Maryann Morrison in the new Beautify salon

Want to be ‘Beautified’?  Now you need go no further than Bank Street right in the centre of Stornoway, where Suzanne Stewart has now relocated her beauty therapy business, Beautify.
 
She opened her new salon this week, moving on from a much smaller salon created in Bells Road after less than a year.  Beautify moved there after she had been working from her kitchen at home since she started Beautify in November 2013.  “It just outgrew my house, it got really busy,”says Suzanne.

With winds forecast to gust up to 60 knots over the next two days, ferry operator CalMac has issued its first weather warning of the season.

Widespread disruption is forecast to services up and down the west coast as high winds are likely to place restrictions on sailings.

'There is a high likelihood that services will experience weather related disruption across the Clyde and Hebrides routes this week with the worst of the weather due to hit Tuesday and Wednesday. People should look at the forecast carefully before travelling and check their arrangements if they plan to travel with us,” said CalMac's operations director, Drew Collier.

You can now get £140 off your electricity bill through the Warm Home Discount Scheme. 

The Warm Home Discount (WHD) is a government scheme aimed to help low income households - particularly those in fuel poverty - to reduce their energy bills. 

The scheme offers a one-off rebate of £140 from your electricity bill.

In 2016-17, if you are a pensioner who receives the guarantee credit element of pension credit, you will automatically be eligible for the rebate. 

However, you may also be eligible for the discount if your supplier is part of the scheme.  

Outer Hebrides Tourism is delighted to report a 'fantastic response' to a recent survey, carried out to determine how the Western Isles fare as a destination in terms of digital technology.

“Lots of businesses are extremely keen to improve their digital skills and have expressed an interest in a variety of training courses, from basic IT skills to help with developing online booking,” says the survey report.

It adds that local companies should keep an eye out for further training opportunities as Outer Hebrides Tourism is currently 'pulling together a wide ranging training plan' to run over the winter months.

Members of the public and workers in the Newton area of Stornoway will get a chance on Wednesday (25th September) to see plans to transform part of the area.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Highlands and Islands Enterprise are working with haulage firm and landowner D.R. Macleod to develop infrastructure that will create new facilities, buildings and roads.

An exhibition of plans of these developments will be hosted at DR Macleod’s offices on Island Road, Stornoway on Wednesday 25th September from 4pm to 6pm.

Members of the public, businesses and any interested parties are encouraged to come along to see and discuss the plans for a vacant and derelict site within the area.

D.R. Macleod, who will be the developer lead in what is being termed the Newton Gateway project, said:  “Newton Gateway is a new development proposal intended as a key driver in the regeneration of the Newton area.

"This development would bring a disused site into purposeful use, providing new, modern commercial facilities for both new and existing businesses in the Western Isles.

"We believe the proposed development would bring a vitally needed boost to the local economy and the surrounding area, encouraging new ventures and growth of existing businesses whilst providing a significant boost to employment.”

The Comhairle’s Chairman of Sustainable Communities, Donald Crichton said: “We are very encouraged to hear of the new plans for Phase 2 of Stornoway Regeneration. 

"Following on from existing works being carried out at Goat Island and the transformation of former mill buildings in Newton, these targeted interventions will create more jobs, infrastructure and visually improve the area.”

The Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Economic Development service is to support the economic and social regeneration of the Outer Hebrides. The Comhairle says it is keen to work with businesses and organisations that seek to create the right economic conditions to improve infrastructure and community wellbeing.

The CalMac ferry 'Hebrides' has crashed into Lochmaddy pier.

The incident occurred at 1105 as MV Hebrides, travelling from Tarbert on Harris, was approaching Lochmaddy Port. 

A technical failure led to the vessel being unable to to reduce speed sufficiently for the routine docking procedures and she struck both pontoons in Lochmaddy harbour and the seabed.

Plastic waste could be reused in future as part of resurfacing work on the islands roads network.

SNP Councillor John A Maciver (Loch a Tuath) has asked Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to research the possibility of a plastic roads scheme in a bid to re-use waste and cut costs.

Police Scotland has officially launched "Trauma Teddies" in the Highlands & Islands with partners from the charity Safe, Strong and Free.

It follows the generous donation of more than 800 teddies, which have been hand knitted and crocheted across the region.

Lewis and Harris Auction Mart have issued a plea to cattle producers to book early for the October sale of cattle – with no other opportunity to sell cattle locally this year.

The traditional closing show of the season, the Christmas show and sale in November, is not to be held this year, with the last sale of sheep to be held on October 17th before the uncertainty of the Brexit deadline bites.

In a notice published yesterday (Monday September 23rd) the mart directors said: “The only Stornoway cattle sale of 2019 will be held on Tuesday 8th October. The Mart committee would appreciate early booking to allow for haulage and ferries to be organised. Producers planning to sell later in the season should book for this sale.”

The mart at Steinish saw a busy and successful sale of lambs and sheep on Wednesday last week, with a near-capacity 3,988 sheep of all classes passing under the hammer of Dingwall and Highland Marts auctioneers.

A report published by the auctioneers states that all classes exceeded sellers’ expectations, with 2,846 store lambs averaging £37.50 – up £3.65 on the year – and a top price of £78 gross twice for a pen of mules from 5 Shulishader, Point and a pen of cross lambs from 14A West Tarbert, Harris.

Gimmers sold to £100 gross for a pair of mules from 5 Shulishader and 989 ewes and feeding sheep sold to £72 gross for Beltex-cross ewes from 11A New Shawbost.

The next sale is of rams on Monday October 7th, booking closing next Monday, September 30th. All sales can be booked at https://lewisandharrisauctionmart.co.uk/index.html

A coffee shop set up at the Ardmhor ferry terminal is celebrating the end of a successful first season, with coffee causing a stir in the highest circles.

Ardmhor Coffee at the Wee Ferry Terminal has been designated an official pit-stop on the Hebridean Way, with walkers and cyclists praising the delicious bakes, perfect coffee and wealth of healthy options available for weary Hebridean Wayers.

Manager Sharon Cox, who has six years experience running the Barra Airport Café with husband Mick, says she first thought of starting the café as the ferry terminal was looking “a bit sad”.

She told welovestornoway.com: “I have been really pleased with the amount of Hebridean Wayers, cyclists and walkers, using us as an official Hebridean Way pit stop and overwhelmed by the kind and lovely messages of support and compliments on my baking and coffees.

“I am aiming the business at the Heb Wayers as they are increasing in numbers. My home-baking – baked on site in my wee kitchen – vegan snacks, whey protein shakes and energy bars, all seem to be appreciated after a tough day on the Heb Way.”

Sharon is still contemplating what hours would best suit winter opening, but for now is open from 8.30am to 4pm five days a week – closed Sundays and one other day, which is always advised on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Ardmhor-Coffee-At-The-Wee-Ferry-Terminal-1185469631632689/

And she’s looking forward to next season, when she has ideas for possible expansion of the menu, as well as possible star support from the Black Isle…

Sharon said: “I was thrilled to have been visited by the Vandyke Brothers (based in Cromarty) – famous Scottish coffee bean roasters. They loved my oat milk flat whites and said they were really impressed with my barista skills, my coffee and the fact that I offer a choice of three dairy alternative milks – and by the fact that I am a tiny independent coffee shop all the way out here.

“They have contacted me to offer advice and support if I need it to expand my ideas and I’m really looking forward to next season, excitedly looking at some new foodie and drink ideas.”

A forecast of strong south-westerly winds on Saturday (September 14th) has led CalMac to advise early travel for Barra passengers.
South-south-westerly winds could gust close to 60mph between 10am and 2pm on Saturday, leaving the Castlebay Oban service liable to cancellation or disruption at short notice.
A CalMac spokesman said the direction of the wind was a particular issue for the Barra sailing, causing less impact elsewhere in the Western Isles. A review will be undertaken at 4pm tomorrow (Friday 13th).
CalMac suggests that passengers wishing to travel on Saturday 14th consider travelling on Friday 13th instead.

Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) has awarded a £14.3 million contract to civil engineering and building contractor, RJ McLeod Limited, to carry out upgrade works at Tarbert Ferry Terminal in Harris.

The infrastructure upgrade work at Tarbert is part of the Skye Triangle Infrastructure Project, which involves significant harbour upgrades at the three ports at Tarbert, Lochmaddy and Uig.  The work is designed to improve and modernise harbour facilities and prepare the way for new vessels.

 Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has welcomed the announcement.  Councillor Uisdean Robertson, Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said: “We warmly welcome the announcement of this significant upgrade to the Ferry Terminal in Harris. This will complement the construction works at Lochmaddy, scheduled for January 2020.

“Whilst ferry services in the islands face many challenges, it is good to see that, as well as improving facilities and infrastructure which will benefit the travelling public, this development should also provide much needed local employment directly and indirectly through engagement with the local supply chain.”

RJ McLeod will be responsible for completing all civil engineering works for the initial phase of the harbour upgrade project, including pier reconstruction and extension, land reclamation and seabed dredging.  The work will commence in October 2019 and is expected to be completed in spring 2021.  CalMac will continue to operate ferry services during the works.

A new terminal building will be constructed after the completion of the civil engineering works.  This will be procured separately, at a later date.

Tenders for the construction works at Lochmaddy terminal - which is controlled by CnES -  are due by Tuesday 1 October 2019 and it is hoped that the Comhairle will be in a position to award the contract by the beginning of November 2019 with a start on site currently scheduled for January 2020. 

Completion is expected in January 2021.

Young Scots have the chance of extra help to realise their potential thanks to £18m funding from Young Start.

Voluntary sector organisations which involve young people in the design, running and evaluation of projects can apply for grants ranging from £10,000 to £100,000 for activities that focus on changing the lives of children and young people between eight and 24 years of age.

 The funding is available for projects that:

The 2019 Ness Tractor Run on Saturday (September 21st) could not have enjoyed a better day for a very worthwhile cause.

In all, 58 tractors turned out to trundle the route up to Port and back to Cross, making a fine spectacle and raising plenty of noise on the route.

The total collected on the day was £2,467 – and every penny will go to support the local family of baby Daniel, who has still to face further operations and hospital treatment.

Parents Craig Macleod and Catherine Kennedy say they are very appreciative of the community's support and help for Daniel's upcoming hospital visits, which mean weeks away from home either in Glasgow or Manchester.

Collecting buckets were out at Cross Hall, at Commun Eachdraidh Nis, where refreshments were served after the run, and at local businesses including the Old Barn Bar and Cross Inn and the Wobbly Dog, both of whom who donated 10% of their takings.

The organisers of the run thanked everyone who turned out with their tractors for the run and especially Kirsty and Eilidh for collecting the money, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service for traffic control, Tanky and Iain Macsween for directing the parking and to all who took photos and videos.

You can see film and more pictures of the event at

https://www.facebook.com/NessTractorRun

Picture shows tractors ready to roll (Ness Tractor Run)

 

Protests have erupted in the Islands and northern Highlands over possible additional electricity bills totalling more than £250 million to pay for additional standards of seabed cabling.

It is claimed that under Scottish Government proposals, the cost of replacing 112km of cabling over the next eight years will rise from £44million to £300 million, an increase of almost seven times, all to be paid for by the consumer.

Angus McCormack, who chairs the Western Isles Poverty Action Group, said: "It is clear from our meeting with SSE today that this matter is being driven by the Scottish Government.

"The implications for islanders are very serious indeed. I think that Alasdair Allan MSP needs to take this matter very seriously and seek to have this proposition withdrawn immediately.

Community Groups from the Butt to Barra will see their share of the Western Isles Lottery being returned to their Communities this weekend.

A spokesperson for Western Isles Community Society, who run the Lottery, say they are delighted to be returning such a large sum after only six weekly draws having been made and thank everybody who has already joined.  The Society said:

Scottish Water is hosting two open events for residents between Marybank, Laxdale, Back and Tolsta, to find out about planned work to upgrade the water network that serves communities north of Stornoway.­ 

Customers are invited to come along to speak to the project team on Wednesday, September 25 at Back Community Centre between 11am and 1pm or at Laxdale Community Hall between 4pm and 7pm. 

The £9.3 million project involves the construction of around 21km of new water mains, a new pumping station at Back and a new water storage tank at Tolsta. The project as a whole is expected to be completed by summer 2021.

The work will be carried out on Scottish Water’s behalf by its alliance partner Caledonian Water Alliance (CWA) and their subcontractor Macaulay Askernish, and is expected to begin next month. 

Road traffic management will be put in place on a phased basis as work progresses to allow the work to be carried out safely. 

Scottish Water Corporate Affairs Manager Gavin Steel said: “The investment we are making is important to improve the security of water supply for our customers north of Stornoway so they continue to enjoy clear, fresh great-tasting drinking water in the years ahead. 

“These open events are an opportunity for residents to find out more about the project and how we are proposing to carry out the work, as well as to talk to our project team about any questions or concerns they may have.

“We recognise that there will be some short-term disruption associated with this work. With our alliance partner CWA  we want to minimise this as far as possible while delivering long term improvement for our customers.”

Hundreds of people in the Coll and Tong area were tonight without power following a car crash (around 9.20pm Thursday September 27) - and the main road into the district is also closed. 

It is understood that power is off at 709 properties in the area of Upper Coll, Tong and the surrounding district.

The Linda Norgrove Foundation says: Please come to run or walk 10K around the beautiful Valtos Peninsula on Saturday to help women and children who are affected by the on-going hostilities in Afghanistan. All ages and abilities are welcome, and dogs on leads. Entry is £10, event t-shirts £12, and soup and baking will be available for all participants.

Motorists using the road between Stornoway and the Airport and Point have been expressing surprise at the sudden appearance of a 30mph limit at Parkend – where, until September 10th, a 40 mph order was in force.

No publicity was given to the implementation of the change, where the existing 40 mph signs were either removed or replaced, although motorists report police checking speeds in the area recently.

A mystery Boeing 747 which appeared to be circling Na h-Eileanan an Iar yesterday (Wednesday) was on a test flight from Hamburg Airport, Germany.
Isles MP Angus MacNeil made inquiries after the appearance of the aircraft on flight scanner websites caused a flurry of speculation on social media. Not only were people watching it online but it could be seen from the ground as it repeatedly flew over the Minch.

Around 80 people descended on the Isle of Scarp on Saturday as part of the Island Book Trust's annual schedule of island visits and boat trips.
The tiny parking area at Hushinish jetty and the access road to it were crowded with cars from the early morning as a succession of crossings by Seatrek RIB ferried people across in scheduled numbers.


Once on the Island, the visitors spread out to visit as much of the Island as possible before coming together around lunchtime to hear memories and histories of Scarp from Donald John Macinnes and Calum J Mackay, which took place in front of the remains of the house where Donald John was born.


Calum reminded people that at the height of its 19th century population in 1881 there were 315 people living in the island, a population level that proved impossible to sustain and families had to be moved off the Island to villages along the coast towards Tarbert. 
Donald recalled that every inch of land was planted around the village with a great variety of crops and there was such a shortage of land that when youngsters walked to school, they were not allowed to walk across the cultivated area but had to go round by the beach.

Crofters with sheep on the island, were also on Scarp on Saturday, gathering their flocks for transport over to the main island and the autumn sales.

 

The Salvation Army would like to extend a huge thank you to the "generous public of Lewis & Harris", who donated to their annual appeal last week.

The Salvation Army's annual appeal raises vital funds for their diverse programme of life-changing social and community services across the UK. 

Through a network of over 800 churches and community centres they offer compassionate support, a listening ear, and practical help to those in need including: supporting men, women and families who are experiencing homelessness; running care homes and day centres for older people; reuniting families through their Family Tracing Service; offering training and advice to people looking for sustained employment; providing a place of safety for adult victims of modern slavery.

The generous giving of everybody has been appreciated, as has the warm and friendly conversations that all the volunteers had while collecting in town.

If the Salvation Army can be of assistance to you or someone you know then please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Salvation Army Stornoway Corps, or visit them at their hall on Bayhead.

Stornoway-based publishers Acair are continuing their 40th birthday celebrations with a full afternoon of exciting literary events in Glasgow on Thursday 5th October.

Having held the successful ‘Fèis Litreachais Acair @ 40’ in Stornoway in May this year, Acair are now bringing the same event to mainland Scotland.

‘Fèis Litreachais Acair @ 40 – Glaschu’ takes place at the Theatre Royal on Hope Street, Glasgow, and doors will open at 1pm on Thursday 5th October.

Having held the successful ‘Feis Litreachais Acair @ 40’ anniversary celebrations in Stornoway earlier this year, island-based publishers Acair continues its 40th birthday celebrations with a full afternoon of exciting literary events in Glasgow.
Taking place on Thursday, October 5th at the Theatre Royal on Hope Street, ‘Feis Litreachais Acair @ 40 – Glaschu’ allows guests to browse the special exhibition highlighting Acair’s key achievements over the past four decades.
Highlights include the publishers’ iconic ‘Spagan’ books, illustrations from some of Scotland’s finest talent, and copies of some memorable titles such as ‘Call na h-Iolaire’, Acair’s first ever book, and ‘An Cogadh Mor’, which was the first of its kind printed in Gaelic.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, is calling for action following the release of the Maritime Accident Investigation Branch report on the grounding on the rocks off Dalmore of the 17,000 tonne Transocean Winner rig being towed from Norway to Malta in August last year. 

The call comes from the MSP following the revelation that the both Transocean Offshore International Ventures Ltd and tug company ALP Maritime Services were heavily criticised in the report for failing to comply with their own compliance procedures manual and the procedures and guidelines issued by the International Maritime Organisation.

The MSP had previously attended the public meeting held in the Carloway Hall following the rig running aground, when Captain Morris Macleod raised concerns about the failure to ballast down.  Mrs Grant then met with the salvage crews at the Stornoway Coastguard headquarters.

Actors Dolina MacLennan, John Stahl, Elspeth Turner and Daibhidh Walker will join musician Mairi Campbell in an exclusive work-in-progress performance of theatre show Soil and Soul at An Lanntair on Wednesday 30 October.

Alan Bissett, the award-winning playwright, novelist and creator of The Moira Monologues, is adapting Alastair McIntosh’s acclaimed book, which describes how McIntosh’s upbringing on the Isle of Lewis shaped his life’s work as a prominent environmental and land rights activist. The project is being produced by Lewis-based arts organisation sruth-mara. The performance at An Lanntair will follow a week of rehearsals at Aras Nam Fir Chlis in Uig, with Uig-based theatre director Laura Cameron-Lewis, and will take place on the opening night of Faclan: the Hebridean Book Festival.

Brought up on Lewis, Dolina MacLennan famously became one of Edinburgh’s first pub folk singers, performed Gaelic songs in a Scottish Ballet production, and forged friendships with the likes of Hamish Henderson, Norman McCaig, Sorley MacLean and Hugh MacDiarmid. She starred in ground-breaking 7:84 Scotland production, The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil, and has had a distinguished career in Gaelic broadcasting.

John Stahl is a veteran TV and theatre actor best known for his roles in Game of Thrones and the long-running TV series High Road. Other notable roles include Inspector Reed in the 1995 television series Resort to Murder, and Danny Boyle’s 2011 Royal National Theatre production of Frankenstein, in which he appeared alongside Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller.

Elspeth Turner is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. An actor and a writer, she has worked with various theatre companies in the UK and North America, including National Theatre of Scotland, Magnetic North, and Eastern Angles. She can be seen in the forthcoming feature film, Riptide. Her new play, Savage Nation, is currently in development.

Daibhidh Walker has been acting for over 20 years, in TV, radio and theatre, and is originally from South Uist. Some of his recent credits include Bannan, Outlander, Da la sa Damhair, and Rough Magik, and he has also worked on Gaelic versions of Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s dream. His voice can be heard on various Gaelic cartoons.

Mairi Campbell, already announced as part of the cast for the show, has received six national music awards including Instrumentalist of the Year (2017), Tutor of the Year (2016) and Scots Singer of The Year (2008) at Na Trad Awards. Her voice has been heard worldwide thanks to her version of Auld Lang Syne, with David Francis as the Cast being used in the pivotal New Year’s Eve scene of the blockbuster movie Sex and the City. Mairi’s portfolio encompasses concerts, music theatre productions and education work. Her own show Auld Lang Syne is coming to An Lanntair in January and her voice can currently be heard in the venue’s #winterinthewild campaign trailer.

Laura Cameron-Lewis (Director) trained at Dartington College of Arts and is a former artistic director of Fringe First award-winning company Highway Diner, creating shows for the Arches and the Traverse among other venues. She worked as Assistant Director on the Royal Lyceum Theatre’s 2016 production of The Iliad, and has worked as a director with Shona Reppe, Camille O’Sullivan and Jenna Watt.

Andrew Eaton-Lewis, Producer of Soil and Soul, said: “We are delighted to confirm this cast of incredibly gifted and experienced performers. All five of our cast were already familiar with Alastair’s book and are excited about the potential of this project. We feel very privileged to have them on board as we begin to explore the possibilities of Alan’s script and prepare to share it with an audience for the first time.”

Soil and Soul’s high profile admirers include Thom Yorke of Radiohead, journalist and activist George Monbiot, who has called it “a world-changing book”, and Ricky Ross of Deacon Blue, who has described Alastair as “a living prophet”. The Sunday Herald likened Soil & Soul to Naomi Klein’s international bestseller No Logo.

Tickets for Soil and Soul are on sale now and can be booked online or by calling An Lanntair’s box office on 01851 708480

Faclan the Hebridean Book Festival will run from Wednesday 30 October to Saturday 2 November and is supported by Creative Scotland, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, and Outer Hebrides LEADER. This year’s festival theme is Human Nature and the programme includes Julie Brook’s breath-taking environmental art, Dan Richards’ journeys to the world’s remote places, Margaret Fay Shaw’s pioneering island photography, Niall Iain Macdonald’s epic solo attempt to row the Atlantic, and cult musician Momus who brings his ‘Unreliable Tour Guide’ to the Hebrides for the first time.

THE Counting Officer for the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar area, Malcolm Burr, is reminding voters what they need to know to have their say on polling day.

· Polling Stations will be open from 7am to 10pm. 

· Details of the Polling Stations for the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar area can be found on the Election Office web page http://www.cne-siar.gov.uk/electionoffice/referendum/polling.asp

· When voting at the Polling Station it is helpful to take your Poll Card with you although you do not need it to vote. 

· As there is expected to be a large turnout there may be queues in the polling station, particularly at peak times, so electors may wish to consider attending at quieter periods such as mid-morning and mid-afternoon. 

· Polling Station staff will give you your Ballot Paper and answer any questions you have regarding the electoral process.

· If you applied for a Postal Vote it must be received by the Counting Officer by 10pm on Thursday 18 September 2014. If you have left it too late to post you can drop it off at any Polling Station in the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar area or at the Council Offices, Sandwick Road, Stornoway.

· Vote by placing an X in the box beside your choice.  

A truckload of aid which left Stornoway at the end of August has today (Friday September 13th) crossed the border into Moldova.

The aid truck packed by supporters of Blythswood on August 30th includes 26 pallets of furniture, clothes and other necessities, including bikes, sewing machines and a consignment of insulation boards destined for a children’s home in the impoverished rural area of Ungheni.

Principal organiser Charlie Nicolson will be heading out to Nisporeni soon to work with volunteers from the church Biserica Sfanta Treime, distributing the aid to those who need it in rural areas.

Charlie’s a regular and popular visitor to the area with more than 50 trips completed – although he’s lost count of how many times he has actually travelled over. He’ll be greeted by Pastor Alex Ulinici and will stay at ‘the friendship flat’, established by Blythswood volunteers in Nisporeni and now used by international aid workers from as far away as New Zealand.

Charlie told welovestornoway.com today: “The area we work in, Nisporeni, is a couple of hours outside Moldova’s capital city, Chisnau. It has a similar size of population to the Western Isles and we work with the churches there to find out what is most needed.

“This year we were told that the children’s home has a terrible problem with condensation, so we have had a generous donation of insulation boards from TIG and these will be installed at the home. We’ve also sent clothing, hand-knitted items, books and other essentials all given by people from the Western Isles and loaded up in Stornoway last month.

“I’ll be working with volunteers to deliver aid at schools and community groups and during my visit I also spend some time with the British ambassador to Moldova, discussing other projects such as the Blythswood shoebox appeal.

“The friendship flat is one example of a practical project we set up. People from the Netherlands and other countries now also use it as a base. Last week a dentist from Ireland was staying there to offer free dental treatment clinics.

“There are very firm links now between Nisporeni and Stornoway.  Because of their connection to the islands they have a street called ‘Strada Stornoway’ which is the second main street in the town, with the library, police station and special school on it and with plaques celebrating our friendship.

“It’s that kind of thing that shows how much has happened as a result of a little seed, sowed here in the islands.”

 

A student who achieved exceptional academic grades while bringing up a young family has been named as the Lews Castle College UHI Student of the Year.

Aimee Morrison (26) from Stornoway has just graduated with a first class BA (Hons) in health studies from the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Aimee completed the four-year degree while bringing up her first child, giving birth to her second and expecting her third during the final term of the course.

The process of demolition of the former Aird School school buildings on Point is continuing.  An old fireplace has been exposed by the work in one classroom. 

There are still copies available to purchase on-line and download of Memories of Aird School, a collection of photographs and recollections compiled in the last year of the school in 2011. 

The paperback, with 186 pages, is still available to order on line:  in colour http://www.lulu.com/shop/aird-school/aird-school-memories/paperback/product-16958600.html or black and white http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/aird-school-memories-%28black-and-white%29/11548328.

Flights disruption at Stornoway airport and others throughout the Highlands and Islands may continue all winter after air traffic control workers rejected another improved pay offer from the management of Highlands and Islands Airports.

It is now feared the work-to-rule by members of the Prospect union could last until February, meaning winter flights affected by poor weather will be cancelled rather than delayed .

And Loganair has already warned of losses running into millions of £s arising from cancelled flights during a succession of one-day strikes since April, threatening the viability of islands services.  It is expected that major cuts will be made in the services between Stornoway and Inverness in the next timetable coming into affect soon.

A HIAL spokesperson yesterday (Wednesday September 4th)  : “This is a disappointing result. We presented a fair and reasonable offer to the Air Traffic Control staff. We have been in touch with Prospect and the union has agreed to meet in the near future and we are hopeful that these discussions will be positive”.

As of early today, there is no message on the Prospect ATC website apart from one refusing to outline the details of the August offer which has now been rejected by members.

And from HIAL there are no further details about how they intend to end this crisis.  A spokesperson said: "Sorry, interview requests are being politely declined."

 

Trading Standards Officers at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are keen to speak to doorstep sellers who are currently in the islands selling generators.   It is believed they are driving a white Transit-style van.
Please report any doorstep selling incidents to Trading Standards on 01851 822694.

Storm warnings for later today and tonight have brought about alerts and cancellations on CalMac ferry routes.
On the Sound of Harris crossing, winds gusting in excess of 50mph mean there is a heightened possibility of disruption to service, says the ferry company.
Between Ullapool and Stornoway, there is heightened possibility of disruption to  the 17:30 sailing  from Ullapool and the overnight freight services have been cancelled because of forecast high winds.
On the Mallaig-Lochboisdale route, due to high winds, all sailings today  (Friday 23rd September) have been cancelled and the same on Oban-Castlebay.
On Uig-Tarbert and Uig-Lochmaddy services, because of the forecast of southerly winds gusting up to 49mph, there is a heightened possibility of disruption during today.

THE Comhairle has issued an alert over potentially harmful algae in three South Uist lochs.

Samples taken at Loch Shibhaigh Mor, Loch East Ollay and Loch Kildonan have indicated the presence of blue-green algae. 

Swallowing the water or algal scum can cause stomach upsets or more serious health effects, and contact with the water or algal scum can cause skin problems.  

Said a spokesman for the Comhairle: "It is a sensible precaution for you, your children and your animals to avoid contact with the scum and the water close to it. For further information, contact the Environmental Health Team of Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar on 01851 822 694."

Responding to reports that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency has ruled out reinstating a second emergency towing vessel in Scotland, Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP Alasdair Allan commented: "If the incident recently, with the oil rig going aground in Lewis, does not illustrate to the UK government the dangers of not having any emergency towing vessel available on the west coast, I don’t know what will.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan yesterday had a meeting by phone with Hugh Shaw, Secretary of State's Representative for Maritime Salvage and Intervention, regarding the ongoing situation with the Transocean Winner oil rig which is currently anchored in Broadbay.

Alasdair Allan commented:“I had a useful conversation and was able to relay a number of the issues which people have been raising with me. Work continues at Dalmore to check the site for any debris and I am pleased to hear that this work will continue to ensure public safety and the protection of the local environment. 

SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, has today welcomed the announcement that Loganair plan to reinstate Friday Stornoway-Benbecula afternoon flights from the end of next month onwards.

The service will resume on October 21st. The previous five day service was cut back in 2013 after Western Isles’ councillors voted to reduce the subsidy provided for the flights and to axe the Barra-Benbecula service.

The impressive sight of the offshore supply vessel Gary Chouest will please ship spotters this week after she came into Stornoway this morning (Sunday September 2nd).

The owners of Amhuinnsuidhe Castle have bought Morsgail Estate in Lewis for an undisclosed fee.

And management of the North Harris estate stressed to www.welovetheisleofharris.com that rumours the castle is to be put up for sale are ‘completely untrue’.

Estate manager Innes Morrison told us: “Because we have bought another estate, the rumour going around is that we are going to sell the castle in order to run a smaller operation. 

“That’s totally untrue. We’ve actually expanded.”

