The semi-finals of the National Secondary Schools’ Gaelic Debate will take place on Wednesday, 4 December, at the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel and Spa in Edinburgh, starting at 6.30pm.

The first semi-final will see Inverness Royal Academy B against Lionacleit School when their topic of debate will be, “Gadgets like Fitbits are useful for keeping people healthy.”

In the second debate of the evening Bishopbriggs High School will be against Sir E Scott when their topic of debate will be, “Its better to follow than to lead.”

The two winning teams will meet in the Final, at The Scottish Parliament the following evening, Thursday 5th December, at 7pm, where they will debate, “In 20 years time, the real Gàidhlig communities will be situated in the big cities.”

Looking forward to the final, Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, Rt Hon Ken Macintosh MSP, said: “Gaelic matters.  It is part of who we are and part of Scotland's rich cultural identity.  The humour, insight and linguistic skill displayed by young people in this competition year after year, convincingly demonstrates that the language continues to flourish.  It gives me immense pleasure that the final will be held on the floor of Holyrood’s debating chamber, marking this, our joint twentieth anniversary.”

Evelyn Coull Macleod, Chairperson of the National Schools’ Gaelic Debate Management Committee said: “We are very pleased at how successful the first two rounds in Stornoway were. There was a high level of Gaelic and debating skills on show from the pupils who took part, and this proved a very difficult decision for the judges as to which four teams went through to the semi-finals.

"As always, we are indebted to our funding partners and I would once again like to thank the following for their support: The Scottish Government, The SQA, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Skills Development Scotland, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Highland Council, Glasgow City Council, Comunn na Gàidhlig, Radio nan Gàidheal, Education Scotland and Loganair.  

"On behalf of the committee, I would also like to thanks the judges of this year’s competition Agnes Rennie, Boyd Robertson and Iain Stephen Morrison.”

Robert Quinn, Head of English, Languages and Business at the Scottish Qualifications Authority, said: “We are thrilled to once again be supporting the Deasbad. For the past 20 years, the National Gaelic Schools Debate has provided young Gaelic speakers with a platform to showcase their linguistic skills. The competitors are wonderful ambassadors for Gaelic, and will hopefully inspire people of all ages to take an interest in the language. SQA’s commitment to the language is reflected in our wide range of Gaelic qualifications and in this, The Year of Indigenous Languages, it is particularly special to help recognise this aspect of Gaelic culture.”

The Final will be broadcast live on BBC Radio nan Gàidheal.  Both the semi-final and final events are open to the public, but, because of security at The Scottish Parliament, anybody intending to attend the Final at The Parliament must notify their intention before-hand.  This should be done through Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/deasbad-naiseanta-nan-ard-sgoiltean-2019-tickets-80638091703.

The final will also be broadcast live on the Scottish Parliament’s website. Go to www.scottishparliament.tv for 7pm on Thursday 5th December to watch live. It will also be available afterwards to catch up, edit, download and share on demand.

 

The restored Outer Hebrides Chamber of Commerce was launched last night (Thursday November 28th) in the refurbished Willow Room at the Caberfeidh Hotel.

More than 30 people were involved in a largely informal evening with a buffet supper and plenty of opportunities to network and meet fellow business owners.

Stewart Nicol, the chief executive of the Inverness Chamber of Commerce, said this was a significant step, not just for businesses in the islands, but also the wider Highlands and Islands business community.

Inverness Chamber of Commerce is now 126 years old and was delighted to be able to assist the newest member of the chamber family. Its international trade team has provided invaluable support to the new organisation, allowing businesses to grow by taking advantage of export opportunities and offering guidance on regulations governing overseas trade.

The new chamber is also now part of the Highlands and Islands Export Partnership, which provides SMEs across the region with increased opportunities for their goods and services, and Open 4 Business Highlands and Islands.  It's also part of the wider Chambers of Commerce Network in the UK and internationally.

 

Lochs-based woodworker Richard Swift is raising money for Wallace & Gromit Children's Foundation – Elizabeth's Footprint again this year.

He has made a wooden 'quad' (last year, the attraction was a rocking giraffe) and has been selling tickets at the Co-op and Western Isles Hospital. 

He will be at Argos on Cromwell Street on Monday and Tuesday,  2 & 3 December. The draw is to place on 4th December.

Richard said: “I wanted to help as a good friend of mine recently lost her daughter, at the age of just five, to a serious childhood illness and I felt so upset about it that I tried to think of what I could do.”

James Cunningham and Andrew Hughson both received Saltire Summit Awards this month. 

The Summit Award is a prestigious national award which recognises an outstanding contribution to volunteering for 12 – 25year olds who have completed at least 200 volunteer hours and exceeded expectations in their volunteer roles.

James was nominated by Stornoway High Church of Scotland for his volunteering role as Technical Director and Andrew was nominated by Laxdale Cubs and Scouts for his volunteering work as a Young Leader.

The Award was presented to each of the Nicolson pupils by Clive Rowlands, Chair of the Volunteer Centre, Western Isles Board.

The Saltire Awards is a national initiative for young people ages 12-25.  It celebrates, recognises and rewards the commitment and contribution of young volunteers in Scotland. 

If you are interested in volunteering, or would like information on how to sign up for Saltire Awards, please visit our website www.volunteercentrewi.org, find us on facebook or Instagram or contact Marion Wilson, Development Worker (Lewis) on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Hundreds of primary school pupils, young people and people of even more years joined in a major march this morning (Thursday November 28th) to commemorate the first 50 years of the Stornoway Primary School building on Jamieson Drive.

The procession was so long that it almost reached the length of Goathill Road from Jamieson Drive to Matheson Road. 

The procession was led by a group of pipers from The Nicolson Institute, some of whom were former pupils of Stornoway Primary.

The event started at Matheson Hall, once part of the primary school of the original Nicolson Institute – but it wasn’t able to follow the route followed in 1969 at the time when the ‘new’ school was built because the new Nicolson Institute has obliterated so much of Springfield Road.

Among the former primary pupils present was Bernard Chisholm, the Director of Education and Children’s Services at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

A week of native tree planting will be held on Harris next year.

Almost 3,000 trees, including alder, birch, rowan and willow, will be planted in the Gleann Miabhaig enclosure.

The week will run from Monday 30 March to Friday 3 April 2020.  

For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone 01859 502 222.  

Highlands & Islands MSP Rhoda Grant got into costume at the Scottish Parliament this week to raise awareness of a dangerous lung condition - and call on the Scottish Government to improve the support it gives to sufferers.

Rhoda Grant posed for pictures with Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland’s communications manager Laurence Cowan who is running his own personal fundraising campaign for people living with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) after watching his father struggle with the condition.

Mr Cowan went to work every day this month dressed in a super-hero costume in a bid to encourage others to follow suit and fundraise for his charity, which supports people with COPD.

He said: “My dad is the kindest and most encouraging man you’ll ever meet but COPD is taking his breath away and every day he feels like he’s been running a marathon. It’s one of the main causes of death and disability in the world and there is no cure. We can help people to live a full life for longer by making sure someone is there to listen and give advice and that’s what Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland’s heroic advice line nurses do.”

The charity is also pressing the government to improve the support it provides to people with lung conditions.It argues that thousands of people in Scotland are missing out on vital supervised programmes of exercise training, health education, and breathing techniques. And it warns the NHS is missing out on “significant” savings, as a result.

Mrs Grant said: “New figures show the number of people with COPD has risen sharply just in a few years. Here in the Highlands and Islands nearly 9000 people are now living with COPD and that’s up from just over 6600 in 2011.

“Across Scotland, a record number of people, a staggering 139,187 individuals, have been diagnosed. That’s an increase of 26 per cent since 2011. It means more people than ever before are needing support and rehabilitation to manage their condition and cope with the impact it can have on their lives.”

Visit https://www.chss.org.uk/supportus/fundraise-for-us/fundraising-hero-pack/ for a Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland Fundraising Pack for

Donations to Mr Cowan’s own fundraising campaign can be made at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/fundahero.

A £10 donation funds a call to the charity’s Advice Line nurses.

The Uist and Barra Hospital ward has been closed after an outbreak of norovirus.

Outpatient clinics at the Benbecula-based hospital are currently unaffected and will continue as normal, but people attending outpatients are asked to not to visit the ward and to stay away if they have been unwell with diarrhoea or vomiting in the previous 48 hours.

NHS Western Isles have said: "Norovirus (otherwise known as the ‘winter vomiting bug’) is circulating in the community and it is key that members of the public take precautions to help prevent them catching or spreading the infection to others.

"Visitors to hospitals and care homes in the Western Isles are specifically being asked to wash their hands with soap and water before and after visiting, and to avoid visiting if they have experienced any norovirus symptoms (for 48 hours after the last symptom)."

NHS Western Isles Head of Infection Prevention & Control, Janice Mackay said: “Norovirus affects people of all ages.

"The virus is easily spread by contact with an infected person, especially through their hands.

"As the infection is so contagious, we would urge members of the public to ensure they follow infection control practices, and good hand hygiene is key to preventing the spread of infection.”

Further information can be found here: https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/norovirus

An Oxford University professor has praised both the healthcare and the hospitality in Stornoway, during a visit to the islands today (Wednesday November 27th).

Professor Trisha Greenhalgh is on a fact-finding visit to the Highlands and Islands, reviewing how remote consulting works in locations where not all specialisms are available on-site.

Yesterday she spent the day at Western Isles Hospital, conducting interviews with clinical staff, managers and patients and experiencing for herself the remote consultation process.

After her mock ‘consultation’ she posted a photograph of herself and tweeted: “Having a lot of fun seeing hi-tech remote medicine in Stornoway. Here’s me (patient) being seen remotely by doctor via robot (whose name is Beam).”

But she was also impressed with other aspects of the ‘lovely, friendly’ hospital, noting during her visit the experience of her tea-break: “Large trolley wheeled in with fresh-baked scones (3 each!), jam, cream, caramel cookies, walnut cake. This is because professor from Oxford was coming. We all sit down with the last patient and his wife. Cream everywhere (it gets slapped on thick). Very jolly atmosphere. Patients and staff sitting eating and laughing. Leftovers are going to be taken to outpatients for staff there.”

Professor Greenhalgh has also visited Inverness.

She’s pictured here during her ‘consultation’ in Stornoway yesterday.

Trading Standards are encouraging consumers to buy carefully on Black Friday.

The Trading Standards North of Scotland Safety Partnership is asking consumers to consider the following:

  • Ask - do I know where this seller is based? Not all .co.uk websites are based in the UK.

  • Can you establish where the online selling platform operates from? It may be the USA, China or other countries which are not subject to the safety requirements applicable in the UK and EU.

  • On well-known selling platforms do not assume that the goods are being sold by the platform - look closely at the listing and any returns information. Often the goods will be shipped from countries outwith the UK and EU.

  • Search the listing fully – this can lead to the details of the seller being available.

  • Do your research on the product you wish to buy – is it being offered for sale at a price much lower than it would normally retail at. This can indicate that the item is a cheap copy which has not been subject to any safety testing.

  • Look at any reviews, whilst bearing in mind that it may be possible for positive listings to be made by people who have an interest in selling the item.

  • If packaging can be seen, is the information given in proper English? Spelling errors and grammatical errors can be an indication that items are made outwith the UK.

  • Are the manufacturer’s or importer’s details on the packaging? Apart from being a legal requirement, this provides a route for Trading Standards to try to help should you receive unsafe products.

  • Use online review websites to see what people are saying about products and sellers, and in general see what is being said online.

  • Legislation exists to try to ensure that goods manufactured in the UK and EU are safe - whether that is safe generally, or safe in terms of specific legislation in respect of goods such as toys, cosmetics, electrical equipment and many other items that are popular.

A spokesman for the partnership said: “Safety legislation is in place to try to protect members of the public from unsafe products.

"The increase in online purchasing, and the supply of goods from outwith the EU where the safety legislation does not apply, makes it an ever increasing problem to try and make sure goods that arrive on the doorstep will not cause injury to people or property.

"Online platforms and websites provide a great variety of goods for consumers, but also make it more difficult to ensure that goods delivered direct to consumers from outwith the UK are safe.

"Many websites and online selling platforms are outwith the jurisdiction of UK authorities. We would very much like everyone to enjoy their purchases safely.”

An event that took place 50 years ago will be recreated this Thursday – and you are invited to join in!

In 1969, Stornoway Primary school pupils and staff walked from Matheson Hall to the new school on Jamieson Drive. That iconic walk will be re-enacted on Thursday 28 November at 10am.

Donalda Riddell of Stornoway Primary said: "The children from our school will start the walk from Matheson Hall at 10am.

"We are looking for members of the public who did the walk originally – the first pupils and staff who came to the new Stornoway Primary school – to help recreate what they did 50 years ago.

"We currently have around 500 pupils plus staff who will be taking part in the walk – along with pipers from The Nicolson Institute.

"We have had a few members of the public get in touch and say they are excited to join but anyone else who wants to take part is welcome."

The event will be followed by a sing-song and refreshments at the present primary school.

To find out more information or take part in an actual walk down memory lane, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A seminar focussing on increasing housing opportunities in Barra and the Uists was held this month.

The community-led Housing seminar was organised by the Uist and Barra Housing Group, and had a main theme of ‘Innovation and New Thinking’ to accelerate house building on the islands.

The purpose of the seminar was to explore new ways of meeting the housing needs of the area, particularly in relation for young people and addressing population decline.

Over 50 delegates representing community bodies, housing stakeholders, the Third Sector, and local business attended on the day. A series of presentations set out the local and national housing context, along with examples of innovative housing ideas that have been successful in other parts of rural Scotland. The presentations prepared the ground for two sets of workshops, where delegates had the opportunity to discuss and develop ideas that could be explored further.

The Chairman of Uist & Barra Housing Group, Councillor Iain A MacNeil said: “This was a very useful event that brought together a range of partners from community representatives through to national agencies.

"I was struck by the level of unanimity at the meeting.

"There was a consensus that the challenges around housing should be owned by the community and that everyone had to act in partnership to develop and implement solutions.

“I was particularly pleased the seminar did not dwell on the challenges and that the focus of the participants was very much on exploring new, innovative solutions.

"These ranged from the high-level policy changes required at national level to allow greater local flexibility, through to consideration of trade skills in the construction sector and on to ambitious ideas about establishing a new 'gateway' village.

Mr MacNeil concluded: “There was good consensus today about the issues and what needs to be done.

"It is essential, however, that momentum is maintained and I will shortly be bringing the key agencies together to explore how we move the ideas generated at the seminar into concrete proposals and real development."

An influenza vaccination clinic is to be held in the Group Practice in Stornoway on Saturday (November 30), for those in the ‘at risk’ groups and pre-school children.

A number of Saturday clinics have been held by the Practice over the last few weeks and have been very successful, with excellent attendance. The next clinic will be held on Saturday 30 November. If you are in an identified ‘at risk’ group, or if your child is between two and five years old and has not already been vaccinated this year, please phone 01851 703145 to make an appointment.

All children aged 2-5 are eligible for the free influenza vaccination, as well as children over six months of age with a medical condition which puts them in an ‘at risk’ group such as diabetes, heart or kidney disease, and breathing problems.

Vaccinations are also offered to those 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. Those eligible should have received letters from their GP Practice.

Every year thousands of people are hospitalised with flu. Even healthy children and adults can become seriously ill from it. Getting vaccinated can also stop it spreading to family, friends and others.

The vaccine takes 10 days to work, so the earlier you can get the vaccine, the better. The vaccine needs to be given annually to offer protection against the most common types of flu virus that are around each winter.

The vaccine is given to adults as an injection and to children as a nasal spray. In terms of the nasal spray, a tiny amount of the flu vaccine is given into each nostril. It’s not an injection. It’s quick and painless and there’s no need to sniff or inhale the vaccine. Your child will just feel a little tickle in their nose. 

The Outer Hebrides Local Energy Hub (OHLEH) project has won the Partnership Scotland Award at this year’s VIBES – Scottish Environment Business Awards with partners The Scottish Salmon Company (SSC), Pure Energy Centre (PEC), Community Energy Scotland and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (CnES).

The VIBES Partnership Scotland Award recognises organisations working together strategically to improve their contribution to sustainable development and the OHLEH project beat off stiff competition from five other shortlisted finalists. The OHLEH initiative focuses on the creation of a local circular energy economy and was funded by the Scottish Government Local Energy Challenge Fund.

Created to encourage collaborative solutions to waste management and energy challenges, the OHLEH project has developed into a unique initiative, which is the first of its kind in Scotland. The project involves the transfer of fish waste from SSC’s processing plant on the Isle of Lewis, which is integrated with other local household and garden waste in an anaerobic digester, based at the CnES Household Waste and Recycling Centre at Creed, and broken down to produce biogas. The biogas fuels a Combined Heat and Power Plant with some of the electricity generated used to drive an electrolyser supplied by PEC, which in turn produces green hydrogen and green oxygen for use at SSC’s hatchery in Lewis, as well as providing fuel for CnES’s hydrogen powered bin lorry.

Now in its 20th year, the VIBES recognise Scottish businesses which showcase best practice, taking significant steps to improve or reduce their impact on the environment. The awards encourage the efficient use of resources, strive to improve environmental performance and support sustainable development including social benefits through involvement with the local community.

Craig Anderson, Chief Executive of The Scottish Salmon Company, said: “Winning the VIBES Partnership Scotland Award not only recognises the commitment and expertise of the OHLEH project partners, but also is a great example of local collaboration which could act as a blueprint for national best practice, not just by the salmon farming industry but across many other sectors.”

David Macleod, Head of Municipal Services at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: “This is an excellent achievement by all the partners, coming together to deliver a circular economy project using ground-breaking technology. This further demonstrates that it is possible for us to build a sustainable hydrogen economy in the Western Isles.”

Elizabeth Johnson MBE, Business Development Manager at PEC and Director of Scottish Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association, said: “Winning the VIBES award shows that there is strong commitment and an outstanding collaboration from all of the partners, which also includes Local Energy Scotland as a co-funder of the project.”

Bob Downes, Chair of SEPA and Head of the VIBES judging panel, said: “The scale of the environmental challenge facing humanity, from climate change to plastics in our oceans, is enormous, with a real urgency to act. The most successful businesses in the future will be those that are not just compliant, but which are also low carbon, low material use, low water use and low waste, and which see environmental excellence as an opportunity. This is at the core of SEPA’s One Planet Prosperity regulatory strategy.”

“It is very encouraging to see the diverse range of businesses, small and large, which are taking important steps to reduce their impact on the environment and which understand how environmental excellence can also benefit their bottom line. I would like to congratulate each of this year’s winning businesses and organisations, and hope that others will be inspired to follow in their footsteps.”

Photo: Rhona McLeod, Broadcaster; Dr Peter Neilson, Glenmorangie (Partnership Scotland Sponsor); Paul Condy, Scottish Salmon; Iona hodge, local Energy Scotlnd; David Macleod, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar; Gillian Wilson, Community Energy Scotland; Dr Daniel Aklil, Pure Energy Centre; Bob Downes, Chair of SEPA

The inter-island ferry service between Berneray and Leverburgh has been cancelled this afternoon.

This was a result of "a medical emergency involving a crew member", CalMac Ferries reported.  

It was announced at 13.25 that both the 13:45 service departing Berneray and the 14:55 departing Leverburgh have been cancelled.

There were no other services scheduled for today (Monday November 25th)

The next scheduled service is at 08.15 tomorrow from Berneray and from Leverburgh at 0925.

The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner has been asked to look at the incident early on Saturday in which a car collided with a house in Barvas, setting both ablaze.

A spokesperson for the PIRC’s Investigation Team said today (Monday November 25th) : “As is standard procedure, Police Scotland have referred to the PIRC the circumstances of an incident in the early hours of Saturday 23 November 2019 on the Isle of Lewis.

“We are now carrying out an assessment to determine whether a full investigation is required.”

The role of the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC) was introduced in 2013 when the single Police Service of Scotland was established.

The Commissioner, who is appointed by Scottish Ministers, is independent of the police. The role of the PIRC is to provide independent oversight, investigating incidents involving the police and reviewing the way the police handle complaints from the public.

It is understood the PIRC involvement arises from the fact that the car had been pursued by the police prior to the collision, although this was not stated in the official Police Scotland media release about the incident issued early on Saturday afternoon.

http://www.welovestornoway.com/index.php/articles-auto/15322-four-saved-in-car-crash-blazes

Investigations are continuing after a car hit a wall in the Willowglen area of Stornoway last night (Saturday November 23rd).

Police were called to the scene where an individual was believed to be missing from the vehicle.

The person was traced safe and well and enquiries continue as to the cause of the incident.

Meanwhile enquiries continue following Saturday morning's car crash with a house.

http://www.welovestornoway.com/index.php/articles-auto/15322-four-saved-in-car-crash-blazes

Registration deadline for the UK Parliamentary Election is midnight on Tuesday (26 November 2019.) 

Deadline for receiving new postal vote and postal proxy applications, and for changes to existing postal or proxy votes is 5pm on Tuesday 26 November 2019.

If you have received your poll card, there is no need to register to vote again. 

For further information on voting please visit https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/voter

The Annual General Meeting of Point and Sandwick Trust was held on Tuesday night (November 19), with the appointment of new directors among the top items on the agenda.

Donald ‘Buck’ Macdonald, Catherine Anne Smith and Jane Watson were formally appointed as board directors to the community wind farm charity and will serve a four-year term.

A number of cheques were also presented to community groups at the meeting, which took place at Ionad Stoodie in Point.

These included £3,000 to two friendship clubs for the over 60s, Cairdean Og Allt nan Gall and Tiumpan Young at Heart club, £1,000 to Sandwick Hall and Recreation Enterprise and £300 to Point Parent and Toddler Group.

The presentation of cheques was the last item on an agenda which featured reports from Point and Sandwick Trust chairman Norman Mackenzie, general manager Donald John MacSween and developer Calum MacDonald. The meeting also heard from accountant John Moffat of Mann Judd Gordon, on how the wind farm company, Point and Sandwick Power, and the charity, Point and Sandwick Trust, had fared financially over the previous 12 months.

John Moffat and Calum MacDonald both spoke of the wind farm refinancing process, which was successfully concluded in September and brought the interest repayments on the loans to build Beinn Ghrideag down to half the previous rate.

Updates were given on a number of projects being led by Point and Sandwick Trust including research into a hydrogen ferry, and there was also a look to the future, with chairman Norman Mackenzie suggesting the Trust could get involve with bigger capital projects in the future, in order to “leave a legacy”, and general manager Donald John MacSween revealing that a new community consultation is to be carried out to ascertain the community’s most current spending priorities.

Norman Mackenzie opened the meeting with his chairman’s report and admitted the past year had been “a difficult one”, due technical problems with one of the turbines and low wind. However, he said the Trust had “still managed to maintain activity in line with our charitable purpose”, keeping up with payments to partners and community groups “so in that sense it’s been a successful year”.

He recapped on a number of stand-out projects from the year and said: “Looking forward, the future prospects for Point and Sandwick Trust are solid. We’ve been through difficult times, we’ve reached the end of our five-year programme and we have to look at where we go next.”

Refinancing, he said, gave “clarity” and would “allow us to plan better” but he also said: “We need to think about a lasting legacy.”

Projects such as the hydrogen ferry could be part of that legacy and the chairman added: “We are proud to be an organisation that’s at the forefront of technological advancement in the Western Isles – thanks to Calum. His work is extremely important to the Trust and the island.”

Approaching the appointment of new directors, he then said: “A community charity cannot function without people who are prepared to serve.”

A number of directors stood down – Kenny Dan Macdonald, Liz Chaplin and Matt Bruce – and were thanked for their years of service before the nominations were made for their replacements. Donald ‘Buck’ Macdonald was nominated by Gordon Mackay, Catherine Anne Smith by Matt Bruce and Jane Watson by Angus McCormack, PST honorary president.

Speaking after the meeting, Catherine Anne Smith, who works for Tighean Innse Gall, said: “I am really pleased to be involved with Point and Sandwick Development Trust and have enjoyed learning about all the important stuff going on in the background that people don’t see. A phenomenal amount of work goes on to enable the Trust to support the community we cover. I’m really looking forward to the future of the Trust and being involved in all their exciting new plans.”

Donald Macdonald, who works in IT for Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: “Having been co-opted to the board for the past year, I’ve seen first-hand the positive effect Point and Sandwick Trust are having on our community for both young and old, large or small scale, so I’m delighted now to start a full term as a trustee.

“Point and Sandwick Trust have been ambitious from the very beginning and, after hearing the various reports at our AGM, it’s great to see that’s still the case today. It’s a fantastic model of a successful community-owned enterprise and I’m delighted to be a small part of it.”

Jane Watson, also in IT at the Comhairle, said: “It’s really interesting to learn more about what’s happening with the project, to see the vision, and get involved in things that are helping the community and the wider Western Isles.

“It’s going to be interesting to see the new five-year plan and obviously you are learning as you go along. I attended my first board meeting before the AGM and it was very informative.”

The newly-appointed directors helped present the cheques to some of the community groups who were receiving revenue support at the AGM.

In response, Kenny Nicholson, chairman of the Tiumpan Young at Heart club, told the meeting: “We’ve discussed a lot about energy tonight. The energy that Point and Sandwick Trust transfers to our club is beyond anything that we can see. These people get such a buzz from the help we get from these guys that it goes beyond words – so thanks again.”

Police are appealing for witnesses following a serious road crash in the early hours of this morning (Saturday, 23 November, 2019) in Barvas.

Around 1.30am, a blue Vauxhall Zafira crashed into a house on the corner on the A857 road towards Ness after the junction with the A858 to Shawbost.

The car was set ablaze which subsequently set the house on fire.

Several emergency services attended and all occupants of the car (three men aged 22, 32 and 36) and the house (one woman aged 61) were safely removed.

However, in the dark and confusion of the incident it was believed another person was involved and thought to be missing.

The Coastguard search underway…photograph from Coastguard team

So Ness, Bragar and Stornoway Coastguard Rescue Team along with a Duty Officer were called to provide search assistance to Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. The search focused on the area round the crash site, routes out of it and other areas of significance until it was confirmed that all occupants were accounted for and in care of Scottish Ambulance Service.

The car's driver and two passengers were taken to Western Isles Hospital for treatment to serious injuries.

The road - which was totally closed for several hours - was down to single lane traffic thriugh Saturday while police carried out their investigations.

A 32-year-old man has been arrested in connection with road traffic offences.

Sergeant Donald Sinclair, of Stornoway’s Church Street station, said: “Our enquiries into the circumstances of the crash are ongoing and I am appealing for anyone who saw the crash or who saw a blue Vauxhall Zafira being driven on the A857 before 1.30am to come forward.

“I’m particularly keen to speak to anyone who may have dash-cam footage which could help with our enquiries.”

Those with information can contact police on 101, quoting reference number 0366 of 23 November 2019.

Since first being published,this report has been updated with additional photographs and search details 

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

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

Site caravan, create access and parking, Castlebay

Neil Angus Docherty has applied for planning permission to site a caravan with septic tank at 147 Brevig, Castlebay. Work is also to include creating an access and 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 agricultural building, Quidinish.

