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 miles across the Minch from  Lewis to Ullapool.

Ms Laird also believes the Contract for Difference regime, which subsidises renewable energy production, should have a third category for ‘island wind’.  This would allow energy producers on the islands to effectively compete with those on the mainland.

Scottish Labour’s rural affairs spokesperson, Rhoda Grant said: “As anybody living on the Western Isles is aware, the interconnector has long been discussed but repeatedly failed to materialise.

“The Western Isles has enormous potential for renewable energy production, particularly with wind power. But in order to achieve its full potential, the island must have an interconnector with the mainland.

“The Tories committed in the manifesto to funding its construction, so now must begin that process. Otherwise, local people will be rightly sceptical about the project ever beginning.”

Private Landlords who commit to providing affordable housing should be given the same financial support as housing associations to improve the energy efficiency of their properties says Scottish Land & Estates (SLE), the rural business association.

In its response to the Scottish Government’s Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (Scotland) Regulations 2019, SLE has said that of the six financial support options currently advertised on the Home Energy Scotland website, only one could be used by many of the private landlords offering affordable homes to rent in rural Scotland.

The energy efficiency regulations aim to improve the energy efficiency of homes in the private rented sector and to make all our buildings warmer, greener and more efficient, supporting efforts towards eradicating fuel poverty, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as contributing to sustainable economic growth.

Stephen Young, Head of Policy at Scottish Land & Estates said: “Improving the energy efficiency of homes is vitally important to help keep bills low for tenants and fight climate change. But in order to do this, many properties require substantial amounts of money spent on them.

“That’s why we are calling for the Scottish Government to ensure that private landlords who provide affordable homes to rent have access to the same pots of money as housing associations and other public sector landlords.

“Private landlords in rural Scotland, many of whom are our members, are often the only providers of affordable homes to rent in their area. If they are unable to meet energy efficiency standards without financial help, there is a risk that landlords will no longer offer their properties as affordable homes to rent. This could have a knock-on negative impact on the ability of local businesses to recruit staff. Subsequently causing the number of people using local schools, bus services and other local services and amenities to decline, putting these services at risk.”

SLE is also calling for greater clarity on how the regulations will work in practice and have raised serious concerns about the methodology used in Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) assessments.

Stephen Young said: “We continue to raise concerns that the method used for calculating EPC is not fit for purpose. It is based on an ‘average’ home, and just does not sufficiently account for things like efficient off-grid heating or the construction type of many properties in rural areas. 

"These flaws are well documented and need to be address if the EPC is to be the main regulatory tool to improve energy efficiency across the private rented sector housing stock in Scotland.”

Case studies highlighting the work of SLE members in providing affordable homes to rural Scotland can be found on the SLE website.

 

A total of 90 individual projects have had over £300,000 invested by Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn (Galson Estate Trust).

The landmark achievement was reached following a recent £10,000 award to a new group, taking the Urras investment figure over the £300,000 mark.

New group, “Còmhla,” has been set up by a group of local parents/carers with caring responsibilities for children with additional support needs.

The group have received funding and have already established group training activities and have a series of guest speakers attending their fortnightly meetings. The group is chaired by parent Sarah Campbell, who commented: “The support received from the Urras will make a significant and positive difference to lives. We are grateful for the support and help provided by the Urras team to get things off the ground.”

Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn (Galson Estate Trust) was established in 2007 following a buyout of the land by local residents. The estate runs to 56,000 acres, almost entirely under crofting tenure, encompassing 22 townships, from Upper Barvas to Port of Ness.

The Trust has set themselves five key priorities for sustainable development: poverty relief; training and education; housing; improved infrastructure and communication; and, protection and
conservation of the environment.

A key part of their activities in achieving this re-vitalisation is through their community investment fund, financed by the profits of a three-turbine windfarm on the estate, and which provides crucial support to various community groups in the area.

The fund is divided into four main strands: support up to £1,000, £5,000 and £10,000, plus a growth fund for projects of scale.

Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn Chair Agnes Rennie said: “The Community Investment Programme offers support to various groups and this most recent award is an excellent example of funding support, but also advice and guidance to establish a group to ensure there is support in an area where there is currently a significant gap.”

In recent months the Urras also provided, through its growth fund initiative, assistance of £80,000 towards the re-development of Comunn Eachdraidh Nis, the local historical society.

The total building project was in excess of £1 million, involving several funding partners, with the Urras also providing crucial back-up support in terms of project management.

The refurbished facilities at the former Cross Primary School site now boasts a new frontage, extended café, additional exhibition space and archive.

The last day for Morven Gallery is next Saturday September 26…when the final visitors will get a last chance to enjoy the best quality coffee…and the widest local selection of art.


On show is the usual variety of paintings from a wide range of artists both from the islands and painting in the islands. (http://www.morvengallery.com/artists.asp)
There are also gifts, sculpture work and a whole host of other things – from antique items to exquisite books of photographs.
The gallery is open all this week between 10.30am. and 5pm.


Morven is unique throughout the Hebrides and Skye because there are no other galleries of this size which display a changing range of artists work…and unique in Lewis because of its café with coffees, teas and home-baking.
The last day is going a herald a big gap in many people’s lives.

 

Stornoway Historical Society is adding extra days for its exhibition of Iolaire memorabilia and documents.

The historical society has had the display on offer at their offices in Stornoway Town Hall throughout the summer, and added extra dates today (Friday September 20th) and tomorrow to provide a chance for cruise passengers to learn more about the tragedy.

An additional day has now been added on Monday 30th September at the request of visitors coming from Pendleton, Stornoway’s twin town in South Carolina.

Opening hours today, tomorrow and on Monday 30th are 11am - 5pm. The exhibition is accessible from the historical society’s own entrance, opposite the Harbour Kitchen restaurant, with a signboard on the pavement outside when open.

The last out-of-date flares collection day of 2019 is to be held at HM Coastguard’s Stornoway station next weekend.

Coastguard officers are inviting mariners and fishermen to bring time-expired pyrotechnics in on Saturday October 5th between 10am and 4pm.

A one-off collection is also being held for the Uists at the HM Coastguard Benbecula Station on Saturday 19th October – also from 10am to 4pm.

Contractors EPC are due to arrive in the Western Isles later in the month to destroy the items, held in safe storage at the Coastguard station after being handed in.

A Coastguard spokesman said: “Please ensure you dispose of these items correctly. They can be highly dangerous when not handled correctly.

“If you find any of these items discarded on the beach, please don’t touch them, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”

Fatherson get set to entertain at the Loopallu musical festival in Ullapool

With ten days to go before the best little fest in the west takes place across the Minch, the final wraps have been pulled off the 2016 Loopallu line up…including an appearance by one of our the finest home grown talents who make their Loopallu debut – FATHERSON.

A band that know all about the slow build. It’s there in the band’s backstory – they’re young men, barely into their twenties, but their tale together is old, stretching back into a shared childhood. 

And it’s there in the trio’s music – beautiful, emotional, uplifting, well-wrought songs that take their time to do their magic.

Following a number of requests for evening appointments, Barra Medical Practice will be open until 6pm on Wednesday 25th September.

The Practice has stated that if there is a demand, this will be offered on a more regular basis.

Contact the Practice on 810282 to book an appointment.

Laxdale School has become the first school in Lewis and Harris to be awarded SportScotland’s gold school sport award.

The award celebrates not just attainment of recognised levels of physical activity – including two hours a week of physical education, but other achievements such as opportunities to compete and chances for pupils to lead, coach and influence physical activity at their school.

Gold award schools must also have a sport committee led by pupils, which has led to innovations at Laxdale such as ‘no football Fridays’ and pupil-led physical activity with a warm-up, activity and cool-down.

The school heard news of their award on Thursday (26th September) and were quick to include it in the school blog, where activities including octopus, rounders and even toilet tag featured alongside more traditional sporting activities such as unihoc and football.

A schools spokesman said they were ‘absolutely over the moon’ at the news and added: “This was a huge focus project of the 2018/19 session, and without the support and input of our entire school community it would not have happened.”

 

CREATING FLYERS AND LEAFLETS - THURSDAY 17 SEPTEMBER

Last chance to book a place on our free Creating Flyers and Leaflets workshop! 

This is a hands-on half-day workshop delivering practical examples of how to create business flyers and leaflets using template and features within Word. 

It is being held this Thursday at 1.30pm in the Comhairle Offices. 

To reserve a place please call 01851 822775 or email

THE speaker at this year's Angus 'Ease' Macleod Lecture will be Maggie Cunningham, the head of MG Alba.

Originally from Scalpay, Maggie will talk about the role new technology has played in Gaelic media, and how it has helped reach a wider audience.

Now in its 11th year, the event takes place in Pairc School on Thursday October 23, starting at 7.30pm.

Admission is free, and refreshments will be provided.

A campaign to raise £60,000 to go towards a new fixed pontoon at the Leverburgh Lifeboat station was officially kick-started today.

And the appeal got off to a real flyer with a donation of £10,000 from The Jeffrey Trust, whose chairman is Dr Angus MacCuish, originally from Finsbay.

Access to the lifeboat is currently via a temporary modular pontoon.  

This year’s prestigious Angus Macleod Memorial Lecture will be given by well-known businessman and broadcaster Kenny Matheson at 7.30pm on Thursday 24th October at Pairc School, Gravir, South Lochs, with the title ‘The Leverhulme Initiative – An Opportunity Lost or a Narrow Escape for Lewis and Harris?’.

Kenny, who is from Gravir and now based in Aberdeen, will speak in English and assess, with the benefit of a hundred years hindsight, the reasons for Leverhulme’s failure and what lessons can be drawn for recent and current debates about the economic future of Lewis and Harris.

Addressing the question in the lecture title, Kenny said: ‘I thought it might be appropriate in the first instance to take a little time to try and understand something about the type of man William Lever, the first Viscount Leverhulme, was and what made him tick.

Secondly, I will explore the significance of his timing before thirdly speculating on whether his grand plan was fundamentally flawed and as such doomed to failure from the beginning or whether a different approach might have produced an altogether different outcome.

"I will then try fourthly to consider what lessons, if any, have been learned and applied in the intervening decades before fifthly and finally posing the question whether the historical controversies surrounding Leverhulme’s ideas remain relevant to more recent and current debates about the types of commercial activities which may or may not be compatible with the traditional ethos of the island.’

The lecture series is arranged by Comunn Eachdraidh na Pairc in partnership with e-Sgoil, the CnES Multi-Media Unit, the Islands Book Trust, and Angus Macleod’s family. The lecture will be live-streamed over the internet and will be shown in the e-Sgoil headquarters at 44 Francis Street, Stornoway, and possibly other venues.

Attendance at Pairc School is free, and all are welcome. Refreshments will be provided. We expect a big turnout for what is sure to be a thought-provoking lecture and a memorable occasion. For further details, please contact John Randall at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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

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

Lewis Chessmen held at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh were made available to everyone to view from every angle yesterday (Tuesday September 10th).

Although that doesn’t mean that anyone can pick them up and handle them, the technological solution found by the museum offers an experience which brings the pieces up very close indeed, without even leaving home.

The eleven pieces held in Edinburgh, which include two kings, three queens and a shield-biting berserker, have been scanned in 3D for a new project to make each piece available for close scrutiny.

The work’s been done by archaeologist, curator and 3D modeller Dr Hugo Anderson-Whymark, who said: “I loved modelling these beautiful things”. He used a program called Sketchfab, which allows designers and illustrators to create three-dimensional models from reality or from their imaginations.

The medieval Lewis chess pieces are among the most popular collections at the National Museum of Scotland, part of the large hoard discovered in Uig. The hoard contained 93 gaming pieces in total, including at least four chess sets as well as pieces from other games. Six of the pieces are on display at Museum nan Eilean at Lews Castle in Stornoway.

These new three-dimensional images will allow anyone to inspect each model from every angle, seeing tiny details including the grain of the walrus tusk from which they were made.

You can view the newly available 3D images via Sketchfab at https://sketchfab.com/3d-models/lewis-chess-pieces-complete-set-d279ce3fd0e44726a21286877c367a05 or following the link from the National Museums Scotland page at https://www.nms.ac.uk/lewischesspieces

Picture shows the 11 Lewis chessmen held in the Edinburgh collection (National Museums Scotland).

Lewis Wind Power (LWP), a joint venture between Amec Foster Wheeler and EDF Energy Renewables has bought the Uisenis Wind Farm project, which is due to be built on the Eishken Estate.

The Uisenis Wind Farm project has planning consent for the development of 45 turbines with a maximum capacity of 162 MW. This would be enough to power 124,000 homes, and would be the biggest renewable energy development on the Western Isles.

LWP owns the Stornoway Wind Farm project located around 20km to the north of Uisenis, which has planning consent to develop 36 turbines to a maximum capacity of 180 MW – enough to power 135,000 homes.

The joint capacity of up to 342MW is a crucial part of building the case for an interconnector to the Scottish mainland, which is estimated to require over 350MW of committed project power to be viable. The interconnector is essential to make sure electricity can be exported from the island to the wider UK electricity grid.

It is said that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar will have the option to partner with LWP to buy a share in the Uisenis wind farm, through a community benefit fund which will receive a proportion of the revenue. 

To mark the launch of the book, Scottish National Party Leaders, Mr Sandy Matheson, Lord Lieutenant of the Western Isles, will give a short talk about the life of the Western Isles' own Donald Stewart MP, at Lews Castle College on Friday 23rd September at 1.30pm.

Two years on from the Scottish independence referendum, and with the Scottish National Party (SNP) having gained significant electoral success in recent years, a new book edited by Professor James Mitchell and Dr Gerry Hassan charts the rise and impact of the leaders of the Party.

Donald Stewart was the first SNP Member of Parliament to be elected at a General Election in 1970. He then went on to be the President of the SNP in the 1980s.

Lews Castle College UHI Open Day

Wednesday 1st October between 1.30 pm and 6.30pm. 

Come and see what LCC can offer you!

·      Find out about the wide range of courses on offer at Further and Higher Education level;

·      have a tour of the college campus;

·      meet students and discuss their experience of studying at LCC.

 

Fill in our short questionnaire and win a prize!

For pupils/young people we are giving away up to four Segway Hebrides tickets.

For adults we are offering the chance to win a meal for 2 at Digby Chick  worth £60.

 

If you want to speak to a member of staff please call us on 01851-770000 or visit our website

We look forward to welcoming you between 1.30 and 6.30 on the 1st of October and showing you what we have to offer!

A new shipment of aid is being prepared to leave Stornoway for Eastern Europe next week.

But this time the humanitarian gift is not of furniture, clothes and schoolbooks, but of lifesaving fire and rescue equipment, and the skills to use it.

Three former Stornoway firefighters have spent the past months working with Blythswood Care and SERA – the Scottish Emergency Rescue Association – to prepare a 12-tonne Mercedes fire appliance for the long journey to Moldova.

Mechanic Ian Murray, electrician David Campbell and council greenkeeper Alec Maclennan will be taking annual leave from Wednesday September 25th and joining up with a SERA convoy in Edinburgh as they drive two fire engines and two ambulances the 2,200 miles to Nisporeni in Moldova.

The retired Stornoway fire appliance was made available for the charity effort by Fire Scotland, as Ian explained to welovestornoway.com: “It’s like updating your phone – the phone still works but you might want the additional capabilities of a new model. When that happens with fire appliances they still have thousands of hours use in them, but they may not be up to current standards here and are decommissioned by Fire Scotland.

“We have been fortunate to get access to three such appliances to prepare for deliver from Stornoway over the past three years, and over 500 sets of breathing apparatus have already gone over to Eastern Europe.”

The importance of such equipment can’t be overstated. Ian explained that Moldovan fire services can be available in larger communities but not in rural places, comparable to having a service in Stornoway, but not in Ness or Leverburgh. In SERA’s first year of operation (2007) a young girl drowned in a river on the very day the Scottish team arrived in Serbia – firefighters did not have the equipment to carry out a rescue nor recover the young girl's body from the river.

Returning in 2008 with fire engines, an ambulance and water rescue equipment, the SERA team were met by a Serbian firefighter who had driven for three hours to tell of a rescue of a father and three children trapped in a car in a river. Before the equipment and training had been donated, he said that the children would have certainly died and possibly the father as well.

A spokesman for SERA said: “This was the reason he drove three hours each way just to say thank you and the night we decided that we can't stop what we were doing.”

The Stornoway team has been involved in the annual aid convoy for several years, and Ian himself has made the trip seven times. But much of the work is done well before the team even get their refurbished vehicle to the Stornoway ferry.

Ian said: “Bringing the redundant fire equipment to Stornoway means the combined efforts of the island business community can go towards a mammoth servicing and upgrading task. Not just the appliance itself, but redundant Fire Scotland equipment such as water pumps, road traffic trauma kits, uniforms and breathing apparatus will be taken over and the ambulances will meet the need for transport to take casualties to medical help.

“We’ve had tremendous help from island people with servicing, body-work and raising funds to buy additional essentials like generators. The work we have all done on the appliance and equipment means it’s good to carry on for 10 years of useful life. All that is possible thanks to donations of funds and services from numerous local businesses and organisations.”

Leaving Stornoway on Wednesday September 25th, this year the three Stornoway men will be part of a 13-man team who will travel from Edinburgh via Hull and Rotterdam, driving four-hour shifts round the clock until they reach Nisporeni on the evening of Sunday September 29th. On Monday 30th they start training up to 40 firefighters in the use of ladders, breathing apparatus and road traffic collision equipment.

On Friday night (October 4th) a formal reception will be held after a gathering where newly-trained firefighters demonstrate their skills for the mayor, council leader, Moldovan fire service leaders and the British ambassador to Moldova. Keys to each donated vehicle will be formally handed over to the new crews.

Representing the community of Stornoway will be Cllr Charlie Nicolson, who is a trustee of SERA and who heads to Moldova by air next week, with a programme of additional work including the distribution of aid to schools and community centres.

The Stornoway fire team will fly back to Glasgow on Saturday October 5th, reaching Stornoway the next day and going back to work on Monday, but Ian says the hard-working team would not have it any other way.

He told welovestornoway.com: “I love it. It’s so rewarding meeting the guys and becoming friends with them. I have learnt a few words of the language and I keep in touch with them on social media. Even here at home it’s really rewarding – everybody seems to want to get involved, which is amazing.”