The Board of An Lanntair arts centre in Stornoway has rejected the idea of opening on Sundays during this winter for film showings and for the art gallery. (This report has been corrected and updated in a new post -  14/9/17 - 18.38)
In statement issued today (Thursday, September 14) - only a few days after the proposal became publicly known -  the Board announced the "outcome of our recent consultation with audiences and members about potentially trialling Sunday opening.
"As the major arts centre and a creative and community hub on the Isle of Lewis, we believe it is important that we listen to our audiences, and that we try our best to serve all their needs. Equality and access are at the heart of this, and a core part of our mission and values.

Mungo Park, a play about the 19th century explorer of the same name, took to An Lanntair’s stage last night, and provided many laughs, as well as insight into what the world was like in the 19th century, and what explorer Mungo Park went through to try to form trading links between Africa and Great Britain.  

The play consisted of just three male actors. Mungo Park was played by Matthew Zajac, and the 20 other characters (black, white, male, female, young, and old) in the play were performed by just two actors: Anders Budde Christensen and Kingsley Amadi.

Mungo Park is something out of the ordinary, with a simple set and very basic props, including: 2 double-sided step ladders, one to represent a boat, another to represent a crocodile; a bottle of ketchup to provide blood; a bottle of mustard to provide pus; a few wigs; a rotating wheel on the floor to allow the characters to walk across the desert without leaving the centre of the stage; and a pillow to turn Christensen from a skinny young man into an old man with a paunch.

In a previous interview with welovestornoway.com, Matthew Zajac explained: “What we are doing is creating a Hollywood blockbuster for the audience’s ‘inner cinema’.” They managed this perfectly.

Instead of backdrop changes, they used lighting, sound effects, and a smoke machine to change the scene.

And with numerous accent changes between characters, but very few costume changes – what costume changes there were involved taking on or off a t-shirt or wig, and all of this was done on stage – the audience’s imaginations had to do some of the ‘work’, but this made it more enjoyable, and somehow more real.  

The lack of complex scene changes made the play flow better – allowing it to be 80 minutes of non-stop action.

Our minds created images of deserts, the river Niger, and threatening African tribes; we were immersed. We were there, on Mungo Park’s adventure with him.

 For more information on what An Lanntair has coming up, keep an eye on their website.

An Lanntair has listened to its audiences and intends to respond to demand and identify a way to trial a period of Sunday opening for the arts centre at some point in the future, it was explained this afternoon.

welovestornoway.com is happy to make this clear following some comments from readers on our Facebook page about our report earlier today (Thursday 14th September).

The proposal for a trial of Sunday opening this winter will not be proceeded with, the arts centre has confirmed.

With the tenth anniversary of its move into the arts centre in Stornoway only weeks away, An Lanntair has relaunched its website with a totally new look, totally bilingual in English and Gaelic and fully designed for use on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.

The new site gives a detailed insight into everything that is available at the Arts Centre.  In its "About Us" introduction, the new website states:

"An Lanntair is a hub for creativity and the arts in the Outer Hebrides. We are a multi-arts venue – at one and the same time a contemporary art gallery, a theatre, a cinema, a dance studio, a concert hall, a platform for poetry and literature, a studio – every space stretched to showcase the arts in multiple forms. Our work stretches across a national and international platform, yet our distinctiveness lies in being ‘of the place’, rooted in who we are, and the creativity of Gaelic and the Outer Hebrides takes centre stage.

Our mission is “to connect and inspire people in producing extraordinary, creative programmes, uniquely rooted in the place and reflecting the arts and ideas of our time”.


Aged only 12, Andrew Hughson of Stornoway has blasted his way into the record books by winning a national clay pigeon shooting competition at the Harris Gun Club grounds in Aline Forest.

For the first time in its history the HGC hosted the Scottish Clay Target Association’s Universal Trench Championship in August and Andrew came away with a clutch of achievements. Not only did he win the overall competition but he also took the High Gun and Junior Champion titles.

Dark Island Hotel, Benbecula 6th October 2015 -  9:30 for 10.00 – 2:30pm

An Lanntair, Stornoway 7th October 2015 - 10:00 for 10:30 – 4:30pm
 
Outer Hebrides Tourism says its conference programme is shaping up nicely, with lots of interesting topics and ways in which you can participate. Here are a couple of snippets for you:
"We will be introducing the new official Outer Hebrides food and drink trail: Eat Drink Hebrides. This will be a chance to find out more about the trail and how you can sign up in time for the launch in early 2016. If you are a champion of local Hebridean food and drink, whether you are a food producer, café or shop then we would like to see you there. In the meantime if you are interested in participating then please get in touch with Victoria at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Scalpay’s community run co-operative shop will cease trading on Saturday after a growing struggle to survive.

Dwindling support and supermarket competition have meant that Butha Scalpaigh (Scalpay Shop Ltd), set up in 2012, must close.  

The North Harbour Bistro, operating from the same building, is unaffected and will continue to run as usual.

A further round of nominations is being held for those Community Councils - including Stornoway - which failed to achieve the minimum number of valid nominations in the first round of the Community Council Election 2015.

The nominations that were received by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (2 for Back, 2 for Lochboisdale, 1 each for North Tolsta and Laxdale) will be carried forward into this round and details of the remaining vacancies are contained in the Notice of Election
 
Nomination papers are available from the Council Offices in Stornoway, Tarbert, Balivanich and Castlebay as well as the Comhairle’s website.

Completed nomination forms must be delivered to the Returning Officer at any of the above Council Offices or by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by no later than 4pm on Tuesday 29 September 2015.
 

ANOTHER monster bluefin tuna has been caught 35 miles off St Kilda.

The 450lbs fish was landed by Kilda Cruises skipper Angus Campbell on board his 'Orca III' cruiser, as part of a tagging and monitoring exercise authorised by conservation body Marine Scotland.

Once its details were recorded, the tuna was released back into the sea.

Angus made global headlines last year when he snared a 515lbs, 9 foot long bluefin tuna.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil has hit out at the UK Government’s handling of Brexit negotiations and says exiting the EU will impact the economy even if a deal is struck.

Mr MacNeil, who is also Chair of the House of Commons International Trade Committee, has repeatedly questioned the Tory Government including the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU on what lies ahead, but has not been given any satisfactory answers.

Stornoway police have issued an appeal for witnesses after someone removed a rope from a fishing vessel berthed at the inner harbour, opposite Pointers and the Royal Bank of Scotland on North Beach Street.

The rope was removed some time between 8pm on Saturday (8th September) and 11am on Sunday (9th September), causing the vessel to drift away from the pier.

Police said that, if there had been adverse weather at the time, damage could have been caused to the vessel and to other vessels nearby.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Stornoway police on the non-emergency number, 101 or at Stornoway police station, quoting reference NH1841/18.

With the start date of Mòd nan Eilean Siar 2016 a mere five weeks away, the local organising committee has been searching for willing volunteers who will help with stewarding duties during Mod week. 

The new Convenor of the Halls and Stewarding Committee, Iain MacArthur, who hails from Carloway, is optimistic about the challenges facing him and his committee in the few weeks that lie ahead. 

Iain explained: “The role of the steward is crucial to the smooth running of this prestigious event and many are needed, in particular at the beginning of the week for the children’s competitions. With up to 30 venues being used at the same time, it is important that we have a healthy bank of enthusiastic and willing stewards. Being a steward is also an excellent way to get actively involved in Mòd nan Eilean Siar 2016 and soak up the fantastic atmosphere. We would welcome anybody who has an interest in the language, music and culture to come forward and offer their services”.

If you are interested in being a steward please contact An Comunn Gàidhealach on 01851 703487 and Peigi will pass your details to Iain MacArthur and the Halls & Stewarding Committee.

An application has been made to establish a new licensed art cafe and jewellery shop in Stornoway. 

If approved by the Comhairle, John Cunningham plans to convert the former Christina's Jems/Angus Smith Photographic premises on Church Street, to 'Artizan', which would be open six days a week, from 11am until 11pm, and closed on Sunday.

The closing date for objections to the application is Tuesday September 29.

 

Applications for membership of the Children’s Panel in the Western Isles are now open (www.childrenspanelscotland.org)

Children’s Panel members make vital decisions about vulnerable children and young people in need of help.

An information evening, which will take the form of a drop-in session, will be held between 5pm-7pm on Wednesday 13 September 2017 at the Council Offices, Sandwick Road, Stornoway.

Permission for the conversion of a derelict Stornoway house to a mosque and community centre for the Western Isles Muslim community has been granted by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.
The change of use planning application was decided yesterday (Thursday, September 31st) at a meeting of the local authority’s planning application committee, which approved plans for the disused house in James Street, adjacent to the former Church House premises of ND Macleod Ltd.
The new building will be used for religious events, weddings and funerals as well as worship as the Muslim population in the islands has been boosted recently with the arrival of several Syrian refugees.

Tourism related to archaeology is worth approximately £4m and the equivalent of 80 full-time (FTE) jobs in the Western Isles, but has the potential to be worth £8m and 160 FTE jobs, the Comhairle’s Sustainable Development Committee heard today (Wednesday September 27th).  

The findings are in an economic impact assessment of the value of tourism by those with an interest in archaeology commissioned by the Comhairle.

Analysis of data contained within the Outer Hebrides Visitor Survey and consultation with key stakeholders were the main sources of information for the study.

Steel pile sections will be offloaded at Arnish tomorrow (Monday September 2nd) as a major contract rolls on.

The heavy-load carrying contract vessel BBC Greenland came into Stornoway this morning (Sunday) carrying 75 pile sections, reportedly delivered from Korea.

There's nothing like the chance to stand in a fish shed, in the autumnal cold of a September evening, to get a bunch of Stornoway folk away from the celebrities and sci-fi of Saturday evening TV.
Young and old – those playing lithely on the cold concrete, and those who had to sit, blanket-draped, in chairs – joined together to enjoy singing and storytelling, little separated from the dockside which surrounded them.

That time of year again!  In aid of Macmillan Cancer Support - Artizan in Church Street, Stornoway, is participating in their third Biggest Coffee Morning ever!

Friday September 30 sees the great annual fund-raising event that is Macmillan Cancer Support's ‘world’s biggest coffee morning’.

And this year Artizan coffee, art and jewellery shop in Church Street is joining with an all-day chance to enjoy free coffee, tea and a slice of cake…and donate to support Macmillan Cancer Support.

Owner John Cunningham says all customers and guests will get a chance to join in the free event… and buckets will ready to accept their donations in return, all of which will go straight to Macmillan.

Borgh Pottery. Open Monday-Saturday, 10.30am-5.30pm (a) Fivepenny House, Borgh (t) 01851 850345 website

Carloway Harris TweedsA chance to see Harris Tweed Woven by a crofter on a traditional loom. (a) Park House, Carloway. 

Cornet Crafts. Wooden craft, original gift, doilies. (a) The Factroy, Kirkibost Pier, Bernera. Open 10am-5pm, Monday-Saturday.

Hebrideslight Gallery. Photographic, arts and crafts. All made at the gallery or locally in the Hebrides. (a) 11 Kirvick, Carloway. For opening time or private visit please get in touch: website   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 

Organisations around the islands are joining together from today (Monday September 9th) for a series of events highlighting mental health and suicide prevention.

Suicide Prevention Week runs from today until 15th September 2019, with a variety of activities across the Western Isles.

Among the community organisations joining in the push to save lives, Stornoway Rugby Club has pledged to post a series of social media notices emphasising the importance of looking out for those around you.

Today they said: “Asking the question “Are you thinking about suicide?” Is difficult but by asking it clearly it shows that you are open to speaking about suicide in a non-judgmental and supportive way. This can open the door for someone to tell you what it is that they’re feeling.

“Talking about suicide or asking someone if they feel suicidal will not put the thought into their head. Serious talk about suicide does not create or increase risk; it can help to reduce it. If you suspect someone may be feeling suicidal, ask them – it could save their life.”

Ian Graham, Chief Inspector for Police Scotland Western Isles said: “Every life matters and no death by suicide should be regarded as either accepted or inevitable. Our view is that suicide is preventable and anyone contemplating suicide or who has lost a loved one to suicide should get the support they need. If we are to achieve this, we need to make clear that suicide prevention is everyone’s business. We need to work together across sectors and organisations to identify and support people in distress, strengthen communities, and save lives.”

Events and activities this week include:

• Guidance classes at the Nicolson Institute this week will encourage S3-S6 pupils to consider mental health and what it means for everyone.

• A suicide prevention talk tomorrow (Tuesday) from 11am at Stornoway Library. This one-hour long free training course will act as a starting point for those who would like to learn more about suicide and attitudes surrounding the issue.

• On Friday 13th September a ‘Leave the light on’ service will be held at 7pm at the High Church, Matheson Road, for those who have been lost or those who have been touched by a loss. The service is open to anyone, regardless of faith. The experience of connectedness is important in mental health and wellbeing and the church hope that this event will provide an opportunity for this.
• NHS Health Scotland and NHS Education Scotland have made an animation titled 'Ask, Tell - Save A Life: Every Life Matters' accessible at www.bit.ly/AskTellSaveALife

Picture shows today's post from Stornoway Rugby Club.

Two in court over domestic assaults

Two men are to appear at Stornoway Sheriff Court on Tuesday (25th September) after two separate incidents of domestic assault over the weekend.

A man aged 43 was arrested in Stornoway at 7.20pm on Friday (September 21st) following a call for police assistance.

He was charged with domestic assault and has been in custody since then, from where he’ll be taken to court on Tuesday.

In a second incident in Tong, a 49-year-old man was arrested and charged with domestic assault at 1am on Sunday (September 23rd).

He was released from custody under bail conditions, on an undertaking to appear in court on Tuesday.

Drink driving charge

A man was charged with drink-driving after being stopped by police in Sandwick at 4.25pm on Saturday (September 22nd).

He’s been kept in custody at Stornoway police station since then and will appear in court from custody on Tuesday (September 25th).

THE new boss of Scottish athletics visited Stornoway at the weekend, where he was guest speaker at the Lewis and Harris Sports Council Coaching Conference.

Rodger Harkins, who was in charge of the Scottish team at the Commonwealth Games, held a series of workshops and motivational sessions for local coaches, giving them the opportunity to come together, share ideas, and forge new contacts.

A total of 40 coaches attended the conference, held in the Caladh Inn.

A rowing boat which was designed to cross the Atlantic from New York to Stornoway washed up on a beach in the Western Isles yesterday (Thursday September 12th) – 15 months and 3,000 miles after being abandoned at sea.

The rowing boat ALBA has made her own way almost to the doorstep of the man who set out from the east coast of the USA in her shelter in May 2018. Niall Iain Macdonald had intended to row NY2SY, solo across the Atlantic between New York and Stornoway, to raise funds for the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH).

But he was forced to abandon ship two weeks into the epic crossing after a storm on June 15th 2018 and was rescued at sea by the Dutch cargo vessel MS Dolfijngracht, after issuing a mayday call. He was taken to Canada, from where he returned home to Scotland, his boat left drifting in the North Atlantic. At the time, he wrote: “Now my row is over and my boat is abandoned at sea. She will continue her own journey which will end somewhere, sometime. It's a horrible feeling to have to leave your boat behind…”

Yesterday the ALBA came home, washed up on a beach at Askernish in South Uist, relatively intact, having drifted across the Atlantic on her own. She was photographed and retrieved from the water ahead of tomorrow’s forecast storm by Angus Steele.

Announcing the astonishing discovery this morning, Niall Ian said: “Hello old friend. My boat was found yesterday. She came ashore on the beach at Askernish, South Uist - almost made it home.”

Many followers have commented on the boat’s seeming determination to be reunited with its owner by landing so close to Stornoway. Niall Iain himself underlined the remarkable coincidence: “My maternal granny was from Askernish, my mum was brought up nearby in Daliburgh.” One supporter simply commented: “us islanders always find our way home!”

Next month’s Faclan: Hebridean book festival features Niall Iain as one of the headline speakers. He will share his testimony of two dramatic attempts to row the Atlantic and why he did it, with previously unseen film footage.

The attempt to row from NY2SY has so far raised £24,000 for SAMH and the donations page is still live. You can donate at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ny2sy

The pictures show ALBA on the beach at Askernish yesterday (Angus Steele) and leaving Norfolk, Virginia at the start of the 2018 voyage (Niall Iain Macdonald).

The next Meeting of Autism Eileanan Siar is on Monday 11th September at 12.00pm at Newton Community Association.

The group supports parents/carers and Adults affected by ASD and additional support needs.

Teas/coffee chat and friendly support.

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

The next meeting of Autism Eileanan Siar is on Monday 11th September at 12.00pm at Newton Community Association.

The group supports parents/carers and Adults affected by ASD and additional support needs.

Teas/coffee chat and friendly support.

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

The next meeting of Autism Eileanan Siar is on Monday 14th September at Midday.

The venue is Newton Community Association (Next to MG ALBA).

All  who have an interest in autism & aspergers are welcome.

Autism Eileanan Siar is a local support group, which raises awareness, and helps people affected by the condition.

Teas and coffees served after meeting.

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

The indoor facilities at Back Football Club are the best in the world, according to former Hearts and Scotland striker, John Colquhoun.

The amazing claim was made in Lewis this afternoon, as Colquhoun and former Hearts youth coach Darren Murray led island coaches in ‘Boxsoccer’ training sessions.

“I have coached at venues all over the world and I can honestly say that the facilities this morning were the best I have ever been in,” said Colquhoun.

To view the Back Football & Recreation Club newsletter, click here!

Inspection and Review - Sgoil a’ Bhac and Sgoil Araich Loch a Tuath, Isle of Lewis, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar

The following is an extract from the published letter for the above establishment.

Key strengths of the school

  • In classrooms, playrooms and beyond, staff and children enjoy positive, caring and supportive relationships. This contributes to children having a strong sense of belonging to their school and sgoil àraich.
  • Partners such as parents, the community, church, employers and organisations make important and productive contributions to children’s wellbeing, learning and achievements.
  • Children are confident, articulate and support each other well. They have positive attitudes to their learning. The school’s focus on Gaelic is helping children be bilingual and appreciate the language’s value to their future aspirations.

The following areas for improvement were identified and discussed with the headteacher and a representative from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

  • Continue to extend and improve the strategic leadership of change and improvement to encompass all aspects of Sgoil a’ Bhac and Sgoil Àraich Loch a Tuath. This should guide and direct achieving well-paced outcomes for children.
  • Develop further the curriculum so that children build appropriately on their knowledge, skills and understanding, and attain to their full potential. A high priority is to develop a programme for health and wellbeing, and writing in Gaelic.
  • Build on the most effective practice in learning, teaching, immersion and assessment to embed this as consistent practice for all children. This should include having a strategic overview of how well assessment and moderation is evidencing the achievement of each level of Curriculum for Excellence.

What happens at the end of the inspection?

As a result of our inspection findings we think that the school needs additional support and more time to make necessary improvements.

We will liaise with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar regarding the school’s capacity to improve.

We will return to carry out a further inspection of the school within a year of the publication of this letter.

We will discuss with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar the details of this inspection.

The full published letter is available on the Education Scotland website or by clicking this link.

 

Badminton is returning competitively to Lewis with a new start tomorrow (Friday September 27th) in Ionad Spòrs Lèodhas.
Organisers believe this is the first league set-up to be organised for a long time and say they are "just trying to get badminton back on the scene!"
The league will run every fortnight for six nights.
So far, it has been a success in getting a response and managed to fill all 24 spaces that are available, 
Organisers say that: "Format is a fair for all, no partner required to enter, rotation of doubles partners every night, bottom of league get relegated and top of league get promotion.
"Person with most points at the end of the league is crowned champion!"
The first night of badminton will be on Friday 27th September, 7pm-9pm at the Lewis Sports Centre in Stornoway.

 

Two young local badminton players returned from Orkney with more than their fair share of trophies.

In a field of more than 90 players from Orkney, Shetland and throughout the Highlands, Beth MacPhail, aged 13, of Newvalley and Keith Bray, 12, of Aird Tong, had a successful trip during the second weekend in September.

Baggage allowances for passengers flying on the lowest fare with Loganair are to be reduced to just 15kg of booked luggage, it was confirmed today (Friday September 20th).

The news first emerged on Wednesday (September 18th) as Loganair managing director Jonathan Hinkles spoke to a transport forum meeting in Shetland. He told attendees there that baggage allowed at the standard ‘Fly’ fare will be reduced to 15kg from the current 20kg, although the allowance on the higher FlyFlex fare will be increased to 23kg.

Mr Hinkles said that he did not expect the change to make a significant difference to passengers. He told the transport forum: “Looking at it, the average weight of a bag checked in at a Loganair flight is nine kilos, so we are not expecting this to have a major impact.”

Baggage allowances currently displayed on the Loganair website remain at 20kg for both fly and FlyFlex passengers, and at 30kg for FlyFlex+ passengers.

A Loganair spokesman told welovestornoway.com today: "We will be making alterations to our baggage policy in the coming weeks as part of a menu of changes to our customer offering. Our website will be updated with details once these are confirmed. Loganair continues to be the only UK-based airline which offers a free baggage allowance."

For onward travellers making a connection to a second Loganair service, the higher of the two baggage allowances will apply throughout the entire journey and exceptions already made for customers including medical travel and students will remain in place.

Shetland’s travel forum were also told that Loganair is well ahead with the replacement of Saab 2000 and 340s aircraft. Larger ATR42 planes are to be introduced by next summer, bringing more seat availability at lower fares.

Dancers practising 'Walz of the Snowflake' last week.
Dancers practising 'Walz of the Snowflake' last week.

On December 1st, Ballet Hebrides – a local group of amateur ballet dancers – will be performing the Nutcracker in An Lanntair, in aid of Action for Children. 

And the performance will have a bit of a twist as they introduce the Tutu Challenge, as well as hosting a Toy Drive on the night.

The famous ballet, the Nutcracker, will be performed on An Lanntair’s stage, and Ballet Hebrides are calling all men (people you wouldn’t usually see in a tutu!) to get sponsored to take part – all in aid of Action for Children.

So, get your husband, brother, dad or any other guys you know and sponsor them to don a tutu and get dancing – they’ll get a wee bit of practice in before the night, but it’s mostly just for fun and to raise money for a great cause.

A Toy Drive will also be held on the night – where people will be able to donate new toys to Action For Children. 

The production will feature dancers aged 4 to OAP, along with students from Lynn MacLean School of Dance and Hebrides Dance and Wellbeing Studio.

Pop the date in your diary and watch this space for more information... 

...

The Isle of Barra, Harris and Ness are the homes of this week’s lucky winners as the fourth Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery draw took place on Saturday (September 9th).
And Barra Atlantic Gin are now on board with the local lottery and have joined Lewis Builders Ltd by donating to the next WILL Cash Bolt-On Prize – coming soon!
In the fourth Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery draw, first prize of £159.72 was won by Victoria MacInnes from South Dell; second prize (£66.55) to Cathy Macleod, Finsbay, Harris; and third prize (£39.93) was won by Mairi Maclennan, Kentangaval, Barra.

A 19-year-old singer from Barra will be performing at a Celtic festival in Canada.

Claire Frances MacNeill is one of six Gaelic singers invited to perform at Celtic Colours, a festival to be held in Canada next month.

The singers and researchers are part of this year's Fuaran group, a heritage initiative established by Fèisean nan Gàidheal to encourage a new generation of Gaelic speakers and singers to actively engage in the research and collection of Gaelic songs in their local area.

 

Fuaran will join forces with similar Gaelic mentorship youth group from Cape Breton, Na Gaisgich Òga which means The Young Heroes, for two special collaborative concerts at the Gaelic College in St Ann's, Cape Breton and Christmas Island.

 

Earlier this year, Fuaran recorded some of the songs they collected from communities across Scotland. This recording, accompanied by translations, background information and videos of the recording process, will be available on the Fuaran website, bringing the total number of songs collected since the beginning of the Fuaran project to 32.

During the process, the researchers discovered many interesting stories and songs, some of which are relatively unknown. Claire Frances researched and collected a song called "Coitearan Bhatarsaigh", a song in praise of the Raiders in their struggle to win over the land rights to Vatersay in 1908. Claire Frances came across it in a collection of Dòmhnall Mac na Ceàrdaich songs, a relatively unknown Gaelic author who died aged 46.

Karen Oakley, Fèisean nan Gàidheal Development Officer, said: "We are delighted that our Fuaran participants have been invited to perform at the internationally renowned Celtic Colours festival. They are very excited to be showcasing the songs they have researched over the past several months, and especially as the shows they are involved in have already sold out. The trip is also a brilliant opportunity for our young people to meet like-minded Gaelic speakers from the other side of the Atlantic. Programmes like Na Gaisgich Òga are well-established and I'm sure both groups will gain a lot from this shared experience".

Fuaran will be performing at "It's Not Just a Fèis" on Saturday 12 October on Christmas Island and on Sunday 13 October at "The Young Heroes: Na Gaisgich Òga" at the Gaelic College, St Ann's.

For more information about Fuaran, please visit www.feisean.org/fuaran

As part of BBC ALBA’s tenth anniversary debate in the Scottish Parliament yesterday (Wednesday September 19th)  SNP MSP Alasdair Allan called on the BBC to “deliver more for Gaelic broadcasting with better parity of resources between the UK nations.”

BBC ALBA’s BAFTA-winning current affairs programme Eòrpa attracts both Gaelic and non-Gaelic speaking audiences – demonstrating the success the channel has had in delivering for the whole of Scotland, not just the minority language community.

Rowan Macleod

What’s it like living with a condition where every breath is difficult - and every day is a fight to stay alive? 

Breathless: Living with Cystic Fibrosis, a new BBC ALBA documentary, follows the lives of four individuals living with cystic fibrosis (CF).

Taking a breath is something most of us do without thinking. But for some people this simple act can be crippling. Cystic Fibrosis is an inherited condition caused by a faulty gene that causes mucus to gather in the lungs. Around one in 25 people carry the faulty gene and each week five babies in the UK are born with Cystic Fibrosis.

MG ALBA today (Thursday September 8) paid tribute to Alan Esslemont, BBC ALBA’s head of content, who has been appointed Director-General of TG4, the Irish language TV channel.

Donald Campbell, chief executive of MG ALBA, said: “Alan has made an outstanding contribution to MG ALBA and BBC ALBA over the last eight years and we wish him well as he takes on an exciting new challenge with TG4.

“From BBC ALBA’s first night on air, Alan and his team have implemented a strategy that has been carefully devised in order that our channel would appeal to our core audience of Gaelic speakers and also attract a wider audience that would experience and enjoy the language and Gaelic culture.

BBC ALBA has unveiled its new schedule of programmes for Autumn 2016, featuring entertainment, factual and current affairs programmes plus music, children’s shows, sport, live events and new drama from Bannan.

Agnes Johnstone, wife of Scotland and Celtic legend Jimmy Johnstone, and much-loved Gaelic broadcaster, Cathy MacDonald, were among the attendees at the launch event held today (Wednesday 7 September) at BBC Pacific Quay, Glasgow, which was hosted by popular BBC ALBA presenter Fiona MacKenzie. 

A wide range of exciting new commissions will be brought to the screen complementing the channel’s popular factual documentary series Trusadh, hard hitting current affairs series, Eòrpa, music series Seirm and kids’ favourite, Dè a-nis?.

 

Fiona MacKenzie, Eilidh Duncan, 4, from Alloa, who has a life-shortening illness and features in Home from Home and Broadcaster, Cathy MacDonald

Enthusiasm…Tony Hall in full swing during the evening at Lews Castle.  

(Since being posted on Friday night this text has been amended and extended and an additional photograph added)

BBC Director-General Tony Hall was welcomed to Stornoway by an enthusiastic gathering in the restored former ballroom of Lews Castle this evening (Friday September 30 )

The guests included a wide range of people involved in the broadcast media in Stornoway as well as representatives from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, and other official groups and bodies.

Police Scotland can now confirm that a body recovered in the Valtos area of the Isle of Lewis is that of missing person Torsten Kulke.

The 48-year-old was reported missing from his home in Germany on Monday, July 31, having travelled to the Western Isles.

BETHESDA Hospice has taken ownership of a new van to collect essential medical and nursing supplies.

A cheque for £10,000 was recently presented to Bethesda by NHS Western Isles Nurse Director, Sandy Brown.

Bethesda General Manager, Carol Somerville, said: "We are extremely grateful to NHS Western Isles for assisting us to purchase a new van. The van is used to collect essential medical and nursing supplies for the Hospice and to transport blood for patients requiring blood transfusions.

"The van is also used to collect and deliver furniture and goods for the Bethesda Hospice Charity Shop, helping to raise the necessary funds to keep the Hospice open and provide a service to the community."

NHS Western Isles Nurse Director, Sandy Brown, stated: "We were delighted to have been able to provide this grant to enable Bethesda to purchase an essential new vehicle. Bethesda provides an invaluable service of an extremely high standard, which is sincerely appreciated by the local community as well as by NHS Western Isles."

Trustees of Bethesda Care Home and Hospice have expressed disappointment after discovering that the Integration Joint Board (IJB) is not discussing their funding arrangements at their board meeting today (Thursday September 26th).

But IJB chief officer Ron Culley says that a process is underway, and there is no decision that can be made at this stage.

Today’s meeting is the first full meeting of the IJB since Bethesda rejected an improved offer of funding alongside a service-level agreement (SLA) on the delivery of their hospice and end-of-life care.

Bethesda has four hospice beds and has been actively campaigning for an improved funding arrangement, stating that a minimum additional £100,000 per year is needed.

