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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aggression, vandalism and other misbehaviour are causing problems for police and the public in Lews Castle Grounds, and police now plan an active campaign to address the issue.

An anti-social behaviour campaign aimed at the large number of predominantly young people who are causing the problems is to be launched in the near future.

There will be increased police patrols and a proactive campaign to target anti-social activities including drinking in the castle grounds.

Stornoway police also say that anyone who suffers consequences or distress as a result of the behaviour should report the incident to them on the non-emergency number 101.

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

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

A 24-year-old man was arrested in Castle Street, Stornoway at 1.30am on Saturday morning (September 28th) after police observed him behaving abusively.

He was cautioned and charged and kept in police custody until sober. He’ll be reported to the Procurator Fiscal.

Late on Saturday night three men aged between 26 and 34 were arrested and charged with obstructing a police officer. They also were kept in custody until sober and are to be reported to the Procurator Fiscal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rhoda Grant MSP urges more people in the Highlands and Islands to join the stem cell register, following her attendance at a reception in parliament marking Blood Cancer Awareness month. 

The reception celebrated the number of potential stem cell donors in the Highlands and Islands on the Anthony Nolan register, which uses its register to match potential stem cell donors to blood cancer patients in desperate need of a stem cell transplant. It also carries out vital research to make stem cell transplants more successful, and supports patients through their transplant journeys.  In the Highlands and Islands 8,187 potential stem cell donors are registered with Anthony Nolan; 23% of these donors are men aged 16-30, and the average age is 33.

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

Rhoda Grant said: “I am very proud that the Highlands and Islands has 8,187 potential donors on the register, any one of whom could offer the only chance of giving someone with blood cancer a second chance at life. Donating stem cells is straightforward but it could make an enormous difference to someone with no other chance of a cure.

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

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

A youth club has begun meeting again in the Sandwick area, and has received start-up funding of £1,000 from community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust.

Sandwick Youth Club meets in the Sandwick Community Hall and is for all youngsters aged eight to 12 who live within the SHARE (Sandwick Hall and Recreation Enterprise) Association area, which covers Steinish through to Melbost.

The youth club meets on a Friday night during term time and all youngsters are welcome to come along and join by just filling in a form. All parents are welcome to stay too and share any ideas they may have for activities.

The club makes use of all the upstairs rooms in the Sandwick Hall, from 6.30pm to 8pm, and is attended by around 20 young people each night, although around 35 young people are members.

It is run by a committee of eight with a further 10 parent helpers assisting on a rota basis.

The focus is on games and activities plus arts and crafts, and music. There is also unstructured play time, where young people can just hang out, along with a tuck shop and free fresh fruit.

The small amount of profit the tuck shop makes goes back into paying for other club activities, such as a Halloween party, and the club is about to start buying games equipment, having done some canvassing of opinion and taken advice from Lewis and Harris Youth Clubs Association on what would be suitable.

Sandy Morrison, deputy chair of SHARE, said it was obvious from all the red faces at the end of every Friday night that the youngsters “love” the youth club.

In general, he said, half of them will “gravitate to the hall and kick a football” but no one is forced to play sport if they don’t want to. The club has acquired an electronic drum kit, keyboards and a nail varnish kit to help entertain some of the others.

The youth club restarted in April 2019 after a break of a few years, triggered by renovations being carried out on the hall. And the start-up grant of £1,000 from Point and Sandwick Trust, which operates the award-winning Beinn Ghrideag wind farm for the benefit of the community, meant the club started off on a good footing.

Sandy said: “The money from Point and Sandwick got us started up without a financial burden over our heads – that’s the basics of it. We could have started without their support but we would have been worrying about having a couple of pounds for this and a couple of pounds for that. 

“Their start-up fund will allow us to run for a year but we still want the children to go out and do their own fundraising – bag packing or whatever – so that they’re raising the money themselves for their outings and trips.”

Sandy said the youth club was a great antidote to excessive use of technology such as mobile phones. “We’ve only seen one child pick up a mobile phone in the whole time and that was only to charge it. To me, keeping the kids away from gadgets is brilliant.”

He added that clubs like this recreated a little bit of what island life used to be like for youngsters.

“We didn’t realise how lucky we were growing up,” he said. “We had the YM and the Acres open every night. Now, you’ve got a lot more structured activities in the town but the only place they’ve got to just hang out is The Shed. There’s nothing open all the time for them.”

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP, Angus Brendan MacNeil has requested a meeting with the UK Energy Minister, Kwasi Kwarteng MP, and Ofgem to discuss the way forward for island renewable projects. This is following the outcome of the Contracts for Difference (CfD) Allocation Round 3, which now raises questions about the viability of an interconnector to the Outer Hebrides.

Commenting, Angus MacNeil MP said:

"It would seem that the UK Government and its Energy regulator Ofgem are not working together.  Ofgem require 369MW for the transmission link, however, the two Lewis wind farms, which were successful in CfD Round 3, total 240MW, way below what is required by Ofgem.

“I have written to Energy Minister, Kwasi Kwarteng MP to request a meeting and I have asked that Ofgem also attend. 

“The UK Government claims it wants to move from carbon to cleaner energy, our islands have the best wind resource in Europe and the inter-connector is vital for island renewable energy projects.  The UK Government is not close to delivering on its claims and intentions but a joined-up approach to island renewables would help change that."

Tomorrow (October 1st) representatives of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) will be in Stornoway Town Hall to answer questions from the fishing community, and to talk about new and existing requirements for their boats. The event, which is one of seven stops of the roadshow, will take place from midday until 3pm. 

This follows work to develop a new Code of Practice for Small Fishing Vessels, which picks up on Marine Accident Investigation Branch recommendations to improve safety for all fishermen.

Over the last ten years, 46 people have died on fishing vessels of less than 15 metres, and the MCA is working with others to try to reduce the risk involved in what is considered the most dangerous industry in the UK.    

Ian Blair from the Maritime & Coastguard Agency said: ‘We’re putting a lot of effort into this to ensure we meet and speak with as many people in the fishing industry as we can about what’s changed and what the new proposals are. Fishing is the most dangerous industry in the UK and together we have to do everything we can to help reduce the risks to those whom carry out this incredible work.’

Full details, including venues, dates and times will be updated at http://hmcoastguard.blogspot.com/.

The last Loopallu festival closed on Saturday (September 28th) with Western Isles bands featuring heavily on the final day.

Stornoway sensation Peat & Diesel and the iconic Vatersay Boys started the ceilidh early on Saturday with what one fan called ‘possibly the most entertaining ferry crossing ever’, as they regaled CalMac passengers with tunes from the Loch Seaforth’s lounge.

Also on stage on Saturday were Lewis band Astrid, currently in the midst of a tour and with a new CD, Fall Stand Dance, garnering rave reviews.

Loopallu has been running for 15 years in Ullapool, creating a dedicated fanbase and a considerable buzz around the eclectic mix of performance – one year Franz Ferdinand and the Ullapool Pipe Band appeared on the same bill.

News that the festival might have to end in 2017 caused consternation, but a change of location allowed a couple of years’ reprieve.

This year’s last hurrah really is farewell, though, as the small town is unable to find places to stay for all of the festival-goers at what’s been dubbed ‘the best little festival in the west’.

There was a final message from organisers after the last chorus on Saturday night. “That's all folks. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for 15 fantastic years. Loopallu is finally dead. Long live Loopallu!”

Picture shows one last tune at one last festival from Peat and Diesel on Saturday evening. (Loopallu).



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

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

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

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

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


A group of students from Pendleton in South Carolina have been enjoying a weekend of amazing experiences in Lewis, thanks to the continuing international friendship between their school and the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway.

The exchange visit has now continued for so many years that some participants who were students on the first exchange are returning as teachers for their respective schools.

The group of teachers and students were warmly greeted as they came off the ferry on Wednesday evening (September 25th) and have been staying in the homes of their exchange hosts and attending some lessons at the Nicolson.

But they’ve also been treated to a wealth of very island experiences, from a bonfire on the beach at Gearranan Blackhouse Village to an opportunity to hand-feed the alpacas at Callanish.

They began their visit as special guests at Thursday night’s concert by the Royal Regiment of Scotland band, who performed with young musicians from the islands at Lewis Sports Centre.

Tomorrow (Monday September 30th) the group will have a private tour of the Iolaire exhibition which recently concluded at Stornoway Town Hall. Hosted by Stornoway Historical Society, they’ll learn about the centenary of the island’s greatest historical tragedy.

And tomorrow evening there’s a final fling dinner at the Nicolson Institute, with each host family providing a ‘pot luck’ dish to say farewell to their guests before they leave in Tuesday morning’s ferry.

Students from Stornoway are expected to return the exchange visit to South Carolina in spring next year.

Pictures show the students being greeted at Stornoway ferry terminal and taking part in some of the activities during the weekend (Alison MacDonald)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you sing, dance, draw, make things or do something else special that you could share with others? 

Then join our Fun Palace!

For the very first time, Fun Palaces will be taking place at Stornoway from 10am-4pm on Saturday 5th October. 

This is part of Fun Palaces 2019, a free, nationwide campaign for culture at the heart of community and community at the heart of culture happening over the weekend of the 5 & 6 October 2019.

There will be different things happening at each library including; art & craft sessions, textiles, virtual reality experiences & games, origami bookmark-making as well as 3D-design and printing.  But we are still looking for more lovely members of the community who would like to join in and volunteer to share their skills and talents with others on the day. 

Each Fun Palace celebrates the unique skills and passions of local people – run by, for and with the local community. Since 2014 a total of 1367 Fun Palaces have been made across the UK and worldwide by 32,800 local people (‘Makers’) with 450,000 taking part. This year will be the sixth Fun Palaces weekend, and the first for the Outer Hebrides.

Fun Palaces create events that bring together arts, science, craft, tech, digital, heritage and sports activities – but above all people – to work together, create together, have funtogether, and in doing so, connect our own communities, from the grassroots up.

Eilidh Maclean, Library Development Officer at Liniclate Library said: “We are really excited to be holding our very first Fun Palace and hope that it is something that will happen every year.  It is an opportunity for communities to get together to share their interests, skills and talents with others and we would love people to get in touch if they feel they have something to share with others.  We want the library to be buzzing that day!

Follow the Western Isles Libraries Facebook page to find out more about what will be happening.   For further information or to volunteer to take part, please contact:

  • Stornoway Library:   
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.        
  • 01851 822744

Tributes poured in at the end of September 2019 after the news broke of the sad passing of former Comhairle nan Eilean Siar councillor Mairi Bremner.

Born in September 1945, Mrs Bremner was one of the most prominent figures in Uist and Western Isles life over many years and was still active in a number of public roles.  She was a passionate advocate for the Gaelic language and culture. Her funeral took place on Friday September 29th in St Michael’s Church, Ardkenneth, South Uist.

Mairi was formerly a primary school teacher and ran her own business with her husband Robert for many years.

She was a councillor with CnES for 24 years, representing the former Iochdar ward, and chaired the Social Work committee from 1986-2003 when she stood down as a councillor.  She was also Vice-Chair of the Policy & Resources committee as well as holding many other prominent positions including Chair of Human Resources and being a Comhairle representative on COSLA.

Mairi also served as a non-Executive Director of the Western Isles Health Board and on Comunn na Gàidhlig’s board.

She was the longest serving Board Member of the Hebridean Housing Partnership, as well as being involved in smaller community organisations.  For instance, she acted as Gaelic adjudicator at Mòd Ionadail Uibhist 2019.

In the past she was a director of Tagsa Uibhist, Pròiseact nan Ealan and of the UK Committee for European Bureau of Lesser used Languages.

Earlier this year she was involved in a public campaign to get women more involved in local politics – as there are no longer any female councillors on CnES.  At the time she said she was saddened by the absence of women on the Comhairle, the only local authority in the UK with no female representatives.  "It grieves me because I think women have a better understanding of people's needs and wishes," she said.  “I also think women are more approachable.  I felt that I was approached more, and by people from outwith my own area for a lot of things because they felt like they could talk to a woman."

Convener of the Comhairle Norman A Macdonald, said: “Mairi was a tremendous voice for her community, serving in distinguished roles on the Comhairle, most notably as Chair of Social Work.

"Mairi was a robust campaigner for her community and for the islands and she was full of compassion and concern for the most vulnerable in our community.  She was also a leading figure locally and nationally in Health and Care issues. 

"Our thoughts at this sad time are with Mairi’s husband of over 50 years, Robert, her family and her many friends.”

In comments on Monday September 23rd, the Hebridean Housing Partnership said: “Today marks a very sad occasion for us as a Partnership as we learned of the sudden passing of one of our longest serving Board members, Mairi Bremner.

Chairman Mr.  Norman Macleod said: “It was indeed with much sadness that we heard our dear friend and Board member Mairi Bremner passed away following an unfortunate incident some days ago in Glasgow.

"Mairi was appointed at our AGM in September 2009 and was a hard working volunteer member.  A passionate and diligent contributor, HHP and the wider community were very well served by Mairi during her ten years on the Board.

"She will be sorely missed by us, but more so by her family especially by her husband Robert and her two sons of whom she spoke often.”

Chief Executive Dena Macleod said: “It is hard to take in that Mairi is no longer with us.  She was a vibrant character who brought so much more to us than her board skills; she brought humour, a huge heart for the people in our community, wisdom and compassion.

"Mairi appeared to have an enviable, unbounded level of enthusiasm and was always eager to encourage whoever came across her path.  I will miss that voice of encouragement and the endless stories of her beloved dog, Bingo.”

Mairi served as a Board Member for 10 years and was only recently re-elected to serve another term.  Mairi's commitment, knowledge and experience was truly valued by the HHP board.  Such was her varied experience that she excelled in her role as Chair of Audit & Risk Committee.

“We join many across the community in sending our sincere condolences to Mairi’s husband, Robert, and their sons, Aeneas and Steven, along with Mairi’s wider family, and many friends and colleagues who remain in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.

The Lord-Lieutenant of the Western Isles, Donald Martin was a close colleague of Mairi Bremner during her time at the Comhairle and during her Chairmanship of Comunn na Gaidhlig. 

Paying tribute to her enormous contribution to the Gaelic language and culture he described her as being “instrumental in promoting the Comhairle’s Bilingual Policy in the early days of the Council.  As Chair of the Social Work Committee she pioneered the use of Gaelic at Council meetings by encouraging anyone with a knowledge of the language to use it.  

“Very often she would reprimand a Councillor or officer with the words “Cuin a chaill thu do chuid Gàidhlig” (“When did you lose your Gaelic”).  

Having had an early career as a teacher, she was a passionate supporter of bilingual education and promoted the language at international level through her work on the European Bureau of Lesser Used Languages.  As Chairman of CnaG, Mairi championed many community and youth initiatives such as the Sradagan youth groups and the gaelic schools’ debates.

Mairi dedicated her life to the service of others and was always ready to provide encouragement and advice.  Her legacy through the numerous bodies which she so dutifully served will have been to have made a significant difference to the lives of many. 

She was a popular and regular participant on Gaelic radio and television programmes where she displayed her considerable qualities as an engaging, informative, and entertaining contributor.  Sàr Ghàidheal dha-rìreabh air am bidh ionndrainn mhòr. 

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



Community Council

Number of Vacancies

North Lochs






North Harris




South Harris




North Uist























Barvas and Brue
























North Tolsta














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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poppyscotland recently launched an exciting free new mobile resource for schools and events and they are coming to visit schools on Lewis.

The times and places are:

  • Monday 7th October – Sgoil an Rubha
  • Tuesday 8th October – Laxdale Primary
  • Wednesday 9th October – The Nicolson Institute

Poppyscotland provides life-changing support to the Armed Forces community.

Bud is a truck that transforms into a mobile community space, comprising a mini poppy factory, micro-museum and with interactive learning opportunities. It is an interactive experience that encourages visitors to create their personal remembrance journey through exploring the exhibits.  It is helping us keep remembrance relevant all year round.

Bud is travelling Scotland sharing Poppyscotland’s archive, veterans’ stories and the poppy’s history as a catalyst for challenging assumptions and creating conversations.

The 18-tonne interactive learning space dedicated to the poppy, began touring schools and events in May this year.  Bud will be on the road for more than 220 days and will visit all 32 local authority areas in Scotland over the course of the next three years as well as attend varied events across Scotland.

Visitors can make their own poppies using the same techniques that have been used by the veterans who work at Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory.  

Poppyscotland Chief Executive, Mark Bibbey said: “At the heart of every poppy is a story and that’s why we created Bud - to make sure those stories are told, and to help people explore and understand the importance of the poppy.

“After months of planning, it’s fantastic to see Bud take to the roads of Scotland, visiting communities across the length and breadth of the country. The team work very hard and have early starts, long days travelling as well as the physical set-up of our mobile micro-museum in different places every day.  

“Over the next four years, Bud will play an important role in exploring the history of remembrance and we are looking forward to welcoming more people on board.”

Bud will continue to tour the country throughout the year. More than 50,000 Scots are expected to engage with Bud over the course of the campaign.

To book Bud or to access the supporting learning resources, please visit www.poppybud.org.uk.

To donate and to learn more about forthcoming fundraising events, visit www.poppyscotland.org.uk/

Fast-growing Tarbert-based company Essence of Harris – which includes outlets in Inverness and Aberdeen – has come home with another major business award. 

The company won the won the ‘Outstanding Performing Small Business’ award at the 2019 Highland Business Awards, part of the seventh Highland Business Week

The awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of businesses and individuals throughout the region. 

Inverness Chamber of Commerce is the largest and most ambitious independent business organisation based in the Highlands & Islands. It actively campaigns for investment in digital and transport infrastructure, to ensure that the specific needs of our region’s business community are met.

The Chamber actively collaborates with key partners across the Highlands & Islands including a wide range of public sector partners and other Chambers of Commerce. 

Highland Business Awards took place at the Drumossie Hotel, Old Perth Road, Inverness, yesterday (Friday 27th September)

Beth Shannon, the Marketing and Communications Manager for Essence of Harris, said last night: “We are absolutely delighted to be bringing the award for ‘Outstanding Performing Small Business’ back to Harris today – we are over the moon!

“I felt very proud to accept it on behalf of the team in Harris, Inverness and Aberdeen. A lovely surprise for all of us.

“A big thank you to Inverness Chamber of Commerce for a lovely event - we are heading home with smiles on our faces. #HighlandBizWeek 

Business founder Jamie McGowan is in China at present on a business marketing trip to the city of Shenzhen and other areas of the country.  Jamie had earlier been in New Delhi in Inida.  He told welovestornoway.com: "I am in China at moment but this just happened in Inverness, I am so proud of the team."

Another winner at the ceremony was multi-award-winner Gaelforce Group – founded in the 1980s in Stornoway by Stuart Graham and now a worldwide company based in Inverness.  They took the prize as Best Newcomer to Exporting.

Car seized from no-licence driver

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

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

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


Drink-driver for court

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

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

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

A group of Danish students making a film triggered a major emergency response while they were filming off North Uist on Thursday (September 26th).

