Counselling and Family Mediation – Western Isles would like to thank all their clients and referrers to our service for their patience and understanding during the difficulties resulting from COVID19 pandemic.

We have continued to work with our clients online very successfully during the last few months and will ensure all necessary requirements and guidelines are in place prior to returning to face to face counselling and/or mediation in our premises.

CFM presently operate with 6 counsellors and 2 mediators all of whom are trained to Diploma level and registered accordingly. 

We offer a FREE service to all.  Counselling is available for anyone suffering from various life’s difficulties, including depression, anxiety, bereavement, suicide prevention and bereavement for families/individuals following suicide.   We also offer couple counselling and Sexual Therapy.

CFM Western Isles deliver counselling to all our young people within the Island Schools, who can be referred by Education or self refer.

Presently we have 6 students in training  to Diploma in Psychodynamic Counselling level, now in their second year and working with our clients.

CFM Western Isles are supported financially by Scottish Government, CNES and NHS Western Isles and are extremely grateful to all for their financial support which enables us to continue to offer this much needed service throughout our Islands.

Donations are always welcome.

For appointments or information please contact: CFM Western Isles Manager on 01851 705600 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Building projects island-wide are caught in a snarl-up over building supplies, as surging demand outstrips the ability of producers to get materials to the islands.

And some companies are describing a perfect storm of long waiting-times, increased costs and sheer unavailability of basic materials which threatens to put home-builds and commercial projects even further behind schedule.

Every construction project throughout the islands is already lagging behind their planned timetable, after a lockdown period when work on contracted projects was halted.

During much of that period builders’ merchants and other suppliers were also closed or on essential deliveries only, while producers from timber mills to paint manufacturers in Scotland and further afield themselves closed operations.

Stornoway-based Lewis Builders Ltd have a number of commercial contracts and domestic customers whose projects are due to restart, but quantity surveyor Emily Young says procuring materials to get the projects back underway is causing a headache.

She said: “Some of the materials we need now have huge lead-in times to get to site and some prices have gone up by as much as 15% – and then we are waiting for the production and delivery of the materials.

“Materials are in really short supply both on and off the island. In the few weeks since we have been running up our operations for re-opening we have noticed that mainland suppliers are beginning to run short.

“It’s not just commercial contracts which are going to be affected – it’s holding back domestic projects as well.”

The availability of time at home for furloughed workers, coupled with good weather earlier in the summer, may itself have contributed to some of the shortages, according to Iain Macaskill, branch manager of Buildbase in Stornoway.

He said: “People who are off work are doing more projects around the house. We’ve run out of decking three or four times and the timber mills were telling us they’ve sold six months-worth of decking in five weeks.

“The combination of high demand and low production is lengthening the waiting times. We have orders outstanding for decking where people are willing to wait, where usually they would want it now or they’d go elsewhere.”

Timber mills in mainland Scotland have actually closed the book to some orders, according to Donald Morrison, managing director of Caley Timber in Inverness. He said: “Although a lot of timber is produced in this country, some of the mills are not even accepting orders.

“Whereas three or four weeks ago they would take an order and say it would be six weeks before delivery, now they won’t even take the order. It would be better if they would take it and say we’d have to wait ten weeks.

“Timber is a problem, cement is a problem and we are now being warned that there’s a problem with roof tiles coming down the line. Some suppliers are giving an allocation of products, which is effectively rationing. They’ll give us an allocation of two loads of cement when we were looking for six.

“That means projects will also become more expensive. If demand outstrips supply it’s inevitable that somewhere down the line the price will go up, whether there is justification for it or not. We’ve been notified of price rises in timber for the past three months and we’ve just been told of another one on 1 August.”

At Buildbase in Stornoway, Iain Macaskill sees numerous issues at play across all parts of the supply chain. He said: “Every industry is affected. Some of the buckets that paint comes in are made in Europe and the paint makers can’t get them. Some suppliers can’t get everybody back at work because of social distancing.

