Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed the announcement today (30 July) that COVID-19 shielding is ending.

The First Minister also confirmed that schools will reopen on the week of 11 August, and that there will be a significant boost in funding to recruit up to 1,400 teachers.

Alasdair Allan MSP said: “The pause in shielding advice from 1 August for members in high-risk categories marks an important step in the route-map out of lockdown and represents a huge relief to us all.

“From 11 August, schools will reopen. Along with this announcement, a further £30m was announced to support councils with cleaning, facilities management, school transport and other practical issues that are vital in ensuring a safe return to school.

“The Scottish Government has also provided £75m towards teacher recruitment to ensure increased resilience during the reopening.

“I echo the First Minister’s calls for caution – we have seen how quickly outbreaks have occurred in other parts of the world. In the transition to the ‘new normal’, we must adhere closely to public health guidance to ensure that this virus continues to be suppressed.”

Would-be travellers can now make travel reservations with CalMac Ferries right up to 18 October 2020, the company announced tonight (Thursday July 30)


The ferry service's bookings have been opening gradually for the last few weeks, and from tomorrow Friday 31 July, customers can now book travel through to the end of the current timetable on 18 October 2020.

From Monday 3rd August 2020, daytime bus services in Lewis and Harris, and South Uist and Benbecula will revert to normal timetables with no requirement to book seats, with the exception of the bookable services on the regular timetable.  Please note that fares will also be reintroduced from Monday.

 Timetables will be available on the Comhairle website from Thursday 30th July 2020.

The service contracts for North Uist and Berneray, and Barra and Vatersay have yet to be concluded and this has delayed the reintroduction of services in these areas.  Further details of bus services timetables for these areas will be made available as soon as possible.

Please remember that face coverings remain now compulsory on any form of public transport and this includes all public bus services.  Passengers will only be permitted to travel on public transport if they are wearing appropriate face covering. 

Exceptions will apply, such as children under five or for those with health conditions for whom a face covering would be inappropriate.  Passengers will be expected to provide their own face coverings.

Where a screen has been provided, the driver will not be required to wear a mask or face covering.  Medical exemptions will also apply to some drivers.

Good hygiene regimes remain important to protect against COVID-19.  Face-coverings protect against inadvertent transmission of the disease and wearing a face covering will help to protect other travellers which will in turn help everyone.  It is vital that passengers do not see face coverings as an alternative, but as an addition to other measures such as social distancing, hand washing and disinfection of surfaces frequently touched by other people.

All passengers should ensure that they wash their hands as soon as possible before and after travelling on public transport.

"We would like to thank all bus passengers for their patience during the COVID-19 pandemic, says CnES  

Police in Benbecula are looking for information regarding two vehicles which have been reported stolen from Muir of Aird, Benbecula sometime between 1am and 7.30am on Sunday 26 July.

Both vehicles were subsequently found crashed and off the carriageway.

A white Audi had left the roadway on the A865 between Loch Carnan road end and Loch Bee Causeway, South Uist.

A white Vauxhall minibus had left the roadway on the A865 between Lochboisdale and Daliburgh, South Uist

Please contact Benbecula Police Station on 101 if you have any information, quoting incident number NH 864/20.


As we prepare to reopen soon, we have decided to accept donations tomorrow Thursday 30th July from 2pm till 4pm, says Kinloch charity shop.

Donations should go to the Schoolhouse.

Please note the Shop itself will not be open as yet.

Please follow social distancing guidelines when dropping items off as donations.

Please contact the Community Hub Manager if you wish to donate out with these hours.

(Office: 01851 830778)

We kindly ask that you do not leave items outside the shop.

Thank you for your patience and support, we look forward to seeing you all again soon.

Isles MP Angus MacNeil is backing calls by the Prospect trades union for air traffic control jobs to be retained in the islands.

He warns that centralising all services to Inverness with none in any of the island locations means Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) would become ‘Inverness Airport group’.

Prospect said this week that the loss of Air Traffic Control in island locations was the loss of jobs worth £1.5million a year.

HIAL seeks to use a video feed and computer technology at Inverness to replace skilled air traffic controllers at Stornoway and Benbecula and other airports.

Mr MacNeil says no other autonomous island groups in the world would consider this option and suggests the possibility of centralising in the islands should be considered.

He said: “I back Prospect on this, these jobs are very important to the islands.  Any Scottish Government efforts in the islands will look lame after hollowing out such jobs and Government ministers need to get a grip and oversight of this damaging folly.

“As a thought experiment, imagine that a situation was going to come about where all the air traffic control jobs were to be moved out of Scotland to be put in some other country?  We’d soon see the folly of such action.

“There are no autonomous island groups in the world that would consider this happening to them, certainly not in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Faroe Islands, why is it happening to us and Orkney and Shetland?

“If they do want to centralise air traffic control, don’t centralise it around HIAL headquarters in Inverness, they should centralise in Benbecula or Stornoway or some other island, but actually we need the jobs to be in all the islands.

“Perhaps it is really time that the Scottish Government looked at breaking up HIAL who are no longer the Islands airports groups but the Inverness Airport group.”

(Original figure in sentence "Prospect said this week that the loss of Air Traffic Control in island locations was the loss of jobs worth £1.5million" has been corrected by MP's staff since this was first posted.)


As Bethesda Charity Shop on Bayhead, Stornoway, will be reopening on Tuesday 4th August, they have decided to open to accept donations only on Thursday 30 July between the hours of 10am and 2pm.

On Facebook, they explain: "This is to give the public a chance to donate items prior to Tuesday 4th as we can only store and process so much at a time.

"Please follow social distancing guidelines when dropping items off.

"We kindly ask that you do not leave items outside the shop outwith these hours.

"Thank you for your patience and support, we look forward to seeing you all again."

Unemployment in the Western isles has almost tripled since last summer, says the Scottish Labour Party

The SNP Government must act urgently to provide direct and immediate financial support to low income families, at least equivalent in value to the forthcoming Scottish Child Payment of £10 per week per child, David Stewart MSP has said.

In June this year there were 830 people receiving unemployment payments compared to 310 in June last year - and many of those with children are likely to be struggling to make ends meet.

Scottish Labour MSP David Stewart said:  “More and more families across Scotland are facing financial hardship, but the SNP Government are failing to provide the direct and immediate support needed. 

"Added to this, rising unemployment means that unless the furlough scheme is extended, and a quality Jobs Guarantee Scheme is introduced, even more households will find they cannot make ends meet.

“While the forthcoming Scottish Child Payment has been welcomed, it will not start to reach families until 2021, but so many families need help right now. 

"Anti-poverty organisations from across Scotland have repeatedly called for the Scottish Government to bring forward a payment equivalent to the SCP as soon as possible.

“The Scottish Government has both the ability and moral obligation to do this.”

Claimant count by sex and age

ONS Crown Copyright Reserved [from Nomis on 21 July 2020]



Na h-Eileanan Siar

June 2019


March 2020


June 2020




Jun 19 - Jun 20: year on change


Mar 20 - Jun 20: 3-month change


One of the Comhairle’s newest graduate recruits is doubling up on his essential role in the community – by maintaining links with his mainland football team.

Eachainn Miller of Carloway has recently returned to the island to take up a post with the Comhairle’s communications team, after achieving a first class honours degree in journalism from the University of Stirling.

But Eachainn, who was a regular player of the year for Carloway FC during his island playing days, has decided he can’t give up his place with Clachnacuddin FC, after signing for them in June last year.

So he’ll be making the regular round trip each weekend from home in the Western Isles to Inverness, to take his midfield spot every time the Lilywhites play.

22-year-old Eachainn told the Inverness Courier on Friday (24 July): ““Travelling is going to be a big part of my life, but I am happy to do that.

“I have a friend in Inverness who is letting me stay over which allows me to make it work, which is appreciated.

"But I will never be able to do a game in a day any more, this is going to be my weekends from now on.”

Colin George Morrison, media coordinator for Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said that Eachainn has already made a significant contribution to the Comhairle’s communications during the pandemic.

Pictures show Eachainn at home in Lewis with his degree certificate (CnES) and on the field with Clachnacuddin FC.

Land reclamation works in East Loch Tarbert will see an estimated 60,000 tons of infill being positioned between now and September.

A 300-ton mobile crane is to be installed on a specially constructed pad to help with this work, say contractors RJ MacLeod

The firm has been back at work on the Tarbert ferry terminal construction project for just over a month, after a pause to the contract during the period of complete lockdown.

In their July bulletin the company said: “Like the rest of the country, we stayed at home during the COVID-19 lockdown and are looking forward to completing the new ferry terminal facility for Tarbert.”

Work planned from July onwards includes reinstating the pontoons and demolishing the existing terminal building.

CalMac workers have relocated to a temporary building while demolition and construction of the new terminal building is under way.

RJ MacLeod were awarded the £14.3million construction project in September 2019, with what was then projected as a January 2021 completion date.

The work is being undertaken on behalf of CMAL, the physical assets company which manages infrastructure used by CalMac.

The top picture shows Tarbert harbour in the midst of the terminal construction works this weekend (Saturday 25 July, Steven Scott).

Other photographs from RJ MacLeod 


Residents of Barra fear the national trend of ‘dirty camping’ could have been brought to their island, after incidents of anti-social littering were reported last week.

The community newsletter Guth Bharraidh said that Police Scotland were following up complaints about litter being disposed of on beaches surrounding Barra.

They said: “There have been a number of beach parties of recent weeks and the attendees are failing to remove their rubbish from the island’s beaches, examples of which are disposable BBQ’s, alcohol containers, food waste etc.

“These items pose a serious threat to the animals and wildlife of the islands causing harm and distress when ingested and are also a potential health hazard for islanders and visitors alike.”

Although many responders on social media proposed the likelihood that partying teenagers from the local area could have been responsible, the reports are fuelling current debate on the resumption of tourism in island communities.

One airport staff member reported: “To the family that dumped a used disposable nappy filled with excrement along with a quantity of wipes similarly contaminated in the middle of the airport car park yesterday, you were observed.

“There was a bin seven metres from your location, yet you couldn't be bothered. If you cannot respect the environment here, you are not welcome.”

Police Scotland tweeted about the issue on Thursday (23 July), saying: “It is clear some well-meaning visitors have not realised the environmental impact of their visits.”

The picture is from Police Scotland.


Michelle Macleod announced on Facebook yesterday: “250km for Lucky2BHere - done!”

She explains: “Finished off this morning with a 10k in the wind and rain so little bit more than 250km in total but thought that would be OK!

“Thanks for all the donations, any more most appreciated and will go towards the installation of a new defibrillator in Stornoway which could save someone’s life one day”

August 10 marks one year since Michelle survived a cardiac arrest, after competing in the Harris Marathon.

Michelle, a journalist and PR advisor, received emergency treatment at the scene from her GP sister Rebecca and other first responders, before being flown away to hospital in Glasgow.

After 12 weeks in hospital and essential surgery, she returned to Lewis and began campaigning actively on behalf of the charity Lucky2BHere, who supplied the AED (defibrillator) which was used to help save her life as rescuers battled to stabilise her at Leverburgh.

She’s now been fitted with a personal defibrillator and is back with her family, all of whom are committed to regular exercise.  Michelle said: “I don’t think I’ll be running any marathons any time soon, but I’m feeling great and I’m so thankful for everyone who helped me on that day.”

She says: ”I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the fast response of those there that day and the availability of a defibrillator." 

is the place to add to the £1255 raised so far. 

Scarecrows adorn the verges, crofts and gardens in Lewis and Harris this week, as two separate competitions get under way from tomorrow (Monday 27 July).

In Tong, the annual village scarecrow competition is ready for viewing, with a week for visitors to admire the creations before the very important process of judging takes place on Friday.

Our pictures show a flying visitor who had one too many at McNeill’s before heading home to Tolsta and an NHS worker very sensibly keeping their facemask in place at Hillhead.


Meanwhile the South Harris Agricultural Show is also encouraging the creativity of residents as their annual show takes its competitions online. Their judging will be on Tuesday (28 July) at 8pm.

Pictured below is a runaway crab and a South Harris surfer, both scaring the crows but entertaining passing drivers.


Weekly Comhairle Cèilidhs that kept spirits high during lockdown could continue as daily life returns to normal, depending on the outcome of an online poll.

The regular weekly performances saw island performers curating recorded contributions from around the isles and further afield, as well as live-streamed sessions from their own living rooms and kitchens.

And while most were definitely a home-made affair, some brought much-loved performers from as far afield as California on to small screens in island homes, with traditional and Gaelic tunes galore.

Supporters who want the cèilidh to continue well beyond lockdown have only got until 5pm tomorrow (Monday 27 July) to make their vote count at the online ‘yes or no’ poll at

The Comhairle’s call for votes, published only yesterday (Saturday 25 July) is fielding a stream of compliments from online viewers who tuned in on Friday and Saturday nights.

Superlatives such as ‘fantastic’, ‘amazing’ and ‘brilliant’ have been used to describe the Friday and Saturday night sessions, which were enjoyed both within the islands and by those from much further afield.

In fact, one supporter commented: “Enjoyed them all, wanting them back – but made me homesick at times, especially the Gaelic songs,” proving that some of the listeners, too, were tuning in far from home.

The picture shows Iain ‘Costello’ Maciver, who brought 1,300 viewers to join his ceilidh in May.


Barra’s RNLI lifeboat was called out on Friday afternoon (24 July) after a leisure fisherman called for emergency assistance.

The 31-foot leisure fishing craft was east of the island of Sandray, between Vatersay and Pabbay, with one fisherman aboard when he suffered a breakdown at 2.13pm and called Stornoway Coastguard operations centre for help.

Barra’s RNLI crew were scrambled and the lifeboat launched to help. The fishing vessel was towed back to Castlebay and made fast at the pier.

All were reported safe and well and the lifeboat crew stood down at 6.10pm on Friday evening.

Picture – Barra Island RNLI Lifeboat.


A single created by musicians from across the Western Isles to mark the missing celebration for Hebridean Celtic Festival (HebCelt), has stormed into the Scottish singles chart.

The track is a version of Runrig's anthem Only the Brave, featuring vocals by Rory Macdonald of Runrig himself, together with a band of Hebridean Allstars including singers Julie Fowlis and Colin Macleod.

Together with instrumentalists such as Keith Morrison and Jane Hepburn Macmillan, the unique get-together of talent set out to raise money for Bethesda with the charity single, released as part of this month’s Seisean HebCelt / HebCelt Sessions.

A variety of commissioned pieces were aired on HebCelt’s social media channels between 15 and 18 July, when the 25th HebCelt Festival would have taken place – if not for Covid-19. The festival itself has been postponed until 2021.

With donations given as people enjoyed each of the sessions, HebCelt has so far raised over £3,000 for Bethesda, but the success of the single by the Hebridean Allstars looks set to boost that still further.

This week sees the special single at number 27 in the Scottish singles charts, with Lewis singer-songwriter Willie Campbell not far behind at number 38 with his new single, Nothing’s Going to Bring Me Down.

Colin Macleod said yesterday (Saturday 25 July): “Look at that! 27 in the Scottish singles chart with our @hebcelt charity single for Bethesda. Thanks so much everyone who’s streamed and purchased the song, every penny going to a very worthwhile cause. Let’s keep it up – top ten next week surely!” 

Festival Director, Caroline Maclennan said: "I want to say a huge thank you on behalf of the team here at HebCelt to all of the commissioned artists and those who pulled it all together. They have reminded us of the music, culture and sheer enjoyment that we regularly experience at the festival."

The single can be downloaded on all platforms at

The video which accompanied the single release, features Colin Macleod and Rory Macdonald with Julie Fowlis, Jason Laing, Sorren Maclean, Scott Macleod, Keith Morrison, Jane Hepburn Macmillan, members of Niteworks, and a choir of local voices including Willie Campbell, Rosie Sullivan, Josie Duncan and Sean Harrison.

Further tributes were paid to Mr Finlay Cunningham on Saturday (25 July) by SNP councillors on Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, who declared themselves disappointed that he had decided to step down from his role. 

A former teacher, Mr Cunningham was elected to the Comhairle in 2017, representing Na Hearadh agus Ceann a Deas nan Loch ward.

It was announced on Thursday (July 23) that Mr Cunningham who is stepping down as a Councillor with immediate effect.

In the official CnES statement Councillor Finlay Cunningham, said: “It has been a great privilege and a wonderful experience to serve the local community as an elected member of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar over these three years.

"It has also been a pleasure to work with my colleagues and I wish them all every success in their continuing role at the Comhairle.”

Fellow ward member Councillor John G Mitchell said on Saturday: “As a close personal friend of Finlay Cunningham and one who shares mutually respectful values, I am devastated at the news that he has felt it necessary to resign his position. It was a pleasure working alongside someone like Finlay who always conducted himself in a compassionate and supportive manner. "

Councillor Gordon Murray said: "I found Mr Cunningham a very conscientious and hard-working councillor with a real love for the people he represented. His mild-mannered approach and warmth when he went about his work was a breath of fresh air in this environment.”

And Loch a Tuath councillor John A Maciver, chair of the Gaelic committee said: "Finlay was one of the few truly independent councillors who voted on each individual issue on its merits rather than who suggested it."

On Thursday, Comhairle Convener, Norman A Macdonald, said: “Finlay enjoyed a long career as a teacher before being elected as a councillor in 2017. He has been a good colleague for many years and we will miss his contribution to the work of the Comhairle.

"He will also be missed as a local representative by his constituents, for whom he worked diligently over the past three years, though I am sure he will continue to be a valued member of the community. I wish Finlay the very best for the future and I am sure I will see him during visits to Harris.”


A breach of bail conditions has landed a man in court tomorrow (Monday 27 July) after a night in police custody in Stornoway.

The 38-year-old man was arrested at a domestic address in the Broad Bay area at 11am this morning (Sunday) when he was found to be in breach of conditions set following an earlier offence.


Another week has passed for the Veggie Box (and everyone else , of course) and we are nearly into August – how the time has flown by!

We will have soft fruits like Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackcurrants and Gooseberries on the stall this week but have not included them on the price list as we haven't had confirmation of prices.

They can still be ordered with your order.

In this week we have Broccoli and Cauliflower from Nairn, Hispie/Sweetheart Cabbage from West Hard Muir and Duke of York, Premier Potatoes from Black Isle.

We will also have local Potatoes and Mangetout from Ranish as well as all the usual Fruit and Veg.

 If you can please have your orders in before 12.30 on Monday
Thank you and enjoy the rest of your weekend.

The Veggie Box

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

Or call 07771 645238 to place your order




Price Each










Butternut Squash  




Hispi Cabbage (Sweetheart)

From Nairn




Celeriac (UK)




Celery (UK)




Garlic (Large)




Local Bay leaves, Goathill Road




White Cabbage




Corn on Cob each





Price Per KG


New Season Scottish Dirty Carrots




Broccoli (UK)




Bunched Beetroot




















Onions (Red)




Cyprus Potatoes




Black Isle New Season Premiere Potato





Black Isle New Season Duke of York Potato








Swede (Scottish New Season)




Sweet Potato






Price Each


Little Gem (x2)




Cos Lettuce








Spring Onions






Price Per KG


Peppers (Mixed Red, Green, and yellow)




Tomato (Cherry on Vine)




Plum Tomatoes




Scottish Tomatoes








Other Fruit




Flat (Doughnut) Peaches


3 for £1.75


New Season Nectarines


3 for £1.95


Gala Apples


4 for £1.50


Red Delicious


4 for £1.50




4 for £1.50








4 for £1.50






Kiwi Fruit












Oranges Large                 


3 for £2.10




3 for £1.80




4 for £1.50


Yellow Melon





Water Melon





Price per Kg






Chillies Red




Green Jalapeños








Green Seedless Grapes




Red Seedless Grapes












Local Marmalade. 340grm

Three Fruit marmalade,

Orange and Lemon


Hint of Ginger

Mixed Berry

Rhubarb jam

Rhubarb and Strawberry


Strawberry Jam

Raspberry Jam

























Lemon Drizzle



Per Cake,


4 Fruit Scones






Per Packet


Hebridean Tablet
















It is likely that the larger Church congregations, particularly in Stornoway, will remain closed for Sunday worship for the time being, since implementing social distancing restrictions and observing the numbers cap of 50 per building will inevitably mean that many worshippers will have to be turned away. 

That's the view of the Lewis Presbytery of the Church of Scotland which met recently to consider whether its churches should open in light of the latest version of Scottish Government and Church of Scotland COVID-19 Guidance.

On 17 July, the Church of Scotland issued Guidance permitting Churches to open for worship providing numbers attending do not exceed 50, social distancing of 2 metres is maintained, balconies are not used, contact details for all attendees are recorded (for track and trace), no singing is permitted and a deep clean takes place between services.  Regardless of the numbers cap of 50, the layout and dimensions of some Church buildings could reduce the number accommodated to 30 or 40 when social distancing restrictions are put in place.

At the Presbytery meeting, it was agreed that buildings should open on a graduated basis, as and when individual Kirk Sessions are ready to open with all COVID-19 safeguards in place and with the approval of Presbytery.  Any Kirk Session wishing to open its building for worship must prepare a detailed COVID-19 Risk Assessment and complete a COVID-19 Building Checklist for approval by Presbytery before opening.The situation will be kept under review but it is unlikely that the larger congregations will open until the Scottish Government further relaxes the restrictions on numbers attending Church.

Meanwhile, some of the smaller rural congregations who can operate within the social distancing restrictions and thew numbers cap and whose building layout allow are preparing to open and Sunday worship could resume in these congregations over the next few weeks.

Commenting on the situation, the Moderator of Lewis Presbytery of the Church of Scotand, Rev Iain Murdo Campbell, said, “Presbytery’s principal priority is the wellbeing of its people.  No Church will open until Presbytery is satisfied that all safeguards against the spread of the virus are in place and operating.  Smaller congregations will be able to more effectively manage any risk because they don’t face the pressure of numbers that larger congregations face and we expect to see some of these smaller congregations open for worship first.

“Being realistic, it is unlikely that the larger congregations will open until social distancing restrictions and the numbers cap relax further.  We know people are desperately keen to get back to worshipping together but it is our duty of care and part of our pastoral witness to ensure that nobody faces an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 through attendance at Church.

“We have been impressed by the patient fortitude with which our people have faced lockdown and we ask for their continued patience as we prepare to return to Church safely. 

"As we wait, there is a wide array of worship resources available online and we encourage our people to make use of these resources”.


The Woodlands Centre Café in Lews Castle grounds is set to reopen, the Stornoway Trust announced.

On their Facebook Page they have stated: "We are pleased to announce that The Woodlands Centre will reopen on Tuesday 28th July from 11am - 2:30 pm.

"We will be following Covid-19 guidelines to make sure extra measures are in place to keep our customers and staff safe.

"We will require your contact information as part of our regulations regarding Covid 19 if you are to be sitting in, your information will be kept safe and private."  This is to enable swift contact tracing in the event of a positive Coronavirus test on someone who has visited the facility.

"We will also be running a take-away option as well. To phone for a take-away order our number is 01851 706916."

And there are a host of sanitary precautions  "Remember face masks are mandatory. There will be hand sanitizer stations as you enter the building and floor marking to guide you around the building. We will also have signs in place with extra information. Remember 2 metre distancing applies.

"We will be accepting cash payment but cashless payment would be preferable if possible.

"We are running a limited menu and orders may take some time as we adjust to these new guidelines so please be patient with us," they ask.

"We can't wait to see all our customers again and also welcome new customers too!

"We will also have outdoor seating, weather depending of course!"  

And they add that there will be a new take-away menu to follow.

A warning has been issued by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar in relation to Seilebost Sands in Harris.

Monitoring work undertaken on behalf of Food Standards Scotland has identified raised levels of shellfish toxins in Seilebost Sands.

Eating shellfish such as mussels, cockles, or razor fish from these areas may pose a risk to human health and notices to warn the public and casual gatherers will be posted at various locations on the shore.

Commercial shellfish harvesters in these areas have been contacted by the Comhairle and steps taken to postpone harvesting until algae levels subside.

It is a sensible precaution to avoid eating shellfish from these areas until further notice, the warning says .

The Comhairle is monitoring the situation and will remove warning notices when it improves.

For the first time CalMac has a senior post based in the Western Isles.

Lewis-based Finlay MacRae has been appointed as CalMac Head of Operations.

Finlay, who has previously served as CalMac’s Area Operations Manager for the North region, lives in Scalpay and will work remotely from CalMac’s Stornoway Office.

This is the first senior CalMac post to be based in the Western Isles and it is hoped that it will soon be one of many at senior management level.

There has been pressure over some years for the decentralisation and relocation of CalMac posts to the Western Isles.

This point was again raised during last week’s discussion between Islands' represenatives and Paul Wheelhouse, MSP, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands.

Councillor Uisdean Robertson, the Comhairle’s Chair of Transportation and Infrastructure, said: “The appointment represents a clear commitment from CalMac to relocate jobs to the communities which they serve.

"CalMac’s decision also sits well with aspects of the Comhairle’s Covid-19 Economic Recovery Strategy which prioritises localism, community capacity and resilience.

“While the positives of this appointment must be acknowledged there is no doubt that the workforce balance between locally based and mainland based CalMac staff must be addressed. Local crewing and training should be made a priority that will improve the resilience of the service and help make savings to the public purse.”

From Tuesday 28 July, Gaelic will form part of a new series of interactive workshops made by freelance creative practitioners and artists will be released online, extending the existing Play Dates weekly programme and providing fun, entertaining activities for younger children and families during the summer holidays

Launched in May, the digital Play Dates programme of arts workshops and activities has been developed specially for this ongoing period, offering children and young people, parents and carers educational inspiration and theatrical home entertainment.

They are part of the way that the National Theatre of Scotland, in association with leading children’s arts organisations Starcatchers and Imaginate, has been connecting creatively with families at home during the COVID crisis.

The new series – That’s Not Your Spoon/ Chan E Sin Do Spàin is a new series of animated storytelling videos for younger children at home, presented in both English and Gaelic, from creative practitioners Ruth Hamilton and Laura Haylock. The series will encourage and inspire imaginative play through the re-use of bits and pieces that can be found around the house, transforming everyday objects into fantastical props for stories and play.

That’s Not Your Spoon/ Chan E Sin Do Spàin will be the first Gaelic language series to appear as part of Play Dates. The first episode will be released on 28 July.

That’s Not Your Spoon/ Chan E Sin Do Spàin- Tuesday 28, Wednesday 29, Thursday 30, Friday 31 July at 2pm

Two friends choose an everyday object, and imagine it taking different fantastical forms in all sorts of situations and stories. When they run out of ideas for this improvised plaything, the challenge is for families at home to come up with their own fun ways to play!

  • Episode 1: That’s Not Your Spoon/Chan e sin do spàin
  • Episode 2: That’s Not Your Book/Chan e sin do leabhar
  • Episode 3; That’s Not Your Pillowcase/Chan e sin do chluasag
  • Episode 4: That’s Not the Story/ Chan e sin an sgeulachd.
  • For ages 3 +

Since beginning on 28 May, Play Dates has seen new episodes released from Tuesday to Friday each week throughout the summer. The series continues to provide fun, interactive, participative and entertaining activities for children and their families created by some of Scotland’s leading creative practitioners and freelance artists.

There are currently30 Play Dates episodes available for families to watch and get involved with on the National Theatre of Scotland website. The programme has included interactive storytelling workshops, freewheeling Unicorn Dance Parties, a step-by-step guide to creating your own theatre show from the comfort of your home, video workshops to enhance your storytelling, and special games and exercises to play through video calls with friends.

On 10 August a new project from lead artist Mamoru Iriguchi and musical director and dramaturg Greg Sinclair, titled World Jam, will bring the summer Play Dates season to a close, and celebrate the return to school for children in Scotland. Premiering online, World Jam will be a special international musical event.

NHS Western Isles has reintroduced a number of clinics over the past week, as part of the work to resume services.

Clinics recently re-started are Audiology, Ophthalmology (glaucoma), Pain and Dermatology.

NHS Western Isles continued to treat patients with urgent conditions and/or requiring emergency treatment across the islands during the lockdown period, and work is ongoing to resume services as quickly as possible.

NHS Western Isles Chief Executive, Gordon Jamieson, said: “This month, we have held more face-to-face appointments than the number of appointments carried out remotely using telephone or Near Me.

"This was to be expected, given the number of patients who have been waiting for a face-to-face consultation. However, going forward, we do expect that the majority of outpatient consultations will be carried out remotely.”
The wearing of face masks is a requirement for staff now in all clinical areas and if you attend a clinic or are a named visitor, you will also be required to wear a face mask.  At the Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway, you will continue to be directed to your location by security door staff, but will be given your mask when you enter the clinical area that you are attending.

Clisham area is now running as an Ambulatory Care Unit with several services currently operating from that area: Chemotherapy, IV infusions and Cardiac Services, including ECHO provision.

In terms of cervical screening, anyone who was invited for cervical screening before lockdown should now contact their GP practice to make an appointment. This applies to anyone who was yet to make an appointment or who had made an appointment, which was then cancelled. Appointment invitations and reminders are now also being posted (from this week), with invitations sent to those who receive more frequent (non-routine) cervical screening appointments.

Invitations to attend routine screening appointments will be issued from September 2020, once NHS Western Isles has caught up with non-routine appointments affected by the pause.

Mr Jamieson explained: “We are now working on a plan to re-introduce elective surgery, concentrating initially on day surgery but with the aim to add inpatients as well. Cataract surgery was performed last week and this will continue on a monthly basis, though the number we can perform at present is reduced.

“Planning the recovery of elective surgery is a complex process and we ask for your patience at this time. Patients will require to be clinically prioritised, so that those with the greatest clinical need are seen first. If you are already on the waiting list then you will be contacted in the near future. Some patients will already have been contacted to ascertain availability and advised of the process and potential risks of surgery at this time.”

