More than 1,000 households and businesses in the Lochs area of Lewis are without power tonight (Friday November 30th) following a faulty on their main supply line.
SSE say: "We’re sorry for the loss of supply. We currently have a fault affecting the area…Our engineers are on site working hard to get the power back on as quickly as they can.

A team of Westside First Responders have won recognition for the vital service they provide, less than 18 months after setting up the group.

Ness and Shader First Responders were runners-up in the volunteer award section of the Scottish Ambulance Awards, recognising the service they give to people in emergency on the Westside. They were invited to attend the SAS award evening yesterday (Thursday November 29th) at Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow.

Police in the Western Isles are urging local residents to keep heating fuels secure to prevent thefts this winter.

Officers have received recent reports of bags of coal being stolen from outside properties in the Stornoway area.

Enquiries into these incidents are ongoing - and officers are now urging people to make sure they keep their fuels secure to deter thieves.

Ferry services between Stornoway and Ullapool are once again be hit by cancellations as renewed gales affect the Western Isles today (Friday November 30th).  The next scheduled sailing is the 17.30 from Ullapool.

 

 

Police have issued an appeal for information after repeated thefts of coal from an address in Stornoway.

Between 10pm and 11.30pm last night (Wednesday November 28th) a 20-kilogram bag of coal was taken from beside a home at Stile Walk in Stornoway.

A man has been reported to the Procurator Fiscal after being stopped driving while under the influence of alcohol in Stornoway town centre.

Police were called to Bayhead in Stornoway at 2.45pm on Saturday (November 24th).

 

Stornoway police were called to deal with two separate incidents of assault in Stornoway over the weekend of 23rdand 24thNovember.

In the early hours of Friday morning (November 23rd) police were called following a complaint made at licensed premises in Stornoway town centre.

Girlguiding Harris are holding a Quiz Night in Leverburgh Hall this Friday, 30 November.

They are also running a Cafe in Tarbert hall, also on Friday.

Both events are fundraising for the Guides' first international trip next summer. A group will be spending 9 days at the World Guiding Centre 'Our Chalet' in Adelboden, Switzerland, where they will share Western Isles culture with other Guides from across the world and take part in some extreme challenges including hiking and climbing.

 

Community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust won the title of UK Environmental Social Enterprise of the Year at the UK Social Enterprise Awards last night (Wednesday, Nov 28).

Wind farm developer Calum MacDonald picked up the award at the event in the Guildhall in London and admitted he was “very surprised” but “delighted” to have won.

A whole string of sausage dogs lined up to have their photo taken at the start of the first Hebridean Sausage Walk on Saturday (November 24th), with the scenic route alongside Stornoway harbour their backdrop.

Ten dachshunds – smooth, long-haired and wire-coated – brought their walkers along for a get-together celebrating the unique appeal of the little dogs with big character, in a quality event featuring tweed coats and waiter-service refreshments.

Carloway Football Club is under new management after the club’s annual general meeting last night (Tuesday 27thNovember).

The change of team was triggered by the retirement, at the end of the season, of Graeme ‘Windy’ Miller after five years in charge.

Emergency service teams were called upon to search for a missing person last night (Tuesday November 27th) – the second such search in less than a week.

A 28-year-old man was reported missing in the Stornoway area late in the evening, with Western Isles Police calling at 11.50pm for support from Coastguard Rescue Teams, Hebrides Mountain Rescue and other emergency service colleagues in the search.

Angus MacNeil, MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, has opened up his constituency office as a donation drop off point for Eilean Siar Foodbank in the run up to Christmas.

Eilean Siar Foodbank are working hard to provide food packages for islanders facing crisis situations and the weeks before Christmas are one of their busiest periods.

Coinneach Morrison, Jane Morrison and Caroline Maclennan, from the Hebridean Celtic Festival, with Moira MacAulay, Margaret Ann Maciver and Christina Maciver, from Macmillan Cancer Support

Music fans attending the award-winning Hebridean Celtic Festival have helped support the work of Macmillan Cancer Support to the tune of £14,000 over the last decade.

Thursday night (November 29th) sees the first of two late-evening chances to see what shops on the West and North of Lewis have to offer in the run-up to Christmas.

And the outlets involved are pulling out all the stops.

A very unsettled spell of weather is expected tomorrow (Wednesday November 28th) with strong winds, combined with widespread and in places heavy rain, according to the UK Meteorological Office.

Ferries are cancelled on routes from Tarbert, Lochmadddy and Castlebay today with warnings on other routes and for later in the week.

The appeal in Stornoway last week for funds and support for the work of Glasgow City Mission - organised by Stornoway High Free Church - went very well, say the organisers.

"It was excellent and the team wish to thank the community, Hebridean Festival and Hebrides Haulage and all the volunteers for their support in helping the Glasgow City Mission and the homeless in Glasgow."

Urgent action needs to be taken to improve the regulation of the Scottish salmon farming industry and to address fish health and environmental challenges, a Holyrood Committee has concluded.

Following its in-depth inquiry into salmon farming in Scotland, the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee has determined that, if the industry is to expand, there is a need to introduce enhanced and more effective regulatory standards to ensure that fish health issues are properly managed and the impact on the environment is kept to an absolute minimum.

The Convener of the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, Edward Mountain MSP, said:  "The salmon farming industry offers significant economic and social value to Scotland, providing jobs and investment in rural areas. There is a desire within the industry to grow.

CalMac have issued 'Be Aware' service updates on all ferry routes operating from Outer Hebridean Ports due to SSE winds predicted to gust upto 45 knots on Tuesday and 55 knots on Wednesday.

Sailings from Stornoway, Tarbert, Lochmaddy, Lochboisdale and Castlebay across the Minch and the smaller inter-island services from Leverburgh and Eriskay had warnings issued today, Monday 26, that services are liable to disruption/cancellation at short notice on Tuesday and Wednesday, the warnings are due to be reviewed later today or Tuesday morning.

Check current service status information visit at: www.calmac.co.uk/service-status

There’s probably one headline which the whole world thought could never come…

‘Crazy Carl’ Easton to dance in Nutcracker ballet.

But this will only happen if you pay to get him on stage at An Lanntair next month (December).

The four crofting townships looking to develop community-owned wind farms on their common grazings land near Stornoway are holding two public consultation events in Stornoway Town Hall, all day today and tomorrow (Monday 26 and Tuesday 27).

Sandwick North Street, Melbost and Branahuie, Aignish and Sandwick East and Lower Sandwick have lodged planning applications with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar for a total of 21 turbines and representatives from all the townships will be at the event in the Town Hall to share information, answer questions and receive comments. 

There's been rapid progress since last Monday (November 19th) on the first phase of what it is hoped will become a £1million project to develop a 40km coastal path from Stornoway all around the Point peninsula.

This first phase of work will secure 100 metres of coastline and also the Ui Church’s graveyard wall, which was under extreme threat of erosion.

A film about sexual abuse inside a family is raising money to spend additional time filming in the Isle of Lewis.

Duck Daze is described as a Scottish short film about a woman who gets revenge on her childhood abuser and the community that enabled him.

The film is being created by Dresden Pictures, based in London, and has received £15,000 in funding from Scottish Film Talent Network.

Two students at Lews Castle College won major recognition at an awards ceremony in Inverness last night. (Thursday November 23)

They took part in the University of the Highlands and Islands Business Competition 2018.

The winner of last night’s youth entrepreneurship award was Noah Stubbings who impressed with his scrap metal business plan.  His award was presented to him by one of the event's guest speakers, Jamie McGowan, founder of Essence of Harris.

Isles MP Angus B MacNeil says he is standing up for Na h-Eileanan an Iar’s fishermen in Parliament .

He has warned the Tory Government that all eyes are on them as they negotiate the future of the fishing industry.

In a speech during the Fisheries Bill debate on Wednesday(November 21st), he outlined the many issues facing West Coast fishermen as highlighted to him by the Western Isles Fishermen’s Association.

The Stornoway Trust has welcomed the announcement of the Scottish Land Court hearing to be held in Stornoway from December 12th.

In a statement, it says this is a mandatory step in progressing a 19a Scheme for Development – the legislation under which Lewis Wind Power is seeking consent to build its 36-turbine Stornoway Wind Farm.

Stornoway Trust Chairman, Norman A MacIver said, ‘We have been waiting some time for this date to be set, and we’re very pleased that it is due to happen next month.

(A Loganair jet at Inverness Airport - photographs by Inverness Aviation Photography)

Passenger services using a jet aircraft will return to Stornoway Airport after a gap of more than 10 years.

Island representatives heard from Loganair that a second 49 Embraer 145 jet will be added to Loganair’s fleet in December and will fly the Glasgow-Stornoway route. It will also fly to Benbecula on summer weekends.

A pilot scheme to replace the human voice with an automated weather and safety announcement is being tried out at Stornoway Coastguard Operations centre – and is not being welcomed by seafarers.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s three-month pilot of a text-to-voice announcement system is currently under way at Stornoway, with a meeting being planned for the end of this week (Friday November 23rd) to evaluate the initial impact of the new system.

Stornoway Coastguard broadcasts maritime weather and navigational safety Information on VHF and MF (medium frequency) radio as part of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety Systems (GMDSS).

Since 2004 various automatic broadcast systems have been introduced, including a weather bulletin broadcast every three hours after being recorded by a staff member speaking the information.

The main power network supply from the mainland is expected to be reconnected to the Western Isles late tomorrow tonight (Thursday November 22nd), according to Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN).

Power for the islands has been generated by island power stations since Monday November 12th, when a landslide near Invergarry in the Highlands toppled pylons and brought down the main supply line serving Skye, Lochalsh and the Western Isles.

A Lewis music student has just learnt she’s been awarded a coveted place at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, one of the top ten performing arts colleges in the world.

Caitlin Mackenzie, of Back, who is 18, was among 300 students auditioning for just four available places to begin a course in September 2019, in the study of vocal music including opera and classical singing.

A broken power line left 1,300 households on the Westside in the dark this morning ( Wednesday November 21st) with power supplies interrupted from 8.30am onwards.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) said that homes and businesses from Barvas to Ness were affected by the outage.

A total of £1,028,084 has been paid out to Island groups and causes over two years from 2016-18, the AGM of community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust heard last night (Tuesday, November 20)

The meeting at Ionad Stoodie in Point welcomed a large audience of members and guest speakers Adam Frew from the Wood Group spoke on the progress of the Hydrogen Ferry project, while Shane Wilmott from Enercon referred to renewables opportunities.

Windfarms throughout the Western Isles have been unable to supply power to the national grid since the main power line to the Outer Hebrides was swept away by a landslip at Invergarry on Monday November 12th.

That was explained by Point and Sandwick Power director Calum Macdonald during wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust’s Annual General Meeting last night (Tuesday, November 20).

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A truck loaded with 1,909 shoeboxes, each filled with warmth and cheer for families in poverty-stricken areas of Romania, will tonight (Tuesday November 20th) leave Stornoway bound for the mainland.

The Scottish Land Court has announced dates for its first hearing of the case between Stornoway Wind Farm Limited – Lewis Wind Power’s planned scheme for 36 turbines on common grazings– and the crofters who want to build community turbines on the same grazings.

The hearing is for Stornoway Wind Farm’s Section 19A application under the Crofting Act – which seeks final permission to go ahead with a plan, even when shareholders in the common grazings that are affected are opposed to it.

The hearing will take place in Stornoway on December 12 and 13, with December 14 also reserved in case it runs beyond those two days.

Stornoway police have asked for public help finding out how a car was damaged while parked overnight in Stornoway town centre.

The blue Vauxhall Zafira was parked on Mackenzie Street overnight on Saturday (November 17th).

A group of airport staff who cycled from Eilean Glas lighthouse to the Butt of Lewis in September have quadrupled the cash they hoped to raise for cancer charities.

Fifteen cyclists, including airport firefighters, security staff and air traffic controllers, made the 135 kilometre trip ‘Lighthouse2Lighthouse’ from Scalpay to Ness in glorious sunshine on Saturday September 8th, planning to raise £1,500 for two cancer charities.

A survey of crofters’ attitudes taken this month by the Scottish Crofting Federation shows that crofters are wary of the future of the livestock industry in the Highlands and Islands.

Only 14% of respondents are confident about the future, as compared to more than twice that number who are despondent (31%). Fifty five per cent said they were uncertain, citing Brexit and the knock-on effect that might have on prices and support payments.

Crofters and farmers are having to make decisions on stock numbers without knowing what sort of market they are going to be selling animals into. With both sheep and cattle producers, more people are reducing stock numbers than increasing them.

Blar Buidhe Care Home in Stornoway is celebrating having received a glowing report from the Care Inspectorate.

Volunteers and staff from Alzheimer Scotland – Lewis and Harris branch had a busy day at the Alzheimer Scotland Staff and Volunteers conference in Glasgow yesterday (Monday November 19th).

Tributes have been paid to the esteemed Gaelic writer and educationalist John Murray (Iain Moireach), of Barvas, whose death was announced on Saturday (November 17th).

He was 80 years old and had for some months been resident at Dun Eisdean care home in Stornoway.

Stornoway RNLI Lifeboat launched today (Monday 19th) at 1420 hrs after Stornoway Coastguard received a call from a vessel with two persons on board which was suffering engine problems off the Butt of Lewis.

The Ness, Bragar and Breasclete Coastguard Rescue Teams were also tasked to keep watch on the vessel from the shore until the Lifeboat arrived on scene at 1530 hrs, a little over an hour after launch, established a tow line with the stricken vessel and proceeded to tow the casualty to Stornoway Harbour, arriving back at 2100 hours.

The ‘Tom Sanderson’ RNLI lifeboat was refuelled and ready for service at 2215 hours.

(This article has been updated since first being posted yesterday afternoon to incorporate the safe return to Stornoway Harbour.)

 

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Sunshine and a brisk winter’s day greeted a big crowd of supporters and guests this morning (Monday November 19th) as works were starting on site at the seaward side of the Ui Church part of the Braighe.

Their aim is to enhance coastal protection and allow repairs and improvements to the pathway beside the Ui graveyard.

The death has been announced of Neil R Galbraith, former long-time director of education at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, and serving chairman of the board of NHS Western Isles.

His funeral is tomorrow (Tuesday November 20th) in Stornoway.

The Convener of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has paid tribute and the Comhairle flag is flying at half-mast.

Staff at the Woodlands café in Lews Castle grounds started their week tidying up the mess left behind by other people.

A large amount of broken glass was discovered this morning (Monday November 19th) as staff arrived to open up the café ahead of business.

Family members from Australia and friends from Glasgow are to travel to the Isle of Berneray to attend the funeral of Sophia Dale, also known as Sophia Mara, who died at her home on November 5th.

Australian-born Sophia (53) had lived in the old school for several years and was a popular and respected member of the island community, attending many social functions and singing at ceilidhs in English, Gaelic and Manx. An artist and musician, she presented a show called The Tide on An Radio, the Uist-based community radio station.

The Lewis and Harris branch of the national pet rescue charity Cats Protection is to close its rescue centre with immediate effect (Sunday November 18th).

Stornoway Lifeboat was launched on Saturday evening (November 17th) at 6.50pm, when two fish farm workers off the Isle of Harris called for help as their vessel grounded on a falling tide.

Stornoway Coastguard issued a ‘pan-pan’ call for all nearby vessels to assist, with the fish farm vessel Fame responding to the call and standing by to help Coastguard communications.

The carcass of a 16-foot-long tuna has washed up on the beach at Traigh Mhor, Tolsta, attracting the attention of passers-by during sunny Sunday afternoon walks.

The main A857 road between Stornoway and Barvas was closed for several hours on Saturday morning (November 17th) after a single-vehicle road accident and a missing driver were reported to police.

Investors have agreed to wipe out more than 60 per cent of the £220m debt owed to them by Johnston Press after taking over the regional publisher through newly-formed company JPI Media today (Saturday November 17th), the UK Press Gazette reports.

The bondholders have agreed to extend the deadline for repayment of the outstanding £85m debt to December 2023 and have also announced £35m in additional funding for the new business.

JP announced late last night that it was going into administration, putting an end to the sales process through which it had sought a buyer to take on its considerable debts.

An international war of words has erupted over the fate of Johnston Press, owners of the Stornoway Gazette, The Scotsman and more than 200 other newspaper and website titles.

The group, which also includes the I newspaper, and The Yorkshire Post, is preparing to enter into administration, the company confirmed last night (Friday November 17th).

But one of the company’s main shareholders – with around 25 per cent of the now worthless stock – has denounced the deal on Twitter as “simply a disgrace and a vulgar display of the worst elements of capitalism.”

All the training and participation in two great runs has paid off for Charles Young of 7 Fivepenny, who has raised the fantastic total of £1366 in support of two Ness charities.

These are Comunn Eachdraidh Nis and Eoropie Dunes playpark.  The funds raised will be divided equally between the two charities.

Johnston Press, the group of newspapers which owns the Stornoway Gazette, has given up its long battle to survive.

The group, which includes the i, The Scotsman and The Yorkshire Post, is preparing to enter into administration, the company confirmed last night (Friday November 17th).

The publishing group was trying to refinance £220m of debt that becomes repayable in June 2019.  Over the last 10 years, it had succeeded in cutting its debt mountain back from a reported peak of £793m. 

Lewis Wind Power, the developer of the proposed Stornoway and Uisenis wind farms, is a sponsor for this year’s festive lights and switching on ceremony on December 7 in Stornoway, the town’s Amenity Trust has announced.

Will Collins, Project Manager for the company, said: “We know that the Christmas lights are an important part of the run up to the festive period across the country, so we are delighted to do our bit to help make sure that Stornoway again has a great display at the very heart of the town.

Foodbank usage is soaring in the Western Isles - new figures covering this summer show a 26% increase compared with last year.

Figures published by Britain’s biggest foodbank provider, the Trussell Trust, showed that 289 three-day emergency food parcels were provided to people in crisis by foodbanks in the Western Isles between 1st April 2018 and 29th September 2018, compared with 229 for the same period in the previous year.  

Across Scotland, foodbank use has risen by 15%. Foodbank providers have said the rise is largely due to the in-built minimum wait of five weeks for a first payment for those migrated to Universal Credit – with many more people forced to wait even longer than five weeks.

Eilean Siar Foodbank are asking for a double dose of help from island shoppers and businesses as they approach the busy time of their Christmas box appeal.

This year the foodbank, which meets the needs of people who can’t afford to feed themselves year-round, not only needs donations of food but also a place to keep it.

Eilean Siar foodbank administrator Sarah Macdonald told welovestornoway.com today (Friday November 16th): “Our former storage area, which the owners kindly let us use for as long as they could, has now had to be sold.

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Two student artists from Macaulay College in Stornoway are making a festive splash with their artwork – just in time for Christmas.

Their distinctive drawings and designs are behind the launch of a new company, Power Up Designs, which is producing greetings cards including a unique range of Christmas cards.

A charitable trust has been formed in the name of Eilidh MacLeod, the Barra schoolgirl who died during the Manchester arena bombing in May 2017.

The Eilidh Macleod Memorial Trust was registered as a CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation) on the 29th October 2018 and has two main aims:

Those attending the annual partnership event held at the Cabarfeidh Hotel yesterday (Thursday November 15th) were treated to an inspiring address from Craig Mathieson, of the Polar Academy in Bo’ness, West Lothian.

More than 25 tiny local businesses have already signed up to take part in a major ‘Shop Local’ weekend event being pioneered by Stornoway Golf Club.

They are going to have a Black Friday – Shop Local - weekend event in the club on Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th November from 11am-7pm.

Drink-drivers in the Highlands and Islands are carrying on with their anti-social and dangerous behaviour despite police activity and tighter restrictions.

That’s the view of Highlands & Islands Regional MSP and Road Safety campaigner, David Stewart.

In December 2014 a new law came into force which cut the legal alcohol limit from 80mg to 50mg in every 100ml of blood.  Campaigners believed the new limit would cut the number of deaths and serious injuries on Scottish roads.

Hard-done-by hens are looking for a new life in Lewis, with a chicken re-homing charity planning a flying delivery on Tuesday December 11th.

Hebridean Housing Partnership's existing scheme at Tom Na Ba, Galson has been complemented by four new homes, which were officially opened by Alasdair Allan MSP on Monday 12 November. 

Alasdair Allan said, “It was great to visit Katie in her new house today, and was an honour to declare all four new houses at Tom na Ba officially open.

Entries are already coming in fast for the Hebridean Dark Skies Festival photography competition…and there are still eight days to go (after today, Thursday November 15th).

The best entries will be exhibited at An Lanntair throughout the new festival in February 2019 – and the photographers can win free festival tickets

Two men who were arrested in Stornoway town centre in the early hours of Friday (November 9th) appeared at Stornoway Sheriff Court yesterday (Tuesday November 13th).

At 11.30pm on Thursday (November 8th) police went to a residential address in the town after complaints of disturbance to neighbours. One man, aged 32, became hostile and aggressive and was arrested and charged with breach of the peace.

Work to restore the main power connection between the mainland transmission network, Skye and the Western Isles is now under way, according to a spokesperson for Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks.

The Western Isles have been running on electricity generated by diesel-fired power stations through the island chain since mid-morning on Monday (November 12th), when the main supply was severed by a landslide near Invergarry.

Two crews of retained firefighters from Stornoway were called to the Halfway Garage north of Cameron Terrace in Leurbost on Monday evening (November 12th) after passers-by spotted sparks and flashes coming from a pole-mounted power supply.

A report came in at 8.30pm on Monday, during a challenging day for power-workers, that the equipment connected to the power pole nearest to the garage seemed to be sparking dangerously.

A family temporarily lost their home in Stornoway after a fire started in their kitchen on Monday (November 12th), following that day's island-wide power cuts.

Neighbours alerted Fire Scotland in Stornoway at 3.10pm when smoke was seen pouring from the house on Assaye Place. No one was at home at the time.

Three Fire Scotland appliances, crewed by two Stornoway fire crews and the Shawbost crew of retained fire-fighters, and two officers from Stornoway fire station were quickly on scene, remaining for four hours to tackle the fire and make all safe.

Western Isles Citizens Advice Service have been successful in being re-accredited for Scottish National Standards to provide advice and information in Housing, Welfare Benefits and Money Advice

Chairman of WICAS David Blaney said, “The skill and experience of our staff and volunteers throughout the Western Isles has been acknowledged by the Scottish Government with this award in these three topics.”