“Plasterboard was on an allocation system and, although both plasterboard and insulation are now available, the big demand from the mainland builds hasn’t hit yet. As soon as a few hundred housing estates start needing plasterboard and insulation, it’s going to impact us. This issue will be ongoing for some time.

“The island customer is doubly affected because there’s a limited choice as to where you can get things from. It’s not that they don’t send the materials to us, just that when we run out there isn’t anywhere else to source it.

“Jobs are liable to be delayed at the moment, rather than put off altogether. But if there were to be another outbreak and another lockdown, that’s another matter. We could lose some suppliers altogether.”

There are some rays of light in the current turmoil, though. Iain said: “On the mainland they aren’t used to waiting as long as we do anyway. We’ll carry as much stock as we can but, if people come in and order everything we’ve got, then we’ll just have to wait, as island people can.”

Pictures show builders’ supply yards at Caley Timber in Inverness and at Buildbase in Stornoway.


As of Monday (Monday August 3, 2020) Chief Superintendent Conrad Trickett will take over responsibility for Highland & Islands Division, Police Scotland said today (Friday July 31)

Meanwhile Chief Superintendent George Macdonald returns to North East Division after serving the Highland & Islands for the past three years.

Chief Superintendent Macdonald (pictured above) began his career with Grampian Police in 1991 and has undertaken a variety of roles, including operational policing at all ranks, CID, intelligence and extensive partnership working with public, private and voluntary sectors. He has previously worked both within Aberdeen City and the rural communities of Aberdeenshire and Moray before he was promoted to Divisional Commander in 2017.
A former Royal Marines Officer, Chief Superintendent Trickett has served in a variety of operational and corporate roles in the North of Scotland, including serving as an Area Commander for Dundee before leading on major events and operations including T in the Park and The Open Golf 2018, as well as emergency and resilience planning for the North Command area.  He has led contingency planning for major nationwide events, was seconded to the Scottish Police Authority for a period of his career and most recently helped lead the national resilience coordination for Police Scotland’s response to Covid-19.
Current North East Divisional Commander Campbell Thomson is due to retire on August 14 following a 30-year police career in the North of Scotland. Chief Superintendent Thomson joined Grampian Police in 1990, undertaking a variety of roles including Detective Chief Superintendent and Head of CID for the legacy former Grampian force.
The formation of Police Scotland in 2013 saw him appointed as lead for the national Major Investigation teams responsible for the investigation of all homicides throughout Scotland and in January 2014, he was appointed Assistant Chief Constable for Local Policing North. He returned as Divisional Commander for the North East in 2015. 
Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: “Firstly, I would like to thank Chief Superintendent Thomson for his service to both Grampian Police and Police Scotland over the past three decades. His professionalism, leadership and ability commands utmost respect across Scotland, while his dedication to the North East has been outstanding. On behalf of the entire force, I wish him a long and very happy retirement.   
“I am also delighted to confirm the appointments of both Chief Superintendent Macdonald and Chief Superintendent Trickett to North East and Highland & Islands Divisions. Both bring a wealth of diverse experience and knowledge to their respective areas, and share in Police Scotland’s collective focus of protecting the people of Scotland while inspiring our officers and staff.
“Maintaining public confidence in policing has never been so important, and as the force navigates its way through such a challenging time it is absolutely crucial that the right people are in place to ensure that local, community policing remains at the heart of what we do. I know both Divisional Commanders will serve our communities well.”

Islanders who are currently in the shielding category are being reassured that help will continue to be offered for those in need, despite shielding being paused nationally from 1st August 2020.

NHS Western isles says that for those who are currently shielding, the pause will mean that you can follow the same guidance as the rest of Scotland. However, you should continue to strictly follow physical distancing and hygiene measures and may also want to think about the levels of risk associated with what you are choosing to do. You can then decide how comfortable you are with that risk.

The local Community Support Hub and Helpline, led by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, which offers community support for anyone requiring assistance during the coronavirus pandemic, will continue to be available to those living in the Western Isles at 01851 600501.

