as part of the Broad Ways season

Launched yesterday (Monday, March 6th) by Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, An Lanntair's Broad Ways season, celebrating International Women's Day,  is in full swing this week.

The chance to her BAFTA-winning actor, writer, director and singer-songwriter Gerda Stevenson arrives on Thursday (March 9th)  in Story Makars.

Recognisable from her theatre work both as actor – Gerda has appeared in many great pieces of theatre, such as the sequel to John Byrne's iconic Slab Boys trilogy 'Nova Scotia' – and as writer/director, with her play 'Federer Versus Murray' receiving enormous acclaim at Edinburgh International Festival before touring to New York.




In January 2005, the Hebrides were hit by a hurricane force storm which claimed the lives of Calum Capbell, his daughter Murdina and her husband and their three children. Calum Campbell was a well known piper and composer and this book, edited by his son Niall, sister Catriona Campbell and niece Marian Garbull contains fifty mostly unpublished tunes. Foreward by Fred Morrison.  

£10.95 PBK 64pp ISBN: 9780861525744  

Gress cyclist Iain ‘Tohan’ Macleod was handed a champion’s trophy at the Scottish Cycling awards ceremony on Saturday (7 March).

Iain, who now cycles with Aberdeen Wheelers Cycling Club, is the 2019 Men’s 50-Mile Time Trial Champion with a finishing time of 1:45:50. 

He was awarded his winner’s trophy at Stirling Court Hotel, Stirling, at a celebratory evening where champions let their hair down with fellow riders, special guests and some of the Scottish Cycling team.

In 2020 Iain plans to target the 100-mile TT Scottish record, currently standing at 3:36:10.

Pictured is Iain ‘Tohan’ Macleod with his champion’s trophy (photo credit to Pammie Hall).

Pupils from GM5-7 and P7 at Sgoil an Rubha presented cheques to a number of community organisations recently.

Representatives from Stornoway Trust and the RNLI were presented with cheques from last session’s Wood ’n Rubha enterprise company which created, made and sold wooden Lews Castle models.

The company raised over £500 by selling the Castles to parents and in the local community, with one even making its way to Nicola Sturgeon’s office in the Scottish Parliament. 

The ADS scheme which subsidises air fares for residents in some of Scotland’s most remote communities has been renewed and extended.

Western Isles householders currently paying above average prices for electricity can now benefit from fairer tariffs thanks to a community-led scheme launched today (Tuesday March 6th).

Hebrides Energy, a not-for-profit Community Interest Company led by key local agencies including Tighean Innse Gall, Hebridean Housing Partnership, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, The Stornoway Trust and Community Energy Scotland, is teaming up with existing Scottish “Fairer Energy” supplier Our Power to promote a range of new Hebridean Tariffs to the local market.

It is hoped that the savings offered by Our Power, in partnership with Hebrides Energy, will represent a key step to curb fuel poverty, which now sees nearly 60% of Island homes struggling to afford energy bills.

NHS Western Isles have issued a reminder to parents to make sure their children are immunised.

Dr. Maggie Watts, Director of Public Health and Screening Co-ordinator for NHS Western Isles, said: “Immunisation protects children against serious diseases. Once immunised, children’s bodies are better at fighting these diseases if they come into contact with them. Vaccines work by helping the body’s immune system to make antibodies (substances that fight off infection).

"If your child comes into contact with the infection, the antibodies recognise the infection and help protect your child.”

Before attending an appointment, please ensure both parent/carer and child are well and showing no symptoms of Coronavirus.

Parents will continue to be sent an appointment to bring their child in for their immunisations, which will be administered at their GP Practices.

The NHSWI School Nursing Team will be suspending the teenage booster and HPV vaccination programmes whilst schools remain closed.

For further information on routine immunisations currently offered to help protect children up to the age of 5 years from serious childhood diseases, please view the ‘Protect your child against serious diseases’ booklet.

Provided to parents by their family Health Visitor, the booklet describes these diseases and explains why young children need protection against them. It also answers some of the most common questions about immunisations. Alternatively, view the booklet online here.

Coronavirus information can be found here and details on immunisation can be found here.

A landmark event for the future of Gaelic in the Church of Scotland was held in Glasgow at the weekend.

The first ever conference exploring how the Church of Scotland can nurture the Gaelic language was described by those attending as a 'miracle' and a 'milestone' within the Gaelic speaking world.

The event was organised after Moderator-Designate, Rev Dr Angus Morrison, and Council of Assembly Secretary, Pauline Weibye, identified the urgent need for the Church to do more to promote Gaelic.

CNES Trading Standards have destroyed dangerous goods which were seized from doorstep sellers visiting the islands over the last year.

There are only a few weeks until the babes of 1967 have their reunion in the Golf Club, which takes place on the weekend of the 28th and 29th April. All bookings must be made in advance and ideally by Friday 7th April, so that the organisers can make final preparations for the event. Over 130 have signed up so far, but they are sure more would like to come who haven’t booked yet.

If you would like to attend, please visit www.classof67.weebly.com and complete the booking form. Alternatively, a hard copy of the form can be printed off from the website and given to folk who don’t use computers. There is a closed Facebook page for the event here.

If you have any questions please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone 0777 071 4987.

Comhairle Leader Roddie Mackay has spoken about the ongoing work being carried out by the Comhairle and other agencies across the Western Isles in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

“I am full of admiration for the ongoing response work being carried out by our staff and those in other agencies, including - but not limited to - Public Health, Department of Work and Pensions and Hebridean Housing Partnership.

“This is likely to be the most challenging set of circumstances that most of us have ever faced in our lives. However, by working together and following advice - particularly to stay at home unless absolutely essential - I am confident that we are well prepared and that we will come through this stronger as a community.

“No one is complacent, as no one knows to what extent we will be affected, but all our work last week, this week and next week is about effective preparation.

“My main message to each and every one of you, is that you look after yourselves, and look after each other.

“The following are just some of the key steps that we have undertaken in response to the crisis.”

Volunteers

We have launched an online form and Contact Centre 01851 822899 to collect details of individuals and community groups throughout the Western Isles looking to provide volunteering support during COVID-19.

The Contact Centre will operate Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm and enable the Comhairle to match volunteers against the needs of individuals and families in our communities.

We would also urge anyone in need of help or support to contact our Customer Services team in the usual manner on 01851 600 501. We are anticipating a high number of calls, therefore we would ask for your patience

Education & Children’s Services

Education & Children’s Services are pleased to report that out of 313 teachers, 160 have volunteered to be deployed anywhere across Comhairle. The EIS have been - and continue to be - very supportive around this issue. There will be 268 pupils and staff in schools over the Easter break in order to support Key Workers.

Provision for Key Workers

It is currently expected that the period of closure announced by the Scottish Government will extend into term four. It is not clear at this time how long closure restrictions will last.

We will review how the hub approach to provision operated during the holidays and are likely to continue that approach in term four.  Where there is demand for it, we will open additional hubs, with provisional plans to do so at Daliburgh School and Sgoil an Rubha. Any changes will be communicated to key worker parents in good time

 Free School Meals

The Comhairle has made a commitment to make a payment of £154 to the parents of every child in P4-S6 who qualify for Free School Meals, covering the period from now to 30th June 2020. In P1-3, the same payment has been made to all those in receipt of School Clothing Grants.

 Education Maintenance Allowance

We recognise the importance of these payments to the young people who receive them and have made a commitment to make a single advance bulk payment to all eligible pupils to cover the time from now to 5th June. The situation will be reviewed after this date and a further payment up to 30th June 2020 may be made.

 Vulnerable Pupils

The Scottish Government has made provision to allow councils to continue to allow children and young people with complex ASN needs and other vulnerabilities to continue to attend schools and centres where their needs are best met.  Comhairle officers have worked with schools to identify and support vulnerable young people and make provision for them. Provision will be discussed with each individual family and confirmed by the HT or senior officer.  From Tuesday 14th April, identified vulnerable pupils who have been attending at their local school will be able to access provision at the hubs unless it’s been agreed with parents to provide bespoke provision elsewhere. The provisions for vulnerable pupils are the same as the ones described above for key workers.

Home Care

The Home Care Service has been indirectly affected by COVID-19, in that a number of staff have had to self-isolate due to underlying health issues. Remaining staff have assumed additional hours allowing the Service to continue much as before. We are also in the process of training additional, new staff who have responded to Mr Ron Culley’s public appeal. The response to Mr Culley’s public appeal has exceeded 100 applicants. We are in the process of examining each and every application, and prioritising those applicants with existing and valid PVG and/or those with relevant caring experience. In addition to this, a significant number of families have assumed caring responsibilities, both all or in part which has allowed Home Care staff to focus on covering service need arising out of staff absence.

Business Support Grants

The Comhairle has been accepting applications since Wednesday 25th and there has already been a significant number of applications received. Staff are working through these as quickly as possible and would request that applicants do not submit multiple emails seeking updates, we are dealing with these in the order we received them and will contact applicants as these are processed. The first payments under the scheme will be made today. This will provide support to 30 businesses. Queries about support for businesses that are not eligible for this scheme should be directed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

An online form is now available for Council Tax Reduction applications. Members of the community who experience a reduction in income, and who have capital of less than £16k, can apply.

Partnership

The Comhairle and NHS Western Isles continue to work closely in a joint response to the Covid-19 crisis. The Pandemic Resilience Group, which is multi-agency, also continues to meet regularly and is attended by the Comhairle Chief Executive and chaired by the NHS Western Isles Chief Executive. In addition, all NHS Western Isles local news updates - as well as our own - are on the special section of the Comhairle website. Rest assured will continue to work in close partnership with a range of agencies across the Western Isles and particularly our colleagues in Public Health.

 

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Convener, Councillor Norman A MacDonald, yesterday (Friday March 9) presented certificates to three apprentices employed by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar who have recently achieved their Modern Apprenticeship Level 3 in Business and Administration.

All sport and leisure facilities, libraries and museums throughout the Western Isles will close indefinitely by 5pm today, Tuesday 17 March 2020.

Following the advice from Scottish Government that all non-essential social contact should be avoided - as a precautionary measure - all sport and leisure facilities, libraries and museums throughout the Western Isles will close indefinitely by 5pm today, Tuesday 17 March 2020, says a statement from Comahirle nan Eilean Siar.

Harris and Lionacleit Sports Centres will close at 4pm.

All after school lets are also cancelled until further notice.

Further information for Slàinte Mhath Scheme members will be issued in due course.

A spokesperson, said: “It is important to reiterate that these are precautionary measures which are being taken in order to follow Scottish Government guidelines.”

The Scottish Government has given an allocation to the Western Isles of £223,000 under the Town Centre Fund 2019/20.

The purpose of the fund is to drive local economic activity and stimulate economic improvements to town centres.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s offices throughout the Western Isles will close to the public from this evening, Thursday 19 March, as part of the measures to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19.

The Comhairle offices remain open for our employees and enquiries should be directed to Customer Services on 01851 600 501 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Face to face meetings will be arranged, where appropriate, but wherever possible, members of the public are encouraged to use our online service via the Comhairle website:https://www.cne-siar.gov.uk/

A spokesperson said: “It is important to reiterate that these are precautionary measures which are being taken in order to follow Scottish Government guidelines.”

All Comhairle related information can be found at CnES Coronavirus (COVID-19) 

MSP to hold telephone surgeries

Highlands and Islands MSP, Donald Cameron, has announced that he is to hold telephone consultations for constituents after cancelling his plans for surgeries.

Donald said that he had reluctantly decided to withdraw from holding surgeries as a result of the coronavirus epidemic.

 Mr Cameron said: “I am very sorry to be taking this action as I have always found face-to-face meetings with my constituents the best way of understanding the issues affecting them so that I can help.

“However, I want to minimise the impact of no longer having surgeries, so I’m encouraging local people to contact my office so that I can organise meetings by phone.”

 Mr Cameron’s office number in Holyrood is 0131 348 6989 and he can also be contacted by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

“Please give my team a  call, or drop me a line, so that we can arrange a time which best suits.”

MSP closes office

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has taken the step of closing his Constituency Office in Stornoway in light of the Scottish Government guidance regarding the COVID-19 virus.

All staff are working from home and Alasdair and his team can still be contacted by telephone or email in the normal way.

Alasdair Allan MSP said; “Anyone passing my Stornoway office will see that it is closed. To explain, my staff are all still at work, but I have asked them all to work from home. The strong official advice is that people should do this wherever they have the option. There is no change to the phone number or email address by which my staff and I can be contacted.

“As things stand, I am still going to Edinburgh and back every week from my home in Lewis, and still meeting people locally by phone and online. We are however all being asked to cut down on face to face meetings where possible for the duration of the present coronavirus epidemic.

“People should continue to make use of me and get in touch about any matter I can help on. I hope people will understand that my staff and I have been a little overwhelmed by coronavirus-related enquiries over the last few days, but we will try to get back to everyone soon.

"People have very real concerns about what the current situation will mean for their families, their businesses and for the island economy, and I am seeking to follow up these issues for many constituents with both governments and other agencies.”

Isles MP constituency office – change to working arrangements

 Due to the ongoing public health concerns regarding the COVID-19 virus, Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus B MacNeil has asked his staff to work form home until further notice.

Angus MacNeil MP said: “We all have to adjust the way we live our day-to-day lives. It is important that we reduce the ways in which Coronavirus can spread and that is why I have asked my staff to work from home.

“All casework will continue as normal, constituents can continue to contact the office by calling 01851 702272 or by email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

 

 

 



A story about making new friends, with a message that being different to others can sometimes be an advantage.    

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Lecturers at Lews Castle College will strike tomorrow Thursday (17 March) as a campaign for fair pay and pay equality in Scotland’s colleges escalates.

The initial day of strike action follows a recent statutory ballot carried out by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) for members in its Further Education Lecturers’ Association (FELA). Nationally, 88% of those voting in the ballot backed the move to strike action, on a turnout of 61%.

The programme of strike action is scheduled to continue until the summer, escalating to two and then three days per week, if no resolution is reached in the dispute.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has formally raised the Commonwealth Flag today (Monday, March 12th) in celebration of Commonwealth Day.
Now in its fourth year the ‘Fly a Flag for the Commonwealth’ initiative is again catching the imagination of thousands of participants from all walks of life, inspiring them to join with others throughout the Commonwealth.
Cllr Alasdair Macleod, Vice Chair of the council’s Policy and Resources Committee, raised the flag, commenting: “I am pleased to learn that so many people throughout the Commonwealth will be taking part in the ‘Fly a Flag for the Commonwealth’ initiative this year and am delighted that the Comhairle once again participated in Commonwealth Day and all that the Commonwealth represents.”

There is just one week left to get responses in to two linked consultations that the Comhairle is undertaking which look at the delivery of development and housing in the Outer Hebrides. Consultations on the Draft Local Housing Strategy (LHS) and Proposed Local Development Plan (LDP) are due to close on Friday 10th March.

Comments on these consultations are sought from all members of the community.

The Comhairle are looking for details of individuals and groups providing support during Covid-19.

An online form and contact centre have been launched to collect the details and can be found here.

Comhairle Leader, Roddie Mackay, said: “The Contact Centre will operate Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm and enable the Comhairle to match volunteers against the needs of individuals and families in our communities.”

Comhairle Convener, Norman A Macdonald, said: “The Comhairle would also urge anyone in need of help or support to contact our Customer Services team in the usual manner on 01851 600 501.

“We are anticipating a high number of calls, therefore we would ask for your patience.”

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has taken steps to ensure the continuation of free school meals and Education Maintenance Allowances (EMA).
Bernard Chisholm, Director of Education, said: “We wanted to make sure that all the young people who qualify for EMA continue to receive support. We hope this action will provide some additional level of financial support in what is a difficult time for families.
For each qualifying student, the Comhairle has made an advanced payment of £30 per week up until the 5th of June 2020. This will be reviewed on the 8th of June and another advance payment will be issued to those eligible till the end of term on 26th of June 2020.
Mr Chisholm, continued: “All families with pupils in nursery and from P1 to S6 whose children qualify for Free School Meals will be paid £154 per child for the period between now and the 30th of June 2020. All families with pupils in P1 to P3 who qualify for Assistance with School Clothing will automatically qualify for this Free School Meal payment.”

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has set up a dedicated service to help direct support to those who need it most urgently during the Coronavirus crisis.
The Care for People Group will gather information about who needs support and work alongside community groups to both coordinate and provide local support across the Western Isles.
Group chair Kirsty Street (pictured) said: “The helpline was set up for those who require to be shielded, but it’s available for anyone who is considered vulnerable, whether it’s through age, health or just being socially isolated.
“The volunteers are able to provide practical assistance with things such as shopping, picking up prescriptions, walking pets or just a friendly phone call.”
If anyone feels that they, or a relative, needs to have this help, they should call the helpline on 01851 600501.

The Crofting Commission is reminding crofters that they are legally obliged to complete and return the second Crofting Census, which was issued at the end of last year, to the Crofting Commission by the 31 March 2016.

The Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 requires crofters to complete the Crofting Census each year and if they fail to provide the information without reasonable cause, by the date shown or knowingly provide false information they will be guilty of an offence under this Act. 

The 2015 Crofting Census forms have been well received with many crofters understanding the benefit of providing the information and helping to establish a clear picture of the current state of crofting. 

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar will be joining with more than 730 Commonwealth Flag Events in locations throughout the United Kingdom, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, UK Overseas Territories, and Commonwealth countries on Monday for Commonwealth Day 2015, the second time this has been held.

The Western Isles event will be held outside the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar offices in Stornoway at 10am led by Comhairle Convener, Councillor Norman MacDonald. A special message of good wishes from Her Majesty The Queen to all those taking part will be read out by the Lord Lieutenant, Sandy Matheson.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar today formally raised the Commonwealth Flag to celebrate Commonwealth Day.

Lord Lieutenant Sandy Matheson read out a message from the Queen which stated: "I am pleased to learn that so many people throughout the Commonwealth will be taking part in the 'Fly a Flag for the Commonwealth' initiative on Commonwealth Day this year, which I understand will see the raising of a record number of Commonwealth flags. I send my good wishes to all who are taking part.”

On Saturday March 28th members of the public gathered to watch – and help with – the turning over the new boat for the West Side rowing Club, “An Eathar”.

This exciting project was supported by Horshader Community Development Trust. 

The community of Keose Glebe announced today (Friday) that they completed the community land buyout of the local estate on Tuesday March 22.
In a media statement, the Keose Glebe Steering Group said:  “The buyout process has also required the community to consider and develop its skills, plans and ambitions for the future, and how these can strengthen and grow social bonds and economic opportunity, for the long term benefit of all.
“Training, feasibility works, valuations, mapping, business plans, company set-up, community consultation, legal undertakings and many other requirements have also had to be developed, funded and undertaken.

Castlebay and Vatersay Community Council have been asked to report to the Scottish Government about the measures taken in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Anyone with concerns about the government's current approach or those who have suggestions are asked to fill in the form, which can be found here.

The Community Council have said: "We have been asked to feedback every day before 6pm so please keep coming back to this form of you have any concerns, as if there no response it is assumed there is no new relevant information concerning a priority issue in the islands."

Priority issues to give feedback on are:

  • Community resilience
  • Agriculture/crofting and payments
  • Business support
  • Health
  • Benefits and SSP
  • Tourism
  • Education

 

Shops and community groups across the Western Isles are making moves to ensure that nobody gets left alone or in want as the impacts of coronavirus begin to make themselves felt.

In Tong, the community hall is closing to bookings and groups for the foreseeable future, but the committee are getting together to plan support for vulnerable neighbours and those in self-isolation.

Their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/207557566481020/?fref=nf is one place to go for help, with a statement today saying: “Please also get in touch if any vulnerable members in the village need help. The TRA will do all they can to support anyone who needs help, shopping or just a chat on the phone if they are self-isolating. No one is in this alone!”

They’re looking at word-of-mouth contacts through churches and other organisations as well as at social media solutions, such as a WhatsApp group for neighbours to call for help.

Members of Tiumpanhead Community Association in Point are offering individual support to their neighbours in the Aird district via their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TiumpanHeadCommunityAssosiation/

And in Stornoway Councillor Gordon Murray is looking for volunteers prepared to help the most vulnerable in the Manor area. With all meetings cancelled he’s asking people prepared to help to contact him by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone 07769 287 044.

 

Some shops also aim to reassure regular customers that they will be able to get what they need – whether they need to self-isolate or not.

Buth Tholastaidh has announced that anyone in Tolsta who is self-isolating can contact them on 890281 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if they are in need of anything.

Stag Bakeries has issued an appeal for good sense as their mobile shop heads out on the road to supply essentials to regular customers in out-of-town areas.

Posting on Saturday, they said: “Please be mindful when using our mobile shop. The mobile shop is a lifeline to many of our island’s most vulnerable elderly and some housebound, this is the only means they have of getting their weekly shopping.

“It is enough of a challenge to provide this service out of a van without the need to impose ‘rations’ on certain items. The van serves the same areas Monday to Friday and, while we always welcome new customers, we have an established regular customer base.

“We currently have plenty stock of everything – toilet roll included – and have no reason to think our supply is going to run out. If everybody just does what they always do there will be plenty to go round and we will not run out!! Please don’t make us have to ration.”

The Co-op convenience store on Cromwell Street had a similar message, subscribing to a national advert on behalf of supermarket retailers. The message asks all shoppers to be considerate in the way they shop. It reads: “We understand your concerns, but buying more than is needed can sometimes mean that others will be left without.

“There is enough for everyone if we all work together.” The Stornoway Co-op described it as “a really important message – show you care and share.”

We welcome more examples of community self-help – contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP, Alasdair Allan, has expressed his concern and disappointment at the findings of the Care Inspectorate’s Joint Inspection of services for older people in the Western Isles.

The 98-page report highlights 'important weaknesses in key performance outcomes', and says that a 'significant proportion of older people… had been subject to delayed discharges from hospital'.

The report highlights that many people have had to wait 'significant lengths of time to receive care at home , support, or access to a care home'.

It was also noted that 'historically there had been difficulties in aspects of partnership working between NHS Western Isles and the Comhairle… They were now facing the consequences of this in high numbers of delayed discharges'.

Owners of self-catering businesses have got back in touch with Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, to say they are still not eligible for the business support grant.

This comes despite positive announcements from the Scottish Government’s Finance Secretary on Friday 27 March that the £10,000 and £25,000 business grant would support self-catering businesses, depending on their turn-over, through the COVID-19 crisis, but Mrs Grant is still concerned that many will go without support.

The MSP has had many constituents contact her raising concerns that they do not fit the criteria to qualify for a grant because their self-catering business is not their primary source of earnings and they depend on several small income streams rather than one main source.

Mrs Grant has therefore written to the Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, and Fiona Hyslop, Economy, Fair Work and Culture Secretary, again.

She is asking for the Scottish Government to look into an individual’s income as a whole and provide a percentage of the relevant business support grant depending on the proportion that self-catering makes towards someone’s complete income.

Mrs Grant said: “I welcome this move by the Scottish Government to extend this support to self-catering businesses however, it would appear that this does not go far enough to support everyone.

“This move overlooks individuals within the Highlands and Islands and beyond who depend on several small streams of income to make a decent living. For example crofters who manage their croft and then make up their living by renting out a cottage.”

Mrs Grant continued: “This strict criteria will mean that some people who deserve support are still going to fall through the cracks and it will put people out of business. I have therefore asked the Scottish Government to look at this again and I hope that they adjust this support accordingly.”

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is again highlighting concerns over the costs falling on newly formed community trusts.

In 2010, there were concerns from the Community Land sector that one of the triggers for registration would be a change of ownership of a crofting estate.

In the case of a community buy-out this would be a disincentive to progress with a buy-out and would also burden a newly formed group with an immediate mass registration of crofts on the estate purchased.

To the members of the Lewis and Harris Youth Concert Band, spring only means one thing – the Scottish Concert Band National Finals, to be held in Perth on the 14th & 15th of March.

In 2019 the band won a prestigious Gold award at the 10th anniversary competition, and the young people are hoping to build on that success in this year’s contest.

The Scottish Concert Band Festival is a national organisation which for the past 11 years has organised an annual wind band festival for young people consisting of regional heats followed by a final in Perth. This year 35 school bands made it through to the finals. There is no overall winner – instead the purpose is to encourage each band towards higher achievement and to showcase the best of Scotland’s talent.

Amongst the pieces which the young people have been working hard to perfect for the competition is The Colin Scott Mackenzie March, specially commissioned for the band to mark a visit by the Band of The Royal Regiment of Scotland to Stornoway in 2019. 

Written by island string tutor Neil Johnstone, it was arranged by Colour Sergeant Evatt Gibson, of the Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

The first military brass band in Scotland was formed in Stornoway in 1875.  Attached to the local artillery regiment, the band became known as The Ross and Cromarty Mountain Battery Band.  The band comprised around 13 young men, all of whom attended the Nicolson Institute.  Over the years their popular concerts raised enough money to help build the Drill Hall, which is still in use today.

The battery, complete with band, departed for the continent on the outbreak of the Great War. They were amongst the first troops to land on the beaches at Gallipoli and the last off from the second landing of Suvla, both actions of which they were very proud. They were always in the thick of things and enjoyed a very good reputation with the other units.  Corporal Colin Scott Mackenzie was the senior trumpeter in the battery throughout the Gallipoli campaign and accompanied the Colonel on horseback so that he could sound whatever call the CO wanted. In the Second World War he achieved the rank of Major, but he never forgot his days with the battery band. 