Instead, Bethesda received and rejected an offer from the IJB in August, offering an SLA with a funding uplift of £10,000, or 5.35%, backdated to April 1st 2019, and a further annual increase for two years, in line with increases awarded to NHS Western Isles by Scottish Government, currently predicted to be 2.5%.

The IJB added the flexibility that they would reopen negotiations about the funding provided to Bethesda if there were two successive years of deficit, but the new funding arrangement would be contingent on agreeing the new SLA for hospice care.

Despite the controversy surrounding the funding agreement, Bethesda trustees noted that today’s IJB board meeting contains no agenda item covering the issue, and that only the Chief Officer’s report made mention of the current situation.

On Monday Bethesda circulated a detailed summary to all board members and councillors, in which they described the £10,000 offer as ‘totally unacceptable’ and asked why the issue was not to be discussed today.

They said: “Having been assured that the funding proposal would be submitted to the March 2019 IJB meeting, then the June 2019 meeting and then the September 2019 meeting, we now find that there is no proposal or discussion permitted at this forthcoming meeting….

“As predicted and notified to the IJB a number of months ago, Bethesda accounts for the year to March 2019 show a deficit in the running costs….We note from the email circulated by Ian Burgess and Gordon Jamieson to all NHS staff that it states that the NHS have paid 50% of the running costs of the Hospice over the years. Our records and our annual audited accounts very clearly state that this is not the case. This is the reason the Bethesda Trustees and Management continue this dispute.”

Accounts filed by Bethesda with the Scottish charity regulator OSCR show four years in which income has exceeded expenditure, the trend continuing despite income dropping and costs increasing in the year to 2018. Trustees report that in the year to March 2019 accounts show a deficit in running costs – these have not yet been published by OSCR.

Bethesda trustees state: “Bethesda Care Home and Hospice Accounts on the OSCR website simply confirm that at present we are a financially viable organisation.”

The high-temperature debate between Bethesda and the local funding partners has drawn attention from Scottish Government ministers, after Bethesda asked their supporters to lobby local MSP Alasdair Allan and Cabinet Minister for Health Jeane Freeman MSP on their behalf.

A meeting was held in Stornoway on August 29th, when Minister for Public Health Joe Fitzpatrick was visiting the islands on other business. He and other government officials then met the IJB chief officer, Alasdair Allan MSP and health board chief executive Gordon Jamieson.

IJB chief officer Ron Culley reports: “It was a positive meeting which allowed for a helpful exchange of information and a discussion about how best we move forward. All parties were agreed that we get back to a position of dialogue, engaging with our strategic agenda on palliative care.

“We have always been committed to further dialogue and it was agreed that we'd meet again with the Bethesda leadership as a matter of priority, and that Scottish Government officials would join that conversation to support a process of resolution. It was agreed that the focus will be about delivering sustainability moving forward rather than a debate about the past.”

But no date has yet been proposed for the follow-up meeting, and Bethesda trustees believe they are being excluded from the process.

In Monday’s email they state: “The meeting …was not attended by any representatives from Bethesda, no-one from Bethesda was invited to this meeting, so the views presented to the Scottish Government would have been those of the IJB/NHS Western Isles, very one-sided.

“….The Chief Officer’s report makes no reference to ongoing talks or reopening negotiations with Bethesda.  Since the rejection of the offer from the IJB there has been no contact with Bethesda to explore ways forward."

In a statement to welovestornoway.com, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Independent hospices provide essential palliative and end-of-life care to people across Scotland, and integration authorities invest millions of pounds annually in supporting this vital work.

“Scottish Government officials recently visited Stornoway to hear from the parties involved and have offered support to facilitate discussions around how best to plan and deliver palliative care services that meets the needs of people in the Western Isles.”

Under discussion at the IJB meeting today are issues including the Western Isles carers’ strategy, mental health services, dementia support, flu vaccination, primary care services and the new residential care development at Goathill.

• Graphic shows income and expenditure figures reported by Bethesda Care Home and Hospice SCIO (source, OSCR Scottish Charity Regulator).

The Outer Hebrides are starring on TV tonight (Friday, 21 September) in the final episode of Channel 5’s Britain By Bike series with Larry and George Lamb – and it’s thanks to an alliance of island bike hire and bike repair companies that they were able to complete their journey.

In the last episode in the series, the father and son undertake the 185-mile Hebridean Way, from Vatersay to the Butt of Lewis…. but run into trouble early on, when Larry’s gears stop working.

NHS Western Isles has received and accepted an application to establish a new three-surgery Dental Practice in the centre of Stornoway.

This follows the closure of the Independent Dental Practice, located at the Western Isles Dental Centre,  in July.

The new practice will register a minimum of 4500 new NHS dental patients. Patients previously registered with the Dental Practice at the Western Isles Dental Centre can apply for registration at the new practice. Funding has been supported from the Government Scottish Dental Access Initiative.

As the weather causes another cruise ship cancellation today (Wednesday September 4th) the businesses and tourist attractions of Stornoway are keeping their fingers crossed for a big visitor next week.

Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth is due in to Stornoway on Monday morning for a full day of sightseeing on her way to Akureyri in Iceland. Her 14-day tour of Iceland and the British Isles starts on Friday (September 6th) as guests embark at Cunard’s home port of Southampton.

The Isle of Harris Distillery won the biggest award of the night at the Scottish Gin Awards in Glasgow last night (Thursday September 20th).

The ultimate award, Scottish Gin Distillery of the Year, was presented to Isle of Harris Distillers, whose mission to create a “social distillery” bringing jobs and increasing tourism to the island was praised. 

A Prize Bingo Night organised by The Rotary Club of Stornoway proved a huge success recently, raising £1,602 in support of the Red Cross Syria Crisis Appeal.

Over 100 people joined in the Garry Ballroom at the Caladh Inn, Stornoway, donated free of charge for the event, on Friday, September 11th, to enjoy the bingo, with entertaining Calling by Rotarian Gavin Woods.

A magnificent sum raised and thanks to all who attended, supported and donated to bingo and raffle prizes.

The tenth anniversary edition of EVENTS has been delayed at the printers in Dingwall after their colour press was hit by an electrical problem.

EVENTS has now been printed and is expected to be available in Stornoway tomorrow morning.

EVENTS apologises for this delay - especially as this was the first edition of the newspaper to be transmitted via superfast fibre broadband and so its electronic files reached Dingwall yesterday far faster than ever before!

 

 

Bùth Bharraigh is making plans to celebrate their sixth birthday, looking forward with determination and positivity.

Six years ago yesterday (Wednesday September 11th) the directors learnt that their lease application had been successful, at the end of November they got the keys to the shop and by Christmas they were set up and welcoming customers.

The setting up took a big effort from volunteers to decorate and fit the shop interior, but the effort was willingly given and continues to this day.

The Bùth has a volunteer workforce of 12 and a board of seven directors, all committed to offering as wide a range of services and products as possible.

Two years ago they took on the role of tourist information following the closure of the VisitScotland tourist office and now they have a year-round flow of visitors and residents browsing maps, crafts, organic foods and fresh veg, among many other products.

The business is still there despite controversy over the lease of their premises, which have been ear-marked for demolition by landlords Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. During this year’s visitor season directors were given 28 days to put together a business case for a move down to the Co-op site.

Managing director Sarah MacLean said: “The site is half a mile in the wrong direction for tourist traffic, smaller and four times the price. We don’t want to move down there, so instead we have completed an asset transfer request to put the current premises into our own ownership. Now we’ll wait to see what they say.

“Obviously we would like to work with CnES, but if they say no to our request to take ownership of our premises we will go to the Scottish Government. Our location here is crucial – we have too many producers and tourism businesses relying on us, too much at stake.”

Sarah’s view was endorsed recently when the Bùth was listed by Country Life magazine as one of the 22 best village shops in Britain – one of only two in Scotland. Country Life said: “Set up in 2013 to ‘create opportunities for islanders’, this shop stocks more than 80 producers, provides a laundrette, hot drinks and free wi-fi. It’s always open when the Oban ferry docks to assist tourists, ‘whatever time that might be’.”

The accolade has been added to a string of others including winner of the rural business awards social enterprise in 2016 and finalist in 2017’s Scottish social enterprise of the year awards.

As the sixth birthday draws near, a celebratory party is being planned for some time around October 17th, although nothing concrete is yet planned for the occasion. Keep an eye on shop notices for more information nearer the time.


Pictures show the inside of Bùth Bharraigh soon after taking ownership six years ago, and volunteer Tiernan Barry serving a customer in the busy shop this summer (Bùth Bharraigh).

To mark Blood Cancer Awareness Month this September, SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar Alasdair Allan attended a reception in Holyrood, to celebrate the number of potential stem cell donors in the Western Isles on the Anthony Nolan register.

This achievement was marked by Anthony Nolan on Thursday 19 September, as part of its Communities vs Blood Cancer campaign, which shines a spotlight on vital work being done locally to ensure that every patient in need of a stem cell transplant can find a lifesaving donor.

In the Western Isles, 217 potential stem cell donors are registered with Anthony Nolan. 14% of these donors are men aged 16-30, and the average age is 36.

In total, more than 760,000 people in the UK are on the Anthony Nolan register, any of whom could be a match for someone with blood cancer and asked to donate their stem cells to give a patient a second chance of life.

Now, Alasdair is encouraging more people from the islands, particularly men aged 16-30 and people from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds, to register as stem cell donors and make sure that a match is available for everyone in need of a transplant. While anyone on the register could be a match for someone with blood cancer, men aged 16-30 are most likely to be asked to donate. They provide more than 50% of donations yet make up just 18% of the register. There is also a shortage of donors from non-white and mixed-race backgrounds.

Alasdair also had the chance to meet with representatives of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) including Ally Boyle. Ally initiated a groundbreaking partnership with Anthony Nolan in 2009, while he was Area Commander of Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, after being diagnosed with myelodysplasia (a type of blood cancer). They have recruited thousands of lifesavers to the register, predominantly through their innovative SFRS Education Programme, which sees SFRS volunteers deliver inspiring educational presentations about stem cell, blood and organ donation to 16- to 18-year-olds across Scotland, including The Nicolson Institute and Sir E. Scott School.

Alasdair Allan MSP said:“I am very proud that the Western Isles has 217 donors on the register, any one of whom could offer the only chance of giving someone with blood cancer a second chance at life. Donating stem cells is straightforward but it could make an enormous difference to someone with no other chance of a cure.

“I would especially like to commend the great work of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in engaging local communities, particularly secondary schools across Scotland. They’ve recruited more than fifty people who have gone on to donate. Their steadfast commitment over the past ten years has had a truly lifesaving impact.”

Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan, said:“In the last year 12 selfless people from the Western Isles joined the Anthony Nolan register, each one representing hope for patients with blood cancer, and blood disorders, in need of matching stem cell donors.

“This Blood Cancer Awareness Month residents can be proud of all the lifesavers in your community. To everyone from the islands who has taken the decision to join the register, thank you. We rely on young people aged 16-30 joining the register now to save lives in the future. Without you, there is no cure.”

For more information on Anthony Nolan visit anthonynolan.org/join.

Anthony Nolan uses its register to match potential stem cell donors to blood cancer patients in desperate need of a stem cell transplant. It also carries out vital research to make stem cell transplants more successful, and supports patients through their transplant journeys. (Anthony Nolan changed its name in 2001 and is no longer known as Anthony Nolan Trust.)

  • About 2,000 people in the UK need a stem cell transplant from a donor every year
  • 90% of donors donate through PBSC (peripheral blood stem cell collection). This is a simple, outpatient procedure similar to giving blood
  • We need more young men to sign up, as they are most likely to be chosen to donate but make up just 18% of the register
  • We need more people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds to sign up. Only 60% of transplant recipients receive the best match. This drops dramatically to around 20% (one in five of transplant recipients) if you're from a Black, Asian or ethnic minority background.
  • Blood cancer is the fifth most common type of cancer in the UK and the third biggest cancer killer. It accounts for 9% of all new cases of cancer diagnosed in the UK.
  • It costs £40 to add each new donor to the register so we always need financial support
  • To join the Anthony Nolan register, you must be 16-30 and healthy.  Anthony Nolan’s world-leading Research Institute has shown younger donors offer better survival rates for patients.

The Hebrides International Film Festival 2016 opened yesterday across the Western Isles with a UK premiere screening of award-winning documentary Vanishing Sail.

This is also being shown tonight (15 September) at 19:30 Comunn Eachdraidh Nis ,  and on 17 September 2016, at 14:00 in Castlebay Community Hall , Isle of Barra; and also on 17 September 2016, at 11:00 Tigh mo Sheanair, Harris Hotel ,

Ginnie Atkinson, the Local Film Festivals Manager of ‪Regional Screen Scotland‬, which is funded by Creative Scotland and runs the Screen Machine mobile cinema, welcomed the cinema-goers at An Lanntair, in Stornoway to the festival.  She explained RSS had done extensive research that showed how much people in rural areas valued being able to have cinema experience.

There was an unusual plane - in terms of Stornoway Airport traffic - at the airport this weekend. It was a 25-year-old Boeing 737 twin-engined wide-body jet - registration 9H-PAM which is operated by the Malta-registered 
airline Maleth Aero.  Maleth has a base at Bournemouth Hurn Airport and has been recently recruiting additional staff. Maleth has been operating this aircraft since February.  Maleth describes itself as dealing with aircraft management, charter, sales and maintenance.

The sight of an alien craft in the skies above Stornoway took aircraft spotters by surprise yesterday (Thursday September 12th), but there was a straightforward explanation.

Aviation engineer Jason Spinks captured this shot of a B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber as it flew over Stornoway airport early yesterday evening.

Sightings of the uniquely-designed US military craft have been made around the UK in recent days, as the US Air Force continues training exercises from RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire.

Jason told welovestornoway.com: “They’ve been over for the last two days, but this was the only time I managed to catch it.”

The US Air Force has been in training with the RAF, with the B-2s flying sorties over the Norwegian sea. They are temporarily stationed at RAF Fairford, where the long runway and climate-controlled hangars provide suitable facilities for them.

Pictures show the Stealth Bomber in the sky over Stornoway yesterday (Jason Spinks) and a library image of the aircraft on exercise over the UK (MoD).

A novel written on Lewis, and based in Lewis, is set to launch in Sheffield on September 17 2016. 

'Waves', written by Jared A. Carnie, and published by Urbane Publications, will be available (and is currently available for pre-order) to buy from numerous outlets, including Amazon, from September 17 2016. 

The novel was written during Carnie's time on Lewis, when he lived in Leurbost, before he had to leave when his partner feel seriously ill - he is now based in Sheffield.  

Carnie explains: "As well as Stornoway it features a host of places that you will recognise including the ferry from Ullapool, Tolstadh, Seilebost, the castle grounds and many more."

The launch, which will take place in Sheffield, will also feature photos of Lewis, taken by Andy Yearley.

A launch event for the island is currently in the planning stages.  

The novel tells the story of a boy living in Essex, who is taken to the Outer Hebrides by his friend: "Alex is stuck. Stuck in Essex. Stuck in his childhood home. Stuck in a job he hates. The relationship he'd been counting on all these years has finally fallen apart. He's run out of things to hope for. Anxious, uncertain and totally sober, Alex is dragged to the Outer Hebrides by his long-suffering friend, James. Somewhere between the mountains and the sea, Alex is desperate to find something to ignite a spark of life in him again. Through castles, ceilidhs, bothies, lochs, vast beaches and tiny boats, chance meetings and old friends, Alex has to learn that maybe taking responsibility doesn't mean the end of feeling free."

Sandy Matheson

A new book charting the rise and impact of all past and present leaders of the SNP was launched at the Lews Castle College this afternoon. 

A special lecture on the life of Donald Stewart was expertly delivered by Sandy Matheson, a former colleague and contemporary of the much-loved late Isles MP.

Point and Sandwick Trust was cheering on the Under-13s of Point Football Club on Saturday (September 8) as the youngsters took part in the first league of the Manor Dairies Cup – their first outing in their new strips, which the community wind farm charity was proud to sponsor.

The wee Reds looked great in their new gear and made it through to the next stage of the cup, having come second in their group.

A BOOK celebrating the life and times of the Brahan Seer has been launched in Stornoway.

Penned by renowned author Douglas Thompson, the historical novel blends fact, period detail and well known legend with fiction.

Published by Acair, 'The Brahan Seer' is available now, priced £9.99.

Point’s community run shop Bùth an Rubha is closed today (Tuesday September 19th) following a break-in.

Opportunists broke a window to enter the former Knock School premises overnight and steal shop items including alcohol and cigarettes.  Office equipment was also damaged in the raid and foodstuff, including eggs, was thrown around the building.

At CnES…Calum Iain Maciver, Director of Development; Councillor Roddie Mackay, Council Leader; Lord Duncan; and Chef Executive Malcolm Burr.

Scotland Office Brexit Minister Lord Duncan flew out of Stornoway today (Friday September 29) after a series of meetings across Lewis and Harris aimed at building links between the Western Isles and those involved in organising the UK exit from the European Union.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan warns that the EU Withdrawal Bill, passed by the House of Commons last night (Monday) represents a threat to devolution. 

Earlier today (Tuesday, September 12)  the Scottish Government made clear that it would not recommend the Scottish Parliament give its consent to the Bill, unless substantial amendments were made.

Brexit could result in a “traumatic failure” to deliver medical isotopes on time to cancer patients, MSPs heard yesterday (Wednesday September 27)

 Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart, who is also Scottish Labour’s shadow health minister, explained how the UK leaving the European Atomic Energy Community – known as Euratom - as part of Brexit’s Article 50 process could affect patients under-going treatment.

He was speaking at his Members’ Debate in Scottish Parliament.

It’s a game you can spend your whole life studying, learning and playing yet never fully master – so why not make 2015 the year you start your Bridge career?
With its very beginnings taking place during the war years of World War II, Stornoway Bridge Club has been a source of fun, experience, challenge and achievement for members over the past half century.
In 1953 a Bridge League was formed in Stornoway for the first time, with nine teams contending in its inaugural year; and by 1956 pairs competitions were being played and the Bridge Club was officially formed.

Angus MacNeil MP to meet with Minster of State for Digital and Culture, Matt Hancock MP, next month because broadband is the number one issue which constituents have raised with him this summer and he will convey that strength of feeling to the minister when he meets him on October 10th.

They will discuss the roll-out of superfast broadband and plans for a Universal Service Obligation which would give all residents of Na h-Eileanan an Iar a right to a minimum service.

With more than 100 constituents contacting him on the matter over the summer, Mr MacNeil is also calling for communities to be kept better informed of current plans to improve services.

He said: “From the Butt to Barra, constituents have contacted me to seek details of when they can expect progress.

A huge gap in the island market is set to be filled next month, as the first batch of home-produced milk from Brogaidh’s Dairy in Bragar lands on doorsteps on October 1st.

Harris Gun Club members and brother, John and Andrew Hughson are weighing up the gains of their successes, as their trophy cabinet bursts at the seams.

Most recently, John finished second in Britain as junior skeet shooter at the home international in Doveridge, England.  

Andrew became the top junior DTL shooter in Britain at the home international.

A survey of businesses in the Highlands and Islands has reported that although companies remain optimistic about their own prospects, there has been a decline in confidence in Scotland’s economic outlook since the UK’s EU referendum.

A total of 1,054 businesses located throughout the region took part in the survey carried out by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) in July and August, exploring business confidence and investment.

A little over two fifths (42%) said their confidence in Scotland’s economic outlook had decreased in the previous six months, compared to 27% in 2015, the last survey before the EU referendum. Twelve per cent said it had increased and 44% remained the same.

Museum nan Eilean say they're really looking forward to this workshop from By Rosie at Museum & Tasglann nan Eilean, Lews Castle. The workshop is aimed at ages 14 to 24, but is open to all, and you can take home what you make.  It's limited to just 12 places and costs £5. It is on this Saturday, 24th of September, 2pm till 4pm

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, David Stewart, has asked a question in Parliament of the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham, pushing for more transparency for land ownership in Scotland.

The new consultation on the future of the Land Register was launched at the weekend, but Mr Stewart pushed for it to be as open and transparent as possible, to prevent front companies or tax avoiders owning Scotland’s precious land.

A CALL to halt any environmental designations in the Western Isles for a ten year period has been made by the Comhairle.

Chair of the Sustainable Development committee, Cllr. Alasdair Macleod told councillors: “The Outer Hebrides are affected by several forms of environmental designations: International RAMSAR designations; Special Protection Area; Special Area of Conservation. SSSI's and Wild Land. The Outer Hebrides are making a significant contribution towards Scotland's overall commitment to safeguarding the natural environment. 

"We make a greater contribution than any other part of Scotland, with significantly more of our land under designation than any other part of Scotland. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we have the highest level of designation and the lowest level of GDP."

The recommendation of the Committee will now go to the full Comhairle next Thursday.

Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) has confirmed membership of its new twelve member Community Board – ensuring every community CalMac serves is represented.
It was announced recently that the chair of the new board would be Lewis based businessman and ex leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Angus Campbell.
The creation of the independent Community Board was a key element of the company’s winning bid for the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Service contract last year and will be a strong community voice on strategic ferry issues.

Ferry operator CalMac has expressed dismay and disappointment over the RMT union’s decision to move into dispute with the company over pay.

Negotiations between the company and the RMT broke down after their failure to consider a new, above public sector average pay deal.

CalMac Ferries Ltd, managing director, Martin Dorchester said: "We are very disappointed that the RMT have taken this decision after we worked so hard together to win the new eight year contract to run the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Service contract.

Ferry operator CalMac has welcomed the decision by unions to recommend to their members acceptance of a new negotiated pay offer.

Following the conclusion of talks today (September 30) the RMT, Nautilus, Unite and the TSSA have all agreed to accept the new offer.

Urras Eaglais na h-Aoidhe held its 2016 Colm Cille Lecture last night (Friday, 16th September) in Ionad Stoodie at the football pitch by Seaview, Knock.
The room was packed with local people – and ended with a well-supported fund-raising raffle.
Introducing the event, Colin Scott Mackenzie explained how the work of the trust had saved the ancient church, dedicated to St Columba, on the Braighe from the threat of destruction by the waves – although there was still a lot of work to be done.  They hoped to create additional seawall protections and to add a complete protective roof.
The speaker was prolific author and former TV programme maker Calum Ferguson who set out to talk about “History and the Ui Church”.

A new taste has been added to the premium brands emerging from the Western Isles – canned Lewis water.

Announced today (Monday September 30th) is the online launch of ‘Larkfire’, described as ‘wild water for whisky’ and sourced from land belonging to the Stornoway Trust. The water has been developed with co-operation from the Trust, who will receive a percentage of the can price of £1.

The company’s website says: “We travelled across the length and breadth of Scotland looking for the perfect water to mix with whisky. We consulted master blenders, professors, chemists and geologists. We learned that Lewis was made up of some of the oldest rock in the world, Lewisian gneiss, and that this rock was metamorphic and insoluble making the water very soft.

“We discovered that by mixing the incredibly soft and pure water from Lewis with whisky, we could help unleash the whisky’s depth of flavour and its true majesty.

“We also saw a way to help an island community. Over a whisky or two (with local water) we worked with The Stornoway Trust to bring Larkfire water to your glass. We believe that all whiskies are improved with the addition of our very soft, wild water from the Isle of Lewis.”

Co-founder James McIntosh added: “In Edinburgh and London you often see people add regular tap water to an expensive scotch – the problem is tap water has been recycled several times before it even reaches your glass, and chlorine and fluoride are added, interfering with the delicate flavours found in whisky. Put simply, tap water shouldn’t go anywhere near a good scotch. Mixing Larkfire with whisky creates a natural chemistry – complementing the whisky and unlocking its hidden complexities, creating a drink that is more enjoyable with greater depth.”

The water is available at a minimum order of 24 cans, for £24, from www.larkfire.com. There’s a £4 delivery charge.

A new taste has been added to the premium brands emerging from the Western Isles – canned Lewis water.

Announced today (Monday September 30th) is the online launch of ‘Larkfire’, described as ‘wild water for whisky’ and sourced from land belonging to the Stornoway Trust. The water has been developed with co-operation from the Trust, who will receive a percentage of the can price of £1.

The company’s website says: “We travelled across the length and breadth of Scotland looking for the perfect water to mix with whisky. We consulted master blenders, professors, chemists and geologists. We learned that Lewis was made up of some of the oldest rock in the world, Lewisian gneiss, and that this rock was metamorphic and insoluble making the water very soft.

“We discovered that by mixing the incredibly soft and pure water from Lewis with whisky, we could help unleash the whisky’s depth of flavour and its true majesty.

“We also saw a way to help an island community. Over a whisky or two (with local water) we worked with The Stornoway Trust to bring Larkfire water to your glass. We believe that all whiskies are improved with the addition of our very soft, wild water from the Isle of Lewis.”

Co-founder James McIntosh added: “In Edinburgh and London you often see people add regular tap water to an expensive scotch – the problem is tap water has been recycled several times before it even reaches your glass, and chlorine and fluoride are added, interfering with the delicate flavours found in whisky. Put simply, tap water shouldn’t go anywhere near a good scotch. Mixing Larkfire with whisky creates a natural chemistry – complementing the whisky and unlocking its hidden complexities, creating a drink that is more enjoyable with greater depth.”

The water is available at a minimum order of 24 cans, for £24, from www.larkfire.com. There’s a £4 delivery charge.

Emergency services attended a one-vehicle road accident on the A859 road north of Keose around 9am this morning. 

A Vauxhall car left the road and ended up on its roof.

The single occupant of the vehicle, a female, was uninjured in the accident.

A road traffic accident took place on the Lochs Road south of Stornoway shortly before 5pm today (Saturday September 23).

A silver-coloured car veered off the carriageway and through a fence ending up on the moor not far from the turn-off to Ranish, according to an eye-witness report.

The vehicle was carrying passengers and members of the public were attending to them until ambulance and police arrived.

A vehicle has been taken from a 34-year-old driver after police stopped him in Stornoway town centre and found that he had no insurance.

The man was stopped at 11.35pm on Sunday and the vehicle was confiscated. The man will also be reported to the Procurator Fiscal.

 

The case for a lifeboat to cover the West coast of Lewis will be discussed at a public meeting in Carloway next Tuesday (September 26th) following concerns over scant sea-safety provision in the area.

The Atlantic stretch spanning Uig to Ness is currently an RNLI black-spot with vessels in South Harris and Stornoway several hours away by water.

Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron has welcomed news that Scottish farmers are to receive an extra £160m of convergence funding from the UK Government.

The award, which was announced in the UK Spending Review today (Wednesday September 4th) , follows protests aimed to ensure that Scottish farmers received the money they were due.

The Scottish Conservative MSP said: “This is excellent news for everyone working in agriculture across the Highlands and Islands.

 “A successful farming and crofting sector is fundamental to the sustainability of our local economy and our share of this £160m of extra income will go a long way to help farm businesses and crofters right across the region.

“I am delighted that the lobbying of the  Scottish Conservative team of MPs, supported by our MSP group at Holyrood, has been so successful in ensuring that these convergence funds come our way, and I was very pleased to play a small part in that effort as our party’s rural affairs spokesman over the last year or so.”

And the Highlands and Islands MSP has been appointed Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Europe and External Affairs.

The appointment is one of a number of changes made in the shadow cabinet following the resignation of Ruth Davidson as leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.

Mr Cameron succeeds interim leader Jackson Carlaw in the role.

Mr Cameron said: “As the UK comes out of the European Union it is very important that there is a Scottish voice on Europe which looks beyond the grievance politics of the SNP.

“There are huge opportunities for Scottish businesses as we develop trading links across the world and reassert control over our fishing grounds.

“I look forward to putting the case for a strong Scotland in a strong UK operating as a truly global player in the years ahead.”

 

 

Come along and join in with a new weekly Health Walk in Castlebay. All abilities. All welcome

The weekly walk series will start on Wednesday 26thSeptember at 4.30pm, meeting at Castlebay Fire Station.

Catriona Bain was presented with the Donald Stewart Memorial Trust trophy by Comhairle Convener, Councillor Norman A Macdonald

The Donald Stewart Memorial Trust award for 2017 has been won by Catriona Bain, from Gress, Isle of Lewis.

The Trust decided unanimously that this year’s award be made to Catriona, who completed her studies in The Nicolson Institute, Stornoway in June and will soon be continuing her studies in Robert Gordon’s University, Aberdeen.

The Trustees were highly impressed with Catriona’s academic performance where she attained excellent results in her Highers and Advanced Higher exams and with her extraordinary work ethic, time management skills and her commitment to her studies. Also, her leadership qualities and her desire and drive to help others. 

A Newmarket couple yesterday (Tuesday September 17th) celebrated an 82nd wedding anniversary – although not all the years were their own.

Duncan and Catherine Macleod in fact celebrated their own 55th anniversary, but Catherine’s parents, Donald and Christina Grant, were married on the same day in 1937.

The date was not a coincidence, as Catherine told welovestornoway.com: “We only picked the date as a way to get round my mother, who thought I was too young to wed. My Dad thought it was lovely of us to pick that date and I was a daddy’s girl. We also got engaged on the same day as them, but we honestly didn’t know that!”

Catherine’s dad, a Skye man, was a piper and shinty-player who worked as a bus driver. Her mother was born in Glasgow and brought up in Leurbost, returning to Glasgow aged eight and speaking only Gaelic. She later did office work and had a family of two boys and an only daughter, Catherine.

When she got engaged, Catherine was working for a Glasgow travel agents and Duncan was a marine engineer at Yarrow’s shipbuilders. A new job with ICI in Dumfries meant he was travelling up to Glasgow to see his fiancée, so a quick marriage was agreed.