Pictures show some of the fire and rescue equipment heading for Moldova (SERA) and Stornoway team members Alex Maclennan (left) and David Campbell with the Mercedes fire engine and one of many donations from local businesses (Ian Murray).


Airport staff who set out to cycle from Eilean Glas lighthouse to the Butt of Lewis on Saturday (September 8th) believe they may double the money they hoped to raise for cancer charities.


Airport staff who set out to cycle from Eilean Glas lighthouse to the Butt of Lewis on Saturday (September 8th) believe they may double the money they hoped to raise for cancer charities.

A convoy of vehicles carrying 15 cyclists, their kit, cycles and support staff left Stornoway airport at 6.30am on Saturday, headed for an epic 135k trip to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Care and Western Isles Cancer Care Initiative (WICCI).

Once they reached Scalpay there was a three-mile walk to make sure the challenge really did start at Eilean Glas lighthouse, but it soon became obvious that there was a good reason for a quick getaway. Challenge team leader Donald Macmillan said: “The midges were horrendous in Scalpay, so we were glad to get on the bikes and get underway!”

A lighthouse support vessel more familiar with Stornoway harbour has taken her place in the Port of London, with a crew including Western Islanders aboard.

The Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB) vessel NLV Pharos services marine aids to navigation in Scotland, but this week she is playing a significant role at London International Shipping Week.

She made a spectacular entrance on Saturday (September 7th) under Tower Bridge, with Pipe Major Steve Duffy playing her into her berth on the Thames from the helicopter deck.

She’ll stay alongside HMS Belfast until 13th September as a venue for shipping week seminars, meetings and receptions, including the hosting of a major careers event for Maritime UK and prestigious events for the Met Office, UK Chamber of Shipping, and the Department for Transport (DfT).

Pharos usually works from Oban in Scottish and Isle of Man waters, supporting the maintenance and refurbishment of NLB’s lighthouses, as well as conducting buoy operations.

A number of islanders are on board during her stay in the Thames, including second mate Murdo Maciver. Pharos was last in port at Stornoway two weeks ago.

Mike Bullock, NLB’s Chief Executive said: “The vessel’s presence in the Thames is an opportunity to showcase our work to a global audience and we are delighted that NLV Pharos will be taking such a high profile role at London International Shipping Week.”

Earlier this year, the work of Pharos and her crew was featured on the BBC’s Countryfile Winter Diaries and NLB’s patron HRH the Princess Royal was interviewed on board Pharos for the One Show.

Pictures show PM Steve Duffy piping Pharos to her berth on Saturday, and the Pharos alongside HMS Belfast, with her deck and marquee set out as a reception venue last night (Niki Wilson).

(This report has been updated to correct the name of Murdo Maciver.  Apologies for the error)

Preparations are well underway for this year's Linda Norgrove Foundation 10K which will be held on Saturday October 3, on the Valtos Peninsula.

The event, organized by Kirsty and Tony Wade, will start at the Cnip end of Reef Beach at 12 noon and both runners and walkers of all ages are welcome.

You can bring your dog too, but please keep it on a lead to prevent accidents.

As last year, there will be soup and home baking at the old fire station at Miavaig for all those who take part.

The Linda Norgrove Foundation 10K is nearly upon us!

Organisers Lorna and John say: "We hope you can come and run or walk around the Bhaltos Peninsula with us this Saturday, the 30th of September.

"We will be starting at 12 noon at Reef Beach, all ages and abilities are welcome, weans in pushchairs, dogs on leads.

Three more lucky winners from different areas across the Western Isles have scooped prize funds in the third Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery draw.
And local company Lewis Builders Ltd have delivered its commitment to the island lottery with a donation for the next Cash Bolt-On Prize.
Held on Saturday, September 2nd, the third draw in the new local lottery was won by Murdo I Maciver (Tong) who took the first prize of £147.96.

Three more lucky winners from different areas across the Western Isles have scooped prize funds in the third Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery draw.
And local company Lewis Builders Ltd have delivered its commitment to the island lottery with a donation for the next Cash Bolt-On Prize.
Held on Saturday, September 2nd, the third draw in the new local lottery was won by Murdo I Maciver (Tong) who took the first prize of £147.96.

Cash raised for local communities through the newly launched Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery is now well into the thousands.

Organisers of the scheme, now approaching its sixth draw, said the total may top £4,500 by the time they pay out to designated local groups for the first time in a fortnight.

At least 60p from every ticket sold goes to support the Western Isles from the Butt to Barra in schemes designed to improve the local environment and promote social and recreational opportunities.

The Lochs Gaelic Choir was formed as a ladies choir in 1951 – but it wasn’t until 1957 that it became a mixed choir…and the rest, as they say, is history!

This means that, at the upcoming National Mod in Fort William, the full choir will be, amazingly, celebrating its 60th Birthday.

Like every group that has been in existence for 60 years, it has seen much change: Perhaps there have been over 300 men and women whom the choir has brought together over the years, through changing fashions and kilt lengths, and who have all had the opportunity to be Sopranos, Altos, Tenors and Basses under a Lochie banner…but in its essence, we would hope that much of the choirs original purpose and outlook still remains today.

Lochs are the Lewis and Harris Football league champions for 2015. 

The maroons needed just a point to pip Point to the title, but turned on a fine display at home to beat Ness by four goals to one. 

The triumph comes on the 20th anniversary of Lochs' first ever league title, in 1995.

 

A new app launched yesterday (Monday September 2nd) by Loganair will make booking flights easier, especially for people using an ADS discount.

Customers will be able to make new bookings, manage existing bookings, store flight details, check-in and download mobile boarding passes, with island flyers able to store Air Discount Scheme (ADS) details and use them to make future reservations.

Airline Loganair has today introduced a new compassionate travel policy on its 19 Scottish routes to give eligible customers access to a 50 per cent discounted fare in times of a family emergency.

The compassionate fare, developed in partnership with the Facebook campaign page established by Shetland-based Scott Preston and James Stewart, will offer the reduced rate flights and flexibility to customers who need to make bookings at short notice on compassionate grounds.

Both Loganair and the campaign’s volunteers have worked together to agree the terms, conditions and process of the policy – believed to be the first of its kind for a UK commercial airline.

Lying out in the sun - well, yesterday at least - on the slipway at South Bragar beach is a refugee from the Atlantic Ocean…and its arrival has been logged by local people anxious to know the origin of this particularly large piece of sea ware.

The five-metre log is encrusted with barnacles and has clearly been adrift in the ocean for many months…and one theory about its origins is that it comes from the Caribbean.

But what local people would like is some analysis of the timber itself which might give a clue as to where it has drifted from.  

So are there any dendrologists out there with a yen for unravelling oceanic puzzles…or who want to branch out with a spot of detective work.

The 'Tom Sanderson' RNLI Lifeboat

The volunteer crew of Stornoway RNLI were out on shout for over six hours yesterday as the 'Tom Sanderson' lifeboat launched to the aid of a broken down fishing boat.

Stornoway's Severn-class RNLI lifeboat launched at 1530 hours yesterday (Tuesday, September 20th) to the aid of an 18m fishing boat which had suffered engine failure and was situated around ten nautical miles north of the Butt of Lewis.

Weather on arrival at the scene was challenging with winds of up to 30knots and a large confused swell.

The lifeboat boys quickly established a tow line between the two vessels and a course set for Stornoway harbour.

The casualty was safely alongside at around 2300 hours, and the volunteer crew back to their homes nearly seven hours after launching.

Staff at Stornoway police station were faced with an unusual problem on Saturday afternoon (September 7th) – trying to find someone who likes chocolate!

A large number of chocolate bars were found on Lewis Street, outside Bain Morrison/Buildbase at 11.55am on Saturday. They are all one brand and were not in a box or bag.

The unusual lost property was handed over the desk at Stornoway Police Station and left Christine Macleod, who handles the lost property record, scratching her head, but determined to find the owner.

Christine has a talent for reuniting owners with their property, having recently got a wedding ring back to its owner after it was lost on a beach. She told welovestornoway.com: “I have ways and means, but this one is puzzling.”

If you think the chocolate is yours and can describe it fully, contact Stornoway Police on the non-emergency number 101, or call into Stornoway police station.

Meantime it will be kept with the glasses, phones and key-rings which are more usually handed in. The chocolate will be kept for two months and then donated to a local charity if not claimed.

The coach who led Lewis and Harris women’s football team to glory has been honoured with a high accolade from the Scottish Football Association and the wider football community.

Euan ‘Moley’ Macleod was named People’s Choice with merit at the Scottish FA’s grassroots award ceremony, in association with the Sunday Mail and McDonalds.

The awards were presented at a ceremony last night (Thursday September 19th) after voting closed the previous day. Euan had already won a grassroots award for the North region, putting him in contention for the overall People’s Choice award - the only one selected by public vote.

In the citation for his nomination, the Scottish FA said: “Euan works tirelessly to nurture and develop girl's and women’s football in the Western Isles. He manages and coaches the Lewis & Harris Women’s Football team as well as the women’s football team who represent the Western Isles at the International Island games…He has successfully taken teams to three World Island Games and has not only dedicated time during the run up to the event, but sourced a huge amount of local sponsorship and funding to reduce the cost for the players.

“He plans morning gym sessions, training sessions and weekends away to the mainland to play games and dedicates a huge amount of time off the pitch to ensure the club and the Island has the resources available to play competitive football while running the club efficiently.”

Commenting after receiving the award, Euan said: “Gee Whiz. I could not be prouder. Everyone from the Western Isles, this is our award. Any number of coaches from the WI could have been in my shoes tonight, I am just the lucky guy, who is part of the most unbelievable team. Thank you everyone who voted.”
Euan is pictured at the award ceremony last night (Scottish FA).

Lynn Maclean School of Dancing

The girls are busy preparing for the North of Scotland Championships, and the Mod, both of which take place in October.

They range in age from 9 to 16 years, with the younger girls dancing for the first time in the Intermediate Section, and five of the older girls taking part in the Pre-Championship Section, of the North of Scotland Championships. 

Highland Dancing is becoming evermore popular on the Western Isles, with more and more dancers entering local competitions.  With competitors from all over Scotland coming together for the North of Scotland Championships, it is a great chance for dancers from the Island to take part in something larger. 

The girls won't have long to recuperate, as, within a week, they will also be taking part in the Highland Dancing Competition at the Mod in Inverness.

Later in the year, some dancers will also be travelling as far as Thurso. 

We wish them all the best as they leave in October to represent their dance school, their dance teacher, Lynn Maclean, and the Western Isles. Good Luck Girls!

The Stornoway-based television production company MacTV is now owned by its 18 staff, after its former MD offered it to them as he retired.

Bill Morrison offered the independent TV company to employees to ensure that the business stayed in Stornoway and kept its community-led ethos.

MacTV is one of the biggest producers of programming for BBC Alba. Since 2001 it has produced documentary, arts and music programmes in Gaelic and in English including popular series like Trusadh and An Lot. It has also been involved international co-productions with companies in Canada, Ireland, Iceland and Wales.

An employee ownership trust now holds 90% of the shares, thanks to support from Co-operative Development Scotland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

A MacTV statement said: “In the 18 years since it was established, the hugely talented and hardworking team here at MacTV have helped build a highly regarded production company which is recognised at both a national and international level for producing important and compelling programming with Scotland’s unique spirit at its heart. With a workforce truly rooted in the community, the passion, skills and local knowledge of our staff is vital to the quality of our output.

“A traditional trade sale may have seen us bought by a competitor, potentially risking job security and compromising our offering. Employee ownership ensures that the company is owned by and run for the benefit of those most close to it, while providing ongoing economic benefit to the area by anchoring the work and jobs in the local community.”

Picture shows Bill Morrison and MacTV staff celebrating the change of ownership this week (MacTV).

'Stornoway Legends' - Abby Jo, Amy Kayleigh, and Chanelle

This Saturday will see local equine centre Lochside Arena hosting its second British Dressage Team Quest and its first ever 'My Quest' Regional Finals.  

Local riders will compete in both teams and as individuals in the hope of scoring enough points to quality for the National Finals at Bury Farm in November.

The local Dressage league began in February this year with monthly competitions organised by the Lochside Committee, drawing Dressage judges from all over the country to come up to adjudicate.  

'Stornopoly', a Stornoway Monopoly - an idea thought up by Point's own Steven Ferguson - is set to be produced by Winning Moves, but your help is required to get the game onto the shelves.

Winning Moves have agreed to make the game on one condition - that there is proof that 1,000 units of the game will sell. 

A Kickstarter page has been set up to raise the money needed £21,000, and you can donate here to make sure that Stornoway Monopoly some day sits proudly on your coffee table.

And your donation can get you something even more special in return. 

A second call for applications to a fund to improve accessibility on Scotland’s ferry network has been announced by Minister for Transport and the Islands Humza Yousaf.

The next stage of the Ferries Accessibility Fund is open to bids from the public and private sector, and aims to make improvements to existing vessels and harbours that go beyond regulatory standards set for accessibility.

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Saturday (September 9th) turned out to be a beautiful day for making memories, as the Lewis and Harris branch of Alzheimer Scotland put their best feet forward on the annual memory walk.

A total of 94 adults, 12 children and four dogs were in high spirits setting out from the Bridge Centre to walk around the castle grounds in the sunshine. Marion MacInnes of the local Alzheimers group said people had varying motivations for getting involved:

“Some people walk to support the cause, for the company or in memory of someone dear to them who has or had dementia. We were so pleased with the numbers – almost double the turnout of last year, and the weather certainly helped!”

Police in the Western Isles have charged a man in connection with a theft from Bùth an Rubha community shop in the Point.

The 23-year-old was arrested following the incident which took place at the former Knock School premises overnight on Monday September 18. 

A man who was reportedly a supply teacher at The Nicolson Institute in Stornoway is to appear in court next month (October) charged with sexual offences.

Police Scotland today (Wednesday September 18 th ) confirmed that a 60-year-old man has been charged with sexual offences and is due to appear at Stornoway Sheriff Court in October 2019.

He had been working as a supply teacher at an un-named Lewis school, widely reported to be the Nicolson Institute.

A spokesman for Comhairle nan Eilean Siar said that they were aware of the charges and had taken appropriate steps.

A MAN has died after being knocked down by a car in Benbecula.

The accident occurred at the A865 at Ford Terrace, Creagorry, on Thursday evening.

Police investigators have travelled to the scene where enquiries are ongoing.

A 52-year old man whose body was recovered from the sea off South Harris last weekend has not yet been named.

Emergency services including Coastguard rescue teams from Tarbert and Scalpay attended to the man shortly after 4pm last Saturday (September 2).  Police have confirmed that the man was from the Leverburgh area of the island.

A 47-year-old man was appearing in court today (Tuesday September 18th) for the third time in 36 hours.

The man was taken into custody at the weekend and charged with drink-driving and with a number of breaches of bail conditions.

He was kept in custody and appeared at Stornoway Sheriff court on Monday, and at Inverness this morning.

His third appearance was this afternoon.

Man charged with shoplifting

A 61-year-old man was traced by police after a report of shoplifting from the Co-op superstore in Stornoway at 11.23am on Saturday (September 15th).

Police were called by staff after alcohol was taken from the shop without payment. The man was traced, cautioned and charged with theft and will be reported to the Procurator Fiscal.

Car on roof on Barvas moor

Police were called to Barvas moor just after 4am on Sunday (16th September) after reports that a car had left the road, hit a wall and was on its roof beside the road.

An 18-year-old man was found to be alone in the car and had suffered lacerations and other non-life-threatening injuries.

He was taken to hospital by ambulance after being treated by paramedics at the scene.

Blood tests were taken and charges may follow the incident depending on the outcome of the tests.

Road Policing Officers are appealing for information after a 72 year-old man died following a road crash near Carloway community centre yesterday (Wednesday 11 September). 

Around 10.30am yesterday, police were called to a report of a road crash involving a Ford Transit van and a camper van. 

The 72 year-old driver of the camper van was taken by ambulance to Western Isles Hospital, where he died earlier today (Thursday 12 September).

The 60 year-old female passenger in the camper van, the 51 year-old driver of the Ford Transit van and his 31 year-old male passenger were uninjured.

Sergeant David Miller from the Road Policing Department based at Dingwall Police Station is appealing for any information.  He said:  “Our enquiries are ongoing into the cause of this crash, and we are appealing to any witnesses, or anyone driving on that road around the time of the crash who has dash-cam to contact us. 

“Anyone with information that may assist our investigation should contact Police Scotland through 101 quoting reference number 0965 of 11 September 2019.”

The A858 between the Doune Braes hotel and Carloway bridge remained closed in both directions until 3am this morning, with queues of local traffic building up in the evening as people returned home from town.

Western Isles police co-ordinated the multi-agency emergency response, with teams of firefighters from Shawbost and Stornoway attending as well as Scottish Ambulance.

A diversion was put in place via Pentland Road as the road was closed following the accident.

The victim was airlifted to Western Isles hospital by Coastguard helicopter R948, which had been on exercise over the north Minch when emergency services were tasked.

Stornoway Coastguard Rescue Team were called to man the landing site in Stornoway, while police, fire crews from Shawbost and Stornoway and an ambulance attended the accident itself.

The pictures show rescue helicopter R948 leaving the scene of the accident (Alasdair MacMillan) and coastguard and ambulance personnel awaiting its arrival at WI Hospital (HM Coastguard Western Isles Skye and Lochaber).

 

Tarbert Marina in Harris sees a major development this month with the installation of a floating concrete breakwater.

And this brings the Inverness-based firm Gael Force Engineering back to the Hebrides where it began in Stornoway almost a quarter of a century ago.

This is the firm’s first floating concrete breakwater which the firm sees as “an enormous achievement” for itself as a pontoon manufacturer, and a logical step, combining over 20 years of experience in marina design, manufacture, and installation combined with an equally renowned proficiency in complex concrete fabrication.

Hundreds of people are believed to have signed a petition opposing plans to reorganise the market in Perceval Square, in the centre of Stornoway.
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is proposing a big rise in charges, limits on the size of stalls and a ban on wheeled vehicles except for gaining access to the square.
This has led to protests from the many customers of the Gourmet Food operation who would lose out.  In addition, the Lewis and Harris Horticultural Producers Association has pointed out that it has had a small wheeled trailer in the square for many years without complaint.

This month, entrepreneurs from the Western Isles have the chance to attend a workshop that will leave them pitch perfect.