David Amos of 10 Quidinish has applied for planning permission to erect an agricultural shed at 10 Quidinish. The agricultural building is to be 14.61 metres long, 7.31 metres wide and 5.4 metes tall. The building is to be a prefabricated steel agricultural shed to support crofting activity. Work is to include creating parking suitable for one car. 

Install interpretation panel, Scalpay

Northern Lighthouse Board of 84 George Street, Edinburgh, has applied for planning permission to install an interpretation panel at Lighthouse, Eilean Glas, Scalpay. The interpretation panel is to be used for advertising purposes for a period of ten years. The dimensions of the advert are to be 1270mm by 690mm. The interpretation panel is to be free-standing with a concrete foundation on the approach to the lighthouse. The framework is to be made of galvanised steel and is to stand 1400mm high. 

Change of use of land, 

K. Macleod and D. Campbell of Ceann an Ora, Bunabhuineadar, have applied for planning permission to change the use of an area of croft ground for the siting of 1 residential caravan, for seasonal holiday-let accommodation, at 2 Tarbert. Work is also to include the installation of a septic tank.

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

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

Land development, Lochs

I. A. & C. Maciver has applied for planning permission to develop land without compliance to conditions previously attached to planning permission. The proposal relates to the continuation of existing approved works (mineral extraction) which are currently on-going. Planning permission is sought until 1st February 2030 to allow full extraction of the mineral reserve within the existing planning permission boundary. 

Change of use of building, Point

Gillian Buchanan of Police Hostel, Ravens Lane, Laxdale, has applied for planning permission to change the use of the barn at 14 Upper Aird, Point, to a house, including extension. The agricultural building currently consists of two rooms. The converted house is to consist of a living/dining/kitchen area, one bedroom, a bathroom and a porch. Work is also to include creating parking suitable for two cars. 

New semi-detached houses, Ness

Alex Murray of Island Road, Stornoway, has applied for planning permission to erect six new semi-detached, single-storey houses at Housing Development, South Dell, Ness. Two houses are to have three bedrooms, a kitchen/dining room, a lounge, a bathroom and a porch. Two houses are to have one bedroom, a lounge/dining area, a kitchen, a bathroom and a porch. Two houses are to have two bedrooms, a kitchen/dining area, a lounge, a bathroom and a porch. Work is to include creating an access, parking suitable for twelve cars and the installation of an air source heat pump. 

New extension, Stornoway

Martin Macleod of 33 Matheson Road, Stornoway, has applied for planning permission to build a rear extension at 33 Matheson Road, Stornoway. 

Change of use of building, Stornoway

Neil Mackay & Co Ltd has applied for planning permission to change the use of the public house and flat at The Carlton, 15 Keith Street, Stornoway, to a storage unit. 

 

HIAL can confirm that a revised offer has been presented to Prospect to resolve the long running air traffic control industrial dispute.

This offer sees air traffic controllers receiving the 2019/20 pay increase already awarded to other HIAL staff, along with a commitment to a similar award in 2020/21 subject to any change in Scottish Government’s pay policy. 

In addition, a retention payment has been agreed for a three year period.

The union will recommend the offer to its members in a ballot closing on January 3, 2020.

HIAL managing director, Inglis Lyon, said: “After a lot of hard work and effort from all parties we have now arrived at an offer that Prospect will recommend to their members.

"This offer not only addresses the current dispute, but also recognises the world-wide skills shortage in air traffic control and helps us to secure future service delivery and provide sustainable aviation services for our communities.”

 

Comhairle employees, councillors and other volunteers plan to join the Big Sleep Out next month, spending at least part of the night sleeping out in Stornoway town centre.

The national event is organised by Social Bite, a Scottish charity, and they plan for it to go global this year, with a planned 50,000 people sleeping out all over the world to raise money for homeless and displaced people. The idea originated as Sleep in the Park in 2016 and is now supported by celebrities, politicians and thousands of ordinary people.

Last year schoolchildren from Sgoil nan Loch’s senior Gaelic medium class (Primary 4-7) slept on the floor of the agricultural shed at Laxay Showground, raising the amazing total of £1,671 for their efforts.

They chose to go 'technology free' for the night, as they felt homeless people wouldn't be using mobile phones or gaming equipment, and to keep themselves warm they played football, had pillow fights and wrote Christmas cards to the homeless.

Making the local contribution this year volunteers are going to spend the night of the 7th December sleeping in the vicinity of the Failte Centre. They’re encouraging anyone who is prepared to participate, with warm clothes and a sleeping bag are essential.

Organiser Lorraine Graham said: “It will be weather dependent but should go ahead unless the forecast is atrocious. It may end up being less of a 'Big Sleep Out' and more of a 'Wee Norrag' but at least we all have warm beds to go home to.

Contact the Homelessness Service on 01851 822821 if you'd like to join on the night, or if you’d rather support the effort from the warmth of home, you can make a financial donation here https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/LorraineGraham1. Donations will be shared between local and worldwide homelessness charities.

Lorraine said: “Our local target (£1000) is quite modest so let’s see if we can smash it! We really appreciate all your support and thank you for any donations. You are also more than welcome to join us on the night.”

(Since first being posted, the local target has been restated to the correct figure)

 

 

Maybury Garden Centre enjoyed their most successful Christmas lights event ever yesterday afternoon (Thursday November 21st).

Manager Alison Carty said the turn-out and atmosphere at the event was ‘fantastic’ and praised the people of the Stornoway area for their support for Bethesda Hospice, who benefited from the event.

Alison told welovestornoway.com today: “We raised more than £1,500 for Bethesda, which was the highest total ever, and the rest of the numbers are pretty staggering.

“Over 400 children saw Santa and there was face-painting from Michaela all through the afternoon. We got through 500 mince pies, 20kg of hot chocolate and 15 litres of mulled wine.

“We’re feeling shattered today, but also delighted that it went so well. The weather was a great help and it was lovely to see so many people prepared to turn out and support Bethesda, and having such a good time.”

Entertainment through the event was provided by young singer-songwriter Rosie Sullivan, the folk group Dual, Brownies and Guides singing carols and the Sharon Mackinnon Highland dancers, as well as Elizabeth Greenstock performing the dance of the sugar plum fairy from the Nutcracker Suite.

Our pictures by Judi Hayes capture some of the excitement of the afternoon.

Western Isles Lottery has announced final arrangements for the much-anticipated musical events which will accompany the switch-on of the Christmas lights in Stornoway next Tuesday (November 26th).

With Peat & Diesel’s under-14s gig at the Nicolson Institute fully sold out, the timetable has been tweaked so that the late evening gig at the Town Hall is now open to all ages, although under-16s must be accompanied by an adult.

Doors will open at the Town Hall at 9.30pm and Peat & Diesel will be on stage at the earlier time of 9.45pm, with a projected finish time of 11.30pm. Remaining tickets for the Town Hall gig are on sale through Events shop on North Beach.

To make the gigs even more special for young fans, Western Isles Lottery have got hold of some blow-up guitars, mics and trumpets, allowing Boydie, Innes and Uilly to get the benefit of a full back-up band.

The Christmas lights event starts its build-up tonight (Friday November 22nd) as Stornoway Amenity Trust judges set out on their judging round for Christmas window displays.

Over 70 people gathered to celebrate 20 years since the Providence Christian School was formed.

The school, formerly the Lewis Independent Christian School, celebrated its anniversary on Saturday 16 November.

The crowd, representing more than seven different denominations, gathered in the Associated Presbyterian Church building for a Thanksgiving Service.  

The service was conducted by Rev. Graeme Craig, a longstanding Board member, who preached on the appropriate theme: “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.” 

After the service, supporters enjoyed a time of fellowship over refreshments, including a special anniversary cake, and were able to take a trip down memory lane by looking at a display of photos through the years.

The event had past, current, and prospective parents in attendance and many remarked on how special the day was.

Some of the younger children were eagerly looking forward to starting school. With the Board considering expanding in due course to include early years and secondary provision, an Anniversary Appeal was launched, encouraging supporters to give £20 per month to help increase its regular income as it begins the next 20 years.

Everyone must ensure they have a vote on December 12th - and that they use it. That's the view of Angus MacNeil, the SNP candidate for the Na h-Eileanan an Iar constituency.

The deadline for registering to vote is Tuesday 26th November and this is also the last day for obtaining a Postal Vote.

Speaking in Stornoway Mr MacNeil said:“This is a crucial election for Scotland and despite only 6.5 hours of daylight and cold nights it is vital that there is a good turnout at this election.

“In 2015 non-voters outnumbered the supporters of every single political party, if these people had voted Westminster could have been a very different place.

“It is especially important that 18-30 year olds vote. Not only are they the largest block of voters but this election will decide their future – in Europe or out and whether Scotland should be Independent like other normal countries.

“Only by ensuring you have a vote and using it can you choose what kind of country Scotland will be."

More than 40 Health and Social Care Professionals travelled to the Western Isles last week for a 3-day learning event.

The NHS Western Isles mPower project team hosted the 2-day meeting at the Community Trust run Talla na Mara, Pairc Niseaboist, Isle of Harris.

mPower is a cross-border EU-funded project set up to support people living with long-term conditions and chronic illnesses across remote areas in the West of Scotland, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

In the Western Isles the project has operated across Lewis and Harris since November 2017 and targets people over 18. In recent months it expanded with project representatives now working to cover the Uists and Barra.

Martin Malcolm, Head of Public Health Intelligence NHS Western Isles opened the meeting and welcomed all to Talla na Mara giving key facts about the Western Isles and setting the context for the project in the area. He spoke about the challenges that come with the environment and how coming together for shared learning opportunities benefits all.

Speakers included Lisa MacLean from the Galson Estate Trust, several of the partners who shared their latest activity and learning, John MacDonald from SCVO talking about the development of Community Transport and Dr David Ross, a Respiratory clinician doing innovative work in the Western Isles using Video Conferencing for health consultations. A third day’s events aimed at targeting wider local healthcare professionals was held at the Calaidh Inn, Stornoway where attendees were invited to listen to the RNIB give their ‘Need to Talk’ presentation and to hear Martin Malcolm present his recent and future work looking at Digital Innovation in social and mental wellbeing in the Western Isles.

Sue Long, mPower’s Implementation Lead for the Western Isles, said: “It was fantastic to welcome so many visitors to our beautiful islands and to learn more about what’s happening across the project partner areas, particularly identifying anything that we can look to implement here in the Western Isles.”

Martin Malcolm said “We were delighted to welcome everyone to the Islands and to support local businesses and Community Trusts in the process, we specifically chose Tarbert and Pairc Niseaboist for the bulk of the event as these are some of the more rural areas of the Islands”.

Attendees arrived in Harris from Monday evening and stayed in local hotels and B&B’s in the Tarbert area. The final night was spent in Stornoway.  Catering for the group meals were provided by the Hotel Hebrides and Isle of Harris Hotel, both in Tarbert. The final night in Stornoway saw visitors free to sample the local delights from local eateries.

The visitors to the islands, many of which had never been before, were taken aback by the beauty of the surroundings. Many commented on the friendly welcome they received from locals during their stay as well as the delicious food they were served. At the end of the second days’ formalities, there was an optional visit to the Isle of Harris Distillery, where many visitors purchased a souvenir of the local delicacy. 

The mPower project in the Western Isles aims to help people with long-term 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.

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 mpowerhealth.eu and western-isles.mpowerhealth.eu/

 

PICTURE: Attendees at the mPower Project Assembly outside the meeting venue Talla na Mara.

A man appeared in court in Stornoway yesterday (Wednesday November 20th) charged with assault and breach of the peace.

The 28-year-old was arrested in Harris at 2.50am on Tuesday 19th and was two counts of police assault and two of breach of the peace.

He was kept in custody until yesterday’s court appearance, following which he was released on bail.

Mobile phone charge

A driver was cautioned and charged on Tuesday after being seen using a hand-held mobile phone while driving.

The 42-year-old man was seen by police at 2.30pm on Perceval Road and is to be reported to the Procurator Fiscal for the offence.

A mortgage open day for first-time buyers and home movers will be held in Stornoway.

The event, hosted by TSB, will take place on Friday 29 November at TSB Stornoway, 18 Francis Street from 9:00am – 5:00pm.

The event will be held to help the local community better understand the homebuying process.

TSB open days have been designed to inform homebuyers of what to expect when buying a new home, provide advice on how they can better prepare and experts will be on hand to answer any questions. People will have an opportunity to talk to local TSB branch staff and mortgage advisors for individual support and advice.

The event is open to everyone, not just TSB customers. People interested in finding out more or attending can do so by popping in to the branch or calling 01851 747999.

Roy Jappy, Bank Manager, at TSB Stornoway, said: “Buying a home is such an important step in many people’s lives, whatever rung of the property ladder they are on. Our mortgage open day has been planned to help demystify the process and to ensure there are no surprises along the way.

“It’s a great opportunity for people to speak to our team of experts for individual advice, so they know exactly what to expect when they start hunting for their new home.

“We have already spoken to several customers who have said an informative mortgage day would be incredibly useful and we look forward to welcoming people into our branch next week.”

A committee of MP's have urged the BBC and the Government to fund free TV Licences for over 75s.

Angus MacNeil has called on the next Government to back the MP's.

The BBC currently plans to scrap blanket free licences for over-75s.

Only households with one person who receives pension credit will still be eligible.

In October 2019 the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, called on the BBC and the Government to reach an agreement to continue funding free TV licences to over 75’s after 2020.

Commenting Mr MacNeil said: “There are around 3,000 island residents who are over the age of 75 – just over 10 per cent of our islands population.

“They should continue to be exempt from paying for a TV licence and any effort to remove that and impose an additional household bill on older people is shameful.

“For many people TV is just welcome entertainment, but for others it is day to day company which helps combat loneliness and isolation.

“Over the last few months this matter has been raised several times in Parliament and together with my SNP colleagues I will continue to urge whichever Government is in power after the election to ensure the continuation of Free TV licences for the over 75’s”

“The BBC plans to scrap blanket free licences for over-75s, only households with one person who receives pension credit will still be eligible but in October 2019 the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee called on the BBC and the Government to reach an agreement to continue funding free TV licences to over 75’s after 2020.”

Sgoil an Rubha's Iolaire play secured the Community, Heritage and Tourism Award last night (Tuesday 19 November) at the Scottish Gaelic Awards.

Held at the Mariott Hotel in Glasgow, Sgoil An Rubha pupils performed their play, An Oidhche Mus Do Sheoil I

The play was part of the Iolaire project to highlight the impact of the tragedy on the Point district.

The play was written by Coumcillor Alasdair Macleod and produced and directed by Marisa MacDonald with huge input from members of the Point community.

The 50 servicemen were played by 50 pupils from Sgoil An Rubha and each pupil was assigned the name of a serviceman as they came on stage in the opening scene, speaking their names, ages and the village they were from.

The full story of the Iolaire was performed on stage by the pupils from the time the ship left Kyle of Lochalsh until it ran aground on the Beasts of Holm on that fateful New Year’s morning 1919.

39 pupils left the stage dressed in black t-shirts and 11 were in white t-shirts to depict those who perished and those who survived. The pupils left the stage to the singing of Psalm 23 in Gaelic.

Councillor Alasdair Macleod, said: “This was a truly memorable community event depicting the grim reality of the Iolaire from a Point perspective. It was wonderful to see the community pulling together to support the project in a variety of ways but the key players were the pupil, teachers, ancillary staff and parents from Sgoil An Rubha.”

Aig tachartas Duaisean Gàidhlig na h-Alba a-raoir, Dimairt 19 Samhain, ann an Taigh-òsta Marriott an Glaschu, choisinn Dealbh-chluich Sgoil an Rubha an Duais airson Coimhearsnachd, Dualchais is Turasachd.

Chaidh dealbh-chluich mun Iolaire “An Oidhche mus do sheòl i” a thaisbeanadh le sgoilearan à Sgoil an Rubha mar phàirt den phròiseact aca ann a bhith a’ coimhead ri buaidh Call an Iolaire air sgìre an Rubha ann an Eilean Leòdhais. `S e an Comhairliche Alasdair Macleòid a sgrìobh an dealbh-chluich agus chaidh a riochdachadh agus a stiùireadh le Marisa Dhòmhnallach, le taic mhòr bho mhuinntir na sgìre. Bha 50 seòladair às an Rubha air bòrd an Iolaire air an oidhche dhoirbh ud agus cha tàinig aiste beò ach 11. Aig fosgladh na dealbh-chluiche bha 50 sgoilear a riochdachadh gach seòladair bhon sgìre, gach sgoilear ag ainmeachadh aon sheòladair, an aois a bha iad, agus am baile dom buineadh iad, mar a bha iad a’ tighinn chun stèidse.

Bho dh’fhàg i Caol Loch Aillse gus na an tug i brag air Biastan Thuilm, thaisbean na sgoilearan sgeulachd uamhasach an Iolaire mar a thachair air Oidhche na Bliadhn’ Ùire 1919. Bha 39 sgoilear ann an lèintean-t dhubha agus 11 ann an lèintean-t gheala a comharrachadh an fheadhainn a chaill am beatha agus an fheadhainn a thàinig às beò. Dh’fhàg na sgoilearan an stèidse a’ seinn Salm 23 sa Ghàidhlig.

Thuirt An Comh. Alasdair Macleòid: “`S e tachartas iongantach coimhearsnachd a bha seo, a’ tarraing air uamhas an Iolaire bho shealladh Sgìre an Rubha. Bha e sònraichte a bhith a’ faicinn a’ choimhearsnachd a’ tighinn ri chèile a’ cumail taice ris a’ phròiseact ann an iomadh dòigh, ach `s iad na sgoilearan, an luchd-teagaisg, luchd-obrach na sgoile agus pàrantan Sgoil an Rubha a thug am pròiseact seo gu buil.”



There are celebrations in the world of Gaelic culture today (Wednesday November 20th) after news of awards for islanders at last night’s Scottish Gaelic awards ceremony in Glasgow.

The Scottish Gaelic Awards reward all aspects of the Gaelic language and culture and the awards night was hosted by the Daily Record, alongside headline sponsor Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

Broadcaster and Producer Cathy MacDonald announced recognition for Stornoway-based publishers Acair, who received the best contribution award for the individual, group or organisation that has contributed significantly towards the growth or development of the Gaelic language locally, nationally or internationally.

Acair posted later: “Thanks to all of Acair’s writers, illustrators, independent readers, proofers, editors, translators, designers and every other contributor at every stage of the publishing process.”

Meanwhile Marisa Macdonald and Sgoil an Rubha were recognised with a community, heritage and tourism award for the group, organisation, community or school that has done most to utilise Gaelic within its community, in highlighting its heritage.

The award was made for the production An Oidche mus do Sheol I, a successful community event in remembrance of the Iolaire tragedy, performed to acclaim at Sgoil an Rubha in November 2018.

Also celebrating were representatives of Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn (Galson Community Estate Trust) who were awarded recognition as event of the year at the award ceremony. The event, Dùthchas, was a week which celebrated language, culture and heritage in many different ways, including food and drink demonstrations, traditional skills and history and genealogy.

Posting the news today, a spokesman for UOG said: “It was a huge honour to pick up the event of the year award on behalf of our community for Dùthchas week at the Gaelic awards. A huge thank you to everyone who was involved - we’re very much looking forward to Dùthchas 2020!

The pictures show Fiona Rennie (left) and Shona Nic a' Mhaoilein of UOG at the awards ceremony (below) and pupils from Sgoil an Rubha performing their work (above).

Classic car drivers contributed to the first ever Stornoway traffic-jam yesterday afternoon (Tuesday November 19th), according to traffic reports on BBC Radio 2.

But the reports were part of a tongue-in-cheek celebration staged by the team from Practical Classics magazine, visiting the islands this week.

About 25 classic cars owned and driven by island drivers massed at Lews Castle grounds at lunchtime to give a welcome to a team from the Peterborough-based magazine.

Editor Daniel Hopkins told welovestornoway.com: “It’s exciting to see how many people were happy to bring their cars out to meet us, and what a variety! It shows what a great community the classic car world is, and everyone here is lovely, supportive and interested in each other’s projects – no competitiveness.”

After the castle grounds rally, the editorial team of five, with their own classic cars, led off a circuit round the town centre, creating a show for pedestrians as well as holding up other traffic.

Deputy editor James Walshe pulled strings at Radio 2 to get BBC traffic announcer Bobby Pryor to give out two bulletins warning of congestion in the town centre, giving Stornoway its first national traffic announcement ever.

Today the Practical Classics team is out and about around Harris, after spending yesterday afternoon and evening interviewing individual car owners for special features in the magazine.

Interviews with island classic owners are set to appear in the magazine throughout the winter, including special features on Kiwi Macleod’s red Jaguar XK150, Murdo Macleod’s Triumph Dolomite Sprint (described as ‘a work of art), a Cortina Mark 1 restored by Norman Maclean, Moto Plus, and an Escort Mark 1 Nimbus caravette restored by Ali ‘Nomie’ Macleod.

Daniel Hopkins said: “We would thoroughly recommend the islands as a destination for classic car drivers, especially in the winter, when there’s hardly anyone on the roads and you don’t get stuck behind a caravan.

“I love discovering new places and have travelled a lot in Britain, but I’ve never been here before. In terms of eye-candy it’s as good as anywhere on the planet – on the edge, extreme, bleak and with a wild beauty.

“We plan to visit the west side of Harris, the Bays road and Huisinis beach today (Wednesday) and we’re hoping to get a sunset shot with our own cars to round off our visit.”

Pictures show the classic cars gathered in Lews Castle grounds with island owners and the editorial team of Practical Classics in the front row (Judi Hayes and aerial shots by Christopher Mayers).

Angus MacNeil, SNP candidate for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, has echoed the First Minister’s call for Scotland to have an immigration system “fit for purpose and fit for Scotland’s needs”.

The Scottish Government has proposed that a Scottish visa should be introduced with the criteria and rules set in Scotland. The Scottish tax code is a current example of a residence-based framework within the UK. 

Regional immigration schemes operate successfully in other countries such as Australia and Canada. 

Commenting Angus MacNeil said: “Given depopulation and needs for labour in fisheries, Scotland needs to control migration and work visas so that our islands can become better off.

"Freedom of movement has enabled a number of people to come and make their homes here in the Islands and actively contribute to our communities, but we also know that is not enough.

"Currently, the UK Government allows five times more migration from the rest of the world than comes from EU Freedom of Movement, we just need to tailor this for Scotland and our islands. These people are crucial to our caring professions, to areas like our NHS, to tourism and of course fishing crews in our inshore waters, which the UK Gov has been working against.

“The SNP would prefer to see Scotland remain in Europe as voted for by more than 60% at the Brexit referendum.

“As the First Minister said, “leaving the EU, and ending freedom of movement, will not only be bad for our economy and our public services but will deprive Scots of our rights to live and work across Europe.”

 “No matter what happens with Brexit, we need a migration system fit for purpose and fit for Scotland’s needs."

 

 Bethesda Care Home and Hospice has been given the latest instalment of its annual financial support by community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust

The wind farm gives £25,000 to Bethesda every autumn, followed by £30,000 each spring – an annual commitment that Point and Sandwick Trust has pledged to Bethesda for 25 years, for the life of the turbines.

Financial support for Bethesda is the wind farm’s highest priority, as Point and Sandwick Trust’s only 25-year grant commitment, and that support was pledged to Bethesda six years before the wind farm became a reality, with the signing of a memorandum.

At a presentation on November 7 to hand over the latest tranche of funding, Point and Sandwick Trust underlined its support for the organisation and urged everyone involved with funding Bethesda to carry on supporting it.

Calum MacDonald, former Western Isles MP and developer of the Beinn Ghrideag windfarm, said: “Since it opened in 1992, Bethesda has established itself as one of the most important and best-loved institutions in the islands. They deliver a phenomenal level of care that has helped many hundreds of families and touched us all.

“That is why we made this commitment at the very start of the Point and Sandwick project, back in 2005, and why we are committed to it as strongly as ever today and will be in the future.

“It’s important for people to realise that the funding needs of Bethesda go way beyond what we provide and so I would encourage everybody involved to carry on with their generous donations to this invaluable service which is something that everybody in the islands can be proud of.”

Angus McCormack, Point and Sandwick Trust honorary president, told representatives of the care home and hospice: “We are very pleased that we are able to support you and that we are able to support you going forward into the future. I hope that it gives you a measure of comfort that we will endeavour to make sure that this payment is made in the years going forward.”

Bethesda’s chairman, Dr Neil Davis, general manager Carol Somerville and finance development officer, Natalie Keiller stressed the value of this annual grant to the organisation as it could be relied on.

General manager Carol Somerville: “At the moment we have to raise nearly £400,000 a year just to keep the hospice open so that it’s free for patients and their families – so getting £55,000 a year is a boost to our funds. We are indebted to Point and Sandwick Trust for their ongoing support as we endeavour to continue to provide specialist palliative care to those families in our community who require this care.”

Bethesda chairman Dr Neil Davis explained that the four-bed hospice – a separate entity to the 30 bed nursing home – had been funded over the years through a combination of support from the public and NHS Western Isles.

He told Point and Sandwick Trust: “You will doubtless be aware that in real terms there’s been some difficulties in our conversations for funding. What we lack from statutory support we have to make up by our own fundraising efforts.

“In many respects, that has been year to year, month to month – even week to week – and for us to have the support and the promise of going forward together is hugely significant to us.

“Not only is it seed corn for attracting other funds but it’s security. It’s not just our security. It’s the public’s security. The public feel they have a service which provides for them in their time of need and looks after their families. It’s unique in that it’s not available in any other shape or form.

“For Point and Sandwick Trust to take us under their wing is greatly significant to us.

“As you’d expect, the public are hugely generous, hugely responsive. They are well aware that Bethesda needs this support and it’s not money that is being squandered.”

Dr Davis pointed out that people using the services of the hospice had an average of four admissions before they stayed in the hospice or before choosing to die at home.

He told Point and Sandwick Trust: “Thank you for supporting Bethesda. For the patients, for their families and for the community that knows it has the security of the hospice behind it.”

Calum MacDonald said Point and Sandwick Trust was trying to set an example in terms of community energy companies, in showing that “we all have a duty to the wider Western Isles family, not just to our own immediate neighbourhoods”.

He added: “We sink or swim together and that is why PST is happy to support projects that benefit the wider islands community and not just Point and Sandwick.”

Point and Sandwick Trust board member Rhoda Mackenzie said all organisations with funds available for community projects should “keep Bethesda uppermost” in their minds “when they are considering giving”, especially given the hospice’s difficulties with funding.

“It’s essential that other groups consider the unit foremost when they are deciding where to put the money and that they make a long-term commitment, like we have, so Bethesda can use that as part of their financial planning. We should be looking to ease the burden because fundraising shouldn’t be a worry to concentrate on when there is care to give.” 

Picture: Representatives of Bethesda Care Home and Hospice and Point and Sandwick Trust. Seated from left to right: Natalie Keiller, Bethesda finance development officer; Dr Neil Davis, Bethesda chairman; Angus McCormack, PST honorary president; Carol Somerville, Bethesda general manager. Standing from left to right: Duncan Mackay, PST vice-chairman; Rhoda Mackenzie, PST board member; Donald John MacSween, PST general manager and Calum MacDonald, Beinn Ghrideag developer.