A few years later the Macleods, with their young family of three sons – Duncan Iain, Grant and Colin – moved to Lewis when Duncan got work with Lewis Offshore. They settled in the home in Newmarket where they still stay and Catherine found work as a secretary at Laxdale School.

Catherine’s parents also moved to Lewis in 1975 and stayed in Garrabost until they passed away, Donald in 1995 and Christina in 2008. They also had been married for more than 55 years.

The ‘young’ couple, who married at Grant Street Free Church in Glasgow in 1964, now have 10 grandchildren as well as three sons, the youngest of whom, Colin, has been keeping them on their toes with his exploits swimming the Minch.

They celebrated their anniversary last night with a dinner with friends and will be getting together with family over the weekend.

Pictures show Catherine and Duncan Macleod getting married on September 17th 1964, and

Catherine’s parents Donald and Christina on the same date in 1937.

Duncan and Catherine are also shown with some of their 10 grandchildren earlier this year (family pictures).

A project for everyone in the Outer Hebrides to learn about and engage with their built environment through workshops, illuminations, art and photography.

An Lanntair and The Western Isles Architecture Group have come together to create and deliver a dynamic and innovative architecture project throughout the Outer Hebrides as part of the 2016 Festival of Architecture.

What do fish farms, renegade environmentalists, Native American Indians, cartoon ladybirds and a choir of sea-shanty-singing Cornish fishermen have in common?

The answer is they all feature in films being shown as part of this year’s Hebrides International Film Festival (HIFF), taking place in venues across the Outer Hebrides from September 12 to 14.

Charities were the winners all down the course at Stornoway Golf Club!
The photograph above shows the club's new Captain, Marten James, presenting all the monies raised during year from the golf competitions and the midsummer ball events.

A Harris tweed designed by a six-year-old boy from Scalpay will be swinging through Edinburgh on Sunday September 16th – and it’s already raising money for charity straight from the loom.

The tweed is this week (Tuesday September 4th) being woven by Tarbert weaver Heather Campbell as a commission for an island couple taking part in the Edinburgh Kilt Walk.

Torman has now achieved charity status in Scotland, number SCO49334.

The group says: "We offer funding support to people between Garynahine and Dalmore who wish to take part in music, singing, dancing and other cultural activities.

"As a result of our fundraising concert in March, we were able to pay towards costs of children from the area attenting Fèis Eilean an Fhraoich from the 22nd to the 26th of July and we were delighted to be in a position to assist so soon after we formed the group.

"As part of the Torman initiative, we aim to support local tuition providers. Here is Ashley MacDonald, who teaches piping to children in the catchment area, receiving a copy of ‘Scots Guards – Standard Settings of Pipe Music, Volume III’ from Torman chairperson Shona Macmillan."

Our next fundraiser will be a bingo night on Friday 20th September in the Carloway Hall – don’t miss it!

A TREASURE hunt to raise funds for the British Heart Foundation takes place in Stornoway on Saturday.

The event starts at 10.30am, leaving from the Lews Castle College Car Park, and registration begins at 10am, at the main entrance to the college. 

The event costs £2 per person or £5 per family, and individuals, groups and families are all welcome to enter. 

Use your map, find the clues, complete the fun challenges and you will be rewarded with lovely treasure.

The Lewis and Harris Memory Walk went ahead in Stornoway on Saturday as the weather warnings proved misplaced and were indeed officially cancelled midway through the day.

In all, 85 people took part with £900 raised by the event organised by Alzheimer Scotland charity - Lewis & Harris branch.

Marion MacInnes, the local Service Manager, said: "A huge thanks to the 85 people who turned up to support us at the Annual 5k Memory Walk today. Despite the weather warnings it turned out a nice 'fresh' typical Hebridean afternoon!

A live chicken was found in Kenneth Street, Stornoway,  this morning (Thursday September 7th)! 

This unusual event was reported to local police..who in turn contacted local SSPCA representative Calum Watt - who is himself on top of the Clisham just now. 

The chicken is reported to be being accommodated in the Save the Children shop in Kenneth Street.

North nursing students had the opportunity to meet Scotland’s Chief Nursing Officer when she visited the University of the Highlands and Islands’ nursing department in Inverness on Monday 10 September.

Professor Fiona McQueen spoke to students and staff in person at the Centre for Health Science and addressed students in Stornoway via a video conference link.

Parents and guardians are being asked to look out for the letter about flu vaccination for their child.  This letter will be in the post for children not yet at school and in the school bag for children of primary school age.

NHS Western Isles is encouraging all parents and guardians of primary and preschool children to take up the offer of vaccination against seasonal flu for their child because:

Flu can be very serious.

  • Even healthy children can become seriously ill from flu and can spread it to family, friends and others.
  • Flu can lead to complications that may result in hospitalisation or even death.
  • In Scotland, hundreds of children visit their GP each year with flu or its complications. Some of these children will be hospitalised for treatment.
  • The flu vaccine helps protect your child against flu and reduces the chance of them spreading the virus to others.
  • NHS Scotland is offering flu vaccines for children using a simple nasal spray.

AN initiative to ensure families adopt a healthier and happier lifestyle is set to start next month.

‘Healthy, Happy Kids’ is a free eight-week programme run by NHS Western Isles for families with pre-school children from birth to age five, set up to ensure that kids get the best start in life. 

The group programme is free and will run for eight weeks, on Fridays, from 1.30-2.30pm, in the Hebrides Dance and Wellbeing Studio, Stornoway (at the Golf Club). 

The first group programme will start on October 24, and a one-to-one programme is also available.

Scenes from Claire's Canadian performances and from Cathy Rees' visit to Stornoway

After her trip earlier in the year to dance in New York for Tartan Week, Claire Wilson, of the Claire Wilson School of Dance, recently travelled from Stornoway to Canada to compete in the ScotDance Canadian Championship Series. 
This year the competition was held in Winnipeg, Manitoba where SDCCS welcomed over 800 dancers from across Canada, the United States, UK and further afield to compete against the best in the world. 

The Coastguard Rescue Teams successfully reunited dog and owner

Coastguard Rescue Teams from Ness, Stornoway and Breasclete were called into action last night to rescue a dog which had gone over the cliffs at the Butt of Lewis.

The Coastguard Rescue Teams were called into action at around 7.15pm last night, Sunday 4th September, and successfully completed the rescue and handed the dog back to its owners unhurt by 8.30pm.

The Coastguard remind dog owners to be vigilant when walking their pets near island cliffs, saying: “Please remember to keep your dogs on leads when near cliff tops and if it does go over dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard. Do no attempt self rescue.”

Setting up for rescue, the Coastguard remind dog walkers to keep their pet on a lead when near cliffs

A new climate change group has been established in the Outer Hebrides as climate-change protests by young people again took place across the Isles from Castlebay to Stornoway.

The Climate Change Group had its first meeting yesterday (Thursday September 26th), starting the process of developing actions and targets around climate issues for subsequent inclusion in the Outer Hebrides Community Planning Partnership (OHCPP) Local Outcome Improvement Plan.

The new group has broad representation from public bodies throughout the Outer Hebrides.

Members of the group include: Scottish Natural Heritage, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, NHS Western Isles, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, University of Highlands and Islands, Members of Scottish Youth Parliament, Tighean Innse Gall, Hebridean Housing Partnership, Community Land Sector, Third Sector Interface, and Western Isles Emergency Planning Group.

David Maclennan, Climate Change Group Chair, said: ”Whilst climate change is a global issue, impacts in Scotland, and in the Outer Hebrides, are already apparent.

"We can expect to see more extreme weather events in the future – so we need to take steps to reduce our own carbon emissions and get ready to respond to a changing climate and environment.

“The new Climate Change Group will work towards improving our understanding of climate change in the Outer Hebrides, and developing actions and plans which will help us to adapt to the changing climate for the benefit of the community, the economy and our natural environment.

"As part of this process, we will seek opportunities for local engagement so we can hear directly from people throughout the islands.”

Today, 20 September 2019, people across the world – including Stornoway – are joining the Global Climate Strike and urging our decision-makers to take immediate climate action.

The Global Climate Strike on 20 September is a form of protest against the current climate crisis, and the lack of action from our global leaders.

Young people from The Nicolson Institute will be joining the event with a protest outside the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar – but everyone is welcome to join from 9am onwards.

Last night a large number of people attended the first public screening of An-Dràsta! on Thursday 19th September at Clan MacQuarrie Centre in Borgh.  The event included stalls from organisations like Tighean Innse Gall and Scottish Natural Heritage and food created specially in a sustainable manner.

The film has been made by young people from The Nicolson Institute during their summer holidays and focuses on the impact of the climate emergency in the Outer Hebrides.

They hope that it can be used to encourage conversations about climate change throughout the islands.

The film makers were George Begent, Isi Oliver, Sakshi Ortchison, Vasundhara Ortchison, Rachel Ross-Jordan, Stuart Smith, Sarah Maciver, Ruth Mackay, Molly Mackenzie – with assistance from Keith Morrison of the Wee Studio, Fiona Rennie and Louise Senior.

An-Dràsta! was produced with as part of Urras Oigreachd Ghabhsainn and Urras Oigreachd Chàrlabhaigh community LED by Energy Champions project which is supported by the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund.

The evening began with a talk from Ben Inglis-Grant, SNH’s Peatland ACTION Project Officer hosted by Urras Oigreachd Chàrlabhaigh.

Funding for a new peatland restoration project which aims to improve water quality, tackle climate change and help protect Black Throated Divers and Great Skua in the Outer Hebrides was confirmed in celebration of International Bog Day on July 28.

Working alongside Scottish Water, Soval Estate and Ranish Common Grazings Committee, the Peatland ACTION project is starting on restoring 11 hectares of damaged and eroding peatland within the Loch Orasaigh drinking water catchment area which serves the North Lochs Water Treatment Works.

At a cost of £1,700 a hectare, the scheme offers a relatively inexpensive way of tackling climate change, as well as potentially reducing water treatment costs by minimising the amount of peat being washed into the loch - helping secure a strategically important drinking water supply in the Outer Hebrides.  It will also help preserve the local environment, with a recent survey confirming the loch is home to two of Scotland’s protected species – Black Throated Divers and Great Skua.

Ben Inglis-Grant said: “Around 80% of Scotland’s peatlands are estimated to be damaged, through man-made drainage and other land-use pressures as well as natural erosion taking place.

“By restoring our peat-lands they can begin actively functioning as they should, by storing water and capturing carbon.

“Peatland Action aims to make a difference across the length and breadth of Scotland and by working together with Scottish Water in this remote area, we can deliver multiple benefits to both people and nature, from carbon capture to clean drinking water and supporting natural ecosystems, which are so intrinsic to our existence.

“These kind of nature-based solutions are also integral to tackling the climate emergency we are all facing.”

The Peatland ACTION Project is a Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) initiative, funded by Scottish Government, to capture carbon by restoring Scotland’s peatlands.

The showing of An-Dràsta! followed – giving insights into the situation throughout the Islands.  The film-makers then took part in a Q & A session.

Towards the end of the event Sakshi Ortchison, one of the film-makers and also a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament, spoke to the audience. She explained that for more than a year now, schoolchildren around the world had been striking for climate change. In May there was a protest in Stornoway.  This was part of worldwide events which had helped persuade the UN to hold another climate summit next week.  She and Maria McGoldrick, from South Uist, the other MSYP, attended a meeting of the Outer Hebrides Community Planning Partnership meeting about climate change.  “They recognised climate change was an issue here in the Western Isles but they weren’t sure how to tackle it.  We want to push them to announce a climate emergency.” She added: “Something needs to happen, something need to be done.”

She appealed for adults to stand up for “our planet and our home” with the young people today outside the Council headquarters. 

 

 

John O'Connor (left) and wife Anne (right) presenting a cheque for £3500 to Bethesda Hospice finance manager, DR Maccdonald.

A Stornoway man has completed a 150-miles ultra-marathon through the Western Isles and raised £3500 for Bethesda Hospice.

John O’Connor, from Marybank but now living in Fife, ran from Barra to the Butt of Lewis over five consecutive days last week in aid of the hospice where his father, the late Sergeant John O’Connor of Stornoway Police, received end of life care.

John, 59, completed the challenge on Saturday (September 2) and delivered the proceeds to Bethesda this week – but he says that donations are still piling in.

 

A Stornoway man has completed a 150-miles ultra-marathon through the Western Isles and raised £3,500 for Bethesda Hospice.

John O’Connor, from Marybank but now living in Fife, ran from Barra to the Butt of Lewis over five consecutive days last week in aid of the hospice where his father, the late Sergeant John O’Connor of Stornoway Police, received end of life care.

John completed the challenge on Saturday (September 2) and delivered the proceeds to Bethesda this week – but he says that donations are still piling in.

The Iceland store in Cromwell Street, Stornoway - run as a franchise-stye operation by Retail Hebrides Ltd - is being bought by the Cooperative stores group, it is understood.

It's believed a formal announcement may be made tomorrow (Thursday September 19th).

Then the store will trade as Iceland for about a month before closing for conversion into a Co-operative food store. 

This is almost exactly two years since news first broke that a new supermarket outlet was coming to Stornoway to revive the long vacant town centre shopping spot once occupied by the long-gone Presto group.

The opening followed extensive renovation and repair work on the building. The new store – which was formerly occupied by the WeeW business – followed the ‘New Format’ look and style pioneered by Iceland in Clapham in 2016,, but it was to be under the control of the newly-formed local company, which was intended to enable it to be flexible to local needs and adaptable to local suppliers.

If you fancy a sweet-treat to brighten up your Friday then Clean Squad, at Clinton's Yard, is the place to be this morning. 

Staff have organised a coffee morning in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.

The event starts at 10am and all are welcome to pop in for a coffee/tea and a cake, and make a small donation to this worthy charity.

 

 

Friday September 28th sees the big annual chance to support cancer care and treatment with the "World's Biggest Coffee Morning"

And Highlands & Islands Regional MSPs Rhoda Grant (above) and David Stewart (below) raise a cup to help people with cancer live life as fully as they can.


 
The University of the Highlands and Islands has appointed three new vice-principals to its senior management team to increase representation from the 13 colleges and research institutions which make up its partnership.

The vice-principals will dedicate two-and-a-half days a week to supporting the aims of the university and will fulfil the duties of their existing roles at colleges and research institutes around the partnership on a part-time basis.

This year’s Colm Cille Lecture is by Dr Aonghas MacCoinnich, University of Glasgow. 

The lecture will be held on Friday 20th September in Ionad Stoodie, Garrabost. 

Dr Aonghas MacCoinnich's topic is “Their longed for wish and expected prey.  The Clan Mackenzie and their plantation of Lewis, 1610-1700”, a subject that Dr MacCoinnich has researched in considerable depth.

It is a fascinating topic and of considerable relevance to Lewis at a time when Eaglais na h-Aoidhe was a major religious establishment in the area. 

There are many Mackenzies buried in the graveyard at Eaglais na h-Aoidhe including a few notable ones such as Alexander Mackenzie, eldest son of Murdoch Mackenzie, the Postmaster of Stornoway, Colonel Colin Mackenzie of the Madras Engineers and Surveyor General of All India, Barbara Mackenzie, the second daughter of Colin Mackenzie of Kildun and Norman Mackenzie of Garrabost who died in the Iolaire Disaster. 

Aonghas MacCoinnich is a Niseach whose parents still live in Ness.  He now lives in Glasgow where he is a lecturer in Celtic History at the University of Glasgow.  He graduated MA in History and Gaelic at the University of Aberdeen in 1999 and did his PhD there (in Gaelic) in 2005 on the emergence of the Mackenzie Clan, from 1466-1637.  He is interested in all aspects of the history and culture of the Highlands and Islands with a specific focus on the period between the end of the 16th century and the end of the 18th century.  Dr MacCoinnich has researched, lectured and written extensively on Celtic history, culture and language and in 2015 he wrote a book on “Plantation and Civility in the North Atlantic World; the Case of the Northern Hebrides, 1570-1639”.

The doors will be open from 6.30pm, so come early to meet Aonghas and catch-up with people. 

The lecture will start at 7.30pm.  Afterwards there will be a cuppa and the chance of a blether. 

Everyone is welcome, the lecture is free – so come along and bring your friends.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar should apologise for the two years of travel inconvenience they have inflicted on islanders by axing inter-island flights, says Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil.

Welcoming news that flights between Stornoway and Benbecula are to be extended to a four day service, Mr MacNeil said it was time for the local authority to admit that cutting inter-island air services was the wrong decision.

He said: “I welcome the addition of Friday flights on the Stornoway to Benbecula service but this does not go far enough. 

Members of lobby group Families into Sport for Health (FiSH) hope that next month will see Comhairle go-ahead granted for a 12 month trial period of Sunday opening hours at Ionad Spors Leodhais (ISL).

The group have welcomed that a report on the proposal of opening the Lewis Sports Centre from the hours of 12noon to 5pm on Sundays will be presented to members of the local authority's Policy and Resources Committee on Wednesday, October 5th.

Elma Macleod, FiSH member and a long-time campaigner for a seven-day service at the Stornoway based centre, said: “FiSH was formed to represent the thousands of individuals and families locally that have been requesting a seven day opening of ISL facilities.

Cast your vote online to help Back FRC go green 

Back Football and Recreation Club are calling on the local community to help scoop a share of £300,000 funding towards renewable energy projects.
Back FRC has been shortlisted for a £12,000 share of the national M&S Energy Community Energy Fund competition, and Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan encourages islanders to get behind the club and cast their vote: “I’m really excited to support Back Football and Recreation Club and am looking forward to seeing the results if they are successful,” he said. “It will be a massive benefit for the local community if they do receive the funding.”
If successful, Back FRC hope to use the funding to install solar panels on the roof of the main hall to heat hot water and reducing running costs.

A community sponsored walk and fun day will be taking place in Barvas this Saturday (27th September) from 1pm-3pm to help raise funds for and awareness of cerebral palsy.  The day’s activities tie in with similar events taking place across the globe on World Cerebral Palsy Day on 1st October.

The sponsored walk will take participants to the Barvas and Brue Community Centre for 1pm, where there will be fun day activities including a bouncy castle, face painting, a nail bar, raffles, and a lucky dip.  Raffle prizes include goodies from By Rosie, The Good Food Boutique, Delights, and much more.

An information display will be set up to inform people about the condition, and another will tell the story of Paralympic Gold medallist Stephen Miller, who himself has cerebral palsy.  Stephen has kindly donated his signed GB Paralympic top and another athletic shirt, as well as a signed copy of his autobiography, which will be displayed and raffled at the event.

The day’s activities are being organised by the parents, family and friends of Joshua Frost Campbell, who was diagnosed with Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy two years ago, shortly before his 2nd birthday. Saturday’s fun day is the first in a series of fundraising events, and it is hoped that with the money raised, he will be able to attend The Bobath Therapy Centre in Glasgow, which helps improve the lives of children and adults with cerebral palsy and other similar neurological conditions.

The deadline for nominations to the 30 Community Councils in the Western Isles falls at 4pm tomorrow, September 17th.
Community councils are voluntary organisations set up by statute and run by local residents on behalf of the community. Up to 12 community councillors in each area meet regularly to discuss local projects and events, issues of concern and local planning.
In recent years all but three of the 30 districts have had a community council, with Barvas, Stornoway and Laxdale the only areas which have not been represented. A community council is constituted if there are four or more valid nominations.
If a community has more than 12 nominations, elections will be held on Tuesday 8th October. To stand as a community councillor or vote in the election you must reside in the local area and be named on the electoral register. 16 and 17-year-olds in each community council area who are on the electoral register are also entitled to stand for the community council and vote in any election.
Nomination papers and further information are available via https://www.cne-siar.gov.uk/your-council/community-councils/community-council-elections/

Following the close of nominations 19 Community Councils across na h-Eileanan an Iar were established. 

Those Community Councils and the new members are listed below. 

A further round of nominations will take place to fill all remaining vacancies.

ESTABLISHED COMMUNITY COUNCILS

Aridhantuim

Murdo Smith

Zoe Brown

Donnie Macdonald

Murdo Nicholson

Kenneth Graham

 

Back

Andrew Morrison

Catherine MacInnes

Margaret-Ann Maciver 

Sara Maciver

 

Bernera

Kevin Long

Susan Long

Catherine Ruth Macleod

Virginia Jane Allum

 

Breasclete

Christina Murray

Angus Smith

Angus MacKenzie

Kenneth John MacLennan

Noreen MacDonald

John Smith

 

Kinloch

Colin John Brand

Iain M. Maciver

Sandra Macdonald

Peter MacLennan

Kenneth Roderick Mackay

 

North Lochs

Ian E. MacAskill

Margaret Smith

Robert MacKenzie

Sarah McIver

Sarah Macdonald

William Bruce Mackenzie

Annabel Margaret Mackay

Joanne Mitchell

 

Point

Christopher T Mackenzie

Donald Macritchie

Norman MacLeod

Angusina (Zena) Stewart

Alexander John Murray

Angus Lamont

 

Shawbost

Ian McCulloch

Roderick Morrison

Kathleen Macrae

Marion Mackay

Eddie Hallahan

Joan Mackay

Euan Donald Macleod

Donald Smith

Donald MacDonald

Kerri Smith

 

Stornoway

Joan Muir

Katie Laing

Melinda Gillen

Jane Hepburn MacMillan

Susanne Erbida

 

Tong

Josephine M Mansfield-Townsend

Hazel Mansfield

Julie McLeman

Norman Morrison

 

Uig

Winifred Christine Greer

Graham Attrill

Lois G. Darley

Christine Mackenzie

Catriona Maclean

 

North Harris

Karen Macdonald

Catherine Macdonald

John Macleod

Robert Mackinnon

Diana Maclennan

Mary M. Macleod

Agnes Morrison

 

South Harris

Alan Angus Ross

Kenneth Macleod

John R Maclean

Kathryn P Campbell

Effie Macleod

Caroline Emma Chaffer

Marion Morrison

Stephen Alexander Mackinnon

 

Berneray

Ian F Hoyle

Malcolm John Gibson

Donald Maclean

Eilidh Carr

Emily Hicks

 

Bornish

Murdoch MacRury

Donald John Macdonald

Joan MacInnes

Catherine MacDonald

Marie Campbell

 

Iochdar

Angela Brass

Peter Bird

Morag A Macaulay

Ronald MacPhee

Anne Bird

Maria McGoldrick

Neil Macpherson

Donald J Steele

Neil Johnstone

 

North Uist

John Macdonald

Sarah Macdonald

Joan Ferguson

Effie Rodger

Donald Angus MacLennan

Donald Ewan Morrison

Raghnall MacIain

 

Castlebay and Vatersay

Jonathan MacNeil

Paul McGuire

Brian Currie

Iain MacNeil

Kenneth Maclean

Catriona Denehy

Alastair Campbell

 

Northbay

Theresa Irving

Neil MacLennan

Michael A Macleod

Iain Dewar

Isa Maclean

 

 

Following the close of nominations, 21 Community Councils across na h-Eileanan an Iar were re-established, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has announced. 

Those Community Councils in East Lewis and their new members are listed below.  

A further round of nominations will take place for those Community Councils – including Stornoway – that were not re-established.

 

Kinloch
Peter Maclennan. 24 Laxay, Lochs

Kenneth R Mackay. 44 Balallan

Iain M Maciver, 23 Laxay

Donald John Maclennan,2 Arivruach, Lochs

Sandra Macdonald, 11 Keose Glebe

 

North Lochs
Donald Mackenzie, The Mearns, Achmore

Robert Mackenzie, Corran View, Leurbost, Lochs

Joanne Mitchell, 20 Grimshader

Sarah McIver, 14a Grimshader

Alexander M Mackintosh, 5b Grimshader, North Lochs

W. Bruce Mackenzie, Hillside House, Grimshader, Lochs

Iain Macleod, Mullach Ard, 7 Grimshader, Lochs

 

Point
Christopher T Mackenzie,62 Garrabost, Point

Donald Macritchie. 17 Knock, Point

Matthew Bruce, Achnaha, Garrabost, Point

Agnes Munro, 27 Aignish, Point

Angus Lamont, 42 Garrabost, Point

Edmund Macgregor, 16 Upper Bayble, Point

Norman Macleod, 14 Knock, Point

Alex John Murray, 14b Upper Bayble, Point

 

Sandwick
William Macfarlane, 24 Branahuie

Anna Macfarlane, 24 Branahuie

Mary Anne Millar McCormack, 25 North Street, Sandwick

Robert F Walker, 9 Cnoc Iomhair, Stornoway

Michael Smith, 14a Steinish


Tong
Donald Martin, Hishinish, Aird Tong,

Norman Morrison, 40 Aird Tong

Mairi Murray, 17a Aird Tong

Christine Moody, 9 Tong

Angela Grant, Alderwood, Aird Tong

George Moody, 9 Tong

 

 

Following the close of nominations, 21 Community Councils across na h-Eileanan an Iar were re-established, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has announced.  Those Community Councils in Harris and their new members are listed below.   A further round of nominations will take place for those Community Councils – including Stornoway – that were not re-established.

 

North Harris
John G Mitchell, Ceol na Mara, 7 Direcleit

J Bruce Jardine, FP Manse, Manse Road, Tarbert

John Macleod, 8 Grosebay

Karen Macdonald, Flat 1, Tigh an Urras, East Tarbert

 

South Harris
Kathryn P Campbell, 12 Strond, Leverburgh,

Marion Morrison, 16 Kintulavig, Leverburgh

Morag Mackenzie, 17 Strond, Leverburgh

Neil Maclean, 4 Lever Terrace, Leverburgh

Hamish Taylor, Tigh an Tobair, Flodabay

Alan Angus Ross, The Old Schoolhouse, Finsbay

Kenneth Macleod, 4 Upper End, Leverburgh

John R Maclean, 4 Borrisdale, Leverburgh

Caroline Chaffer, Sandyknowle, Northton

Lisa Macdonald, 3 Lever Terrace, Leverburgh

 

Scalpay
Caroline Magne, 38 Outend, Scalpay

Margaret Morrison, Hirta House, Scalpay

Donnie Macleod, 26 Laggandoin, Scalpay

Kenneth Morrison Macleod, 31 Out End, Scalpay

 

 

 

 

 

Laxdale Cubs and Beavers are all set for camping next summer thanks to the donation of eight brand new three-man tents.
1st Laxdale Scouts, Cubs and Beavers had made an appeal on social media for unused tents as the ones they were using were over 15 years old and in a bad state of repair.
The groups also didn’t have enough suitable tents to allow the Beavers and Cubs to enjoy camps together.

COMMUNITY landowners in the Western Isles have vowed to work closely with the council to maximise benefits for their tenants.

They met at the first ever conference of Community Land Scotland, held in Stornoway.

But it wasn't all good news, as environmental designations were slammed by groups for stifling economic development.

Council services face greater threats than ever as national spending cuts bite deeper…and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is a launching an Islands-wide effort to find ways to keep services alive while spending less on them.

Councillors this week are considering a radical programme of Service Redesign to take account of this enduring climate of financial austerity which threatens services.

CnES says that all Local Authorities in Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom are faced with significant financial challenges and possible cuts to local services.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are calling on British Gas to consider fairer tariffs for Stornoway customers.
Councillor Donald Crichton has written to Mark Hodges, British Gas Chief Executive, asking the company to consider more fair and competitive energy prices for Stornoway customers which would give them the cheapest possible deal available to help alleviate the high levels of fuel poverty.
The Chairman of the Sustainable Development Committee said there were a number of areas where the Comhairle would welcome further information and discussion with the company.

The public have only until 22 October to have their say on proposed changes in council ward boundaries across the Western Isles.

Amongst other changes, the proposals would cut the number of councillors in the Western Isles by five.

The Local Government Boundary Commission began a public consultation on its proposals for ward boundaries in Scotland’s 32 council areas on 30 July and now the Commission is restating its encouragement to members of the public, community groups, and other local bodies to look at the proposals and submit their views  before the deadline.

The issue of lack of space at Stornoway Primary was raised by an SNP councillor at the Comhairle’s Education and Children’s Services Committee.

NP Councillor for Stornoway South Rae Mackenzie stated: “The Stornoway Primary school is extremely overcrowded.

“For instance, changing facilities are not acceptable for this day and age and there is simply not enough space for teachers and pupils throughout the school. The school is the second biggest school in terms of pupil numbers in the Western Isles and has had a huge influx of pupils after the closure of Sandwickhill School and additional nursery spaces.

Councillors have given provisional approval for a Harris pub to be redeveloped as a church building. 

There were no objections to the proposal at this morning's meeting of the Comhairle's Environmental and Protective Services Committee.

The decision will now require ratification at a meeting of the full council next week. 

A tourist who drove off the ferry while over the limit found herself in Stornoway Sheriff Court this morning (Monday September 3rd).

The 59-year-old Swedish woman left the ferry having drunk too much on Saturday lunchtime and was immediately stopped, tested and charged by Stornoway police.

She appeared in court today and was fined for the offence of drink-driving.

The man who died in a road crash in Carloway last week has been named by police.

He was 72-year-old Philip Walker from Anglesey in Wales.  Mr Walker had been visiting the area on holiday.

The incident happened around 10.30am on Wednesday 11 September when Mr Walker's campervan and a Ford Transit van collided between Carloway Bridge and the Doune Braes Hotel.

The female passenger from the campervan and two occupants of the van were all uninjured.

Mr Walker's family released a statement through Police Scotland, saying: "We are grateful for everybody who assisted at the scene, the love and support provided by staff at Western Isles Hospital and the assistance provided by the wider community in the Isle of Lewis in the days following."