Business leaders will develop and hone their business pitches thanks to workshops organised by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) through its Entrepreneurial Academy.

The pitching skills workshop, which is free to attend, takes place in Stornoway on 19th September 2018 and will be followed by a workshop on brand development in 2019. The workshops aim to help entrepreneurs of businesses and social enterprises, and their employees, improve skills in these key business topics. 

Stornoway RNLI lifeboat launched last night (Wednesday, September 6th) at 2115 hours to reports of red flares being spotted between the Point Peninsula and the Shiant Islands.

The RNLI lifeboat launched at the request of Stornoway Coastguard and, along with fishery protection vessel ‘Minna’, commenced a search from the Shiants in a northerly heading towards Point.

Two award-winning filmmakers are coming to the Hebrides International Film Festival in person this year to give masterclasses on their craft.

Extreme wildlife filmmaker and photographer Asgeir Helgestad and stop-motion animation director, set designer and model maker Catherine Prowse will both be giving masterclasses in the An Lanntair Pocket Cinema – Asgeir on Friday at 5.30pm and Catherine on Saturday at 2.30pm.

The film festival – taking place in venues across the Outer Hebrides from Thursday to Saturday (September 12 to 14) – is also screening films by Asgeir, from Norway, and London-based Catherine, so festival-goers will be able to enjoy their work as well as hearing about how they make it.

The films are Asgeir’s Queen Without Land, which follows the fortunes of a polar bear mother in the Norwegian Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, and Catherine’s Laymun, a short animation based in a war-torn Middle Eastern city where a woman fights the destruction and desolation around her by planting lemon trees.

Laymun has won three Royal Television Society awards, among others, and been screened at festivals around the world. In her masterclass, Catherine will be discussing her work and career, including how she creates the animations, followed by a question and answer session.

Multi-award-winning film Queen Without Land follows the story of beautiful polar bear Frost in Svalbard, the land of absolute darkness in winter and midnight sun in summer, where the disappearing sea ice has pushed life to the brink. As Frost is forced further inland, Asgeir is determined to find her and document all that is being lost, but his task is difficult and sometimes dangerous.

Asgeir has been working as a wildlife filmmaker and photographer since 1991 and been influenced by the vast landscapes, beautiful light and majestic animals of Norway, where he grew up.

He shoots in Ultra High Definition (8K), using the RED Epic W camera system, and his still photography and films have won him several international awards including prizes at the Wildscreen Film Festival and Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Queen without Land has won several awards including Best Environmental Film at the WFF in 2018.

Asgeir’s masterclass will focus on camera work in extreme location and the skills needed to capture the natural environment and wildlife. He will also be bringing his message of ‘wildlife filmmaking as climate activism' to the film festival. And he too will do a question and answer session.

Asgeir said: “I have never been to the Hebrides before and I am so excited to come and experience the wonderful nature there.

“I suppose it can be cold and windy now, but possibly not comparable to Svalbard. On Svalbard temperature rarely gets under -35 to -40C, but in combination with wind that can feel quite insane, especially if flying a drone or using touch-screens which is difficult with gloves. I will talk about filming in the cold and about how it is to work with polar bears who might find you too interesting. “Nevertheless, temperatures are rarely that cold anymore on Svalbard, as the average temperature has risen 5.6C and it even rains during the winter. This affects the whole ecosystem and even creates problems for reindeer that can't access their food when it’s covered with ice. These islands used to be surrounded by ice during the winter, but now it is more often surrounded by open water.”

The situation has moved beyond urgent, according to Asgeir.

“I am afraid it is too late to save the Arctic ecosystem as we know it. Our politicians will take action some time in the future, but the future is already here, and especially on Svalbard. Therefore, I would also like to discuss wildlife filmmaking as climate activism and what it means to be working in and for nature. I think it is important to have enough time for Q&A with the audience, as such issues need discussion and dialogue.”

Muriel Ann Macleod, Creative Director and Programmer of HIFF, is delighted to be providing the filmmaking masterclasses this year, thanks to funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

She said: “It’s skills development so we’ve brought in people who have unusually high-quality skills and we’re opening it up to filmmakers and students in the Hebrides. We have a collective of people who are making film, young and old, and this is about encouraging everybody in the community to think about making more film and these filmmakers are inspiring people.”

Another aspect of bringing filmmakers into the islands is that “very often they don’t know about the place and what it looks like”, so they might end up wanting to make film here.

Muriel Ann said the filmmaking masterclasses were “not an easy thing to put together” because, as well as looking for people “who had something special”, they also had to have a recent film out, which the film festival could book, and they had to be available themselves.

“We are really grateful to both of them for coming here,” she said, “because it’s a chunk out of both their lives to do it, especially to come to the island.”

She said Asgeir was “very interesting because he goes out and does everything himself”, in extreme environments with his high-level equipment. “He’s putting his life at risk to do it and in the film you see him almost being eaten by a polar bear.”

Catherine, meanwhile, is notable for being “a young talented individual, working in London and directing animation and making animation”. She is relatively new out of college but has won awards for her model making and paper animation.

“This is inspiring because this is what a young person has managed to do in a short period,” said Muriel Ann.

For more information, including details of all the screenings, visit: www.hebfilmfestival.org/hiff-2019. Printed programmes are also widely available.

Tickets for the rural venues can be bought through the website by following the links to the Eventbrite marketplace but tickets for the An Lanntair films must be bought through the art centre’s own website at: www.lanntair.com.

Follow the Hebrides International Film Festival on social media – on Facebook at @HebFilmFestival and Twitter at @HebIntFilmFest – for regular updates

 

The Norwegian cargo vessel Fame made her way to Stornoway late last night (Thursday September 20th) tying up at west no. 1 pier in Stornoway harbour just after 10.30pm.

It’s not known why she ran aground in East Loch Tarbert early on Sunday morning, given that there were no exceptional tidal or weather conditions.

The Maritime & Coastguard Agency has been developing a Revised Code of Practice for Small Fishing Vessels which proposes new requirements for new and existing vessels.

This follows recommendations from the Marine Accident Investigation Board to improve safety on small fishing vessels.

The MCA is holding a roadshow in Stornoway Town Hall on Tuesday 1st October from noon-3pm.

Local MP Angus MacNeil MP said: “I am pleased to see that the MCA is consulting on the Revised Small Fishing Vessel Code and that they are looking for fishermen to share their thoughts and provide input into this consultation.

“Safety at sea must always be priority and improving safety features on fishing boats is vital.

“The MCA will be holding a roadshow in the Stornoway Town Hall on Tuesday 1st October between 12 noon and 3pm and I would encourage fishermen to attend."

 

 

Business Gateway's "Meet the Marketing and Social Media Adviser" day will take place on Monday 5th October, and appointments are still available.

This is an opportunity for businesses to get hands-on, tailored support to help with any aspects of marketing.

Claire Macleod and Diane Murray will be based in the Highlands and Islands Enterprise office for the day, providing hour-long, one-to-one appointments.

They will be able to advise on various marketing issues such as Facebook business pages, and free cloud-based marketing tools.

They will also look at reviewing product literature/advertising/packaging or any other area of marketing to ensure you are making the most of cost-effective and up-to-date marketing tools to support your business.

Please contact the Business Gateway office on 01851 822775 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for an appointment.

These sessions are fully funded by Business Gateway.

A MEETING to update patients on out-of-hours services will take place in Tarbert next week.

In the near future, North Harris Medical Practice will no longer be able to provide out-of-hours cover for its patients due to the departure of one GP earlier this year and the anticipated retirement of another in December.

The meeting, organised by NHS Western Isles, will take place on Monday (September 22) at Sir E. Scott School, at 7.30pm, and all members of the local community are welcome to attend. 

In attendance will be the Health Board’s Medical Director, Dr Angus McKellar, as well as Western Isles GP, Dr Dave Rigby, and Community Lead Nurse, Kathleen McCulloch.

A MEMORIAL to honour the fishing industry of Ness has been unveiled.

The 9 foot high stainless steel structure, manufactured by Gordon Diesel Services Ltd. in Stornoway, and designed by John Murdo Macleod, is in the form of a tripod linked by two double-sided rectangular plaques and topped with the outline of a 'Sgoth Niseach'.

For a full report on the unveiling, see the next issue of EVENTS magazine.

A WESTERN Isles mental health charity has been awarded £10,000 grant funding by NHS Western Isles.

Western Isles Association for Mental Health (WIAMH) based in Bayhead, Stornoway, provides a drop-in base, known as Catch 23, which supports people by providing an informal, relaxed and safe place for people to meet and discuss issues, without the fear of being judged by the stigma of mental health and the issues that surround it. 

The drop-in is an adult service and is available to those who are experiencing or have experienced mental health difficulties. Their carers, friends, relatives and members of the general public are also very welcome.

Activities within the drop-in centre include art sessions, creative writing and access to a garden. Free internet access is available as well as healthy eating information and tea and coffee making facilities.

The MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan has marked Merchant Navy Day, which took place on 3rd September.
 
3rd September is chosen as it also marks the anniversary of the sinking of merchant vessel SS Athenia which was torpedoed just a few hours after war was declared on Germany in 1939. The sinking resulted in the loss of 128 passengers and crew.

On Merchant Navy Day, 3 September, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar will fly the Red Ensign at its headquarters on Sandwick Road to raise awareness of the UK’s ongoing dependence on Merchant Navy seafarers

The Comhairle is supporting a nationwide call from the Seafarers UK charity and the Merchant Navy Association for the UK Merchant Navy’s official flag to be flown on public buildings and landmark flagstaffs.

The charity’s president, HRH The Earl of Wessex, has endorsed the campaign, saying: ‘On this Merchant Navy Day, I very much hope you will support this campaign to remember the sacrifices, salute the courage and support the future of the often unsung personnel of our Merchant Navy.’

The UK relies on Merchant Navy seafarers for 95% of our imports, including half the food we eat. The UK has the largest ports industry in Europe with 75% of our exports (by volume) shipped from UK ports, some of which are supporting the campaign by encouraging visiting ships to sound their horns at 10am on 3 September.

 

www.merchantnavyfund.org/merchant-navy-day

 

Members of the Western Isles branch of the Merchant Navy Association gathered with guests, including the Lord Lieutenant of the Western Isles Sandy Matheson, to mark Merchant Navy Day.
The event took place in the Ferry Terminal on Stornoway's Number Three pier at midday today.There was an introduction by Captain Duncan Gordon, who chairs the Western Isles Branch of the MNA.  Then were readings and prayers by Superintendent Finlay Macleod, port missioner with the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen.
There was also a placing of wreaths and a two-minute silence in memory of lost colleagues

THE local branch of the Merchant Navy Assocation held their Annual Service of remembrance at the Gun Site of the former Royal Naval Reserves at Inaclete, Battery Point.

Representatives from the Royal Air Force Association and the Royal British Legion attended with Standards. 

The Service was conducted by Supt. Finlay Macleod MNM from Stornoway Fishermen’s Mission during which a wreath commemorating former seamen was laid by the Lord Lieutenant Sandy Matheson OBE. 

The Ode was given out by Mr William Macfarlane, Melbost National Treasurer for the Merchant Navy Association.

If the Hebrides International Film Festival does anything this year, it will hopefully “make us pause for a minute and think about what we are doing to the planet and the island”.

That was the message from film festival curator Muriel Ann Macleod on today’s opening day of the festival (Wednesday, September 19).

The fifth Hebrides International Film Festival is taking place in venues throughout the Outer Hebrides from now until Saturday (September 22) – and Muriel Ann said it raised “important questions locally”, such as whether we were “really doing enough to preserve the seas of the Hebrides”. 

A devolved migration policy is needed for Scotland because the UK Government’s 'hostile environment” policy for migrants will damage to Islands' economy and public services.

A report on Scotland’s Population Needs and Migration Policy warns that all of Scotland’s population growth over the next 25 years is projected to come from migration – with more deaths projected than births in every year.

Analysis by the Scottish Government also found that Westminster proposals to cut migration by tens of thousands would cost the Scottish economy up to £10 billion per year by 2040.

National Records of Scotland population projections show a decrease for the Western Isles of 4.8% by 2026, with the figures being even more stark for the working-age population.

Certain sectors of the economy and public services like the NHS in the Western Isles are reliant on labour from outside the UK. Without migration, these demographic issues would be exacerbated as an ageing population leaves Scotland with fewer working-age taxpayers.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan MSP said: “The islands need migrants and it’s vital that we continue to attract people to live and work here.

“The Western Isles host people from all over the world who have chosen to make this place their home. Whether we are talking about chefs from Nepal, health professionals from Poland or fishing crews from outside the EEA –  for which my colleague Angus Brendan MacNeil MP has been such a relentless champion at Westminster. These people make valuable contributions to our economy, public services and communities.

“However, the Tory government’s anti-immigrant obsession and narrow-minded Brexit rhetoric is currently driving people away from Scotland, and putting vital public services in the islands at risk. This is harmful to industries such as the food and drink sector, and damaging public services such as our NHS – and this is all before we have even felt the full impact of Brexit.

“The best solution to all these issues is for the Tories to devolve powers over migration to the Scottish Parliament – and give us the ability to create a migration system that works for Scotland and the islands.”

The concept of a tax for motorhomes travelling to the Western Isles is being pushed after new figures showed a 1000 percent rise in numbers of the vehicles crossing the Minch in the last decade.

SNP MSP for the Isles Alasdair Allan has written to the Minister for Transport and the Islands, Humza Yousaf MSP, asking if a “motorhome levy” could be considered with proceeds used to improve local infrastructure.

mneTV, the prominent and award-winning independent television production company, has announced that it will not seek to continue its involvement in Gaelic programming when its current volume deal contract with MG ALBA comes to an end in June 2017. 

“We are immensely proud of our contribution to the development of Gaelic language and culture since the company was formed in 1989”, says Chief Executive Allan Mac Donald who worked for 14 years in Gaelic TV production and management for both BBC and Grampian TV, before setting up mneTV nearly 30 years ago. 

THE Moderator of the Church of Scotland took time to visit the Fishermen's Mission in Stornoway on his tour of the Western Isles.

The Right Rev John P Chalmers and Mrs Chalmers heard about the challenges and work done at the Stornoway Mission, and during his visit he presented Supt Finlay Macleod MNM with a stained glass icon of the dove of peace with an olive branch in its beak, handmade from blasted glass debris in Bethlehem.

Reflecting on his visit to the Isles later he said: "The days we spent in the Western Isles will stand out as significant and unforgettable when we have time to reflect on our time in office."

A play based on the story of Stornoway schoolgirl Molly Campbell, who ran away to Pakistan nine years ago, will showcase at An Lanntair tomorrow night.

Delving into the cross-cultural love story at the heart of the ‘abduction’ story, Sudha Bhuchar’s critically acclaimed play is based on interviews with Molly and her family in Stornoway and Pakistan after they became the centre of a media whirlwind. 

From these interviews Sudha created a moving and original verbatim play, revealing a cross-cultural love story that began in early 1980s Glasgow, a world away from the frantic ‘tug of love’ documented in the world's press.

Success for the island’s women footballers continues to make headlines, with the announcement this week (Wednesday September 3rd) that Lewis and Harris women’s team striker Mary Macleod has been signed by Inverness Caley Thistle.

Mary impressed ICT women’s team manager Karen Mason after showing off her skills at the Caley stadium last month, with a hat-trick during the Highlands and Islands cup final win.

The news comes alongside congratulations for three Lewis girls who have been selected for a coach development programme by the Scottish Football Association.

The programme is part of a 12-month project called ’20 Under 20’, designed to recruit 20 of the most talented female players in Scotland, interested in coaching and with a passion for football.

Point goalkeeper Chloe Nicolson, who plays for Rangers women, and Stornoway girl Kayleigh Mackenzie, a forward with Inverness Caley Thistle have been successful in joining the scheme, together with Shana Macphail. Chloe and Kayleigh are in S6 at the Nicolson Institute.

Meanwhile Ballallan’s Rachael Johnstone earned her fifth Scotland cap last week, when she kept goal for Scotland in a friendly match in Slovenia.

The picture shows striker Mary Macleod at the recent Highlands and Islands cup win (Trevor Martin).

MG ALBA today welcomed the express reference to Gaelic broadcasting set out in the new draft BBC Royal Charter while urging the BBC to build on the success of BBC ALBA with increased investment in the channel.

MG ALBA has urged the BBC to make a formal commitment to increasing the amount of original programming made for BBC ALBA from 4.5 hours per week to 10 hours – to achieve parity with the Welsh TV channel, S4C.  

At present MG ALBA commissions work from over 20 independent production companies based in Scotland.

Police in the Highlands are urging the public to be vigilant following another spate of telephone scams. 

A number of people have been targeted by fraudsters in recent weeks following different scams used over the telephone. 

In the majority of cases the criminals phone individuals claiming to be a representative from their bank and advise them that their bank account has been compromised. The victim is then encouraged to transfer their money into an account provided by the fraudster. 

The owners of Amhuinnsuidhe Castle in North Harris say they have bought the adjacent Morsgail Estate in Lewis for an undisclosed fee.

And management of the North Harris estate stressed to local website www.welovetheisleofharris.com that rumours of Amhuinnsuidhe Castle itself being put up for sale are ‘completely untrue’.

The damaged mv Hebrides ferry in Lochmaddy yesterday - photograph by Cara Forbes Stenning

UPDATED 7.30AM Tuesday

With a new storm across the islands, the Outer Hebrides is predicted to retain only one sea-borne link to the mainland today (Tuesday)  – with only sailings from Stornoway to Ullapool still scheduled to take place. And disruption warnings are now in place for this afternoon's services between Stornoway and Ullapool.
Further south there are no sailings at all across the Minch and the Sea of the Hebrides.  For Oban to Castlebay, CalMac state: “Due to forecast high winds and associated sea conditions, the 08:00 from Castlebay and 13:40 from Oban have been cancelled.”
For tomorrow (Wednesday 28th September) the company says that “due to south-westerly winds gusting over 40 knots and associated sea conditions, sailings on this service are on a yellow alert and there is a heightened possibility of disruption.”

A call for a tax on motorhomes visiting the Western Isles has this week sparked a heated debate.

This came after Alasdair Allan MSP asked Minister for Transport and the Islands, Humza Yousaf MSP, what consideration can be given to a “motorhome levy”, the proceeds of which could be used to improve local infrastructure according to local priorities.