NHS Western Isles prides itself in providing high quality safe health services with excellent outcomes and would like to assure patients that they have planned the recommencement of services in line with national guidance on testing, personal protective equipment, physical distancing and strict infection prevention and control and cleaning regimes.


EVENTS newspaper still stands, somewhat battered, ready to serve the people and the businesses of Lewis and Harris.  And we would love to hear from you!

Preparations are now being made for the first post-lockdown publication of EVENTS - the 174th edition which will be out on August 6 2020.

Since its successful relaunch in 2008, EVENTS newspaper has depended on a constant flow of events to publicise, distribution via display stands in shops packed with people, and an outpouring of advertising from the streets and villages full of small businesses, all frantically active, constantly moving, visiting, selling and buying. And its success was built on a deliberate policy of direct personal contact, one-to-one contacts with shops, craftspeople and businesses.

And what stopped on March 23 with the beginning of lockdown? Of course, it was all of the above. At once.

Now like everyone, we are peering ahead.  At least the foreseeable future is now more than two days ahead.  And it seems foreseeable that there will be a future. 

But Editor Fred Silver says EVENTS understands that many businesses are as badly bruised as ourselves - and we don't want to annoy past and future customers for advertising by ringing them up and making a nuisance of ourselves when they are staggering back to their feet. 

So what will EVENTS be doing over the next seven days?

  • Contacting regular customers to ask about rebooking their adverts.
  • Trying to create an advertising feature with the Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery.
  • Contacting all the businesses whose adverts were temporarily suspended from EVENTS during lockdown because they weren't allowed to trade

If your business or enterprise wants some new or additional advertising, please contact Fred on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or text or call 07867 861090

The advertising and contributions deadline is 9am on Wednesday July 29; and the newspaper is published next on Thursday August 6th. 

And last but by no means least, our great thanks to those organisations and individuals who supported us through lockdown.







Lewis band Peat & Diesel have talked about how they are missing touring…as the coronavirus pandemic response has swept aside all their plans for this summer.

They will be on-line as part of this year’s virtual Eilean Dorcha Festival which will be streamed on the Comhairle Facebook page this Friday July 24 and Saturday July 25 at 8pm.

Peat & Diesel, drummer Uilleam Macleod said, “I’m really gutted we’re missing this year’s festival as EDF was the first big festival we ever played and gave us the platform for our music to reach a wider audience.

"I think I can speak for the three of us when I say how grateful we are to EDF for giving us that opportunity.

"It’s a strange time for us all and P&D are really missing playing gigs and entertaining the punters.

"Enjoy the weekend and we hope to see you all soon!”

On Facebook they add that: "Wee Studio were missing us during the lockdown and threw a few short videos together from footage that was gathered during our tour at the start of 2020! Check it out and let us know what you think and if you like it we might do more!!  If you don’t like it, we just want to say that it’s all acting for the camera, just like that housewives nonsense on the telly and we don’t carry on like this in real life!!! Thanks for supporting us."

Other artists joining the virtual Eilean Dorcha Festival include Nathan Carter, Skerryvore, Skipinnish, TideLines, Hunter & The Bear, Rhythmnreel, Coast, AbbaA-Rival, Kelly O’Brien as Dolly Parton, Peter White as Kenny Rogers, The Marley Experience, The Rollin Drones, Ben Monteith, Torridon, Manran, Trail West, Beinn Lee and Burn The Maps.

EDF organiser, Roddy Mackay said, “EDF would just like to pay tribute to all the artists who have been absolutely fantastic in their response to our request to hold a virtual festival. These artists are our lifeblood, without them we would not have a festival and once again they have responded with lockdown videos and new recordings to go along with the festival footage.

“We felt it was important that we did a little something for the artists and allowed them to once again showcase their talents at a time when things are extremely difficult for everyone. All the artists have contributed to the festival for no fee which has been absolutely tremendous, we can’t thank them enough.

“This year’s virtual festival is a real mix of festival footage, footage supplied by the artists themselves and, of course, footage from the fantastic people who come to see the performances. We wanted something from everyone’s perspective and I hope the public enjoy what we’ve put together for their enjoyment.

“Hopefully we’ll all be back on Liniclate Machair next summer for what I’m sure will be a fantastic party.”


Following further discussions with Transport Scotland, Calmac Ferries say they are pleased to update that from tomorrow, Wednesday 22 July customers will be able to book travel within a rolling 7-week period.

Today, 21 July, bookings will still be open on a four-week basis, covering the period 22 July - 19 August 2020.  

From Wednesday 22 July, bookings will be open on a rolling 7-week period. For example:

Date and time

Period in which customers will be able to book travel online

22 July at 9am

23 July - 8 September

23 July at 9am

24 July - 9 September

24 July at 9am

25 July - 10 September

25 July at 9am

26 July - 11 September - and so on.

CalMac saythey will soon be able to open a further stage of bookings for the remainder of the season - up to 18 October.

"We will continue to update our customers when we have more information to share.

"When our bookings reopen each day, there are customer reservations already in the system, which were made before our bookings closed earlier this year. This, together with the implementation of the latest physical distancing guidelines means we still have less capacity than we would have in 'normal' circumstances.

"If we need to make changes to a reservation, we will contact you directly seven weeks before your sailing. We will only make amendments where we have to - based on capacity constraints. 

"We expect our telephones and website to be very busy on 22 July. Where possible, please book via our website at There may be short periods when the booking system will be slower than normal. While you wait, please refresh your browser regularly until the 'buy tickets' option is visible. We are grateful for your patience.

"Finally, it's crucial to remember that when you sail with us, you always follow safety advice - this helps us all work together to protect each other, the islands and the communities CalMac serves."

This year’s Sea Watch National Whale and Dolphin Watch starts on Saturday July 25, and the public are being asked to help.

Sea Watch Foundation are seeking volunteers to join in from 25th July – 2nd August. They say:

  • Collecting data about our resident cetaceans has never been more important. Rising sea surface temperatures and anthropogenic activities have been impacting marine species in the British waters for many years now. The most recent human lockdowns most certainly has had an effect on marine species which is also worth investigating.
  • Last year’s Watch revealed an impressive 13 separate species of whales and dolphins in British waters, and the highest (more than 2,000) ever-recorded number of cetacean sightings.
  • The event allows Sea Watch, a charity which has been running for 30 years, to take direct action to protect species. Sea Watch Foundation research studies of bottlenose dolphins helped led to two areas in Cardigan Bay being recommended as Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) for the species.

No previous experience is needed; anyone who is in the UK and near the sea during the event and wants to help, can do so. All that people need to take part is safe access to the coast, patience, a lot of enthusiasm, binoculars, a copy of the Sea Watch recording forms and a cetacean identification guide (downloadable from the Sea Watch website). However, in order to ensure everyone follows Covid-19 restrictions and to comply with social distancing rules, Sea Watch advises people to conduct watches individually or with a member of their household, unless Scottish Government guidelines instruct otherwise by the time of the event.

The team at Sea Watch will offer online training and advice on how to take part:

“The most memorable sightings from last year’s Watch week included humpback whales in Cornwall and the Outer Hebrides, Northern bottlenose whales in the Inner Hebrides, beaked whales off the Isle of Tiree in the Inner Hebrides, fin whales in the Outer Hebrides, and large pods of Atlantic white-sided dolphins off Freester in Shetland.”, says Dr Chiara Giulia Bertulli, Sightings Officer and lead organiser of the NWDW event for the Sea Watch Foundation.

Scotland recorded the highest number of sightings particularly along the western coast and on the Inner and Outer Hebrides. In England, the greatest number of sightings was collected in the South around Cornwall and South Devon with similar numbers also collected on the North-East coast. In Wales, the highest number of sightings was collected on the West coast.

Sponsors have also donated amazing prizes for people who participate in the NWDW watches:

Visit for details, or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Sea Watch is a registered marine conservation research charity working to improve the conservation of whales and dolphins in the seas around Britain and Ireland.It aims to involve, inform and educate members of the public and to raise awareness of threats faced by marine mammals.

The Lord-Lieutenant for the Western Isles, Donald Martin has announced the appointment of Kenneth John MacLennan MBE of Callanish, Isle of Lewis, as a Deputy Lieutenant.

Mr Maclennan fills a vacancy created by the passing of the late Simon Fraser OBE in 2016.

Mr Maclennan, who was awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in June 2007 for services to the local community, is a retired local government officer who spend 33 years with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

He is currently a part time inspector and stamper with the Harris Tweed Authority and an active crofter. 

A native Gaelic speaker, he was born and brought up in Callanish and attended Breasclete and The Nicolson Institute schools before attending Napier College in Edinburgh where he studied Civil Engineering.

He is actively involved in several community groups and is the current Chair of Breasclete Community Association, Urras Oighreachd Charlabhaigh (Carloway Estate Trust) and East Loch Roag Historical Society, as well as serving as a Community Councillor on Breasclete Community Council.  Married with a grown-up family of four, he and his wife Joan – who is from South Uist – have five grandchildren.

In congratulating Mr Maclennan on his appointment, the Lord-Lieutenant said “I am delighted to appoint Kenny John as a Deputy Lieutenant and I look forward to working with him on behalf of the Lieutenancy.  

"In addition to his long career with the Council’s Technical Services Department, he has a strong background and wide experience in community activities at various levels on the West Side of Lewis. His appointment as a Deputy Lieutenant recognises the valuable contribution Kenny John has made to community development and voluntary work over many years.”

Commenting on his appointment Kenny John said “It is a great honour for me to become part of the Lieutenancy team and I look forward to working with the Lord-Lieutenant, his Deputies and Clerk. It is also very humbling to replace Simon Fraser, who was a friend and a very well-respected gentleman not only in our own community but throughout the Western Isles.”

The Western Isles Lieutenancy comprises the Lord-Lieutenant who is HM The Queen’s representative in the area.  He is supported by a Vice Lord-Lieutenant (Mrs Elizabeth McAtear), up to a maximum of 10 Deputy Lieutenants and a  Lieutenancy Clerk (Miss Margaret Mackay).  Further information on the work of the Western Isles Lieutenancy is available on

The photograph shows Kenny John as Chair of the Breasclete Community Association welcoming HRH The Princess Royal to Breasclete Community Centre in October 2019.

The wait is nearly over, Stornoway Airport announced on Twitter tonight (Monday July 20)

"Tomorrow morning the shutters will open at the island kitchen at Stornoway airport again for travelling passengers," they stated.

And continued: "Bear with us as the service will take time to return to normal at Highlands and Islands Airports."

For those who have remained unaffected by the loosening of lockdown and have not used the airport, there are a number of changes.

The airport explains: "We have introduced new measures to minimise risk to our passengers and staff at Stornoway Airport.

"Our airports have remained open to essential, lifeline services and emergency flights throughout the COVID-19 crisis, with key personnel on duty to ensure operations have been maintained during the lockdown.

"Screens have been installed and physical distancing measures are in place with sanitiser stations in key locations throughout airports. Additionally, our enhanced cleaning regimes ensure that regular deep cleaning is carried regularly at our airport.

"You will be required to wear a face covering at all times at the airport and follow our social distancing requirements.

"We are limiting the number of passengers within the terminal building and only travelling passengers will be allowed in the terminal.

"If you need to accompany someone into the terminal, please contact a member of staff upon entry.  A member of the HIAL team will meet passengers on arrival to help guide you through the new procedures."

On the schedule for flights tomorrow are flights arriving from Benbecula and Inverness, and departing to both those airports and Glasgow - a total of six in all. 

Isles MP Angus MacNeil is calling for Covid testing to be extended to include workers coming off ships and oil rigs.

Currently workers are routinely tested going out but are not tested on the return.

Mr MacNeil asked Secretary of State Matt Hancock what the UK Government could do to close this gap, given that 80 per cent of Covid cases are asymptomatic.

He received a positive response that the UK Government would be willing to work with counterparts in the Scottish Government to test the hypothesis of Covid positives coming off rigs.

He will now write to Scottish Minister for Health Jeanne Freeman MSP to take this further forward.

Mr MacNeil said: “This is now between Jeanne Freeman and Matt Hancock to take this forward together to work out the testing of people coming off oil rigs. Is it a Scottish or UK Gov responsibility or both? Also it could be interesting from the point of view of the virus, as everyone who goes on the rig should be negative when going on and if anyone emerges positive then it raises interesting questions which may aid the understanding of the virus.

He added: “One serious gap for many communities and workers returning from work as merchant mariners or oil rig workers, people are routinely tested going on to oil rigs but routinely are not tested coming off.

“I know of some oil rig workers who have tested positive, having taken tests for various reasons when they’ve come off. Therefore I asked if he would commit that returning mariners and especially those coming off oil rigs, are tested because we know there is a danger and a gap we’ve left open that unchecked people may be unwitting asymptomatic coronavirus carriers  I simply asked him to look into closing that gap.

“Matt Hancock responded at the despatch box indicating that he would look into working with his opposite number in the Scottish Government to test the hypothesis I proposed.”


Family Support Practitioner

Ref: 3908

Stornoway, Isle of Lewis 
Circa £22,076 inclusive of Distant Island Allowance (pro rata) 
25hrs Part-Time, Fixed term 12 Month contract

Giving children and young people the foundations they need to thrive.

The role           

Eilean Siar Assessment & Therapy Unit (ATU) is a health funded service which takes referrals from NHS Therapists, Education, CAHMS, and Social Work. We use a play-based approach to provide children who have additional needs, with a safe and therapeutic environment in which they can develop their communication, motor, learning, and life skills.

The ATU Team, work across schools, nurseries, community areas, family homes, and the project base, choosing the venue dependant on the child and family's needs. We provide support not only to the child themselves but to nursery and school staff, parents, carers, and extended family. ATU also run the Saturday Group, S'math Sinn, supporting teenagers and young adults to access activities in the community.

We are looking for a Family Support Practitioner to work 25 hours per week.  We envision this to be 4 days per week with 1 Saturday per month (3 hours approx.) to meet the needs of the service. 

You will make a difference by:

  • Effectively assessing the needs of families and responding to them.
  • Working collaboratively with families to achieve positive outcomes.
  • Listening to children, young people and families.
  • Engaging in an integrated way as part of a dynamic multidisciplinary team.

You will need:

  • HNC in a related field.
  • Experience of working with children with additional needs and their families, and the issues and barriers they may face.
  • Knowledge and awareness of methods of assessment and intervention.
  • Understanding of safeguarding.
  • Ability to communicate effectively verbally, in record keeping and report writing.
  • Ability to work on your own initiative and as part of a team.
  • Experience of developing multidisciplinary support plans.

Driving licence is desirable.

The way we work

We work to make sure every child and young person has the love, support and opportunity they need to reach their potential. If you share the same vision, we want you to join our team. Have a look at our behaviours and values to understand more about the way we work here.


We want our employees to feel valued and rewarded for the vital work they do. When you work with us, we'll recognise your efforts with generous annual leave, a comprehensive employer-matched pension scheme and a range of deals and discounts on our dedicated benefits portal. Find out more about our exclusive Action for Children benefits here.

For safe and happy childhoods

At Action for Children, we protect and support children and young people, providing practical and emotional care and support, ensuring their voices are heard, and campaigning to bring lasting improvements to their lives. Last year, we helped more than 387,000 children and families across the UK.

For further information and to apply, please visit our website

Closing date: 3 August 2020

Interviews for this position will be scheduled for w/c 10th Aug 2020.

We are committed to safer recruitment practices to protect our service users; therefore, all applicants are expected to have an understanding of and commitment to safeguarding best-practice.

Action for Children is passionate about promoting equality, valuing diversity and working inclusively. We welcome applications from all suitably qualified persons particularly people with Disabilities and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic applicants, as these groups are currently under-represented in our workforce.

With easing of the lockdown measures to allow outside activities Rotarians are jubilant that they can return to the Our Hospital Garden project.

Since March the Western Isles Hospital’s Memory garden, unperturbed by the ongoing corona induced turmoil, has quietly and unrelentingly continued to grow. During the lockdown the daffodils, snowdrops, crocuses and bluebells flowered, seeded, withered and are now dormant until next spring.

The heather garden became overgrown with shallow rooted weeds and grasses, but the alpines and perennials flourished; the cat mint has taken, and the lupins look glorious.

So with a set of Covid-19 rules fixed to both tied open gates the weeding and planting has restarted and all is becoming clearer and more organised. Some potted potentillas, ornamental grasses and heathers came just before lockdown and waited patiently to be planted; most survived but some suffered from the sunny dry spell in April and May. It won’t be long before they find their new earthy homes. Annuals from a Rotarian’s garden are adding colour to the borders. There is much to see.

Now back on track the Our Hospital Garden project will take up where it left off and after getting the Memory garden back in shape attention will focus on developing the woodland walkway to complete the pedestrian path from Macaulay Road to the hospital entrance.

NHS Western Isles Chief Executive, Gordon Jamieson, busy leading the unprecedented and exceptional work the Health Board is doing to keep us all safe, never fails to recognise the importance of the garden:

“As we journey through our experience of the coronavirus pandemic, it is so important to have somewhere like Our Hospital Garden. It offers anyone the opportunity for quiet reflection in such natural and beautiful surroundings.”



Coming home to make a new start is becoming a recurring theme in the post-Covid world, but electrician Kevin Macdonald of Tong has a head start on many.

His new business, Kevin Macdonald Electrical Services Ltd, has turned the potential catastrophe of Coronavirus around and he’s treating the changes in the world as a new opportunity.

Kevin returned to the Isle of Lewis 17 years ago, having been away since he was just 15 years old. He gained all his trade qualifications in Fife and it wasn’t until he was almost 30 that he returned to the islands.

Kevin said: “When I came home I found that everyone I knew was either working in the oil and gas industry or wanted to. There were actually more jobs in oil and gas than there were people to fill them.”

That gave him the career opportunity to take his electrical skills and make a new career in oil and gas – which he did successfully, benefiting from the job security and good salary to help set up home and start a family with his wife, Kirsteen.

Then things started to get harder. Kevin said: “Since 2009 it’s been one knock after another for the oil and gas industry. In 2015 prices crashed and jobs were being shed, and then came Coronavirus. The company I was working for were paying people off in their thousands.

“I went from having a good salary and future prospects to absolutely nothing. If I hadn’t had savings, I would have had to sell the house and we would have been using the foodbank.”

But there was a strong fallback position.  Kevin's qualification and the experience he gained during his career mean he can work as an electrical contractor either petro-chemical electrical technician or domestic, industrial. commercial electrician.

“I've worked all over the UK, Channel Islands and abroad in all aspects of the electrical trade, so I have plenty of experience.

“I’ve worked in the UK and abroad in construction, commercial and industry electrical installations and in domestic settings, so I have plenty of experience.

“Coronavirus turned our lives upside down, especially as a short-term contract I had in Lewis ended just as lockdown started. Companies aren’t taking people on, so my only viable option is to try starting out with my own business.

“In fact, that’s something I have wanted to do for a while. If I can make a success of it I can be at home to see my kids – Martin, who is 10 in October, seven-year-old David and Olivia, who’s three.

“I can watch them grow up instead of being away for a month at a time. Being at home all the time means I won’t miss big events in their lives.

“I bought a van last week, my Facebook page went live on Thursday (16 July), I am starting to advertise and try to build word-of-mouth and I have some of my first commissions already.

“I can make a good living as a sole trader doing what I know how to do and I can be competitive and pass on decent rates to my customers.”

In fact, Coronavirus turns out to have done Kevin a favour. He said: “I was always wanting to do this, and now it’s obvious it is the right time to start.”

You can contact Kevin by phone on 07881 524884 or via his Facebook page at

The picture shows Kevin at work on some domestic wiring

A gang of boys has attacked an 11-year-old on Cromwell Street, Stornoway, using Lynx aftershave, it is being claimed.

The incident is said to have taken place on Cromwell Street between 4:45pm-5:15pm on Friday July 17.

It involved a group of six boys carrying cans of Lynx aftershave.  The 11-year-old boy was sitting alone in a car while his accompanying adult picked up some shopping.

The family involved is appealing for information via Facebook and says the incident has been reported to the police.

The National Trust for Scotland - which is currently appealing on national TV for £5 donations to help it overcome its coronavirus cash crisis – says that all its facilities on St Kilda remain closed.

Its website states: "There are currently no Trust facilities open on St Kilda. The toilet blocks, shop and camping facilities are all closed. The pier is also closed except for essential and emergency use.

"Although we understand the call to visit this amazing World Heritage Site is strong, we ask that people do not travel to St Kilda until further notice.

"However, if you do visit, please take home everything you bring with you. We will update the website as and when things change."

Meanwhile, one of the Island companies which carries out trips to St Kilda, Hebridean Sea Tours in Castlebay, Isle of Barra, has decided to stay closed for the rest of the year.  They say: "After a lot of consideration, we have taken the very difficult decision not to run any trips this year.

"Safety is and always will be our main priority and although we have taken all the steps necessary to comply with government guidance and the Industry standard WE'RE READY TO GO campaign, we will wait for next year’s season before we resume running trips. In doing this, we hope to do our little bit to keep everyone safe and it will allow us time to see how the Islands cope with managing this new Covid world.

Our booking system is now open for 2021 and has been since March, all trip prices remain the same for next year and we will be adding more dates in the coming weeks. We look forward to welcoming you all onboard and we have a few surprises in store for your return to our beautiful Island.  All gift vouchers that have been purchased from us will remain valid, regardless of expiry date.

"Until then, stay safe and we’ll see you all next year."

But boat trips to the Island of Mingulay are running from Castlebay. Mingulay Boat Trips say on Twitter: "Happy to say that Mingulay Boat Trips will be running trips from Monday 20th July  but things are very different this year. The capacity of the Boy James will be greatly reduced due to social distancing. Sailings are available only by prebooking and limited to households/bubbles."

The contrasting sides of Mingulay are pictured below. 

The Veggie Box has a few new things to add to their list this week, from West Hardmuir Fruit Farm outside Inverness.

These include Raspberries, Blueberries, Blackcurrant, RedCurrants, Gooseberries, and Hispie/Sweetheart Cabbage .

In addition, from the Black Isle they have Premier and Duke of York Potatoes and the biggest thing of all, Scottish Dirty Carrots.

Plus all the usual Fruit and Veg.

Iona says: "We raised £90  for Stornoway RNLI  from the sale of herbs which were kindly donated by Kay the vet and we ourselves will round it up to £150.

"Thank you to all of you for your kind donations.

"If you could all have your orders in before 12.30 on Monday, please."



Price Each










Butternut Squash  




Hispi Cabbage (Sweetheart) From Nairn




Celeriac (UK)




Celery (UK)




Garlic (Large)




Local Bay leaves, Goathill Road




White Cabbage




Corn on Cob each





Price Per KG


New Season Scottish Dirty Carrots




Broccoli (UK)




Bunched Beetroot




















Onions (Red)




Cyprus Potatoes




Black Isle New Season Premiere Potato





Black Isle New Season Duke of York Potatoes




Ayrshire New Season Epicure








Swede (Scottish New Season)




Sweet Potato






Price Each


Little Gem (x2)




Cos Lettuce








Spring Onions






Price Per KG


Peppers (Mixed Red, Green, and yellow)




Tomato (Cherry on Vine)




Plum Tomatoes




Scottish Tomatoes








Fruit from Wester Hardmuir Fruit Farm Nairn


Price Each


Rapberries  220gr Punnet




Blueberries  Punnet








Red Currants Punnet




Gooseberries 400gr Punnet




Other Fruit




Flat (Doughnut) Peaches


3 for £1.75


New Season Nectarines


3 for £1.95


Gala Apples


4 for £1.50


Red Delicious


4 for £1.50




4 for £1.50








4 for £1.50






Kiwi Fruit












Oranges Large                 


3 for £2.10




3 for £1.80




4 for £1.50


Yellow Melon





Water Melon





Price per Kg






Chillies Red




Green Jalapeños








Green Seedless Grapes




Red Seedless Grapes












Local Marmalade. 340grm

Three Fruit marmalade,

Orange and Lemon


Hint of Ginger

Mixed Berry

Rhubarb jam

Rhubarb and Strawberry


Strawberry Jam

Raspberry Jam

























Fruit Cake



Per Cake,


4 Plain Scones






Per Packet


Hebridean Tablet




Local Eggs ½ Dozen

( Supply can be limited)











Update – 16 July 2020: We know many people want to come to Eigg this summer, but sadly, for the moment, we ask you not to come, says the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust

We are a remote and geographically isolated community with both elderly and vulnerable residents. We have worked hard to ensure the health and wellbeing of all our residents since the beginning of this pandemic.

Now we are in Phase 3 of the Scottish Government’s Route Map, travel and tourism across the rest of Scotland is opening up. The Eigg community has been working hard to put all the physical distancing and hygiene guidance in place. However, after looking at how to balance the large number of people who want to come to Eigg against what we are able to do within government guidance, the community has decided we are not able to welcome any day or overnight tourists (including campers) to Eigg at the moment.

At present all self-catering, hostel and guest house accommodation, Galmisdale Bay Café, and Lageorna restaurant have taken the decision to STAY CLOSED UNTIL 31 AUGUST.   We will be reviewing this decision regularly and will post updates here.

As our public toilets, showers, and visitor attractions are closed, and our shop open to residents only we also ask day trip visitors, campers, kayakers, yachts and other vessels not to come to Eigg for the time being too. Again, we’ll let you know if this changes by posting updates here.


We realise for many people our decision is hard on you. It wasn’t an easy decision to take and we’ve all agonised over it collectively, as well as individually. So here’s just a little of our thinking.

As a result of physical distancing, the CalMac ferry to Eigg has a very limited capacity, with only 40 bookable places instead of the usual 190.  We have to share those places with residents on the other Small Isles who, like us, haven’t left their island or seen anyone from the mainland since the end of March.  

Now that travel restrictions are lifted, islanders need to go the mainland for hospital and other appointments, or to travel and see their loved ones again.  Business or tradespeople need to come and fix things that have been broken for months.  Friends and family want to be reunited, and visitors like you, and many others from around the world, want to come.  

Eigg has around 110 people living here. Between self-catering and guesthouse accommodation, there are something like 120 beds, all of which were fully booked for July and August.  Many more people have been in contact to say they want to come to Eigg to camp.  With only four ferries a week, how should we use those 40 places fairly?  Prioritise one islander’s return visit to their elderly parents in Glasgow over another’s need to have their boiler fixed?  A visitor coming to stay for a week in a cottage, over one in a tent for a fortnight, or a day tripper? 

As the island with the biggest population and most accommodation in the Small Isles, we also have to think how those 40 spaces might be used by those travelling to and from Rum and Muck as well as Eigg (Canna ferry runs are on a different day to ours).  And if we’d managed to get a guest here, we had no sure means of knowing we could get them off the island on the day they needed to leave. Not easy.

Sadly, for our visitors, the ferry conundrum means it seems much fairer to you and to our Eigg and Small Isles communities to say “please don’t come to Eigg for now”.

Our limited ferry service has been the main factor in our decision, but the number of non-vulnerable residents available to work in our businesses, the size and layout of our public facilities, and the lack of suitable on-island transport also affect our capacity to fully implement all of the protocols designed to protect your and our health. 

As a community a gradual re-opening of Eigg felt like the only fair and responsible thing to do; for those who live on Eigg and the other Small Isles, as well as those who want to visit. As lockdown restrictions are lifted further and our ferry capacity changes, then so too will we. But none of us know when that might happen. To help both us and you make plans, for the moment we are saying don’t expect us to be open again until the end of August.

We continue to follow Scottish Government guidelines and advice and are working closely with CalMac and everyone here on Eigg to regularly review the situation. We want to ensure both Eigg residents and visitors remain healthy but are also treated with kindness and respect.

We will keep you updated with Eigg’s tourism business’ plans for the remainder of this year and into next, so visitors know what will and will not be open and when. If you have any questions, please contact us.

Thank you from everyone on Eigg.

Visitors to Eigg bring many benefits to Eigg and we’re very grateful for your support.   We look forward to welcoming everyone back to Eigg when all this has passed. Until then, follow advice, stay well and look after each other. 

Online in the meantime!

There are lots of opportunities to support Eigg online in the meantime

Support the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust with a donation, buy a cool Eigg t-shirt, or one of John the Bird’s books, all from our online shop.

Use EasyFundraising to give a donation to Eigg through your other online purchases to some of the big retailers, at NO cost to you!

Buy from our local creative and other businesses through the rather wonderful

Want some music from Eigg? Check out Lost Map , Gabe McVarish, Metta Music, Massacre Cave or Gaelic supergroup Daimh‘s online shops for music, subscriptions and other stylish merchandise (including hats and bandanas for all occasions!).

Join our Facebook group or follow us on Instagram and Twitter

Final Seisean HebCelt tonight: Saturday, 18th July, 10pm (BST) 

HebCelt; the movie!

Well not quite, but here they bring you a flavour of festivals past.

Produced by Daibhidh Martin, a renowned TV producer we are so lucky to have here.  Daidhibh brings some memories together of what makes HebCelt so special to those who have shared the stage and the green over the years together some fabulous live footage and a dip into the archives. (Run time approx 25 mins)

HebCeltFest website




Photographs below from the archive

July 17, 2008

July 16, 2011

July 16, 2011


July 14 2014

July 14 2014

July 16, 2015

July 20 2017

July 21, 2018

July 20, 2019

A major bridge refurbishment project has begun in the Lews Castle Grounds.

This is seeing traffic lights used to control access to the Grounds from Macaulay Road, Stornoway.

The project involves temporary diversion of the Glen River and work on the bridge between the Willowglen Road access and Stornoway Golf Club. 