The students were spotted in the water and a person in trouble was reported to Stornoway Coastguard, who put a response plan into action at 2.56pm.

Rescue helicopter R948, Leverburgh RNLI lifeboat and two Coastguard Rescue Teams were scrambled and were en-route when the students contacted Coastguards to explain the situation.

All the teams were stood down at 3.23pm. The film crew has today (Friday) advised Stornoway Coastguard that they will be filming once again, avoiding a possible repetition of the false alarm.

Coastguard Rescue Teams from Ness and Bragar were called to Port of Ness on Wednesday afternoon (September 25th) after a woman broke her ankle on the coastal path.

The teams and area commander Murdo Macaulay were asked for support at 4.40pm as the woman was on rough ground and Scottish Ambulance was unable to get to her.

The all-terrain vehicle, with two trained operators from Stornoway Coastguard Rescue Team, was taken to Port and teams carried the woman by stretcher out to the road, from where she was taken onwards by ambulance to Western Isles Hospital.

All teams were stood down after the incident closed at 6.46pm.

Picture of the Coastguard and ambulance teams awaiting the return of the ATV and crews is from HM Coastguard Western Isles Skye and Lochaber.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Young musicians from Lewis and Harris played to a storm of applause and appreciation last night (Thursday September 26th) when they joined a top-class military band to perform.

The band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland have been in Stornoway since Tuesday and, alongside performances at a street parade on Tuesday evening and a ceilidh on Wednesday, they have been working with school pupils to prepare a full-scale performance for the public.

Last night a near-full Lewis Sports Centre enjoyed a feast of music ranging from Highland tunes and Scottish anthems to military marches from the regimental  band, but it was the contribution of Lewis and Harris youngsters, local singers and music tutors which earned the highest praise of the night.

Lewis and Harris youth pipe band and the Nicolson Institute pipe band first took the floor under the direction of pipers Ashleigh Macdonald, Anna Murray and David Maclennan, with the Nicolson institute band then joining the Regimental band for the whole of the second half of the performance.

Also seated amongst the professional musicians for the second half of the concert were the Lewis and Harris Youth Band, under the direction of Gavin Wood, who had brought the whole project together alongside the military band’s musical director Major James Marshall.

Their offerings included a roof-raising rendition of the Emerson Lake and Palmer classic ‘Fanfare for the common man’ and a new piece, premiered in Stornoway and written by cellist and composer Neil Johnstone of Balallan.

His rousing new march ‘Colin Scott Mackenzie of Stornoway’ was arranged by Evatt Gibson of the Royal Regiment of Scotland band for this performance and celebrates the contribution of Colin Scott Mackenzie senior to military band music.

Former sheriff Colin Scott Mackenzie junior, who was in the audience, told welovestornoway.com: “My father was a trumpeter in the army and the band he belonged to – the Stornoway-based band of the Ross and Cromarty Mountain Battery – was the first military brass band in the UK. I didn’t know that, Gavin found it out.”

The piece was played with vigour by the united forces of youth and military musicians, to be followed by a Gaelic song sung by the Nicolson Institute choir (conductor Avril Allen) and the emotional ‘hymn to the fallen’ with vocals by the Stornoway singers.

Major Marshall described the singing as ‘sublime’ and director of education Bernard Chisholm spoke of his intense pride in the island’s young musicians when he offered the vote of thanks. He paid tribute to music teachers and tutors working far beyond their contracted hours to support and encourage young talent, and said the islands’ young musicians had ‘beaten the band’ with the night’s performance.

Pictures show the Royal Regimental Band with young people from Lewis and Harris during the night’s performance (Annie Delin).

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

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

New house, Bedersaig

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

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

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

New house, Uig

Tina and Ian Burgess have applied for planning permission to build a new house at 17 Crowlista.  Work is to include creating a new access and installing an air source heat pump. The house is to consist of one bedroom, one bathroom, an open plan kitchen/living/dining area, and a utility room. The external walls are to be clad in larch and the roof is to be made of corrugated metal. 

New machinery store

Robert Maclennan of 15c Coll has applied for planning permission to build a machinery store at 15 Coll. The store is to be an agricultural building 18.25 metres long, 10 metres wide and 4.97 metres high. It is to be made of dark grey box profile. 

New sign, Ness

Airidhantuim Community Council has applied for planning permission to erect a sign at the museum facility at Cross, Ness. The sign is to be an aluminium-backed, double-sided fixed sign board. It is to be 750mm by 1500mm. 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Scottish Salmon Company, one of the Outer Hebrides biggest employers, has been acquired by a firm in the Faroe Islands in a £516m deal.

Bakkafrost will take a 69% shareholding in the Edinburgh-based company from the current majority owner, the private equity firm Northern Link. The stake is valued at £356m and the offer will trigger a mandatory offer for the remaining equity.

Bakkafrost is a salmon farming company based in Glyvrar on the island of Eysturoy. It is the largest fish farming company in the Faroe Islands, and one of the biggest private employer in the islands. 

Bakkafrost is one of the world's most vertically integrated salmon farming companies. Bakkafrost controls all aspects of production - from feed to finished value added products. This ensures unrivalled traceability and consistent high quality.

The Scottish Salmon Company, which has been quoted up to now on the Oslo stock exchange, operates from 60 sites and has more than 600 employees in total, including at a variety of sites on the Western Isles. It owns exclusive genetic rights to grow Native Hebridean Salmon, which it claims is “stronger, leaner, and noticeably firmer” than Atlantic salmon. It has an extensive social marketing programme, including support for the Western Isles teams attending the International Islands Games.

The company is the second-largest salmon farming firm by harvest volume in Scotland, producing 29,913 metric tons  of salmon in 2018 and 18,463 metric tonnes of salmon in the first half of 2019. It reported net operating revenues of £111.8 million for the first half of this year.

SSC CEO Craig Anderson said: “The board of SSC considers this offer to be in the best interest of all shareholders as it realises the material value that has been created after nine successive quarters of growth."

The new owner expects significant savings from supplying its own fish food to SSC farms.

Bakkafrost CEO Regin Jacobsen said: “The Scottish Salmon Company represents an attractive acquisition at this juncture providing exposure to the attractive and premium Scottish salmon farming region with potential for synergies and transfer of best practices.”

In a statement, the company said it is committed to a positive partnership with local Scottish communities and to working within Scotland’s existing regulations for salmon farming – with the caveat that it will seek to “strengthen” those regulations.

“Bakkafrost is committed to strong cooperation with local communities and authorities and hopes to stimulate employment through significant investment in the business. Additionally, Bakkafrost is committed to ongoing work to strengthen the Scottish regulatory framework,” it said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Completion is expected in January 2021.

The best of produce from near and far 27/09/2019

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

Or call 07771645238 to place your order, free delivery within the Town, Broadbay, Point Area. 



Price Each






Butternut Squash   




Green Cabbage




Savoy Cabbage




Cabbage (White UK)












Celeriac (UK)




Celery (UK)








Garlic Large




Organic Chard






Price Per KG


Beetroot (UK)




Broccoli (UK)




New Season Dirty Carrots












Jerusalem Artichokes




Leeks (UK)




Mixed Squash




Mushrooms UK




Onions (White)




Onions (Red)








Duke of York




Kerr’s Pink








Runner Beans








Swede (Scottish New Season)




Sweet Potato




White Turnip






Price Each


Little Gem (x2)




Cos Lettuce




Organic Lettuce Leaves








Spring Onions






Price Per KG


Peppers (Mixed Red, Green, and yellow)




Tomato (Cherry on Vine)




Scottish Tomatoes




Tomatoes (Plum Vine)




Mixed Cherry Tomatoes






Price Each


Cox Apples (UK)


4 for £1.50


Gala Apples


4 for £1.50


Royal Winsor


4 for £1.50




4 for £1.50








3 for £1.50






Kiwi Fruit












Yellow Melon




Oranges Large


3 for £1.50


Pears (Conference)


4 for £1.50


Raspberries (west Hardmuir)






5 for £1.50


Marjory Plums


6 for £1.50




Price per Kg






Blueberries (West Hardmuir Fruit Farm)








Chillies Red




Scotch Bonnet Chillies








Red Seedless Grapes




Local Fresh Eggs




Artizan in Church Street, Stornoway, is only one of many venues in the Islands for the world's greatest coffee morning, tomorrow (Friday September 29th) and Saturday.

The World’s Biggest Coffee Morning is Macmillan’s biggest fundraising event for people facing cancer.

They ask people all over the UK to host their own Coffee Mornings and donations on the day are made to Macmillan.

Last year alone they raised more than £27 million and say that together we can make this another successful year.

The first ever Coffee Morning happened way back in 1990. It was a rather small affair with a simple idea: guests would gather over coffee and donate the cost of their cuppa to Macmillan in the process. It was so effective, they did it again the next year – only this time nationally. Since then, Coffee Morning has raised over £200 million for Macmillan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NHS Western Isles has welcomed the recent report by Healthcare Improvement Scotland, following an unannounced safe and clean inspection visit to Western Isles Hospital.

The inspection of Western Isles Hospital took place on July 15 and 16, and the report was published on Tuesday September 24th.

The inspection team visited the hospital to meet patients and staff, inspect wards, assess cleanliness and to check that the hospital meets national standards.

Feedback from patients was particularly encouraging, with all patients interviewed during the visit stating that the ‘standard of cleanliness on the ward is always good’ and ‘the equipment used by staff is always clean’.

All patients thought that toilets, showers and bedroom areas were kept very clean, and regarded the cleaning routine as very thorough.

What NHS Western Isles did particularly well

  • There was good staff compliance and knowledge of standard infection control precautions.
  • The standard of domestic cleaning was good.
  • Feedback from patients was positive.

What they could do better:

  • The recording of staff training.
  • Cleanliness and maintenance of patient equipment.

Inspectors found that ward staff had a good level of knowledge and understanding of the various standard infection control precautions. The management of patients who were in isolation for infection prevention and control reasons was also reported as ‘good’, and inspectors noted that each area carried out monthly standard infection control precaution audits, which includes hand hygiene and ward cleanliness.

In all wards inspected, all patients spoken to said that nursing staff always cleaned their hands before attending to them and wore disposable gloves and aprons as appropriate. Patients meanwhile reported that assistance for cleaning their hands was readily available when requested.

he standard of environmental cleanliness was also found to be good and the storage areas were generally clean and tidy with items stored off the floor.

Inspectors noted that each patient bed space had a cleaning schedule in place which included cleaning and checking of mattresses. These were seen to be completed, however, inspectors noted that some of the mattresses needed replaced.

NHS Western Isles can confirm that all mattresses identified as requiring replacement during the visit have since been replaced and there is an ongoing rolling programme in place to replace mattresses.

NHS Western Isles Chief Executive, Gordon Jamieson, said: “NHS Western Isles welcomes this report, which highlights positive feedback from patients, a good standard of domestic cleaning and good staff compliance and knowledge of infection control precautions. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our staff for their hard work and dedication to ensure standards of safety and cleanliness are continually high.

“We also welcome the opportunities for improvement highlighted, and I’m pleased to report that we have already addressed the vast majority of actions in our action plan.”

Ian Smith, Head of Quality of Care, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, said:  “During our inspection we found good staff compliance and knowledge of infection control precautions, and the standard of domestic cleaning was good.

"However, NHS Western Isles must ensure equipment and mattresses are safe and clean, and must improve the recording of staff training.”

The full inspection report is available to view at:


Local people and businesses in the wider Newton industrial estate area in Stornoway are today (Wednesday September 25th) getting the chance to see how Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Highlands and Islands Enterprise are hoping to work with D. R. Macleod Ltd to create infrastructure that will enable new facilities, buildings and roads.

Plans to show these developments are being hosted at D.R. Macleod’s offices on Island Road, Stornoway today (Wednesday 25th September) from 4pm to 6pm.

Members of the public, businesses and any interested parties are encouraged to come along to see and discuss the plans for a vacant and derelict site within the area.  The Council is looking for feedback on the proposals before any consideration is given to planning applications.  In addition, there is a hope that the derelict land involved will attract Scottish Government support for a scheme that brought it into productive use.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another day, another mission for the Scottish Emergency Rescue Association and their Stornoway group in particular.

At the weekend, they begin another 2,200-mile journey from Stornoway to Nisporeni in Moldova with another reconditioned and re-equipped fire engine, and also an ambulance.

The group say: “The amount of support we have had over the past months have been amazing.”

Many representatives of those supporters were present yesterday when the latest fire engine and its equipment was unveiled. (The ambulance in the photograph is not the one actually going to Moldova.)

The group say on Facebook: “A massive thanks to Norrie and his team [at Norrie’s Garage] for servicing the appliance by fitting new fan belts, oil change etc. 

"Thanks to Nomie’s Garage for welding the windscreen of our appliance, saves us hundreds of £s. 

“Thanks to Highland Fuels who donated their day’s takings at the Lochs Show as well as stress tractors, pens and coffee mugs.

“And thanks to the Lochs Show for allowing SERA to be part of the car raffle and to Jon Hearach Memorial Ltd for a cheque of £150 to help us get some much-needed equipment for our trip.  And also to Macaulay Askernish Ltd.

“Massive thanks the Home Improvement Centre, Bells Road, Stornoway.  This is the second year they have supplied us with portable lighting, tools, toolboxes etc.  SERA would also like to thank HIC’s suppliers, Davie Crawford and John Craig of Toolbank for this much appreciated donation. These tools will play a major part in RTCs, saving lives for years to come

“Many thanks to Stornoway Free Church, Kenneth Street for raising funds for Blythswood and SERA at their soup and pudding lunch.”

And there have been many more supporters, great and small.

Ian Murray explained that it was his seventh trip to Moldova and emphasised the level of equipment which had been available to the Moldovan crews was negligible before the missions began.  They accessed burning buildings without breathing apparatus, the only safety precautions being to crawl into the properties with a rope attached, so they could be pulled out if they became unconscious.  Now SERA had a unit in Edinburgh which checked breathing apparatus being withdrawn in Scotland – it gave 20 minutes of activity for the firefighters and was being replaced with units giving 30 minutes.  The older apparatus was then being sent to Moldova.  Other equipment being supplies included tools to make rescuing the victims of car accidents easier – and the ambulance is intended to travel with the firemen to accidents and make it possible for the victims to be rushed to hospital.

Local support had been needed to supply all the equipment on the reconditioned fire appliance – everything from hoses to wooden blocks to enable vehicles wheels to be immobilised.



Incidents of recorded crime had risen in Western Isles by fifteen times the national average between 2017/18 and 2018/19.

Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron (Conservative) spoke out after official Scottish Government figures were revealed

He said that the SNP Government in Edinburgh must do more to tackle rising crime in the Western Isles.

“In the last recorded twelve months there were 384 crimes across our area which was an increase of 15%, far higher than the rise experienced across the rest of the country.

“We think of the Western Isles as a relatively low-crime area so this is a concerning development, particularly as crimes of dishonesty showed an even greater percentage increase.

“Our police deserve all the help we can give them but, ultimately, it is up to the SNP Government to provide them with the support and resources they need to do their job.

“Judging by these results, it is evident that they need to do far more to help our police tackle this upsurge in criminal activity.”

The crime statistics are available here: : https://www.gov.scot/publications/recorded-crime-scotland-2018-19

The first Western Isles Young Leaders Youth Conference took place today (Tuesday 24th September) at the Cabarfeidh Hotel in Stornoway.

Organised by young volunteers and Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs), the event saw young leaders, volunteers and activists from across Lewis and Harris come together for a morning of presentations and discussion.

The conference opened with an inspirational talk from John Loughton, a global youth leader, social entrepreneur and campaigner. John spoke about his own background, growing up in Edinburgh and some of the experiences which had changed his life for the better.

Next up was an input from Rebecca Hutchison, Trainee Clinical Associate in Applied Psychology with NHS Western Isles. Rebecca is working with Child and Adult Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and led a discussion on the important topic of mental health.

William MacDonald and Donald MacLeod from the Comhairle’s Education department presented a workshop on Guidance in schools, getting input from the young people on which topics were most relevant to them.

The final session of the busy conference was on a pertinent issue – climate change. To introduce this theme from an island perspective, the short film An Dràsta was shown. This film was made over the summer by a group of young islanders, supported by staff from Galson Estate Trust and Carloway Estate Trust and funded through the Climate Challenge Fund and the Scottish Government’s Greener Scotland project. The film looks specifically at the effects of climate change on the Western Isles.

The film was followed by a short presentation on renewable energy from Rod Read, kite turbine inventor of Windswept and Interesting Ltd, then Maria and Sakshi, MSYPs for the Western Isles, introduced the Scottish Youth Parliament’s new national campaign ‘Pack it up, Pack it in’. The campaign centres around reducing pollution levels in Scotland and the MSYPs got valuable feedback on what climate change means to the young people of the islands.

The next steps for MSYPs Sakshi, Maria and volunteer Kelly, who organised the Young Leader’s Conference, is to plan a similar conference with young volunteers and leaders in Uist and Barra.

Through these events, these young leaders will look at how young people across the islands have their voices heard and are able to have input into the decision-making processes which affect their lives.


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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Isles Hospital has been making urgent improvements to the cleanliness and maintenance of patient equipment, based on an inspectorate report published today (Tuesday September 24th).

Healthcare Improvement Scotland made an unannounced visit to the hospital in mid-July, the first inspection since September 2015. No warning was given to staff or health board executives about the visit of the team on July 15th and 16th.

Inspectors visited medical wards 1 and 2, surgical ward, maternity, Erisort and the emergency department. Based on previous visits, they paid particular attention to infection control policies and staff education and to standards of decontamination.

They found good staff compliance and knowledge of standard infection control precautions and described the standard of domestic cleaning as good. Feedback from patients on cleanliness was also positive.

But recording protocols and the cleanliness and maintenance of patient equipment fell short of the required standards, leading to five requirements and two recommendations for improvement.

NHS Western Isles board chairman Ian Burgess and chief executive Gordon Jamieson signed off on an approved action plan to address the issues on September 10th. In it, infection control measures such as frequent running of lesser-used water taps and the recording of these precautions are planned.

Decontamination standards and policies over the cleaning of sanitary fittings and mattresses as well as improved recording of cleaning procedures are detailed in the inspection report, which concludes: “We expect NHS Western Isles to carry out the actions described in its improvement action plan to address the issues we raised during this inspection. We would like to thank NHS Western Isles and, in particular, all staff and patients at the Western Isles Hospital for their assistance during the inspection.”

NHS Western Isles had completed most of the actions proposed in the report by the end of August, including removing and replacing contaminated mattresses and changing the cleaning agent used on sanitary fittings.

The full report and action plan are available at http://www.healthcareimprovementscotland.org/our_work/inspecting_and_regulating_care/hei_western_isles_reports/western_isles_sep_19.aspx

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Traditional Céilidh

Where:            Old School, Balallan

When:              Friday 4 October

Time:               7pm

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

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

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

Discovery Film Festival

Where:            Old School, Balallan

When:              Monday 7 & 14 October

Time:               2pm  -  4pm

Entry:               FREE

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

Refreshments provided.