Alasdair Allan said: “The numbers of motorhomes using island ferry routes has shot up nearly tenfold over the last decade and issues associated with motorhomes have been repeatedly brought up.

Outer Hebrides Tourism, the destination organisation for the Outer Hebrides, today (Thursday September 21) said the call by Dr Alasdair Allan, MSP for a levy or tax on motorhome visitors was “misguided, ill-informed and damaging to the tourism economy.”

Tourism contributes over £50m to the economy of the Outer Hebrides annually and sustains well over 1000 tourism-related businesses.

“It is an enormously successful industry and is critical to the islands’ financial sustainability. We are renowned for our people, landscape, hospitality and the warmth of our welcome.

Lewis Car Club are having a social night at their clubhouse at the Creed park track this coming Saturday (September 30) kicking off about 6.30/7pm.

They say: "We have a hog roast booked so plenty food will be provided, please feel free to bring your own bottle.

"This is a wee thank-you/social gathering for anyone who helped Lewis Car Club/Rally Hebrides over the years.

The Prime Minister’s decision to suspend Parliament is an affront to democracy, says Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus Brendan MacNeil.

Commenting on the prorogation of the UK Parliament, Angus MacNeil MP said: “It is simply unbelievable that Parliament has been suspended during what is a UK crisis.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus B MacNeil has written to Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman MSP regarding the ongoing financial dispute between Bethesda Hospice and the Western Isles Integration Joint Board (IJB).  

Mr MacNeil is backing the call made by Alasdair Allan MSP, that the Scottish Government mediate between Bethesda Hospice and the Integration Joint Board.

Angus MacNeil MP said:  “I recently met with management from the Bethesda Hospice and I was able to hear detailed information about the financial situation.  It was also good to hear about the invaluable work being undertaken by all staff, who were highly praised by Manager, Carol Somerville.  The level of care and commitment to their work is in no doubt.

“Bethesda management tell me that the percentage of their budget they receive from the Health Board is 32.36% for the year 2018/2019 compared to 49.45% over 10 years ago – this when the Health Board’s budget has risen.

“They further point out that there is a double subsidy going on around Bethesda – it is not just the community that subsidise the hospice by fundraising but also the staff.  I was also told that the 90 staff at Bethesda work without many of the perks and benefits of other similar workplaces. 

“Hospices deserve a fairer slice of the pie and can’t be as reliant as they have been on fundraising, which is ongoing to make up for the inevitable gap,  Indeed, I recall taking part in a sponsored cycle to Uig to raise funds for Bethesda Hospice when I was a pupil in the Nicolson Institute in the late 80s.   Bethesda Hospice is an important asset to the community and deserves all the support it can get.

“I have written to Jeane Freeman MSP to request that the Scottish Government get involved and facilitate talks between Bethesda Hospice management and the IJB to get a resolution to this funding problem. 

"I think that Manager, Carol Somerville, makes the case for Bethesda funding to rise and the argument now is really about how much and how soon.”

The cash machine in Tarbert is working again, after being out of action for weeks, and Angus Brendan MacNeil MP has requested that the service in Harris be improved:

"I am relieved to hear that the ATM in Tarbert, Isle of Harris is finally back in working order following several weeks out of service.

I have written to Lloyds Banking Group to request that they make improvements to the service they are providing to islanders and visitors, including the possibility of siting a second ATM in Tarbert.

It is unacceptable particularly during the tourist season when the ATM runs out of cash due to high demand. The problem is often compounded because the Bank of Scotland in Tarbert is only open three days per week and the refilling of the ATM takes longer.

Angus MacNeil MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar has shown support for families affected by breast cancer by dressing in pink and encouraging constituents to take part in the UK’s biggest fundraiser, wear it pink, on Friday October 21st.
Wear it pink is back for its 15th year, calling on supporters across the country to add a flash of pink to their wardrobe for the day and raise money for Breast Cancer Now’s life-saving breast cancer research.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil has contacted the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAC) seeking details of why First Responder teams are not being called to assist at as many local incidents as in the past.

First Responders are trained volunteers who are available to be dispatched by an ambulance control centre to attend calls in their local area and assist until the arrival of the Ambulance.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil has written to the Minister for the Islands, Derek Mackay MSP, to urge him to help find a workable way forward for the management of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) which will be in the interests of the communities of the islands.

The current proposals, which are strongly opposed by the Western Isles Fishermen’s Association and other local bodies, have been the subject of many representations from constituents to Mr MacNeil’s office.  

He is now calling on the Scottish Government to carry out an Economic Impact Assessment of the possible effects on the local fishing industry and ancillary sectors including onshore processing.

Angus Brendan MacNeil is today (Tuesday September 24th) heading back to London to re-enter the House of Commons after speaker John Bercow called for Parliament to be reconvened.

Tomorrow’s sitting comes after the UK Supreme Court’s ruling that Prime Minister Boris Johnson acted unlawfully when he shut down Parliament last week.

Na-h-Eileanan an Iar MP Mr MacNeil said: “Today’s ruling in the Supreme Court is welcome news. The Government must be held to account over its damaging Brexit plans.”

He told welovestornoway.com: “The goings-on are amazing – only in the worst of banana republics do things happen that then actually don’t happen.

“Parliament wasn’t actually prorogued. The Queen was misled by the Prime Minister and, given the gravity of that, he should resign. The fact that he won’t speaks volumes about the situation to which the UK has sunk.

“The reality is that Brexit is an horrendously bad idea. The mess today is political, the carnage in the coming weeks will be economic from this ill-conceived and extremely badly-planned idea.”

Waiting times to secure a car test booking in Na h-Eileanan an Iar have been cut, following intervention from Angus MacNeil MP.

Learner drivers in Na h-Eileanan an Iar were facing a wait of several months to secure a test booking from the Driver Vehicle and Standards Agency (DVSA) with some being forced to travel to a different island or even to the mainland to take a car or vocational test.

Mr MacNeil wrote to the DVSA in July after he was contacted by a number of constituents who were having difficulty booking tests.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus Brendan MacNeil fears the impact of a 'no-deal' Brexit, described by UK Prime Minister as the only alternative to her 'Chequers deal' which has been rejected by both the European Union and the Brexit-supporting MPs in her own party.

Commenting on reports in the Guardian newspaper that the National Farmers Union in England has warned of ‘catastrophic’ consequences for the farming export industry for six months after March 2019 if there is no Brexit deal, Angus Brendan MacNeil said:

“This is obviously worrying for many people in our islands, but it is no surprise in some circles as it is what the UK Government has been hearing from farmers and veterinary bodies for some time. 

The ferry service into Tarbert remains suspended, with services cancelled and diverted via Stornoway and Ullapool, affecting timings of the Loch Seaforth.

This follows the weekend incident where a fish-farm vessel was damaged and is now moored at the Tarbert ferry terminal pier.

Now Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil is pressing the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to remove MV Fame from the Tarbert ferry berth as a matter of urgency and allow vital ferry services to resume.

Brendan O’Hara MP, Argyll and Bute; Drew Hendry MP, Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey; Angus MacNeil MP, Na h-Eileanan an Iar; Paul Monaghan MP, Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross; and Ian Blackford MP, Ross, Skye and Lochaber.


Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil presented a petition to 10 Downing Street yesterday afternoon (Tuesday) calling on the UK Government to urgently reinstate an Emergency Towing Vessel (ETV) on the west coast of Scotland.
The petition, launched by Western Isles SNP councillors Rae Mackenzie and Gordon Murray last month, attracted almost 1,500 signatures in just a few days.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, is wondering what incident will have to happen in the waters around the Northern and Western Isles before the government will see sense and reinstate a second emergency towing vessel (ETV) in the area.

Mrs Grant, like many others, was furious that the Westminster government removed the ETV from Stornoway back in 2012.  

Previously two ETVs covered north and west coast waters, one based in Stornoway and one based in Shetland.  The government’s cost cutting exercise in 2012 however saw one of the tugs removed and the remaining one stationed in Orkney.  

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant queried the funding deal struck by the Government and CMAL for MV Loch Seaforth with the newly appointed Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday (September 6).

The MSP says she “has been fighting to get the Scottish Government to be transparent with regard to the funding and ownership of the MV Loch Seaforth.”

Donald Cameron,  MSP for the Highlands and Islands, added a dash of pink to his usual attire to support Breast Cancer Now’s wear it pinkfundraiser, which takes place on Friday 18 October.

Since launching in 2002, wear it pink has had an enormous impact on the lives of those affected by breast cancer, raising over £33 million to date. Mr Cameron is calling for his constituents to join him, by signing up for wear it pink and helping to fund world-class breast cancer research and life changing support for those affected by the disease.

Mr Cameron joined fellow MSP, Rachael Hamilton, and Alison Tait, who has been affected by breast cancer, at the Scottish Parliament to highlight the event.

Mr Cameron, said: “Every year in Scotland, around 4,700 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and over 1,000 women die of the disease. I applaud the efforts of those who are taking actions which are contributing  to reduce the number of cases .

“And that’s why I’m encouraging people across the Highlands and Islands to take part in Breast Cancer Now’s Wear It Pink day on Friday 18th October. 

“The money raised by this wonderful event has such a huge impact, allowing Breast Cancer Now to fund vital research and support for those living with a diagnosis. If you can, please put a cross in the diary on 18th October, 'wear it pink' that day,  and support this very important cause.”

Alison Tait, 49 from Edinburgh, is a single parent living with incurable secondary breast cancer. Commenting on why she is supporting this year’s wear it pink day she said:   “Being diagnosed with secondary breast cancer turns your world upside down. Breast Cancer Now does incredible work that makes a real difference for people like me who are living with this disease.

“In May 2018, I helped Breast Cancer Now to launch the Perjeta Now campaign in Scotland. It successfully made this extraordinary drug routinely available to women in Scotland living with incurable secondary breast cancer - giving them nearly 16 months of extra life compared to other treatments.

“Fundraising events like wear it pink help to support Breast Cancer Now’s invaluable work and I would like to encourage people across Scotland to get involved and donate what you can.”

Anyone can take part in wear it pink. Some people will choose to hold a cake sale, while others will opt to organise a raffle and some will arrange a pink fancy dress day at their school or workplace. No matter how people chose to wear it pink, all the money raised will help to fund vital breast cancer research and support.

Wear it pink on 18 October and raise funds for breast cancer research and support. Visit wearitpink.org to register and claim your free fundraising pack.

 

A review into emergency air transport for pregnant women has been called for.

MSP Rhoda Grant has asked the Health Secretary to launch the review following investigation into the case of a Caithness mother who went into labour at 30 weeks with twins. The babies were born 50 miles apart in a dash by a road ambulance to Raigmore Hospital.

Mrs Grant asked NHS Highland, the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) and Health Secretary, Jean Freeman, further questions after receiving an edited version of a Significant Adverse Event Review into the incident. She previously asked First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to investigate.

She repeated her call for a full risk assessment to be carried out on such emergency transfers and that a suitable craft can be made available for airlifts.

“After receiving the responses, I would sum up the situation as this – for any woman in labour and needing emergency help going by road ambulance is really the only option and air transfer is almost a non-starter,” said Mrs Grant, who represents the Highlands and Islands.

“Whatever the officials and Government say, most people believe that an air ambulance is still an option when the truth is that it can hardly ever be used due to the constraints of the helicopter and the risks associated with giving birth in the air.

“I’m now calling on the health secretary to instigate a review, to ensure that any emergency aircrafts can be large enough to carry medical equipment and be able take at least one qualified medic on board, particularly to cater for women in labour.

“I realise that pregnancy and labour are risks but we really do need to ensure that everything that can be done is being done to cover eventualities.”

Mrs Grant discovered that the ScotSTAR service, run by SAS and used to fly in medical experts in emergencies to locations across Scotland, does not have obstetric/midwifery staff and she is now asking Ms Freeman if this gap can be filled.

She wrote to Brian Johnson, Chief Executive of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which runs search and rescue helicopters, to find out its policy on being called to pregnant women.

He said transfer requests in relation to pregnancy rested with the ambulance service but also said: “Our crews and aircraft are prepared and equipped to respond to deal with maternity care and obstetric emergencies." 

Mrs Grant commented: “This appears to be at odds with what the health authority and ambulance service are telling me so I’ve written back to him for clarification.”

The MSP stressed front-line staff involved in the twins’ case were excellent and coped with a very difficult and serious situation, but she was worried about the implications for other pregnant women.

Mrs Grant’s questions also revealed that some SAS pilots were not trained in the use of night vision goggles which meant they could not fly at night – the ambulance service said the search and rescue helicopter could respond in these cases.

Mrs Grant has asked Ms Freeman to grant the ambulance service extra money to ensure air staff get the significant additional training for night work.

 

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has demanded that the Tory government steps in to save island banking services in a Scottish Parliament debate highlighting the negative impact of branch closures on communities across Scotland.

The debate follows a damning report by Holyrood’s Economy Committee which investigated the impact of local bank closures across Scotland.

The report found that:

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has written to both Loganair and Glasgow Airport following reports raised by concerned constituents of excessive queue times for island flights over the weekend.

One of Dr Allan’s constituents reported that Sunday’s queue for the Loganair desk was up to the building’s entrance and that people were having to wait in line for around an hour.

Loganair has been allocated a single check-in desk at Glasgow Airport since 1st September, when the company ended its franchise agreement with Flybe and began operating independently.

MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, yesterday met with Citylink’s Operations Director, David Frenz, at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh to discuss the issue of capacity on the Ullapool to Inverness route.

This follows on from complaints the MSP received about the bus service provided for foot passengers getting off the ferry from Stornoway.

Commenting after the meeting, Alasdair Allan said: “During the meeting I pressed home the need for additional capacity on this route and the need for much better integration. Over the summer people have repeatedly got in touch with me to complain about getting stranded in Ullapool or not being able to book onto the bus days in advance.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has voiced his hopes for the future of the Arnish yard.

The islands MSP was speaking after meeting with Sean Power, Vice President for Business Development of DF Barnes, to discuss the company’s vision for the future of Arnish.

DF Barnes acquired BiFab – the company most recently operating at Arnish - earlier this year in a deal brokered by the Scottish Government.

Scotland will now have the most ambitious statutory targets in the world and its contribution to climate change is planned to end within a generation.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan said this was the outcome of the Climate Change Bill, which he had supported.

The landmark legislation commits Scotland to becoming a net-zero society by 2045 – five years before the rest of the UK and in line with the advice from the UK Committee on Climate Change.

The Scottish Government also adopted an ambitious new target to reduce emissions by 75% by 2030 – the toughest statutory target of any country in the world.

Alasdair Allan MSP said:“Scotland is rightly recognised as a world-leader in tackling climate change – we were one of the first countries to declare a climate emergency, and the SNP is now leading by example by committing to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

“Ending our contribution to climate change will enable us to grow our economy and productivity, and improve the wellbeing of everyone who lives here. We only have to look at the very real threat presented by rising sea levels to communities in Uist to see just how important this issue is.

“While Westminster is consumed by chaos and the Tories have abandoned any pretence of a domestic agenda, the SNP government is ready and willing to take necessary steps to improve people’s lives and take the action scientists tell us is necessary.

“Climate change is the biggest challenge facing humanity, and the defining political issue for all of us. We have a moral duty to future generations to tackle climate change now and the forthcoming Climate Change Bill delivers on that commitment.” 

Highlands & Islands MSP, Rhoda Grant, has written to the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Shona Robinson, about her concerns in relation to the level of care applied to the service provided to constituents in the Highlands & Islands region by NHS 24.

This follows contact she has had from the son of an elderly constituent resident within the region.

The elderly lady had a fall and sustained cuts and bruises and a fractured thumb. The son who resides out with the Highlands & Islands, was contacted by his mother out with normal GP hours. Having made contact with NHS 24, they refused to send a professional out to check on his elderly mother until such a time as they could speak to her direct to make an over the phone assessment.

Donald Cameron, Scottish Conservative MSP for the Highlands and Islands, has highlighted newly released figures which show that NHS Western Isles and NHS Highland have the highest rates of delayed discharge in Scotland. They stood at 25.3% and 15.5% compared to a Scottish average of 8.5%.

The figures for 2018/19 were released by the Information Services Division of NHS Scotland on Tuesday 17th September.

Mr Cameron said: “While the statistics indicate that NHS Highland and NHS Western Isles have the highest rates of delayed discharge, we should be cautious before leaping to conclusions.

“There may be factors relating to geography, the age profile of patients, and the availability of care homes, which have influenced the results.

“Nevertheless, the overall picture in Scotland is that the SNP’s promises to eradicate delayed discharges have come to absolutely nothing as they are back up to more than half a million days, an increase of 6% in just one year.

"This means that people who should not have been in hospital occupied almost 9% of beds in NHS Scotland over the last year.

“It is a cause for concern that people may be staying in hospital longer than necessary, and I will certainly be in contact with the relevant authorities in the region to see if there is more that could be done to reduce the discharge times.”

The full report is available on - https://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Health-and-Social-Community-Care/Publications/2019-09-17/2019-09-17-DelayedDischarges-Annual-Report.pdf?

The table referred to by Donald Cameron is figure 7 on page 11 of the report.

 

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan raised the issue of social security assessments in island communities duringWednesday’s [26 September] sitting of the Scottish Parliament.

The islands MSP was questioning the new Cabinet Secretary for Social Security, Shirley-Anne Somerville about how assessments will be delivered in island and other rural areas to meet their distinctive needs. 

Certain powers on social security are now devolved to the Scottish Parliament, with legislation being passed earlier this year to set out how 11 benefits, such as Winter Fuel Payments and Personal Independence Payments, will be delivered.

With Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) being rolled out across the CalMac ferry network the company is discontinuing multi journey tickets to simplify fares.

Caledonian MacBrayne's vessel MV Hebrides, which was involved in an incident at Lochmaddy harbour on Sunday due to a mechanical failure, will proceed to dry dock in Greenock for repairs. 

The ferry sustained damage to the starboard propeller shaft after chains from Lochmaddy Marina's pontoon became entangled during the incident. 

The announcement of the preliminary rounds of the National Gaelic Schools Debate competition has been made and the 2017 competition looks set to be another excellent year, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar says.

The first two rounds will be held at e-Sgoil in Stornoway, on Tuesday and Wednesday November 7-8.  For the first time ever the first rounds from Stornoway will be available online, through e-Sgoil’s YouTube channel and live streamed!