Picture by Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos

 

The John Muir Trust has signed a new five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn (Galson Estate Trust).

The community landowner manages 56,000 acres of coastline, agricultural land and moorland in North West Lewis, which is home to a population of nearly 2,000 people in 22 crofting townships

The signing is the third MOU agreed between the John Muir Trust and major community land trusts on Lewis and Harris.

In July, an agreement was renewed between the Pitlochry-based land charity and the West Harris Trust, with a further MoU approved with the North Harris Trust in August.

The Galson Estate passed into community ownership on 12 January 2007. The new MoU underscores both parties intent to work together on collaborative projects and signals a renewed focus following previous joint work.

The MOU will allow the John Muir Trust to support the Galson Estate Trust with its land management and conservation work. The community landowner will in turn draw upon its expertise of community-led conservation management to help the environmental charity sharpen up its policy and management practices.

The two organisations have also joined forces to put together a transition programme of events and activities for Primary Seven pupils across two community owned estates next year. The pupils will work towards achieving their John Muir Discovery Awards in the outdoors, while getting to know pupils from other primary schools before they start secondary school together in Stornoway next autumn.

The programme has been made possible with funding from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Galson will work in partnership with Urras Oighreachd Chàrlabhaigh (Carloway Estate Trust) to deliver this project across both their estates.

The John Muir Trust has also secured funding for a new full-time ranger post to work with community land trusts on the Western Isles. Funded by the ALA Green Trust, the ranger will support land management, education and community participation in outdoors activities.

The John Muir Trust’s Land Operations Manager, Richard Williams, said: “The John Muir Trust is strongly supportive of community landownership, and we are eager to strengthen our links and partnerships with the communities who live and work in the unique landscapes of the Outer Hebrides.

Renewing this  Memorandum of Understanding with the Galson Estate demonstrate our shared desire to work more closely and collaborate in areas of mutual interest –  and the provision of a Western Isles Ranger Post is a clear sign of that intent. I look forward to building upon this and on the other positive relationships we have on Lewis and Harris.

Lisa Maclean, Manager of Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn said:  “We are very pleased to be working with John Muir Trust more closely as the relationship was once very strong and from it we were able to carry out some great work.

"We look forward to the year ahead to get some of the planned activities up and running, and we welcome the ranger post that will be established on the islands.”


An appeal has gone out today (Tuesday November 19th) for funds, food and bedding for unwanted cats, as animal-lovers step forwards to rescue a family of kittens left out in the cold.

Former cat protectors found they were unable to sit back and do nothing when they were alerted to a new feral colony in a garden near Stornoway.

There’s now no rescue service in the island for unwanted cats, since the national charity Cats Protection withdrew its support from the Lewis and Harris branch. Feral cats and kittens have filled all available spaces both at the Old Mill Veterinary practice and at the SSPCA.

But a mother cat with three new kittens and three almost-grown adult kittens has spurred cat-lovers to get back to work – despite the fact that they have no financial backing for the expenses of feeding, keeping and neutering the cats.

Former committee co-ordinator Karen Cowan said: “We received a message asking for help with a colony of feral cats living in a garden near town. If we left them there within a few months there would be real problems.

“Now we need your help to raise funds to neuter all the adults and care for them all. You’ve all been so supportive about starting something locally so we hope now you’ll agree that that family is worth saving.”

Having successfully trapped the three older kittens, volunteers are now seeking donations of food and cat litter, which can be ordered by phone or in person from Maybury Gardens, where the former charity ordered supplies.

Carers have already been found to provide safe shelter for the kittens, when they can be trapped, and it’s hoped they can be socialised and provided with homes.

It’s also hoped that an online funding page can be set up to meet the costs of neutering all the adult cats, before finding them a safe barn or other home.
The picture shows the two generations of kittens, found under a hedge in a Stornoway garden.

Talks this week to resolve the long-running dispute between air traffic controllers and employer Highlands and Islands Airport Ltd (HIAL) have led to a breakthrough, it was announced today (Tuesday November 19th).

ATC union Prospect is to put a revised offer to their membership and is likely to recommend that members accept the offer. A further meeting scheduled this week will finalise the detail, according to an announcement by HIAL.

The steps towards agreement mean that the work-to-rule which is currently in effect will be lifted from 5pm today (Tuesday) and will not be implemented whilst the offer is under consideration. HIAL says that the company welcomes that outcome.

Prospect has not yet advised of the closing date of the ballot, but HIAL plan to provide a further update when the ballot results are known.

Stornoway airport has been among those affected by the work-to-rule, which can mean delays to departures while air traffic controllers take prescribed breaks.

There were also whole days of closure at the airport due to strike action during spring and summer this year.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant has welcomed news that HIAL and Prospect Union have made progress in their talks.  Mrs Grant Said: “After months of stalemate, I am pleased that HIAL appears to have made a more substantive offer to Air Traffic controllers.

“This has been a long time coming, and while the offer obviously still has to be considered and voted on by the Union membership, it is promising that Prospect are recommending it be accepted. This is hopefully an indication that the Scottish Government have finally accepted that the quality of their workers, who have chosen to live and work in some of the Highlands and Islands most rural areas, is deserving of recognition.  Today they argued that the staff of the Scottish National Investment Bank should not be bound by public pay.”

Mrs Grant also welcomed the news that the work to rule conditions which Air Traffic Controllers have been working within will be lifted during the consideration period.

She said: “The ATC staff are an integral part of our community and always go above and beyond to ensure they serve our communities. I know that they have not relished the work to rule conditions, but have seen it as necessary. The fact that they can now step out from this yoke and go back to doing what they do best in time for Christmas is as much a relief for them as it is for those who will be travelling on flights.”

But Mrs Grant stressed that this was only one fight facing the Air Traffic Controllers, and that retention of rural ATC was still to be resolved. “The potential loss of local Air Traffic Control is still looming and should be of deep concern to the Scottish Government which claims it wants to strengthen rural areas and yet continues to centralise services away from local communities."

The Stornoway Ullapool ferry is the inspiration for a new performance work being planned by the National Theatre of Scotland – and they want islanders to be involved.

Ferry Tales will be inspired by commuters, holiday makers, passengers and workers on ferry routes around the west coast of Scotland – including the regular trip across the Minch.

Due to be performed on selected ferries in April 2020, Ferry Tales celebrates the waters surrounding Scotland’s western islands and the journeys across them made by thousands of residents, workers and tourists each year.

Local communities around three major ferry routes, which include the Ullapool – Stornoway route, are being encouraged to get involved and share stories of ferry experiences, whether strange, wonderful or everyday.

NTS are also looking for local choirs, bands, clubs and societies who might like to be involved in community performances, welcoming people as they disembark from the ferry.

Anyone who wants to share their stories can fill in an online survey form at https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=kn8riRPlgEa0wpiJL_MaOMprre6-N35IroDIKJLf2S9UNUdRTjgyTzEzOUFCQUJPMzlIMVNQMEg2Ny4u

An information session is also due to be held on Wednesday December 4th at 5pm at An Lanntair, with advance booking not required, just show up.

To find out more about Ferry Tales or the information session you can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Ferry Tales is supported by EventScotland’s year of coasts and waters events fund with the support of Caledonian MacBrayne and their ferries.

Former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, joined Labour's Western Isles candidate Alison MacCorquodale to launch the Campaign Van that will be her mobile headquarters until December 12th.

Alison said: "We decided that a static office in Stornoway was a bit old-fashioned and that the emphasis should be on reaching out to every corner of the constituency. The Campaign Van will make that a lot easier and I am looking forward to meeting as many people as possible.

"It was great to have Alistair joining us on the campaign trail. He has strong Lewis connections and knows how vital it is to have an MP putting forward the case for our very distinctive needs, no matter who is in government".

Alistair Darling said: "I am delighted to support Alison who is an excellent candidate.  As the veteran of many elections I think it is a great idea in a constituency like this to have a mobile HQ which allows her to make maximum use of  time meeting constituents and hearing at first-hand about issues and concerns".

Having led the Better Together campaign in 2014, Alistair believes that "the last thing Scotland needs now is another divisive referendum with so many urgent and important issues to address, with a direct bearing on families and communities in the Western Isles"  

He said: "We were told by Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon in 2014 that it was a once in a generation vote but the ink was hardly dry before they started all over again.  There is no case at present for another referendum".

 

Stornoway town centre will become a no-go zone for traffic on the evening of Tuesday November 26th, as road closures are put in place for the duration of the Christmas lights switch-on.

Between 6.30pm and 8.30pm the following roads will be closed to traffic (shown above in grey):

• Cromwell Street, North Beach Street and Castle Street – from the Kenneth Street junction, along Cromwell Street and towards the west lane of Castle Street.
• Bank Street, Point Street and Francis Street
• Church Street – between Cromwell Street and Kenneth Street

South Beach Street will also be closed between Kenneth Street and Castle Street from 7.30-7.45pm. (Shown in red)

The road closures are ion the interests of safety for pedestrians while the Christmas lights switch-on is under way. Access will be available for emergency vehicles at all times.

A plan showing the area affected is available at https://www.cne-siar.gov.uk/media/14501/temp-closure-christmas-lights-2019-signed-order.pdf

Stornoway police are asking for public help after an incident in which a car was damaged.

Two drivers were involved in an incident on the B895 at Tong at 6.50pm on Friday (15th November). One of the cars was damaged at the time of the incident.

Police would like anyone who may have seen what happened at the time to contact them on the non-emergency number, 101, referring to incident number 1621/19.

CalMac's customer service updates team has been named team of the year by the Contact Centre Association (CCA) for the quality of their customer care.

The ferry and harbour operator beat off competition from major international brands such a Vodafone and SKY to pick up the prestigious UK excellence award. The team is responsible for delivering consistent and clear messaging to customers at times of disruption.

CalMac Managing Director, Robbie Drummond said today (Monday November 18th): “They are the voice of the company when disruption occurs. Their job of keeping our customers up to date with what's happening is essential if they are to get to where they're going with the minimal of fuss.”

The team’s success was reflected in more than 500 letters of thanks they’d received from customers, and judges were impressed by the commitment to communicate disruption to customers within eight minutes of being alerted.

They also noted an innovative use of social media, developing a following of just 1,500 to reach more than 18,000 in just three years. Over the course of last year they published 13,513 social media posts and responded to more than 45,000 messages and emails.

Robbie said: “The pressure on the team during times of disruption, for reasons more often than not outwith our control, is intense. Customers rightly need to know what's going on and having staff who can keep calm under stress can do a lot to determine whether a customer's experience is a good one or not.

“I'm delighted for the team, being recognised by their industry peers as being the best in the business is a great accolade and one they fully deserve. This responsiveness and commitment to first class customer service is a huge asset for us.”

There are five people in the updates team, operating round-the-clock monitoring on more than 160,000 sailings and looking out for potential disruption, as well as monitoring other transport operators for events that could have an impact on ferry services.

“It is our goal to try and speak to customers in a way that suits them. Our team is committed to embracing the very latest communications channels to keep passengers informed quickly about any changes to their planned sailing,” added Robbie.

Picture shows the team celebrating their win on Wednesday November 13th (CalMac).

Stornoway looks set to see one of the biggest gatherings of classic cars for many years tomorrow (Tuesday November 19th) as enthusiasts turn out to show off the island collection.

The gathering in Lews Castle grounds is being planned to welcome the entire editorial team of Practical Classics magazine, who are today heading north through Scotland with their own posse of practical classics.

The magazine’s team of editor Danny Hopkins, James and technical contributors Matt George, John Simpson and Matt Tomkins are each driving their own classic car – ranging from a 1989 Saab 900i to a Nissan Micra. They’re being brought to Lewis as part of the magazine’s continuing mission to encourage the use and enjoyment of classic cars in all weather conditions.

Previous runs in the Practical Classics ‘winter warmers’ series have taken them to the Netherlands and the Swiss Alps to show off what a classic car can do. This year they chose a challenging destination closer to home, setting off from their Peterborough base yesterday.

The cars they’re driving have been bought and restored for under £1,000 each and some of them will find new owners in the islands. Two of the five have already been sold and editor Daniel Hopkins says the plan is for the team to go home on the bus if necessary, as long as their cars find new homes.

Deputy editor James Walshe told welovestornoway.com today (Monday): “We’re on our way with cars we bought and restored for less than a grand! We’re in Ullapool tonight and will be arriving at lunchtime in Stornoway. Look forward to meeting you all!”

Western Isles Classic Car Club has co-ordinated the response from island drivers, fielding a likely turn-out of 25 or more island-based classics. They’ll be rallying in the castle grounds at lunchtime tomorrow ready to greet the magazine team.

Among the cars which could be there are a number of Escort Mark 1s, a Triumph Spitfire Mark IV, an Austin 7 and a Jaguar. Island drivers have been applying spit and polish and even the weather looks ready to play ball, with sunny intervals forecast and very little chance of wind or rain.

The picture shows the Practical Classics team with their cars during an overnight stop in Northumberland last night (James Walshe).

Fire officers in Stornoway have issued a warning to householders over the risk of chimney fires as temperatures drop.

Fire Scotland’s group commander for the Western Isles, Gavin Hammond, said there had been a noticeable increase in calls to chimney fires in recent weeks, with half a dozen incidents since the beginning of October, in Stornoway and in rural areas such as Ness.

He said: “Fortunately there have been no injuries, but a chimney fire is a frightening and messy experience for those involved, and potentially expensive if it involves the need to redecorate afterwards.”

Community safety advocate and firefighter Mairi Macdonald said: “Since I joined as a firefighter I have noticed an increase in calls to chimney fires. There are over 1,000 in Scotland each year.

“Making sure your chimney is swept and checked regularly can significantly reduce your chances of having a chimney fire. Soot and fuel residues slowly build up in chimneys over time and sometimes these leftovers can catch fire.

“If this happens, the chimney could send burning soot into your living room or start fires within the roof space or on other floors of the house.

“The type of fuel you burn will determine how often your chimney should be swept – at least once a year for smokeless coal or oil, twice a year for peat and quarterly if you burn wood regularly. A chimney should be given a clean sweep in winter as dust and debris can build up if it has not been used.”

Fire Scotland recommends using a registered chimney sweep and strongly advises that you don’t light fires using flammable liquids like petrol or paraffin. Don’t overload the fire, use a fireguard and check your loft and roof space for smoke or soot if you are able and it is safe to do so.

Mairi said: “Signs of a chimney fire include burning soot or debris falling down your chimney, a roaring sound coming from the chimney, the chimney breast or upstairs walls being hot and sparks or flames coming out of the chimney.

“If you do have a chimney fire, put up the fireguard if it is safe to do so and, if it is safe, put water on the fire and cut off the air supply by closing vents and blocking the fireplace with a metal plate if you have one.

“Get everyone out of the room, close the door, stay out and dial 999. Ask for the fire service. There is no charge for the fire service to attend a chimney fire and firefighters will ensure it is fulling extinguished before giving advice on further action you may need to take.”

Stornoway fire station can provide free home visits, giving advice on smoke and fire alarms and including testing any alarms you already have. To book a free home safety check, call Gavin Hammond or Mairi Macdonald on 01851 705051.

 

Photo by One Happy Family of the team at One Happy Family.

Words by Melissa Silver, currently volunteering on Lesvos, Greece. 

Like many of us, I had been sitting for years watching the refugee crisis unfold in Europe. Finally, I found myself in a moment in my life when I could easily go and help – so I ran out of excuses. Now, I’ve been on Lesvos, a Greek island nestled right in close to Turkey, for two months.

Things here are hard. Just a few miles away from Mytilene, the main city, and where I currently live, is Moria Camp - the largest refugee camp in Europe - which was built for 3,000 people and is currently 'home' to around 15,000 people. Moria is located up on a hill in amongst olive trees not far from the sea. For a split second you could think it was a nice place to live, but once you pass the high fences topped with spirals of razor wire, you enter a different world. You’ll see people being carried in stretchers, too ill to walk; you'll see raw sewage running down the pathways; you’ll see unaccompanied minors wandering around alone, thousands of miles away from their families – not long before I arrived, a minor was killed in the ‘safe zone’; you'll see people queuing for hours to get food or use the toilet; you’ll see people suffering from scabies as the living conditions are so unhygienic the skin condition simply flourishes. Last week, a nine-month-old baby died of dehydration in Moria. At night, practically every night, fights break out as tensions are so high; since I’ve been here, there has also been one deadly fire followed by a riot. During the night last night, at least 164 people arrived to Lesvos, and they will find themselves in Moria - which was unfit for humans more than 10,000 people ago - sometime today. However bad the media makes it seem - I can tell you, it's worse. 

But about halfway between where I live, in Mytilene, and Moria Camp, is a place called One Happy Family. Aptly named, OHF is a community centre open to everyone, and where everyone is greeted with a smile – you enter and you’re instantly part of the family. From the moment the gates open, OHF is buzzing: the kitchen starts cooking its delicious, nutritious food; people start playing volleyball and basketball; women retreat to the women’s space to chat or dance or sew; kids run to the playground or the ‘nest’ (an indoor haven for kids aged three to seven) to play or just be. You’ll find the International Language lounge, where you can exchange your language for Arabic, Farsi, French; you’ll find lots of board games to enjoy while sipping a coffee; you’ll find a ‘shop’ where you can get some soap, washing powder, razors – all the things that are in short supply inside Moria. In OHF, international volunteers work alongside refugees – with them, not for them, as OHF’s slogan reminds us – to keep the place running like clockwork.

OHF has no place for racism or discrimination of any kind, no violence is tolerated, and visitors know this and respect it. Everyone is welcome. All of us work together to keep OHF the way it should be – a safe and happy place; an escape from the nightmare that’s just down the road.

Around the corner is The Lava Project (TLP), a partner of OHF set up by one of its volunteers. TLP helps to fill one of the many gaps left by the government by washing the clothes of the most vulnerable people. Scabies sufferers stand a chance of ridding themselves of the condition thanks to TLP, and young families and unaccompanied minors, too, are helped by the service. It’s a small laundry but it manages to wash the clothes of around 1,000 people per month with just a handful of machines and volunteers.

Both of these organisations rely solely on donations, which seems crazy as, without them, I can’t really imagine what would happen here. They’re filling vital gaps that have been left by the overstretched Greek government and a Europe that seems to prefer to turn away rather than help. NGOs are holding things together here.

I’m currently raising money for both One Happy Family and The Lava Project. Having worked with them these past two months, I can tell you the money is going to two very good causes.

If you would like to donate (as they say, every little helps!), please click here.  

To read more about One Happy Family, please click here.

To read more about The Lava Project, please click here.

The fledgling Loomshed Hebridean Brewery in Tarbert has won respect across the north of Scotland.

Head brewer Calum Bennett was voted Young Ambassador of the Year at the Highlands and Islands Food and Drink Awards which took place on Friday evening (Novermber 15th) at a glittering ceremony at the Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness.

Business and organisations came together to celebrate the success of food and drink in the Highlands and Islands.

A list of the winners and finalists can be seen at the link below.

www.hifoodanddrinkawards.com/results/

The awards are supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). Elaine Jamieson, Head of Food and Drink at HIE said: “HIE are delighted to again support the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards.

“The region has much to be proud of when it comes to food and drink. It is no surprise that we have an enviable reputation associated to provenance, people, place and culture.

“I encourage every food and drink business in the Highlands and Islands to consider entering.

“The awards are a tool in the business toolbox – participation creates an opportunity for free marketing and can improve brand awareness, whilst an award is a sign of quality that creates a point of difference which sends out positive signals to customers and opens new doors.”

YOUNG AMBASSADOR OF THE YEAR (sponsored by Brook Street)

Calum Bennett, Loomshed Hebridean Brewery - WINNER

Jodie Grierson, Associated Seafoods Ltd   

Bailey Hallas, Sligachan Hotel          

Ewelina Laguniak, Nessgro - HIGHLY COMMENDED

EXPORT AWARD (sponsored by XPO Logistics)

Dornoch Distillery Company (SME) - WINNER

Loch Fyne Oysters Ltd

Scottish Salmon Company (LARGE) - WINNER

FOOD AND DRINK BUSINESS GROWTH AWARD (sponsored by Johnston Carmichael)

Scottish Salmon Company - WINNER

The Island Smokery

Williamson Foodservice - HIGHLY COMMENDED

Sligachan Hotel were also finalists in the 'Best Eatery' category.

Investigations by Police Scotland and by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are being carried out into the death of a man who fell from a community development project building in Bragar last week.

Police have officially confirmed that the 58-year-old man, who fell from the roof of the Grinneabhat community centre in Bragar on Wednesday morning (November 13th) sadly passed away at Western Isles Hospital on Thursday.

The incident is classed as an industrial accident, and HSE guidance states that all deaths to workers must be reported if they arise from a work-related accident.

Representatives of HSE arrived in Lewis on Friday and a police investigation into the circumstances is also under way.

Grinneabhat is a new community resource being developed on behalf of Bragar and Arnol Community Trust, project-managed by Tigheann Innse Gall (TIG) and the work carried out by contractors O’Mac Construction Ltd.

The man who died has been named locally and, in a statement on Saturday, Bragar and Arnol Community Trust spoke of their ‘sadness and shock’ following the death.

They said: “Our thoughts and sympathies are with (his) family and friends and his colleagues at O'Mac Construction Ltd.”

 

The Scottish Hydro Electric Community Trust is inviting applications for financial support to connect to the electricity network in the north of Scotland.

The Scottish Hydro Electric Community Trust is an independent charitable trust set up in 1998 by Scottish Hydro Electric plc (now SSE plc).

The Trust considers applications for support with the cost of connecting to the electricity network for individual home owners and community groups in the Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) licence area.

The Trust is looking to support up to 75% of the cost of connections for successful community projects and will also support up to 50% of the cost for individuals looking for support to meet the costs of a new domestic connection.

The next round of applications closes on Friday 27 December 2019, with future applications being considered by Trustees on a quarterly basis.

Ron Brown, Trust Chairman, said:“We have been delighted to continue our support for individual home owners and community projects in the north of Scotland. The Trust was set up to help those facing challenges connecting to the electricity network, particularly in some of our most rural and island communities, so it’s great to see this support continue to benefit individual customers and wider communities over 20 years later.

“In the financial year to date, we’ve issued grants worth £63,668 to support individual home owners often facing high costs to connect to the network in SSEN’s distribution area in the north of Scotland. We also awarded grants totalling £30,085 to support connection costs of community projects and are encouraging further applications from groups looking to provide significant benefits to their local communities.”

The Aboyne and Mid Deeside Community Shed received a grant to provide electricity to their premises at Stone Circle Road, Aboyne. 

Mr Philip Lay, Treasurer, said:“This is a major new social development for Aboyne. The facility will offer opportunities for local people, as groups or individuals, to become involved in a range of practical activities, projects or events, as well as a place for daytime socialising in a relaxing woodland environment. The shed will be open to all adults 18+. Persons under 18, accompanied by a responsible adult, will be welcome visitors. The Scottish Hydro Electric Community Trust was selected as a potential funding provider by being a specialist in giving assistance to rural community groups needing a supply connection in the SSEN distribution area.”

Plastic@Bay CIC, Durness received a grant towards the connection of their new plastic recycling workshop, set up in Durness to tackle plastic pollution on local beaches.  Ms Joan D’Arcy, Director, said: “Thanks to the Hydro Trust for the grant to connect our plastic recycling workshop, ‘The Plastic Lab’, in Durness. Most of the plastic we collect is fishing ropes and nets which are not recyclable by conventional means and end up in landfill.  Our aim is to sell enough items made from recycled fishing nets to employ beach cleaners and become self-sufficient in order to continue our good work.”

Urras Dualchas Ratharsair – Raasay Heritage Trust received a grant to provide electricity so that work on their future Heritage Centre, previously a 1760 meal mill, can progress.  Ms Rebecca Mackay, Secretary/Treasurer, said:  “As well as historically important paper material, we have audio collections and a large genealogical data base. The Trust has worked with local Primary Schools, consulted by the Association of Field Archaeologists and helped students in Sabhal Mòr (Gaelic College in Skye), the School of Scottish Studies, part of Edinburgh University and the University of Highlands and Islands.”

The next round closes on Friday 27 December, with further applications welcome after this date as the Trust meets on a quarterly basis to regularly consider applications.

For more information on the Scottish Hydro Electric Community Trust, to apply online or download an application form, please visit www.shect.org.

Three men have been fined after separate offences of consuming alcohol in a public place in the early hours of this morning (Sunday November 17th).

Fixed penalties of £40 each were handed to a 17-year-old youth at 2am, a 40-year-old man at 2.15am and a 21-year-old man at 2.30am.

All were found drinking in Stornoway town centre by police patrols.

 

A 24-year old man is to appear in court tomorrow (Monday November 17th) after being arrested in Stornoway town centre last night.

The man was acting in a threatening and abusive manner, aggravated by homophobic behaviour, on Point Street at 11pm on Saturday.

He was detained by police and is in custody for an appearance at Stornoway Sheriff Court tomorrow morning.

Two other men have been reported to the Procurator Fiscal for threatening and abusive behaviour in separate incidents over the weekend.

At 8.20pm on Friday a 39-year-old man was arrested on Lewis Street. He was released when sober and is to be reported.

And a man was arrested on Bank Street at 1.15am this morning (Sunday).

The 23-year-old was charged with threatening and abusive behaviour and released when sober – he is also to be reported.

 

With just four weeks to go before it closes for this year, CalMac’s Community Fund still has plenty of scope to help youth groups up and down the west coast.

Groups have until December 13 to get their applications in for a project or activity that will benefit young people aged 26 and under.

Organisations based in a mainland port or island the company serves can apply for £500 to £2000.



So far the Fund has supported 39 projects from woman’s football in the Outer Hebrides, to the Campbeltown Sea Cadets and a Gaelic youth club on Skye.

CalMac’s Director of Community and Stakeholder Engagement, Brian Fulton said: ‘This is the last chance for groups to tap in to the support we are offering. Many hundreds of young have benefited from the Fund so far and we are still in position where we can help even more.’


CalMac is the UK’s largest ferry operator and last year carried more nearly 5.6 million passengers and 1.4 million vehicles. It services 26 routes to island and remote mainland communities across the Hebrides and the Clyde with a fleet of 33 vessels. 

Organisations who have applied unsuccessfully are welcome to submit a new application, but successful applicants cannot apply again.

Application form and full terms and conditions at calmac.co.uk/community-fund

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

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

Mr and Mrs Murnin have applied for planning permission to construct a house at 14 Ardveenish, Northbay. The house is to consist of four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a kitchen/dining/living area and a utility room. Work is to include creating a garden and parking suitable for three 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

Demolition and extension, Scalpay

Mr Neil Hillyer of 10a Geocrab has applied for planning permission to demolish the front and rear extensions and rebuild new to similar footprint at Taigh An Oisein, Ardinashaig, Scalpay. 

New timber cabin gift shop, Luskentyre

Isobel Mackay of 5 Luskentyre has applied for planning permission to erect a timber cabin gift shop at Gift Shop 5, Luskentyre. The cabin is to be three metres by four metres and will be a standard timber construction. Work is to include creating an access and parking suitable for three 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 garage, Shawbost

Lesley Kirk of The Bungalow, 43 South Shawbost has applied for planning permission to erect a garage at The Bungalow, 43 South Shawbost. 