The Colin Scott Mackenzie March will be the opening piece at the competition, and the performance will include 11 youth band members in WW1 uniform to represent the members of the Ross and Cromarty Mountain Battery Band. This will be followed by John William’s Hymn to the Fallen, played as a tribute to the Battery Band and featuring a solo percussionist, Simeon Fletcher. Lastly, the band will play Psalm and Celebration, by Bruce Pearson.

The Scottish Concert Band Festival National finals take place at Perth Concert Hall over the weekend of 14th and 15th March 2020. Tickets can be bought on the door on the day or from www.horsecross.co.uk. The members of the Lewis and Harris Youth Concert Band, their Musical Director Gavin Woods and Assistant Director Calum Watt would like to thank Car Hire Hebrides for their generous support.

Corporal Colin Scott Mackenzie.

Hebrides Energy is continuing to seek to ensure that customers are on the best possible deal for them following the transfer of Our Power customers – including those who had signed up to Hebrides Energy tariffs – to Utilita.

A spokesperson for the Hebrides Energy said: “The agreement between Hebrides Energy and Our Power was automatically terminated once that company went into administration, and there is no intention to enter into a new partnership with Utilita.  

The construction of the new £8.4 million Sgoil Uibhist a' Tuath will be undertaken by Willmott Dixon Public and Commercial Ltd., in collaboration with the Robertson Construction Group.

The proposed layout of the school remains as outlined during the design consultation process and includes a 100 pupil design capacity in addition to 0-5 Early Learning and Childcare accommodation provision.  

The External Works will include car and bus parking and drop-off facilities, hard-play areas including the Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA), 3G synthetic pitch, environmental garden and polytunnel and planting area.

Dog-owners are asked to take special care when walking dogs as farmers and crofters prepare for the lambing season.

Donald Cameron, Highlands and Islands MSP, said: “Every year farmers and crofters are left dealing with the heart-breaking consequences of uncontrolled dogs savaging their lambs.

“It is incumbent on dog-owners to ensure that their pets are fully under control when walking anywhere near livestock, particularly at this time of year. 

“Even dogs which are normally well-behaved have been known to unexpectedly attack livestock, so it is really important that people exercise caution.

“It is the owners’ responsibility for their dogs’ behaviour and they should remember that livestock worrying can be a criminal offence.

“I very much hope dog-owners take note and we have an incident-free season this year.”

Today, Friday 19th March at 2.00pm, Education, Skills and Children’s Services staff will hold a live stream discussion forum for pupils, parents, staff and members of the wider community.

You are invited to log in to the live stream, which will be broadcast from e-Sgoil using this link: http://e-sgoil.com/cnes-covid-update

The focus of discussion will be measures that the Comhairle, with assistance from a range of partner organisations, is taking to ensure continuity of education services across the Western Isles during the Coronavirus outbreak. Viewers will be able to submit questions in advance and during the livestream.

The live stream panel will consist of the Director of Education, Skills & Children’s Services, alongside service officers and headteachers.

A recording of the live stream will be available to view approximately half an hour after it finishes and we will share the link via social media.

 

The latest coronavirus figures - confirmed at 2pm today Monday 16 March - show there are still no cases in the Outer Hebrides.

The total has remained at two for Highland Region.

There have been 15 cases in Shetland - with four new ones since yesterday - so far, but still none at all in Orkney.  Shetland Council is closing a number of its main schools and nurseries this week for “operational and resilience reasons”.

A total of 4,895 Scottish tests have been concluded so far. Of these:

  • 4,724 tests were confirmed negative
  • 171 tests were positive - that's 18 more than on Sunday. In all, 93 of the cases were in Greater Glasgow, Clyde, Lanarkshire and Lothian areas.

Event cancellations – Tuesday 17 March

There have been a number of further cancellations of events following Government advice last night (Monday 16 March).

Cancellations include:

  • Uig community’s performance of Dr Zoolightly, scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Uig Community Centre, has been cancelled.
  • Autism Eilean Siar has cancelled their coffee morning, planned for Tuesday (24 March) at the Failte Centre on Bayhead.
  • Friday night music sessions at the Failte centre have also been cancelled until further notice.
  • Stornoway Karate Club has cancelled all classes for four weeks.
  • Alzheimers Scotland – Western Isles has cancelled their programme of support groups as a precaution and to allow them to focus on supporting people at the Solas centre. Groups suspended include: Dementia café at Clan MacQuarrie community centre and football memories at Ionad Stoodie in Garrabost, both on 3 April; music for memory at the Failte centre on 7 April; Tolsta café on 14 April and the men’s café at Back football club on 28 April.
  • Pairc Trust announced today that they have decided to suspend healthwalks in Pairc for the time being, because of the social, face-to-face contact they involve. A trust spokesman said: “Such a shame - just last week we were visited by a film crew from the Scottish Health Council who took some coverage of our walk in Orinsay. They are making a film to show how beneficial healthwalks are for well being.”
  • The Galson Trust and Scottish Ambulance have cancelled two life-saving skills workshops which were due to be held at Sporsnis in Ness on Monday (23 March) and at Clan MacQuarrie community centre on Monday 30 March.
  • The Skye-based charity lucky2Bhere has suspended all emergency life support training, including a session due to be given on Thursday (19 March) at the Marybank Community Hall. Installation of a new defibrillator/AED at Lava’s Garage is to go ahead as planned.
  • Point senior citizens group Young at Heart has suspended all meetings until the situation improves. Chair Ken Nicolson said: “Disappointing, but needs must. Good health is more important than anything. Please take care, look after yourselves and one another. Follow all the advice given regarding the virus and look forward to meeting again soon.”

Click for our summary of existing national advice on coping with the onset of coronavirus

http://www.welovestornoway.com/index.php/articles-auto/16283-coronavirus-the-advice-that-can-save-lives

More news will be added as it becomes available

Developments in the Western Isles from Friday 13 March to Monday 16 March, are reported below and include:

  • Island landmarks close
  • Island communities plan self-help
  • Island league football suspended
  • HebCeltFest statement
  • Monday 16 March - Coronavirus cancellations
  • Provincial Mòds ‘may not happen’
  • First virus cruise cancellation
  • Commissioners to limit travel
  • NHS Western Isles: Hospital visits
  • Social group cancellations
  • Community kindness takes hold
  • CnES Care Home Visiting Restrictions
  • Cafe's cleansers taken in 'virus' theft
  • Care home closed to non-essential visitors
  • Small business changes against virus
  • Coastguard special measures
  • Outer Hebrides LEADER postpones event
  • Sport cancellations

  • All sport and leisure facilities and Comhairle offices remain open.
  • From tomorrow (Tuesday 17  March) all activities run by ISL/Sports Development will be suspended, including swimming lessons.
  • Aquafit classes and ‘Move More’ group activities held during the day will also be suspended.
  • All other adult Fitness classes will continue at this stage.

More CnES details here:  https://www.welovestornoway.com/index.php/articles-auto/16301-covid-19-comhairle-update

Solas day centre remains open – people and family will be updated immediately of any changes, reports Marion MacInnes
Locality Leader Alzheimer Scotland, Western Isles  | 01851 702123  | 07771 925 730 
18 Bells Road, Stornoway, HS1 2RA

Plea over 'panic-buying'

Western Isles Emergency Planning Tweeted on Monday 16th: "There is a lot of anxiety around coronavirus in the WesternIsles, however panic buying of foods and other goods can only make the situation worse. Spare a thought for those not able to buy large amounts who will suffer if you buy too much..."

Island landmarks close

Harris Tweed Authority
has updated their arrangements following Government advice and has closed their office to the public from today (Tuesday 17 March).
In a statement this morning a spokesperson said: “In our best efforts to be responsible to both our staff, our customers and the small tight-knit community we live in, the HTA is following advice and closing the office to the public for the time being.
“Please use our This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. email address or call us on 01851 702269 if you wish to order labels, loom spares or other supplies. We have measures in place to continue to provide a service to you throughout this time. For our local customers, the office will open from 11am-12pm daily to allow you to collect items if need be.
“The priority is of course that everyone tries to keep healthy and to look after and look out for each other. We are thinking of our Harris Tweed family across the globe now more than ever. Stay safe, everyone.”
Also closed today is the Callanish visitor centre. Centre manager Victoria Harvey said: “The safety of our staff and visitors is paramount and we are going to take today to seek further clarity from the government guidance. We will post an update across our social channels and on our website later today which will detail any changes to the services we provide.
“The stone circle will be open as normal and we just ask that you use your best judgement, and self-isolate where necessary. Our top priority is the health and safety of our staff, our visitors and our island and this is such a troubling time. Our thoughts are with you all.”
Gearranan Blackhouse Village is also closing to the public from today until the end of June.

Island communities plan self-help
Community organisations in the islands are making plans for ways in which people can help each other as closures and service restrictions are put in place.
The Tong community hall is closing to bookings and groups for the foreseeable future, but the committee are getting together to plan support for vulnerable neighbours and those in self-isolation.
Their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/207557566481020/?fref=nf is one place to go for help, with a statement today saying: “Please also get in touch if any vulnerable members in the village need help. The TRA will do all they can to support anyone who needs help, shopping or just a chat on the phone if they are self-isolating. No one is in this alone!”
They’re looking at word-of-mouth contacts through churches and other organisations as well as at social media solutions, such as a WhatsApp group for neighbours to call for help.
Members of Tiumpanhead Community Association in Point are offering individual support to their neighbours in the Aird district via their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TiumpanHeadCommunityAssosiation/
And in Stornoway Councillor Gordon Murray is looking for volunteers prepared to help the most vulnerable in the Manor area. With all meetings cancelled he’s asking people prepared to help to contact him by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone 07769 287 044.

Lochs Services are looking for volunteers to help identify elderly or vulnerable people who may need a delivery, with deliveries also dependent on community volunteers. If you can help, contact them on 860377.
We welcome more examples of community self-help – contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Island league football suspended

The traditional summer season of football in the Western Isles looks set to be suspended, with an announcement today (Monday 16 March) from Lewis and Harris Football Association (LHFA).

In the statement published this morning, LHFA said: “The LHFA has received confirmation that all football under the jurisdiction of the Scottish Football Association is suspended until further notice. This advice includes all matches within the Scottish Amateur Football Association and any member leagues and associations. This also applies to friendly matches.

“A decision to continue or suspend training is at each club’s discretion at this time but all clubs must follow the current medical guidance issued by the Government and health authorities when making the decision.”

Some clubs had already made moves to suspend training and competition planning, with Lochs Football Club announcing on Friday that they were cancelling all football activities at all levels.

Stornoway Athletic (Aths) also announced yesterday (Sunday) that all plans for friendly and festival matches and under-7s coaching in Sandwick Hall on Mondays were to be suspended until further notice.

The club said: “Coaching at the astro-turf will continue on Monday nights at the normal times until further notice. Parents and carers should make decisions on children attending based on the current advice and their own situation. There is no pressure from Aths to attend coaching if you have any concerns. Our position may change as time moves on.”

Matches in the island league were due to begin in the second week of April, with the first cup matches in the Acres Boys Club (ABC) cup tournament due soon afterwards.

HebCeltFest statement

The Hebridean Celtic Festival said today (Monday March 16th):

"We know that a lot of people are understandably concerned about coronavirus and also what it means for HebCelt Festival. As things stand today, we are continuing to prepare for the 25th anniversary festival in July. However, the situation is changing day to day, even hour by hour, and we are conscious of the Scottish Government’s advice on events involving more than 500 people. We hope things will improve in the coming weeks, but the health and wellbeing of everyone concerned must be our main priority. We will continue to review the situation and take any further guidance from the Government and medical experts. Rest assured all tickets are protected. If we were required to cancel the festival, your tickets would be refunded.
Thanks for your continued support of HebCelt. Look after each other!"

Monday 16 March - Coronavirus cancellations

Other cancellations attributed to the current Coronavirus situation and associated health advice have been announced today. They include:

  • Point Youth Club, which meets on Friday evenings at Tiumpanhead Community Centre in Aird, has cancelled all meetings until after the Easter holidays, when they will update parents further.
  • The committee of the Co-operative Community Football League has decided to cancel the rest of the season of Back 8s football matches. A new summer format of Friday night 5s is also liable to delay in starting up.
  • Stornoway publisher Acair is asking customers not to make personal calls to their office at An Tosgan, but to place orders via their website instead.
  • Stornoway Rugby Club will not be holding junior rugby training until 29th March, in line with Scottish Rugby’s current advice.
  • The Harris Tweed Authority’s Story Room display is closed to the public for the time being, although the office in Stornoway Town Hall is still open for callers.
  • Sharon Mackinnon School of Highland Dancing has cancelled the Mackinnon Festival Highland dancing competition, due to be held on Saturday (21 March) at the Nicolson Institute
  • T’ai chi classes by T’ai Chi Hebrides at the Bridge Centre and Sandwick Hall on Tuesdays are closed until the end of April
  • Outer Hebrides for Independence has postponed the Independence March planned for Stornoway on 18 April. A new date is expected to be set in August or September.
  • Stornoway Judo Club is following advice from Judo Scotland and postponing classes at least until after the Easter holidays.
  • Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland is temporarily suspending meetings of the Stornoway Monday Stroke Club on advice from their national office.

Other businesses are taking measures to limit any potential spread of infection.

  • Harris and Lewis Smokehouse restaurant has stopped taking cash payments and will not be using re-usable cups. Other precautionary measures include hand sanitiser for the use of all customers as they enter the restaurant.
  • Uig community shop has intensified their hygiene regime, particularly in high contact areas. They are also encouraging people to shop in moderation and will be increasing the availability of their delivery service to customers self-isolating at home. Call the shop on 01851 672444.
  • The community pop-in lunch planned by North Harris Free Church for Tuesday 17 March has been cancelled due to current health advice.
  • Mollans café in Callanish has agreed a protocol with environmental health officers to allow them to continue to operate their takeaway service safely. Customers will be asked to ring ahead on 07985 233723 to place orders, which will be brought to their car. Mollans has also offered a delivery service to customers in Callanish, Breasclete, Garynahine and Tolsta Chaolais who are self-isolating.

Provincial Mòds ‘may not happen’

The organisers of the Royal National Mòd, An Comunn Gaidhealach, have issued a statement on the impact of Coronavirus following their meeting on Friday (13 March).  The directors have written to all local groups and committees with their summary guidance, which includes a warning that they do not anticipate local and provincial Mòds planned for May and June this year to take place.  With Uist Mòd set for 29 and 30 May, Lewis Mòd for 1 to 5 June and Harris Mòd for 12 June, this would effectively cancel the local Mòds for the year. The date for the local Mòd in Barra and Vatersay is yet to be set.   An Comunn Gaidhealach said that guidance would be issued in due course concerning the autumn round of local Mòds and the Royal National Mòd itself, due to be held in Inverness from 9 to 17 October.

Cruise cancellations

The cruise line Cruise and Maritime Voyages (CMV) has been the first to announce that it is suspending all worldwide cruise embarkations “due to the escalating global pandemic of the COVID-19 Coronavirus.”  All departures of their cruise vessels until 24 April are suspended. They say Government advisories and impending lockdown of ports around the world have contributed to their decision, as have health and safety concerns for their passengers and crew.  CMV’s ship Astoria was due to be the first official cruise visit of Stornoway’s 2020 season, calling in to the port on Thursday 9 April with a potential total of 550 passengers.

Astoria was due to make a total of three visits to Stornoway during April and May this year and her sister vessel Marco Polo is also due to call in May.

Also cancelled is the visit of the Norwegian training ship Gann, due into Stornoway on 6 May. The ship, which provides training to maritime students from Norway and other countries, has closed to students and cancelled all registrations. She is due for her second call to Stornoway in September..

Commissioners to limit travel

Crofting Commissioners will limit their travel to Inverness this week by telephoning into their Board Meeting that will be held on Thursday 19 March. At this point in time the meeting will still be open for members of the public to attend, but those Commissioners who live in more remote areas will take part in the meeting via a telephone link. This decision has been taken to limit the possibility of any contact and possible transfer of illness that may occur, albeit that the risk is low at present.

Rod Mackenzie, Crofting Commission Convener, said, “Most of our Commissioners live in remote areas and we consider it prudent that where possible the Commission should limit travel to ensure the risk of transferring any infection is kept to a minimum. This is a time of year in the crofting calendar where most crofters self-isolate anyway with lambing and calving imminent and most of us would like to keep the exposure to infection at a minimum.”

NHS Western Isles: Hospital visits

  • Do not visit anyone in hospital if you have a fever/ respiratory / cough or cold symptoms.
  • All visitors must hand sanitize when entering and leaving clinical areas.
  • People must go to NHS Inform for up to date information and advice: https://www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus
  • If you develop flu like symptoms, please do not  attend your GP or hospital but call your GP or NHS24 on 111 for advice if you need it.
  • People with a new onset of continuous cough or high temperature should self-isolate for seven days.

Social group cancellations

Island groups are taking measures to protect the most vulnerable, with closure of facilities which specifically serve older people and those with compromised immune systems.

Western Isles Cancer Care Initiative (WICCI) trustees have taken the decision to close the WICCI centre on Cromwell Street for treatments as of tomorrow (Monday 16 March).

The closure has been described as ‘for the foreseeable future’ and comes in light of advice and direction from other cancer support centres in Scotland.  WICCI centre manager Helen Sandison said: “Very sorry to be doing this, but hope you can all understand the need to keep everyone as protected as we can.”

Stornoway’s Failte Centre on Bayhead has similarly decided to close until further notice. In an announcement today (Sunday) a spokesman said: “We have taken advice on the current Covid 19 situation and have decided that, as we are ALL in the age group most at risk from the virus in the Thursday Lunch Club, we will be discontinuing our lunches as from today. 

“This is very disappointing for us as we make a point of not closing but in this instance, we think that we are being prudent. We will keep this closure under review and we look forward to reopening as soon as we can.”

The Hebridean Men’s Cancer Support Group have cancelled their next four Friday meetings and postponed their AGM, due on 25 March. The committee plan to meet in two weeks’ time and to review the position in light of any developments over that time.

And in Barra, the Garadh a Bagh a Tuath community project is closing their Thursday café until further notice, although the garden itself remains open for the time being.

 

Community kindness takes hold

Shops and community groups across the Western Isles are making moves to ensure that nobody gets left alone or in want as the impacts of coronavirus begin to make themselves felt.

Some shops also aim to reassure regular customers that they will be able to get what they need – whether they need to self-isolate or not.

Buth Tholastaidh has announced that anyone in Tolsta who is self-isolating can contact them on 890281 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if they are in need of anything.

Stag Bakeries has issued an appeal for good sense as their mobile shop heads out on the road to supply essentials to regular customers in out-of-town areas.

Posting on Saturday, they said: “Please be mindful when using our mobile shop. The mobile shop is a lifeline to many of our island’s most vulnerable elderly and some housebound, this is the only means they have of getting their weekly shopping.

“It is enough of a challenge to provide this service out of a van without the need to impose ‘rations’ on certain items. The van serves the same areas Monday to Friday and, while we always welcome new customers, we have an established regular customer base.

“We currently have plenty stock of everything – toilet roll included – and have no reason to think our supply is going to run out. If everybody just does what they always do there will be plenty to go round and we will not run out!! Please don’t make us have to ration.”

The Co-op convenience store on Cromwell Street had a similar message, subscribing to a national advert on behalf of supermarket retailers. The message asks all shoppers to be considerate in the way they shop. It reads: “We understand your concerns, but buying more than is needed can sometimes mean that others will be left without.

“There is enough for everyone if we all work together.” The Stornoway Co-op described it as “a really important message – show you care and share.”

In Tong, the committee of the Community Hall are encouraging villagers to look out for neighbours, vulnerable people and those who are self-isolating by using the increasingly popular self-isolation postcard.

Designed to be dropped through the letterbox to offer help to those isolating at home, the postcard is also being distributed via social media in Point and through church groups in Stornoway.

Care Home Visiting Restrictions

Upon advice from the Scottish Government in relation to Coronavirus, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is implementing a practice of having a single representative as residents’ named visitor at its Care Homes.

The Comhairle is also restricting visiting times in all its Care Homes to the hours of between 2pm – 3.30pm and 6pm - 7.30pm.

The only exceptions to these times will be where the named representative is supporting a resident during meal-times. Residents’ representatives will be contacted directly by Care Home staff to discuss this.

These measures started from 7.30pm on Saturday 14th March 2020.

The Care homes affected are Dun Berisay, Dun Eisdean and Ardseileach in Stornoway, Harris House in Tarbert, Isle of Harris, Trianaid, in Carinish, North Uist, Taigh a’Chridhe Uile Naomh in South Uist and St Brendan’s in Castlebay on Barra.

A spokesperson said: “We are following national advice on this matter. We understand that relatives and friends will be concerned but we are asking for understanding and co-operation. This is about reducing risk and protecting health. Many Care Home residents are vulnerable due to age and underlying medical conditions and these steps are being taken to afford the best possible protection for residents and their carers.”

Comhairle Care Home contact details can be accessed here:  https://www.cne-siar.gov.uk/social-care-and-health/community-care-and-criminal-justice/community-care/island-care-homes/

Further information and guidance on Residential Care residents is available at https://www.careinspectorate.com/images/COVID-19_-_Clinical_Guidance_for_Nursing_Home_and_Residential_Care_Residents.pdf

Cafe's cleansers taken in 'virus' theft

This morning (Friday Match 13th) the Woodlands Centre café in the Castle Grounds found that all the hand-cleansing materials had been stolen from its toilets.

Iain Maciver, the factor of the Stornoway Trust, condemned the irresponsibility of those involved, the needlessness of the act and warned that this sort of action could cause such public faciities into closure as they were no more able to buy such supplies locally than anyone else, with supermarket shelves often devoid of soap, hand cleansers and toilet rolls.

Local suppliers are now imposing individual sale limits on the quantities of the increasingly scrarce commodities.

Care home closed to non-essential visitors

Blar Buidhe care home in Stornoway was closed to non-essential visitors as of 12 noon yesterday (Thursday 12 March) in a move to protect residents from the possible arrival of Coronavirus in the Western Isles.

The decision has been taken by the group HC-One, who operate Blar Buidhe, and who have taken the decision across all their homes to restrict visiting to essential visitors only.

Non-essential visits include social visits from relatives and loved ones, visits from individuals such as hairdressers and entertainers and from professionals and contractors carrying out non-essential services.

Blar Buidhe manager Donald McIntosh said: “This decision has not been taken lightly, but we hope you will understand that it purely in the interests of protecting our residents from Coronavirus, which will remain our absolute priority.

“There is currently no restriction on healthcare professionals visiting the homes and there will be no adverse effect on the continuity of care. For further information please call 01851-706067 We thank you all for your understanding in this matter”

A statement from HC-One issued yesterday (12 March) said: “We know our visitors, including relatives and loved ones, would want us to do everything possible to keep the residents in our care safe and well.

“If you can delay your visit or achieve its purpose through another method, such as through a phone call or video call, please do so. Requests for essential visits will be considered where exceptional circumstances arise. These can be arranged by contacting the home manager.”

https://www.welovestornoway.com/index.php/articles-auto/16272-msp-pledges-vigilance-on-virus

Small business changes against virus

Small businesses are considering closures and limitations on business as the risk of Coronavirus reaching the Western Isles becomes more real.

Yesterday (Thursday 12 March) Stornoway’s Crown Inn published a notice informing customers that bookings from overseas customers had been cancelled and refunded and that currently no future bookings from countries outside the UK were being taken.

They said: “As a local business that invites guests from all over the world and with Coronavirus continuing to spread, we have taken the decision not to accept any accommodation bookings outwith the UK until further notice. We are taking all the precautions necessary to safeguard our employees and local visitors.”

Stornoway business Wee Studio issued an announcement this morning  (Friday March 13) saying that the business would close today.  Business owner Keith Morrison said: “Due to the ongoing Coronavirus situation I've taken the decision to close the Wee Studio doors for the foreseeable future starting today at lunchtime. 

“I'm sure a lot will be happening in the next few weeks, but at the moment I'm planning that I will be re-opening March the 30th. Stay safe everyone.”

Meanwhile some other businesses have put safeguarding procedures in place to prevent possible spread of the illness should any customer become infected.

Health salon Body and Sole said today: “As the situation around novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to evolve, we are doing everything we can to make sure we follow guidelines to stay hygienic and safe. We must ensure the safety of each other now on the island. 

“Please note if you are showing any signs of symptoms, please cancel your appointment until you feel symptoms ease. We need to protect the vulnerable and in my profession I work very closely with the public. Hand sanitiser is available to use on our front desk, please feel free to use it on entering the salon and leaving. Thanks and stay safe and well.”

And Hebrides Dance and Wellbeing Studio has put in place protections including sanitising spray for use on yoga mats and changes to some exercise and dance routines to avoid physical contact between customers.

Business owner Kirstie Anderson encouraged people to help keep themselves and others well, including by taking health exercise. She said: “Please be vigilant about hygiene before and at classes (I'm sure you all already are!). Good hygiene helps prevent the spread of not only the novel coronavirus but colds and flu as well. 

“Please wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is more effective than using hand sanitiser. Please remain home if you're not feeling well.

“If you're feeling well, I hope you'll feel happy to continue your exercise and activity with me. Healthy bodies have strong immune systems to fight off illness.”

Coastguard special measures

Western Isles Coastguard teams and the HM Coastguard operations centre are implementing special measures to remain prepared for an outbreak of Coronavirus in the Western Isles.

They said: “As a Category 1 emergency responder we have had to implement special measures to ensure that HM Coastguard is able to respond effectively to emergencies during this period of crisis caused by COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

“To that end, we are unable to participate in much of our usual activity such as talks, visits and open days which could expose external organisations or ourselves to heightened risk of transmission of the virus. We are unable to attend joint exercises and training and cannot allow visitors into our stations.