Western Isles Citizens Advice Service have been successful in being re-accredited for Scottish National Standards to provide advice and information in Housing, Welfare Benefits and Money Advice

Chairman of WICAS David Blaney said, “The skill and experience of our staff and volunteers throughout the Western Isles has been acknowledged by the Scottish Government with this award in these three topics.”

Those who were successful in securing tickets for the Dìleab concert on 14th December in the Lewis Sports Centre can now pick up their tickets.

Tickets are available for collection from the Town Hall, Point Street, Stornoway, until Friday 30th November (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm).

But if you don't go and get them, you will lose them!

Stornoway Rugby Football Club juniors are dressed for training in all weathers in branded club kit thanks to a donation of £3,000 from community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust.

The grant means the club have been able to provide weatherproof training tops to junior club members free of charge, saving families the expense and furthering a sense of team spirit and club pride among the youngsters taking part.

Drivers on the roads at dawn and dusk should make sure they have their headlights on.

That's the plea from Highlands & islands Regional MSP and road safety campaigner, David Stewart.

He is highlighting an issue which seems to be occurring just around sunset and also around sunrise with drivers using their vehicles in poor visibility yet not displaying their lights.

A 71-year-old man has been reported to the Procurator Fiscal after a number of road traffic offences in Stornoway at the weekend.

The man was stopped while driving on Rigs Road in Stornoway at 7pm on Saturday (10th November).

The Gael who will be chairing the public meeting in Stornoway on Thursday with the purpose of officially setting up ‘Comann nam Pàrant Steòrnabhaigh’ has spoken in support of such a group.
Calum Iain Macleod, former Development Director of Comunn na Gàidhlig, said he was “delighted to support current efforts in establishing a local group of Comann nam Pàrant” and stressed the role it could play in boosting the development of Gaelic education in the area.
“With the numbers enrolling in Gaelic education in Stornoway, as well as other areas of the Western Isles, growing year on year, it is important that parents are provided with support and advice on all aspects of Gaelic education. A local Comann nam Pàrant group would provide this.
Island power stations will continue to run for at least the next week, with the main power connection to the mainland cut for the foreseeable future by a landslide yesterday morning (Monday November 12th) near Invergarry, on a 35km-long stretch of single track road alongside Loch Hourn.
Scalpay, Huisinis and Urgha in Harris - along with Coll in Lewis - will be without power on various days this week for planned maintenance work.

A Harris schoolboy is on his way home from London after a trip to commemorate the centenary of the Armistice which ended the First World War. He attended the service at Westminster Abbey on Sunday (November 11th).

15-year-old Hamish Scott, who is in S4 at Sir E Scott School in Tarbert, was also at Buckingham Palace last week, reading his poem, Scapa Flow, at a tea party for schoolchildren hosted by Vice-Admiral Sir Tim Laurence.

Hamish’s poem was a winner when he was just 12 years old, in a schools’ poetry competition run by the youth project Never Such Innocence, and was written to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of Jutland in 2016.

More than 20,000 customers throughout the Outer Hebrides and many others as far to the east as Kyle of Lochalsh were without power from around 9am this morning (Monday November 12th).  Many remained still without power at 1pm.

This followed a landslip that damaged part of the overhead transmission network.  Originally this was said to be on Skye.  Now SSE say it's on the mainland.

Dr Kay Macleod from Lewis (pictured above in her office in 2013) has been named November “Scientist of the Month” by the Chicago chapter of the Association of Women in Science.

Kay first became interested in science as a school pupil.

The Isle of Harris distillery announced on Friday (November 9th) the appointment of their first apprentice distiller, school-leaver Rebekah Morrison.

Stornoway Rugby Club’s under-16 and under-14 teams were away to the mainland on Saturday (November 10th) for matches against Caithness RFC in Thurso.

On a fantastic November morning, in bright sunshine the under-16s joined Caithness U16's at Millbank, kicking off early to accommodate the islanders’ evening ferry home from Ullapool. 

Bright winter sunshine, stillness and emotion were the hallmarks of Remembrance weekend throughout the Western Isles this weekend (Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th November).

Imagine waking up in Lewis and Harris on New Year's Day 1919, expecting your husband, brother, son or fiancé to be returning from the war.

Highlands & Islands Regional MSP Rhoda Grant says she wants to clear up confusion over her stance on kelp harvesting.

Rhoda said "I have met with representatives from both those against and those in favour of kelp harvesting in the last few weeks. I feel it is always important to listen to both sides before making a judgement.

Thousands of people across the world are seeing a stylish new documentary about the Harris Tweed cloth.

Made by Parisian Gentleman : the French voice of sartorial excellence, it was viewed almost 7,000 times in in its first three days on-line.

The Youtube Channel entitled Sartorial Talks has 36,000 subscribers.

Seen recently at Inverness Airport, one of Loganair's recently introduced jet aircraft.  Photographs by Inverness Aviation Photography

Loganair has introduced a discount fare for members of the armed forces veterans and the armed forces community.

The airline has teamed up with Poppyscotland and The Royal British Legion.

Lewis and Harris will mark 100 years since the end of the ‘war to end all wars’ this weekend (Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th November) with a series of memorial services and parades.

The Armistice was signed at 6am on November 11th 1918 at Compiègne in France, the guns falling silent at 11am, signalling the end of the First World War.

Strong winds and rough seas have led to the cancellation this afternoon (Friday November 9th) of ferry services between Oban and Castlebay, Tarbert, Uig and Lochmaddy and between Stornoway and Ullapool.

The MV Loch Seaforth will not return from Ullapool at 5.30pm, although she is expected to make her crossing from Stornoway this afternoon. The 10.30pm freight sailing is also cancelled.

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A man who fell 200 feet from a cliff top in Lewis has made an emotional return trip to the island to thank all those who helped him survive.

But music executive Andy Godfrey was not able to track down everyone who provided him with care, and has turned to welovestornoway.com to make sure everyone involved in his life-saving care knows of his gratitude.

A public meeting is to be held in the County Hotel, Stornoway, on Thursday, November 15 at 7.30pm with the purpose of officially setting up ‘Comann nam Pàrant Stèornabhagh’.

This group would represent the views of parents and carers of children and young people in Gaelic Medium Education (GME) in the Stornoway area.

The group would take in Stornoway and Laxdale primary schools and The Nicolson Institute – and representation is very much being sought from all three schools to have an input into the Comann nam Pàrant Stèornabhagh group.

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 6th and 7th of November. 

The judges - Am Pàipear editor Iain Stephen Morrison; Acair manager Agnes Rennie; and Boyd Robertson, former principal of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, certainly had their work cut out whittling 16 teams down to four, organisers say.

Teenage musician Rosie Sullivan from Barvas is heading home from London today (Thursday November 8th) after a star-struck night on one of the most iconic stages in the UK.

Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant is backing the company proposing a controversial kelp harvesting plan off the Western Isles.

Mrs Grant has today (Thursday November 8th) issued an invitation to all MSPs to a briefing meeting with Marine Biopolymers Limited (MBL) next Wednesday, (14th November) ahead of the Scottish Crown Estates Bill, which will have its third and final reading at Holyrood on Wednesday 21st November. In its current form, the bill would ban MBL's business as unsustainable and harmful to the environment.

A major appeal is being launched in Stornoway for assistance to the work of Glasgow City Mission, which is facing increasing demands on its support for those in difficulties.

Donations are needed of new socks and underwear for both men and women; sleeping bags; new towels, and tea, coffee, sugar and diluting orange juice – as well as money, of course.

The appeal is being organised by the Stornoway High Free Church.

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Lewis Blythswood has set up shop at the Drill Hall on Church Street, Stornoway, for the annual collection of shoeboxes filled with gifts and goodwill for needy families.

Graeme Bell, general manager of Inverness Airport, for category sponsor Highlands and Islands Airports, presents the commendation to curator Catherine Maclean and musician Dalbir Singh Rattan of the Purvai Festival 

Catherine Maclean ended her 12 years work at Stornoway’s An Lanntair arts centre on a high point when the Purvai festival received a commendation at the annual Highlands and Islands tourism ‘Oscars’.

Stornoway police are appealing for information after a light was damaged outside the Porter's Lodge at the entrance to Lews Castle grounds.

The damage to a dome-shaped glass light fitted into the ground took place between 1pm on Friday (November 2nd) and 1pm on Monday (November 5th).

Although the light was already slightly damaged, it was further damaged by the incident and police would like to speak to anyone who knows how this happened on the non-emergency number 101.

Community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust are celebrating after scooping a prestigious win at this year’s Scottish Social Enterprise Awards – held in the Scottish Parliament last night (Tuesday, November 6)

The community wind farm organisation, which runs the Beinn Ghrideag wind farm near Stornoway with the sole aim of ploughing all the profits back into the community, was named ‘Environmental Social Enterprise of the Year’ in the Social Enterprise Awards Scotland 2018. It had also been shortlisted for ‘Social Enterprise of the Year’.

It is the third major award for Point and Sandwick Trust and the second this year.

The sale of almost 10,000 Poppy Scotland pin-badges, specifically designed to commemorate the loss of the Iolaire, has kindled worldwide remembrance of a tragedy which spent most of the past 100 years almost shrouded in the silence of grief.

HMY Iolaire foundered on the Beasts of Holm near Stornoway in the early hours of New Year’s morning 1919, with the loss of 201 returning servicemen after the Great War. Commemorations of the centenary of the tragedy include a new memorial at Holm and performances of commissioned music, as well as the special Iolaire Poppy badge now on sale.

Organisers from the Iolaire Working Group have asked those buying badges to share their location on social media, with comments and memories flooding in from around the world.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar as education provider has been criticised by national inspectors of Tong Primary School and Sgoil Àraich who call for work to be done to provide an outdoor play area for nursery school pupils.

In September 2018, a team of inspectors from Education Scotland and the Care Inspectorate visited Tong Primary School and Sgoil Àraich.

Their report states that; “The provider must, within six months of the publication of this report, provide a suitable outdoor play area for Tong Nursery School.“

Lewis singer Josie Duncan is among the shortlisted nominees for the coveted Gaelic Singer of the Year award at the traditional music awards ‘Na Trads’.

Organizing body Hands Up for Trad announced the artists shortlisted for this year’s MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards today (Tuesday November 6th).

A company of architects based in Achmore have won the recognition of their own profession with an award for their own home.

Duncan and Fiona Porteous were told at an awards ceremony in Inverness on Friday (November 2nd) that their converted mission house had been highly placed in three categories of the Awards for Architecture 2018, winning the top prize in one.

The West Side successfully ‘plastered it purple’ for Glasgow Children’s Hospital during October – and now two fundraising families want to say thank you to everyone who took part.

Two Harris Guides and their leader bumped into their own MP, Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil last week (Wednesday October 31st) while they were visiting the House of Lords as part of a continuing celebration of the role of women in public life.

Rangers Catherine MacDonald from Tarbert (left) and Kelly MacKay from Cliasmol (right) joined Harris Girlguiding leader Matilda Lomas-Mackenzie on the terrace outside Westminster for a photo-op with their MP as part of an unforgettable day out in London, in celebration of 60 years of women as peers and during UK Parliament Week, which helps to get young people involved with democracy. 

A fish farm barge which sank in the Sound of Harris on Sunday (November 4th) is still awaiting a decision on how to raise or salvage it.

Stornoway Coastguard operations centre were notified by Loch Duart Fish Farms that a barge had capsized and sunk south-west of Rodel, close to the small island of Grodhaigh, during rough weather on Sunday morning.

There's an event in Tarbert planned as part of the nationwide Day of Commemorative Events marking the centenary of the end of the First World War.

The aim is to pay tribute to the millions, from all nations, killed or wounded in battle, and those on the Home Front who struggled amidst pain and loss.

North Harbour Bistro on Scalpay has been awarded the prestigious Good Food Award for 2019.

Stornoway RNLI Lifeboat volunteer crew launched at 23.57hrs on Friday (November 2nd) in response to a fish farm support vessel which had issued a Pan Pan (urgent assistance message) after suffering a loss of propulsion whilst at Lemreway.

The weather conditions on passage down the coast to assist the stricken vessel were extremely challenging with winds of 50 knots and seas up to 7m.

Harris-based nursing student Sara Wood-Kwasniewska graduated alongside Olympic curler Eve Muirhead in Inverness yesterday (Friday 2 November).

Sara, 47, graduated from the University of Stirling, after undertaking a BSc degree in Adult Nursing at the Western Isles campus.

The winner of the first Western Isles Lottery SuperDraw was drawn on 20th October 2018 and the Western Isles Lottery Team were delighted to present Mr Roddy MacKay from Balivanich with a cheque for £1,000.

Since its launch in August 2017, the Lottery has gone from strength to strength, raising over £77,000 for the Western Isles, with £22,000 being shared in Prize Winnings.

Uig powerboat owner Seumas Macleod is planning to make a living with speed, after spending the past week breaking UK and world inland water speed records.

24-year-old Seumas is at Lake Coniston in the Lake District of England, taking part in Coniston Power Boat Records Week. His powerboat, a small RIB called Black Pudding, is competing in the PF850 class, powered through the water by an 850cc Yamaha outboard engine which has been stripped down and rebuilt by Seumas at his own workshop in Miavaig.

Today (Friday November 2nd) the hard work of many months has paid off, with the latest of four consecutive records set in flat calm conditions on the waters of Lake Coniston.

A Berneray soldier who served in the First World War will be one of those commemorated during an art installation which will be created on November 11th – and washed away by the sea.

Duncan MacKinnon (1893 – 23 March 1916) was one of six brothers who all went to war. Out of the six, he and his brother Neil (born 1899) were killed.

Rain and wind forecast for the weekend will mean disruption from this afternoon (Friday November 2nd) across the Western Isles.

Some ferry services across the Minch are cancelled from this afternoon as a spell of windy weather moves into the Western Isles and a Met Office yellow ‘be aware’ warning of heavy rain has been extended to cover the Western Isles throughout Saturday.

There's fundraising going on today at Iceland Stornoway in Cromwell Street on behalf of the Western Isles Kidney Patients Association.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has welcomed a series of recommendations made by the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee on Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services.

In a letter to Michael Matheson, the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, the Committee stressed It is essential that lifeline ferry services deliver services that fully meet the needs of island communities, businesses and tourism.

On Monday in Stornoway, a breakfast meeting of business and agency leaders at Highlands and Islands Enterprise in James Street, heard criticism of the use of the phrase ‘lifeline’ services to describe the sea links.  No one refers to the A9 trunk road as a lifeline link to Inverness or Caithness and ferries are just the ‘roads to the Islands,’ it was stated.

The closure of Broadford’s only 24-hour petrol station has led to warnings for drivers coming to Skye about making sure they have enough fuel to complete their journey.

CalMac has advised travellers heading for Uig ferry services to ensure they have enough fuel for their journey, especially as many filling stations in Portree, Uig and around Kyle operate business hours only, and some are not open at weekends.

Marine engineering company Gael Force, which was founded in Stornoway in the 1980s, is continuing its expansion with the acquisition of Corpach Boatbuilding Company.

The ‘strategically significant move’ will allow the company to fulfil its objective of building a new range of steel feed barges for aquaculture customers.

Gael Force was founded in 1983 by Stewart Graham as a start-up business in Stornoway to design and manufacture a ‘better’ fishing creel, supplied direct to the boat owner.

Ross County Football Club announced on Tuesday (October 30th) that Point footballer Matthew Wright, 16, has signed his first professional contract with the club.

Matthew, a former Sgoil an Rubha and Nicolson Institute pupil, has been with the Ross County Football Club Academy since March 2017, travelling from the Western Isles with his parents to participate in youth games.

The Stornoway Media Centre - by SignPrint (http://www.sign-print.co.uk/) and Intermedia Services (Stornoway) Ltd, (www.intermediaservicesstornoway.co.uk) was launched today with an open day started by the cutting of a commemorative cake by Dolly Macleod - whose husband "ND' Macleod formerly ran his business in the building.

This was followed by speeches by Laura MacIver of SignPrint Ltd, Chris Corden, non-executive director of Intermedia Services (Stornoway) Ltd and Fred Silver, director of Intermedia Services (Stornoway) Ltd and editor of EVENTS and welovestornoway.com

Both companies are joining to show off the opportunities offered by the new centre and its constituent operations including a full range of design, printing and media operations. The building is open throughout the day.

 

CalMac has issued an early warning of possible ferry disruption on cross-Minch routes for the weekend, with strong winds forecast.

The Oban-Castlebay service has warnings of disruption or short-notice cancellation on Friday and Saturday, both passenger and freight sailings on the MV Loch Seaforth could be disrupted or cancelled between Stornoway and Ullapool on Saturday (November 3rd). Check Calmac service status for further information www.calmac.co.uk/service-status

The Met Office forecast shows strong southerly winds from late afternoon tomorrow (Friday November 2nd) and through Saturday, peaking in the early hours of Sunday before dying away later. 

 

An appeal for witnesses has gone out from Stornoway Police after windows
were smashed at a house near the airport.
The vandalism happened at an address in Branahuie while the residents
were not at home.

A 21-year-old driver who abandoned his car after turning it over in a single-vehicle crash is in court today (Thursday November 1st), charged with drink driving.

Police were called to the Braighe Road, near Stornoway airport, at 7.30am yesterday ((Wednesday October 31st) after reports that a car was on its roof just off the road.

Wednesday 31stOctober saw the launch of the Move More Western Isles programme of activities, aimed at helping islanders with long term conditions, including cancer, to be more physically active.

A new state-of-the-art radar, replacing the former weather radar at Lewis in the Western Isles, opens today, St Andrew's Day, Thursday November 30th.
The new radar can, for the first time, capture the size and shape of raindrops and snowflakes - new scientific advancements which will ultimately lead to improvements in the accuracy of rainfall estimates, particularly during high impact weather events.
The new radar has also begun to capture wind speed measurements. They are the latest step by the Met Office to upgrade its 30 year old Radar Network – one of the longest established radar networks of its kind in the world, consisting of 15 radars across the UK.

Charles Macleod Ltd from Stornoway and Isle of Harris distillery from Tarbert are exhibiting their produce at a UK Government reception in London today [Thursday 30 November] as part of a ‘Taste of Scotland’ celebration at the Scotland Office.

Scotland Office Minister Lord Duncan will host today’s reception at Dover House where hundreds of influential guests, including foreign dignitaries, ambassadors and MPs, will be welcomed by a bagpiper and enjoy a range of unique Scottish goods.

UK Government Minister for Scotland Lord Duncan said: “St Andrew’s Day is the perfect opportunity to open the doors of Dover House and showcase the finest that Scotland has to offer, giving our guests a true experience of our world-class produce.

The Royal College of Midwives is urging more pregnant women in the Western Isles to get their flu vaccine to help protect themselves and their babies this winter.

The call comes after statistics highlighted that nearly half (48 percent) of those pregnant in the Western Isles took their flu vaccine last winter and that, nationally, flu was the cause of death among one in 11 women who died during, or shortly after, pregnancy.

Pregnant women who contract flu are also five times more likely to have a stillborn baby, or for the baby to die in the first week following birth.


Alex MacLeod, Stornoway Port Authority Chief Executive with Economy Secretary Keith Brown in Stornoway

Stornoway Port Authority has been chosen as one of the first recipients for a funding award from the Scottish Government’s Decommissioning Challenge Fund.
The SPA has been offered nearly £73,000 to support several projects it is undertaking at Arnish.
And the award is one of only seven projects in total across Scotland which have been offered a share of a £1.1 million tranche of funding.

The word from NHS Western Isles is ‘Be Health-Wise this Winter’ as the local health board supports a national campaign to highlight the importance of being prepared for seasonal illness.
‘Be Health-Wise this Winter’ is designed to encourage everyone to take a few simple steps to ensure they can take care of themselves and their families over the festive period.
NHS Western Isles Medical Director, Angus McKellar, said the campaign is an important reminder that opening times in community services such as GP surgeries and pharmacies will change over the holidays.

The word from NHS Western Isles is ‘Be Health-Wise this Winter’ as the local health board supports a national campaign to highlight the importance of being prepared for seasonal illness.
‘Be Health-Wise this Winter’ is designed to encourage everyone to take a few simple steps to ensure they can take care of themselves and their families over the festive period.
NHS Western Isles Medical Director, Angus McKellar, said the campaign is an important reminder that opening times in community services such as GP surgeries and pharmacies will change over the holidays.

The rage of a long-forgotten night-time storm surrounded a crowd packed into the main library in Stornoway last night (Tuesday 28th November), as the timbers of a vast wooden sailing ship cracked and splintered.

Shivering and praying in almost complete darkness, the audience felt how much of the masts and rigging were swept away leaving the Annie Jane adrift at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean in an immense storm which took thousands of lives all up and down the west coasts of Britain and Ireland.

Then with her cargo of iron shifting in the holds, a vast wave swept across the deck taking all the remaining structures away…along with the lives of almost all those who had fled to the deck from the pitch-dark watery hell below.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is seeking local option from Newton residents in Stornoway as the authority’s Regeneration Team host a public consultation next week.
Chairman of Sustainable Development at the Comhairle, Donald Crichton, said: “I would encourage local residents and businesses in the Newton area to come along and view the potential developments in the area.
“The Regeneration Team, developers and other stakeholders are working collaboratively to seek funding in order to regenerate former mill buildings and bring them back into productive use and create jobs.”

Island ferry operators Caledonian MacBrayne warn travellers on the Ullapool to Stornoway route to ‘Be aware’ as ferry services are ‘highly likely’ to be cancelled today (Tuesday, November 28th).
“Please be advised that the 1400 from Stornoway and the 1730 from Ullapool are highly likely to be cancelled due to swell conditions in the Minch,” states CalMac, adding: “Customers are advised to travel from Tarbert to Uig at 1150 and from Uig to Tarbert at 1815.”
It is anticipated that the freight ferry services between Stornoway and Ullapool may also be affected by the heavy swell and warn customers to ‘be aware’ that the 2230 Stornoway-Ullapool service, and the 0300 Ullapool-Stornoway service, may be disrupted, delayed, or cancelled at short notice.