It is expected to take 13 weeks to complete and forms part of the refurbishment work throughout the Castle Grounds where work has now restarted following the relaxation of the pandemic lockdown.

The work is being undertaken by specialist contractors Diack and Macaulay Ltd, from Moodiesburn near Cumbernauld.  Established in 1980, they are a civil engineering company, specialising in civil engineering projects, bridge works, and highway safety fencing contracts for our clients.

The company is a family-run business and say that over the years they have worked on cable suspended, single span concrete, steel span, cantilever, arch and many more types of bridges.ents.

Another emergency erupted in the Castle Grounds, Stornoway, overnight.

Murdo Macaulay, the area commander with HM Coastguard Rescue Service, reports an early morning call-out with the Stornoway Coastguard Rescue Team and the Scottish Ambulance Service to assist with extrication of a casualty with lower leg injury from Stornoway Golf Course.

The Coastguard's Yamaha ATV crew of Roddy Macdonald and William Clark were tasked as the incident developed just after midnight but in the end the casualty was evacuated by stretcher-carry to the roadside before being taken to Western Isles Hospital.

Only two days ago there was a massive overnight search in the Castle Grounds after a report of a missing person, who was later traced.

The Outer Hebrides could face a hospitality unemployment crisis if SNP ministers do not step up the fight for jobs as restaurants re-open, claims a Highlands and Islands Labour MSP.

Scottish Labour has warned that if the furlough scheme ends before a quality Jobs Guarantee Scheme is in place, thousands of workers in restaurants, bars and cafes could be laid off. And the furlough scheme must be extended in the hospitality sector too.

Scottish Labour has calculated that the hospitality sector directly employs 845 people across Na h-Eileanan an Iar.

Rhoda Grant MSP said: “Across Na h-Eileanan an Iar many people will be enjoying their first meal out since March, and many chefs, waiting staff and kitchen staff will be back at work for the first time since then.

“But necessary social distancing measures mean businesses are unable to trade at normal levels. The effects of this are already being seen, with some workers having been laid off in spite of government support.

“The UK Government has responded to pressure and offered restaurants support – but only in the short-term. Otherwise a hospitality unemployment crisis could cause serious damage – not just for the workers laid off, but for everyone in Na h-Eileanan an Iar.

"With 845 workers employed in the sector, Na h-Eileanan an Iar’s economy depends on hospitality jobs, and the islands hospitality sector needs jobs for good. Extending the furlough scheme in this sector could provide a lifeline to thousands of workers.
“The Scottish Government must step up the fight to save these jobs. Businesses need greater support to make the adaptations they need to accommodate greater social distancing, allowing them to keep more staff on their books. A quality Jobs Guarantee Scheme could stimulate demand as well, so that when the furlough scheme ends in other sectors workers can still afford to visit restaurants and bars.”

Estimates of jobs in the hospitality sectors comes from the Business Register and Employment Survey, accessed via Nomis.

Stornoway’s new Salvation Army Officers were due to arrive in Lewis yesterday (Thursday 16 July) after taking part in a moment of history for the Salvation Army.

The new Lieutenants were last Saturday (11 July) at William Booth College, the national training college for the Salvation Army, as it held its first ever virtual commissioning ceremony. Lts Christopher and Faith Thompson were among the cohort of new officers commissioned on that day.

Lts Christopher and Faith are coming to Stornoway as their first posting, taking the place of Captains Callum and Emma Newton, who left this week for their new posting in Aberdeen.

Writing in the Stornoway Corps’ regular newsletter Sunday Link, divisional envoy Ian McPhee said: “In addition to Stornoway Corps being their first Salvation Army posting, they will also experience a completely different lifestyle on the island.

“And, to make it even more challenging, they arrive amid the Coronavirus epidemic. It will take them both time to adjust, so we must be there for them.”

The Salvation Army has not yet set a date for the resumption of meetings at the Salvation Hall on Bayhead, which can be planned following the lifting of some restrictions on communal worship from today.

Christopher and Faith have a week to settle in to their new accommodation and familiarise themselves with the town and the island before beginning their new post in the last week of July.

The picture shows Lts Christopher and Faith Thompson at William Booth College during their commissioning service on Saturday (William Booth College).

A 55-year-old woman was arrested in Point yesterday (Thursday 16 July) after making 999 calls which were not for a legitimate emergency purpose.

The woman was arrested and taken to Stornoway police station, where she was charged with misuse of the emergency 999 number. She was later released and is to be reported to the Procurator Fiscal.


Some of the youngest residents of Lewis are leading the way when it comes to fundraising, with three recent achievements showing how it’s done.

On Tuesday (14 July) young Uisdean Macritchie celebrated his 8th birthday by successfully completing his promised 12km cycle around the Valtos peninsula, setting out from his home at Carishader.

Uisdean has so far raised the amazing amount of £1581.10 for the RNLI, whose Stornoway spokesman said: “What a brilliant achievement Uisdean, everyone is very proud of you.”

If you would still like to donate, you can go to Uisdean’s fundraising page at

Also celebrating a birthday on Tuesday was Catherine Donner, now 11 years old, of North Dell. She is on day 17 of a 50-day, two-mile-a-day run to raise £500 – a target which she has already broken through.

The final amount Catherine raises through her marathon 100-miler will be shared between cat rescue group Western Isles Support for Cats and Kittens (WISCK) and Sporsnis, the leisure and community centre in Ness.

In her blog on Tuesday, Catherine wrote about her birthday run. She said: “I ran with my brother William because my Mum and Dad did a long run on their own today. It took a long time to decide which route to run on.  I wanted to run the croft with Cuilean (her dog) but he wanted to do the road, so we ran to the post office and back with no dog.

“It felt hot and I regret taking my running jacket with me. One day I will get running clothes right. It was hard today, but I get to have left-over birthday cake. I have run 35.91 miles so far.”

Catherine’s fundraising page is at

Also totting up a giant total this week is toddler Pheobe Morrison, who handed over a cheque bigger than herself to the Salvation Army’s outgoing officer Captain Callum Newton.

Two-year-old Pheobe rode her 30-year-old Shetland pony Pepsi five miles through Point in late June as a way to thank the Salvation Army for their support in food and baby supplies to many during the Coronavirus crisis.

Pheobe and Pepsi were each awarded a Salvation Army medallion in recognition of their huge effort, which raised £1,275 for the Stornoway Corps food and baby bank.

The pictures show Uisdean in Valtos on his eighth birthday, pedal-pushing for the RNLI, Catherine celebrating at home in North Dell after her birthday run and Pheobe with her pony Pepsi and mum Kayleigh, in Knock, ready to present a massive cheque to the Salvation Army.


People across Stornoway are reporting a face-covering scam caller clearly intent on stirring up distrust in the community over the coronavirus regulations and restrictions.

On Twitter, a number of people have reported getting the call, and reporting it to the local police.

A Highlands and Islands Police Division spokesperson said: "We received a report around 3pm on Thursday, 16 July, 2020, of a scam call where a person claimed to be a police officer and accused the person of not wearing a face mask.

“Officers are aware that other people in Stornoway have received similar calls and are urging anyone else who has received one to make them aware by contacting 101.

“The calls are not genuine and we are advising people not to give out any information and report the calls to police.

“Enquiries into the calls are ongoing.”

One Twitter user called Stephen Campbell wrote: “Scam phone call tonight at 11.25pm claiming to be a police officer at Stornoway Police Station with reports of me not wearing a mask!

“Very aggressive and pushy, threatening manner.”

Stephen said he was worried for elderly or vulnerable who might end up terrified by these things. He said the caller was claiming to be a P-c Alan MacDonald.

“I was told there was a report I had been in shops without a mask. I was then demanded to list what shops I had been in in the last seven days so they could check CCTV.

“The first thing I did was question the timing of the phone call, that it was very unusual to phone about something so mundane at a late hour.

“He said he's been phoning people all day and night so was just getting round to me. I asked him for his badge number but he wouldn't give it. He said I could phone Stornoway police station and ask to speak to him if I didn't believe it was real.

“So I asked for their number, to which he aggressively replied I could surely just look it up and find it myself. I pushed him on this so he changed from me phoning the station to telling me I'd be getting a house visit the next morning.

“I said that was absolutely fine, and asked for the name of his line manager. He didn't know. Voice in the background told him it was Robert. So he told me. I asked to speak to the line manager and was put on to him but they hung up. They phoned straight back and kept on the offensive for a list of shops. I wouldn't give it so he threatened the house visit again.

“This went round in circles for a bit, not once did he mention my name, or the shop I'd been in. I reported him anyway to 101, who confirmed there is no PC Alan MacDonald at the station and that none of that call was how they would go about such a report.

“All I could think was how a vulnerable person could feel very intimidated to giving out information, which could go from harmless listing of shops to something like bank details. Stay safe. Report idiots.”

Stephen added: "I've been in one shop in town since masks were mandatory, and I wore one, so I knew all was well."

Replying to this series of Tweets was Dean Macleod who said: “Same happened to me last week, also said it was PC Alan Macdonald, based at Stornoway.

"He said he was investigating a breach of lockdown rules, but couldn’t name who in the house was involved or give any details. I also checked with police, no officer of that name in Stornoway.”

Another Twitter user called Carina reported overnight: “I was in a taxi last night and the driver had the same call.”

And in another sign of the times, Langabhat Medical Practice posted the following message: “Scot Gov says re Masks: People not required to carry proof that they are exempt for medical reasons. They don't need exemption letters or certificates and their word should be accepted by organisations. As such, practices don't need to provide any proof of exemption for patients.”

Meanwhile, shops contacted by in Stornoway yesterday reported a high level of voluntary compliance with rules on face-coverings and masks – but concern about the possible behaviour of visitors from England where there were, at present, no such restrictions. 

This article has been updated to include comments from Highlands and Islands Police Division since first being posted

Police in Stornoway are taking active steps to discourage anti-social driving behaviour in the town centre, after a number of complaints from residents of the town.

In the week since Monday (13 July) proactive patrols in Stornoway town centre have seen 11 drivers stopped while showing anti-social driving behaviour including unnecessary revving of their engines, aggressive acceleration and excessive noise while driving.

A 21-year-old man had his vehicle seized after being issued with a second vehicle anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) and he will have to pay to regain his vehicle. Two other drivers received first ASBOs and will lose their vehicle if they offend again.

A total of eight drivers were issued with fixed penalties in relation to their driving and police will continue on active patrol in the town centre throughout the coming weekend.


A new initiative aimed at boosting sales of British lamb has been welcomed by a local politician.

The “Make it Lamb” campaign, which is being delivered by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), is set to reach a majority of the UK population as it rolls out during the rest of the year.

Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron said: “Crofters and farmers across my region stand to benefit from a marketing initiative which puts the stress on quality.

“Scotch lamb already has a deservedly excellent reputation and if we can build on that by demonstrating how easily lamb can be used to prepare a wide range of delicious recipes then we could extend its market, especially to younger consumers.

“I wish the campaign every success and hope it provides a boost to our sheep farmers, leading to more sales of quality Scotch lamb across the country.”


Scots trad-rock band Mànran have announced the release of a live version of Òran Na Cloiche tomorrow Friday, 17th July to coincide with the 25th anniversary of HebCelt Festival.

Recorded at theStornoway festival last year, Òran Na Cloiche translates to English as ‘The Song of the Stone’. The upbeat song, which is a firm festival favourite, is being released to mark the milestone 25th anniversary of HebCelt, which is going virtual this week.

Originally released on Mànran’s self-titled album in 2011, the original track racked up more than 1.2 million streams on Spotify alone and never fails to get festival crowds dancing.

The live version, which was recorded as part of Mànran’s entire 2019 HebCelt set, has all the energy and excitement you might expect, bringing the euphoria of the lively HebCelt crowd to life for listeners.

Gary Innes of Mànran said: “So much of 2020 has been a disaster for all music events and concerts and as musicians we’re heartbroken not to be on the road at this time of year performing at summer festivals and concerts at home and abroad. The Heb Celt Festival is always one of our favourite gigs to play and a highlight of the four summers when we’ve taken to their stage across Mànran’s 10 years.

“Last year we recorded our full show at the festival and we thought it would be nice to release a live track from it, especially over what should have been a milestone 25th anniversary event weekend for them. It’s so great to hear the crowd cheering and singing along in this recording, we’re all really missing performing and seeing the familiar, friendly faces around the festival circuit - roll on 2021 and welcoming back all of the great summer music events!"

Caroline Maclennan, HebCelt festival director, said: “We are delighted to be involved with Mànran's latest release, the atmosphere they generate at festivals is electric and the track is a great reflection of a superb set at HebCelt last year.”

Òran Na Cloiche  will be available to download and stream on Friday, 17 July.

Mànran formed in 2011 and it didn’t take them long to release a multi-award-winning debut album. They remain the only group in the 21stcentury to break the UK top 40 with a song in the Gaelic language - their debut single Latha Math reached number 29. The subsequent years brought with them continued success with the band establishing their characteristic sound and distinctive approach to musical arrangement.

Variously tagged as “folk-rock”, “trad-rock”, “Celtic-rock” and even “grown-up folk-rock”, Mànran’s music has always defied easy labelling due to the eclectic mix of influences on the band. With a central ethos built around the band’s traditional Celtic roots, fiery tunes from fiddle, accordion, flute, Uilleann and Highland bagpipes bind powerfully to a rhythm section awash with elements of funk, jazz and rock to create some of the most innovative and uplifting instrumental music around.

Coupled with songs in both Gaelic and English that undergo the same musical mixology, it’s easy to understand why Mànran are in such high demand as a live act. With music ranging from the explosive to the poignant and, at all times, a palpable connection to their audience, Mànran thrive on live performances and spend most of the year touring and bringing their music to new parts of the World. So far, this has taken the band all over Europe, the USA and Asia as well as Australia (where the band was awarded the accolade “International Artist of the Year” at the Australian Celtic Music Awards).                        

The Royal Navy visit to the Isle of Lewis continued yesterday (Wednesday July 15) with a formal visit to the Iolaire memorial site in Holm.

The Royal Navy reported on Twitter on the “huge privilege” of revisiting the memorial to lay a wreath accompanied by a descendant of one of 201 casualties.

Involved were three Commanding Officers of the three patrol boats involved in the visit – HMS Biter, HMS Charger and HMS Express.

This came after “a fantastic day at sea” with Lord Lieutenant of the Western Isles Donald Martin plus guests from An Lanntair arts centre, including head of visual arts and literature Roddy Murray, and from the Nicolson Institute.  The group even spotted a Minke whale while out in the Minch.

The three Royal Navy patrol boats had been alongside in the port of Stornoway overnight Tuesday to Wednesday as part of a summer deployment from HM Naval Base Clyde.

At just over 20 metres long they are some of the smallest vessels in the fleet, but the Royal Navy tags them ‘Small ships, big punch’ as they go about their duties.

The Archer Class P2000 Patrol Boats are all affiliated to University Royal Naval Units (URNUs) around the country, and, in normal times would sail with a contingent of students aboard.

However, with the COVID-19 pandemic to contend with, the Royal Navy sailors are taking the opportunity for operational training and are using technology to keep in touch with the URNUs and with local groups and organisations who would usually visit during the port visits.

On Tuesday the three vessels celebrated Bastille Day in Stornoway harbour, greeting a passing French yacht and extending their good wishes to the French Navy and the French Consulate in Edinburgh at the same time.

In all, seven Archer class P2000 patrol boats left the base on Friday 3 July for a tour round Scotland’s coastline, taking in some of the smallest and most scenic ports in the country. Four have taken the east coast route, visiting Orkney and Shetland as well.

Captain Chris Smith, Naval Regional Commander for Scotland and Northern Ireland said: “It is great to be able to bring the Royal Navy near to some of our smaller communities which, because of harbour size, don’t usually get a visit from our ships.

“The P2000s may be small, but they pack a punch, and regularly exercise around the UK and Europe as well as supporting the fleet.

“Usually we would be hosting visits from local groups and organisations while alongside but, with the current situation, this is unfortunately not possible.

"We hope to engage with local organisations across social media and using new technologies, and if people spot them in their area do give them a wave!”

Pictures from the Royal Navy show the boats in Stornoway Harbour, at sea with guests, and at the Iolaire Memorial.

A major multi-agency search operation was launched overnight in Stornoway.

This brought together several emergency services and the Coastguard Rescue Teams from Ness, Bragar, Breasclete, and Miavaig, reports Murdo Macaulay, area commander with HM Coastguard Rescue Service.

He explains that also involved were "Coastguard Duty Officers AC18 and S18B, Coastguard Helicopter R948, Stornoway RNLI Lifeboat, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, and the Hebrides Mountain Rescue Team."

They were all tasked to assist Highland & Islands Police Division in the search for a missing person in the Castle Grounds, Stornoway.

He reported on Twitter at 0430 that the "casualty was located safe and well in a house outside the search area." The search involved a 26-year-old man. 

He commented that there was an "awesome turnout from all services, too many to mention.

"Early high effort maximises chances of a find. Found safe & well. Thanks." 

The first new cruise visit to Stornoway following lockdown has been ‘confirmed’ – or as confirmed as it can be in these uncertain pandemic times.

Norwegian company Hurtigruten yesterday (Tuesday 14 July) announced that they plan to bring their hybrid-fuelled vessel MS Roald Amundsen to Stornoway on Monday 14 September, on a previously unscheduled visit to the islands.

The port call comes during during a 21-day ‘Many wonders of the British Isles’ cruise, which also takes in Oban, Portree and St Kilda. It has been confirmed with Stornoway Port Authority by Hurtigruten, subject to the rules and regulations which are in place at the time.

There’s evidence that existing uncertainties and island decisions on reopening have affected the planning of the itinerary, with Hurtigruten offering a limited range of activities while passengers are ashore in Stornoway. A walking tour of Lews Castle, and visits to the Callanish Stones and Arnol Blackhouse are among the optional shore excursions.

Passengers seem to be showing some uncertainty about booking, with comments on Hurtigruten’s own Facebook page sharing their worries.

One potential passenger said: “I so want to do this, but has authority to go to various ports been obtained? Don’t want to pay £7,000 if not likely to go ahead, then have to fight and wait months to get a refund.” Another asked simply: “Are we allowed to go?”

Hurtigruten has gained a reputation within the travel industry for their robust ‘acclerated return’ to cruising, having reportedly had four ships from their fleet out on Norwegian coastal cruises since June. They plan to have 14 of their fleet of 16 ships returned to cruising by the end of September.

The cruise line also provided Stornoway with its first, and so far only, cruise visit of the 2020 season as MS Roald Amundsen’s sister ship MS Fridtjof Nansen made her maiden visit on a profile-raising tour of the British Isles, on 28 February.

The cruise itinerary currently listed by Stornoway Port Authority has 24 scheduled visits remaining. They include calls from ships belonging to Grand Circle Travel, Ponant and Holland America, but these visits are currently as like to be cancelled as they are to be confirmed.

The 2020 season officially comes to an end with the planned visit on 4 October of the small expedition vessel World Explorer, en route to Reykjavik for the beginning of the Arctic winter.

Pictures show MS Roald Amundsen, just booked for 14 September (Hurtigruten) and her sister ship MS Fridtjof Nansen in Stornoway on 28 February this year (Stornoway Port Authority).


Three Royal Navy patrol boats have been alongside in Stornoway overnight and are due to leave today (Wednesday 15 July), as part of a summer deployment from HM Naval Base Clyde.

HMS Biter, HMS Charger and HMS Express arrived into Stornoway from Ullapool yesterday, during a two-week tour of some of Scotland’s smaller ports.

At just over 20 metres long they are some of the smallest vessels in the fleet, but the Royal Navy proudly tags them ‘Small ships, big punch’ as they go about their duties.

The Archer Class P2000 Patrol Boats are all affiliated to University Royal Naval Units (URNUs) around the country, and, in normal times would sail with a contingent of students aboard.

However, with the COVID-19 pandemic to contend with, the Royal Navy sailors are taking the opportunity for operational training and are using technology to keep in touch with the URNUs and with local groups and organisations who would usually visit during the port visits.

Yesterday the three vessels celebrated Bastille Day in Stornoway harbour, greeting a passing French yacht and extending their good wishes to the French Navy and the French Consulate in Edinburgh at the same time.

Today they are due to head south for a call into Lochboisdale before completing their tour and heading back to HMNB Clyde.

In all, seven Archer class P2000 patrol boats left the base on Friday 3 July for a tour round Scotland’s coastline, taking in some of the smallest and most scenic ports in the country. Four have taken the east coast route, visiting Orkney and Shetland as well.

Captain Chris Smith, Naval Regional Commander for Scotland and Northern Ireland said: “It is great to be able to bring the Royal Navy near to some of our smaller communities which, because of harbour size, don’t usually get a visit from our ships.

“The P2000s may be small, but they pack a punch, and regularly exercise around the UK and Europe as well as supporting the fleet.

“Usually we would be hosting visits from local groups and organisations while alongside but, with the current situation, this is unfortunately not possible.

"We hope to engage with local organisations across social media and using new technologies, and if people spot them in their area do give them a wave!”

The pictures show the three HMS patrol vessels alongside, leaving Loch Broom yesterday and a greeting to a French visitor into Stornoway harbour yesterday afternoon.


Students, past and present, have welcomed the new campaign (#studyliveplayhebrides) to encourage people to study on and from the Western Isles.

At a time of reopening to the outside world, the campaign aims to boost the islands of the Outer Hebrides as not just a place to live and a place to visit, but as a place to study – both actually on the islands and on-line from the Islands.

That’s the message of a new publicity campaign organised by Lews Castle College UHI

The new campaign is built around a website with the theme of Studying, Living and Playing in the Hebrides –

The new website aims to showcase the whole experience to remind islanders of what’s on their doorstep, to encourage people from afar to move here to enjoy the opportunities, and also to generate more students to study the huge range of courses on-line, an area where the Lews Castle College was a genuine pioneer 25 years ago. 

And tomorrow (Thursday July 16) there’s a Virtual Open Day giving prospective students the opportunity to connect with college staff from the comfort of their own homes - 9.30am to 4.30pm.

Emilia Marienfeld is a well-regarded fiddler and musician who won a scholarship to study in Uist for 2019/20 and has had to return to Germany.  She writes: “”I am from Germany and studying Applied Music at Lews Castle College.  Right now due to Covid-19,  I am stuck in Germany but this new website makes me feel connected to what's going on and highlights what a great place I have found the Hebrides to study in.  I made a great choice to come to the islands and I can’t wait to return.”

Barry Nisbet is going into his 4th year of studies with Lews Castle College and is already an established professional musician. He writes:  'I am based on the mainland and very much look forward to coming to the Hebrides for music residencies each year as part of my degree studies.  This new website reminds me of what an inspiring place the Hebrides is to study and what a warm welcome I have always had.”

Chloe Steele, pictured above, is just graduating from the Applied Music degree. She says: “I have been so fortunate to be able to stay on my home island of South Uist whilst studying for my music degree with Lews Castle College.  This new site is great and will help publicise and showcase all that is special about studying in the Hebrides.” 

Since completing her studies, Chloe Steele has been collaborating online with musicians in Ireland, and presented the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar online E-Ceilidh in June and continues to be employed in her Uist community teaching local children Gaelic song, piping and chanter with Fèis Tìr a' Mhurain. 

The Applied Music degree will launch the 2020-21 academic year with new accreditation from the Scottish Music Industry Association and a series of virtual residencies which will see students exploring new avenues for income generation through composing new music for sync and working remotely with a university in Finland on online collaboration.

Lews Castle College UHI offer a range of music courses including HNC Music as a foundation to the BA (Hons) Applied Music.  The MA Music and the Environment and the MRes Creative Practice are some of the progression opportunities available from BA Applied Music.

For the full range of courses, go to Lews Castle College UHI

Stornoway Rugby Club has become a rugby legend, after qualifying for a national awards scheme jointly run by Royal Bank of Scotland and Scottish Rugby.

The club has been awarded £250 and a support kit as part of the ‘Rugby Legend’ award level distributed from the annual Royal Bank RugbyForce scheme.

Royal Bank RugbyForce is a programme is designed to help clubs attract and retain members and develop their facilities, to play a bigger part of their community and be more sustainable for the future.

This year marks the 12th year of the programme and awards have been given to all eligible clubs that applied this year.

100 ‘legend’ clubs have been awarded, as well as champion clubs, star clubs and two hero clubs who were awarded the maximum level of £1,000 funding and a full events support package.

Funds will be released in the coming weeks to enable clubs to action their project plans as per their applications, covid safety permitting.

SYRFC’s AGM will take place on Monday 27 July using Zoom. Anyone wishing to join will find details posted on the club’s Facebook page at

The picture shows SYRFC under 15s after an epic win 63-0 against Lochaber U15’s in the Caledonian Cup, just before lockdown.


As a sign of the tensions between hospitality providers and their would-be customers as the coronavirus lockdown is unwound, hoteliers on Skye are this morning (Tuesday July 14) asking visitors to show their support for the struggling hospitality industry as they prepare to reopen their doors tomorrow and over the rest of this week.

Last week, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced a temporary reduction in VAT for the hospitality industry from 20% to 5% (excluding alcohol sales).

This has led to many potential customers asking businesses to pass on the VAT reduction through lower prices, says destination management organisation, SkyeConnect.

At an online meeting, yesterday, (Monday 13th) organised by SkyeConnect, hoteliers from Skye and Lochalsh called for a recognition that the VAT reduction was designed to support struggling businesses that have not been able to trade for four months.

They have also had to make significant investment in additional furnishings and new cleaning technologies and products to enable them to operate safely under Government guidelines. In addition, most businesses have had to reduce capacity in order to meet the social distancing guidelines as well as facing the shortest season on record.

After the meeting Gary Curley, Director of the Sligachan Hotel, which is pictured above, spoke for the destination management group in calling for greater understanding.

“Passing on the VAT reduction in prices to customers in an environment where social distancing has reduced business capacity and overheads have increased, may not be possible for some businesses.

"The hospitality sector has been hit hard by this crisis and prices that reflect the operational environment will likely be a key factor in many businesses ability to survive and make it through to 2021.”

Wednesday July 15: The destination management organisation for Skye and neighbouring areas has welcomed comments made by First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon at today’s Scottish Government Covid-19 briefing.

Yesterday, hoteliers on Skye asked visitors to show their support for the struggling hospitality industry. It followed several customer enquiries asking for hotels to reduce prices in line with the temporary VAT reduction announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

At today’s briefing, in response to a question from a BBC Journalist, the First Minister stated that the welcomed cut in VAT is designed to support businesses first and foremost, andasked that consumers should try to find ways to continue to support local businesses.

Cabinet Secretary, Fiona Hyslop followed this up by stating that it is for individual businesses to make their own decision on whether to pass on the VAT cut to customers.

A spokesman for SkyeConnect welcomed the statement. “This is a timely boost for the hospitality sector, coming on the day many businesses open their doors to customers for the first time in four months. Hotels, not just on Skye but across Scotland, have invested significantly in making their premises as safe as possible for visitors and staff. They have had little or no income this year and face the shortest summer season on record. This extra Government support in the form of a temporary VAT cut is welcome as our hospitality businesses strive to remain financially viable.”

A telephone befriending project is getting underway in a bid to combat the social isolation made worse by lockdown, as part of a community wellbeing drive by Point and Sandwick Trust.

Twelve befrienders – there could be more if anyone else with the right disposition wants to get involved – are going to be getting in regular touch with people in need of a friendly chat, following the completion of training with counselling expert Hereward Proops.

Among the 12 befrienders on board so far are four directors of Point and Sandwick Trust – chair Norman Mackenzie and board members Rhoda Mackenzie, Sonja Macleod and Catherine Anne Smith – as well as a cross-section of volunteers from the community, including Nicola Whittington, Donnie Taylor, Dene Campbell and Christine Macleod. 

Christine Macleod, living in Lower Bayble, said she became involved as a telephone befriender because the issue of community wellbeing was “close to my heart”.

Christine said: “Point and Sandwick Trust are doing amazing work within the community. I was asked by Donald John MacSween if I would like to be involved and my reply was a definite ‘yes’.

“I believe this will be an excellent service providing a listening ear to those who are most vulnerable in our community, ranging from the young to the older generation. 

“There is now a team of people involved in this project and we all bring our different skills to provide a confidential telephone befriending service covering from Sandwick to Portnaguran.”

The befriending project is part of Point and Sandwick Trust’s package of community support during the coronavirus crisis. It is being managed jointly with the Point and Sandwick Community Councils and follows the establishment of a grocery delivery service and a freshly cooked meals delivery service, with meals prepared by Chief Cook Donald Smith.

These projects have been funded by two significant grants – one from the Scottish Government’s Supporting Communities Fund, via Highlands and Islands Enterprise; the other from the Scottish Government’s Wellbeing Fund, via the Cora Foundation. 

Alasdair Nicholson, Point and Sandwick Trust’s community development consultant, who applied for the funding, is pleased to see the grants being put to such good use. 

He said: “The important thing is that people are given the type of assistance that they require.”

With safety and best practice in mind, Point and Sandwick Trust secured the services of Hereward Proops to train the befriending volunteers, as well as those working on the delivery service, on how to be good, supportive listeners. 

The volunteers took part in training sessions over Zoom, in which Hereward shared key principles such as active listening and open questioning and stressed the importance of communication skills in helping tackle social isolation.

Hereward said: “I think the befriending scheme is such a good thing in this community.”

He added: “I have huge concerns about social isolation on the island. I think it’s a big problem and I hope the befriending scheme runs on after locked is lifted so that people can have more face to face interaction because there are a lot of benefits from that. Zoom is useful, Skype is useful, but it shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for meaningful face to face contact.” 

Donald John MacSween, general manager of Point and Sandwick Trust, said: “I am really pleased by the number of people who have volunteered to become befrienders in the Point and Sandwick area. The project has attracted a diverse range of people in our community who are willing to undertake training and be supported in their role as befrienders.