“Our response capability remains unaffected and we look forward, as does the rest of society, to the resumption of normal life and the lifting of these very necessary restrictions.”

Outer Hebrides LEADER LAG postpones event

Taking into account all current information on the outbreak of the Coronavirus it is with regret that the Outer Hebrides LEADER LAG announces the postponement of the LEADER and EMFF Celebration and Film Launch Dinner Reception which was due to take place on Thursday 19 March.

The LAG also intended to host a similar event in Uist in April, however both events have now been postponed until later in the year.  We will notify you of the new details when they are confirmed and we hope that you will be able to join us then to celebrate LEADER, EMFF, your projects and businesses.

For more information, follow us on Facebook (Outer Hebrides LEADER) or follow us on Twitter @LEADEROuterHeb.

Sport cancellations hit islanders

Cancellations of sporting fixtures nationally and internationally are now affecting island players and athletes.

Lewis Camanachd’s 2020 season has been indefinitely postponed, after the Camanachd Association announced this morning (Friday 13 March) that all matches are to be cancelled.

The association said:While it is unlikely that shinty matches would have exceeded the 500 person quota for events put in place by the Scottish Government yesterday, we are mindful of the concerns that exist and risk associated with the spread of the virus particularly to those most vulnerable and for those travelling long distances in close proximity to others. 

“Consequently we have taken the difficult decision to postpone all matches under our remit. The wellbeing of the people in our communities is primary in this decision and we hope that this decision removes any expectations or pressures on participating during a time that we can be focused on doing all we can to suppress the spread of the virus.”

Stornoway Rugby Club is also among teams who have learnt today that future fixtures are being postponed, after Scottish Rugby announced that all rugby is being suspended in the face of the virus.

Scottish Rugby today issued a statement saying: “With effect from Sunday 15 March at 6pm there will be a short period without domestic competition (or training) whilst a further assessment can be made. This will be in effect up to, and including, 29 March 2020. 

“This will impact rugby in all domestic league and cup fixtures, training, festivals and other rugby events. We have taken on board all expert medical advice before now and we are taking a precautionary approach to give time to assess what the impact of Coronavirus will be on Scottish society in the coming weeks before deciding on next steps.

"This decision has been taken with the best interest of everyone involved in the game and in support of the country's work to address the impact of Coronavirus."

Stornoway RFC were next due to play a re-scheduled fixture away to Peterhead on March 21, and at home against Gordonians 2nd XV on Saturday 28 March.

 

With the confirmation – after the appearance of the official figures on Monday March 30 – of a coronavirus case in Orkney, the Outer Hebrides is now the only area in Scotland with no officially confirmed coronavirus cases.

This still has not been reported in the official national figures.

NHSWI chief executive Gordon Jamieson - in a broadcast on Twitter (https://twitter.com/nhswi/status/1244724025873530880?s=21) said preparations on the Islands now include the basing of two military officers at NHSWI headquarters on South Beach.  He emphasised the need to maintain the highest possible vigilance and to maintain the lockdown as tightly as possible.


A total of 60 patients in Scotland who tested positive for Coronavirus have now died, it is stated by the Scottish Government today, Tuesday March 31.

That is 13 more than yesterday.

There are now 135 people in intensive care, a rise of 27 overnight.

The latest coronavirus figures - confirmed at 2pm today Tuesday 30 March - continue to show there are no cases officially detected in the Outer Hebrides.

The total for Highland Region is 51 - seven up on yesterday

There are 29 cases shown for Shetland - an increase of two from the previous day.

A total of 15,895 Scottish tests have been concluded so far. Of these:

  • 1993 tests were positive. That's up 430 from yesterday, a rise of 27.5%.
  • In all, 1050 of the cases were in the Greater Glasgow, Clyde, Lanarkshire and Lothian areas - an increase of 166 since yesterday, up 19.5%

Please note: delays to reporting over the weekend have contributed to the increase in total test figures and deaths confirmed today, the Scottish Government says.


 

 

Trading Standards at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are advising consumers not to respond to a scam e-mail titled “RE:COUNCIL TAX REFUND – CONFIRMATION”.

The message claims to be from council tax.gov.uk and states you are being issued a refund of £341.04.

Council Tax bills issued by the Comhairle next week will see the first increases since 2007 following the reform of Council Tax bands by the Scottish Government and the decision of the Comhairle to raise an additional 3%.

 

This 3% increase will contribute an estimated £380k towards the Comhairle’s budget for 2017/18 and is part of a range of measures to reduce a £6.1m funding gap to £2.5m.

All four councillors for Barra, Vatersay, Eriskay and South Uist have welcomed an update from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar on progress with the future community campus proposed for Barra and Vatersay.

Councillors Donald Manford, Paul Steele, Iain Archie Macneil and Calum Macmillan said yesterday (Wednesday 4 March) that the update was "comprehensive" and they commended the enormous work and commitment that all the officers had put in. 

They said: “It stands out strikingly in the progress that has been made when you compare this project with the previous project. The decision of the Health Board was taken in December. This structure report was agreed in February and this council is hard on the heels of it at the beginning of March. We cannot see that there can be any credible criticism of this level of progress. 

“We look forward to seeing the completion of a very heavy workload between now and next month’s submission which will hopefully finance what can finally become a project.”

A report to the Committee can be found here. It includes information on the Governance arrangements for the project and on a first-stage submission to be prepared for consideration by the Scottish Government Health and Learning directorates by the end of April 2020.


Live country music of the highest calibre is coming to Stornoway on Thursday (5 March) whe the Brighton-based country singer Ags Connolly appears at the County Hotel.

Touring the UK to promote his third album Wrong Again, Ags comes to Stornoway as well as visiting Glasgow, Aberdeen, Liverpool and London.

Ags has built a reputation over the years as an uncompromising country traditionalist in an era when the pop and rock incarnations of country music are enjoying a surge of popularity. He still continues to defend the last outpost of the genre's traditional roots, leading to plaudits from reviewers and punters alike.

Wrong Again was released in November 2019 and was described by Bob Harris on BBC Radio 2 as "modern day traditionalism of the very, very best kind". As with his previous two albums, Wrong Again was named Album of the Month by Country Music People magazine while being described by songwriting legend Tom Russell as "killer".

Meanwhile, US music publications Billboard and Glide Magazine respectively praised his "deep and emotive vocals" and branded the album "a must listen" for fans of real deal country music.

Doors open for the County Hotel at 7.30 pm on Thursday and tickets can be bought at WJ MacDonald Butchers on Francis St for £10, or are available for £12 at the door.

A man who drove his car off the road in Upper Coll this morning (Sunday March 31st) was found to have been drinking and will appear in court.

The single-vehicle road traffic incident was reported to police as having happened around 7am today and the driver was later traced and was found to have been drinking.

He was taken to Stornoway police station and charged with drink-driving, and was released when sober on an undertaking to appear in court on April 16th.

Man in court after fight

A 23-year-old man is to appear in Stornoway Sheriff Court later this month, after getting involved in a fight at licensed premises on Saturday afternoon.

Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron is calling for £780m being made available to Scotland from the UK Government to be dedicated to dealing with the Coronavirus outbreak.

Mr Cameron, the Scottish Conservative shadow finance secretary, has also called for urgent help to be given to the tourism and retail sectors in particular as they are currently bearing the brunt of the behavioural effects of the virus.

The £780m is due to Scotland via Barnett consequentials resulting from Coronavirus budget measures and the Coronavirus Response Fund announced last week by the UK government.

In response, the Scottish Conservatives are asking the Scottish government to ring-fence the entire £780 million for COVID-19 measures and to follow the UK’s lead and establish a Response Fund to support the NHS and other public services with the financial resources it needs as the virus continues to spread.

Mr Cameron said: “We are in no doubt of the significant impact of COVID-19 on our society, economy and our public services.

“This substantial £780m funding package from the UK government will help Scotland prepare for, and mitigate, the effects of this global pandemic.

“Given the extreme and widespread impact of this health crisis, the entire £780m must be ring-fenced for COVID-19 by the Scottish government.

“In addition, the Scottish government should follow the UK government’s lead and establish a Response Fund for the NHS and other public services to alleviate any funding concerns

“Here in the Highlands and Islands we are particularly concerned about the impact on the tourism sector, especially accommodation providers, and businesses reliant on visitors to the region. They will need our support to get through this very difficult time.

“Everyone agrees this is going to be a challenging period  for our economy – we can, and must, focus financial support where it is needed most.”

A respiratory assessment and Covid-19 treatment resource will be set up in Castlebay School and Leisure Centre.

At present, no Covid-19 cases have been identified in the Western Isles.

However, the precautionary measure has been taken given the the limited resources on Barra and Vatersay, and the distance from the hospital.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar will work with the community to establish a local Shielding and support resource to coordinate all Local Authority and Community resources.

 

 

Prioritised testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) will allow key health and social care workers to return to work, the Scottish Government has announced.

NHS Western Isles has welcomed the newly published guidance for NHS Scotland to prioritise testing to enable health and social care staff to get back to work, based on the pressures Health Boards are already facing.

As testing capacity increases, this will be extended to other key workers.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “It is essential that front-line health and social care staff can remain at work. To help to save lives, we must continue to prioritise testing in hospitals. All remaining capacity must be used to ensure that critical staff can return to work as soon as possible.

“I am publishing guidance for the NHS to support use of the testing capacity in our laboratories, in so far as it is not needed for essential care, in order to enable health and social care staff to be back at work when that is safe.

“NHS boards will prioritise testing, based on where the pressure is felt most in their workforce and in social care.”

Boards are being asked to prioritise testing the symptomatic household members of health and social care staff – in cases where the staff have no symptoms but have to remain in isolation because a family member does.

This will mean that where the household member tests negative, the health or social care staff member will not have to isolate for 14 days, and this will have the greatest impact in reducing working days lost.

For example, if a nurse is symptomatic and receives a negative test result three days after the onset of symptoms, the number of working days could be reduced by four because they would not have to complete the full seven days of self-isolation.

However, if that nurse is in household isolation because their son has a fever and cough, they would normally be required to stay in household isolation for 14 days. If the son is tested and receives a negative test result three days after symptom onset, the number of working days lost would be reduced by 11.

Boards will prioritise in areas where staff are most needed. While one board may have pressures in their midwifery services and so prioritise testing in this group, for example, another may need to prioritise Intensive Care Units (ICU) consultants.

Two individuals in the Western Isles have tested positive for COVID-19.

Both are based on the Isle of Lewis.

This was publicly announced today (14.34, Tuesday March 31) by NHS Western Isles Chief Executive Gordon Jamieson.

"To protect patient confidentiality, we will not be providing any further details of the individuals," the statement continued.

NHS Western Isles is now taking steps to identify the possible routes of infection. 

Mr Jamieson, and NHS Western Isles Chair, Ian Burgess, released the following statement: “Whilst we are clearly disappointed that we now have confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Western Isles, we would reassure members of the public that we have been preparing for this situation over a number of weeks and we are heartened by the fact that so many people across our islands have been following the government guidelines to stay at home, to help us prevent any further spread of cases.

“We cannot emphasise enough the importance of staying at home and social distancing at this time.”

A Comhairle nan Eilean Siar spokesperson, said: “Whilst disappointing, this is not unexpected and for several weeks now the Comhairle has been preparing, along with Public Health and other partner agencies, for such an eventuality.

“It is now more important than ever before that everyone follows the Scottish Government advice - particularly to stay at home unless absolutely essential - and to observe physical distancing.”

SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar Alasdair Allan said:“The news that two people on the Isle of Lewis have tested positive for coronavirus is concerning.  My thoughts are with the individuals involved and their families, and I hope they make a full and speedy recovery.

“This news shows that no corner of Scotland is safe from the virus. I know that health and other essential services in the islands are doing an exceptional job. We now need to help them now by trying to contain the spread of the virus within the islands and across Scotland. I would urge all islanders to help save lives and please stay at home.”

Earlier Mr Jamieson - in a broadcast on Twitter (https://twitter.com/nhswi/status/1244724025873530880?s=21) said preparations on the Islands now include the basing of two military officers at NHSWI headquarters on South Beach.  He emphasised the need to maintain the highest possible vigilance and to maintain the lockdown as tightly as possible.

These Island cases have not been reported yet in the national figures. Neither have the first cases from Orkney which became known last night.  These cases mean that Covid19 cases are known to be present in every health board area in Scotland.

A total of 60 patients in Scotland who tested positive for coronavirus have now died, it was stated by the Scottish Government today, Tuesday March 31.

That is 13 more than yesterday.

There are now 135 people in intensive care, a rise of 27 overnight.

The total for Highland Region was 51 - seven up on yesterday

There are 29 cases shown for Shetland - an increase of two from the previous day.

A total of 15,895 Scottish tests have been concluded so far. Of these:

  • 1993 tests were positive. That's up 430 from yesterday, a rise of 27.5%.
  • In all, 1050 of the cases were in the Greater Glasgow, Clyde, Lanarkshire and Lothian areas - an increase of 166 since yesterday, up 19.5%

The latest national coronavirus figures were confirmed at 2pm today.

Please note: delays to reporting over the weekend have contributed to the increase in total test figures and deaths confirmed today, the Scottish Government says.

Meanwhile Western Isles police warned on Twitter: "Due to #Coronavirus criminals are targeting the vulnerable. Don’t give people money, bank details or cards if they offer to do shopping on your behalf if you don’t know them. Never be afraid to say ‘No, thank you’ & close the door."

 

As the UK and many other countries around the globe grapple with the COVID-19 outbreak, the push for people to work from home has never been greater. Remote working is rapidly becoming the new norm for many people.  But how do you make a success of working from home? After over eight years of home working from a spare bedroom on the isle of Lewis, Taylor Edgar - now living and working in Viet Nam – gives his top ten tips for surviving the transition from office to home.

Read more of his blog on https://hanoi177.wordpress.com/

1) Create a proper work station for yourself, preferably in a spare room if you have one. Do not be tempted to set up camp on your sofa or at the kitchen table. For one thing, the ergonomics are all wrong, and you will end up with a sore back. Trust me on this. A desk and an adjustable chair are much preferable. And more likely to get you to focus on the tasks at hand.

NHS Western Isles has shown images on Twitter of emergency equipment arriving at Western Isles Hospital - and Woody's Express Parcels also posted photographs on Facebook of large deliveries under way.

This came as "serious concerns" were raised by Labour MSPs David Stewart and Rhoda Grant that the Highlands and Islands are facing a drought of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for those working on the frontline during the Covid 19 crisis.

They say that NHS workers across the region are having to ration out their PPE equipment, such as masks, or use equipment which is seriously out of date, leaving NHS workers having to conduct face-to-face appointments with no masks.  David Stewart MSP lodged a Parliamentary Questions asking that the Scottish Government examined whether rural health boards had adequate supplies of personal protection equipment and what advice it was giving to NHS Boards about when such equipment should be worn.

David Stewart said: “I have been told that 28% of staff are off in one Health board area and I expect that this will be reflected across the boards. It is a matter of urgency that those on the COVID 19 frontline are protected, not least because many of them are vulnerable and they are working continuously in potentially hazardous situations.

“I am concerned that because numbers in the Highlands and Islands are relatively low at the moment, with the exception of Shetland which has the highest percentage of cases, these areas are being forgotten about and not adequately provided for. But these are areas that, when the virus does hit, the effects could be catastrophic. There are less resources, less ICU’s, less intensive care trained staff and a high proportion of the population has underlying health conditions or are elderly.”

Rhoda Grant MSP backed Mr Stewart’s call, saying: “I have heard reports of staff being provided with out-of-date protective equipment when they are being provided anything at all. Obviously every area is clamouring for more PPE but it is vitally important that the Highlands and Islands are not left out.”

Meanwhile Highland & Islands Divisional Commander Chief Superintendent George Macdonald would also like to extend his thanks to communities and businesses across the region for their support so far during this unprecedented time following the introduction of emergency powers.

He said: “High-visibility patrols have been in place right across the Highland and Islands since enforcement powers were introduced and it is clear that the vast majority of people are complying with the measures. Where our officers have encountered people outside, they’ve been able to engage with them or educate them on why it’s so important to follow the guidance from our public health experts in order to save lives. Whilst we obviously have powers to issue penalty notices, this is very much a last resort and thankfully to date my officers have not had to resort to this measure. 

“As echoed by my colleagues across Scotland, we all recognise that the current situation is a significant change to the way people live their lives and we all need to adjust to that. The clear message is to stay at home, and by and large, people are doing that.”

He added: “We have been given extraordinary powers in an extraordinary situation, powers Police would not normally wish to have, but I’d like to thank the communities across the Highland and Islands for helping and supporting us. It is likely that these restrictions will continue and we need this support, understanding and self-discipline to continue.”

The Boatman's Tower, Lews Castle Grounds.   Photo copyright John Maher

Lewis and Harris are set to have their very own Illuminations as three historic buildings get lit up this month in celebration of island architecture – and island residents have the chance to see their very own artwork up in lights.

An Lanntair arts centre and the Western Isles Architects Group are delighted to present three nights of illuminations and lantern parades to celebrate the diversity of Architecture in the Western Isles on Friday, March 24th in Rodel, and Saturday March 25th and Monday March 27th in Stornoway.

As part of a the 'Building our Islands' project, inspired by the 2016 Festival of Architecture, three island buildings – The Boatman's Tower and The Nicolson Institute Clock Tower in Stornoway, and Store Girnal in Rodel – were selected by the public, with over 500 people casting their vote.

The Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) has expressed deep disappointment at the Scottish Government decision to not introduce the planned Areas of Natural Constraint support scheme, instead opting to reduce support payments to the fragile areas.

“The government have reneged on their promise,” said Russell Smith, chair of the SCF, “which was made in the lead up to this phase of the Common Agriculture Policy. For years government and stakeholders have been working on the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) support scheme, which was to replace the Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme (LFASS).”

Mr Smith said, “LFASS has been consistently misused by Scotland to divert public money intended for support to the fragile areas to act as a ‘top-up’ for the industry farms on better land.

Crofters are receiving demands for payment of business rates on sporting rights that the vast majority of them do not hold, the Scottish Crofting Federation warns.

It is imperative that local authorities halt the process until this has been sorted out, says Patrick Krause, the SCF chief executive.

The Scottish Crofting Federation has received many communications from members who are very anxious over a demand they have received for payment, sometimes of very large amounts of money, for rates on sporting rights they do not hold. 

Crofting in the Western isles seems to be under attack from many angles at the moment, with a series of institutional cutbacks, says Patrick Krause, chief executive of the Scottish Crofting Federation.
The closure of Stornoway abattoir is under threat, a massive blow for crofting in Harris and Lewis.  "We are trying to promote provenance of food produce but the closure will see the end of being able to claim meat as being Hebridean from birth to death.  It is also thought that the closure will increase the number of home-kills which do not allow the meat on to the open market."
He points out that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar owns the Stornoway Abattoir and has maintained it to a high standard since giving it a substantial refurbishment in 1993.  The Comhairle admits that “The service this facility provides is a significant element of the crofting/agricultural sector in the Western Isles”, but, he says, cutbacks will diminish the service this year and complete closure is planned for next year.

The impact of Brexit on Scottish rural development and crofting in particular was the subject of a keynote address by Dr Michael Russell, the Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland's Place in Europe at the Scottish Crofting Federation annual gathering in Applecross.

The meeting on Saturday March 11th heard Michael Russell explain how when he was appointed as 'Minister for Brexit' in August last year that there was no structure in place for dealing with the negotiations.  

Ultimately a committee was established as part of the Joint Ministerial Committee structure between the Governments which he said "was not effective at all".  It was "totally controlled from London" - with all meetings taking place there and always chaired by a UK minister. "There's no decision-making function" within the joint committee structure.  

With deadline day approaching, the Crofting Commission is reminding crofters that they are legally obliged to complete and return the Crofting Census, which was issued at the end of last year.

Completed Crofting Census forms need to be returned by the 31 March 2017.

The Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 requires crofters to complete the Crofting Census each year and if they fail to provide the information without reasonable cause, by the date shown or knowingly provide false information they will be guilty of an offence under this Act. 

'I want to learn' was the basic message from Crofting Commission Chief Executive Bill Barron to crofters meeting for the Scottish Crofting Federation annual gathering in Applecross on Saturday March 11th.   

Mr Barron was only recently confirmed as permanent chief executive after three months in the post as an 'acting CEO' and took the opportunity to introduce himself in detail to crofters and invite questions on many subjects - excluding the current commission elections.

Mr Barron said he "was delighted to have this job."  He explained he had 35 years experience as a civil servant working for the UK Government and the Scottish Government, starting out as a statistician for 15 years and then moving on to become a policy adviser, working on education, poverty, health, policing, criminal courts and latterly housing in Scotland.  "I had absolutely no knowledge of Crofting at all" until taking up the post in October last year.  He and his family live in a small community outside of Edinburgh and he has some experience of working in community organisations there.


The new Assessors Panel at the Crofting Commission

A new Assessors Panel has been appointed for the Crofting Commission, the organisation has announced today (Thursday, March 22nd).
The Assessor’s role is varied and includes passing on information locally relevant to crofting, being able to signpost crofting to the services offered by the Commission and to also provide to the Commission any relevant information on matters which might arise in their own areas.
Crofting Commission Convener, Rod Mackenzie, said: “The Commission is pleased to welcome a new panel of Assessors.

The count for the Crofting Commission elections will take place in the Stornoway Town Hall from 10am on Friday 17th March 2017.

Live updates will be provided bilingually through Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Facebook and Twitter pages and Periscope will be used to give live video of the announcements.

Comhairle Twitter page: https://twitter.com/cne_siar

Comhairle Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/comhairlenaneileansiar/

A number of replacement postal packs have been issued for the Crofting Commission Election.  Due to an error by external printers, a number of the original postal packs issued had an incomplete address.

If you are one of the electors who receives a replacement postal pack which should arrive by this weekend, you must complete the ballot paper contained within this pack as the previously issued ballot paper has now been cancelled.

Postal voting packs for the four contested constituencies in the Crofting Commission Elections must be returned to The Returning Officer, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Stornoway by 4.00pm on Thursday 16 March 2017. 

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Election Office spokesperson Mairi Sine Macdonald said:  “I would urge Postal Voters to ensure that they post their completed ballot paper in the reply paid envelope provided in sufficient time to ensure that it is returned by the deadline”.

 

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar representatives raised a number of crofting concerns with Environment Minister, Aileen Mcleod, when she visited Uist earlier this week.

Councillors Uisdean Robertson and Donald Crichton met with the Minister to reiterate the Comhairle's position on the Crofter Housing Grant Scheme and addressing the issue of delayed basic payments to crofters.

Councillor Robertson, Chair of the Comhairle's Crofting JCC said: "This was a useful meeting in which the Minister listened carefully and with interest to the issues we raised. We were able to bring before the Minister our concern that there is no new money for this scheme and that we have seen the budget for it cut in half over the last ten years. 

There was cross-party agreement on the need for crofting law reform at the Crofting Law Conference (organised by the WS Society and the Crofting Law Group) held in the Signet Library, Edinburgh yesterday (Thursday).

Trudi Sharp, Deputy Director of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform, in the Scottish Government stood in at the last minute for Dr Aileen McLeod MSP, Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, who was unfortunately unwell and unable to deliver the keynote address on behalf of the Government.

Trudi Sharp indicated that she had yet to speak to anyone who would disagree with the sentiment that there was a need to simplify crofting legislation. She said:
“The Minister is clear that crofting legislation should be well thought-through with stakeholders and deliver law that is modern, simple and fit for purpose.”

Health and port officials in the Western Isles are laying contingency plans for action in the event of passengers or crew with symptoms of Coronavirus arriving into ports in the Western Isles during the upcoming tourist season.

A total of 61 cruise vessel visits are currently expected in Stornoway between April and October this year and there are also significant concerns about the impact on the island economy if tourism income from cruise ships and yacht visitors is lost because of cancellations due to the virus.

Alastair Macarthur of Stornoway Shipping Services said today (Wednesday 11 March): “The Port Authority and NHS Health Authorities are following government guidelines, but there are still huge questions as to what may happen over the next few weeks.

“The island certainly does not have the infrastructure to cope with isolating large numbers of sick crew passengers. We have been trying to persuade government to designate a contingency port to which we could direct ships that need access to medical services and supplies.

“At the same time, the summer business from cruise ships is what keeps my business – and many others – going. If the season is severely hampered and cruises are to be affected it will be catastrophic.

“Every year people shout about ‘what do these people bring into the economy’, but they’ll soon find out if the summer is as bad as is being suggested. Just now we can’t do anything other than wait and see.”

In a notice to mariners issued by Stornoway Port Authority on Friday (6 March), masters of cruise and cargo vessels visiting Western Isles ports are advised of the protocol to follow if any person on board has travelled from or via any of the current risk areas as defined by Health Protection Scotland.

A Maritime Declaration of Health (MDH) is already required for all vessels on arrival from a foreign port, but the new notice says: “In response to this emerging situation regarding COVID-19, Health Protection Scotland and the Scottish Ports Liaison Network require that information be submitted to the Scottish Port Health Authority … [for] ALL cruise vessels [and] container and cargo vessels where anyone on board the vessel has travelled from or via any current risk area if they have been in close contact with confirmed case of COVID-19 infection within the 14 days prior to the vessel arriving in a Scottish Port.”

The notice goes on to say that the master of each vessel should consider any of the listed symptoms of COVID-19 as grounds for suspecting the existence of a disease of an infectious nature.

If the port operator or ship’s agent receives notice that there are ill persons on a vessel and the suspected case is a medical emergency, they must call 999 for medical assistance but must not disembark the patient or arrange alternative transport to a hospital until advised to do so.