The national telephone helpline (0800 111 4000) will also continue to be available, but will transfer any local calls received to the Community Support Hub and Helpline.

Those who have been shielding will continue to receive Priority Access to supermarket online delivery slots. This is in response to weekly grocery boxes being stopped on 31st July. 

Existing local Foodbanks will continue to be available for those who require them, with the Foodbank based at the Stornoway Golf Club (led by The Salvation Army and open each Wednesday and Saturday from 11am-2pm) offering stocks of fresh fruit and vegetables, milk, and chilled and frozen meals.

Food boxes will continue to be made available for those in need, and feature dry goods with longer-shelf lives, such as tinned items, pastas, rice, etc. However, as it is encouraged that fresh protein is required to maintain good health and nutrition, fresh items (fruit, vegetables, dairy and meats/protein) should also be eaten as part of a healthy diet. Requests by people with specific dietary requirements can also be made. For further support on local food distribution, please contact the Community Support Hub and Helpline.

Support will also continue to be offered to those who are vulnerable or on a low income through the Helpline. 

Although shielding is paused, the Scottish Government will continue to provide information and advice to individuals. This includes sending updates through their text SMS Shielding Service to those registered.  To register, text the SMS Shielding Service your 10 digit CHI number (mobile number and CHI number can be found on the shielding letter previously received – but please do not include any other information). Please note that the SMS Shielding Service only accepts text messages with pre-programmed replies. It does not take voice calls and cannot respond to questions.

Important guidance for those who have had shielding paused (from 1st August 2020)

·       keep the recommended 2 metre physical distance from others you do not live with
·       wear face coverings if you cannot physically distance as well as where mandatory (shops and public transport in line with Government legislation)
·       practice good hand hygiene (wash your hands for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser)
·       cough or sneeze into a tissue and safely dispose of it, or use the crook of your elbow
·       avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
For further information on the latest guidance please view the Scottish Government Shielding Route map (for those at highest risk) at:

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.

A courageous sailor bunny has made a safe landfall in Orkney, just 16 days after setting sail from the Isle of Lewis.

Peter the rabbit was given the task of steering a carefully hand-made raft from the beach at Vatisker by three-year-old Tommy Hunt, who sent him off to sea on 12 July with the help of mum Claire Coldock and dad Roger Hunt.

The family, who stay in North Tolsta, are regular beach visitors and have been keeping themselves busy with adventurous projects throughout lockdown.

Roger said: “We go to the beach almost every day and we always collect plastic and other rubbish to recycle. A couple of weeks ago we decided to make Peter the rabbit a raft using some branches and garden canes, twine that we had found on the beach and some reeds to finish the job off with.

“Since then, each day when we’re at the beach, Tommy has been asking ‘where’s Peter now?’ and we have just been pointing off to sea, but then I was scanning social media yesterday (Wednesday 29 July) and there was a picture of Peter the rabbit.”

Peter had been found safely ashore in Graemsay, a tiny island in the western approach to Scapa Flow in Orkney. He’d arrived on Tuesday (28 July) after a 16-day sea journey that left him just a little damp and apparently a bit tired – he was resting when he was discovered.

Finder Michael Braddock is one of just 28 residents on the tiny island. He opened the message, carefully sealed inside a bottle and read: “My name is Tommy Hunt and I built this raft with my Mummy and Daddy. We sailed it from our home on the Isle of Lewis. Please share on social media if you find.”

Michael immediately complied, with pictures of Peter and the note. As a mariner himself, he was able to report with authority: “The raft was a bit wobbly and the message a little damp, but bunny is OK. He is to head back to sea for further adventures once we get him ready.”

When Roger spotted the post, he reported it straight away to Tommy. Roger said: “He was just so excited. He was running round in circles screaming and since then he’s been talking non-stop about telling his teachers and his schoolfriends when he starts school in August.