Emergency Life Support Training

Where:            Old School, Balallan

When:              Monday 7 October

Time:               6pm  -  8pm

Entry:               FREE

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

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

Còmhradh anns a’ Chafaidh

Where:            Old School, Balallan

When:              Thursday 17 October

Time:               11am – 1pm

Entry:               £4

Our Chatting in the Café lunches are designed to be social, affordable and informative.

We will have boxes of reminiscence material on the subject of Crofting, provided by Western Isles Libraries.  Catch up with old friends, make new ones, and share your memories of crofting in Kinloch!

Purvai Concert

Where:            Old School, Balallan

When:              Friday 25 October

Time:               7.30pm

Entry:               £15

An evening of Indian Classical music, which includes a welcome drink of Isle of Harris Gin, Indian Buffet, and a Heritage Talk on Colin Mackenzie – the first Surveyor General of India, and the inspiration behind the music of Purvai.  Dinner, drink and a show, all for only £15!!!

Highlands & Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, is helping the charity RNIB Scotland mark National Eye Health Week this week by urging people to go for a free eye examination at their local optometrist.

To highlight the message, RNIB Scotland has produced a series of special coasters featuring iconic Scottish landmarks as seen through different sight loss conditions.

Images include Edinburgh Castle (as seen through age-related macular degeneration), the Callanish Stones (as seen through diabetic retinopathy) the Dundee Victoria and Albert Museum (as seen through glaucoma) and Buchanan Street in Glasgow (as seen through cataracts).

Rhoda Grant MSP has agreed to help distribute these images in the Highlands and Islands region. She said “I am pleased to be given the opportunity from RNIB to help raise awareness of these issues.  Many people throughout the Highlands and Islands could well be suffering with some of these conditions without actually realising it.

“One of the images is Callanish Stones in the Western Isles.  Many people visit this iconic site daily and this image shows how people suffering diabetic retinopathy may see the Stones.

Mrs Grant concluded “These images are startling for those of us who are fortunate enough to have retained good eyesight but who knows what lies round the corner.  I hope therefore this will encourage everyone to make that visit to their local optometrist to get a free eye check.

Cate Vallis, policy and campaigns officer for RNIB Scotland, said: "With many sight loss conditions, damage to vision can be arrested or even reversed if the symptoms are detected early enough. Glaucoma, for example, can usually be successfully treated. That's why it's so very important that people do get their eyes examined every two years.

"Our coasters are just one way of getting this message out to more people. The distorted images of the Scottish landmarks will hopefully make them think a little more about what we might miss if we lose our sight."

National Eye Health Week runs from Monday, 23 September 2019 – Sunday, 29 September 2019


The shooting season started with a win for 16-year-old Andrew Hughson on Saturday (September 21st) at the Aline Forest base of Harris Gun Club.

Andrew triumphed in a shoot-off with Peter Don Smith to take home the down-the-line Harris Gun Club trophy.

It’s an excellent start for Andrew, who needs to accumulate as many high scores as he can, to be in with a chance of selection for the Scottish team. Any high-scoring wins between now and May, with a minimum of five wins, will put him in line for selection.

The picture shows Andrew with his trophy on Saturday (Harris Gun Club).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

Tributes have poured in since news broke of the sad passing of former Comhairle nan Eilean Siar councillor Mairi Bremner.

The Comhairle flags at offices in Balivanich and Stornoway were flying at half-mast as a tribute on Monday September 23rd.

Born in September 1945, Mrs Bremner was one of the most prominent figures in Uist and Western Isles life over many years and was still active in a number of public roles. She was a passionate advocate for the Gaelic language and culture.

It is understood that her death resulted from a freak outcome to a tripping accident after leaving a bus in Glasgow about ten days ago.

Mairi was formerly a primary school teacher and ran her own business with her husband Robert for many years.

She was a Councillor with CnES for 24 years, representing the former Iochdar ward, and chaired the Social Work committee from 1986-2003 when she stood down as a councillor. She was also Vice-Chair of the Policy & Resources committee as well as many other prominent positions including Chair of Human Resources and as a Comhairle representative on COSLA.

Mairi also served as a non-Executive Director of the Western Isles Health Board and on Comunn na Gàidhlig’s board.

She was the longest serving Board Member of the Hebridean Housing Partnership, as well as being involved in smaller community organisations.  For instance, she acted as Gaelic adjudicator at Mòd Ionadail Uibhist 2019.

In the past she was a director of Tagsa Uibhist, Pròiseact nan Ealan and of the UK Committee for European Bureau of Lesser used Languages.

Earlier this year she was involved in a public campaign to get women more involved in local politics – as there are no longer any female councillors on CnES.  At the time she said she was saddened by the absence of women on the Comhairle, the only local authority in the UK with no female representatives.  "It grieves me because I think women have a better understanding of people's needs and wishes," she said.  “I also think women are more approachable. I felt that I was approached more, and by people from outwith my own area for a lot of things because they felt like they could talk to a woman."

Convener of the Comhairle Norman A Macdonald, said: “Mairi was a tremendous voice for her community, serving in distinguished roles on the Comhairle, most notably as Chair of Social Work.

"Mairi was a robust campaigner for her community and for the islands and she was full of compassion and concern for the most vulnerable in our community. She was also a leading figure locally and nationally in Health and Care issues. 

"Our thoughts at this sad time are with Mairi’s husband of over 50 years, Robert, her family and her many friends.” 

In comments released late yesterday afternoon (Monday September 23rd) the Hebridean Housing Partnership said:

Today marks a very sad occasion for us as a Partnership as we learned of the sudden passing of one of our longest serving Board members, Mairi Bremner.

Chairman Mr. Norman Macleod said:  “It was indeed with much sadness that we heard our dear friend and Board member Mairi Bremner passed away following an unfortunate incident some days ago in Glasgow.

"Mairi was appointed at our AGM in September 2009, and was a hard working volunteer member. A passionate and diligent contributor, HHP and the wider community were very well served by Mairi during her ten years on the Board.

"She will be sorely missed by us, but more so by her family especially by her husband Robert and her two sons of whom she spoke often.”

Chief Executive Dena Macleod said: “It is hard to take in that Mairi is no longer with us. She was a vibrant character who brought so much more to us than her board skills; she brought humour, a huge heart for the people in our community, wisdom and compassion.

"Mairi appeared to have an enviable, unbounded level of enthusiasm and was always eager to encourage whoever came across her path.  I will miss that voice of encouragement and the endless stories of her beloved dog, Bingo.” 

Mairi served as a Board Member for ten years and was only recently re-elected to serve another term.  Mairi's commitment, knowledge and experience was truly valued by the HHP board. Such was her varied experience that she excelled in her role as Chair of Audit & Risk Committee.

We join many across the community in sending our sincere condolences to Mairi’s husband, Robert, and their sons, Aeneas and Steven, along with Mairi’s wider family, and many friends and colleagues who remain in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.

(This report has been updated with material from CnES and HHP since first being published early today)


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

You can see film and more pictures of the event at


Picture shows tractors ready to roll (Ness Tractor Run)


It was an afternoon of two halves at Bayhead on Saturday (September 21st) with one hard-fought win and a disappointing defeat for Stornoway rugby players.

On a blazing hot day of sunshine Stornoway Ladies RFC were first on the pitch against Inverness Craig Dunain Ladies, and despite their best effort succumbed 7- 52 to allow the visitors a three-in-a-row winning streak.

The men’s match against Huntly RFC was their opening league fixture of the season.

A close-fought match looked to be going badly with a 17-0 scoreline at half-time, but resilient play won the day and the home side ran out 28-24 bonus point winners, with the Huntly side leaving the island with a losing bonus point. 

Tries came from Aiden Millar, Iain MacKinnon, Shaun Smith and Jeff MacDonald and Iain Mackinnon added points from four conversions.

Stornoway RFC’s next game is on the 5th October at home to Craig Dunain in the quarter final of the Caledonia North Bowl.

The picture shows the Bayhead pitch as the ladies were warming up on Saturday (Stornoway Ladies RFC).


The year 2020 will give tourists the opportunity to immerse themselves in the coasts and waters of the west of Scotland, and Outer Hebrides Tourism (OHT) is one of 22 tourism organisations joining up to help them take the plunge.

The new campaign is to be launched next week (Wednesday September 25th) thanks to a £40,000 VisitScotland growth fund award.

The campaign will be active across all tourism providers throughout 2020 and kicks off with a special focus by bloggers.

Adventures Around Scotland (https://www.adventuresaroundscotland.com) will focus on Lewis and Harris from 25th to 28th September.

Uist and Barra will be highlighted from September 27th at Travels with a Kilt (https://travelswithakilt.com/scottish-island-holidays/).

Under the tagline ‘immerse your senses’, the campaign will promote the west of Scotland as a must-visit destination and encourage visitors to get into or on to the water.

Scotland celebrates a Year of Coasts and Waters in 2020 and tourism businesses are being encouraged to see the 12-month campaign as a chance to get the attention of adventure seekers and curious travellers from around the UK.

The campaign will focus on boat trips exploring wildlife, uninhabited islands and stunning scenery, island hopping with CalMac, special visitor trails featuring snorkeling, sea kayaking, seafood, whisky, whales and dolphins and adventure activities including wild swimming, surfing and paddlesports.

Rob Mackinnon, chief executive of OHT, said: “The West Coast Waters campaign is a great opportunity for visitors from other parts of Scotland and further afield to explore the diversity along Scotland’s west coast. Each of the islands within the Outer Hebrides and our neighbours has its own individual character but all offer a traditional warm welcome.”

Tourism businesses can read the full campaign plan and get access to support materials at https://westcoastwaters.co.uk/assets/pdf/WCW_Interactive_Toolkit_20190918-v1.pdf

The Mackenzie takeover of Lewis in the early 17th Century was the subject of this year’s Colm Cille Lecture, organised by Urras Eaglais na h-Aoidhe and sponsored by Point and Sandwick Trust, by Dr Aonghas MacCoinnich, University of Glasgow. 

His original advertised topic was “Their longed-for wish and expected prey, the Clan Mackenzie and their plantation of Lewis, 1610-1700”, a subject that Dr MacCoinnich has researched in considerable depth, but this was cut back to 1610-1630 from the start of the talk and abbreviated still further, as Dr MacCoinnich explained, because of the amount of material to be covered.

Aonghas MacCoinnich is a Niseach whose parents still live in Ness.  He now lives in Glasgow where he is a lecturer in Celtic History at the University of Glasgow.  He graduated MA in History and Gaelic at the University of Aberdeen in 1999 and did his PhD there (in Gaelic) in 2005 on the emergence of the Mackenzie Clan, from 1466-1637. 

He is interested in all aspects of the history and culture of the Highlands and Islands with a specific focus on the period between the end of the 16th century and the end of the 18th century.  Dr MacCoinnich has researched, lectured and written extensively on Celtic history, culture and language and in 2015 he wrote a book on “Plantation and Civility in the North Atlantic World; the Case of the Northern Hebrides, 1570-1639”.

Dr MacCoinnich started the lecture by setting the Mackenzies in the context of the last years of the Macleod lordship and emphasised how it was the internecine divisions in the Macleod lordship that allowed the Mackenzies to triumph, while this process involved conquest, application of the law and the skilful use of dynastic marriages to ensure compliance and loyalty.

He also sketched in the disastrous fate of the Fife Adventurers – who could not grasp the complexity of the society around them – or perhaps disdained to believe it could have any complexity.

Dr MacCoinnich also emphasised the way the Mackenzies, anxious to develop the wealth of their expanded realm, called on expertise from outside the region – from the Netherlands, for example, in relation to fishing – and made Stornoway even more part of a trading network around the costs of Scotland.  Just as the Macleod realm had included lands on both sides of the Minch – also including the isle of Raasay – so the Mackenzies linked their possessions by sea.

The free lecture was held on Friday 20th September in Ionad Stoodie, Garrabost. 

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

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

New houses, Scarista 

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

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

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

Prior notification of new polycrub, Borve

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

Change of use of building, Stornoway

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

New polycrub, Sandwick 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those Community Councils and the new members are listed below. 

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



Murdo Smith

Zoe Brown

Donnie Macdonald

Murdo Nicholson

Kenneth Graham



Andrew Morrison

Catherine MacInnes

Margaret-Ann Maciver 

Sara Maciver



Kevin Long

Susan Long

Catherine Ruth Macleod

Virginia Jane Allum



Christina Murray

Angus Smith

Angus MacKenzie

Kenneth John MacLennan

Noreen MacDonald

John Smith



Colin John Brand

Iain M. Maciver

Sandra Macdonald

Peter MacLennan

Kenneth Roderick Mackay


North Lochs

Ian E. MacAskill

Margaret Smith

Robert MacKenzie

Sarah McIver

Sarah Macdonald

William Bruce Mackenzie

Annabel Margaret Mackay

Joanne Mitchell



Christopher T Mackenzie

Donald Macritchie

Norman MacLeod

Angusina (Zena) Stewart

Alexander John Murray

Angus Lamont



Ian McCulloch

Roderick Morrison

Kathleen Macrae

Marion Mackay

Eddie Hallahan

Joan Mackay

Euan Donald Macleod

Donald Smith

Donald MacDonald

Kerri Smith



Joan Muir

Katie Laing

Melinda Gillen

Jane Hepburn MacMillan

Susanne Erbida



Josephine M Mansfield-Townsend

Hazel Mansfield

Julie McLeman

Norman Morrison



Winifred Christine Greer

Graham Attrill

Lois G. Darley

Christine Mackenzie

Catriona Maclean


North Harris

Karen Macdonald

Catherine Macdonald

John Macleod

Robert Mackinnon

Diana Maclennan

Mary M. Macleod

Agnes Morrison


South Harris

Alan Angus Ross

Kenneth Macleod

John R Maclean

Kathryn P Campbell

Effie Macleod

Caroline Emma Chaffer

Marion Morrison

Stephen Alexander Mackinnon



Ian F Hoyle

Malcolm John Gibson

Donald Maclean

Eilidh Carr

Emily Hicks



Murdoch MacRury

Donald John Macdonald

Joan MacInnes

Catherine MacDonald

Marie Campbell



Angela Brass

Peter Bird

Morag A Macaulay

Ronald MacPhee

Anne Bird

Maria McGoldrick

Neil Macpherson

Donald J Steele

Neil Johnstone


North Uist

John Macdonald

Sarah Macdonald

Joan Ferguson

Effie Rodger

Donald Angus MacLennan

Donald Ewan Morrison

Raghnall MacIain


Castlebay and Vatersay

Jonathan MacNeil

Paul McGuire

Brian Currie

Iain MacNeil

Kenneth Maclean

Catriona Denehy

Alastair Campbell



Theresa Irving

Neil MacLennan

Michael A Macleod

Iain Dewar

Isa Maclean

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

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

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

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

The signs are good for an excellent day of Rugby at Bayhead tomorrow (Saturday September 21st) with an excellent weather forecast and both women’s and men’s teams in action and in excellent form.

Stornoway Ladies will be kicking off at 2.15pm against Inverness Craig Dunain Ladies, the team who helped their development with a pre-season friendly two weeks ago.

The result on that occasion went Craig Dunain’s way, but Stornoway Ladies are riding high after their first league result against Huntly Ladies on August 31st, when they left the pitch with a glorious 36-10 win under their belt.

The men’s team from Huntly are the worthy opposition for Stornoway RFC senior team, kicking off at 4pm at Bayhead. The team are still feeling fine after a titanic victory over Banff RFC 34-31 two weeks ago put them one step closer to the Caledonia regional bowl (north).

Tomorrow’s match opens the league season in the Tennent’s Caledonia north region league division 3, after last week’s match against Lossiemouth was postponed due to the appalling weather.

Pics show Stornoway Ladies during a half-time team talk with manager Angus ‘Bubble’ Mackay during their first league match in August (Innes Maclean) and the men’s team during a league match early this year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stornoway’s summer cruise season has reached a glorious finale today (Friday September 20th), with blue skies and sunshine for the unexpected presence of the last two ships of 2019.

The Seabourn Ovation, positioned in the outer anchorage, was booked to arrive today and has brought 554 passengers, mostly from the US, together with 416 crew.

It’s her maiden visit to the Western Isles and she was visited by harbourmaster Scott Campbell this morning for the presentation of a plaque by Stornoway Port Authority.

The Hebridean Princess, alongside at pier no 3, was not expected until tomorrow. The small luxury liner is a regular visitor to the islands, this being her seventh and final call of the season.

Stornoway Shipping Services  act as agents for the majority of the cruise visitors to the port. SSS spokesman Alastair Macarthur told welovestornoway.com today: “Today’s visits see the 2019 season to a successful conclusion. There have been just a few late call-offs and we have otherwise had a good season with a lot of satisfied passengers and cruise operators.”

Pictures show Seabourn Ovation with her tenders in the outer anchorage and Hebridean Princess alongside pier no 3 today (Annie Delin).

The Muaitheabhal Wind Farm - promoted by Uisenis Power Limited - has been successful in the UK Contracts for Difference auction.

A CfD has been awarded to one other developer in the Outer Hebrides - Druim Leathann Windfarm, at Tolsta. 

However, Lewis Windpower was unsuccessful in their bid for the Stornoway Windfarm.

In a statement today (Friday September 20th) responding to the notification of the outcome of the third Contract for Difference Allocation round, Mark Vyvyan-Robinson, Lewis Wind Power director, said: “Obviously, we are all incredibly disappointed not to have secured a Contract for Difference after a huge amount of work by the team to make the project as competitive as possible.

“We now need to take some time to look at all the options for the project, and to assess what we believe to be the best way forward for the wind farm. We will keep our partners and the local community updated as we work our way through these options.”

Almost exactly three years Lewis Wind Power (LWP), a joint venture between Amec Foster Wheeler and EDF Energy Renewables, bought the Uisenis Wind Farm project.  The wind farm has planning consent for the development of 45 turbines with a maximum capacity of 189 MW. This would be enough to power 125,000+ homes.

But then in May this year, LWP transferred ownership of the Uisenis project to the Oppenheim family, owners of Eishken estate where the project is situated, and it is now controlled by a company based in Liechtenstein.

The CfD scheme is the UK Government’s main mechanism for supporting low-carbon electricity generation and the awarding of contracts to local developers will provide them with the confidence to build out their projects.

Councillor Roddie MacKay, Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar said: “It is good news that two out of three local developers have achieved a CfD. 

"It is hugely disappointing, however, that Stornoway Wind Farm  has not achieved a CfD.  We will be speaking to developers to understand how they wish to proceed in light of this news.  We will be speaking to SSE and Ofgem to see what their proposals are to connect the CfD projects and the pipeline projects to the grid. 

"We will also be urgently engaging with the UK Government to ensure they make good on their promise to deliver an inter-connector to the Outer Hebrides.”

Commenting on the outcome of the Contracts for Difference (CfD) Allocation Round 3, Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil MP said: "Whilst it is good news that two Lewis wind farms have been successful in CfD Round 3 it is disappointing that Lewis Wind Power has not achieved a CfD.