The cold-snap experienced across the Western Isles recently still remains as the Met Office issue another Yellow warning for ice tonight.
The forecasters anticipate icy patches likely to develop between 6pm tonight (Tuesday, November 28th) and 10am tomorrow (Wednesday, November 29th) on some untreated roads, pavements and cycle paths.
Wintry showers may bring additional hazards, including causing wash-off on treated roads, and may lead to one to two centimetres of snow accumulating on ground above 200m.

It is vital that members of the public take precautions to help prevent them catching or spreading the norovirus (commonly known as the ‘winter vomiting bug’) to others, says NHS Western Isles.

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that spreads through direct contact, from contaminated surfaces including food, and from vomit droplets. The first sign of norovirus is usually a sudden sick feeling, followed by forceful vomiting and watery diarrhoea.

Laxdale Primary School pictured after their RNLI fundraising walk in Lews Castle Grounds

Laxdale Primary School pupils have displayed their generosity donating a magnificent total of £2,552 to Stornoway RNLI.
Laxdale Primary One class collected £258 worth of 1ps and 2ps towards the Stornoway RNLI ‘One Million Pennies Appeal’ – which was added to the sum raised by the entire school when they completed a sponsored walk to Lews Castle Grounds recently.

Budding junior musicians, it’s time to get practising – for Isles musical showcase, the Western Isles Young Musician of the Year competition, is making a comeback.

After a five-year break, the competition will run again in February 2018 with a grand finale at Lews Castle.

But that’s not all, for the new competition is accompanied by a brand new contest – the Young Western Isles Singer of the Year - also open to young people from primary age and up.  The final date for entries for both competitions is January 19th, 2018.

Police and contractors have appealed from help from the public after a series of attacks on newly-restored fencing around Aignish Cemetery on the Braighe near Stornoway.

The barbed wire strands on top of the stock-proof fencing were systematically cut through and prepared, laminated notices left claiming barbed wire should not be used as it endangers dogs.

Western Isles Police have appealed for help saying on Twitter: “Between Friday 17/11/17 & Monday 20/11/17, damage was caused to barbed wire fencing around Aignish Cemetery. We'd like to appeal to anyone who has any knowledge of, or information about this incident, or suspicious behaviour at the Cemetery to report it to us. NH4465/17 refers.”

Charles Dewhurst gets set to take on Everest in aid of The Leanne Fund charity

A former Isle of Lewis resident is taking on the world’s highest mountain in an effort to raise funds for The Leanne Fund.
Charles Dewhurst, former employee of Duncan Mackay and Sons Ltd, is undertaking a trek to Everest base camp at 17,600ft - or ultimately 19,600ft where his insurance runs out, Camp 1 - to raise funds for The Leanne Fund and St Abbs Independent Lifeboat.
Fifty-six-year-old Charles, who now works for Scottish Water’s alliance partner Caledonia Water Alliance, is in training to climb higher than base camp on Mount Everest in December.

Police in the Highlands and Islands have made 16 significant drug recoveries in the past four weeks across the north of Scotland.
Activity by Police Scotland officers has resulted in seizures in the Inverness, Shetland, Ross-shire, Lochaber, Badenoch & Strathspey and Western Isles areas over the past few weeks.
The activity has resulted in tens of thousands of pounds worth of illegal drugs being intercepted before they are sold on.

ORCA wildlife officer Andy Gilbert will be seconded to CalMac full time from March next year for an eight month period

Ferry operator CalMac has seconded a full time ORCA wildlife officer to help educate crew and passengers about marine life across the west coast.
CalMac has been partnering with wildlife charity ORCA for four years monitoring mammals in the Minch and the two organisations are now working together to expand their conservation work next summer.
Andy Gilbert has spent decades pursuing his passion for wildlife and conservation first as a volunteer, and most recently as an ORCA wildlife officer in both the Bay of Biscay and in the Hebrides aboard the MV Loch Nevis.

He will now be bringing his experience to the west coast in 2018, working as a full-time conservation expert across the CalMac fleet.
“The opportunity to spend 2018 working in the Hebrides and helping deliver the ORCA Wildlife Officer programme, in partnership with CalMac, is an exciting next step in my career,” said Andy.
“I can’t wait to start helping to spread the message about marine conservation across their network of routes.
“The more we learn about the diversity of what lives in our seas, the greater understanding we will have about how to conserve it for future generations.”

The three turbines at Beinn Ghrideag on the Pentland Road near Stornoway are producing enough power for every home on the Isle of Lewis, the Point and Sandwick Trust AGM heard earlier this week.

The Trust chairman Angus McCormack asked why anyone could support EDF’s plans for a corporate wind farm in Stornoway over a community-owned one like PST’s.

The three turbines at Beinn Ghrideag now generate £900,000 in profit each year, with every penny going back to the community. That is exactly the same sum of money which Lewis Wind Power (EDF and Amec-Foster-Wheeler in partnership with Stornoway Trust) plan to give to the community if they get the go-ahead for their wind farm — which has 36 turbines.

Co-op Macaulay Road are once again collecting toys for Action for Children. If you are wanting to donate anything please just put it in the in-store sleigh. Toys must be in their original packaging.

The collected gifts will be going to children for their Christmas who otherwise may not receive anything.

It's that time of year…and Maybury Gardens in North Street, Sandwick is already resplendent with festive fun as its Christmas launch gets underway today (Thursday November 23)

Islanders are urged to take care tonight as roads and pavements look set to become icy

Yellow weather warnings for snow and ice have been issued today by the Met Office – and islanders are urged to take care today and tomorrow as ice in particular is expected on the roads overnight.
Today (Thursday, November 23rd) a Yellow Ice warning has been issued from 6pm through to 10am tomorrow morning (Friday, November 24th) to expect some icy patches to form on untreated roads, pavements and cycle paths overnight.
“There is a risk of slippery surfaces and difficult driving conditions,” say the Met Office. “Snow showers are expected, mainly over higher ground, in the north and west of Scotland, with longer journey times possible.”

Contest success…Councillor Donald Crichton presenting an iPad to Sean Kettle

The winners of the Outer Hebrides Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme Business Ideas Competition were recently announced to coincide with Global Entrepreneurship Week.

Business Gateway would like to say a huge thank you to all those who entered the competition, which was run in conjunction with the “OHYES” grant scheme – a joint initiative between Scape Communities ReInvest Fund and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. 

Support for the Cambridge Weight Plan across the Islands has projected Stornoway-based Terri McGeoghegan into the top 50 out of more than 3,600 consultants across the UK.

Terri, who herself demonstrates the success of the plan, having lost three stone (19kg), has been providing support for clients through the Cambridge Weight Plan for more than two years.

Formerly working from home, Terri now works partly as Hebrides Harmony beauty therapist and partly as an independent Cambridge consultant from the White Rooms in Bayhead, Stornoway.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, David Stewart, says he is delighted that the Western Isles Foyer, based at Bayhead in Stornoway, was awarded £6,118 from the National Lottery Awards For All Scotland yesterday (Wednesday November 22).

The Foyer will use the funding for a pilot project in which 24 young people will participate in an ‘accredited tenancy-training course’ which will enable them to demonstrate their readiness before applying for their own tenancy.

Skipinnish are set to entertain HebCelt crowds next summer

Skipinnish, Blazin’ Fiddles, and Tide Lines are all set to entertain Stornoway next summer as the Hebridean Celtic Festival reveals the first acts for the 2018 party.
An enticing mix of international artists and home-grown talent make up the first acts announced for the multi-award-winning Hebridean Celtic Festival’s 2018 line-up.
HebCelt director Caroline Maclennan said: “This is a fresh, lively set of artists which is in line with HebCelt’s aim to bring a mix of established and young talent from different cultures to our audience.

Exploratory test holes will be bored in the seabed at Stornoway harbour

Tests will start this week to help pave the way for the creation of a deep-water port at Stornoway, bringing major economic benefits to the town.
A deep-water port is a crucial part of Stornoway Port Authority’s ambitious 20-year masterplan and the exploratory work represents a key milestone in its commitment to the development.
The test holes in the seabed will determine the depth of rock and the soft material above it, providing the information to determine the design and construction of a facility that will help stimulate growth in a number of vital sectors.

Isles MP, Angus Brendan MacNeil and a group of other MPs met today (Wednesday November 22) with Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis MP to discuss ways of enabling non-EEA crew, principally from the Philippines and Ghana, to work on fishing boats on the West Coast of Scotland.

Commenting after the meeting Angus MacNeil MP said: “This was a very useful meeting.   Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis MP was very open and had a fresh and honest eye to the possibilities of what could happen.

Western Isles’ residents are being warned of a telephone scam currently circulating locally.
Trading Standards at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are warning residents of the phone scam where the caller states that your bank is under investigation and in order to protect yourself, you are instructed to move your money to a different account.
The caller then provides the sort code and account number to enable the transfer.
The caller sounds genuine, and will tell you that you need to act urgently. They will also say that you must not disclose the information with anyone, including bank staff.
A local authority Trading Standards spokesperson said: “This is a scam. A banking institution will not contact you in this manner.
“Our advice is to hang up, wait five to ten minutes, and call your bank on the legitimate phone number printed on your bank statements.”

Lewisman Calum Iain Macleod has been elected to take up the role of national Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales from 1 January 2018.
Mr Macleod, who originates from Eagleton on Point, said: “I am honoured and privileged to be elected to the role of chair; with that comes the responsibility of ensuring that the organisation truly represents the views of rank and file police officers across England and Wales.
"Our organisational reform is nearing completion and now we must focus all our energy on achieving positive change for our members. Let’s not sugarcoat the current situation that we are facing – policing is in a critical state.

The countdown to Christmas is officially on with just over two weeks until Stornoway’s Lights Switch-On event which will take place in Perceval Square on Friday December 8th from 6.30pm with a packed itinerary of activities for all the family including a half mile Santa Dash, musical performances, the funfair and topped off with a large fireworks display.

The funfair will be in the Fishermen’s Car Park from Wednesday to Saturday of that week.  This year, organisers Stornoway Amenity Trust have been striving to enhance the town lights displays by raising additional funds through alternative funding streams. The Trust were lucky to secure support from Tesco’s Bags of Help initiative and are also benefitting from the proceeds from Western Isles Lifestyle tickets sales in the Broadbay area.

The Isles Lottery Team are celebrating today (November 21), having reached their first major milestone of raising £10,000 for community projects across the Western Isles - just three months after the Lottery was launched.

A spokesperson for Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery said: “The Lottery is over 25% of the way to reaching the long term target. We are delighted that a steady support of 1350 weekly tickets, the bulk of which are paid by Direct Debit, can raise so much.”

Community Groups from the Butt to Barra have received their shares of the £7,689 already distributed and are set to receive around £3,500 at the end of this month, varying with the level of support from each area.

Today saw the launch of Scottish First Aid Week, the aim of which is to provide as many people as possible across Scotland with basic CPR skills, by way of demonstrations and 'hands-on' experience.

St Andrew's First Aid launched the week at Glasgow Airport at 10am today and invited Stornoway volunteers to coincide with them by kicking off the week with CPR demos at Stornoway airport.

Proposals for a Waterfront Walk in Stornoway have been shortlisted in Scotland’s FutureTowns Design Competition which is being voted on this week.

Identified as Stornoway’s ‘greatest asset’ in a plan for the town developed earlier this year by 360 Architecture, the Waterfront Walk offers the potential for Stornoway to return to its origins in its relationship to the Waterfront, creating connections throughout the town and its surrounding areas.

The nationwide impact of e-Sgoil since being launched in August 2016 has created such interest from other authorities – now eight in total – that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is covering the costs of the project out of its income from providing services to their schools, Mr Bernard Chisholm, Director of Education and Children's Services, told the Partnership Event at the Cabarfeidh Hotel last Thursday (November 16).

Although e-Sgoil teaching takes place electronically, it is still done directly, with a teacher “in front” of a classroom at all times. Thanks to new digital tools, children can do work online in one school, while their teacher at another school can see it and make comments on it in real-time. The e-Sgoil has its own headteacher and staff to provide its service and one teacher has already returned to live on the Islands to work with the project.

e-Soil has meant, for instance, students in Sir E Scott wishing to study Higher Religious, Moral, and Philosophical Education can be taught remotely by staff at The Nicolson Institute, while students in Uig were taught fiddle classes from e-Sgoil on Francis Street.

In November 1995 two Stornoway sisters embarked upon a new initiative – opening a ladies clothing store in the town centre. Roll on 22 years and Influence is a major part of Stornoway’s shopping experience, now attracting even more new customers to its much-expanded new store on Cromwell Street.

Despite some teething troubles caused by telecoms problems, the store has been a runaway success since opening a fortnight ago.

From left,  Mr D A Maclean, D R Macdonald, Donald Macdonald, Mrs Mairi C Gillies (widow of Dr Neil Gillies), Mrs Christine Macdonald, Sandy Matheson, and Carol Sommerville, general manager of Bethesda.

Harrisman Donald Macdonald, executive chairman of Macdonald Hotels and resorts, has presented a significant donation to the Bethesda Hospice in Stornoway of which he has been a supporter over many years.

Isles MP Angus Brendan MacNeil says he is delighted that the threat to Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab) has been lifted.

A financial package to complete the contract has been provided by Seaway Heavy Lifting, SSE and the partners to the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm project, JCE Offshore. 

The scenic Talla na Mara community enterprise centre held its Grand Opening yesterday (Friday 17th November) with Pairc Niseaboist resplendent and echoing to bagpipe music.

The VIPs were Ben Fogle who became a honorary resident of West Harris after living on nearby Taransay for a year as part of the BBC reality series Castaway almost 20 years ago; and Alex Passmore from Leverburgh Memorial School who won a competition to name the centre.

The event was introduced by Anna Helfrich, the trust’s commercial manager, who explained the centre had been in action already for 10 months and was already a major hub of local activity. Alex Passmore spoke a welcome in Gaelic.

WINNER - Arts & Culture – Alex MacDonald with Cathy Macdonald and Claire Byers (2nd right) and Laura Cameron-Lewis (far right from Creative Scotland)

The 5th Scottish Gaelic Awards were held at the Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow on Wednesday 15 November with more than 200 guests in attendance.

The main award of Lifetime Achievement was bestowed on Dr Finlay MacLeod from Shawbost and Adabrock – the widely-respected author, broadcaster, teacher and historian.

Isles MP Angus Brendan MacNeil yesterday (Friday November 17th) visited the Arnish Yard near Stornoway to speak with management and unions about the effect of the ongoing difficulty affecting Burntisland Fabrications (Bi-Fab) which runs the yard.

Angus MacNeil MP said: “There are difficulties with the contracts, we must remember that the work is high-quality, the fundamentals of Bi-Fab are right.  The difficulty is down to contract and cash-flow, we have to make sure that we bridge through this period.

A call for more action over challenges facing the Outer Hebrides came yesterday from Mr Bernard Chisholm, Director of Education and Children's Services at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, as almost 200 people from a wide of projects serving the community gathered for the annual Partnership Event.

Mr Chisholm explained to the meeting at the Cabarfeidh Hotel how the department had instigated the Partnership Events in 2011 with a far smaller number attending. They arose from the recognition that without a total support system around young people we could not be successful.

Since then a series of improvements had enabled the service – in partnership with others – to greatly improve the context for young people to progress.

Around 1,400 jobs are dependent on the Scottish Government ending a contractual dispute between the financially stricken fabrication firm BiFab and the Beatrice Windfarm Project contractor Seaway Heavy Lifting (SHL).

That's the view of the joint trade unions representing the interests of over 600 members across BiFab’s three yards in Fife and Lewis, many of whom joined a protest in Edinburgh yesterday.

Hundreds marched to Holyrood. Earlier Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Week, Keith Brown MSP, stressed the Scottish Government would leave ‘no stone’ unturned’ in their engagements with all stakeholders involved in BiFab.

NHS Western Isles won a prestigious award at the national EHI Live 2017 event at Birmingham NEC on October 31-November 1, for innovative work on the Morse app which came first in the ‘Best App for Clinicians’ category.

The Morse app, which was developed with supplier Cambric as a key strand of NHS Western Isles strategy to go digital, enables staff to manage their caseload entirely whilst working in the community.

This means that appointments, case-notes, assessments, referrals and other patient information are available within the app, based on the clinical role of the user. This enables forms and notes to be completed by staff away from their base, which are securely electronically transmitted back to base and automatically filed within the patient’s digital health record.  

NHS Western Isles MS Specialist Nurse Rachel Morrison was delighted to be given a Judges Special Award at the national QuDoS MS Awards on 10 November in Leicester, in recognition of the digital innovation being used in her local service.

Rachel (left) is shown accepting the award being presented by Professor Dawn Langdon, who chaired the 2017 judging panel and is Professor of Neuropsychology at the Royal Holloway, University of London.

The national QuDoS MS Awards highlights innovation and excellence in MS care management and service delivery, recognising the valuable contribution of individuals and teams in improving the quality of life and experience of care for those with MS.

Customers on the Ullapool-Inverness coach route should again benefit from extra capacity following the extension to an agreement by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Scottish Citylink and the Highlands and Islands Regional Transport Partnership (HITRANS).

Scottish Citylink, which operates the service, deployed 48 additional coaches over the summer to cater for whenever bookings for the service exceeded the capacity more than 48 hours in advance of the departure time.

As the coach operator runs the service on a commercial basis without any public sector investment, it cannot guarantee that it can add in extra vehicles to the route with less than 48 hours' notice unless the level of demand covered the operational costs.  

Customers on the Ullapool-Inverness coach route should again benefit from extra capacity following the extension to an agreement by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Scottish Citylink and the Highlands and Islands Regional Transport Partnership (HITRANS).

Scottish Citylink, which operates the service, deployed 48 additional coaches over the summer to cater for whenever bookings for the service exceeded the capacity more than 48 hours in advance of the departure time.

As the coach operator runs the service on a commercial basis without any public sector investment, it cannot guarantee that it can add in extra vehicles to the route with less than 48 hours' notice unless the level of demand covered the operational costs.  

People organising markets and sales on the Islands need to comply with the law, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has warned.

There are regulations and legal requirements which must be met, traders and organisers are being told.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP, Alasdair Allan, has welcomed the ruling from the UK Supreme Court that minimum unit pricing for alcohol can now proceed.

Alasdair Allan said he hoped the law would “help prevent some personal tragedies in the islands and across Scotland.”  The measure was passed overwhelmingly by the Scottish Parliament in 2012, but implementation has been delayed due to successive court challenges from sections of the alcohol industry.
 
Prior to implementing the policy, Scottish Ministers will conduct consultation on the proposed 50 pence per unit price.

The Community Board set up by ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) to provide an insight into the issues affecting island and rural communities, is meeting for the first time on Friday, November 17.

Board chair Angus Campbell, former leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: “The focus of the first meeting will be agreeing the way the Board will operate, including how the members will engage with the communities they represent and report back to them the activities of the Community Board.

The local community is asked to support European Antibiotic Awareness Day.  Antibiotic resistance is a major public health issue and considered to be a significant threat to the future of healthcare.

NHS Western Isles is supporting European Antibiotic Awareness Day on Saturday 18th November and encouraging local communities to become more aware of the issues surrounding antibiotics.

Emer Friel, NHS Western Isles Antimicrobial Pharmacist, and Janice Mackay, NHS Western Isles Infection Prevention and Control Team Manager, will be in Stornoway Tesco between 10am-11am and the Co-op between 11.15am-12.15pm on Friday 17th November offering practical advice on treating infections and how to deal with coughs and colds without antibiotics.

This year’s first term at Providence Christian School, Stornoway, has proved to be most encouraging for all connected with the School, the school says.

As well as seeing five new pupils and four new families joining the School community through the term, the School also welcomed a new Headteacher, Mr Mark Musty, pictured above. 

An independent Scottish electricity company has challenged SSE to explain why it has far more of its customers on the most expensive tariffs compared to any other supplier.

More than 90 per cent of SSE customers – many of them in the North of Scotland – are on Standard Variable Tariffs which are widely condemned as the main source of excessive energy bills.

Paul Richards, managing director of Clydebank-based Together Energy, said that SSE’s use of Standard Variable Tariffs reflected “a cynical abuse of customer loyalty to the Hydro legacy”.

The first intake of Islanders on a new hospitality Modern Apprenticeship aimed specifically at the merchant marine industry are about to embark on their new careers.

A partnership between City of Glasgow College and ferry operator CalMac, the nine successful MAs will now take up full time roles as stewards with the company.

The year-long MA Hospitality with Maritime Enhancements involved classroom learning mixed with time spent training on-board some of CalMac’s 32 strong fleet.

Trading Standards at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are aware of a local scam call from a withheld number, claiming to be from the Town Hall.

A spokesperson said: “The caller states that you are in Council Tax arrears, and requests payment over the phone.   Trading Standards advise that you should delay your call for at least 10 minutes after the initial contact as scammers could keep the line open without your knowledge, or alternatively phone the Council’s tax Team on the number, below, using a different phone or a mobile phone.”

Any resident concerned about Council Tax arrears should contact the Comhairle’s Council Tax team on 01851 600502.

Point and Sandwick Trust is bidding a fond farewell to one of its founding members, Jenny Pain, who is retiring to a life in the sun. (She is pictured receiving her retirement gift.) 

Jenny and husband Richard, who have handed over the running of their Tiumpeanhead Kennels business to their daughter and son-in-law, leave for Tenerife at the end of November.

Jenny remembers clearly that initial meeting in the old Bayble school in 2005, when the community decided to form a steering group to pursue the possibility of building a turbine on their land.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus Brendan MacNeil has today (Monday November 13) spoken to Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy in his concerns about the workforce at Arnish.

The Minister has confirmed that work is ongoing with the lead developers SSE and others, the main contractors and Government accountants to do their upmost to keep the successful engineering company BiFab going.

Flybe has announced that from 9th November 2017, customers will receive one free 15 or 23kg hold bag on all ticket types when booking flights within Scotland (intra-Scotland), offering savings of up to £52 on a return flight.

The airline has taken this step having listened to customer feedback following the September start of services to the Highlands and Islands operated by Eastern Airways on behalf of Flybe, and also of those using the intra-Scotland flights operating as part of the new franchise agreement between the two airlines that started on 29th October.

Those booking flights on the seven named routes at www.flybe.com, through Flybe’s Contact Centre or via a travel agent, will be able to upgrade a their JustFly ticket to a GetMore ticket for £6.50 per person per sector. 