Stornoway’s Harbour Master has the responsibility to inform the NHS Public Health (local Health Protection Team) and the Port Health Authority (the local authorities).

Even suspected cases of the illness who do not have severe symptoms may not be disembarked from the vessel until the NHS Health Protection Team has determined follow-up action.

The concerns faced by Western Isles ports are the same as those for other island groups around Scotland, where small communities annually play host to large numbers of visitors.

Lerwick harbourmaster Alexander Simpson told local newspaper The Shetland Times this week that the port authority were employing the same measures as the rest of the world.

He said: “The master of any vessel is required by law to report on the health of crew and passengers prior to a port visit. If there is any issue declared the vessel is placed into quarantine and from there is a process which is followed according to our emergency plans.”

And in Orkney a council statement was released to local paper The Orcadian when the Hurtigruten vessel Fridtjof Nansen made her call to Kirkwall last month. It said: “We have had port health procedures in place for many years for dealing with cases of infection aboard ships of all kind. These procedures are aimed at preventing infection coming into the country.

“If there was a suspected case of COVID-19 aboard a ship the health needs of the individual would be an important consideration, but the most likely outcome is that the ship would be redirected to a port on the Scottish mainland close to more specialist health facilities.”

As the number of cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) increases across Scotland, the current advice to prevent spread and contain the virus can be found on the NHS Inform website - https://www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus

Because it is a new illness, we do not know exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person, but similar viruses are spread by droplets in coughs and sneezes.

Common symptoms include:

  • high temperature or fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath

How to avoid catching infections like Coronavirus

You can reduce your risk of getting and spreading respiratory infections by:

  • avoiding direct hand contact with your eyes, nose and mouth
  • maintaining good hand hygiene - washing hands with soap and water or alcohol hand sanitiser before eating and drinking, and after coughing, sneezing and going to the toilet. Wash hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • avoiding direct contact with people that have a respiratory illness and avoiding using their personal items such as their mobile phone.
  • covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing with disposable tissues and disposing of them in the nearest waste bin after use.
    • Monday to Friday, 8.00am to 10.00pm
    • Saturday and Sunday, 9.00am to 5.00pm

      Currently, there is no vaccine and no specific treatment for the virus.

      Widespread community issuing of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks and gloves, is not appropriate, and therefore groups and individuals should not approach/contact NHS services requesting PPE. PPE is deployed on a risk assessed, prioritised basis.

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline:  If you do not have symptoms and are looking for general information, a free helpline has been set up on 0800 028 2816.

      The helpline is open:

    Picture: Cruise ships from last summer in Stornoway harbour (John Dyer).

 

The first ever Gaelic anthology of Gaelic verse from WW1 with English translations and notes on authors and key personalities and events mentioned in the poems.     

£15.00 PBK 509pp ISBN: 9780861525447

If you’re driving anywhere between Ness and Leverburgh tomorrow, be sure and toot your horn at three hardy BBC cyclists. 

Janice Ann Mackay, Emma Lamont, and Allan Macleod are all taking part in a Sport Relief challenge, which will see them attempt to get from the Butt of Lewis to Leverburgh in under 12 hours.

The trio will depart at 6.45am, and hope to be finished their 85-mile effort by 6pm. 

Councillors would like to remind cyclists that the use of pavements for cycling is forbidden.

Cyclists using pavements in Stornoway has been highlighted to the Comhairle as an ongoing problem that needs to be resolved.

Read the Highway Code’s rules for cyclists and you will see, in no uncertain terms, that cycling on the pavements is forbidden. Rule number 64: You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement.

However, the issue of cyclists using pedestrian walkways in Stornoway has been highlighted as an issue that appears to be getting worse – endangering walkers, runners, babies in prams, children, and anyone else using the pavement, who are inclined to assume that they are safe from vehicles there.

Stornoway South Councillor and Chair of the Outer Hebrides Community Safety Partnership, Cllr Charlie Nicolson, stated: "A lot of people have been in contact about cyclists using the pavements and the main town centre pedestrian precinct. I know the Police are aware of the issue. This is putting people who are out walking, running, and wheel chair users, in a dangerous situation, especially at night.

“We want to encourage the sport of cycling but would ask cyclists to keep to the rules of using the roads, and not putting pedestrians in a difficult situation. The last thing we want is any serious accidents so please keep to the rules and safeguard our pedestrians, and stay off the pavements."

Mark Beaumont, the well-known adventurer and long distance cyclist is setting off today to complete the challenge to cycle the Hebridean Way Cycling Route in just 24 hours.

The Outer Hebrides Tourism group says: "Everything is in place and Mark has been training hard … the last thing we need is you!  We are looking for lots of cheers and support for Mark as he sets off in Vatersay and to celebrate with him when the 24 hours are up and he has arrived at the Butt of Lewis.

If you are in Barra or Vatersay gather at the Community Hall at Vatersay at 1145 today  (Thursday 10th March) to wish Mark well.

If you are on Lewis you can welcome him as he finishes his challenge at the Butt of Lewis tomorrow  (Friday 11th March) at 13.00.

OHT will be filming Mark through this epic journey with a film crew capturing his personal journey through the islands.  "We are more than happy for cyclists to cycle with Mark for a couple of miles, but then you must peel of as there are lots of filming logistics to fit around.  If you would like to cycle with Mark, please contact Mairi at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as there are designated joining points where you can join him for a couple of miles and then peel off.

Follow the challenge on-line  

From crofting to kayaking, the pupils at Daliburgh School in South Uist have been making the most of their island environment to supplement their classroom learning experience. “In order to promote resilience and confidence in our pupils, as well as helping them to improve their communication skills and develop their own ability to manage risk, we have focused on using our natural environment to enhance our learning environment,” explains Head Teacher Jane MacIntyre.

For the past two years, the outdoor learning programme has involved a variety of learning sessions both on land and on water. 14 kayaks, two Canadian canoes, camping equipment, and an “outdoor classroom” – as well as all the necessary safety equipment – were purchased using over £10,000 of funds raised from Awards 4 All, part of the National Lottery Fund, and local bodies such as the Community Council and local councillors. “Through various outdoor sessions, our pupils could be seen to gain confidence, and by the end of their kayaking block last year, all the P7s were able to demonstrate how to capsize confidently,” says Jane.

Also part of the outdoor learning experience was the inter-house triathlon held in June 2019, which saw pupils from Primary 1 to 7 take part in a competition which covered racing on the cross-country track, paddling in kayaks, and cycling on school bikes. The triathlon was such a success that this year, Primary 7 pupils from other Uist schools will be invited to join in the fun at a transition event that will include camping, climbing, mountain biking, kayaking, and another inter-house triathlon.

And it’s not just outdoor sporting events the pupils are involved in; they’re learning the importance of looking after and cultivating the land, too. “We are encouraging pupils to make links between their community, their culture, and the curriculum in a way that is relevant to their lives,” explains Jane. Over the past few months, this has included community activities such as local beach clean-ups; outdoor learning visits to different environments, like beaches, forests, and hills; and learning about crofting and growing local produce. Staff from TAGSA Uibhist have also worked with the school to improve and develop the outdoor growing area.

“The children have been learning about the links between sustainability, crofting, and local produce through the work and development of our Crofting Committee, which is made up of pupils from P4-P7, and our Gardening Masterclass (one of the activities offered on a Friday afternoon). Through this, pupils have been cultivating and harvesting their own produce, some of which was turned into chutneys and sold at our Christmas Fayre,” says Jane. The pupils are also responsible for the school’s hens, and the school Crofting Committee is working with local crofters to identify which other animals could be cared for on the school premises in the future.

Pupils are also going to be learning how to develop the school grounds to provide more opportunities for imaginative play, creativity, and problem-solving activities, and a “wild area” is already in development. This learning was enhanced by a training session given as part of the school’s February in-service by Learning Through Landscapes, a UK-based charity dedicated to enhancing outdoor learning and play for children. The charity awarded the school the Local Schools Nature Grant, which included £500 worth of outdoor equipment in addition to the training session.

Outdoor learning of the kind that is taking place at Daliburgh School is a key component of the national curriculum; the Curriculum for Excellence states that “integrating learning and outdoor experiences, whether through play in the immediate grounds or adventures further afield, provides relevance and depth to the curriculum in ways that are difficult to achieve indoors.”

And as Jane explains, Daliburgh School is putting this ethos into practice by “enhancing the pupils’ learning experiences by taking advantage of the benefits that island life gives us: our beautiful environment, close community, and rich culture and heritage.”

Pictured: Pupils in the garden, learning about crofting at a sheep sale and on an RSPB visit learning about wildlife.

 

An endling is an individual that is the last of its species. Once the endling dies, the species becomes extinct.

With ENDLING, at An Lanntair on Monday March 16th at 8pm, Rob Heaslip reimagines mourning rituals through dance, vocals, music and design.

Popular and folk culture collide in a world where death is tinged with acid pink, green and purple.

This piece started in 2016 when Rob became the inaugural HATCH recipient with Dance Ireland.  With some further support from Creative Scotland he gathered a team that filled the room with languages, talent and curiosity from both Scotland and Ireland and for four weeks they delved into folklore; what it once used to mean and what it means today and the role it plays in people’s lives.

Heaslip is fixated on the role of the Gaelic languages within culture today. He wasn't born into it, but he knew that he loved the Irish language, and in a way, its sister in Scotland. He loves how it sees the universe differently, moves at a different pace to English, and has a wonderful poetic way to describe the actions and beliefs that help us meander through life.

It was through his time with The National Folk Theatre of Ireland that he discovered his passion for it.

Rob had originally gone into the studio with a single idea to create just the one piece of performance work, but he soon realised that it was all just too vast. He had originally planned to call it ‘A Glimpse of Flesh and Blood’.

It was Aaron Jeffrey, artist and close friend of Rob's who suggested the trilogy – birth, life and death – just as humans see life. Aaron went a step further and suggested doing the cycle in reverse. 

Rob came across a short clip that contained the bird song of a species from an island in the Pacific. The last male of the species, calling out to find a mate that was no longer there. He was all alone, and the narrator called him an endling.

The story rang bells for Rob and drew parallels with his own culture and his relationship to Gaelic, how he perceived it to be fading and disconnected.

He knew there and then that he didn’t want that ENDLING in the Pacific to be forgotten. So, this work is for him.

Rob wants ENDLING to identify as a piece of Contemporary-Folk Dance Theatre. He wants it to draw from elements of the Gaelic languages - speakers, communities and cultural references. It is a full-evening production, with traditional and contemporary Gaelic musical arrangements delivered by vocalists, accompanied by a contemporary set and an ensemble of dancers.

To create it he drew inspiration from accounts, documents, Gaelic songs, imagery of the landscape and of course, from studies of funerary and mourning rituals that are traditional to Gaelic-speaking areas of both Scotland and Ireland.

Rob likes to think that the show will offer viewers the chance to experience work with a unique aesthetic and audiences will be able to engage with high-quality thought-provoking performance, whether they are looking for inspiring entertainment, or a moment of time-out to appreciate the work from a visual and vocal perspective.

Photograph by Brian Hartley

The 2016 Rally Hebrides is getting closer by the day and the main cog in the wheel to ensure this event happens each year is the people who very kindly marshal on the event, says Lewis Car Club.

"Your help and the giving up of your precious time to help ensure the Rally goes ahead to raise much needed funds for Macmillan Cancer support and is very greatly appreciated by all at Lewis Car Club.

"Both new and experienced marshals are very welcome and will be greatly appreciated.

Elite athletes from the Outer Hebrides have just a fortnight left to apply to benefit from a scheme designed to support travel costs in the islands.

The pilot Islands Athlete Travel Award Scheme from sportscotland will support up to 24 high-performing athletes from across the Islands to attend training and competitions. The aim of this scheme is to help the elite athletes of the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland to gain better access to competitive and developmental opportunities available on the mainland.

Up to eight individuals could benefit in the Western Isles with £1,500 available per person this year.

Scottish Fuels, local supplier of heating oil and lubricants, which is owned by Certas Energy, donated a defibrillator unit to an Lanntair Arts Centre in Stornoway.

The unit, presented during a training session at the centre on Thursday 26 February 2015, is hosted by an Lanntair's information desk, for use by visitors to the centre, passers-by and local residents.

A new bilingual dementia friendly community initiative in the Western Isles has been given the go-ahead thanks to a funding boost of £180,000.  

The project, run by an Lanntair, is based on two previous pilot projects which used combined local knowledge, local language, and memory tools to support people affected by dementia in a culturally specific way.

This new initiative looks at the role that bilingualism – speaking Gaelic and English - plays in the delayed onset of dementia and the benefits that an oral tradition can have in retaining good memory skills, providing a generational bridge and a sense of belonging.

One of the most iconic buildings in Harris is coming to the end of its life.

According to the planning department of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Mrs Chirsty and Mr Angus Macleod of Hotel Hebrides have applied for planning permission to demolish Tarbert Stores, which is a listed building, at Pier Road, Tarbert, adjacent to Hotel Hebrides and opposite the bus station/car park.

The Assessment of the Existing Condition demonstrates that the Tarbert Stores building "is incapable of meaningful repair".

The report says that the necessary structural safety repairs and required upgrading of the building structure and fabric to comply with current building regulations cannot be achieved without significant alterations, which would result in the complete reconstruction of any original fabric at Tarbert Stores.

Photograph by John Maher

 

Are you, or is someone you care about, living with diabetes? The Lewis and Harris Diabetic Support Group are meeting on Friday the 24th of March at 12.30pm in the Lewis Retirement Centre, Bayhead, Stornoway. Diabetic Specialist Dietitian, Mrs M Macleod, will be speaking, and tea/coffee and healthy filled rolls will be provided. For more information call Margaret Macleod on 07799 026  484, Isabel Macleod on 01851 70 3273 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. All welcome.

People in the Western Isles are being urged to take part in the public consultation on proposals to tackle incidents of dogs attacking livestock.

The consultation, which ends on 15th May, was launched last month by SNP MSP Emma Harper, who has the support of a number of organisations, including NFU Scotland, the Scottish SPCA, and Police Scotland, and others, to strengthen livestock attack laws.

The public can take part in the consultation on the following link: https://www.parliament.scot/gettinginvolved/111027.aspx

People in the Western Isles are being urged to take part in the public consultation on proposals to tackle incidents of dogs attacking livestock.

The consultation, which ends on 15th May, was launched last month by SNP MSP Emma Harper, who has the support of a number of organisations, including NFU Scotland, the Scottish SPCA, and Police Scotland, and others, to strengthen livestock attack laws.

The public can take part in the consultation on the following link: https://www.parliament.scot/gettinginvolved/111027.aspx

Stornoway Coastguard Rescue Team (CRT) were called to help with a search for a missing dog on Saturday (7 March), after a man was taken from the water at Stornoway harbour.

A Scottish Ambulance crew had already taken the man into an ambulance after he was found in the harbour water at 2.20am on Saturday, but en route to Western Isles Hospital he told them he was concerned about his dog, which had been with him.

The ambulance crew alerted Stornoway Coastguard operations centre, who tasked a search for the animal from 9am.

A Coastguard team spokesman said: “The team searched the stanchions under the piers and along the shoreline up to the mouth of the Creed but nothing found.  Having completed our search we returned to the station and soon after were informed that the missing dog had been located safe and well.”

The picture shows a member of Stornoway CRT in the water during the search for the dog.

Don’t expand your permitted exercise plans by heading for the hills, urges Highland MSP.

Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron urges hillwalkers to keep away from the mountains until the coronavirus pandemic is over, and not to regard a high-level trek as an option for exercising.

Mr Cameron said: “In recent days members of the Oban Mountain Rescue Team have been out in the hills assisting walkers who have got into difficulty.

“They have been supported by the police and the ambulance service as well as by helicopter crews.

“At a time like this when the emergency services are likely to find themselves at full stretch it is simply not acceptable for people to put themselves in a position where they require this level of assistance.

“There are other options for taking exercise outside which should, in any event, be taken close to home and without risk to themselves or others.

“I would plead with anyone thinking about heading for the hills to think again and heed the advice of Mountaineering Scotland: ‘Stay Local, Stay Safe’.“

Meanwhile Margo Paterson, Chief Executive of Hostelling Scotland, said: “It is with great sadness that we have had to temporarily close our Youth Hostel network until further notice. However, the health, safety and wellbeing of our people and guests along with protecting the communities in which we all live and work is our utmost priority at this time.

“The current situation is difficult for everyone and if ever there was a time for communicating with mutual understanding, this is it. We will keep in touch with you through our monthly e-newsletters and social media channels. You’ll find us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. Further information is always available on our website and you can also email us with any enquiries direct at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

We really appreciate the hard work being carried out by all healthcare workers and those on the front line, looking after people and keeping us safe. Although our hostels are closing, we shall be talking with the NHS and other public services to see how best our hostels can support essential services.

“Thank you for your continued support of Hostelling Scotland. It gives heart and hope to hear messages of support and to know that so many people have plans to explore this beautiful country of ours and to stay in our Youth Hostels in the future.

“When we all start travelling again, we will be here for you and ready to provide the warm welcome you’ve come to expect from our organisation. Please stay well and look after one another.

"We look forward to welcoming you again very soon.”

Isles MP Angus Brendan is pleading for people not to travel to the Islands - as concern grows that the lack of testing is the main reason for the apparent lack of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Isles. 

At the moment, any tests being done have to be sent to the mainland for processing. 

A facility for testing is being established on the Islands but it is still in the process of being commmissioned, the NHS stated earlier in the week. 


Scotland's Chief Constable Iain Livingstone has thanked the overwhelming majority of people for observing instruction to avoid pubs, restaurants and urges people to comply with health advice

"To be clear, no public houses or other entertainment venues should be opening for patrons until further notice."


Concern was also voiced at the NHS Western Isles press conference on Wednesday (March 18) about the impact of people returning from the mainland and from overseas employment and other trips.

There are continuing pleas on Twitter and other social media for people to self-isolate on return to the Islands to minimise the speed of transmission of the virus.

The MP also sent out a photograph of the emergency hospital provision at Castlebay village hall on Barra where local medical staff have prepared for #coronavirus

He said: "This is not far from Third World basic.  No ventilators, no much oxygen either, no testing.  Islands such as this could be badly hit. Message is…don't come on holiday, please."

Asked on Twitter about the level of provision, the MP stated: "Scotland and the UK does not have what it needs. Scotland has 360 ventilators, I was told.  The maths ratios of possible demand to availability are not good."

And Kate Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, and the Cabinet Secretary for Finance said on Twitter: "If you live elsewhere, please don’t use the Highlands as your means of self-isolation. People live here who are trying to follow Government guidance and the continuing flow of campervans and other traffic who appear to be escaping the cities is not helping."

But also on Twitter, musician Jane Hepburn-Macmillan pointed out that pubs and the like in Stornoway were remaining crowded despite the Government advice. This was a display from Era nightclub for last weekend, Saturday March 14th.

Jane pointed out last night (Friday March 20) that: "So on average, if one person catches it, they pass it on to three people. Each of them then pass it on to another three, and on it goes.
Right now: three #Stornoway pubs are absolutely heaving with people. STAY AT HOME," she pleaded. 

The first coronavirus case in Scotland was on March 2. A total of 19 days ago.  For comparison, the first case in Greece was recorded on February 26 and, 12 days later, on March 10, the government announced the closure of all schools and community centres; March 14 brought with it the closure of all pubs, clubs, cafes restaurants, except for takeaway, and no more than five people are allowed to be in line at once. All stores have been shut since Wednesday March 18, save for pharmacies, fuel stations and grocery stores. From tomorrow all flights to and from Greece will cease.

Earlier in the week, a plan to bring football strips from the youngsters of Point FC to a school in Africa has been disrupted at the 11th-hour due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Development consultant Alasdair Nicholson, who regularly goes to Tanzania to help develop local skills in community enterprise, was in Edinburgh ready to fly to Africa on Wednesday March 18, but decided to cancel the trip in the light of the UK warning against all non-essential travel.

Alasdair, who also works as a community consultant for community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust, had collected a bundle of junior Point FC strips, as well as science textbooks, to take with him to a joint primary and secondary school at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro.

He was taking the strips out to Northern Tanzania after Point and Sandwick Trust sponsored new kit for the young players of Point FC. Point and Sandwick Trust had also provided a couple of footballs for the school and Alasdair had spoken of what a difference it would make to the children there.

He had anticipated great “glee and happiness” at the gifts and had told the Wee Reds in Point (pictured below) that children in Africa were often without strips or boots – sometimes even footballs. “Sometimes they make footballs from rolled up banana leaves,” he said. He also told the youngsters: “I’m just the carrier of these strips. You are the ones who’re donating them.”

However, he decided against making the journey and plans to go back later, when the situation has settled down.

Alasdair said: “Things are moving so fast with corona in the last few days that it is uncertain what borders will be closed or flights cancelled. This is a postponement rather than a total withdrawal but I would not want to be an accidental vector from any casual contact in passing through Amsterdam or from a crowded African bus.

“Yes, I’m disappointed but there will be vulnerable people who are at risk and any problems I have encountered are nothing compared with the anxiety that they will have so our thoughts should be with our neighbours and community."

Alasdair Nicholson with young Point FC players and representatives from the club and Point and Sandwick Trust. Photograph by Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos
 

The Directors of the Lewis and Harris Auction Mart met on Saturday evening (March 2nd) in the Caladh Inn to present long-serving Secretary Donald Macleod with a gift after his retiral as a Director of the Mart.

Pupils from The Nicolson Institute have today (Friday March 8th) thanked parents and businesses for their support with donations to help sports activities at school.

Stornoway Coastguard Coastal Operations Centre had to deal with two emergencies at sea within one hour yesterday afternoon (Thursday March 28th).

The Coastguard rescue helicopter R948 was scrambled at 3.40pm to the assistance of the Dutch cargo vessel Northern Rock, who had called for assistance with a sick crewman.

Efforts to stop dog fouling in Stornoway are being ramped up. 

Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar is continuing its anti-dog fouling campaign with visits to known problem areas.

A spokesperson said: “There has been a lot of feedback from the campaign so far with lots of support via social media and officers have being patrolling areas highlighted.  Requests have been made for more dog waste bins however owners are reminded that bagged dog waste can be put in any residual waste bin.”

New flight restriction zones for drone operators come into force today (Wednesday March 13th), meaning that drones must be kept  further away from airports at Stornoway, Benbecula and Barra.

Rachel C. Barowman is the director of the Dùn Èistean Archaeology Project (DEAP). This book contains the detailed report of the survey work carried out by the DEAP team between 2000 and 2007. It also tells the story of Dùn Èistean, a defended local stronghold, caught up in the conflict and political turmoil between the islands and mainland authorities in Scotland in the 1500s and early 1600s. Includes a CD with tables, field catalogues, illustrations and further notes.

English £29.99 PBK 454pp ISBN: 9780861525393

Customers of Veggie Box are being warned to get their orders in today (Monday March 30) because of changes with deliveries on the mainland, ferry times and the like.
They are telling customers this morning: "I think the vast majority of our orders for last week went through OK but we did have a few hiccups along the way and I just want to apologise to anyone affected by this.
"We were caught out by the demand and the systems that we have in place to deal with our regular customers were somewhat overwhelmed and as a consequence we did struggle, we have had a think about this and have looked to change a couple of things to try and make sure the same things don't happen again.
"The main change is that our supplier has asked for our orders to be in with him by Monday afternoons each week.
"I appreciate this is short notice for yourselves but we only just found out. Consequently we will deliver and have pick-ups ready, probably on a Thursday but we will confirm this nearer the time.
"If we can ask that all orders are received by either email, text or telephone, we will the reply to you with a 4 digit order reference such as A001, if you have placed an order and haven't received the reference number within a day, then please do get back in touch."

The Bridge Community Centre still has some places left on most of the Heritage trips and activities on offer over the Easter holidays. Open to all young people (they don't have to be Bridge Centre members) aged 11-25 and all free of charge. Ring 01851 702432 for more information or to make a provisional booking.

Lewis weatherman Eddy Graham has been appointed one of the co-editors of the Royal Meteorological Society’s journal Weather, following the retirement of the current editor.

Eddy, who lectures at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) at Lews Castle College, will take over the reins as co-editor alongside University of Exeter lecturer Gavin Huggett from March 31st, when retiring editor Jim Galvin steps down.

Electric cars now have the range…and the power source back-up, and that's official.

Brian Whitington of Tighean Innse Gall drove over 1300 miles to demonstrate electric cars can make long journeys across the islands and way beyond.

He joined Isles MP Angus Brendan MacNeil outside Parliament in London to highlight action on climate change, which includes the switch to electric vehicles. TIG are well known for their work on making homes more energy efficient, but as part of overall advice for local folk across the islands they advise on electric vehicle use as well.

Angus joined the bid to promote the message that long journeys in electric vehicles are perfectly doable, and that all of us can Think Act Save on climate action.

Angus MacNeil MP said: “Great effort by Brian to drive from Stornoway to Parliament, showing it can be done in an electric car. The switch to electric cars is happening, and given we produce so much clean energy in our islands, it makes obvious sense for us to use it driving. We need to boost infrastructure for charging, and this is rapidly ongoing by Scottish Government.”

Stewart Wilson, TIG's chief eexecutive said: “TIG are always striving to help people with all their energy needs. Driving electric is going to be commonplace and we can show everyone how to do it. Obviously our car is designed to be a ‘wow factor’ but the only difference between driving this car to London and back and a smaller, cheaper car is the size of the battery and the number of charges”.