“Although we live in a close-knit community we are aware that some people are very lonely and isolated, not just during the current pandemic, but also throughout the rest of the year because of poor health, age, social circumstances, lack of transport, family on the mainland and a host of other reasons. The aim of the project is to develop a light-touch befriending service to try to alleviate those issues of isolation and loneliness."

The 10th August marks one year since Michelle Macleod survived a cardiac arrest, after competing in the Harris Marathon. 

Being Michelle, she's not planning to celebrate sitting down, she's only covering 250km to raise funds for a new defibrillator.

Lifesaving charity Lucky2BHere say: "Let's show her our support:  "

It was back at the North Lewis 5k and 10k run on Saturday November 30th last year, with over 300 runners taking part over the two distances and the fun run, that the biggest cheer of the day went to Michelle, who crossed the finishing line hand-in-hand with dad Tony Robson and daughter Bethany. 

Michelle, a journalist and PR advisor, was the casualty at the Harris marathon in August, when she collapsed with a cardiac arrest at Leverburgh. She received emergency treatment at the scene from her GP sister Rebecca and other first responders, before being flown away to hospital in Glasgow.

After 12 weeks in hospital and essential surgery, she returned to Lewis and began campaigning actively on behalf of the charity Lucky2BHere, who supplied the AED (defibrillator) which was used to help save her life as rescuers battled to stabilise her at Leverburgh.

She’s now been fitted with a personal defibrillator and is back with her family, all of whom are committed to regular exercise.  Michelle said: “I don’t think I’ll be running any marathons any time soon, but I’m feeling great and I’m so thankful for everyone who helped me on that day.”

And she received a great welcome from onlookers in North Lewis, many of whom know her story and are full of admiration for her achievement, as her sister Geraldine said, “from coma to 5k in 16 weeks.”

Now she says: "I've been working on a 250km run/walk challenge over the last few months to raise funds for Lucky2BHere to install another defibrillator in Stornoway.

"I've been tracking my walks and journey back to running on Strava and Runkeeper and it's amazing how the miles have clocked up.

"So far (July 9) I have done 227km in 51 runs and walks.

"I want to complete my challenge before August 10th which will be the one year anniversary of my Sudden Cardiac Arrest after taking part in the Harris Marathon last year.

"I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the fast response of those there that day and the availability of a defibrillator.

"Wish me luck and any donations are very much appreciated! "


 Commitment to customer service in the face of the unprecedented demands of Coronavirus has earned CalMac customer service staff the highest level of accreditation

The helpfulness and professionalism of the 47-strong customer service team has won the much-coveted top-level quality assurance mark by the Contact Centre Association (CCA).

The association commended CalMac for its commitment to customer service, especially in the face of the coronavirus emergency. 

Rapid and regular changes to travel guidelines as the crisis developed pushed the customer team to its limits. Over March, April and May they processed nearly 30,000 refunds, actioned 12,000 emails and answered 11,000 social media enquiries.

The CCA assessors said staff were motivated and proud to work for the company, while being passionate about delivering high performance results and excellent standards of customer service.

They also praised CalMac's customer service culture, including commitment to continuous improvement, investment in staff training and development and a focus on keeping stakeholders informed of service changes and updates. 

CalMac’s commercial director, Diana Burke, said today (Monday 13 July): “The fact that we have achieved this recognition by a nationally recognised industry body in the middle of pandemic is quite an achievement for the team.

“They have performed magnificently across this emergency period, working tireless to ensure customers have a positive experience of CalMac even though we were in the unfortunate position of having to cancel their plans.

“This approach has certainly paid off, as demonstrated by the loyalty of our customers. We received more than 140,000 phone calls on the first day we reopened bookings, from passengers keen to come aboard again.”


The picture shows contact centre staff at Gourock with their ‘Stay home’ call during the height of the pandemic.


Churches of all denominations are making plans for a cautious return to communal worship, after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement last week that places of worship may re-open from Wednesday 15 July with restrictions and social distancing in place.

Speaking at Holyrood on Thursday, the First Minister announced the strict provisos. She said: “Numbers will be strictly limited, two metres physical distance will be required and there will also be a requirement to collect the contact details and time of attendance of those present. Singing and chanting will also be restricted.

“I hope that today’s announcement will be welcomed by all those for whom faith and worship is important and a source of comfort.”

Since the last week of March, churches have been reliant on social media and technological solutions to sharing worship, with live-streamed prayer and sermons, recorded messages from ministers and communal prayer on platforms such as Zoom.

Now the senior members of all congregations are working on the practical and spiritual issues around re-convening for worship and prayer, tackling issues as diverse as hand sanitiser, seat spacing and the taking of holy communion.

The Free Church of Scotland's Covid-19 group is meeting today (Monday 13 July) to review guidance before making recommendations to churches. Rev Ewen Matheson of Cross Free Church of Scotland told listeners to his sermon yesterday (Sunday 12 July) that the Kirk Session and Deacons’ Courts of Back and Cross Free Churches would meet tomorrow (Tuesday) to discuss practical details.

The Church of Scotland will be updating its existing guidelines during the next week. Rev Dr George Whyte, the Principal Clerk to the Church of Scotland, said on Thursday (9 July):

“As we continue to live with the threat of coronavirus, ministers and congregations must consider carefully whether or not they should return to the church building in these early phases, depending on their own circumstances and the nature of their church.

“Our guidance is designed to support those who will need to implement the changes and restrictions which will need to be put in place so that congregational worship, funerals and weddings can safely take place.

"Parishioners and ministers in high risk groups may be at particular risk from infection and many will prefer to continue with online worship options at this stage. Others will know that with physical distancing and a cap on numbers that there simply will not be room for all those who might wish to attend Sunday worship.

“However, we recognise that for many the buildings themselves are an important sacred space and the opportunity to return to their place of worship, even on a limited basis, will bring spiritual and mental-health benefits.”

For the Catholic community in Stornoway, Canon William Maclean announced on Sunday “Great news! We are going to be allowed to celebrate public masses as from this Wednesday, 15 July.”

Canon Maclean said there would be four masses on Saturday and Sunday at the Church of Our Holy Redeemer, but parishioners would notice numerous differences in worship.

Only 34 people can attend each mass, and there is an Eventbrite booking system in place especially for Sunday morning mass. Seats will be labelled red and green, with red seats to be left empty. Attenders will also be asked to leave their name and address for contact-tracing purposes when they attend.

In Barra, masses will resume next weekend on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19, but numbers inside the churches will be strictly limited. Parishioners must let priest-in-charge Canon John Paul MacKinnon know if they plan to attend so a seat can be allocated.

Canon John Paul said: “Unfortunately you cannot just turn up as normal and take any seat. If you don't feel comfortable attending Mass at the moment, then there is no obligation for you to do so. An alternative will be to attend one of the weekday Masses which will restart after next weekend and are likely to be quieter.

“Face coverings must be worn while attending Mass (just as they must be in shops and on public transport). The exemptions that apply elsewhere, also apply in church. All other hygiene and safety rules must also be followed - volunteers will be on hand to help keep you right. 

“We appreciate there's a lot to take in but all of these changes are in place to help keep everyone safe and to beat this awful virus.”

Canon John Paul can be contacted by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone on 01871 810267.


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

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


New polycrub, Northton

Susan Ward of Northton Beach Croft, 24 Northton, has applied for planning permission to erect a polycrub at 24 Northton. The polycrub is to be 8 metres long, 4 metres wide, 3 metres high.


New garage

Dougie Ferguson of 17 Kyles, Scalpay, has applied for planning permission to erect a large garage with granny annex in the roof space above at 17 Kyles, Scalpay.

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

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


New garage, Sandwick

Iain Macdonald of 19A North Street, Sandwick has applied for planning permission to erect a garage at 19A North Street, Sandwick.


New access and hardstanding, Coll

Sean Macleod of Kames House, Hill Street, North Tolsta has applied for planning permission to create a new access and a hardstanding at 47B Coll.


Steel container, Barvas

Jonathan Smith of 15 Upper Shader has applied for planning permission to site a 20 foot steel container at Barvas Community Association Community Centre.


New polycrub, Point

Gareth Gentles of 10 Shulishader, Point, has applied for planning permission to erect a polycrub at 10 Shulishader, Point. The polycrub is to be 12.78 metres long, 4.204 wide and 2.612 metres tall.

Bird-spotters in the Western Isles have been seeing life with a rosy tint over recent weeks as a rare visitor is spotted at a number of locations around the isles.

Rose-coloured starlings have been spotted since the start of July in Carinish, North Uist, in Vatersay and at locations in North Lewis including Mangersta and Cross, Ness.

They usually breed in the steppes and arid lands of central Asia and south-eastern Europe, anywhere from Mongolia to Afghanistan and Iran. A rare sight anywhere in the UK, the birds have been spotted in several British locations this summer.

The distance they have travelled to reach the Western Isles could have been fuelled by a glut of their favourite food, locusts, in Armenia. Eruptions of the visitors well outside their normal range are noted in years when insects are abundant and they enjoy open grassland feeding areas such as the isles provide.

The various locations logged in the Western Isles demonstrate a relatively long stay here, with the first confirmed sightings back in June.

Pictures of the rose-coloured starling are by Steve Duffield (Western Isles Wildlife) and John Kemp.


New visiting arrangements will be in place from tomorrow (Monday July 13) across all hospitals in the Western Isles.

All NHS hospitals across Scotland are starting to allow people to visit patients in hospital. However, people who are unwell in hospital are vulnerable and at higher risk from COVID-19 than people who are well. Therefore, visits will have to be managed carefully.

Each patient in hospital will be invited to nominate one Designated Visitor for the duration of their admission to hospital. A Designated Visitor is someone chosen by the patient to be their named visitor. This may be their spouse, next of kin or friend. It is recommended that this person is also the main contact for communication.

Please note that you can only be the Designated Visitor for one patient, and you must only visit that one patient whilst you are in the hospital within your allocated slot.

Visiting will be arranged with the Designated Visitor via the NHS Western Isles Visiting Coordinator.

Visiting will be by pre-arranged appointment only to ensure the number of people in clinical areas is kept to a minimum at any one time. Those patients who require more frequent visiting (for example children, those with a learning disability or anyone in High Dependency) will be able to do so, by special arrangement with the Ward Senior Charge Nurse.

Until further notice, visits will be limited to half-an-hour to ensure all patients have the opportunity to receive visits, and to permit the necessary cleaning between visits. Visiting will take place for a limited period in the afternoon until further notice.

An NHS Western Isles spokesperson said: “To protect our patients and staff, it is important that you do not visit if you have been feeling unwell in any way, if you have any symptoms of COVID-19, or if you have been self isolating, or have been in contact with anyone with COVID-19. For this reason, a Visiting Coordinator will conduct a wellness check with you over the phone prior to arranging your visit.

“It is essential that you arrive at the hospital main entrance at your allocated visiting time, and we ask that you use the hand sanitizer and face mask provided at the hospital. You will be provided with a Visiting leaflet and will either be escorted or directed to the ward you are visiting. It is also important that you maintain the appropriate distance of two metres wherever possible, even if the patient you are visiting has previously been in your household or social bubble.”

NHS Western Isles would also point out that Virtual Visiting remains in place as an option to visit friends/relatives in all our hospitals.

If you have been selected as a Designated Visitor by a patient in hospital, our Visiting Coordinator will be in touch with you.

If you would like to arrange a Virtual Visit or have been named as a Designated Visitor and have not been contacted to arrange a visit, please contact 01851 708205 from Monday onwards.


Police Scotland has launched its annual summer campaign to ensure the safety of motorcyclists, with a weekend of action across Scotland between 10 and 12 July). 

Motorcyclists are among the most vulnerable road users and, while they make up just one per cent of traffic on our roads, they account for around 13 per cent of fatalities. In summer, motorcycle safety is to the fore as riders take their bikes out in good weather.

This weekend road policing officers are urging motorists to be extra vigilant for motorcycles, ensuring they give sufficient room when following or overtaking bikers and checking for motorcycles when moving off, or emerging from junctions.

Riders also have an important role to play in ensuring their own safety by travelling at safe speeds for the road, weather and traffic conditions. They should also wear high-visibility clothing, a helmet and other appropriate attire.

Superintendent Simon Bradshaw of Police Scotland’s road policing division said: “As we have seen in the past few weeks, Scotland has experienced some glorious weather, and similar dry and sunny spells are expected throughout the rest of the summer.

“This means that increased traffic on our roads is likely, including a larger number of motorcyclists.

“With that in mind, it is essential that all drivers are mindful of other road users and pay particular attention for motorbikes. Likewise, they must ensure their behaviour behind the wheel does not put riders, or anyone else, at risk.

“Motorcyclists must also play their part in keeping themselves safe and I would urge motorcyclists to always ride responsibly, ensuring they wear all the necessary safety clothing and travel at safe speeds, appropriate to the conditions they face.

“Road policing officers will continue to monitor the road network across the country and any offences we observe will be dealt with appropriately, be it educating drivers and riders or taking enforcement action.

"Please help us in our efforts to reduce road casualties and fatalities by taking all relevant safety precautions when driving or riding.”

Physical distancing guidelines mean that there were no large-scale public events during this year’s weekend of action, but anyone wishing to obtain information on how they can stay safe on Scotland’s roads should access the road safety information and guidance at  or

Seven-year-old Uisdean Macritchie, from Carishader in Uig, has decided to spend his 8th birthday, on Tuesday 14 July, cycling a 12km loop of the Valtos peninsula in aid of the RNLI.

His JustGiving page set the target of £100 and is already showing a total of £932 raised, without including the cash donations added by neighbours and relatives.

The challenge is all Uisdean’s own idea. Mum Tina Macritchie said: “Uisdean has been wanting to do something worthwhile since lockdown started and we are very proud of him for coming up with this idea all by himself. He would like to thank everyone for their generous support and good wishes and he is looking forward to doing the cycle whatever the weather.”

Uisdean will be on the road on Tuesday 14 July, setting out from his home at Carishader and doing a loop around the Valtos peninsula clockwise, ending at the doctor’s surgery.

The picture shows Uisdean getting some training in for his birthday cycle on the roads near his home.


Seisean HebCelt / HebCelt Sessions is a programme of short film sessions which will see a variety of leading performers creating new work for HebCelt festival week. 

Each song commission lasts for approximately five minutes, with the film running for approximately 30 minutes. They will be streamed across the festival’s YouTube, Facebook and Instagram channels.

Wednesday, 15th July, 8pm

Freumhan / Roots

New pipe tunes composed by Calum Alex Macmillan and James D Mackenzie with accompaniment from Norrie MacIver.  Freumhan was commissioned for the festival's 25th anniversary event as a celebration of Lewis: locals, landscapes, legends and life and this tune selection is drawn from that project.

“We are enjoying the time writing the music for the commission and can't wait to meet up in person to pull the various elements together and for performing it live in 2021, but we're delighted that we are able to share this first set for you on the week that HebCelt would have been taking place.”

Thursday, 16th July, 8pm


Julie Fowlis is at the helm of this song commission with puirt à beul selection (mouth music - song for dance) involving 16 performers; singers, musicians and dancers including Julie, Kathleen Macinnes, Cathy Ann Macphee, Eilidh and Fiona Mackenzie, Alyth McCormack, Anna Murray, Ceitlin Lilidh, Josie Duncan, Éamon Doorley, Alex Tearse, Jane Hepburn Macmillan, Innes White, James D Mackenzie and dancers Jayne Macleod and Sophie Stephenson.

“I was delighted to be invited by HebCelt to put this project together, everyone involved gave such a lot of their time and energy. Despite the obvious challenges of recording and filming fifteen performers throughout Scotland, Ireland and Canada during lockdown, this has been a joy to create!  I hope this joy comes across in the film".

Friday, 17th July, 8pm

Only the Brave

For his commission Colin MacLeod selected ‘Only the Brave’ an anthemic Rory Macdonald (Runrig) song.  This video features Colin with Rory Macdonald and Julie Fowlis on vocals with musicians including Jason Laing, Sorren Maclean, Scott Macleod, Keith Morrison, Jane Hepburn Macmillan, members of Niteworks, and a ‘choir’ of local voices; Willie Campbell, Rosie Sullivan, Josie Duncan and Sean Harrison.

“I’m really beyond chuffed to be singing my favourite Runrig song with Rory, it’s not often in life you get to sing alongside your heroes. Just a fantastic project and 'so proud to have it all come together. I’d like to say a huge thanks to all who came together and put in the time to be a part of this project, and to HebCelt for thinking of me to be a part of it.  Its gone way better than I ever imagined and I just can’t wait for everyone to hear it.”

Saturday, 18th July, 10pm

HebCelt: Film by Daibhidh Martin looking back at what makes the festival special to fans and artists alike. Includes footage and interviews gathered over the years including some lockdown interviews from Julie Fowlis, Alasdair White, Norrie Maciver, Kim Carnie, Ceitlin Lilidh to bring it up to date.  Featuring a flavour of music from Elephant Sessions, Tide Lines, Peat & Diesel, Eddi Reader, Face the West, Manran, Breabach and Beinn Lee against the fabulous backdrop of the festival and our wonderful audience.

A youngster from Uig in West Lewis has decided to test his own endurance with a fundraising feat well beyond his years.

Seven-year-old Uisdean Macritchie, from Carishader, has decided to give up his 8th birthday, on Tuesday 14 July, to cycle a 12km loop of the Valtos peninsula in aid of the RNLI.

It’s a first for Uisdean, and he’s impressed people so much that he’s already raised ten times the amount he set out to do.

His JustGiving page at set the target at £100 and is already (11pm Saturday July 11) showing a total of £1022 raised, without including the cash donations added by neighbours and relatives.

The mammoth cycle ride is all Uisdean’s own idea.

Mum Tina said: “Uisdean has been wanting to do something worthwhile since lockdown started and we are very proud of him for coming up with this idea all by himself.

"He would like to thank everyone for their generous support and good wishes and he is looking forward to doing the cycle whatever the weather.”

Uisdean will be on the road on Tuesday 14 July, setting out from his home at Carishader and doing a loop around the Valtos peninsula clockwise, ending at the doctor’s surgery.

The pictures show Uisdean getting some training in for his birthday cycle on the roads near his home.


Our first week back in Perceval Square, I think it went reasonably well and it was nice to be back.

We will be doing the same again this week, so if you could have your orders in before 12.30 on Monday and we will do Deliveries on Wednesday and pick ups at the Stall on Thursdays.

Below is this week's Price List.

In this week we have Scottish Tomatoes, Cherries, Blueberries, Bunched Carrots, Corn on the Cob as well as all our usual Fruit and Veg

Enjoy your Weekend and Thank You!

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

Or call 07771 645238 to place your order



Price Each










Butternut Squash  




Round Green Cabbage




Celeriac (UK)




Celery (UK)




Garlic (Large)




Local Bay leaves, Goathill Road




New Season, Bunched Carrots, come with Ferns, approx. Weight 500grms




White Cabbage




Corn on Cob each





Price Per KG


Broccoli (UK)




Bunched Beetroot




















Onions (Red)




Cyprus Potatoes




New Season Pembrokeshire Potatoes





Jersey Royals




Ayrshire New Season Epicure








Swede (Scottish New Season)




Sweet Potato






Price Each


Little Gem (x2)




Cos Lettuce








Spring Onions






Price Per KG


Peppers (Mixed Red, Green, and yellow)




Tomato (Cherry on Vine)




Plum Tomatoes




Scottish Tomatoes










Price Each


Blueberries   120gr Punnet, possible doubt on supply




Flat (Doughnut) Peaches


3 for £1.75


New Season Nectarines


3 for £2.10


Gala Apples


4 for £1.80


Red Delicious


4 for £1.80




4 for £1.50








4 for £1.50






Kiwi Fruit












Oranges Large                 


3 for £2.10




3 for £1.80




4 for £1.50


Yellow Melon






Price per Kg






Chillies Red




Green Jalapeños








Green Seedless Grapes




Red Seedless Grapes












Local Marmalade. 340grm

Three Fruit marmalade,

Orange and Lemon


Hint of Ginger

Mixed Berry

Rhubarb jam

Rhubarb and Strawberry


Strawberry Jam

Raspberry Jam



























Per Cake,


4 Plain Scones






Per Packet


Hebridean Tablet




Local Eggs ½ Dozen

(Supply can be limited)




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

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


New agricultural shed, North Uist

R&J Fraser Crofting has applied for planning permission to erect a new agricultural shed at 12A Kallin, Grimsay, Isle of North Uist. The shed is to be 10 metres long, 7 metres wide and 4 metres tall. Work is to include extending the current agricultural track. 

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

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


Change of use of land, Eoligarry

Highlands and Islands Airports Limited has applied for planning permission to change the use of land from agriculture to extension of airport operational land. Work will also include the erection of a 10-metre mast and installation of navigational antenna and the siting of a portable building at Common Grazings, Eoligarry, Isle of Barra.

The Outer Hebrides is not just a place to live and a place to visit, it’s a place to study - both actually on the islands and on-line from the Islands.

That’s the message of a new publicity campaign organised by Lews Castle College in the wake of the cancellation of the Hebridean Cetlic Festival in 2020.

Normally the college makes a special effort to remind the tens of thousands of festival-goers about the opportunities it offers both for studying by people who live here - and those from far away.

Indeed, people come from all over the world to study at the college as they do to come to the Festival - and they are often attracted by the music and arts opportunities in both cases as well.

The Hebridean Celtic Festival commented: "This serves as a reminder of the far reaching support HebCelt offers its community, sadly missing this year!"

The new campaign is built around a website with the theme of Studying, Living and Playing in the Hebrides -

The new website aims to showcase the whole experience to remind islanders of what’s on their doorstep, to encourage people from afar to move here to enjoy the opportunities, and also to generate more students to study the huge range of courses on-line, an area where the Lews Castle College was a genuine pioneer 25 years ago. 

And on Thursday July 16 there’s a Virtual Open Day giving prospective students the opportunity to connect with college staff from the comfort of their own homes - 9.30am to 4.30pm.
APOLOGY - the website link included originally in this article three paragraphs above here was inoperative.  This has now been corrected.

Tonight at 9pm, An Cèilidh Mòr will premiere on Cèolas Facebook and Youtube accounts.

Please help Cèolas in sharing and engaging, and if you'd like, you can donate towards our work via #GoFundMe here.

Cèolas have got quite a treat for you tonight and they're sure you'll enjoy it!

Running just over an hour, pour yourself a dram after Na Dùrachdan and enjoy the best of Gàidhealach music and dance hosted by Uist’s own Alana MacInnes.

Performances include:

  • Cathy Ann MacPhee
  • Allan MacDonald
  • Calum Ailig MacMillan
  • Frank McConnell
  • Stan Chapman
  • Angus Nicolson
  • Ingrid Henderson
  • Iain MacFarlane
  • Mary MacMillan
  • Seonaidh MacIntyre
  • Mìcheal Steele
  • Sarah Hoy
  • Fin Moore
  • Gabe  McVarish
  • Alana MacInnes
  • Shona Masson
  • Jayne MacLeod
  • Shelly Campbell
  • Tory MacGillivray
  • John Pellerin
  • Ruairidh Gray

An Cèilidh Mòr, which has been edited and mastered by Hamish MacLeod, will also premiere on BBC ALBA on Friday 17 July.

Monitoring work undertaken on behalf of Food Standards Scotland has identified raised levels of shellfish toxins in Loch Leurbost in Lewis and Loch Seaforth, East Loch Tarbert and Sound of Scalpay in Harris, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar announced today (Friday July 10).

Yesterday a similar announcement was made about West Loch Roag - Miavaig and Eilean Tenish in Lewis.

Eating shellfish such as mussels, cockles, or razor fish from these areas may pose a risk to human health and notices to warn the public and casual gatherers will be posted at various locations on the shore.

Commercial shellfish harvesters in these areas have been contacted by the Comhairle and steps taken to postpone harvesting until algae levels subside.

It is a sensible precaution to avoid eating shellfish from these areas until further notice.

The Comhairle is monitoring the situation and will remove warning notices when it improves.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is reinstating the parking charges in Stornoway Town Centre from Monday 20th July.

The Comhairle had suspended charging for parking in the Stornoway Town Centre in April due to the COVID-19 restrictions which were in place.

As restrictions are now being relaxed, and there is a noticeably increased demand for parking in the Town Centre, the reinstatement of parking charges will ensure that there is short term parking available for those who need it.


Good news on jobs in the crofting sector in the Western Isles has exposed divisions between island communities.

Orkney and Shetland’s Liberal Democrat MSPs have criticised the Crofting Commission’s ‘one size fits all’ approach to supporting crofting communities.

On Wednesday Rural Economy secretary Fergus Ewing MSP announced that the Scottish Government were to invest £325,000 in expanding the work of the Crofting Commission in the Western Isles.

The investment includes four new jobs in Stornoway and Benbecula and was welcomed by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and isles MSP Alasdair Allan, among others, as we reported on Wednesday ( .

Scottish Crofting Federation vice-chair Donald MacKinnon described the investment as ‘a crucial and timely initiative’ and said: “It makes sense to have the commission staff located where most crofts are, the Western Isles. But in time we would want to see this model emulated in other crofting areas too.”

Orkney and Shetland MSPs responded to the news by saying that more emphasis is needed on ensuring crofting legislation is fit for purpose for all island communities.

Orkney MSP Liam MacArthur said: “As Scottish Ministers agree to plough £325k into creating crofting posts in the Western Isles, they cannot continue to ignore the need for reform in the way crofting regulation applies across the crofting counties.

“A one-size-fits-all approach is manifestly failing to take account of the significant differences in the circumstances facing crofters in Orkney compared to those in the Western Isles and other parts of the Highlands.”

And Shetland’s Beatrice Wishart MSP said: “The current framework for crofters can work against them. A one-size-fits-all approach is short sighted – local realities are obviously very different in Shetland compared to the mainland.

“This announcement appears to recognise that, but the Scottish Government now need to follow that logic through and commit to wholehearted reform.”

Picture: Crofting in Orkney can be very different to the situation in the Western Isles (Scottish Organic Producers Association).


Aquaculture equipment and technology supply partner Gael Force Group, originally founded in Stornoway almost 40 years ago, has announced new appointments to its board of directors as it implements an ambitious new 5-year strategy to grow into a world class supply partner in the global finfish aquaculture sector.

The implementation of the new strategy comes on the back of an incredible period of growth which saw sales climb from £17.1m in 2016 to £41.5m in 2019.  Successful delivery of the strategy is expected to lead to a similar rate of growth as the previous 4 years, with more than a doubling of sales and its workforce over the 5-year period.

Gael Force was founded by Stewart Graham in 1983. The business currently employs more than 250 people across Scotland, England and Canada. Gael Force’s locations include head office and engineering facility in Inverness, Forres, Fort William, Glasgow, Grand Falls-Windsor (Newfoundland and Labrador), Kishorn, Oban, Plymouth and Stornoway.

Retiring this September from Gael Force Fusion after nearly 20 years of service is Operations Director Iain Forbes.  Mr Forbes said, “I am certain that the company will continue to go from strength to strength in the forthcoming years and that it is clearly in the very best of hands. I wish everyone at Gael Force Group all the very best in the next exciting chapter of the business.”

Company founder and Group Managing Director Stewart Graham said, “Iain leaves behind a tremendous legacy in the aquaculture sector, to Argyll and the west coast of Scotland as well as a team and ownership which will see the company develop and grow further into the future. It truly feels like the end of one era and the beginning of another.”

Group Sales Director Jamie Young and Group Production Director Stephen Offord have both been promoted to the Gael Force Group board and will play key senior roles in driving the new 5-year strategy.

New Group Finance Director Robert Foster who has joined the Group from Halliburton, replaces the outgoing Tim Phillips, who is retiring after almost 8 years of service with Gael Force.  Robert Foster commented, “It’s clear that Gael Force are an extremely successful and ambitious company and I look forward to supporting the business in delivering on its strategy through focusing on delivering excellence, innovation and quality assurance to our customers.”

Outgoing Finance Director Tim Phillips commented, “I can honestly say that there has not been one day in my spell at Gael Force when I haven’t felt better from virtually every interaction I’ve had.” 

He added, “There’s a lot of lip service paid in the wider world to customer focus and the rest, but here I’ve never felt that it’s anything other than the blood that runs through us. Serving our customers is the beginning and the end.”

Stewart Graham added, “Despite the challenges created by Covid-19, a strong hand on the tiller has ensured a steady course for Gael Force throughout the pandemic.

"The exemplary commitment and leadership I have seen across the company during these challenging times means that the business continues to perform strongly.  We move forward with every confidence that our new strategic aims and ambitions to be world class, will provide us with a stronger footing to be even more competitive, more innovative and value adding to the market and uphold our reputation for being a trusted partner to our long standing customers, both in Scotland, Canada and in our target export markets.”

Pictured right to left, Robert Foster (Group Finance Director), Jamie Young (Group Sales Director), Stephen Offord (Group Production Director).

The Gael Force works and office in Island Road, Stornoway

Stewart Graham, Group Managing Director.

Gael Force SeaFeed Feeding System in action on a fish farm in Orkney.


Dermatology Specialist Nurse, Angela Woodley, has been successfully shortlisted at the RCNi Nurse Awards 2020, which is widely regarded as the highest accolade for nurses in the UK, NHS Western Isles says.

Angela was nominated in the category ‘Innovations in your Specialty Award’ for her commitment to the dermatology service redesign delivered last year, which itself is a great indictment of her dedication and enthusiasm.

Qualifying as a nurse 30 years ago, Angela began her employment with NHS Western Isles in 2006, first working on Erisort Ward for five years, before working simultaneously as part-time Dermatology Liaison Nurse, Occupational Health Nurse, and as a Call Centre Nursing Advisor with NHS 24.

