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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sleep dearie Sleep


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

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

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

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

God bless you all.

(Billy Mackay & family, Isle of Scalpay)

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

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

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

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

The survey can be found here.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The amended timetable is as follows: 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The association is on Facebook

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

The callers claim to be from BT.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In a statement on its Facebook Page the Trust says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the Western Isles are taking part in the fun.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The recall affects Co-op stores nationwide.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cuban Brothers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please come along to learn how to save a life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drugs charge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The schedule of meetings is as follows:-

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

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

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

The stormy weather is threatening to disrupt island ferry services.

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

Tonight's freight ferry service has been cancelled.

To keep up to date, click here.

Strong winds are causing disruption to island ferry services today. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

 


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

Check departure boards for latest information

LATEST>>>

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

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

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

EARLIER>>>>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Donald Cameron, Highlands and Islands MSP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep your eyes peeled! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The issue will now be deferred until 2017/18.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ian MacPhail, originally from Shawbost but living in Stornoway, has told how routine medical screening saved his life. (He is pictured with his wife Joan).

“I only went for the sake of peace and to keep my wife happy, but now I realise the enormity of how serious it was and how lucky I am to be alive” said 69-year-old Ian, who is back to daily life having recovered from an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA).

In 2016, Ian received an invitation to attend routine AAA screening at the Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway.  The invitation is offered to all men in Scotland aged 65 years to help find aneurysms early and to offer monitoring or treatment.

It is estimated that about 1 in 20 men aged 65 in Scotland have an AAA, with the condition affecting the main artery (the aorta) in the stomach.   As some people get older, the wall of the aorta can become weak and balloon out to form an aneurysm, which is called an AAA.

Fire crews will remain at Galson throughout the day today (Friday February 15th) after a massive fire ripped through the Galson Estate Trust business centre in the early hours of this morning.

Up to 25 firefighters battled flames against high winds and with a dwindling water supply after the fire was reported just after 1am, by a power worker heading to an incident in the area.

Stornoway's new Ice Plant has been fully commissioned in the Harbour and is now supplying the fishing fleet, Stornoway Port Authority are pleased to confirm. It is now supplying the fishing fleet.
The ice production facility, which was prefabricated and installed by Dutch company Recom Ice system, can produce up to 15 tons of ice per day and store up to a maximum of 20 tons.

The Met Office has issued a yellow ice warning for the Western Isles, in place from 10pm tonight until 9am tomorrow (Wednesday). 

Frequent wintry showers and falling temperatures are likely to lead to some icy surfaces later on Tuesday and early on Wednesday morning.

As an additional hazard, sleet and snow showers are expected to fall to increasingly low levels, more frequently so across the Northern Isles, Hebrides and Northwest Highlands. Up to 2 cm may accumulate, mainly above 100 m, away from northern coasts, with 2-5 cm over higher ground.

A yellow warning of ice has been issued for the Western Isles by the Met Office. 

The warning is in place from 5pm tonight until 10am tomorrow. 

The Met Office has issued a yellow warning of ice for the Western Isles.

The warning is in place from 8pm tonight until 10am tomorrow.

The Met Office has issued a yellow warning of ice for the Western Isles.

The warning is in place from 6pm tonight until 10am tomorrow. 

The Met Office has issued a yellow 'Be Aware' warning of ice for the Western Isles, in place from 6pm tonight until 9am tomorrow

Icy stretches will form on many untreated roads, pavements and cycle paths this evening, overnight and into Friday morning.

In addition wintry showers could give 1-3 cm of snow in places, mainly on higher ground above 150 m, but perhaps to lower levels in the far north of Scotland.

The Met Office has published a warning of icy conditions for Lewis and North Harris overnight tonight (Sunday February 10th).

The yellow warning covers the period from 9pm tonight to 10am tomorrow, with plunging temperatures bringing the risk of icy patches on roads and pavements and accidents including slips and falls on icy pavements.

Icy stretches are likely on Island roads this morning, says the UK Met Office. Some difficult driving conditions are possible as well as some localised slight accumulations of snow (1-2 cm in places).

Road surface temperatures were expected to be close to freezing or a little below during the night, particularly over high ground.

With showers continuing to push in from the North Sea, surfaces will be wet in many areas and so some icy stretches are likely on untreated roads and pavements.

 

Irish songstress Imelda May - pictured above - has joined the line-up for this year’s Hebridean Celtic Festival, seven years after making her debut at the internationally-acclaimed event.

The award-winning HebCeltFest - to be held from 19-22 July - also announces today (February 9) eight more acts for the 2017 line-up, ahead of weekend tickets going on sale tomorrow (10 February), along with bespoke ticket and camping packages with Pitch Village. 

The renowned musician, producer and singer-songwriter played a memorable gig at HebCelt in 2010 and was voted by the public into the festival’s Hall of Fame the following year.

She will perform on the main festival stage on Friday, 21 July and is the third headliner to be announced this year, after The Waterboys and fellow Hall of Fame entrant Dougie MacLean.

NHS Western Isles is getting excellent results from its recently introduced 'Florence' programme for home health monitoring.

This system uses text messaging to keep in touch with patients who have conditions that need regular monitoring. The patients – diabetic or cardiac, for example – are sent regular texts asking them for information such as blood glucose, blood pressure or weight. They then test themselves and send in the results.

The text messages are generated by a computer programme but look like messages from a real person. All the results are collated on a web interface which can be viewed by clinicians, in real time, provided they have internet access.

Schools across the Western Isles will be taking part in Safer Internet Day tomorrow (Tuesday February 5th).

The national awareness day originated in Australia and is now promoted across the world, with lesson packs and school materials available here in the UK to help ensure young people gain greater awareness of the risks and limitations of using the internet.

Reflections on the Iolaire tragedy by primary school pupils in Lewis and Harris have been turned into a book of poetic tributes, thanks to an arts project organised by An Lanntair.

Pupils from Tong, Back, Point, Tolsta, Breasclete and Sir E Scott primary schools were all involved in workshops with Edinburgh poet Ken Cockburn in December.

Isles MP Angus MacNeil has written to electrical manufacturer Hotpoint regarding the hundreds of island residents who may own a tumble dryer affected by a safety alert.

A large number of tumble dryer models were identified as being a safety risk in 2015 and Mr MacNeil has recently been contacted by several constituents who are still struggling to resolve the issue with the manufacturer.

Last week the manufacturer issued further advice stating that machines should be unplugged and not used until after a modification was undertaken.

Isla talks about her work with the Williams Formula 1 Team

A former pupil of The Nicolson Institute, Isla Mackenzie, talks about her work for the Williams Formula 1 Team.
Isla, who studied Engineering at Lews Castle College before taking up a Motor Sport Engineering Degree at the University of West Scotland, speaks on the Dare To Be Different Facebook page (www.facebook.com/D2BDOfficial) about her work as a Prototype & Testing Technician in Wantage, England.
“I work with the engineers developing things and also test everything routinely after each race,” she explains, before telling how she ended up in her dream job.

Adverse weather is affecting CalMac ferry services in the Western Isles this weekend, with a number of services cancelled and others running on amended timetables.

The Mallaig-Lochboisdale ferry service has been cancelled today, Friday 19th February, and services on the South Uist route will also be cancelled tomorrow, Saturday 20th February, due to weather conditions.

The Barra-Eriskay early services from Ardmhor to Eriskay were cancelled this morning – and the 11:10 service may be delayed until 12:00 today when a review of the weather situation will be undertaken, advise CalMac.

The Western Isles Island Games Association has announced their new team of Sports Managers which covers what are currently the islands' nine participation sports.

The team is made up of a group of managers who have all experienced the Island Games, and know what is required to prepare and compete at this level. 

Tighean Innse Gall and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are this month sending out a survey to all households in the Outer Hebrides to find out more about electricity usage among local residents and whether they would be interested in switching supplier.

This follows on from a successful fuel poverty survey carried out in 2013.

Respondents have the opportunity to win up to £150 in Co-op Vouchers, LED Light Bulbs to the value of £100, or £50 Co-op Vouchers

Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar and Tighean Innse Gall are working with various partners, including the Hebridean Housing Partnership, The Stornoway Trust and Community Energy Scotland to create a community owned Energy Supply Company (ESCO) with the ability to supply electricity to all households and businesses of the Outer Hebrides.

The information gathered by the questionnaire will help with the development of a Business Plan for the Energy Supply Company.
Comhairle Leader, Angus Campbell, said, “We want to find out more from potential customers in relation to our plans for local electricity supply: are Western Isles residents interested in switching, have they switched in the past or are have they faced any barriers in doing so.

“This information won’t just support Business Planning for the ESCO but will also help us to understand more about fuel poverty in the Outer Hebrides and the opportunities that exist in the long term for linking local energy generation to consumption.’

Stewart Wilson, Director, Tighean Innse Gall, said: “Tighean Innse Gall is committed to reducing fuel poverty for residents of the Outer Hebrides.  The Community owned ESCO is an opportunity to provide cheaper electricity and to use locally generated energy.  It is important for the development of the Business Plan that we gather as much data as possible relating to peoples’ energy consumption and we would encourage everyone to return the survey to us.  If you would rather complete an online survey please go to www.tighean.co.uk  All surveys completed and returned to us before the 27th of February will be entered into the prize draw.”

Western Isles residents are being asked to fill in a short survey on the early proposals for a World Class centre which will tell the story of the Iolaire tragedy.
Businessman Stewart Graham has proposed building the multi-million pound visitor centre to mark the maritime disaster at Stornoway’s Number One pier and an Open Day is to be held In Stornoway Town Hall from 12 noon to 6pm tomorrow, Tuesday 27th February.
There will also be an event for local businesses in the evening from 7.30pm to 9pm, again in the Town Hall, which businesses with an interest are being encouraged to attend.

Loganair has called on the Scottish Government to prioritise abolition of Air Passenger Duty (APD) on flights to the Highlands and Islands when it takes over responsibility for the tax in April next year.  