Sergeant David Miller from the Road Policing Unit in Dingwall said: “Our thoughts remain with Mr Walker's family and friends at this difficult time.

"Our enquiries remain ongoing and we are continuing to urge anyone who may have witnessed the collision or who has any other information to come forward.

"This includes anyone who may have seen either vehicle prior to the incident or who may have dashcam footage.

“Anyone with information that may assist our investigation should contact Police Scotland through 101, quoting reference 965 of September 11."

Crofters protest as Scottish Government overlooks need for change.

Responding to the announcement that crofting legislation is unlikely to proceed through parliament in this session, Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) says it has taken this as a clear indication that crofting does not rank high on the government’s agenda.

“It came as a disappointment to see that crofting legislation did not appear on the Scottish Government’s ‘Programme for Government’ for this year“, said Yvonne White, chair of SCF.

“But the announcement by Fergus Ewing that it is unlikely to proceed through parliament at all this session is shocking. Mr Ewing gave the clear commitment on many occasions that the first phase of the legislation, the really important stuff that effects crofters’ day to day lives, would be dealt with in this parliamentary session.

"Stakeholders and Scottish government officials have committed a massive amount of resources over many years to get to the point that a Bill is almost ready to proceed,” Ms White went on.

“Opposition parties have been kept on-board and consensus sought, with the intention that the bill should progress relatively unhindered. Yet now we are told that this may have all been in vain, that other legislation takes precedence over crofting."

Ms White added, “We understand that the Brexit shenanigans will be adding a huge amount to government work-load and that this is not the making of the Scottish Government.

"But we would suggest that despite Brexit-related legislation having to be worked on, many other pieces of legislation are in the pipeline and will proceed through parliament.

"A decision had to made by Scottish Government which to give the higher priority to, and yet again it was not crofters and crofting."

 

Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) is laying down a marker on the £160 million agricultural ‘back-payment’ that has been returned to Scotland, pointing-out that it is crofters’ and hill-farmers’ low payments that secured it.

“It is very encouraging that the UK Government has honoured the Prime Minister’s pledge to pay the £160 million that has been owed to Scotland due to the below-average agricultural payments we receive,”  said the chair of SCF, Yvonne White.

“It is in great part down to the tenacity of the Scottish Government and Scottish producers that we won this, though it was clearly owed to us and it is shameful that we had to make such an effort to get what is due us.”

The current phase of the Common Agriculture Policy set a threshold of 90 per cent of the EU average payment rate per hectare that all member states should reach. The UK’s average rate per hectare fell below the 90 per cent threshold because of Scotland’s very low average payment rate - which is only about 45 per cent of the EU average. As a consequence, the UK will now receive an extra €223 million (about £190 million) over a six-year period.

Ms White continued, “Scottish Government and stakeholders have long argued that the refund should come to Scotland in its entirety as it is our low payments, particularly those to crofters and hill farmers, which bring the UK average down low enough to justify the refund. Until now the UK Government has been reluctant to concede that it is Scotland’s money and have only given us £30 million. Now that we are to get the remaining £160 million, we need to make sure that it goes to those areas that receive very low payments.

“There is a huge disparity in payments in Scotland,” Ms White went on, “with permanent rough grazing only getting a tenth of that which arable and rotational grass get. This is the rough grazing that supports crofters and hill farmers and it is this payment that brings the Scottish average down so low. The payment for this grazing should, therefore, be increased to raise the Scottish average”.

Ms White concluded, “It is imperative that Scottish Government do not do what the UK government tried to do, to use this money for anything but for that which it is intended. This is money that has a specific use, to increase agricultural payments to the lowest paid and must be ring-fenced for this.”

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has also welcomed the announcement that £160 million worth of convergence funding owed by the UK Government to Scotland’s crofters and farmers is finally set to be repatriated.  

“This is money that should have rightfully been used to support crofters and farmers in Scotland. I am delighted that after six years the UK Government have finally bowed to pressure from the SNP and agreed to repatriate this funding. 

“However, it is worrying that, despite these powers being fully devolved, UK government ministers are reported to be seeking to direct how these funds are to be spent. That would be wrong and would go against devolution.

“The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy Fergus Ewing outlined to Parliament earlier this week that all additional convergence funding received will be ring fenced for agriculture. It is not for the UK Government to decree how that money should be ring fenced. 

“Given that this money was awarded due to Scotland’s lower payment rate, it is right that those who typically receive the lowest levels of support – such as crofters and those in island areas – should be prioritised when these funds are made available and I will be seeking assurances on this point.

Scottish Land & Estates has welcomed news that Scottish farmers will receive an extra £51.4m over the next two years, in addition to the £160m allocated in the Spending Round on Wednesday.

The £51.4m pot of new money comes as the Lord Bew Review of farm funding, commissioned by the UK Government, is published today Friday 6 September.

Sarah-Jane Laing, Executive Director, said: “This is further excellent news for Scottish agriculture following the £160m allocated in the Spending Round on Wednesday.

“It is important that this funding is used to support the entire sector and encourages innovation as the industry adjusts to the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

The Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) has expressed good wishes to Catriona MacLean, the Chief Executive of the Crofting Commission, who is moving to a new post, and voiced its concern that the organisation is left without anyone at the helm.
Fiona Mandeville, who chairs the Federation , said: “We have worked closely with Catriona for over three years and have seen the Crofting Commission become much more competent in its administrative functions.
“Her helmsmanship has been very significant in keeping some sensibility over the grazings debacle that has led crofters to lose confidence in the commissioners.

The Crofting Commission is reminding crofters of their statutory duties.  All crofters, both tenant and owner-occupiers, are required to comply with a number of statutory duties relating to residency and management of their crofts.

Following the first Crofting Census, issued last year by the Commission, nearly 5,000 crofters were found to have potentially been in breach of their duties by either failing to return the census form or stating on the form that they were not a resident on or within 32km of their croft, or that they were failing to cultivate and maintain their croft. 

The Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) has welcomed the news that Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing has told the Crofting Commission to apologise to crofters for their behaviour over common grazings, and has launched a review of the Commission.

“It has taken a long battle to get to this point”, said SCF’s Chair, Fiona Mandeville, “but it is extremely good that it is reported that Mr Ewing has made clear his support to crofters by directing the Commissioners to issue a full, unequivocal, public apology for their mistreatment of common grazings committees.

"This whole episode has been badly damaging to individuals, to crofting communities and to crofting itself, so we hope an apology may be the first step in a healing process.

The Crofting Commission today announced that their Chief Executive, Catriona Maclean, will be leaving the organisation to take up a promotion within the Scottish Government.

Catriona said: “I will be leaving the Crofting Commission to take up a promotion as Deputy Director of Food, Drink and Rural Communities Division from late October.  I am delighted to have been asked to lead on such a key area of work for the Scottish Government.

The Convener of the Crofting Commission walked out of a meeting of the Commission in Brora this morning. 

Shortly after the start of proceedings, Colin Kennedy closed the meeting and left.

The remaining Commissioners decided to continue with business and hold a special meeting to work through the agenda.

A motion was accepted at that meeting requesting the Convener to tender his resignation.

A celebration of the 1919 Land Settlement (Scotland) Act will take place at a centenary event between 26 and 28 September 2019 in Balallan.

The conference is being organised by the University of the Highlands and Islands Centre for History in collaboration with the Centre for Scotland’s Land Futures and the Historical Geography Research Group.

Dr Iain Robertson, Reader at the university’s Centre for History, talked about its current relevance today: “Despite its wide-reaching significance, the 1919 Land Settlement (Scotland) Act is neither as well-known nor celebrated as other key pieces of land legislation, such as the 1886 Crofters' Holdings (Scotland) Act and the 2003 Land Reform (Scotland) Act.

“By marking its centenary, we have a great one-off opportunity to bring together academia with the local community to celebrate both the huge impact the Act had on Highland land and society and its legacy. We celebrate also the fact that the Act was part of a global impetus aimed at the restoration of a sense of balance in social relations around land and its ownership”.

The 1919 act led directly to the creation of new crofting townships and the revival of existing ones across the Highlands and Islands. It created the conditions for the community buyout movement and part of its legacy today is the ongoing transformation of Highland landownership.

Emeritus Professor of History at the University of the Highlands and Islands, Jim Hunter, is the keynote speaker at the opening dinner on Thursday 26 September. He said: “I’m very pleased to be involved in this commemoration of a hard fought for piece of legislation that brought people back to many places left deserted by the Clearances."

"Now that the community land movement’s looking to get repeopling going again, not least in places like Ulva, it’s all the more important that we learn lessons from what was brought about so successfully in 1919 and in the years that followed.”

The event will also feature a second keynote by Professor Ewen Cameron (University of Edinburgh) and contributions from the local community and artists. 

Field trips to West Harris with the West Harris Trust and in South Lochs are being offered.

Registration is open to book a place at the full conference, field trips or individual sessions - visit www.uhi.ac.uk.

More details: http://www.welovestornoway.com/index.php/today-at-lcc-uhi-bv/14767-conference-on-crofting-law-change

A photographic competition on the theme of "Crofting - the landscape, the people, the animals" is currently running.

The Scottish Crofting Federation is looking for more images to feature on their notecards. The images should reflect the crofting way of life.

To enter, send photographs in digital format to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. along with the title of the entry, your name, age if under 16 and a brief description.

The closing date for entries is 31 October.

Full details can be found at  http://crofting.org/uploads/news/terms.pdf

The AGM for the Crossroads Lewis Care Attendant Scheme will be held on the 28th September 2016 at 7pm at the Grianan Centre

All welcome

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP David Stewart

The Crown Estate should be moved out of Edinburgh and relocated to one of the Scottish islands, according to Labour MSP David Stewart.
Mr Stewart is pressing the Scottish Government to make the decision to decentralise the organisation as it now has devolved Crown Estate revenue and management powers.
“This Government is known for its centralising policies so it would be a bold move if it promised to relocate jobs to one of our islands,” said Mr Stewart who represents the Highlands and Islands.

Motorists using the pedestrian area in central Stornoway are facing a continued crackdown from Police Scotland.

Western Isles police report on Twitter that: “ We have been carrying out checks at the pedestrian area between Point Street and Francis Street, Stornoway.”

Businesses and social enterprises across the Highlands and Islands fearing on-line cyber attacks are being offered jargon-free, expert advice.

The Cyber Strong Business programme, introduced by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) last year, is back with a second series of workshops, one-to-one consultations, and a Cyber Café in venues across the region.

This is being run in collaboration with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), The Scottish Government and Business Gateway.

The Comhairle nan Eilean Siar by-election to elect a member to serve the ward of An Taobh Siar agus Nis will be held on Wednesday 7 October 2015.

To vote, you must be on the register of electors for the ward. If you are not on the register you must apply by Tuesday 22 September 2015.

Voting by post is a convenient way of voting and your postal vote can be sent to your home address or any other address that you give.

Applications for postal votes must be received by the Electoral Registration Officer by 5.00pm on Tuesday 22 September 2015.

If you are unable to attend the Polling Station on Polling day you can also appoint a proxy, who is someone you trust to vote on your behalf.

Anyone can be a proxy as long as that person is eligible to vote in the By Election. The deadline for applying for a proxy vote is 5.00pm on Tuesday 29 September 2015.

To register as an elector or apply for a postal/proxy vote you should contact the Electoral Registration Officer on 01851 706262 or log on to the about my vote website. www.aboutmyvote.co.uk

Stornoway butcher Charlie 'Barley' Macleod has died, aged 67. 

Mr Macleod, who ran the family business at Ropework Park, had fought ill health for many years after being diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease.

The shop is closed today (Friday) and tomorrow.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is today flying the flag at half-mast in respect for former councillor, Malcolm Macfarlane, who passed away this morning aged 93.

Mr Macfarlane was a former Chairman of the Housing Committee, serving on the Comhairle between 1986 and 1994.

Comhairle Convener, Councillor Norman MacDonald, said: “Our thoughts are with the family and particularly with his three daughters, Frances, Kate and Laura.”

Mr Macfarlane was also formerly a member of the Stornoway Pier and Harbour Commission, and attended the reception and buffet held in June to mark the 150th anniversary of the commission, which is now the Stornoway Port Authority. 

Ofgem are expected to publish a decision on the Final Needs Case for the Western Isles in Autumn 2019.

In March this year, Ofgem announced that they were minded to reject the proposal by SSEN to build a 600MW transmission link to the Western Isles.

The company favoured a 450MW link and subsequently launched a consultation seeking the views of stakeholders and the public.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said: “When Ofgem announced in March that they were minded to favour a 450MW transmission link instead of a 600MW link, I appealed to Ofgem to think again and do what is best for the environment and the economy.

“Approval of a 600MW link is crucial for development in our islands, which have the strongest wind resource in Europe.

“The UK Government have set an ambitious target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to almost zero by 2050, constructing an adequate link to the Hebrides will help that aim. I have repeatedly raised this matter with Ofgem and the UK Government and I hope Ofgem will listen and make the right decision this Autumn.”

An Lanntair has launched a new website for its award-winning dementia friendly community project, Arora.  Arora works with people living with dementia and carers in the Western Isles community by focusing on individuals and capturing the sparks of creativity that they share.

Arora says it is founded on the core values of community care, creative spirit and shared culture. The project engages with people who are living with dementia and those in their circle of care, as well as reaching out to the wider Western Isles community, with the intention of co-designing a dementia friendly community that reflects the place and its people.

The project relaunched in April 2015 and works with those impacted by dementia through workshops and events for cèilidh culture, hand memory and other creative approaches.

CalMac warn of delay to the Oban - Castlebay sailing this afternoon, Tuesday 11 September, with an expected ETA of 8pm tonight instead of 6.15pm.

Due to strong winds and a large swell of 4.5 + metre in the open Sea of the Hebrides MV Isle of Lewis will route round the inside of the Small Isles. MV Lord of the Isles sailing to Lochmaddy is also taking the same more sheltered route for reasons of Safety and public Comfort. .

CalMac also warn of possible disruptions to ferry sailings on the Ardmhor, Barra - Eriskay route from this afternoon, Tuesday 11 September, onwards.

For up to date information visit https://www.calmac.co.uk/service-status

 

A towering figure in the history of the SNP was the Western Isles’ former MP Donald Stewart, the first SNP Member of Parliament to be elected at a General Election in 1970, who went on to be the President of the SNP in the 1980s.

A new book edited by Professor James Mitchell and Dr Gerry Hassan charts the rise and impact of all the SNP leaders.  Dr Eilidh MacPhail of Lews Castle College UHI has written a chapter devoted to Donald Stewart's legacy, which looks at his character, his devotion to his Western Isles constituency and his role within the Party.

A former colleague and contemporary of his, Mr Sandy Matheson, Lord Lieutenant of the Western Isles, will give a short talk about the life of Donald Stewart at Lews Castle College tomorrow  (Friday 23rd September) at 1.30pm, to mark the launch of the book.

Copies of the book will be available to purchase at the event and from The Baltic Bookshop. All are very warmly invited to attend what should be a fascinating talk about a man who is fondly remembered by many in the Western Isles.

MPs were asked to dress up for a photo call and being a good sport, Angus MacNeil took part to support this important cause

Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil is in the pink to lend his support to Breast Cancer Now’s flagship fundraiser ‘wear it pink’.
Thousands of people across the UK will be adding a splash of pink to their outfits on Friday, October 20th, to raise vital funds for breast cancer research as part of the wear it pink day.
And Angus MacNeil, joined by fellow parliamentarians in Westminster earlier this month, showed his support for the thousands of women and men affected by breast cancer each year, encouraging others to take part and wear it pink.

A 57-year-old man appeared at Stornoway Sheriff Court from custody yesterday (Wednesday September 18th) after being found drink-driving.

The man was stopped by police in Lochs on Tuesday afternoon at 2.30pm and was cautioned and charged.

He was kept in custody and appeared in court yesterday.

A woman aged 51 is to appear in court today (Monday September 2nd) after an anonymous report led to police stopping her on Willowglen Road at 1pm yesterday and charging her with drink-driving. She remained in custody overnight tonight.

She was just one of a number of drivers stopped by Stornoway police over the weekend and charged with a variety of offences.

Car seized from no-licence driver

A car has been seized from a man who continued to drive after his driving licence was revoked.

The 53-year-old man lost his car after police stopped him in Balallan and found him to be driving without insurance.

After his arrest it was found that he had previously had his driving licence revoked and he is to be reported to the Procurator Fiscal for a decision on how he should now be dealt with.

 

Drink-driver for court

A woman stopped for drink-driving was found to have broken a number of road traffic regulations and will go to court in October.

The 26-year-old woman was stopped in Upper Bayble at 5.20pm on Wednesday (September 25th) and found to have an excessive amount of alcohol in her system.

Due to the level of alcohol and other offences to be taken into consideration, she’s been released on an undertaking to appear in court on October 15th charged with a variety of road traffic offences.

Six people were issued with fixed penalties for road traffic offences between Friday (September 20th) and today, Sunday.

Police issued the penalties for offences which included driving while using a mobile phone and failing to use a seatbelt.

The drivers were all stopped in the Stornoway area by Western Isles police.

 

A TOTAL of 244 people were registered homeless in the Western Isles in the last year.

Figures released by the Comhairle show that applications were made by 180 adults and 64 children - representing a 6% decrease on last year.

Of all social housing allocations made in 2013-14, 41% were to homeless households.

A drop-off point to donate clothing and other items to refugees across Europe has been set up on Bells Road.

The former ‘Beautify’ building is being used for the collection, and will be open for donations between 10am and 5pm today, Thursday, and Friday. 

The venue for the drop-off point may change in the coming weeks, but the current building will be used until further notice.

While the group will be working closely with CalAid, providing humanitarian relief for refugees in Calais, they will also be looking to send boxes deeper into Europe, with a delivery to Kos currently being planned. 

For an idea of what to donate, see here

For those keen to get their 2018 HebCelt tickets it has just been announced early bird tickets go on sale from hebceltfest.com on Thursday 28th September.

The 2018 Hebridean Celtic Festival will be held between the 18th and 21st July with the main arena in Lews Castle grounds and fringe events held around Stornoway and local community hubs. The line up has not yet been announced.

 

 

Local historian Colin Scott Mackenzie, who is vice chair of Urras Eaglais na h-Aoidhe, introduces Susan Ovendon of Orkney-based Rose Geophysical Consultants, right

Some of the previous history of the churchyard at Ui by Aignish was laid bare for an audience at Ionad Stoodie at Seaview on Point last night (September 1)

The trust which manages the site – Urras Eaglais na h-Aoidhe – has been using a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to pay for a fortnight of research this summer by archaeological researchers Susan Ovendon and Alisdair Wilson of Orkney-based Rose Geophysical Consultants to understand more about Eaglais na h-Aoidhe and its Graveyard.

'Understanding Our Community's Past' is one part of a wider project called 'Building a Future from the Past', which the Urras is developing. The aim of this initiative is to develop a tourist amenity to attract more visitors to Point.

The Emergency Aid at Work (EFAW) course is designed for low risk work environments and enables personnel to be designated first aiders in the workplace. It is legally compliant with the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981.

The programme includes the following topics:

  •     The role of the first aider
  •     Prevention of cross infection
  •     The recording of incidents
  •     The use of available first aid equipment (FA boxes and defibrillator)
  •     The assessment of first aid situations
  •     Treatment of the unconscious casualty
  •     Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  •     First aid treatment for choking, wounds, bleeding and shock.
  •     First aid treatment for minor injuries

Stornoway Coastguard operations room was put on red alert this afternoon (Monday September 2nd) after a man overboard distress call was picked up from beyond the Butt of Lewis.

The automatically-generated AIS man overboard DSC (digital selective calling) beacon was picked up by Coastguard receivers at the Butt of Lewis and at Portnaguran at 1.25pm today. With no clear position given by the automated signal and a large possible search area, Coastguard officers put into action a plan to determine how and where the signal had been sent.

Community events for young and old are in danger of coming to a halt in Tong – unless new volunteers step forward to keep the well-used hall open.

Tong Recreation Association has put out an appeal to the Tong community for volunteers to support the committee and work of the association. If volunteers are not forthcoming there is the strong likelihood that the centre could close.

The 1970s building, with its surrounding playing field and playpark, is used regularly for community activities.

Committee member Isobel Ann Macdonald told welovestornoway.com today (Thursday): “The building is used for keep fit classes, youth clubs, the Caraidean club and private functions. It’s also used by the school across the road every day for sports and there are big events organised there, such as the forthcoming bonfire night on November 10th.”

The recreation association works around the village, too, with village clean-ups and fun events such as the popular annual scarecrow competition and this year’s quirky herd of llamas, who visited households in return for a donation.

An Emergency General Meeting has been called for Tuesday 24th September at 7.30pm in the Tong Centre, with an urgent call for new contributors to the active life of the community.

Isobel Ann said: “The centre is the focus of activity for many groups in the community and fundraising events are organised by a small dedicated team of volunteers. However, that team needs to be strengthened and more of the responsibility shared if the centre is to have a future.

"The TRA has had a fantastic track record in ensuring the centre is run properly and events are organised. But we need new committee members to help with the running of the association.

“New volunteers would find it worthwhile and very rewarding to be part of a dedicated team serving the community. I would appeal to as many as possible to attend the EGM and contribute to the future of the Association. Your village needs you!"

You can see more of the activities organised by Tong Recreation Centre and offer your time to keep it open at their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/207557566481020/

Pictures show past events at Tong Community Hall – the Caraidean Christmas dinner and a Hallowe’en party for youngsters.

Local emergencies services were called to Stornoway Harbour last night (Thursday, September 14th) to assist a fishing boat which was taking on water.
The volunteer lifesavers of Stornoway RNLI were paged to the incident at around 11.15pm, and joined members of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Coastguard and Police Scotland, along with Stornoway Port Authority staff, to help pump out the vessel.
Photos: Stornoway Coastguard

We will host our first Employment Law update in Stornoway on Thursday 19thSeptember 2019.

Our free updates are perfectly formed bite-sized sessions which keep you up to speed with key changes in legislation.

We will alert you to recent cases which might affect you and analyse legal trends and changes you need to have on your radar.

To book a place please email Pamela Keith at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Date and Time: 

Thursday 19thSeptember 2019 — 12:30 to 14:00

Venue: 

Church House, 16 James Street, Stornoway, HS1 2QN

One of Stornoway’s oldest shops will close for good this weekend after efforts to sell the business as a going concern failed to bring any buyers. 

For two years the owners of Murdo MacLean and Sons Ltd on Cromwell Street have been hoping someone will purchase the 100 year old business, once the town’s busiest department store, but now time has run out.

The three floor shop, now offered for sale for £400,000, will shut for the final time on Saturday (September 9th) at 5pm and all remaining homeware and haberdashery items, along with items of shop furniture, will be offered at half price.

It’s the end of an era for daytime eating out in south Harris as Skoon Art Cafe will soon become Skoon Gallery and abandon its long-established mixed menu of art and food.

Hosts Andrew and Emma Craig say: “We are coming to the end of our 14th season and we feel the time is right for a change.

“We plan to run winter cafe days as often as we can from November to March each year, but from April 2019 we will only be offering tea/ coffee and scones in the Gallery.

There was a great party atmosphere in Westview Terrace, Stornoway today as Billy France laid on a wonderful celebration of his customers and they turned out in droves to thank him for the years of service of the shop, Alex France & Sons.

Customers came from near and far to wish him well for his retirement from the retail front line after years of providing a wide range of specialist foods.

There was music, and loads of food and the weather, while grey, decided this was too important a Saturday to feature the tropical-style downpours that have been such a feature of the time of year which is amusingly described as summer!

And over the next few days it will be all change at the Westview Terrace shop which reopens on Thursday as a second shop for Macleod & Macleod Butchers of Church Street.

 

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar recently hosted visitors from eight EU partner countries: Belgium, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Cyprus, Spain, Croatia and Latvia, as part of its involvement in the EU-funded BEAST (Beyond Energy Action Strategies) project.

The purpose of the project is to get countries working together to look at practical ways to move ideas for sustainable energy developments in their regions from vision to reality.

In their respective countries, partners are taking forward projects across the themes of sustainable transport, energy efficiency and alternative energy generation.

Alvise Boniver Conte, left, with Ian Angus Mackenzie. Picture: Contributed

Harris Tweed Hebrides, the leading producer of the iconic handwoven fabric, has announced a new marketing agreement with a view to increasing its market share within Europe.
Its partner in the agreement is a division of the Marzotto Group, a world leader in textiles production and marketing, based at Valdagno in northern Italy. They will represent Harris Tweed Hebrides in all European markets other than the United Kingdom.
At present, Harris Tweed Hebrides – which is based at Shawbost - accounts for around 75 per cent of all Harris Tweed production with Japan and the United Kingdom as its two major markets. Sales into Europe, other than the UK, account for around 20 per cent of output.

There's a wide range of evening classes starting at Lews Castle College over the next few weeks.
For example, if you love to cook and experiment with new flavours then you can join Kenny MacKay on his tour of world food.  You will create dishes such as Vietnamese spring rolls, Mexican beef empanadas and Spanish orange and almond tart.  The course is tailored to suit all levels of cooking and Recipes for all dishes will be provided and the food can be enjoyed together at the end of the class or taken away.
Kenny recently moved to Lewis from Glasgow where he worked at some of the city’s best restaurants including the Ubiquitous Chip and the award winning Stravaigin where he was head chef for over three years.
Or, should you be baffled by your Apple smart-phone or tablet, then there is Derek Maclean's course on using an iPad and/or iPhone.  This will show you how to use iPhones or iPads safely in an informal easy way.  This will include: installing Apps; using Social Media; backing up to the iCloud; tracking your device remotely; and using Apple TV.
Then there is Interior Design for Beginners with Kate MacDonaldÖhave you ever thought of doing something different with that spare room?  Have you got a creative streak but are afraid of making expensive decorating mistakes?  Then during this ten-week course you will discover the fundamental principles of interior design and learn how to develop your own personal style and be inspired to use colour with confidence.
For seagoing types, there is Ken Kennedy's RYA Day Skipper course leading to certification which proves you understand basic weather, navigation, berthing and anchoring procedures and so on.
Or, if you want to be avoid being baffled by Internet geeks, there's Web Design with George Banks which covers the skills and techniques needed to create your first website. This course will help you to understand how a web page works. You will know how to create a hosting account and domain name for your website. You will know how to use a web editor to make your website.  You will be able to create links and images for your website and publish your website online.
And for those jobs where super-glue will really not suffice, there's Welding Skills with Roddy Ferguson.  That involves general manual metal arc welding practice on mild steel plate ranging from 3-10mm, various joint designs and MIG/MAG welding practice. Individual requirements can also be catered for.
And there's loads more, too!  See

A whole range of evening classes are available at Lews Castle College, some starting tonight.
Among those available are Electronics with Dr Chris Macleod; Beginners French and Beginners Spanish with Katie Craigie; iPad and iPhone/The Basics also Computers for All by Derek Maclean; and Hairdressing Skills with Kareen Morrison.
Kareen Morrison is a lecturer in Hairdressing at Lews Castle College and has over 30 years’ experience in the industry.  She has taught a range of different Hairdressing programmes and is skilled at supporting students to achieve their potential.

Use it or lose it…that's the message about some of the Lews Castle College evening classes which are due to start next week.
As they are one-off courses that are demand-led, they depend on people registering for them as soon as possible – and then turning up!
And there's plenty of variety - for instance, there's an Introduction to Theology presented by Rev Dr Iain D Campbell, the minister of Point Free Church, and weekly columnist in the Stornoway Gazette .

What’s Ons at the Kinloch Community Hub, Old School, Balallan, for the month of October

Traditional Céilidh

Where:            Old School, Balallan

When:              Friday 4 October

Time:               7pm

Entry:               Adults £5        Concessions £3           Under 5s FREE

An evening of performances with pupils from Sgoil nan Loch, the Lochs Gaelic Choir, Barvas Trad Music Sessions, and other local artists.

*Our building capacity is limited to 100 people, please call orThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to express your interest in attending.

Discovery Film Festival

Where:            Old School, Balallan

When:              Monday 7 & 14 October

Time:               2pm  -  4pm

Entry:               FREE

A series of short films for wee ones (3+) and their families, with activities and crafts for after.

Refreshments provided.

Emergency Life Support Training

Where:            Old School, Balallan

When:              Monday 7 October

Time:               6pm  -  8pm

Entry:               FREE

A hands on session with volunteers from Lucky2bhere, where participants will gain the confidence to administer life support and use a defibrillator.

This training is ideal for anyone who is interested in learning how to use a defibrillator, or for those wishing to have a refresher.

Còmhradh anns a’ Chafaidh

Where:            Old School, Balallan

When:              Thursday 17 October

Time:               11am – 1pm

Entry:               £4

Our Chatting in the Café lunches are designed to be social, affordable and informative.

We will have boxes of reminiscence material on the subject of Crofting, provided by Western Isles Libraries.  Catch up with old friends, make new ones, and share your memories of crofting in Kinloch!

Purvai Concert

Where:            Old School, Balallan

When:              Friday 25 October

Time:               7.30pm

Entry:               £15

An evening of Indian Classical music, which includes a welcome drink of Isle of Harris Gin, Indian Buffet, and a Heritage Talk on Colin Mackenzie – the first Surveyor General of India, and the inspiration behind the music of Purvai.  Dinner, drink and a show, all for only £15!!!