“We don’t have any further adventures planned at the moment because we want to see how this one works out. Michael said he’s going to tighten up the raft a bit, add his own message and get Peter ready for sea, then set him off from the opposite side of Graemsay island.

“We’re hoping he will catch the currents for Scandinavia. It would be great to see him hit Norway next.”

Pictures show Tommy with his mum Claire and dad Roger on their beach day, bunny setting sail from Lewis on 12 July (Roger Hunt), and taking a rest at his landing spot in Graemsay, Orkney, together with a snap of the letter as it arrived (Michael Braddock).


A Western Isles branch of a support group specifically aimed at those bereaved by suicide is being launched in Stornoway. 

Sarah’s Sanctuary is a branch of Beautiful Inside and Out, a registered charity born out of the tragic suicide of 13-year-old Jenna Moriarty.  Her mum Pauline Moriarty wanted to ensure that Jenna could still help others by offering support and counselling to bereaved parents, family and friends who have lost their loved ones to suicide.

Now Lewisman Kenny Macdonald plans to extend their work into the islands, honouring the memory and sharing his enduring love for his own daughter after suffering a heart-breaking loss. 

Sarah’s Sanctuary is being set up in memory of Sarah Maree Macdonald, of Aird, Point and Newmarket, who died at the age of 29 in September 2019. 

Sarah attended Bayble Primary School and The Nicolson Institute before moving to the mainland with her family in 2011. Most recently she worked as a lifeguard at Inverness leisure centre and had been due to return to Lewis with her family, planning to take up nursing training in Stornoway.  But, after struggling with mental health for several years, she lost her battle and ended her own life.

Kenny said: “Sarah was a beautiful young woman with a loving, caring manner and always a kind word for everyone she met. Losing her was the most devastating experience ever for us as a family.

“We came home to Lewis and found that there was a lack of help in bereavement of this kind available on the island. Having experienced mental health issues within the family previously, I had raised funds for Pauline’s charity Beautiful Inside and Out some years ago. I felt it was a very worthy cause, but could never in my worst nightmare have envisaged needing the charity in such circumstances.”

Kenny has joined forces with Pauline and with qualified counsellor Marina Sinclair to create Sarah’s Sanctuary. This will begin as a support group that will meet regularly in Stornoway for those affected by suicide.

The group will be facilitated by Kenny and Marina and offers a confidential, non-judgemental safe place for people to share their experiences and support each other. One-to-one counselling will be funded by the group for anyone requesting it.

Despite the hope that they could begin to use the therapists that already work with Beautiful Inside and Out via digital platforms such as Zoom and Skype, the group’s plans were delayed by the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic.

They now aim to launch in August with a fundraising event which affirms the life of Sarah Maree Macdonald in the most active way.

Kenny said: “Sarah would have been 30 years old on 12 April. To honour her 30 years, myself and Marina plan a 30k triathlon on Saturday 22 August – cycling, running and kayaking around the Stornoway area.

“Our group welcomes those bereaved by suicide to meet and share their experiences in a safe and confidential environment. Support groups can promote health and healing and healing happens when stories are shared in a safe place.

“The date and venue of our first meeting will be publicised on Facebook and with local posters, so please spread the word. If you are interested in attending the support group or have any questions please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

“In memory of Jenna Moriarty and Sarah Maree MacDonald, we are reaching out in the love that they displayed for others throughout their lives. In their memory a place of safety and refuge will be available with no discrimination and no judgement – a sanctuary for any that are in peril. 

“The launch of Sarah’s Sanctuary here on the island means people will not have to travel to the mainland to attend a bereavement-by-suicide support group.  We can now say there is a place for you to go, there are others who understand what you are going through and will help.”

To support the 30k triathlon fundraiser go to

The picture shows Sarah Maree Macdonald and is used with thanks to Sarah’s family.


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  

The atmosphere is buzzing at The Barbers in Kenneth Street, and partners Gracie Macleod and Catherine Campbell (pictured above) couldn’t be happier to see their customers back.