The car forms part of the Energy in Transition project which aims to advise more than 1000 households across the Outer Hebrides on how to reduce their energy consumption by 5%, with simple ideas on how to achieve this.

The project also promotes electric vehicle use for local residents, so they can understand the change that is coming in vehicle use. You can sign up to the project here: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/energyintransition/

The photograph is Angus MacNeil MP with Brian Whitington from Tighean Innse Gall with a Tesla EV outside Parliament. Think Act Save is the slogan for the Energy In Transition project delivered by TIG.

 

Western Isles Labour candidate Alasdair Morrison has called for the new Scottish Government body, Wave Energy Scotland, to be located in Lewis so that it does not become "another distant quango living off peripheral resources".

The new body has been set up following the collapse of Pelamis, the Edinburgh-based technology developer and the Scottish Government's admission that nobody is going to win the Saltire Prize which, said Mr Morrison, "raised entirely false hopes about the wave power sector".

Mr Morrison said: "It is now clear to everyone that, in order to give credibility to its otherwise incredible energy policy, the Scottish Government encouraged expectations about what wave power would contribute on a timescale that was entirely out of line with technical progress."

Urras Energy has burst through its target for community share investment with the total raised standing at an impressive £705,800. 

This heralds a very exciting time for the Society in the months ahead with construction now underway and two additional wind turbines expected to arrive in the middle of the year to add to the rapidly growing community wind energy infrastructure across the Isle of Lewis.

The support from within the Galson Estate and the wider island community has been an essential driver in the project’s success. 

Claudine Bloom and Andy Twort, with Amy Amazon, present their donation to Chrisetta Mitchell and Zena Stewart from The Leanne Fund

The Leanne Fund was delighted to receive nearly £5,000 raised through an epic challenge – the Peking to Paris Endurance Car Rally – completed by an Isle of Lewis duo.

Island residents Claudine Bloom and Andy Twort took part in the gruelling Peking to Paris Endurance Car Rally last summer, crossing two continents and travelling thousands of miles in their faithful 1965 Volvo Amazon model 122 car, aptly named 'Amy Amazon'.

The couple chose to support The Leanne Fund as one of their charities and raised an amazing £4,952.89.

An Isle of Harris company has repurposed its entire operation to provide emergency supplies to island people during the Coronavirus crisis.

Essence of Harris has had to rethink its strategy as consumers withdraw from the high street in these uncertain times.

But business-owner Jamie McGowan has immediately seen a need that he can meet – the urgent requirement for hand sanitiser to protect islanders from the spread of infection.

Now he has switched his equipment, his staff and some of his existing supplies to manufacture alcohol-based gel and rub, with the intention of launching the new products as a free offer by next week.

Jamie said: “This is not a project for financial gain. It’s something we want to do for the Highlands and Islands, which have supported us with our business for so long. It is so important that we look out for each other and support one another through what can seem like very uncertain times.

“I contacted Simon at Isle of Harris Distillers and he has supplied some of the ingredients. Others we have been sourcing since last week as the crisis began to bite on the mainland.

“I’m using the World Health Organisation’s suggested formulation for hand sanitiser and some of the packaging I already had. The bonus is that we already have the equipment we need to make this.”

A 100ml alcohol flash rinse and a 250ml sanitiser gel are already in production and the product, made in limited quantities, is going out of the door as fast as it is ready.

Jamie said: “Local care homes want it, I’ve had requests from families with vulnerable relatives and today I had a call from Police Scotland in Inverness.

“This is nothing to do with making money. For now, our intention is to be giving it out to those who need it, because it’s something we can do for our own island.”

Essence of Harris contacted Isles MP Angus Brendan MacNeil to tell him of their plans to provide an alcohol hand sanitiser which would be made available to public facing Western Isles workers.

Mr MacNeil said “Both companies are to be commended for this further example of the community working together to enable everyone to follow the guidelines about hand washing and social distancing. This Hand Gel will be available to public facing workers whether in shops, care settings or other places where it is needed.

“It is pleasing to see churches, tourist outlets and other businesses closing or changing how they work to encourage social distancing at great cost to their businesses but for the benefit of us all.

S"ome cafes, pubs and clubs have stayed open but please stay away from crowded places. In public places be sure you stay at least 2 metres away from others and don’t go in if they are busy. We do not want to look back in three weeks and wish we had done more. In reality this is not holiday time and if you have come back to the islands from the cities best to stay at home for at least a week and distance yourself.

"Social distancing can have a big impact on the spread of the virus and we must all look after each other by following the guidelines.” 

You can contact Essence of Harris at info@essenceofharris 01859 502768 or check their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/essenceofharris/ for up-to-date information.

 

Keep your care home visits essential only, the Comhairle are urging.

The new restriction will come into event from 7:30pm this evening (Thursday 26 March.)

Amongst those visitors who are deemed essential are immediate family members of service users receiving end-of-life care or service users who need substantial support because of dementia, a learning disability or autism, where not being present would cause the service user to be distressed. The Comhairle is also asking visitors to consider whether a visit is essential even in these circumstances.

The Comhairle is making this decision in order to help safeguard service users’ health and wellbeing.

Jack Libby, head of Community Care, said: “Managers and senior staff from each Care Home will make contact with affected family members at the earliest opportunity today.

"We understand that this may cause some upset, however, this is a very serious and developing situation and we need to respond to medical advice and Scottish Government guidance when issued.

“The decision will be reviewed within 3 weeks and we will keep families appraised of any further developments.”

Intermedia Services (Stornoway) Ltd, owners of welovestornoway.com and publishers of EVENTS newspaper, HEB Magazine and a variety of other websites and publications is today (Friday March 1st) taking over the business of SignPrint Ltd, which shares its headquarters in James Street, Stornoway.

Click here to visit our all new Family Announcements page, and read about our introductory offer!

Families gathering around the kitchen table to conduct science experiments might not be what immediately comes to mind when you think of homework, but homework has looked a bit different for pupils at Sgoil Bhaile a’ Mhanaich in Benbecula recently, and it’s all thanks to the school’s family learning programme.

Each year the school issues a Parental Engagement Calendar for parents and carers of pupils, providing an overview of ways in which they can get involved in their children’s learning – and this year’s Primary 4 “Science Bag” homework kits are a result of just that, as they were originally introduced after parental feedback and then trialled at a family workshop.

“We were looking to engage parents and carers in their children’s learning, and make it more meaningful for them, so it’s not just a case of coming to parents evening and things like that. We created a parental engagement calendar, which provides them with an overview of ways in which they can be involved in their child’s learning,” explains Depute Head Teacher Kirsty Brennan. “We’ve got an open-door policy where parents are encouraged to come into the school and take part in family and parental workshops.  This is complemented by a variety of different events throughout the year.”

First introduced in 2017, the family engagement calendar changes each year depending on the School Improvement Projects – this year the focus is on raising attainment in literacy and numeracy – and Science Kits for homework are just one of many initiatives taking place during the 2019-2020 school year. 

Other home learning activities which encourage parental engagement have included Maths Home Learning Kits and Topic Homework Grids, and at the end of each term pupils take home Criomagan or “Snapshot” Jotters, which highlight the learning taking place in school and offer parents and other family members the opportunities to comment on the child’s work. Nursery children also have family books which are updated in partnership with parents and carers and shared on a regular basis. 

Pupils are not only taking learning home, but parents are going to the school to “learn” too. February saw the first Digital Learning Parental Workshop, which gave an overview of apps and resources that can be used to enhance learning, and the school offers a Cafe Drop-In session which brings parents and carers into the school on a weekly basis, and focuses on different aspects of learning in another informal environment. Over the course of the school year so far they’ve practised phrases in British Sign Langauge; learned about Emerging Literacy; and heard advice from a Speech and Language Therapist. Similar opportunities are available for nursery parents; the “Stay and Play” Sessions allow parents to sit in on nursery sessions and cover a range of themes that support a child’s learning and engagement.

Families whose first language is not English are also supported through the family engagement programme, with parents visiting the school to discuss resources that support both their child’s English language acquisition as well as their own. One parent who attended an English as an Additional Language (EAL) class reported that watching how the teaching and learning was carried out in the classroom not only helped them understand what their child was finding difficult, but allowed them to support their child at home in the same way, too.

Staff at Sgoil Bhaile a’ Mhanaich also work with the community and local organisations in their parental outreach. Ceolas, for example, have been providing community Gaelic classes alongside the school’s own Sradagan sessions after school, where parents of children who attend Sradagan (Gaelic Medium Education nursery) can come along and take part in Gaelic classes themselves. 

Then there are all the regular school fundraisers and events, like Family Quiz Nights, Bingo, Fun Runs, and Sports Day. Digital newsletters and the school’s social media accounts also help keep parents, carers, and relatives and the community up to date with what’s happening within the school, whether that’s pupils dressing up as their favourite story character for World Book Day, or videos of students trying out new numeracy strategies.

This type of family engagement in the life of the school has benefits that go beyond individual homework assessments or fundraising efforts: Education Scotland, the Scottish Government agency responsible for supporting quality and improvement in Scottish education, notes that parental engagement in a child’s learning is a “key driver” in “achieving excellence and equity in Scottish education. The engagement of parents and families can help raise attainment for all and help to ensure that every child has an equal chance of success.”

In that vein, Sgoil Bhaile a’ Mhanaich involves parents in general curriculum development as well as specific learning activities.  Each year, parents are invited to the school to discuss the school improvement projects, with many of their ideas and suggestions being taken on board. Families also have input into the curriculum design, particularly when it comes to the Interdisciplinary Learning Themes, topics which use links across different subjects to enhance learning. 

“It’s about engaging with the community and our families, asking what their needs are and what they’d like to see and be involved in with regards to school life,” says Kirsty. “Research has shown that when parents are involved in their children’s learning, it does have a positive effect on pupils’ learning.”

As for the science homework kits, they’ve gone down as well with parents as they have with pupils. In the words of one parent: “we all really enjoyed doing the science experiments as a family – they taught us all a thing or two!”

A poignant family tribute to an inspirational Gaelic song enthusiast, singer and teacher will be staged as part of the Hebridean Celtic Festival this summer

Rod Mackenzie, who passed away two years ago, was the founder and leader of three Gaelic choirs from Back, in Lewis, who frequently enjoyed success at the Royal National Mod and other competitions. His extensive work and commitment to his community earned him a place in the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame.

The West Harris Trust are looking for a name for their brand new £1.5 million enterprise centre at Pairc Nisabost – and are inviting you to suggest it!

The winner will receive a meal for themselves and their family to the value of £100, at the café inside the new centre, scheduled for completion this summer. 

Organisers want a name that is ‘memorable, easy to pronounce, and evokes the spirit of the place, English or Gaelic’.

The Farm Advisory Service and SAC Consulting are holding the second in their series of friendly open common grazings discussion groups at the UOG Business Centre in South Galson next Tuesday, the 13th of March, at 7.30pm.  Topics will include public and employers liability, finances, more effective grazings and grants.  The meetings are completely free and everyone is welcome to attend. You can book your place online via www.fas.scot or by contacting Janette Sutherland at SAC Consulting Portree on 01478 621 993 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Tea and home baking will be provided.

The Faroe Islands have a much better mobile phone service than many parts of Scotland, according to Isles MP Angus MacNeil. 

He met with the Chair and CEO of Faroes Føroya Telecom, the Faroese telecom company that operates mobile phone telephony in the Faroe Islands, along with Huw Saunders from Ofcom, to discuss further developments for expanding mobile phone networks in Scotland, particularly in the Scottish Islands.

“This was a very interesting meeting to get an island based telecom company with the UK’s regulator Ofcom to discuss bringing mobile phone telephony to areas where the UK market is clearly failing," said Mr MacNeil.

There are fears in Harris that Cal Mac is planning to ‘remove or reduce’ its ferry service between Tarbert and Uig/Lochmaddy.

So genuine are the concerns, a Harris Transport Forum (HTF) has been established, seeking answers from Cal Mac over recent alterations to the service.

In a letter to Cal Mac, HTF express what they describe as ‘grave concerns’ over issues relating to the route.

So excited are the Loopallu Festival team about this year's headline act that they've broken with tradition to announce first acts months earlier than previous years.

And with first headliner Feeder making Loopallu 2016 their only Scottish festival appearance, who can blame the festival team.

Feeder frontman Grant Nicholas said: “We are very excited to close the festival season in Scotland.

All ferry services on the Lochmaddy-Uig-Tarbert routes are cancelled tomorrow (Monday) because of a southerly storm forecast with winds predicted to hit 70mph.

The afternoon ferry from Stornoway and its return from Ullapool are on amber alert for possible cancellation.

Amber alerts warning of possible cancellation are also in force for the Sound of Harris ferry.

Strong winds overnight from Thursday March 21st and through today (Friday) mean cancellations and disruption warnings on island ferry services.

All sailings between Tarbert and Uig on Friday 22nd March have been cancelled with an amended timetable scheduled to operate on Saturday 23rd March.

Ferries to Castlebay have also been cancelled, and warnings of disruption exist for the Sound of Harris and Sound of Barra services - with the 1300 from Eriskay leaving at 1200 today (Friday 22nd March)

West Coast ferry operator CalMac has announced that it is to cease its on-board food and drink and retail offering with immediate effect on all routes.

CalMac had this week stopped providing hot fresh food on board in response to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic but has now gone a stage further.

All restaurants, coffee cabins, bars and shops on board the ferries will now close with immediate effect. It also includes the coffee shop at Ardrossan port.

Managing Director Robbie Drummond said: “The safety and health of our staff and customers is our absolute top priority and this move to stop having people queuing for food and drink and handing over foodstuffs is designed to protect them.

“We know that our food and drink offering on board is very popular and can be a vital part of the journey for many.

However, in light of global events there is now way we can justify continuing this and potentially putting the safety of passengers and staff at risk.

“I hope that our passengers understand the need to put these measures in place and promise that we will continually review them as the situation develops.”

CalMac’s decision also comes on top of Government instruction to close all restaurants, pubs and cafes across the whole of the UK.

Those travelling on CalMac ferries are encouraged to bring their own food and drinks to consume on board.

Ferry operator CalMac has today (Sunday 1 March) launched the UK’s first online tool that gives public access to carrying data for individual ferry routes.

The simple-to-use online system allows customers to select a time period, route and traffic type, generating a report with full statistics at the touch of a button.

The data, which will be refreshed every month, is displayed in a table and can be viewed onscreen or printed. It’s based on the company’s audited statistics and allows people to compare carrying statistics by the month, by traffic type or by route.

Based on today’s data, the Stornoway-Ullapool route carried 10,529 passengers in January this year, with 4,184 cars, four coaches and 1,007 commercial vehicles. In the same period, the Uig, Tarbert, Lochmaddy service carried 5,383 passengers and the service between Castlebay and Oban/Lochboisdale just 961 people.

Carrying information will be available on each of CalMac's 29 routes.

CalMac's managing director Robbie Drummond said the company was the first to offer this level of transparency across all routes.

He said: “Previously if anyone wanted this level of detail it would have meant an extremely labour intensive series of reports to be run manually, then sent to the customer. All this information is now available instantly for anyone interested. People will now be able to see for themselves what our carrying figures look like on a monthly basis.”

The new online tool can be accessed at https://www.calmac.co.uk/corporate/carrying-statistics

 

Ferry services throughout the Western Isles are disrupted today (Monday 16 March) as strong south-westerly winds batter the Isles.

Barra has seen the day’s service between Castlebay and Oban cancelled and services across the Sound of Barra suspended pending a review at 4.30pm today.

In Harris the 2pm service from Uig to Tarbert and return at 4pm are cancelled, with other sailings under continual review. Sound of Harris sailings are also currently suspended and subject to review, disruption and cancellation this afternoon.

MV Loch Seaforth made this morning’s crossing from Stornoway to Ullapool but is now tied up at Ullapool and expected to return as per timetable at 5.30pm today.

Stornoway-Ullapool Ferry departed Stornoway at 0658 this morning, and will remain in Ullapool until weather improves before making a return. 

A reduced ferry timetable will be introduced tomorrow (Friday 27 March.)

The timetable will run for an initial period of three weeks and will be subject to continual review.

The Essential Lifeline Timetable will ensure all islands receive regular deliveries of goods and services.

In the last few days passengers on the entire service were down by 85%, cars by 75% and commercial traffic by 45%.

In 2019 daily passenger numbers at the end of March were around 9,500, currently they are at 1,500 and these are expected to drop further. CalMac has also seen 8,000 bookings cancelled through their contact centre teams compared to just 300 in the same period last year.

This new timetable will see weekly sailings drop from 2419 to 948 against the normal winter timetable – a drop of almost 61%.

"We believe that this timetable will be able to maximise use of available crews for the vessels and continue to provide our vital lifeline service for communities," said CalMac's Managing Director, Robbie Drummond.

"These are extreme times for businesses across Scotland, the UK and indeed the world. As this virus spreads there is the chance that pressure on crewing may require us to make further changes. In this eventuality, we will work to our agreed Route Prioritisation Matrix to ensure that all Islands receive a service. We are in daily contact with the Scottish Government and Health Protection Scotland to ensure we are on top of all the latest advice and guidance.

"Given the lockdown from the Government that has made travel essential only, we think this new timetable is one that best suits the needs of the communities we support.

"It is important that we continue to provide ferries that can take vital goods and services to our island communities and transport people who have essential travel needs. Community groups and key hauliers have been consulted to ensure that the supply chains can be maintained."

The new timetable can be viewed here.

Work has started on a £440,000 upgrade that will provide quicker and more efficient access for ferry users in Stornoway.

During April, additional marshalling approach lanes will be installed at the ferry terminal. Together with corresponding changes to check-in procedures, the increased capacity will reduce delays on Shell Street during busy early morning and lunchtime check-in periods.

Improvements are also being carried out to the terminal building car park and drop-off areas. These will include the mini roundabout at the terminal building being removed and a new exit route created via a revised car park layout.

 

Passengers will be able to stay in their vehicles on the Sound of Harris crossing.

Due to the Covid-19 situation, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency have agreed to temporarily relax its rules on passengers being able to stay in their vehicles during some ferry journeys.

Any passengers wishing to travel this way on these routes should check CalMac's website for eligible sailings.

"There has been some demand from passengers wishing to remain isolated in their cars while travelling with us. This change allows us to open up two more routes to this option of travel," said CalMac's Director of Operations, Robert Morrison.

The change does not affect any of CalMac's larger vessels where passengers are not permitted to remain in their vehicles.

CalMac has published its carrying figures for 2018. 

The Isle of Arran was again the most popular destination across the company’s network with a total of 913,005 passengers carried through Ardrossan and Lochranza, an increase of 1571 on 2017.

Total passengers carried for the year were recorded as 5,253,766, up from 5,238,164 on the previous 12 months, a 0.3% overall increase.

The Annual General Meeting of the Fideach Angling Club will be held in the Sandwick School Community Room at 7.30pm on Friday 14th April 2017.

Ferry passengers and island residents will get their last chance this week for photo-opportunities with the largest semi-submersible oil rig in the world, as the Ocean Greatwhite anchors mid-Minch on her journey north.

A new agreement has been reached to use fire stations across the Highlands and Islands as communication hubs during emergencies.

Using the stations across the Western Isles will allow multi-agency partners to set-up bases for the community and responders in these areas, particularly during power and communication outages.

The Highlands and Islands area has faced a number of communications and power outages over past years, generally associated with high impact weather, but also through technical faults.

In response to these various episodes, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and other responders have been asked to open local stations to provide vital 'on the ground' links.

The new Crofting Commissioners held their first Board meeting yesterday, Wednesday March 29th. 

As a Convener has not yet been appointed by Scottish Government the meeting was chaired by the Crofting Commission’s Chief Executive, Bill Barron.

Amongst other business the Board agreed to appoint Malcolm Mathieson, David Campbell and Rod Mackenzie as members to the Commission’s Audit & Finance Committee and Iain MacIver will be the Gaelic spokesperson on behalf of the Board.

Stornoway harbour is due to see the first cruise passengers of the season on Friday (March 29th), when the Portugese-registered vessel Astoria makes the first of a scheduled five visits to Stornoway.

Western Isles Hospital had a successful first day of remote consultations yesterday (Tuesday 24 March), with outpatients appointments operating using the NHS NearMe video system.
All GP Practices, hospitals and other care settings across Scotland have been asked to increase use of remote consultations by telephone or video. It will mean most people can receive urgent health care and advice from their own home – a crucial step to help reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
NHS NearMe operates from your home, so there is no need to visit the surgery or hospital. NHS Western Isles Quality Improvement Coordinator, Elizabeth Fowler, said: "This scaling up of Near Me services, as part of the COVID-19 response, offers
our patients quick and easy access to health services without the need to leave home, so especially useful for parents and carers, or anyone who is self-isolating."
Our reporter Annie Delin was one of the first to have her appointment switched to the new system yesterday. She writes: “I already had an appointment fixed for the respiratory clinic on Tuesday and, as the date approached, I was convinced it would be cancelled because of the current situation. I even considered cancelling it myself, as I’ve already been in self-isolation for 10 days.
“Instead I was told that Dr David Ross would conduct the clinic using NearMe. I was told to follow the link from the NHS Western Isles home page (and here) to start my appointment.
“You need to be at a computer or with your tablet set up to face you. The software on your own computer asks permission to use the camera and microphone. Make sure the volume is on so that you can hear what is being said.
“At the appointment time, I clicked on the ‘start video call’ button. You fill in your name and date of birth and the name of the doctor you are expecting to see (it’s on your appointment letter) and then you wait, looking at your own face on the screen.
At least that gives you time to fix your hair and move the screen around to get a clear picture!
“After a short wait, a nurse/receptionist appears on the screen and checks who you are to see and at what time. She’s a real person and she is at the hospital in Stornoway. She puts you into a ‘virtual waiting room’ and some music is played with
a message on the screen to show that you are waiting.
“Dr Ross appeared on screen. To my relief my own picture disappeared into a small box in the corner, so I could stop feeling self-conscious. And luckily the first question he asked was ‘what do you do for a living?’.
“That allowed me to say that I was a journalist and hoped to write up this experience. I asked permission to take a picture and he agreed.
“The appointment was relaxed and easy, it worked just like a face-to-face meeting except that I saved a 20-mile return journey and didn’t break my self-isolation.  Overall it was completed in about 40 minutes, including waiting time.

“When the consultation ended and we had agreed what action was needed next, I clicked the ‘end call’ button. A short survey appeared on the screen asking how I had found the NearMe system.
“My only negative comments were around the uncertainty of how the whole thing would work. None of us are familiar and easy with remote technology and it’s reassuring, once you’ve done it, to know what will happen next time.
“That’s why I wanted to share how it worked with We Love Stornoway readers, so you know what to expect and how it will work. In these difficult times, we’re all going to have to learn new tricks. If I can do it, anyone can.”
The pictures show Dr Ross during his appointment with Annie yesterday and the opening screen which you will see when you follow the link to use NearMe for your appointment.

Today, Tuesday, March 28th, marked the first time all six elected and three appointed Commissioners of the Crofting Commission met.

Meeting in Great Glen House, Inverness, the Commissioners had the opportunity to have an informal chat and get to know each other over coffee.

When introductions were over, the group wasted no time in getting down to business with the morning being taken up meeting Scottish Government officials to discuss the future of crofting legislation.

In the afternoon, Commissioners considered how to work together as a Board.

The first Board Meeting of the new Commissioners will take place tomorrow, Wednesday, March 29th, in Great Glen House.

Pictured are the new Commissioners – (l-r) – Malcolm Mathieson; Billy Neilson; James Scott; Rod MacKenzie; Mairi MacKenzie; David Campbell; Iain MacIver; Andy Holt, and Cyril Annal.

Two island women have become the first to achieve Modern Apprenticeship accreditation as Harris Tweed weavers, a milestone for both the industry and the national Modern Apprentice programme which has never previously accredited an individual in self-employment. 

Coronavirus has reached the most distant of the Scottish islands, with confirmation yesterday (Monday 9 March) that two people in Shetland have tested positive for the virus.

Both people had recently returned from a trip to Italy and a third person who has had contact with them has self-isolated.

NHS Shetland released a statement on Monday saying that they were working with partner organisations to actively monitor the two cases.

They said: “Clinicians have already begun contact tracing, the process of gathering details of the places they have visited and the people they have been in contact with since returning to the UK. Health protection teams will contact those who are at risk from the current cases – those who are not contacted are not at risk.”

The Shetland Times has reported today (Tuesday 10) that another family are self-isolating after two people became ill over the weekend.

NHS Shetland is one of the Scottish health boards which has a contained Coronavirus testing system at a healthcare facility. Testing arrangements in the NHS Western Isles board area have been confirmed as a community testing team, similar to that which is in place in NHS Fife and Lanarkshire.

Power over fishing needs to be given to the Scottish Government to prevent Scottish interests in this industry being negotiated away any further, says Angus Brendan MacNeil MP, SNP Fisheries spokesperson at Westminster.

Fishermen were promised that they would regain full control over the country's fishing waters on Brexit day, 29 March 2019. Instead, the UK will merely be "consulted" on fish quotas during the interim period, while remaining in the CFP.

Last week, Mr MacNeil called on the Secretary of State for DEFRA, Michael Gove MP to clarify what implications Brexit will have on the Scottish fishing industry and to urge that Westminster resists a power grab of Scottish fisheries.

The Fishermen's Co-op is still open for business.

If you are self isolating or looking for something to get on with while not socialising then why not head out in to the garden or shed and get some of those jobs you've been meaning to do done! Or do some DIY round the house.