New general purpose storage area, Stornoway

Colin Cameron of 1 Newpark, Newmarket has applied for planning permission to erect a new general purpose storage area at 48 Seaforth Road, Stornoway. The storage area is also to include a separate food storage area.  

Site steel container, Borve

Derek Macleod of 36 Borve has applied for planning permission to site a 6.1 metre by 2.44 metre steel container at 36 Borve. 

New houses, Newmarket

Calmax has applied for planning permission to erect four two-bedroom houses (two blocks) at Greenfield Site in South West Shawbost before the cattle grid. Work is to include creating eight parking spaces and one tarred access road per block. 

New polycrub, Uig

Fiona Inglefinch (Grazing clerk) of 16 Crowlista, Uig, has applied for planning permission to erect a polycrub on the Common Grazing at the rear of the Uig community centre play park. The polycrub is to be nine metres long, four metres wide and 2.6 metres tall. It's to consist of clear polycarbonate and plastic. 

 

Angus MacNeil - SNP candidate in Na h-Eileanan an Iar - officially opened the campaign hub in Stornoway this morning. (Saturday November 16th)

The campaign hub at 8 Church Street, Stornoway, is the base for the SNP campaign in the islands and will be open Monday to Saturday for the duration of the campaign. 

Launching his campaign, surrounded by supporters, Mr MacNeil said:  “It has been a great privilege to represent the people of Na h-Eileanan an Iar in Parliament and I hope to continue to do that after December 12th.

“I know that people are really fed-up with the situation at Westminster.  For Scotland, this Election is about choosing our own future – about what kind of country we want to be and about taking control of our own affairs.

"For the United Kingdom, the Election is about Brexit – breaking away from our European partners and exiting the free trade deals we currently enjoy."


“I hope to see as many people as possible in this short campaign and that you will again allow me to use my experience by representing you in Westminster by voting for me and for the SNP on December 12th.”

A cohort of new firefighters completed their training and were welcomed into the Scottish fire and rescue service at a passing out ceremony at Stornoway fire station this afternoon (Friday November 15th).

Seven new officers demonstrated their newly acquired skills to their families, serving fire officers and community representatives, before accepting their badges and celebrating a new role in their communities.

Lead instructor watch commander David Stewart told welovestornoway.com: “The new firefighters have undergone an intense two weeks of training which ensures that they are able to continue their development as firefighters safely. We congratulate them all for the hard work they have put in and for the service they are prepared to offer to their communities.”

The new recruits are Calum Mackay, who will be based at South Lochs, Rhiannon Teather of Great Bernera, Stornoway recruits Errol Chalmers and Sean Laing, Michael Macmanus from Benbecula, John MacLean of Bayhead, North Uist and Donald Morrison, who will serve at Tarbert fire station in Harris.

They are pictured here with instructors David Stewart and crew commander Alan Saunders before their final exercise and presentation ceremony.

Western Isles area fire service are still recruiting for all stations, but especially for rural locations, with the next round of applications open at https://www.myjobscotland.gov.uk/emergency-services/scottish-fire-and-rescue-service/jobs/rds-firefighter-western-isles-66816. Applications close in mid-January and the next round of entry tests is in February 2020.

Fire Scotland’s group commander for the Western Isles, Gavin Hammond, said: “I’d encourage anyone with an interest in firefighting or who is thinking they might like to offer their skills, especially if you live in a rural area, to contact us at our district offices and find out more.”

Group commander Gavin Hammond can be contacted at Stornoway Fire Station on 01851 705051.

Fire fighters were called to the main road near Coll this morning, where a car had caught fire.

The BMW car had caught light on the main B895 road between Tong and Coll around 12 noon, with the driver alerted to his predicament by other motorists.

A fire crew from Stornoway were despatched after an emergency call, to find that the fire had already been extinguished using powder extinguishers which were being carried by passing van drivers.

No-one was injured and the car was removed from the carriageway. The fire crew were stood down by 12.40pm.

Eilean Siar Foodbank is to continue with its normal arrangements for supporting people in need, as the separation of the local organisation from national charity the Trussell Trust is completed today (Friday November 15th).

The foodbank will continue as an independent organisation, providing food support to families and individuals experiencing a crisis or who are in food poverty.

A spokesperson for the foodbank said all the referring organisations, which include health and social support services, now have new contact details to reach them and that the distribution of food will continue as before.

The New Wine Church on Point Street will be operated by volunteers and open for people to collect food supplies on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 11am and 2pm.

Trustee Catriona Stewart told welovestornoway.com: “If people need food support they can go to a referring agency or just come to the foodbank, in which case we will also direct them to agencies that can provide further support.

“Our current focus is on the Christmas boxes, which last year were provided to over 300 families. We are working on those at the moment and will be distributing them based on referrals from the agencies.”

Food for local distribution continues to be collected at the Co-op and Tescos supermarkets in Stornoway, with other public collecting points open during the Christmas period – the Caberfeidh Hotel, for example, is running a collection as part of their Santa’s grotto.

Catriona also paid tribute to the Trussell Trust, which has offered to continue providing informal support even though they are no longer officially connected to the island foodbank.

The CalMac ferry Loch Seaforth is set to return to service tonight (Friday November 15th) after successfully completing sea trials from Stornoway harbour this morning.

She’ll take up the freight run tonight and is due to resume her usual duties between Stornoway and Ullapool thereafter.

Loch Seaforth has been receiving engineers’ attention at the pier since returning from her annual overhaul last weekend, with three separate faults needing to be addressed.

A specialist engineer from Denmark who has been working on the pitch control, and another from Germany who has been directing work on the generator control system, have both left from Stornoway airport today, having seen repairs completed.

MV Isle of Lewis, which has been operating on the Minch crossing for almost a month, will tie up in Stornoway tonight and is expected to head south tomorrow, ready to return to the Castlebay route from Sunday onwards.

Today’s service between Stornoway and Ullapool has been running late due to the northerly swell affecting the passage, according to CalMac.

The picture shows an unusual night-time view of the Loch Seaforth during her round-the-clock repairs (Chris Murray).

The Arnish BiFab yard will see the departure of 35 workers today (Friday November 15th) – with 15 more workers to lose their jobs next week.

The yard’s owner, DF Barnes yesterday confirmed that 50 jobs were going from the company, but said they were confident about future contracts.

Workers union GMB challenged politicians to come down and face the workers losing jobs before Christmas, rather than continually talking about possible future contracts.

Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty and GMB Scotland Scottish secretary, Gary Smith said: “This latest development in Arnish is part of a long running and sorry saga regarding the abject failure of the Scottish and UK governments to ensure working-class communities benefit from the so-called green revolution.

“To date minimal work and minimal jobs have been directly created in Scotland by the billions of pounds being invested into the renewables sector. It’s a national scandal and politicians must be held to account.”

Labour’s candidate for the Na h-Eileanan an Iar constituency in the current General Election, Alison MacCorquodale, said today that there was a real risk of the Arnish yard being mothballed unless urgent action is taken.

She said it would be "a miserable Christmas present" for the Arnish workforce to have job losses and the threat of further pay-offs hanging over them. She added: "I am in close touch with the unions and will support any action they can take".

The Arnish workers have been working on the construction of 100 pin piles for the Moray East Offshore Wind Farm since March, with regular shipments leaving Stornoway and the contract expected to be completed by the second week of December.
Project manager Ian Potts told welovestornoway.com last week: “We have also taken on a very small bit of work for Quinn Drilling who are doing work on the new marina, but it is very minor ¬- four small piles to be modified.”

GMB spokesman Gary Smith told the industry newsletter Energy Voice today: “We’ve got politicians of all stripes on the campaign trail telling us about the jobs of the future. I’d ask them to come to Arnish and tell our members who are facing unemployment for Christmas all about it.”

Picture: BiFab Arnish

A new Gaelic plan for the North of Lewis was presented to Bòrd na Gàidhlig this week. 

In partnership between Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn and Comunn Eachdraidh Nis, the plan was prepared in accordance with the relevant priorities, aimed at encouraging and assisting the community in using Gaelic.

Shona Maclellan, CEO of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, said: “It is great to see an updated version of the Gaelic plan for the North of Lewis to deliver against the outcomes of the National Gaelic Language Plan 2018-23 in an area so important to the language.

"It is promising to see the partnership between Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn and Comunn Eachdraidh Nis having a positive effect, with the aim of having Gaelic spoken and used by more people in the North of Lewis.

"We held some important and interesting conversations with people and groups involved in Gaelic and community development and it is clear there is already plenty happening to support this plan.”

Annie MacSween, Chair of Comunn Eachdraidh Nis, said: “Comunn Eachdraidh Nis is delighted to be involved in a Gaelic language plan for a community where Gaelic is still spoken.

"It is important that communities in which Gaelic is spoken daily are supported.”

Shona Macmillan, Gaelic Development Officer at Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn, said: “It is hugely important that we increase Gaelic’s status and visibility in this area, and we hope that other communities take similar action by working in partnerships to protect and promote the language in future.”

Agnes Rennie, Chair of Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn, added: “It is a big step to publish this plan at such a challenging time but with new opportunities for us as a community.

"The plan arose from cooperation and that is what will allow us to deliver.”

To see a copy of the plan, please get in touch with Shona Macmillan on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 01851 850 393.

Plana Gàidhlig airson Ceann a Tuath Eilean Leòdhais
Chaidh plana Gàidhlig ùr airson ceann a tuath Eilean Leòdhais fhoillseachadh an t-seachdain sa nuair a thadhal Bòrd na Gàidhlig air an sgìre.

Ann an com-pàirteachas eadar Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn agus Comunn Eachdraidh Nis, chaidh plana ùr ullachadh a tha a’ freagairt air prìomh bhuilean a’ phlana nàiseanta aig Bòrd na Gàidhlig 2018-2023, ag amas air buidhnean sa choimhearsnachd a chuideachadh agus a bhrosnachadh gu bhith a’ cleachdadh na Gàidhlig.

Thuirt Anna NicSuain, Cathraiche Chomunn Eachdraidh Nis: “Tha Comunn Eachdraidh Nis toilichte a bhith an sàs ann am plana Gàidhlig airson coimhearsnachd far a bheil an cànan làidir san latha an-diugh. Tha e cudromach gun teid taic a chumail ris na sgìrean sin far a bheil a’ Ghàidhlig fhathast air a cleachdadh mar chànan làitheil.”

Thuirt Shona Nic a’ Mhaoilein, Oifigear Leasachaidh Gàidhlig aig Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn: “Tha e air leth cudromach gum bi sinn a’ togail cliù agus inbhe na Gàidhlig anns an sgìre seo fhèin, agus tha sinn an dòchas gun gabh coimhearsnachdan eile an ceum seo cuideachd le bhith ag obair còmhla gus a’ Ghàidhlig a dhìon agus a bhrosnachadh san àm ri teachd.” A’ cur ri seo, thuirt Agnes Rennie, Cathraiche an Urrais, “’S e ceum mòr a th’ ann am plana seo fhoillseachadh aig àm a tha dùbhlanach ach le cothroman ùr dhuinn mar choimhearsnachd. Dh’èirich am plana à co-obrachadh agus ’s e sin a leigeas dhuinn a choileanadh.”

Thuirt Shona Niclllinnein, Ceannard Bòrd na Gàidhlig: “Tha e fìor mhath faicinn gun deach ùrachadh air a’ Phlana Gàidhlig saor-thoileach airson Ceann a Tuath Leòdhais, gus na prìomhachasan anns a’ Phlana Nàiseanta Cànain Gàidhlig 2018-23 a chur air adhart ann an sgìre a tha cho cudromach dhan chànan. Tha e math faicinn cuideachd gu bheil an co-obrachadh eadar Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn agus Comunn Eachdraidh Nis a’ leantainn air adhart gu soirbheachail, leis an t-amas gun tèid Gàidhlig a chleachdadh nas trice agus le barrachd dhaoine ann an Ceann a Tuath Leòdhais. Bha còmhraidhean air leth feumail agus inntinneach againn le daoine agus buidhnean a tha an sàs le leasachadh na Gàidhlig agus leasachaidhean coimhearsnachd san sgìre agus tha e follaiseach gu bheil tòrr a’ tachairt mu thràth gus am Plana seo a chur an gnìomh.”

Airson lethbhreac dhan a’ phlana fhaicinn, cuiribh fios gu Shona Nic a’ Mhaoilein air This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. no air 01851 850 393.

Anns an dealbh (L-R) in the photo (L-R)
Anne NicLeòid, Comunn Eachdraidh Nis Anne Macleod, Comunn Eachdraidh Nis
Iain Gòrdan Dòmhnallach, Comunn Eachdraidh Nis Iain Gordon Macdonald, Comunn Eachdraidh Nis
Shona Nic a’ Mhaoilein, Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn Shona Macmillan, Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn
Agnes Rennie, Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn Agnes Rennie, Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn
Anna NicSuain, Comunn Eachdraidh Nis Annie Macsween, Comunn Eachdraidh Nis
Daibhidh Boag, Bòrd na Gàidhlig David Boag, Bòrd na Gàidhlig
Steven Kellow, Bòrd na Gàidhlig Steven Kellow, Bòrd na Gàidhlig
Ailig Greumach, Bòrd na Gàidhlig Alex Graham, Bòrd na Gàidhlig
Peadar Morgan, Bòrd na Gàidhlig Peadar Morgan, Bòrd na Gàidhlig

The best of produce from near and far 15/11/2019

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. 

Vegetables

 

Price Each

 Quantity

Aubergine

 

£1.45

 

Butternut Squash   

 

£2.40

 

Green Cabbage

 

£1.85

 

Savoy Cabbage

 

£1.85

 

Cabbage (White UK)

 

£2.40

 

Cauliflower

 

£1.85

 

Celeriac (UK)

 

£2.40

 

Celery (UK)

 

£1.35

 

Fennel

 

£1.35

 

Garlic Large

 

£0.95

 

 

 

Price Per KG

Quantity

Beetroot (UK)

 

£2.45

 

Broccoli (UK)

 

£3.75

 

Dirty Carrots

 

£1.95

 

Ginger

 

£5.00

 

Horseradish

 

£15.00

 

Jerusalem Artichokes

 

£3.95

 

Kale

 

£8.00

 

Leeks (UK)

 

£2.95

 

Mixed Squash

 

£2.95

 

Mushrooms UK

 

£5.00

 

Onions (White)

 

£1.65

 

Onions (Red)

 

£1.75

 

Parsnips

 

£2.95

 

Golden Wonder

 

£1.95

 

Kerr’s Pink

 

£1.55

 

Roosters

 

£1.55

 

Shallots

 

£4.50

 

Sprouts (Inverness)

 

£2.35

 

Swede (Scottish New Season)

 

£1.55

 

Sweet Potato

 

£2.95

 

White Turnip

 

£3.35

 

 

 

Price Each

Quantity

Little Gem (x2)

 

£1.50

 

Cos Lettuce

 

£1.50

 

Cucumber

 

£1.00

 

Spring Onions

 

£1.00

 

 

 

Price Per KG

Quantity

Peppers (Mixed Red, Green, and yellow)

 

£3.95

 

Tomato (Cherry on Vine)

 

£5.95

 

Heritage Tomatoes

 

£5.30

 

Plum Tomatoes

 

£3.95

 

Fruit

 

Price Each

Quantity

Cox Apples (UK)

 

5 for £1.50

 

Winsor (UK)

 

4 for £1.50

 

Gala Apples

 

5 for £1.50

 

Avocado

 

£1.50

 

Clementine’s

 

5 for £1.50

 

Grapefruit

 

£0.90

 

Kiwi Fruit

 

£0.50

 

Lemons

 

£0.50

 

Limes

 

£0.50

 

Yellow Melon

 

£1.95

 

Oranges Large

 

3 for £1.80

 

Small Oranges (Spain)

 

5 for £1.50

 

Pears (Conference)

 

4 for £1.50

 

Plums

 

4 for £1.50

 

Satsumas

 

4 for £1.50

 

 

 

Price per Kg

Quantity

Bananas

 

£1.70

 

Bramleys

 

£2.95

 

Chillies Red

 

£15.00

 

Courgettes

 

£2.95

 

Red Seedless Grapes

 

£4.95

 

Local Fresh Eggs

 

£2.00

 

Comunn Eachdraidh Nis is to host an exhibition and launch event heralding the re-publication of a photographic tribute to details of a past lifestyle.

Dan Morrison’s book Nis Aosmhor, first published by Stornoway publishers Acair in 1997, shows 114 images of Ness life, with captions in English and Gaelic.

Acair's new edition of the book has enhanced the photographs using digital restoration techniques, to create a crisp new presentation that does justice to the stunning photographs.

The launch on Tuesday November 26th will include short presentations by Finlay Macleod, Iain Gordon MacDonald and Iain MacLeod, who was a relative of Dan Morrison.

CEN is also opening an exhibition of 20 of the newly restored images, which generate nostalgia for a way of life which is already changing out of recognition. It depicts the distinctive Hebridean crofting way of life and shows landmarks, scenes and landscapes which have changed beyond recognition.

The event starts at 7pm on Tuesday 26th, books will be available for purchase and refreshments will be served. The book is also available to pre-order at www.acairbooks.com or by phoning the office on 01851 703020.

Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) and the air traffic controllers’ union Prospect have recommenced talks aimed at resolving the dispute between the airport group and air traffic control officers.

But Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant says the Scottish Government has ‘tied the hands’ of HIAL by placing pay negotiation restrictions on the employer.

HIAL air traffic controllers have been taking industrial action since April, the anniversary of an imposed 2% pay award in line with Scottish Ministerial pay policy.

The air traffic controllers union said that award represented a real terms pay cut for controllers, whose pay they said has been suppressed for more than a decade by public sector pay restraint.

Prospect research claims that HIAL has fallen more than 10% behind other employers within the sector. They already struggle to attract and retain controllers with staff shortages meaning Stornoway airport closing during the day to allow controllers to take a break.

The announcement of the remote towers centre in Inverness has also been an influencing factor for controllers looking for work elsewhere.

A proposal agreed between Prospect and HIAL over Christmas 2018, which would have resolved the dispute, was rejected by Scottish Ministers.

Mrs Grant says she has asked the cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity, Michael Matheson MSP, to lift restrictions so that HIAL could make an appropriate settlement offer with air traffic controllers. She claims Mr Matheson refused.

Mrs Grant said: "The Cabinet Secretary's decision means that the dispute between HIAL and Air Traffic Control is doomed to rumble on, creating travel misery for customers and contributing to a wretched work situation for air traffic controllers.”

Prospect and HIAL said in a joint statement last week that talks were beginning again and both parties are hopeful that progress can be made.

The picture shows Stornoway air traffic control staff as the mail plane lands (Peter Shearer).

A man suffered serious head injuries after falling from the roof of business premises in Lewis yesterday (Wednesday November 13th).

Police said the emergency services were alerted to the incident in Bragar at about 11.17am yesterday.
The man was taken to hospital for treatment and the Health and Safety Executive have been informed of the incident.

Urras Coimhearsnachd Bhràdhagair is Àrnoil (UCBA, Bragar and Arnol Community Trust) identified the building concerned as their development of the Grinneabhat Community Hub, a community development at the former Bragar school in North Bragar.

Work there is being undertaken by O’Mac Construction and project-managed by Tighean Innse Gall (TIG) on behalf of UCBA.

Police are asking to speak to a woman who was involved in a minor road accident in Stornoway yesterday afternoon (Wednesday November 13th).

The driver of a red Vauxhall Corsa was involved in a minor accident on Matheson Road, near the school junction, at around 2pm yesterday.

Although the driver did stop at the scene, additional details are needed to complete the report and police would like her to come forward to Stornoway police station, or call 101 referring to incident 1842 of 13/11/19.

The open water sports community of Lewis is in mourning today after news of the death of an experienced island surfer yesterday morning (Wednesday November 13th).

The Maritime Coastguard Agency said the man died after being pulled unconscious from the water at Barvas by a fellow surfer.

Stornoway Coastguard operations centre received a call for assistance at 11.37am, and immediately tasked Coastguard Rescue Teams from Stornoway, Bragar and Ness, with rescue helicopter R948 also s ent to the scene. An ambulance crew and police officers also attended.

The man was given CPR on the beach but could not be revived. He was then taken by helicopter to Western Isles Hospital, where he was sadly confirmed to have died.

Stornoway police said that enquiries are ongoing into the circumstances and the Procurator Fiscal has been informed, as is usual with a sudden death.

Barvas beach is popular with surfers, with consistently good surf and a long swell. It’s described as having a ‘friendly’ reef-break by one surf blogger and is often used by the local surfing community.

Outdoor swimming and surfing enthusiasts have paid tribute to the man, who has been named locally. He was a keen and experienced surfer who ran a small business creating bespoke designs of personalised surfboard.

Watersports activity in the island has been suspended as a mark of respect.

Have your say on the local policing service with a new survey.

Police Scotland launched the new survey today (Thursday 14 November) and said: "We’d like to know what issues you think we should prioritise, how you feel about policing in your local area and how you’d like us to communicate with you.

"Your views are important to us. We’ll use this information to help shape our priorities over the next 3 years.

Plans for a permanent memorial and garden of remembrance for Eilidh MacLeod have been approved by the Comhairle.

Eilidh's Trust have said this is "an early - but important- step in the development of a memorial, and a quiet space for everyone to reflect on their daily lives and on loved ones who are no longer with us."

The Trust created the plans for the gardens and sculpture at Bentangaval.

The memorial features bronze sculpture by artist, Jenna Gearing, created in consultation with the family.

It depicts a young female piper holding a set of pipes on her arm, holding the hand of a young boy with a chanter.

 

Eilidh's Trust concluded: "We have a lot more to tell you about the memorial and garden over the coming weeks and months, so please keep in touch so we can keep you updated.

"For now, we’re very happy that this part is complete and thanks to everyone who has helped us get to this stage."

Ferry operator CalMac has this afternoon (Wednesday November 13th) said it is doing everything possible to tackle ‘severe problems’ currently affecting West Coast and island routes.

CalMac boss Robbie Drummond said staff are working round the clock to get Scotland's West Coast ferry service back to normal.

Progress is being made in a bid to get two major ferries back on their routes following technical problems. A period of bad weather, technical breakdowns and the annual overhaul programme have led to severe problems on CalMac's network.

The MV Loch Seaforth remains out of service due to technical issues which emerged en route to Stornoway after completing her annual dry dock overhaul and the MV Isle of Arran is also awaiting specialist contractors finishing work that will see her return to operation.

Calmac Managing Director Robbie Drummond said: "Technical problems and bad weather have hit us hard in the past few days. However, we have our people working round the clock to bring in contractors and to get our service back to normal as soon as possible.

"We know the impact not having these services is having on our island communities and all our focus is on fixing these problems. We are working extremely hard to keep traffic moving within the available fleet resources we have but realise that there will be some inconvenience for passengers which we apologise for."

A number of external suppliers and specialist engineers have been brought in to fix the technical issues. It is hoped that this will be achieved before the weekend.

The MV Isle of Lewis will remain on the Ullapool-Stornoway route until the situation is resolved.

Amended timetables are being put place on these routes for the remainder of the week and some sailings are being operated by alternative vessels.

Robbie added: "We have just instigated our biggest ever programme of overhaul and refit aimed at making our service more resilient. As it happens we are in the peak of that dry dock refit process which has also had an impact on the vessels available to us.

"We have also put in place our own in-house mobile maintenance team and that has made a huge difference to supporting the fleet. I am confident that we can sort these issues quickly and get back to providing our much-needed lifeline services."

The routes affected are Oban-Castlebay and Stornoway-Ullapool.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant demanded that the First Minister listen to the increasingly desperate pleas from communities for improved lifeline ferry services at First Minister Questions on Thursday 14 November 2019.

In the week beginning 11 November 2019 there were disruptions to 25 out of 28 services across Scotland’s network. Something which Mrs Grant said was “unacceptable.”

Mrs Grant said to Ms Sturgeon: “The First Minister will be aware of the chaos that has been caused in the Western and Argyll islands due to the breakdown of the Loch Seaforth and the inadequate ferry provision.

“This has been exacerbated by boats being moved onto routes that they are not suitable for meaning that they cannot sail in poor weather.

“Will she now listen to islanders and ensure that there is enough suitable boats to provide these lifeline services.”

But the First Minister cited poor weather conditions for the turmoil and said the Scottish Government had invested “heavily” in ferry infrastructure and services.

Mrs Grant said: “The First Minister claims that the SNP have spent £2billion on ferry infrastructure and services, but if that’s the case they have very poor results to show for it.  Their vanity projects have sapped money from sustainable ferry procurement.

“These services are continuously failing the communities they serve because they are under too much strain and poorly managed. Crews and staff are doing the best they can with what they’ve been given, but clearly the Scottish Government’s strategy is just to throw money at headline grabbing vanity projects and hope no one notices that they are not doing the job required.”

(This report has been updated since first being posted)

 

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has today (Wednesday November 13th) issued an update detailing 10 affordable housing developments due for completion during 2019/20 – 20/21.

The Goathill Care Home, housing and housing with extra care project is now well under way with preliminary engineering and enabling works nearing completion. The next phase of the development is expected to begin in the New Year and should see construction works commencing on the care home and extra care housing.

Elsewhere, works ongoing throughout the islands include 50 units at Mackenzie Avenue ready for handover in December and ten units in Breasclete on-site and progressing to schedule, with handover expected in March 2020.

Work has temporarily halted at the Tarbert Police Station site, where eight two-bedroomed flats are under construction, but discussions are ongoing with the contractor and it’s hoped they will be back on site in November. The Parc Niseabost development at Horgabost in Harris is nearing completion, with four new units ready for handover next month.

Four units at Cnoc na Runaire, Tolsta should be ready for occupation by March 2020, while An Glib in Point and Edgemoor Square in Ness are each expected to see two units handed over in January 2020. On Scotland Street in Stornoway, work is progressing on six units.

Two potential developments in Lewis are at the master planning stage, at Blackwater and at Melbost Farm West.

A spokesman for the Comhairle said: “The Comhairle and HHP wish to reiterate how grateful we are for the support from Scottish Government, which continues to enable this significant boost to our economy and provides new affordable homes for islanders.”

The picture shows the Mackenzie Avenue development, due for handover in December (CnES).

A delivery of gas in the early hours of this morning (Wednesday November 13th) has ensured that the homes of Stornoway continue to receive supplies from Scottish Gas Networks.

CalMac laid on an extra vessel last night to bring the essential heating fuel while the Loch Seaforth is undergoing repairs in Stornoway harbour.

MV Hebrides made the additional sailing from Uig to Tarbert to carry two tankers of LPG for delivery to the SGN depot in Stornoway town centre. Gas tankers can’t be carried on the MV Isle of Lewis because of her closed deck, which is not suitable for hazardous materials.

A spokesman for Stornoway’s SGN depot said that Calmac had ‘pulled out all the stops’ to ensure the maintenance of supply for domestic heating in the town.