Sixteen teams from 16 schools are due to compete in the 2017 competition with Wallace Academy and Bishopbriggs Academy making a welcome return!  

The National Osteoporosis Society will be holding a meeting in the Caberfeidh Hotel on Thursday, September 6 between 2 – 4 pm.
Refreshments will be served from 1.30 pm.

Swathes of the Outer Hebridean landscape could be returned to native forest as part of an ambitious new scheme.

The Hebridean Ark Tree Project, led by the Lewis based Horshader Trust, aims to propagate up to 100,000 seedlings from native tree stock dating back several thousand years by 2020.

These will then be used to re-plant large areas of the islands which have been mainly tree-less since mass deforestation occurred in Viking times.

Bubble football is coming to Ness today – and you get your chance to join in today as Ness Gala Day (which was cancelled amid stormy weather on Saturday June 24th) comes to life in early autumn.

Bubble football was first created in Norway by Henrik Elvestad and Johan Golden, when it made an appearance on their TV show, Golden Goal in 2011.

The game took a while to reach the UK though, but by 2014 had made its way to the United States, France and New Zealand. Last year it appeared at Broadford Gala on the Isle of Skye. 

And the ever-popular attractions such as bouncy castles, disco dome, gladiator duel, coconut shy and game stalls will all be making a return.

The Hebridean Celtic Festival’s record-breaking year in 2016 has put it in line for another major award.

Last year’s event, headlined by Runrig, has been shortlisted in the Best Cultural Event or Festival category in the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA), a title it won in 2014.

The internationally-renowned Hebridean Celtic Festival has been named as a finalist in the Best Cultural Event category in the annual Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA).

HebCelt picked up the title in 2014 and 2017 and last year won the national category at the Scottish Thistle Awards.

The 2019 Hebridean Celtic Festival, held from 17-20 July, was praised by artists, audience and supporters as one of the best ever.

More than 30 acts, including headliners KT Tunstall, Tide Lines and The Shires, took to the stage over four days with attendances reaching 18,000.

Festival director Caroline MacLennan said: “We are thrilled to be shortlisted for a HITA award again in a competition where we have been successful previously.

“HebCelt is a major force for the islands economically, culturally, socially and environmentally and it is always pleasing that the hard work of the mainly volunteer effort to stage the event is recognised.”

An independent economic assessment of HebCelt showed that more than half (56 per cent) of its audience comes from outside Lewis and Harris, including from Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. About 70 per cent of these are returning visitors, underlining the festival’s importance to tourism.

Overall, HebCelt directly generates net income of around £2 million annually and has now brought in about £30 million since it began.

HebCelt is renowned for promoting traditional music and the indigenous Gaelic language and culture as well as being champions of environmental and gender equality causes.

Early bird weekend tickets for the 2020 arena shows, on 15-18 July next year, are available from the festival website www.hebceltfest.com

Angus Campbell

Former Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Leader, Angus Campbell, has been appointed Chair of CalMac’s new Community Board, it has been announced today (Friday, September 1st).
Born in Stornoway and with an early career in the Merchant Navy before returning to Lewis to run his own business, Mr Campbell will now Chair the new Board which has been established by the ferry operator to provide a voice of the communities on strategic issues.
Mr Campbell said of his new independent, paid, post: “I am delighted to be given the opportunity to chair the new community board. This initiative will enhance communication between the company and the communities it serves and will bring wider benefits to all.

A NEW group aimed at helping those with neurological conditions has been established.

Membership of Neurological Voices Western Isles is open to patients and carers who are, or have been affected by a neurological condition and live in the Western Isles.

Jan Anderson from Neurological Alliance of Scotland will be in attendance at the next meeting so all are invited along to meet with her, other patients and carers and have an informal catch-up on Tuesday 23 September, 3-5pm in The Flat, Grianan Centre, Westview Terrace, Stornoway.

 

 

 

New Chair of HHP, Mr Norman M MacLeod

Hebridean Housing Partnership (HHP) are delighted to announced the appointment of new Chair, Mr Norman M MacLeod.
Mr MacLeod accepted a nomination for the role of Chair at the social landlord’s AGM on Thursday, September 7th, and takes over from Mr Iain Macmillan.
Having served as a Councillor with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar for several years and also managed the Western Isles branch of Scottish Fuels, Mr MacLeod has considerable experience of the housing sector and local business environments of the islands.
Speaking of his new role, Mr MacLeod said: “I am delighted to have been appointed Chair of HHP.

A new climate change group has been established in the Outer Hebrides.

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.”

The latest recruits to Coastguard Rescue Teams in the Western Isles, Skye and Lochaber completed their training at the weekend (Saturday September 7th), with a helicopter familiarisation exercise.

The new team members have now received 80 hours of foundation training and are ready to become operational. They include Andrew Reeve, who is joining the Tarbert team, and Louise Maclean, who will now be on call at Stornoway.

A Coastguard spokesman said: “Well done on the commitment and enthusiasm and welcome to the unpredictable world of being always on call!”

New Coastguard volunteers are pictured in training with rescue helicopter R948 at Tiumpan Head. (HM Coastguard Western Isles, Skye and Lochaber).

The ‘Walk on Hebrides’ project is launching a bi-monthly community walk in Tiumpanhead in October. 

The walks will take place on the first and third Monday of each month, meeting at the Tiumpanhead Community Centre at 2pm.  Everyone is welcome to join in.

The walk on the first Monday of the month will be a short walk; anything from 10 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how far the group wishes to walk.

The walk on the third Monday of the month will be longer (about 1 hour).  Everyone is welcome to join in and the route is buggy friendly.

You do not need to register beforehand, just come along on the day.

For more information on Tiumpanhead community walks please contact: Jana Grimm, Walk Leader. Tel: 07901 706 872 or visit Facebook ‘Tiumpan Head Community Association’

 

Local youngsters are set to benefit from a new programme that aims to build new life skills while supporting local charities.

Students at the Nicolson Institute, Sir E Scott School and Barra High School will be benefiting from a programme that empowers young people to make a difference in their local communities and develop new skills.

The active citizenship programme is part of a partnership between CalMac and the The Wood Foundation's Youth and Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) and will be delivered across a total of 11 schools in CalMac's area of operations.

Pupils from participating schools form teams to research social issues in their area and the charities working to address them. They then make a case for their chosen charity as to why they should receive a £3000 grant to help with their work.

 

As part of its support CalMac staff will have an opportunity to mentor young people throughout the project's delivery.

Launching the partnership at St Columba's High School in Gourock, CalMac's Director of Human Resources, Christine Roberts said: "From a personal development point of view YPI gives our staff the opportunity to share their skills and get involved with a project that will ultimately benefit their own community.

"Ultimately supporting YPI gives us a chance to make positive impacts by empowering young people to make a real difference where they live.

"Taking part in the programme builds students' team work skills and confidence, improves presentation and project planning skills and gets them involved more in their local community."

More than 170,000 young people from across the country have taken part in YPI since it was introduced in Scotland in 2008.

 

 

Picture shows: Last year's winning YPI team from St Columba's High School, Gourock with CalMac's Director of HR, Christine Roberts and the Wood Foundation's Deputy Director, Jonathan Christie at the partnership launch.

 

A new role in HIE for David Oxley

A new Director of Business and Sector Development has been appointed at Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
David Oxley, originally from County Durham, joined HIE in 2004 as head of operations in Lochaber, before moving to Forres with his wife and son in 2011 to take up the role of area manager in Moray.
Before joining the organisation, David worked as an accountant in the private sector, primarily in brewing.

The Leanne Fund will mark World Cystic Fibrosis Day tomorrow (Thursday September 8th) with the start of a new era for the charity.

The charity, which supports young people with Cystic Fibrosis across the Highlands and Islands, is delighted to announce the appointment of its first employee and the opening of a new office base.

Earlier this year the Fund secured a funding package of £133,301 from The Big Lottery Fund to allow expansion to the Grampian area and support many more individuals affected by Cystic Fibrosis.

 

At first glance, the Outer Hebrides and the Australian outback seem to have little in common.  But look closer, as An Lanntair’s latest exhibition invites you to, and the multi-layered links start to show.

A Hebtember partner, ‘Grounded’ by Judith Parrot opened last night (Friday September 12th) and features a multimedia presentation of the connections between Australian Aboriginal and Scottish Gaelic culture, language, displacement, and sense of place.

“Even though you might think there are no commonalities in geography, there are actually many parallels,” explains Judith, who splits her time between Scotland and Australia and was in Stornoway for the exhibition’s launch. 

Using photography, audiovisual, sound, and writing, in ‘Grounded’ Judith looks at “what happens when people become displaced” and how losing connection to the land affects personal and environmental wellbeing. 

Her striking photographs are presented in pairs, one from each location, illustrating links between the two.  One such pair shows grass plains in Western Australia next to the flowering machair in Uist; another puts the wind-blown sand dunes of Australia next to a wind-blown washing line in the Hebrides.  Two films are also played on a loop, bringing the sounds of the disparate locations into the gallery.

‘Grounded’ was shown to acclaim at the Festival 2014 XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and will tour onward to Australia after its run at An Lanntair ends on 11th October.

 

 

A film that promises to take viewers on an emotional journey will be shown at An Lanntair this month.

SaF05, the last in a trilogy of films from Charlotte Prodger, will be shown on Friday 27 September at 6:30pm. 

The screening will be accompanied by a talk from Birmingham based curator, Seán Elder, who will introduce the new single-channel video by the 2018 Turner Prize-winning artists. 

SaF05, named after a maned lioness that figures in the work as a cipher for queer attachment and desire, was commissioned by the Scotland + Venice partnership for the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia where it is currently screening until the end of November. The work was curated by Linsey Young in partnership with Cove Park, Argyll and Bute, where Prodger developed her first ideas for the commission.

This autobiographical cycle traces the accumulation of affinities, desires and losses that form a self as it moves forward in time.

Head of Visual Arts & Literature at An Lanntair, Roddy Murray, said: "It’s exciting to be linked simultaneously in time to Scotland + Venice via art and technology.

"Charlotte Prodger's film is very personal and a response to issues of identity and gender-fluidity.

"I am delighted we have the opportunity to screen the film at An Lanntair and share this work with our audiences.”

The screening will also include a short trailer documenting the project development made by Martin Clark which will be introduced by Amanda Catto, Chair of the Scotland + Venice partnership and Head of Visual Arts at Creative Scotland.

Tickets are available here: https://tinyurl.com/yxd69sol

Image by Patrick Staff.

Fraser Burr

A new fire chief has been appointed for the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland.

Fraser Burr formally took over the reins as Local Senior Officer (LSO) for the major Scottish islands at the end of last week.

The experienced firefighter is looking forward to building upon the strong foundations laid by predecessor Billy Wilson.

A flu immunisation programme is due to start at the beginning of October.

Free influenza vaccinations will be offered to people with health conditions, who are at greater risk from the effects of flu, including those people with conditions such as heart problems, emphysema, diabetes or liver or kidney disease.

The free vaccination is also being offered to children aged two to five years old and primary school pupils, those aged 65 years and over, pregnant women, and health and social care workers.

Letters will shortly be sent out to remind those eligible to make an appointment at their local GP practice.

Letters will be issued by local GP practices and patients should contact their local practice to make a suitable appointment. In line with the new GP contract and primary care reform, vaccinations will now be carried out by community nurses within GP Practices rather than by practice nurses.

Flu is a very infectious disease which can have serious consequences and can be fatal. Those who have chronic conditions should ensure that they are immunised again with this year’s vaccine.

NHS Western Isles Director of Public Health, Dr Maggie Watts, said: “Flu can cause severe health complications and the influenza vaccination remains the best defence against the virus.

“We want everyone in the Western Isles who is at greater risk from the dangers of flu to be protected. The immunisation is safe, and provides protection for up to a year. It only takes a few minutes and even if you were immunised against flu last winter it is important to receive the vaccine again, as the viruses change each season.”

Primary pupils throughout the islands will be offered the flu vaccination administered by the local school nursing team during October and November.

Pupils take the vaccine in the form of a nasal spray, avoiding the need for an injection, and consent forms will be sent to all primary pupils, with parents and carers urged to return consent and ensure their child is protected against flu this winter.

Children aged two (on September 1 2019) to five years old are also offered a free flu immunisation – again taken as a pain-free nasal spray – and will be invited to their local GP practice for vaccination.

Pregnant women are more at risk of flu-related complications and need extra protection as flu infection during pregnancy can be very harmful both to mother and baby.

The flu vaccine is safe for baby and mother at any stage of pregnancy, and pregnant women across the Western Isles will be offered the flu vaccination by their midwife.

Inside the new premises of Chic

There have been big changes this week among hairstylists in Stornoway…with a series of salons on the move.
The new kids on the block are Chic and the Hair and Beauty Lounge.

THE new £2.5 million Acres temporary accommodation centre was officially opened today.

Built on the site of the former Acres playing field on Island Road, the new centre has 24 en-suite rooms accommodating up to 28 homeless clients. 

The centre has created around eight full time jobs. 

 

The multi-agency partnership, the Outer Hebrides Domestic Abuse Forum has recently formally adopted and implemented MARAC (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conferences) to help increase the safety, health and wellbeing of victims who are assessed to be at high risk of domestic abuse.

MARACs are regular local meetings where information about high risk domestic abuse victims (those at risk of serious harm) is shared between local agencies.

The agencies, along with the victim’s representative, jointly develop, implement and coordinate a safety plan.

As the new flight schedules got under way yesterday (Friday September 1st), Stornoway Airport staff were drawing attention to the changes in the everyday check-in arrangements for passengers.

This comes after the fourth check-in desk – which had remained unused and unequipped since the new terminal was opened – was brought into use by Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd.

Now passengers who are booked to fly with Loganair from Stornoway check-in at desks 1 or 2.

The Maritime Department at Lews Castle College will be offering the following Short Courses at the Stornoway Campus from October 2018 until April 2019. Please note that all one-day classes run on Fridays, from 9am to 5pm.

Sea Survival/Personal Survival Techniques. Held on 5th October, 9th November, 7th December, 1st February, and 15th March.

Emergency First Aid at Work/STCW First Aid. Held on 21st September, 2nd November, 11th January, and 2nd March. (The three day “First Aid at Work” is available on request.)

RYA SRC / VHF. Held on 12th October, 16th November, 14th December, 18th January, 15th February,  and 22nd March.

Efficient Deckhand. Held on 12th—16th November, and 4th—8th March.

Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities. Held on 16th November and 8th March.

VHF Evening Class. This two-hour class is held on Wednesdays for 6 weeks from 24th October.

For more information, please contact:

Iain Angus Macaulay: 01851 770287  |   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Alistair Macleod: 01851 770284  |   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Lews Castle College: 01851 770000

An exciting new environmental project, which aims to develop a multi-purpose observatory at Gallan Head, has taken another step forward thanks to two new partnerships.

Gallan Head Community Trust (GHCT), on the Isle of Lewis, has joined forces with the University of St Andrews and Stornoway Astronomical Society as part of its Cetus Project, which aims to attract visitors to observe and listen to the island’s rich marine wildlife during the day and to enjoy its spectacular views of the Milky Way at night.

GHCT is in the final stages of a community buyout following a process administered by the Scottish Government, known as Community Right to Buy.

A new wave of fraudulent calls is hitting business-people in Stornoway this afternoon.

Ringing from an apparently local code - but with a non-existent local number - the callers with Liverpool or similar accents are claiming to be connected with a childhood leukaemia charity.

They are seeking adverts to support a large run of a publication - probably a calendar -  for distribution locally and claim to have found the people's numbers in a local newspaper.

The first of the new Flybe/Eastern Airways flights to Glasgow takes off from Stornoway this morning (Friday September 1)

The Western Isles Development Trust (“WIDT”) currently invites applications from community groups for funding for projects with a focus on alleviating fuel poverty and promoting renewable energy. 

A plan to build a new sports and assembly hall at Laxdale Primary School has been approved.

The changes will see the existing nursery block to the west of the school demolished to make way for the new steel-framed building which will include large storage facilities.

A new volunteer venture to help clear cycle trails in Lews Castle Grounds proved successful on Saturday (September 2nd).
The brainchild of Alistair Glover, owner of BeSpoke Bicycles, situated at The Hub at Glen House, Willowglen, the inaugural Organised Trail Maintenance Session saw a number of volunteers met and tackle overgrown hedges and verges along the ‘Sawmill Trail’.
“One of the elements of The Hub I always wanted to do was get a group of volunteers together to maintain the Castle Grounds Trails,” said Alistair.

The £900m contract to operate ferry services on the west coast of Scotland, awarded to CalMac Ferries Ltd by Transport Scotland in May this year, comes into force  tomorrow (October 1, 2016).

Customers travelling by ferry from the first day of the contract will also see a new ‘operator mark’ which has been produced to show that Caledonian MacBrayne is operated by CalMac Ferries Ltd. It will not replace the familiar iconic lion rampant heraldic device on ships but will be rolled out across the network in a variety places including on uniforms, on ships, in ports and in printed material, as part of a tender requirement set by Transport Scotland.

The next meeting of Autism Eileanan Siar is on Monday 5th October at midday.
The venue is Newton Community Association, Seaforth Road (next to MG ALBA).
This group is for people affected by Autism & Aspergers syndrome, ASD traits or similar.
Their aim is to support families, carers and people affected by ASD in the Western Isles and champion Autism locally.
Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

An Inpatient Patient Experience Survey published yesterday (Wednesday) gives NHS Western Isles top ratings in a number of areas, with higher patient satisfaction rates since the last survey in 2014, in a number of areas.

On top of the local improvements demonstrated, the survey, conducted nationally, also showed that NHS Western Isles has achieved higher levels of patient satisfaction than the Scottish average in 96 per cent of questions – in some areas, significantly higher.

Survey questionnaires were sent out in January 2016 to 384 people who had stayed overnight in an NHS Western Isles hospital, between April 1 and September 30 2015.

Six senior pupils from S5 in The Nicolson Institute last week travelled to Ypres in Belgium to take part in Pròiseact nan Ealan’s production, “Sequamur”, as part of a World War One history trip.

All six pupils - Katie MacInnes, Koren Pickering, Katie Finlayson, Alex John Morrison, Lauren Matheson and Catrìona Bain – last year took up the opportunity of taking History as a subject taught through the medium of Gaelic.