Speaking at the Scottish Parliament’s Finance and Constitution Committee, which is taking evidence about the introduction of Scotland’s replacement for Air Passenger Duty, Loganair’s managing director Jonathan Hinkles said: “We believe there is a compelling case for the present tax exemption on flights from the Highlands and Islands to be reciprocated to cover departures from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen to those very same points.”

Hinkles told the committee that the economic benefits of the resultant lower travel costs would be felt in both the tourism industry and businesses based throughout the Highlands and Islands.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil is calling for control of fishery zones West of the Hebrides to be devolved to the islands post-Brexit.

His call comes as it was revealed in a document leaked to The Times newspaper that the fishing industry is not a top priority for the Tory Government in Brexit negotiations and has been designated of just ‘medium importance’.

The CalMac ferry, mv Isle of Lewis,  is tomorrow (Sunday) due to set off to provide cover on the NorthLink service between Scrabster in Caithness and Stromness in Orkney as part of a reciprocal arrangement which saw the mv Hildesay running the overnight freight service last October/November on the Stornoway-Ullapool route.   

The mv Isle of Lewis is due to depart Stornoway tomorrow (Sunday) to take up the service early next week and is due back in around two weeks, a spokesman for the David MacBrayne Group said.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP, Alasdair Allan, yesterday met with Cabinet Secretary for Health, Shona Robison, to discuss the issue of tackling the delayed discharge of hospital patients in the islands.

Alasdair Allan commented after the meeting: "There is no escaping the fact that at various points in the past few years, the Western Isles has had virtually the worst record of any area of Scotland when it came to ensuring that people were not being kept in hospital when they should have been discharged to a more homely setting.

“I have taken up a number of concerning individual cases of patients being unable to return home for the lack of a care package for many months on end. I am satisfied that the Joint Integration Board in the islands has made big strides since it came into being, and have been assured that there are now no such extreme examples of delayed discharge."

CalMac’s independent Community Board has teamed up with the company to help raise the profile of Scotland’s west coast islands as business destinations.

The Board have organised a business conference aboard MV Clansman, on a non-landing cruise from Oban to Colonsay, on March 27.

While the mainland basks in the spotlight of media hysteria about snow on the roads - and the rail tracks - the UK Meteorological Office has taken to issuing weather warnings that make no distinction between the West and East coasts of Scotland - so the 'words of warning" - seen above left - now apply right across northern Scotland while the accompanying map shows the difference in climate of which we are all aware.  The wonders of centralisation!

 

 

More than £100,000 has been raised by the Western Isles Lottery for communities across the Western Isles since its launch in 2017.

The public are invited to attend the Lottery’s AGM on February 20th at 6pm in An Lanntair to hear more details of the Lottery’s operation and success.

Since the launch, £71,530 has been raised for a variety of innovative improvements, with all monies raised up to end December 2018 already distributed.  In addition, £28,887 in total weekly prize winnings has been shared out to over 200 happy Supporters.

The number of registered voters in the Western Isles for the Scottish Parliamentary election has fallen by more than 700 in the wake of the switch to Individual Electoral Registration (IER).

Fears have been repeatedly raised that the move to Individual Electoral Registration from household registration would result in voters falling off the register.

Nationally more than 100,000 names have fallen off the electoral register - this is the first time since 2009 the electoral roll has decreased.

There are going to be new job opportunities for the Islands after Social Security Scotland announced today (Wednesday February 13th) that it will add 100 jobs across Scotland by the end of the year.

Once recruited the new teams will deliver a face-to-face service for those who need it most in their communities.

Southern Tenant Folk Union     Photo: Sandy Butler

Past winners of the 'Americana Artist of the Year' award, Edinburgh based music makers Southern Tenant Folk Union are set to bring their latest, and most politically charged, album to Stornoway this month.

Lead singer and guitarist Rory Butler will be joined by band mates Steve Fivey (percussion/vocals), Craig Macfadyen (double bass/vocals), Pat McGarvey (banjo/vocals), and Katherine Stewart (fiddle/vocals) as STFU to bring their seventh album – 'Join Forces' – to An Lanntair arts centre.

Following from previous albums, the Union have again produced a thought provoking take on roots and folk music; yet 'Join Forces' remains subtly different to anything the band has recorded before.

The Stornoway author who wrote what was once described as the ‘best Scottish book since Trainspotting’ is to see his definitive work translated to the stage.

Kevin MacNeil, author of the 2005 breakthrough novel The Stornoway Way, is working with the award-winning Highland theatre company Dogstar. He aims to turn his tale of angst and low achievement into a show for this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, and for a tour of Scotland in October.

NHS Western Isles and Pain Association Scotland are delighted to announce the launch of a new self referral form to the Chronic Pain Programme.

Anyone wishing to self refer to the Programme can simply pick up a form at reception at Western Isles Hospital or Uist and Barra Hospital, fill in their details and pop it into the red postbox.  

The form will then be sent straight to the Pain Association, who will contact you directly with details of local classes.  

The multi-million-selling singer songwriter KT Tunstall and award-wining duo The Shires are the latest headliners to be announced for the Hebridean Celtic Festival this summer.

Eight years after last appearing at the internationally-renowned festival, KT Tunstall will top the bill on the Friday of HebCelt week, which runs from 17-20 July in Lewis and Harris.

The Shires will headline the Saturday programme of the event, which is being held for the 24th consecutive year.

A selection of jobs of jobs in Lewis and Harris are being advertised today: Stornoway Port Authority are looking for a new Harbour master and a Finance and Support Manager, and the Kinloch Historical society recruiting a Community Hub Manager based in their office in Balallan. Further vacancies are listed below or visit our Jobs page

Balallan Community Hub Manager - Kinloch Historical Society

Full Time 35 hours per week. Salary £24,000/Year

Kinloch Historical Society - is looking to recruit an energetic and self-motivated individual with strong management and organisational skills, to manage the centre and take forward innovative and sustainable community development and heritage projects on behalf of the Society.

This post is a nine month fixed term post. However it is anticipated that this post will continue beyond this date subject to future funding being secured.

For full job description and how to apply click here

Finance & Support Services Manager - Stornoway Port Authority

This is a newly created multifunctional role, primarily to manage financial information and to provide strategic insight within the financial area of the business, but also to provide an enhanced support services function within the Port. You will ideally be a qualified accountant with experience of managing a team in a business environment.

A competitive salary with excellent benefits will be offered dependent upon experience. 

For full job description and how to apply click here

Harbour Master/Operations Manager - Stornoway Port Authority

Responsible for safe and efficient Port operations, you will provide the day to day leadership within our marine and landside operational activities. You will be a Master Mariner or equivalent with extensive people management skills, and a demonstrable track record of effective marine/landside interface operations.

A competitive salary with excellent benefits will be offered dependent upon experience.

For full job description and how to apply click here

This week has seen the launch of the third Outer Hebrides Design Awards which will celebrate high quality developments completed throughout the Outer Hebrides and will be presented in the categories of Housing, Business/Non-domestic and Conservation.

The Comhairle’s Design Champion, Cllr. Gordon Murray said: “The Comhairle is proud to announce the launch of the 2016 Outer Hebrides Design Awards.  Since the launch of the Awards six years ago, the Comhairle has been taking pro-active steps in encouraging good design in the Outer Hebrides and the results are becoming more and more evident as recently designed developments are completed."

The Outer Hebrides LEADER Local Action Group has approved grants to 12 local projects recently - summarised in the latest LEADER Bulletin ‘Spotlight on Projects’ - taking the total awarded from the 2014-2020 Programme to over £1 million.

In all, 17 community-led projects with a combined value of almost £3.5m were supported by LEADER funding in 2016. LEADER grant of over £1m has levered-in additional investment of almost £2.5m, equating to £3.30 of other funding for each £1 of LEADER grant committed.

This weeks 'Fish of the week' is Lemon Sole, available filleted or whole at Harbour Seafoods in Stornoway.

Lemon sole is actually not a real sole, nor does it taste of lemon. It's a member of the flounder family, which also includes plaice and turbot. Lemon Sole is a delicate, sweet white fish and it's usually cooked simply, either grilled or fry and serve with a squeeze of lemon or a light sauce to enjoy it at it's best and not overpower the delicate flavour.

The community of Leverburgh has voted overwhelmingly against the demolition of the old primary school building in the village. 

At a packed meeting in Leverhulme Memorial School gymnasium last night, 64 out of the 73 members of public present voted in favour of an alternative plan to convert the building into a community hub. 

It’s proposed the hub would include a 20-seater tearoom, a museum, a shop, a laundrette, a gymnasium, and office space.


Lewis and Harris Women's Cancer Support Group

AGM

will be held in

The Bays Community Centre, Harris

Change of venue: Harris Hotel

on
Thursday 10th March
at 12 noon

 

Dental provision in Lewis is so inadequate it is now a scandal, according to organisers of a petition in Stornoway. 

They say: “The position is that since 2014 residents of Lewis who are not already registered here as NHS dentistry patients are not allowed to register.

“That is an absolute scandal and affects thousands of residents.”

Lewis traditional musician James Mackenzie has just released his second CD which was launched at the recent Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow.

Sròmos consists entirely of self-penned melodies, led by wooden flutes and Highland pipes, with accompaniment from an array of acoustic and electric instruments.

James, who is a member of award-winning folk group, Breabach, is a leading exponent of the Highland bagpipe and wooden flute in Scotland and as a tune writer, although his compositions are firmly rooted within the traditional idiom, they are equally at home with modern backing.

Four charities are to benefit from the annual Highlands and Islands Press Ball and Media Awards, the only event that brings together colleagues from across a huge and dispersed region.

The event saw Fios, the north Lewis community newspaper, win the Community Newspaper of the Year Award, which was collected by Alasdair Dunlop of Spors Nis. 

More than 260 media representatives, politicians and heads of public and private organisations attended the event, organised by Inverness-based communications company System2 and held at the Kingsmill Hotel in Inverness on Friday February 3.

Lewis-based publisher, Cranachan, is to launch a brand-new Young Adult imprint named 'Gob Stopper'.