The free hold bag and discounted GetMore upgrade applies to the following five Flybe routes operated by Eastern Airways:

Glasgow to Stornoway and Glasgow to Sumburgh

Aberdeen to Kirkwall and Aberdeen to Sumburgh and

Edinburgh to Sumburgh

And also on the two routes operated by Flybe’s franchise partner, Eastern Airways from

Aberdeen to Stornoway and Aberdeen to Wick John O’Groats

In addition, customers booking onward connections via www.flybe.com will now only be charged for one item of hold luggage on the non-Scotland sector of their journey. For example, a customer travelling on a Just Fly ticket with a 23kg bag on the routing Stornoway (SYY) – Glasgow (GLA) – Southampton (SOU) would pay as follows: SYY-GLA (free hold luggage) + GLA-SOU (£26).

Flybe’s Interim Chief Commercial Officer, Ronnie Matheson comments: “Following overwhelming customer feedback received during previous visits to the Highlands & Islands, I am pleased to announce Flybe is removing charges on the most popular hold luggage choices on these selected routes within Scotland.  Flybe is committed to listening to our customers and we will always do our best to action wherever possible any changes that will enhance their overall experience of travelling with us.”

 

 

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus Brendan MacNeil last night (Saturday November 11)  expressed his concern at media reports - on the BBC and in the Scotsman amongst others - that Burntisland Fabricators (BiFab) is on the verge of calling in administrators.
Bi-Fab runs the yard at Arnish which employs in the region of 150 people, in addition to two yards in Fife, meaning it employs around 600 in all.
The firm builds large-scale equipment for the offshore oil and gas industry, as well as platforms for offshore wind turbines and tidal generators.

Two Western Isles community nurses, who have collectively worked the equivalent of 45 years as nurses for NHS Western Isles, have received long service awards from the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland (QNIS).

Ann Fraser, retired Community Nurse and Joan Macarthur, Senior Charge Nurse, Eastside Team, pictured,  were both presented with their awards on 7th November at Carloway Surgery in front of nursing colleagues (past and present) to mark their long service for the NHS.

Councillor Charlie Nicolson and a team of industrious volunteers collected hundreds of items in Stornoway this week, generously donated to the Christian charity Blythswood's annual Shoe Box Appeal. 

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed the recent publication of the Scottish Government’s discussion paper, which considers the role of income tax in Scotland.

Since the paper’s publication, the Isles MSP has received correspondence from dozens of individuals in the islands, keen to play their part in a national conversation on how best to support our public services.

Successful intervention by Isles MP

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus B MacNeil is delighted to confirm that the case of the Island schoolgirl who was unable to obtain a passport because the Home Office was unable to confirm that she is a British citizen has now been resolved.

Mr MacNeil took this case up with Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis MP, at Home Office Questions at Westminster. 

A new wave of phone and email scamming is hitting the Western Isles, according to recipients posting on the Western Isles Noticeboard community Facebook Page in the last few days.
One warns: “Be aware, folks. Just had an automated call claiming to be the Bank of Scotland Fraud Unit.
“I switched off the phone and called the number on the back of my card, needless to say, it wasn’t the bank.

The e-Sgoil 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 7th and 8th of November.  The judges; Iain Stephen Morrison, Christina Walker and Angus MacDonald, certainly had their work cut out whittling sixteen teams down to four.  The four teams who have reached the semi-final stages of this year's competition are: The Nicolson Institute A, Gairloch High School, Lochaber High School and Glasgow Gaelic School.

 

The internationally-acclaimed Hebridean Celtic Festival is centre stage again after picking up its third award in three weeks.

The Stornoway-based event was named Best Cultural Event or Festival in the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA), a title it also won in 2014.

HITA recognised the economic, cultural and musical impact of the festival. Judges highlighted the fact HebCelt has been running for more than 20 years, during which time it has generated in excess of £20 million for the islands, and that it attracts a wide overseas audience, including from across Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. They add that HebCelt is a "clear demonstration of hard work, commitment and enthusiasm".

Branch volunteers representing the Lewis and Harris Branch are pictured at the Alzheimer Scotland annual staff and volunteer conference in Glasgow taking place today (Tuesday November 7th)

The Lewis and Harris branch were awarded the Volunteer dedication and branch engagement award for 2017.

The Lewis and Harris Branch celebrated its 30th anniversary earlier this year with a small get-together during Dementia Awareness week in June.

Ferry firm David MacBrayne Ltd (DML) announced today (Tuesday, November 7,) that its Chief Executive Martin Dorchester, who is also Managing Director of CalMac Ferries Ltd, will be leaving the company to take up a new role as Chief Executive of Includem, - a specialist Scottish charity supporting some of the most vulnerable young people and their families across Scotland.

David McGibbon, Chairman of DML, said:“On behalf of everyone at David MacBrayne Ltd, I thank Martin for the commitment and drive he has shown in leading and developing the organisation and in building such an exceptional team.

Small scale hydro production in Scotland faces further uncertainty over its future due to proposed new SEPA charges, businesses have warned.

A new fee regime for the monitoring of hydro schemes, which has been placed for public consultation by SEPA, would see larger hydro providers have their costs reduced whilst smaller schemes, previously exempt from monitoring charges, face new bills of thousands of pounds per year.

The British Hydropower Association estimate the average business, operating 0.1-2MW schemes, will be hit by new charges averaging more than £3,000 per annum. There are nearly 300 such schemes in Scotland.

At the AGM of Hebridean Housing Partnership on 6 September 2017, a decision was made to donate £5,000 of its 2017/18 surplus to locally based charities.  On Friday 3 November 2107, Kevin Paterson, one of HHP’s Board Members presented £1,000 each to the following five locally based charities.

• Young Musicians Hebrides;
• Stornoway Phab;
• Western Isles Carers Support Network;
• Macmillan Nurses; and
• Westerns Isles Community Care Forum.

The charities receiving the donation were delighted with the funds and explained to HHP’s staff how the funds would be used.

Jane Grey (Young Musicians Hebrides), Liz Carmichael (Stornoway Phab), Fiona Macleod (Western Isles Carers Support Network), Agnes Macleod (Macmillan Nurses) and Peggy Mackay (Western Isles Community Care Forum) are pictured being presented with their cheques by Mr Kevin Paterson.

 

Members of the Western Isles Kidney Patients Association are shown receiving a cheque for £764 from The Co-operative Superstore Stornoway. This sum was raised from customer donations at the check-outs as well as from the sale of bags.
 
 

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan today (Monday November 6) welcomed the new Scottish Living Wage rate of £8.75 and encouraged more employers throughout the Western Isles to sign up as accredited Living Wage Employers.

This came as the local MSP visited Lewis Builders to congratulate them on becoming one of the latest island firms to sign up to the Living Wage.

Alasdair Allan MSP is due to visit Lewis Builders Ltd during Living Wage Week on Monday 6th November as they are believed to be the largest company on the islands to join the scheme so far, with over 65 employees.

A Living Wage is independently calculated each year which is usually called the real Living Wage - the UK Government also calculates a Living Wage which is consistently less each year.  Each year a separate rate is also calculated for those living in London.

The people of the Highlands & Islands must make sure they have their say on the future of the bus pass in Scotland, says Labour MSP Rhoda Grant.

Despite promising to protect the pass in their 2016 manifesto, the SNP Government has cut £9.5 million from the bus pass budget and are consulting on the future of the scheme. The First Minister and the Transport Minister have refused to rule out raising the qualifying age from 60 to 65.

Congratulations to this week's winner of free glasses, Emily MacLeod of Shader!

Visit our shop to find out how you could be next week's winner!

It’s been 10 years – and an incredible 7,000 NHS patients - since Canadian-born optometrist Claire Whyman first set up shop in Stornoway.
That’s a lot of spectacles. But more important, for Claire and her team (pictured above)  at Claire Whyman Opticians, it’s a lot of time spent on one-to-one care, making customers’ vision a priority.
Now, to celebrate a decade of dedication, the business on North Beach Street is planning a month of giveaways. Every customer throughout November will have their name and number put in a lucky dip and the owner of the winning ticket pulled each Friday will win a refund of the cost of the glasses that they have just purchased.

Moving from Aberdeen city centre to settle on the Isle of Lewis might come as a culture shock to many people – but for Spectra Vox (aka Dr Claire Gerrard), a software developer, artist and singer who came to live on Lewis with her partner and young daughter two years ago, the fact she embraces the Goth subculture brought further uncertainty that this was a good move to make. 

“When I first moved to Lewis I was at the height of feeling homesick and out of place,” said Spectra. 

Leona Rawlinson was delighted to open her ‘Tweedtastic’ shop in Stornoway this summer taking her online business on to the ‘High Street’.
And already the Church Street shop is proving popular – as are Leona’s exclusively designed Harris Tweeds.
“The first roll of my ‘Taihla’ Harris Tweed, a pink and grey shadow check, sold out within ten days,” said Leona. “It was such a great surprise!”

Traffic delays spread around Manor roundabout in Stornoway this afternoon (Wednesday November 1) after firemen were called to a house near the roundabout.  Police directed the traffic around the affected area where the incident was attended by at least two fire service appliances and other vehicles. It's believed that no one was in the affected flats at the time of incident which began before 3.30pm.

The Western Isles had the highest percentage increase in the number of supported smoking quit attempts between 2015/16 and 2016/17, says NHS Western Isles.
 
The percentage of successful quit attempts at 12 weeks in the Western Isles was 55%, significantly higher than the overall Scottish figure.

The percentage performance of each Board against their individual standard also showed a significant performance of 136% in the Western Isles.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed the publication of figures which show the Scottish Government’s Small Business Bonus scheme provided a record level of £1.8 million worth of support to small businesses in the Isles this year.

Across Scotland, the Small Business Bonus Scheme helps more than 103,000 firms by reducing their rates liability and taking some firms out of business rates altogether.

Timetable changes to improve bus and train connections are among the service improvements being made by ferry operator CalMac.

Transport Scotland has agreed a total of 15 timetable changes for Summer 2018 after an extensive consultation with communities across the west coast. These include:

Stornoway - Ullapool: Extension of the double Sunday timetable from a 10-week period to the full duration of the summer timetable.

Uig – Tarbert - Lochmaddy: The peak summer timetable and late Friday sailing extended from 10 to 18 weeks.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus MacNeil is calling on BT to take immediate steps to improve the level of service provided to customers after several constituents were left without services for more than two months.

Mr MacNeil is often called upon by constituents to assist in getting phone lines and broadband installed or repaired and in most instances the response from BT is swift, however, a number of recent cases have now prompted Mr MacNeil to criticise BT.

The Pain Association in partnership with NHS Western Isles have launched a new information card that can be given to chronic pain patients at their appointments.

The card contains contact details for the Pain Association and motivational messages that will help patients begin to manage their pain effectively and have been distributed to all NHS Western Isles sites.

The Pain Association holds a monthly class in Stornoway, Benbecula and Barra and anyone with chronic pain is welcome to join the classes at any time.  

Women in the Western Isles have a higher life expectancy than anywhere else in Scotland. 

Figures just released by the National Records of Scotland show that island women live on average to the age of 82.9 years - compared with 81.1 years for the rest of the country. 

Western Isles men were slightly below the national average of 77.1 years, with an average age of 76.7 years.

Councils across Scotland face significant challenges in the year ahead states a report from the Accounts Commission into Local Government finances.

Responding to the report the Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Angus Campbell, said: “It is to be welcomed that the Accounts Commission recognises that Councils have managed their finances well. They are also right to emphasise that significant challenges lie ahead for Local Authorities.

“The Comhairle has a good track record of managing finances but the financial pressures that are ahead cannot be understated. And this is made more difficult by the annual nature of recent local government settlements.

More than 400 trees have been planted at Ionad Stoodie in Point in an event organised by Point Sport and Recreation Association and tied in with the AGM of Point and Sandwick Trust.

Around 30 people turned out to plant the trees on Saturday morning, an event which also heralded the start of National Tree Week and celebrated progress made so far on Point and Sandwick Trust’s Croft Woodland Project.

The trees planted at Ionad Stoodie — a mix of birch, rowan, hazel, hawthorn, holly and crab apple — will eventually provide shelter for the football pitch. 

Trading Standards Officers at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are asking businesses in the Western Isles to be on the lookout for a website optimisation scam.

Businesses are cold called and told that for a payment, their website will appear on the first page of a major search-engine site.

 Businesses requiring advice concerning these calls are asked to contact Trading Standards CNES on 01851 822694

A draft masterplan outlining a 20-year vision for the development of Stornoway Harbour has been published by Stornoway Port Authority.

The strategic document — now out for public consultation — was prepared by consultants Fisher Associates, who specialise in port masterplans and other maritime related work.

It identifies a number of projects which would boost facilities for various sectors, from ferries and cruise ships through to renewables and oil exploration, and could dramatically improve Stornoway’s economic future.

A major on-line fundraising event is being held by local charity The Outer Hebrides Fisheries Trust (OHFT).
This was formed as the Western Isles Fisheries Trust (WIFT) in 1996 and is a community-based organisation conducting scientific research into wild fish stocks and advising on freshwater fisheries management.
The Trust has received donations from the local estates around the Hebrides for salmon and sea trout fishing for next season, as well as a Macnab Challenge, (which involves bagging a salmon, stag and brace of grouse within one day between dawn and dusk), deer stalking, a Greys GTS500 Fly Fishing Reel, and a 15ft Sharpes Gordon 2 Spey Salmon Rod.

The Scottish Government’s decision to create a single board covering Highland and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Enterprise and number of other enterprise and skills agencies has come under fire from the Western Isles Labour Party.
In a statement issued yesterday, the party stated: “The news that the SNP government are centralising yet another team away from the Highlands and Islands is dismal in itself, but the SNP do not seem to worry – their policymakers are too remote from us to care!

Shappi Khorsandi celebrates her fortieth anniversary of arriving in Britain 

With whip-crack jokes and razor-sharp wit, an evening with comedian Shappi Khorsandi is one not to be missed.

And Shappi is stopping off in Stornoway as the star of Live At The Apollo, Have I Got News for You, and Q.I is back with brand new show 'Oh My Country!'.

The Iranian born comedian and author is celebrating the fortieth anniversary of her arrival in Britain and taking a look at the UK, from Morris Dancing to Morrissey. She's reclaiming patriotism and sending a love letter to her adopted land.

The husband and wife found dead outside their home in Gravir last Friday morning both died as a result of falling, their death certificates have revealed.

Donald Macmillan (73) and his wife Morag (67) were laid to rest together yesterday.

Mr Macmillan is said to have died first, as a result of injuries consistent with having fallen down steps.

The displays at Borgh Pottery

Inside The Colour Factory

 

Retail outlets in North Lewis are going all-out for Christmas!

Pictures above show what's available at The Colour Factory between Cross and Skigersta and at Borgh Pottery on the main road between Ness and Barvas.

And the North Lewis Late Night Shopping evenings return next week with local businesses ready to extend their opening hours in the run-up to Christmas.

Befriending Lewis have been awarded £149,958 of Big Lottery Funding through the Improving Lives Fund. 
This money is much needed and will help them to sustain our volunteer Befriending service across the Isle of Lewis for the next three years.
The group say: “We are absolutely delighted with the award of this grant to our service, and would like to thank the Big Lottery Fund for recognising the incredible benefits our service can bring to our community, and having the faith in us to deliver it across the Isle of Lewis. “

This is the proposed look for Loganair's planes as they shake themselves free after 24 years of operating under franchise agreements with other airlines.

Next year, the Glasgow-based company will once again market its services and fly under its own name – introducing a new, definitively Scottish identity to the skies.

Loganair will provide over 1,000 flights each week across 46 routes, offering unrivalled connectivity for Scotland and with operations stretching as far afield as London, Norwich, Manchester, Dublin, and Bergen in Norway. It has almost 300 flights each week to and from Glasgow, and is the largest operator at key airports throughout the Highlands & Islands including Inverness, Sumburgh, and Kirkwall as well as Stornoway.

The chairman of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has said he is fully confident about the future of the organisation.

Responding to reports this week speculating about the agencies future following the Scottish Government’s review of enterprise and skills bodies, Professor Lorne Crerar, said he had had absolute reassurance from Scottish Government that HIE will continue in its present form.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is calling on the UK Government to use part of the new cash fund announced in yesterday’s Autumn Statement for Civil Resilience and Community Safety, to be used for a second Emergency Towing vessel (ETV) based on the west coast of Scotland.

Yesterday the Chancellor announced that £102 million of LIBOR fines collected from banks who break banking rules would be used to fund emergency services charities and armed forces, including emergency service personnel; children’s hospitals, air ambulances and emergency responders; and museums and memorials, over the next four years.

Fishermen in Scotland’s islands - Orkney Fisheries Association, Shetland Fishermen’s Association, Western Isles Fishermen’s Association, as well as Clyde Fishermen’s Association - have joined together to urge ministers to recognise the importance of the industry to the wellbeing of their remote communities.

As MSPs at Holyrood hold a debate today on “Supporting and strengthening Scotland’s island communities”, the four associations representing island fishermen emphasised that fishing was an important employer and contributed strongly to economic and cultural sustainability.

Duncan MacInnes, Secretary of Western Isles Fishermen’s Association, said: “Fishing is one of the very few industries that can realistically be expected to make a substantial contribution to these communities’ long-term sustainability.

“Scotland’s islands account for between a quarter and a third of the landings, vessels and jobs in Scotland’s catching sector. They also generate significant knock-on effects in investment and employment on the mainland, from marine engineering and electronics to seafood processing and distribution.

“A healthy fishing industry throughout Scotland’s islands would not only strengthen and diversify the rural economy. It could also be expected to benefit the Scottish economy as a whole."

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has welcomed an expanded schedule of flights on Loganair services.

The new schedule will see larger aircraft with increased capacity being used on Stornoway-Glasgow flights and new flights which will see a service from Stornoway to Manchester via Inverness or Glasgow.

CNES Trading standards Officers are reminding residents in the islands that they can print off Doorstoppers signage from the Doorstoppers Campaign page on the Comhairle’s website www.cne-siar.gov.uk/doorstoppers/documents/card.pdf

Doorstep sellers ignoring the displayed signage may be committing an offence and should be reported to Trading Standards on 01851 822694 or the Police on 101.

Some Doorstoppers signage may also be available at Council Offices, libraries and Police stations in the Western Isles.

A political row erupted across the Highlands and Islands overnight after the Scottish government  confirmed the abolition of the Highlands and Islands Enterprise governing board, along with a range of other enterprise and skills agency boards.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney told MSPs attending parliamentary questions that HIE’s board will be abolished once a single national board is established. 
Mr Swinney confirmed the government’s “intention is that, once established, this overarching board will replace individual agency boards.” 
Facing the axe are the boards of HIE, Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Funding Council, Scottish Development International, and Skills Development Scotland. 
In addition a new enterprise and skills agency – under the same “overarching board” – will be established to cover the Borders counties.

On Friday 18th November 2016, police in the Western Isles were alerted to the sudden deaths of a man and woman at Gravir, South Lochs. 

Following a full investigation into the circumstances, Police can now confirm that the deaths of Morag (Maureen) MacMillan, aged 67 and Donald MacMillan, aged 73, are not being treated as suspicious. 

Loganair has announced a new one-stop Stornoway to Manchester service starting from next summer.

The airline has also announced a new timetable for Stornoway to Edinburgh services to ensure that the route remains commercially viable despite new charges for airlines being introduced by Edinburgh Airport in April 2017.

The new Loganair schedule includes new overseas summer flights between Scotland and Norway and the Faroe Islands, together with more flights and more seats on existing routes.

The Isle of Lewis Gymnastics Club took part in the British Gymnastics national Jump For Pudsey Challenge in aid of Children in Need on Saturday 19th November.

The Club, which has 90 members and is run by volunteer coaches, jumped and bounced their way to raising a terrific £540.37 during their Saturday morning session at the Lewis Sports Centre.

The highlight of the morning was a visit from Pudsey Bear who, to the delight of the young gymnasts, even took a turn on the trampoline! A fantastic morning was had by all while raising money for this good cause.

Gymnast Isla was the star fundraiser, raising an amazing £130 in sponsors for her Jump For Pudsey.

"A huge thanks to all the gymnasts, coaches and parents for supporting this event."

Alasdair Allan, Angus Campbell, and Paul Wheelhouse

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan yesterday met with Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, and Comhairle Leader Angus Campbell in the Scottish Parliament to discuss the UK’s Government decision to exclude 'Remote Island Wind' from its immediate plans on renewable energy. 

The festive season is coming early to Artizan on Church Street, Stornoway, which is running a Black Friday shopping event this week - they are offering 20% off the prices of everything in the gift shop upstairs.

And they are staying open late on Friday (November 25th) …until 8pm.

At the same time, they have launched their new festive menu including Gingerbread Latte – a smooth gingerbread syrup latte topped with whipped cream and caramel sauce with a gingerbread man on the side; Terry’s Chocolate Orange Hot Chocolate - Hot Chocolate Orange, whipped cream, caramel sauce and a slice of Terry’s chocolate orange; or there’s Cinnamon Cappuccino - Cinnamon infused cappuccino served with a gingerbread snap.

All this comes almost exactly a year after the café, art, jewellery and gift shop first opened.

Dr Marten Walker

A GP in Stornoway is reminding patients across the Western Isles to make an appointment to get their flu vaccine, six weeks into the roll-out of the national flu immunisation programme.

The call comes ahead of winter hitting in Scotland, as the virus can spread easier in colder temperatures.

The fundraising efforts of schoolchildren in Point have been officially recognised in the Scottish Parliament.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, has tabled a motion in Parliament congratulating pupils in Sgoil an Rubha’s Scripture Union on Lewis for raising money through their ‘Hush for Haiti’ sponsored silence earlier this month to help the thousands of families who are living without access to basic facilities, or even a roof over their heads after Hurricane Matthew tore through the country in early October.

The west coast of Scotland remains unprotected and vulnerable says Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil, as the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) Chief says it was right decision to cut the provision of Emergency Towing Vessels in Scotland.

Despite the grounding of the Transocean Winner oil rig on the west coast of Lewis and the threat of a much more serious incident in future, Sir Alan Massey, MCA Chief Executive, told the House of Commons Transport Select Committee yesterday (Monday) that the UK Government had been ‘vindicated’ and that it had been the right decision to reduce ETV provision in Scotland to just one vessel.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed the news that Loganair is to operate flights “in its own right” from next year onwards.