And even though there have been plenty of changes since the doors to all barbers and hairdressers suddenly closed in March, customers are taking the new shape of haircuts in their stride.

Gracie said: “We’ve never been appreciated so much in our lives. Everyone has been brilliant and a massive amount of hair has already come off in our first two weeks. I wish the mill would take it to make tweed – we’ve probably filled a skip already!”

One major change is the need for all customers to make appointments – and to turn up on time. The door will be unlocked only to let them in, and there’s limited waiting space inside. The chairs themselves have been spaced out and the much-loved children’s play-room has been turned into an extra barber’s space, ideal as a protected area for those coming out of shielding.

Some of the changes may have initially seemed like an inconvenience, but now, says Gracie: “A lot of people are preferring the fact that they can make an appointment, turn up on time and get seen, rather than sometimes having to wait ages until a chair comes free. And it’s not changed the atmosphere one bit.”

Gracie and Catherine were careful to make sure everyone knew what to expect ahead of opening, with a walk-through video on their Facebook page showing just how the inside of The Barbers now looks. That was evidently an excellent idea – 12,000 people have viewed the video and everyone is enthusiastic and excited to be back.

Gracie said: “The first few weeks have been really good – everybody has made our job so much easier and, as we said in the video, we’re just enjoying having some normality back after all the madness and getting back to the job we love!”

Pictures show: Barbers shop quintet – Joshua, Levi, Isaac, Jacob and Seth Morrison before and after their post-lockdown haircut on 21 July (The Barbers).


Thousands of young people can access dedicated results support when the Skills Development Scotland’s (SDS) Results Helpline opens on Tuesday 4 August.

This offers advice, information and guidance for young people and their parents and carers from 8am on results day. The number to call is 0808 100 8000.

Around 138,000 candidates across the country will receive their National, Higher and Advanced Higher results.

Education Secretary John Swinney said: “Young people and their families have shown tremendous resilience in coping with the many challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and will naturally be anxious about the potential impact on results.

“You may achieve the results you worked so hard for, but if you miss out on the grades you were hoping for, there is still a huge variety of options available to you. Skills Development Scotland advisers will provide expert advice to help all pupils understand their future education and career choices.”

James Russell, SDS Director of Career Information, Advice & Guidance Operations, said: “This year is unlike any other and young people receiving results and their families may be feeling more anxious which is understandable. This is the point when their work and efforts are recognised, our advice and support is available and our message is if your results aren’t what you expected, don’t worry, you have lots of options.

“Our careers advisers are here to help you and your parents and carers with information on all the options and opportunities on offer.”

The Results Helpline will be open on August 4 and 5 from 8am to 8pm, August 6 and 7 from 9am-5pm and August 10 to 12 from 9am-5pm.

SDS’s expert careers advisers can discuss options and next steps such as course vacancies at UK colleges and universities, Confirmation and Clearing, Modern, Foundation and Graduate Apprenticeships and jobs or volunteering.

James added: “We’ll also have advisers available through social media to answer queries if you find it easier to get in touch via direct messaging.”

Joanna Murphy, Chair of the National Parent Forum of Scotland said: “I know from my own experiences as a parent that receiving results is a day of high emotions, both for young people and their parents.

“Results day can bring about a range of feelings whether that’s nerves, anticipation, excitement or worry, and for many of us the changes this year due to Covid-19 will have heightened these emotions.

“The SDS Results Helpline is a real lifeline. Whether you’ve received unexpected results, or want to discuss your choices, their advisers can talk through a wide range of options that are available.

“This opportunity for young people to have a calm conversation with someone impartial and knowledgeable helps take some of the heat out of the emotion of the day, and reminds young people and their parents that, no matter what results they have received, there is always a next step available.”

SDS’s Stornoway-based careers adviser Charlie Stewart said: “Young people receiving their results have had a very different experience this year. The Helpline and their school careers advisers are there to help them, and their parents and carers who make around a third of the calls to the Helpline, to find out about all of options and opportunities available to them.”