"The strike price of between £39 -£41 is exceedingly low and this combined with the failure of Lewis Wind Power to make the list raises questions about the viability of a Hebridean Interconnector.

“At just 240 MW the two successful applications, Tolsta and Eishken, are well below the 369-400MW needed for the Interconnector to the mainland. Orkney and Shetland fared no better with Orkney’s two successful applications reaching only 37MW of the 135MW needed and Shetland seeing no successful applications at all.

“Scottish Islands have the best wind resources in Europe and this is a missed opportunity. This is not good news for the UK ‘s move from carbon to cleaner energy. While young people campaign all over the country to protect the climate the UK government fail again to make best use of our natural resources  It would appear that far from working together Ofgem and the UK Government have no joined up thinking and appear to have competing aims.

“I have already spoken to SSE this morning and I will also be contacting Ofgem. At this stage it is unclear what impact this decision will have on Island renewables but is undoubtedly disappointing for those unsuccessful applicants. The UK Government and Ofgem have to get their act together if decarbonisation is to successfully happen.”

SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar Alasdair Allan also expressed his disappointment at the results of the UK Government’s Contracts for Difference (CfD) Allocation Round 3.

“I am disappointed at the outcome of this UK government CfD auction round.  The race to the bottom caused by this convoluted process has meant that this outcome has potentially very serious implications for the Western Isles Interconnector and the renewable energy ambitions across the island communities.

“I will continue to raise my concerns regarding this outcome, and process, directly with the relevant UK Ministers and agencies.  As will my Westminster colleague, Angus Brendan MacNeil MP, whose work is largely responsible for the island developers being able to bid at all.”

“I will also liaise with the relevant Scottish Ministers and agencies who continue to press the UK agencies to help fulfil the renewable energy ambitions of the islands of Scotland.”

While welcoming news of the Druim Leathann project’s success, The Stornoway Trust said it is disappointed that Lewis Wind Power has not been successful in securing a contract. It was always the case that this would be a highly competitive exercise, and it is unfortunate that LWP were not amongst the successful bidders.  Nonetheless, the Trust welcomes the fact that in addition to Druim Leathann, the Uisinis project has been successful in its bid.

Trust Chairman, Norman A Maciver commented: ‘We were aware of the fact that remote island wind projects were competing against others which do not share the disadvantages faced by island communities. It was not a level playing field in that sense. Shetland’s Viking project is – ostensibly – in the same situation as the Stornoway Wind Farm, and we sympathise with them, given their community’s £10 million expenditure to get to this point’.

The result of the auction is unsettling for projected community renewable energy plans in the Western Isles.

Norman A Maciver continued:‘One of our concerns as landlord has always been the pivotal contribution that the Stornoway Wind Farm project makes to the case for the interconnector, upon which these and other anticipated community wind farm schemes depend. Aside from the economic benefits inherent in the development, it would open the door for community and other alternative energy projects to be established. As things stand, the future looks a lot less certain for remote island wind now, though, given today’s outcome’.

The way ahead may not become clear until sufficient time has elapsed for reflection on today’s disappointing news.  What is clear, however, is that the community can be assured that Stornoway Trust will continue working with other stakeholders in the search for a solution to allow island wind to best deliver its untapped potential.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said:“I’m proud to see Scotland firmly at the heart of the UK’s green revolution. With half of the 12 successful projects in the latest round of the UK Government’s flagship renewables support scheme being Scottish, we are leading the way in developing renewable energies and harnessing the economic growth benefits and creation of highly skilled jobs this brings.

“This is the latest in a long line of examples of how the UK Government is building a more prosperous Scotland within a strong United Kingdom. A little more than a week ago we announced Rosyth would play a key role in building the Royal Navy’s new Type 31 frigates in a huge boost to the world-renowned Scottish shipbuilding sector.

“And just days before that came the fabulous news that, following extensive UK Government support, Glasgow had been chosen to host the crucial COP26 climate change conference."

This report has been updated more than once since first publication to include additional material

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact the Practice on 810282 to book an appointment.

Western Isles Cancer Care Initiative

87 Cromwell St, Stornoway HS1 2DG  01851 707219

Treatments and Therapies


Monday 23rd                 Hebrides Harmony Choir PM

Tuesday 24th                 Indian Head Massage / Reflexology

Wednesday 25th            Dieticians

Thursday 26th                Macmillan Coffee Morning AM

                                    Counselling - Marina Sinclair PM



Thursday 3rd                  Hebrides Harmony Choir – Evening

Saturday 5th                  Oncology Massage


Monday 7th                   Hebrides Harmony Choir PM

Tuesday 8th                   Counselling – Dolina Grant

Wednesday 9th            Indian Head Massage AM

Friday 11th                    Reiki – Heather Baillie


Monday 14th                 Hebrides Harmony Choir PM

Thursday 17th              Counselling - Marina Sinclair AM


Monday 21st                 Reiki – Heather Baillie AM

                                   Hebrides Harmony Choir PM

Tuesday 22nd             Indian Head Massage

                                  Candle Making Workshop

Thursday 24th               Counselling - Marina Sinclair


Monday 28th                 Hebrides Harmony Choir PM

Tuesday 29th                 Gentle Movement

Thursday 31st                Dieticians

87 Cromwell St, Stornoway
Phone: 01851 707219


Western Isles Cancer Care Initiative

87 Cromwell St, Stornoway HS1 2DG  01851 707219

Treatments and Therapies



Thursday 3rd                  Hebrides Harmony Choir – Evening

Saturday 5th                  Oncology Massage


Monday 7th                   Hebrides Harmony Choir PM

Tuesday 8th                   Counselling – Dolina Grant

Wednesday 9th            Indian Head Massage AM

Friday 11th                    Reiki – Heather Baillie


Monday 14th                 Hebrides Harmony Choir PM

Thursday 17th              Counselling - Marina Sinclair AM


Monday 21st                 Reiki – Heather Baillie AM

                                   Hebrides Harmony Choir PM

Tuesday 22nd             Indian Head Massage

                                  Candle Making Workshop

Thursday 24th               Counselling - Marina Sinclair


Monday 28th                 Hebrides Harmony Choir PM

Tuesday 29th                 Gentle Movement

Thursday 31st                Dieticians

87 Cromwell St, Stornoway
Phone: 01851 707219


The best of produce from near and far 20/09/2019

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

Or call 07771645238 to place your order, free delivery within the Town, Broadbay, Point Area. 



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Price Each


Cox Apple (UK)


4 for £1.50


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4 for £1.50


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4 for £1.50


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3 for £2.50


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4 for £1.50








3 for £1.50






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3 for £1.50


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3 for £1.50




3 for £1.50


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3 for £1.50


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4 for £1.50


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5 for £1.50


Victoria Plums


8 for £1.50




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Blueberries (West Hardmuir Fruit Farm)








Chillies Red








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Local Fresh Eggs




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

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

He was kept in custody and appeared in court yesterday.

An unusual-looking supertrawler currently working in the Minch is carrying out survey work on behalf of her operators.

The Dirk Dirk has been operating east of Lewis since last week, with a crew change on Monday (September 16th) which included putting a surveyor aboard.

Dirk Dirk is a 95-metre factory ship operated by the Dutch company Parlevliet and Van der Plas, which specialises in supplying fish for human consumption to the low-income African market and to zoos around the world for fish-eating animals.

Their fleet includes eight vessels dedicated to pelagic fishing, where shoals of fish including herring are located with the help of echo-sounding equipment. Catch is frozen and stored on board to maximise freshness.

Their usual fishing grounds include areas west and north of the islands, in the North Atlantic and Arctic seas. The company’s website says: “We fish without causing damage to the seabed, and without disturbing the ecological system. We have built an excellent reputation for sustainable fishing, and are proud to have achieved MSC certification for our North Sea herring and North Atlantic herring fisheries.

“As an active member of the Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association, we work closely together with international scientists, environmental organisations, governments and fisheries management bodies, to ensure that accurate research provides the information necessary to ensure sustainable fisheries and effective fish stock management, including the prevention of unintentional bycatch, in all waters where we operate.”

Pictures show Dirk Dirk’s survey track today (Thursday) (Marine Traffic) and a picture of the vessel taken in Stornoway harbour during Monday night’s crew change (Gordy Maclean).

Small fishing vessels are the focus of a new code of practice due to be introduced by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, in a bid to make the water a safer place to be for all fishermen.

An MCA roadshow announced on Monday (16th October) will bring proposals for the new code to fishing ports including Stornoway.

Introducing ideas for the new code of practice, the MCA said: “Over the last 10 years, 46 people have died on small fishing vessels, so the MAIB (Marine Accident Investigation Branch) have made several recommendations to improve your safety.”

The recommendations cover the construction, stability and machinery of small vessels, electrical work, crew protection and man overboard recovery.

These are in addition to regulations under ILO 188: for all vessels, which came into force at the end of 2018. They cover responsibility for the operation of the vessel, training, manning, hours of rest and issues around medical care, among other topics.

The roadshow consulting on the new code of practice will come to Stornoway Town Hall at 12.15pm on Tuesday October 1st. Meanwhile you can find out more about the proposals via the MCA Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MCA/

(Picture, MCA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image by Patrick Staff.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Key strengths of the school

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

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

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

What happens at the end of the inspection?

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Positive signs that population decline could be reversed are being seen in island communities, according to a consortium of researchers.

An Islands Revival Declaration published yesterday (Tuesday September 17th) gives examples of population growth in Scottish islands which go against ideas that island populations are in decline.

Collaboration between the James Hutton Institute, Scotland's Rural College, Community Development Lens (CoDeL) and Community Land Scotland, with input from over 20 island stakeholders led to the declaration being formulated during a two-day workshop at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in Skye at the end of August, when 33 participants discussed the findings of the current research.

It follows an islands revival blog, launched in May, which gathered information on positive projects in which young people were involved. Examples contributed included the work of Pairc Playgroup in Lewis, the West Harris Trust and Galson Estate Trust.

Yesterday’s declaration says:“We affirm that there is credible evidence of ‘green shoots’ of population turnaround in the Scottish islands, which as yet does not show up in official statistics.

“This is illustrated by a number of examples of population growth in islands, such as those cited in the Islands Revival blog.

“It is supported by the changing perceptions of younger, economically active people, especially out-migrant islanders, who increasingly consider their birthplace as a place to return to, and at an earlier stage in their lives. Connectivity (especially social media) is playing an important role in popularising this attitude.”

The statement goes on to list contributing factors to this changed perception, including local control of territorial assets (land and marine), accompanied by good governance, and strong community leadership.

They also credit increasing interest, among many young people, in exploring enterprising ways of living and the use of media in promoting role models and success stories.

And they conclude: “The above seem to be, collectively, delivering a gradual but clear shift in the consensus about the balance between the advantages and disadvantages of living on islands versus those of living in or near a city.”

The visit of the Royal Regiment of Scotland next week will mean some road closures as the Scots band parades through town on Tuesday evening (September 24th).

Perceval Square and the fishermen’s car park will be closed between 5.30 and 8pm that evening, and there will be road closures between 7 and 8pm including Cromwell Street, North Beach, Quay Street, Castle Street, Bank Street and Church Street.

The parade and performance by the band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland is the first public event in a three day visit to Stornoway which will see the full band accompanied by the 2ndBattalion of Scots Pipes and Drums and a ceilidh band.

The Scots Band supports the British Army and the state at all ceremonial occasions in Scotland, including royal garden parties, state banquets and guards of honour at the Palace of Holyrood, Edinburgh and Stirling castles and Balmoral. All members of the band are full-time musicians and also fully trained soldiers

Their visit to Stornoway includes hosting events and workshops in schools as well as public performances. All of these are free, but money raised on the door will go towards the local music service and the Corps of Army Music Trust.

The parade on Tuesday 24thleads off from Stornoway Port Authority Offices at 7pm. On Wednesday 25than open ceilidh at Stornoway Town Hall starts at 7.30pm and on Thursday evening a concert at Lewis Sports Centre also features pipes and drums from local bands including the Lewis and Harris Youth Concert Band, Lewis and Harris Youth Pipe Band, The Nicolson Institute Choir and others.


Tickets for this event and for the ceilidh are free, but must be booked via https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/band-of-royal-regiment-of-scotland-and-friends-in-concert-tickets-65406451457


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

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

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

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

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

Three Lewis businesses are celebrating today (Wednesday September 18th) after hearing news that their products have been awarded one of this year’s Great Taste Awards.

Great Taste, organised by the Guild of Fine Food, is the acknowledged benchmark for fine food and drink.

It has been described as the ‘Oscars’ of the food world and the Great Taste logo gives food-lovers a sign to trust when buying quality food and

Charlie Barleys, under their formal name as Charles Macleod Butchers received no less than three of the tasty endorsements – two stars for their iconic black pudding and a simply delicious one-star award for both their white pudding and haggis.

A spokesperson said: “We are thrilled to have received Great Taste Awards for our black pudding, white pudding and haggis this year - a great honour to belong to such a prestigious group of products!”

Uig Lodge Smoked Salmon has received a star for their hand-sliced side of salmon and Stag Bakeries Cajun Water Biscuits have also earned them a star. The light, crisp water-biscuits have a balanced bite and a warm flavour using Cajun spice.

A spokesman for Stag Bakeries said: “We’re delighted to have won a star for a new product introduced in 2019. It keeps our run going of winning a Great Taste Award every year since 2002 and we are very pleased that the judges enjoyed the product.”

The awards were decided after over 500 judges came together at 75 judging days from March through to early July. 12,772 products were rated, with 1,326 foods grabbing two stars and 3,409 awarded a one-star stamp.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four options have been identified as ways to improve Barra and Vatersay services and facilities.

The study is exploring the feasibility of integrating health, social care, learning and community services and facilities on Barra and Vatersay and the provision of a single combined campus in Castlebay.

The options included:

  • New-build integrated facility combining health, social care, learning and community facilities (including Comhairle services and Police Scotland) into a single campus
  • Integrated facility with retained elements from existing Castlebay School, e.g. Sports Hall, Swimming Pool and Reception area
  • Standalone St Brendan’s Health and Social Care Hub by NHSWI on currently proposed site, and standalone school and community facilities by CnES on the existing school site
  • Collaborative approach (NHSWI and CnES) to project development (design, procurement and construction) but on existing separate sites.

A series of engagement events were held this week, providing the community with an update of the options and a chance to share their views.

Gordon Jamieson, NHS Eileanan Siar Chief Executive, said: “Continuing engagement with stakeholders has been a priority for us throughout the Study and we are very pleased with the level of interest in the proposals from the outset. A significant amount of work has been undertaken in developing the four options and we welcomed the opportunity to provide further updates this week through the Study Advisory Group and the public drop-in sessions. All the feedback provided will contribute to our evaluation of the options and inform the selection of a preferred option."

Malcolm Burr, the Comhairle’s Chief Executive, confirmed: “In parallel to last week’s welcome announcement by Scottish Government of their allocation of funding towards the improvement of learning facilities on Barra and Vatersay, the Comhairle remains committed to working with NHSWI in, as part of the Feasibility Study, exploring the feasibility of a public sector integration model and the provision of a single integrated community campus in Castlebay."

“Whilst much is still to be done in evaluating the feasibility of the four options, including analyses of particularly challenging aspects such as construction methodology and the financial and programme implications of such major developments in Castlebay, both organisations look forward to being able to identify and then develop and deliver the preferred option for what is a hugely significant investment by the Scottish Government, NHSWI and the Comhairle in public sector facilities for the communities on Barra and Vatersay."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The date has been announced for a training event to help bring Western Isles generations together, helping to create a better and fairer society.

The Glasgow-based charity Generations Working Together provides information, delivers support and encourages involvement to benefit all of Scotland’s generations, by working, learning, volunteering and living together. Their vision is that all generations in Scotland will work together to create a better and fairer country for all.

There’s already an island-based network that meets twice a year to plan ways in which organisations can bring the youngest and oldest together, with ideas shared across health, education, environmental and residential living initiatives.

Local network co-ordinator Ashleigh Macaskill told welovestornoway.com: “We have members in organisations including residential homes, schools, the Comhairle, NHS Western Isles and the Volunteer Centre.

“Intergenerational working is something we are getting better at, with activities ranging from ceilidhs to schools visiting residential homes/ Traditionally, interaction between the generations happened naturally, but modern life has made the generations more segregated and we’re trying to think about ways to bring back the contact between people of all ages.”

The next intergenerational training session in Stornoway is set for Tuesday 5th November at the Bridge Centre and will see chief executive Alison Clyde updating network members and others on new ideas and initiatives. More information and booking is at https://generationsworkingtogether.org/events-training/intergenerational-training-for-trainers-and-practitioners-updated-edition-05-11-2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A major project to restore the historic stained glass windows at St Columba’s Church in Stornoway was completed last week, following years of dedicated fundraising by the congregation. 

The work was made possible by a £50,000 pledge from community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust, to allow the project to finally go ahead after seven years of church fundraising.

Stained glass artisans began work on the £150,000 project back in May and did it in three phases. The final window was installed on Thursday, making a significant difference to the appearance of the Parish Church. The project also meant the more recent secondary glazing, which was supposed to protect the stained glass but caused as many problems as it solved, could be taken down, allowing more light to flood into the church. 

Rev William Heenan, the minister at St Columba’s, said he hoped that would be a metaphor for light going out to the community from within the church.

He said: “It’s a project that was long overdue. We’ve been saving money the whole seven years I’ve been here, putting it aside because we knew it was a job we were going to have to do, sooner rather than later. The big window was assessed as ‘critical’ in 2008 but they hadn’t managed to get onto it.

“Once we started the ball rolling, it’s been a long drawn-out process, dealing with the General Trustees, dealing with the architectural people, and the fact it’s a listed building means everything had to be replaced as was. But when you see the finished product, back to its original, I think it speaks for itself. I couldn’t believe the difference.”

He added: “There was secondary glazing on the outside, supposedly to protect the stained glass, but it was part of the problem because there wasn’t sufficient ventilation, hence the condensation corroded the stay bars, which were cast iron, and then they expanded and cracked some of the stone work which meant we had to get the stone masons. That meant it was a bigger budget than we had originally anticipated and had budgeted for.”

The windows were taken out and transported to Rainbow Glass Studios in Prestwick, where they were restored to their former glory. 

It is a happy ending to St Columba’s campaign to raise the money for the windows. They had been holding ‘days of giving’ twice a year, which had consistently been raising nearly £20,000 a year. They were also been awarded a £30,000 grant and £90,000 loan from The Church of Scotland General Trustees towards the work. Point and Sandwick Trust, which runs the Beinn Ghrideag wind farm, will be giving the church £50,000 over five years, to help with their repayments.

The condition of the windows has been assessed as “poor” to “critical” and Point and Sandwick agreed to support the restoration project because of the unique position St Columba’s occupies in the community as the Parish Church.