The first site visit was to the Tyne Cot War Cemetery - the resting place of 11,954 soldiers of the Commonwealth Forces.  It is the largest number of burials contained in any Commonwealth cemetery of either the First or Second World War.  The pupils, looking to find former pupils from The Nicolson who they had been told were buried here, came across the gravestone of Duncan Kennedy, from Point Street, Stornoway, killed in 1914, aged just 20.

In between trips to the Hooge Crater Museum, which had lifelike reconstructions of war scenes and a vast collection of the actual weapons and outfits used, and the Flanders Fields Museum, the pupils had the privilege of taking part in the nightly Last Post Ceremony, at the Menin Gate.  Every night at 7.30pm the police arrive at this venue in the middle of the small town of Ypres, no bigger than Stornoway, and all traffic is stopped from driving through the Menin Gate until 8.30pm.

The six scholars, led by precentor, Lauren Matheson, sang the last three verses of Psalm 72 in Gaelic in front of a crowd of about 500 locals and visitors. Thereafter, Alex John Morrison laid a wreath in memory of all The Nicolson Institute pupils who had lost their lives in WW1.

The pupils themselves had decided to write a few words on the wreath, quoting words from the poem ‘An Eala Bhan’ by Dòmhnall Ruadh Choruna:
“Gur duilich leam mar tha mi, ‘s mo chridhe ‘n sàs aig bròn”

To conclude the trip, The Nicolson pupils took part in Pròiseact nan Ealan’s production of ‘Sequamur’ in front of a packed audience in the Ypres Cultural Centre. The production, written by Donald S Murray, himself both a former pupil and teacher at The Nicolson Institute. is based on the story of William Gibson, headmaster at the time of the Great War, and who later greatly regretted encouraging the boys he was teaching to go off to war.

All pupils of the Nicolson Institute had to leave the building earlier today (Thursday September 13th) when a science experiment triggered the alarm system.

The experiment in one of the science labs set off detectors and a full evacuation was set in motion, in accordance with the school’s fire procedures.

Fire service officials checked the building and pupils were allowed back into the building after a short time.

The school said: “Parents and carers can be reassured that there was no danger to pupils, staff or the building. Pupils co-operated well with staff throughout the procedure.”

No changes are to be made to council wards in the Western Isles, the Scottish Government has announced.

The Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland (LGBCS) had proposed to reduce the number of councillors in the Western Isles from 31 to 26, resulting in a total of eight wards – two wards each returning four members and six wards each returning three members. 

No responses have been received by the Comhairle in relation to taking over the Stornoway Library Café premises.

The council made the decision to close the café in February of this year, as part of a raft of cost-cutting measures.

The café – situated in the heart of Stornoway – had lost £44,482 over the previous four years.

The Linda Norgrove Foundation 10K Run or Walk takes place on Saturday 29th September- less than a week away.

Lorna and John Norgrove say: "You can RUN OR WALK, bring your family, friends, kids in buggies, dogs on leads, pick up a medal if you are one of the first 10 men and first 10 women to cross the finish line, enjoy soup and home baking at the end and generally have a good day out on the Bhaltos Peninsula in Uig.

BREAKAWAY church-goers in Tarbert have applied to join the Free Church of Scotland.

The new congregation is expected to be ratified in Edinburgh next week, and will be called the North Harris Free Church.

Services will initially be held in Tarbert Community Centre each Sunday at 11am and 6pm.

In a recent survey by the Church of Scotland, 94 members and adherents in Tarbert expressed an intention to leave the denomination, following its stance on allowing practicing gay ministers to preach. 

PATIENTS in North Harris will no longer have a local out-of-hours GP service, starting from next month.

At a meeting in Tarbert last night, representatives of the Health Board said that the situation of anyone calling who needed treatment would be referred to a GP in Stornoway, who would then decide whether the patient needed to be seen by an on-call nurse.

Should the patient require a GP, they would be asked to attend the Out of Hours centre in the Western Isles Hospital, or they would receive a visit from a Stornoway-based specialist nurse.

A major development in university education on the Western Isles was marked yesterday (Monday 25 September) when the chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands, HRH The Princess Royal visited Stornoway.

Princess Anne went to repeat the event in Inverness to welcome UHI’s first intake of nursing students at both the centres involved.  

The Princess visited both the Western Isles Hospital and the Centre for Health Science in Inverness, ending the events by talking to the new students and presenting each of them with a commemorative pen.

As the Comhairle called for fairer gas tariffs for Stornoway customers yesterday, energy regulator Ofgem is to continue its investigation into Stornoway gas customers being denied access to cheap tariffs.
Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil, together with Stornoway guesthouse proprietor Derek McPherson, met with Ofgem this week to discuss the historical issue which has seen Stornoway customers potentially pay thousands of pounds more than mainland residents.
Mr MacNeil brought the case to Ofgem earlier this year, and Anthony Pygram, Partner, Consumers and Competition, and Shona Fisher, Senior Manager, External Relations from Ofgem confirmed they are continuing to investigate the situation.

Comedy performer Shappi Khorsandi is celebrating the fortieth anniversary of her arrival in Britain. She's reclaiming patriotism, sending a love letter to her adopted land.

Following a sold-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and 2016-2017 UK tour, star of Live At The Apollo, Have I Got News for You and Q.I. Shappi Khorsandi is back on the road on a mini-tour of the Scottish Highlands this October – including Stornoway's Woodland Centre.

Tickets for ‘Oh My Country!’ From Morris Dancing To Morrissey’ are on sale now (these dates have been rescheduled from April 2017.)

Shappi is the best-selling author of ‘A Beginners Guide to Acting English’, released in 2009, and her debut novel ‘Nina Is Not OK’ was published by Ebury in July 2016 to much critical acclaim and was released In paperback on 9th February 2017.

There has been a drastic shake-up in VisitScotland's plans for tourist advice in the Outer Hebrides - which last year saw all the remaining Uist and Barra offices close and a plan to close either Stornoway or Tarbert as well.

Outer Hebrides Tourism says: "We have been working with VisitScotland on visitor information provision. The proposal has come a long way from the initial position of having one hub in Lewis or Harris to service all the islands and we feel this is a better outcome."

VisitScotland says: "The way visitors get information has changed significantly over the past decade with two in three visitors now accessing information online. Research has shown that we might now seek information at the breakfast table, in the pub and whilst out at visitor attractions.

Hugh Shaw told the meeting that worst-case scenario, the rig could be here for months.

Experts responsible for the stricken Transocean Winner have admitted they do not know when the oil rig will be transported to Turkey for break-up.

At a meeting in Stornoway last night, it was revealed that current plans to lift the rig onto a massive semisubmersible vessel for transportation are dependent on a ‘benign 36-hour weather window’.

Hugh Shaw, the Secretary of State’s Representative for Maritime Salvage and Intervention, told the meeting: “Nobody wants a grounded rig, and given the choice, you would want it recovered.

One of the biggest semisubmersible ships in the world is currently on its way to Broadbay, where it is hoped it will recover and remove the ailing Transocean Winner.

The Hawk, operated by Offshore Heavy Transport,  is expected to arrive on site at 7pm tonight. 

To give an idea of just how big the Hawk is, you could quite easily fit Big Ben sideways on her deck. 

Final preparations for moving the Transocean Winner rig onto the Hawk vessel are continuing and good progress has been made on the operation in Broad Bay.

 

The anchors have now been disconnected and the rig is being held on four tugs about half a mile from the Hawk.

The Hawk (pictured above) has almost completed ballasting and is making final preparations to receive the rig.

The UK Government’s Transport Select Committee will carry out an inquiry into the grounding of the oil-rig Transocean Winner which ran aground on rocks in Dalmore .

Islands MP Angus MacNeil wrote to Louise Ellman MP, Chair of the Transport Select Committee following the grounding of the Transocean Winner to request that they call on Transocean to attend a Committee Hearing.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said: “I am delighted that Transport Select Committee have agreed to my request, Committee Chair, Louise Ellman MP has indicated interest in completing a one-off oral evidence session on the grounding of the Transocean Winner on Dalmore Beach.

The crew of the tug towing the oil rig Transocean Winner that ran aground at Dalmore in a storm last summer failed to plan for bad weather, an official report concludes today (September 7).

The 17,000-tonne Transocean Winner washed up on Lewis in August 2016 after breaking free from the tug ALP Forward.

Her fuel tanks ruptured when she hit land and 53,000 litres of oil spilled into the sea, though the pollution dispersed harmlessly. It cost the Transocean company nearly £17m to retrieve the rig from Dalmore Bay and later Broad Bay.

NHS Western Isles is currently offering the shingles vaccination to most people aged between 70-73 and 76-79 years.

Check with your GP to see if you are eligible yet and to make an appointment for your vaccination, says the health authority.

Up to nine per cent of people have had chickenpox infection during their lifetime, and for the majority this is a mild illness.

Stopping off for one for the road, funnyman Seann Walsh is getting set for his An Lanntair show next Monday, September 19th.

Beyond Presents and Off The Kerb are delighted to bring Seann to the Highlands and Islands with his ‘One For The Road’ tour this month.

The Lie-in King, star of BBC2’s Live At The Apollo, E4’s Virtually Famous and the Walsh on Film podcast, returns with this all-new show.

A new source of community funding is now being dealt with on the Islands.

This is because Third Sector Hebrides has recently become a Scottish Environmental Protection Agency ‘Approved Body’.

Essentially what this means is that TSH now administers the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund which is filled by revenue collected by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar from landfill waste disposal sites.  This creates a fund to be distributed to community groups which support the re-use, regeneration and restoration of land and public access buildings.

“It’s like a toy shop for big boys,” says Catherine Mackenzie, Depot Manager at MacGregor Industrial Supplies, as the firm got ready to host two open days this week.
The company, which has been based on Rigs Road for the last two years, is well known throughout the Highlands for open days at its various stores, and today (Wednesday September 23) until as late as 7pm and starting early tomorrow (Thursday September 24) at 8am, you too can see for yourself what the firm has to offer.


“We run these open days to let people know we are here, and show them the huge range of stock we have,” said Catherine.
“We have reps from different companies coming to do demonstrations, such as using a plasma cutter to chop up a digger bucket, and one of our own staff will be demonstrating our laser levels.”


ATVs and quads are on show, and a transit van loaded full of Milwaukee products and tools is definitely a star attraction.
MacGregor Industrial Supplies have recently opened up a hire department featuring hydraulics, as well as a forest and groundcare section, and both are featured during the open days.
And as if the wide range of tools and accessories on show wasn’t enough, you’ll also get a bacon roll each morning!


The open days are on:
WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 23, 12 NOON TIL 7PM
THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 24, 8AM TIL 5.
For more info, see

Stornoway airport is expected to see an unusual visitor this afternoon (Friday September 6th), as a US Air Force V-22 Osprey helicopter lands for a refuel around 2pm.

The V-22 Osprey is a US Marine corps support aircraft and is unique in that it uses two engines positioned on fixed wing tips. It can land and take off vertically like a helicopter, but flies much faster because of engineering which tilts the engines forward to create a flying position similar to a fixed-wing aircraft.

It has huge speed and range, and carrying capacity for up to 24 combat troops. US aircraft are currently on exercise from RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire and the Osprey supports B52s in operation.

The potential V22 landing comes in at the end of a good week for aircraft spotters, especially military enthusiasts. Yesterday Stornoway saw a flypast by a Eurofighter Typhoon from 9th Sqadron RAF Lossiemouth and earlier this week V22s and Hercules transport planes were overflying the north of Lewis.

Pictures of yesterday’s Typhoon visit and a V22 Osprey are by Jason Spinks.

The Outer Hebrides are one of the best places to live in the UK.

And that’s not us just saying it – it’s official!

A study by the Office for National Statistics found people living in the Outer Hebrides were happiest when it came to life satisfaction. 

As part work of the Outer Hebrides Community Planning Partnership’s ten-year Outer Hebrides Autism Strategy, a new website has been launched which aims to address some of the information and resource needs of those living with autism throughout the Isles, as well as the professionals supporting them.

Councillor Catriona Stewart, Chair of the Education and Children’s Services Committee: “As part of our commitment to working in partnership with community members living with autism, the Outer Hebrides Autism Hub will provide a new means of communicating with families across the Outer Hebrides. We know how vital it is for relevant and up to date information to be available for people no matter their age or location and the Hub pulls together what we hope will be a helpful range of resources”.

A total of 4,285,323 people have registered to vote in the Scottish Independence Referendum on Thursday 18 September, making it the largest electorate ever in Scotland for an election or referendum.

 

 
With one week to go until polling day, the Chief Counting Officer (CCO) for the Scottish Independence Referendum is encouraging voters to think carefully and plan ahead to make sure their vote is counted.
Mary Pitcaithly said:
 
“I want everyone’s vote to count, whether they are voting by post or in person at a polling place on 18 September.  It’s vital that everyone takes great care when completing their ballot paper.  Mistakes mean that a ballot paper may not be counted.
 
“The safest way to ensure your vote counts is to only put one ‘X’ in the box beside the answer you want to choose.  Postal voters should ensure they complete their date of birth and signature correctly on the postal voting statement.  They have to match the information held on file otherwise we cannot include the ballot paper in the count."
 
Voters can obtain more information about the referendum and how to vote here.

Seagoing staff working for Marine Scotland – formerly the Scottish Fishery Protection Fleet – are being paid thousands of pounds less than those in comparable posts for ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne.

The figures, released in a Parliamentary Question to Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant, show a chief steward for Marine Scotland can earn up to £29,579 a year while at CalMac the same post is rewarded with £37,675.

Peatlemania reached the heights of government yesterday (Wednesday September 11th) with a mention by a Scottish cabinet minister during an intense session at Holyrood.

The name-check for Stornoway band Peat & Diesel came in the unlikely context of a parliamentary question on the judicial process examining the legality of the Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s prorogation of the UK parliament.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP Alasdair Allan had spoken during portfolio questions, asking Cabinet Secretary for Constitutional Relations Mike Russell whether he believed the UK government should: “spend more time preparing for the recall of parliament and less time making outrageous remarks about Scotland’s judges and judicial system.”

The Cabinet Secretary agreed that the remarks were outrageous and commented: “If I may use a song title from the estimable band Peat & Diesel from the member’s own constituency; this may be the way the Tories do it, but it’s not the way we do it in Scotland, let alone the Western Isles.”

The unexpected name-check for Peat & Diesel was televised on Scottish Parliament TV and has been viewed almost 2,000 times since being shared by Dr Allan on social media.

The mention in parliament was greeted with amazement by the band members, with Keith Morrison of Wee Studio in Stornoway, where the band are currently recording their second album, describing it as “a proud moment and a laugh”.

Peat & Diesel’s second album, Light My Byre, is due for release on January 24th. A nine-date tour starting the next day has sold out venues including in London, Glasgow, Inverness and Edinburgh, with tickets now only available for three of the remaining gigs.

Scottish Author, Peter May has publicly voiced his support for the 'Stornopoly' campaign, to create a Lewis & Harris Monopoly board game.

Author of the Lewis Trilogy, Peter May tweeted on Wednesday (14 September): "The Narrows to replace Park Lane!" 

He also shared the link to the Kickstarter page, which currently has £1,240 in pledges, to go towards the £21,000 needed in order for the board games to be produced. 

The money needs to be raised in the next 56 days. 

HUNDREDS of internet users are signing a petition urging an investigation into why broadband speeds in the Western Isles are so slow.

Organised by Keith Morrison, of Wee Studio, the petition which was launched on Sunday already has over 600 signatures and can be accessed here

Said Keith: “I noticed there was a big problem in the evenings and at weekends and thought it was just me. However, after a quick look on Facebook I found that the problem was all over the islands.”

Customers and friends of Gourmet Street Food, the speciality food van regularly based in Perceval Square, Stornoway, are being asked to support a petition to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar against a proposal which would see them excluded from the Council-owned land.
The plan comes in a proposed Council policy document covering all Council-owned land in Stornoway Town Centre, which establishes the exact location and and costs of pitches in Perceval Square, and in Point Street and also covers the use of South Beach Car Park by funfairs.

The Lochside Arena was the venue today (Saturday 24th September) for the Scottish Regional Final in the National Dressage competition judged by Lady Amanda Fergusson. Also present was Julie Frizzell, a leading dressage trainer, former RAF Wing Commander and director of marketing for British Dressage.

Lochside was hosting its second British Dressage Team Quest and its first ever 'My Quest' Regional Finals.  Local riders compete both in teams and as individuals in the hope of scoring enough points to quality for the National Finals at Bury Farm in November.

The local Dressage league began in February this year with monthly competitions organised by the Lochside Committee, drawing Dressage judges from all over the country to come up to adjudicate. 

Here are a couple of video  clips from the celebratory trot around the arena which marked the end of the dressage event…

The morning ferry became a pilgrimage special at the end of last week (Thursday 12th September) as islanders headed for Oban to venerate the sacred relics of a favourite saint.

The relics of Sainte Thérèse de Lisieux arrived at St Columba’s Cathedral in Oban on Thursday during a three-week tour of Scotland.

Seonaidh Ailig Mac A’Phearsain, John Alick MacPherson, who has died at the age of 79 in Cape Breton, was one of an outstanding group who developed Gaelic broadcasting from minimal provision in the 1960s to its current status, with a dedicated radio station and television channel firmly embedded within the output of the BBC.

He contributed to many other Gaelic initiatives and also pursued an entirely separate career within the Canadian civil nuclear industry. Following his return to Scotland, he was both a board member of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority and author of a report which led to official status for the Gaelic language.

Seonaidh Ailig was born in Stornoway and spent the first five years of his life in Leverburgh, Harris, before the family moved to Goular in North Uist, the native village of his father, Archie, who was a merchant seaman and crofter. His mother, Chirsty (nee MacLennan) was a weaver from Scalpay whose family home was a place where youngsters came to learn weaving and song.

After a year which saw the Lewis Pipe Band gain two second place trophies at both the European and World Pipe Band Championships, a new grade beckons as they secure promotion to Grade 3A. 

In just four years, the band have competed in just seven competitions, gaining six trophies and three promotions overall - a phenomenal achievement for all involved. 

The Western Isles have a rich history in producing great musicians and pipers, and the Band are now establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with on pipe band circuit, almost 110 years after the band was formed in 1904.