Adding to their Pokey Hat imprint, which specialises in historical fiction for 8-12-year olds, Cranachan hope to extend their readership by targeting teen readers in Scotland.  Cranachan Publishing is based at Blacksheep Croft, North Galson.

The service of a brave Lewisman who led a Russian Convoy during World War II has finally been marked with the award of the prestigious Arctic Star Medal.

The late Captain Murdo Macleod, originally from Barvas, was Commodore of a Convoy of 39 ships (PQ18) which left Loch Ewe in February 1942. As Captain of the Empire Snow, he was involved in the voyage to Russia which, despite relentless attack, successfully brought supplies to the Allies.

His proud family had tried in vain to secure the medal posthumously for Captain Macleod, who was lost at sea in 1944, but were refused as no records were identified by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

LEWS CASTLE DEVELOPMENT

STUDY TOUR

THURSDAY 26TH FEBRUARY 2015

AT 2PM

As part of an EU project AIDA the local company Greenspace Live Ltd and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar invite participants to a study tour of the multi-million project nearing completion.

The project includes a new museum and archive, restoration of the Castle to provide high quality hospitality and accommodation.

The AIDA project is an eight EU country project [with Greenspace Live being the UK partner] who promotes net zero energy buildings and over 50 study tours have been undertaken in partner countries demonstrating the designs working towards NZEB.

This tour will include:

  • Overview of the design challenges by the Project Architect
  • Supervised tour of the project
  • Demonstration of the energy challenges with demanding environmental conditions
  • Building Services solutions to meet these challenges
  • What is the AIDA project
  • Demonstration of Greenspace Live software developed in AIDA to work towards NZEB

Register here or call 707876

Councillors have voted to close Lionel School in June.

After a vote was deadlocked 15-15, Comhairle Convener Norman A. Macdonald was given a deciding vote, and opted for closure.

Pupils who attend the school, which goes up to S2, will now have to travel to the Nicolson Institute for their education.

Loganair is leasing aircraft from another airline following the closure of its own sister airline flybmi.

Passengers travelling from Stornoway this week have found themselves on an aircraft operated by DOT LT, an airline based in Kaunas, Lithuania.

A second opportunity to find out more

Next workshop, "Introduction to Self-Management" is on Wednesday 25th February, in The Shed (behind Martin's Memorial Church on Francis Street) at 5.30pm.

Those who came along to our recent ‘Live a better life in Stornoway’ introductory meeting on 2nd February enjoyed the evening and are now keen to attend a series of three other fun, interactive, and free workshops which explore the topic of ‘self management’. Before that, however, there is another chance for local residents who missed the 2nd February date to come along to a re-run of the introductory session and find out if they are interested in joining in with the rest of the programme.

The aim of the workshops is to enable people with long-term conditions (LTCs) to step into the driving seat of their lives, and to help carers, friends and families understand how best to support this. Self management is not about ‘going it alone’ and all about choosing what help is required from whom. Neither is it a set programme which tells people what to do; it’s more about exploring what would work best for each individual. As those who live with, or care about someone with a LTC face challenges of their own, the workshops are also open to them. Although the course is developed and funded by Arthritis Care, there is no focus on medical details and so it is relevant to all who have arthritis and other long-term conditions which seriously affect day-to-day living. 

Four separate, stand-alone workshops will be delivered over the next 3 months, starting with an “Introduction to Self-Management” on Wednesday 25th February to be held at ‘The Shed’ behind Martin’s Memorial Church on Francis Street. The 3-hour session will start with some light refreshments at 5.30pm.

This is a new resource in the Western Isles and we hope that as many as possible will take the opportunity to come along and listen, discuss and reflect on new understanding of how to communicate effectively; how to understand and manage pain and other symptoms; and how to manage change in their lives.

Although the first course will be held in Stornoway, it is hoped that this will be followed by events on the other islands in the spring of 2015.

To register interest or for more information, call Anne Sobey on  01851 702632 or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

The Macmillan Nurse team within NHS Western Isles are in the running for a top British award for cancer care. They have been shortlisted in the Cancer Team of the Year UK category in the Quality in Care Oncology Awards.

The team were put forward by their manager, Gill Chadwick, Macmillan Lead Cancer Nurse, who is delighted their hard work and dedication has been recognised.

The Western Isles Macmillan Nurses are: Fiona Creighton, Donna Parkes, Chris Ann Maclean, Hazel Hebditch, Mairi Smith, Kathryn Macsween and Mary Buchanan.

They are the only team from Scotland to be shortlisted in the awards, which recognise best practice in oncology prevention, diagnosis and testing, treatment pathways and patient care throughout the UK.

The MV Loch Seaforth ferry was out of action on Saturday and Sunday, as engineers fitted a new generator on the vessel.

The ferry’s generator developed a fault during her recent refit, and although a new one was ordered, it was not available during the refit period.

The Loch Seaforth is sailing to her scheduled timetable today, despite the storm-force weather.

Things aren't so good in Harris, where the 07:00 from Tarbert to Lochmaddy & Uig and the 09:40 from Uig to Tarbert have been cancelled due to the adverse weather conditions.

A review will take place at 12:00 with regard to further sailings.

The Operations Director of Loganair faced a three-hour delay in getting back to the mainland last night. 

....... was in Stornoway to meet with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar officials, outlining the way forward following a spate of delays and cancellations over recent months.

But his flight back to Edinburgh was delayed by three hours due to............

...

Flybmi has become the latest victim of Europe’s fiercely competitive air travel market, announcing the end of all operations.

It is controlled by the Airline Investments Limited (AIL) Group which also controls Loganair.

In a statement the airline said: "It is with a heavy heart that we have made this unavoidable announcement today (Saturday February 16th).

Officials of Loganair are in Stornoway this morning (Monday), meeting with representatives of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar regarding the airline's recent performance.

Loganair, which operates its island flights under a Flybe franchise, has been much maligned over its services to the Western Isles in recent weeks.

Complaints have been made over numerous delays of service, and questions have been raised over the reliability of aircraft.

Loganair is to launch new routes between Stornoway, Glasgow, Aberdeen and London Southend Airport.

The Essex airport which is owned by Stobart Group is an expanding gateway for travel to the capital.  Stobart also own Carlisle Airport where Loganair are due to start services soon.

Notice is hereby given that Urras Sgire Oighreachd Bharabhais Community Company has applied to the Scottish Land Court for an Order authorising resumption of 0.147 hectares of the common grazings of the township of Lower Barvas and Barvas Park.  The purpose of resumption is to sell the said area to Mr Martin and Mrs April Graham, 46 North Bragar, Isle of Lewis, HS2 9DA as the site for a proposed dwellinghouse.

On 7th February 2017 the Court appointed this intimation by newspaper advertisement and ordered the Applicant to send to the Clerk to the Grazings Committee copies of the Application, associated productions and the Court’s Practice Note No. 4 (which emphasises the need for crofters to protect their own rights).  The Court ordered any shareholder or other person having a legal interest who opposes the Application or who wishes to claim compensation or a share in value of the land to be resumed, to lodge Answers, including details of any such claim, with the Principal Clerk, George House, 126 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4HH within fifteen days from the end of the period covered by this edition of Events.  Copies of the Application, productions and Practice Note have been sent to Mr John Norman MacLeod, 41B Lower Barvas, Isle of Lewis, HS2 0QY and these documents may be inspected either there, at the Court’s offices in Edinburgh, or at the offices of the Agents.  Copies of the Practice Note may also be obtained from the Principal Clerk (Tel:  0131 271 4360). It should be noted that any further Orders of the Court, including the Final Order, will be intimated to those persons who have lodged answers to this advertisement and to the Clerk to the Common Grazings Committee.  Copies of any further Orders may be obtained from the Principal Clerk upon request.

 

Agents for Applicant

Anderson MacArthur Solicitors

Old Bank of Scotland Buildings

Stornoway

Isle of Lewis

HS1 2BG

(Agents for Urras Sgire Oighreachd Bharabhais Community Company)

of which intimation is hereby made.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil voted against triggering Article 50 in the House of Commons last night (Wednesday) following a two day debate on legislation which will allow the UK Government to begin the formal process of leaving the EU.

Mr MacNeil said the Government’s plans were leading the country to an unknown destination which was ‘gross irresponsibility’ and could have severe consequences.

All of Scotland’s MPs bar one, Tory MP David Mundell, voted against the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus MacNeil has contacted Post Office Ltd following www.welovestornoway.com's report that the Postmaster at the Bayhead Post Office will retire in the coming months.

The Bayhead Post Office is situated within the Trading Post on Matheson Road, Stornoway.

Mr MacNeil has maintained contact with Post Office Ltd since discussions began surrounding the future of the Bayhead Post Office.

Seven years of providing support for those affected by Cystic Fibrosis and The Leanne Fund is looking forward to another year of expansion ahead.

As the charity marks its seventh anniversary this month, it is going through a major phase of service expansion from the Highlands and Islands to the Grampian region and will celebrate this milestone with some additional fundraising events throughout 2017.

This summer Team Leanne will take on their biggest challenge yet – the Magnificent Seven – an extreme challenge to climb seven Munros in less than 24 hours! The team from the Isle of Lewis have begun their training and plan to take on the challenge in July.

A pharmaceutical factory in Callanish has won a hugely prestigious award.

BASF Pharma, formerly Equateq Ltd, is a global leader in manufacturing highly-concentrated omega-3 fatty acids.

At the Scottish Enterprise Life Sciences awards in Edniburgh, BASF Pharma walked away with the 'Community Engagement' award.

Make a splash and help End Polio Now at Swimarathon 2017

The Rotary Club of Stornoway are calling on islanders to take part in the 2017 Swimarathon and help End Polio Now.

Held in Lewis Sports Centre swimming pool this weekend – Saturday, February 4th, from 5.45pm to 7.45pm – this will be the Club's fourth Swimarathon, and each year the international fundraising event is proving more popular than the last.