Loganair yesterday announced plans to end its franchise agreement with Flybe as of 31st August 2017.

The changes will not affect the Scottish Government’s Air Discount Scheme which will continue to run as normal.

The SNP has demanded that the Chancellor Philip Hammond takes the opportunity of tomorrow’s Autumn Statement to reintroduce a second emergency towing vessel for Scotland’s islands – as having only one vessel to cover both the Northern and Western Isles was not safe.

The grounding of the Transocean Winner near Carloway in August showed the ongoing risk of having only one emergency vessel patrolling the area – a point argued by BP in a letter to the UK Government five years ago, revealed under an FOI request. The UK government ignored these warnings and continued with their cuts.

Flybe announced today it is to scrap its franchise with Loganair.

Loganair will take to the air in its own right once again in Autumn 2017; after nearly a quarter of a century flying under franchise arrangements with other airlines.

“Today's announcement is a major milestone in the 54-year history of Loganair,” says Peter Simpson, Chief Executive of Airline Investments Ltd, Loganair's parent company.

Museum nan Eilean was recognised as a driver of economic activity at the Scottish Gaelic Awards 2016 at a ceremony held in Glasgow on Wednesday 16 November.

The Gaelic as an Economic Asset award was accepted by Cllr Alasdair MacLeod, Chair of the Sustainable Development Committee, and Nick Smith, the Comhairle’s Heritage Manager.

The House of Commons Transport Select Committee will hold an inquiry today into the grounding of the Transocean Winner oil rig off Dalmore earlier this year.

The one-off evidence session is taking place due to a request from Isles SNP MP Angus MacNeil.

With a focus on fitness, raising funds and having a cheeky little bit of fun, island support group The Monday Club presents the Hebridean Men's Health Naked Calendar 2017.

A volunteer run group, established to support islanders affected by stroke, chest and heart conditions, The Monday Club is affiliated with national charity Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland and sees members meet twice a month for lunch and fellowship.

“We are an entirely self funding group, so each year we try to come up with ideas to raise club funds,” said the Club's Alison Tunstall.

With a focus on fitness, raising funds and having a cheeky little bit of fun, island support group The Monday Club presents the Hebridean Men's Health Naked Calendar 2017.

A volunteer run group, established to support islanders affected by stroke, chest and heart conditions, The Monday Club is affiliated with national charity Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland and sees members meet twice a month for lunch and fellowship.

“We are an entirely self funding group, so each year we try to come up with ideas to raise club funds,” said the Club's Alison Tunstall.

Following the report of two sudden deaths in the Gravir area yesterday (Friday 18 November 2016) Police Scotland have tonight confirmed the names of the deceased as 73-year-old Donald MacMillan and his wife Morag MacMillan who was 67.

The investigation into the circumstances of their deaths is continuing.

The deaths of Mr and Mrs MacMillan continue to be treated as unexplained.

The couple who were found dead outside their house in Gravir this morning have been named locally as Donald and Maureen Macmillan.

Mr Macmillan was from Gravir and was known by his nickname 'Boy', while his wife Maureen was originally from Harris.

The couple  - who were in their 60s - were well-known to many in the area, having run the Post Office for many years.

Experts have predicted that very soon, small drones will ‘fill the sky’ across the UK - and the photograph above, taken with the permission of the Stornoway Trust, gives a drone's eye view of Stornoway.

It comes from HebDrone, a newly-established local firm, which is hoping to tap into exciting new drone technology which negates issues of height and distance to deliver stunning clear images and footage of previously inaccessible angles.

HebDrone is run by father and son team Ruaraidh and Conal Ferguson.  Ruaraidh said: “We’ve had the idea for HebDrone for around a year but we needed time to fully research the idea with regard to the most suitable technology and training.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has today written to Tory Rural Affairs spokesperson, Peter Chapman MSP, to ask why he has dismissed the crofters on the Scottish Government’s new Land Commission as 'people who have a couple of sheep and a back garden'.

North East Tory MSP Peter Chapman’s register of interests shows he received almost £200,000 in agricultural subsidies last year.

Young Scots in the Highlands and Western Isles have the opportunity to go behind the scenes at BBC Radio nan Gàidheal and MG ALBA.

MG ALBA has teamed up with Young Scot - the national youth information and citizenship charity for Scotland – to offer the exciting experience to Young Scot Rewards users.

Young people have the chance to apply for an opportunity to gain an exciting insight into MG ALBA/BBC Radio nan Gàidheal in Stornoway or with BBC Gàidhlig teams in either Stornoway or Inverness. The young people will get behind the scenes with programme production teams or help reporters with the most important news of the day as part of the news teams.

A man and a woman have been found dead in Gravir, in South Lochs, in what appears to have been a tragic accident.

It is understood the bodies of the elderly husband and wife were recovered outdoors, and the deaths are being treated as unexplained.

Further information will be issued in due course.

Officers are in the process of making contact with next of kin and police say no further information will be released until this is complete.

It was 'Surprise" time for Martin Smith on Wednesday morning when staff and volunteers representing the Islands Book Trust met with Bellann O' Brien of the Volunteer Centre Western Isles upstairs at the Woodlands Centre in Stornoway.

Cloaked in secrecy - with an EVENTS photographer present nearby but, until the last moment, totally preoccupied with reading his mobile phone display – the event was set up to present Martin Smith with the Clisham Award. 

Rathad Ruadh by Gavin Donald Williams

The unique artworks of the late Gavin Donald Williams are to be shown in An Lanntair arts centre this month, two years after the young painter's passing.

For Gavin's mother – Harris-based artist Margarita Williams – it is a show which not only allows her son's work to be seen and appreciated, but also brings comfort that a connection to him lives on through these paintings.

Running in the Cafe Bar Gallery until Friday, December 2nd, the show delivers a punch of colour in the winter darkness through Gavin's bold and bright paintings.

The Leanne Fund needs your help to roll out the successful ‘Get Active’ service to even more Cystic Fibrosis patients.

The charity, which assists those living with Cystic Fibrosis in the Highlands and Islands and is currently expanding to Grampian, is planning to extend the Get Active service but needs your support to secure vital funds.

Voting is currently open in the Aviva Community Fund until noon this Friday so there is still time to support The Leanne Fund to take forward this exciting project.

A major row has erupted between Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and the Point and Sandwick Trust about renewable energy policy in the Islands.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have fiercely rejected the earlier claim from Point and Sandwick Trust  that the council has not been supportive of the community energy movement.

Earlier, Point and Sandwick Trust chairman Angus McCormack, who is also one of the CnES councillors for Steornabhagh a Deas,  urged his councillor colleagues  to “start backing the community energy movement” following the UK government’s failure to include island projects in the next round of the Contract for Difference auction. "

But in a statement tonight, Comhairle Leader Angus Campbell said: “The Chairman of the Point and Sandwick Trust is incorrect to state that the Comhairle does not back community renewables projects. 

Katie MacInnes with one of her Go! Gaelic film co-stars, Alex John Morrison

Gaelic educational resources organisation Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig, based in Stornoway has been nominated for three awards in the Daily Record’s Scottish Gaelic Awards, with the finals ceremony being held in Glasgow tomorrow night (Wednesday, Nov 16).

The awards, sponsored by Bòrd na Gàidhlig, are being held in the Grand Central Hotel and aim to “reward all aspects of our Gaelic culture, education and language” and “highlight the excellent work undertaken to maintain growth and heritage”.

Stòrlann have two nominations in the category of Innovation in Education — for learning resources Go! Gaelic and LASADH — and have also been nominated for the Event award for An t-Alltan, the annual conference for teachers in Gaelic Medium Education.

The Living Wage Foundation is pleased to announce that Intermedia Services (Stornoway) Ltd, publishers of EVENTS and welovestornoway.com as well as other local publications and websites, has been accredited as a Living Wage employer.

The Living Wage commitment will see everyone working at Intermedia Services (Stornoway) Ltd, regardless of whether they are permanent employees or third-party contractors, receive a minimum hourly wage of £8.45 - significantly higher than the national minimum wage of £6.95 and the new minimum wage premium for over-25s of £7.20 per hour introduced this April.

The Living Wage is an hourly rate set independently and updated annually. The Living Wage is calculated according to the basic cost of living using the ‘Minimum Income Standard’ for the UK. Decisions about what to include in this standard are set by the public; it is a social consensus about what people need to make ends meet.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan will be hosting a public meeting at 7.30pm, Monday 28th November in the Bayhead Bridge Centre, Stornoway to discuss Europe, Brexit and Independence with islanders.

This meeting forms part of the SNP’s National Survey, launched in September by Nicola Sturgeon, and is intended to be a constructive listening exercise as the SNP aims to engage with at least 2 million people by St Andrew's Day.

The Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) has welcomed the review of the Crofting Commission recently initiated by Scottish Government, stating that the governance of crofting is at stake.

“We asked for a review of the way in which the Crofting Commission has handled itself over the past six months”, said Fiona Mandeville, chair of the SCF.

“Three grazings committees have been removed and ordinary folk, trying to do a difficult job in maintaining this crofting asset, have had their reputations dragged through the mud. This cannot be the correct way for a regulator to behave.

An interesting visitor to Holm over the last 10 days has been the Italian crude oil tanker ‘Vallesina’. 

The 243-metre ship arrived here from Scapa Flow, and is currently moored and awaiting further orders. 

A spokesman for Stornoway Shipping Services said: “She came here for shelter because of the bad weather up in Scapa Flow, where they were constantly dropping and raising anchor.”

The Harris Tweed Authority archive will be brought together in Stornoway for the first time thanks to an award of almost £30,000 to Tasglann nan Eilean (Hebridean Archives) by the National Cataloguing Grants Programme.

The grant means that the archive collection, previously split between Tasglann nan Eilean and the Highland Archive Centre in Inverness, will be made accessible to the public at the new archive facility at Lews Castle. 

Point and Sandwick Trust chairman Angus McCormack has urged his councillor colleagues at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to “start backing the community energy movement” following the UK government’s failure to include island projects in the next round of the Contract for Difference auction.

Councillor McCormack, who represents Steornabhagh a Deas, said: “The announcement by the UK government that Remote Island Wind will not be considered in the CfD auction is a wake-up call for island renewables. There is now to be ‘a consultation on the treatment of non-mainland GB onshore wind projects.’

A new survey has been launched as part of research examining the impact of Gaelic media on learning of the language.

The Big Gaelic Survey, which has been commissioned by Bòrd na Gàidhlig and MG ALBA, is being conducted independently from the two organisations by Meriel Young Consulting, a research consultancy based in Edinburgh.
 
Three questionnaires have been launched aimed at those with varying levels of Gaelic proficiency: Gaelic speakers, Gaelic learners and those who are interested in learning Gaelic in the future.

Respondents can access the survey by visiting the dedicated website at www.thebiggaelicsurvey.co.uk. Responses should take no more than five minutes to complete.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, who is Scottish Labour’s Rural Economy Spokesperson, has called on Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to look again at the decision not to include an island tariff in the next round of Contracts for Difference, a method of support to make island renewable energy projects viable.  

Mrs Grant has also asked Mr Clark what, in the meantime, government intends to do to deliver the interconnectors to the Northern and Western Isles and how these will be funded.

Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne is refreshing its online ticketing to make it easier to use.

The new look web system will introduce a step-by-step timeline across the screen to help customers follow their booking process, as well as a helpful summary of their reservation. It will also be fully scalable across all devices.

 (TIG) has recently completed and allocated the two Rent to Buy properties at Esplanade Court, Stornoway. 

TIG’s Rent to Buy Scheme is a Comhairle-backed initiative which enables TIG to develop housing for families and individuals who are struggling to get onto the property ladder and are looking for a low cost home ownership option.

Police in Stornoway are carrying out enquiries into reports of a number of offensive posters that have been erected in Stornoway.

These posters were believed to have been erected on Friday 4 November 2016 in several locations in Stornoway including the Council Offices, Bus Station, Perceval Square and Tesco’s.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 if they wish to remain anonymous.

The Post Office is proposing to relocate Bayhead Post Office to two new locations where they will open as a modern open-plan local-style branches with extended opening hours.

Post Office local is a new concept for delivering Post Office services and the new branches in Stornoway will offer Post Office products and services throughout shop opening hours from open-plan tills at the shop counters instead of from separate screened counters. 

Police received reports of two car accidents over the weekend. 

A maroon people carrier left the road on a bend leaving Stornoway on the A859 between Stornoway and Tarbert at around 3pm yesterday.

No was injured.

Bespoke Bicycles, who are working to transform Glen House into The Hub have met their target for funding to help them to complete their work on The Hub. 

A crowdfunding page was set up to help Bespoke Bicycles complete the renovation of Glen House to get The Hub up and running. 

The Hub, which is situated in Glen House (on Willowglen Road) hopes to be a cafe for walkers, runners and cyclists, as well as a bicycle repair shop. 

With the help of 180 backers, The Stornoway Trust and Stornoway Sawmill, Bespoke Bicycles has raised £7,580 (the target was £7,500) with 37 days still to go. 

Passenger numbers and revenues on the CalMac ferries both increased over the past year according to the latest David MacBrayne Ltd (DML) annual report and accounts.

The ferry and port operator, parent company of CalMac Ferries Ltd, reported passengers up by 2% to 5 million and vehicles by 9% to 1.2 million for 2015/16. Total turnover increased from £172 million to £190 million.

But despite growth in both carryings and revenue the company made a loss of £4.6 million for the year, up from £2.3 million in the red over the previous 12 months.  Total numbers employed by the company rose by 86  from 1,482 to 1,568 over the course of the year.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has encouraged local groups across the Isles to apply to the Centenary Memorials Restoration Fund (CMRF) to renovate their local war memorials.

CMRF is a £1 million fund, launched by former First Minister Alex Salmond in 2013, to help communities across Scotland undertake necessary repair and conservation work on local war memorials. The fund forms a central part of the Scottish Government’s commemorations of the centenary of the First World War.

The Islands Book Trust have launched a brand new website. 

Dedicated to discovering and sharing the history of Scotland's island communities, the Trust is based in Laxay, Lewis, and aims to further understanding of the history of Scottish islands in their wider Celtic and Nordic contexts through events including talks, visits, and conferences, publications, research and education.

To view the new website, click here

Problems are affecting telephone services in Carloway, Timsgarry and Great Bernera.

BT are currently working to restore full service as soon as possible, and are also reporting a loss of the 999 emergency service in these areas.

You may still be able to contact Police via the 101 number.

The Nicolson Institute B team will face Glasgow Gaelic School in the semi-final of the National Gaelic Schools' debate later this month. 

The four teams who have reached the semi-final stages of this year’s competition are The Nicolson Institute B, Inverness Royal Academy B, Lochaber High School and Glasgow Gaelic School.

The Chair of the Outer Hebrides Community Planning Partnership has emphasised that Renewable Energy has the potential to transform the economy of the Outer Hebrides if Government provides the required assistance and works with local agencies.

Angus Campbell said: “It is ironic that the day after a two day seminar on depopulation and migration affecting the Outer Hebrides that we get an announcement from the UK Government that the Islands will not be included in the next round of Contract for Difference –which is required to make island windfarm projects viable.  It is fully accepted that renewable energy offers an unprecedented opportunity to transform the economic fortunes of the islands by bringing investment and creating jobs and training opportunities.

"To make that happen we need Government to set the right conditions and this latest announcement is extremely disappointing."

HHP has been awarded £340k from the Scottish Government as part of the Home Energy Efficiency Programme’s Capital Acceleration Programme (HEEPS-CAP).

HHP will use the funding to carry out room-in-roof insulation in 68 homes before April 2017.

The bid was put together in partnership with the Comhairle, who will administrate the project.

The FiSH group - Families into Sport for Health - has launched its new webiste: www.familiesintosport.org

FiSH describes itself as: "...a campaign group working toward equal access to council run sport and leisure facilities in the Western Isles, by illustrating the demand to prioritise a change in attitudes toward health"

The group gained support through its Facebook page, which currently has 1,553 members. 

FiSH is currently raising money through a crowdfunding page to fund the year-long Sunday opening trial, which is estimated to cost £11,400 - the total raised currently stands at £4,282.00. 

Young swimmers from the Isle of Lewis Competed in the Highland Schools Swimming Championships last week. 

20 Lewis swimmers, all members of Swim Western Isles, travelled to Inverness to represent their respective schools, and brought home 18 medals between them.

Coach David Hanlon, who attended the championships with the team, said: “They all swam so well, and got excellent times against the best swimmers in the North of Scotland. We came home with 18 medals, Gold, Silver and Bronze, some great placings and a very happy squad. Special mention must go to Ania and Isla from the Nicolson Institute, who got Golds in both of their races.”

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has expressed deep frustration and disappointment at the announcement by the UK Government that the islands would not be included in the next round of Contract for Difference – which is required to make island windfarm projects viable.

The announcement was made by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark MP, this morning who also announced that they would go to consultation on remote island wind.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil says the decision of the UK Government to deny support to island renewables is an 'epic kick in the teeth’ for the Scottish islands and will threaten the UK’s long term carbon targets.

He was informed by Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark MP this morning (Wednesday) that the islands would not be included in the next round of Contract for Difference – a vital source of support to make projects viable.

 
The son of Mary Macleod from Tong on the Isle of Lewis, Donald Trump will become the 45th US president early next year after a stunning election victory was declared this morning over long-term Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton. 
 
The Republican outsider's victory came down to a handful of voters in some key swing states, despite months of opinion poll results that had almost always favoured Mrs Clinton.   
Mr Trump's victory in the state of Wisconsin put him over the 270 out of 538 electoral college votes needed to win the White House.

Angus MacNeil MP recently met with representatives from mobile giant EE who provided an update on the much needed 4G upgrade to mobile phone networks  in Na h-Eileanan an Iar.

EE is looking to site in the region of 25 new masts across the constituency to provide 4G coverage along key roads that currently lack mobile coverage, together with upgrading existing sites to 4G. EE propose to have 4G available in our islands by the end of 2017. 

Pictured are, from left to right, Mairi Smith, Donna Parkes, Mary Buchanan, Kathryn Macsween, Fiona Creighton, Gill Chadwick, Chris Ann Maclean and Hazel Hebditch.

A top team that provides a truly supportive and patient-focused service to people affected by cancer in the Western Isles was recently shortlisted in the Cancer Nursing category of this year’s Nursing Times Awards.

Members of the NHS Western Isles Macmillan team attended a prestigious awards ceremony in London.

Councillor Angus Campbell speaks to the conference

Organisations across the Western Isles have a major responsibility in halting a decrease in population and correcting the demographic imbalance in the area.

This was the conclusion of Councillor Angus Campbell, Chair of the Outer Hebrides Community Planning Partnership, on the closing day of a Population and Migration Seminar held in the Harris Hotel, in Tarbert.

Point and Sandwick Trust, the charity behind the award-winning Beinn Ghrideag community wind farm, has handed over a cheque for £25,000 to Bethesda — and has pledged to give the care home and hospice a total of £55,000 every year for the next 25 years.

It is the biggest pledge that Bethesda has ever received in its 25-year history and means that, for the first time, staff can count on getting a good cash injection every six months to shore up their fundraising efforts.

Finance officer and fundraiser DR Macdonald received the cheque from Point and Sandwick Trust last Wednesday (November 2) at an event in Ionad Stoodie.  He is delighted. “We got a cheque for £25,000 and that’s the first instalment. The other £30,000 will be given in May or June next year. They have pledged £55,000 for the lifetime of the wind farm, for 25 years.”

He said: “We’ve had nothing like that since we opened. In the past, every year we just started from scratch. We did have one other big donation, over five years for £25,000 a year, but we have never had this amount.

“It means a huge amount. It’s about a tenth of what we have to raise every year. We still have to raise over £200,000 over and above that, but the good thing is we now have a cushion to start the year. It’s a big, big thing.”

This donation is the first payment to Bethesda from a pledge made by Point and Sandwick Trust with the signing of a memorandum six years before the wind farm became a reality.

Looking back, DR said: “There were various obstacles along the way. Thankfully we weren’t directly involved but the directors did a power of work behind the scenes.

“It’s early days for Point and Sandwick, because obviously they have to pay back the £14.5million that they borrowed to set it up, but over the next coming years it’s going to make a huge difference.

“We have also had the announcement that Galson Trust have increased their grants, so all these wind farms are going to make a huge difference because they are pumping money into the local economy.”

Angus McCormack, chairman of Point and Sandwick Trust, said: “We are delighted to honour our promise to Bethesda. Bethesda means so much to our community.  PST is delighted to be offering solid support for the next 25 years. We see it as a very good investment and it has been uppermost in our minds since the earliest days of the project. This is a good and very satisfying partnership.”

Point and Sandwick Trust have pledged annual support to six Western Isles organisations or projects. As well as Bethesda, they are An Lanntair, Hebrides Alpha, Western Isles Foyer, plus the Croft Woodlands project throughout the islands and the LED Energy Communities scheme, which relates to Point and Sandwick and is being delivered in partnership with Tighean Innse Gall.  These six will receive priority revenue support from Point and Sandwick Trust, who expect to make a profit of £500,000 a year from the three turbines at Beinn Ghrideag — the biggest community wind farm in the UK in terms of output.

Beinn Ghrideag started generating electricity in July 2015 and became fully operational in November that year. It was named Best Community Project at the Scottish Green Energy Awards last December, in recognition of outstanding performance in the Scottish renewable energy industry. 

 

From left to right, Calum Macdonald, Point and Sandwick Power Business Manager; Duncan Mackay, Point and Sandwick Trust Vice Chairman; Angus McCormack, PST Chairman; DR Macdonald, Bethesda Fundraising Manager; Carol Summerville, Bethesda General Manager; Duncan Maclean, Bethesda Chairman: Donald John MacSween, PST General Manager

School pupils and kids clubs from P6 to S2 are invited onto the UHI campus on Tuesday 22 November to build and test their own rocket car, an exciting hands-on project designed to fire up the youngsters who could be tomorrow’s space-travellers.

Lews Castle College UHI is heading for the outer limits with a frontier-pushing Space Week programme which shows that you’re never too young to build a rocket.