Lewis Pipe Band is inviting the public to a party parade today(Saturday) at 3pm in Stornoway town centre.

The band have had yet another great competition season, gaining second places at the European and World pipe band championships, competing against bands from across the globe.

Come along and see the bands silverware and support them for their last 'hooray' for the 2015 season.

The Lewis and Harris Piping Society would like to congratulate piper James Mackenzie on winning the Silver Medal for piobaireachd at the Northern Meeting in Inverness.

James, 30, who comes from Back and plays with contemporary folk band Breabach, won the traditional solo competition at the event on Thursday, August 29.

Dr John Smith, Chairman of The Lewis and Harris Piping Society, said: “The Lewis and Harris Piping Society would like to congratulate James Duncan Mackenzie on winning the Silver Medal for piobaireachd at the Northern Meeting last week. 

“We remember James very clearly when he was a youngster playing in junior competitions and also at the regular recitals that the Society used to organise. He has subsequently made a name for himself both nationally and internationally playing with Breabach.

“I spoke to him at lunchtime just before he was due to go on to play in the competition and he confessed to being very nervous. A friend of mine also spoke to him and was surprised that he was so nervous, considering he is well accustomed to playing in front of thousands with the band. I assured him that a little bit of adrenalin coursing through his veins would not do him any harm.

“There is no doubt that in recent years there has been a trend for pipers to play in bands with other instruments and there are several examples of that, with some very good pipers playing in bands. But the traditional individual performance of piobaireachd is a different art form and I guess that playing in front of three old men with their arms folded across their chests and pens poised, ready to note down any missed grace note, is just as challenging, if not more so, than playing in a band.”

Dr Smith added: “Having won the Silver Medal, James now qualifies to play in the Gold Medal competitions if he so wishes next year. We sincerely hope that he will continue to develop his skills and achieve the top accolade which is to win The Highland Society of London’s Gold Medal for Piobaireachd at the Argyllshire Gathering or the Northern Meeting.

As a youngster James studied with Pipe Major Iain Murdo Morrison, widely regarded as one of the finest players of his generation and a previous winner of many piping accolades, and began returning to him for lessons over the past year, whenever he was ‘home’ to Lewis on holiday.

James now lives in Glasgow and has a degree in piping from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, now The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

He is “chuffed” to have won the Silver Medal. He said: “It’s nice to win a prize. It was my first year competing in quite a few years. The last time I competed was maybe 2010.”

James had also competed at the Oban Games, the previous week, but not been successful. He attributed his changed fortunes at the Northern Meeting to “more focus and proper tuning”.

He also spoke of the differences between playing in big band gigs and traditional solo competition.

“I’ve always enjoyed playing piobaireachd but don’t really get that much of a chance to do it. I’ve been touring and gigging for the last number of years but when I was wee I used to compete a lot in solo competitions and it’s good to come back to it this year.”

He said: “There’s a big emphasis for solo piping on the sound of the instrument. When you’re playing in the folk band the pipes are set in B flat concert pitch and then in solo competitions you kind of play a different chanter – a sharper, brighter sound, so that’s musically one element of it. 

“You also need to be very well set up so that they’re in tune for a prolonged period of time because the tune can be 20 minutes. 

“With gigging and that kind of stuff there’s lots of room for improvisation but competing is very strict. You’ve got to follow the score very closely and that’s part of the beauty of it as well. You’ve got these parameters set for you and it’s up to you to make music with it.”

James said Iain Murdo Morrison had “helped me hugely with the tunes for the past year”, adding: “Every time I’ve been going home I’ve taken the pipes up with me. He doesn’t let anything slip through the net so that’s been good as well. I think he was quite chuffed as well (with the win). I think he was quite happy.”

James admitted he had suffered from “a different type of nerves” during the competition.

“With the band we’ve played at quite a few festivals over the years. You’re comfortable playing in front of a crowd of 6,000 and it all changes when you’re on the boards in front of three judges and a handful of knowledgeable people in the crowd.”

However, he added: “I definitely enjoyed it, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it. I played the March, Strathspey and Reel competition earlier in the day and I was maybe slightly more nervy for that, so when I came up for the piobaireachd my nerves were really away and I could focus on the tune.”

So will James be back next year, in the Gold Medal competitions?

“I’ll give it a bash,” he said.

Hm Coastguard has a new eye over the isles helping to save lives both on land and sea.

The Western Isles, Skye and Lochaber coastguard have added a a Jetstream 41 turboprop aircraft to their complement which is being trialled as part of a development to support their search and rescue (SAR) helicopters.

The new plane is painted in red and white HM Coastguard colours and will be patrolling the southern and eastern seaboard.

A Point councillor has found an unusual way to pay tribute to the charity which is providing so much for his elderly mother – he’s going to jump out of plane in aid of Alzheimer Scotland.

Norman ‘ Norrie Tomsh” Macdonald is in fact planning an 18,000 foot skydive, the highest jump in the world, during an otherwise relaxing week of golf with friends.

“A crowd of Stornoway golf folk are going on a big trip to Orlando, Florida, where we are going to be playing on TPC Sawgrass, a championship course with an iconic 17th hole which is practically on an island, surrounded by water.

“We’ll be playing golf on alternate days, so on our ‘down’ days we had planned various things such as visiting Cape Canaveral and someone suggested the sky dive. Three of us – Bob Rankin, Allan Macleod and myself are diving and I thought, as long as I’m jumping out of a plane, why not do it for charity?”

The tandem skydive is at Titusville in Florida. Norrie has picked Alzheimer Scotland to support because of his experience with his mother’s illness, which he describes as ‘a fog’ which has come down over her in recent years. Murdina Macleod (Murdag a’ mhate) was a teacher at Aird School for many years, and is well-known to the many children who passed through her hands during a long career.

Norrie told welovestornoway.com: “She can still remember every pupil she ever taught. She’s old school, very proper, believes in discipline and tuts about grammar and punctuation, in English and in Gaelic.”

In his regular column in the West Highland Free Press recently Norrie wrote: “Dementia has robbed her of her independence, her ability to cope on her own and … a little bit of her dignity. From jumping into her car, picking up her friends and going shopping…she is now totally dependent on Joey (Macaskill), her wonderful carer and, to a much lesser extent, her immediates and her ‘weakest link’, me.”

Three visits a week to the Alzheimer Scotland group at Grianan in Stornoway keep Murdag active and alert and, Norrie says: “In all honesty, I don’t know where we’d be without them over the past 12 months.”

For that reason, and because his own daughter Karen Macdonald is the Alzheimer Scotland fundraiser, he’s aiming to raise £1,500 with his jump, and is already half way there.

Characteristically sharp about his effort, Norrie says: “All I have to do is fall out of a plane, which doesn’t take much. They’re looking at changing the electoral representation for local authorities anyway, down to two councillors from three. Maybe they’ll get it sooner than they think.”

You can support Norrie’s fundraising for Alzheimer Scotland at this link: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/norrietjumpsfromaplane

 

The following planning applications are pending consideration by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. 

All information and accompanying documents are publicly available on the CnES website

New house, Northbay

Roderick MacNeil of 228 Bruernish has applied for planning permission to erect a one-bedroom house at 239a Upper Bruernish, Northbay. Work is to include installing a septic tank and soakaway and creating two parking spaces. 

The following planning applications are pending consideration by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. 

All information and accompanying documents are publicly available on the CnES website

Electronic communications apparatus

Pegasus Group has applied for planning permission to install electronic communications apparatus to an existing telecommunications structure situated at Relay Station, Bentangaval, Castlebay.

 

The following planning applications are pending consideration by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. 

All information and accompanying documents are publicly available on the CnES website

New and replacement poles for overhead lines, Ness

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks has applied for planning permission to replace three poles, and erect two new poles to replace the H-pole on the Ness Football Club premises which will be dismantled, at Overhead Line, Fivepenny, Ness.

Change of use from outhouse to house, Newmarket

William Angus Morrison of 146 Newmarket has applied for planning permission to change the use of the outhouse at 146 Newmarket to a house. The external appearance of the structure will remain the same, whilst the interior will be altered to create a one bedroom dwelling. 

Partial demolition, renovation and extension, Point

Point Community Council has applied for planning permission to partially demolish existing buildings, renovate and extend their premises at Urras Storas an Rubha, Old School, Knock. The plan is to improve the community facilities, incorporating enlarged shop, cafe, museum and community office facilities. 

Extension and alteration of house, Tolsta

Annie Maclean of 60 Newmarket has applied for planning permission to extend the house at 8 Lochside, North Tolsta. The extension is to be 9 metres by 4.35 metres. Work is to include altering the porch and dormer roofs.

Polycrub, Ness

Donald MacSween of 20A North Dell has applied for planning permission to erect a polycrub at 20A North Dell. The polycrub is to be 12.7 metres long, 4 metres wide and 2.6 metres tall. The outer is to be constructed from polycarbonate twinply sheeting. 

The following planning applications are pending consideration by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. 

All information and accompanying documents are publicly available on the CnES website

Camping pod, Point

Sonja Macleod of The Echoes, 3b Portvoller has applied to site a caravan pod at 3b Portvoller, Point. The caravan pod is to be five metres by 2.85 metres and is to be used as a holiday let. Work is to include creating one more parking space bringing the total number of parking spaces from three to four. 

New polycrubs, Lochs

Roderick Macleod of 6a Keose has applied for planning permission to erect three polycrubs at 6a Keose, Lochs. The polycrubs are to be 12.7 metres long, 4.2 metres wide and 2.6 metres tall. The outer material will be clear polycarbonate.

New house, Sandwick

Donald Nicholson of 28a East Street, Sandwick, has applied for planning permission to erect a house at 28a East Street, Sandwick.

New house, Marybank

John Macleod of 48 Lewis Street has applied for planning permission to erect a house with heat source pump and external garage at 5a Maryhill, Marybank. Work is to include creating a new access and four parking spaces. The house is to consist of four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen/dining room, a living room, a utility room and a drying room. 

New agricultural building, Sandwick

North Street Grazings has applied for planning permission to erect an agricultural building on North Street, Sandwick. Work is to include creating four parking spaces. The building is to be 223 square metres. 

Re-roof house, Stornoway

John Macleod of Farmfield Bungalow, Mill Lane, Queensbury, Bradford, has applied for planning permission to re-roof the house at Wandene, 2 Goathill Crescent. The house is a listed building and therefore requires permission for alterations. 

 

The following planning applications are pending consideration by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. 

All information and accompanying documents are publicly available on the CnES website

New memorial garden, Castlebay

The Eilidh Macleod Memorial Trust has applied for planning permission to create a memorial garden with sculpture, bench and footpath at Bentangaval, Castlebay. 

The following planning applications are pending consideration by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. 

All information and accompanying documents are publicly available on the CnES website

New house, Finsbay

Rebekah Globe of 1 Mission House, Finsbay, has applied for planning permission to erect a house at 3 Borsham, Finsbay. Work is to include creating a new access off the main road and installing a septic tank and soak-away below the property. 

New camping pods, Rodel

John Sumner of 259 Cresses Road, High Wycombe, has applied for planning permission to erect three camping pods at 15 Rodel. Work is to include installing a septic tank and associated drainage system and creating a new access to the main road and parking suitable for six cars. 

Change of use of building, Scalpay

Philip Johnson of 5 Rosedale Mews, Ravenshead, Nottingham, has applied for planning permission to change the use of the former dental centre at Health Centre, Scalpay, to a dwelling house. Work is also to include creating parking suitable for two cars. The house will consist of one bedroom, a kitchen/dining room, a lounge, toilet and porch. No alterations will be made to the floor plan or the outside of the building. 

The following planning applications are pending consideration by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. 

All information and accompanying documents are publicly available on the CnES website

New houses, Scarista 

Robin Bennett of 9 Scarista has applied for planning permission to erect one new house at  9c Scarista and another new house at 9b Scarista. 

The following planning applications are pending consideration by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. 

All information and accompanying documents are publicly available on the CnES website

New house, Bedersaig

Steve Brough of 1 Bells Road has applied for planning permission to erect a house at 3 Bedersaig. The house is to consist of one bedroom, one bathroom and an open plan kitchen/dining/lounge area. Work is to include creating parking suitable for two cars. 

The following planning applications are pending consideration by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. 

All information and accompanying documents are publicly available on the CnES website

Change of use of building, Breasclete

Urras an Taighe Mhòir has applied for planning permission to change the use of the residential flats at 1 Cnoc Mor, Breaslete, into a community archive and exhibition space,  The flats were previously designated as residential under the ownership of Hebridean Housing Partnership but have been unoccupied for some time. 

New house and access, Barvas

Ann Morrison of 25 Heatherhill, Barvas, has applied for planning permission to erect a house and create a new access at 31 Loch Street, Barvas. The house is to consist of two bedrooms, an open plan kitchen/dining/lounge area, a bathroom and a utility room. Work is to include creating a new access and parking suitable for two cars. 

Alteration and extension of house, Carloway

Devana Investments Ltd, based in Aberdeenshire, has applied for planning permission to alter and extend the house at Tigh A’Bhealaich, Knock, Carloway. Work is to include creating a new access and parking suitable for two cars. The house is to be developed into a four bedroom dwelling with an open plan kitchen/dining/living area, four bathrooms, a sunroom and a utility room. 

New house, Coll

Iain Roxburgh of 42 Upper  Coll has applied for planning permission to erect a house at 42B Upper Coll. Work is to include creating a new access to the public road. 

 

The following planning applications are pending consideration by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. 

All information and accompanying documents are publicly available on the CnES website

Prior notification of new polycrub, Borve

Murray Graham of 30 Borve has given prior notification of their intention to commence non-residential, farm-related building works at 30 Fivepenny, Borve. The plan is to construct a polycrub twelve metres long, three metres tall and four metres wide. 

Change of use of building, Stornoway

Obh Obh Ltd has applied for planning permission to change the use of a building at 4a Inaclete from a cafe (Acres Cafe) to offices and a TV sound studio and edit suite. Work would consist of creating three additional rooms within the existing building. 

New polycrub, Sandwick 

Murdo Macleod of 23 Lower Sandwick has applied for planning permission to erect a polycrub at 23 Lower Sandwick. The polycrub is to be four metres by seven metres.

 

Matthew Zajac stars as Mungo Park

Hot on the heels of rave reviews from across the country, Dogstar Theatre’s ‘Mungo Park’ lands in An Lanntair on Thursday September 22.

The play centres around the adventures of the 19th-century Scottish explorer Mungo Park, who set off to discover the source of the River Niger and the fabled city of Timbuktu in West Africa on behalf of business interests in Britain. 

Young and old have fun decorating cakes at first-of-its-kind intergenerational playdate at Solas Day Centre in Stornoway

Young and old gathered at Solas Day Centre in Stornoway this week for a playdate with a difference.

The fun, intergenerational event organised by Alzheimer Scotland and An Cotan Nursery was inspired by recent TV programmes such Channel 4's 'Old People's Homes for 4 year olds' that put children and the elderly together for learning and play.  

Activities included decorating cakes, a sing-song, sharing nursery rhymes, parachute game and lots of chatting and stories.

An early commitment is needed from the UK Government to establish post-Brexit sector schemes that will enable farms and other rural businesses to keep employing workers from abroad, says Scottish Land & Estates.

The organisation, which represents land-based businesses, farmers and landowners across Scotland, says it will remain important for employers to be able to recruit workers from EU countries and beyond as well as resident workers.

Scottish Land & Estates and the Country Landowners Associaiton in England and Wales yesterday published a new briefing paper urging the London government to make a range of commitments on labour arrangements.

Labour in the Western Isles has called for immediate action to charter a freight vessel for the Stornoway-Ullapool route in order to ease pressure on the Loch Seaforth and the wider CalMac network.

Prospective Parliamentary candidate, Alison MacCorquodale, has pointed to reports in the maritime media that cargo vessel, Clipper Ranger, which was formerly deployed on the Stornoway-Ullapool route, is “resting” at the Cammell Laird yard on Merseyside.

Nominations are being sought for the vacancies on the Community Councils as listed below.

 

 

Community Council

Number of Vacancies

North Lochs

4

Pairc

9

Kinloch

7

North Harris

5

Scalpay

9

South Harris

4

Berneray

7

North Uist

5

Benbecula

12

Iochdar

3

Bornish

7

Lochboisdale

9

Eriskay

9

Northbay

7

Castlebay

5

 

Ness

9

 

Airidhantuim

7

 

Barvas and Brue

12

 

Shawbost

2

 

Carloway

9

 

Breasclete

6

 

Bernera

8

 

Uig

7

 

Back

8

 

Tong

8

 

North Tolsta

12

 

Laxdale

10

 

Stornoway

7

 

Sandwick

9

 

Point

6

To be eligible for election to a Community Council a person must be 16 or over and resident in and registered as a local government elector in the Community Council area to which election is being sought.

Each nominee for election must be supported by a proposer who must be resident within and registered as a local government elector in the Community Council area to which election is being sought.

Nomination papers may be obtained from the following addresses and should be delivered to the Returning Officer at one of the following addresses or by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. not later than 4pm on Wednesday 9 October 2019.

  •                 Council Offices, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, HS1 2BW
  •                 Council Offices, Tarbert, Isle of Harris, HS3 3DF
  •                 Council Offices, Balivanich, Isle of Benbecula, HS7 5LA
  •                 Council Offices, Castlebay, Isle of Barra, HS9 5XD

Nomination papers are also available on the Comhairle’s website: https://www.cne-siar.gov.uk/your-council/elections-and-voting/community-council-elections/

Should more nominations than the remaining vacancies be received for any Community Council an election will be held. Those nominated in the first round of nominations will not be subject to election as they are deemed to be appointed as Members of the Community Council.

A spokesperson said: “Community Councils enable activities which promote the well-being of their communities. Community Councils are the most local level of elected representation and can empower Communities in realising their aims and aspirations”

People in the Western Isles are being asked to support a campaign for more money to spent on increasing Gaelic programming on TV.
MG Alba, based in Seaforth Road, Stornoway, says that "BBC ALBA, and BBC Radio nan Gàidheal, have been successful, but MG ALBA wants them to be even better for you."

Staff at the Iceland shop in Cromwell Street have been reassured their work will continue.

The Co-operative Group said in statement yesterday (Friday September 20th) that: “We are pleased to have worked with Retail Hebrides Ltd to agree the purchase of its Iceland store on Stornoway.