Event organiser, Rotarian Jane Maciver, said: “I think the Swimarathon is such an enjoyable event because it allows all ages and abilities to participate and mingle; and it's a healthy exercise too so people can feel good about themselves as well as about the good they are doing with the funds they raise.”

Stornoway Rotary Club are inviting all to help End Polio Now by taking part in the 2016 Swimarathon fundraiser this weekend.

Being held in Lewis Sports Centre swimming pool on Saturday, February 6th, 6-8pm, this is the Club's third Swimarathon – and it's hoped this year will be bigger and better than before.

“I think it's so enjoyable because it allows all ages and abilities to participate and mingle; and it's a healthy exercise too so people can feel good about themselves as well as about the good they are doing with the funds they raise,” said event organiser Rotarian Jane Maciver.

A 54-year-old man has died in Western Isles Hospital after becoming unwell at the wheel of his car yesterday afternoon.

The man, who was driving a red Renault Clio, fell ill whilst driving on Macaulay Road at 4.20pm. 

He collided with a silver coloured Mercedes taxi, whose driver was not seriously injured.

A 49-year-old man was taken to hospital on Friday afternoon (February 23rd) after his car collided with a lamp-post on the Tong Road.

Police, ambulance and a fire crew were called to the B895 at 3pm on Friday, after the man’s car left the road and hit the lamp-post before ending on its side against a wall.

The Marie Curie Great Daffodil Appeal 2017 is raising funds on behalf of Marie Curie nurses. Look out for their ‘daffodil boxes’. Collections in Stornoway are as follows: TESCO Store: Friday 24 and Saturday 25 February; Co-op Store, Macaulay Road: Saturday 11 March. For further information about the local fundraising group, contact John Masterson (01859 530463/07788940222). Information on the service provided by Marie Curie nurses can be found at: mariecurie.org.uk 

Young people in the Western Isles are being asked to send a letter to the Scottish Parliament setting out their hopes and aspirations for the institution over the next 20 years.

A selection of the letters will be included in a new book published by Luath Press in June to commemorate the Scottish Parliament’s 20th anniversary.

The book will also include a series of essays from well-known authors, academics and others which explore how well the Parliament is placed to tackle the big issues facing Scotland in the future.

What's your favourite football memory?

Is there one moment that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end when you think back on it?

Memory Clinics will shortly be offered by a number of GP Practices within the Western Isles to assist with dementia diagnosis.

The Clinics will be directly organised and supported by GPs, with Broadbay Medical Practice in Stornoway being the first practice offering this service, to be shortly followed by Langabhat Medical Practice.

Western Isles residents interested in mental health for all ages and in dementia are invited to join World Café event to discuss NHS Western Isles mental health services redesign

The World Cafe events are an opportunity to meet with the NHSWI team undertaking the mental health service redesign across the island chain.

A message in a bottle has washed ashore in Harris, all the way from the Bahamas.

Medical student Rosie Rayment (22) was on Seilebost beach learning to surf when she spotted the bottle stuck in the sand.

Rosie, originally from Cumbria, is on a seven-week placement at the South Harris Medical Practice.

A Yellow (be aware) Warning of Snow and Ice for Highlands & Eilean Siar has been issued by the Met Office from 0500 Tue 06 Feb to 1000 Wed 07 Feb. 

The warning is for possible snow, sleet and hail on Tuesday with ice likely on Wednesday morning. For the full Met Office warning visit www.metoffice.gov.uk or click here

The explosion of rats in the Western Isles is NOT as a result of mink being eradicated, according to Scottish Natural Heritage.

Bob Chaffer, Foreman of the Hebridean Mink Project, commented: "“Mink would not be able to kill and eat enough rats to affect the overall population of rats. 

“Rats are commensal rodents, which mean that they live with man and are associated with man. 

“That is why they have been so extremely successful. 

“The lowest common denominator in dictating ultimate rat populations is available food.”

For the full interview, see March's edition of EVENTS magazine. 

The explosion of rats in the Western Isles is NOT as a result of mink being eradicated, according to Scottish Natural Heritage.

Bob Chaffer, Foreman of the Hebridean Mink Project, commented: "“Mink would not be able to kill and eat enough rats to affect the overall population of rats. 

“Rats are commensal rodents, which means that they live with man and are associated with man. 

“That is why they have been so extremely successful. 

“The lowest common denominator in dictating ultimate rat populations is available food.”

For the full interview, see March's edition of EVENTS magazine. 

 

 

A black and white collie dog is missing in the Marybank area. 

He is called 'Blue', has one blue eye and one brown eye, and is described as very friendly. 

If you know where he is, please contact Consumer & Environmental Services on 01851 822 694 and the information can be passed to the owner.

UPDATE 1130 TUESDAY FEBRUARY 7 - This dog has now been found. Thanks to all who looked out for Blue!

 

 

 

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has stepped up calls for urgent and real action on a ferry fleet replacement programme including dedicated ferries for Harris and North Uist and a two-ferry operation on the Stornoway route.

Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Uisdean Robertson said:  “The Comhairle has been encouraged by the open approach and sympathetic ear Ministers have given to engaging with us on ferry matters.

The road across the Clisham pass at 8.15am - https://www.cne-siar.gov.uk/techservices/clishamcamera.asp

Frequent, heavy hail and snow showers are expected through Sunday (February 11th) says the UK Met Office and will lead to snow accumulating on many surfaces.

Longer journey times by road, bus and train services are likely while some vehicles could become stranded on roads throughout the Highlands and Western Isles.

Eddie Reader returns to HebCelt 2018

Two of Scotland’s most acclaimed performers, and some rising stars of the music scene, have been added to an already exciting line-up for this year’s Hebridean Celtic Festival.
It is confirmed today (Thursday, February 1st) that Eddi Reader and Roddy Woomble will be part of the 2018 HebCelt, along with pioneering bands Niteworks, Dante and TRIP, and young country singer Martha L Healy.
Festival director Caroline Maclennan said: “The announcement today of these fabulous additions will contribute hugely to a really exciting programme for HebCelt in 2018.

Labour parliamentary candidate Alasdair Morrison has written to the Scottish Health Secretary urging her to intervene and address the lack of GP cover in North Harris with the 'urgency the situation merits'. 

He told her not to 'shirk her responsibilities' and ask herself a simple question - is the lack of GP cover in north Harris a situation which she would accept for herself or her family?

Mr Morrison recently met with a concerned group of residents in Harris who outlined their grave concerns regarding the impact inadequate out-of-hours GP cover is having on their community and families.  

The Isle of Barra was cast into mourning yesterday (Saturday February 9th), with the news that Canon Angus MacQueen had died peacefully, in St Brendan's Home, Castlebay.

The Right Reverend Brian MacGee of the Diocese of Argyll and the Isles said: “May he rest in peace. Canon Angus had been fortified by the Rites of Holy Mother Church. We extend our sympathies to Canon Angus' family and friends.”

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus MacNeil has written to NHS Western Isles and to the Cabinet Secretary for Health regarding the out-of-hours healthcare service in Harris.

Mr MacNeil said the community of North Harris was deeply concerned and at a public meeting held in Tarbert in January, they had relayed these concerns to NHS Western Isles.

He commented: “There is no doubt that patients who are registered with the North Harris Medical Practice are anxious about these changes, particularly given the topography of the islands.  When medical assistance is required, a journey from Harris to Lewis is obviously daunting and I have raised these concerns with NHS Western Isles and the Cabinet Secretary for Health.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus B MacNeil has called for an end to excessive delivery charges to rural areas like the Highlands and Islands.

Mr MacNeil’s colleague Drew Hendry, MP for Inverness, Nairn and Strathspey, put forward a proposal in the House of Commons today (Wednesday) that legislation be put in place to prevent unfair charging of rural customers.

The Ten Minute Rule Motion, Consumer Protection (Distance Selling Delivery Charges) was co-sponsored by Mr MacNeil and several other SNP colleagues.

MPs from the Scottish Affairs Committee of the Westminster Parliament spent all day in Lewis yesterday (Monday February 18th) - visiting crofting and meeting with local crofters, businessmen and opinion-formers.

Last night they held a special meeting in Stornoway Town Hall to gather a range of opinions about issues affecting the local area.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant has been continuing the fight for an additional ferry for the overbooked life line service between Stornoway and Ullapool.

Islanders and visitors alike were faced with fully-booked sailings during many months of last year.

Rhoda Grant MSP met with Calmac chiefs as well as Council leaders in an attempt to have the situation resolved and a second vessel operating primarily as a freight ferry put in place.

Highlands & Islands MSP and Shadow Equalities Minister, Rhoda Grant has pledged her support to the Tackling Bullying in Scottish Schools campaign.

The campaign is based on five principles and organisers will call upon the Scottish Government to include as part of Scotland’s National Anti- Bullying strategy.

The campaign was founded in 2010 by Usman Ali, who had suffered from bullying himself while at school and remains passionate to improve the lives of those affected by bullying in Scottish schools, communities and society.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP Alasdair Allan has written to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) regarding the current waiting times for Motorcycle Theory Tests in the Western Isles.

Motorcycle Test applicants have to complete a Compulsory Basic Training course and the Motorcycle Theory Test before they can take the full test.

The DVSA normally have Motorcycle Theory Tests available once a month but the current waiting time has grown to eight and a half weeks in the Western Isles.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, has contacted Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (CnES) after she was approached by a constituent concerned that Hillcrest’s children’s care home could close to save the Comhairle money.

The Comhairle is taking steps to reduce a £6 million budget shortfall and it was suggested that one potential impact of this is the effective closure of the Hillcrest children’s unit in Stornoway which could save £350,000 and would result in the loss of a number of posts there.

Alasdair Allan MSP's open surgery, which was planned for Friday 3rd February 12-2pm, has been cancelled out of respect to the late Rev. Iain D. Campbell, whose funeral takes place at 1.15pm. 

There will still be an open surgery held at 11am-1pm on Saturday 4th February. 