Designed to showcase cutting-edge research in aerospace engineering at the Stornoway campus of UHI, the programme, from November 22 to 24, offers something to stimulate minds at every stage of education, from primary school to postgraduate.

Food bank usage in the Western Isles has risen by 22 per cent in recent months.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has described the latest foodbank statistics from the Trussell Trust as 'deeply concerning', following their publication earlier today.

The Western Isles were thrown into the middle of the heated UK debate on immigration policy yesterday as community leaders from across the Islands met in Tarbert to discuss the forecast decline in Island population numbers over the next 20 years.

Both Lord Dunlop, Parliamentary under-secretary of state for Scotland, and therefore a representative of the Westminster Tory government, and Humza Yousaf, the Scottish Government’s minister for Transport and the Islands, sent statements which were read out to the Population and Migration Seminar.

And Lord Dunlop’s contribution appeared to put him at odds with his own government.  He stated that international migration “will not stop with Brexit, rather the objective is to exercise proper control. 

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed the announcement from the Scottish Government that families across the Western Isles are set to benefit from £340,000 of additional funding to keep their homes warm this winter.

This has been earmarked as part of a £9 million national fund to help improve the housing of those most in need, and help to ensure that social housing meets energy efficiency standards.

Report from Bill Lucas,  HEBRIDEAN PRESS SERVICE

Lionel Morrison, who became the first black president of the National Union of Journalists in 1987, and whose grandfather came from the Ness district of Lewis, has died aged 81.  His name came from his grand-father's native village of Lionel.

During his term of office Lionel visited the island to meet with local NUJ members and was also able to to trace his roots and meet up with relatives in Ness. At 28 Lionel he met with second cousins and another at  23 Fivepenny. He also stopped at No 29 Lionel where his grand-father Alex Morrison had been born.

His grand-father Alex left Ness at the turn of the 20th century to join the Gold Rush in Africa.  He had four sons, Hector and Botha by his first wife Sophie, of Afrikaner descent, and Peter Alexander and Harry in his second marriage to the daughter of a Zulu chief.

 

Report from Katie Macleod in New York

Almost 50,000 runners from around the world started the New York City Marathon yesterday morning (November 6th), pounding the pavements for 26.2 miles through the city’s five boroughs – and one of them was Western Isles Police Officer Louise Henderson.

Along with 34 other police officers from across the UK, Louise was tackling the world-famous marathon in aid of the PC Nicola Hughes Memorial Fund, which is raising money to start a pilot scheme that will help support the families of murder victims.

Having already completed the charity’s ‘Run to Remember’ race, Louise signed up straight away when the call went out in June for police officers from across the country to run in the New York City Marathon.

The emergency 999 phone services has now been restored in the Highlands and Islands area Police Scotland advise.

British Telecom has confirmed disruption to the 999 service which affected some landlines across the Highlands and Islands – including Stornoway – has now been fully restored.

Police Scotland thank residents for their patience and understanding during the disruption.

Other areas which had been affected were Ardersier, Nairn, Cawdor, Kinlochleven and Tain.

Pupils at Back School enjoyed a visit from Ann and Peter

The pupils of Back School had an assembly with a difference on Friday (November 4th) when Anti-Litter campaigners Peter Lyons and Ann Palmer brought their Western Isles Children's Humorous Photographic Competition to the school.

Grabbing the youngsters' attention with their brightly coloured jingle-jangle Jester outfits, Ann and Peter explained the problems caused by discarded rubbish and encouraged pupils to get creative and enter the 2016 competition – with a total of 18 prizes up for grabs.

Open to all island children, to enter you must take a photo on the Anti-Litter theme and think up a funny caption to go alongside the snap.

Police Scotland are advising island residents of the 'partial failure' of the 999 emergency service number affecting LANDLINE telephone lines in Stornoway.

British Telecom have today (Monday, November 7th) made Police Scotland aware of the partial failure of the 999 service in Stornoway, as well as in Ardersier, Nairn, Cawdor, Kinlochleven and Tain.

Work is ongoing to restore the emergency response service as soon as possible.

Calls to 101 from landlines and 999 calls made from mobiles are not affected.

Police Officers are patrolling in the local area and Police Stations are open to the public in Stornoway, and in Inverness, Nairn, Tain and Fort William on the mainland.

The new lap tray mats are bright and easy to read

NHS Western Isles has become the first Health Board in Scotland to develop and introduce new lap tray mats to its hospitals, welcoming patients to the ward, and providing an array of important patient information by the bedside.

The mats were launched earlier this year, and have received positive feedback from both patients and staff.

NHS Western Isles Nurse Director, Chris Anne Campbell, said: “The lap tray mats were launched as part of our ‘What Matters To You’ day earlier this year, when staff were asked to focus specifically on considering ‘what are the things that matter most to your patients?’

OnTime employees Alasdair Maclean, left and Matthew Macaskill, right with OnTime founder Donald Macaskill and MSP Alasdair Allan

 

OnTime Computer Services of Rigs Road, Stornoway, has become the first islands-based firm to sign up as an accredited Living Wage employer.

This was achieved through Scottish Living Wage Accreditation (http://scottishlivingwage.org/accredited)

OnTime Director Donald Macaskill said his company’s decision to seek accreditation was “not just about money, not just about us, it’s also about raising awareness of the living wage so that, hopefully, other employers will see the benefits of raising standards for their employees and also the potential of gaining additional business. “

Rhoda Grant, Labour MSP for the Highlands and Islands, looks back at her experience on the American election trail

 

Rhoda Grant, right, with her friends and Josh Shapiro who is standing for election as Attorney General in Pennsylvania

Myself and some of my female friends in the Labour Party to go away a weekend every year, we save up.  Sometimes it is political and all of the time it is fun.  We were talking about this earlier in the year and decided it would be nice to go to America and campaign for Hillary Clinton as part of our holiday.

We discussed swing states and came down between Florida and Pennsylvania.  Just because of ease of travel, most Florida flights were part of package holidays, we decided on Philadelphia.  This was a good decision given that Hurricane Matthew reached Florida on the day we flew out.  We took a couple of days to get ourselves settled and then found the local campaign office, they were very pleased to see us.  It appears to me that much of the campaigning is in the media up until very close to the election.  In Pennsylvania they also put a lot more emphasis on getting voters registered because people who have not voted for four years fall off the register – that was our first job.

EVENTS and welovestornoway.com journalist Katie Macleod, who is from Point but lives in the US, gives an insight into the frantic commercialism of a two-year US Presidential election campaign as it nears its close.  

 

Let me be frank: as a Brit in the USA, I am completely fascinated by the Presidential Election campaign.
Every time I speak to someone from home, they are equally as incredulous. “What’s going on over there?” they ask.  The actions of the US ripple far beyond its borders, so naturally people are curious – or downright concerned.
Hailing from a country where national health care, paid maternity leave, and legally-mandated time-off from work is the norm, my political views in a country with none of these safeguards, are already considered extreme – hence why I tend to shy away from political conversations!
But this status as a Brit abroad, a non-US citizen ineligible to vote, means that I have a front row seat to a show I have no say in.

Read more…

http://storiesmysuitcasecouldtell.com/2016/11/05/us-election/

The Lewis Blythswood Shoebox collection was being packed ready for shipment this afternoon in the former Co-operative Furniture in Kenneth Street, Stornoway.   The loads of boxes, pallet after pallet of them, are heading for Kosovo next week.  The final deadline for anyone who still has their shoebox at home is to bring it in by midday tomorrow (Saturday November 5) …after that, the collecting has to stop and it's just the packing to be completed.

UK Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill MP will meet with members of the Western Isles Fishermen's Association to discuss  the crew shortage crisis facing the fishing industry.

The Minister met with Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil,  Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O'Hara and MP Margaret Ritchie, South Down, Northern Ireland on Wednesday (November 2nd)  to speak through the issue facing their fishing communities.

Mr MacNeil said that the meeting was an opportunity to outline to Mr Goodwill the crisis which is facing the fishing fleet across Scotland.

Lack of support from the UK Government for the onshore wind industry could leave the Western Isles missing out on huge opportunities warn Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

Council Leader, Angus Campbell, said: “The importance of generating electricity from large scale renewable projects cannot be underestimated for the economic future of the Islands.

“Without them the interconnector will not be laid.”

The new exclusive design was modelled today on Lewis by Scotland’s cap and points’ record-holder, Chris Paterson, and fellow former Scotland captain Alastair Kellock, both Scottish Rugby ambassadors

 

Two household names that epitomise Scotland are joining forces in a three-year relationship.

Scottish Rugby is partnering with Harris Tweed and today (Thursday 3 November) in the Outer Hebrides unveiled a new official SRU design.

Scottish Rugby’s Chief Operating Officer, Dominic McKay, said: “Scottish Rugby is keen to work with iconic, world-renowned Scottish brands and the opportunity to partner with Harris Tweed, which is recognised globally as a quality product, is one that we are very excited about.

“In the global market place in which we operate, it’s important that we can extend the international dimension of Scottish Rugby and generate awareness of our brand.

The HebCelt festival main site on Lews Castle Green.       Photo: Colin Cameron

The Hebridean Celtic Festival’s coming of age event this year generated more than £2.2 million for the islands’ economy and helped safeguard 40 tourism-related jobs.

A visitor survey and economic impact report on this year’s HebCelt shows the event continues to play an important role in attracting new people to visit the islands and encourage repeat trips.

Festival director Caroline Maclennan said: “It was an amazing festival this year, breaking all our previous records.

Artizan, the coffee, art and jewellery shop in Church Street, has come up with an innovation that rewards their customers – and could also help people resolve their struggle to find the ideal Christmas Gift.
This is the new Artizan swipe card which is both a loyalty card and a pre-paid gift card  - and is available to both new and existing customers, giving them a saving of ten per cent on every purchase which can be put towards future spending at Artizan, either in the jewellery and gift section or for more coffees, lunches, cakes, and snacks.
You can register for the card at Artizan on Church Street, where the exact terms and conditions will be explained.  You can then choose how much you money you want to put on it – and it can be in your name - or the name of person you want to give to.

Angus McCormack, Chairman of The Western Isles Poverty Action Group has called for a number of actions to be undertaken to alleviate fuel poverty in the Western Isles.

Mr McCormack said: “Following on from the two recently published reports on Fuel Poverty in Scotland, The Western Isles Poverty Action Group is seeking that steps be taken to implement the following actions.

Stornoway Police officer Louise Henderson is representing Police Scotland in the New York marathon on Sunday (November 6).

Louise will join a group of 34 serving police officers and staff from all over the UK raising money for the P-c Nicola Hughes Memorial Fund. It is hoped that the money raised will support a pilot scheme to provide support to the children of the victims of murder.

Residents in Benbecula and Uist in particular are being warned about a current telephone scam operating in the Western Isles.

Trading Standards today (Tuesday, November 1st) has issued a warning to all island residents – but particularly those living in Benbecula and this Uists – to the phone scam.

During the call, consumers are asked for various details to verify their identity and are then promised a visit from a solicitor with a cheque for mis-sold PPI (Payment Protection Insurance).

At least £1.3 billion of investment in shovel ready projects is being put at risk by indecision by the UK Government over major funding decisions, say Scottish Government Ministers.

Ministers and leaders of three Scottish Island Councils – including the Western Isles – have written to Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark, expressing concern about the effects of continued uncertainty on support for large-scale renewable energy projects on the Scottish Islands.

Scottish Government Ministers met council leaders from Orkney, Shetland and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, at the Convention for Highlands and Islands (COHI) in Inverness yesterday (October 31st).

Police in Stornoway are appeal for information regarding a car which was vandalised on Bayhead, Stornoway.

Police are carrying out enquiries into damage caused to a Vauxhall Corsa, on Bayhead, which occurred sometime between 11.45pm on Friday, October 14th, and 9.15am on Saturday, October 15th.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Police Scotland on 101 or anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

The Western Isles should be given priority in the smart meter roll-out, it was claimed today.

Stornoway North councillor Gordon Murray has written to SSE acknowledging the 'value of addressing fuel poverty that a smart meter has'.

He said: “With the high levels of fuel poverty in our local authority increasing in the last four years from 50% to 71% - levels which are unacceptable in our society, there is an urgent need for coordinated action involving National and Local politicians and stakeholders in the energy market."

Dr You – Talking About Disability

Disability can arise in a number of ways, and is described as anyone who has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out daily activities. 

In simple terms, these impairments may include: loss of limbs; a visual or hearing impairment; long-term health condition such as cancer, arthritis, multiple sclerosis and heart disease; learning difficulties; and mental health problems such as autism, eating disorders, depression and dementia.

Disabled people are often talked about as though they form one group. But every disabled person faces different challenges and health conditions.  In fact, more than 80% of people with a disability were born without it and find they have to adjust.

High quality products from the Isle of Lewis are being given a showcase in New York on St Andrew’s Day with support from the island’s award-winning exporter, Harris Tweed Hebrides.
In addition to displaying its own fabric range at a prestigious Manhattan event, the Shawbost-based company is backing a range of other island products that range from whisky and oatcakes to seaweed-based cosmetics.

A brand-new shopping concept could be open in the centre of Stornoway by the end of next week.
The premises on Church Street include a totally new coffee bar, which will also serve home-baking and some specialised snacks – plus a jewellery shop upstairs with a very wide range of products expected.

A new car wash facility was launched in Harris this morning. 

'Isle of Harris Hand Car Wash and Cleaning' is situated at the new Iomairt an Obain business units beside Willow Park, in East Tarbert.

The venture has been launched by Jamie McGowan, who has taken hire of Unit 3 for mass production of his hugely successful 'Buth Bheag' candles and scented sticks.

In a bid to encourage residents in North Lewis to shop local this Christmas, several businesses will be staying open until 9pm on two consecutive Thursdays: December 3 and December 10. 

Borgh Pottery, Bùth Lisa, Sea in Design, Sallie Avis Designer, Comunn Eachdraidh Nis, Cross Stores and Ness Post Office will all be staying open late. 

In a bid to encourage residents in North Lewis to shop local this Christmas, several businesses will be staying open until 9pm on two consecutive Thursdays: December 3 and December 10. 

Borgh Pottery, Bùth Lisa, Sea in Design, Sallie Avis Designer, Comunn Eachdraidh Nis, Cross Stores and Ness Post Office will all be staying open late. 

 

Gaelic television is set to lose £1million of UK government funding, it was announced today.

Already, Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil has called on David Mundell, the Secretary of State for Scotland, to use his cabinet position to reverse the decision.

He said: "The announcement that the UK Government is cutting all the funding it gives to Gaelic TV is staggering and it again highlights how out of touch Westminster is and unconcerned about Scotland. At the same time as it has engaged in cultural vandalism in Scotland, the Tory Government is giving £150 million to museums in London."

A National Conversation on a Healthier Scotland is taking place in Stornoway today, Thursday, November 26th, with an afternoon discussion underway, and a second session being held this evening.

Hosted independently by national third sector health and social care organisation ALLIANCE, on behalf of the Scottish Government, the Conversation events are taking place throughout Scotland's 32 local authorities until April 2016.

It's that time of year again, when the Christmas enthusiasts at Maybury Gardens bring us an evening of Christmas joy to celebrate the switching on of their famous Christmas lights. 

The event takes place today, and is free, but collection boxes are there to raise money for Bethesda Hospice. 

Santa arrived at Maybury Gardens at 1.30pm, and will be there until 7.30pm; mince pies, mulled wine and hot chocolate are being served all day; face painting will take place until 4pm; live music and carol singing will take place between 5pm and 7pm; and the fireworks display is due at 6.30pm. 

Hundreds of selection boxes are at the ready, to be given out by Santa to every child who visits him in his grotto - 100 selection boxes were donated by Tesco for the event.

It is requested that everybody attending today's event parks safely and responsibly, please. It is advised that people park at Sandwick School - less than 10 minutes walk away - or down one side of Constable Road (which connects North Street and Plasterfield). 

There is less than a week to cast your vote and help the Uist and Barra Public Bus Service Redesign project scoop a national award for innovation.

The local project, organised and arranged by Community Planning Partnership officers, has been shortlisted from an 'amazing range of projects nominated' as one of only four Scottish works to be put forward in the 'Transport and Infrastructure Project' section of the Scottish Rural Parliament's Rural Innovators Award 2015-16.

The Rural Innovators Awards are presented to a group, person, or organisation which is improving life in rural communities by tackling key topics – and the more innovative, the better.

The Uist and Barra Public Bus Service Redesign project has been shortlisted due to the innovative methods used to improve service outcomes by procuring services in a new way – including full involvement in the design and procurement of their bus services by the community, and extensive engagement with suppliers.

Such aspects make the project 'a truly innovative piece of work, addressing some of the key issues that face rural communities and their ability to access services,” states the award website.

You can cast your vote for the island project at the Scottish Rural Parliament website; and voting closes on Monday, November 30th.

A contingency plan has been announced for when an ambulance is not available in Harris during a medical emergency out of hours.

NHS Western Isles today confirmed that a list was being put together of off-duty GPs, paramedics and nurse practitioners who were prepared to be called by the Scottish Ambulance in the event of the ambulance being 'out of area'.

Dr Angus McKellar, Medical Director, said: "I have put my name on that list – as a GP, not Medical Director – and so has Dr Anthony Latham. 

The railway which connects the Highlands and Islands with the rest of Scotland was founded 150 years ago.

On Monday night, railway enthusiast, Alasdair MacCaluim, takes BBC Alba viewers on a special journey of discovery on the Highland Railway as he tells the story of this famous network.

The build-up to the next Lewis and Harris 40th Reunion is well under way for former pupils of The Nicolson Institute, the Lews Castle School and Sir E. Scott School.

Were you...

  • born in 1976 or 1977?
  • in the Fourth Year leavers class of 1992?
  • in the Fifth Year leavers class of 1993?
  • in the Sixth Year leavers class of 1994?

 If so, then 2016 is your Reunion year.

MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, today welcomed new figures which show a record number of businesses in the Western Isles are benefiting from the Small Business Bonus Scheme.

The Small Business Bonus Scheme was introduced in 2008 and allows small and medium sized businesses to save up to £4,800 a year in business rates. The uptake on the scheme has steadily increased each year to the point where there are now over 1,200 businesses in the Western Isles benefiting.  This represents a 200% increase in the number of businesses using the scheme since its first year in 2008.

The winners have been announced for the Western Isles Children’s Humorous Photographic Competition, which was launched by Anne Palmer in order to raise awareness of the litter issue in the islands. 

The winner of the primary competition was Finn Globe, with his picture captioned ‘Flattened by a giant litter ball’ - he won a high vis jacket, litter picker and stationery set, donated by Zero Waste; while the winner of the secondary competition was Jessica Ann Macleod, with her photo captioned ‘The grazing here is rubbish these days’ - she won a wildlife-watching sea trek, donated by Engebrets.

Ann Palmer described the winning photographs as a “testimony to the inherent creativity of children; a vital gift for future problem-solving in our world.”

The competition called for kids to go out litter picking, and take a photo of a piece of litter, or get a photo taken of themselves with a piece of litter, and add a humorous caption to it. 

The judges of the competition were: Muriel Ann MacLeod, founder and director of Rural Nations; Joe Mahoney, Education Outreach Officer at An Lanntair; and Ann Palmer, the competition founder and organiser.

Joe Mahoney said: “It was a pleasure to see so many wonderful images and creative captions entered in the photography competition. Entrants obviously put in a great deal of thought to their text and compositions and it was a treat to look through them all. Well done everyone.”

A number of winners are still to be announced, and awarded prizes. Keep an eye on welovestornoway.com to see who else has won!

Communication must improve when a doctor is needed out of hours in Harris, a meeting in Tarbert heard last night.

Those in attendance asked that a first point of contact should be established locally, to both reassure the caller and to then determine whether the incident should go to NHS 24 or to 999.

The current NHS 24 had been found to be not user-friendly, especially so for those who were elderly and spoke only Gaelic, and those who suffered from dementia.

Pictured: David Blaney HHP Outgoing Chair, Alasdair Mackenzie HHP Board Member, Apprentices Lewis Graham, John Alexander Maciver, Robert Gillies, Andrew Maciver, George Waddington, Steven Murray from Alex Murray Construction, George Lonie HHP Chair, Angus Lamont HHP Chief Executive and Gordon Murray HHP Board Member

HHP provides ongoing investment, which has allowed young apprentices to be taken on by Alex Murray Construction.

The 7 first year apprentices are employed by Alex Murray Construction on contracts awarded by HHP to install new heating systems, renew bathrooms and for roofing and roughcasting works.

Ahead of their recent Board meeting, members of the HHP Board met with some of the young people provided with apprenticeships through HHP’s ongoing investment programme.

HHP’s outgoing Chair David Blaney said: “We are delighted that our investment programme is not only improving tenants homes but is also providing apprenticeships for our young people to remain on the islands, and to gain skills which will stand them in good stead through their lives.”

Steven Murray from Alex Murray Construction said: “It would not have been possible for us to provide these apprenticeships without the major investment being made by HHP, which is hugely important to us and to the construction industry locally.”

Angus Lamont Chief Executive of HHP said: “This demonstrates the wider impact which HHP is having in the islands.  We are boosting the local economy, sustaining jobs and supporting training opportunities for our young people.”

 

A brand new carbonaceous fire training facility was officially opened in Stornoway this morning. 

The new site is located at Stornoway Airport, and is part of a £3.5 million investment in the Western Isles, with a major refurbishment to Stornoway community fire station due for completion late next year.

The significance of the new fire training facility is that it negates the need for retained fire crews to leave the Western Isles for training, which will in turn benefit local employers who will not lose staff for lengthy periods of time due to training commitments. 

Reports that the MV Suilven – the former Caledonian MacBraynes Stornoway/Ullapool ferry – has sunk off Fiji in the South Pacific have reached island shores today.

News reports detail that the vessel, now owned by Ben Naidu of Venu Shipping, began to list as she approached Suva Harbour, Fiji.

Fijian Navy boats and harbour tugs were launched to the casualty and reports state that around 30 people were rescued from the ailing vessel as she capsized.

The 41 year old, 87m Norwegian-built MV Suilven then sank beneath the waves within an hour on Tuesday (November 24th) afternoon; around 2am UK time, it is believed.

The MV Suilven is best known to many islanders following her 20 year services with Caledonian MacBraynes on the Stornoway/Ullapool route.