Angela, said “I am honestly astounded at not only being nominated, but to have been shortlisted for this award.”

Iain Trayner, NHS Western Isles Technology Enabled Care (TEC) Project Manager, who nominated Angela for the award said, “As the dermatology service lead, Angela vets all referrals, performs complex diagnostics, delivers multiple complex therapies and initiates medication and treatment plans.

“Under her lead, waiting time breaches for urgent referrals to the service have gone from 55% to zero. In addition, weekly rather than monthly clinics are improving outcomes for patients with suspected cancer, and all patients are put on a treatment plan within a week of referral.

"Her patient satisfaction questionnaires are all positive, with patients reporting that they feel listened to, appropriately treated and reassured.  Her use of tele-dermatology has allowed for further education of nurse and referring GPs as all results are fed back with images and comments, thus reducing future referrals.”

Angela added, “I couldn’t have achieved the service redesign without the support of Iain and the rest of the TEC Team – they have the ‘know how’ to make things happen. 

"With further support from the Western Isles Health Board, doctors Pete Greenstock and Kate Dawson, the dermatology service continues to develop.  In addition, the team at the Western Isles Hospital’s Outpatients Department (my ‘work family’) have always been so supportive and encouraging, having more faith in me than I do!”

She continued, “Since the announcement of being shortlisted, I have already been tweeted congratulations by Sandra Lawton OBE, Queen’s Nurse and Nurse Consultant Dermatology, the British Dermatological Nursing Society and, which is an absolute thrill to be acknowledged by my dermatology peers!”

William Findlay, NHS Western Isles Nurse/AHP Director and Chief Operating Officer, said, “We are very proud of Angela’s achievements.  She has transformed a limited dermatology service into one that is outstanding and person-centred through clinical leadership, co-designing improvements with patients, and using technology from the United States for our remote islands.”

“In addition, Angela has engaged to a level above and beyond her position.  She has undertaken advanced training (Masters level) in Dermatology and has now completed her second year with a distinction award. She has become an accomplished, advanced independent practitioner in dermatology who can now better serve our local community.”

Organised by RCNi on behalf of the Royal College of Nursing, the awards celebrate the best of nursing and present an unparalleled opportunity for attendees to network and share nursing and healthcare innovations.  Winners will be announced at a virtual award ceremony later in the year.



As the dizzying pace of 'unlockdown' continues to unfold, CalMac Ferries have stated the following:

Following discussions with Transport Scotland, we are pleased to update that from today Friday 10 July customers will be able to book travel within a rolling 4-week period.

For example:

Date and time

Period in which customers will be able to book travel online

11 July at 9am

12 July - 9 August

12 July at 9am

13 July - 10 August

13 July at 9am

14 July - 11 August - and so on

We will soon be able to open bookings for the remainder of the season - up to 18 October. We will update our customers when we have more information to share. 

What this change means for our capacity

When bookings reopen each day, there are customer reservations already in the system, which were made before our bookings closed earlier this year. This, together with the implementation of the latest physical distancing guidelines means we still have less capacity than we would have in 'normal' circumstances.

Changes to bookings

If we need to make changes to a reservation, we will contact you directly four weeks before your sailing. We will only make amendments where we have to - based on capacity constraints.

Changes to physical distancing

The Scottish Government has today provided an update on physical distancing. Two metres will be retained as the default physical distancing requirement in Scotland - however from 10 July, some areas of public transport can move to a 1m rule where strict conditions and mitigations are in place.

We have assessed the effect of a reduction in social distancing to 1m on our vessels. We have incorporated this into our fleet capacity in line with official guidelines.  

Moving to 1m is a significant change will result in more capacity being released across our network - however, things won't go back to 'normal'. Although the number of passengers we can carry will increase, the capacity per vessel will still be limited.  

Changes to how you sail with CalMac 

Some of our familiar processes have changed. Take a look at our guide on how to prepare and plan ahead for your journey with us - which includes wearing a face covering when travelling with us, and when in our port offices, unless exempt.

You can also find out more about the other health and safety measures we are implementing to help keep everyone safe in our FAQs.

Finally, it's crucial to remember that when you sail with us, you do so safely. Please always follow safety advice to help protect each other, the islands and the communities CalMac serves.

Stay up to date with the latest travel advice and guidance via our regularly updated FAQs.


A young runner from Ness has found a way to stretch herself throughout the summer – by running two miles a day for 50 days - all in aid of Sporsnis and Western Isles Support for Cats and Kittens (WISCK). (You can donate here.)

10-year-old Catherine Donner of North Dell is already a keen runner, but she’s pulling out all the stops with her 100-mile challenge to support the two local initiatives close to her heart.

She’s set herself the target of raising £500 to help put a new roof on Sporsnis, her local community and leisure facility. Sharing the total will be the island-based cat rescue group WISCK.

Her regular beat is around the cliff-top and crofts near her home. The traditional loop round the castle grounds in Stornoway is also an option, and she’ll be running every day after school even after the new term starts. 

Taking turns at running with Catherine are parents Kevin, an Openreach engineer and Gemma Donner, who’s a weaver and celebration cake-baker. Brothers William, 14 and Benji, 7 sometimes run along too, as does the family dog Cuilean, who doesn’t always stay on course, according to Catherine’s running blog.

On Saturday (4 July) Catherine ran the virtual one-mile for Stornoway Running and Athletics Club ‘very fast’ and said: “We might have run faster but our dog followed us up the road so we had to take her back.”

Catherine is nearly two weeks into her challenge, and plenty of runners will identify with her tales of stepping in sheep poop, turning an ankle on uneven ground and choosing the wrong clothes to run in.

On Monday (6 July) Catherine wrote: “I struggled to make myself go out today. I was worn out and the weather was wet. Cuilean met her doggy friend, Oscar. On the way back we found a black lamb which was stuck in a fence. My mum helped get him out. I’m glad I went out but I wish I wore leggings because my legs were numb.”

The whole family will be supporting Catherine on her run on Tuesday (14 July) when she’ll still push herself to get in the miles – even though it’s her 11th birthday!

You can support Catherine’s mammoth effort and help the good causes she’s chosen at her JustGiving page. You can also view a film of her running and follow her daily blog here.

Catherine’s keeping a close eye on the total raised and said: “Thank you to everyone who has donated so far, it’s made me excited to complete the challenge and I feel like we can do this.”

The pictures show Catherine on her cliff-top route and at home (Kevin Donner).

It will be permissible for places of worship to hold services after 15 July as the process of unlockdown continues.

The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made the announcement to the Scottish Parliament today (Thursday July 9) that places of worship could re-open for congregational services, communal prayer and contemplation with physical distancing and limited numbers.

Alasdair Allan MSP said: “The place of faith in the life of many people in the Western Isles is of deep importance.  It has been a strange and completely unprecedented situation to have churches and other places of worship closed for four months.

"I know that today’s announcement that public worship will be possible again after 15 July will be a very welcome one, not least to many people who have contacted me about this issue. I have raised the issue with government, as I know have many of my colleagues.

 “Obviously there will have to be continuing rules about social distancing, including the taking of names at the door of places of worship. There are good reasons for this, which people will appreciate, as everyone wants to be able to trace quickly the contacts of anyone in future who shows symptoms of Covid 19.

“Churches and faith communities have overwhelmingly been very understanding of the reasons for the current restrictions, which have applied to all large public indoor gatherings. I know that, as the virus begins to be brought under control in Scotland, people in the islands want to move cautiously on a slow road out of lockdown.  Ensuring people’s right to public worship is an important part of that.”

And UKHospitality has welcomed today’s announcement on the reopening of Scotland’s hospitality sector.

The First Minister confirmed today that the country will enter phase three of lockdown tomorrow with indoor areas of pubs, restaurants and holiday accommodation opening on 15 July, subject to conditions. Scottish Government guidance on these is expected to be published tomorrow (Friday 10 July).

Indoor hospitality will be granted an exemption from the two-metre social distancing rule, depending on the implementation of mitigating measures such as clear information, revised seating plans and improved ventilation.

UKHospitality Executive Director for Scotland Willie Macleod said: “This is great news for hospitality and tourism in Scotland. Venues will be eager to open their doors and welcome customers once again. Many of them will have learned valuable lessons this week opening up their outdoor areas and they will feel confident they can keep staff and customers secure.

“The additional flexibility around social distancing will be a huge help for businesses that need as much support as they can get. Venues will be diligent in their preparations and every step will be taken to ensure staff and customers are safe.



Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is urging eligible local businesses who have not applied as yet to apply for Government-funded coronavirus support grants ahead of the cut-off tomorrow, Friday 10th July 5pm.

The Scottish Government’s Coronavirus Business Support Scheme opened for applications at the end of March and to date over £8 million has been paid out to businesses in the Western Isles.  

The government has brought forward the deadline for submission of applications to 10 July 2020.  Eligible businesses must ensure that applications are submitted before this date.

 There are 3 categories of grant, aimed at supporting businesses during this period, through protecting jobs, preventing closure and assisting with recovery:

 Small Business – grants of £10,000 or £7,500 are available to businesses in receipt of specific categories of rates relief.

 Retail, Hospitality and Leisure – grants of £25,000 or £18,750 for businesses with properties in these sectors and with Rateable Values in a specified range.

Tenants of ratepayers of business properties, where they can show that a lease is in place, staff are employed and that they have a business bank account.

Details of all the grants are available at




Stag Bakeries in Stornoway is today (Thursday July 9) named Scotland's Customer Choice Wholesale Baker of the Year having received more than 750 votes from its customers

More than 14,000 bakery customers in Scotland still voted for their favourite baker in the event organised by Scottish Bakers, the industry organisation with over 200 bakery members Scotland-wide.

Daniel Smith of Stag said, “This means the world to us, thank you so much, we are absolutely delighted with that. It is going to mean so much to our staff, they will be so proud. And I can’t thank our customers enough, it is wonderful to know that so many of them rate us their favourite Wholesale Baker.

"We are really touched so thanks to everyone who took the time to vote for us and we are looking forward to continuing to serve our community with freshly baked, quality produce for many more years to come.”

Scottish Bakers ambassador and star baker in her own right, Mich Turner MBE said, “It’s not just for our daily bread that we rely on our local bakers and who doesn’t love a tasty treat, perfect pie or super sausage roll so to be able to celebrate the success of our winners today is wonderful.”

The competition runs every year to help find the best bakers in Scotland and the 2020 competition, which got off to a great start in February before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, saw the first ever “Customer Choice” awards.

Shoppers simply voted for their favourite baker and from these was identified a “Customer Choice” winner in each of the four business categories; Craft Baker, Retail Craft Baker, Wholesale Baker and Bakery Café.

Mich Turner said, “I am delighted to announce the winners today and bring some sense of celebration back to the great Scottish Bakers family. And as lockdown eases, we’re asking consumers everywhere, if you haven’t shopped in your local baker for a while, perhaps now is the time to pay a visit and try some of their fantastic fresh bakes. Each product you buy helps recognise the hard work and skill of your favourite local baker and to help their businesses bounce back.”

Alasdair Smith of Scottish Bakers, who organise the competition, says, “We are delighted to have been able to give the public a say in 2020 with our new Customer Choice awards. It was a great opportunity for Scottish bakers to reach out to their customers and communities and get people buzzing about great, traditional Scottish baking. Stag Bakeries are a worthy winner of the Customer Choice Wholesale Baker of the Year award sponsored by Rondo.”

Scottish Bakers has been supporting and protecting the interests of Scotland's bakery trade for almost 130 years.  Scottish Bakers core purpose is to promote and protect the interests of the trade; representing, advising and supporting all aspects of Scotland's baking industry to ensure it remains competitive and equipped for growth.

Scottish Bakers manages both The World Championship Scotch Pie Awards and The Scottish Baker of the Year Awards each year to recognise and celebrate excellence in the sector.

Muaitheabhal Community Windfarm Trust and local councillors, through their ward funds, have enabled Care Homes to re-introduce visiting through the purchase of equipment which is making socially distanced outdoor visiting possible.

Head of Community Care Jack Libby expressed his thanks. "Friday was a very special day for care home residents and their loved ones, made all the more special by the enhanced visiting facilities available through this funding which went towards the purchase of garden furniture, gazebos and awnings."

Chairperson of the Muaitheabhal Community Windfarm Trust Iain MacIver said: “The Muaitheabhal Trustees are united in our desire to offer help to better the lives of those who find themselves in care during such challenging and worrying times.

"By offering help from the fund we hope that, in however small a way, the money can be used to safely add to the quality of comfort and care for residents. We hope that is to their benefit and also for those on whose care they rely.”


Shadow Finance Secretary Donald Cameron has welcomed the UK Government’s VAT cut for the hospitality and tourism sector describing it as “significant boost” for the economic  prospects of the Western Isles which is heavily dependent on tourism.

Mr Cameron, a Highlands and Islands MSP said: “The Chancellor’s initiative on VAT is a significant boost for the Western Isles where an estimated 2,300 jobs are linked to hospitality and tourism.

“Given that we have the added challenge of a late re-opening of the sector in Scotland, it is very important that we get on the front foot and make it clear that responsible visitors will receive a warm Highland welcome when they arrive here, and in so doing help the thousands of people here in the Western Isles who rely on tourism for their livelihoods.”

VAT for the hospitality in food, accommodation and attractions will be cut from 20% to 5% until 12 January. Chancellor Rishi Sunak also announced the launch of an ‘Eat out to help out’ scheme, which will provide everyone with a 50% discount to use in participating restaurants and is set to begin in August.   The scheme will provide a maximum discount of £10 per head for everyone, including children, the Chancellor confirmed.

Mark Tennant, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “The cut in VAT for tourism and hospitality is a measure that we have called for and is one we are delighted to see implemented for rural Scotland.

"The huge reduction in visitors has had a massive impact on the sector and if a greater recovery can be fostered for the rest of 2020, the real hope is that rural Scotland will be far better placed to move forward in 2021 and beyond. Both the VAT cut and the Eat Out To Help Out scheme can encourage people to sample more of Scotland’s outstanding hospitality, food and drink.

“We’re pleased also to see the new job retention bonus for employers who bring back furloughed staff. Whilst it does not provide a guarantee that every rural business can maintain each and every position, it provides a softer landing on the conclusion on the furlough scheme and will hopefully aid businesses in their quest to retain valued staff.

“This will be aided by the kickstart scheme for 16 to 24 year olds. All too often, young people are compelled to leave rural Scotland to access training or jobs this has a real effect on these communities. There is tangible hope that this may not only aid young people returning to the employment market but also increase the opportunities for their career path to be forged in our rural communities rather than purely urban settings.

“The £2billion grant scheme for energy efficiency improvements is also a very significant move for England, supporting jobs, homeowners and the environment in tandem. We would like to see a similar scheme for Scotland which would have real benefits for many rural homes which experience energy efficiency challenges, whether it be connection to the grid or problems faced by historic building standards.”

Commenting on the Chancellor’s Summer Statement, Angus MacNeil SNP MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar said: “The Chancellor announced a range of measures in his statement to support the economic recovery, however, none of these go far enough. The Scottish Government called for an £80bn stimulus package which has been ignored and the Chancellor’s statement falls short of what is required to support our economy.

“In May, I called on the UK Treasury to take account of the health policies of the devolved nations when considering the furlough scheme, the Chancellor’s decision to end this scheme will be devastating for many.  It is essential that the Treasury supports business as the financial impact of this pandemic will be felt for a long time.

“On Tuesday, I participated in a cross-party online meeting of the ExcludedUK All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) to stand up for the 3 million people in the UK who are being excluded from receiving financial support from the Treasury. It is good to see that over a quarter of MPs in the House of Commons, from all parties support this campaign. Therefore, it is shameful that today the Chancellor made no announcement on extending the duration of The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) or to extend support to the millions of people who are currently excluded from receiving any financial support.

“A VAT cut from 20% to 5% for tourism is good news and something I have long campaigned for, but six-months is not long enough as this will end mid-winter when tourism is generally quiet.

“Scotland should not be at the mercy of the Tories economic policies.  It is only with independence that Scotland will be able to make its own financial decisions.”

(This reported has been extended to include the MP's comments since first being published.)


One of the Maritime Coastguard Agency’s fixed wing aircraft was called from a training exercise west of Lewis yesterday (Tuesday 7 July) to investigate an alert over a possible overturned vessel.

Stornoway Coastguard operations centre received a call from an informant at 1.20pm, saying that an object was visible about a mile offshore, close to Breanish in Uig district.

Coastguard rescue aircraft CG 21, normally based at Doncaster airport, was on exercise in the area at the time and was tasked to overfly an investigate the report.

Also called to the scene were Miavaig and Breasclete Coastguard Rescue Teams, on standby in case a rescue was needed.

The object spotted by the aircraft turned out to be a badly decomposed whale carcass, measuring about 16ft in length.

All teams were stood down at 2.20pm and the call was classed as a false alarm with good intent.

The fixed-wing aircraft went on to refuel at Stornoway airport, giving spotters a chance to have a close-up look at the King Air 200 aircraft (pictured).


Lifeboat fundraiser Jane Maciver is on the road today (Wednesday 8 July), sticking to her commitment to walk 24 miles for charity.

Jane had been signed up to take part in the Glasgow Kiltwalk in April, but since that was cancelled she was determined to honour her pledge and earn the money already donated by doing the distance somehow.

Today she and her friend Jade Chapman, also of Stornoway, will be on the road with border collie Ripley to cover 24 miles.

Jane is a committed member of Stornoway Lifeboat Fundraising Guild, and she’s doubling the value of today’s effort to add some pennies to the much-depleted coffers of the local station.

Jane said: “Folk are asking us if they can still donate, but the links for our chosen charities are now closed and the money already been given out. So if anyone is still wishing to sponsor us or Ripley we are asking kindly if they would give it to the Stornoway RNLI.”

The RNLI Stornoway fundraising page is at

Picture shows Jane (holding the banner on the right) during last summer’s Carnival parade.


Four new jobs are being created in the Western Isles as the Crofting Commission expands its work on the Islands.

Additional funding of £325,000 is being provided to the Crofting Commission by the Scottish Government to enable the creation of the new jobs and extend its crofting development activities.

The decision to site these new roles in the Western Isles followed suggestions raised at a meeting with crofters in Barvas last November and reflects that this area of Scotland has the highest concentration of crofts.

Two of the jobs will be based in the Stornoway Rural Payments and Inspections Department office and the other two in the Benbecula office.

Alasdair Allan MSP said: “This announcement is very welcome indeed.  The provision of four new jobs is good news for both crofting and the wider local economy of the islands.

“I’m pleased that the suggestions made by myself and others to decentralise some of the public sector jobs to the areas they are most relevant to have been heard and acted upon.

“Perhaps more important than the jobs themselves, however, is the increased support for the further development of crofting in the islands.

“I hope these changes will benefit both to the crofting community and the wider local economy.”

Crofting Commission Convener Rod Mackenzie said:  “This is an important day for crofting and its future and we thank Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism, for his recognition of the importance of crofting by giving the Crofting Commission this funding boost. This is extremely timely and will help us to further support and develop crofting, which in turn will enhance and assist our role as its regulator. This Board have always placed a high priority on ensuring that the precious asset of well-managed, well maintained and occupied crofts are supported especially in remote areas where the economy and the population levels are fragile.”

“The long-standing values of crofting, such as effective land use, community and sustainability have been brought into sharp focus these past 4 months.”

“Crofting has shaped the land use, demographics and culture of the Highlands and Islands since 1886 and still has a huge contribution to make in shaping the future of the Highlands and Islands for years to come.”

“On behalf of my Board of commissioners, I am delighted that this funding will allow us to establish four permanent posts in the Western Isles.  These posts will be an integral part of the Crofting Commission together with their colleagues in Inverness, but their presence in the islands will enable us to develop new and better ways of working with these communities. In the future, the Commission aspire to see this template of working extended to other crofting areas, when resources permit.”

The Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) has welcomed the announcement of the four new crofting development posts will be created for the Crofting Commission in the Western Isles as “a crucial and timely initiative”.

“This is very welcome news“, said Donald MacKinnon, vice-chair of SCF and a Lewis-based crofter. “We have been arguing for the crofting development role of the Crofting Commission to be expanded and it is gratifying to see that Scottish Government has taken this on board and is supplying additional funding for the creation of four outreach posts.”

Mr MacKinnon went on to say, “Covid-19 has of course had an impact on crofting; markets and transport have been severely disrupted. Crofters are resilient but this period has been extremely challenging. With this government-funded help we hope to see crofting not only recover but to emerge with new strengths – it is time to do things differently. Crofting provides the foundation for families to survive and thrive here, and with the focus on climate change and the need to use land and grow food in a more environmentally friendly way, crofting is a leading model.

“This is a crucial and timely initiative,” concluded Mr MacKinnon. “There are huge opportunities for crofting to develop new markets and enterprises and to provide the basis for population growth. It makes sense to have the Commission staff located where most crofts are, the Western Isles, but in time we would want to see this model emulated in other crofting areas too.”

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar also welcomed the Crofting Commission’s decision.  Chair of the Joint Consultative Committee on Crofting, Councillor Donald Crichton said,“This is great news for the Western Isles and something that we have been proposing for some time. Crofting is a vital part of our local economy and it is pleasing to see the Crofting Commission recognise this by funding four new jobs in the Western Isles. These jobs will help to ensure Crofting remains an integral part of island life by allowing for more support and development in the industry.”

"The Comhairle is pleased to see action being taken to reflect the fact that the Western Isles has the highest concentration of crofts in the country and hopes to see other public agencies decentralize jobs to the islands."

(This article has been amended since first publication to include the reaction of the SCF and CnES)

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

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


New shed, Newmarket

Marcin Juszczak of 67A Newmaket has applied for planning permission to erect a shed at 46C Newmarket. The shed is to be 7.368 metres long, 4.058 metres wide and 4 metres tall.


New shop, Carloway

Kathleen Mackenzie has applied for planning permission to erect a shop at 3A Doune Carloway. The shop is to be 4.8 metres long, 3.6 metres wide and 4 metres tall.


New house, Callanish

Dan and Shannen Crossley have applied for planning permission to erect a house at 45 Callanish. Work is to include creating a new access and installing an air source heat pump. The house is to have a kitchen/dining/living area, a lounge, a landing/sitting area, four bedrooms, four bathrooms and a built-in garage.


New access and track, Uig

Sean Kettle of 2 Timsgarry has applied for planning permission to create a new access and track at Croft 3A Ardroil. Work is to include creating parking suitable for two cars.


Alter and extend house, Point

Margare Macdonald of 6A Branahuie has applied for planning permission to alter and extend the house at 6A Branahuie, Point.


Extend house, Shader

John Matheson of 34 Upper Shader has applied for planning permission to extend the house at 34 Upper Shader.


New polycrub, Borve

Kenneth Macleod of 5 Melbost, Borve, has applied for planning permission to erect a polycrub at 5 Melbost, Borve. The polycrub is to be 10.6 metres long, 4.2 metres wide and 2.96 metres tall.

The final miles are due to be pedalled today (Wednesday 8 July) as fundraising cyclists complete the 2020 Butt2Barra cycle in strange times.

More than 50 cyclists picked up the challenge to cycle the 165-mile distance from the Butt of Lewis to Castlebay in Barra – despite the fact that the actual journey was out of the question.

Logistics of inter-island travel, overnight stays and meal stops were all scuppered by lockdown and social distancing regulations, so organisers took the event online to raise as much as they can for Bethesda Hospice, against the odds.

Cyclists had a week, from 1 July until today, to complete the distance, but some decided to smash out the miles much more quickly. First to finish the epic distance, in just two days, was Murdo Macdonald, closely followed on Saturday (4 July) by Fraser Maclennan.

The pack mostly spread their effort over the full week, cycling in pairs and small teams, as well as making solo efforts, over a range of locations from Uist to Tolsta, Scalpay, the Westside and North Lochs.

The result is a total that’s fast closing in on £9,000 as team members finish their distances today. You can still donate, to individual cyclists or to the team as a whole, at

Yesterday (Tuesday) saw the most entertaining finish of the event, as members of Lewis band Peat & Diesel completed the miles along the quayside at Stornoway harbour.

Accordionist Innes and drummer Uilly were actually cycling, while Boydie’s exercise bike, which sailed through at least one mile aboard the trawler MV Comrade, is allegedly to be auctioned to support the charity effort.

You can see the video of their finish here (

The picture shows (from centre) Boydie, Innes and Uilly with (from left) the ‘cove on the bike’ made famous in the P&D anthem Brandy in the Airidh, Tony Duffy, serious cyclist Mark Maciver and non-cyclist Murdo John Mackay, who has promised he’ll be in the saddle next year.


Stronger action to save and revive the Gaelic language is needed, say students in the Highlands and Islands – and this view is also backed by Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan.

In response to a recent study conducted by Gaelic experts and sociolinguists at the University of the Highlands and Islands, the Highlands and Islands Students Association (HISA) has called for action to save the Gaelic language.

The ‘Gaelic Crisis in the Vernacular Community’ report found that only 11,000 people were habitual Gaelic speakers, and forecasts that next year’s national census will find the proportion of people in the Western Isles who speak Gaelic has fallen to nearly 45%.

Alasdair Allan said the report believes the use of Gaelic in the home and among young people in their social lives has almost halted and calls for a review of public planning and policy to support the language.  He has written to John Swinney, the Minister for Gaelic, expressing his concerns about the language’s future in island communities.

Just last week, HISA launched a Gaelic Representation Project to enhance the voice of Gaelic-speaking and Gaelic-learning students across the institution, with funding awarded by Bòrd na Gàidhlig and supported by the University of the Highlands and Islands.

HISA President, Florence Jansen, said: “The study by the University clearly identifies the need for action to save the Gaelic language.

“At HISA, we believe that the use of Gaelic should be normalised and institutions in Scotland must play their part to be accommodating. We’re currently undertaking a project to establish HISA as a bilingual organisation, a change that will affect the way the organisation is structured and how our staff will work. If students wish to engage their students’ association in the native language of the country, they should be able to do so.

“As the largest Students’ Association in the Highlands and Islands, we are willing to work with other bodies to encourage the everyday use of Gaelic. There are still too many barriers to the use of Gaelic in society.  If increased use of Gaelic remains an ambition, institutions must be accommodating to have Gaelic used in formal environments if we expect Gaelic to be also used in social, home and everyday life environments.”

The Gaelic Representation Project is endorsed and supported by the University of the Highlands and Islands, Lews Castle College UHI and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI

The Gaelic Crisis in the Vernacular Community report can be found here:

Alasdair Allan MSP commented: “This new research presents a stark picture of Gaelic’s future in our communities and it is important that we take the time and energy to fully consider its analysis. The message of the report is challenging, and at times painful, for anyone who loves Gaelic.

“In the first instance I have written to John Swinney, the Minister with responsibility for Gaelic, highlighting some of the principal findings of the research. I have also asked the Scottish Parliament’s Education Committee to consider taking evidence on the subject.

“Good progress has been made in supporting the language within society, not least with the growth of Gaelic-medium education. But the research is clear, education alone will not sustain Gaelic as a community language. There need to be accompanying initiatives to promote the language at a family and community level too. 

“Going forward, we must make every effort to engage all sides of the debate to move to solve this crisis collectively. The Gaelic language, and the culture and identity which it underpins are of irreplaceable importance to the Western Isles and Scotland more widely. We cannot afford to fail our last remaining Gaelic-speaking communities.”

Some local owners of shops and cafés are saying they are baffled by the new face covering restrictions which are due to start this week.

"We have been serving people without masks for weeks - now, as the risk of the coronavirus is receding, we have to wear them. This doesn't make sense," said one.

The official guidance can be seen here -

And retail trade union Usdaw says it has received numerous calls from concerned members after the Scottish Government announced that face coverings will be mandatory in shops from this Friday.

Usdaw officials met with Government ministers on Monday (July 6) to urge retention of the two-metre rule and seek assurances that shop workers will not have to enforce the wearing of face coverings.

Usdaw is now concerned that Government guidance has not yet been published - as of last night (July 7).

Stewart Forrest – Usdaw’s Scottish Divisional Officer says: “Our big concern is who enforces mandatory face coverings and we made that clear to the Scottish Government on Monday.

"Shop workers are worried that they will be expected to turn people away from the store because they do not have a face covering or it is not being worn properly. Incidents of abuse against shop workers have already doubled through the coronavirus emergency and this would be yet another flashpoint.

“Government guidance has not yet been published and that is a concern when we are so close to the new face coverings rule coming into force on Friday. We need assurances that the existing two-metre rule will be observed and enforced. In our experience retailers have taken the two-metre rule seriously and are complying, we see no reason why it should be relaxed.

“Safety in stores needs customer co-operation and we urge the public to respect staff and observe social distancing. At no time should abuse be a part of the job. Shopworkers deserve respect.”

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 400,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.

Over the past couple of weeks, business at the Comhairle has continued across all services, says Council Leader, Councillor Roddie Mackay.

"I was involved in meetings with the Cabinet Secretary for Transport and also the Islands Minister, where we covered the Islands Deal, the Islands Act and Transport; and meetings with the UK Government Energy Minister regarding the Interconnector and Energy issues.

"We pressed the need to move on with energy and digital initiatives and to commit to capital projects as soon as possible.

"The challenges we faced pre COVID-19, requiring prudent management of our financial resources, have been brought into sharp focus with the additional costs and lost income arising from the impacts of the pandemic.

"We have had significant support from both Governments but will still face a shortfall in covering the direct costs of COVID-19, the loss of income from a variety of sources, such as the Sports Centre, and further significant additional costs in, for example, delays to capital projects.