A cross-party appeal from the members of the Scottish Parliament has gone to Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in UK Government over the fate of the Burntisland Fabrications’ (BiFab) yards in Methil, Burntisland and Arnish.

The cross party group of MSPs recently met with trade union representatives from GMB and Unite, along with workers, to discuss the company’s future.

In the letter, the MSPs said:”As the Beatrice contract comes to an end, it is clear to us that the only way to secure the future of these yards and the skilled workforce is with the guarantee of a new contract.

Check out our new gallery of pics from the 'MV Loch Seaforth' here

A mysterious green light in the sky was seen by numerous people on Saturday night (February 2nd), but nobody has yet provided an explanation for what it might be

Stornoway Coastguard had a call from Benbecula reporting a green flare, but established that a similar light had been reported from numerous places around the UK to other Coastguard stations, so no action was taken locally.

Young people in CnES schools now have the opportunity to choose new SQA-accredited courses designed to meet skills, competence and academic requirements of the Engineering and Health & Social Care sectors.

CnES in partnership with Lews Castle College, Skills Development Scotland, employers, SQA and Sector Skills Councils have launched work-based progression pathways (including some ‘Foundation Apprenticeships’) for pupils in senior phase in The Nicolson Institute, Castlebay, Lionacleit and Sir E Scott schools.

Available at levels SCQF 5 and 6 (old Credit Standard Grade and ‘Higher’) the two-year courses combine ‘on the job’ work-appropriate skills and competencies with school/college academic study for S5/S6 pupils, which in turn makes pupils more employable. 

High-energy Celtic rock band Face The West yesterday (Thursday February 14th) announced the end of a five-year ‘career break’ with plans for a new album and a new schedule of live gigs.

The Isle of Lewis line-up featured Keith Morrison on keyboards and synths, Jane Hepburn on fiddle, DC Macmillan as drummer and Alasdair Maclean on the accordion – numerous other island musicians also joined the line-up for tours or individual gigs. They were festival and gig favourites for almost 15 years, after forming while still in school in 1998.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has given the go ahead for the new £5.9m Ardseileach Care Development which will meet the care and support needs of adults with learning disabilities and complex care needs.

The project will replace the accommodation of the existing care home and respite service to provide a modern up-to-date facility. In addition, the building of supported accommodation units will provide different styles of individual and shared living options, with varying levels of support provided depending on individual needs.

In recent years the inflexibility of the design and layout of Ardseileach Care Home has at times required the Comhairle to accommodate and care for clients on the mainland and this new facility will help to reduce those numbers.

Would you like to sip your coffee or eat your delicious meal with a panoramic view of the Harbour before you?  an Lanntair's cafe bar area has been newly refurbished to make that possible - whether you've just come in for a drink or sit-down meal.

an Lanntair's Director of Strategy, Elly Fletcher, says: "Previously, what used to be the restaurant section had a 'Please wait to be seated' notice up - it felt like you weren't really allowed in this area!  It was our ambition to create a much more inviting art space for local people. "

Local artist and interior designer, David Wilson, designed the concept and layout.  David was heavily involved in the painting, painstakingly, depicting a series of blue, black and cream lines running across the walls.  Also instrumental in the decorating work was the an Lanntair team themselves!  Willow Glen Garden Centre provided plants and Kevin Macmillan Joinery made the planters, providing dashes of greenery throughout the area.

The an Lanntair team plan to work with local artists, commissioning murals and images.  "We want the artists to feel more like they own the space," Elly says.  At the moment, in celebration of an Lanntair's 30th anniversary this year, blown-up images of local scenes are being displayed.

an Lanntair's adjustments have extended into creating a simplified menu and doing away with table service.  After consulting with customers to see what they would like, the menu will offer some favourite signature dishes, such as the chowder, and the an Lanntair burger.  "And we will always have specials on," promises Elly. 

Today - Saturday - February 7th at 3:00pm, local people have a special opportunity to give feedback and suggestions to the staff of an Lanntair about other uses for the space and new developments..


The new BBC UK map graphic shows a flattened, birds-eye perspective

It may have taken more than a decade to change, but from today (Tuesday, February 6th) the standard UK map on BBC weather bulletins will be once again flat – delighting Western Isles MP Angus Brendan MacNeil who pushed for the BBC to improve its more severe tilt on the UK map when it was first altered 12 and a half years ago.
Mr MacNeil said: “Delighted that the BBC have done the right thing and improved the weather map…it only took them 12 and a half years.”
The 2005 map alteration was the first major change to the look of the BBC weather for more than 20 years, but caused outrage to many in the north of the country due to the graphic’s southerly perspective, giving a ‘distorted’ view of Scotland.

Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) has announced the appointment of their new Chief Executive Officer, Kevin Hobbs.  

Kevin, who currently owns a ports, marine logistics and shipping consultancy, has held a number of senior management positions during his 25 year career in the maritime industry and will take over on 1st April 2016 from the current CEO, Tom Docherty, following a short handover.

He was Director at the UK’s third biggest port, Milford Haven Port, responsible for all operations at Pembroke Port and Milford Docks, including the ferry terminal, general stevedoring, Wales’s largest fishing dock, operation of the marina and Milford Haven Ship Repairers, as well as the estates department, where he, with colleagues, gained outline planning permission for a £70 million regeneration project, which is currently underway.  

At its first meeting of 2019 last week, the board of Tolsta Power Ltd co-opted several new directors.

They include Stuart Thompson and Graham Morrison. Stuart is already involved with the Community Council in Tolsta.

Welcoming them, Tolsta Power Chairman, Murdo MacIver said: 'These appointments are part of our vision for succession planning.

The new ferry mv Loch Seaforth is on track to enter service on the Stornoway-Ullapool ferry route by the end of February, Minister for Transport and Islands Derek Mackay announced during a visit to the Isle of Lewis.

During the visit to Stornoway on February 2, Mr Mackay chaired the second meeting of the Stornoway Ullapool Ferry Project Taskforce and also met with local stakeholders to update them on progress.

A brand new £25,000 softplay facility was officially opened on Harris today (Friday).

Several invited guests – both large and small – assembled at the former Croileagan building in West Tarbert to herald the opening of the colourful new play area.

The softplay is the result of a fundraising drive by the mothers of the ‘Rionnagan Oga’ children’s group.

A brand new £25,000 softplay facility was officially opened on Harris today (Friday).

Several invited guests – both large and small – assembled at the former Croileagean building in West Tarbert to herald the opening of the colourful new play area.

The softplay is the result of a fundraising drive by the mothers of the ‘Rionnagan Oga’ children’s group.

Stag Road in Stornoway is being transformed from a derelict industrial/office site by the construction of 12 new homes where Stag Bakeries were formerly based.
The homes, made up of 8 two-bedroom and four one-bedroom properties, are being built by Lewis Builders Ltd and should be ready for tenants by April 2019.
The cost of the development is £1.05 million of which £868,000 is being funded by Scottish Government Grant.

Artizan's new Hot Italian Meat Bruschetta

 

There are more tasty treats on offer at Artizan Cafe from this week as the latest Stornoway eatery expands its lunchtime menu.

Found on Church Street, Artizan now offers a range of substantial hot and cold platters alongside its popular Tapas and Anti Pasti.

Complementing the Artizan style, and all presenting something a little bit different for Stornoway, new to the menu presents the Hot Italian Meat Bruschetta, Italian Chicken Slider, and the Spicy BBQ Chicken Melt.

Point and Sandwick Trust has welcomed two new members on to its board — Point postie Gordon Mackay and community wind farm campaigner Rhoda Mackenzie.

Sonja Macleod has also returned to the board after a six-month absence.

Rhoda, Gordon and Sonja joined the board at November’s AGM and have shared some thoughts, here, about being involved with the community wind farm.

Members of Lewis Presbytery of the Church of Scotland with Rev Gordon Macleod and Rev Dougie Wolf seated (Photo by D I Macarthur).

Over a two week period in late January / early February, Lewis Presbytery of the Church of Scotland ordained two new ministers.  

On 20 January, Rev Gordon Macleod was ordained to the ministry and set aside to Chaplaincy and has since joined NHS Western Isles as a part-time chaplain in the Western Isles Hospital.  

On 3 February, Rev Dougie Wolf was ordained to Ministry and inducted to Barvas Church of Scotland where he succeeds Rev Paul Amed who retired in 2015.



Two new workshops in Stornoway have been added to the current Business Gateway workshop programme. 

They will cover what you need to know about various social media platforms and how you can use them in your business.  Facebook for business, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter and Hootsuite (social media management tool) will all be covered and you will learn:

Winds gusting to 60 mph are forecast for today (Wednesday February 14) throughout the Minch and across the Outer Hebrides.

There are widespread ferry cancellations. Routes affected include Stornoway-Ullapool; Castlebay to Oban; Armhor to Eriskay; Leverburgh to Berneray; and Lochboisdale to Mallaig or Oban. Ferries on the routes to Uig on Skye are being retimed. More details from https://www.calmac.co.uk/service-status

Up to eight athletes from the Outer Hebrides will benefit from new funding grants set up to help cover their additional travel costs compared to mainland-based athletes.

Aileen Campbell MSP, Minister for Sport, visited the Clickimin Sports Centre in Lerwick, Shetland yesterday (Friday February 2) to announce the establishment of a £45,000 3 year pilot fund to help island athletes.

The new initiative will provide funding to help athletes from Orkney, Shetland and Western Isles travel to competitions.

Trading Standards officers are once again urging residents to say no to doorstep sellers, with reports of sellers currently operating in the islands.

And they’re calling on householders to display signs warning that uninvited sales are not wanted, as part of the protection they’re entitled to against such sellers.

A CnES spokesperson said on Friday (February 8th): “Our advice is never to deal with anyone who cold calls at your door. Just say ‘No thanks’ and shut the door. Please keep an eye out for vulnerable neighbours, particularly anyone who lives alone who may find it difficult to deal with uninvited callers.”

Well-known writer and former teacher Donald S Murray has just launched his first website…created by Intermedia Services (Stornoway) Ltd which publishes EVENTS and welovestornoway.com

This comes after a busy few months for Donald – who nowadays lives in Shetland but who comes from the Ness district of Lewis.