A new website is launched today which makes EVENTS newspaper available all over the world!

www.hebevents.com is also the welcome point for people wishing to access the welove websites for Stornoway, the West Side of Lewis and Harris…as well as magazinehebrides.com which covers Uist, Barra, Skye and Raasay.

The new website contains the news and features sections of the current EVENTS and copies of the newspaper going back six months…and this archive facility will develop as the months go by.

So your relatives in Australia, customers in London, friends in Zurich and cousins in Canada can all see EVENTS at the time it is published.  And the format is ideal for iPads and other tablets, as well as laptops and desktop computers.

So Auntie Isobel in Melbourne will now be able say: "I read it here first!"

 

It’s Organ Donation Week just now (September 5-11), and people across the Western Isles are being urged to make it count by joining the NHS Organ Donor Register.
With figures highlighting that one person every day in the UK dies waiting for an organ transplant, the need for more donors is clear, say NHS Western Isles.
Currently 43 per cent of Scots (but only 32.9 per cent of people in the Western Isles) are on the Register.
At present, 540 people in Scotland are waiting for a transplant so the more people that join, the more lives can be saved.

The former Leurbost Meeting House is to be sold to raise valuable funds for the North Lochs community. 

The Leurbost Meeting House like others in the parish was built in the 1920’s as a central meeting point within the community; it was used, almost exclusively, to hold prayer meetings up until the new church hall was built at Crossbost in 2000. 

From this time onwards the building became somewhat redundant and although the ground the Leurbost Meeting House was on, had been resumed from crofting tenure, title had never been taken and therefore the building could not be sold by the church.

Soval Estate became aware that both the Lochs Free Church and North Lochs Community Association were in great need of funding and following on from discussions with the relevant bodies the estate has generously offered to grant title for Leurbost Meeting House to the local community at no cost, in order that the building may be sold to raise vital funds.

On Wednesday 28th August 2019 Richard and Marie Kershaw were delighted to meet with community representatives to officially acknowledge the handover of the meeting hall. The estate has been in Richard’s family since 1951 and has undergone many changes over the years.  Richard and Marie are particularly proud of the new Soval Lodge at Valtos Farm which sits in a lovely discreet location with uninterrupted, spectacular sweeping views of Loch Erisort and the Harris hills beyond. Soval is let for 8 months of the year and provides valuable employment for up to 10 people living in the local community.

North Lochs Community association intend to use the funds towards planned upgrades at the Community Hall.

Lochs Free Church intends to use the funds towards improvements at the main church building and hall in Crossbost.

Richard and Marie Kershaw commented “We are absolutely delighted to have this opportunity to assist the North Lochs community.  The proceeds from the sale of the disused meeting hall will enable both of these organisations to make improvements to their premises which in turn will benefit all the North Lochs villages including Achmore, Leurbost, Crossbost, Ranish and Grimshader .“

Murdo Macleod, Session Clerk of Lochs Free Church said, “The community of North Lochs has, for many years, substantially benefited from the supportive approach taken by the owners of the Soval Estate and this gesture is a tangible demonstration of that support. We also wholehearted agree with the principle that, following disposal of the building on the open market, a portion of the proceeds be given to the Community Association to assist with the operation of the local Community Centre.

"Although the Meeting House throughout most of its existence was used almost exclusively for church meetings there was, at the time of its establishment, a view that it might be deployed for wider community usage, and the original Resumption Order of 1929 was more than likely granted on this basis. The proceeds will also help with continuing improvements at the main Church Building and Hall. We take this opportunity to sincerely thank Richard and Marie Kershaw and wish them and their family the very best in relation to their operation of the Soval Estate for many years to come.”

Annabel Mackay, Chairperson, North Lochs Community Association commented, “The proceeds from the sale of the mission house in Leurbost will go towards the planned upgrade of the North Lochs Community Centre,  ensuring the on-going use of the hall. On behalf of NLCA I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr and Mrs Kershaw for their kind donation that will be benefit the whole of the North lochs community. “

 

A group of students from Pendleton in South Carolina have been enjoying a weekend of amazing experiences in Lewis, thanks to the continuing international friendship between their school and the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway.

The exchange visit has now continued for so many years that some participants who were students on the first exchange are returning as teachers for their respective schools.

The group of teachers and students were warmly greeted as they came off the ferry on Wednesday evening (September 25th) and have been staying in the homes of their exchange hosts and attending some lessons at the Nicolson.

But they’ve also been treated to a wealth of very island experiences, from a bonfire on the beach at Gearranan Blackhouse Village to an opportunity to hand-feed the alpacas at Callanish.

They began their visit as special guests at Thursday night’s concert by the Royal Regiment of Scotland band, who performed with young musicians from the islands at Lewis Sports Centre.

Tomorrow (Monday September 30th) the group will have a private tour of the Iolaire exhibition which recently concluded at Stornoway Town Hall. Hosted by Stornoway Historical Society, they’ll learn about the centenary of the island’s greatest historical tragedy.

And tomorrow evening there’s a final fling dinner at the Nicolson Institute, with each host family providing a ‘pot luck’ dish to say farewell to their guests before they leave in Tuesday morning’s ferry.

Students from Stornoway are expected to return the exchange visit to South Carolina in spring next year.

Pictures show the students being greeted at Stornoway ferry terminal and taking part in some of the activities during the weekend (Alison MacDonald)

With the cruise season drawing to a close, there’s an unexpected boost to visitor numbers this afternoon (Monday September 16th).

The cruise ship Amadea is to make an unscheduled visit to Stornoway, bringing over 500 passengers ashore.

The stylish Japanese-built vessel is operated by German tour company Phoenix Reisen and was last renovated in 2016. She’s pictured here on her last visit to Stornoway, the same year, by Morris Macleod.

Today she is due at anchor at 3pm and will depart at 9pm. All her excursions are conducted in German.

WHEN: 25TH – 28TH An Dàmhair / October

LINK: http://lanntair.com/faclan

HEBRIDEAN BOOK FESTIVAL looks beyond the Edge of the Map

ULTIMA THULE:  25TH – 28TH An Dàmhair / October

The theme for this year's Faclan: The Hebridean Book Festival at An Lanntair, Stornoway, is Ultima Thule. In other words, a place in mediaeval geographies beyond the borders of the known world.  In the popular imagination, this is the northern islands and territories, but for writers it is an endless territory to explore, revisit and reinvent.

Faclan 2017 presents a diverse, intense and ambitious programme that includes talks, discussion, film, launches, exhibitions and workshops viewed via a series of chapters and through different lenses. 

Daoine nan Àite: People in Place will open the festival and bring together Gaelic cultural historian, Finlay Macleod with Murdo Macleod, long-time staff photographer with the Guardian. They will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Gaelic publisher Acair with a look at historic photography in the Outer Hebrides, notably Robert Adam, James McGeoch and Dan Morrison.

Malcolm Macdonald, author of The Darkest Dawn about the Iolaire tragedy, with Faclan director Roddy Murray. Photo: John MacLean

Faclan:the Hebridean Book Festival returns from 31 October to 3 November, it was announced today (Thursday September 6) – with tickets to all events now on sale.

Saturday 17 September, 7:30-9:30pm, Woodlands Centre

Ceilidh music to dance or listen to played by some of the top local musicians, including Keith Morrison, Stephen Drummond and Louisa Barron.

This is an Open Stage, so please feel free to bring your instrument and join in.

Under 16s need to be accompanied by an adult.

£5 Suggested Donation at the Door.

Please spread the word, you can't beat a good ceilidh! 

Click here for more information. 

AN ARMY of island music fans have crossed over to Ullapool for the 10th Loopallu Festival.

This year's event features bands such as Utah Saints, Shed Seven, The Undertones and Alabama 3. 

Glasgow rockers Twin Atlantic are headlining the main stage tonight.

All major ferry routes to and from the Outer Hebrides are today cancelled or suspended due to gale force winds predicted to gust up to 58mph, with warnings of disruption or late notice cancellation on some inter-island routes.

Sailings between Stornoway and Ullapool are cancelled for most of the day but the 17.30 saling from Ullapool to Stornoway is currently expected to go ahead.

Ferries between Oban and Castlebay and Leverburgh and Berneray are cancelled for the day. Services between Tarbert, Uig and Lochmaddy are currently suspended but will be reviewed later today. The Ardmhor, Barra to Eriskay ferry is liable to disruption/cancellation at short notice.

For up to date information visit: https://www.calmac.co.uk/service-status

 


Gale force south-westerly winds forecast today (Tuesday September 11th) mean possible disruption once again to ferry services for Tarbert and Lochmaddy.

CalMac said that all sailings on the Uig-Tarbert-Lochmaddy route are liable to cancellation or disruption from 11:40 onward, possibly at short notice, due to a forecast of winds up to 42 knots. 

Tarbert pier update, Monday 5pm

Ferry disruption looks set to continue into a third day at Tarbert, with the pier out of commission while a stricken fish-farm cargo vessel is tied up awaiting safety clearance.

CalMac has advised that ferry services will continue to run between Uig and Stornoway tomorrow (Tuesday 18th September), with an amended timetable as follows:

Depart Uig 09:30
Arrive Stornoway 12:30
Depart Stornoway 12:55
Arrive Uig 16:00

There will be a review on Tuesday regarding the 18:30 departure from Uig to Tarbert.

The damaged vessel Fame this afternoon (Monday 5pm) remains at the pier with a second vessel, Harvest Caroline II, alongside.

She’s capable of carrying the same cargo as the Fame, which offloaded her cargo of salmon food onto the pier on Sunday as part of the attempt to raise her in the water for repairs.

UPDATE: 10am Monday 17 September

Maritime and Coastguard Agency inspectors are heading for Tarbert from Glasgow today (Monday September 17th) to inspect the fish-farm cargo vessel Fame, which is tied up alongside the ferry pier after running aground yesterday (Sunday September 16th).

The damaged vessel is now blocking all ferry traffic to Tarbert, causing CalMac to re-route the MV Hebrides for the whole of the day today. The full revised service – now operating between Uig and Stornoway – is at https://www.calmac.co.uk/service-status.

Whether the disruption continues will depend on the outcome of the inspectors’ visit, with the damaged vessel unable to move until passed safe. It has been holed below the water-line, and locally-based commercial divers yesterday carried out a temporary repair in the harbour at Tarbert after the Fame and another fish farm vessel had pumped a substantial amount of water out.

UPDATE: 10am Monday 17 September

Maritime and Coastguard Agency inspectors are heading for Tarbert from Glasgow today (Monday September 17th) to inspect the fish-farm cargo vessel Fame, which is tied up alongside the ferry pier after running aground yesterday (Sunday September 16th).

The damaged vessel is now blocking all ferry traffic to Tarbert, causing CalMac to re-route the MV Hebrides for the whole of the day today. The full revised service – now operating between Uig and Stornoway – is at https://www.calmac.co.uk/service-status.

Whether the disruption continues will depend on the outcome of the inspectors’ visit, with the damaged vessel unable to move until passed safe. It has been holed below the water-line, and locally-based commercial divers yesterday carried out a temporary repair in the harbour at Tarbert after the Fame and another fish farm vessel had pumped a substantial amount of water out.

Any chance of a return to normal ferry service for the Isle of Barra has been postponed again with the news that weather disruption will affect the Oban Castlebay route tomorrow (Tuesday September 10th).

MV Isle of Lewis returned to service only yesterday (Sunday) with an amended service, after another technical issue sent her for repairs to her bow doors.

Now high winds forecast for tomorrow mean a changed timetable, with the service running early to beat the worst of the weather.

There’s more scheduled disruption on Wednesday because of the Tiree cattle and sheep sale, meaning that MV Clansman will run the Castlebay Oban route to an altered timetable, via Coll and Tiree.

Travel woes for the island were compounded yesterday (Sunday) with the cancellation of the scheduled 12 noon flight from Barra airport.

A major shake-up in Hebridean ferry services starts tomorrow as Caledonian MacBrayne acts to clear the backlog of ferry traffic caused by the loss from service of the mv Hebrides and impact of the recent storms.

This will including routing traffic to and from Barra tomorrow via the Isle of Skye and suspending the Lochboisdale to Mallaig service temporarily.

In a statement, Caledonian MacBrayne said that, weather permitting, MV Hebrides will move from her current location at the pier in Lochmaddy, North Uist tomorrow (Thursday September 29) and begin her journey to Greenock. She will enter dry dock at the end of the week.

[gallery ID=81]

Film-maker Zoe Macinnes, from Great Bernera, is interviewed by internationally-acclaimed blogger Katie Macleod, from Eagleton, as her film about the Isle of Lewis gets worldwide exposure.

 “A Lewis man would be homesick in heaven.”

The phrase stands out in the trailer for Cianalas, the short film showing at this year’s Hebridean International Film Festival on 19th-22ndSeptember. (http://lanntair.com/events/event/hiff-leave-no-trace/)

It’s a phrase that sums up director and filmmaker Zoe Macinnes’ motivation for making the film in the first place, and one that the local musicians featured all identify with as inspiration for their work.

Western Isles Citizens Advice Service urges Western Isles residents to protect themselves and their loved ones from nuisance phone calls, and to fight back by reporting them.

Research shows that Scots receive more nuisance calls than any other part of Europe, and that 9 out of 10 Scottish households receive at least one unwanted call each month.

Roddy Nicolson, Manager of the Western Isles Citizens Advice Bureau, said: “Nuisance calls are far too common today, and affect huge numbers of people both locally and across the country. One of our roles in the CAB is to protect peoples’ rights as consumers, and one of those rights is that you don’t need to put up with calls that you don’t want.

Power engineers worked into the early hours of this morning (Friday September 28th) to get power reconnected to the Back district, after last night’s road-closure and power-cut crisis.

On a wet road, with standing water, a single car hit a power pole near the Golden Sands caravan park around 9.20pm last night (Thursday September 27th), bringing down the pole, transformer and power lines across the main road near Back Football Club and plunging more than 700 homes into darkness.

A group of Danish students making a film triggered a major emergency response while they were filming off North Uist on Thursday (September 26th).

The students were spotted in the water and a person in trouble was reported to Stornoway Coastguard, who put a response plan into action at 2.56pm.

Rescue helicopter R948, Leverburgh RNLI lifeboat and two Coastguard Rescue Teams were scrambled and were en-route when the students contacted Coastguards to explain the situation.

All the teams were stood down at 3.23pm. The film crew has today (Friday) advised Stornoway Coastguard that they will be filming once again, avoiding a possible repetition of the false alarm.

The Hebrides International Film Festival (HIFF) will be screening 24 feature films and 17 short films across Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra over four days between 13th-16th September 2017. HIFF this year focuses on 'Islands, environments and remote communities' with dramas, documentaries, children's and archive films based on this theme.

Screenings for the Westside of Lewis are to be held in the Carloway Community Centre, Taigh Donnchaidh in Ness and the Bernera Community Centre. Below are a couple of highlights of the festival, for a full listing of venues, films and screening times visit http://www.hebfilmfestival.org/hiff-2017

One of the films showing at Carloway Community Centre is the documentary The Eagle Huntress - Set against the majestic backdrop of the Altai Mountains of Northwestern Mongolia, The Eagle Huntress is the spellbinding true story of Aisholpan, a 13-year-old girl who will break 2,000 years of male-dominated tradition to become the first female Eagle Hunter.

A documentary showing at Bernera Community Centre is White Waves (12)- A documentary about surfers fighting against unseen pollution in the sea. The team of White Waves traveled for two years along the beaches of Europe to meet those surfers and reveal widely unknown cases of pollution – from millions of small plastic wheels to pathogenic bacteria in the sea.

Taigh Donnchaidh will be showing the animated children's film Moana (PG) - An adventurous teenager sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana meets the once-mighty demigod Maui, who guides her in her quest to become a master way-finder. Together they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage.

The Hebrides International Film Festival (HIFF) will be screening 24 feature films and 17 short films across Harris, Lewis, Uist and Barra over four days between 13th-16th September 2017. HIFF this year focuses on 'Islands, environments and remote communities' with dramas, documentaries, children's and archive films based on this theme.

Screenings for the the Isle of Harris are to be held in the Leverburgh Village Hall. Below are a couple of highlights of the Leverburgh screenings, for a full listing of venues, films and screening times visit http://www.hebfilmfestival.org/hiff-2017

Brothers of the wind (U) This is the moving story between Lukas, a lonely child who lives with his father, and baby eagle Abel. Their friendship starts on the day Abel is cast away from the nest by his stronger sibling. Lukas who is searching for a friend finds Abel. From this moment they will grow up together finding their own way to live.

White Waves (12)- A documentary about surfers fighting against unseen pollution in the sea. The team of White Waves traveled for two years along the beaches of Europe to meet those surfers and reveal widely unknown cases of pollution – from millions of small plastic wheels to pathogenic bacteria in the sea.

 

Hebrides International Film Festival volunteer Sarah Maclean is looking forward to the event in Barra on the Friday and Saturday, September 13 and 14.

It is returning to the Castlebay Hall after being held in Northbay and Vatersay the previous two years – and preparations are under way for movie snacks with a difference, which will be sold in aid of charity.

Winners of top prizes at Cannes and a contender for next year’s Oscars sit alongside short films from Lewis and many others in this year’s Hebrides International Film Festival, taking place in venues throughout the islands from Wednesday to Saturday next week (September 19 to 22).

This year’s films include Iranian drama Lerd – A Man of Integrity, which won the Un Certain Regard Award at the Cannes Film Festival, and American film The Rider, which won the Directors’ Fortnight Art Cinema Award – again, from Cannes.

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Final preparations are underway for the fifth Hebrides International Film Festival – taking place throughout the Outer Hebrides from Wednesday, 19 September to Saturday, 22 September.

The festival, which is supported by Creative Scotland, HIE and other agencies and presented in collaboration with An Lanntair, has developed into a high-quality event, which brings the latest in world cinema to the islands.

Only films made within the last three years are eligible to be included in the programme, which is curated by Muriel Ann Macleod, director of the Rural Nations Community Interest Company, with the support of Paul Taylor, the cinema programmer at Eden Court Theatre.

The last cruise vessel of the season has cancelled her planned call to Stornoway tomorrow (Tuesday September 25th) due to a forecast of strong winds and heavy rain tomorrow.

The Silversea Silver Wind was due to bring just under 300 visitors tomorrow, on her way from Ireland to the Faroes.

Fire crews from Ness, Stornoway and Shawbost battled for six hours to save a bull from drowning in mud at Borve, Lewis, this afternoon.

The call for assistance was received by operations control at 8.51am this morning. A large bull had become almost completely submerged in a drainage ditch. An appliance from Ness was initially sent to the scene.

When the crew arrived the animal was almost submerged in the ditch with only its nose protruding. The crew immediately cleared mud away from its head and called for further resources.

Hebrides Energy’s partner Our Power has recently given its local customers the opportunity to get Smart Meters installed.

This is the first time that smart meters have been rolled out to island homes.

A conference in Balallan on Friday (September 28th) will look at Western Isles projects commemorating the impact of the First World War.

The First World War and The Western Isles: Projects, Funding and Reflection, is being co-hosted by Gateways to the First World War and Living Legacies 1914-18, together with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

A conference in Balallan on Friday (September 28th) will look at Western Isles projects commemorating the impact of the First World War.

The First World War and The Western Isles: Projects, Funding and Reflection, is being co-hosted by Gateways to the First World War and Living Legacies 1914-18, together with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

A conference in Balallan on Friday (September 28th) will look at Western Isles projects commemorating the impact of the First World War.

The First World War and The Western Isles: Projects, Funding and Reflection, is being co-hosted by Gateways to the First World War and Living Legacies 1914-18, together with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

A Spanish fisherman was airlifted from his vessel off Rockall on Saturday, having suffered a suspected aneurysm.

Stornoway Coastguard received a call around 9am that the 52-year-old man had collapsed on board the Madrid-registered fishing vessel 'Eder Sands', just off the Rockall bank, around 200 miles west of Lewis.

The search and rescue helicopter was tasked and arrived on scene at 12.15pm.

Fishermen in Stornoway clubbed together with Islander Shellfish on the Cromwell Street quayside to raise £1000 for the Western Isles Kidney Patient Association.

Tomorrow (October 1st) representatives of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) will be in Stornoway Town Hall to answer questions from the fishing community, and to talk about new and existing requirements for their boats. The event, which is one of seven stops of the roadshow, will take place from midday until 3pm. 

This follows work to develop a new Code of Practice for Small Fishing Vessels, which picks up on Marine Accident Investigation Branch recommendations to improve safety for all fishermen.

Over the last ten years, 46 people have died on fishing vessels of less than 15 metres, and the MCA is working with others to try to reduce the risk involved in what is considered the most dangerous industry in the UK.    

Ian Blair from the Maritime & Coastguard Agency said: ‘We’re putting a lot of effort into this to ensure we meet and speak with as many people in the fishing industry as we can about what’s changed and what the new proposals are. Fishing is the most dangerous industry in the UK and together we have to do everything we can to help reduce the risks to those whom carry out this incredible work.’

Full details, including venues, dates and times will be updated at http://hmcoastguard.blogspot.com/.

Small fishing vessels are the focus of a new code of practice due to be introduced by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, in a bid to make the water a safer place to be for all fishermen.

An MCA roadshow announced on Monday (16th October) will bring proposals for the new code to fishing ports including Stornoway.

Introducing ideas for the new code of practice, the MCA said: “Over the last 10 years, 46 people have died on small fishing vessels, so the MAIB (Marine Accident Investigation Branch) have made several recommendations to improve your safety.”

The recommendations cover the construction, stability and machinery of small vessels, electrical work, crew protection and man overboard recovery.

These are in addition to regulations under ILO 188: for all vessels, which came into force at the end of 2018. They cover responsibility for the operation of the vessel, training, manning, hours of rest and issues around medical care, among other topics.

The roadshow consulting on the new code of practice will come to Stornoway Town Hall at 12.15pm on Tuesday October 1st. Meanwhile you can find out more about the proposals via the MCA Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MCA/

(Picture, MCA)

Five Lewis swimmers who took the plunge at a Lake District swim event are celebrating funds raised for an island charity.

Swimmers Elspeth (Ep) Murphy, Laura O’Halloran, Alasdair Finlayson, Katia Pettlefort and Norma Macleod headed south on Saturday (August 31st) to swim the full length of Coniston Water.

The event was part of the Chillswim open water swimming movement, with 750 swimmers setting out in seven waves to swim the full 5.25miles of the famous lake.

Point Community Council were asked by ‘Seafarers UK’ to fly a Red Ensign for Merchant Navy Day which is 3 September each year and did so on behalf of all the retired and serving seafarers from the Point area, using the pole at the Seaview football pitch.

All flight departing and arriving into Glasgow International and Edinburgh Airport are currently suspended until further notice as Storm Ali brings winds gusting up to 63 knots (70mph approx).

Staff at the airports will keep all customers up to date and customers can also view live status updates of their flights using the following link.
https://www.loganair.co.uk/travel-information/flight-status/

Meanwhile, there are ferry cancellations the length of the islands today (Wednesday September 19th). CalMac is reporting south-westerly winds gusting up to 52 knots and high swell conditions.

Today (Friday September 1st) marked a major shake-up in airlines serving the Highlands and Islands.

Loganair started operations as an independent airline for the first time in quarter of a century – while Flybe and Eastern Airways launched new Scottish services under the Flybe brand that include extra flights on the Stornoway-Glasgow route.

There has been no competition on routes out of Stornoway since BMI’s Edinburgh service was cancelled more than 10 years ago, and no competition to Glasgow since the early 1990s.

A group of Stornoway airport workers are hoping for a flying start tomorrow morning (Saturday September 7th) as they set out on a marathon cycle between Benbecula and Stornoway airports.

The 13 cyclists on the airport2airport charity cycle include 11 from Stornoway and two from Benbecula – firefighters, security staff and air traffic controllers, all determined to cycle a full 100 miles to raise money for two charities.
They’ll be leaving Stornoway at 6.30am in a minibus donated for the effort by Mackinnons and expect to catch the 8.25am ferry at Leverburgh, en route to Benbecula airport. Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd have sponsored the ferry crossings, and mechanical support is being provided by Bespoke Bicycles’ Alistair Glover, who is taking along a mobile bike repair unit.

Duncan Macleod of the Stornoway Airport firefighters told welovestornoway.com, today: “We’re hoping to catch the 1.30pm ferry from Berneray on the way north, and want to get in as many miles as we can before that, so that we’re not left with too many between Leverburgh and Stornoway.

“If we need to make up miles later in the day to hit the round 100, we’ll be detouring at Leurbost or Achmore to add a few more. The forecast is for the wind to come round to the south tomorrow, so it’ll be on our backs and the stronger it blows, the quicker we’ll get there!”

The two charities to benefit from the effort are British Heart Foundation Scotland and the Western Isles Cancer Care Initiative. The group are hoping to match the total £6,000 raised last year when they cycled lighthouse to lighthouse from Scalpay to the Butt of Lewis.

They’ve been helped in that aim by island businesses, who have made generous donations for a prize draw. Two Loganair tickets to anywhere in the network, a martini gift set from Harris Distillery and an Essence of Harris gift set are among the goodies that can be won.

Anyone who makes a donation online or signs a sponsor form will be entered into the prize draw, with an equivalent number of tickets, pound for pound, allocated against their name. Tickets are also being sold directly by the team members.

By 9pm tomorrow night the lucky 13 are hoping to return to Stornoway airport to a spectacular welcome from airport staff and supporters, and they also hope to see donations soar as they complete the 100 milb e journey.

You can donate online to either of the charities by these links: British Heart Foundation Scotland https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/stornoway-airport-SAAS69-to-70070 and Western Isles Cancer Care Initiative https://www.gofundme.com/f/airport2airport-100-mile-charity-cycle

The picture shows some of the team looking bright and breezy ahead of the challenge.

Western Isles Citizens Advice Service is urging local people to take part in a national survey on issues relating to food, including cost, choice, access and quality.

The Food on the Table survey will run for the next month. It is available online at www.cas.org.uk/foodonthetable and paper copies will also be available at the local Citizens Advice Bureau offices in Stornoway, Tarbert, Balivanich and Castlebay.

Think you know your football? 

Then this Saturday take part in the Stornoway Sea Angling Club's Football Quiz Night,

being held from 7.30pm

Cash Prizes ... teams of 4 ... entries £10 per team. 

Two Lewis schoolboys will represent the North of Scotland in a match against Aberdeenshire in Inverurie tomorrow.

But because of the high costs involved in getting to games, they need sponsors to support them achieve their dream of becoming professionals.

Reece Clinton Montgomery and Joel Martin (both 14), are both pupils of The Nicolson Institute.

Reece is a goalie for Aths, while Joel plays up front for Back (Under 14, 16).

They successfully navigated their way through two trials to be selected for the North of Scotland Under-15 first team, and are naturally excited about their future in football.

Being chosen for the North of Scotland team means they will be expected to play twice a month.

However, ferry costs, buses, and accommodation are a massive expense for the boys’ families, leaving them at a distinct disadvantage to their mainland counterparts.

If any local companies would like to assist by easing the financial strain, please call 07494243229.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is today flying the flag at half-mast in respect for former councillor, Marie A. MacMillan OBE JP, who has passed away peacefully after a short period of illness, aged 91.
Mrs MacMillan was a former Stornoway Town Councillor before succeeding Albert Nicoll as Councillor for the Goathill area in 1979, serving on the Comhairle until 1986.  Marie was also Chair of NHS Western Isles for many years and was instrumental in helping to deliver the project that created Ospadal nan Eilean. She was also a member of the Stornoway Pier and Harbour Commission.
Comhairle Convener, Councillor Norman MacDonald, said: “Our thoughts are with the family at this sad time. Marie had latterly been living in Petersfield, Hampshire and is survived by daughter Moira, four grandchildren, six great grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.”
It is anticipated that the funeral service will be in Petersfield next week and a memorial service may be held in Stornoway at a later date.

Four options have been identified as ways to improve Barra and Vatersay services and facilities.

The study is exploring the feasibility of integrating health, social care, learning and community services and facilities on Barra and Vatersay and the provision of a single combined campus in Castlebay.

The options included:

  • New-build integrated facility combining health, social care, learning and community facilities (including Comhairle services and Police Scotland) into a single campus
  • Integrated facility with retained elements from existing Castlebay School, e.g. Sports Hall, Swimming Pool and Reception area
  • Standalone St Brendan’s Health and Social Care Hub by NHSWI on currently proposed site, and standalone school and community facilities by CnES on the existing school site
  • Collaborative approach (NHSWI and CnES) to project development (design, procurement and construction) but on existing separate sites.

A series of engagement events were held this week, providing the community with an update of the options and a chance to share their views.

Gordon Jamieson, NHS Eileanan Siar Chief Executive, said: “Continuing engagement with stakeholders has been a priority for us throughout the Study and we are very pleased with the level of interest in the proposals from the outset. A significant amount of work has been undertaken in developing the four options and we welcomed the opportunity to provide further updates this week through the Study Advisory Group and the public drop-in sessions. All the feedback provided will contribute to our evaluation of the options and inform the selection of a preferred option."

Malcolm Burr, the Comhairle’s Chief Executive, confirmed: “In parallel to last week’s welcome announcement by Scottish Government of their allocation of funding towards the improvement of learning facilities on Barra and Vatersay, the Comhairle remains committed to working with NHSWI in, as part of the Feasibility Study, exploring the feasibility of a public sector integration model and the provision of a single integrated community campus in Castlebay."

“Whilst much is still to be done in evaluating the feasibility of the four options, including analyses of particularly challenging aspects such as construction methodology and the financial and programme implications of such major developments in Castlebay, both organisations look forward to being able to identify and then develop and deliver the preferred option for what is a hugely significant investment by the Scottish Government, NHSWI and the Comhairle in public sector facilities for the communities on Barra and Vatersay."