Point and Sandwick Trust board member Gordon Mackay, also a member of St Columba’s Church, said: “The island has benefited from ongoing donations given by the Trust for a variety of different causes. The workmanship carried out on the windows is excellent and has been finished to an extremely high standard, and will hopefully be enjoyed for many more years to come. Also I would like to say on behalf of the congregation a very big thank you to PST.”

Graham Morrison, St Columba’s Session Clerk, said the windows were “lovely”, adding: “They are all I expected and more.”

St Columba’s Church – a commission for Francis Humberson Mackenzie of Seaforth – was finished around 1794, with the stained glass windows installed during refurbishment in 1885, which also included the addition of the transept.

All the windows, with the exception of the big west window which was severely damaged during in a storm in 1946, had stood strong. But, as the Clerk said: “Leaded windows, like all other structures have a finite lifetime, and these have served well but are now in sore need of refurbishment.”

This west window, the one upstairs at the back of the church, had been assessed as being in the poorest state, ‘critical’, and was restored in the first phase of work, along with the south-facing windows. 

Collectively, the windows displayed two ecclesiastical roundels, which were alternated and repeated around the church. The west window was the only one which did not match, as it had been repaired with materials available in 1946. Now, though, it is perfectly in keeping and benefitting from most of the sunlight.

As well as restoring the windows to their 1885 state, the project also involved a stone mason from Aberdeen repairing broken sections of sandstone around the windows. 

The Clerk said: “The congregation have been saving hard and they are making a big commitment into the future to repay the loan. The Point and Sandwick grant will be a big help to us.”

Rev Heenan said it was “a building we’ve been entrusted with to look after for future generations”. However, he also added: “But at the end of the day, it’s still only a building. A church is not stones and mortar and glass – it’s people. And hopefully the physically renovation of the windows will be symbolic for God’s doing in people’s hearts and lives and in building relationships with himself and with one another wishing the congregation.

“The fact that there’s more physical light coming into the building, hopefully there will be more spiritual light going out into the community. From the inside out, as well as the outside in.”

St Columba’s have received a number of other significant donations towards the project, namely £10,000 from Third Sector Hebrides and £3,000 from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s development fund in addition to the grant and loan from the General Trustees.

The congregation will be repaying the loan and Point and Sandwick Trust will give £10,000 a year to help with the repayments.

“That will meet just under half of our repayments,” said the Clerk. “This grant from Point and Sandwick will be a significant help to the congregation.” 

As they admired the artisans’ work, Rev Heenan remarked: “To think of the technology today… that they managed to do these windows on the island in 1885…”

The church was originally built to replace St Columba’s Ui Church at Aignish and St Lennan’s in the old centre of Stornoway. St Lennan’s once stood on a site between Point Street and North Beach Street, extending from where the Crown Hotel now stands towards Bank Street.

At the time St Columba’s was built, there were no streets around it and the church stood alone on the hill outside the village of Stornoway. 

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

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

New memorial garden, Castlebay

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

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

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

Change of use of building, Breasclete

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

New house and access, Barvas

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

Alteration and extension of house, Carloway

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

New house, Coll

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


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

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

New house, Finsbay

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

New camping pods, Rodel

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

Change of use of building, Scalpay

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

The Between Islands project, originated by An Lanntair in Stornoway, and which aims to explore the culture and heritage links between the Western and Northern Isles, is launching its latest initiative in Orkney later this month.

Funded through the LEADER 2014-2020 regional cooperation scheme, this latest series of events will see lecturers from each Island UHI campus undertake a public talk in a neighbouring area.  

The first of these will be undertaken by Professor Frank Rennie from the Outer Hebrides, who will be delivering his lecture in Kirkwall. Entitled ‘Space, Place, and Grace: Perspectives of a nisomaniac’, it explores the topic of what makes a place special or unique.

Dr Rennie explains: “Through the lens of a small crofting village in the west of the Isle of Lewis, we can look at the evolution of a location and what makes it distinct. From the earliest recorded time, as it became a home to a unique combination of plants, animals, and human families, the natural and social history of this place is analysed.

“Using many elements of the landscape that are found in north and west of Scotland – the brochs, and the remnants of Iron Age, Viking, and Gaelic cultures, the village can be compared to other island settlements, as well as being set apart.

“The exceptional amalgamation of ideas, cultures, and habitats to be found in this one small place gives a rich insight into the heritage and history of a distinctive community over thousands of years. In doing so, it also challenges many of the current stereotypes of ‘remoteness’ and ‘barrenness’ to celebrate the magnificence of the human ecology of small Atlantic islands.”

Project coordinator Alex Macdonald added: “As we launched the musical element of the Between Islands programme at the Orkney Folk Festival in May, I am delighted we are able to begin our lecture series here, too.

“With financial support from LEADER, and invaluable assistance from our contacts in each UHI campus, we are able to illustrate the main aims of the project, which are to encourage collaboration through collectively promoting our culture and heritage.”

The lecture series will continue with a talk by Professor Donna Heddle of Orkney UHI at the Faclan book festival in Stornoway in November, with a third lecture involving Shetland UHI planned for the summer of 2020.

Professor Frank Rennie will be undertaking his lecture in the King Street Halls in Kirkwall on Wednesday 25th September at 7pm.

Admission is free and all are welcome.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With the cruise season drawing to a close, there’s an unexpected boost to visitor numbers this afternoon (Monday September 16th).

The cruise ship Amadea is to make an unscheduled visit to Stornoway, bringing over 500 passengers ashore.

The stylish Japanese-built vessel is operated by German tour company Phoenix Reisen and was last renovated in 2016. She’s pictured here on her last visit to Stornoway, the same year, by Morris Macleod.

Today she is due at anchor at 3pm and will depart at 9pm. All her excursions are conducted in German.

Staff from Uig’s innovative community shop are off to London today (Monday September 16th) as they take their place at an awards ceremony widely regarded as ‘The Oscars’ of the grocery retail sector.

The shop at Timsgarry has been shortlisted as independent community retailer of the year at the Retail Industry Awards, which reward excellence and outstanding achievement across a broad range of categories. It’s the only time of year the whole industry gets together to recognise the smallest independent retailers alongside the largest supermarket groups.

The community-owned shop offers a wide range of groceries and everyday essentials, as well as fuel on a 24/7 basis using an external payment terminal.

The Uig team will be at the Grade II listed setting of The Brewery on Chiswell Street, near the Barbican in central London, to hear whether they’ve topped their category. With other shortlisted businesses coming from Northumberland, Kircaldy, Belfast and Lancashire they admit that any winner will be a worthy one, having excelled in serving their local community wherever they are in the UK.

In a social media statement yesterday the shop managers said: “This is it! The edge of the world goes to the heart of the city, as our community-owned shop travels to London.

“Excitement is outweighed by pride in our remote community achieving such recognition. Uig has already benefited from the exposure and the fantastic London experience will, no doubt, provide ideas and inspiration to help our community shop realise its vision for the future.”

The awards trip means Uig’s Post Office services will be unavailable this week until Thursday, although stamps can be bought at the shop counter during the rest of the week. Uig shop has also reverted to winter hours from today – 9am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday.

An online public consultation has been launched as the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland considers changes to ward boundaries in the Western Isles.

The Review of Electoral Arrangements for the na h-Eileanan an Iar council area will recommend to Scottish Ministers the number of councillors and ward boundaries for Western Isles council. At present they are proposing a council of 28 representatives, three less than we have currently.

A public consultation on the proposal, launched last week (10th September), is set to run until 2nd December at https://consult.lgbc-scotland.gov.uk/reviews/na-h-eileanan-an-iar-electoral-review/

Proposals being put forward for consultation take into account minor amendments proposed by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar during an earlier stage of the consultation.

The LGBCS said in its introduction to the survey: “One of the main reasons we undertake reviews is that the population, and therefore the electorate, of any local authority area is constantly changing, with migration into or out of areas as well as within the same area.

“As a result of these changes, some councillors may represent considerably more or fewer electors than other councillors in the same council area.

“The Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 introduced the use of one- or two-member wards where a ward contains an inhabited island, in addition to the current multi-member ward system.

The Act requires us to review the six Councils containing inhabited islands, including Na h-Eileanan an Iar, as soon as possible.

“We expect our recommendations, if accepted, to be in place for the next local government elections in May 2022.”

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

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

Writer and poet Donald S Murray took to the stage in Uig, Isle of Lewis, last night (Saturday September 14th) with a musician from Shetland, a choir from Harris, a singer from Achmore and Aberdeen…and his long-time musical collaborator, Iain ‘Costello’ Maciver.

Donald – now living in Shetland but originating in Lewis – was putting on a unique show of words and music which reflect the Iolaire disaster and its aftermath.

Originally derived from readings of his novel As the Women Lay Dreaming – set in the context of the 1919 Iolaire tragedy in which 201 men died just a few metres from the shore off Holm near Stornoway – the performance has developed to include a range of work, including a rendition of a work by Murdo Macfarlane – the Melbost bard – entitled A-raoir Reubadh an Iolaire – by Donna Dale.

The event in Uig Community Centre is – so far – the only island venue for the stage version of  “As the Women Lay Dreaming” and was only the second time that the entire concept had been performed.

Songs and music will be provided by Iain ‘Costello’ MacIver accompanied by Còisir Bhan Na Hearadh as well as Shetland-based musician Donald Anderson and Donna Dale who is from Achmore but now based in Aberdeen.

The book ‘As the Women Lay Dreaming’ has been shortlisted for the Authors Club Best First Novel Award and highly commended in the Sir Walter Scott Historical Fiction Award.

Donald said: ”I was very much looking forward to hearing this material performed where it belongs - on the Isle of Lewis, in an area which was so deeply affected by the Iolaire disaster.

“So far it has been very well received in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and at book festivals on the mainland. It was time it came home.”

The readings included some new poems which Donald has composed that are inspired by the railway from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh and particularly the tiny request stop at Achanalt between Garve and Achnasheen.  This collection is due to published in the Spring.

At the end of the performance, Donald thanked Brian Wilson and Joni Buchanan for their support to hold the event; the musicians and singers; those involved in running the community centre; and the audience for turning out on a very stormy night which at some stages of the performance had the battering noise of winds on the roof and walls as a slight reminder of the night of the tragedy itself. 

Luskentyre Beach has come out as one of the top 20 beaches in all of Europe in the latest TripAdvisor survey.

And it was one of only four of the selected beaches to get a 5/5 rating.

The travel and eating-out booking website says: “For all of the world-class cities and cultural attractions Europe has to offer, its beaches are equally amazing and shouldn’t be overlooked.

“At TripAdvisor, we set out to identify some of the best beachside getaways in Europe for all types of travellers—from classic staples in Greece, Spain, Italy and Croatia to underrated gems in the UK, Turkey, and beyond.

“Each spot on our list had to have some stellar TripAdvisor reviews, as well as comfortable and affordable accommodations nearby.

“Visit one of these jaw-dropping European beaches and you’ll be in awe of the stunning views and scenery.

“The best part is, many of Europe’s finest beaches are located in incredible destinations—like the charming town of Tropea in Italy’s Calabria region or the seaside stunner of Saint-Malo in France’s Brittany region.

“Luskentyre, located on The Isle of Harris, is not a typical European beach but will mesmerise you with its beauty.

"With miles and miles of white sand and stunning green-blue waters—it’s a breath-taking Scottish landscape worth seeing. Spend the day wandering the wide open space and finish it off with a visit to the nearby Isle of Harris Distillery.”

One TripAdvisor reviewer said: “I’ve been to beaches all around the world, but nothing could prepare me for this place…it’s completely unspoiled and on another level of beauty! White and gold sands, all shades of blue ocean and 360 degree views.”

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, David Stewart, pledged to support the RAF Benevolent Fund, the Royal Air Force’s leading welfare charity, in their drive to reach even more RAF veterans in need.

It is estimated that as many as 100,000 people are in urgent need of what could be life-changing support, but they are often unaware that such help is available or that they might be eligible for it. Recognising there is a limited time to help these veterans, the campaign’s main aim is to reach them before it is too late.

Research carried out by the charity estimates that 35% of us (one in three) know of someone who has served in the RAF and therefore the Join the Search. Change a Life. campaign calls on us all to reach out to those men and women who served as regulars or reservists or did their National Service in the RAF. Many are too proud to ask for help when they need it most or simply do not know that the RAF Benevolent Fund is here to support them.

Mr Stewart, who was a member of Westminster’s Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme for two sessions, said: “The RAF Benevolent Fund has launched a major new campaign in its centenary year urging the country to help repay the debt we all owe to the RAF veterans and their families who urgently need help. In particular, we need to reach out to the National Service and Second World War veterans, before it's too late. They put on the uniform of our country when we needed them to, the least we can do is be there for them when they themselves need our help.

The RAF Benevolent Fund offers a wide range of support, from financial grants for one-off and day-to-day costs, respite breaks and emotional support. Last year it spent £21M supporting 53,000 members of the RAF Family across the globe.

In Scotland they spent over £1M (£1.13M) supporting 290 people directly with support ranging from housing to Care Home top up fees, mobility and adaptations in the home so individuals can live more independently. They also supported thousands more with grants provided to other organisations such as Scottish Veterans Residences, National Gulf Veterans and Families Association, and RAF Widows Association.

The campaign was launched at the end of June and to date more than 5,700 people have been in touch with the Fund seeking information, 4,300 of which have been welfare specific. More than half of those have come from family members or friends of an RAF service person or spouse, 41% has come from the individual themselves and requests for help have come from as far as Canada and South Africa.

The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund is the RAF’s leading welfare charity. We exist to support current and former members of the RAF, their partners and dependants, whenever they need us. We are loyal, generous, and always there. In 2018 we spent £20.9m supporting more than 53,000 members of the RAF Family. For more information visit: rafbf.org | Twitter: twitter.com/RAFBF

Gluasad Comhla is a successful project run by Tighean Innse Gall (TIG) in partnership with Lewis Citizens Advice Service, The Shed, The Foyer and WIAMH and working with GP’s in Langabhat Medical Practice to help people whose health is being affected by living in homes that are hard to heat.

The project began in March 2018 and initially was limited to the Langabhat Medical Practice area but TIG are delighted to announce that they have been successful in securing additional funding to allow the project to be rolled out across the Western Isles and will continue running until March 31st 2020.

People who have taken part have benefited from a range of things such as increased income through disability benefits, new heating installations, internal wall and room in the room insulation, disabled adaptations and home safety checks. TIG act as a single point of contact for anyone who has a long term health condition to make the process as streamlined as possible.

The project has been evaluated by Salford University and TIG are excited to invite you to an event on their findings and to demonstrate how you can benefit from this project.  Come along to hear about the problems of fuel poverty throughout our islands, particularly for those with long term health conditions, and how Gluasad Comhla are helping to address this. 

The programme runs from 9am-1pm on 25th of September in the Tonga Suite, Caladh Inn, Stornoway and there will be a session at An Caladh, Balivanich at 10.15am on the 26th of September.

Please telephone Tighean Innse Gall on 01851 706121 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to indicate your interest in attending.


There’s disruption to weekend events and ferry timetables due to gales forecast through tomorrow (Saturday September 14th).

Tomorrow’s morning sailings between Stornoway and Ullapool have been cancelled, with a yellow alert for further possible disruption or cancellation.

There’s disruption to weekend events and ferry timetables due to gales forecast through tomorrow (Saturday September 14th).

Tomorrow’s sailings between Stornoway and Ullapool are currently under review, with a yellow alert for possible disruption or cancellation.

Morning sailings across the Sound of Harris have been cancelled, with a review scheduled at 11.30am tomorrow regarding later sailings. The timetable for services between Uig, Tarbert and Lochmaddy has been revised.

Sailings between Castlebay and Oban have been cancelled and sailings on the Sound of Barra are liable to disruption.

Meanwhile some social activities have also been postponed or cancelled because of the forecast. Traigh Mhor Trekking have cancelled all lessons and rides on Saturday and a beach clean at Barvas and Brue scheduled as part of Hebridean International

Film Festival has been postponed to Saturday September 21st.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Donald Cameron, the Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP, has warmly welcomed the decision by the UK Government that they propose there will be two-year post-study work visas for international students.

Mr Cameron said: “Scottish Conservatives have argued for this change and the announcement shows that the UK Government is listening.

“This is good news for University of the Highlands and Islands partners like Lews Castle College in the Western Isles, and West Highland College in Lochaber, which are seeking to attract students from overseas.

“Through UHI, our region offers distinctive courses in wonderful locations and I am sure that this announcement will help us attract even more international students in the future.”

Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland, said of the announcement: “This is a very significant and positive announcement for Scottish and UK universities and one that has long had overwhelming cross-party support in Scotland as well as support from staff, students and Scotland’s business community.

"We’ll want to look closely at the detail  behind today’s announcement but a two-year post-study work visa will start to put the UK back on a competitive footing when it comes to international student recruitment.

"The potential impact of this will be felt much more widely than our universities; it is sure to make a positive contribution to Scotland’s demographic challenges and to Scotland’s economy in the medium and long term.

"It’s also a positive start to a much-needed change of messaging from the UK Government to the rest of the world.”

However, the influential immigration campaign group Migration Watch UK objected to the plan.  Commenting, Alp Mehmet, Chairman of Migration Watch UK, said: This unwise and retrograde step will likely lead to foreign graduates staying on to stack shelves, as happened before.

"Our universities are attracting a record number of overseas students so there is no need to devalue a study visa by turning it into a backdoor route for working here.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Today (Thursday September 12) saw the official unveiling by Scottish Water of their high tech drinking water tap – a modern day water fountain – outside An Lanntair's building in central Stornoway.

As part of Scottish Water’s Your Water Your Life campaign, the Stornoway tap is the twelfth to be installed so far, with a total of 70 planned to appear across Scotland over the next 18 months.

The whole aim of this campaign is to highlight the vital role water plays in the lives of people across Scotland.

The taps offer passers-by the perfect pit stop to refill reusable water bottles water.

Filling up directly from the tap, rather than buying bottled water, is not only good for customers health, but comes with the added benefit of being good for their pocket and the environment. 

"We are delighted to be launching one in Stornoway," they said.

Present for the event were some pupils from Back Primary School, members of the band Peat & Diesel, CEO Elly Fletcher as a representative for An Lanntair , Councillor Iain Macaulay from CnES and some of Scottish Water's own staff.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Lewis-born chef and TV celebrity appearing at the Hebrides International Film Festival today (Thursday) is urging everyone to take the festival’s environmental message seriously – so we can safeguard the islands for future generations.

The sixth annual film festival takes place in venues across the Outer Hebrides from today through to Saturday. This year’s theme is about islands, environments and remote communities, with a focus on the urgent need for everyone to take action on climate change and conservation.

Bragar-born chef Angus Campbell, who has enjoyed a lifelong career around the world, is back in Lewis this week from his home in the US and will be appearing at the film festival, both on screen and off. He will be giving a cooking demonstration in Ionad na Seann Sgoil in Shawbost at 6.30pm, ahead of a screening of Cooking With Angus: The Final Episode, which also shows in An Lanntair in Stornoway and Talla Na Mara in Harris tomorrow (Friday).