The Newmarket Play Area and Walk AGM will be held on Monday 6th March, 7:30pm at Newmarket Play-park.

 

Over the past few days, a news website for the isles of Barra and Vatersay has been coming to life, the latest offspring of the Stornoway-based 'welove' websites which already cover the Isles of Lewis and Harris.

The new site - www.welovebarraandvatersay.com - aims to provide an informative daily news service from and about the Islands, as well as carrying general Island news from its sister websites.

For the moment, it is being run by existing staff based in Lewis, Harris and Skye, where the 'welove' sites have a sister news site, www.theskyetimes.co.uk

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

For any other queries, suggestions, or information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

24/02/14 14:34 - Newspapers on sale on Cromwell street NOW!

(L-R back):Chrisanne Campbell; Moira Macaulay; Angela Grant; Kathy Jennings, and Kedar Paul
(L-R front): Leanne Smith; Maggie Macleod; Kathleen Maclennan; Nicola Pearson; Ellen MacDonald, and Marion Fordham

Stornoway RNLI was delighted to receive a donation of £251.10 from NHS Western Isles staff recently.

The funds were raised by staff during December through a 'Christmas Jumper Day' and Raffle.

And as winners of the 'Best Decorated Office', accountants Kathleen Maclennan and Nicola Pearson were given the choice of charity – and decided on the local lifesavers of Stornoway RNLI.

NHS Western Isles team (l-r): Iain Trayner, Technology Enabled Care (TEC) Project Manager; Liz Fowler, TEC and eHealth Project Officer; Jon Harris, Head of eHealth and IT; and Christine Chlad, eHealth Project Manager

Two NHS Western Isles projects have been shortlisted for Holyrood Digital Health and Care Awards.
‘Attend Anywhere’ is the first project, shortlisted in the ‘Patient Centred Care’; and also shortlisted is the ‘Morse’ project in ‘The Mobile Health’ award category.
NHS Western Isles Chief Executive Gordon Jamieson said: “As remote and rural islands, we have a responsibility to our patients in the Western Isles to ensure that services are available to them as efficiently and as safely as possible, despite the obvious additional challenges we face in terms of our geography.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will officially open the new Museum nan Eilean at Lews Castle on Monday March 6. 

A spokesperson for the museum said: "We are delighted that Nicola Sturgeon has agreed to open the new museum. It's all come about a bit suddenly because of a space becoming available in her diary, but we very much look forward to welcoming her."

The new Museum nan Eilean at Lews Castle offers an interactive explanation of the history and culture of the Outer Hebrides alongside a stunning exhibition of unique objects dating from prehistory to the present day.

[gallery ID=140]

Stornoway’s Nicholson Institute had a starry night on Friday (8th February) after gaining the highest number of nominations in the youth category of the MG Alba FilmG Gaelic film awards,

A total of five nominations were made for their films, which won awards for best performance and the award for fluent Gaelic speakers – for their comedy piosmathduff.com – as well as best script for A-mach à Uchd a’ Bhàis, a documentary on the Iolaire disaster.

A decision on staffing redeployment at the Hillcrest children’s home will be taken in around three months’ time, the Comhairle confirmed this afternoon (Thursday February 9), adding that there are no anticipated job losses.

Councillors agreed on Tuesday to press ahead with plans to downgrade the facility, in order to save £350,000.

Said a report: "Demand for residential places both locally and off Island have reduced significantly. Action for Children provides five bed spaces (four residential and one respite) in Hillcrest and in the current financial year has had approximately 50% occupancy. More recently, it has operated at a 25% occupancy and on this basis it is not viable to maintain a facility with only a 25% occupancy and no current agreement for workforce redeployment."

 

Rev David Macleod will be officially welcomed as the first minister of the recently formed North Harris Free Church on Tuesday.

The North Harris congregation, which meets in the Community Centre in Tarbert, unanimously called the 40-year-old last month.

His induction will be held in the Community Centre on Pier Road on Tuesday 10 February, beginning at 7pm. Refreshments will be served afterwards, and it is understood an overflow area will be available if required.

THERE was standing room only in Tarbert Community Centre last night, as the newly formed North Harris Free Church celebrated the induction of its new minister.

Rev David Macleod accepted the call from North Harris last month, having previously served as minister in Lochcarron Church of Scotland.

Rev Macleod (40), is married to Mairi and they have three young girls – Anna (9), Grace (6), and Lois (3).

 

The Annual General Meeting of the North Lochs Community Association will be held

on 

Thursday 28 February 2019

at

8pm, in the Leurbost Community Centre.

 

All long term and new residents in the community are very welcome to attend and share their thoughts and ideas.

 

 New members will be warmly welcomed.

 

Refreshments will be provided.

 

 

 

 

North Lochs Community Association

AGM

on

Thursday 2nd March 2017

at

7.30pm

in

The Community Centre, Leurbost

Please come along and have your say in the future of the hall. Why not join the committee? The association is run by a small group of volunteers but always needs more help. If you can't make the AGM but have views or ideas please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or call 07879 011 248 beforehand.

A new, free service is available on welovestornoway.com with the introduction of an Obituaries category - click here to move straight to it.

Unlike with traditional printed obituaries, these can remain available to be read for as long as you wish.

People are welcome to submit obituaries – which will normally also be published in EVENTS newspaper - to this This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Please supply full contact details for yourself if you are submitting an obituary.

A 33-year-old man is to appear at Stornoway Sheriff Court tomorrow (Monday February 4th) after he was arrested in Stornoway.

The man has been in custody at Stornoway police station since his arrest around 10pm on Saturday night on Keith Street in the town.

He was found to be carrying an offensive weapon and was also charged with a number of road traffic offences.

Kevin Clark; Norman Macleod, Autoparts store manager; and Calum Macaulay

Stornoway rockers The Broken Ravens played to more than 20,000 screaming fans in Bulgaria last summer…and now they are heading in the opposite direction, for a fortnight of intensive recording and performing in Los Angeles.

But drummer Kevin Clark says this is only due to the massive amount of local support over the last six weeks after the band found itself without the public-sector funding which it had applied for, despite a business plan which had been enhanced and approved by Rod Smallwood, co-manager of Iron Maiden, contacted through a family connection of the band’s on Point.

Bridgemill Direct is an outdoor clothing shop based in Nairn, and they are pleased to announce that they will be running a pop-up shop from The Crown Inn, in Stornoway, from Thursday 16th February to Saturday 18th February.

Pop-up shop open hours are:

Thursday 16th February, 5pm-9pm

Friday 17th February, 9am -5pm

Saturday 18th February, 9am-5pm

Their range will consist of mens, ladies and kids winter clothing, footwear and accessories - at discounted prices!

For more information visit their event page or their Facebook page

Telephone number: 01667 455035

Harvey is moving to 2 Arnol on 4th February from Barvas and would like to thank Donald, Ena and Janine very much for letting him out, or taking him for a walk, at lunchtime whilst Bill is at work. 

Janine will still be helping out after the move but Harvey is looking for some new local friends. So, if you could let him out at lunchtime a day or two per week (doesn't need to be the same day every week)

Please call Bill on 07738 889706 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

It’s a social group that is having a positive impact on the mental health and wellbeing of those who take part – and now Point Parent and Toddler Group is getting support itself, with cash from Point and Sandwick Trust.

The community wind farm charity has given £300 to the group, which meets every Friday between 1pm and 3pm during term time in the Garrabost Free Church Hall, and the parents have been sharing their experiences of the difference it has made to their lives.

People with Parkinson’s in the NHS Western Isles area and across Scotland are facing major issues in accessing the care they need from overstretched local services.

But NHS Western Isles is Scotland’s only Health Board area with the appropriate specialist Parkinson’s nurse provision. Across Scotland there should be at least 40 Parkinson’s nurses, instead there are fewer than 30.

That’s the conclusion drawn by Parkinson’s UK in Scotland in a major report on Parkinson’s services published today – Wednesday 6 February.

The carbon payback times for wind turbines are much shorter than previously thought, according to international research carried out at Point and Sandwick Trust’s community-owned wind farm.

German student Katharina Lutz found the turbines at Beinn Ghrideag (photographed above by Sandie Maciver) had a payback time of just 47 days – a drastic reduction on the previous, widely accepted, estimate of 2.3 years.

The Lewis and Harris Youth Concert Band are heading for  Perth in March to take part in the the Scottish Concert Band Festival 10th Anniversary National Finals.

The group of 38 young people, from various schools around the islands, won a coveted place in the finals after being presented with a Gold Award by SCBF adjudicator Alan Friel, who attended a concert held by the band in Stornoway last November.

Lecturers at Lews Castle College are picketing outside the college gate today (Tuesday February 5th) on a second day of action during pay talks.

Representatives of the Further Education Lecturers Association (EIS-FELA) said there had been no progress on their dispute with college employers despite eight hours of talks on Thursday.

 

It was the first of what will be the Lewis Pipe Band's annual Burns night. For a debut, it was a great success, with tickets almost selling out.

Speakers on the night were Robert Doig, Donnie "Leody" Macleod, Anna Murray, as well as Murdo John Mackay as our MC.

The Ceilidh with Faram was well attended, and performances from the Mackinnon Dancers and the Pipe Band themselves kept the crowd entertained.

Over £1,200 was raised from the dinner, raffle and auction on the night. 


David Stewart, MSP and Road Safety Campaigner

Highlands & Islands Regional MSP and Road Safety Campaigner, David Stewart, has welcomed news from the UK Government that they plan to seriously now consider introducing a form of Graduated Driving Licence later this year.
“Since 2010 I have been campaigning for a form of Graduated Driving Licence to be introduced for young and new drivers,” said Mr Stewart.
“In the Scottish Parliament, there is broadly cross party support for such a scheme evidenced by the support of motions I have laid down in the Parliament on this issue. However as the matter is reserved to the UK Government, I, along with other organisations, have being trying to persuade successive UK Cabinet Secretaries for Transport to adopt such a scheme and after 10 years we seem to be finally getting there.