He said: “The running of the Hebrides has allowed us to keep a lifeline service going because the Loch Seaforth is a week late back into service. CalMac has helped us by planning additional sailings which allow us to transport the gas by road to the islands.”

It’s expected that another gas delivery will be scheduled for Thursday night if the delay continues.

The Loch Seaforth is still receiving engineers’ attention, with another specialist engineer now due to arrive into Stornoway by air tomorrow (Thursday November 14th).

She is currently scheduled to remain off the Stornoway Ullapool service until Saturday, with MV Isle of Lewis running a revised timetable, including a night-time freight run.

Grinneas nan Eilean 2019, the Islands' Open exhibition, is returning to An Lanntair on Saturday 23 November at 5pm.

The exhibition will run until Sunday 2 February 2020.

This event has a new dimension, as Grinneas na h-Òigridh gives under 18s the opportunity to contribute with a special section of the show.

The exhibition also features multiple work in various genres, all created by artists resident in or from the Outer Hebrides.

All are welcome, free of charge, to the opening event on Saturday 23 November.

 

Hebridean Housing Partnership (HHP) is negotiating with contractors working on the site at the former Police Station in Tarbert, in the hope of getting work re-started on eight affordable housing flats.

The Tarbert development is one of ten HHP partnership projects which the Comhairle says are due for completion before the end of 2021.

The former police station site is being transformed into two-bedroomed flats, but contractors Douglas and Stewart have reportedly left the site following problems with the foundations.

In a bulletin on the affordable housing programme released by the Comhairle today (Wednesday November 13th) CnES says: “discussions are ongoing with the contractor and we hope to be back on site in November.”

The development is to be named “James’ Place” in honour of James Morrison, a policeman with Harris connections, who was killed while off-duty in London in 1991. Detective Constable Jim Morrison QGM died at the age of 26 while serving with the Metropolitan Police. He was off duty when he witnessed a handbag theft and was fatally stabbed by the thief. He is buried in Harris, where his family originated.

Meanwhile four new shared equity units at Horgabost are nearing completion and are due to be handed over next month (December 2019).

Tighean Innse Gall (TIG) has won the ‘Installer of the Year’ Award at the Energy Action Scotland Annual Conference and Exhibition 2019. 

They say: "This award is a superb achievement and a great honour for TIG and its staff in recognition of their high quality delivery of energy efficiency works for fuel poor households."

Energy Action Scotland’s Fuel Poverty Awards 2019 were established to recognise excellence in the fight to eradicate fuel poverty. The EAS Fuel Poverty Awards winner was decided by a panel of industry-leading expert advisors across a series of criteria, including: innovative approaches to tackling fuel poverty, value and energy efficiency.

TIG Chair Brian Chaplin commented: “On behalf of the communities we work for I’d like to offer a massive congratulations and well done to the team for achieving this award, a credit well deserved. It recognises that as we are local, trusted and for the community we are best placed to deliver energy efficiency because we have the skills, determination and capacity to deliver for our islands, from Vatersay to Ness”.

Norman Kerr OBE Director of Energy Action Scotland said: “I’m delighted that Tighean Innse Gall has won the Installer of the Year award at the Energy Action Scotland Fuel Poverty Awards. They represent everything that is good about the industry, local and trusted and importantly delivering an end to end service. I hope they continue to provide these high quality services for many years to come. A truly dedicated team working for and on behalf of the community they are so imbedded in.  Well done”.

Tighean Innse Gall’s expertise and skill has been to blend the Scottish Government’s energy efficiency area based funds ‘HEEPS:ABS’ with ‘ECO’ funds from larger utility companies where they have to meet UK legislative obligations.  TIG’s experience and track record in achieving this complicated mix has secured their appointment as agents for Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s  element of the ‘HEEPS: ABS’ scheme for the last six years and has delivered in excess of £15m funding to date. The ability to use ECO to help those in our communities most affected by fuel poverty is by far the highest of any other local authority area in Scotland with over 235 households per 1000 being reached.  This places TIG in the top 5 areas for the UK (with the other 4 by contrast being densely urban English cities & towns).

Councillor Kenny John MacLeod, Chair of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Communities & Housing Committee said: “I am really pleased to hear that TIG has won the Installer of the Year award. TIG has been our Managing Agent for the HEEPS scheme since it started in 2013 and in that time they have delivered an excellent service to the islands. 

"Since 2013, the Comhairle has been awarded £12m of HEEPS:ABS funding from the Scottish Government for energy efficiency works, which TIG has used to lever an additional £3m of funding.  Together, this has benefited 2500 local households through a range of works, such as their successful Room in Roof scheme, aimed at reducing fuel bills. Addressing Fuel Poverty is a key action for the Comhairle, so I am very grateful to see TIG getting this recognition.”

Tighean Innse Gall is the local Community Benefit Society for the Outer Hebrides delivering the Home Energy Efficiency Programme: Area Based Scheme on behalf of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and the Scottish Government.

Tighean Innse Gall runs numerous services including Insulation services, in home energy advice, new & refurbished housing options, home safety and Care & Repair which all assist clients with saving energy and improving living standards.

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) was set up in 2013 by the UK government to help fund installation of energy efficiency measures, to reduce carbon emissions and help qualifying low-income households cut their fuel bills.  Eligibility for ECO depends on a number of factors, like tenure, benefits and tax credits.

The EAS ‘Installer of the Year’ award was judged on the following criteria: Energy efficiency: does the entry clearly identify clear environmental benefit? Innovation: did the entry demonstrate new/novel solutions to tackling fuel poverty? Social benefit: have communities or households benefited? Economic benefit: have reductions in energy bills or energy use been achieved? Quantitative evidence of impact: are the theories supported by measurable improvements? Possible adoption by others: can others replicate the procedures?

Energy Action Scotland (EAS) campaigns for an end to fuel poverty in Scotland and is the only national charity with this sole remit.

Top Left - Norman Kerr, OBE Director of Energy Action Scotland. Top Right- Stewart Wilson, TIG CEO.
Bottom L- Donald Mackinnon, TIG Depute CEO. Bottom R- Baroness Helen Liddell.

Point and Sandwick Trust have announced the successful refinancing of their award-winning Beinn Ghrideag project in the run-up to the community wind farm charity’s Annual General Meeting which will take place on Tuesday, November 19 at the Ionad Stoodie community centre in Point.

Calum MacDonald, the former MP for the Western Isles and the Development Manager behind the Beinn Ghrideag project, said: “Refinancing basically means swapping the old debt that was borrowed when the wind farm was built for new debt. The new loan is on better terms and it is consolidated into one loan instead of being divided between four loans as in the original financing package. This delivers a simpler and better deal for Point and Sandwick Trust and the community.

“The original debt deal of just under £14 million was done in 2014 and was used to finance the construction of the wind farm in 2015 and to see us through till the first usable revenues started to come in, which was not till 2016.

“Our major lender in 2014 was Santander Bank but we also had substantial loans from the Scottish Investment Bank and Social Investment Scotland. This latter debt is known as ‘junior debt’ and it is substantially more expensive than the main debt as the junior lenders don’t have the same security and protection from default that the main lender does.

“A major aim of this refinancing, therefore, was to consolidate and simplify the debt into one package which would be easier for us to manage as well as being cheaper.

“We engaged Johnston Carmichael Accountants in Edinburgh to scope out interested lenders as it is obviously beneficial for us to have a number of bidders competing against each other. We had a good number of bids come in and we engaged in further negotiation with the leading bidder to try and ensure the best possible terms. It is a long and difficult process to engage in but is worthwhile because 100 per cent of the benefit from the better terms will go back into the islands community through all the excellent community projects and organisations that we are proud to be able to help.

“In the end, we were very happy to agree terms again with Santander Bank, the same bank that had backed us in 2014. They were competitive in their bid and we know each other pretty well by now, so that makes it easier to build the relationship.

“With the new consolidated loan from Santander we have been able to pay off the original junior lenders, Scottish Investment Bank and Social Investment Scotland. We are very grateful to both of them for stepping in when we needed them in 2014 and providing the junior debt. This kind of junior debt support is of crucial importance to community-owned energy projects as it ensures that all the profits go back into the community rather than being diverted to equity investors.

“The successful refinancing of our capital debt marks a major milestone for the project and the wide interest from lenders is testimony to the stability that the business has achieved and it will allow us to build on that success for decades to come.”

A number of other reports will also be presented to the AGM including an update on the LED Energy Communities project in Point and Sandwick, updates on the development of the SWIFTH2 Hydrogen Ferry project and research into battery storage, the appointment of new directors, cheque handovers and the announcement of future investments.

Point and Sandwick Trust Chairman Norman Mackenzie said it had “been a good year”, adding: “We’ve been able to maintain all our commitments to our priority clients as well as maintaining payments to community groups. It was also a year when we received national recognition, winning the UK Environmental Social Enterprise of the Year award at the UK Social Enterprise Awards last November. That was great recognition of the quality of our organisation and the work we do.

“We’ve now gone through refinancing the whole project and can look forward to being on a strong footing for the future.”

The Annual General Meeting begins at 8pm and will last until approximately 9.30pm. Everyone is welcome to attend and refreshments will be provided.

 

Pictures: Point and Sandwick Trust’s Beinn Ghrideag wind farm by Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos (please credit)

 

SEASONAL GRAZINGS FOR LET

 

(NOT FOR HORSES)

Gress Park, approx 3.25 acres
Arnish Road Grazings (3.88ha approx)

Sealed offers marked “Grazings Parks” to be lodged with the undersigned by noon on Friday, 29th November 2019.

 

(Preference will be given to applicants within the Stornoway Trust area)


Iain M Maciver, Factor
The Stornoway Trust Estate Office, Leverhulme House, Perceval Square
Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, HS1 2DD

 

Visiting the Bristows SAR hangar at Stornoway airport today is a Royal Navy Merlin Mk2 helicopter, awaiting engineers’ attention after experiencing a technical issue while operating near the Western Isles.

Merlin Mk2s entered service with the Royal Navy in 2014 to supply the UK’s Maritime Force Protection and airborne anti-submarine warfare. Beyond searching for submarines the helicopter is capable of round-the-clock maritime patrol and is armed with Sting-Ray torpedoes and depth charges. It’s also used for troop ferrying, casualty evacuation, and search and rescue. In the future it’s expected to be the replacement aircraft for the Navy’s Sea King Mk7.

Usually based at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall, this individual craft, ZH847 Merlin HM.2, was operational over the Atlantic when the fault occurred. The picture was taken by Jason Spinks.

Would-be summer visitors to the Isle of Harris are being urged to get their accommodation booked for next summer, ahead of a new surge of interest in Western Isles holidays.

CalMac’s summer timetable went live on Thursday (November 7th) prompting one Harris accommodation provider to encourage visitors to make sure they have somewhere to sleep before heading to the islands.

Annie Tempest, who has a holiday cottage and shop in Rodel, said she knew of visitors who arrived in Tarbert last summer without having booked accommodation and ending up sleeping in their cars.

She said: “I am not alone in noticing a massive increase in early bookings. May, June and August 2020 are completely sold out and this is before the ‘Call The Midwife’ effect after the Christmas Day special has screened.”

The BBC series Call the Midwife filmed their Christmas special in and around Lewis and Harris during May, featuring scenes shot at St Clements Church in Rodel and at the Blackhouse Museum at Gearranan.

Annie Tempest’s advice to those planning a holiday in Harris is posted on the Isle of Harris Facebook page. She said: “Don't leave it too late and don't forget to stipulate Tarbert, Harris NOT Tarbert, Argyle when you're booking accommodation. I was speaking to a couple last year who were staying in the flat above the fish restaurant called The Anchorage in Tarbert. I suggested they checked the booking and sure enough it was a different Tarbert.”

That comment rang a bell with some, including an islander who last year met a couple who had booked into Tarbert Hostel for the night – but had actually booked Tarbert in County Clare, Eire.

Annie said: “We all do our best to make sure people aren't left without accommodation but I met a lot of people last year who had turned up without a booking and some just got back on the ferry after sleeping in their car overnight because they were unable to find somewhere to stay.

“Harris's popularity is increasing so stop thinking about booking and actually get booking to prevent disappointment.”

Picture shows the cast of Call the Midwife at the Blackhouse Village in Lewis. The Christmas special is expected to boost visitor numbers still further (BBC).

Two accident and emergency nurses are to swap their duties at Western Isles Hospital for a floating clinic in East Africa this month.

Rachel Macleod from Stornoway and Christine Macaulay from Shawbost will be taking annual leave and spending money they have raised themselves to fund a fortnight aboard a ship that takes healthcare to remote villages in Tanzania. They’ll use their skills to deliver medical attention to isolated, vulnerable communities alongside a small team of other health professionals from all over the UK.

The Jubilee Hope is one of two ships operated by the medical care charity the Vine Trust, taking medical and dental care to shoreside villages on Lake Victoria. The 160-ton former Royal Navy tender was refitted for purpose and launched by HRH The Princess Royal in 2015. Since then she has served an estimated 450,000 people who have little or no access to medical care.

Rachel and Christine will board Jubilee Hope on November 25th and, after just a day of acclimatisation, will spend two weeks as part of a team of six health professionals dealing with everything from HIV to maternity care. The team will include doctors and will work from the floating clinic, which includes treatment rooms, a pharmacy and a minor surgery room.

Christine told welovestornoway.com: “Neither of us have ever done anything like this before, and the furthest I’ve ever travelled is to holiday resorts, but fortunately there’s a theatre nurse working at Western Isles Hospital, Lesley Sangster, who has been on the same trip and has been able to give us some insight.

“We’ve had to raise the funds to travel ourselves and there’s also a contribution made to the Vine Trust to support their work. We set ourselves a target of £2,000 and I’m pleased to say we’ve well exceeded that, but all the surplus we raise will go to support them in continuing to provide an excellent service delivering healthcare to rural communities.”

In fact, over £5,300 has been raised with soup and pudding lunches, bake sales, a raffle and sterling efforts from Christine’s church in Shawbost, where £500 was raised. Christine also did a skydive which raised £700 towards the total.

The duo are now getting ready to depart, but welcome any further donations at https://www.vinetrust.org/fundraising/page/tanzania-medical-expidition-5cfa7783e4cbe9.46288875

Pictures show Rachel (left) and Christine in A&E at Stornoway, and the queue for the health centre on the banks of Lake Victoria during a previous expedition (The Vine Trust).

Island residents who want to continue buying Iolaire poppy pins are being asked to vote for them to be reintroduced for next year’s Remembrance commemorations.

A Facebook survey asking whether people want to see the pins being made once again has been published at https://www.facebook.com/AnIolaire/ with 94% of votes in favour of a new edition of the pin.

Created by the Iolaire Working Group during planning for the centenary of the tragedy, the distinctive pins were an immediate hit with Lewis and Harris people. Over 10,000 were sold, including to online buyers from Canada, New Zealand, West Africa and Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands.

They were worn from the Armistice centenary in November 2018 and all the way through January this year, as the islands remembered the centenary of the Iolaire tragedy. Money raised through the sale of the pins helped to meet some of the costs of the award-winning centenary events.

In the build-up to this month’s Remembrance events some buyers approached both Poppy Scotland and the Iolaire Centre planning group, looking to buy additional Iolaire poppies as a replacement or to give to family members. However, the poppies have not been produced this year.

Votes are open on the Facebook page for the next two days.

The international film crew currently working at locations around the Isle of Lewis are expected to be based at the old Manse at Cross, Ness for the rest of this week.

Versus productions are working with a Belgian, French and Scottish crew, including many island technical and site workers, to film a feature-length movie called ‘Wise Blood’.

Set in a Prebyterian community in the Isle of Lewis, the film explores a relationship built on a lie, between a man who has suffered memory-loss after a stroke and the woman who helps care for him. It stars two of the actors from HBO blockbuster Game of Thrones and is directed by Peaky Blinders director Tim Mielants and Belgian director Bouli Lanners, who also stars.

The films locations have so far included a peat-bank at Achmore, a church in Point and various road locations including the Pentland Road.

For the rest of this week, the production has moved to the Manse building at Cross, built in 1829, and designed by Thomas Telford.

Filming is set to continue around the island until November 29th.

The pictures shows a still from the filming earlier this month, with Michelle Fairley and Bouli Lanners (Versus Productions) and a picture of the Manse at Cross (Canmore).

CalMac engineers are being flown into Stornoway today (Tuesday November 12th) and tomorrow to work on a series of technical faults on the newly-overhauled MV Loch Seaforth.

And an extra vessel has been scheduled to run between Uig and Tarbert tonight and Thursday, solely to ensure that the households of Stornoway do not run out of gas for domestic heating while the ferry is out of commission.

The Loch Seaforth is receiving attention for three separate faults, which CalMac describes as “arising after annual overhaul.” The ferry returned to Stornoway from a three-week dry-dock upgrade on Sunday (November 10th) but is “unable to return to service as planned.”

She is currently scheduled to remain off the Stornoway Ullapool service until Saturday, with MV Isle of Lewis running a revised timetable, including a night-time freight run.

Low passenger bookings mean that freight traffic can be carried during the day, but the closed deck of the Isle of Lewis means that tankers carrying domestic heating gas for Scottish Gas cannot be brought on that route.

To address that issue, tonight and on Thursday MV Hebrides will leave Uig for Tarbert at 10pm to allow two tankers of gas to be brought by road, arriving in Stornoway at about 1am and topping up supplies in Stornoway as householders turn up their heating for winter.

Meanwhile a specialist CalMac engineer arrived by air this morning and boarded the Loch Seaforth around 8.30am, with more technical personnel expected to be flown in tomorrow. It’s not clear whether CalMac’s new resilience-boosting mobile maintenance team have been brought to Stornoway. Launched in July, they were described as: “a flexible resource that can be deployed immediately to support on-board engineers with any technical issues.”

Loch Seaforth successfully passed her sea trials before leaving Liverpool last week, but since arriving in Stornoway three problems have emerged. There is a technical issue being investigated with her pitch control, a software issue affecting one of the generators and a further issue with the port engine. Between them, these faults have brought her re-entry to service to a halt.

CalMac are working on a worst-case scenario and have planned for the Isle of Lewis to continue on the Stornoway route up to and including Friday. The timetable has been revised to allow for her longer journey time.

CalMac have also negotiated with Citylink, who provide the bus connections between Ullapool and Inverness, and they have adapted their timetable this week to ensure that passengers can travel onwards despite the schedule disruption.
The picture shows MV Isle of Lewis continuing her service on the Stornoway Ullapool route (Chris Murray).

Fancy winning free tickets to a top Historic Scotland attraction?

Now's your chance!

The Blackhouse, Arnol is one of over 30 other attractions included in a ticket giveaway.

The registration for free tickets opens on Tuesday 12 November at 10am at www.ticketgiveaway.co.uk.

Members of the public will have until 5pm on Thursday 28 November to register online and apply for tickets to the attraction of their choice.

This year’s campaign was launched at Jedburgh Abbey, one of the sites participating in the giveaway, encouraging people across Scotland to take advantage of the opportunity to visit some of the country’s most iconic attractions for free.

Commenting on this year’s Ticket Giveaway Stephen Duncan, Director of Commercial and Tourism at HES, said: “I’m delighted to announce details of this year’s Ticket Giveaway, which offers free entry to a host of our winter-opening ticketed attractions over the St Andrew’s Day weekend.

“We’re committed to ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to explore and enjoy our historic environment.

"If you’ve never visited your local historic site, this is your chance to get out and discover Scotland’s fascinating past for free.”

For a full list of participating sites and to apply for tickets, visit www.ticketgiveaway.co.uk

Artizan Jewellery and Café, on Chruch Street, Stornoway, is now an accredited Scottish Living Wage Employer.

Artizon joins Car Hire Hebrides, both owned by John and Alison Cunningham, in becoming accredited.

Claire Clydesdale of Artizan says: “Becoming accredited is a very straightforward process – it takes about ten minutes to register as an accredited Living Wage Employer.

"At Artizan, we have nine employees. As a family business, we have paid staff a living wage for a while now, but decided to have it recognised and be accredited to coincide with Living Wage Week."

Living Wage Week runs from Monday 11 November to Saturday 17 November and will see a variety of events held to celebrate the living wage movement.

The Real Living Wage is the only wage rate based on what people need to live, while the National Living Wage is the government minimum for over 25’s.

Already, Claire says the benefits of being accredited are noticeable. "It makes the staff feel more appreciated and gives them a higher income to share with their families, and spend within the wider community," she explains.

"Our staff are essential to the success of our business and we want them to feel appreciated and recognise the benefits of being part of that success.

"Making it a great place to work, happy environment, leads to a good atmosphere in Artizan shop and cafe, which the customers notice and makes it somewhere customers want to visit.

 “The rate doesn’t discriminate against hours or the work that is done – so everyone employed, whether they are front of house or cleaners, are covered by the living wage.

“We hope this will encourage more people in the community to pay their staff a fair wage and it would be great to see more business come on board and become accredited too.

“On Monday, that wage goes up to £9.30 and we will be making sure we put our wage up.”

Howard Maciver, of both Car Hire Hebrides and Artizan, relates: “Car Hire Hebrides became accredited three years ago.  John and Alison wanted to make sure everyone was paid a decent wage, especially when they are starting off in life at a young age.”

“My advice to any business owners thinking about becoming accredited is: ‘Go online, read all about it and see if it’s for you.’

“It’s a very simple process and letting everyone know you pay your staff a decent wage is something to be proud of.”

Esther Martin, Eve Finlayson, Joan Macleod, Claire Clydesdale and Alison Cunningham.  Photos by SandiePhotos.

Fans of Stornoway sensations Peat & Diesel were queuing outside the door on Saturday (November 9th) as Western Isles Lottery began sales of tickets for two Christmas lights switch-on concerts.

The old Trading Post shop next to Charlie Barleys was the temporary HQ for Western Isles Lottery, selling tickets for two P&D gigs to take place on the night of the Christmas lights switch-on in Stornoway Town Centre, this year on Tuesday November 26th.

Queuing in the cold paid off for many, as tickets for the under-18s gig, being held at the Nicolson Institute between 5.30pm and 6.30pm that night, sold out in a couple of hours.

It was a big day for organisers of the Western Isles Lottery, which has made a huge impact across the Western Isles since launching in August 2017. Bagging the biggest musical sensation in the islands was a huge boost for them – and one they believe will create a sensational night out for islanders.

Lottery spokesperson Janet Paterson told welovestornoway.com: “Peat & Diesel are phenomenal on the island, but more importantly they’ve put the island on the map and who knows what they’re going to do next. They very kindly offered to do these gigs for the lottery way back in the summer and we were quick to take them up on it.

“We’ve had dozens of messages from people wanting tickets who plan to come from the mainland on the night. This is why we’re selling the tickets face-to-face, so that locals have the best chance of getting the tickets.”

The second concert of the evening is for over-18s only and starts at Stornoway Town Hall at 10.30pm, well after all the other sparkle and excitement has ended for the evening, but lottery organisers planned that with a view to supporting the community.

Janet said: “We knew there were quite a number of other events at the weekends through November into December and we didn’t want to clash with them. We chose a Tuesday, especially as there is a big concert at the sports centre at the weekend.”

Switching the lights on in November has caused some comment, breaking with Stornoway’s long-held tradition of not getting excited too early about Christmas. But it will be a boost for local shops and businesses to have a lit-up atmosphere earlier this year, according to Janet.

“The shops were wanting the lights switched on earlier, in line with the mainland, because we’ve had comments that people come back from big Christmas lights and trees in Inverness and Glasgow, and Stornoway is still in darkness.

“It also seemed a waste of all the money that we spend on the lights every year, to only have them up a couple of weeks. It’s supporters of the Lottery that are funding all this – if they weren’t buying tickets we wouldn’t have the money to be doing this.”

Western Isles Lottery has raised over £155,000 in total to date, with £110,000 handed out for projects in communities from the Butt to Barra and £45,000 given back to individual ticket-buyers in prizes. A new bolt-on prize has just launched of a holiday for two in Malta, or £1,000 cash. Every ticket sold until 28th December will go in the draw to win that.

That made the weekend’s sale of tickets for Peat & Diesel’s shows into something of a celebration of the lottery’s success. Janet said: “Without a shadow of doubt it’s been successful, the committee (Tony Robson, Janet Paterson, Malcolm Paterson, Shona Macleod and Emma Henderson) have worked hard and as a result it’s gone from strength to strength, we’ve never had a dip.

“But even the smaller prizes we’ve given, if someone wins £40 it’s a win, they’re delighted.”

Remaining tickets for Peat & Diesel’s over-18s gig at Stornoway Town Hall on November 26th are now on sale at Events shop on North Beach Street.

Pictures show the queue waiting in the cold for their tickets on Saturday, and committee members Shona Macleod, Janet Paterson and Emma Henderson ready for the rush, with the all-important gig wristbands.

Two minutes of silence were observed today (Monday November 11th) in tribute to the fallen of all wars, after a day of Remembrance marked across the island yesterday.

A parade through Stornoway town centre yesterday lunchtime saw members of uniformed services, politicians and island residents united in tribute to those who have given their lives in the service of their country.

Meanwhile Sunday saw the laying of tributes at memorials across the Isles of Lewis and Harris, with many communities uniting for their own act of remembrance.

At Stornoway War Memorial, those laying wreaths included Nicolson Institute prefects Scott Maciver, Isla Budge, James Mutch, John Alasdair Bain, Jenny Campbell and Lucie Doig (pictured) who were accompanied by depute rector Mr J. Bain.

Also on parade at the memorial service were members of 1731 Isle of Lewis Squadron the Air Cadets, who laid their own wreath, and representatives of 7 Scots, whose wreath was laid by Sgt Tommy Stewart.

Pictures here show the town centre parade (Marjorie Baillie) and the laying of wreaths at Stornoway War Memorial (1731 Isle of Lewis Squadron, The Nicolson Institute, Thomas Stewart). Also shown is the gathering at the Point war memorial in Garrabost (Tom Clark).

A man’s been issued with a recorded police warning after being found in possession of drugs in Stornoway on Saturday.

The 59-year-old man was charged after the drugs were found on his person on Church Street at 9.50pm on Saturday.

Stornoway Police are appealing for public help after two incidents of vandalism in the Cearns over the weekend.

Between 6pm on Friday (8th November) and 3.40am on Saturday four windows were smashed at an address in the Cearns. Police are asking for any information on this incident (NH1578/19).

In a separate incident vandalism was reported at an address in the Cearns at midnight on Sunday 10th, when a bathroom window was smashed and items of furniture damaged. Any information on this incident (NH1581/19) should be given using the non-emergency number, 101.

Between the evening of Friday (8th November) and 11am on Saturday 9th a vehicle parked on Goathill Road had its rear window smashed and scratches to its paintwork. The number to quote with any information on this incident is NH1582/19.

A man is appearing at Stornoway Sheriff Court today (Monday November 11th) after police were called to an incident in Melbost on Saturday.

A domestic incident at 2.30am on Saturday led to a 46-year-old man being arrested and charged with domestic assault.

He’s been kept in custody ahead of his court appearance today.

Stornoway police are appealing for information after cash was taken from a church in Stornoway two weeks ago.