There is a vast array of hardwearing paints for boats, metal, wood and fibreglass, various exterior varnishes and wood protectors, brushes, tools and all the polishes and cleaners you could need in the Fishermen's Co-op. They also have loads of cleaning products, mops, buckets and gloves if you decide to do a spring clean.

Or maybe you are looking for a way to relax, in which case go grab a fishing rod and some hooks and lures. You can find a remote coastal spot and catch some fish for supper - especially handy if the shop shelves are still empty. As long as you remain at least the recommended distance from others there is no reason not to enjoy the fresh sea air while we see what happens with COVID-19. We would recommend you let someone know where you are going if you go out fishing by yourself.

Western Isles fishermen have today (Wednesday 25 March) given a cautious welcome to the Scottish Government’s support funding during the Coronavirus crisis, announced this morning by fisheries secretary Fergus Ewing MSP.

An initial package of more than £5 million will be offered to seafood fishing companies, many of whom have lost their livelihoods with the collapse of export and hospitality markets for Scottish delicacies like langoustine, prawns and crab.

An initial payment of 50% of two months’ average earnings will be made to owners of all full time Scottish registered fishing vessels of 12 metres length and under – the vast majority of which are in the creel and dive sectors, operating in remote and island communities.

But a spokesman for the Western Isles fishing industry said this support would help less than a third of the Western Isles fleet, with over 1,000 jobs through the islands dependent on economic activity generated by the wider industry.

Duncan MacInnes of the Western Isles Fishermen’s Association said: “We have been in consultation with Marine Scotland over the past 10 days looking for some aid for the fishing industry and, although we welcome today’s announcement for the smaller vessels in the fleet, no more than 30% of them will be helped.

“Many vessels don’t qualify for this help and all sectors of the fishing industry need assistance in this unprecedented time.

“The markets for live produce on the continent have closed and markets for processed fresh and frozen fish are closing by the day. Most of our vessels will be tied up within days – indeed only a few are still going out.

“The local market is much too limited for the size of the fleet, with over 1,000 people employed in this industry, all of whom are suffering at the moment. Outside the public sector this is the largest sector in the Western Isles economy.

“Overall there has to be a fair and balanced approach to all vessels. Some have loans and fixed costs which have to be addressed, even if they are tied up.”

Mr MacInnes said there would be continuing discussions over the next days and weeks to find ways to help other parts of the industry.

The fisheries minister earlier said that support is also being developed for the onshore processing industry – one of the largest employers in Scotland’s coastal communities – and others in the shellfish growing sector which is being affected by the loss of trade and markets.

Mr Ewing said: “The economic impact of COVID-19 is global, and is reaching into the heart of our fragile coastal communities. I have spent the last week listening to and liaising with our fishing industry, and there are many who have lost their livelihoods with little prospect of an early recovery. The need for action is immediate.

“I am therefore announcing an initial package of support, and Scottish Government officials are working as hard as possible to get this money out of the door as fast as we can.

“We recognise that more needs to be done, particularly to try and create some alternative markets – at least in the short-term. I will be discussing with retailers how that might be achieved, and I would also encourage the public to play their part by buying Scottish seafood if they can.”

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil said: “An initial payment of 50% of two months’ average earnings will be made to owners of all full time Scottish registered fishing vessels of 12 metres length and under, many of whom operate in our island communities. I welcome this vital support and am also pleased that support is due to be developed for the onshore processing industry which is also widely affected due to the loss of trade and markets.

“I am pleased that there are plans to do more on this matter and particularly to try and create alternative markets.

“We can all assist with this by buying Scottish seafood and indeed buying locally for many essential things.

“Local businesses are already hugely supporting our communities by changing the way they operate and also offering delivery services.

“Working together we can get through this challenging period and I would urge everyone to buy locally when you can.”

Pictures: The Gratitude K is one of very few vessels under 12 metres fishing from the Western Isles (Gordon Macrae/Marine Traffic). Creel fishermen on smaller vessels will be helped with 50% grants.

A former MSP voiced her fears for the future of Highlands and Islands Enterprise warning that attempts to 'fit' the development agency into a 'Government department box' will 'kill it'.

Speaking today (Thursday, March 30th) at the Scottish Parliament's Public Petitions Committee, Maureen Macmillan, who represented Labour the Highlands and Islands, presented a petition urging the Government to reverse its decision to create a single Scotland-wide board and instead retain separate boards for each enterprise agency, including the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

She further called on the Scottish Government not to take away a power given to the region by a Westminster Government.

Candidates look over the final sheets of results before the announcement of poll tallies last night

Stornoway Town Hall was crowded last night (Tuesday March 28th) as the count took place in the Stornoway Trust election.   Polling ended at 8pm with people streaming in to the Estate Office to vote all through the day and the counting was not finally complete until just before midnight with 22 candidates in consideration.

Murdo F Campbell, of Portnaguran; Norman A Maciver of Back; Donald ‘Dickie’ Macleod, of Goathill, Stornoway; Catriona Murray of North Tolsta; and Donald A Nicolson of Sandwick, were elected to the Stornoway Trust after yesterday’s vote and poll count.

Returning Office and Trust Factor Iain Maciver thanked everyone involved for their patience and their hard work, particularly the "enumerators and the counting team" who had coped with the piles of sheets and choices made by the voters.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar today formally raised the Commonwealth Flag to celebrate Commonwealth Day.

Convener, Norman A MacDonald, who raised the flag, commented: "I am pleased to learn that so many people throughout the Commonwealth will be taking part in the 'Fly a Flag for the Commonwealth' initiative this year and am delighted that the Comhairle once again participated in Commonwealth Day and all that the Commonwealth represents."

The Flannan Isles Exhibition and Memorial, which commemorates the tragic and mysterious loss of the three Light Keepers in December 1900, will be opening again for 2019.

The exhibition at Breasclete Community Centre will be open Monday to Saturday 2pm – 4pm, from 1st April until 31st October. It has fully accessible facilities, including a lift, and groups are welcome with advance notice (telephone 01851 621214 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

There is also a memorial at the shore of East Loch Roag, it is on the Breasclete/Pentland Road cross-roads and parking is available.

 

Loganair has this morning (Wednesday 18 May) announced radical revisions to island air services as they struggle to maintain business during the Coronavirus epidemic.

The changes will begin to be implemented next week and will last until at least the end of May. During April and May there will be:

  • No service between Stornoway and Edinburgh (until at least 31 May)
  • Reduced service between Stornoway and Glasgow

There will be no change at Barra airport, which will continue to receive its scheduled two flights per day.

Benbecula and Stornoway will share two Glasgow flights per day on a circular basis. There will also be two daily Saab 340 flights between Stornoway and Inverness.

Passengers booked to fly on the services which have been cut have received emails notifying them of a new timetable, with the option to re-book if they wish via www.loganair.co.uk.

Onward flights from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness to UK destinations including Birmingham, Exeter and Manchester are also being reduced or suspended, and international routes including to Norway and Denmark have already been suspended, with routes to Ireland suspended from Monday (23 March).

It is expected that a quarter of Loganair’s fleet of 40 aircraft will be put into temporary storage as a result of the schedule reductions.

In this morning’s statement, the airline said that forward bookings continue to fall dramatically, leading to an overall reduction of over half of the Loganair flying programme for April and May.

Chief Executive Jonathan Hinkles said: “We have now seen forward bookings fall by around 75% versus their usual levels. From the end of next week, we will be implementing an emergency timetable, which will reduce our operations from around 214 to 95 scheduled flights each weekday – a cut of 55%. We expect this to be a temporary reduction and we are implementing this until the end of May but may have to extend that timescale as the situation continues to develop.”

“Customers booked on flights up to the end of May can change their reservation without a change fee to travel on a future date. However, if future flights are more expensive, the difference in fare will be payable. Where services are completely suspended a full refund will be applicable.”

“I would strongly advise our affected customers to manage their booking through our website as we are experiencing exceptionally high call volumes into our call centre”.

“Importantly, we will maintain lifeline services to the island communities we serve but will be forced to do so with reduced frequency.”

“The situation is incredibly serious and alongside the obvious health and safety implications, puts the future of the entire aviation industry in jeopardy. With this in mind, we have joined with other UK carriers to seek emergency measures from the Government to support all airlines in the sector.”

Hinkles revealed that Loganair staff have been asked to consider a series of measures aimed at protecting employment levels – including reducing working hours by 20% and accepting a 20% reduction in salary as a result or taking a period of unpaid leave.

He said: “We are working hard to avoid redundancies and lay-offs as have already been seen at major international airlines and as are likely to follow at several UK airlines in the coming days.”

Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan commented:“It is clear that the present COVID-19 crisis presents an existential threat to much of the aviation industry.

“Flights to the Western Isles are genuinely lifeline services and we rely on them for a number of essential deliveries, such as medical supplies. It is absolutely vital that some form of service remains in place through the coming months.

 

A flood alert issued yesterday (Wednesday 11 March) by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) remains in place today.

SEPA warns that high tides combine with storm-driven wave surges to present a risk of coastal flooding through the whole of the Western Isles.

SEPA said: “Low-lying properties, roads and causeways that are exposed to the coast are at risk at times of high tide during this period.”

In Stornoway high tide of 4.90 metres is expected at 8.58pm this evening and 5 metres at 9.12am tomorrow.

With shop shelves emptying rapidly, food suppliers also today (Tuesday 24 March) have to deal with a second day of weather disruption to the ferry service.
The service between Oban and Castlebay has been cancelled and MV Loch Seaforth has tied up in Ullapool for the day after the early sailing from Stornoway.
She’s not due to return until 6.30pm and is operating as a freight only service.  The late running service after yesterday’s cancellations has left shops depleted of stock, at a time when unusual buying behaviour is already affecting what is on the shelves.
Co-op Stornoway’s store manager Steven Macaulay said the store were waiting for a return to normality in buying patterns.
He said: “Until we can get to a position of normality it is very challenging. With no ferry returning until this evening, on top of people’s current buying patterns, it is having a real impact on us.
“We are limiting people to two items per category of foodstuffs, but until we get the stock levels back to normal we’re not going to be managing to re-stock fully.”
The Co-op has introduced an ‘extra assistance’ hour for vulnerable shoppers between 8am and 9am daily, but Steven stressed that it was not possible to close the store to other shoppers, though older and vulnerable customers would be prioritised.
Meanwhile Tesco’s superstore in Stornoway this morning saw the first dedicated shopping hour for NHS staff and home carers, between 6am and 7am. The set-aside hour is to be in place every Tuesday morning.
A store spokesman said: “We all know how hard the NHS are working right now.  Many of them haven’t had the chance to shop for themselves.”
NHS shoppers who took advantage of this morning’s hour were presented with flowers on leaving the store and applauded by Tesco’s staff as they left the shop.
One NHS worker said: “Wow Tesco's. Not only did you open early for NHS staff you were lined up clapping us and gave us flowers when we left. You guys are amazing too!”

Flybe chiefs are looking into complaints that their services from Glasgow to Stornoway last week (February 26-March 4) failed to fly even on days unaffected by snow at Glasgow Airport.

Mr Ronnie Matheson, Flybe’s Director of Revenue Management & Distribution, confirmed today (Monday) to welovestornoway.com that “the schedule for Glasgow to Stornoway was planned to run until yesterday.”

It had been announced earlier that Flybe would cease the Glasgow-Stornoway service which began last year, from today. Instead an improved service to Aberdeen is to be provided.

Flybe franchise partner, Eastern Airways, today (Monday March 5th) introduces 12 additional flights a week to its Stornoway – Aberdeen route, providing two flights a day on Monday to Friday and a new Sunday service.

The first flight from Aberdeen this morning arrived more than two hours late because of "the crew being out of hours following the knock-on of weather recovery of flights from last week," an Eastern Airways spokesman said.

The services to Aberdeen also provide convenient onward connections to Flybe’s London Heathrow, Manchester and Birmingham flights.


The gripping story of one man’s experience of WW2 after being forced to surrender to the Germans at St Valery-en-Caux (With CD). 

Children’s Books    

£15.00 PBK 192pp ISBN: 9780861523283

BBC Alba will this weekend televise exclusive live coverage of the IRN-BRU Cup final between Dundee United and St Mirren

Coverage from Fir Park, Motherwell, begins on Saturday at 12.15pm, with kick-off at 12.30pm. The match will be presented by Calum Macaulay, with commentary from Alex O’Henley and analysis from Ryan Stevenson, who recently retired from professional football following a career at Hearts, Ayr United and Raith Rovers amongst others.

Cliasmol School in Harris - once Scotland's smallest school - is up for sale.

Offers over £80,000 are invited for he school, which closed in 2008 with just four pupils.

Say the selling agents, Ken Macdonald & Co: "The opportunity has arisen to obtain this former Primary School in a remote location in the north west of Harris.  The commercial premises extend to approximately 108m2 and provide the potential for conversion to a studio, hostel or residential premises."  

Stornoway Crown Post Office is now partway through its renovation! 

Workmen are working through the night to give you a brighter, more modern and spacious Post Office without affecting service. 

Disabled young people in Stornoway will have the chance to take part in free dance sessions this April as part of Moving Forward - a new dance and disability project run by YDance (Scottish Youth Dance), the national dance organisation for children and young people in Scotland, and Indepen-dance, an inclusive dance company for disabled and non-disabled people.

From Monday 9th to Thursday 12th April, young disabled people aged 12 to 25 can take part in dance sessions held at An Lanntair and Stornoway Town Hall.

The sessions will help participants make friends, get creative, learn new skills in dance and have fun. No experience is necessary and the sessions are free.

Struggling to keep occupied at home?

LOOM Graphics have the perfect activity for you!

The designers have created a Lewis Chessmen drawing pack for artists of all ages - available to download now for free.

LOOM commented: "We’re so grateful for those providing essential services in these super challenging times.

"We felt a bit useless.  But we then realised we can help in a small way to relieve the gloom and help get a bit of colour back into your day."

The drawing pack is available here.  After checkout, you will receive an email download link.

 

A new leisure link partnership with four other areas of Scotland that will see ‘Slàinte Mhath’ members able to access leisure facilities outwith the Western Isles for the first time, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar announced (today March 26th).

The scheme, involving the four other areas will be known as the “Leisure Link Partnership” and it's believed to be the first of its type in Scotland.

‘Slàinte Mhath’ members will now be able to access gym, public swimming and fitness classes at leisure facilities across Highland, Moray, Orkney and Argyll and Bute at no extra cost.

There are plenty of fresh fish at Harbour Seafoods Stornoway but this week we’ve chosen Haddock and Whiting.

Whiting are a white fleshed sea fish, they are a small member of the cod family and have a very similar flavour. As whiting are less well known they are a more economical alternative to buy than cod and are more sustainable. Its flesh is light, firm, lean, sweet and delicate, best cooked quickly.

SC Seafoods - Fishmonger Sean Clarke and nephew Stephen Miller's new shop on Newton Street, Stornoway, opened today

A big smile, a warm welcome and a bit of chat – not to mention a wide range of fresh produce – is what's on offer when you step through the doors of Stornoway's latest fish shop SC Seafoods.

Buckie Fishmonger Sean Clarke has been serving up tasty treats to Western Isles residents for the past 16 years via his extremely popular fish van which tours the island chain, from the Uists to Ness, each week.

And now, with nephew Stephen Miller on board, Sean has opened his Stornoway shop – SC Seafoods – transforming the old Isles FM studios on Newton Street into a clean, fresh and spacious fishmongers.

A Crowdfunding appeal page has been launched by Scalpay Community Association as they continue their plans to completely refurbish the island’s playpark.

Stornoway film production company, MacTV, has won £28,500 of international funding for a proposed film on Scotland’s peatlands.

Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron congratulated MacTV on securing the investment from Canada Media Fund for the film project, Secrets in the Peat, which will explore the ancient secrets of peatlands, and the special relationship that communities have with them.

Mr Cameron said: “It is very encouraging to see Gaelic programming attracting such interest. It seems particularly appropriate that a Stornoway-based company should be involved in developing a project about peat, considering the cultural and historical importance of our peatlands to communities in the Western Isles.

“The fact that this announcement coincides with one by MG Alba which states that international agreements have brought additional content to the value of £8 million for BBC Alba, it just shows the potential that exists for building on our Gaelic-language heritage and creating distinctive new content.

“My congratulations to everyone involved in bringing this project together and I look forward to viewing the end-result when it is broadcast in 2021.”

Gael Force Group has revealed a deal with Fusion Marine, and will acquire 75 per cent of the outstanding share capital of the fish farm pen manufacturer.

The deal, which is of an undisclosed value, should be concluded by early April.

Gael Force managing director Stewart Graham, who founded the company in Stornoway in the 1980s, said: “Our companies are friends in the market and have worked together for many years – we are delighted to have reached this agreement with Fusion Marine."

National agency Bòrd na Gàidhlig has praised Comhairle nan Eilean Siar's Gaelic Language Plan.

And that Comhairle says it welcomes the comments from Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig said, “The work that has been carried out regarding the use of social media to promote Gaelic has been welcomed.  The Bòrd is pleased to see that members of staff have been give the opportunity to attend Gaelic classes. It is also encouraging to see that the council have offered fluent members of staff the opportunity to undertake grammar classes.”

“The Bòrd is pleased to see that the progress of this plan complements the priorities in the National Plan. The progress that has been made throughout the area regarding the promotion of the learning and usage of Gaelic. The Council has carried out praiseworthy work in in the area to create usage opportunities for both children and adults. The Bòrd praises the Council for the creation of the Dìleab project. The Project has created important opportunities for people in the Western Isles to use Gaelic with other generations.”

Bòrd na Gàidhlig also highlighted the Comhairle’s new Gaelic Medium Education policy saying, “The Bòrd welcomes the changes within the Council's education policy that has resulted in all children, who are starting primary one, being enrolled in Gaelic medium education in the first instance, with the opportunity for parents to opt for English medium should they wish.

"This progress will contribute to growth in the usage and learning of Gaelic within the Western Isles. Following on from this, the Bòrd praises the Council for organising an information session about the benefits of Gaelic medium education, that was made available for attendance in Stornoway and online.

Councillor John A Maciver, Chair of the Gaelic Committee, said: “These are good comments from Bòrd na Gàidhlig on the work that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar does in relation to Gaelic.  The Comhairle is fully committed to the Gaelic Language and will continue to encourage the use of Gaelic throughout the Western Isles.” 

The Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act was commenced on 13th February 2006 and it established Bòrd na Gàidhlig as a public body which is responsible for the preservation of Gaelic as an official language which enjoys the same respect as English in Scotland. The Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 received Royal assent on 1st June 2005.

The Act stipulates that Bòrd na Gàidhlig prepares a National Gaelic Language Plan every 5 years, and that the Bòrd asks certain public bodies to prepare and implement a Gaelic language plan. It is part of the Bòrd’s remit to give advice on matters relating to Gaelic Education, and to advise the Scottish Ministers on Gaelic matters.

The Act gives an official framework to the efforts to preserve and sustain the Gaelic language and culture, and Bòrd na Gàidhlig, in partnership with other organisations and people, is responsible for carrying out the provisions of the Act.

Applications from aspiring media professionals are now being accepted for the next BBC Gaelic Apprenticeship programme.

Operated by BBC Scotland and Glasgow Kelvin College – and supported by MG ALBA, the Gaelic Media Service – the 2017/2018 course will be the second time the Gaelic apprenticeship has been offered alongside the BBC Scotland apprenticeship, which is about to enter its seventh programme.

The successful candidate will be supported by MG ALBA and will have the opportunity to work across Gaelic platforms such as BBC ALBA and BBC Radio nan Gàidheal.

Donald John Maciver, renowned for his work in promoting the Gaelic language, has died aged 72.

Mr Maciver was an established author, having penned several publications, and was formerly a Gaelic columnist with the 'Stornoway Gazette'.

 

In co-conjunction with Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are offering an opportunity to students with Gaelic skills to be employed for ten weeks during summer 2017 in the Western Isles with organisations which use Gaelic in the workplace every day.

These ten weeks can take place anytime over the summer, but the placement must be completed by 31 August, 2017.

This Scheme has been running for many years, and has been very successful in terms of developing the Gaelic skills of students, and giving them valuable experience of a professional work environment.

This Saturday morning at Lewis Retirement Centre, Bayhead, 8:30-12:30, donations on the door

Tea, coffee, cake, fruit juice, fresh apple and orange, croissants, bacon, sausage, egg, cake and much more

A nice, gentle way to start the day.

Parking available round the back

More details:

https://www.facebook.com/events/116670168724302/

This Saturday, 17th March, there will be a Gearranann village walk from the Carpark at 11 am and again at 2pm.

The Gearrannan Project welcome you to come and find out about the project through archaeology, crofting life, and stories. Every one is welcome and there will be tea and cakes too.

For more information visit the Gearrannan Project facebook page

 

A new programme designed to get you off the couch and into running is launched this afternoon (Thursday March 14th) at Ionad Spòrs Leodhais (Lewis Sports Centre).

The ‘Couch to 5K’ fitness programme offers a chance to get fitter, to lose weight, to find out how to start running and to raise money for the Lewis branch of Cancer Research UK, all at the same time.

An election to fill the member vacancies on The Stornoway Trust, occurring as a result of five Trustees coming to the end of their term of office, will be held on Tuesday 27th March 2018.

At the end of the statutory nomination withdrawal period, it is now known that 22 nominees will contest the five available seats and a list can be seen here ( http://welovestornoway.com/index.php/2014-07-15-15-43-2/9733-candidates-for-the-stornoway-trust-election-tuesday-march-27 )

In line with recent Trustee elections, the Trust has engaged the services of Electoral Reform Services Ltd (ERS) which will shortly issue postal ballot papers to all persons appearing on the Electoral Roll and living within the Stornoway Trust area who were 16 years of age or over by 1st March 2018.

Swimmers set off on Heb Tri 2017.  Photo: Heb Tri/Duncan Macleod

With only 30 spaces, time to be quick as entries are now open for the 2018 Hebrides Triathlon - Heb Tri - taking place on Saturday, July 28th.
The Heb Tri covers a standard distance triathlon of a 1.5k swim, a 40k bike, and a 10k run; and entries are open to individuals or teams of two.
The 2018 event will begin with registration at the Shawbost Old School Community Centre before the swim stars and finishes from the west side of Loch a’Bhaile, on North Shawbost shore.

If you grew up listening to ABBA’s Dancing Queen or the Bee Gees Night Fever, the chances are you were a teenager of the Seventies.

And it is perennial favourites like these that will be the soundtrack to next month’s 60th School Reunion, when former pupils who went to school together in the Seventies get together to catch up with old friends, make new connections, and reminisce on years gone by.

Who’s hidden in the park? Life the flaps to find out! The children will enjoy searching out the friendly animals behind each flap. (With mirror).     

£4.99 ISBN: 9780861525362

Ferry operator CalMac has today (Wednesday 25 March) pleaded with customers to go online, after contact centres were swamped with almost 5000 phone calls yesterday.
The impact of Coronavirus means the company's contact centres are operating a reduced service, coinciding with unprecedented call volumes.
CalMac's Head of Customer Services, Alan Hood said: “Our staff are currently focused on protecting services for those who live on the islands, but have essential travel to and from the mainland, and for lifeline businesses and suppliers who
urgently need make these crossings.
“I understand customer concerns about their travel plans, but being inundated with calls is making it very difficult to deal with urgent and essential situations.
“Customers looking to cancel a booking and receive a refund can do so through our website and are urged to use this method.”
CalMac has cancelled all bookings up until July 16, and all travel before this date is for essential lifeline services only. A turn-up and go service which does not need pre-booking is being operated and only island residents and those with essential business in the islands are currently permitted to travel.  Full details on how to get a refund on a booked ticket here.

Goathill and Springfield Residents' Association are holding their Annual General Meeting on Monday the 13th of March at 7.00pm, at Grianan Centre, Westview Terrace. All from the area welcome to attend!

Alex Salmond's ultimate objective is to cause so much friction and division in Westminster, Scotland's position will become untenable.

This was the claim made by former Scottish Conservative party leader Annabel Goldie as she visited Stornoway today, endorsing the Western Isles candidate for May's election, Mark Brown. 

"We had the referendum, it was tight, but we had it and we had our say," said Baroness Goldie. 

"We rejected that, the Western Isles rejected that, and people now want to move on from that."

 

Gordon ‘Diesel’ Maclennan was the recipient of the first award of the Roderick J Macleod Award. The award, taking the form of an inscribed Quaich, is awarded by the Isle of Lewis Probus Club and is in memory of the late Roderick J Macleod (Barts). It is awarded annually to an individual living on the Isle of Lewis who has made a significant contribution to the community. The photo shows Philip Rowe, Probus President, presenting the award to Gordon Maclennan.

Rev Gordon Macleod - seen above with wife Diane - was inducted as the new Minister of Stornoway High Church of Scotland, on Friday March 22nd - the first time in  more than 100 years that a native of Stornoway has become the Minister at that Church. 

The Scottish Government is being urged to reverse planned cuts to the Highlands and Islands 

Shadow Finance Secretary, Donald Cameron, has asked for plans to be changed in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

In an exchange of letters with HIE chief executive Carrie Buxton, it was revealed that HIE proposes to balance its books by slashing the financial support it gives to business across the region. During the last financial quarter alone (Oct-Dec 2019) HIE provided financial awards to nearly 100 businesses and organisations in the region.

Mr Cameron, a Highlands and Islands MSP, said: “The Covid 19 emergency will require a profound rethink of many decisions, including budgetary decisions, that were made before the implications of the pandemic became clear.

“Clearly, It would be folly to slash support for businesses at a time when they are facing unprecedented challenges and wondering what the future may hold for them and their employees.