The programme reflects on his life as a chef and the influence of his island roots on his cooking, as well as on practical cooking techniques.

For nearly 30 years, Angus has lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and taught culinary arts at West Michigan University and Grand Rapids Community Council. While there, the media department in the college suggested he started a TV show, to help students learn how to cook, and a screen star was born, with the programme even winning an Emmy, American TV’s equivalent of the Oscars.

The Final Episode completed a series of around 120 programmes and Angus returned to Lewis last year to film it, bringing with him three illustrious chef friends, two culinary students – the show is based on the premise of him teaching students on screen – and a film crew.

Angus was delighted to be back in Lewis again this week, lending his support to the festival and its principles. He said the environment and climate change was “a subject that we should be paying a whole lot more attention to”. He said: “It should be on the tip of everybody’s tongue because that is the only way we’re going to secure the island for future generations. 

“If we want our children to see the island the way we’ve experienced it, we seriously have to take care of it in every way and I don’t want to think about, two generations from now, some of the great  old solid recipes – cultural genius recipes that were created because of necessity – never being known any more because that would be criminal.”

Angus loves the old traditional recipes and intends to use produce from the sea in his cooking demo. He has been foraging for ingredients on the Shawbost shore – thinking about “what’s there but nobody knows how to cook anymore” – and was planning a stew with limpets, periwinkles, mussels, razor clams and dulse.

Film festival creative director and programmer Muriel Ann Macleod is delighted that Angus will be appearing personally at HIFF.

“His film is such an inspiring film because it’s really about his life as a chef, internationally, so I was really pleased when he offered to come and do a demo,” she said. “His subject is sea harvest and he’s harvesting from the shores. Who knows what he’s going to make?”

Angus also feels we should be more proactive in preserving the traditional dishes, which in a way were ahead of their time.

He said: “Nowadays the big push for everyone is ‘farm to table’. We’ve been doing farm to table for ever in Lewis, because we have an abundance of fresh produce from the sea, from the land, from the air. Everywhere we look we’ve got fresh produce we can use and I don’t think we do a good enough job of realising it.

“I don’t see grouse or pheasant on the menu. Everybody is complaining about deer but I don’t see venison on the menu. The beaches are covered in rabbits, thousands of them. The produce and the amount of stuff that we have available is incredible.”

Angus left Lewis at the age of 16 to begin a cooking and teaching career that would take him all over the world, including three years in the Bahamas in the 90s.

He credits his mother with igniting his passion for cooking and was “at my mother’s skirt tails, every day of my life”. He said: “She’s great. The beginning of my bio is that I came from the Isle of Lewis and I got my passion for cooking from my mother – because it was exciting, because it was something that happened every single day and it was (always) different.”

Angus’s story of how he got his college teaching job in the Bahamas also illustrates the important part that being an islander has played in his life. During the interview he was asked “tell me about the Isle of Lewis” and after he replied the head of the panel said: “He’s the man for the job because he understands island life”.

The similarities would prove striking – such as seeing an old Bahamian man of Potters Cay, Nassau, slice a piece of konk off a larger piece that was hanging drying in the sun.

The man walked away chewing it, reminding Angus of when his grandfather would slice a bit of salt ling off a larger piece hanging on a pulley by the fire. He also went away chewing it.

“The similarities are dramatic because they had to preserve their food, the same as we did.”

Island life has been “instrumental in every single thing I’ve ever done”, said Angus. 

“We ate well when we were kids. We never went hungry and it was right across the board, from a duff to salt mackerel to Ceann Cropic. It really opened my eyes. It gave you a good grounding into what food was all about. All you have to do is stuff a black pudding once and you’ll never be squeamish about anything again in your life. I still make them when I come home.”

While Angus’s demo and screening are taking place in Shawbost tonight, An Lanntair in Stornoway will be gearing up for the film festival’s official launch, which takes place at 7.30pm and will be followed by a screening of Patagonia’s Artifishal, which explores how wild salmon are under threat from fish farming and hatcheries.

The films programme gets underway in the morning, though, with screenings in An Lanntair and a number of the rural venues from about 10.30am. Check programme for details.

For more information on the festival visit: www.hebfilmfestival.org/hiff-2019

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

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

Health professionals in the Islands have cancer treatment taped…with help from the Hebridean Men's Cancer Support Group. 

The Western Isles Hospital this week hosted a short training course in Kinesiology Taping for health professionals from the Western Isles and beyond.

The technique, originally intended for Olympic athletes, is designed to enable patients with certain cancers and other conditions to live a more normal life by bringing significant relief during or after their treatment.

Among those attending the course were staff from Barra, the Uists, Harris, Lewis and Inverness.

The training course follows a similar event attended by health professionals from Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh, given in the capital earlier in the week.

The training was provided by representatives of the Jane Tomlinson Appeal, a Leeds-based charity that is rolling-out the training nationwide.

Jane Tomlinson was just 36 when, in August 2000, she and her family received the devastating news she had incurable breast cancer, ten years after the cancer first affected her.

Over the next seven years, as she defied her diagnosis, Jane went on to achieve what many people might struggle to in a lifetime - surmounting increasingly difficult athletics challenges, capturing the attention of people across the world, and raising over £1.85m for charity.

She also founded what was to become her lasting legacy, the Jane Tomlinson Appeal. To date, through the Appeal and its Run-For-All events, over £10m has now been raised. 

Both events in Stornoway and Edinburgh were sponsored by the Hebridean Men's Cancer Support Group.

A spokesman for the Group said “This technique is a relatively fast, simple and drug-free means by which trained staff may bring rapid, effective relief to certain patients whose physical condition interferes with their ability to live normally.

“In one case, a lady with cancer whose condition severely restricted her lifestyle was able to eat normally again and even to attend her children's sports day, after undergoing this procedure.

“The staff attending the courses will be able to perform this technique, when appropriate, as soon as they return to their workplaces.

“As a result of these two courses, there are now staff trained in the technique not only throughout the Western Isles, but also in Inverness, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh, all places where cancer patients from the Western Isles may be sent for treatment or support.

“We are delighted that this technique is now available to help both male and female patients in the Western Isles, and all patients in major centres of cancer treatment throughout the rest of Scotland.

“We are extremely grateful to the Jane Tomlinson Appeal for making this training available to us, and to the staff of the Western Isles Hospital for arranging the event in Stornoway.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crofters protest as Scottish Government overlooks need for change.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The main road in Carloway remains closed this afternoon (3pm Wednesday September 11th) as investigations continue into a serious accident which took place this morning.

Police say the A858 between Doune Braes and Carloway bridge is likely to remain closed in both directions until well into the evening.

A diversion is in place via the Pentland Road.

Emergency services including police, ambulance and two fire crews attended the scene of the collision, which reportedly involved two cars.

Rescue helicopter R948 was tasked to airlift at least one person to Western Isles Hospital and Coastguard Rescue Teams manned landing sites at both Carloway and Stornoway.

This incident is ongoing.


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

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

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

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

Date and Time: 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A project to support those living with long-term conditions and chronic illnesses has been expanded to Barra.

EU-funded project, mPower, aims to help people with conditions such as diabetes, COPD, dementia and Parkinsons, by connecting them with activities in their community as well as introducing them to health and wellbeing technology designed for home and mobile use. 

The project has operated across Lewis and Harris since November 2017 but in recent months has now expanded with project representatives now working to cover Uist and Barra, meaning the mPower Western Isles team now has three Community Navigators.

Community Navigators work with those who have either self-referred to the project or been referred from their local health or social care team or from a voluntary sector organisation. Community Navigators work with individuals to develop a health and wellbeing plan which could include arranging access to various eHealth technologies. This might include video calling with health specialists to save them the trouble of physically going to multiple appointments or an appropriate remote health monitoring tool.

In Barra the Community Navigator will be based at Cobhair Bharraigh, an organisation providing support and care for the elderly within their own homes.

Martin Malcom, Head of Public Health Intelligence said: “We are delighted to be working with Cothrom and Cobhair Bharraigh. By working together we aim to best serve the local communities.”

The project has now helped over 1,000 people with its development of personalised wellbeing plans and digital health interventions across Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, empowering them to live safely and independently in their own homes.

Lorna Morrison, Community Navigator, said: “mPower has already made a great difference to the lives of many in Lewis and Harris and we aim to continue to support many more. Developing a Wellbeing Action plan with our service users is a great way to set goals in relation to health and wellbeing and allows our service users to take a step forward to begin achieving their goals with my support and encouragement.”

Sue Long, mPower’s Implementation Lead for the Western Isles, said: “I look forward to working with Flosh and Isabel and it is great news that mPower will now be extended throughout the Western Isles. This programme provides us with a real opportunity to empower those who are managing Long Term Conditions and may have become isolated to connect to what’s on offer in the local community.”

You can be referred to the project by your GP or other healthcare professional. You can ask them to be referred if they haven't already suggested it. Or you can submit a self-referral form. Forms can be picked up from local libraries, your GP Surgery or from a healthcare professional. Or you can contact the project team directly for a copy of the form, contact details are below.

Lorna Morrison, (Lewis and Harris), telephone (01851) 708022 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Isabel Morrison – (Uists), telephone 07971 715010 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Florianne (Flosh) Maclean Barra), telephone 07971 715009 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The mPower project has a budget of €8.7million and is funded through the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.

The project is match funded by the Northern Ireland Executive, the Irish Government and the Scottish Government.

For more information, visit https://mpowerhealth.eu

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

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

New house, Northbay

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

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

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

Camping pod, Point

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

New polycrubs, Lochs

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

New house, Sandwick

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

New house, Marybank

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

New agricultural building, Sandwick

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

Re-roof house, Stornoway

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


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

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

A fence to keep rabbits off Sgoil Lionail’s football pitch is the first project to be taken on by a new group of Ness residents.

The group held their first meeting on Thursday (5th September) in Sgoil Lionail, chaired by Councillor Kenny Macleod. Parents and grandparents of the pupils agreed that the playing surface was in better condition than feared, thanks to the hard work of Ness football club and other volunteers who earlier filled in rabbit holes and made the pitch safe.

This year has seen relatively little damage by rabbits, but they will be back, so it was agreed that, to protect the football pitch as much as possible, rabbit-proof fencing would minimise future damage. The area is to be measured and a quotation obtained.

Fundraiser Charles Young of 7 Fivepenny has agreed to support the project by competing in the Great Scottish Run on 29th September. A range of fundraising events will also need to be organised to add to the funds.

Further meetings will be held to keep local people informed of progress on a worthwhile community project. Anyone wishing to be part of the project can contact Sarah Campbell, community learning and development officer, on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sponsorship forms for Charles’ run are available in local shops and post offices and there is also a Virgin Money Giving online fundraising page: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/charlesrunsforness2019

The funds raised will be divided equally between the Sgoil Lionail football pitch community project and the Comunn Eachdraidh Nis expansion project.

A passenger aboard the giant cruise ship Queen Elizabeth was brought ashore in Stornoway yesterday evening (Monday September 9th) after becoming unwell just as the ship was due to leave port.

The 74-year-old man fell ill while the ship was making her full-day visit to the Western Isles, and the ship’s agent made the decision to bring him ashore for medical treatment rather than risking two days at sea on the way to Iceland.

Stornoway Coastguard operations room received a call at 6.55pm to say that the man was bring brought to shore by the ship’s tender and needed medical transfer.

Scottish Ambulance were tasked to meet the tender at pier no 3 at 7.15pm, with Stornoway Coastguard Rescue Team helping lift the man by stretcher up to the waiting ambulance. He was then taken onwards to Western Isles Hospital as the Queen Elizabeth continued on her voyage.

Picture shows the Coastguard vehicle awaiting arrival on pier no 3 (Stornoway CRT) with the Queen Elizabeth in the outer anchorage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Words and music which reflect the Iolaire disaster and its aftermath will be performed at a special event in Uig Community Centre, Isle of Lewis, this Saturday evening (September 14th)

It will be the only island venue for “As the Women Lay Dreaming”, which has been staged around Scotland, in English and Gaelic, to positive reviews.

Songs and music will be provided by Iain 'Costello' MacIver who will be accompanied by Còisir Bhan Na Hearadh as well as Shetland-based musician Donald Anderson and Donna Dale from Achmore.

The words are from Lewis-born author Donald S. Murray whose book of the same name has been shortlisted for the Authors Club Best First Novel Award and highly commended in the Sir Walter Scott Historical Fiction Award.

Donald said:”I am very much looking forward to hearing this material performed where it belongs – on the Isle of Lewis, in an area which was so deeply affected by the Iolaire disaster.

“So far it has been very well received in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and at book festivals on the mainland. It is time it came home.’

Dolina MacLennan of the Saltire Society in Edinburgh said that “As the Women Lay Dreaming had been “one of the highlights of our Festival events.... A huge success - and sometime perhaps we can repeat it.”

Saturday’s performance in Uig Community Centre will begin at 7.30 p.m. Admission at the door is £8 with half-price for children.

Murdoch Macdonald supplied these photographs of the Queen Elizabeth in Stornoway harbour yesterday (Monday 9th September) 

Murdoch Macdonald supplied these photographs of the Queen Elizabeth in Stornoway harbour yesterday (Monday 9th September) 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Walkers across the islands took to their feet this spring while virtually walking through the islands as part of an Active Hebrides Strategy initiative – the ‘Walk on Hebrides’ step count challenge led by NHS Western Isles.

Outer Hebrides residents were invited to join the challenge; aiming to walk the length of the islands (172 miles) over six weeks.

By logging their steps on the Big Team Challenge app and web system, their progress was tracked along the World Walking virtual route ‘Na h-Eileanan Siar’; starting on Barra, travelling north through the islands and finishing at the Butt of Lewis.

More than 300 people took part in the challenge either as individuals or as a team of two; with teams sharing the distance covered. Over two thirds of participants completed the route with many more completing over 75 percent.  After targeting, this year saw an increase in participation from males, people aged 65+ and residents of Harris.

Walking is a simple way to increase physical activity levels. It’s an all round great activity for all ages and fitness levels, which can improve physical, social and mental health.

During the challenge participants met the recommended UK Physical Activity Guidelines and those taking part in teams reported their activity levels increasing. A high percentage of walkers reported they felt benefits to their health and wellbeing from the additional activity during the challenge and would choose walking more as a preferred option after the challenge.

Comments from walkers included:

  • I was motivated to keep walking knowing local people were taking part
  • Thank you very much for another amazing challenge, which is great for our health in more ways than one
  • Wonderful idea and will certainly take part next year
  • Even though I didn’t complete the challenge my steps increased and I am looking at other challenges to take part in

Karen Peteranna, Health Improvement Practitioner, NHS Western Isles, said: “Being active is important for maintaining and improving our health. It is important for our mental health, social connections and in the reduction of risks to many serious diseases. 

“Walking is one of the most accessible activities available to us. You can start-off small and build-up your pace and distance over time. Evidence tells us that walking programmes like this can bring benefits to health in the short term and promote sustained activity long term. I hope participants of this challenge felt encouraged to continue their efforts now the challenge is over.” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The situation has moved beyond urgent, according to Asgeir.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


New funding will be awarded to a Barra project, it has been announced.

Two major investment projects have been proposed for Barra and Vatersay.

One project will see the Comhairle aim to replace Castlebay and Eoligarry Schools as part of the development of a learning and community facilities hub for Barra and Vatersay.

The second project will see, NHS Western Isles, in collaboration with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, develop proposals to replace the St Brendan’s Hospital and Care Home.

The Scottish Government have announced funding for the new Castlebay Project, which will take forward innovative proposals for essential education, health and social care services to be provided on Barra and Vatersay in high-quality provision with well-trained and specialist staff.

The Comhairle has committed £7 million to the project from its Capital Programme.

Councillor Roddie Mackay, Comhairle Leader, said: “The Scottish Government, Scottish Futures Trust, the Comhairle and NHS Western Isles are working together to jointly support the people of Barra in having access to these services in what is a very positive development.

"This represents a fantastic economic and employment opportunity for Barra and Vatersay and has the potential to support social, economic and population regeneration. We hope that this type of local development will become a model for service provision elsewhere in the Outer Hebrides and throughout rural Scotland as an example of what can be achieved through collaboration between agencies.

“We would also like to place on record our thanks to The Scottish Government for all their support on this project and look forward to building on that over the coming years on other innovative projects and in working towards a Single Island Partnership.”

Any chance of a return to normal ferry service for the Isle of Barra has been postponed again with the news that weather disruption will affect the Oban Castlebay route tomorrow (Tuesday September 10th).

MV Isle of Lewis returned to service only yesterday (Sunday) with an amended service, after another technical issue sent her for repairs to her bow doors.

Now high winds forecast for tomorrow mean a changed timetable, with the service running early to beat the worst of the weather.

There’s more scheduled disruption on Wednesday because of the Tiree cattle and sheep sale, meaning that MV Clansman will run the Castlebay Oban route to an altered timetable, via Coll and Tiree.

Travel woes for the island were compounded yesterday (Sunday) with the cancellation of the scheduled 12 noon flight from Barra airport.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Events and activities this week include:

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

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

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

Picture shows today's post from Stornoway Rugby Club.

A unique mix of supercars and marag dubh is promised at Charlie Barleys on Wednesday (September 11th) with the arrival of five members of the McLaren Owners UK club.

McLaren owner Kenny McLeod is bringing a posse of the distinctive cars on a tour through the Inner and Outer Hebrides, and they’re set to call at Charlie Barleys on Wednesday for a fundraising event.

Kenny said: “I visited your beautiful island back in April and had one of the best driving tours I've ever enjoyed. (And I include several trips around Europe!) Promised I'd be back and am bringing some of my pals with me from the McLaren Owners UK Club.”

The cars will not only be on display for an hour between 5.30pm and 6.30pm, but will be available to sit in and take photos. There’ll also be a raffle, with each one of the cars on offer for a 15-minute spin around the area as one of the prizes.

As well as five memorable drives out, Charlie Barleys have added vouchers for the shop and some of their famous black pudding as prizes. All of the money raised will go to Bethesda Hospice.

A spokesman for Charlie Barleys said: “There’ll be donations boxes out and all the cars will be parked in front of the shop. The forecast at the moment doesn’t look too bad, so we’re hoping for a good turnout!”
The picture shows Kenny McLeod’s McLaren outside Charlie Barleys in April this year (Charles M Macleod).


The Annual General Meeting of Stornoway Phab Club will be held

at the Grianan Centre, Westview Terrace, Stornoway,

on Thursday the 12th of September 2019, at 7pm.


All are welcome.



The Group Practice at Springfield Road health centre sees the arrival today (Monday (September 9th) of the second of two new GPs.

Dr Dave Fearon, who will be working part-time, started working with the practice in August. He has an interest in palliative care and formerly worked in West Africa for Cairdeas, the international palliative care trust.

Dr Fearon has been followed into the practice by Dr Raphaelle Freeston, who started today. Canadian-born Dr Freeston is moving to the island from Aberdeen with her husband and is an outdoor sports enthusiast.