COMEDIAN Fred Macaulay has cancelled his gig in Carinish Hall tonight, following a fatal road accident in Benbecula.

A spokesperson said: "Obviously this is a very difficult situation and our thoughts are with the families at this time.

 "All tickets will be fully refunded. Please call the An Lanntair box office on 018518480."

Fresh Hebridean mussel's are available from Harbour Seafoods.

Humans have harvested mussels as food for thousands of years. These tasty nutritious molluscs can be smoked, boiled, steamed, roasted, barbecued or fried and are a popular food around the world!

The Islands Book Trust are welcoming author Maureen Kerr as guest speaker following their AGM on Tuesday 26th September.

Maureen is a landscape artist, a published writer and an experienced public speaker although she may be better known locally as the author of ‘George Murray – A schoolteacher for St Kilda 1886-87’ which was published by the Islands Book Trust.

For fifteen years, Maureen worked at the military base on Hirta, St.Kilda. During this time she was in the privileged position of being able to explore this unique archipelago and its wonderful light in all seasons and record through camera and sketch book.

Yesterday morning, zumba enthusiasts turned up at the Cabarfeidh Hotel to dance with Hebrides Dance and Wellbeing's Kirstie Anderson, to raise £912.70 by donating at the door, and buying raffle tickets. All money raised will go straight to the Syria Crisis Appeal. 

The refugee crisis has also prompted local girl, Christine Macintosh of Heb Hostel, to organise a drop off point for donations. People from the islands have donated everything from shoes to tins of beans, and a number of volunteers have helped organise the donations, the first lot of which will be transported to Calais this weekend. Further deliveries of donations will be organised to go deeper into Europe - details to be confirmed. For more information on where to drop off donations, and what is currently needed, join the Hebrides for Humanity Facebook page. 

Do you sing, dance, draw, make things or do something else special that you could share with others? 

Then join our Fun Palace!

For the very first time, Fun Palaces will be taking place at Stornoway from 10am-4pm on Saturday 5th October. 

This is part of Fun Palaces 2019, a free, nationwide campaign for culture at the heart of community and community at the heart of culture happening over the weekend of the 5 & 6 October 2019.

There will be different things happening at each library including; art & craft sessions, textiles, virtual reality experiences & games, origami bookmark-making as well as 3D-design and printing.  But we are still looking for more lovely members of the community who would like to join in and volunteer to share their skills and talents with others on the day. 

Each Fun Palace celebrates the unique skills and passions of local people – run by, for and with the local community. Since 2014 a total of 1367 Fun Palaces have been made across the UK and worldwide by 32,800 local people (‘Makers’) with 450,000 taking part. This year will be the sixth Fun Palaces weekend, and the first for the Outer Hebrides.

Fun Palaces create events that bring together arts, science, craft, tech, digital, heritage and sports activities – but above all people – to work together, create together, have funtogether, and in doing so, connect our own communities, from the grassroots up.

Eilidh Maclean, Library Development Officer at Liniclate Library said: “We are really excited to be holding our very first Fun Palace and hope that it is something that will happen every year.  It is an opportunity for communities to get together to share their interests, skills and talents with others and we would love people to get in touch if they feel they have something to share with others.  We want the library to be buzzing that day!

Follow the Western Isles Libraries Facebook page to find out more about what will be happening.   For further information or to volunteer to take part, please contact:

  • Stornoway Library:   
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.        
  • 01851 822744

Protests have erupted following the latest major disruption to ferries across the Hebrides – with the Hebrides ferry off the Tarbert-Lochmaddy-Uig route and knock-on service disruption from Stornoway to Oban.

Yesterday afternoon (Wednesday September 5th) CalMac announced that: “Repair work to MV Hebrides has been successful” after almost three days of being marooned in Uig.

And cancelled services were suddenly rescheduled. “The previously-cancelled 1410 Uig-Tarbert will be delayed until approx 1600 and the previously-cancelled 1620 Tarbert-Uig will be delayed until approx 1815.”  Knock-on disruption continues today on services between Mallaig, Armadale and Lochboisdale.

Pupils from across Scotland gathered for the annual Sradagan Camp in Harris recently.

The camp is run by Comunn na Gàidhlig and is open to Gaelic-speaking youngsters, between the ages of 8 and 12.

Over the course of the week, young people had the opportunity to take part in a number of different activities including ‘gorge scrambling’, abseiling, arts and crafts as well as peat cutting!

Am Mòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail (The Royal National Mòd) kicks off its return to the Western Isles with a sensational opening ceremony featuring headline performances by Dàimh and the Mischa Macpherson Trio.  

Taking place in Stornoway for the first time since 2011, Scotland’s biggest Gaelic Cultural Festival will see a nine-day spectacular of Gaelic music, arts and sport take place from Friday 14th – Saturday 22nd October.

Gaelic medium teachers from Western Isles primary and secondary schools will join 200 others from around Scotland at a special get-together in Aviemore next week (September 27th and 28th).

Numbers are rising year on year at the popular An t-Alltan conference organised by Stornoway-based Gaelic educational resource Stòrlann and based around the ideas of learning through sharing.

There’s disruption to weekend events and ferry timetables due to gales forecast through tomorrow (Saturday September 14th).

Tomorrow’s sailings between Stornoway and Ullapool are currently under review, with a yellow alert for possible disruption or cancellation.

Morning sailings across the Sound of Harris have been cancelled, with a review scheduled at 11.30am tomorrow regarding later sailings. The timetable for services between Uig, Tarbert and Lochmaddy has been revised.

Sailings between Castlebay and Oban have been cancelled and sailings on the Sound of Barra are liable to disruption.

Meanwhile some social activities have also been postponed or cancelled because of the forecast. Traigh Mhor Trekking have cancelled all lessons and rides on Saturday and a beach clean at Barvas and Brue scheduled as part of Hebridean International

Film Festival has been postponed to Saturday September 21st.

There’s disruption to weekend events and ferry timetables due to gales forecast through tomorrow (Saturday September 14th).

Tomorrow’s morning sailings between Stornoway and Ullapool have been cancelled, with a yellow alert for further possible disruption or cancellation.

A Yellow Warning for wind on Wednesday in the Highlands & Eilean Siar regions has been issued by the UK Met Office.

Already ferry services in the Southern Hebrides have been affected with some cancelled.

The Galson Estate community is enjoying a double celebration this month.

Galson Energy Ltd., the renewable energy vehicle for Galson Estate, is delighted to confirm it has secured loan finance of £3.6m from Triodos Bank to fund two more wind turbines installed at Ballantrushal in North Lewis.

Formal commissioning was completed last week and the turbines are now undergoing the standard 150 hours of operating time before they are formally handed over to Galson Energy on behalf of the community. 

A new BBC ALBA documentary Feachdan Ionatain / Jonathan’s Army is a moving film that portrays the very real trials and rewards of outreach work in the third world, where workers must somehow prevail in the face of daily frustration and discouragement.

Ten years ago Jonathan Maciver from Stornoway visited the small, predominantly Muslim, African country of Gambia with his brother Scott and some friends. So moved were they by the obvious spiritual and material needs of the people there that they felt compelled to try and help on a long-term basis.
Unusually, they decided that the most efficient way to help the people was to set up their own charity, and so The Gambia Partnership was born.

Community Learning Hebrides is launching a new programme of community learning classes and workshops to be run in Lewis and Harris during autumn 2015. 

The learning provision is being advertised through a new booklet of community learning opportunities and the information is also available on the Community Learning Hebrides website and Facebook pages.

The Community Learning and Development service within CNES undertakes ongoing needs assessment work within Learning Communities in the Western Isles and this determines the classes and workshops run by Community Learning Hebrides. 

A group of friends climbed to the top of Ceapabhal near Northton in Harris on Saturday (September 3) – despite adverse weather conditions towards the summit – as part of a fundraising campaign to pay for cancer treatment for former Stornoway Primary pupil Sophie Gackowski.

The group included Angela McGeoghegan, Rachel Murray, Catriona Libby, Sarah Jane Murray, Nicola Macleod, Linsey Macleod, Keilidh Mackay, Michelle Gurung, Elaine Macleod and Terri McGeoghegan. They are aiming to raise more than their original £500 target, which is going to complete Sophie's fundraising goal of £15,000. At the timing of writing, their on-line total was tantalizingly short of £1000, at £962. In all ten started on the walk but two turned back after an old injury recurred and affected one of them.

Gluasad Comhla is a successful project run by Tighean Innse Gall (TIG) in partnership with Lewis Citizens Advice Service, The Shed, The Foyer and WIAMH and working with GP’s in Langabhat Medical Practice to help people whose health is being affected by living in homes that are hard to heat.

The project began in March 2018 and initially was limited to the Langabhat Medical Practice area but TIG are delighted to announce that they have been successful in securing additional funding to allow the project to be rolled out across the Western Isles and will continue running until March 31st 2020.

People who have taken part have benefited from a range of things such as increased income through disability benefits, new heating installations, internal wall and room in the room insulation, disabled adaptations and home safety checks. TIG act as a single point of contact for anyone who has a long term health condition to make the process as streamlined as possible.

The project has been evaluated by Salford University and TIG are excited to invite you to an event on their findings and to demonstrate how you can benefit from this project.  Come along to hear about the problems of fuel poverty throughout our islands, particularly for those with long term health conditions, and how Gluasad Comhla are helping to address this. 

The programme runs from 9am-1pm on 25th of September in the Tonga Suite, Caladh Inn, Stornoway and there will be a session at An Caladh, Balivanich at 10.15am on the 26th of September.

Please telephone Tighean Innse Gall on 01851 706121 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to indicate your interest in attending.

 

A Western Isles councillor is appealing to the Scottish Government to rethink funding cuts for goose management schemes in the islands. 

Cllr Donald Crichton has written to MSP Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, arguing that more financial help is urgently needed to curb the effects of the crop destroying birds.

He said that island communities are now expected to apply to a single, multi-island pot of £10,000 on a first come first served basis and that this is "insufficient" to keep a lid on numbers.

A Western Isles councillor is appealing to the Scottish Government to rethink funding cuts for goose management schemes in the islands. 

Cllr Donald Crichton has written to MSP Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, arguing that more financial help is urgently needed to curb the effects of the crop destroying birds.

He said that island communities are now expected to apply to a single, multi-island pot of £10,000 on a first come first served basis and that this is "insufficient" to keep a lid on numbers.

Positive signs that population decline could be reversed are being seen in island communities, according to a consortium of researchers.

An Islands Revival Declaration published yesterday (Tuesday September 17th) gives examples of population growth in Scottish islands which go against ideas that island populations are in decline.

Collaboration between the James Hutton Institute, Scotland's Rural College, Community Development Lens (CoDeL) and Community Land Scotland, with input from over 20 island stakeholders led to the declaration being formulated during a two-day workshop at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in Skye at the end of August, when 33 participants discussed the findings of the current research.

It follows an islands revival blog, launched in May, which gathered information on positive projects in which young people were involved. Examples contributed included the work of Pairc Playgroup in Lewis, the West Harris Trust and Galson Estate Trust.

Yesterday’s declaration says:“We affirm that there is credible evidence of ‘green shoots’ of population turnaround in the Scottish islands, which as yet does not show up in official statistics.

“This is illustrated by a number of examples of population growth in islands, such as those cited in the Islands Revival blog.

“It is supported by the changing perceptions of younger, economically active people, especially out-migrant islanders, who increasingly consider their birthplace as a place to return to, and at an earlier stage in their lives. Connectivity (especially social media) is playing an important role in popularising this attitude.”

The statement goes on to list contributing factors to this changed perception, including local control of territorial assets (land and marine), accompanied by good governance, and strong community leadership.

They also credit increasing interest, among many young people, in exploring enterprising ways of living and the use of media in promoting role models and success stories.

And they conclude: “The above seem to be, collectively, delivering a gradual but clear shift in the consensus about the balance between the advantages and disadvantages of living on islands versus those of living in or near a city.”

A FORMER Free Church building and its grounds are set to be taken over by the community of Grimsay, in North Uist.

The Scottish Land Fund has announced that it is awarding £139,460 to the Grimsay Community Association, so that the building can be brought into community ownership and developed.

Western Isles SNP MSP, Alasdair Allan, commented: "This very welcome contribution from the Scottish Government’s Land Fund means, I hope, that this building can be secured for the community’s use. It’s good to see plans for so many new facilities on the island of Grimsay and I wish the people on the island every success with this venture in future."

Aggression, vandalism and other misbehaviour are causing problems for police and the public in Lews Castle Grounds, and police now plan an active campaign to address the issue.

An anti-social behaviour campaign aimed at the large number of predominantly young people who are causing the problems is to be launched in the near future.

There will be increased police patrols and a proactive campaign to target anti-social activities including drinking in the castle grounds.

Stornoway police also say that anyone who suffers consequences or distress as a result of the behaviour should report the incident to them on the non-emergency number 101.

Visit welovetheisleofharris.com for more details!

Picture by Matt Watts

The North Harris Trust are doing a number of guided walks this October. Here are the dates, as well as some snapshots from previous walks!

Thursday 23rd October 10am- 3pm

Roaring and Rutting at Langadale

Meet: at Bogha Glas car park (NB 185 115), Distance:  6 miles

A walk to Glen Langadale to experience the roars of red deer echoing around the Glen. This is a chance to learn about the life of our largest land mammal and the management of the North Harris deer herd.

Free of charge

Thursday 30th October 10am-3pm

Roaring and Rutting at Cravadale

Meet: Start of track on right just to the east of Amhuinnsuidhe castle (NB 052 077), Distance: 6 miles

Another chance to see the red deer rut in North Harris. The walk will take you into Glen Cravadale, a spectacular glen that has been shaped by the scouring action of glaciers.

Free of charge

Pictures by Matt Watts

Rona Wilson and Caroline Rogers get set to help Malcolm MacInnes lose his hair...

Losing his hair for Macmillan Cancer Support today (Friday, 30th September) was Malcolm MacInnes from Tarbert, Harris, who had his head shaved and his legs waxed in the Boots store in Stornoway.

“I just thought that they [Macmillan Cancer Support] do so much work to help everyone else that I'd do something to help them,” said Malcolm, who added that his hair before the shave was the longest he'd ever had it.

Ness runner Charles Young has reached the halfway point in his challenge to complete two great runs to raise funds for Ness Charities.

Charles, of 7 Fivepenny, completed the Great North Run half-marathon in Newcastle on the 9th September and is keeping his training up ahead of the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow on September 30th.

A scheme to train up communities to use life saving equipment is holding a workshop in Stornoway next week.

Skye based Scottish charity Lucky2BHere will hold the heart defibrillator training session at Sandwick Community Centre on September 27th between 7.15 and 9.30pm.

All ages are encouraged to attend.

Lucky2BHere, set up by heart attack survivor Ross Cowie, strives to place defibrillators and deliver emergency life support training to communities throughout Scotland in return for a donation that will cover costs.

These communities can take any form -  from sports clubs, rural villages, churches, businesses and many more. Irrespective of size each each one receives the same high level of service.  Applications are always welcomed.

Book your place on the course by Tuesday 26th September by contacting 01851 703325 or contact  the charity direct via their website www.lucky2bhere.org

The Outer Hebrides is really benefitting from Gaelic this morning…as Eilean Siar is being hailed once again by media throughout the UK as " the best place to live for life satisfaction and was also in the top five for happiness and worthiness."

This comes from the UK Government's annual happiness survey…but the reason to be thankful for Gaelic is simple.  Using Eilean Siar as the official name for the Islands, rather than Western Isles, has put our islands first in a little list of islands including Orkney and Shetland.

The office data sheets from the Office for National Statistics lists the Islands together – "Eilean Siar, Orkney & Shetland" - but the majority of the media have only read the first line!

 

It is the end of an era at Harbour Seafoods as the much loved fish shop will tomorrow (Saturday 7 September) close its doors for the last time.

The staff at Harbour Seafoods would like to take this opportunity to thank all of their customers for their loyalty over the past 18 years.  

The Fisherman’s Co-operative will continue to operate as usual.

WORSHIPPERS in Harris are to quit the Church of Scotland.

Over a third of the congregation have expressed a desire to leave the Tarbert denomination, following an official ballot.

The move follows a decision by the General Assembly to allow practising gay ministers to preach.

 

The main inter-island road between Tarbert and Ardhasaig in Harris was completely closed on Monday September 17th, following a landslide affecting the section between the Harris Hotel and the Health Centre.

Western Isles Police and members of the Fire and Rescue Service were called to the scene, pictured above by Innes Morrison.

Harris Dementia Group was chosen as one of three finalists in the category of Best Community Support Initiative, in Scotland's Dementia Awards 2015.

Members of the HDG attended the award ceremony in the Marriott Hotel in Glasgow on 24th September, and, although beaten by Fit for Life from Fife, they were delighted to have been selected as finalists from nearly 100 nominations for this year's awards.

The Group was formed last year by Harris Voluntary Service and Western Isles Community Care Forum, and is supported by Alzheimers Scotland, Leverburgh Care Home, Harris House, Community Education and Crossroads (Harris).                                 

Harris Dementia Group has established 'Musical Memories', a monthly musical get-together, due to the benefits gained from singing for those living with Dementia. It is also an opportunity for those with dementia, and their carers, to gather together socially.  
 
Musical Memories meets on the last Thursday of the month (except December) in the Tarbert Community Centre from 2pm to 3.30pm. A dementia support worker is on hand at each session to give advice, and folk can enjoy a cup of tea and cakes with friends whilst joining in the singing.
 
The next important date in the calendar for Musical Memories is their Christmas Concert on 26th November in Tarbert Community Centre at 2pm to which is everybody is warmly invited.

Harris Dementia Group was chosen as one of three finalists in the category of Best Community Support Initiative, in Scotland's Dementia Awards 2015.

Members of the HDG attended the award ceremony in the Marriott Hotel in Glasgow on 24th September, and, although beaten by Fit for Life from Fife, they were delighted to have been selected as finalists from nearly 100 nominations for this year's awards.

The Group was formed last year by Harris Voluntary Service and Western Isles Community Care Forum, and is supported by Alzheimers Scotland, Leverburgh Care Home, Harris House, Community Education and Crossroads (Harris).                                 

Harris Dementia Group has established 'Musical Memories', a monthly musical get-together, due to the benefits gained from singing for those living with Dementia. It is also an opportunity for those with dementia, and their carers, to gather together socially.  
 
Musical Memories meets on the last Thursday of the month (except December) in the Tarbert Community Centre from 2pm to 3.30pm. A dementia support worker is on hand at each session to give advice, and folk can enjoy a cup of tea and cakes with friends whilst joining in the singing.
 
The next important date in the calendar for Musical Memories is their Christmas Concert on 26th November in Tarbert Community Centre at 2pm to which is everybody is warmly invited.

The crisis for ferry travellers from Harris and North Uist deepened tonight after Caledonian MacBrayne announced that all sailings are cancelled on the Lochmaddy and Tarbert routes on Monday "due to a technical issue."  The issue involved the mv Hebrides developing a fault which meant it failed to come alongside the pier in Lochmaddy and instead ploughed on straight past it, finally colliding with part of a yacht marina and the seabed itself.

A bus will leave Tarbert at 05:15 tomorrow (Monday) to take foot passengers to Stornoway to connect with the 07:00 sailing to Ullapool. Onward travel to Inverness and Uig will be provided.

CalMac faced a new headache on the Uig triangle ferry route, with a new delay this morning (Thursday September 20th) keeping the ferry away from the berth in Uig, Skye.

Good news for lovers of Harris gin - the drought is almost over!

Glass-makers Stoelzle resumed production yesterday, and a new batch of bottles is expected to arrive in Tarbert this weekend.


A team from the Isle of Harris Distillery are heading off the island on Thursday (September 20th) in the hope of coming home with a clutch of awards for the Tarbert business.

Harris Guides and Rangers are fundraising for their first ever international trip.  A group will be spending 9 days at the World Guiding Centre 'Our Chalet' in Adelboden, Switzerland (pictured above), where they will share Western Isles culture with other Guides from across the world and take part in some extreme challenges including hiking and climbing.

To raise the money needed for their Swiss adventure the Harris Guides and Rangers are running two evening events in Leverburgh over the next month:

  • Friday 28th September 7.30-9.30 p.m. Games Night at Leverburgh Hall: Like a quiz but rounds of team challenges that get you laughing as well as thinking. Come as a team or join a pot luck table. Adults £5, 10-17s £3.  Nibbles provided.  BYOB. 
  • Friday 26th October 7.30-9.30 p.m. Quiz Night at Leverburgh Hall: Come as a team or join a pot luck table.  Adults £5, 10-17s £3.  Nibbles provided.  BYOB.  

Everyone is welcome to come along, for more information contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

UPDATED: 1500hrs, 18/9/2018

Road traffic is now flowing between north and south Harris, albeit in a single lane - but the ferry service remains diverted to Stornoway. 

The debris from last night (seen above)  has now been removed from the road.

As part of the Harris Tweed Festival, An Lanntair is offering a unique Harris Tweed Tour experience during the month of October.

Each tour experience will run only once so early booking is advised. This will be a unique opportunity to spend a day immersed in the rich cultural tradition of the islands, learning more about the history and practice of the iconic Harris Tweed industry while travelling through the landscape which inspires it and visiting some of the locations central to its story.

All participants will receive a specially compiled and Harris Tweed themed Tour Pack to highlight further local opportunities and enhance their enjoyment of the experience.

A free health and wellbeing event will be held at Raebhat House, on Tuesday 22nd September, from 7pm.

The evening will include dietary advice from Ashleigh Macaskill, NHS dietitian, and a Yoga taster session with Lucy Harness of Westside Yoga.

The event is totally free, but could people please register their interest by contacting Finlay MacLennan, either by email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone 01851 701225

A project to support those living with long-term conditions and chronic illnesses has been expanded to Barra.

EU-funded project, mPower, aims to help people with conditions such as diabetes, COPD, dementia and Parkinsons, by connecting them with activities in their community as well as introducing them to health and wellbeing technology designed for home and mobile use. 

The project has operated across Lewis and Harris since November 2017 but in recent months has now expanded with project representatives now working to cover Uist and Barra, meaning the mPower Western Isles team now has three Community Navigators.

Community Navigators work with those who have either self-referred to the project or been referred from their local health or social care team or from a voluntary sector organisation. Community Navigators work with individuals to develop a health and wellbeing plan which could include arranging access to various eHealth technologies. This might include video calling with health specialists to save them the trouble of physically going to multiple appointments or an appropriate remote health monitoring tool.

In Barra the Community Navigator will be based at Cobhair Bharraigh, an organisation providing support and care for the elderly within their own homes.

Martin Malcom, Head of Public Health Intelligence said: “We are delighted to be working with Cothrom and Cobhair Bharraigh. By working together we aim to best serve the local communities.”

The project has now helped over 1,000 people with its development of personalised wellbeing plans and digital health interventions across Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, empowering them to live safely and independently in their own homes.

Lorna Morrison, Community Navigator, said: “mPower has already made a great difference to the lives of many in Lewis and Harris and we aim to continue to support many more. Developing a Wellbeing Action plan with our service users is a great way to set goals in relation to health and wellbeing and allows our service users to take a step forward to begin achieving their goals with my support and encouragement.”

Sue Long, mPower’s Implementation Lead for the Western Isles, said: “I look forward to working with Flosh and Isabel and it is great news that mPower will now be extended throughout the Western Isles. This programme provides us with a real opportunity to empower those who are managing Long Term Conditions and may have become isolated to connect to what’s on offer in the local community.”

You can be referred to the project by your GP or other healthcare professional. You can ask them to be referred if they haven't already suggested it. Or you can submit a self-referral form. Forms can be picked up from local libraries, your GP Surgery or from a healthcare professional. Or you can contact the project team directly for a copy of the form, contact details are below.

Lorna Morrison, (Lewis and Harris), telephone (01851) 708022 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Isabel Morrison – (Uists), telephone 07971 715010 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Florianne (Flosh) Maclean Barra), telephone 07971 715009 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The mPower project has a budget of €8.7million and is funded through the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.

The project is match funded by the Northern Ireland Executive, the Irish Government and the Scottish Government.

For more information, visit https://mpowerhealth.eu

MEMBERS of the public are being urged to attend the annual review of NHS Western Isles in Stornoway next week.

This year’s annual review will take place at 10am on Monday, October 6 in An Lanntair, where the focus will be on quality of care for all patients, and local developments over the past year.

The progress made by NHS Western Isles with regard to national targets (such as waiting time targets and infection control targets) will be included in discussions on the day.

A new state-of-the-art birthing suite was officially opened at Western Isles Hospital this afternoon. 

The ribbon on the new birthing pool was cut by Maureen Watt MSP, Minister for Public Health. 

Situated within the maternity ward on the hospital’s third floor, the new suite incorporates a birthing pool, labour ward bed, toilet facilities and a shower. 

Mrs Watt told www.welovestornoway.com: “It’s great to be asked to to open this birthing suite.

THE Hebridean Celtic Festival has been nominated as a finalist in the Highlands and Islands Tourism awards.

The showpiece event in the isles' calendar has been shortlisted in the Best Event or Festival section, and the winner will be announced at a ceremony in Inverness on November 7.

The Hebridean Celtic Festival has generated an estimated £20 million for the local economy over the past two decades

After enjoying the most successful year in its 21-year history, the Hebridean Celtic Festival is hoping supporters will help it win a national award.

HebCelt has been nominated in the category to find Scotland’s Best Outdoor Festival in the inaugural Scottish Outdoor & Leisure Awards (SOLA).

HebCelt director Caroline Maclennan said: “We are delighted to have been nominated in the inaugural SOLA awards. 

 Final preparations are underway for the fifth Hebrides International Film Festival – taking place throughout the Outer Hebrides with films being shown at Vatersay Community Hall on Wednesday, 19 September and Thursday, 20 September.

 

The festival, which is supported by Creative Scotland, HIE and other agencies has developed into a high-quality event, which brings the latest in world cinema to the islands.

 

Only films made within the last three years are eligible to be included in the programme, which is curated by Muriel Ann Macleod, director of the Rural Nations Community Interest Company, with the support of Paul Taylor, the cinema programmer at Eden Court Theatre.

Seaweed harvested in the Isle of Lewis is to be distributed across Europe as part of a deal negotiated by a Newcastle-based company.

The Brexit-beating deal signed by Seaweed & Co will supply processed organic Hebridean ascophyllum seaweed in powdered form from their PureSea range.

HHP’s tenth Annual General Meeting took place on 7 September 2016 in An Lanntair, Stornoway.

Mr Sandy Matheson was invited to speak of the History of Housing in the Western Isles. Mr Matheson called HHP's work “fundamentally valuable”, stating that it was “not just social housing but all embracing” and went on to highlight how the town of Stornoway and the Islands were transformed by social housing.

Following Mr Matheson, the Convener of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Mr Norman MacDonald, was introduced, and spoke of the vital role social housing can play in the strengthening of rural communities. Mr MacDonald commented that “HHP have delivered for their tenants everything that was promised at transfer and further through their improvement programme.”

Greater provision of student accommodation is one of the aims of The Hebridean Housing Partnership (HHP) which has approved its spending plans for the next five years (2015-2020).

The decision was made at the meeting of the HHP Board on 2nd September 2015.

At HHP’s Board meeting on Tuesday 6th September 2016, Calum Mackay, Vice Chair of HHP presented Katrina Rowlands with Level 5 Award in Leadership and Management. 

The Qualifications Company Ltd has been supporting HHP’s managers over the past year as they worked towards the qualification. Katrina is the first manager to complete the award.

 

Monitoring work undertaken on behalf of Food Standards Scotland has found raised levels of shellfish toxins in East Loch Roag in Lewis.

Eating shellfish such as mussels, cockles, or razor fish from these areas may pose a risk to human health and notices to warn the public and casual gatherers have been posted at various locations on the shore.

A STRANDED hillwalker is in hospital with hypothermia after spending the night on the Clisham.

The male tourist (62) was reported missing early on Tuesday evening, and the Stornoway Coastguard helicopter was called out to assist in the search.

He was found on Wednesday morning shortly after 9am.

The new Iceland store being created on Stornoway's Cromwell Street will mean work for more than 20 people with the posts due to be advertised from Monday September 25 .

The store's manager Kevin Poke said there will be a variety of positions advertised with applications available from Monday at the Stornoway Job Centre.

They will also be hosting a special drop in session for anyone interested in finding out more information this coming Monday from 12-3.

HHP is working alongside Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to help develop Hebrides Energy which will offer competitive electricity prices to island consumers.

HHP, as part of the Highlands and Islands Housing Associations, says it is continuing to lobby the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to address the inequality island customers face due to being off the gas network.

A report to the HHP Board on 6th September highlighted HHP’s progress as they endeavour to provide their tenants with opportunities to escape fuel poverty.

Police in the Western Isles are urging drivers to be aware of vulnerable road users, particularly horses.

Officers in the islands have recently received concerned from local riders about cars passing their animals too close to too fast.


Horses and their riders are considered to be vulnerable road users - as are cyclists and pedestrians - and that should be taken into account if passing them.


Horshader Community Development have responded to community need through the purchase of a dual motor riser recliner chair which will be available for residents in the area. 

Sheena Macleod of Sheena’s Private Homecare Support contacted Horshader to raise awareness of the lack of provision of recliner chairs, and to ask for our support.  

This resource will be now available for loan to anyone in the community who is in need. 