Charlie has volunteered for the Results Helpline many times because he gets to speak to young people and parents from all over Scotland and says it is good to help people. He works with pupils at The Nicolson Institute and is based in SDS’s Francis Street centre.

To get in touch with the SDS Results Helpline via social media go to My World of Work on Facebook at or Twitter at

Results information and advice is also available on Scotland’s careers website, My World of Work at which has practical help and links to UCAS, SAAS, Young Scot and the SQA.  

For pupils going into 5th and 6th year this August, there’s still time to choose a Foundation Apprenticeship alongside Nationals and Highers. To find out what’s available in your area go to or speak to your SDS careers adviser.

Completing a Foundation Apprenticeship leads to a qualification at the same level of learning as a Higher (SCQF6). Assessment happens throughout the year so there's no final exam.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has welcomed a new programme of support for the tourism sector as it continues to feel the impacts of the pandemic.

The £14m Hotel Recovery Programme was announced today (Wednesday 29 July) by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes.

The scheme, which will be managed by the enterprise agencies and VisitScotland, aims to protect larger hotels which have been especially badly hit by the impact of the pandemic. The fund is due to be open for expressions of interest by the end of August.

HIE, Scottish Enterprise and South of Scotland Enterprise will begin taking expressions of interest for the programme in late August.

Businesses that meet the criteria will be eligible for both grants and a holistic business review with bespoke support based on their individual needs.

Charlotte Wright, chief executive of HIE, said: “Hotels are at the heart of our tourism sector, which is central to our regional economy and a vital source of rural employment.

“The hotel recovery programme will help protect these jobs and support this important network of businesses across our region recover from the impacts of the past few months.

“We very much look forward to working with our partner agencies to maximise the programme’s effectiveness over the coming months.”

Today’s announcement also included a further £1m grants programme run by Visit Scotland for self-catering businesses that have not received any other Scottish Government COVID-19 support. This is also expected to benefit many businesses in the Highlands and Islands.

Applications will open in early August and VisitScotland will work with The Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC) to review applications received.

UKHospitality has welcomed the Hotel Recovery Programme but fears the programme is not sufficiently resourced to deliver the scale of support required by the hotel sector.

Commenting on today’s announcement, UKHospitality Executive Director for Scotland, Willie Macleod said: “The £14m programme is a positive sign of intent, but it is going to be a drop in the ocean for the sector. The reality is that any programme of recovery intended to keep hotels in Scotland open and staff in jobs, will need to be much bigger and much more wide-ranging. It must be hoped that this is an initial step in supporting these businesses and that further resources will be made available in the likely event that the programme is over-subscribed.

“These are businesses that have been devastated by the pandemic. Almost all of Scotland’s tourism and hospitality businesses ground to a complete halt over the Spring. Not all businesses are yet open and those that have opened are operating below capacity and have concerns about medium-term profitability. The future of many hotels and so many jobs around the country is still in the balance.

“Support will need to be much more extensive to ensure it reaches all businesses who need it. UKH estimates that there are around 950 larger hotels in Scotland, with a rateable value over £51,000, which did not qualify for grants that were available to smaller businesses. Many were unable to access government-backed loans or the Hardship and Pivotal grants provided by Scottish Government. On average, hotels had to meet £60,000 each month during lockdown to cover fixed costs.

“As the Government has identified, these businesses employ lots of people and support a long supply chain. A budget of £14m may mean that only 50 businesses, 5% of larger hotels, will be supported if each qualifies for the maximum sum. This is not enough to avert the crisis facing the sector.”

Reaction from UKHospitality has been added since this article was first posted

Stornoway police are investigating the apparent theft of a shop sign from Wool 4 Ewe on Kenneth Street – and the shop’s owner is completely mystified by the theft.

Jackie Collier had the 12-foot-long metal sign above the door at her old shop on Church Street and has since used it as an extra piece of advertising to let customers know that her new store on Kenneth Street is open.