Both GPs will see see patients in the Habost and Stornoway surgeries and have been welcomed to the practice by partners and staff, who are also pleased to have Natalie Bowling joining them, two days a week, as a clinical pharmacist. Natalie is available to carry out medication reviews with patients, in person and by phone.

A man lost his car at the weekend after police stopped him for anti-social driving for the second time.

The 27-year-old was stopped by police on Willowglen Road on Saturday night (September 7th) when his driving behaviour was causing concern.

Having been warned previously by police, he was issued with a second anti-social driving warning and his car was seized. He will now have to pay a fine for release of the vehicle.

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

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

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

It is the end of an era at Harbour Seafoods as the much loved fish shop will tomorrow (Saturday 7 September) close its doors for the last time.

The staff at Harbour Seafoods would like to take this opportunity to thank all of their customers for their loyalty over the past 18 years.  

The Fisherman’s Co-operative will continue to operate as usual.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A group of Stornoway airport workers are hoping for a flying start tomorrow morning (Saturday September 7th) as they set out on a marathon cycle between Benbecula and Stornoway airports.

The 13 cyclists on the airport2airport charity cycle include 11 from Stornoway and two from Benbecula – firefighters, security staff and air traffic controllers, all determined to cycle a full 100 miles to raise money for two charities.
They’ll be leaving Stornoway at 6.30am in a minibus donated for the effort by Mackinnons and expect to catch the 8.25am ferry at Leverburgh, en route to Benbecula airport. Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd have sponsored the ferry crossings, and mechanical support is being provided by Bespoke Bicycles’ Alistair Glover, who is taking along a mobile bike repair unit.

Duncan Macleod of the Stornoway Airport firefighters told welovestornoway.com, today: “We’re hoping to catch the 1.30pm ferry from Berneray on the way north, and want to get in as many miles as we can before that, so that we’re not left with too many between Leverburgh and Stornoway.

“If we need to make up miles later in the day to hit the round 100, we’ll be detouring at Leurbost or Achmore to add a few more. The forecast is for the wind to come round to the south tomorrow, so it’ll be on our backs and the stronger it blows, the quicker we’ll get there!”

The two charities to benefit from the effort are British Heart Foundation Scotland and the Western Isles Cancer Care Initiative. The group are hoping to match the total £6,000 raised last year when they cycled lighthouse to lighthouse from Scalpay to the Butt of Lewis.

They’ve been helped in that aim by island businesses, who have made generous donations for a prize draw. Two Loganair tickets to anywhere in the network, a martini gift set from Harris Distillery and an Essence of Harris gift set are among the goodies that can be won.

Anyone who makes a donation online or signs a sponsor form will be entered into the prize draw, with an equivalent number of tickets, pound for pound, allocated against their name. Tickets are also being sold directly by the team members.

By 9pm tomorrow night the lucky 13 are hoping to return to Stornoway airport to a spectacular welcome from airport staff and supporters, and they also hope to see donations soar as they complete the 100 milb e journey.

You can donate online to either of the charities by these links: British Heart Foundation Scotland https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/stornoway-airport-SAAS69-to-70070 and Western Isles Cancer Care Initiative https://www.gofundme.com/f/airport2airport-100-mile-charity-cycle

The picture shows some of the team looking bright and breezy ahead of the challenge.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The former Leurbost Meeting House is to be sold to raise valuable funds for the North Lochs community. 

The Leurbost Meeting House like others in the parish was built in the 1920’s as a central meeting point within the community; it was used, almost exclusively, to hold prayer meetings up until the new church hall was built at Crossbost in 2000. 

From this time onwards the building became somewhat redundant and although the ground the Leurbost Meeting House was on, had been resumed from crofting tenure, title had never been taken and therefore the building could not be sold by the church.

Soval Estate became aware that both the Lochs Free Church and North Lochs Community Association were in great need of funding and following on from discussions with the relevant bodies the estate has generously offered to grant title for Leurbost Meeting House to the local community at no cost, in order that the building may be sold to raise vital funds.

On Wednesday 28th August 2019 Richard and Marie Kershaw were delighted to meet with community representatives to officially acknowledge the handover of the meeting hall. The estate has been in Richard’s family since 1951 and has undergone many changes over the years.  Richard and Marie are particularly proud of the new Soval Lodge at Valtos Farm which sits in a lovely discreet location with uninterrupted, spectacular sweeping views of Loch Erisort and the Harris hills beyond. Soval is let for 8 months of the year and provides valuable employment for up to 10 people living in the local community.

North Lochs Community association intend to use the funds towards planned upgrades at the Community Hall.

Lochs Free Church intends to use the funds towards improvements at the main church building and hall in Crossbost.

Richard and Marie Kershaw commented “We are absolutely delighted to have this opportunity to assist the North Lochs community.  The proceeds from the sale of the disused meeting hall will enable both of these organisations to make improvements to their premises which in turn will benefit all the North Lochs villages including Achmore, Leurbost, Crossbost, Ranish and Grimshader .“

Murdo Macleod, Session Clerk of Lochs Free Church said, “The community of North Lochs has, for many years, substantially benefited from the supportive approach taken by the owners of the Soval Estate and this gesture is a tangible demonstration of that support. We also wholehearted agree with the principle that, following disposal of the building on the open market, a portion of the proceeds be given to the Community Association to assist with the operation of the local Community Centre.

"Although the Meeting House throughout most of its existence was used almost exclusively for church meetings there was, at the time of its establishment, a view that it might be deployed for wider community usage, and the original Resumption Order of 1929 was more than likely granted on this basis. The proceeds will also help with continuing improvements at the main Church Building and Hall. We take this opportunity to sincerely thank Richard and Marie Kershaw and wish them and their family the very best in relation to their operation of the Soval Estate for many years to come.”

Annabel Mackay, Chairperson, North Lochs Community Association commented, “The proceeds from the sale of the mission house in Leurbost will go towards the planned upgrade of the North Lochs Community Centre,  ensuring the on-going use of the hall. On behalf of NLCA I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr and Mrs Kershaw for their kind donation that will be benefit the whole of the North lochs community. “


An increase in demand for ferry services has resulted in a call for the Scottish Government to review its current provisions.

An increase of 27% for foot passengers and 35% for cars on the Stornoway to Ullapool route alone was noted between 2014 to 2018.

MSP Rhoda Grant is calling for the Scottish Government to urgently review its ferry services.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A fish farm vessel and two Coastguard Rescue Teams were called to the aid of a kayaker who fell into the water off Callanish yesterday afternoon (Wednesday September 4th).

Two men had set out to paddle from the tidal islet Eilean Orsaigh and one had fallen into the water in rough conditions.

The man had become too cold to paddle and was unable to return to the shore, so they called for help at 12.17pm.

Stornoway Coastguard operations centre issue a ‘pan-pan’ call, asking any vessel in the vicinity for assistance, and tasked Miavaig and Bragar Coastguard Rescue Teams to attend.

A Scottish Salmon Company fish farm vessel responded to the call for help and was able to bring the men aboard and transport them back to Breasclete pier, where the Coastguard teams helped with the landing.

No medical treatment was required and the men undertook to recover their kayak from Eilean Orsaigh at low tide. With everyone safe and accounted for, teams were stood down at 2.25pm.

The Coastguard duty officer who attended the incident paid particular tribute to the assistance of John, Kenny and the team at the Breasclete fish farm base for the successful resolution of the incident.

The first operational use of a new location-finding app proved a success during a rescue at Luskentyre sands late yesterday (Wednesday September 4th).

Stornoway Coastguard officers received a call for help from Scottish Ambulance at 9.08pm, after a man called 999 when he injured his ankle while walking on the sands.

The 30-year-old visitor was alone and was not sure exactly where he was in Luskentyre, having walked over dunes and onto the sands as darkness was falling.

Coastguard officers asked rescue helicopter R948 to help and tasked Coastguard Rescue Teams from Tarbert and Scalpay to the scene, where an ambulance was already waiting. The helicopter, up on a training flight, was able to reach the location quickly.

At the same time, Coastguard officers had texted the casualty with a link to the app what3words, which defines every three-metre square of the world using a unique combination of three words. They also asked him to shine the torch on his phone when he heard help coming.

The helicopter was directed to the casualty after he’d been pinpointed by the three words named:zipped:classmate. R948 shone a spotlight on the precise location and Coastguard volunteer teams were quickly at the right spot, close to Luskentyre old cemetery.

They helped him up to the road and to the waiting ambulance, from where he was taken to Western Isles Hospital for attention to a minor ankle injury.

A Maritime Operations Officer told welovestornoway.com today (Thursday): “This was the first time we had used the app after being introduced to it and told that we have it as an option for locating casualties. The team were delighted with how well it worked.

“It was very useful to have as an additional resource when we were searching in the dark, over a large area and with a casualty who was not able to describe his exact location.”

You can find the app and pinpoint any location using it at https://what3words.com/products/what3words-app/

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

The programme includes the following topics:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


A series of conversations around marine management are being held during the Hebrides International Film Festival at six locations throughout the islands.

The Seas of the Outer Hebrides project team, made up of representatives from Creative Carbon Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and the University of the Highlands and Islands, will be present to introduce the project and hear your views on how we should best look after our marine environment.

The Linda Norgrove Foundation annual 10K race/walk is looming and this year will be held on Saturday 5th October on the Bhaltos Peninsula.

The main event will start by Reef Beach at 12 noon.

During 2019 Suicide Prevention Week from 9–15 September 2019, there are a variety of activities across the Western Isles.

They include:

  • suicideTALK training at Stornoway Library: Tuesday 10 September 2019: 11am to 12noon. This 1-hour long free training course will act as a starting point for those who would like to learn more about suicide and attitudes surrounding the issue.
  • Leave A Light On Service: Friday 13th September 2019, 7pm: The High Church, Matheson Road, Stornoway. The “Leave A Light On” Service is being held for those who have been lost or those who have been touched by a loss. All are welcome to attend and the service is open to anyone, regardless of faith. Light refreshments, a time to chat and literature will also be available after the service. The experience of connectedness is important in the mental health and wellbeing of all people and we are hopeful that this event will provide an opportunity for this.

The theme for Suicide Prevention Week 2019 is: ‘Working Together to Prevent Suicide’ and acknowledges the importance that a public health approach is needed to address suicide rates in Scotland.

Ask Tell Save a Life

That’s the message NHS Health Scotland is sending out to people across the Western Isles to mark this year’s Suicide Prevention Week (9 – 15 September 2019).  NHS Health Scotland and NHS Education for Scotland worked together to develop an online resource, Ask Tell Save a Life: Every Life Matters, to support suicide prevention, as part of the Scottish Government’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan.  This online resource aims to raise awareness of the issues that affect people and which can sometimes lead them to think about harming themselves or even taking their own life. The animation is designed to increase the confidence of individuals to support anyone in distress, by directing them to the specialist help they need at that time.

The emotional impact on families, friends and communities bereaved by suicide is devastating and can have long lasting negative effects on those left behind. Whilst it is difficult to put an exact value on the economic and social cost of a suicide; a figure of £1.5 million per individual has been estimated (https://www.centreformentalhealth.org.uk/zero-suicides).  The ripple effect on families, friends and communities adds another dimension which would increase this figure dramatically.

We are asking everyone to be alert to the warning signs of suicide in people close to them. The message is:

 ….if you’re worried about someone, such as a friend, family member or workmate, asking them directly about their feelings can help to save their life.

The campaign acknowledges that signs of suicide can be difficult to spot, but encourages people to take all signs of distress seriously, even if it seems a person is living a normal life. It also assures people that asking a person about what’s troubling them can make a positive difference. 

People who have tried to take their life can teach us about how the words and actions of others are important. They often talk movingly about reaching the point where they could see no alternative but to take their own life. Despite this, they also had a strong desire to live but wanted someone to intervene and stop them from ending their life. By taking a minute to show you care and asking directly about suicide, you could change their life.

Elaine MacKay, Suicide Prevention Lead for the Western Isles, said: “If someone you are close to shows signs of not being themself, you will normally notice.  When changes in their behaviour begin to worry you – even if the signs come and go – the most important aspect is to ask them about it.

“Talking openly about their feelings can help a person get clarity about what is troubling them. Starting this conversation helps them gain a perspective on their distress. You don’t need to have a solution to their problems – being there for them and listening, without judgement, shows that you care and their distress, and ultimately their happiness, is important to you.”

Elaine added: “Ask if they are thinking about suicide. It won’t put the thought into their head if it wasn’t there before, but it can be a big relief for them to be able to open up fully and acknowledge they need help and support.  By taking the time to show you care and are there to listen, you could change their life.”

To support this campaign across the Western Isles, NHS Health Scotland and NHS Education Scotland have made the animations widely and easily accessible at www.bit.ly/AskTellSaveALife.

Work is ongoing year round and The Western Isles Multi Agency Suicide Prevention Advisory Group (SPAG), which has been established since November 2018 has developed a two year Action Plan. The key priority areas within that Action Plan are around developing an evidence-based community response document for anyone at risk of self-harm and suicide based around critical time interventions by all partners; the delivery of mental health and suicide prevention training across the Western Isles; the systematic collection of data on suicide and deliberate self harm through working with local and regional partners; and exploring the support available for those affected or bereaved by suicide.

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



A modern-day drinking fountain is in place and set for unveiling in Stornoway town centre, part of the drive to cut plastic waste.

The distinctive ‘top-up tap’ has been installed by Scottish Water for public use and is to be given its first public airing next Thursday (September 12th).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr Cameron succeeds interim leader Jackson Carlaw in the role.

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

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

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



Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause irreparable harm to the unborn baby - that's the stark message of this year's International Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day which falls on Monday September 9.

The Outer Hebrides Alcohol & Drug Partnership (OHADP) and NHS Western Isles will be spreading the word on exactly how drinking alcohol can hurt the unborn baby.  

Alcohol is damaging to the baby’s cells and cell growth. When a pregnant woman drinks, the alcohol in her blood passes through the placenta into the developing baby’s blood. As the foetus does not have a fully developed liver, it cannot breakdown the alcohol. 

Instead, the alcohol circulates in the baby’s blood stream, destroying developing cells and damage to the nervous system of the foetus at any point during the nine months of pregnancy.

FASD describes a range of birth defects that can result in life-long damage. The effects of FASD on a child can include serious behavioural and social difficulties such as poor learning skills, hyperactivity, attention and memory problems. The physical effects include heart problems, limb or kidney damage, eye and hearing problems.  

Women may not realise the affect that drinking whilst pregnant can have, so to be sure that your baby will not be born with any of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, the message is clear - avoid alcohol. No alcohol = no risk.

The Chief Medical Officer’s guideline for both men and women is that to keep health risks from alcohol to a low level it is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis. If you are pregnant or think you could become pregnant, or breastfeeding, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all, to keep risks to your baby to a minimum.

Take the time to think about spending the nine months of pregnancy free from alcohol and if you are worried about alcohol use during pregnancy do talk to your doctor or midwife.

There is no cure for FASD and the effects last a lifetime, but the good news is that FASD is preventable. Research has shown that early intervention and appropriate treatment can improve a child’s development and help them towards a more independent life.  

If you would like more information on how to reduce your alcohol intake in preparation for a pregnancy, visit the Scottish Government’s ‘Count14’ website which offers helpful information on reducing your drinking, as well as a useful drinks calculator to help monitor the amount of units you drink.  Visit: www.count14.scot    

NHS Inform also provides useful information on alcohol during pregnancy which can be accessed at:  www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/alcohol

In addition, the National Organisation for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome – UK (NOFAS-UK) offers information on FASD, promoting education for professionals and public awareness about the risks of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.  Visit: www.nofas-uk.org

If you would like more information on FASD please contact the Outer Hebrides ADP Support Team on 01851 762022 or visit our website: www.outerhebadp.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’ll give it a bash,” he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Electronic communications apparatus

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


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

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

New and replacement poles for overhead lines, Ness

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

Change of use from outhouse to house, Newmarket

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

Partial demolition, renovation and extension, Point

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

Extension and alteration of house, Tolsta

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

Polycrub, Ness

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

Five Lewis swimmers who took the plunge at a Lake District swim event are celebrating funds raised for an island charity.

Swimmers Elspeth (Ep) Murphy, Laura O’Halloran, Alasdair Finlayson, Katia Pettlefort and Norma Macleod headed south on Saturday (August 31st) to swim the full length of Coniston Water.

The event was part of the Chillswim open water swimming movement, with 750 swimmers setting out in seven waves to swim the full 5.25miles of the famous lake.

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

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

Seaweed harvested in the Isle of Lewis is to be distributed across Europe as part of a deal negotiated by a Newcastle-based company.

The Brexit-beating deal signed by Seaweed & Co will supply processed organic Hebridean ascophyllum seaweed in powdered form from their PureSea range.

The guga-hunters of Ness are heading home from Sùlaisgeir later today (Tuesday September 2nd) after staying on the desolate rocky islet longer than expected.

The men, who set off for the annual harvest on Monday August 19th, will have been away for 16 days, delayed from even starting work two weeks ago by atrocious weather conditions on Sùlaisgeir, 40 miles north of Lewis.

Staff in Medical Ward 1 in Western Isles Hospital were recently delighted to receive a donation of six televisions to the ward from the Hebridean Men’s Cancer Support Group.

The televisions are located in the side rooms and patients are already making use of them.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus B MacNeil has received confirmation from The Sea Fish Industry Authority (Seafish) that they are interested in holding a workshop in the Outer Hebrides to ensure that seafood businesses are equipped to respond to the changes expected after the UK leaves the European Union on 31st October.

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

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

130 years of the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland (QNIS) was celebrated on Tuesday 24 September.

Nurses from across the Western Isles, including the most senior Queen’s Nurse, 91-year-old Morag Cunningham from Scalpay, gathered at the Caberfeidh Hotel.  

Kathleen McCulloch, Community Lead Nurse, NHS Western Isles, delivered a welcome and speeches were given by Annetta Smith, Head of Nursing, University of the Highlands and Islands; William Findlay, Nurse, Midwife and Allied Health Professional (AHP) Director/Chief Operating Officer, NHS Western Isles; Ron Culley, Chief Officer, Health and Social Care; and Jonathan Sher, Deputy Director, QNIS.

Five Western Isles nurses also received well-deserved long service awards on the day: Catherine Jacek, Community Psychiatric Nurse; Susan Matheson, Health Visitor; Donna Macdonald, Community Nurse; Morag Montgomery, Community Nurse; and Dolina Laing, Community Nurse.

NHS Western Isles Nurse, Midwife and AHP Director/Chief Operating Officer, William Findlay, commented: “I would like to thank the staff who organised and attended this excellent event, which showcased the incredible work that our nursing workforce carries out each and every day in the Western Isles.

“The nurses who received long-service awards have provided care for a combined total of 129 years, and were thoroughly deserving of their awards. Nurses enjoy a diverse career that really makes a difference. Nurses act as leaders, carers and clinicians, taking responsibility for the care they provide to patients. I cannot think of a more rewarding and worthwhile career and I’d like to thank our entire nursing workforce, on behalf of NHS Western Isles and the wider community, for the service they provide to our local population.”