"Our acquisition and refit programme forms a fundamental part of our food strategy and our aim is for stores to be at the heart of local life, creating stronger communities and offering great quality products conveniently, when and where our members and customers need them.

"Iceland staff will transfer over to the Co-op and we will be relocating our existing Cromwell Street Co-op and team into this site in order to provide a more modern convenience store to better serve the needs of the local community. 

"We will be speaking with both teams over the next few weeks and working hard to amalgamate them across the island's two Co-ops.”

Earlier Retail Hebrides Ltd said: "We would like to Inform all our customers that today we received confirmation that the Co-operative group have acquired our business, Retail Hebrides Ltd.

"We have a sale on in store of up to 20% off a large selection of our products. These products are 'when it’s gone, it’s gone!'

"We would like to sincerely thank you for shopping with us and are extremely grateful for the support you have shown us."

Even by lunchtime on Saturday, many of the shelves and displays were empty.

A memorial bench in Portnaguran has triggered a flood of memories for local residents.

The new bench has been placed at the foot of croft number 5, where the family of Alexander (Sandy) Campbell lived.

Sandy passed away in 2017 and the bench has been placed by his widow, Rose, looking out over Broad Bay and the small village harbour in Portnaguran.

Stornoway drivers are still failing to heed warnings about parking and driving restrictions on Point Street in the town centre, according to Stornoway Police.

The road is closed to drivers without specific permits between 10.30am and 6pm Monday to Saturday and parking between those times is not permitted.

Between 10th and 26th September nine drivers have been issued with fixed penalties after being caught driving illegally on the pedestrianised street.

Western Isles police now have the mobile technology to issue penalty notices on the spot and will soon be able to print out the tickets too. The penalty for the offence is £50.

Island horse riders are speaking out in support of a police safety campaign that highlights the vulnerability of horses and riders on the road.

Western Isles police recently issued a warning urging drivers to be aware of horses, after concern from local riders about cars passing their animals too close and too fast.

Now island riders have explained their fear for their own safety – and that of other road users – with impatient drivers who don’t understand horse behaviour.

Stornoway police are looking for information after a woman reported an alleged assault on Saturday night (September 7th).

The woman reported that she was assaulted at 11.45pm on Saturday at an address on Plantation Road by three men. She did not require medical attention.

Police are asking for anyone who saw a silver Subaru car with three men in it leaving the area soon after that time to contact them on the non-emergency number 101, quoting incident number NH1226/19. You can also use the Crimestoppers number anonymously – 0800 555 111.

Police in Stornoway are appealing for information from members of the public with regards to a report of animal cruelty which happened within Stornoway harbour at Bayhead, Isle of Lewis on Wednesday 16th September 2015.

It was reported to officers that at around 7pm, a group of youths were observed throwing stones at a number of ducks within the harbour area. As a result of this one duck was killed.

Police are keen to speak to a group of youths who were observed in the area at this time.

If anyone has any information about the incident they are encouraged to contact Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at http://www.crimestoppers-uk.org/.

No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded, and you will not go to court.

Three arrested after town disturbance: 

Police were called to Ross Terrace in Stornoway on Saturday (September 8th) at 10pm, with reports of a disturbance involving a number of youths.

A 17-year-old boy, a 19-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman were all arrested and taken to Stornoway police station, where they were searched. A small quantity of drugs was found in the possession of one youth.

All three will be reported to the Procurator Fiscal for a statutory breach of the peace and possible other charges.

Castle grounds assault: 

A 16-year-old youth has been charged with assault after an attack on another youth in the Castle grounds on Saturday (September 8th).

Police intervened in the disturbance at 10.30pm on Saturday, and the 16-year-old was cautioned and charged and will be reported to the Procurator Fiscal and the Children’s Reporter.

Drink driver in West Harris: 

A car which was driven off the road and abandoned caused concern on Monday afternoon (September 10th) in West Harris.

The vehicle was spotted off the main A859 between Luskentyre and Seilebost at around 4pm.

Police were called and a 47-year-old man was traced in connection with the accident.

He’s been charged with drink-driving, careless driving and other offences related to the incident and will be reported to the Procurator Fiscal.

A total of 14 police personnel "will return to operational duties in Highlands & Islands Division"  as a result of major changes at the Police Scotland centre in Inverness, approved yesterday (Thursday 28th September 2017) 

When the Scottish Police Authority Board met in Inverness yesterday, permission was given for the closure of the Inverness Area Control Room (ACR) and Service Centre, with the transfer of ACR functions to  Dundee and call handling transferred to the Police Scotland Service Centre (PSSC).

Assistant Chief Constable John Hawkins also presented a proposal for the creation of a new National Database Enquiry Unit (NDEU) based in Inverness and Govan, and this was approved.

 

Police Scotland has released a dual language logo featuring both English and Gaelic / Tha Poileas Alba a’ cur air bhog suaicheantas ùr dà-chànanach ann am Beurla agus Gàidhlig.

There’s still a chance to get tickets for the Stornoway Golf Club fundraising Poppy event being held on Saturday 29th September.

There’s live music and a variety of charity auctions as well as a meal cooked by Limelite Chef Ross Macleod and his team.

Poppyscotland recently launched an exciting free new mobile resource for schools and events and they are coming to visit schools on Lewis.

The times and places are:

  • Monday 7th October – Sgoil an Rubha
  • Tuesday 8th October – Laxdale Primary
  • Wednesday 9th October – The Nicolson Institute

Poppyscotland provides life-changing support to the Armed Forces community.

Bud is a truck that transforms into a mobile community space, comprising a mini poppy factory, micro-museum and with interactive learning opportunities. It is an interactive experience that encourages visitors to create their personal remembrance journey through exploring the exhibits.  It is helping us keep remembrance relevant all year round.

Bud is travelling Scotland sharing Poppyscotland’s archive, veterans’ stories and the poppy’s history as a catalyst for challenging assumptions and creating conversations.

The 18-tonne interactive learning space dedicated to the poppy, began touring schools and events in May this year.  Bud will be on the road for more than 220 days and will visit all 32 local authority areas in Scotland over the course of the next three years as well as attend varied events across Scotland.

Visitors can make their own poppies using the same techniques that have been used by the veterans who work at Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory.  

Poppyscotland Chief Executive, Mark Bibbey said: “At the heart of every poppy is a story and that’s why we created Bud - to make sure those stories are told, and to help people explore and understand the importance of the poppy.

“After months of planning, it’s fantastic to see Bud take to the roads of Scotland, visiting communities across the length and breadth of the country. The team work very hard and have early starts, long days travelling as well as the physical set-up of our mobile micro-museum in different places every day.  

“Over the next four years, Bud will play an important role in exploring the history of remembrance and we are looking forward to welcoming more people on board.”

Bud will continue to tour the country throughout the year. More than 50,000 Scots are expected to engage with Bud over the course of the campaign.

To book Bud or to access the supporting learning resources, please visit www.poppybud.org.uk.

To donate and to learn more about forthcoming fundraising events, visit www.poppyscotland.org.uk/

Click here to visit their Facebook page!

The Leverburgh RNLI Chaplain, Rev Mark Macleod, offered prayers today (Sunday September 2nd) after a sad outcome to a lifeboat launch on Saturday (September 1st).

Stornoway Coastguard ops room were called at 1.15pm on Saturday, after concerns were raised about an unmanned recreational fishing boat, drifting off the pier at Loch Dunvegan in Skye.

Other boats in the area had reported a fishing boat with two lines out and a dog on board but no person to be seen.

HRH The Princess Royal visited Stornoway today (Monday 25 September) to welcome the University of the Highlands and Islands’ first intake of nursing students.

NHS Western Isles has been made aware that there is currently a national intermittent problem with BT phone lines, where some calls are being disconnected.

The matter has been escalated to BT, although emergency phone lines are unaffected.

A spokesperson said: "We would like to reassure anyone trying to contact NHS Western Isles that this matter is being looked into as a priority. If you have called us and your call has been disconnected, we would ask that you try and contact us again if your call is urgent."

The sixth annual Colm Cille Lecture takes place in Ionad Stoodie this Friday night (September 29) thanks to sponsorship for the third year running from Point and Sandwick Trust.

The lecture, arranged by Urras Eaglais na h-Aoidhe (The Ui Church Trust) is being delivered by educationalist Iain Smith, who has Point connections, and the topic is Professor Donald Mackenzie of Aird, ‘Domhnall Seonaid’. 

Domhnall Seonaid was one of the 10 characters featured in Saints and Sinners (Tales of Lewis Lives) by Iain and his wife Joan Forrest and published by Acair. 

The Between Islands project, originated by An Lanntair in Stornoway, and which aims to explore the culture and heritage links between the Western and Northern Isles, is launching its latest initiative in Orkney later this month.

Funded through the LEADER 2014-2020 regional cooperation scheme, this latest series of events will see lecturers from each Island UHI campus undertake a public talk in a neighbouring area.  

The first of these will be undertaken by Professor Frank Rennie from the Outer Hebrides, who will be delivering his lecture in Kirkwall. Entitled ‘Space, Place, and Grace: Perspectives of a nisomaniac’, it explores the topic of what makes a place special or unique.

Dr Rennie explains: “Through the lens of a small crofting village in the west of the Isle of Lewis, we can look at the evolution of a location and what makes it distinct. From the earliest recorded time, as it became a home to a unique combination of plants, animals, and human families, the natural and social history of this place is analysed.

“Using many elements of the landscape that are found in north and west of Scotland – the brochs, and the remnants of Iron Age, Viking, and Gaelic cultures, the village can be compared to other island settlements, as well as being set apart.

“The exceptional amalgamation of ideas, cultures, and habitats to be found in this one small place gives a rich insight into the heritage and history of a distinctive community over thousands of years. In doing so, it also challenges many of the current stereotypes of ‘remoteness’ and ‘barrenness’ to celebrate the magnificence of the human ecology of small Atlantic islands.”

Project coordinator Alex Macdonald added: “As we launched the musical element of the Between Islands programme at the Orkney Folk Festival in May, I am delighted we are able to begin our lecture series here, too.

“With financial support from LEADER, and invaluable assistance from our contacts in each UHI campus, we are able to illustrate the main aims of the project, which are to encourage collaboration through collectively promoting our culture and heritage.”

The lecture series will continue with a talk by Professor Donna Heddle of Orkney UHI at the Faclan book festival in Stornoway in November, with a third lecture involving Shetland UHI planned for the summer of 2020.

Professor Frank Rennie will be undertaking his lecture in the King Street Halls in Kirkwall on Wednesday 25th September at 7pm.

Admission is free and all are welcome.

 

The sports playing field at Bayhead, Stornoway, is now protected, thanks to national charity Fields in Trust, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and The Stornoway Trust. 

Protection with Fields in Trust provides a living legacy of outdoor recreational space across Scotland.

Convener of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Cllr Norman A MacDonald said:  “I’m delighted that we now have our own protected Field for the whole community to use.

Islanders in Lewis have contacted welovestornoway to back earlier complaints about the lack of seats available on Citylink buses between Ullapool, Inverness and Glasgow.

This follows a statement from islands MP Angus Brendan MacNeil that he was contacting the bus company on behalf of various complainants.  Former Stornoway Port Authority chief, John J Maclennan said:  "This is a scandal. If even one passenger is prevented from travelling, an extra coach should be supplied.

A meeting is to be held tomorrow (Tuesday September 18th) giving information on plans to upgrade the electricity network to facilitate transmission of power from renewable energy generated on the islands to the mainland.

The public consultation meeting, hosted by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) will look at the proposed construction of 25km of new overhead lines in the system linking Lewis, Harris and Skye.

The plan is to replace an old section of the line, removing the existing line and at the same time constructing a new switching station at Balallan and new connections to the overhead line at Balallan, Stornoway and Arnish.

An online public consultation has been launched as the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland considers changes to ward boundaries in the Western Isles.

The Review of Electoral Arrangements for the na h-Eileanan an Iar council area will recommend to Scottish Ministers the number of councillors and ward boundaries for Western Isles council. At present they are proposing a council of 28 representatives, three less than we have currently.

A public consultation on the proposal, launched last week (10th September), is set to run until 2nd December at https://consult.lgbc-scotland.gov.uk/reviews/na-h-eileanan-an-iar-electoral-review/

Proposals being put forward for consultation take into account minor amendments proposed by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar during an earlier stage of the consultation.

The LGBCS said in its introduction to the survey: “One of the main reasons we undertake reviews is that the population, and therefore the electorate, of any local authority area is constantly changing, with migration into or out of areas as well as within the same area.

“As a result of these changes, some councillors may represent considerably more or fewer electors than other councillors in the same council area.

“The Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 introduced the use of one- or two-member wards where a ward contains an inhabited island, in addition to the current multi-member ward system.

The Act requires us to review the six Councils containing inhabited islands, including Na h-Eileanan an Iar, as soon as possible.

“We expect our recommendations, if accepted, to be in place for the next local government elections in May 2022.”

Over 50 pupils of the Nicolson Institute joined together yesterday, to put on a special showcase concert of classical music.

The event was the first of its kind in over 14 years. 

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

Murdoch Macdonald supplied these photographs of the Queen Elizabeth in Stornoway harbour yesterday (Monday 9th September) 

Murdoch Macdonald supplied these photographs of the Queen Elizabeth in Stornoway harbour yesterday (Monday 9th September) 

A fence to keep rabbits off Sgoil Lionail’s football pitch is the first project to be taken on by a new group of Ness residents.

The group held their first meeting on Thursday (5th September) in Sgoil Lionail, chaired by Councillor Kenny Macleod. Parents and grandparents of the pupils agreed that the playing surface was in better condition than feared, thanks to the hard work of Ness football club and other volunteers who earlier filled in rabbit holes and made the pitch safe.

This year has seen relatively little damage by rabbits, but they will be back, so it was agreed that, to protect the football pitch as much as possible, rabbit-proof fencing would minimise future damage. The area is to be measured and a quotation obtained.

Fundraiser Charles Young of 7 Fivepenny has agreed to support the project by competing in the Great Scottish Run on 29th September. A range of fundraising events will also need to be organised to add to the funds.

Further meetings will be held to keep local people informed of progress on a worthwhile community project. Anyone wishing to be part of the project can contact Sarah Campbell, community learning and development officer, on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sponsorship forms for Charles’ run are available in local shops and post offices and there is also a Virgin Money Giving online fundraising page: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/charlesrunsforness2019

The funds raised will be divided equally between the Sgoil Lionail football pitch community project and the Comunn Eachdraidh Nis expansion project.

Teenage footballer Rachael Johnstone has achieved her goal this week, helping Scotland’s U16 women’s football team achieve a 2-2 aggregate draw over two friendly international challenges in Poland.

Balallan teenager Rachael Johnstone has her eye firmly on one goal – and she’s not about to let anyone put the ball into it.

14-year-old Rachael is heading to Poland next week (Monday September 17th), after being selected to join the Scotland women’s U-16 national football team. She’ll be one of two goalkeepers and is almost certain to get playing time, as well as her first national caps.

The S4 pupil at Sir E Scott School has been chosen as part of the squad for two friendly matches between Scotland and Poland u-16s, on September 19th and 21st. It’s a tremendous accolade for a young player, especially one who lives so far from Scotland’s national training facilities.

A RARE turtle has been spotted off St Kilda.

The 2.5 metre leatherback turtle was photographed by Tom Horton, who was on board the Orca III operated by Harris-based Kilda Cruises.

Leatherback turtles are the largest of all marine turtles, and are more commonly found in the Pacific and Mediterranean.

130 years of the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland (QNIS) was celebrated on Tuesday 24 September.

Nurses from across the Western Isles, including the most senior Queen’s Nurse, 91-year-old Morag Cunningham from Scalpay, gathered at the Caberfeidh Hotel.  

Kathleen McCulloch, Community Lead Nurse, NHS Western Isles, delivered a welcome and speeches were given by Annetta Smith, Head of Nursing, University of the Highlands and Islands; William Findlay, Nurse, Midwife and Allied Health Professional (AHP) Director/Chief Operating Officer, NHS Western Isles; Ron Culley, Chief Officer, Health and Social Care; and Jonathan Sher, Deputy Director, QNIS.

Five Western Isles nurses also received well-deserved long service awards on the day: Catherine Jacek, Community Psychiatric Nurse; Susan Matheson, Health Visitor; Donna Macdonald, Community Nurse; Morag Montgomery, Community Nurse; and Dolina Laing, Community Nurse.

NHS Western Isles Nurse, Midwife and AHP Director/Chief Operating Officer, William Findlay, commented: “I would like to thank the staff who organised and attended this excellent event, which showcased the incredible work that our nursing workforce carries out each and every day in the Western Isles.

“The nurses who received long-service awards have provided care for a combined total of 129 years, and were thoroughly deserving of their awards. Nurses enjoy a diverse career that really makes a difference. Nurses act as leaders, carers and clinicians, taking responsibility for the care they provide to patients. I cannot think of a more rewarding and worthwhile career and I’d like to thank our entire nursing workforce, on behalf of NHS Western Isles and the wider community, for the service they provide to our local population.”

Pictures show: 91-year-old Morag Cunningham from Scalpay with the most recent Western Isles Queen’s Nurse, Coleen McLeod; a group photo and an image of those in long service.

Lewis and Harris Auction Mart once again broke records yesterday (Wednesday 12th September) with the top price ever paid for sheep.

A pen of five gimmers from Murdo Campbell, 11a Portnaguran, sold for £125 each and Donald Macleod, 5 Shulishader, made the same high price per head for three gimmers.

Mart director Kenny Macleod said: “The previous record was around £100 per head, so this was quite exceptional. Overall prices were not bad, a wee bit down on the same sale last year and a couple of pounds per head on average down on the August sale.”

Recorded crime in the isles has fallen by a staggering 58% in the ten years between 2006/07 and 2015/16 – the largest fall in crime in any local authority in Scotland. 

This is part of a nationwide fall of 41%.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan today welcomed the latest figures.

Tomorrow, on Merchant Navy Day, Saturday 3 September, the Red Ensign will be flown at Perceval Square in Stornoway to raise awareness of the UK’s ongoing dependence on Merchant Navy seafarers.
The Comhairle is supporting a nationwide call from the Seafarers UK charity and the Merchant Navy Association for the UK Merchant Navy’s official flag to be flown on public buildings and landmark flagstaffs.