Between the afternoon of Saturday 26th October and midday on Sunday 27th there was a theft of cash from St.Peter’s Episcopal Church on Francis Street.

Police and St.Peter’s Episcopal congregation would be grateful if any member of the public with relevant information would come forward to help, using the non-emergency number 101 and quoting incident number NH1506/19.

 

Councillor Gordon Murray is holding a surgery

at Grianan Centre, Stornoway,

 on Thursday 14th November, at 7pm -8pm.

All welcome.

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

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

Removal and installation of equipment on mast, Northbay

EE has applied for planning permission to remove a dish and install a dish antenna at the Mast, Loch Ob, Bruernish, Northbay. Work will consist of removing the 0.6m microwave dish located at 13 metres and installing a 0.6 + 0.6 metre microwave dish antenna to the lattice mast at 12.9 + 9 metres orientated to 35 degrees north.

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

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

Alter and extend dwelling, Carloway

Devana Investments Ltd has applied for planning permission to alter and extend the property at Tigh A'Bhealaich, Knock, Carloway. Work is to include creating parking suitable for two cars.  

New agricultural building, Bernera

Dolina Mackenzie of 6 Tobson, Bernera, has applied for planning permission to erect an agricultural building at 6 Tobson, Bernera. The external of the building is to consist of box profile sheeting in juniper green.  

New signs, Stornoway

Iain Faller of 55 Aird, Tong, has applied for planning permission to install new signs at the shop premises at 38 Cromwell Street. 

New house and access, Uig

Norman Smith of 2b Steinish has applied for planning permission to build a house at 3B Timsgarry, Uig. Work is to include creating a new access and access road. 

Accounts Assistant

Car Hire Hebrides, Stornoway

If you have an interest in accountancy, a clear understanding of office environments, great communication and interpersonal skills and are computer literate, you might consider working as an accounts assistant for Car Hire Hebrides, based in Stornoway. 

The accounts assistant will provide administrative and clerical support. 

Reporting directly to the management team, the role will involve internal office management along with customer interaction and liaison with external agencies.

Experience of office-based IT systems is essential and experience with software accounting systems such as Xero or Quickbooks would be desirable, although options for training will be available.

The financial management aspects of the role will include:

  • Working with spreadsheets, sales and purchase ledgers.
  • Accounts, payments and invoice reconciliation.
  • Mail and petty cash management.
  • Credit control and debt management. 

The post requires discretion, diplomacy and strong communication and interpersonal skills.

Working as part of a team within a busy and rewarding environment the role can be full or part time and your contract may be permanent or temporary, depending on your circumstances and suitability. 

Salary will be commensurate with hours and experience. 

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

Closing date for applications: Friday December 6th

The SNP remains the most popular party in Scotland with a 20-point lead over its nearest rivals, according to a poll published by YouGov.

The poll found that 42% of voters are backing the SNP at the upcoming UK General Election on 12th December, with support for the Tories and Labour at 22% and 12% respectively. Ths means that Labour is currently running in fourth place behind the Lib Dems whose support has risen from 7% to 13%. The Brexit Party was on 6%, while the Greens are on 4%.

The poll conducted from October 23-25, examining voting intention showed SNP support has risen from 37% to 42% compared to the 2017 general election.

Angus MacNeil, standing for the SNP in Na h-Eileanan an Iar, commented: “This latest YouGov poll is a very interesting and startling poll. It shows the SNP with a substantial lead and Labour in fourth place across Scotland.

"It is still early days and every vote has to be worked for but at the moment signs look good for the SNP.

"And if elected I will continue to do the hard work I have done in the last number of years."

The Lewis War Memorial has turned red for this year’s Poppy Scotland Light Up Red appeal, which is also being marked on the island by a projection of images of some of the islanders who made the ultimate sacrifice in World Wars One and Two.

Point and Sandwick Trust’s engineering consultant Tony Robson fitted red filters onto Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s existing floodlights at the War Memorial and arranged the slideshow projection, which is being shown on the side of the Old Knock School in Point, where the community wind farm charity’s offices are located. The school is also being partly lit by a red LED light.

The red lighting and the slideshow will be visible during the hours of darkness over the weekend.

They were launched last night (Friday) and will be in place until Monday night, inclusive. However, if there is enough interest the slideshow could be left in place throughout the coming week.

Community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust turned its Beinn Ghrideag turbines red for last year’s Light Up Red appeal but this year chose to light up the War Memorial, with all practical matters taken care of by Tony Robson.

Tony also arranged the slideshow projection which is based on the Iolaire slideshow displayed for the 100th anniversary of the tragedy in January – projected on the side wall of the Old Knock School then too – but now features two extra sections, showing images of some who were lost in both World Wars. These images are largely of those who served from the Point area but people are expected to travel to see it, as they did last time.

Beinn Ghrideag developer Calum MacDonald said it was appropriate to light up the War Memorial.  “The War Memorial is something that we’ve all grown up with and sometimes we just ignore it or forget about it but at this time it’s a really important and powerful monument. I think it should be the first building in our thoughts when we’re thinking about lighting up for Poppy Day.”

He also said it was appropriate to expand on the sideshow as this was “about those who sacrificed in all the wars”, adding: “All we can do is give an illustrative sample of photos but I think it’s important to represent the widest range that we can.”

Tony received help from staff in the Stornoway Library and and from Malcolm Macdonald, chair of Stornoway Historical Society and co-author of Iolaire book The Darkest Dawn, in his quest for pictures. Malcolm Macdonald sourced pictures for the projection display from magazines including The War Illustrated and online sites. The graphics were by Steven MacAskill, aged 16, from North Tolsta.

Malcolm Macdonald welcomed the lighting up red of the War Memorial. “I really always admired the fact that the War Memorial was lit up and I think it’s a special day, Poppy Day, with the red of the poppies and possibly the blood as an appropriate colour for it. The War Memorial is an edifice that can be seen from the four parishes of the island. Some people refer to it as the Stornoway War Memorial but it’s not. It’s the Lewis War Memorial.”

The Light Up Red appeal officially runs from November 4 to 11 and is part of the wider Scottish Poppy Appeal, running up to Remembrance Day which takes place tomorrow (Sunday).

The Poppy Appeal has a twin purpose – remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice and to raise money to help those who have been left disadvantaged by their time in Service.

Poppy Scotland have a map on their website (www.poppyscotland.org.uk/get-involved/scottish-poppy-appeal/light-up-red), showing poppies over the places in Scotland which have Lit Up Red for the appeal and that includes a poppy over the Isle of Lewis.

The poppy map can be found at: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1rx_u3FxmJMdGSAwfBSFT6DP7ItKp2pPE&ll=55.4193267756126%2C-3.2634235499999704&z=6

Picture by Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos

orial has turned red for this year’s Poppy Scotland Light Up Red appeal, which is also being marked on the island by a projection of images of some of the islanders who made the ultimate sacrifice in World Wars One and Two.

Point and Sandwick Trust’s engineering consultant Tony Robson fitted red filters onto Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s existing floodlights at the War Memorial and arranged the slideshow projection, which is being shown on the side of the Old Knock School in Point, where the community wind farm charity’s offices are located. The school is also being partly lit by a red LED light.

The red lighting and the slideshow will be visible during the hours of darkness over the weekend.

They were launched last night (Friday) and will be in place until Monday night, inclusive. However, if there is enough interest the slideshow could be left in place throughout the coming week.

Community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust turned its Beinn Ghrideag turbines red for last year’s Light Up Red appeal but this year chose to light up the War Memorial, with all practical matters taken care of by Tony Robson.

Tony also arranged the slideshow projection which is based on the Iolaire slideshow displayed for the 100th anniversary of the tragedy in January – projected on the side wall of the Old Knock School then too – but now features two extra sections, showing images of some who were lost in both World Wars. These images are largely of those who served from the Point area but people are expected to travel to see it, as they did last time.

Beinn Ghrideag developer Calum MacDonald said it was appropriate to light up the War Memorial.

“The War Memorial is something that we’ve all grown up with and sometimes we just ignore it or forget about it but at this time it’s a really important and powerful monument. I think it should be the first building in our thoughts when we’re thinking about lighting up for Poppy Day.”

He also said it was appropriate to expand on the sideshow as this was “about those who sacrificed in all the wars”, adding: “All we can do is give an illustrative sample of photos but I think it’s important to represent the widest range that we can.”

Tony received help from staff in the Stornoway Library and and from Malcolm Macdonald, chair of Stornoway Historical Society and co-author of Iolaire book The Darkest Dawn, in his quest for pictures. Malcolm Macdonald sourced pictures for the projection display from magazines including The War Illustrated and online sites. The graphics were by Steven MacAskill, aged 16, from North Tolsta.

Malcolm Macdonald welcomed the lighting up red of the War Memorial. “I really always admired the fact that the War Memorial was lit up and I think it’s a special day, Poppy Day, with the red of the poppies and possibly the blood as an appropriate colour for it. The War Memorial is an edifice that can be seen from the four parishes of the island. Some people refer to it as the Stornoway War Memorial but it’s not. It’s the Lewis War Memorial.”

The Light Up Red appeal officially runs from November 4 to 11 and is part of the wider Scottish Poppy Appeal, running up to Remembrance Day which takes place tomorrow (Sunday).

The Poppy Appeal has a twin purpose – remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice and to raise money to help those who have been left disadvantaged by their time in Service.

Poppy Scotland have a map on their website (www.poppyscotland.org.uk/get-involved/scottish-poppy-appeal/light-up-red), showing poppies over the places in Scotland which have Lit Up Red for the appeal and that includes a poppy over the Isle of Lewis. The poppy map can be found at: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1rx_u3FxmJMdGSAwfBSFT6DP7ItKp2pPE&ll=55.4193267756126%2C-3.2634235499999704&z=6

 

ends

 

Pictures: The Lewis War Memorial lit up red, Tony Robson making the final arrangements for the lighting, and the slideshow of remembrance at the Old Knock School.

Pictures by Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos (please credit)

Poppyscotland has drafted in ferry operator CalMac to help them educate a new generation of young Scots about remembrance.

For the last six months, Poppyscotland’s Bud truck – a mobile museum - has been inspiring schools, youth groups and the wider public across Scotland to learn more about the history and heritage of the Poppy.

CalMac is helping them bring veterans’ stories to young audiences across its 49 island and remote mainland locations.

Poppyscotland’s Head of Fundraising Gordon Michie said: ‘We would like to express our sincere thanks for the support CalMac is providing to Poppyscotland. Reaching remote parts of Scotland is a key objective of Bud and this new partnership with CalMac will ensure that those living in Island communities can share their stories of reflection and hope, and learn more about the history and heritage of the poppy. By the time Bud celebrates its first birthday next May it will have visited all 32 Scottish local authority areas and that simply would not have been possible without the support of CalMac.

When it reaches its destination Bud transforms into an interactive learning space sharing Poppyscotland’s archive, veteran’s stories and the poppy’s history. A free resource for visitors to explore, it helps to keep remembrance relevant all year round.

‘Many of our former employees used their seafaring skills in the service of the Royal Navy during both world wars,’ said CalMac’s Managing Director, Robbie Drummond.

‘We maintain a close relationship with Poppyscotland and our vessels are regularly used for commemorations at sea so when we heard about the educational message the project was trying to achieve we were only too happy to help.’

Bud was made possible thanks to a £731,200 of funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and a £730,000 award by the Chancellor using LIBOR funds.

A Lewis-based group which supports children or adults with autism or other additional needs has received great help from the community to enable it to maximise the use of its sensory toys and equipment and potentially develop outreach sessions in the future.

Last night (Thursday November 8) Lewis and Harris Accordion and Fiddle Club presented a cheque for £3,322 to Autism Eileanan Siar, proceeds of their fundraising over the past year.

And the Lewis and Harris Accordion and Fiddle Club said theey owed huge thanks to the Co-operative Store for their help.

And help has also come from the Point and Sandwick Trust with a "substantial grant."

Autism Eileanan Siar holds regular play sessions and outings for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or additional support needs and also runs a drop-in support group for families who are affected by the condition.

The monthly drop-in support sessions are on the second Friday of every month between 10am and 12pm in the Failte Centre, Bayhead, Stornoway (formerly the Lewis Retirement Centre).

The fun sessions for children are also held monthly, in the Sandwick Community Hall, on a Saturday from 2pm to 4pm although dates vary due to hall availability. In addition, the group organises a range of events including outings to Spòrsnis in Ness or the Callanish Alpacas, as well as seasonal celebrations such as Christmas parties and Easter egg hunts.

Outwith the group, Stornoway arts centre An Lanntair holds four autism-friendly film screenings a year, which are well attended. Autism Eileanan Siar pushed for these screenings and it also books out the Adventure Island soft play every second month, so that children can enjoy the facility without becoming overwhelmed by noise.

Donna Shearsmith, chair of Autism Eileanan Siar, said: “Because children with autism and additional support needs can’t handle noise, queuing, etc, we hire out Adventure Island in the evening exclusively. We try to do it every second month and it’s where we have our Christmas party.

“We try to give these children the same experience as neurotypical children but set up in a way they are comfortable with.

“We’re also trying to raise awareness – we’ve done a few things this year, including running a schools competition – and we are inclusive of siblings, so our Saturdays in the hall are family days where everyone can come along.

“It’s good because, if a child has a meltdown, other parents aren’t going to sit and say, ‘look at what that child is doing…’”

The organisation received a substantial grant from Point and Sandwick Trust towards the purchase of a trailer, with ramps for easy access. It is now being used as a mobile store for all the equipment the group uses at their play sessions. This includes trikes, scooters, whizzy dizzy spinning balance toys and sand pits.

Donna said: “The kids love the monthly fun sessions but they’re not just about having fun. The sessions deal with their needs too, like motor skills. It’s all about sensory input.”

Around 35 children from Lewis attend the sessions in Stornoway but the group hopes to eventually go out to areas such as Harris and Ness “to show what Autism Eileanan Siar is all about”.

A wide range of treatments can help people with the Autism Spectrum Disorder and everyone is welcome to the drop-in sessions.

Donald John MacSween, general manager of Point and Sandwick Trust, said the community wind farm charity was pleased to be able to help the group financially and also give them moral support.

He said: “Autism Eileanan Siar provide a fantastic service and are making a real difference in the lives of children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder or additional needs and their families.

“We hope we can help raise awareness of the group and their work so that everyone knows about what they have to offer. With so much support available, it would be a shame if people were missing out and we’re happy to do our bit to help.

“We should remember that Autism Eileanan Siar is run by volunteers, like so many other excellent groups in the community, and these groups only exist because of the volunteers’ hard work and dedication. We want to thank them for all that they do. It makes a real difference to people’s lives.”

 

 

Pictures by Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos

 

Stornoway Police station has become a second home for the new Police Scotland drugs detection dog Bear, who started work on October 25th.

Bear and his newly qualified handler, Constable Stuart Wightman, will be permanently based in the Western Isles, replacing the retired drugs dog Jax.

Bear was an instant hit with colleagues. Apart from his obvious enthusiasm for being part of the police team, since starting work, he and his handler have successfully detected cocaine with a street value of £11,000 and cannabis with a street value of £1,000.

The provision of the trained detection dog supports the Outer Hebrides Alcohol and Drugs Partnership (ADP) aim to contribute to a reduction and distribution of illegal drugs entering the islands, thereby helping to prevent access to harmful substances whilst at the same time contributing towards healthier lives for the people of the Outer Hebrides.

Gordon Jamison Outer Hebrides ADP chair said: “I very much welcome the return of a drugs detection dog to the Outer Hebrides and the impact already being achieved. Bear will make a valuable contribution to keeping our communities safe and healthy."

The picture shows Bear and Stuart getting familiar with their new patch (Police Scotland).

Residents of Trust Housing on Matheson Road are still grinning from ear to ear this afternoon (Friday November 8th) after their first experience of an intergenerational project facilitated by the Volunteer Centre Western Isles.

Pupils from Primary 2 at Stornoway Primary School came to visit the residents at Trust Housing as part of a project designed to create new experiences and relationships between old and young.

This morning the pupils and residents had their first encounter, getting introduced and learning each other’s names.

Trust Housing manager Carol Ferguson told welovestornoway.com: “The children were a bit nervous when they first arrived but within two minutes they were chattering away.

“It was great to see the resident’s faces all lit up. They are still smiling from ear to ear. The class has three sets of identical twins, so that was a real talking point and with many of them having grandchildren who are away on the mainland it was great for them to spend time with young children.”

The project, led by Bellann O’Brien, is due to continue fortnightly until Christmas, but there’s a special visit next Friday when the children will be dressed up for Children in Need.

And they’ve also been given Trust Housing’s teddy, Isla Lewis to take back to school for a week, so that she can tell her own tales of life at Stornoway Primary. One resident said: "It is so lovely to see the children, they have so much energy."

Carol said: “In future weeks we’ll be talking about holidays, where the residents used to work, favourite foods and what Stornoway used to be like in the old days. We have five visits planned up to Christmas and we hope to continue the project after that.”

The pictures show P2 children meeting Trust Housing residents today (Trust Housing and Volunteer Centre Western Isles).

MV Loch Seaforth has moved from dry dock and is ready to begin sea trials tomorrow (Saturday November 9th) at the end of her annual overhaul.

She left dry dock in Birkenhead early yesterday and is now receiving finishing touches in Liverpool before her sea trials begin early tomorrow morning. All being well, she’s then set to return to Stornoway on Sunday.

The ship’s annual refurbishment has over-run its schedule due to the application of a new external coating system intended to improve efficiency and extend the lifespan of the hull coating. Weather conditions delayed the application of this finish.

She’s also had her cooling system enhanced, a number of sewage tanks replaced, and a partial cable rewire during the upgrade work.

MV Isle of Lewis has been running night and day to meet the passenger and freight requirements of the Stornoway Ullapool route. She was today (Friday November 8th) reported to be running half an hour late on the return from Ullapool with a technical issue.

She’ll continue to operate the route on Saturday and Sunday, with Loch Seaforth taking up the route as of the 7am sailing from Stornoway on Monday.

The Isle of Lewis will then reposition to Oban to recommence her service between Oban and Castlebay. She’s due for her own annual upgrade from January 25th next year.

The picture shows the view from the Loch Seaforth deck in Liverpool (Christopher Lonie).

Drivers who don't wear a seatbelt, use their phones or speed will be the focus of a campaign next week.

The week-long campaign will promote safer driving and is let by the Road Policing Division with support from Safety Camera Units.

The event will start tomorrow (Satruday 9 November) and run until Friday 15 November.

In particular, officers want to highlight the importance of wearing a seatbelt in the front and rear, regardless of the type of vehicle you are in.

Figures reveal that in 2017, 27% of people who died in cars in Britain were not wearing a seatbelt.

Recent statistics for road casualties in 2018 highlight that driver error or reaction was reported in 65% of all reported crashes in 2018, travelling too fast was a factor in 16% of fatal crashes and driving while using a mobile phone was a factor in five fatal crashes.

Chief Inspector Simon Bradshaw said: “We know that using a mobile phone, driving while distracted, travelling at inappropriate speeds and not wearing a seatbelt are significant factors in fatal and serious injury crashes.

This is why we take the matter seriously as they are avoidable, which makes it all the more tragic when people are killed in road crashes under these circumstances.

“Police Scotland works closely with other road safety agencies and partners to highlight the importance of driving safely but we cannot do this alone. We need motorists to take road safety seriously and to change their behaviour.

“We will interact with drivers through education to influence behaviour but where necessary, we will take enforcement action.”

The Western Isles could play a role in the manufacture of hydrogen in the future.

A seminar was hosted this week looking at opportunities which hydrogen manufacture could offer the islands.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has said: "The manufacture of hydrogen is extremely energy intensive but, with the best wind resource in the Northern Hemisphere, the Outer Hebrides are well positioned to manufacture hydrogen from renewable energy."

A study has been commissioned, supported by Community Energy Scotland, to look at where additional hydrogen opportunities may lie and how they can be accessed.

This work will run in parallel with the Comhairle’s Hydrogen Project – Outer Hebrides Local Energy Hub (OHLEH).

OHLEH is a partnership between the Comhairle, Scottish Salmon Company, Pure Energy Centre and Community Energy Scotland that generates green hydrogen and oxygen from Fish Farm waste at the Creed Recycling Centre in a true, circular economy.

Councillor Uisdean Robertson, Chair of the Comhairle’s Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, said: “The Comhairle has been active in hydrogen since 2010 when an eectrolyser was installed at Creed Park Recycling Centre.

"Now we are powering our own hydrogen Refuse Collection vehicle, one of only five in Scotland, from electrolyser hydrogen and hydrogen produced by the innovative OHLEH project.

"In addition, over the past few months, the Comhairle has engaged with commercial partners to explore the use of hydrogen produced in the islands in local heat networks.

"At the seminar, it was good to learn abouthydrogen innovation taking place here in the Outer Hebrides and further afield and to hear from, among others, Nigel Holmes from the Scottish Hydrogen & Fuel Cells Association, and representatives from the growing Orkney Hydrogen sector.

"In the Comhairle’s revised Energy Strategy, one strand will focus on local hydrogen production and the benefits it offers to all our communities.”

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed a new Scottish Government action plan to kick-start developments in rural areas.

The need for planning permission could be removed for certain types of rural developments to help tackle depopulation and support the economy of the islands.

The changes are being considered as part of a new action plan to implement a radical shake-up of planning laws.

Under this review, small scale developments, such as the conversion of agricultural buildings to deliver more homes in the Western Isles, could automatically be given the go-ahead.

Alasdair Allan MSP commented: “Tackling depopulation and supporting the sustainability of our rural communities are critical issues and the planning system has an important role to play in that.  This planning review is one of a number of actions the Scottish Government is undertaking to grow Scotland’s rural areas.

“I am encouraged by what these changes could do for the islands and I hope they can aid in the fight against depopulation.”

 

A major search was launched in Barra last night (Thursday November 7th) after a man was reported missing by his family.

Western Isles Police called for assistance from all other emergency services after the man was reported missing in a coastal area near Allasdale just after 7pm.

The Barra RNLI Lifeboat was launched and joined Barra police, a Scottish Fire and Rescue team, Barra Coastguard Rescue team and ambulance personnel in the search. Barra RNLI used a flare to light the scene as other services assembled.

Stornoway Coastguard operations centre tasked rescue helicopter R948 to transport members of the Stornoway Coastguard Rescue Team and the area commander from Stornoway to Barra.

Soon after establishing a site search plan, the casualty was located safe and well and was taken into the care of Scottish Ambulance and family members.

Area commander Murdo Macaulay told welovestornoway.com this morning: “An incident such as this underlines the way every emergency service in the islands works really well together. It’s the pay-off for the time and effort we put into training together on such a regular basis.

“Putting the time into preparation and practice means that on the day of an incident everything works smoothly and with precision, and we can often hope for a successful outcome, as we had yesterday.”

Pictures show members of Stornoway Coastguard Rescue Team en route to the emergency by helicopter, and the search site being set up (HM Coastguard Western Isles, Skye and Lochaber).

 

The best of produce from near and far 08/11/2019

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. 

Vegetables

 

Price Each

 Quantity

Aubergine

 

£1.45

 

Butternut Squash   

 

£2.40

 

Green Cabbage

 

£1.85

 

Savoy Cabbage

 

£1.85

 

Cabbage (White UK)

 

£2.60

 

Cauliflower

 

£1.95

 

Romanesco

 

£1.95

 

Celeriac (UK)

 

£2.40

 

Celery (UK)

 

£1.35

 

Fennel

 

£1.35

 

Garlic Large

 

£0.95

 

Turmeric (100g)

 

£2.95

 

 

 

Price Per KG

Quantity

Beetroot (UK)

 

£2.45

 

Broccoli (UK)

 

£3.75

 

New Season Dirty Carrots

 

£1.95

 

Ginger

 

£5.00

 

Horseradish

 

£15.00

 

Kale

 

£8.00

 

Leeks (UK)

 

£2.95

 

Mixed Squash

 

£2.95

 

Mushrooms UK

 

£5.00

 

Onions (White)

 

£1.65

 

Onions (Red)

 

£1.75

 

Parsnips

 

£2.95

 

Golden Wonder

 

£1.95

 

Kerr’s Pink

 

£1.55

 

Roosters

 

£1.55

 

Shallots

 

£4.50

 

Swede (Scottish New Season)

 

£1.55

 

Sweet Potato

 

£2.95

 

 

 

Price Each

Quantity

Little Gem (x2)

 

£1.50

 

Cos Lettuce

 

£1.50

 

Cucumber

 

£1.00

 

Spring Onions

 

£1.00

 

 

 

Price Per KG

Quantity

Peppers (Mixed Red, Green, and yellow)

 

£3.95

 

Tomato (Cherry on Vine)

 

£5.95

 

Heritage Tomatoes

 

£5.30

 

Plum Tomatoes

 

£3.95

 

Fruit

 

Price Each

Quantity

Cox Apples (UK)

 

4 for £1.50

 

Winsor (UK)

 

4 for £1.50

 

Gala Apples

 

5 for £1.50

 

Avocado

 

£1.50

 

Grapefruit

 

£0.90

 

Kiwi Fruit

 

£0.50

 

Lemons

 

£0.50

 

Limes

 

£0.50

 

Yellow Melon

 

£1.95

 

Oranges Large

 

3 for £1.80

 

Pears (Conference)

 

4 for £1.50

 

Plums

 

4 for £1.50

 

Satsumas

 

4 for £1.50

 

 

 

Price per Kg

Quantity

Bananas

 

£1.70

 

Bramleys

 

£2.95

 

Chillies Red

 

£15.00

 

Courgettes

 

£2.95

 

Red Seedless Grapes

 

£4.95

 

Local Fresh Eggs

 

£2.00

 

Work to complete a major engineering contract at the Arnish yard of BiFab is continuing on schedule, according to the on-site project manager.

Workers started in March on the task of building 100 piles for the Moray East Offshore Windfarm, securing jobs at the Lewis site for the majority of this year.

BiFab’s Canadian owner DF Barnes secured the contract and is still seeking further opportunities for the workers. They describe the Arnish yard as one of the best equipped in the company.

But unions said in October that workers were continuing under threat of redundancy. Unite and the GMB reported that six-week redundancy notices had been issued to the employees and described the news as “a major blow to the workers who have had to endure so much uncertainty over recent years.”

DF Barnes denied the claims and said it had issued no notices to staff. A source close to the Newfoundland-based firm told the industry journal Energy Voice that “no redundancies have been issued” to the BiFab workforce.

Despite the continuing uncertainty, work on the major contract is going ahead well. Project manager Ian Potts told welovestornoway.com today (Thursday November 7th) “We have so far loaded out 21 completed piles and are on schedule to complete the manufacturing elements by end of November, with the final loadouts through the first two weeks of December, subject to weather.

“In addition we have taken on a very small bit of work for Quinn Drilling who are doing work on the new Stornoway Marina. That is a very minor piece of work - just four small piles to be modified.”

The first two rounds of the National Gaelic Schools' Debate was held in Stornoway Town Hall earlier this month.

Out of the sixteen teams present, four made it through to the semi-finales, including Sir E Scott School and Liniclate School.