She was introduced to the CalMac fleet in 1975, replacing the old MV Clansman vessel.

Scottish rock legends Runrig will make the Gaelic heartland part of their 2016 UK tour by headlining next year’s Hebridean Celtic Festival.

The band will close the 21st HebCelt’s ‘coming of age’ celebrations on Saturday, 16th July during the nationwide tour in support of their 14th - and last - studio album, The Story, which is released in January.

It will be Runrig’s fourth appearance at HebCelt, where the internationally-renowned band are also honoured in the Hall of Fame for their outstanding contribution to Celtic music.

The Eilean Siar Foodbank will be collecting donations of food from Tesco, from Thursday December 3rd to Saturday December 5th, 9am-10pm. 

Eilean Siar Foodbank, based in Stornoway, first opened its doors in September 2013, and is open 3 days a week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 11am-2pm) to provide emergency food to those below the poverty line in the islands. 

Volunteers are needed December 3rd-5th, 9am-5pm, to help sort donations, and distribute suggestion lists to customers. 

For more information, to volunteer, or to see how Eilean Siar Food Bank can help you, visit: www.eileansiar.foodbank.org.uk, call: 01851 706650, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Don't forget, the foodbank needs volunteers all year round!

Have you got spare time on your hands? Are you caring, compassionate, reliable and discreet? Eilean Siar Foodbank needs your help. We are looking for able-bodied volunteers who can help out regularly at our Stornoway distribution centre with a variety of tasks including greeting clients, sorting food, handling admin and applying for funding. If you feel you could help in any of these areas and would like to find out more about being a volunteer, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information. Please note that volunteers must be able to climb stairs.

Some spaces still available on this free workshop!

Join Diane Murray of Orbit Agency on this half-day workshop on Wednesday at 1.30pm in the Comhairle Offices, Stornoway.  This hands-on session will look at online productivity tools to help transform your marketing strategy and boost your business. It will cover the following areas:

1.  Understanding what cloud computing is and what different types there are;
2.  Understanding the benefits and limitations of cloud computing;
3.  Identifying several cloud based tools that can help increase productivity and positively impact marketing strategies; and 
4.  Taking away a foundation understanding on how to use these tools within your business.

Please note this workshop is IT-based and participants must bring their own laptop.

To book a place on this interactive workshop contact the Business Gateway office on 01851 822775 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 

Engineering and construction works around the Western Isles Hospital will cause disruption for the next month and official advice on changes to visiting times and reduction to parking has been issued.

The public are advised that first, the carpets are being replaced to the Level 3 corridor and main stairwell from Monday, November 30.  To allow this work to be done, visiting to Medical 1, Surgical and Maternity wards will need to end at 8.30pm for the week commencing November 30.

Also, work is to begin on the helipad, with the contractors saying they are in a position to start work next Monday which is again, November 30.

The majority of the Western Isles will have full 4G mobile coverage in the next two years, it was claimed today.

Vodafone state that these improvements will be dependent on the rollout and availability of good quality broadband fibre which is needed to connect mobile masts to Vodafone’s core network. 

Commenting, Angus MacNeil MP said: “Having recently met with Vodafone I am encouraged to hear that our islands will benefit from 4G as part of Vodafone’s multi-billion pound investment cycle to improve coverage across Scotland and the rest of the UK."

The Buth an Rubha cafe and shop in Point was broken into over the weekend.

The building was illegally entered sometime between 8pm on Friday evening and 8.15am on Saturday morning.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact police on 101.

The Western Isles Labour Party has selected Highlands & Islands MSP Rhoda Grant as their candidate in the 2016 Scottish Parliament.

Ms Grant was selected after two well attended constituency meetings, the first in Uist followed by Stornoway.

Members were given the opportunity to discuss the challenges facing the islands with Ms Grant, who was clear that in the current climate a strong Labour voice for the islands is essential.

Speaking after the selection meetings Rhoda Grant said: "It is a privilege  to have been selected by the local Labour Party as the prospective parliamentary candidate for the Na h-Eileanan an Iar constituency. As a Highlands and Islands MSP, I have a proven track record of speaking up on the issues which really matter to the islands. The Western Isles have unique challenges and it is imperative that these are taken into account by government. I look forward to continuing my work to achieve a better future for the Western Isles."

A series of informal events is being held by NHS Western Isles, working in partnership with other agencies, to look at the existing and future needs of those with mental health problems.

The aim is to hear from all stakeholders about how services are being used, which services are most needed, and how they could best be improved in the future.

NHS Western Isles has been working with its partners to look at the services we provide for people with mental health problems.

The partners include Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Penumbra, Alzheimer’s Scotland, Western Isles Association for Mental Health, Tagsa Uibhist and Cobhair Barraigh.  We are doing this work because we think we can make the services better by redesigning them.

We invite you to join us, for however long you can spare, at an event across the islands to give us your views. We will gather all this information together and use it to help inform us of the “bigger picture” of the health and wellbeing needs and inequalities of the people of the Western Isles living with mental health problems. We will come back to you in Spring next year with some proposals for how we can improve services to see how they would suit you.
The stakeholder events are:
December 2nd - 2.30-4.30 pm – Carloway Community Centre
December 2nd – 5.30-8 pm  - Clinical Skills Area, Western Isles Hospital, Stornoway
December 3rd  - 2-5pm - Bays Community Centre, Harris
Alternatively, you can send us your views on what is going well and what you would like to see changed for services provided for mental health problems to:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Or by post to:
Mental Health Review
Division of Public Health and Health Strategy
37 South Beach Street
Stornoway
HS1 2BB

A series of informal events is being held by NHS Western Isles, working in partnership with other agencies, to look at the existing and future needs of those with mental health problems.

The aim is to hear from all stakeholders about how services are being used, which services are most needed, and how they could best be improved in the future.

In Harris there's a meeting on December 3rd  - 2-5pm at Bays Community Centre.
We invite you to join us, for however long you can spare, at an event across the islands to give us your views. We will gather all this information together and use it to help inform us of the “bigger picture” of the health and wellbeing needs and inequalities of the people of the Western Isles living with mental health problems. We will come back to you in Spring next year with some proposals for how we can improve services to see how they would suit you.
Alternatively, you can send us your views on what is going well and what you would like to see changed for services provided for mental health problems This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Or by post to:
Mental Health Review
Division of Public Health and Health Strategy
37 South Beach Street
Stornoway
HS1 2BB

A series of informal events is being held by NHS Western Isles, working in partnership with other agencies, to look at the existing and future needs of those with mental health problems.

On is on December 2nd - 2.30-4.30 pm at Carloway Community Centre

The aim is to hear from all stakeholders about how services are being used, which services are most needed, and how they could best be improved in the future.

NHS Western Isles has been working with its partners to look at the services we provide for people with mental health problems.

The partners include Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Penumbra, Alzheimer’s Scotland, Western Isles Association for Mental Health, Tagsa Uibhist and Cobhair Barraigh.  We are doing this work because we think we can make the services better by redesigning them.

We invite you to join us, for however long you can spare, at an event across the islands to give us your views. We will gather all this information together and use it to help inform us of the “bigger picture” of the health and wellbeing needs and inequalities of the people of the Western Isles living with mental health problems. We will come back to you in Spring next year with some proposals for how we can improve services to see how they would suit you.

Alternatively, you can send us your views on what is going well and what you would like to see changed for services provided for mental health problems to:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Or by post to:
Mental Health Review
Division of Public Health and Health Strategy
37 South Beach Street
Stornoway
HS1 2BB

More than 100 cross-party MPs and Peers – including Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil – have written an open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osbourne MP, urging him to continue investing in fixed and mobile broadband as part of the Spending Review and in the future.
The letter was co-ordinated by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Broadband and Digital Communication, which is co-chaired by Matt Warman MP and Ian Liddell-Grainger MP, and follows a recent Backbench Business debate on the matter.

 
Pictured are Evelyn Coull MacLeod and Alick Matheson from the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar's e-Stòras website which won the award for Innovation in Education at last week’s Gaelic Awards 2015.

Highlands & Islands MSP, Rhoda Grant, is encouraging people with epilepsy in the Highlands and Islands to put ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact details on their mobile phones so that if they have a seizure, the emergency services or even the general public, can get in touch with their named family member or friend.
To further assist emergency personnel, Rhoda Grant has developed a pilot initiative offering free ICEberg wristbands to anyone with epilepsy. These purple and white silicon wrist bands, identify that the wearer has an ICE contact on their mobile device.

This is the moment the 'Rionnagan Og' pre-school playgroup in Harris discovered they had been successful in a £10,000 funding bid to the National Lottery.

The money has gone towards developing a brand new softplay area at the old Croileagan building in West Tarbert.

The new attraction opened today (Friday) and proved a real smash hit with all the kids who revelled in playing amongst the colourful new equipment.

A Careers Convention held in Harris this week has been hailed a great success.

The venue for the event was Sir E. Scott School, which last hosted a Careers Convention seven years ago.

A total of 29 companies and organisations were on hand to provide information for pupils on a wide representation of training, further and higher education opportunities. 

Sailings between Stornoway and Ullapool have been cancelled because of a heavy swell out at sea.

Both the 2pm sailing from Stornoway and the 5.30pm sailing from Ullapool are cancelled.

A decision on the freight service for this evening will be taken today at midday.

A world-renowned vet will give a talk on equine welfare in Lewis tonight.

Acclaimed Professor of Equine Medicine, Prof Derek Knottenbelt, is bringing his knowledge and enthusiasm for horses to the Lochside Arena at 7pm. 

The talk is entitled 'Equine Welfare on a Scottish Island'.

Entry is free with no booking required, and whether you are a horse lover or owner, or simply interested in animal welfare, come along for a fun-packed and informative evening. 

 

The national Gaelic arts agency, Pròiseact nan Ealan, again won the Arts & Culture award at the annual Gaelic awards in Glasgow last night – but this also marked the end of the Stornoway-based agency's existence.

The event, sponsored by the Daily Record & Bòrd na Gàidhlig, celebrates excellence across the language and this was the second year in a row that Pròiseact nan Ealan won this category.

The award celebrates the significance of World War One multimedia production 'Sequamur' which toured locally, nationally and internationally to widespread critical acclaim.  Sequamur is written by Shetland-based Niseach Donald S Murray.

Above, left and right, some of the products in the Stornoway Golf Club shop…and centre, the cycle hub by Bespoke

Two new shops are now trading in Stornoway town centre thanks to an innovative competition run by Business Gateway Western Isles.

The Scottish FA has teamed up with two award-winning Scottish companies to create a bespoke range of clothing and accessories for players, fans and fashionistas alike using the world-famous Harris Tweed fabric.
 Harris Tweed Hebrides of Shawbost and Edinburgh fashion house Walker Slater were commissioned by the Scottish FA to produce a range of jackets and accessories using a design which combines the dark blue of the Scotland jersey with the sky blue of the Saltire.
National coach Gordon Strachan and the Scotland squad have been fitted out with their official Harris Tweed jackets and Gordon has declared the new range a winner.

More than 100 cross-party MPs and Peers – including Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil – have written an open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osbourne MP, urging him to continue investing in fixed and mobile broadband as part of the Spending Review and in the future.

The letter was co-ordinated by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Broadband and Digital Communication, which is co-chaired by Matt Warman MP and Ian Liddell-Grainger MP, and follows a recent Backbench Business debate on the matter.

The signatories welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement of a Universal Service Obligation for broadband of at least 10Mbps, but highlighted that 17 per cent of the UK still does not currently have the option of a superfast broadband connection, and even worse, some 500,000 – including many communities in the islands – lack even basic broadband.

Tourists are increasingly visiting the Western Isles to study their ancestry, it was revealed today.

According to those involved with the Hebridean Connections digital archiving project, the availability of online genealogical and historical information about the Outer Hebrides is contributing to 'ancestral tourism'. 

Several recent visitors to the islands have emphasised the role of information found on the Hebridean Connections website in stimulating them to visit in person, it is claimed. This information is derived from the archives of the local historical societies who participate in the project. 

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has announced awards of £330,000 from the fifth-round of its Community Capital Grant Fund for three projects totalling over £2.3m. Grants were awarded to Urras Storas an Rubha, Urras Eachdraidh Uibhist a Deas and Great Bernera Community Development Trust, for the purchase of the island estate by its community.

Cllr Alasdair Macleod, Chair of the Comhairle’s Sustainable Development Committee said: “Communities continue to develop excellent local projects. The three successful applications were from ambitious community groups aspiring to acquire and own land and develop local facilities. In this funding-round the Comhairle has helped to ensure the development of sustainable community businesses and increase the offer to locals and visitors alike.”

An opportunity for budding animators, artists, illustrators and graphic designers to find out more from industry insiders is on offer this week.

An XpoNorth Networking event will take place in An Lanntair arts centre on Thursday, November 19th, 7pm-9pm; and offer the chance for island creatives to speak with animation industry and XpoNorth representatives.

Particular focus of the networking event will be on two new animation and design courses being offered through XpoNorth, working in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise, MG ALBA, and BAFTA award winning animation company King Rollo Films.

Yesterday saw a massive effort to load the gifts of people from Lewis and Harris to less fortunate people beyond our shores.

The League of Friends at Western Isles Hospital have stepped in to meet a need for patients who arrive without personal possessions.
The League have for many years worked in the background providing support within the hospital working with staff and patients to deliver essential services that support patients and make their stay a better experience. This year the League of Friends have once again provided time and resources to continue to support patients in Western Isles Hospital.

Students and teachers from Stornoway's  sister town Pendleton were last night ending a five-day visit to Stornoway, which began last Friday evening.

The core of the Salvation Army Stornoway Corps

Words and picture by Melissa Silver

‘Nobody leaves here with an empty stomach’ is the motto at the Salvation Army Stornoway Corps, where they pile the plates high for anyone who walks through their door for breakfast on a Friday morning, or for lunch on a Tuesday and Thursday.

But, lately, the numbers - particularly for the breakfast club - have dipped, and the Salvation Army is looking to the community to support this much-needed service. 

It was a cold, blustery Friday morning when I went to have a chat with Callum and Emma Newton, Commanding Officers of the Salvation Army Stornoway Corps. I was greeted by the smell of cooked breakfasts, the noises of the bustling kitchen, and the smiling faces of the team that make it all happen every week. 

Through the doors, in the hall, were tables set out, and people sitting, chatting, laughing, enjoying their breakfast - a breakfast made up of “good quality meat,” Callum states, “all sourced from local butchers,” as well as Stag Bakery rolls, and fresh, local eggs, brought in by a volunteer. Emma adds: “I think all that comes from the supermarket is the baked beans and tomatoes!”

A new archivist has been appointed for the Lews Castle Museum and Archive project.

Seonaid McDonald starts her new job next week, having previously been Head of Archives and Museums (Scotland) at Lloyds Banking Group since 2009

In her most recent role she was responsible for managing not only the Bank's Edinburgh archives (which date back to 1695), but also the Museum on the Mound. 

The popular 'Katie Morag' television series has been honoured with a second BAFTA as Director Donald Coutts picked up the award for Best Director at the 2015 Scottish BAFTA ceremony, held in Glasgow, on Sunday, November 15th.

Donald was up against the competition of Gordon Anderson, for TV comedy 'Scrotal Recall', and Hollywood regular Robert Carlyle, with the dark comedy 'The Legend of Barney Thomson), in the Director Film/Television category.

But it was the BBC's Cbeebies' 'Katie Morag' show which won the day, and Donald was presented his BAFTA by actress Neve McIntosh and actor Richard Rankin.

 

Bingo for Macmillan Cancer Support on Friday 20th November at the Sea Angling Club at 7.30pm.

£10 per book.

Fantastic prizes and raffle.

The Healthcare Environment Inspectorate (HEI), which is part of Healthcare Improvement Scotland, last week published its report relating to an unannounced inspection of  Western Isles Hospital.
The inspectors state: "We carried out an unannounced inspection to Western Isles Hospital on Tuesday 15 and Wednesday 16 September 2015.
"This was the first inspection of the hospital against the new Healthcare Improvement Scotland Healthcare Associated Infection (HAI) Standards (February 2015).
"Before carrying out this inspection, we reviewed NHS Western Isles self-assessment and previous Western Isles Hospital inspection reports. This informed our decision on which standards to focus on during this inspection.

ALL mums-to-be are being urged to get vaccinated against whooping cough (pertussis) to ensure their babies are protected from this nasty disease during the vulnerable first two months of life.
The vaccine is available from GP practices and offered to women between their 28th and 32nd week of pregnancy.
NHS Western Isles is concerned that there has been an increase in cases of pertussis in Scotland this year, with the rate in infants under one year of age almost doubling. Half of all infants affected were babies aged two months or under.

Learning and enjoying Gaelic song has just got easier, thanks to a new Gaelic song app.
Launching this afternoon (Tuesday November 17th) at Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu, Òrain na Cloinne Bige’ is a free downloadable app and website featuring twenty Gaelic songs for Early Years recorded by five talented young singers from the Western Isles.
The project has been a collaboration between Pròiseact nan Ealan and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar with both organisations working closely together to ensure this new resource complements existing work being done within Gaelic medium croileagan and early stages classrooms. Each song has been carefully chosen to aid the learning process, enhanced by vibrant engaging images which will hold children’s attention and increase the enjoyment of the learning experience.


Evelyn Coull MacLeod, manager of the CnES Multimedia Unit said:  “We are delighted with the end result of Òrain na Cloinne Bige.  We hope it is a resource that will be used by parents, carers, playleaders and teachers across the country to introduce a new generation to Gaelic song.  It was a great opportunity for our young singers to be engaged in the whole recording process.  It is hoped that over the coming months we will develop further teaching aides to accompany the resource and this will be found on the website”.
Erica Morrison, Creative Director at Pròiseact nan Ealan added: ‘We are delighted to have worked in partnership with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to produce this wonderful Gaelic app which can be enjoyed by fluent and learner Gaelic speakers.
"This resource will enrich the Gaelic experience for young people, especially as it is not confined to the classroom. Embracing modern communication methods is essential to ensure that Gaelic is used in everyday life.”
Òrain na Cloinne Bige is available to download on both Apple and Android and is available to view at the following link.

Òrain na Cloinne Bige features the voices of Amy MacKay, Koren Pickering, Dena-Anne MacLeod, Calum Nicolson and Mairi MacLennan

The Pentland Road wind farm is poised to generate its 100 millionth unit of electricity within the next few days.

The windfarm went into commercial operation on 1 November 2013.

Peter Crone, Director of Pentland Road Windfarm Ltd., said: “This is a major milestone achievement. It means that we have very nearly reached our target of 50 million units per year or 50 gigawatt hours. 

“We are very pleased with this performance over the first two years despite the usual teething problems with new wind turbines and very significant periods in 2014 where we were unable to generate due to grid transmission works.

The French flag is flying at half-mast on South Beach today, to honour the victims of the terrorist atrocities in Paris on Friday.

Lews Castle College UHI paid a special tribute on their Facebook page.

They wrote: "Over the past few years Stornoway has become home (for a short while at least) to French students who have chosen to come and study with us here at Lews Castle College UHI. They have very much become a welcome part of our Community. Their presence with us brings the events of Paris that bit closer. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those whose lives were so cruelly taken away on Friday. Our thoughts and prayers are also with those injured during the attacks and all those caught up in the events of Friday.

A Paralympic silver medallist thrilled island schoolchildren today, giving inspiring talks on overcoming difficulties to achieve great things.

Karen Darke was paralysed from the chest down after a freak climbing accident when she was just 21.

Despite her horrific injuries, she achieved lifetime ambitions by climbing the Himalayas and reaching the summit of ‘El Capitan’ in Yosemite National Park.

Several ferries have been cancelled today due to high winds.

All sailings on the Stornoway-Ullapool and Tarbert-Uig routes have been cancelled.

The freight services between Stornoway and Ullapool have also been cancelled.

Winds are expected to peak this afternoon, with gusts of up to 65 mph predicted at around 4pm.

For more info, see here.

 

 

 

NHS Western Isles had a result of 100% in meeting cancer waiting times in the month of September, according to the latest official figures.

Similarly, in accident and emergency, 99.6% of Western Isles patients were seen within the four hours target time.

The national average for A&E in Scotland was 95.4%, meeting the government’s target of 95%.

Over 190 delegates gathered at the Cabarfeidh Hotel yesterday (Thursday) to take part in the 2015 'Progression through Partnership' event hosted by the Comhairle's Education and Children's Services department.

The hugely successful event attracted participants from across various local organisations and businesses, networking to see how they can improve conditions for young people living in the Western Isles.

For a full report, see December's issue of EVENTS.

Power cuts hit Lewis and Harris overnight with a major one lasting more than 105 minutes starting after midnight and blacking out all of Stornoway. 

Intermittent power cuts were also reported from Tarbert this morning.

Carloway remains affected (at 7am) by a power cut that is reported by SSE to have lasted 11 hours.

The automatic weather station at Point on Lewis reports current winds of 28-30 mph; and the one at Askernish on South Uist reports winds of  15mph with gusts up 25mph;   All areas report the barometer is rising signalling the departure of the storm. 

The Storm Abigail statement from WIEPCG this afternoon said that all Calmac ferry services to the Islands were cancelled for today and tomorrow.The wording was: "Caledonian MacBrayne has confirmed that all ferry services to and from the Western Isles are cancelled for Thursday and Friday."

However, it seems this statement is not wholly accurate. As reported on the EVENTS Facebook page, and on the CalMac website, the Hebrides sailed from Uig to Tarbert today. In addition, CalMac are asking all traffic booked onto the Hebrides for the 0730 service tomorrow from Tarbert to check-in by 0900 with a view to a departure soon after.

In addition, the afternoon sailing from Stornoway to Ullapool tomorrow is still scheduled, albeit on amber alert. For that matter, the Sound of Harris ferry is not shown by Calmac as cancelled tomorrow, only on amber alert. Even on the Sound of Barra, CalMac have only cancelled the first sailing tomorrow so far.

And the Oban to Castlebay and Lochboisdale service tomorrow afternoon is still scheduled to depart, although with a warning that the sailing may be disrupted or cancelled.

For further details, see the CalMac website

Other updates as of 1930 today (Thursday) the causeways to Vatersay and the Braighe road to Point are shut; the main road on North Uist is shut near Baleshare; and delays are reported to air services in and out of Stornoway airport, with the last plane to Glasgow now scheduled to leave at 2020.