“The business community in the Highlands and Islands is characterised by small enterprises which simply lack the liquidity to sustain themselves for a prolonged period without income.

“They will naturally look towards Highlands and Islands Enterprise for support and advice, which it is uniquely placed to provide, because of its understanding of the distinctive nature of our economy and the enterprises which provide its backbone.

“I will be speaking to ministers, as well as HIE, to urge that this is looked at as urgently as possible so as to reassure everyone affected.”

David Stewart MSP has also asked the Scottish Government if it will reverse the 5% budget cut to HIE to support businesses and economic recovery following the crisis.  “The effects of the Coronavirus shutdown on businesses – including restaurants, shops and arts organisations – is going to be huge. We welcome the support that the UK and Scottish Governments has announced, but it may not be enough. Businesses must be reassured they will not come out of this crisis saddled with debt.

“The cuts being passed down to HIE for the coming financial year were always short-sighted, however, the impact that these cuts are going to have now due to the additional pressures being put on businesses across the region by the negative economic impact of Covid-19 bring this into even sharper relief.

“HIE play an essential role in strengthening local communities across the Highlands and Islands, which is one of Scotland’s most economically fragile areas. It is vital that the Scottish Government reverse the cuts and show a commitment to supporting businesses and economic recovery in the region once we are through this crisis.”

 

Langabhat Medical Practice is to close three of its surgeries this week (Monday 16 March) due to staff shortages and in response to Coronavirus.

Uig, Bernera and Gravir surgeries will close, with GP appointments available by phone only. Receptionists will take a message and the GP will call patients back.

Prescriptions for all patients will temporarily need to be collected in Leurbost, allowing 72 hours (three days) between ordering and collecting a prescription.

The practice has also said that all forthcoming nurse appointments are being reviewed and patients will be contacted over the next few days.

The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) has issued a special safety bulletin to all mariners that use GPS to prepare for a rollover event that will occur on 6 April 2019

On April 6 navigation data from some older GPS systems might become inaccurate due to the ‘week number’ rollover event. 

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant is asking for an urgent meeting with Marine Harvest after the company’s announcement that it is to shed 80 jobs across the region.

The company said this week that 44 jobs are to be lost in Lochaber, 11 in Skye and Lochalsh; 2 in Argyll, 12 in Mallaig, 3 in Lewis, 2 in South Uist, 4 in Wester Ross and in Rosyth 2.

She has also asked for more details on where the firm’s proposed new feed plant will be in Scotland, urging Ben Hadfield, the company’s managing director in Scotland, to ensure any new jobs will remain in the Highlands and Islands.

Voters in the Great Bernera Estate area are reminded that the deadline for returning postal ballot papers is 4.00pm today  (Thursday 19th March) . 

The deadline for posting having passed, completed Ballot Packs may be handed in to the Returning Officer at the Council Offices, Sandwick Road, Stornoway by the deadline and they will be included in the count.
 
The counting of votes will take place in Bernera Community Centre today at 7.30pm and will be open to the public.
 

Salvors are continuing to bring personnel and resources to the grounded cargo vessel MV Kaami, which remains high and dry on rocks between the Isles of Skye and Lewis.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency are supporting a specialist salvage team of seven people, who began work on the vessel on Wednesday (March 25).

Today (Sunday March 29) there has been activity around the vessel including from the dive vessel Venture, operating between Tarbert, Scalpay and Uig in Skye. The tug Multratug 3 is now on guard duty maintaining an exclusion zone of 500 metres around the vessel, and Coatsguard emergency towing vessel (ETV) Ievoli Black is in port in Stornoway ready to take over duties when required.

A detailed damage assessment established that around 28 cubic metres of diesel had escaped from the ship by Friday. The Scottish Environmental Group is aware of this and have assessed the impact of the pollution as low and non-persistent.

The Maritime Accident Investigation Branch is carrying out an investigation remotely with assistance from the salvors. A fixed-wing aircraft, provided by the MCA, has been making flights over the vessel to make observations.

Secretary of State’s Representative Maritime Salvage and Intervention (SOSREP) Stephan Hennig has set up a Salvage Control Unit (SCU) which last met on Friday.

A salvage plan is expected to be submitted by the salvors to the SOSREP for review and approval. Measures are being put in place to deal with any pollution from the ship.

Drift modelling for any potential release of cargo from the ship is being carried out to assess extent and impact on the marine environment and the shoreline, though the cargo, which is described as non-hazardous and biodegradable, is currently safely in the hold. 

 The picture shows MV Kaami aground on the rocks south-east of Lewis (Maritime and Coastguard Agency).

 

“Everyone can sing; if you can hear and speak, then you can sing,” says trained singer, vocal coach and musical director Alison Eade as she invites islanders to stretch their vocal chords in a new series of Singing Workshops.

Born and brought up in Cornwall, Alison and husband Chris recently moved to New Tolsta, Lewis, the home of her late mother, Mairi Alasdair Ruadh, to build their ‘dream home’.

And having spent her time down south training singers, leading choirs, and performing in pantomime, musical theatre, cabaret and opera – as well as being guest soloist on the concert platform with many choirs, bands and orchestras – Alison is keen to bring the joy and fun of group singing to her new home.

“Since moving to the Hebrides I’ve been missing teaching and the exercise that singing brings,” she said. “So I’ve decided to run a series of workshops in Stornoway and, maybe, start a new kind of choir in the near future.”

The firm which made 24 employees in Harris redundant has been sold. 

GSH Group, a facilities management company whose Shared Service Centre was based in Tarbert, has been bought by ISS UK Ltd.

The sale involves the UK, Ireland and Europe arm of the business.

The Gurkhas who are currently on exercise in the Western Isles have a very special treat in store for the public tomorrow afternoon.

For between midday and 2pm, they will be serving out dishes of their special Gurkha curry in Perceval Square.

The Gurkhas will be taking a day off from their training to help members of the Army’s 7Scots battalion who are also in Stornoway on a recruitment drive.

And to add to the occasion, the Gurkhas Pipes and Drums will also be performing, along with the pipe band of The Nicolson Institute.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil is pushing for a debate and vote in the House of Commons next week to end Brexit.

Meanwhile, during yesterday (Thursday March 21st) more than 2.25 million people signed an official petition to the UK Parliament, calling for Article 50, which invoked the Brexit process, to be revoked.  

And UK’s top business and trade union leaders called the Brexit crisis a national emergency and demanded that Prime Minister Theresa May produce a “Plan B” to prevent a no-deal departure from the European Union.

Stressful mealtimes? Child refusing to eat? Concerned about their nutrition? NHSWI Dietetics can help!

Two handcrafted musical instruments have made their mark for The Leanne Fund.

The Long Island guitar and Mandocaster mandala (latter pictured below) were created by Dr Ali Whiteford of Garrabost, Isle of Lewis and were donated to the charity which supports those affected by Cystic Fibrosis across the Highland and Islands and Grampian regions.

Chrisetta Mitchell, Development Manager of The Leanne Fund said: “We are very grateful to Dr Whiteford for donating these beautiful instruments.

“They are one-of-a-kind and were on display for all to see at An Lanntair's Grinneas exhibition recently.”

The instruments are inspired by local music and landscape.

Pictured are Chrisetta Mitchell and Dr Whiteford with his cheque to the Leanne Fund for the sale of the instruments.

 

Police Scotland have now confirmed the identity of the woman who died in an incident at Nisabost beach on the Isle of Harris.

 Harris Highland Dancing Society competition trophy winners at Sir E Scott school, Tarbert, on Saturday 28th March.

Balloons, cakes and exhibits spanning the last half-century filled Tarbert Community Centre yesterday as Harris Voluntary Service celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Members past and present of the organisation were gathered, and many community residents came through the doors to congratulate the group, as well as browising through every single edition of the community newsletter 'De tha Dol', which is produced by HVS.

HVS exists to represent and support the voluntary sector, to assist organisations in coming together for common purposes, and to enable local people to gain access to decision-making processes which affect their community. 

The organisation also aims to present the common policies and concerns of voluntary organisations to develop new ways of responding to need in partnership with statutory and other health, social work, education, housing employment, environmental and recreation agencies and any others concerned with the social  and economic regeneration of the area.

For full report, see April's edition of EVENTS.

 

MG ALBA (The Gaelic Media Service) is undertaking a series of public meetings seeking the views of communities throughout Scotland on the future of Gaelic broadcasting. 

Meetings in the Western Isles will be held as follows and all are welcome to attend:

Thursday 19 March - Lewis - Ness Historical Society - 7pm

Friday 20 March - South Uist - Cothrom - 12.30pm

Friday 20 March  - Barra - Castlebay Community School - 7.30pm 

In addition to the public meetings MG ALBA is also welcoming views via an online questionnaire with details available on www.mgalba.com. 

To reserve a place at any of the meetings or for further information contact Murdo Morrison (MG ALBA) on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on 01851 705550.

Several health visiting services in the Western Isles have been suspended due to a shortage of staff. 

Services are currently being prioritised as NHS Western Isles experiences ongoing difficulties in recruiting to vacancies.

The Health Board says 'every effort' is being made to recruit to two full-time vacancies within the health visiting team, which means that non-priority services have been reduced or suspended temporarily until vacancies are filled. 

 

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP Alasdair Allan has hit out at the price inflation of heating oil in Uist.

A recent quote by Scottish Fuels was 30% higher for the islands than on the mainland. 500 litres of kerosene heating oil was priced at 53p per litre in South Uist and 40.35p per litre in Stirling.

Until recently, residents of HS6-HS8 had a choice of fuel providers, including Highland Fuels, and this market competition helped to keep fuel prices from over-inflation. But now, it appears that Inverness-based Highland Fuels has withdrawn island service.

Alasdair Allan MSP has written to the Director of Highland Fuels to ask why they do not continue to deliver to the islands.

Alasdair Allan MSP commented: “An effective monopoly of fuel provision locally by any single company is never a good situation for consumers.

“The islands have one of the worst rates of fuel poverty in the UK. This situation is further compounded by a cost of living that is higher than any other remote rural area on mainland Scotland and the UK.

“This is a serious issue which contributes to household poverty and increased burden on public services.”

 

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP Alasdair Allan has hit out at the price inflation of heating oil in Uist.

A recent quote by Scottish Fuels was 30% higher for the islands than on the mainland. 500 litres of kerosene heating oil was priced at 53p per litre in South Uist and 40.35p per litre in Stirling.

Until recently, residents of HS6-HS8 had a choice of fuel providers, including Highland Fuels, and this market competition helped to keep fuel prices from over-inflation. But now, it appears that Inverness-based Highland Fuels has withdrawn island service.

Alasdair Allan MSP has written to the Director of Highland Fuels to ask why they do not continue to deliver to the islands.

Alasdair Allan MSP commented: “An effective monopoly of fuel provision locally by any single company is never a good situation for consumers.

“The islands have one of the worst rates of fuel poverty in the UK. This situation is further compounded by a cost of living that is higher than any other remote rural area on mainland Scotland and the UK.

“This is a serious issue which contributes to household poverty and increased burden on public services.”

 

Heb.net will continue to provide its broadband service for another month.

The service was due to end on Tuesday 31 March, leaving many customers trying to find replacement internet services as the shutdown was announced.

HIE asked Scot.net, who host the service, to retain Heb.net for a further month.

Commenting Angus B MacNeil, MP for Na H-Eileanan an Iar, said: “This is a welcome decision and for those who have not yet found a new provider this will be a lifeline during this crisis.

"It is up to individuals to contact Heb.net through their own account page to ask for the service to be maintained, it will not automatically carry on.

"If you have not found a new provider contact Heb.net as soon as you can to ensure your service continues.

“I had written to Paul Wheelhouse MP Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands to ask for an extension and am pleased that this is now happening. HIE are to be commended for this turnaround and for all the work they have done in helping people move to other providers.

“Given the current uncertainties it is good to note that there may be further extensions if needed. This will also be a chance to determine what continued demand exists for this service.”


The Hebridean Celtic Festival site at Lews Castle Green.  Photo: John Murdo Macaulay

The award-winning Hebridean Celtic Festival in banning single-use plastics from its site this year as it steps up a drive to make the event as environmentally-friendly as possible.
The action – announced on Green Arts Day today (Wednesday, March 14th) – is the latest in a series of pioneering green initiatives adopted by the event and has won support from the Scottish Government which has urged other events to follow the festival’s lead.
Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “I welcome HebCelt’s steps to ban single use plastic items. It’s good to see communities and organisations across Scotland taking steps to help change Scotland’s throwaway culture and I would encourage other organisations to follow HebCelt’s example and consider what they can do to reduce single use plastics.”

Elephant Sessions at HEBCELT. Photograph by Fiona Rennie

Future music stars are being given the dream opportunity to play at the multi award-winning Hebridean Celtic Festival and record at a state-of-the-art studio.

A new competition launched today (Thursday 29th March) in partnership with Black Bay Studio, offers the exciting prospect for up-and-coming artists to advance their careers.

To mark the Year of Young People 2018, An Ath Cheum (Next Steps) will seek out the best young artist or band aged between 18 and 25 at the time of HebCelt, which is being held from 18-21 July in Stornoway and will be headlined by Deacon Blue, The Fratellis, Eddi Reader, Skippinish and Roddy Woomble.

Jane Hepburn from the Isle of Lewis

Tickets for the 2017 Hebridean Celtic Festival go on sale today – and opening the annual music extravaganza is a trio of trailblazing female fiddle players for three Scottish island groups.

Isle of Lewis talent Jane Hepburn is joined by Louise Bichan from Orkney and Maggie Adamson from Shetland as the three bring together their individual styles in a collaboration concert to be held   in An Lanntair to open this year's HebCelt on Wednesday, July 19th.

The concert is the second musical project organised by An Lanntair under the 'Between Islands' banner and will explore the traditional tunes and playing styles of the three sets of islands.

The internationally-renowned Hebridean Celtic Festival has crowned a glittering few months by winning another prestigious national award.

It is the fifth major accolade in five months for HebCelt, making it the most successful period in the event’s 23-year history.

The festival was presented with the Best Cultural Event or Festival title at the Scottish Thistle Awards in Edinburgh.

Catalogue from Hebridean Books sellers of Second Hand Scottish, Highlands and Islands, Gaelic, Football and Sport books at reasonable prices.

 

Catalogue 19 March 2018

 

Hebridean Books

19 Eoropie, Ness

Isle of Lewis

HS2 OXH

 

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

Phone: 07810 448911

 

Postage will be charged at second class rate

Please allow 14 days for delivery.

 

If you are unhappy with any book/books I will fully refund the cost of the book and pay for any postage incurred. 

 

HEBRIDEAN BOOKS CATALOGUE 19 MARCH 2018

An Historical Enquiry Respecting The Performance of the Harp in the Highlands of Scotland.  From the Earliest Times, Until it was Discontinued, about the Year 1734.  To which is prefixed an account of a very ancient Caledonian Harp and of The Harp of Queen Mary.  Illustrated by Three Elegant Engravings.  Drawn up by desire of the Highland Society of Scotland, and Published under its Patronage by John Gunn, F.A.S.E.  H.B.  Published in 1807.  112 Pages.  Boards are not the original and slight marks on front and back.  Slight tears at the top and bottom of the boards.  £250

Sea Tangle.  Some more Songs of the Hebrides.  Collected, Edited, Translated and Arranged for Voice and Pianoforte by Marjory Kennedy Fraser and Kenneth Macleod.  Contents: Foreword, Legends and Sketches, Gaelic Pronunciation, Labour Lilts, Ancient Lays, An Island Tragedy, A Clanranald Lament, Uncanny Lilt.  Songs are in Gaelic and English.  A4 Size Publication, Printed in 1913.  This is a presentation copy and signed by Marjory Kennedy Fraser, dated 1920.  44 Pages.  Scarce.  £85

Songs of the Hebrides in 3 Volumes.  Collected and Arranged for Voice and Pianoforte with Gaelic and English words by Marjory Kennedy Fraser and Kenneth Macleod.  Volume I has 47 English songs and 47 Gaelic.  Includes Legends, Notes, Etc by Kenneth Macleod Also includes a number of other Gaelic and English songs.  168 Pages.  Volume II.  67 English and 50 Gaelic Songs, with Legends, Notes, etc by Kenneth Macleod.  Volume III.  59 English Songs and 48 Gaelic Songs with Legends, Notes, etc by Kenneth Macleod.  191 Pages.  All Volumes are H.B.  and were printed in 1922.  £150

From the Hebrides.  Further Gleanings of Tale and Song by M.  Kennedy Fraser and Kenneth Macleod.  Contents: Pastoral Lilts, Pre Christian Heroic Themes, Grandame’s Lilts, Sailing Songs, Sea Wandering, Mary Macleod Songs, Of Columba and Iona, Labour Lilt -Milking, Weaving and Waulking, Mystical Songs, Mouth Music, Songs of Love and Sorrow, Uncanny Songs, To the Isles, Words by R.L.S.  Tales and Legends, etc by Kenneth Macleod.  H.B.  Date of Printing unknown but possibly the mid 1920’s.  This is a presentation copy from M.Kennedy Fraser dated 1926.  All songs are in English and Gaelic.  131 Pages.  £85

Songs of the Highlands.  The Gaelic and English Words arranged by Malcolm Macfarlane.  The Symphonies and Accompaniments by Fr.  W.Whitehead.  Of the fifty melodies, forty four are purely folk melodies, the other six are creations of the last few years.  H.B.  Which has the original boards.  All songs are in Gaelic and English.  201 Pages.  Date of Publishing is not known.  Scarce.  £125

The Ever Green Being a Collection of Scots Poems, Wrote by the Ingenious before 1600.  Vol I.  & 2 Publifhed by Allan Ramsay.  43 Songs in Total in Vol I.  270 Pages.  Vol II has 38 Poems.  Vol II also includes a glossary of the words.  Vol II has 286 Pages.  H.B.  and both are fully rebound.  Published in 1761.  £150.  Scarce.

Semi Precious Stones of Carrick by John Smith.  H.B.  82 Pages.  Published in 1910.  Includes Plates.  £15

Upland Fauna of the Old Red Sandstone Formation of Carrick, Ayrshire by John Smith.  H.B.  Printed in 1909.  41 Pages, includes a number of Plates.  £15

Inveraray and the Dukes of Argyll.  With a foreword by the Eleventh Duke of Argyll by Ian G.  Lindsay and Mary Cosh.  Contents: Part one: The New Duke, Duke Archibald’s Castle, The Setting, Inveraray New Town: the Grand Conception, Interregnum.  Part Two: The Castle: Transformation, Building in the Policies 1771-90, The New Town: Realization, 1771-1806, Decline and Revival, Epilogue, Glossary and Abbreviations, Notes on Sources, Notes and References, Index of Architects and Craftsmen, General Index, Acknowledgements, Genealogical Tables.  H.B.  With D/J Published in 1973.  487 Pages £35

 Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland.  A Survey of Scottish Topography.  Statistical, Biographical and Historical.  Edited by Francis H.  Groome.  6 Volumes.  Vol I A-Coru 288 Pages, Vol 2 Cor-Eyn, 272 Pages.  Vol 3 Fad -Hyn,280 Pages.  Vol 4 I-Lyth, 288 Pages.  Vol 5 Maa-Rye, 292 Pages.  Vol 6 Sad-Zet.  334 Pages.  All Volumes are HB and includes Plates and Maps.  £60 for the 6 Volumes.

A Desert Place in the Sea.  The Early Churches of North Lewis by Michael Robson.  P.B.  Published in 1997.  95 Pages.  £6

Gaelic Names of Beasts (Mammalia), Birds, Fishes, Insects, Reptiles, Etc.  In Two Parts.  1.  Gaelic -English.  -II English -Gaelic.  Part I Contains Gaelic Names or Terms for Each of the Above, With English Meanings.  Part II.  Contains all the English Names for which Gaelic is given in Part I, With Gaelic,Other English Names, Etymology, Celtic Lore, Prose, Poetry, And Proverbs Referring to Each, Thereto Attached.  All Now Brought Together for the First Time by Alexander Robert Forbes Edinburgh.  H.B.  Published in 1905 and gives a list of all the subscribers.  424 Pages.  £45

Old Skye Tales.  FurtherTraditions, Reflections and Memories of an Octogenerian Highlander by William Mackenzie, Culnacnoc.  H.B.  With D/J Published in 1934.  1st Edition.  20 Chapters.  Which includes The last of the Nicolsons, A Ghost Story, Poaching, The Massacre of Eigg and the Burning of Trumpan Church, Lauchlen Macdonald of Ord Skeabost, The Skye Poetess, Arrest of the Mackinnons, The Macdonalds of Mogstad, South Snizort.  Etc.  161 Pages.  £25

Play Away Please.  The tale of the sale of Golf’s Greatest Icon -The St Andrews Old Course Starter’s Box by John Peter Hagen.  The box was sold in a controversial international auction on 10 September 2001 -the before the infamy of the Twin Towers attack.  This book recounts the glory of the little building in St Andrews, ‘the home of golf’ and tells the tale of those who used its services for 77 continuous years.  H.B.  With D/J and signed by the author.  Published in 2010.  238 Pages.  £6

 Ireland and Scotland.  Order and Disorder, 1600-2000 Edited by R.J.  Morris, Economic and Social History, University of Edinburgh, and Liam Kennedy, School of History.  Queen’s University Belfast.  Contents: Part One: The Land, Part Two: Disciplines and Demographies, Part Three: Conflicts and Identities, Part four: Consumed Disciplines, Part Five: History in the Present.  P.B.  Published in 2005.  293 Pages.  £8

 The Wild Sports & Natural History of the Highlands by Charles St John.  Originally Published in 1893, This reprint is from 1986 and contains a new introduction.  H.B.  Published in 1986.  319 Pages.  £12

Am Bard.  Orain, Sgriobhaidhean agus Litrichean Bard Thurnaig (Alasdair Camshron) Air an deasachadh agus air an cur a mach le Iain MacAlasdair Moffatt-Pender.  Roimh Radh le Uilleam I.  MacBhathair M.A, L.L.D Ard Ollamh na Gaidhlig an Oil Thigh Dhun Eideann.  5 Piosan Rosg agus 25 piosan bardachd.  H.B.  Air Fhoillsaechadh ann an 1926.  232 Duilleag.  £30

 Sermons and Meditations by the Rev James A.  Tallach.  With a brief memoir of the Rev James A.  Tallach by Dr H.  Gillies, Stornoway.  Rev Tallach was Minister of the Free Presbyterian Church Congregations at Kames and in Stornoway.  Booklet, Originally Printed in 1962, this reprint is from 1978.  117 Pages.  £6

The Real Taggarts.  Glasgow’s Post War Crimebusters.  By Andrew G.  Ralston.  The policemen profiled in the book are: DCS William Ewing, CID Chief 1937-51, DCS Gilbert McIlwrick, CID Chief 1951-57, DCS Robert V.  Colquhoun CID Chief 1957-60, DCS Robert Kerr, CID Chief 1960-63, DCS Tom Goodall, CID Chief 1963-69, Superintendent Alex Brown, Deputy CID Chief 1957-59, DS Joe Beattie, In Charge of the Northern, Maryhill and Marine Divisions 1969-73.  P.B.  Published in 2017.  237 Pages.  £5

One Hundred Years On.  Kinloch Church of Scotland Isle of Lewis.  1911-2011.  A comprehensive history of the congregation its Ministers, Elders, Session Clerks, Deacons etc.  Booklet, Printed in 2011.  74 Pages.  £6

Hebridean Island.  Memories of Scarp by Angus Duncan.  1888-1971.  Edited by A.Duncan.  The Island of Scarp lies off the West Coast of North Harris in the Outer Hebrides and was populated for more than 400 years until 1971.  This magnificent account of the island describes an island community and a way of life now all but forgotten.  This book was originally published in 1995, this P.B.  Reprint is from 2005.  234 Pages.  £8

 In My Small Corner.  Memories of an Orkney Childhood by Margaret Aitken.  In this book the author remembers island life -idyllic memories of growing up in a close knit community, of walking with the poet and naturalist Robert Rendall.  P.B.  Published in 2001, 125 Pages.  £6

Recipes and Housekeeping Tips from 1908.  This fascinating book originated from the hand written notes of Mrs Annie Mackinnon of 67 Balallan, Isle of Lewis and date from1908.  The handwritten notes were discovered at the house she stayed in in 2004.  P.B.  With Ring Binding.  106 Pages.  £8

Donald Malcolm The Driving Force by Bob Tuck.  The story of the son of the founder of the WH Malcolm Haulage Company, which continues to be one of the country’s largest.  H.B.  Published in 2006.  130 Pages, and includes many photographs, and gives a timeline of the major milestones of the company since its founding.  £10

 One Hundred & Fifty Proud Years.  A booklet to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Main Building of the High School of Dundee.  Booklet, 32 Pages.  Date of Printing Unknown.  £8

The High Girders.  The Story of the Tay Bridge Disaster by John Prebble.  The author tells the story from its beginning, through the long years and incidental disasters of construction, to the brief months of triumph and on to the grim aftermath.  H.B.  With D/J Published in 1956, this third edition is from 1975.  220 Pages.  £8

An Old Scottish Town House -Provand’s Lordship, Glasgow.  Pamphlet, originally printed in 1930, this sixth edition is from December 1946.  11 Pages.  £8

John Murray and The Godly Life by John J.  Murray.  This booklet is the substance of an address delivered at a meeting of the Northern Reformed Fellowship in Dornoch Academy on 16th June 2008.  Booklet, 20 Pages.  £5

 Rev William Grant.  A biography of the late Minister of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland.  Contents includes a biography of his life, His Ministry, Tributes, Sermons and Notes, Letters, Obituary written by Mr Grant and fragments from Mr Grant’s diaries.  P.B.  Published in 1978.  133 Pages.  £8