The event, which took place on Tuesday 5 and Wednesday 6 November, saw judges Iain Steven Morrison, Agnes Rennie and Boyd Robertson picking the semi-finalists.

The first semi-final draw will see Inverness Royal Academy B against Liniclate School. In the second debate of the evening Bishopbriggs Academy A will be against Sir E Scott School. 

Semi-finals will be held at the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel in Edinburgh on Wednesday 4th December 2019.

The Final will be held the following evening, Thursday 5 December in the main chamber at The Scottish Parliament and will be broadcast live on BBC Radio nan Gàidheal.

The topic for the debate between Inverness Royal Academy B and Liniclate School will be: “Gadgets like Fitbits are helpful to keep us healthy.”

Bishopbriggs Academy A will debate against Sir E Scott School on the topic: “It is better to follow than be the first.”

The winner of Debate A will face the winner of Debate B in the final on the topic: “In twenty years, the proper Gaelic communities will be in the big cities.”

The SNP candidate for the Na h-Eileanan an Iar constituency in this year’s General Election launched his campaign today (Thursday November 7th).

Angus MacNeil said: "It is a privilege to have been chosen by local SNP members to stand as candidate for the 2019 Election. The Election of 2017 was unexpected but this election has been predicted almost every month since June 2017.

"For Scotland this Election is about choosing our own future – about what kind of country we want to be and about taking control of our own affairs. For the United Kingdom the Election is about Brexit – breaking away from our European partners and exiting the free trade deals we currently enjoy. As Chair of the International Trade Committee, I have seen the World Trade Organisation(WTO) tariffs and how countries try to join together in blocs to prevent having to pay the higher rates attached to WTO deals. There is no good Brexit – no other trade arrangements will give the UK the benefits it currently enjoys – even the Tory Government's own reports show that.

"Today, in Scotland the party that speaks for the people of Scotland is the SNP, the party which continues to govern as Westminster sinks, the party of free prescription, free university tuition , free bus travel for the elderly and the many other privileges that living in Scotland affords.

"I would encourage everyone to vote SNP on December 12th and allow me the honour of representing you in Westminster where I will stand strong in the interests of Na h-Eileanan an Iar and Scotland."

The Stornoway branch of the animal welfare charity Cats Protection is now officially closed, with local branch committee members yesterday (Wednesday November 6th) stating that they had been ‘dismissed’ by the national charity.

The last cats in care locally were re-homed last week and a final home-to-home adoption facilitated by the branch was also completed.

As initially reported by welovestornoway.com three weeks ago, the local branch committee had been told that the local service did not offer ‘value for money’ for supporters of the charity, despite longstanding commitment from local supporters.

A former committee member was asked to stand down with immediate effect after reporting to us that the charity planned to withdraw their support from the local branch. They cited veterinary costs and the availability of ‘alternative services’ such as the SSPCA to provide care for cats in the islands.

The local SSPCA and Stornoway vet Hector Lowe at that time condemned the closure of the branch, saying that neither of them had capacity to meet the needs of the large feral cat population in the islands, or of the unwanted cats and kittens that continued to find their way into charity care.

Welovstornoway.com readers bombarded Cats Protection with enquiries last month, receiving the reply: “It is with great regret that, after much discussion at a local level, Cats Protection has made the decision to wind down branch operations. The charity is currently looking at other ways it may be able to support cats on the island.”

But committee members disputed the claim that there had been discussion or consultation locally on the closure. Yesterday the remaining branch members issued a social media statement saying: “Please be advised this branch of Cats Protection has been officially closed by the head office. The local committee worked hard to prevent this but were dismissed after fighting to stay open.

“We would like to thank you for your support over the years, it has been very much appreciated.”

The formal confirmation of earlier reports generated a new storm of outrage from supporters. Former branch co-ordinator, Karen Cowan, wrote: “I’m actually ashamed now that I gave so much of my time to a charity that can do this to the Islands and has such a complete disregard for the feline population here. I really thought they were different and put the cats first but they pulled the wool over my eyes, profits first like so many national charities.

“I don’t however regret the countless lives we saved over the years, it’s a pretty great legacy when I think about all your babies and their stories. I would like to thank all of you who supported me and my team and I’m so sorry for the new committee that things have ended this way.”

Cats Protection's national media office provided welovestornoway.com with the following statement: "Cats Protection has suspended its cat welfare work on the Isles of Lewis and Harris because we have been unable to reach an agreement for year-round neutering of stray and feral cats with the island’s only veterinary practice. There are differences between our views on the best way to approach the long-term management of the feral colonies on the island.

"Cats Protection’s Feral Strategy aims to improve the quality of life of feral cats through targeted trap, neuter and return (TNR) programmes and by increasing the understanding of the welfare needs of feral cats. We need to ensure any work embraces our welfare ethos and is cost-effective for Cats Protection so that we put our limited funds to best use.

"We are currently exploring alternative ways of working so that we can continue to help unwanted and abandoned cats on the island."

This story has been updated to include a response from Cats Protection's national office.

The picture shows the last kitten adopted with the support of Cats Protection Lewis and Harris branch, re-homed this week.

FULL-TIME RETAIL ASSISTANT (40 hours)

We are looking for a friendly and enthusiastic individual to join our retail team based in our Stornoway store. We need someone who can provide exceptional customer service to a diverse range of customers whether they are in-store, on the phone or writing in by email. Good written and verbal communication skills are required.

To request an application pack please email

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

Closing date: Friday 22nd November 2019

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have announced that Neil Mitchison is to be the party's candidate in the constituency of Na h-Eileanan an Iar at next month’s General Election.

Neil, who stood as Liberal Democrat candidate for the Western Isles twice in the 1990s, spent 25 years working for the European Commission, including several years as European Commission representative in Scotland. He twice stood as Liberal Democrat candidate for the European Parliament and is also a familiar voice on Gaelic radio.

Neil said:“I am honoured to be chosen again to represent the Liberal Democrats. Let us be clear: this election is all about Brexit, and every vote for the Liberal Democrats counts towards our objective of stopping the damage Brexit has already done to our economy and our society.

“Only once we get Brexit out of the way can we address all the other urgent matters which need attention, including the NHS, education and social policy - all of which have suffered from the Tory Government’s austerity.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Willie Rennie said:“Neil Mitchison would be an excellent MP for the Western Isles, replacing the divisive Angus MacNeil.

"Jo Swinson and the Liberal Democrats have shown a clear leadership in fighting Boris Johnson and Theresa May’s Brexit disaster and campaigning for a People’s Vote on the terms.

"Longstanding Labour and Conservative supporters are disenchanted with their leaders and are looking for something better, while too many have been let down by years of SNP misrule. Liberal Democrats like Neil can offer a brighter future."

The Labour Party on the The Western Isles already had a candiate in place before the announcement of the new General Election, the third in just over four years. At the start of her General Election campaign, Alison MacCorquodale said: "We need an MP whose main priority is this constituency, not the constitution. 

"These islands have very distinctive needs.  Unless there is a constant focus on the issues that affect us most, then there is no chance of our voice being heard.

She said that the Brexit negotiations were a case in point. “Labour will give the people the final say on Brexit, but whatever the outcome, I will fight to ensure that the opportunities for the islands are grasped and damage limited. Unless there is someone arguing the detailed, specific cases for the Western Isles in a way that commands respect, then our interests will be sidelined.”

In relation to another Scottish independence referendum, Ms MacCorquodale said: "With all the challenges Scotland faces, the last thing we need is another divisive referendum.  There is so much to be done to address issues directly affecting the lives of the people of the Western Isles which are already devolved to Edinburgh.  We need better government, not more years of argument about how to break up the UK without any certainty about what would follow."

The Labour candidate highlighted the controversy over convergence payments to crofters as an example of how the voice of the Western Isles is not being heard.  "This was EU money meant to support crofters and hill farmers working on marginal land, yet the SNP is diverting it to the wealthiest farmers in Scotland.  Put that alongside the fact that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has suffered far more severe cuts to its budget than any other local authority in Scotland, again without a word of protest from the MP or MSP, and it is clear that we need a representative who will put constituency before party."

The Scottish Government has come under attack from Labour and Tory MSPs for the failures of the Islands’ ferry services

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant criticised the Scottish Government’s lack of foresight and strategic approach to the ferry infrastructure and condemned it for ignoring the wishes and advice of local communities.

 “When Loch Seaforth was built for the Stornoway to Ullapool route, the community wanted two smaller boats. This would enable more sailings in the summer and provide cover throughout the fleet in the winter for dry-docking.

“Instead, the Government gave them one large vessel that does not provide sufficient capacity in the summer and sails half empty in the winter.”

Ms Grant went on to say that “The Government brought in RET, another flagship policy, but did so without providing any additional capacity. This means the very policy put in place to help islanders has had the effect of shutting them out of ferries.

“People travelling at short notice cannot get a place on the boat to make these journeys.  People who need to get to hospital, to visit sick relatives and to attend funerals all find that they cannot travel. Port staff do their utmost to help but most people are now routed through the centralised call centre and do not get to speak direct to port staff."

Ms Grant added that the fact that no one in the Scottish Government was measuring unmet need despite ongoing calls from local communities for improvements in service was a disgrace.

 She then raised the ongoing delays to the new dual-fuel ferries MV Glen Sannox and the unnamed Hull 802 which are now almost two years overdue. Ms Grant condemned the mismanaged project.

 “You could not make it up,” said Ms Grant. “It would appear these vanity projects mean that the Scottish Taxpayer is paying much more than they need to for new ferries.”

“We desperately need more new ferries so cannot afford to waste money.”

Ms Grant continued: “And the problems don’t stop there. We are now seeing delays with the Northern Isles Ferry contract where the Scottish Government appears to have again shut out the lowest bidder”

Meanwhile a Conservative motion in the Scottish parliament highlights that since 2007, there has been over 82,000 delays and cancellations across the Clyde and Hebridean Ferry Service network.

Figures from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) show that between January and September this year, the Stornoway to Ullapool route saw 30 cancelled sailings, and has arrived late on 226 occasions.

In a speech to the chamber, Donald Cameron MSP said: “Many local residents on the island are forced to plan ahead and book spaces on this service to travel to the mainland due to space being booked up well in advance by tourists and by haulage.  But even visitors struggle to book onto the ferry, such is the demand during peak season.”

Later Donald said: “Residents across the Lewis and Harris continue to raise this issue with me, and I will continue to highlight this anger to the Scottish Government.  The time for action is now, and I will work constructively with the Scottish Government to ensure residents get the reliable and robust service that everyone wants.”

In the same debate, Alasdair Allan, the SNP MSP said:"It is true that not everything is as it should—or could—be with our ferry services. However, in the past decade, we have seen many improvements. The introduction of RET was revolutionary and we have come a long way from the days when the Western Isles MP Donald Stewart was a lonely voice in the House of Commons when he advocated it. The present Scottish Government has doubled, in real terms, the amount of money that is invested in ferry services. That has been necessary to deal with the previous decade of chronic underinvestment, during which, as other members have pointed out, virtually no major vessels were built.

"Compared with the figures from a decade ago, ferries to the Western Isles now deal with an astonishing 184,000 additional passenger journeys every year. The number of visitors that we now host in May is typically what we would previously have expected to see in July, which is a good thing. It is also a fantastic tribute to the work that the tourist industry and others have done in making the Western Isles a must-visit destination for a huge range of tourists.

"That obviously puts strain on the network, the negative effects of which are felt predominantly by islanders who are trying to get on and off the islands at short notice. Although local people are able to live with that on a few busy weekends, it is asking too much for them to accept it for the whole of the summer. It is clear that we need more capacity on routes to the Western Isles. We also need to listen to what islanders say about how to deal with capacity issues in the short term. Over the summer there were calls for measures such as reserving space for islanders or introducing staggered bookings, and it is right that CalMac should explore the feasibility of introducing those."

(This article has been updated since first being published)

The Town Hall building in Stornoway was the setting for the first two rounds of the National Gaelic Schools’ Debate which took place on Tuesday and Wednesday the 5th and 6th of November. 

The judges; Iain Steven Morrison, Agnes Rennie and Boyd Robertson, certainly had their work cut out whittling 16 teams down to four. 

The four teams who have reached the semi-final stages of this year’s competition are Inverness Royal Academy B, Bishopbriggs Academy A, Sir E Scott School and Liniclate School .

The first semi-final draw will see Inverness Royal Academy B against Liniclate School.  In the second debate of the evening Bishopbriggs Academy A will be against Sir E Scott School.  

The semi-finals will be held at the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel in Edinburgh on Wednesday 4th December 2019.   The Final will be held the following evening, Thursday 5th December in the main chamber at The Scottish Parliament and will be broadcasted live on BBC Radio nan Gàidheal.

The topic for the debate between Inverness Royal Academy B and Liniclate School will be “Gadgets like Fitbits are helpful to keep us healthy.” Bishopbriggs Academy A will debate against Sir E Scott School on the topic “It is better to follow than the be first.”

The winner of Debate A will face the winner of Debate B in the final on the topic “In 20 years, the proper Gaelic communities will be in the big cities.”

The teams who lost out on Tuesday and Wednesday were Mallaig Secondary School; Inverness Royal Academy A; Dunoon Academy; The Nicolson Institute; Glasgow Gaelic School; Gairloch High School; Ardnamurchan High School; Bishopbriggs Royal Academy B; Portree High School; James Gillespie High School; Gairloch High School B; and Castlebay Community School

 

Ambitious plans to create a deep water port at Stornoway harbour are essential to allow the Outer Hebrides to benefit from the burgeoning cruise tourism market and bring new income and jobs to the islands, an event will hear tomorrow (Thursday, 7 November).

The deep water port is part of Stornoway Port Authority’s 20-year Master Plan and will be one of the biggest projects ever undertaken in the Hebrides.

Alex Macleod, the port authority’s chief executive, will outline the plan and how it will help attract future cruise traffic, at a two-day workshop being held in Stornoway.

The event, being held at An Lanntair tomorrow and Highlands and Islands Enterprise’s office on Friday, is part of HIE’s Be Business Brave series and is a partnership with the port authority and Outer Hebrides Tourism.

At present, Stornoway attracts relatively few large cruise vessels, as those over 156 metres in length are unable to berth alongside, and passengers are brought ashore by small tender. To maintain and grow the cruise market, Stornoway needs a facility for berthing cruise ships up to 350 metres long.

This would attract an additional 35-40 vessels a year, creating a significant number of business opportunities throughout the island as visitor numbers entering through the port continue to increase.

Alex Macleod said: “The deep water port is an essential development for Stornoway and the Outer Hebrides if we are serious about maximising the benefits that the cruise industry can bring. Other areas are seeing those benefits but at present we are restricted in the types of vessels we can attract.

“The project offers huge potential for the islands in terms of increasing visitor numbers and the jobs that will help create.”

In April, marine consulting civil engineers Wallace Stone were awarded the contract to design Phase 1 of the deep water port.

The project also includes a new deep-water berth for a freight ferry and for larger cargo vessels; berthing and unloading facilities for renewable energy components and development land for a range of uses.

 

Conal Ferguson, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Operator and Managing Director of Stornoway-based HebDrone, has become the first person to successfully complete the UK’s only training standard for industrial drone operators.

Approved by the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB), the Industrial Drone Operations Training Course was developed by Aberdeen-based Texo Compliance to ensure that the next generation of drone operators attain and develop the skills and knowledge they need to operate safely in heavy industrial environments that have specific operational hazards and constraints.

The development of the new course followed the launch of ECITB’s Industrial Drone Operations Training and Assessment Standard, again the first in the UK.

Conal, who set up HebDrone in November 2016 with his business partner Duncan, has been flying drones for three years. The company, which carries out Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Inspection and survey services throughout the UK and Europe, both on and offshore, operates three different types of drone including the DJI Matrice 210 RTK, which is IP-rated and allows the operation of dual cameras simultaneously, such as the Z30 zoom and XT thermal. They also operate the DJI Phantom 4 Pro, used primarily for aerial mapping, and the DJI Inspire 1 Pro, which is ideal for aerial filming and back-up inspection.

Conal applied for the course to help improve his skillset and knowledge, and to gain an industry-recognised certification. 

“Currently, the only standard for drone operators is the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) permission for commercial operations (PfCO), but the course set up by Texo Compliance and ECITB gives added protection to the client and shows that the operator has met higher standards.”

The past 10 years has seen increased use of UAVs in the industrial environment; however, Conal said that drone operators still face a number of challenges in today’s climate, one of which is convincing companies of the numerous benefits of the use of drones such as reducing risk, time-saving and reduction of cost in areas such as infrastructure inspection, their use has quadrupled in the last two years.

While the need to work at height using rope access, cherry pickers and scaffolding for repairs will always be there, companies can reduce the time needed at height by first conducting a UAV inspection.

The numbers of unregulated UAV operators are also an issue, as they can be of risk to the safety of client personnel as well as assets, and companies who use them may find themselves in trouble with the authorities.

“The CAA is starting to crack down on this and bring in penalties to those operating illegally, or hiring illegally,” said Conal.

“When hiring a commercial UAV operator, you would expect the job to be done safely and efficiently and, currently, commercial insurance cannot be obtained without a CAA PfCO. The operator with a PfCO has met a strict theory and practical assessment and is fully up-to-date with all regulations.

“This new assessment by Texo Compliance and ECITB is of an even higher standard, with a more complex testing procedure that is focused primarily on industrial applications.

“Texo Compliance’s test site itself is a great set-up, and allows for thorough testing of the UAV platform and operator. Everything was very well set out and explained fully prior to the test and the entire experience was fantastic. It was all very friendly and I was made to feel at ease straight away. I would definitely recommend it to other drone pilots.”

Following identification of the need for a national standard, industry employers approached the ECITB with a view to developing a competence model that would look to not only train and assure the competence of individual UAV operators, but also require them to validate ongoing competence over a rolling period.

The Industrial Drone Operations Training Course is available to anyone who has passed the CAA PfCO scheme and can meet the course pre-requisites. It has four stages including off-the-job training at an ECITB-approved centre; this is consolidated through drone operations on a live industrial site with 30 logged flying hours required within three to 12 months of initial training.

The third stage comprises formal technical testing at an ECITB-approved centre using the ECITB technical testing platform, while the final stage is renewal of the ECITB technical test certificate at 36 months through formal re-assessment. If the candidate can demonstrate sufficient experience, they can go straight to the formal technical assessment without the need for initial stage one off the job training.

The next training course will take place on Monday, November 11-15. The one-day Technical Assessment Day will take place on Friday, November 15. For more information about the course, or to apply for a place, please contact Texo Compliance on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

One of the world’s oldest and largest auction houses has set their sights on the Western Isles, with a visit planned for the week commencing November 18th.

London-based auctioneers and valuers Bonhams were founded in 1793 and have sale-rooms in New York, Paris and Sydney, as well as a sale-room in Edinburgh and offices in Glasgow.

It’s from the Glasgow office that director Gordon McFarlan, a specialist in silver, glass, furniture and works of art, is setting out for the islands, on his first ever valuation and consignment visit.

Mr McFarlan told welovestornoway.com: “We go once a year to Orkney and to Shetland and these are very productive trips for us.

“We often find in remote locations that people have retired there, taking their households with them, and the most unlikely things end up in remote parts of the UK.

“As far as I am aware there is no special brand or type of heritage item, although there was a rough-and ready type of pottery known as Barvas-ware. I am a general valuer, but we are a large company and have 500 specialists among our staff, so if I don’t recognise it I will have a colleague who will.”

Examples of items which would interest Bonhams include works of art and items from world travels, including to exotic locations.

Mr McFarlan said: “Throughout Scotland we find people whose parents and grandparents have served far afield, out in the Far East, in New Zealand or South Africa. Items which they may have brought back, including of jade and porcelain, are of great interest at sales.”

But he stresses that Bonhams applies no pressure on anyone to sell precious family treasures – as befits a company with an international reputation.

He said: “We meet someone at their home, see an item, suggest what it might be worth at sale and it is then entirely up to them whether they wish to consign it to us for sale at a future sale in Edinburgh.

“Whatever I find, I am looking forward to seeing the place itself and hope to be getting out and about in the islands while I am there.”

Mr McFarlan will visit Lewis, Harris and Uist in the week beginning November 16th and is available to contact for an appointment at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Picture shows one of an album of 39 views of Orkney by George Washington Wilson, [c.1890] sold for £357 in Edinburgh in May this year (Bonhams).

A woman whose car was involved in a road accident yesterday morning (Tuesday November 5th) has been charged with careless driving.

Police were called to a two-vehicle accident at the junction of Church Street and Keith Street at 7.15am, where the 23-year-old driver had been in collision with another car.

No-one was injured, but following investigations police charged the woman with careless driving and she was issued with a fixed penalty.

Stornoway woman Lynne Maciver has been appointed as the project manager for the planned Iolaire visitor centre in the heart of the town.

The appointment was announced this morning (Wednesday November 6th) by the Iolaire working group as the project enters the design planning stage.

Lynne has considerable experience working with both commercial and community-led projects and will lead the development and design stage ahead to bring a proposed Centre outline to the community for consultation in 2020.

The visitor centre is planned for a site at Stornoway’s no 1 pier as part of a revitalisation of the Stornoway town centre. It arises from strong support for a permanent and world-class visitor experience shown during a consultation with the community in 2018.

The Iolaire centre will commemorate the January 1st 1919 tragedy and its impact on the islands in the following period. Suggested displays could include artworks and photographs which were produced during the commemorations of the tragedy’s centenary between November 2018 and January this year.

A statement from the Iolaire working group this morning said: “The design phase is an opportunity to progress what the space could look like, the way the story is captured and told, and prepare for the raising of funds required to build the centre.

“The vision for the Centre is to create a space that tells not only the Iolaire story but that of the wider context of the island’s maritime history and war involvement. This design stage is an opportunity to tell the story sensitively and with due respect, over a century after the tragedy. It is expected that the Centre would be both a lasting commemorative introspection and a world-class visitor experience that supports a major, transformational, economic boost for the Islands.”

Project funding has been committed by Highlands and Islands marine equipment firm Gael Force Group with matched assistance and resource support agreed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

New project manager Lynne Maciver said: “The tragedy of the Iolaire is one that touched many lives and families on the islands and ensuring the story is told and protected for future generations is at the heart of what the Iolaire centre will do. It is a continuation of the incredible work done around the 100-year centenary commemorations recognising the importance of the story to the culture and heritage of the Islands.”

The Iolaire Centre website www.iolaire.org has further information on how you can get involved and to stay up to date on progress.

There's been a rapid reappraisal of Scottish Government policy on croft payments.

This came after predictions that the Scottish Government’s cabinet secretary for the rural economy could find himself on the receiving end of lively questioning when he visits Lewis tomorrow (Thursday November 7th).

Fergus Ewing MSP will be at Barvas and Brue community centre between 3.45 and 5.15pm tomorrow to answer questions and present information about crofting issues – and last night there was an announcement from the Scottish Government that an additional £10 million will now be targeted at crofters and farmers on Scotland’s most challenging land.

Following last week’s announcement from the Scottish Government regarding plans for the distribution of convergence funding, widespread and grave concerns had been raised over the proportion of that funding which would be going to crofters.

However, after receiving representations from Angus Brendan MacNeil MP,  Alasdair Allan MSP and other MSPs and candidates from the Labour and Conservative parties across the Highlands and Islands, Fergus Ewing has unveiled plans to increase the amount of money going to crofters and those farming in marginal areas.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan said: “This is a step in the right direction and I thank the Cabinet Secretary for listening to the arguments made by Angus MacNeil, myself, and others representing crofting interests.

“Today’s announcement means that a majority of the area-based payments from this tranche of funding will be going towards those crofts and farms which currently receive the lowest level of support. I believe this is much closer to the spirit of convergence than the original proposals, and is fairer towards crofters.

“This was the first of two tranches of money arising from convergence funding, and I will be making further representations to the Scottish Government to ensure that the second tranche is distributed in a way which is fair to crofters and those farming in marginal areas.”

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus MacNeil has also welcomed the announcement. He said: “It is commendable that the Scottish Government has looked again at this issue.  Happily, they have listened to the voices of many concerned crofters and an additional £10 million is to be allocated.

“At the moment the best mechanisms of allocating the £10 million are being sought and will certainly be good reason for further lobbying of the Scottish Government.  One thing that is clear, is that £10 million extra is coming for marginal and crofting land, which is something I am pleased about. 

“Campaigners who have been working on this in the past few days have to be congratulated for getting the Scottish Government to take action."

The announcement last week was about long-delayed ‘convergence money’ from the EU be paid on by UK Government to the Scottish Government. The Scottish Government then outlined how the initial £80 million worth of convergence funding would be distributed. This is part of a £160 million package the UK Government has agreed to pay to rectify a ‘historic wrong’ relating to EU Common Agricultural Policy funding that it failed to pass on to Scotland between 2014-2020.  Crofting organisations protested that Mr Ewing missed a golden opportunity when he announced the formula by which the money was to be awarded, as it did not adequately address the disadvantages faced by crofters on remote and marginal land.

Eilean Siar Food bank is again this year looking for donations in the run up to Christmas to ensure that Foodbank user’s can have a few treats at Christmas just like the rest of us.

As in previous years Angus B MacNeil MP’s Constituency Office will be available as a drop -off point for donations. The Eilean Siar Foodbank is a voluntary organisation and has limited opening hours while the Constituency Office is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.

Eilean Siar Foodbank have particularly asked for the following items :

  • Custard
  • Tinned fruit (mandarins & fruit cocktails)
  • Christmas puds
  • mince pies
  • Selection boxes
  • Tinned Ham & Salmon

Currently the foodbank have a good supply of soup, beans and pasta.

Mr MacNeil said: "I am pleased to be able to help this very worthwhile cause and my office staff will continue to work in the Office during the Election campaign and will be able to accept any donations for the Foodbank.

"It is sad that in a country with the resources and potential of Scotland that people still need to use Foodbanks but that is the reality of the United Kingdom that we live in today.

"Island people are known for their generosity and I am sure the Foodbank will be well supported especially at this time of year."

At 5.06pm on Sunday 3rd November, two Stornoway police officers crossed the finish line of the New York Marathon in Central Park, having raised more than £4000 for the PC Nicola Hughes Memorial Fund, (Katie Macleod reports from New York).

Detective Constable Fiona Mackenzie and PC Johan Macleod set off from Staten Island, one of New York City’s five boroughs, late on Sunday morning with the fourth wave of runners, making their way steadily through Brooklyn, Queens, Harlem, and into Central Park for the last few miles of the world’s largest marathon.

They were part of a group of almost 60 police officers from across the UK who were running to raise funds for the charity set up in memory of PC Nicola Hughes, who was killed while on duty in Manchester in 2012. Founded by Nicola’s father Bryn, the charity provides learning opportunities and pre-employment skills to children who have suffered the loss of a close family member because of violent crime.

“When communities can see police officers doing what they’re doing to raise money to help children… it can only be a positive thing. If a police officer’s going to run 26 miles, and it means a child has school uniform for the next few years, that’s an achievement,” Bryn told welovestornoway.com. 

Neither Fiona, who lives in Point, or Jo, who’s based in Stornoway, had ever run a marathon before, but they had been busy training for the last few months, whether it was laps around the Castle Grounds or runs out to the Iolaire Memorial in Holm (where, they joked, the only supporters watching them were the sheep).