She said: “I used to bring it in every night, but with the weight of it and the struggle to move it into and out of the shop doorway, I decided to leave it in place against the wall and it has never been a problem in the three years I have been here.

“I honestly don’t know when, or why it would have been taken. I reopened for business on 29 June and it wasn’t until a customer came in last week and said: “I thought you were closed, the sign isn’t out,” that I realised it had gone.

“I’ve asked the bin men and some of the local delivery drivers, but no-one seems to know where it’s gone. It’s bright pink, made of metal and 12 foot long – someone must have seen what happened to it!”

Police are asking for any help to track down the missing sign, which could have been removed any time during lockdown, between March and July.

Anyone with information is requested to contact police via 101, quoting incident number NH 847/20.

Picture: the pink metal sign used to be above the door of Wool 4 Ewe’s former Church Street shop (Jackie Collier).


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.

Building contractors yesterday (Monday 27 July) resumed work at Stornoway Primary School on the planned development of improved early years provision.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s contracted company, Lewis Builders Ltd, have been following Scottish Government guidance on the resumption of commercial contracts, which have seen a phased return to work depending on each project’s purpose.

Phase one of the construction project had been completed and, from yesterday, operatives began work remodelling the inside of the early years accommodation.

They’re hoping for a move-in date towards the end of the year. The old nursery block will be demolished after that stage of the work has been completed.

Lewis Builders’ quantity surveyor Emily Young said: “The impact of lockdown and the suspension of work on construction projects has meant that we are now approximately three months plus behind our scheduled completion dates.

“All our staff have undergone Covid-19 training and been briefed on site protocols which change from site to site. Tradesmen are working in ‘bubbles’ of two and keeping their distance from other pairs, with face-masks being worn where there is a need to work closely with other operatives.”

The pictures show the Stornoway Primary early years construction project in progress this week.

Crossroads Lewis Care Attendant Scheme


Will be held on Tuesday 11th August 2020

at 7pm

on a Zoom Platform

All Welcome

Please e-mail to crossroads.lewis1@btinternet

or telephone 01851 705422

to acquire the information to access the Zoom meeting.   


When Louis Shields announced in 2018 that he was going to retire after 30 years running Stornoway’s only dry-cleaners, Euroclean on James Street, there were shockwaves around Lewis.

People wondered how the town was going to manage without a dry-cleaners – who would deal with the massive loads of bedspreads and duvets? Who would get best wedding suits and special occasion dresses clean and who would take up, let out or take in ill-fitting clothing?

Louis himself had a message for a would-be successor as he embraced the idea of retirement. He said: “There’s definitely an opening for someone, it would be great to see someone new come in, with new ideas, to cast a fresh eye over the place. I would hate to see the place shut down.”

Neither Louis nor his thousands of anxious customers could have imagined what a family affair the succession would turn out to be. Son-in-law Willie Macrury had a job at Macaulay College and a house to do up, with a new baby soon to be born to his wife Marsaili. He certainly wasn’t expecting to step up to the business challenge.

But, says Willie, things seemed to fall just right for him to take over – initially only on a temporary basis. “I had given up my job to do up the house just as Euroclean was closing and I realised that, with the demand for the service and the family involvement, I would probably be doing the work anyway, so I stepped in.

Willie finally officially bought the business on 1 September last year, and his attitude to running the company is exactly what Louis was hoping for. He’s brimming with new ideas, yet keen to keep the ethos of reliability and service that Euroclean was always known for.

The first thing customers will notice is a fresh new look to the place. Willie said: “We have new signage, a new logo and have done up the shop front so it all looks bright and fresh.

“The biggest change, though, is in the cleaning system we use. All our equipment has been replaced and we now use the Electrolux Lagoon cleaning system. It’s the first water-based professional cleaning system to be approved by The Woolmark Company and it helps protect the environment, using no toxic solvents.

“All detergents are biodegradable and the whole process of cleaning is chemical-free. The machinery itself is top-of-the-range, the highest specification cleaning machinery you can get.”