Tonight (Thursday February 15) sees the debut of a remarkable play on the history of women in the Hebrides. Deeds Not Words, which has been created by the Rural Nations Scotland CIC theatre and arts company, is showing in An Lanntair in Stornoway for three nights before going on tour throughout the islands.
The play focuses on what happened when island women got the vote in 1918. It tells the story of the Stornoway suffrage society — and fills in some of the blanks in this period of history.
Thanks to this play, we will learn more about the herring gutters as an economic powerhouse and about some women of great achievement, such as Helen MacDougal from Barvas.
The play is the result of a huge research effort by writer Toria Banks and director Muriel Ann Macleod into the story of women’s suffrage in the isles. The research phase took three years and the total cost of creating this professional touring production was nearly £40,000.

A rallying call to anyone in Scotland keen to support radical change in land ownership has been made by Tarbert-based David Cameron, Chair of Community Land Scotland.
With a week to go until the deadline for comments (10th February) he is encouraging individuals and groups to make representations to the Scottish Government.
David Cameron said,  “Community Land Scotland was formed just five years ago partly because we felt the momentum had gone out of land reform. Today, we have the opportunity to back renewed momentum for change.

Anyone want 200 to 300 tonnes of soil and rocks from a family’s home-building site?

That’s the plea from new mum, musician and Harris Tweed Authority worker Jayne Hepburn Macmillan and her husband Kevin.

Power giant SSE must do more to reduce the 2p per unit surcharge being paid by electricity consumers in the Highlands and islands.
That was the call from a delegation from the area who were meeting representatives of SSE today at the firm’s headquarters in Perth.
The Highlands and Islands representatives also asked that SSE look into strengthening the  Hydro Benefit Replacement Scheme which was originally designed to equalise prices across the UK but is now way below the amount brought in by the 2p surcharge.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan yesterday (Wednesday February 20th) questioned the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport Jeane Freeman MSP regarding the timescales for the replacement of St Brendan’s Hospital in the Isle of Barra.

In 2011, NHS Western Isles accepted that the current facilities were not fully compliant with the standards that are required for modern health and social care. Since then, progress on replacing the facility has been slow and suffered a number of setbacks.

It’s time to clear up those old posters, community groups and events organisers in Stornoway and elsewhere have been told.

Of course, posters have been displayed all over Stornoway since time immemorial, and while technically this is against town bylaws, there is a certain understanding that community groups need to promote their events.

The Western Isles are to see 'one of the greatest improvements of any area' in mobile phone coverage.

After a chain of questions from Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP, Angus MacNeil on mobile and 4G mobile coverage, the UK Minister Edward Vaizey responded that under the 4G mobile coverage improvement agreement announced on December 2014, the Scottish islands will see one of the greatest improvements in the UK. 

According to the minister’s response, under this agreement, partial not-spots will be halved and not-spots will be cut by two-thirds.

NHS Western Isles would like to inform Podiatry Service users that due to unforeseen circumstances, podiatry services in Uist and Barra will be operating at a reduced level of service.

All patients will be offered appointments at Ospadal Uibhist agus Bharraigh in Balivanich or at St Brendan’s in Castlebay.


Sustaining communities: Point and Sandwick board member Liz Chaplain hands the cheque over to Crossroads Lewis chair Malcolm Smith, joined by Crossroads Lewis board member Donna Macleod (left) and Crossroads Lewis manager Rhoda Macdonald

Crossroads Lewis is to be supported with a grant of £5,000 a year, for five years, thanks to community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust.
The annual donation will help Crossroads deliver its support service for carers by paying the wages for more hours-for-care attendants.
Chair of Crossroads Lewis, Malcolm Smith, said: “Having something that’s spread over five years is really supportive to us. It gives greater certainty to our funding. We seldom get an ongoing commitment – so having something that helps us plan for longer than a single financial year is extremely helpful.”

Turbines for the Point windfarm have arrived in Stornoway via two cargo ships. 

The 'Abis Cardiff' and the 'Marne' have both now reached Arnish Point.

Point and Sandwick Development Trust believe the project will generate over £36 million in the next 25 years, thanks to an output of 9MW from their three commercial sized turbines.

Police Scotland and partners in the Highlands and Islands are warning that rape and other sexual offences will not be tolerated.

Local officers are supporting the ongoing national Police Scotland "We Can Stop It" campaign aimed at preventing and reducing crimes of this nature.

Rape - sex without consent - is a serious criminal offence and takes many forms. If a person is unable to give consent for any reason then this is rape.  This could be if they are asleep or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Being in a relationship does not give the right to have sex without consent.

 

Police Scotland is appealing for witnesses following a serious one vehicle road traffic collision in Stornoway.

The incident involved a black Yamaha XT660X motorcycle and happened sometime before 7.40am on Sunday, February 17 on Mossend Road in Stornoway.

Police in Stornoway are seeking information as they investigate damage to a number of prawn creels, weights, ropes and bouys located offshore in the Minch.
The fishing equipment was located approximately four miles off the South Lochs area of Lewis; and the damage is suspected to have occurred between the evening of Monday, February 19th and morning of Tuesday, February 20th.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact Stornoway Police Station by calling 101, reference NH590/18.
You can also report anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Police Scotland are appealing for witnesses following a two-vehicle collision on the A835 at Gorstan on the road between Garve and Ullapool, which occurred about 2pm yesterday (Sunday 25th February).  

The collision involved a red SEAT Léon and a white Audi S3.

Western Isles Police are appealing for information following two disturbances in Stornoway town centre
The first occurred just after midnight on Friday, February 23rd, on Point Street.
And a second incident was reported shortly before 2am on the same day on Francis Street.

Road policing officers in the Highlands and Islands are again warning people not to drink and drive after a significant number of motorists were caught over the limit in the last month.
A high profile national campaign was held targeting drink and drug drivers during the festive season - and officers have continued to stop drivers suspected to be over the limit throughout January.
Road Policing Inspector Neil Lumsden said: "It is very disappointing that we have arrested 31 drivers for driving while under the influence of alcohol during the month of January.

Council poll date

There's only a few hours to go if you want to stand in a bye-election which is to be held for the return of a councillor for the An Taobh Siar agus Nis ward of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.
Nomination forms can be obtained from the Election Office at the Comhairle offices on Sandwick Road, Stornoway on weekdays from 10am to 4pm, by telephoning 01851 822613 or from the Comhairle website at www.cne-siar.gov.uk/electionoffice.
Completed nomination forms must be delivered to the Election Office by 4pm on Monday 9 February 2015.

The competition winners (l-r) - Cameron Mackenzie, Christina Matheson, and Leon Campbell
Three talented pupils from The Nicolson Institute were presented with Amazon vouchers today thanks to their winning designs for Western Isles Child Protection’s new Child Safety posters and literature.
The presentation comes as school pupils throughout the Western Isles take part in events and discussions to mark international movement ‘Safer Internet Day’ today (Tuesday, February 6th).
The Western Isles Child Protection committee invited island school pupils to help redesign their Child Safety posters and literature, and 171 Nicolson pupils entered the competition. And with such competition, the judging panel could not decide on just one design, but selected three for use in future Child Safety literature – the bright, eye-catching, and though-provoking designs of Leon Campbell (2F1); Christina Matheson (1S1), and Cameron Mackenzie (2P7).

The competition winners (l-r) - Cameron Mackenzie, Christina Matheson, and Leon Campbell
Three talented pupils from The Nicolson Institute were presented with Amazon vouchers today thanks to their winning designs for Western Isles Child Protection’s new Child Safety posters and literature.
The presentation comes as school pupils throughout the Western Isles take part in events and discussions to mark international movement ‘Safer Internet Day’ today (Tuesday, February 6th).
The Western Isles Child Protection committee invited island school pupils to help redesign their Child Safety posters and literature, and 171 Nicolson pupils entered the competition. And with such competition, the judging panel could not decide on just one design, but selected three for use in future Child Safety literature – the bright, eye-catching, and though-provoking designs of Leon Campbell (2F1); Christina Matheson (1S1), and Cameron Mackenzie (2P7).

The islands' annual party - the Hebridean Celtic Festival.  Photo: Daibhidh Martin

The multi award-winning Hebridean Celtic Festival is powering ahead with an exciting programme for its Islands Stage after confirming sponsorship with an island windfarm company has been extended to a fourth successive year.
The continuing partnership with Lewis Wind Power, developers of Stornoway Wind Farm and Uisenis Wind Farm, will again help HebCelt present an international line-up on the Islands Stage.
It also fits with the environmental credentials of the Festival, which will run from July 18th to 21st in Stornoway.

MONDAY 8 FEBRUARY - STORNOWAY

 

This practical half day workshop will be held on Monday 8 February at 1.30pm in the Comhairle offices in Stornoway.  You will learn to identify what makes a good business plan and the links between business planning & success.  Understanding what the market is, what constitutes market research and setting sales targets will also be covered.

There was praise for all those involved in more than 12 hours of musical performance and competition yesterday in Stornoway yesterday (Saturday February 16th)

Beginning with preliminary rounds in the Stornoway Primary School and The Nicolson Institute from the start of the day, the Western Isles Young Musician of the Year and Young Singer of the Year contests culminated in a concert and prizegiving event in the ballroom at Lews Castle Natural Retreats.

As Paris-based band This Is The Kit take to the Woodlands Centre stage in early April, the end of an era is marked as island music promoters Jori Kim and Innes 'Fabster' Morrison hang up their hats and pass on the reins.
Eighteen years ago Jori and Innes got together under the moniker of Honcho Promotions to first boost gigs for the up and coming band of Lewis musicians astrid, before teaming up with Ullapool based Beyond Promotions.

Protests have poured into the welovestornoway.com Facebook page after we publicised the fact that the Bus Station in Stornoway faces closure in CnES cutbacks.

We understand that consultation forms about the proposed cuts were not made available in the bus station itself prior to the recent Council meetings so passengers did not have their attention drawn to the plans.