The multi-agency Emergency Planning Group for the Western Isles, WIEPCG, met today to discuss the severe weather forecast for the Islands on Thursday 12th November and Friday 13th November.

High winds are expected with gusts of up to 90mph. An amber warning has been issued.

The following notification of severe weather was received from the Met Office which is valid from 6pm on Thursday 12th November until midday on Friday 13th November -

"South-westerly severe gales will develop later on Thursday, increasing storm force for a time as they veer westerly overnight into Friday morning. Gusts of 70 to 80 mph are likely, and perhaps 90 mph across exposed locations.

The Western Isles remain on alert for Storm Abigail today. 

Members of The Western Isles Emergency Planning Group met yesterday to discuss the amber weather warning for the Western Isles today which was then set  to run from 9pm and into Friday (13th Nov) until 12 noon.

The multi-agency group will continue to monitor forecasts and decisions will be made during the day on how and if services will be affected.

The M&Co shop in Cromwell Street is putting on a Fashion Show to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support tomorrow (Friday13th Nov) at 7pm in the store.

Tickets are £5 each and can be bought in the store just now or at the door on the night.

Gusts of possibly 90 miles per hour, lightning and torrential rain - they're all coming our way according to a new update by the Met Office.

Storm Abigail is currently creeping ever closer to the west coast, expected to hit around 6pm tomorrow evening.

A yellow 'Be Aware' warning has been issued for the Western Isles, with winds expected to ease off by early on Friday afternoon.

 

An unannounced inspection of Western Isles Hospital found the facility to be clean, with healthy ward environments.

The inspection took place in September, and was carried out by the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate.

Jacqui Macrae, Head of Quality of Care for Healthcare Improvement Scotland, said: “This was a good inspection in which we found that the ward environment and all patient equipment we inspected was clean. We also saw good staff compliance with standard infection control precautions. The inspection resulted in one requirement relating to the need for NHS Western Isles to develop a policy for handling and storing breast milk. We expect NHS Western Isles to address this requirement and will continue to monitor the standard of safety and cleanliness at Western Isles Hospital to ensure standards continue to improve.”

There was a disappointing turnout for the Comhairle’s Budget Consultation public meeting last night, held in Sir E. Scott School.

Depsite the low attendance, the meeting went ahead as part of a series of island-wide consultations into the Comhairle’s budget setting preparations, and included an overview of the proposed Islands Bill.

Director of Finance at the Comhairle, Robert Emmott, told the meeting that £17 billion of savings had been identified by Westminster in July.

Over 200 crofters attended the recent Crofting Roadshows, organised by the Crofting Commission and working in partnership with SAC Consulting, Scottish Crofting Federation and Registers of Scotland.

Six roadshows were held across the crofting counties over the last six weeks providing crofters with a one-stop shop to discuss crofting issues.  The meetings were open for anyone to attend and consisted of a short talk on key crofting issues and ended with a question and answer session where the public put questions to the organisations present which also included Scottish Government’s Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate.

Crofting Commission Chief Executive Catriona Maclean said:“The roadshows have been a great opportunity to meet with crofters to talk about the changes currently happening within the Crofting Commission, answer questions and listen to how we can help crofters.

MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, has received a response from Loganair’s CEO, Stewart Adams, regarding questions he had asked about the maintenance of Loganair’s fleet, following concerns expressed by the pilots union BALPA.  

This comes on the same day that the Transport Minister, Derek MacKay, commented on the issue in the Scottish Parliament.
 
Alasdair Allan said:  “We have a real, undeniable problem in the islands with flights regularly being cancelled or delayed for excessive amounts of time.

A new on-line business guide for the entire Outer Hebrides and the Isles of Skye and Raasay was launched today.
www.businessguidehebrides.com is part of the suite of websites gathered together by www.hebevents.com, the information portal for the Hebrides.
And it provides a free additional service for regular advertisers with EVENTS newspaper, HEB Magazine and The Skye Magazine.

Children in the Western Isles are enjoying much better dental health than they were in the recent past, with new figures showing that 82.8% of primary seven pupils have no obvious decay.

This compares to 54.5% of primary seven (P7) children in the Western Isles having no obvious decay in 2007.

Children from all the health board areas in Scotland have their teeth looked at every year for the National Dental Inspection Programme (NDIP). In alternate years primary seven and primary one children are offered a dental inspection.

This year the Scottish average for children with no obvious decay was 75.3% and this year’s result for the Western Isles has been warmly welcomed.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil has just returned from Vancouver, Canada, where he met 103 year old Jessie MacLellan (nee MacNeil) who left Barra in 1924.

Mr MacNeil was visiting Canada in his capacity as Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Committee but he took time out to meet up with those of Hebridean descent.

Mrs MacLellan’s father was Padraig Dhomhnaill Uilleim and she was married to John "Jock" MacLellan from Benbecula.

Plans to target and extend levels of support available through the Scottish Government’s Croft House Grant Scheme (CHGS) are likely to be modified following a public consultation.
But the changes are so significant that the Scottish Government is consulting again with all those involved in the sector.
Views were sought earlier this year on proposed changes to the scheme, which provides up to £1.4 million in grants each year to crofters towards the cost of building or improving their homes with the aim of attracting and retaining people in the crofting areas of Scotland.
Since the start of 2007, over £14 million of grant payments have been approved under the scheme.

‘Movember’ is the annual event which encourages men to grow a moustache during the month of November, in order to raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer and other male cancers, and associated charities. 
Mo Bros, as they are better known, are encouraged in October to sign up at Movember.com, and then on the 1st of Movember, with a clean-shaven face, start their ‘Mo’ growing journey.  By growing a moustache, or a ‘Mo’, men are encouraged to talk about men’s health, raising some of the biggest health issues faced by men – including prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor mental health, and physical inactivity.  In essence, by growing yourself a ‘Mo’, you’re encouraging your friends, family and colleagues to live happier, healthier, and longer lives.

Knowledge is power.  Early detection is key.

This year Movember is also encouraging men to get to know their family history.  This is one of the most powerful tools to understanding your health, and it all starts with a conversation. Talk to your family and take note of illnesses that a direct relative has experienced – and be sure to learn about relatives that are deceased as well.

 

FES FM and Hebridean Housing Partnership (HHP) have been selected as the winner for the PFM Award for Partners in Expert Services, in the Property Management category. 

This was announced at the awards ceremony held in London on Wednesday November 4 2015. 

David Blaney Chair of HHP said: “We are delighted to have won this prestigious award with FES FM. Our partnership makes a real impact on communities in the Western Isles by improving standards of rented housing, providing new homes and creating employment opportunities. This award provides recognition to the whole team that their hard work and dedication has made a difference.”

The shortlisted finalists for the Partners in Expert Services – Property Management at the 2015 PFM Awards were: 

  • FES FM with Hebridean Housing Partnership
  • Zurich Insurance Group with Pembroke College, Cambridge
  • Propertyserve UK with Cushman & Wakefield

Are you thinking about starting a new business or expanding your existing business?  Do you require funding, some general business advice, or just fancy a chat about your business activities?  If so, these events may be for you!  The joint Business Gateway and Prince's Trust team will be holding advice and information sessions in Lewis and Harris during November. They will be based in the following locations:

Clan MacQuarrie Centre, Borve - Tuesday 10 November, 12pm to 4pm 

Comhairle Offices, Tarbert  - Thursday 12 November, 11am to 3pm

Uig Community Centre - Thursday 26 November, 12pm to 4pm 

Are you thinking about starting a new business or expanding your existing business?  Do you require funding, some general business advice, or just fancy a chat about your business activities?  If so, these events may be for you!  The joint Business Gateway and Prince's Trust team will be holding advice and information sessions in Lewis and Harris during November. They will be based in the following locations:

Clan MacQuarrie Centre, Borve - Tuesday 10 November, 12pm to 4pm 

Comhairle Offices, Tarbert  - Thursday 12 November, 11am to 3pm

Uig Community Centre - Thursday 26 November, 12pm to 4pm 

Are you thinking about starting a new business or expanding your existing business?  Do you require funding, some general business advice, or just fancy a chat about your business activities?  If so, these events may be for you!  The joint Business Gateway and Prince's Trust team will be holding advice and information sessions in Lewis and Harris during November. They will be based in the following locations:

Clan MacQuarrie Centre, Borve - Tuesday 10 November, 12pm to 4pm 

Comhairle Offices, Tarbert  - Thursday 12 November, 11am to 3pm

Uig Community Centre - Thursday 26 November, 12pm to 4pm 

Two local businesses are setting up shop in Stornoway town centre this month thanks to an innovative competition run by Business Gateway Western Isles.

The ‘Watch This Space’ competition looked at what was needed and combined it with what was out there as it invited and encouraged entries for innovative economic uses for some of the vacant commercial properties which feature on Stornoway high street.

“There are a number of empty properties within Stornoway town centre,” expanded Business Gateway’s Richard Tarves.

A Harris pub could be converted into a church, it was revealed yesterday (Sunday).

The recently-formed North Harris Free Church are to commission a survey into the viability of redeveloping the Isle of Harris Inn, on Scott Road, as a place of worship.

The 120-strong congregation currently meets each week in Tarbert Community Centre.

High winds are affecting sailings to and from the Western Isles today.

Both the 7am sailing from Stornoway-Ullapool, and the 10.30am sailing from Ullapool-Stornoway have been cancelled.

The next scheduled sailing is Stornoway-Ullapool at 2pm, weather permitting.

Deteriorating weather conditions made it a challenge for the hundreds of people from many different groups and organisations or simply there as private individuals, who marked Remembrance Day in Stornoway today.
During the morning many of those involved were at church services throughout the town and when they went into the services, the weather was showery.  But the strength of the winds increased steadily throughout the morning.

More than 120 people of all ages turned out in bright sunshine in Tarbert this morning (Saturday) for a Remembrance Day parade.

Almost 20 different organisations from the Scottish Parliament to Leverburgh RNLI were represented and laid wreaths in memory of those who lost their lives in the World Wars of the 20th Century and other conflicts.

The event started with a service at the Church of Scotland overlooking East Loch Tarbert which was followed by a procession across the village via the waterfront road through to the war memorial in the centre of the village overlooking the road to the village's ferry quay.

The wreathlayers gathered on the village's Main Street while the crowd threaded its way through the well-maintained memorial garden to fill the area around the war memorial itself.

Mr John Murdo Morrison officiated at the memorial, calling forth representatives of the various organisations, including community landowners and local schools. 

Over 500 people gathered in Stornoway last night to welcome Rev Hugh Ferrier (28) as the first-ever minister of the High Free Church.

The induction service was hosted by Stornoway Free Church because the High Free are presently without a building of their own.

Rev Andrew Coghill, minister of Scalpay and Moderator of the Western Isles Presbytery, preached and presided with pulpit addresses from Knock’s Rev James Maciver to the newly inducted minister and from discharged interim moderator Rev Dr Iain D Campbell to the congregation.

EVENTS newspaper just received this message on behalf of a good cause which we are happy to publicise.

It's from Kirsty Ralston who lives on Point.

"Hello, my name's Kirsty Ralston and I am 13 years old.

"This month I decided to raise money for Action For Children to help with Christmas funds. Elspeth from the Lews Castle College has offered to shave my hair on the 1st of December. I have so far raised £270 and my target is currently at £350."

https://www.justgiving.com/Kirsty-Ralston?utm_id=57

She told us: "I was hoping you would be able to share the link on your page to raise awareness."

We are happy to do so.

Superfast broadband is reaching more communities in Lewis, Harris and some offshore islands in the next few weeks and months.
The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) project is progressing ahead of schedule with parts of Back and Barvas already able to order the new high-speed services.
Additional connections will start coming through for some in Point and Shawbost within weeks.

An Art Exhibition displaying the works of the Lewis Art Club will open on Monday, November 16th, in the Retirement Centre, Bayhead, Stornoway.

And the exhibition will remain hanging throughout November.

Lewis Art Club are inviting all to come and view the show on Monday, November 16th, from 2.30pm-9pm; and find out more about the Club itself.

“You don’t have to be able to draw a recognisable horse or portrait to join the club and enjoy making marks or mixing colour,” says Lewis Art Club member Ann Campbell.

There are now only six weeks to go until the closing date of FilmG, MG ALBA’s Gaelic short film competition, but that’s still plenty of time to make a short film according to competition organisers.
This year FilmG are expecting to receive more films than ever, especially as new awards have been added to the competition. They include prizes for the Best Mobile Short and Best Script in the Youth category, as well as Best Mobile Short, Best Script, Best Animation and Best Comedy in the Open category.
Competition organisers were particularly keen to encourage more people to use their mobile phones to to generate Gaelic content, particularly teenagers. Floraidh Forrest, FilmG Project Manager said:

With winter on the way, Isles MP Angus MacNeil is calling on his constituents to ensure they are taking advantage of free help and support with energy bills.
Mr MacNeil, who met with representatives from Scottish Gas at the House of Commons this week, said: “It is really important to be prepared for winter and I want all my constituents in Na h-Eileanan an Iar to understand what help is available for them, and for their family and friends. Being energy efficient and keeping bills under control is so important and I advise everyone to get in touch with their energy supplier to find out what support is on offer.”
“There are a number of simple steps that every constituent should take to make sure they’re doing all they can to keep their bills down and their home warm.”

After two days when 20 debates took place in either the Comhairle’s Debating Chamber or An Lanntair the judges came to a decision as to which four schools would face each other in the semi-final stages of the 2015 National Schools’ Debate competition. 
The four teams who progressed are Nicolson Institute A, Nicolson Institute B, Ard nam Murchan High School and Tain Royal Academy.
These four teams will take part in the semi-finals which take place at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh on Tuesday November 24.

Monday (November 2) presented a hugely successful launch event for Befriending Lewis. held in Stornoway Town Hall where prospective volunteers, supporting organisations and other interested parties came together to celebrate the launch of the much needed service.  

Amongst the key speakers were Martin Malcolm, Head of Public Health Intelligence and Research, Sandra Brown from the Befriending Networks and Duncan Walker from the Samaritans of the Western Isles, who were able to give invaluable insight from a professional point of view, of the extent and the implications of the issues surrounding loneliness, and the benefits, both socially and financially, that arise from having an effective Befriending service operating the community.

A Loganair flight between Stornoway and Glasgow was cancelled yesterday (Wednesday) after a pre-flight inspection revealed a damaged propeller.

The incident comes just weeks after the British Airline Pilots Association disclosed that Loganair pilots had complained about planes on occasion being returned to the line despite being unserviceable, and that in some cases aircraft retained defects 'that clearly affected flight safety'.

Regarding yesterday's cancelled flight, a spokesman for Loganair commented: "The pilot noticed there was slight damage to a propeller blade during the pre-flight inspection of the aircraft scheduled to operate the Stornoway to Glasgow service.

The next meeting of Autism Eileanan Siar is on Monday 9th November at Midday, at Newton Community Association Seaforth Road (Next to MG ALBA).

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

Albania is the target for the latest Lewis Blythswood appeal…with the volunteers operating under temporary electric light in the former Co-operative furniture store building on Kenneth Street, Stornoway.  2000 shoeboxes of aid should be on their way to Albania by the end of the week…with volunteers young and not so young, working hard from Tuesday to Thursday this week.  Still piled in the former store is some aid left over from the Moldova Appeal which is probably now destined for Malawi and it is hoped that aid for Syria will also travel to the mainland at the end of the week with Blythswood. The group thank D R Macleod who now owns the building for permission to use the premises.

The Western Isles could be in line for a discount on existing parcel charges, it emerged today.

The Scottish Government has called for fairer parcel charges for rural and island areas of Scotland.

In line with the recommendations of the recent Citizens Advice Scotland’s (CAS) report The Postcode Penalty: The Distance Travelled, the Scottish Government is supporting CAS in holding a Scottish workshop on potential practical measures to address parcel delivery issues in the Highlands and Islands. This is likely to take place in early 2016.

The Gambia Partnership's pop-up shop has already proved a success, earning £1,300 in their first week, last week. 

The charity pop-up shop (located in the old Events shop on North Street) will be there for the next three weeks, and is open Monday to Saturday between 10:00 - 12:30 and 2:00 – 4:00, and mainly sells Christian books and DVDs, but also various other items which have been donated.

Sir E Scott School have once again had a very successful response to the Blythswood Shoebox Appeal. 

A total of 151 boxes were donated this year, representing the biggest response the school has had since the Appeal began many years ago. 

The generosity of the pupils, parents and members of the Harris community is very much appreciated by the organisers. 
 

Donations totalling £272.50 were also contributed to help defray the cost of carriage. 

This year, two parents kindly provided wrapped shoeboxes which encouraged greater participation.  

Pictured are pupils Gemma Finnegan and Sarah Helfrich.

This week, Western Isles Association for Mental Health, and Befriending Lewis became the 17th and 18th organisations to achieve a WAVE Award. 

The WAVE Award (Western Isles Award for Volunteering Excellence) is a local award facilitated by the Volunteer Centre Western Isles. The award recognises those organisations that support and value their volunteers, providing a volunteering experience of a high standard. 

SSE have announced cheaper tariffs for some of its packages but those most in need may not benefit from them. 

Only those on Total Heat Total Control, Economy 10 and Standard rate, who pay by direct debit and are signed up for paperless billing, will get to enjoy the new, cheaper tariffs.

Stewart Wilson, Director of Tighten Innse Gall, described it as: “disappointing that the tariff is only available for householders who pay by direct debit and paperless billing, which excludes many vulnerable residents who would benefit mostly from these tariff reductions.”

The Stornoway Gazette newspaper hit the national headlines this morning for all the wrong reasons – prompting BT to use it as a warning on sharing social media passwords.

A number of comments criticising the local newspaper and its editor were posted on the Gazette's official social media sites last night.

And this morning, although comments were deleted from the Stornoway Gazette Facebook page, several tweets on the paper's Twitter feed remained public.

Two members of staff at Stornoway Airport have been suspended following 'serious allegations'.

It has not been revealed what the allegations relate to, but police have been notified.

A spokesman for HIAL commented: "Two members of staff at Stornoway Airport have been suspended following an internal investigation which was carried out after serious allegations were brought to our attention.

"The matter has now been referred to the authorities (police) for further investigation. It would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage.

“This decision will have no impact on services at the airport. Stornoway Airport will continue to operate as normal.”

 

The Vikings are coming to Stornoway - and they're bringing Santa with them!

The special guests will mark the end of the Stornoway Port Authority's 150th anniversary celebrations.

In order to make it one big celebration the Stornoway Amenity Trust are rescheduling the Christmas Light Switch On to this date where Stornoway Port Authority will be joining the party and decorating the harbour.

The MV ‘Isle of Lewis’ is back busy in action this month, as the ‘Loch Seaforth’ goes in for her annual dry dock.

The freight service will be undertaken by the ‘MV Hildasay’, a sister ship of the ‘Clipper Ranger’ which previously serviced the run.

The ‘Loch Seaforth’ is expected to be away until Thursday November 12.

Psoriasis

We’ve all heard the term psoriasis (pronounced sir-i-sis), but what exactly is it?

Psoriasis is an immune condition, which causes various symptoms but most commonly presents itself in the skin, and in certain cases the joints. 

Our skin cells are normally made and replaced every 21 to 28 days, but when a person has psoriasis, their skin replacement process speeds up, with the process instead taking just a few days.  The resulting build-up of skin cells is what creates the thick, raised plaques that can be red, itchy and flaky. 

Psoriasis can start at any age, but most often develops in adults under 35 years old. The condition affects men and women equally, and can develop anywhere on the body. The severity of psoriasis varies greatly from person to person - for some people it's just a minor irritation, but for others it can have a major impact on their quality of life as the cracking and bleeding skin causes constant pain.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar will be holding a budget consultation meeting in Barvas on Monday November 16 at 7pm, in Sgoil an Taobh Siar. 

The meeting is part of the Comhairle’s budget setting preparations, which also include staff consultations, and is an opportunity for members of the public to have their say in the prioritisation of services.

PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF DAY SINCE THIS WAS FIRST POSTED

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar will be holding a budget consultation meeting in Tarbert on Tuesday November 10 at 7pm, in Sir E Scott School. 

The meeting is part of the Comhairle’s budget setting preparations, which also include staff consultations, and is an opportunity for members of the public to have their say in the prioritisation of services.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar will be holding a budget consultation meeting in Stornoway on Wednesday November 11 at 7pm, in the Nicolson Institute. 

The meeting is part of the Comhairle’s budget setting preparations, which also include staff consultations, and is an opportunity for members of the public to have their say in the prioritisation of services.

Stornoway Port Authority has announced changes to its board membership.

Following his relocation to Inverness with his family, Alasdair Morrison has resigned from the Board of Stornoway Port Authority.

The Board thanked Alasdair for his membership and contribution to the work of the Authority over the past few years, and wished him every success in his new life on the mainland.

Cookery Demonstration

With Maggie Mackenzie & Alasdair Macleod 

POSTPONED due to bad weather

Join us on Thursday 12th November from 7pm

Community Room, Raebhat House, Shawbost

Please register interest with Finlay on 701 225 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Francis Street Post Office has raised £144.50 for the Lewis & Harris Breast Cancer Support Group - now named Lewis and Harris Women’s Cancer Support Group.

As October was Breast Cancer Awareness month, Tim Durbin, manager of Francis Street Post Office, and his team decided to hold a ‘wear pink’ day every Thursday of October, in their branch, encouraging people to donate to the worthy cause. They also held a bake sale - with each member of staff bringing in some pink baking - from which all money raised was put towards their total.

Mary MacLeod from Lewis & Harris Women’s Cancer Support Group expressed her gratitude: “We’re very grateful to the Post Office for recognising us, and raising so much money. It was very good of them.”

She explained that the group still has quite a focus on breast cancer - which is the leading cancer for women - but, due to demand, the group has expanded, welcoming all women who have been affected, or are affected, by any form of cancer.

Mary explained that they are running breast cancer awareness workshops all over Lewis and Harris, and any business or group with a large number of women can request a workshop to teach women what to look out for.

If you’d like to get in touch with the Lewis and Harris Women’s Cancer Support Group, please contact Mary on 01851 704138 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.