"Last week we launched a new Economic Recovery Strategy which aspires to ‘reimagine and reform the economy of the Outer Hebrides’ by helping to create strong and resilient communities where community capacity and wealth is built up and where there is a focus on the green economy and digital inclusion.

"As the Comhairle has suffered loss, our local economy has also taken a severe blow from this pandemic, particularly in the retail, hospitality and tourism sectors, but there are unquestionably opportunities going forward and we have to be ready to embrace them and we will work alongside our business sector to do just that.

"It was also good to see that members were once again unanimous in their support of the work done via the Western Isles Poverty and Social Inclusion Programme in directing funds to the Financial Welfare Support service. The Comhairle plays a key role as a Lead Partner on the Poverty and Social Inclusion Programmes which have three main functions which contribute greatly to responding to the challenge of poverty in our islands; the Financial Inclusion Service, the Fuel Poverty Advice services and the Financial Welfare Support Fund.

"One of our long terms partners in the above Poverty programme, and also in the Home Energy Efficiency Programmes, has been Tighean Innse Gall (often referred to as TIG) and we were pleased to reappoint them as the Managing Agent for the programmes. They have been doing this successfully for the last seven years during which time TIG have overseen the installation of over 7,800 energy efficiency measures in houses throughout the Outer Hebrides.

"As we heard about the changes in back to school plans for August, I thought we should all acknowledge the excellent provision made available at the school hubs, which were established in response to the COVID-19 school closures, for the children of key workers and vulnerable pupils. There has been a great ongoing service provided there by teams of education staff including teachers, support for learning assistants, education apprentices, nursery workers, admin, janitorial, catering and cleaning staff. A big well done to all who have been in involved and I know those who needed to use this service greatly appreciated it.

"As the islands inevitably open up to families coming and going, key workers moving about and holiday visitors arriving on our shores let’s ensure that we maintain common sense and wise decision making for as long as the potential remains for COVID to spread. It will unquestionably be good for families and friends to reconnect and for all of us to re-establish a degree of social interaction which is an essential part of normal living, and also for people to get back to work wherever possible, but that has to be done in a responsible and sensible manner, keeping to the rules on physical distancing particularly."

Camping and caravanning options could be severely limited in Lewis and Harris, as business owners and community groups make their decisions on opening for the remainder of the 2020 season.

Some campsites will remain closed even if travel to the islands resumes, as expected, next week (Wednesday 15 July). Others will offer only limited facilities, meaning that those travelling with only tents and no built-in sanitary facilities are likely to find themselves shut out.

Among those sites which do not intend to open at all are community-run sites at Ardroil and Cnip grazings (Riof beach) in Lewis. North Harris Trust also says that the hook-ups and facilities at Huisinis gateway will remain closed ‘for the foreseeable future’.

Laxdale Holiday Park near Stornoway will re-open on 15 July, in accordance with Scottish Government guidance, but no shared or communal facilities, such as toilets and showers, will be available. This means that no tents, only self-contained units like motorhomes, will be accepted.

The managers said: “We have made this decision to support the local economy and protect our local environment by providing safe parking and waste disposal facilities.  These restrictions are subject to change in accordance with further guidance from the Scottish Government and local authority.”

In Shawbost, the Eilean Fraoich campsite also intends to offer a limited re-opening from 15 July, without access to communal facilities. Like Laxdale, they will accept no tents or awnings and will arrange enquiries, check-in and payment by contactless technology.

Their website says: “We have made this decision bearing in mind the need for motor homes and caravans with their own facilities who travel to the island to have a safe place to park, within a controlled environment, and to avoid wild camping with the negatives it tends to generate on our island.”

In Harris, the 15-pitch Lickisto Blackhouse camping will open from 20 July with restrictions limiting use of their communal areas, including toilet and shower facilities.

The hook-ups for motorhomes at Talla na Mara in West Harris are open for booking now but only for visits or stays from August 1 but toilets and showers remain locked.

Lewis and Harris site managers are making their decisions against a background of Scottish Government ambition to revive tourism as a boost to the Scottish rural economy.

On Friday (3 July) rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing MSP blasted a trading arm of the Camping and Caravanning Club after they announced they would keep three mainland Scottish forest campsites closed for the remainder of the year.

Mr Ewing said that decision was “totally unacceptable” and would have a significant impact on local businesses and the environment.

Referring specifically to the decision by Camping in the Forest (CitF) to keep sites in the Cairngorms and Loch Lomond closed, Mr Ewing said: “With all the challenges we are facing due to COVID-19, this decision is robbing people of the opportunity to holiday in Scotland. Having access to these sites is important for people’s well-being.”

In Lewis and Harris, the well-being of local residents ranks alongside practical issues about cleaning to a standard that protects visitors.

Peter Macdonald, speaking on behalf of the grazings committee, who run Ardroil camping on a voluntary basis, said: “The committee simply didn’t feel comfortable opening the site this soon.

“The maintenance and cleaning of the toilet facilities concerns us. We didn’t feel confident, as a volunteer group, to get everything up and running to comply with increased hygiene standards and maintain that for the remainder of the season.”

The decision to keep community-run sites closed for 2020 will disappoint some island residents, who have become used to permanent summer sites for caravans offering an easy holiday getaway from Stornoway.

But Peter said all those affected by the closure of Ardroil had been notified and understood the decision.

He said: “We have 20 static sites which are allocated by drawing lots from applications and we have contacted all those who were successful in the 2020 draw to offer them first refusal on a site next year. Everyone has also had their money refunded.”

Pictures show campsites at Ardroil in Uig and at Cnip grazings in Valtos in previous years

Stornoway airport is seeing 'something like a return to normality' today (Monday 6 July) as regular scheduled services return to a new timetable.

A regular direct daily flight to Glasgow recommenced today, Monday 6 July, departing every morning from Monday to Saturday. On Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays there'll also be an afternoon departure to Glasgow, while Sunday will see a single afternoon flight. 

The weekday service between Inverness, Benbecula and Stornoway also becomes daily from today.

Airport manager Duncan Smith said some elements are still to resume their regular service, with the café due to re-open next Monday (13 July) and car hire services currently operating on an as-needed basis. 

Safety protocols will be followed by everyone, whether staff or passengers, while they are inside the terminal or on board planes.

Duncan Smith said the new measures have been put in place to minimise risk to passengers and staff.  He said: "The measures include some restrictions – only travelling passengers will be permitted into the terminal building and they must wear a face covering at all times throughout their journey.   

“We have installed screens throughout the terminal building and physical distancing measures are in place. Regular deep cleaning of the airport buildings is also being carried out.

"There will also be face masks and hand sanitiser available as people enter and, if they wish to carry their own sanitiser, bottles of up to 100ml will be allowed in hand luggage or pockets. Larger bottles must be carried in hold luggage."

Around the airport building, contractors have returned to work on the re-surfacing of the main car park, with parking currently in the side car park. Landscaping of the area at the front of the terminal doors is also under way.  Contractors at the airport are also required to adhere to the new procedures. 

The total effect is a sense of some normality returning to airport operations, according to Duncan. He said: "We're nowhere near a full schedule, but we are beginning our journey to get back to normal.

“We really have to thank passengers for their co-operation during what has been a very difficult period. Everyone who has travelled with us, and all our staff, have been fantastic.

“It's good to see things start to return to how they should be and we do wish to assure our passengers and staff that we are doing everything we can to protect our community and minimise risk within the airport."


Comhairle nan Siar Leader, Roddie Mackay, has welcomed the announcement that the Comhairle’s share of the Crown Estate net revenue for 2018/19 will be £2.3m.

This sum is a £600,000 increase from the £1.7m received last year for 2017/18 and is a result of the Comhairle’s continued engagement with both the UK and Scottish Governments.

Councillor Mackay, said: “This latest announcement on the increase for the 2018/19 allocation is very welcome and will allow us to have further dialogue with communities on how we can support each other and the services which we all need and value during these challenging times.”

“Decisions on the 2017/18 projects will be made this month and I will also be proposing that the Comhairle agrees how to allocate the funding from 2018/19, in August, so that communities can benefit from this funding as soon as practicably possible.”


Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has highlighted the warnings of an independent expert group that The UK's proposed new immigration system could halve the number of people coming to Scotland, risking labour shortages in key sectors.

New research shows that migrant workers would be barred from 68.7% of jobs in the Western Isles under Westminster proposals. This would mean that the islands would be affected worse than any other local authority area in the country, shutting the door on our ability to recruit talented, skilled and dedicated workers from Europe and elsewhere.

According to previous analysis by the Expert Advisory Group, 53% of roles filled by employees in Scotland earn less than £25,000, including up to 90% of jobs in the care sector.

Holyrood’s Finance Committee has also warned that demographic changes could pose risks to Scottish public spending, and our ability to fund the NHS.

Alasdair Allan MSP said: “The COVID-19 crisis has clearly demonstrated the UK’s reliance on key workers who have come to Scotland from all over the world.

“It should now be beyond doubt that people working in the roles which the Tories describe as ‘lower-skilled’ are absolutely vital to our communities.

“The islands are facing a demographic crisis and we sustained inward migration is a critical necessity. But despite the clear evidence, the Tories seem utterly determined to back Boris Johnson’s closed-minded plans which will be immeasurably damaging to the Western Isles and Scotland as a whole.

“We need the power to attract and retain the workers we need to fund our public services, and allow our economy to flourish.”

Table 1: Percentage of jobs falling below the £25,600 limit by Scottish local authority.

 Local authority

Wage threshold £25,600

East Renfrewshire


East Dunbartonshire




Shetland Islands




North Ayrshire


South Lanarkshire


East Lothian


Aberdeen City


City of Edinburgh


West Lothian






East Ayrshire


South Ayrshire


North Lanarkshire






Perth and Kinross


Scottish Borders






Glasgow City


West Dunbartonshire


Dundee City








Argyll and Bute


Dumfries and Galloway


Na h-Eileanan Siar


In keeping with Scottish Government changes, Castleview Dental Practice, located at 77 Cromwell Street, Stornoway, is now able to offer appointments again.

Mr Sridhar Kalvakuntla, the practice owner, said: “This has been a very difficult time for our patients. The need to protect public health has meant dentists all across Scotland closed in March.

"We will now be able to offer urgent care to our patients, and start catching up on regular treatment in the coming weeks.

"I would like to thank all of our valued patients for their perseverance, and my team is keen to welcome them back.

"We have taken advice on all aspects of making the practice safe to reopen. As a result regular patients will see some changes.

"We have reduced seating in our waiting areas, hand sanitiser will be available at the door, and there will be no handling of paper forms.

 “We'll also be putting regular updates on our Facebook page as we respond to Scottish Government guidance.”

 During the week beginning 6th July 2020, the practice will prioritise patients with outstanding Urgent and Emergency care. Patients should call the practice on its usual number, 01851 704400.

 The reception staff will ask some simple questions about Coronavirus, to ensure all patients are seen safely.  Those callers with dental emergencies will be invited to attend the practice by appointment only.

Castleview is working in co-operation with the NHS Western Isles dental service, and some patients with more complex care may be referred to the Western Isles Dental Centre.

To help maintain safe social distancing, patients are asked to come as close to their appointment times as they can, and on their own, if possible, as seating in the waiting areas has been reduced.

From Monday 13th July 2020, the practice will also offer some additional services, and the dental staff will be able to offer personalised advice on what is available.

There will be further improvements in service as restrictions are lifted, and Castleview will offer updates on these changes as they happen.

Mr Kalvakuntla said: “We expect the next few weeks to be very busy, but want to reassure all our patients we are working towards a full service as quickly as Health Protection guidance allows.

"We will post regular updates through Facebook to keep patients up to date.”

The roll-out of mobile devices by Police Scotland has freed up more than 400,000 hours of officer time in just one year, transforming policing in communities across the country.

In summer 2019, police officers in Tayside were the first in Scotland to start using the devices as part of their operational duties. 

Response, community and frontline specialist officers (dog unit, roads policing, firearms) in all of Police Scotland’s 13 divisions are equipped with devices enabling them to access a wide range of police systems without the requirement to return to their station and log on to a computer.  

The increased functionality and ability to conduct checks and process administrative tasks whilst on the go has saved officers a total of 444,496 hours. 

This means officers can spend more time in their communities dealing with incidents, supporting victims and focusing on crime prevention.

Previously, when officers dealt with a crime, they would have to return to base to record details of the incident on the appropriate systems and to complete paperwork. 

Statements which traditionally would be written into a notebook and transcribed, are now typed directly to the device through the digital notebook function Pronto.

Officers can now carry out their own checks which could previously only be done via the area control room. When investigating missing person enquiries, officers can now upload and share images immediately with fellow officers which is a vital tool when time is critical.

Superintendent Craig Smith, of Police Scotland’s Digitally Enabled Policing Programme, said: "Mobile working for response, community officers and frontline specialist officers is a major milestone which is positively changing the operational policing approach in Scotland.

“Our officers now have vital information at their fingertips meaning they can react quickly when dealing with incidents, searching for missing people who could be extremely vulnerable or investigating crimes.

“This piece of kit is revolutionising the way officers work and is helping to keep people safe.

“The devices will be further enhanced over time with the addition of future policing applications, including national systems as they become available.”

PC Garrie Watson, Tayside Division, has been using a device as part of his duties since last summer. He said: “The introduction of mobile devices has been a real benefit which has ensured I am able to remain visible within communities and also conduct checks and process administrative tasks whilst out of the office.  When attending a fraud involving bogus workmen I found having access to a range of police systems whilst at the incident was extremely useful.  This allowed me to carry out checks on the persons and vehicles involved quickly and easily. 

“A large part of my work involves liaising with partners, councillors and the public via email therefore having access to this facility whilst out of the office has been a great advantage.”

PC Watson added: “The device allows me to save time on a daily basis in various different ways.  After compiling a witness statement this can now be electronically copied from Pronto into the Tayside Division system.  This is a significant time saver when compared with the paper notebook which requires statements to be manually typed and processed.

“The ability to generate crime reports and access documents and emails whilst protecting a scene, at custody or on mobile patrol saves me time at the end of the day when I would typically access a computer to complete my paperwork.”

David Crichton, Vice Chair of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) said: “The introduction of mobile working was much needed and has brought real benefits to the police and the public by making the service more responsive, visible and efficient. Communities are better served and better protected as a result and the Authority is committed to making the case for continued investment in technology to ensure that policing in Scotland keeps pace with changing needs and demands‎."

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “I am very pleased to see that the investment in mobile technology has released considerable police officer time in just one year.

“This innovative technology is helping to transform policing and allows Scotland’s officers to increase their focus on engaging with the public and keeping our communities safe.”

The £21million Mobile Working Project was part funded by the Scottish Government’s capital budget allocation and included partnership working with BT, Motorola and Samsung.

Police are appealing for public help to identify who vandalised a car parked in Stornoway town centre in the early hours of Saturday (4 July).

The white car was parked on Bayhead in Stornoway when, between 1.5oam and 2.10am, an unknown person appears to have deliberately smashed the windscreen of the vehicle.

Police are asking anyone with information to contact them on the non-emergency number 101, referring to incident number NH758/20.


Cyclists have been getting the miles in all over the Western Isles and beyond, as the annual Butt2Barra fundraising cycle ride keeps on rolling despite social distancing.

In small teams, as duos and as individuals, cyclists have been getting their wheels rolling round the Westside, Point, Tolsta and Stornoway, as well as through the Uists and as far away as Glasgow to raise funds for Bethesda Hospice.

Butt2Barra 2020 has been less of a logistical challenge than usual, with no need to try and plan for over 30 cyclists travelling the length of the Western Isles over three days. Organisers took the 165-mile pedal-a-thon online to encourage wide participation, following the lead of many sporting events since lockdown began.

As a result up to 50 cyclists are taking part this year, with new cyclists joining the stalwart annual participants to attempt 165 miles – the official length of the real route from the Butt of Lewis down to Castlebay – before Wednesday (8 July).

Among the newcomers have been Uilleam Macleod and Innes Scott of Peat & Diesel fame, both blowing away the cobwebs as they challenge the pain to cover (they hope) 35-40 miles a day each. They’re planning to finish the ride together on Wednesday.

Stacey Macrury and Rhoda MacCormick are covering their miles around South Uist and Eriskay, Alan Mackay dubbed his ride ‘tour de Glaschu’ and seasoned Butt2Barra rider Murdo Macdonald smashed the distance in just two days.

The team total on JustGiving at has already passed £6,000 – there are ten linked pages to be found from the main page, with more than £6,000 already given between them.

Organisers hailed the ‘fantastic team effort’ and are sharing pictures and route details from those taking part on their Facebook page at

Pictures show – six keen cyclists, including Peat & Diesel’s Innes Scott (right) reaching Callanish at the halfway stage in their challenge, fellow band member Uilleam Macleod putting up with rain and midges in Point and Stacey Macrury and Rhoda MacCormick smiling through the miles in South Uist.


Reliquary is a participatory art commission by See Me and the Mental Health Foundation, in partnership with An Lanntair (

It had been intended to open in March this year…but this was impossible because of the pandemic restrictions.

Artists Martyn McKenzie and Kate McAllan were commissioned by See Me and the Mental Health Foundation to work with staff and participants from Catch 23, Penumbra and Western Isles Foyer, three Stornoway-based mental health organisations.

The project, Reliquary, saw participants working with Martyn and Kate to design hand-made wooden boxes whose appearance and content reflect the lives of the people creating them. The project is part of See Me’s ongoing mission to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination.

Maeve Grindall, See Me social movement officer, said: “Mental health stigma is reduced when people are able to share their experiences and speak openly about mental health. We all have mental health and any of us could go through a period where we struggle, so it’s important that we all feel comfortable speaking about it.”

Kate McAllan and Martyn Mckenzie have worked in partnership for seven years, curating exhibitions, running community art workshops, and delivering three public art commissions. They describe their Reliquary project as follows:

“We are interested in the psychological possibilities of a box, its interaction with the idea of public and private, and its ability to protect its contents. We are also interested in its simplicity and beauty as an object. In its essence it asks to be opened and shared. We will host a series of workshops where each participant will create their own hand-crafted ‘Reliquary’ box and fill it with artwork, writing and objects. This will culminate in an exhibition of all the participants’ work alongside further collaborative elements including a film and illustrated map.”

Penumbra Western Isles Support Manager, Christine Darby-Munro, said:  “It’s important to challenge the all too often negative stereotypes associated with mental health, and encourage an environment where people feel able to talk openly about their mental and emotional wellbeing. This project is a really creative way of getting people to think about the idea that we all have mental health.”

Reliquary, the exhibition, was due to be open at An Lanntair in March this year, just as the lockdown was announced. The work, and a short film by Zoe Macinnes documenting the project, is now being made available at both An Lanntair’s website and as part of the online programme for this year’s Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival.

Reacting to the progress of the Coronavirus unlockdown in relation to Public Worship, the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) has protested.

At their meeting by teleconference on 23rd June the Presbytery of the Outer Hebrides recorded their concern at the apparent inconsistency in the reopening policy as the lockdown restrictions due to the Covid- 19 outbreak are eased.

On 19th June the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that from Wednesday 15th July shopping centres, public houses, restaurants, museums, libraries, galleries, cinemas and hairdressers will be able to reopen, yet no mention was made of churches being able to reopen for public worship.

"We appreciate that it is the Scottish government’s role to deal with a public health crisis of this kind, and recognise that the aim of the government in its phased reopening is to ensure that the Coronavirus continues to be contained.

"It grieves us, however, that churches are still not yet able to look forward to resuming their services of worship, when the facilities and amenities listed, which we would submit are less important, are to be allowed to reopen shortly.

"We pray that in the coming weeks there will be a reopening of churches for worship, with social distancing and other safeguards in place as necessary."

This Sunday, 5 July 2020 marks the 72nd Anniversary of the start of the NHS, as well as 2020 also marking the 72nd year of the social care system. 

To mark these remarkable milestones, more so significant during these current times, NHS Western Isles is excited to announce the launch of its new and refreshed website at:

Our 'Looking Back' section celebrates the 72nd Anniversary and the rich history of healthcare and the NHS in the Outer Hebrides. 

This includes nursing careers and stories, photo gallery, video archive, and useful links.

Visitors to the new website will find changes with our user-friendly navigation, increased service listings, useful information and rich content.  The new and improved website, boasting a clean design, features images representing the islands from throughout the Outer Hebrides, and offers easy access to essential and accurate information.

The front landing page features three important new sections titled ‘I am a Patient’, ‘I am a Carer’ and ‘I am a Visitor’ to help individuals find the information relevant to them, at the right time.

This includes patients being able access information relating to their Outpatient appointments or Inpatient stay, carers being able to access help and support for themselves and the person they look after, whilst visitors can access information on hospital facilities, refreshments and what they must do if they plan on visiting during the coronavirus pandemic.

As well as including the Near Me virtual appointment system, maternity services, dental health, patient travel and virtual visiting, the revised ‘Our Services’ section features a wide range of newly added services offering an overview of each team.

This includes who teams are aimed at, services each offers, location(s), referral methods, patient information literature and links, and their direct contact details.  Newly added services includes nurse-led services, sexual health services, substance misuse, chaplaincy and spiritual care, and work and health.

We have also made it easier for visitors looking to get more involved within their local health service, from finding out about current consultation and engagement to volunteering, and submitting feedback.  In addition, anyone looking to apply for a job with NHS Western Isles is encouraged to visit our new section ‘Working, Studying and Volunteering’.  All items can be found in our ‘Get Involved’ section.

As well as links to our social media (Facebook and Twitter) channels, the site also features a link to the Vimeo platform, where all films which have been produced by, or in partnership with, NHS Western Isles can be viewed.

The new site also links to our local coronavirus website (, where information relating to COVID-19 can separately be found.

So what are you waiting for, come and explore our new site at and see for yourself! ​

Monitoring work undertaken on behalf of Food Standards Scotland has identified that the high levels of shellfish toxins identified in Traigh Mhor in  Barra on 12 June 2020 have returned to safe levels.

The warning against eating shellfish from this area has now been lifted.

Stornoway police have been detecting poor driver behaviour and road traffic offences in and around Stornoway on routine patrols since yesterday afternoon (Thursday 2 July).

A driver was stopped on Sandwick Road at 4pm yesterday and issued with a vehicle anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) because of his driving behaviour. A vehicle ASBO was also issued to a driver on Bayhead at 9.30pm yesterday.

Two drivers were detected using mobile phones while driving in separate incidents at 8pm and 8.30pm on Bayhead yesterday evening.

This morning (Friday 3 July) police on routine patrol stopped a driver on the A859 Lochs Road near Arnish, after witnessing a dangerous overtaking manoeuvre. He’s to be reported to the Procurator Fiscal for the offence.

Police are also currently actively engaged in a summer drink-driving campaign, which resulted in a man being arrested and charged in Stornoway last weekend.

Inspector Donnie Mackinnon from the road policing division based in Dingwall said: “Driving under the influence of drink or drugs is entirely unacceptable, the consequences can be catastrophic so please make the sensible decision to think twice and don’t do it.

“If you have information or concerns about anyone who may be drink or drug driving, please call us on 101. Information from the public can help take dangerous drivers off the road and also helps us to identify areas where we may need to increase proactive patrols.”


A burst water main in Stornoway has left some customers without water since mid-morning today (Friday 3 July).

Scottish Water has engineers at Cross Street excavating the site of the ruptured main.

About 30 customers are without water, or experiencing low water pressure.

It’s expected that the repair will be completed and supply restored to customers by 2.30pm.

A spokesman for Scottish Water said: “While we carry out the repair please be aware that you may experience no water supply, low/intermittent pressure or discoloured water.”

The Hebridean Celtic Festival has announced an online programme of short film sessions which will see a variety of leading musical artists and creatives producing new work for festival week this month.

Dubbed Seisean HebCelt / HebCelt Sessions, the commissions will feature Freumhan / Roots featuring Calum Alex MacMillan, Norrie Maciver (Skipinnish) and James D. Mackenzie (Breabach) (Wednesday 15th July, 8pm); Julie Fowlis and an array of Gaelic singers, accompanists and dancers (Thursday 16th July, 8pm); Colin MacLeod with Rory Macdonald of Runrig and a handpicked cast of musicians with a new recording of Runrig anthem ‘Only The Brave’ (Friday 17th July, 8pm).

Closing the weekend sessions will be a film including footage and interviews gathered over recent HebCelt festivals together with some current lockdown interviews (Saturday 18th July, 10pm)

Each song commission lasts for approximately five minutes, with the film running for approximately 30 minutes. They will be streamed across the festival’s YouTube, Facebook and Instagram channels.

Festival director, Caroline Maclennan, said: “Our focus was to contract with artists and other creatives from the Hebrides to produce new high quality engaging online content to reach out to our global audience following the requirement to postpone this year’s event due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are so fortunate to be able to work with such talented and dedicated Hebridean artists and to bring these fresh commissions to our HebCelt audiences, albeit virtually. We will so miss not partying with them all this July. We are grateful to Creative Scotland and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar for their continued festival support.”

“We know that HebCelt’s huge local economic impact will be missed this year and the festival team wanted to be able to give something back. We chose Bethesda Hospice as the charity of preference to benefit from Seisean HebCelt. This will allow us to help generate donations for a very worthwhile cause, one close to the hearts of many Hebrideans.”

The festival have set up a Just Giving charity page, making it possible for all who wish to donate directly to the Bethesda Hospice in Stornoway which provides four hospice beds for specialist palliative care and 30 care home beds.

General Manager at Bethesda Hospice, Carol Somerville, said: “HebCelt is a very important part of the culture and local economy so we are extremely pleased to have this support. These Sessions will provide some welcome relief and enjoyment. At Bethesda we are required to raise over £370,000 per year to keep the hospice openso any donations will be gratefully received.”

The array of other artists engaged as part of the sessions include: Kathleen MacInnes, Cathy Ann MacPhee, Eilidh Mackenzie, Fiona Mackenzie, Anna Murray, Ceitlin Lilidh, Josie Duncan, Alyth McCormack, Éamon Doorley, Innes White, Alex Tearse, James D. Mackenzie, Jane Hepburn Macmillan, Niteworks, Sorren Maclean, Scott Macleod, Keith Morrison, Jason Laing, Willie Campbell, Sean Harrison and Rosie Sullivan.


The RAF’s VIP Voyager aircraft has been in action off the Western Isles on a quick reaction alert today (Friday 3 July), it’s been reported.

The jet supported RAF typhoons scrambled from RAF Lossiemouth in response to a possible incursion by a potential aggressor into the UK’s ‘area of interest’ north-west of Lewis.

Since it was re-liveried for use by the Royal Family and the Prime Minister last month, it has returned to its normal job as what the RAF calls a ‘petrol station in the sky’.

It operates out of RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire and supports operational training with air-to-air refuelling (AAR) to RAF Lightning and Typhoon fighters

Typhoon jets based at RAF Lossiemouth are currently taking part with the Voyager in Exercise Crimson Ocean, a joint Royal Navy and RAF operation to hone fighter and helicopter operations from the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The Voyager is a hugely capable tanker aircraft, able to carry up to 111 tonnes of fuel, the highest capacity of all tanker aircraft, with the ability to dispense 50,000 kg of fuel while ‘loitering’ up to 1,000 nautical miles from its take-off point.

The jet was at the centre of a political storm last month, when it was rebranded for use by the Royal Family and the UK Prime Minister, with a distinctive Union Flag livery, at a reported cost of £900,000.

Its use today follows its return from 26 June to normal operational duties and was reportedly on an incident supporting Typhoons scrambled from RAF Lossiemouth in Moray to a location off the Western Isles.

Picture shows the RAF Voyager jet refuelling fighters in the sky (RAF).


PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico — July 1, 2020: The first visitors to arrive in Puerto Vallarta since the reopening of its hotels and beaches last week found not only a renowned tourism offering intact but also a destination engrossed in health and safety protocols to meet the realities of a world of Covid-19.

Local officials put the entire city of Puerto Vallarta under quarantine starting in early March. It has since undergone a multi-phase reopening process led by local officials following state, federal and international protocols. The process ultimately contributed to the State of Jalisco obtaining the “Safe Travels” stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) last week.

The measures implemented in Puerto Vallarta began at Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport — the destination’s main “filter” — which, thanks to its own internal protocols to prevent Covid-19, received the WTTC “Safe Travels” stamp. Social distancing is being practiced by airport workers, and thermal video cameras are being used as people enter the immigration zone, where electronic documentation is currently taking place. Disinfectant mats are used at all airport entrances and exits.

The health and safety of locals and visitors are of the utmost importance across Puerto Vallarta. In addition to the preventive and precautionary measures at the airport, the city is requiring extensive and continuous sanitization in hotels, public transportation, and public spaces.

Restaurants must maintain physical distance between tables and patrons, and establishments must place disinfectant mats at entrances. Local officials are also distributing antibacterial gel and conducting temperature checks.

More than 45 hotels have reopened to visitors, with a maximum 30% occupancy, and are offering modified access to on-site restaurants, pools and beaches. A second group of hotels will open before, or during July, for the summer, and the remainder will open in the last trimester of the year, facing the winter high season.

Puerto Vallarta’s iconic Malecon waterfront promenade is not yet fully open to the public, only access points to restaurants and shops. Bars remain closed until the destination exits its current phase of the reopening process.

Connectivity has improved in a notable way since last week. Mexican airlines are offering continuous flights to main domestic destinations, including Mexico City (CDMX), Guadalajara, Tijuana, Aguascalientes, and Monterrey.

Internationally, four airlines are connecting U.S. cities with Puerto Vallarta.  Alaska Airlines has daily flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco. American Airlines offers a daily connection to Dallas and Los Angeles.  United Airlines maintains a daily flight to Houston. Delta Air Lines will restart daily services to Los Angeles from July 2nd.