History and Poetry from the Scottish Border.  Volumes I and II By Professor Veitch.  Their main features and relations.  New and Enlarged Edition.  Vol I has 374 pages.  Vol II has 376 Pages.  2nd Edition.  £30

Highland Minister.  The Life and Poems of Rev Angus Mackinnon, Aultbea.  A Biography by his son Angus Matheson Mackinnon.  This book gives an intimate account of the life and times of Rev.  Angus Mackinnon, who was a minister in a Scottish Highland parish from 192401956.  Included are his early life adventures in Canada, and his Gaelic poems with English translations.  P.B.  Published in 1997.  470 Pages.  £6

Leabhar Nan Comharraidhean.  A register of crofters sheep marks from Ness to Ballantrushal on the Island Of Lewis.  Compiled and Published by Comunn Eachdraidh Nis (Ness Historical Society).  Booklet, Printed in the late 1970’s.  83 Pages.  £8

Eavesdropping on Myself.  An outsider’s Boyhood in Glasgow.  By Norman Maclean.  This book chronicles the author’s boyhood in Glasgow and explores the push-pull of two cultures; working class Glaswegian and first generation Hebridean.  P.B.  Published in 2015.  193 Pages.  £6

I’ll Sing on.  The Story of Catriona Maclean Mackinnon.  By G.A.  Mackinnon.  Catriona Maclean was born in Glasgow in 1949, parents were from Skye and North Tolsta, she graduated in voice, harp and piano from the prestigious Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.  This is her story of her passion for music and her search for truth that would carry her through her struggles with life threatening illness and with the cultural implications of her faith.  She passed away on the Isle of Skye in May 1984.  P.B.  Published in 2017.  114 Pages.  £5

 Scotland’s Golf Course.  The Complete Gide by Vic Robbie.  H.B.  Published in 1997.  Gives a Directory of every Golf Club in Scotland.  Ex Library Book.  235 Pages.  £5

Neil Munro’s Jimmy Swan.  Commercial Traveller.  P.B.  Originally Published in 1931, this reprint is from 1988, and includes illustrations.  P.B.  122 Pages.  £5

Diary and Sermons of the Rev Alexander Macleod Rogart -formerly of Uig, Lewis.  With brief memoir by the Rev D.  Beaton, Wick.  Booklet, Printed in 1925.  60 Pages.  Covers show signs of dampness, but contents are perfect.  £6

Dain Spioradail le Dughall Bochanan.  Spiritual Songs of Dugald Buchanan.  Booklet, date of Printing Unknown.  59 Pages.  £8

Spurious Charity by J.Forbes Moncrieff.  Revised and Reprinted 1962.  Booklet, printed by the Scottish Reformation Society.  16 Pages.  £6

Give me that Joy.  A Simple Devotional Commentry on Acts 1:1 -9:31 by John Tallach.  P.B.  Published in 1996.  159 Pages.  £5

A Brief History of Dornoch Free Church by WH Murray.  Booklet, date of printing not known but possibly circa late 1990’s.  40 Pages.  £5

 The Psalter in Metre and Scripture Pharaphrases With Tunes.  Authorised for use in Public Worship.  H.B.  Originally Published in 1899, this reprint is not dated.  864 Pages.  £10

A Heart For Africa.  The Story of Jean Nicolson -Missionary in Zimbabwe by Dolina MacCuish.  Jean Nicolson was born in Arizona, but with her roots in the Scottish Highlands.  She gave the best years of her life to mission work in Africa.  H.B.  With illustrations.Published in 2008.  229 Pages.  £6

St Mungo’s Bairns.  Some notable Glasgow students down the centuries.  Booklet, 57 Pages.  Printed in 1990.  £6

The Tall Ship at Riverside -Glenlee.  A guidebook about the historic ship.  Booklet, Printed in 2011.  33 Pages.  £5

Rosslyn Chapel by The Earl of Rosslyn.  Contents: A short History, A Tour of Rosslyn Chapel, Cultural Heritage, The St Claires of Rosslyn, Perspectives.  Booklet, Printed in 1997.  56 Pages.  Includes 2 receipts from a visit to the Chapel.  £6

Diary 1851-John Munro Mackenzie Chamberlain of the Lews.  His diary for the year 1851, when he was half way through a six year engagement as Chamberlain, gives a vivid and at times disturbing picture of the issues of the day.  The diary is published exactly as it was written.  P.B.  Published in 1994.  167 Pages.  £8

Owners and Occupiers.  Changes in Rural Society in South West Scotland before 1914 by RH Campbell.  Contents: A Peripheral Region, Agricultural Enterprise, Landownership.  H.B.  With D/J Published in 1991.  Includes Maps.  200 Pages.  £10

Bute Connections by Jean Macmillan, Margaret Lamb and Allan Martin.  This book is based on an exhibition that was held in August 2009, and represents a major contribution to Bute local history.  P.B.  Published in 2011.  112 Pages.  £6

 Arran a History by Thorbjorn Campbell.  In this book the author gives an original, fascinating and comprehensive account of Arran’s long and eventful history, and also includes a selection of traditional Arran songs and stories, originally collected by William Mackenzie before the First World War.  H.B.  With D/J Published in 2007.  297 Pages.  £10

The University of Glasgow : 1451 -2001 by A.L.  Brown and Michael Moss.  Glasgow University is Scotland’s second oldest University -this volume traces its history from the foundation to the present.  P.B.  Reprinted with Corrections in 2001.  121 Pages.  £8

Scotland’s Shame.  Bigotry and Sectarianism in Modern Scotland Edited by T.M.  Devine.  The chapters in this book are written by the best writers, researchers and academics in the field, including Steve Bruce, Robert Crawford, Tom Gallacher, John Haldane, David McCrone and Andrew O’ Hagan.  Both Catholic and Protestant perspectives are represented as are various disciplines.  P.B.  Published in 2000.  281 Pages.  £6

The Soap Man.  Lewis, Harris and Lord Leverhulme by Roger Hutchinson.  In 1918, as the First World War was drawing to a close, the eminent liberal industrialist Lord Leverhulme bought -lock, stock and barrel -the Hebridean Island of Lewis.  His intention was to revolutionise the lives and environment of its 30,000 people, and those of neighbouring Harris, which he shortly added to his estate.  P.B.  Originally printed in 2003, this reprint is from 2005.  236 Pages.  £5

Far Off in Sunlit Places.  Stories of the Scots in Australia and New Zealand by Jim Hewitson.  From coastline to desert, from hill farms to the growing cities of both nations, the narrative moves with fluid ease.  Far off in Sunlit places is popular history at its best, highly readable and carrying its scholarship lightly.  It is a very fitting testimony to the resilience and ambition of Scots abroad.  P.B.  Published in 1998.  308 Pages.  £6

Before the Oil Ran Out.  Britain 1977-86 by Ian Jack.  This is a selection of the author’s journalism, along with a portrait of his father and his own childhood largely in Scotland, and includes all those pieces that have won such acclaim.  H.B.  With D/J Published in 1987.  271 Pages.  £6

 The Celtic Church in Scotland.  Being an Introduction to the History of the Christian Church in Scotland down to the death of Saint Margaret by John Dowden D.D.  Bishop of Edinburgh.  H.B.  Published in 1894.  334 Pages.  £30

Killearn Past and Present.  Research and old photographs by Helen Louden & Hugh McArthur for the Quincentenial Celebrations.  A selection of photographs over the year’s.  Booklet, Printed in 2006.  62 Pages.  £6

Rogart -The Story of a Sutherland Crofting Parish.  Written and Compiled by John Macdonald.  With written contributions from Dr Michael Simpson and Rosa Macpherson.  A fascinating record of the village.  Which includes many photographs.P.B.  Published in 2002.  439 Pages.  Signed by the author.  £10

A History of Lairg by Lesley Ketteringham.  With local contributors.  P.B.  Originally Published in 1997, this reprint is from 1998.  256 Pages.  £8

Pronouncing English-Gaelic Dictionary.  Compiled by Neil Macalpine.  Formerly Published as Part 1 of Macalpine’s Pronouncing Gaelic Dictionary.  H.B.  With D/J Published in 1971.  281 Pages.  £8

 Healing Threads.  Traditional Medicines of the Highlands and Islands by Mary Beith.  In a fascinating look at these traditions, the author links the threads of Highland medicine across time and space to embrace the wider contexts of European orthodox medicine, Celtic art and rituals.  P.B.  Originally Published in 1995, this third reprint is from 1998.  294 Pages.  £6

 Scottish Midwives.  Twentieth Century Voices by Lindsay Reid.  This book traces, through the oral testimonies of midwives, the development of midwifery in Scotland in the twentieth century from their own, very personal, perspectives.  P.B.  Published in 2000.  193 Pages.  £5

The Hill of the Red Fox by Allan Campbell Maclean.  A novel set in the time of the Cold War, Soviet spies are feared, and secrets are traded.  People disappear.  Originally Published to great acclaim in 1955, this fourth reprint is from 2009.  262 Pages.  £5

 Rock Lighthouses of Britain by Christopher Nicholson.  In this new and greatly enhanced edition of his classic work, which has become the standard work on the subject, the author vividly describes the construction and history to the present day of some of the world’s most famous lighthouses.  Originally Published in 1983, this edition is from 2006.  H.B.  With D/J 224 Pages.  £10

St Clement’s Church at Rodel by Bill Lawson.  A Harris Church in its Historical Setting.  Booklet, Printed in 1991.  44 Pages.  £6

Yesterday’s Child by Christina J.  Morrison.  The author was born and brought up in Innes Street, Inverness of lewis parents.  She began her working life at the Town Clerk’s office in Inverness.  Once war was declared she was instructed to go to London, where she discovered, that she would be working for Military Intelligence at Whitehall, decoding top secret messages for Churchill’s Government.  Many of the messages she decoded related to events, which, in hindsight, proved to be of great historical significance.  Her tales of her adventures in wartime London are fascinating (including meeting Winston Churchill in his pyjamas!) P.B.  Published in 2016.  160 Pages.  £5

 Bobby Tulloch’s Migrations.  Travels of a Naturalist.  This book follows his voyaging over northern seas to the Faroes and remote St Kilda, and south as far as the Seychelles and the Falklands, in search of greater understanding of the birds he has loved and studied all his life.  H.B.  With D/J Published in 1991, 151 Pages.  £8

Fishing Vessels of Britain and Ireland 1999.  A Fishing News Publication.  The handbook for the Fishing Vessel Operator.  A4 Size Publication.  272 Pages.  £10

The Munro’s.  Scotland’s Highest Mountains by Cameron Mcneish.  All 284 Munros Included.  H.B.  With D/J Originally Published in 1996, this edition is from 2003.  228 Pages.  £8

Twenty Years of Hebridean Memories by Emily Macdonald.  The author a niece of island landowner Lord Leverhulme, covers the years 1918-1938.  H.B.  With D/J and includes Photographs.  Published in the mid 1960’s.  156 Pages.  £20

 Travels in the Western Hebrides from 1782-1790 by Rev John Lane Buchanan.  Introduction by Dr Alasdair Maclean.  P.B.  Originally Published in 1793, this reprint is from 1997.  109 Pages.  £8

 The whole earth shall cry Glory.  Iona prayers by Rev George F.  Macleod.  H.B.  Published in 1985.  64 Pages.  £6

Am Feachd Gaidhealach.  Leabhar de rosg agus bardachd a chaidh a chuir ri cheile airson an fheadhainn a bha ann a seirbheas feachd a righ aig am an dara cogaidh.  H.B.  Air fhoillseachadh ann an 1944.  320 Duilleag.  £10

The Hydro Boys.  Pioneers of Renewable Energy by Emma Wood.  The hydro electric project was a crusade, with a marvellous goal: the prize of affordable power for all from Scottish rainfall.  P.B.  Originally Published in 2002, this edition is from 2010.  205 Pages.  £5

Captain Robert Peter.  The sailor -poet of Tulliallan.  By Rev William Meiklejohn M.A.  Booklet, Date of Printing early 1980’s.  97 Pages.  Signed by the author.  £8

My Father and other Working Class Heroes by Gary Imlach.  The story of Stewart Imlach, born in Lossiemouth, left the fishing port to become a professional footballer in England, was in the Scotland squad at the 1958 World Cup, the following year he won the FA Cup with Nottingham Forest.  This book was described as one of the best sports books of recent times.  H.B.  With D/J Published in 2005.  235 Pages.  £5

Alison -A father’s Search for his missing daughter by Quentin Macfarlane.  On 17th August 1981, a pretty 19 year old student from the Island of Lewis, Alison Macdonald, set off on a short walk from the guest houe at which she was staying in the Kashmiri Village of Sonamarg in Northern India.  She never returned.  This book follows the remarkable story of one of the most intriguing and compelling mysteries of modern day.  H.B.  Published in 1986.  167 Pages.  £6

One Man’s Lewis.  A Lively View of a Lively Island by George Morrison (The Breve) A compilation of his columns which appeared in the Stornoway Gazette from the 1940’s until the 1980’s.  P.B.  Published in the 1980’s.  125 Pages.  £6

Highland Ways and Byways by Kenneth Macrae (Coinneach Mor) A selection of his writings.  The extracts in this book are taken from the 3 books which the author had previously published; Highland Doorstep 1953, Highland Handshake 1954, and Northern Narrative 1955.  H.B.  With D/J Published in 1973.  147 Pages.  £6

English -Gaelic Dictionary.  Compiled by John Mackenzie.  Formerly Published as Part 2 of Macalpine’s Pronouncing Gaelic Dictionary.  H.B.  With D/J Published in 1971.  269 Pages.  Slight tears on the front of the D/J.  £8

A Short History of the Highlands and Isles by W.C.  Mackenzie.  With Illustrations.  The main purpose of the book is to trace the various stages of social, economic, religious and political development through which the Highland people have passed, from the earliest historical times down to the present day.  24 Chapters, additional notes and index.  H.B.  Published in 1906.  389 Pages.  £25

Crofts and Crofting by Katharine Stewart.  Contents: Bibliography, What is a Croft?, The Land Wars, A Living from the Land, Skills for Living, The Lively Minds, Crofting Today -and Tomorrow.  P.B.  Published in 1980.  64 Pages.  £5

A Bibliography of the Works of Neil Gunn by CJL Stokoe.  Contents: Preface, Chronology of Neil M.  Gunn, Books and Short Stories, Plays, Dramatisations and Film Scripts, Verse, Articles in Newspapers and Periodicals, Broadcast Material, Miscellanous, Index.  P.B.  Published in 1987.  243 Pages.  £6

The Scottish Regiments by Diana M.  Henderson.  Foreword by His Royal Highness The Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh K.G.  K.T.  Covers all the Scottish Regiments.  Appendices include Battle Honours, The Territorial Army, Scottish Military Music.  P.B.  Published in 1993.  183 Pages.  £8

 Atlantic Challenge.  An Epic Solo Voyage across The North Atlantic by Angus Matheson Mackinnon.  This book describes a solo voyage across the north Atlantic, that turned out to be an unprecedented challenge.  The Author spells out the nature of the challenge and the triumph of overcoming it.  P.B.  Published in 1995.  371 Pages.  Includes many photographs.  Signed by the Author.  £8

The Land of the Hills and Glens.  Wild Life in Iona and the Inner Hebrides by Seton Gordon.  With 57 Illustrations from Photographs by the Author.  1st Edition.  Published in 1920.  H.B.  35 Chapters.  223 Pages.  £35

Steering the Stone Ships.  The Story of Orkney Kirks and People by Jocelyn Rendall.  Drawings by Crispin Worthington.  Through many centuries, Orkney’s churches have been the theatre in which the great drama’s of Orkney’s history have been played out.  The author tells the fascinating story of an island’s people through the records of these churches.  P.B.  Published in 2009.  268 Pages.  £8

 Genealogical Collections Concerning Families in Scotland, Made by Walter Macfarlane 1750-1751.  Edited from the Original Manuscripts in the Advocates Library, by James Toshach Clark.  Keeper of the Library.  Vol I H.B.  Published in 1900.  438 Pages.  The book also gives a list of members for the Scottish History Society in 1888-1889.  £45

Avonside Explored by Edward H.  Peck.  A Guide to Tomintoul and Glenlivet.  Illustrations by Donald R.  Macgregor.  This booklet, aims to expand on Victor Gaffney’s book ; Tomintoul its Glens and its People, by including more of Inveravon- Glenlivet and by providing up to date directions for walks and drives in exploring the Banffshire Avon and its tributaries.  Booklet, Printed in 1983.  52 Pages.  £8

Robert Louie Stevenson and the Highlands and Islands of Scotland by Louis Stott.  A look at RLS’s journeys to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.  P.B.  Published in 1992.  154 Pages.  £6

 Chi Mi Domhnall Iain Macdhomhnaill.  The Gaelic Poetry of Donald John Macdonald.  Edited by Bill Innes.  With introduction, Notes and Parallel Translation.  Includes a biography of the Bard.  This is the first book of his poetry to be published and includes English translation, introduction and notes to all the poems.  P.B.  Published in 1998.  369 Pages.  A presentation copy from the Editor which is signed.  £8

Eilean Fraoich.  Lewis Gaelic Songs and Melodies.  Originally Published in 1938, this reprint with many of the newer songs is from 1982.  Includes Published Songs, Unpublished Songs, Orain Luaidh, Puirt a- Beul, and some of the new songs.  Where known there are a couple of lines of biography on each bard.  P.B.  Published in 1982.  238 Pages.  £8

Stornoway and the Lews by James Shaw Grant.  Humour, Mystery Tragedy and Adventure.  Unusual Stories from the Western Isles.  P.B.  Published in 1985.  198 Pages.  £8

An Island Nurse by Sheila Chapman.  Elizabeth Laird Manson was born on the 27th November 1926 in a well known Northern Scottish Village called John o’ Groats (locally known as Groats) at the very North tip of mainland Scotland.  Little did anyone know when she was born that she was destined to be the district nurse on the Island of Stroma.  The author was the second youngest daughter of Elizabeth Manson.  P.B.  Published in 2009.  83 Pages.  £6

Harris Tweed.  The Story of a Hebridean Industry by Francis Thompson.  This book describes the economic struggles of the Hebrides, the methods of Tweed Manufacture, both traditional and modern, and the marketing problems.It tells a unique and exciting story.  H.B.  With D/J Published in 1969.  1st Edition.  Includes many illustrations.  191 Pages.  £10

Great Scott -The autobiography of Scotland’s most capped player.  Scott Hastings and Derek Douglas.  Hastings tells of his life at the centre.  He writes about Grand Slams and Grand slumps, joy and despair with the British Lions down under and of an Edinburgh childhood where sibling rivalry knew no bounds.  H.B.  With D/J Published in 1996.  190 Pages.  £5

The Hub of My Universe by James Shaw Grant.  More Humour, Mystery, Tragedy and Adventure from real life in the Western Isles.  P.B.  Published in 1982, 148 Pages.  Signs of dampness on the back cover of the book.  £8

Twelve Select Sermons of the Rev Andrew Gray.  With brief account of his life.  The Rev Andrew Gray was a Minister of the Gospel in Glasgow.  He passed away aged 22 years in 1656.  Booklet, printed in 1961.  128 Pages.  £6

The Gaelic Reader With Notes and Vocabulary.  Edited by Malcolm Maclennan.  New and Revised Edition.  H.B.  2nd Edition.  Published in 1913.  80 Pages.  £10

Scotland Archaeology and Early History by Graham and Anna Ritchie.  With 149 Illustrations.  The authors provide the first fully comprehensive survey of Scotland’s archaeology and early history, from earliest times to the union of the Picts and Scots in ad 843.  P.B.  Ex Library.  Originally Published in 1981, this Edition is from 1985.  192 Pages.  £8

 Notes of Everything.  The Rev Dr Archibald Clerk’s Kilmallie Parish Minister’s Diary of c.  1864.  With an index of person’s named in its text.  Prefaced by the illustrated story of his family.  Booklet, Printed in 1987.  74 Pages.  £6

Jacobite Activities in and around Inverness.  A description of events concerning Jacobitism which occurred in the Inverness locality during the years 1688-1746 by Barrie Robertson.  Booklet, originally printed in February 1970, this reprint is from April 1972.  21 Pages.  £6

In The Middle by Iain Crichton Smith.  Poetry which demonstrates the same unobtrusive technical mastery, and the same intellectual curiosity and sensitivity.  P.B.  Published in 1977.  64 Pages.  £5

Neil M.  Gunn.  The Man Who Came Back.  Short Stories and Essays.  Edited by Margery McCulloch.  P.B.  Published in 1991.  211 Pages.  £5

Fortrose and Rosemarkie Golf Club 1888-1988.  Compiled by Alex Main.  Booklet, Printed in 1988.  78 Pages.  £6

Highland Postbag.  The correspondence of Four Macdougall Chiefs 1715-1865.  Edited by Jean MacDougall.  The surviving correspondence of four Macdougall chiefs provides an authentic record of the concerns and vicissitudes of the family during a time of major change in the way of life in the Highlands, and of the impact of local, national and international events upon it.  P.B.  Originally Published in 1984, this reprint is from 2003,294 Pages.  £8

Charles Kennedy A Tragic Flaw by Greig Hurst.  The Biography of the late leader of the Liberal Democrats and one of the ablest politicians of his generation.  Charles Kennedy -1959-2015, served as MP for a Highland constituency from 1983-2015.  This book was published in 2006, after he stood down as leader of his party.  H.B.  With D/J 307 Pages.  One of the best political biographies of recent times.  £6

 The Modern Gaelic English Dictionary.  Am Faclair Ur Gaidhlig -Beurla le Robert C.  Owen.  Specially recommended for learners, containing pronunciation, irregular verb tables, grammatical information, examples of idiomatic usage.  P.B.  Published in 1993, this reprint is from 1996.  139 Pages.  £6

Laoidhean le Alasdair Macleoid.  Bhuineadh Mghr Macleoid do bhaile a Chnuic, A rubha, Eilean Leodhais.  Leabharann, le 16 laoidh.  Air fhoillseachadh ann an 1973.  33 Duilleag.  £5

Rona -The Distant Island by Michael Robson.  The most comprehensive book ever written on the island.  The author knows his subject well and shares his knowledge and affection in the book.  P.B.  Published in 1991.  179 Pages.  £12

Hebridean Altars by Alistair Maclean.  Some studies of the Spirit of an Island Race.  H.B.  Published in 1937.  1st Edition.  157 Pages.  £15

Witdom.  By Oliver Brown.  Essaygrams -an extension of The Extended Tongue.  Foreword by Hugh MacDiarmid.  P.B.  Published in 1953, this reprint is from 1969.  134 Pages.  The cover is signed by the author.  £10

Colonel Colin Mackenzie.  The First Surveyor General of India.  By W.C.  Mackenzie.  This is the story of Stornoway born Mackenzie, who was a master surveyor and an outstanding geographer.  He devoted his life to the East India Company, and had thirty eight years service in India and Java without a break.  H.B.  With D/J Published in 1952.  230 Pages.  £35.  Scarce.

Salar Delicious -Flaky Smoked Salmon.  Serving Suggestions & Recipes.  Compiled by Jane Twelves.  Booklet, with ringbinding.  Published late 1990’s.  47 Pages.  £6

The Hugh Barron Papers.  A selection of the papers he delivered to the Gaelic Society of Inverness and in other publications over many years.  H.B.  Published in 2011.  485 Pages.  £15

Winchman by Chris Murray.  A Life on the Wire.  This is the life story of Chris Murray.  As a winchman on Search and Rescue Helicopters for 22 years he was involved in the rescue of many people from the seas and mountains around the Western Isles and the north of Scotland.  P.B.  Published in 2013.  183 Pages.  £6

Skye & Lochalsh Including Raasay & Plockton.  The Guide Book.  First Published in 2009, this second edition is from 2012.  Booklet, 68 Pages.  £5

Innsgall -The Western Isles.  Text by John Barber.  Design and Photography by David A.  Magee.  Contents: The Geology and Geomorphology of the Islands, The Thaw, High Summer: Climatic Improvement, The Rainy Season, The Peat, Light and Dark, Echoes of the Lordship of the Isles, In living Memory, Gazetteer of Archaeological Sites, Further Reading.  P.B.  Date of Printing Unknown.  127 Pages.  £6

The History and Traditions of the Isle of Skye by Alexander Cameron.  This book was originally published in 1871.  This reprint is from 1994.  H.B.  With D/J 25 Chapters.  161 Pages.  £8

John Macleod D.D.  by Rev G.N.M.  Collins.  A biography of a native of Lochaber who became Principal of the Free Church College.  11 Chapters, and a further chapter which includes the tributes after his passing.  H.B.  Published in 1951.  285 Pages.  £15

The Next Horizon.  Memories of a Hebridean Skipper.By Ewen Nicholson with Allan Henderson.  The life story of Ewen Nicholson from Grimsay in North Uist, and his tales of life on the high seas,as a sailor and as a fishing boat owner.  He had his demons but thankfully he overcame them.  This is a book that you can’t put down.  P.B.  Published in 2012.  152 Pages.  £6

Scottish Customs.  From the Cradle to the Grave by Margaret Bennett.  A highly readable and absorbing anthology of traditional Scottish customs and rites of passage, drawn from a broad range of literary sources dating back to the Sixteenth century.  P.B.  Originally Published in 1992.  This reprint is from 2009.  340 Pages.  £8

Uig Lodge.  The Fhorsa River system.  Contents: Fhorsa River, Dam Pool, Corner Pool, Flounder Pool, Upper Falls Pool, Otter Pool, Go