Lewis Wind Power (LWP) intends to seek an additional planning consent for its proposed Stornoway Wind Farm to ensure it has the option of using the latest and most productive onshore wind turbines on the market.

The company will be setting out its latest plans and seeking further feedback from local residents and businesses at a public exhibition in Stornoway Town Hall on Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th February. 

The event will run from 1200 to 1930 each day and follows on from an initial consultation event last October.

Stornoway Pier number three was a hive of activity this afternoon, as Caledonian MacBrayne opened the doors of its new £42 million 'MV Loch Seaforth' ship to the viewing public.

Hundreds of people took up the invitation of the guided tours, between 1pm and 3pm.

The ferry will again be open tonight from 6pm until 8pm.

A public information meeting on Brexit is to take place in Stornoway on Tuesday February 28.

The speakers are Dr Eilidh Macphail, Lews Castle College (University of the Highlands and Islands), and Professor Michael Keating from the Centre on Constitutional Change, and the Chairperson is Murray Macleod, West Highland Free Press.

The meeting will take place from 6.00pm – 8.00pm in Stornoway Town Hall, and tea and coffee will be available from 5.30pm.

 

Debra Vickers

A Western Isles community nurse has been selected to take part in a special professional development programme which will earn her the right to use the coveted Queen’s Nurse title.

Debra Vickers, who works as the BHF Cardiac Specialist Nurse (Lead Nurse), is one of 20 community nurses selected by The Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland (QNIS) to join the first cohort of 21st century Queen’s Nurses.

On completion of the programme, they will be the first nurses to receive the title in Scotland for almost 50 years.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency are sending representatives to Stornoway next week, to discuss how the driving theory test could be made more easily available in the Western Isles.

The agency says they plan to improve the theory test provision they offer in the Highlands and Islands, and they’re holding meetings in Lewis and in Shetland to gather public opinions.

Balallan footballer Rachael Johnstone is pulling on the Number One jersey for Scotland’s Women’s under-16 football team again tomorrow morning (Monday February 18th) as the team go head-to-head with Germany.

It’s the third match in an international development tournament in Portugal.

Schools, groups and workplaces across the North of Scotland are taking part in a Rainbow Raiser this Friday all in aid of The Leanne Fund.

Rainbow Raiser packs have been delivered to all who have signed up to take part which includes bunting and collection boxes - including welovestornoway.com !

Having an Emergency Towing Vessel (ETV) based in the West of Scotland is 'essential', Comhairle Convener Norman A. Macdonald stressed today.

After the eighth storm of the season, Henry, battered the coasts of Scotland last week, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency have invited stakeholders to a meeting to discuss the future of Emergency Towing Vessel provision in the UK. 

The move comes less than two months before the end of the current contract for the last remaining government funded ETV. 

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, met with Bifab’s head of operations at Arnish, Neil Campbell, yesterday (Thursday February 15th) and learned that the widely reported threat of redundancy was, in fact, a cold reality.

The workforce has been issued with their termination notices effective today (Friday 16th) and the remaining management including Neil have been told they finish next Friday the 23rd.

Mrs Grant stated, “This is the harsh reality for the dedicated workforce of Arnish, despite the extremely high quality of workmanship completed to exacting precision and timescales, they have been extremely let down and find themselves out of work at a difficult time.

Parents of school children in the Western Isles are being reminded that school meals are FREE to children in Primary 1 to 3.

Despite this, many parents are sending their children to school with packed lunches.

It is estimated that by taking up the free school meals, they could make savings of £370 each year, per child.

At the board meeting of Hebridean Housing Partnership on Wednesday 14th February 2018 the rent increase for houses and garages was set at 3.9% (Nov RPI) for 2018/19. The Board reached this decision after considering the results of the recent consultation process with tenants.

Norman Macleod, who chairs HHP, said “We recognise we are living in very challenging economic times, and any increase for tenants is unwelcome.

Restricted visiting at Western Isles Hospital remains in place until further notice.
As a result of refurbishment work taking place in the hospital, visiting is restricted to between 2pm and 3pm, and 7pm to 8.30pm, until further notice.
In extenuating circumstances, additional visiting arrangements can be discussed with the Senior Charge Nurse of a ward.

Rhoda Grant MSP
Regional MSP for the Highlands and Islands


Public Advice Surgery




34 Cromwell Street
Stornoway
HS1 2DD


Friday 3 February 2017
3.00pm – 4.00pm


No appointment required
Write: 34 Cromwell Street, Stornoway, HS1 2DD
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The road across from Plasterfield and Mossend towards Sandwick Road and Seaforth Road in Stornoway was closed completely by police from early this morning (Sunday February 17th).

An officer and a police vehicle were blocking the entrance at each end of the link road.  The road was closed before 8am.  It finally reopened as night fell, just before 6pm.

People travelling by road between Stornoway, Point and the airport should allow plenty of time for their journeys today (Wednesday February 28th) because of extensive roadworks.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed the news the Scottish Government has ruled out introducing rod licenses for wild fishing, or a new wild fisheries levy.

These proposals were previously considered as part of the consultation on draft provisions for a Wild Fisheries (Scotland) Bill and draft Wild Fisheries Strategy.

The MSP had raised concerns about the effects of these proposals could have on wild fishing, after receiving a number of representations from concerned constituents.

Members of the Isle of Lewis branch of Cancer Research were delighted to receive a donation of £1,260 from McNeill's bar in Stornoway.

For the month of December McNeill's held a 'Round up your Round' fundraiser, which gave customers the opportunity of rounding up their round of drinks to the nearest pound and giving the change to Cancer Research.

The fabulous amount of £1,260 was raised and the donation welcomed by local members of Cancer Research who said that they are constantly 'blown away' by the continued support and commitment of all at McNeill's in raising funds and awareness for the vital charity.

Pictured (centre) is McNeill's barmaid Joan Dunnett, with members of Cancer Research Isle of Lewis (l-r) – Amy Macaulay, Moira Maclean, Susan Murray, and Anne MacPhail.

 

Sara and her late father-in-law, Colin MacQueen

The sudden death of Colin MacQueen last November both shocked and saddened all who knew him. 

Colin, who was 57, was an extremely popular driving instructor on Lewis, and was also a key figure in the local folk music scene. 

So, in part to commemorate his life and also to raise money for charity, Colin’s daughter-in-law Sara MacQueen is to run her first ever half-marathon in Inverness next month.

Riders and horse owners are invited to an open conversation being hosted by the British Horse Society and Police Scotland on Saturday March 2nd.

The event is for those keen to learn more about riding and roadcraft, how to report incidents and how to ensure you are covered in the event of an accident.

A new-state-of-the-art life saving system is being fitted to the MV Loch Portain during its annual refit this year.

The new Maritime Evacuation System (MES) will be obvious to regular passengers as it is located on the passenger deck rather than car deck.

The new equipment will significantly speed up the vessel's evacuation in the event of an emergency.

March 26th sees a chance for people hear about the reintroduction of Sea Eagles in a talk by John A. Love at an Lanntair arts centre – John was one of those most involved in the success of the original project on Rum.

With a wing span of seven feet, the sea eagle is the fourth largest eagle in the world.  Likened to a ‘flying barn door’, because of its stiff rectangular wings, you know one when you see one.   They are native to the UK but were hunted to extinction here over the centuries, the last one being shot in Shetland in 1918.

The Salvation Army Stornoway Corps has become the first church in the Western Isles to be recognised as an eco-congregation. 

The Salvation Army Stornoway Corps has been awarded a certificate by Eco-Congregation Scotland, an ecumenical movement helping groups of Christians to link environmental issues to their faith and reduce their environmental impact. 

Callum Newton, Lieutenant at Salvation Army Stornoway Corps, explains: "To be recognised as an eco-congregation by Eco-Congregation Scotland initially is an acknowledgement of the statement of intent made by the church to be concerned about the environment as part of God's creation. We are then committed to carrying out an environmental audit, which helps to identify existing environmental work, and prioritise what we would like to do next."

There are 350 eco-congregations in Scotland, 125 of which hold the Eco-Congregation Award, and which the Salvation Army Stornoway Corps is now working towards. 

Callum Newton said: "The Salvation Army here are really committed to continuing to better ourselves in our approach to the environment because we all recognise the importance of caring for God's creation as it has been entrusted to us. It's very easy for us to appreciate the wonder of creation when we live in such a beautiful part of the world, we want to do all we can for the good if the island and I believe that being an eco-congregation will aid our focus on environmental as well as (but not instead of) social issues."

For more information, please visit www.ecocongregationscotland.org

Getting married, or know somebody who is?

Come to the Cabarfeidh's Annual Wedding Fair on February 18th - Noon till 4pm.

We have a wide range of local suppliers, providing inspiration and ideas. Our dedicated wedding planners will also be on hand to help you plan your perfect day

Mary Scanlon, Scottish Conservative MSP for the Highlands and Islands, made a final visit to the Western Isles earlier this week as an MSP for the region.

Mary used the parliamentary recess to visit Harris and Stornoway, holding meetings and surgeries for the last time in the Western Isles before she retires as an MSP in March.  

Mary has represented the Highlands and Islands since the first Scottish Parliament elections in 1999.

Commenting, Mary said: "It's been a great honour to represent the Highlands and Islands and over the years in Parliament I have made many friends in the Western Isles and formed good relations with the council, health board, the local college, businesses and individuals.

Trees for the Croft

Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) is running a 'Trees for the Croft' practical training course on the 24th of February, between 10am and 4pm, at Horshader Community Trust office and a nearby croft in Shawbost, Isle of Lewis. The course is free to crofters and smallholders, and £40 for others. Booking is essential. For more details, location and contact details click here.

 

Strained Wire Fencing for Women (near Ullapool)

SCF will also be running a 'Strained Wire Fencing for Women' practical training course on Friday the 23rd and Saturday the 24th of February, between 10am and 2.30pm at Strathkanaird, near Ullapool. The cost is £40 per person,