While the Western Isles have been dealing with high winds, high tides and winter disruption, the thoughts of some have turned to the other side of the world, where a stifling hot summer and raging bushfires are creating a desperate situation.

This year has been designated the Year of Scotland in Australia and two island organisations are putting their strength behind fundraising for the victims of Australia’s devastating bushfires – whether the victims are humans or animals.

Hebrides Dance and Wellbeing Studio plans a fundraising Zumbathon on Saturday January 25th at the Caberfeidh Hotel, where people of all ages are encouraged to get together, have some fun and raise money to help.

And Hebridean Celtic Festival has donated two weekend tickets for this summer’s festival, along with accommodation for the festival weekend, towards a creative Scottish drive to support Australian charities.

Zumbathon organiser Kirstie Anderson said: “Hearing and seeing images of the Australian bushfire crisis is devastating. People and animals are dying, thousands are losing their homes. Money is needed to help this dire situation. Let's not look away. Let's get together and move for a cause.”

HebCelt organisers have made their donation as part of a national Year of Scotland in Australia campaign. The tickets for the 25th HebCelt Festival join tickets for dozens of events including Belladrum, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Skerryvore’s performance at Inverary Castle in June. The draw for all those prizes will be live-streamed on Saturday February 1st.

Tickets cost £20 each and can be bought online at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/year-of-scotland-australia-2020-australian-fires-appeal-tickets-88522119041, where you can also see the full list of prizes.

All proceeds from online ticket sales will be split equally between the Australian Red Cross and World Wildlife Federation, to assist with supporting those affected by the fires.

Stornoway’s Zumbathon party, which runs from 11am to 12.30pm on Saturday January 25th at the Caberfeidh Hotel, will feature big party tunes to dance along to, a raffle, home baking and some special guests yet to be announced. Entry is by donation and help would be appreciated with the raffle and on the door.