In New York, the crowds looked a little bit different. The pair had supporters every step of the way, as city residents came out to support 50,000 runners by clapping, cheering, and waving encouraging signs. “New York came out to party for us for 26.2 miles!” said Jo after the race. “’Go Jo and Fiona, you got this’ was the constant chant from everyone for the whole route. I definitely couldn’t have done it without the support and the buzz of the New York people and all the people who have sponsored and supported me.” 

“We took it super easy and it paid off, crossed the line with smiles on our faces, bodies still intact and I didn’t even hit 'the wall' at any point,” she added. “A few miles we struggled with but at no point did I think ‘I can’t do this.’ I would do one again... now I know I can cross the line in one piece!”

Fiona felt the same. “The people of New York were amazing, cheering you on as if they knew us personally, it was fantastic! A few rubbish points, but we got through it. I wouldn’t have managed without Jo. I will likely do another one, provided my joints hold out! I got literally hundreds of donations while we were running, which is astonishing and overwhelming!”

Although the marathon is over for another year, you can still support Jo, Fiona, and the PC Nicola Hughes Memorial Fund at the links below:

A man has appeared in court charged with assault after an incident in Stornoway in the early hours of Sunday (November 3rd).

The 26-year-old man was arrested and charged with assault on a staff member at licensed premises in Stornoway.

He appeared at Stornoway Sheriff Court from custody on Monday.

A man arrested on North Beach Street in Stornoway on Saturday night has had his car confiscated.

The 25-year-old was charged with drink-driving and taken into custody, from where he appeared in court on Monday (November 4th).

The court ordered his vehicle to be seized as a result of the offence.

Stornoway police were active around the grounds of Lews Castle over the past weekend, in an attempt to reduce misbehaviour among young people.

Between Friday (November 1st) and Sunday alcohol was seized from eight under-age people and two young people are to be reported to the children’s reporter for offences involving disorder.

 

Car damaged in car park

Police are also looking for information after a car was damaged in the golf club car park overnight on Saturday.

Between 9.30pm on Saturday and 12.30am on Sunday the blue car sustained damage, and police would like to hear from anyone who knows how this may have happened on the non-emergency number 101, referring to incident NH1543/19.

 

Drink driver loses car

A man arrested on North Beach Street in Stornoway on Saturday night has had his car confiscated.

The 25-year-old was charged with drink-driving and taken into custody, from where he appeared in court on Monday (November 4th).

The court ordered his vehicle to be seized as a result of the offence.

 

In court for assault

A man has appeared in court charged with assault after an incident in Stornoway in the early hours of Sunday (November 3rd).

The 26-year-old man was arrested and charged with assault on a staff member at licensed premises in Stornoway.

He appeared at Stornoway Sheriff Court from custody on Monday.

 

The expected return of MV Loch Seaforth from dry dock in Birkenhead has been delayed while upgrade work is completed, with further knock-on effects on the timetable.

Loch Seaforth has been away for her annual overhaul since Sunday October 20th, her place taken by the old ferry MV Isle of Lewis and the freight run carried out by MV Hebridean Isles.

Hebridean Isles herself headed off for her annual refit yesterday (Monday November 4th), leaving the Isle of Lewis running round the clock to meet the passenger and freight needs of the Stornoway Ullapool route.

MV Loch Seaforth was due to return on Friday (November 8th), but CalMac is now notifying passengers that Saturday’s service will continue with the Isle of Lewis and her longer journey time, affecting the expected timetable.

It’s not known how long the delayed return is likely to affect the route.

Among upgrade work being carried out on the Loch Seaforth, she is getting an improved external hull coating system intended to improve efficiency with an extended lifespan. Her cooling system is also being enhanced, sewage tanks replaced, and she’s had a partial cable rewire.

Picture: The MV Isle of Lewis continues on the Minch run between Stornoway and Ullapool. Picture by Chris Murray.

There’s growing concern about the well-being of domestic pets and livestock as bonfire night parties and firework displays gather pace today (November 5th).

An increasing number of pet-owners are joining a national movement seeking to reduce or even ban firework displays due to concerns about animal welfare. Sainsburys supermarket has stopped the sale of fireworks and the radio station Classic FM is playing soothing music and dog noises tonight to help dog-owners provide distraction for their pets.

In an attempt to help animal-lovers, the Facebook page Western Isles Noticeboard is carrying an open list of firework events scheduled.

They include:

Tonight (November 5th) – Cearns firework display; Arnol 6pm; Tarbert 7-8.30pm; North Lochs; Gravir Old School 6.30pm.

Friday November 8th – Laxdale school; Sheshader 6.30-7pm; Barvas machair; Shawbost Old School 5.30pm; Gress; North Tolsta 6.30pm.

Saturday November 9th – Knock, Point 6pm; Upper Bayble 6pm; Laxay showground; private party Newmarket 6.30pm onwards; Tong community bonfire 7pm; Borve, westside; Melbost; North Street Stornoway.

You can add more details by joining Western Isles Noticeboard at https://www.facebook.com/groups/211832955678408/ or you can enter firework events in the welovestornoway.com calendar by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Scottish Government’s cabinet secretary for the rural economy could find himself on the receiving end of lively questioning when he visits Lewis on Thursday (November 7th).

Fergus Ewing MSP will be at Barvas and Brue community centre between 3.45 and 5.15pm that day to answer questions and present information about crofting issues.

His visit coincides with a fast-moving and, at times, angry debate about payments to crofters, after an announcement last week that long-delayed ‘convergence money’ from the EU was to be paid on by UK Government to the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Government then outlined how the initial £80 million worth of convergence funding would be distributed. This is part of a £160 million package the UK Government has agreed to pay to rectify a ‘historic wrong’ relating to EU Common Agricultural Policy funding that it failed to pass on to Scotland between 2014-2020.

Crofting organisations believe that Mr Ewing missed a golden opportunity when he announced the formula by which the money was to be awarded, which does not adequately address the disadvantages faced by crofters on remote and marginal land.

Angus MacNeil MP said: “Clearly there are concerns that the convergence money is not being distributed to where it is most needed.

“The Scottish Government must review and make good the concerns of crofters and meet the original hopes for this funding. We know that this money was delayed by Westminster for a number of years and that the current money has to be distributed by March 2020. It would seem that the Scottish Government has rushed to announce this funding in order to meet this deadline.

“This is certainly a moving situation and I hope that after Fergus Ewing visits Lewis this week, he will take on board the concerns that will no doubt be raised with him and allay the fears of crofters.”

His view has been endorsed by Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP Alasdair Allan, who said yesterday that he had raised crofters’ concerns regarding the allocation of EU convergence funding directly with Mr Ewing.

Dr Allan said: “The Scottish Government should be credited for finally prising the long-withheld EU convergence money for farmers and crofters from the UK Government which for so long withheld it.

“Now that the detail has been published, it is very clear that the basis on which the first £80 million is to be distributed remains contentious, particularly the share of money that is going to the best land. While it is welcome that those on the least-favoured land are getting the highest percentage uplifts, these are of course high percentages of what were in many cases tiny grants to start with.

“Like my colleague Angus Brendan MacNeil MP, and others, I have spent much of this weekend speaking to government, and in particular to Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing, to raise these concerns. I have also been in touch with a number of crofters in the islands.

“The conversation with Mr Ewing was constructive, and I hope has left the Cabinet Secretary in no doubt just how strongly so many in my constituency feel about this issue. I welcome the fact that Fergus Ewing has been prepared to listen on this, and I hope he will now be able to respond directly to the concerns which crofters have expressed.”

 

An update on harbour upgrades will be held this month in Tarbert, Lochmaddy and Uig.

The events will update the communities on the Skye Triangle Infrastructure Programme.

The Skye Triangle Infrastructure programme involves significant upgrades to the ports at Uig, Tarbert and Lochmaddy to modernise harbour facilities in preparation for new vessels.

Work is already underway at Tarbert Ferry Terminal following the award of a £14.3 million contract to civil engineering and building contractor, RJ McLeod Limited.

Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) is working in partnership with Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar to deliver the works at Lochmaddy.

Tenders for the work are currently being assessed, and more information on the construction phase will be provided in due course. The tender to appoint a contractor for work at Uig has also been issued.

Brian Sydney, senior civil engineer at CMAL, said: “The Skye Triangle Infrastructure programme is part of our ongoing programme of harbour upgrades and improvements.

"The programme represents a significant investment in the three ports which, once completed, will provide a much-improved travel experience for passengers.

“We encourage all three communities to attend the events and take advantage of the opportunity to speak with the representatives in attendance and find out more about the construction phase of the works.”

CMAL has arranged a stakeholder engagement roadshow and will travel to communities that will benefit from the upgrades to provide an update.

Locals are invited to drop in to their community meeting at any point, where they will be welcomed by representatives from CMAL, CalMac, Transport Scotland, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Highland Council.

The dates and times of the public drop-in events are as follows:

25th November – Uig Village Hall, 4-7pm

26th November – Harris Hotel, 4-7pm

27th November - Lochmaddy Village Hall, 4-7pm

A dog cut off by rising tide was safely brought to shore by members of Stornoway Coastguard Rescue Team on Sunday morning (November 3rd).

Stornoway Coastguard operation centre took a call from the dog’s owner, saying that their dog was 200 yards offshore at Tong beach, on the area of sand known as the cob, or ‘fideach’.

Stornoway Coastguard Rescue Team made their way to the Sand Street area, where it was established that the dog had entered the water and come ashore on headland. The dog was successfully reunited with its owner a short time later.

A spokesman for Stornoway Coastguard told welovestornoway.com: “Very often dogs get out of tight spots themselves, but if owners think they need help they can put themselves in danger, and our priority is to prevent that risk.”

Picture shows a wet but safely returned dog at Tong beach (Stornoway Coastguard Rescue Team).

Stornoway historian and author Malcolm Macdonald was proud to represent a pivotal moment in Lewis history when he attended the annual gathering of the Glasgow Lewis and Harris Association on Friday night (November 1st).

Malcom arrived home from the event yesterday aboard the MV Isle of Lewis, carrying with him the Cuach awarded by the association to recognise his own work, and that of the late Donald John MacLeod, on the book about the Iolaire disaster, The Darkest Dawn.

The annual award of the trophy, presented to the GLHA 50 years ago by Ewan Cameron of Lochearnhead, is made to those from the islands who have been seen to have promoted the islands best in the previous year.

The annual gathering and dance of the Glasgow Lewis and Harris Association was held at Glasgow University Union and was chaired by Hearach Angus ‘Govig’ Maclennan, head teacher of e-Sgoil and a board member of the Harris Tweed Authority and Storlann.

The evening featured performances from Ceitlin Lilidh – who was yesterday announced on the MG Alba Trads shortlist as Gaelic singer of the year – James Graham and a host of other musicians, while the dance was to lively music from the Beinn Lee Ceilidh Band.

Befriending Lewis have been invited to attend a Ministers Reception being held at the Scottish Parliament today (Tuesday 5 November.) 

The reception, which is taking place during National Befriending Week, is to be hosted by Monica Lennon MSP, to celebrate the success of Befriending organisations across Scotland. 

Three staff and three volunteers from Befriending Lewis will be attending, with Tina Macleod, Befriending Lewis’ Service Manager delivering a presentation about the impact of Befriending and the phenomenal difference it has made locally.

Tina, who is also a Director of Befriending Networks UK said: “It is important that the voice of our community is brought to this national event and that the very real and meaningful impact that Befriending is having on the lives of the people we support, their families, and our valuable volunteers, is recognised.  ”

Befriending Lewis attends the Parliamentary Reception along with Befriending Networks UK, as the rural voice representing the people of Lewis & Harris.  There are currently over 140 people supported by Befriending Lewis, and over 120 local people who have come forward to volunteer.  People are supported by one-to-one befriending and group events to help reduce loneliness and social isolation in the community with the service being described as a “lifeline” by many.

Befriending Lewis are always looking for new volunteers to become Befrienders and support volunteers.  Referrals to the service have topped 250 and there is a long waiting list for people in need of a Befriender.  The next volunteer induction day is planned for Wednesday 13th November and people who are interested in volunteering are encouraged to get in touch.

Befriending Lewis does not receive any local Government or NHS financial assistance.  Local support has come from the Horshader Community Development Trust, Muaitheabhal Community Windfarm Trust, Western Isles Development Trust and Groundworks – Tesco Bags of Help, as well as donations from local groups, organisations and individuals.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better – Heorna mhor! Peat & Diesel are in the shortlist for Na Trads!

Hands Up For Trad has placed the ground-breaking trio on the shortlist of acts which could be named best live act of 2019, and lines up alongside Fara, Rura, Talisk and The Outside Track to win the people’s vote at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/scotstrad2019

Reacting with some shock to the announcement, which came at 12 noon today (Monday November 4th), drummer Uilleam Macleod told welovestornoway.com: “It’s just unreal. We are over the moon to even be nominated and a bit overwhelmed to be honest.

“We’re just three guys who started to play for a bit of craic and it just keeps moving forwards, it’s grown arms and legs. We’re just doing our best to cope!”

Also on the shortlist is Mischa Macpherson of Sandwick, who has been nominated as composer of the year, and Ceitlin Lilidh Smith, from Ness, who’s on the shortlist as Gaelic singer of the year.

The announcement of the winners of all categories will be made at Na Trads at Aberdeen Music Hall on Saturday December 7th, with bands performing including Skerryvore, Session A9 and the Susan MacFadyen Scottish Dance Band.

A Garden of Remembrance has been started outside Stornoway’s drill hall this morning (Monday November 4th) as Remembrance events are planned across the island.

The garden at the Ross Mountain Battery memorial outside the drill hall will remain open through the week for anyone to lay a cross in memory of a loved one.

Remembrance Day services at churches and memorials around the islands will commemorate the fallen of the wars on the Sunday closest to Armistice Day, Sunday November 10th. Events in Stornoway begin with a procession of uniformed services starting from the former Royal British Legion clubhouse at 10am.

From 10.45am on Sunday people will assemble at Martin’s Memorial Church, where the Lord Lieutenant of the Western Isles and representatives of the British Legion, RAFA, Merchant Navy Association, Army Reserve, Army Cadet Force, Air Training Corps, the Queen’s Own Highlanders and Stornoway primary school will be gathered.

St Columba’s church will see pupils from Laxdale school join the Boys Brigade and Girls Brigade and representatives of Fire Scotland, while at St Peter’s Episcopal Church HM Coastguards will assemble for remembrance.

Meanwhile the service at the High Church on Stornoway will see representatives of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, the Red Cross, RNLI, St Andrew’s First Aid and the Nicolson Institute.

After the services, uniformed services and associations will march through Stornoway and Lord Lieutenant Donald Martin will take the salute at Carn Gardens. At 12.30pm a bus leaves the bus station for the memorial gardens below Stornoway War Memorial, where Rev Tommy MacNeil of Martin’s Memorial Church will conduct a dedication service.

There will be further services and dedication events at churches and memorials around Lewis and Harris on Sunday 10th and Monday 11th November.

Roads on the West Side and in Broad Bay will be closed during this week as filming continues on the international feature film Wise Blood.

The crew from the mixed Belgian, French and Scottish production are at work today (Monday November 4th) and tomorrow on the Pentland Road, as earlier planned, and the road is to be completely closed between Carloway and the Breasclete junction.

There should be little local disruption on Wednesday, as filming moves indoors at a house in Brue, but on Thursday and Friday Gress will be the location for more outdoor filming.

There’ll be stop and go traffic control on the long straight of the B895 in Gress throughout the day on both Thursday and Friday. This is to allow filming without excess traffic noise.

Versus productions, who are making the film and working in conjunction with MG Alba, say that there’ll be further intermittent disruption through the rest of November, including:

Saturday 9th November: parking disruption South Beach Street, Stornoway

Friday 15th November: traffic control on the A866 at Flesherin, Point

Monday 25th November: morning disruption to parking on South Beach Street and traffic control between North Beach and South Beach in the afternoon

Thursday 28th November: traffic control at Cromwell Street in Stornoway

The production team have apologised for the inconvenience caused to islanders and will be making a donation to local community causes in gratitude at the patience and welcome extended to them.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar this morning (Monday) issued a statement welcoming the film crew to the island. They said: “We are delighted that Wise Blood have chosen to come to Lewis to make this film and warmly welcome the cast and crew for the duration of their stay here.

“The investment such productions bring in terms of spend and job opportunities is significant, as well as the added benefit of promoting our islands on the global stage. However, we do recognise that whilst the filming activity is ongoing there can be low-level disruption for local residents and we are grateful for people’s patience and co-operation with that aspect of the project.”

Any schedule changes will, as before, be advised via welovestornoway.com.

(This article has been updated to include new information from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar).

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus B MacNeil and Highlands and Islands Scottish Conservative MSP Donald Cameron have both warned the Scottish Government to heed the concerns of Scotland’s  farmers and crofters after details of the proposed payment allocation were revealed.

Mr Cameron spoke after the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, Fergus Ewing, was on the receiving end of bitter criticism from both the Scottish Crofting Federation and NFU Scotland.

Labour’s candidate for Na h-Eileanan Iar, Alison MacCorquodale also protested.

Ms MacCorquodale said; ‘It was a scandal that successive Tory governments refused to pass on the convergence money . The decision in September to finally acknowledge this longstanding injustice and pay the convergence money to the Scottish Government represented a golden opportunity for Fergus Ewing to right a historic wrong.’

Ms MacCorquodale said: “It was meant to bring the average payment rate per-hectare closer to the EU average and should have been used to increase payments to those regions furthest from that average, those being Regions 2 and 3.

‘While I welcome the proposed increase in Region 2 payments, crofters across the Western Isles are justifiably furious with the decision to use this money to increase the already significant Region 1 payment further while only increasing the payment to the poorest land in Region 3 by a pitiful £6 per-hectare.

‘To add insult to injury the decision to use £13 million of the funding to plug the gap in LFASS funding, which is of the Scottish Government’s own making, is nothing short of disgraceful.’

The Labour candidate added: ‘Fergus Ewing promised he would use this money to benefit hill farmers and crofters. Instead he has used it to further support those on the best agricultural land in a shameful attempt to win back support from Tory voters in the SNP’s former strongholds of the North East.  This is yet another example of the SNP showing contempt for crofting and crofters."

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan said: “The Scottish Government should be credited for finally prising the long-withheld EU convergence money for farmers and crofters from the UK Government which for so long withheld it.

“Now that the detail has been published, it is very clear that the basis on which the first £80 million is to be distributed remains contentious, particularly the share of money that is going to the best land. While it is welcome that those on the least-favoured land are getting the highest percentage uplifts, these are of course high percentages of what were in many cases tiny grants to start with.

“Like my colleague Angus Brendan MacNeil MP, and others, I have spent much of this weekend speaking to government, and in particular to Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing, to raise these concerns. I have also been in touch with a number of crofters in the islands.

“The conversation with Mr Ewing was constructive, and I hope has left the Cabinet Secretary in no doubt just how strongly so many in my constituency feel about this issue. I welcome the fact that Fergus Ewing has been prepared to listen on this, and I hope he will now be able to respond directly to the concerns which crofters have expressed.”

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP, Angus B MacNeil said he had has spoken to Fergus Ewing following growing protests about the convergence uplift funding for crofters.

Angus MacNeil said:“Clearly there are concerns that the convergence money is not being distributed to where it is most needed.

“The Scottish Government must review and make good the concerns of crofters and meet the original hopes for this funding.

“We know that this money was delayed by Westminster for a number of years and that the current money has to be distributed by March 2020. It would seem that the Scottish Government has rushed to announce this funding in order to meet this deadline.

“Fergus Ewing has assured me that he remains keen to ensure that active crofters and farmers in upland and sheep areas do benefit proportionately from this money and that LFASS will be protected.

“We would see a lot more money in our communities if support for crofting in Scotland was on an equal par with support given to similar activities in other European countries and this convergence money should be a step in the right direction.

“This is certainly a moving situation and I hope that after Fergus Ewing visits Lewis this week, he will take on board the concerns that will no doubt be raised with him and allay the fears of crofters.”

Earlier the Scottish Crofting Feberation SCF’s chair, Yvonne White said: “Whilst the announced allocation of the convergence funding is a slight improvement over the NFUS proposa, it is still a disgraceful misuse of the money that was intended to help those on very low payments. This is not ‘true to the principles of convergence’ that Fergus Ewing sanctimoniously claimed - to the Scottish Parliament - he has upheld. Quite the opposite in fact. We have all been misled.”

Highlands and Islands Scottish Conservative MSP Donald Cameron said: “Fergus Ewing has managed to annoy just about everyone in the sector with his misjudged decision over convergence allocation.

"Rarely can a minister with responsibility for farming have received such a stinging rebuke from industry representatives.

“It is quite clear that the SNP Government is proposing to use the payment allocations to cover funding gaps they themselves have created in LFASS payments.

“This money was secured by the persistent lobbying of Scottish Conservative MPs at Westminster and it is shameful that the results of their hard work is being set aside in such a cynical way.

“Mr Ewing needs to return to Parliament and explain himself to MSPs and to their farming and crofting constituents.”

Ness crofter Donald ‘Sweeny’ Macsween is one of those affected by the way in which money is to be allocated. He holds 200 hectares of common grazing shares on rough moorland and just 22 hectares of better quality, agricultural or permanent grassland.

He said that he ‘got his hopes up’ after last week’s initial Government announcement, but is now becoming increasingly angry, voicing his outrage in a series of social media posts.  On Friday (November 1st) he said: “The money was paid by the EU to go to those of us who have Region 3 ground, like moorland and hills. I claim for 200 hectares of this, through common grazing shares. Announcements this week from Scottish Government were that the money was going to go to those who needed it the most, crofters and hill farmers on upland and marginal land.

“Turns out we were lied to by our government. 50% of the funding is going to Region 1 land, meaning that the big farms all over the country will be getting a larger cut of this, rather than those it was supposed to help."

Yesterday (Sunday November 3rd) he added: “A quick search of the internet lead me to several examples of Fergus Ewing MSP criticising the UK Government for withholding convergence funding from Scottish hill farmers and crofters, those it was supposed to help.

“Perhaps you can understand why I am so angry with the decision he has announced to spread this money across all of Scotland, shafting those it was supposed to help. Yes, I am furious, disappointed but, funnily enough, not surprised in the slightest. The Scottish Government deem us crofter plebs to be expendable.”

(This article has been extensively updated since first being published.)

 

 

The roller-coaster ride of success for Stornoway band Peat & Diesel hit another new high this weekend, with news that two new beers are to be named after them.

Small craft brewers Ben Nevis Brewery announced on Thursday (October 31st): “Yes a'bhalaich! New beer! 'Peat' is smooth, spiced and warming, 'Diesel" is dark and strong. These will be bottled up in the next fortnight ….What d'ya think, Peat & Diesel, does Boydie approve?”

The bottled beer is to be launched at Ben Nevis Brewery’s own Bonfire at the Barn event in Lochaber next Saturday (November 9th), but brewer Freja told welovestornoway.com: “ We’ll definitely post to Lewis – we think there’ll be a few boxes of Peat and Diesel going that way.”

The band learned the news of the new brews as they headed north for a sold-out end-of-season gig at Durness’s Sango Sands Oasis bar, a restaurant at a campsite half-way along the famous North Coast 500 route.

In fact, the night’s performance rolled into the next day, with an impromptu bar performance on Sunday, not to mention some celebrity photostops with fans on the way.

Next on the list as they head home is the festive round, with tickets for a Christmas lights switch-on gig presented by Western Isles Lottery going on sale next Saturday morning (November 9th) at 11am at the old Trading Post premises next to Charlie Barley’s at Ropework Park.

Tickets for that concert, which starts at Stornoway Town Hall at 10.30pm on November 26th, cost £10 and are over -18s only, but there’s also an under-18s gig on the afternoon of November 26th at the Nicolson Institute, tickets costing £3.

The picture shows Boydie, Innes and Uilleam of Peat & Diesel getting a once-over from police officers at the Durness concert on Saturday evening.

 

A full plane of Stornoway-bound passengers was turned back to Inverness this afternoon (Sunday November 3rd) after pilots reported warning lights in the cockpit.

The Loganair flight took off at 12.38pm with around 30 passengers on board, but turned back to Inverness after 14 minutes in the air.

Passengers were disembarked and waited at the airport while engineers checked the fault, which the pilot later explained as a false alarm caused by the wet conditions.

The Saab 340B later re-embarked all passengers and arrived in Stornoway an hour and ten minutes later than scheduled, at 2.39pm.

 

Scalpay is top of the charts again as two Western Isles eateries have been named among the best places in Britain to taste fine food, with the announcement of the Good Food awards 2020 on Friday (November 1st).

North Harbour Bistro in Scalpay has a Good Food Award for the second year in a row.

Judges said: “North Harbour Bistro have now been awarded the prestigious Good Food Award for 2019 & 2020.

"Over the last 12 months we have evaluated customer feedback and these premises have demonstrated exceptional levels of food quality, service and value when compared to our industry benchmarks in their category.”

Stornoway’s Digby Chick has also been named among Britain’s best, with judges saying: “Local chef and proprietor, James Mackenzie, uses the finest quality local produce to produce seasonally changing menus.

"Local fish and shellfish are a specialty of the restaurant with daily fish specials available with whatever has been landed that day.

“The Outer Hebridean shores provide a diverse and superior larder; these are cooked with flair and originality. A wine list, sourced from around the world, complements the menu, with a whisky menu offering a selection of Scotland’s fine malts.”

One of the volunteer members of Tarbert Coastguard Rescue Team is to stand in honourable tribute to the fallen of all wars in London on Sunday November 10th.

Social worker Aman Toor, of Seilebost in west Harris, has been selected among the small number of Her Majesty’s Coastguard to attend the national Remembrance Sunday commemorations.

He’ll be one of just a dozen Coastguard representatives, including officers, volunteers and staff, who will be at the national ceremonies at Westminster Abbey and at the Cenotaph, although he won’t know until the day which location will be his official place for the events.

Aman, who completed his Coastguard Rescue core training in November 2018, underwent a selection procedure before being told he’s to travel on Tuesday (November 5th), leaving Stornoway at 8am and arriving at his accommodation around 10.30pm.

He’ll be issued with full dress uniform, including a greatcoat, and will then attend several days of drill at Collingwood Naval Base before the day itself. On Sunday 10th, he’ll be expected to march and to stand for up to six hours alongside members of all the other uniformed services.

Aman told welovestornoway.com: “I see it as a great honour to represent the Western Isles at this national commemoration, but I will also be paying tribute to my own grandfather, wearing his wartime medals under my greatcoat.”

Aman’s grandfather, Major Harjit Singh Sandhu, was a career soldier who served with the Indian Army, beginning as a cavalryman before the Second World War and serving with distinction throughout the war.

His medals, which include the North West Frontier medal and the Africa Star, will be worn on the right side of Aman’s uniform, denoting that they belong to his ancestor.

The pictures show Aman during his Coastguard Rescue Training in Lewis, and his grandfather, Major Harjit Singh Sandhu.

Digby Chick in Stornoway