Other U.S. airlines are waiting for growth in demand, while Canadian carriers await Canadian government approvals.

Given the dynamic nature of the situation, new measures are expected from Mexico’s federal and state governments, aimed at continuing to advance the reopening of activities in a gradual and safe manner.

For more information, please visit

As lockdown continues to be eased across Scotland, a joint plea has been made by marine tourism and sports groups for boaters and water users to have full consideration and respect for the destinations they plan to visit.

#RespectTheDestination has been launched by Sail Scotland, RYA Scotland, British Marine Scotland and Wild Scotland. The campaign will be promoted across social media channels to reach leisure and commercial boaters reminding them different arrangements, levels of service and local access controls may in place at popular sailing and boating destinations.

The key messages within the campaign are:

Plan Ahead

  • Make sure the planned destination is open to visitors as there may be reduced services such as limited or no; fuel supply, water, showers, or step-ashore might not be welcomed.
  • Some moorings may not yet be in commission and launching or landing places will have some form of hygiene regime.

On Arrival

  • Approaching pontoons should be carried out after prior approval and allocation of a berth by the operator of the facility.
  • Vessels anchoring or mooring should follow local access guidance.
  • Consider wearing gloves or apply additional cleaning measures when launching and landing or handling mooring or berthing equipment.

Think Local

  • Crew and guests should adhere to local guidelines regarding ability to leave the vessel and go ashore.
  • Consider wearing a facemask and, above all, respect local restrictions and controls.
  • Local businesses can arrange supply of produce to visiting yachts. Check ahead and where possible buy local.

Sail Scotland CEO Alan Rankin said. “Through our dealings with a wide range of island and coastal businesses, moorings, harbours, commercial boat operators and destination groups it became clear different locations were moving at different speeds when it came to re-opening and welcoming visitors.”

“Marine tourism activities bring significant economic benefit to many rural locations and will play a vital role in recovery from the catastrophic impact Covid-19 pandemic has brought to these communities. Working with other industry partners we hope marine tourism is seen as a force for good and those taking to the water in the coming weeks put the wishes of communities foremost when planning trips.”

#RespectTheDestination emerged from the Covid-19 guidelines developed by Sail Scotland and RYA Scotland which reach across the commercial charter and leisure boating sectors respectively.  These provide specific guidelines to operators and recreational boaters to comply with the Scottish Governments Covid Routemap.  During the development of the documents and listening to coastal and island communities, the need emerged for a clear message for boaters to respect the wishes of these more remote communities.

Following the Scottish Government Routemap guidelines limited leisure and commercial boating resumes on 3rd July with a further reopening of marine tourism expected on 15th July along with wider tourism and hospitality businesses across Scotland.

Speaking about the campaign, James Allan CEO of RYA Scotland said: “Scotland has some of the best sailing grounds in the world and we have seen some of the best spring sailing weather in years lost to lockdown so the changes to the restrictions on Friday are hugely anticipated.”

“Right now, we are keen that everyone across Scotland’s boating community gets one clear message, so I am really pleased that we are closely partnering with Sail Scotland, Wild Scotland and British Marine Scotland to shout about #RespectTheDestination

“Whatever your craft, wherever you are planning to go, Covid-19 has not gone away and we need to remain mindful of the impact of our presence as visitors in small local communities and coastal and island communities.”

“#RespectTheDesintation is about being considerate of others and giving thought to how they might feel about us visiting. Our choice of destination is always someone else’s home and we are the visitors, we should always respect that.  It is also about doing our bit to help restart those small economies that depend so much on us coming to visit.  Where possible, we are encouraging the boating community to shop locally and contribute to the local economy.”

RYA Scotland has produced the following video to support the campaign and promote safe sailing as people return to the water as lockdown is eased.

Monitoring work undertaken on behalf of Food Standards Scotland has identified raised levels of shellfish toxins in Loch Erisort in Lewis.

Eating shellfish such as mussels, cockles, or razor fish from these areas may pose a risk to human health and notices to warn the public and casual gatherers will be posted at various locations on the shore.

Commercial shellfish harvesters in these areas have been contacted by the Comhairle and steps taken to postpone harvesting until algae levels subside.

It is a sensible precaution to avoid eating shellfish from these areas until further notice.

The council is monitoring the situation and will remove warning notices when it improves.


The essential role of local media with a genuine journalistic presence in their communities has been emphasised this week by politicians of opposing parties.

The Scottish Conservative party launched a newspaper recovery plan on Monday (29 June) developed in conjunction with the National Union of Journalists and designed to support the long-term future of the industry.

And MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar Alasdair Allan has said that the SNP-led Scottish Government is also acutely aware of the cultural importance of local media in post-Covid society.

The Scottish Conservatives’ recovery plan includes additional funding streams, additional Scottish Government advertising spend, rates relief and a journalism foundation to support local media.

Shadow finance secretary Donald Cameron, who is also one of the Highlands and Islands MSPs, said: "A thriving local media is crucial for a well-functioning democracy as people need a reliable source of news for many reasons, not least so that they can hold to account their political representatives. This is just as important at a local level as at a national level.

"Here in the highlands and islands, our concerns are often far removed from those of the central belt and we need local newspapers so that local issues get the coverage they deserve."

Dr Allan said today (Thursday 2 July): “There’s a thirst for information just now like I have never seen before, as reflected in the huge number of people contacting me. Local journalism has a huge part to play in our cultural future.”

The comments from politicians come as the gradual release of lockdown restrictions sees some island businesses back to full operation and others announcing that they will either postpone re-opening or will remain closed permanently.

With a heavy reliance on advertising and businesses stopping advertising, media beyond the public service broadcasters have struggled to maintain their presence and to provide their service.

The Broadford-based West Highland Free Press says that it will return to print from the 7 August edition, after announcing on 17 April that publication would be suspended for the first time in the paper’s 48-year history.

The paper has remained active online during lockdown and announced on social media: “During our enforced hiatus we have been so grateful for the support, both in your kind words and the financial donations you have given to us. We will continue to need this support in the months and years ahead.”

Stornoway Media Centre’s stable of publications, including and EVENTS newspaper (, has remained in operation throughout lockdown, aided by a Government-backed bank loan, the Scottish Government small business support grant, the Coronavirus Income Support Scheme and the support of its landlord, Car Hire Hebrides. has had its highest online readership, with more than 51,000 website users during June.

This year’s Eilean Dorcha Festival will take place virtually on the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Facebook page on Thursday 23rd and Friday 24th of July. 

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar says it is delighted to be hosting the online festival and would like to thank everyone who has made this possible.

The Comhairle has been broadcasting weekly Cèilidhs on its Facebook page and welcomes the opportunity to host a range of talented artists who have performed at the festival over the years.

"The 5th anniversary of the EDF Festival will go ahead on our virtual platform as well as the Festival’s own Facebook page later this month."

Roddy Mackay is the Development Manager of the EDF Festival as well as one of the local Councillors for Benbecula and North Uist and recognised the opportunity to use the Comhairle platform to broadcast the festival online.

He said, “I feel that the Comhairle page is the perfect place to broadcast the EDF Festival online.  I am delighted that we have been able to work together to ensure that the EDF Festival does go ahead virtually. I have been really impressed with the Comhairle Cèilidh performances which have taken place throughout lockdown, the Cèilidhs have helped keep people entertained and have become a part of people’s weekly routines. They are greatly appreciated at this difficult time.

"This would have been the 5th anniversary of the Festival and we felt it was important to find a way of keeping it going despite the restrictions. We wanted to support the bands without whom we simply wouldn’t have a festival, this is our opportunity to support them in their hour of need.

"I would like to thank the artists for making this happen, they have gone above and beyond and taken the time to record performances for the event for no charge and have helped to create what is sure to be a fantastic weekend of music.”

The director of the biggest annual event in the islands, Hebridean Celtic Festival, has called for music fans to unite behind a campaign to save the music industry, launched this morning (Thursday 2 July).

Caroline Maclennan has added her voice to a campaign led by a coalition of organisations including UK Music and the Concert Promoters Association. They are lobbying UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak MP to include proposals for support of the industry in his summer economic update, due to be delivered on Wednesday 8 July.

A letter is to be sent to the chancellor signed by top-flight musicians including Rod Stewart, Mark Knopfler and Tom Jones, as well as HebCelt stars and local performers like Colin Macleod, the Peatbog Faeries, Julie Fowlis, KT Tunstall and Imelda May.

The letter calls for Government to respond to the crisis in the UK music industry in the same way that it has done for football and pubs. It says: “Like every part of the entertainment industry, live music has been proud to play our part in the national effort to reduce the spread of Coronavirus and keep people safe.

“But, with no end to social distancing in sight or financial support from government yet agreed, the future for concerts and festivals and the hundreds of thousands of people who work in them looks bleak.

“This sector doesn’t want to ask for government help. The promoters, festival organisers, and other employers want to be self-sufficient, as they were before lockdown. But, until these businesses can operate again, which is likely to be 2021 at the earliest, government support will be crucial to prevent mass insolvencies, and the end of this great British industry.

“Government has addressed two important British pastimes – football and pubs – and it’s now crucial that it focuses on a third, live music. For the good of the economy, the careers of emerging British artists, and the UK’s global music standing, we must ensure that a live music industry remains when the pandemic has finally passed.”

Part of the campaign is to share images of the last live music event attended on social media with the hashtag #LetTheMusicPlay. Individuals are also being asked to write to their own MP asking for them to call on the Chancellor to let the music play.

HebCelt director Caroline Maclennan would this week have been in the throes of preparation for the 25th year of the festival, with a headline bill including Texas, Seasick Steve, Tidelines, Skipinnish and Skerryvore.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, organisers announced on 26 March that the 25th anniversary festival was to be postponed to 2021.

But the festival and live music industry is now fighting for survival, with more cancellations possible throughout 2020 and into 2021. Today’s campaign launch saw Caroline Maclennan throwing the weight of HebCelt behind a call for action.

On social media this morning, Caroline posted a picture of the closing night of HebCelt 2019. She said: “Were you there?! What a brilliant crowd you were!

“UK live music has been one of the UK’s biggest social, cultural, and economic successes of the past decade. From world-famous festivals to ground-breaking concerts, the live music industry showcases, supports, and develops some of the best talent in the world – on and off-stage. 

“As important as it is, our national and regional contribution isn’t purely cultural. Our economic impact is also significant, with live music adding £4.5bn to the British economy and supporting 210,000 jobs across the country in 2019. 

“Today the live music industry stands together to call for action. Join us and share the last live show you went to using #LetTheMusicPlay

The images show Saturday night headliners The Shires closing HebCelt 2019 and the festival site in full swing.


When Annismarie Macfarlane reluctantly closed the doors on her barber-shop as lockdown began, regular customer George Whyte of Anderson Road nurseries presented her with a brand-new pair of garden shears.

Everyone laughed about it at the time, but now, as she begins preparing to unlock the doors at Back&Sides on Bayhead, Stornoway, Annismarie is wondering whether she might actually need to use the shears for some of her customers.

Annismarie said: “We treated it as a bit of a joke when George brought the shears in, but who knew that four months would have passed before we could welcome customers again."

Since the Scottish Government announced last week (Wednesday 24 June) that hairdressers and barbers will be able to re-open from 15 July, Annismarie and her staff team have been making their plans.

So keen are they to get back to serving their customers, that the doors will open from 8.30am on Wednesday 15 July to add an extra hour on to the working day.

There will also be big changes both for customers and for staff, as Back&Sides works round Coronavirus regulations, customer concerns and staff timetabling.

Annismarie said: “Our customers are very important to us and we want to make sure they’re safe, so we are re-organising the room to make sure that all our chairs are at least two metres apart, with screens between them, meaning we can all work at once without exposing staff or customers to risk.

“There will be hand sanitiser at the door as people enter and we will be wearing masks ourselves and asking our customers to wear masks too.

“But the biggest change will be that we will not be operating the walk-in and queue system that all barbers have always used.

"Instead we’re now asking people to book their appointments by phone, so they will see fewer people when they come in and that will be in place for the foreseeable future.”

That in itself is a culture change for barbers, but one which Annismarie expects all barbers will have to adopt. In her 21 years in the trade, barbers have always had a line of men awaiting their trim, quite content to wait their turn and catch up on the news while they do.

There could be more changes in the pipeline, with guidance for barbers coming in a slow drip from health and government sources, but for now Annismarie’s principal concern is making sure her staff and her shop are ready for everyone to come back safely.

They’ve got extra stock in as well – especially to cope with the amount of hair that’s had time to grow over those four months. Those garden shears could come in handy after all….

Annismarie said: “I’m expecting that we’ll be facing everything from the people who wouldn’t let anyone near their hair for four months and have grown quite a fleece, to those who have let wives, girlfriends and friends have a go at cutting their hair and need ‘corrective’ work. We’re expecting a lot of shedding!”

The picture shows Annismarie ready to go with the garden shears – the customer is her nephew, Stuart Forbes Evans.

Alzheimer Scotland Western Isles in Bells Road, Stornoway, is turning to internet-based fund-raising to make up for the drastic shortfall of income caused by the coronavirus crisis lockdown.

Marion MacInnes, Locality Leader for the charity, says today (Thursday July 2) that they are raising vital funds for local services provided by Alzheimer Scotland because our local services need your help to continue.”

They have set a £1250 target on their JustGiving page.

!n the first 36hours they managed to get past £650 on the way to their target.

And they are going for the purple look!

They say: “Did you know that wearing purple can make you feel confident and energetic? Apart from that it can also help you support a good cause.

“Plan a ‘Wear something purple day’ with family, friends or colleagues and make a donation via

“Share this post and tag your friends, family and work colleagues to get involved.

“Send us your photos if you like and we can share on our social media platforms with your permission.”

Marion states: “Please help us continue to provide vital support to people living with dementia and their families in the Western Isles. 

“Now more than ever people living with dementia and their families need our help. We want to make sure that nobody faces dementia alone. Your generous support helps us to do that and every penny really does count.

“Alzheimer Scotland like many charities have been severely impacted by Covid 19 with many of the local fundraising events and opportunities we rely on having to be postponed and cancelled.

“We rely on fundraised income to support our local support services and activities.


The Gaelic language is on the verge of collapse, say researchers from the University of the Highlands and Islands Language Sciences Institute and Soillse, a multi-institutional research collaboration, who are launching a new book today (Thursday 2 July 2020)

‘The Gaelic Crisis in the Vernacular Community: A comprehensive sociolinguistic survey of Scottish Gaelic’ is the most comprehensive social survey on the state of Gaelic communities ever conducted. The book presents new sociolinguistic research about Gaelic communities in the Western Isles, in Staffin in the Isle of Skye and in the Isle of Tiree.

In addition to in-depth analysis of the use and transfer of Scottish Gaelic as a community language, the book presents contemporary data on the societal and spatial extent of Gaelic speakers and Gaelic speaking in the remaining vernacular communities in Scotland.

Evaluating the research, the authors’ main findings show that the language is in crisis, and that within remaining vernacular communities of Scotland, the social use and transmission of Gaelic is at the point of collapse.

The authors urge a radical new approach to vernacular Gaelic revitalisation and propose a new agenda and strategy for Gaelic revitalisation in the islands. They argue for a dynamic language-in-society model that is based on a community development trust for the Gaelic-speaking community that is under the direct control of the community.

Professor Conchúr Ó Giollagáin, Professor of Gaelic Research at the University of the Highlands explained the motivation behind the new book: “It is important that we are clear about the immense scale of the challenges involved in reversing the ongoing decline in the use of Gaelic in these areas.

“Our statistical evidence indicates that the Gaelic vernacular community is comprised of around 11,000 people, of which a majority are in the 50 years and over age category. The decline of the Gaelic community, as especially shown in the marginal practice of Gaelic in families and among teenagers, indicates that without a community-wide revival of Gaelic, the trend towards the loss of vernacular Gaelic will continue.

“We found a mismatch between current Gaelic policies and the level of crisis among the speaker group which must be addressed to face the urgency of the language loss in the islands. The primary focus of Gaelic policy should now be on relevant initiatives to avert the loss of vernacular Gaelic.”

In order to make Gaelic policy viable, the researchers call for a multi-faceted Gaelic engagement strategy rooted in the broader context of community development, re-aligning national policy to address the decline in the use of Gaelic as a community language. Whilst some elements of national policy have had some success, such as the numbers of primary pupils in Gaelic Medium Education, without an overarching revitalisation approach, as outlined in their research, the authors believe the decline in the Gaelic vernacular community will rapidly continue.

Iain Caimbeul, research fellow at the Language Sciences Institute in the University of the Highlands and Islands added: “If Scotland is to continue to give practical expression to its commitment to sustaining cultural diversity, it is vital that strategy for the Gaelic group is rooted in the broader context of community revitalisation.

"We hope this research will be valuable to those interested in seeking to shift public policy assumptions from a sole dependence on the school system for creating the next generation of fluent Gaelic speakers. It is vital that we change the basis for allocating resources to protect against further decline.”

The book, ‘The Gaelic Crisis in the Vernacular Community: A Comprehensive Sociolinguistic Survey of Scottish Gaelic’, is available from the Gaelic Books Council 

Walking 40k to mark 40 years of service and raise vital funds for The Leanne Fund, Lewis nurse Donna Parkes is getting set for a new challenge next month.

Donna is part of the Macmillan Nurse team providing specialist cancer care and support across the Western Isles and wants to mark the occasion for a special charity.

She said: “After 40 years of working as a nurse I am retiring and I want to celebrate this by raising money for a charity close to my heart.

“On the 1st of August I will be completing seven 6km loops around part of Point starting and finishing at my home in Garrabost . This will allow me to adhere to social distancing.

“All donations will be greatly appreciated and 100% of the funds raised will be going to this well deserved cause and make a huge difference in the lives of young people living with Cystic Fibrosis.

“I chose the Leanne Fund as it has a special place in my heart as Leanne was my niece and the fund supports young people to live life to the full like she did.”

Chrisetta Mitchell, Development Manager of The Leanne Fund said: “She has touched the lives of so many individuals and families over the years and I’m sure some of them will want to contribute

You can support her fundraising on her Virgin Money giving page -

Next week would usually see arts organisation Fèisean nan Gàidheal host two of its popular week-long summer events, Sgoil-shamraidh Dràma (Gaelic Drama Summer School) and Fèis Alba, however not deterred by the pandemic, these events will be hosted online for the first time to ensure that youngsters across Scotland don’t miss out on the top class tuition.

Sgoil-shamraidh Dràma Air Loidhne (Gaelic Drama summer school online) will be led by actor, Lana Pheutan, who regularly appears on BBC Alba’s Bannan and FUNC. The event will offer young Gaelic speakers the opportunity to develop their acting skills and collaborate creatively while at home due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Applications from Gaelic speaking teenagers interested in drama, aged between 13 and 17 at the time of the School, are welcome.

Fèis Alba offers Cèilidh Trail participants and advanced musicians, aged 14-20, the chance to learn new music from some of the country’s top musicians whilst also learning invaluable skills and knowledge from industry professionals through a variety of masterclasses, workshops and Gaelic lessons.

This year participants will have the chance to learn new tunes and songs with Oban musician and choir conductor, Sileas Sinclair, Breabach’s Calum MacCrimmon and Glenfinnan harpist Ingrid Henderson. They will also learn Gaelic with Shannon Cowie and Iain-Murdo MacMillan, pick up playing for dancing tips from dancer Frank MacConnell, get crucial advice about being a self-employed musician from Firefly Productions founder and Dogstar Theatre producer, Donna MacRae, as well as gaining PR and social media skills from former Cèilidh Trail participant, Katie Mackenzie. 

Arthur Cormack, Fèisean nan Gàidheal’s Chief Executive said: “Since lockdown, with support from Creative Scotland, Bòrd na Gàidhlig and HIE, we have supported local Fèisean in organising music classes online and we are continuing, as best we can, to offer our usual varied summer programme, albeit in a different format.  While the online events will have some limitations, for example there will not be the normal level of peer-to-peer interaction, we are confident participants will gain skills from the sessions on offer.  We have been encouraged by the response with some young people we might not normally reach able to take part this year.”

A limited number of places are still available for both events and to secure a place please contact Angus Macleod (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.t) for the Sgoil-shamhraidh Dràma and Nicola Simpson (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) for Fèis Alba. 

For more information about the range of summer events organised by Fèisean nan Gàidheal, please visit or

Eleven volunteers are giving of their time, many of them daily, to pick up freshly cooked meals from 'The Chief Cook' Donald Smith, who has temporarily relocated his kitchen to the Old School in Knock, and deliver them to recipients throughout Point and Sandwick. 

The meals service is part of a Community Wellbeing project along with a befriending service for vulnerable people.

The project was launched by community wind farm organisation Point and Sandwick Trust as part of its efforts to combat the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis and made possible by funding from the Scottish Government Wellbeing Fund.

As of the end of June, there were 65 people receiving meals through the project.  Wellbeing project co-ordinator Sandra Macleod said: “I’m absolutely delighted to have volunteers. The whole project wouldn’t be happening without them.” 

The 11 volunteers who are delivering meals are: Dene Campbell, Tom Joyce, Grace Smith, Anna Mactaggart, Janette Ramsay, Graeme Macleod, Caron Buchanan, Peigi MacSween, Catherine Low, Jamie Martin and Maggie Mackenzie.

As they lined up for their group photo, in their Point and Sandwick Trust polo shirts by the Hebridean Design Company, Sandra said: “This is the first time I’ve seen them all. It’s amazing.”

Maggie Mackenzie from Parkend delivers to North Street, East Street and Plasterfield. She said: “People say it’s something to look forward to and nice to see a smiley face. They all say the food is beautiful and everybody that I’ve delivered to is just so thankful. 

“I’m on furlough just now. I’m not working and just wanted to do something, if I could help out in any way. It’s great being able to. It makes you feel good that you’re doing something nice for people. It’s a wonderful thing.”

North Street resident Janette Ramsay is also delivering to North Street and East Street, as well as Lower Sandwick. She became involved after a chance meeting with Sandra, who was delivering a meal early on to Janette’s 90-year-old mother. “I asked her if she had volunteers and I said I could do Sandwick and Parkend, no problem. It’s absolutely fantastic because I come from Sandwick and I know most of the people. I can do it and I’m happy to do it. I work it out with my work.” 

Peigi MacSween from Lower Bayble is delivering to Knock, Upper Bayble and her own village. She said: “It’s good. It was a wee bit nervy at first because of Covid but it’s a lot easier when you get used to it and everybody is really positive about the service. 

“It feels good because you’re helping people who couldn’t get out and are isolating. Sometimes you are the only person that they see all day.”

Tom Joyce, from Garrabost, is delivering to Aird and Portvoller. He had registered as a volunteer on the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Scottish Government websites early on in the crisis. “Then I got a call from Sandra, saying there was a vacancy here, if I was interested. I joined because I believe in the project. I had been working in the food bank, so I knew there was a need. The project in general is excellent and well done to Point and Sandwick Trust for financing it.”

Chief Cook Donald Smith said. “My sense of satisfaction for providing meals for the elderly and the vulnerable in Point and Sandwick is incredible. It’s good to be doing work that benefits the community and I’m delighted that they asked me to do it.” 

A choice is provided every day and each meal is two courses. Meals are provided seven days a week, with all the weekend meals being delivered together on Friday.

Point and Sandwick Trust general manager Donald John MacSween said more than 30 people had volunteered to help Point and Sandwick’s pandemic response, in one way or another – a number he described as “remarkable”.

“We are fortunate to live in a community that has willingly risen to the challenge of the times in such a positive way, and very fortunate to have great support from the Community Councils in Point and Sandwick, our project partners.”

Point and Sandwick Trust initiated its responce to Covid-19 in March, with the creation of its Pandemic Community Fund and its pledge to commit every spare penny generated by the wind farm this year to fighting the crisis. Since then, it has made significant donations to NHS Western Isles and the Point, Sandwick and Stornoway Community Councils.

The Highlands and Islands Students’ Association (HISA) has launched the Gaelic Representation Project to enhance the voice of Gaelic-speaking and Gaelic-learning students across the University of the Highlands and Islands.

With funding awarded by Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the Gaelic Representation Project will develop structures for Gaelic representation to support HISA’s ambition to become a truly bilingual organisation. It will aim to allow Gaelic-speakers and learners to fully engage with their students’ association in Gaelic should they wish to.

This will ensure a strong voice and widened opportunities for all Gaelic-speakers and learners no matter where or what they study in the Highlands and Islands, and use the language as part of everyday life at college, at home and in the community.

Commenting on the launch of the project, HISA Vice President for Higher Education, Andrew Bowie, said: "I am thrilled that we are launching this project. Widening representation for all our students has always been one of my top priorities this year, and I am delighted that our Gaelic speakers will be able to benefit from this project as we work with them to understand their unique experiences as students.

“I'm really optimistic that this project will not only have some significant benefits for our students who study or speak Gaelic, but for Gaelic culture across the Highlands and Islands as a whole – it’s important that HISA plays its role in the development and resurgence of Gaelic. I'm very proud that HISA and the Gaelic students of the Highlands and Islands will be leading the way with this ground breaking project.”

Professor Neil Simco, Vice-Principal (Research and Impact) of the University of the Highlands and Islands and Chair of the Gaelic Representation Project board, said: “The Highlands and Islands Students’ Association Gaelic Representation Project is a highly significant development in the University of the Highlands and Islands. Linking to all that is being achieved through the University’s ambitious Gaelic Language Plan, it will further ensure that the language has increasing visibility and use in HISA’s activities.”

Third year Sabhal Mòr Ostaig student, Anna Smith, said: “I’m so glad to hear that HISA are widening their use of Gàidhlig. Gàidhlig has been an integral part of my time at university, and in my life in general. As a student at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, it’s a natural and easy thing to speak Gàidhlig everywhere I go. If I wasn’t in a place where this was so easy I would definitely miss Gàidhlig and I would be so happy to have more opportunities to speak it and meet other Gàidhlig speakers.”

The library service is now able to prepare Book Bags for customers at Stornoway Library. The service is specifically for library customers who have no internet access, are visually impaired, shielding or housebound.

Library members who would like to take advantage of the service can contact the library to make a request, or complete an online request form.

The Book Bags will have to be collected from a library at this stage. People can nominate a friend, family member of neighbour to collect the bag on their behalf, but the library service can also liaise with a volunteer on their behalf who will arrange a suitable time to deliver the books.

Library staff will make up the bags, aiming to meet each person’s tastes and preferences – as far as possible! Those requesting a book bag would need to be able to collect their bags from their front door, where volunteers will drop them off, or have someone able to do so on their behalf.

The library service will be working with Health & Social Care to ensure that the bags of books reach people in need. The lockdown has meant that libraries have been closed for several months, and many of those without Internet access or for many other reasons, might have had no access to books during this time. Studies have shown how vital books and reading are in combatting loneliness and social isolation and improving mental wellbeing.

Kathleen Milne, Libraries Manager for Western Isles Libraries said: “Over lockdown, the library service has never been shut completely as we have lots of eBooks and eAudio books available through the eLibrary. However, eBooks are not for everyone, and can’t replace the tactile pleasure and satisfaction people get from a real book. We are really glad to finally be able to provide books to those who have been deprived of materials over the lockdown period.”

Staffing resources, Scottish Government guidelines and safety measures permitting, the library service aims to gradually extend the Book Bag service to more areas as well as possibly reintroducing limited mobile library kerbside deliveries and a ‘call and collect’ service when feasible.

For further information, contact the library at:

01851 822744

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


Yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 30 July) long serving Harris GP Dr Andrew Naylor MBE opened the 2019 South Harris show as the sun shone over a packed Leverburgh show ground.

This year’s show was a buzz of activity with each area of the show ground housing a different attraction or point of interest.

Steve Colley attracted the biggest crowd of the day with the former Scottish, British and World trials champion wowing show goers with his death defying stunt show.

Neuro Hebrides is inviting all islanders living with a neurological condition and their carers to come along to their upcoming Neuro Day.

Niall O’Gallagher is the first Bàrd Baile Ghlaschu/ Glasgow’s City Gaelic Poet Laureate, an appointment which runs until 31st October and is part of the Merchant City Festival’s Gaelic Literature and Song Trail.

Bard Baile Ghlaschu is a municipal role with a city profile and the Bard will be in post during the Royal National Mòd in October 2019. 

The post is based on the City’s Poet Laureate model, which is in the gift of the Lord Provost’s Office (Glasgow City Council).

CalMac Ferries are seeking a new ticketing system for all their services…and are holding a supplier Open Day in Glasgow tomorrow (Thursday August 1) to get the process under way.

The company are calling the project An Turas or Our Journey.

Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn has confirmed that detailed planning of a replacement business centre at South Galson is under way.

Have fun…and get advice - that's offer from Hebridean Housing partnership and the Western Isles Housing Association Communities Forum.

The groups are inviting all tenants and residents from HHP communities to a Summer Fun Day at Back Football and Recreation Club on Friday 9 August 2019 from 12 - 4pm.

Both Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan and Highlands and Islands Conservative  MSP Donald Cameron have spoken of the need for more detail about UK Government funding for the three island councils as part of the Islands Deal.

This follows yesterday’s announcement from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit to Scotland that £300 million would be put towards Growth Deals, including the Islands Deal.  

Alasdair Allan MSP commented: “There was a frightening lack of detail available in yesterday’s statement by the Prime Minister, a failing which I suspect will be characteristic of his premiership.

Comhairle na  Eilean Siar, under section 14 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, hereby Orders the temporary closure of the following roads at the following times and dates:

Willowglen Road from its junction on Macaulay Road and its junction with the main A858 road between 12noon to 1pm on Saturday August 3rd 2019.

NEW – Whb, tap / W/C, cabinets

Wash hand basin and 550mm cabinet, gloss white.