Pictures show: 91-year-old Morag Cunningham from Scalpay with the most recent Western Isles Queen’s Nurse, Coleen McLeod; a group photo and an image of those in long service.


The Annual General Meeting of Stornoway Phab Club will be held

at the Grianan Centre, Westview Terrace, Stornoway,

on Thursday the 12th of September 2019, at 7pm.


All are welcome.



Stornoway’s oldest surviving Harris Tweed Mill changed hands today (Monday September 2).

In an announcement this morning, Kenneth Mackenzie Ltd was transferred from owner Brian Haggas - who is retiring - to its managing director Alex Lockerby.

He said: “I am astounded by this act of generosity by Brian Haggas, also overwhelmed by the confidence he has shown in me.

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

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

Stornoway ladies rugby club made a flying start to their first ever league campaign with a stunning 36-10 win over Huntly Ladies RFC on Saturday (August 31st).

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

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

Hebrides International Film Festival volunteer Sarah Maclean is looking forward to the event in Barra on the Friday and Saturday, September 13 and 14.

It is returning to the Castlebay Hall after being held in Northbay and Vatersay the previous two years – and preparations are under way for movie snacks with a difference, which will be sold in aid of charity.

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

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

Water pressure to homes in Tong dropped dramatically on Sunday morning (September 30th) as a main burst in the garden of a home in the village.

The fault left villagers staring in dismay at soupy brown water as they prepared their Sunday dinners.

Cinema-goers who use the RBS Screen Machine are being asked for their views on everything about the mobile auditorium.

The big blue bus brings an 80-seat digital cinema to the islands, calling in Tarbert, Castlebay and locations the length of the Uists. Screen fare includes box-office blockbusters, family entertainment and small-budget art films, carefully selected to appeal to as wide an audience as possible.

Now Screen Machine are asking for viewers to tell them what they think on everything from accessibility to zombie films, with an online survey about the Screen Machine experience.

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

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

Two iconic brands, Triumph Motorcyles and Harris Tweed Hebrides, have teamed up to create a video which charts the spectacular journey between their respective headquarters – all in aid of the fight against prostate cancer.

In advance of Sunday’s Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, when motorcyclists around the world - many wearing tweeds - take to the open road in aid of men’s health charities, Triumph commissioned a special bike called The Dapper Bonnie which incorporates Harris Tweed into its design.

The announcement today )Friday September 28th) that the Castlebay Branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland has been saved is good news for the people of Barra, says local MP Angus Brendan MacNeil.

Mr MacNeil has been at the forefront of the campaign to save the Castlebay Branch and secured and hosted a visit to Barra by the Economic Secretary to HM Treasury, John Glen MP.

Angus said: “This is indeed very good news for the Isle of Barra and a victory for common sense.

Power engineers worked into the early hours of this morning (Friday September 28th) to get power reconnected to the Back district, after last night’s road-closure and power-cut crisis.

On a wet road, with standing water, a single car hit a power pole near the Golden Sands caravan park around 9.20pm last night (Thursday September 27th), bringing down the pole, transformer and power lines across the main road near Back Football Club and plunging more than 700 homes into darkness.

The finalists in the prestigious Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards have been announced with more than 40 businesses and individuals shortlisted for honours – but only one representative from the Outer Hebrides.

In the running for Best Cultural Event or Festival there’s the Purvai Festival, held at An Lanntair arts centre in Stornoway, as well as Oban Live and the Isle of Jura Music Festival.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lewis Wind Power (LWP) will be holding a public exhibition on potential changes it may seek to make to its existing plans for the Stornoway Wind Farm project in Stornoway Town Hall on Wednesday 10th and Thursday 11th October.

The company announced in April that it was exploring a number of possible changes to the wind farm to ensure that it looks at all the options that could boost its competitiveness in future auctions for government-backed support for renewable energy projects.

LWP is assessing the potential to increase tip heights from 145 metres to 155 metres on the turbines closest to Stornoway and up to 187m in the parts of the wind farm further away from the town.

The Carloway Mill has been showing off its traditional Harris Tweed craftsmanship in Venice

The boss of the Carloway Mill - pictured above in the mill - has returned from a major craftsmanship exhibition in Venice after being invited to be an exhibitor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A conference in Balallan on Friday (September 28th) will look at Western Isles projects commemorating the impact of the First World War.

The First World War and The Western Isles: Projects, Funding and Reflection, is being co-hosted by Gateways to the First World War and Living Legacies 1914-18, together with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

A conference in Balallan on Friday (September 28th) will look at Western Isles projects commemorating the impact of the First World War.

The First World War and The Western Isles: Projects, Funding and Reflection, is being co-hosted by Gateways to the First World War and Living Legacies 1914-18, together with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

A conference in Balallan on Friday (September 28th) will look at Western Isles projects commemorating the impact of the First World War.

The First World War and The Western Isles: Projects, Funding and Reflection, is being co-hosted by Gateways to the First World War and Living Legacies 1914-18, together with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

The prospect of further significant cuts to local authority budgets is causing great concern for the UNISON Western Isles Local Government Branch.

In a statement released this morning (Wednesday 26th) the Branch calls upon Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and the Scottish Government "to explain to our communities why the Western Isles – which has one of the most fragile local economies in the country – is being forced to endure the highest level of budget cuts in Scotland.

"The impact of disproportionate cuts to local government funding by the Scottish Government means that councils are suffering more than other public service providers. UNISON’s view is that this has been a conscious choice by the Scottish Government, which cannot be blamed entirely on the Conservative Government’s ongoing austerity agenda."

A 12-page display of photographs and text about the Western Isles is published this month in the magazine, GEO Germany, which has a format of using photographs and expert text similar to the US-published National Geographic.

Harris Guides and Rangers are fundraising for their first ever international trip.  A group will be spending 9 days at the World Guiding Centre 'Our Chalet' in Adelboden, Switzerland (pictured above), where they will share Western Isles culture with other Guides from across the world and take part in some extreme challenges including hiking and climbing.

To raise the money needed for their Swiss adventure the Harris Guides and Rangers are running two evening events in Leverburgh over the next month:

  • Friday 28th September 7.30-9.30 p.m. Games Night at Leverburgh Hall: Like a quiz but rounds of team challenges that get you laughing as well as thinking. Come as a team or join a pot luck table. Adults £5, 10-17s £3.  Nibbles provided.  BYOB. 
  • Friday 26th October 7.30-9.30 p.m. Quiz Night at Leverburgh Hall: Come as a team or join a pot luck table.  Adults £5, 10-17s £3.  Nibbles provided.  BYOB.  

Everyone is welcome to come along, for more information contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

All major ferry routes to and from the Outer Hebrides are today cancelled or suspended due to gale force winds predicted to gust up to 58mph, with warnings of disruption or late notice cancellation on some inter-island routes.

Sailings between Stornoway and Ullapool are cancelled for most of the day but the 17.30 saling from Ullapool to Stornoway is currently expected to go ahead.

Ferries between Oban and Castlebay and Leverburgh and Berneray are cancelled for the day. Services between Tarbert, Uig and Lochmaddy are currently suspended but will be reviewed later today. The Ardmhor, Barra to Eriskay ferry is liable to disruption/cancellation at short notice.

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


Police in the Highlands & Islands are to adopt a new initiative aimed at improving safety on the roads.

Operation CEDAR (Challenge, Educate, Detect and Reduce) will build on established practices and will focus on various agencies working in partnership to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured in the area.

In 2017, 17 people were killed on the roads in the Highlands and 74 seriously injured.  However, in 2018 to date, 18 people have died in road traffic collisions in the Highlands.

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

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

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

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

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

The last cruise vessel of the season has cancelled her planned call to Stornoway tomorrow (Tuesday September 25th) due to a forecast of strong winds and heavy rain tomorrow.

The Silversea Silver Wind was due to bring just under 300 visitors tomorrow, on her way from Ireland to the Faroes.

Some of the ever-changing story of what lies beneath the sand dunes in Vatersay will be investigated at a book event at Búth Bharraigh on Friday evening (28th September).

The Annie Jane was wrecked 165 years ago on Vatersay, with 350 emigrants from Scotland drowned that night. Most of them are buried in a mass grave among the sand dunes.

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

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

Island horse riders are speaking out in support of a police safety campaign that highlights the vulnerability of horses and riders on the road.

Western Isles police recently issued a warning urging drivers to be aware of horses, after concern from local riders about cars passing their animals too close and too fast.

Now island riders have explained their fear for their own safety – and that of other road users – with impatient drivers who don’t understand horse behaviour.

A 17-year-old dancer from Back has become the second island girl to be selected for the Scotland team, who’ll be heading to the dance and cheer world championships in Orlando, Florida.

Abbie Morrison, a pupil at the Nicolson Institute and dancer and coach with the island dance group North West Allstars, has been chosen for Scotland’s senior jazz dance team, as they rehearse for competition in Florida next April.

Labour in the Western Isles has called for immediate action to charter a freight vessel for the Stornoway-Ullapool route in order to ease pressure on the Loch Seaforth and the wider CalMac network.

Prospective Parliamentary candidate, Alison MacCorquodale, has pointed to reports in the maritime media that cargo vessel, Clipper Ranger, which was formerly deployed on the Stornoway-Ullapool route, is “resting” at the Cammell Laird yard on Merseyside.

There’s still a chance to get tickets for the Stornoway Golf Club fundraising Poppy event being held on Saturday 29th September.

There’s live music and a variety of charity auctions as well as a meal cooked by Limelite Chef Ross Macleod and his team.

The Linda Norgrove Foundation 10K Run or Walk takes place on Saturday 29th September- less than a week away.

Lorna and John Norgrove say: "You can RUN OR WALK, bring your family, friends, kids in buggies, dogs on leads, pick up a medal if you are one of the first 10 men and first 10 women to cross the finish line, enjoy soup and home baking at the end and generally have a good day out on the Bhaltos Peninsula in Uig.

Two in court over domestic assaults

Two men are to appear at Stornoway Sheriff Court on Tuesday (25th September) after two separate incidents of domestic assault over the weekend.

A man aged 43 was arrested in Stornoway at 7.20pm on Friday (September 21st) following a call for police assistance.

He was charged with domestic assault and has been in custody since then, from where he’ll be taken to court on Tuesday.

In a second incident in Tong, a 49-year-old man was arrested and charged with domestic assault at 1am on Sunday (September 23rd).

He was released from custody under bail conditions, on an undertaking to appear in court on Tuesday.

Drink driving charge

A man was charged with drink-driving after being stopped by police in Sandwick at 4.25pm on Saturday (September 22nd).

He’s been kept in custody at Stornoway police station since then and will appear in court from custody on Tuesday (September 25th).

A solitary spruce tree on the Isle of Eriskay is one of six contenders to become Scotland’s tree of the year for 2018 – if it gets enough support from islanders.

Netty’s Tree, battling the elements near Netty MacDonald’s croft in Eriskay, was planted more than 100 years ago by the poet, priest and land rights activist Father Allan McDonald and was until a few years ago the only tree on the island.

A special remembrance poppy pin designed to commemorate the centenary of the Iolaire disaster is to go on on sale on Monday October 1st.

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A NEW schools resource which celebrates the contribution Runrig have made to the Gaelic language and culture has been launched by Gaelic educational resources organisation Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig.

The unit is a significant addition to the Gaelic resource corpus and part of Stòrlann’s Fileanta suite of resources for fluent Gaelic speakers in secondary school, although it can also be used with some learner classes.

The Outer Hebrides are starring on TV tonight (Friday, 21 September) in the final episode of Channel 5’s Britain By Bike series with Larry and George Lamb – and it’s thanks to an alliance of island bike hire and bike repair companies that they were able to complete their journey.

In the last episode in the series, the father and son undertake the 185-mile Hebridean Way, from Vatersay to the Butt of Lewis…. but run into trouble early on, when Larry’s gears stop working.

Teenage footballer Rachael Johnstone has achieved her goal this week, helping Scotland’s U16 women’s football team achieve a 2-2 aggregate draw over two friendly international challenges in Poland.

The Isle of Harris Distillery won the biggest award of the night at the Scottish Gin Awards in Glasgow last night (Thursday September 20th).

The ultimate award, Scottish Gin Distillery of the Year, was presented to Isle of Harris Distillers, whose mission to create a “social distillery” bringing jobs and increasing tourism to the island was praised. 

School captains for the new academic year have been named at The Nicolson Institute. The captains were elected by their peers, the other school students as well as by members of staff.  The picture shows (left to right) Jessica O’Loughlin, vice-captain; Annie Barber, captain; James Mutch, vice-captain and John Alasdair Bain, captain.

The Norwegian cargo vessel Fame made her way to Stornoway late last night (Thursday September 20th) tying up at west no. 1 pier in Stornoway harbour just after 10.30pm.

It’s not known why she ran aground in East Loch Tarbert early on Sunday morning, given that there were no exceptional tidal or weather conditions.

Hebrides Energy’s partner Our Power has recently given its local customers the opportunity to get Smart Meters installed.

This is the first time that smart meters have been rolled out to island homes.

That time of year again!  In aid of Macmillan Cancer Support - Artizan in Church Street, Stornoway, is participating in their third Biggest Coffee Morning ever!

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil has hit out at the UK Government’s handling of Brexit negotiations and says exiting the EU will impact the economy even if a deal is struck.

Mr MacNeil, who is also Chair of the House of Commons International Trade Committee, has repeatedly questioned the Tory Government including the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU on what lies ahead, but has not been given any satisfactory answers.

Kisimul Castle features poetically in a new film by Historic Environment Scotland (HES), as they launch their updated Gaelic language plan for 2018-23.

A huge gap in the island market is set to be filled next month, as the first batch of home-produced milk from Brogaidh’s Dairy in Bragar lands on doorsteps on October 1st.

CalMac faced a new headache on the Uig triangle ferry route, with a new delay this morning (Thursday September 20th) keeping the ferry away from the berth in Uig, Skye.

As part of BBC ALBA’s tenth anniversary debate in the Scottish Parliament yesterday (Wednesday September 19th)  SNP MSP Alasdair Allan called on the BBC to “deliver more for Gaelic broadcasting with better parity of resources between the UK nations.”

BBC ALBA’s BAFTA-winning current affairs programme Eòrpa attracts both Gaelic and non-Gaelic speaking audiences – demonstrating the success the channel has had in delivering for the whole of Scotland, not just the minority language community.

Ness runner Charles Young has reached the halfway point in his challenge to complete two great runs to raise funds for Ness Charities.

Charles, of 7 Fivepenny, completed the Great North Run half-marathon in Newcastle on the 9th September and is keeping his training up ahead of the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow on September 30th.

All flight departing and arriving into Glasgow International and Edinburgh Airport are currently suspended until further notice as Storm Ali brings winds gusting up to 63 knots (70mph approx).

Staff at the airports will keep all customers up to date and customers can also view live status updates of their flights using the following link.

Meanwhile, there are ferry cancellations the length of the islands today (Wednesday September 19th). CalMac is reporting south-westerly winds gusting up to 52 knots and high swell conditions.

If the Hebrides International Film Festival does anything this year, it will hopefully “make us pause for a minute and think about what we are doing to the planet and the island”.

That was the message from film festival curator Muriel Ann Macleod on today’s opening day of the festival (Wednesday, September 19).

The fifth Hebrides International Film Festival is taking place in venues throughout the Outer Hebrides from now until Saturday (September 22) – and Muriel Ann said it raised “important questions locally”, such as whether we were “really doing enough to preserve the seas of the Hebrides”. 

The battle between community landowner The Stornoway Trust and several crofting townships over the sites for wind turbines reached a new level today (Wednesday September 19th).

First the Stornoway Trust welcomed the long-awaited decision from the Crofting Commission not to consent the Section 50B application submitted by the Grazing Committees of Melbost and Branahuie, Sandwick and Sandwick East Street, and Sandwick North Street.

In a detailed judgment issued to each applicant who had sought consent to establish wind turbines on the site of the already consented Stornoway Wind Farm proposed development, the Commission explains it considered and accepted, as a matter of fact, that the proposed use would be detrimental to the interest of the Stornoway Trust as set out in Section 50B (2) of the 1993 Crofting Act.

Friday September 28th sees the big annual chance to support cancer care and treatment with the "World's Biggest Coffee Morning"

And Highlands & Islands Regional MSPs Rhoda Grant (above) and David Stewart (below) raise a cup to help people with cancer live life as fully as they can.

Western Isles Citizens Advice Service is urging local people to take part in a national survey on issues relating to food, including cost, choice, access and quality.

The Food on the Table survey will run for the next month. It is available online at www.cas.org.uk/foodonthetable and paper copies will also be available at the local Citizens Advice Bureau offices in Stornoway, Tarbert, Balivanich and Castlebay.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has demanded that the Tory government steps in to save island banking services in a Scottish Parliament debate highlighting the negative impact of branch closures on communities across Scotland.

The debate follows a damning report by Holyrood’s Economy Committee which investigated the impact of local bank closures across Scotland.

The report found that:

The Maritime Department at Lews Castle College will be offering the following Short Courses at the Stornoway Campus from October 2018 until April 2019. Please note that all one-day classes run on Fridays, from 9am to 5pm.

Sea Survival/Personal Survival Techniques. Held on 5th October, 9th November, 7th December, 1st February, and 15th March.

Emergency First Aid at Work/STCW First Aid. Held on 21st September, 2nd November, 11th January, and 2nd March. (The three day “First Aid at Work” is available on request.)

RYA SRC / VHF. Held on 12th October, 16th November, 14th December, 18th January, 15th February,  and 22nd March.

Efficient Deckhand. Held on 12th—16th November, and 4th—8th March.

Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities. Held on 16th November and 8th March.

VHF Evening Class. This two-hour class is held on Wednesdays for 6 weeks from 24th October.

For more information, please contact:

Iain Angus Macaulay: 01851 770287  |   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Alistair Macleod: 01851 770284  |   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Lews Castle College: 01851 770000

A 47-year-old man was appearing in court today (Tuesday September 18th) for the third time in 36 hours.

The man was taken into custody at the weekend and charged with drink-driving and with a number of breaches of bail conditions.

He was kept in custody and appeared at Stornoway Sheriff court on Monday, and at Inverness this morning.

His third appearance was this afternoon.

Man charged with shoplifting

A 61-year-old man was traced by police after a report of shoplifting from the Co-op superstore in Stornoway at 11.23am on Saturday (September 15th).

Police were called by staff after alcohol was taken from the shop without payment. The man was traced, cautioned and charged with theft and will be reported to the Procurator Fiscal.

Car on roof on Barvas moor

Police were called to Barvas moor just after 4am on Sunday (16th September) after reports that a car had left the road, hit a wall and was on its roof beside the road.

An 18-year-old man was found to be alone in the car and had suffered lacerations and other non-life-threatening injuries.

He was taken to hospital by ambulance after being treated by paramedics at the sce