 

Photograph shows: Duncan Maclean, Owner of Furniture & Interior World; Sheena Macleod from Sheena’s Homecare Support, and David Wright, Chairman of Horshader. 

Horshader Community Development have responded to community need through the purchase of a dual motor riser recliner chairwhich will be available for residents in the area. 

Sheena Macleod of Sheena’s Private Homecare Support contacted Horshader to raise awareness of the lack of provision of recliner chairs, and to ask for our support.  

This resource will be now available for loan to anyone in the community who is in need. 

 

Photograph shows: Duncan Maclean, Owner of Furniture & Interior World; Sheena Macleod from Sheena’s Homecare Support, and David Wright, Chairman of Horshader. 

NHS Western Isles has welcomed the recent report by Healthcare Improvement Scotland, following an unannounced safe and clean inspection visit to Western Isles Hospital.

The inspection of Western Isles Hospital took place on July 15 and 16, and the report was published on Tuesday September 24th.

The inspection team visited the hospital to meet patients and staff, inspect wards, assess cleanliness and to check that the hospital meets national standards.

Feedback from patients was particularly encouraging, with all patients interviewed during the visit stating that the ‘standard of cleanliness on the ward is always good’ and ‘the equipment used by staff is always clean’.

All patients thought that toilets, showers and bedroom areas were kept very clean, and regarded the cleaning routine as very thorough.

What NHS Western Isles did particularly well

  • There was good staff compliance and knowledge of standard infection control precautions.
  • The standard of domestic cleaning was good.
  • Feedback from patients was positive.

What they could do better:

  • The recording of staff training.
  • Cleanliness and maintenance of patient equipment.

Inspectors found that ward staff had a good level of knowledge and understanding of the various standard infection control precautions. The management of patients who were in isolation for infection prevention and control reasons was also reported as ‘good’, and inspectors noted that each area carried out monthly standard infection control precaution audits, which includes hand hygiene and ward cleanliness.

In all wards inspected, all patients spoken to said that nursing staff always cleaned their hands before attending to them and wore disposable gloves and aprons as appropriate. Patients meanwhile reported that assistance for cleaning their hands was readily available when requested.

he standard of environmental cleanliness was also found to be good and the storage areas were generally clean and tidy with items stored off the floor.

Inspectors noted that each patient bed space had a cleaning schedule in place which included cleaning and checking of mattresses. These were seen to be completed, however, inspectors noted that some of the mattresses needed replaced.

NHS Western Isles can confirm that all mattresses identified as requiring replacement during the visit have since been replaced and there is an ongoing rolling programme in place to replace mattresses.

NHS Western Isles Chief Executive, Gordon Jamieson, said: “NHS Western Isles welcomes this report, which highlights positive feedback from patients, a good standard of domestic cleaning and good staff compliance and knowledge of infection control precautions. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our staff for their hard work and dedication to ensure standards of safety and cleanliness are continually high.

“We also welcome the opportunities for improvement highlighted, and I’m pleased to report that we have already addressed the vast majority of actions in our action plan.”

Ian Smith, Head of Quality of Care, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, said:  “During our inspection we found good staff compliance and knowledge of infection control precautions, and the standard of domestic cleaning was good.

"However, NHS Western Isles must ensure equipment and mattresses are safe and clean, and must improve the recording of staff training.”

The full inspection report is available to view at:

http://www.healthcareimprovementscotland.org/our_work/inspecting_and_regulating_care/hei_western_isles_reports/western_isles_sep_19.aspx

Western Isles Hospital has been making urgent improvements to the cleanliness and maintenance of patient equipment, based on an inspectorate report published today (Tuesday September 24th).

Healthcare Improvement Scotland made an unannounced visit to the hospital in mid-July, the first inspection since September 2015. No warning was given to staff or health board executives about the visit of the team on July 15th and 16th.

Inspectors visited medical wards 1 and 2, surgical ward, maternity, Erisort and the emergency department. Based on previous visits, they paid particular attention to infection control policies and staff education and to standards of decontamination.

They found good staff compliance and knowledge of standard infection control precautions and described the standard of domestic cleaning as good. Feedback from patients on cleanliness was also positive.

But recording protocols and the cleanliness and maintenance of patient equipment fell short of the required standards, leading to five requirements and two recommendations for improvement.

NHS Western Isles board chairman Ian Burgess and chief executive Gordon Jamieson signed off on an approved action plan to address the issues on September 10th. In it, infection control measures such as frequent running of lesser-used water taps and the recording of these precautions are planned.

Decontamination standards and policies over the cleaning of sanitary fittings and mattresses as well as improved recording of cleaning procedures are detailed in the inspection report, which concludes: “We expect NHS Western Isles to carry out the actions described in its improvement action plan to address the issues we raised during this inspection. We would like to thank NHS Western Isles and, in particular, all staff and patients at the Western Isles Hospital for their assistance during the inspection.”

NHS Western Isles had completed most of the actions proposed in the report by the end of August, including removing and replacing contaminated mattresses and changing the cleaning agent used on sanitary fittings.

The full report and action plan are available at http://www.healthcareimprovementscotland.org/our_work/inspecting_and_regulating_care/hei_western_isles_reports/western_isles_sep_19.aspx

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause irreparable harm to the unborn baby - that's the stark message of this year's International Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day which falls on Monday September 9.

The Outer Hebrides Alcohol & Drug Partnership (OHADP) and NHS Western Isles will be spreading the word on exactly how drinking alcohol can hurt the unborn baby.  

Alcohol is damaging to the baby’s cells and cell growth. When a pregnant woman drinks, the alcohol in her blood passes through the placenta into the developing baby’s blood. As the foetus does not have a fully developed liver, it cannot breakdown the alcohol. 

Instead, the alcohol circulates in the baby’s blood stream, destroying developing cells and damage to the nervous system of the foetus at any point during the nine months of pregnancy.

FASD describes a range of birth defects that can result in life-long damage. The effects of FASD on a child can include serious behavioural and social difficulties such as poor learning skills, hyperactivity, attention and memory problems. The physical effects include heart problems, limb or kidney damage, eye and hearing problems.  

Women may not realise the affect that drinking whilst pregnant can have, so to be sure that your baby will not be born with any of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, the message is clear - avoid alcohol. No alcohol = no risk.

The Chief Medical Officer’s guideline for both men and women is that to keep health risks from alcohol to a low level it is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis. If you are pregnant or think you could become pregnant, or breastfeeding, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all, to keep risks to your baby to a minimum.

Take the time to think about spending the nine months of pregnancy free from alcohol and if you are worried about alcohol use during pregnancy do talk to your doctor or midwife.

There is no cure for FASD and the effects last a lifetime, but the good news is that FASD is preventable. Research has shown that early intervention and appropriate treatment can improve a child’s development and help them towards a more independent life.  

If you would like more information on how to reduce your alcohol intake in preparation for a pregnancy, visit the Scottish Government’s ‘Count14’ website which offers helpful information on reducing your drinking, as well as a useful drinks calculator to help monitor the amount of units you drink.  Visit: www.count14.scot    

NHS Inform also provides useful information on alcohol during pregnancy which can be accessed at:  www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/alcohol

In addition, the National Organisation for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome – UK (NOFAS-UK) offers information on FASD, promoting education for professionals and public awareness about the risks of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.  Visit: www.nofas-uk.org

If you would like more information on FASD please contact the Outer Hebrides ADP Support Team on 01851 762022 or visit our website: www.outerhebadp.com

The Mackenzie takeover of Lewis in the early 17th Century was the subject of this year’s Colm Cille Lecture, organised by Urras Eaglais na h-Aoidhe and sponsored by Point and Sandwick Trust, by Dr Aonghas MacCoinnich, University of Glasgow. 

His original advertised topic was “Their longed-for wish and expected prey, the Clan Mackenzie and their plantation of Lewis, 1610-1700”, a subject that Dr MacCoinnich has researched in considerable depth, but this was cut back to 1610-1630 from the start of the talk and abbreviated still further, as Dr MacCoinnich explained, because of the amount of material to be covered.

Aonghas MacCoinnich is a Niseach whose parents still live in Ness.  He now lives in Glasgow where he is a lecturer in Celtic History at the University of Glasgow.  He graduated MA in History and Gaelic at the University of Aberdeen in 1999 and did his PhD there (in Gaelic) in 2005 on the emergence of the Mackenzie Clan, from 1466-1637. 

He is interested in all aspects of the history and culture of the Highlands and Islands with a specific focus on the period between the end of the 16th century and the end of the 18th century.  Dr MacCoinnich has researched, lectured and written extensively on Celtic history, culture and language and in 2015 he wrote a book on “Plantation and Civility in the North Atlantic World; the Case of the Northern Hebrides, 1570-1639”.

Dr MacCoinnich started the lecture by setting the Mackenzies in the context of the last years of the Macleod lordship and emphasised how it was the internecine divisions in the Macleod lordship that allowed the Mackenzies to triumph, while this process involved conquest, application of the law and the skilful use of dynastic marriages to ensure compliance and loyalty.

He also sketched in the disastrous fate of the Fife Adventurers – who could not grasp the complexity of the society around them – or perhaps disdained to believe it could have any complexity.

Dr MacCoinnich also emphasised the way the Mackenzies, anxious to develop the wealth of their expanded realm, called on expertise from outside the region – from the Netherlands, for example, in relation to fishing – and made Stornoway even more part of a trading network around the costs of Scotland.  Just as the Macleod realm had included lands on both sides of the Minch – also including the isle of Raasay – so the Mackenzies linked their possessions by sea.

The free lecture was held on Friday 20th September in Ionad Stoodie, Garrabost. 

Local people and businesses in the wider Newton industrial estate area in Stornoway are today (Wednesday September 25th) getting the chance to see how Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Highlands and Islands Enterprise are hoping to work with D. R. Macleod Ltd to create infrastructure that will enable new facilities, buildings and roads.

Plans to show these developments are being hosted at D.R. Macleod’s offices on Island Road, Stornoway today (Wednesday 25th September) from 4pm to 6pm.

Members of the public, businesses and any interested parties are encouraged to come along to see and discuss the plans for a vacant and derelict site within the area.  The Council is looking for feedback on the proposals before any consideration is given to planning applications.  In addition, there is a hope that the derelict land involved will attract Scottish Government support for a scheme that brought it into productive use.

The aim is for this development would bring a disused site into purposeful use, providing new, modern commercial facilities for both new and existing businesses in the Western Isles.

The Comhairle’s Chairman of Sustainable Communities, Donald Crichton said earlier: “We are very encouraged to hear of the new plans for Phase 2 of Stornoway Regeneration. 

"Following on from existing works being carried out at Goat Island and the transformation of former mill buildings in Newton, these targeted interventions will create more jobs, infrastructure and visually improve the area.”

 

An oversight concerning a tiny screw in part of the engine control system – combined with lack of practice for boat crews in coping with such a loss of propulsion control – led to the 5,500 tonne ferry Hebrides careering past the pier at Lochmaddy in North Uist last September 25th and colliding with nearby yacht pontoons before running aground, an official report says.

The screw – only millimetres in size – should have been secured in place with “thread locking compound” when it was replaced six months earlier – but a communications mix-up with the manufacturer meant the maintenance crew did not realise this was needed.

The Harris Tweed Authority (HTA) have gifted Stornoway Port Authority (SPA) a special birthday gift in the Port's 150th Anniversary year.

A Mark 1 Hattersley Loom, once the work horse of the Harris Tweed Industry has been prepared, preserved and gifted to the Port Authority to mark the role of the Port, particularly that of the harbour in the history of the Harris Tweed industry.  

This latest piece of community art joins other items gifted to or commissioned by the Port Authority, such as the Herring girls, wooden seals and the carved fisherman who now live in and around Stornoway harbour. 

Keeping fishing boats at sea rather than tied up at the harbour because a lack of crew is the aim of Angus MacNeil MP as he calls for action from the UK Government to help skippers secure labour.
Many skippers in Scotland are facing major difficulties in finding crews and have often looked to outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to fill the gaps.
However, this has been made increasingly difficult by curbs on UK Visas and Immigration and Mr MacNeil is reiterating his call for more support from the UK Government.

An enhanced timetable is being proposed for the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services (CHFS) network from next summer, Minister for Transport and Islands Derek Mackay has announced.

The planned improvements follow engagement with communities across the CHFS network, and will help deliver commitments made in Scottish Ferry Services: Ferries Plan (2013-2022).

Mr Mackay said: “As Minister for Transport and Islands, I know how important our ferry services are to the communities of the Clyde and Hebrides and the vital role they play in enabling continued and sustainable economic growth for the Islands.

Following the death of Dr George Macleod, of Upper Carloway, the former chief executive of Comhairle nan Eilean, on Friday (September 15th) an Evening Service is taking place at Carloway Free Church tonight (Sunday) at 9pm. The Funeral Service is set for 11am tomorrow (Monday) at Carloway Free Church, according to the funeral notice.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP, Angus Brendan MacNeil has requested a meeting with the UK Energy Minister, Kwasi Kwarteng MP, and Ofgem to discuss the way forward for island renewable projects. This is following the outcome of the Contracts for Difference (CfD) Allocation Round 3, which now raises questions about the viability of an interconnector to the Outer Hebrides.

Commenting, Angus MacNeil MP said:

"It would seem that the UK Government and its Energy regulator Ofgem are not working together.  Ofgem require 369MW for the transmission link, however, the two Lewis wind farms, which were successful in CfD Round 3, total 240MW, way below what is required by Ofgem.

“I have written to Energy Minister, Kwasi Kwarteng MP to request a meeting and I have asked that Ofgem also attend. 

“The UK Government claims it wants to move from carbon to cleaner energy, our islands have the best wind resource in Europe and the inter-connector is vital for island renewable energy projects.  The UK Government is not close to delivering on its claims and intentions but a joined-up approach to island renewables would help change that."

In little over a week, two Shawbost shopworkers have been catapulted into fame across the globe – all because they want to buy a van.

Frustrated by what he sees as Tesco’s stranglehold on the mobile grocery market, Michael Fitzpatrick launched a campaign to raise £5,000 for a van to help the Shawbost Shop and Cafe ‘take on the big boys’.

Writer and poet Donald S Murray took to the stage in Uig, Isle of Lewis, last night (Saturday September 14th) with a musician from Shetland, a choir from Harris, a singer from Achmore and Aberdeen…and his long-time musical collaborator, Iain ‘Costello’ Maciver.

Donald – now living in Shetland but originating in Lewis – was putting on a unique show of words and music which reflect the Iolaire disaster and its aftermath.

Originally derived from readings of his novel As the Women Lay Dreaming – set in the context of the 1919 Iolaire tragedy in which 201 men died just a few metres from the shore off Holm near Stornoway – the performance has developed to include a range of work, including a rendition of a work by Murdo Macfarlane – the Melbost bard – entitled A-raoir Reubadh an Iolaire – by Donna Dale.

The event in Uig Community Centre is – so far – the only island venue for the stage version of  “As the Women Lay Dreaming” and was only the second time that the entire concept had been performed.

Songs and music will be provided by Iain ‘Costello’ MacIver accompanied by Còisir Bhan Na Hearadh as well as Shetland-based musician Donald Anderson and Donna Dale who is from Achmore but now based in Aberdeen.

The book ‘As the Women Lay Dreaming’ has been shortlisted for the Authors Club Best First Novel Award and highly commended in the Sir Walter Scott Historical Fiction Award.

Donald said: ”I was very much looking forward to hearing this material performed where it belongs - on the Isle of Lewis, in an area which was so deeply affected by the Iolaire disaster.

“So far it has been very well received in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and at book festivals on the mainland. It was time it came home.”

The readings included some new poems which Donald has composed that are inspired by the railway from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh and particularly the tiny request stop at Achanalt between Garve and Achnasheen.  This collection is due to published in the Spring.

At the end of the performance, Donald thanked Brian Wilson and Joni Buchanan for their support to hold the event; the musicians and singers; those involved in running the community centre; and the audience for turning out on a very stormy night which at some stages of the performance had the battering noise of winds on the roof and walls as a slight reminder of the night of the tragedy itself. 

A special remembrance poppy pin designed to commemorate the centenary of the Iolaire disaster is to go on on sale on Monday October 1st.

Words and music which reflect the Iolaire disaster and its aftermath will be performed at a special event in Uig Community Centre, Isle of Lewis, this Saturday evening (September 14th)

It will be the only island venue for “As the Women Lay Dreaming”, which has been staged around Scotland, in English and Gaelic, to positive reviews.

Songs and music will be provided by Iain 'Costello' MacIver who will be accompanied by Còisir Bhan Na Hearadh as well as Shetland-based musician Donald Anderson and Donna Dale from Achmore.

The words are from Lewis-born author Donald S. Murray whose book of the same name has been shortlisted for the Authors Club Best First Novel Award and highly commended in the Sir Walter Scott Historical Fiction Award.

Donald said:”I am very much looking forward to hearing this material performed where it belongs – on the Isle of Lewis, in an area which was so deeply affected by the Iolaire disaster.

“So far it has been very well received in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and at book festivals on the mainland. It is time it came home.’

Dolina MacLennan of the Saltire Society in Edinburgh said that “As the Women Lay Dreaming had been “one of the highlights of our Festival events.... A huge success - and sometime perhaps we can repeat it.”

Saturday’s performance in Uig Community Centre will begin at 7.30 p.m. Admission at the door is £8 with half-price for children.

The last Loopallu festival closed on Saturday (September 28th) with Western Isles bands featuring heavily on the final day.

Stornoway sensation Peat & Diesel and the iconic Vatersay Boys started the ceilidh early on Saturday with what one fan called ‘possibly the most entertaining ferry crossing ever’, as they regaled CalMac passengers with tunes from the Loch Seaforth’s lounge.

Also on stage on Saturday were Lewis band Astrid, currently in the midst of a tour and with a new CD, Fall Stand Dance, garnering rave reviews.

Loopallu has been running for 15 years in Ullapool, creating a dedicated fanbase and a considerable buzz around the eclectic mix of performance – one year Franz Ferdinand and the Ullapool Pipe Band appeared on the same bill.

News that the festival might have to end in 2017 caused consternation, but a change of location allowed a couple of years’ reprieve.

This year’s last hurrah really is farewell, though, as the small town is unable to find places to stay for all of the festival-goers at what’s been dubbed ‘the best little festival in the west’.

There was a final message from organisers after the last chorus on Saturday night. “That's all folks. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for 15 fantastic years. Loopallu is finally dead. Long live Loopallu!”

Picture shows one last tune at one last festival from Peat and Diesel on Saturday evening. (Loopallu).

 

 

A 17-year-old dancer from Back has become the second island girl to be selected for the Scotland team, who’ll be heading to the dance and cheer world championships in Orlando, Florida.

Abbie Morrison, a pupil at the Nicolson Institute and dancer and coach with the island dance group North West Allstars, has been chosen for Scotland’s senior jazz dance team, as they rehearse for competition in Florida next April.

FOG over the Western Isles could delay the result of today's referendum. 

Planes and ferries have already been affected and the Comhairle is monitoring the situation. 

A private plane has been chartered to convey votes between the islands, while ferries and even a fishing boat have been put on standby.

This has been one of the best years politically for Island Tories, party members heard this week.

The Annual General Meeting of the Western Isles Association of the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party took place on Thursday 14th September 2017 in Stornoway. 

The Annual Report highlighted that it was one of the finest years in the history of the Association. 

SEVERAL islanders have had money removed from their bank accounts through a phone scam.

Now the Comhairle's Trading Standards service has urged people to be vigilant when answering the phone.

 

The Islands Book Trust are delighted to announce that Malcolm Archibald, a member of the Society of Authors and a lecturer at the University of the Highlands and Islands is to give a talk on the history of Whaling in Scotland at Museum nan Eilean, Lews Castle on Tuesday 27th September at 7.30pm.

This illustrated talk will give a background to Scottish Arctic Whaling, with references to the 20th century Antarctic and Hebridean whaling industries. The talk will include anecdotes about the men of the Arctic and how they were perceived as well as the ships and conditions in those days.

There will be time for questions and discussions.

 Tickets are available on the door or online: https://whalinginscotland.eventbrite.co.uk

A 12-page display of photographs and text about the Western Isles is published this month in the magazine, GEO Germany, which has a format of using photographs and expert text similar to the US-published National Geographic.

Alasdair Allan, SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, has welcomed Nicola Sturgeon’s freshly announced Programme for Government in the coming year, saying that it sets out an ambitious agenda for the Western Isles and Scotland as a whole.

Alasdair Allan drew attention to a number of plans of particular importance to people in the islands:

  • There is a commitment to deliver superfast broadband to 100% of residential and business premises by 2021.

Luskentyre Beach has come out as one of the top 20 beaches in all of Europe in the latest TripAdvisor survey.

And it was one of only four of the selected beaches to get a 5/5 rating.

The travel and eating-out booking website says: “For all of the world-class cities and cultural attractions Europe has to offer, its beaches are equally amazing and shouldn’t be overlooked.

“At TripAdvisor, we set out to identify some of the best beachside getaways in Europe for all types of travellers—from classic staples in Greece, Spain, Italy and Croatia to underrated gems in the UK, Turkey, and beyond.

“Each spot on our list had to have some stellar TripAdvisor reviews, as well as comfortable and affordable accommodations nearby.

“Visit one of these jaw-dropping European beaches and you’ll be in awe of the stunning views and scenery.

“The best part is, many of Europe’s finest beaches are located in incredible destinations—like the charming town of Tropea in Italy’s Calabria region or the seaside stunner of Saint-Malo in France’s Brittany region.

“Luskentyre, located on The Isle of Harris, is not a typical European beach but will mesmerise you with its beauty.

"With miles and miles of white sand and stunning green-blue waters—it’s a breath-taking Scottish landscape worth seeing. Spend the day wandering the wide open space and finish it off with a visit to the nearby Isle of Harris Distillery.”

One TripAdvisor reviewer said: “I’ve been to beaches all around the world, but nothing could prepare me for this place…it’s completely unspoiled and on another level of beauty! White and gold sands, all shades of blue ocean and 360 degree views.”

Isle of Lewis dancer Kayleigh Nicolson set out with determination at the weekend for the first step on her road to making a dream come true.

Kayleigh has been selected to join team Scotland in the world dance and cheerleading championships in Orlando, Florida next April.

Here's just one example of the gorgeous photos we've been provided by the Isle of Harris Mountain Festival, capturing the action-packed week they had.

To view more, visit welovetheisleofharris.com

 

Below you can see a selection of photos from the Isle of Harris Mountain Festival, which took place last week (13-20 September).

This year’s festival was a massive success, with around 560 people attending in total, 40 of which had specifically come to Harris for the week to attend the festival.

The weather conditions were perfect for all the guided walks, boat trips and sporting activities going on!

Above the clouds on the Clisham horseshoe

Another view above the clouds on the Clisham horseshoe

Cleit Ard guided walk

Hill race leaders

On the Giolabhal horseshoe

Raft Race final

Sea kayaking in West Loch Tarbert

Segways in Glen Miavaig

Top of Glen Cravadale on the community walk

 

Thank you to Matt Watts for providing us with these photographs! 

 

Incidents of recorded crime had risen in Western Isles by fifteen times the national average between 2017/18 and 2018/19.

Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron (Conservative) spoke out after official Scottish Government figures were revealed

He said that the SNP Government in Edinburgh must do more to tackle rising crime in the Western Isles.

“In the last recorded twelve months there were 384 crimes across our area which was an increase of 15%, far higher than the rise experienced across the rest of the country.

“We think of the Western Isles as a relatively low-crime area so this is a concerning development, particularly as crimes of dishonesty showed an even greater percentage increase.

“Our police deserve all the help we can give them but, ultimately, it is up to the SNP Government to provide them with the support and resources they need to do their job.

“Judging by these results, it is evident that they need to do far more to help our police tackle this upsurge in criminal activity.”

The crime statistics are available here: : https://www.gov.scot/publications/recorded-crime-scotland-2018-19

Four fishing boats in Stornoway and three based in Barra are tied up in port and not working because they cannot get crews – and existing UK Government immigration restrictions means workers cannot be brought in from abroad as they used to be.

The official answer to this question is that local people should be trained to fill the vacancies – but no one has explained how this can be achieved if no one puts themselves forward for the work.

More than 60 additional skilled crew are needed to allow the Western Isles trawl fleet to work to full capacity, Isles MP Angus MacNeil has been told by local fishermen, as he continues to push for action from the UK Government to assist the industry with crew shortages.

 

Councillor Kenny John MacLeod is the new chairman of the Integration Joint Board overseeing health and social care services in the Western Isles

The Integration Joint Board which oversees many Health and Social Care services in the islands has welcomed a new leader to its team.

Councillor Kenny John MacLeod, chairman of Communities and Housing at the Comhairle, has been appointed as its new Chairman.   Joining him as vice-chair is long-term IJB member and NHS Western Isles non-executive Director, Ian Burgess

The wild rabbit population of Lewis and Harris is being decimated by a new outbreak of myxomatosis, with reports of dead and dying animals around the islands.

The news comes as no disappointment to gardeners, who have increasingly suffered from crop raids as the rabbit population boomed in recent years.

But wildlife-lovers have been distressed by the sight of ‘myxy’ rabbits dying in dunes and across machair, with afflicted animals also seen on roads and in gardens.

The annual Angus Macleod Memorial Lecture will be given this year by the Deputy First Minister of the Scottish Government, John Swinney MSP.

The lecture will take place on Wednesday 19th October at 3.30pm in the CnES Council Chamber, Sandwick Road, Stornoway, during Royal National Mòd week.

The topic of the lecture will be ‘The Place of Gaelic in a Modern Scotland’.

JudyJUDY Murray, the mother of former Wimbledon champion Andy, was in Stornoway today.

The star of Strictly Come Dancing coached delighted schoolchildren at Laxdale Primary.

She tweeted later: "Fab day in Stornoway teaching loads of kids from Laxdale Primary to play tennis. Not a sequin in sight."

 

JULIE Fowlis has cancelled her concert in Carinish on Saturday.

The funeral of 19-year-old Carl Macphee will take place in the afternoon, and Julie feels that a concert the same day would be inappropriate.

All tickets will be fully refunded by An Lanntair Box Office, who can be contacted on 01851 708480.

 

A fish farm vessel and two Coastguard Rescue Teams were called to the aid of a kayaker who fell into the water off Callanish yesterday afternoon (Wednesday September 4th).

Two men had set out to paddle from the tidal islet Eilean Orsaigh and one had fallen into the water in rough conditions.

The man had become too cold to paddle and was unable to return to the shore, so they called for help at 12.17pm.

Stornoway Coastguard operations centre issue a ‘pan-pan’ call, asking any vessel in the vicinity for assistance, and tasked Miavaig and Bragar Coastguard Rescue Teams to attend.

A Scottish Salmon Company fish farm vessel responded to the call for help and was able to bring the men aboard and transport them back to Breasclete pier, where the Coastguard teams helped with the landing.

No medical treatment was required and the men undertook to recover their kayak from Eilean Orsaigh at low tide. With everyone safe and accounted for, teams were stood down at 2.25pm.

The Coastguard duty officer who attended the incident paid particular tribute to the assistance of John, Kenny and the team at the Breasclete fish farm base for the successful resolution of the incident.

In youth league football, Kevin Macmillan was awarded the Willie Reid cup on Saturday night (September 1st) for his services to junior football.

The presentation followed a season of late school nights, washing football strips every week and constant support for young footballers from the sidelines.

PARENTS in the Western Isles are being urged to enrol their children for the flu vaccine.

Every child in Scotland aged between two and 11 is being offered the flu vaccine this autumn as part of a new immunisation programme. 

With children two to three times more likely to be ill with flu than adults, approximately 150,000 pre-school children paged between two and five years old and approximately 400,000 primary school children are being offered the flu vaccination in 2014/15 to help protect them and reduce the risk of flu being spread to others. 

The vaccination campaign marks the next step in the phased introduction of the childhood flu programme, which once fully rolled out, will see all children aged between two and 17 vaccinated. This is estimated to prevent an additional 200 deaths a year and up to 1,100 hospitalisations. 

Parents of Western Isles primary school children should look out for and return the consent form sent home in school bags so that their child can be vaccinated at school. Parents of pre-school children aged between two and five should make an appointment with their GP practice from October onwards to get their child vaccinated.  

Kisimul Castle features poetically in a new film by Historic Environment Scotland (HES), as they launch their updated Gaelic language plan for 2018-23.

Highlands and Islands Scottish Conservative MSP Donald Cameron has hit back at Labour’s recent questioning of the UK Government’s commitment to island renewables schemes, accusing the party of “piggy-backing” Tory policies.

The MSP has spoken out following Labour claims that the Conservatives were failing to fully support wind farm development and questioning whether a long wanted Minch interconnector would ever happen. 

Labour is pushing for progress on the long promised Isles to mainland electricity “interconnector” that will enable the transfer of renewable energy generated locally to the national grid.

Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, Lesley Laird, has written to the Scottish Secretary urging the UK government to bring forward plans for the high voltage sub-sea connector which experts claim could add around £400 million to the local economy.

Ms Laird said that the Conservative government’s pledge to connect the islands and enable wind power to be exported has no clear completion date attached.  She wants to see construction begin immediately.

She said that the interconnector would bring “huge economic and environmental benefits” to the people of the Western Isles adding that, under a Labour government, policies would be “rural-proofed” to make sure communities such this would not be left behind.

“It is vital that the Tories stick to their manifesto commitment, and they must begin construction of the interconnector as soon as possible,” she said.

The proposed connection would stretch about 50 mile