Matching w/c cabinet 500x300mm and back to wall Pan.

Soft close toilet pan seat.

Grohe Mixer Tap.

Surplus to requirement.

ALL NEW. £250

Must be uplifted from Point as we can not offer transport.

After a break of several years, the Merseyside-based calendar and guide scammers are calling Western Isles businesses again.

The technique involves claiming that the business being called has already agreed to take part in a special calendar, poster or campaign.  The caller will claim that a conversation took place at some point earlier in the year.

The projects are generally in support of some victim-group - in this morning's case, it was victims of bullying.

The Lewis Carnival is currently seeking volunteers. The Lewis Carnival Committee says: "Please, if you can spare even an hour or two on the day, let us know!" 

The small group of volunteers has worked for months to make sure that the beloved event can go ahead, but it cannot take place without the required number of volunteers on the day. 

The Lewis Carnival takes place 11am-5pm on Saturday August 3rd - volunteers are also needed to set up and clear away.  

Get in touch with This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 01851 705743 and ask for Melissa, if you can help! 

The Lewis Carnival Committee has taken over the Murdo Maclean's window in the centre of town for the week of the carnival. Passersby watched as the girls filled the window with information about the coming weekend. 

The Lewis Carnival Committee told "We want everyone to know just how much is happening, so this window contains information about the Lewis Carnival parade, the food & drink festival and the ceilidh. Two of these events are brand new, and we want them to be as successful as possible. We're particularly excited about the food & drink festival, which will showcase some lovely local food. The parade also looks set to be the best in years - which is all thanks to local people getting together to support the event - so we're very excited!" 

This weekend's events include:

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil says Scotland needs ‘better government, not a bribe to stay chained to the union.’

As new Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Scotland yesterday (Monday July 29th), Mr MacNeil said the UK Government are running out of time to keep Scotland on board a sinking ship.

In a bid to promote and improve physical activity levels in Lewis and Harris, a team of new Walk Leaders was recently trained by NHS Western Isles.

A total of seven new Walk Leaders have been trained to lead group walks in their local communities, joining a team of 50 volunteers already trained by the ‘Walk on Hebrides’ project in recent years. These volunteer Walk Leaders are invaluable in providing walkers with an opportunity to reap the health rewards from group walks.

The Isle of Lewis Gymnastics Club got a welcome boost this summer as six of its volunteer coaches completed coach training.

The coaches gave up days of their Easter and summer breaks to complete Level 1 and Level 2 gymnastics coach training.

On top of the training days and exams, the coaches also put in many hours running regular gymnastics sessions and completing plans and log books.

Point and Sandwick Trust, in collaboration with a number of industry partners (Wood, Siemens-Gamesa, Engie, ITM, CMAL, Johnston Carmichael and Ferguson Marine) have published a feasibility study to assess the suitability of using hydrogen produced from local wind farms to power future ferry services operating in the Western Isles and West Coast of Scotland.

Of the nine routes analysed, the highest-scoring route using a small ferry on a short crossing was from Barra to Eriskay and the highest scoring route using a large ferry on a long crossing was from  Stornoway to Ullapool.

With prosecco, Downpour Gin and cocktails!

Official opening: 12.30pm


The Western Isles Citizens Advice Service: offices on the Isles of Barra, Harris, Lewis and Uist, are holding their AGM on Tuesday 13th August 2019 at Lewis CAB 41-43 Westview Terrace Stornoway.

Please come along to see what we do and what we want to do in the future.

We would welcome any new volunteers and members to our board

We will have a some refreshments from 4.00pm ( come and have some of the CAB’s 80th Birthday Cake )

The actual meeting is at 6.00pm

Any questions : please contact us on 01851 705727 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Photograph by Sean Purser. 

This summer, one of Scotland’s leading traditional arts organisations, Fèis Rois, is hosting the Scotland Pavilion at the acclaimed Festival Interceltique de Lorient in Brittany, France for a second year, with over 80 hours of music, song and dance from some of Scotland’s best up and coming artists programmed.

Six Scottish musicians will perform alongside six Breton musicians in a brand new collaboration organised by Fèis Rois in partnership with Festival Interceltique de Lorient. Female Gaelic song trio, Sian, featuring Eilidh Cormack (Skye), Ellen MacDonald (Inverness) and Ceitlin Smith (Lewis) have been working with three female Breton singers to come up with material for a shared performance in Lorient on Thursday 8th August.

Peatland in North Lochs is to be restored to its natural state as part of a peatland action project announced yesterday (Sunday July 28th).

Scottish Natural Heritage and Scottish Water will work together on 11 hectares of damaged and eroding peatland within the Loch Orasaigh drinking water catchment area, which serves the North Lochs Water Treatment Works.
Work will include re-profiling peat hags, blocking drainage ditches and encouraging the stabilisation of vegetation around the edge of the loch.

On Friday (26th July) the West Side Agricultural show returned for its second year at the Barvas Community Centre show ground.

In past years the show has gone on in spite of adverse weather conditions but on Friday in blistering sunshine the only complaint that could be heard was, “tha e teth.”

A group of drivers heading south on the main road to Harris today (Monday July 29th) include some owners heading for Uist at the end of a real tractor marathon.

The 2019 Tractor Run from Stornoway to Leverburgh set off from the Porter’s Lodge in Stornoway at 9.45am this morning, heading south to raise funds for the Hebridean Men’s Cancer Group.

Perceval Square car park will be closed from 6pm on Friday 2nd August until 6pm on Saturday 3rd August to make way for the Lewis Carnival. 

The Lewis Carnival Committee asks that ALL vehicles be removed before this time. 

Nurses currently working in NHS Western Isles can apply for the University of the Highlands and Islands Shortened Midwifery Programme.

The postgraduate diploma, which has been developed in partnership with NHS Highland, NHS Western Isles and NHS Orkney, will enable registered nurses to become fully qualified midwives in 20 months, helping to meet the needs of communities across the north of Scotland.

Members of the public are invited to a NHS Western Isles Annual Review meeting in Castlebay Community Hall.

The meeting, which will be attended by Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing, Joe FitzPatrick, gives members of the public the opportunity to hear about the Health Board’s achievements and challenges.

It also provides the chance to hear about progress, proposals and options for healthcare development in Barra.

Exclusive interview with EVENTS feature writer Katie Macleod

 “I love chopping parsley!” laughs Gary Maclean, Scotland’s National Chef, when I ask what his favourite part of the cooking process is.

While seafood is one of his preferred ingredients – “it’s an enjoyable, rewarding thing to cook because it’s instantaneous, it’s really quick and timing is crucial” – in reality the Glasgow chef loves it all, from preparation to butchery skills to pastry.

Scotland’s National Chef and MasterChef: The Professionals winner Gary Maclean has cooked for celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Bon Jovi, and Billy Connolly, and in locations ranging from 10 Downing Street to Hollywood.

Leverburgh’s RNLI Lifeboat station and crew need extra help from the people of Harris to continue their valuable work saving lives at sea.

RNLI Leverburgh have vacancies for volunteer fundraisers and event supporters, each essential to the professionalism and effectiveness of the lifeboat team.

Tidal conditions on the Sound of Harris mean changes to the ferry timetable between Berneray and Leverburgh from Wednesday (July 31st).

Extreme tides mean revised timetables will be in place every day from July 31stto August 5thinclusive.

You can find full details of the timetable changes at

Western Isles Weather is marking ten years since Stornoway’s own tornado with a special blog post today (Sunday July 28th).

The tornado formed around 10pm on July 28th2009 during a period of intense storms across the whole of the islands.

It first crossed Goat Island, sinking a small boat at her moorings, and then hit the Sea Angling Club, blowing in windows and leaving customers sheltering under tables.

The parents of aid worker Linda Norgrove have found a novel way of raising funds for the charity they established in their daughter’s memory.

Having spent years transforming a derelict byre into an upmarket holiday cottage for rent, they plan to use the income to cover the running costs of the Linda Norgrove Foundation, ensuring all money donated by supporters goes straight to projects in Afghanistan.

The Lochs Show crowds this afternoon (Saturday July 27th) showed that a little bit of rain - indeed, quite a lot of rain at times - was not going to stop them having a good time.

Anderson MacArthur on South Beach Street, Stornoway says it is proud to have joined Cancer Research UK’s Free Will Service.

The Free Will Service helps people aged over 55 to write or update their Will free of charge.

A student from Stornoway has developed an engine concept for supersonic jets with the help of the Innovation Centre at Lews Castle College UHI and had his ideas published in a prestigious scientific journal.

Harris & Lewis Smokehouse

Taste of The Outer Hebrides Menu

Thursday August 1st 7pm

A celebration of The Outer Hebrides, our Island Produce and Environment

Two sets of marina facilities in Harris were officially opened on Wednesday 24 July.

The facilities, owned and operated by Harris Development Ltd (HDL), provide the last vital link in the chain of marine facilities.

Shetland yachtsman, Andrew Halcrow, was guest speaker and he cut the ribbons at the two Isle of Harris Marina facilities in Tarbert and Scalpay. 

Additional flights between Barra and Glasgow have been added into the timetable to try and ease congestion for island travellers.

Loganair has put additional flights into the schedule on August 13th, 14th, 15th, 17th and 30th to try and meet some of the demand for seats during the busiest period of the summer.

A barbecue being held tomorrow afternoon (Saturday July 27th) marks the official celebration of 10 years since the Clan Macquarrie community centre opened.

The new centre in Borve replaced a much older village hall which itself commemorated a momentous event on the Westside of Lewis.

Hebridean Housing Partnership are expanding their highly successful New Supply Shared Equity scheme to rural sites across the Outer Hebrides with support from the Scottish Government.

The Bernera boyhood of Donald Macleod is to be celebrated with the launch of a new bilingual book from Stornoway publishers Acair next month.

Eadar Dà Shaoghal: Between Two Worlds is based on Donald’s successful Radio nan Gaidheal series of the same name, vividly portraying the sights, sounds and emotions of his boyhood on the Isle of Bernera, Lewis.

The second annual Tong scarecrow competition is set to start on Monday (July 29th) and there’s already an early contribution in the village.

For a week, villagers can construct their own scarecrows in gardens, crofts and verges around the village, entering the contest for a donation to Tong Recreation Association of just £5. On Friday next week, judges will carefully evaluate the entries before awarding first second and third prizes.

Staff at the Stornoway TalkTalk call centre are to be given a farewell dinner by their bosses before the doors close on the centre.

A total of 59 employees were handed their notice after broadband services company decided in January that their Stornoway centre was to close.

Traffic heading out of Stornoway towards Back and Barvas may expect delays as the road remains one-way only past the scene of a traffic accident this morning (Friday July 26th).  Around midday, traffic queues had backed as far as the Manor roundabout. 

Advance tickets for HebCelt’s milestone 25th festival in 2020 go on sale today (Friday, 26 July) to meet demand from fans, just days after another successful event ended.

Early bird weekend tickets for arena shows on 15-18 July next year will be available from noon from the festival website

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

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

Isle of Harris

New car park, Luskentyre

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has applied for planning permission to construct a new car park on common grazing at Luskentyre. The car park will accommodate 11 cars. 

New streetworks pole, Leverburgh

Arqiva Ltd has applied for planning permission to erect a 10m streetworks pole, antenna and associated works at the smart metering mast on Ferry Road, Leverburgh. 

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has called on incoming Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack to ensure the UK Government gives the go-ahead to the Islands Deal.

The islands MSP ensured that the Islands Deal was one of the first items on the new Secretary of State’s desk by writing to him urging to take forward a date for announcing the Deal.

Gael Force Group have established a base in Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland and Labrador, to serve aquaculture producers in the province and across Atlantic Canada with their high quality and robust range of marine equipment, technology and services. 

Scotland’s Airline Loganair reported a pre-tax profit of £1.01 million for the 12 months ended 31 March - its first full year of operation under its new brand identity. 

However, the Shetland Times reports today (Thursday July 25th) that the impact of disruptive action by Air Traffic Controllers across airports run by Highlands and Islands Airports since April, has already cost the airline around £1m in compensation payments or accommodation costs related to passengers who were delayed or missed flights.

Comhairle na  Eilean Siar, under section 14 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, hereby Orders the temporary closure of the following roads at the following times and dates:

Willowglen road from its junction on Macaulay Road and its junction with the main A858 road between 12noon to 1pm on Saturday August 3rd 2019. 

Macaulay Road / Bayhead Street / Kenneth Street from Manor roundabout through Macaulay Road and Bayhead Street to the junction of Kenneth Street. This also includes the a short section of Kenneth Street between Bayhead Street and Scotland Street between 1pm and 2pm on Saturday 3rd August 2019. 

Cromwell Street / Church Street / North Beach Street / Castle Street / Point Street / Bank Street from Bayhead Street along Cromwell Street and part of North Beach Street through the west lane of Castle Street to its junction with South Beach Street. The section of Church Street between Kenneth Street and Cromwell Street will be closed for through traffic. This also includes the pedestrianised section of Point Street and Cromwell Street and the full length of Bank Street between 1pm to 5pm on Saturday 3rd August 2019. 

Perceval Square Car Park from 6pm on Friday 2nd August to 6pm on Saturday 3rd August  2019.

Fisherman's Car Park from 00:01 on Wednesday 31st July 2019 to 23:59 on Saturday 3rd August 2019. 

Western Isles Cancer Care Initiative (WICCI) is hoping to hit a high note with their very first project in a new drop-in centre in Stornoway.

The best of produce from near and far 26/07/2019

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

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



Price Each






Butternut Squash  




Green Cabbage




Cabbage (White UK)








Celeriac (UK)




Celery (UK)








Garlic Large




Small Garlic




Organic Chard






Price Per KG


Beetroot (UK)




Broccoli (UK)




New Season Dirty Carrots




Bunched Carrots












Leeks (UK)




Mushrooms UK




Onions (White)




Onions (Red)




Ayrshire Potatoes








Duke of York




Premier Potatoes








Swede (Scottish New Season)




Sweet Potato




White Turnip






Price Each


Little Gem (x2)




Cos Lettuce




Organic Lettuce Leaves








Spring Onions






Price Per KG


Peppers (Mixed Red, Green, and yellow)




Tomato (Cherry on Vine)




Scottish Tomatoes




Tomatoes (Plum Vine)






Price Each


Fugi Apples


3 for £2.00


Gala Apples


4 for £1.50


Red Delicious


3 for £1.50






Donut Peaches


3 for £1.50






Kiwi Fruit












Yellow Melon




Charentais Melon






3 for £1.80


Oranges Large


3 for £1.50




3 for £1.80


Pears (Conference)


4 for £1.50


Raspberries (West Hardmuir Fruit Farm) 200g






4 for £1.50




Price per Kg


















Chillies Red








Red Seedless Grapes




Local Fresh Eggs




Come along to the first Lewis Carnival Ceilidh.

Tickets on sale at Intermedia Services (Sign Print entrance).

£10 per ticket - limited tickets available!

Welcome drinks by Harris Gin, bar by the North Uist Distillery.

The world’s most scenic tennis court in North Harris was a place where dreams come true on Saturday (July 20th), with a celebratory birthday doubles match being played by three generations of one family.

Tickets for a Glasgow Barrowlands concert by Stornoway band Peat & Diesel (pictured above on the main stage of the Hebridean Celtic festival during their performance last week)  sold out this morning (Thursday July 25th) within minutes of going on general sale.

Barra RNLI Lifeboat was called to assist during a battle to save a fisherman pulled unconscious from the water yesterday afternoon (Wednesday July 24th).

Stornoway Coastguard control centre received a call at 12.53pm saying that a fisherman had been found unconscious and immersed in water on rocks in Loch Carnan, South Uist.

Roadworks are due to start next month on Sandwick Road, Stornoway, adjacent to the Engebret Ltd garage, to replace the small bridge that crosses the drainage canal which runs from the sea shore in Broadbay towards Stornoway Harbour.  

An Eat Safe Award has been presented to the Isle of Harris Distillery Canteen.

The award is given by the Environmental Health Service of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar in conjunction with Food Standards Scotland.

This year’s Lochs Show on Saturday (July 27th) is set to be bigger and better than ever – literally bigger as they have the Mighty Smith Show, Adrian Smith, three times Winner of UK’s Strongest Man Competition, on hand to wow everyone with his daring feats of strength. 

Jim the Magician and Bubbles the Clown will be touring the showground providing entertainment for all.  

A new network of cycle trails could be created across the Outer Hebrides.

Jonny Murray and Jan Schouten from cyclist-transport provider HebShuttle have created Hebridean X Trails to ensure that the Outer Hebrides can take full advantage of growth in cyclocross and mountain biking activities.

Cyclocross and mountain-biking contribute significantly to Scottish tourism numbers and Scotland is recognised as being among the best destinations in the world for both.

Thursday (18th July) saw the North Harris Agricultural Show return to an overcast Urgha showground.

The well attended show saw locals and visitors alike enjoy the events on offer, from life stock judging to highland dancing, there was something for everyone.

A poignant anniversary is to be turned to public benefit by Stornoway RNLI Ladies Guild member Jane Maciver on August 1st, with a 25-mile walk for the RNLI.

Jane is being joined by other Guild members and Stornoway RNLI volunteer crew to walk 25 miles from Bernera to Stornoway, in memory of her late partner Craig, a fisherman who passed away at sea.

Writer and poet Donald S Murray, originally from Ness, has a new chance of an award after being longlisted for an award for a debut novel from the Historical Writers Association.

The nomination is for his recently-published novel "As the Women Lay Dreaming", described in the citation as "a passionate, atmospheric and evocative novel inspired by the Iolaire disaster" that "explores how an event can have a dramatic impact on communities."

A special concert will be taking place in Stornoway to raise funds for the repairs to the St Columba's Church stained glass windows.

An urgent resolution on how chemotherapy medication is transported to the Western Isles is needed, says Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan, after it was revealed that the current method of air transportation could cease.

Presently, chemotherapy medication is delivered to NHS Western Isles via an air freight service between Inverness and Stornoway.

The multi-million-selling singer songwriter KT Tunstall led the praise for the 24th Hebridean Celtic Festival which ended at the weekend after another highly successful four-day event.

KT, one of this year’s headliners, returned to HebCelt for the first time since 2011.  During her visit she lauded the festival for being at the forefront of environmentally-conscious efforts and also for ensuring gender balance on stage.

Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron has written to the chief executives of the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and NHS Eilean Siar asking them to assure him that they have measures in place to deal with risks associated with food allergies.

Mr Cameron acted after research undertaken by the Scottish Conservatives indicated that neither council nor health board provides training courses for their staff or the public.

Boris Johnson as Prime Minister of the UK will be bad for the Islands and for Scotland, say the local MP and MSP 

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has reacted to the announcement that Boris Johnson is set to be appointed Prime Minister.

A crackdown on driver behaviour around the Isle of Lewis led to 44 drivers being fined or reported for road traffic offences over the weekend.

The Road Traffic Policing unit from Dingwall was in action between Friday July 19th and Sunday July 21st as part of the continuing Operation Cedar, aimed at improving safety on the roads in the Highlands and Islands.

Stornoway police are appealing for witnesses to an altercation in the town centre very early on Sunday July 21st, after a man was assaulted.

The assault happened at 12.10am on Sunday outside licensed premises in Point Street and police want to hear from any witnesses who may have noticed the events leading up to the assault, or the assault itself.

The bandwagon that is Lewis band Peat & Diesel keeps on rolling, with the latest announcement that a Celtic Connections gig scheduled for January next year is to move to a bigger venue.

Peat & Diesel announced this morning that their scheduled show at Glasgow’s Òran Mòr on Saturday January 25th has been cancelled – after selling out all the tickets within two minutes of going on sale this morning (Tuesday July 23rd).

A huge exodus of music-lovers leaving the Isle of Lewis after the close of Hebridean Celtic Festival has been declared a success by CalMac’s Stornoway ferry port manager.

Over five sailings between 6am on Sunday (July 21st) and 2pm yesterday, the MV Loch Seaforth carried over 2,500 passengers and 500 cars, vans and motorhomes from Stornoway to Ullapool.

The CalMac ferry MV Isle of Lewis is returning to service this afternoon (Tuesday July 23rd) after a period of extensive disruption to services to and from the Isle of Barra.

The Stornoway Trust has warned about the financial consequences for the local community of the court cases being pursued in relation to wind farm projects in the area.

In a statement today (Tuesday July 23rd) the Trust says that: "Following the unsuccessful attempt by four crofting townships, namely Aignish, Melbost and Branahuie, Sandwick and Sandwick East Street and Sandwickhill North Street, who had appealed to the Scottish Land Court over the Crofting Commission’s decision to refuse their Section 50B applications, the Stornoway Trust consider that another key milestone, albeit an unnecessary one, has been passed. 

The Lewis Carnival is currently seeking volunteers. The Lewis Carnival Committee says: "Please, if you can spare even an hour or two on the day, let us know!" 

The small group of volunteers has worked for months to make sure that the beloved event can go ahead, but it cannot take place without the required number of volunteers on the day. 

The Lewis Carnival takes place 11am-5pm on Saturday August 3rd - volunteers are also needed to set up and clear away.  

Get in touch with This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 01851 705743 and ask for Melissa, if you can help! 

Experts are still attempting to discover the identity of nine killer whales, spotted near Vatersay.

The whales were encountered during the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust's annual marine research expeditions last year. 

The Trust now hopes to encounter the mystery pod again during its surveys this summer. It says that the unexplained killer whale pod sighting highlights how much there is still to learn about the remarkable marine life in Hebridean waters, and the need for long-term monitoring of cetaceans and basking sharks.

Fèis Mara na Hèaradh is offering people the chance to hear from battling round-world sailor Andrew Halcrow tomorrow night (Wednesday July 24th).

Fèis Mara na Hèaradh is offering people the chance to hear from battling round-world sailor Andrew Halcrow tomorrow night (Wednesday July 24th).

On 5th July, 2 young people from the Westside Open Group and Sir E Scott Open Group attended a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award presentation in the gardens of Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has issued an amber flood warning for the Western Isles tonight (Monday July 22nd).

The warning, issued at 3.44pm today, says: “A period of heavy rain may affect the area on Monday evening and overnight, which could cause flooding impacts from surface water and small watercourses. This could include flooding to low-lying land and roads with difficult driving conditions.

Work is well under way on a £6.5 million Scottish Water project to protect the future of the water supply for the district of Ness. 

Scottish Water partner Efficient Service Delivery (ESD) is carrying out the work to expand the existing water treatment works at Airigh Na Gaoithe and to fit upgraded water treatment equipment and controls. A new filtration system and generator are to be housed in an extension to the existing main building, as well as a separate new raw water storage tank. 

Recent samples taken at Loch Ordais, South Bragar have indicated the presence of blue-green algae. 

Swallowing the water or algal scum can cause stomach upsets or more serious health effects, warns Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

Sixteen customers in Vatisker Park have been without power since 6am this morning (Monday July 22nd) and could be waiting until early evening before their power is restored.

An underground cable fault was reported to Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks at 6.06am and the cable repair team is still trying to pinpoint the exact location of the fault. Engineering teams are already on site ready to tackle the problem once it’s located.

A full four days of sea-going celebration is planned for the Isle of Harris from Wednesday (24th July) as the 2019 Feis na Mara gets under way.

The festival of the sea starts with the official openings of the Isle of Harris Marina, with events at both Tarbert and Scalpay pontoons at 11am and 12 noon on Wednesday. Traditional boats will gather in Tarbert and there’ll be market stalls on the quay, as well as an on-the-water day run by Lewis and Harris Youth Association.

Police are appealing for information after two plant pots were removed from a North Tolsta garden.

The plant pots were taken from a garden at Camach Park between 7pm on Saturday 20 July and 12pm on Sunday 21 July.  

Stornoway police are asking for public help after a car was damaged in Stornoway town centre on Friday (July 19th).

CalMac is struggling to put together a service for passengers leaving or arriving on Barra this week, after the MV Isle of Lewis was shipped off to Clydeside for urgent repairs.

The timetable between Castlebay and Oban has been patchy over past days, with technical problems on the ageing ferry scrambling the timetable.

CalMac is struggling to put together a service for passengers leaving or arriving on Barra this week, after the MV Isle of Lewis was shipped off to Clydeside for urgent repairs.

The timetable between Castlebay and Oban has been patchy over past days, with technical problems on the ageing ferry scrambling the timetable.

Stornoway RNLI lifeboat was called to help when a fisherman lost power on his vessel on Friday afternoon (July 19th).

The lone fisherman aboard the small fishing boat Ceol na Mara used VHS to issue a distress call when he lost engine power and was unable to control the boat, in Loch Roag off Bernera at 1.20pm on Friday.

A thin blue line of youth volunteers helped the Hebridean Celtic Festival run smoothly this week.

HebCelt has once again teamed up with Loganair to help ensure one of the festival’s main acts makes it to the stage on time.

The airline has had a long-running association with the award-winning festival and this year as part of its sponsorship flew members of Hudson Taylor from Dublin to Stornoway ahead of appearing at 6.15pm today on the main stage today (Saturday July 20th).

Peat & Diesel's astonishing climb to local stardom saw more packed and overflowing venues at the Hebridean Celtic Festival yesterday (Friday July 19th).

In the evening, the band totally redefined the meaning of 'acoustic' as huge queues snaked across the field from their scheduled performance in the 'Acoustic Tent'.  Large numbers had to listen from outside what is the smallest of the three covered venues.

Inverness Airport will be closed tomorrow (Sunday July 21st), cutting off the Highland capital from its crucial air links across Scotland, England, Ireland and the rest of Europe. 

This is part of intensifying industrial action by air traffic controllers, which will see Stornoway and Benbecula airports closed on Tuesday.

HIAL Managing Director Inglis Lyon has apologised for the disruption this further round of strike action will cause and urged the Prospect union to get back round the table and help deliver a solution to its long-running pay dispute.

Work has begun on adding Scottish Gaelic to Duolingo, a popular online language learning service.

The course is currently in Duolingo’s “incubator”, where language courses are constructed with the help of a community of volunteers, and has an expected completion date of July 17 2020.

Islands MSP, Alasdair Allan, started a campaign on this issue after being inspired by the success which the Irish language had on Duolingo.

Travellers leaving the island from Sunday (July 21st) after the weekend’s festivities at Hebridean Celtic Festival could find themselves battling the odds to get home.

Bad weather forecasts, full ferries and strike action at airports could combine to cause changes to travel plans, with flights especially subject to unexpected disruption.

Award-winning singer songwriter KT Tunstall took a ride in an electric car to support HebCelt’s drive to improve the environment which also includes working with Lewis Wind Power and Essence of Harris.

Members of the public are asked to help researchers look into the effect of plastics on birds.

A new website has been launched by researches from the University of the Highlands and Islands to gather information about the interaction between birds and debris such as plastics.

Members of the public are being asked to upload details and photos of birds which have become entangled in debris or which have incorporated it into their nests to

HebCelt Festival is pleased to announce that Peat & Diesel will be playing an additional gig today (Friday, 19 July) at 2.15pm on the main stage.

This will be a 30-minute show and open to all main arena ticket holders.

A Gaelic praise evening will be held on Sunday 21 July at 8pm at the Stornoway High Church on Matheson Road..

The event will feature Celtic songs of praise, performed by Domhnall Michael MacInnes, Noel Eadie, Isabel Macleod and Craig Parks.

Jane Mackinnon, a former long-standing Hebridean Housing Partnership Board Member, officially opened Corran Cismaol, Castlebay on Wednesday 17 July 2019.

Stornway-based Calmax Construction Limited, who employed several more local contractors, went on site in June 2018, with Housing Minister Kevin Stewart in Castlebay to cut the turf and completed construction in April 2019. 

Young people have the chance to get involved in two different weeks of Gaelic music, language and culture coming up in Lewis later this month - Fèis Eilean an Fhraoich (Stornoway) and Fèis an Rubha (Point).

Youngsters in Harris enjoyed their opportunities earlier this month as Fèis Eilean na Hearadh took place from 1st-5th July. 

The event provided children from nursery age right through to secondary school with the opportunity to learn a new instrument, speak Gaelic and participate in other activities including drama, sports and arts and crafts. 

Lewis Wind Power is delighted to be supporting the Lochs Show for the second year in succession.

The show, to be held on Saturday 27th July at Laxay showground, is always a highly anticipated event in the Lewis and Harris summer calendar with competitions ranging from flower shows to photography to agriculture. Alongside the numerous competitions, attendees will also enjoy a range of attractions and shows.

The start of work on the massive homes project on land from the former Goathill Farm on Perceval Road, Stornoway, was marked this afternoon (Thursday July 18th) with a large official event.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar said it was delighted to welcome Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning, to formally mark the commencement of the Goathill Farm Care and Housing Development, with a turf-cutting ceremony on the site, where preparatory work is already well under way.

Point Agricultural Society issued an urgent call for help yesterday (Wednesday July 17th) after strong winds took hold of one of their marquees and blew it into the community centre at Aird.

Tiumpanhead Community Centre’s gable end wall took the brunt of the impact as the large marquee flew across the showground. When it was spotted by neighbours, it was wrapped round the centre and across the roof.

Lochs goalie Rachael Johnstone is heading for Denmark at the weekend, after being picked by her club, Celtic FC, to play in next week’s Dana Cup youth tournament.

Celtic FC announced a squad which they say combines experience with youth to defend the under-15s cup, won by the Celtic FC girls last year.

The unexpected island phenomenon that is Peat & Diesel struck again yesterday afternoon (Wednesday July 17th) with youngsters shut outside a venue which was too full for safety.

The island trio has been building a storm of support, especially amongst very young fans, with a mixture of rousing tunes and off-the-wall, very sing-able lyrics penned by guitarist and songwriter Calum ‘Boydie’ Macleod.

The best of produce from near and far 19/07/2019

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