Installation of the new system was a saga in itself, with fitters due to do the work in March. Obviously lockdown intervened and the system has only just been installed at the beginning of July.

The company stayed open all through lockdown, classified as an essential service and continuing to provide clothing and laundry-cleaning for key workers. But it was a lonely time for Willie, who staffed the shop single-handed throughout lockdown.

He said: “For the first three or four weeks of lockdown I was fully open, then I reduced to half days as demand dropped and spent the rest of the time doing the jobs on the house and garden.”

Throughout lockdown, there was never a day without customers and back on full-time hours, the shop has never been busier.

Accommodation providers are looking for their bed-linen to be completely refreshed to prepare for post-Covid regulations and, with weekend changeovers, key-worker clothing and service washes for individuals the staff of four are fully occupied.

Post-lockdown Euroclean is the best of both worlds – new and fresh, with top-class equipment and a new management team, but continuing a family tradition too.

One familiar face is that of seamstress Carol Maciver, who has worked at Euroclean since Louis opened the doors in 1988. She’s returned for three days a week to do repairs and alterations. Marie McCallum and Willie’s mum, Carolyn Macrury are also in the team, along with part-time worker Sophie Graham.

Oh, and one other familiar face… “Louis still comes in almost every day,” laughs Willie. “It’s handy, but I might have to tell him to go home eventually.”

The picture shows all the team with new business-owner Willie Macrury and his wife Marsaili and baby son Niall, just turned one year old.  


Anyone who has ever had to look after any new offspring will know exactly how much of the time is spent thinking about poo.

That’s why, with over 40 rescue kittens in the homes of foster carers in and around Stornoway, Western Isles Support for Cats and Kittens (WISCK) were truly relieved to receive an offer of help from recycled toilet paper manufacturers Who Gives A Crap.

Who Gives A Crap love to make toilet paper, they say, because it's funny and it gives them lots of room for toilet jokes. But it’s also their way of making a difference, with 50% of their profits going to help build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world.

The company learnt about WISCK when one of our supporters forwarded our newsletter, WISCKers. Since Who Gives A Crap have a head of feline relations (they really do), it was a natural response to put a complimentary box of 24 toilet rolls in the post to the Isle of Lewis.

A customer relations spokesperson said: “We adore cats! Thanks for sending this newsletter. That is soooo cute. Please give them this box of 24 recycled toilet paper rolls. I hope they love it.”

WISCK chair Cat Campbell said: “People always think about playing with and cuddling kittens, but any of our fosters could tell you that at least as much time is spent emptying trays, disinfecting floors and washing blankets that have been used as kitten-loos.

“We have runny bottoms, poo-ey footprints and everyday toilet training to deal with, and we get through a lot of paper, wipes and disinfectant spray, which doesn’t come cheap. So we’d like to thank Who Gives A Crap for helping to soften the job up for us.”

As you can see, five feral kittens from Lower Shader gave the product a thorough testing before it was distributed around foster homes in Lewis and Harris to help with…let’s just call it mopping up.

If you’d like to help with the big kitten clean-up this season, you can purchase any of the items on WISCK’s Amazon wishlist at or make a donation by Paypal using the donation address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We also recommend

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has today (Tuesday July 28) confirmed that the live weekly Cèilidhs, which have been running on its Facebook page every Friday and Saturday night since lockdown began, will continue until the end of the year.

The Comhairle ran a poll on the Facebook page over the weekend to ascertain whether there was an appetite from the community to see the cèilidhs continue and 98% of more than 400 respondents confirmed that they were.

Whilst most of the Comhairle’s COVID-19 social media programme of activities has now come to an end, the cèilidhs have been considered a key source of entertainment by islanders and expats around the world.

Colin George Morrison, Media Coordinator at the Comhairle, said: “The cèilidhs will continue until the New Year but we will be reducing it to one a week with a weekly Friday evening slot at the usual time of 9pm. We are delighted to announce that this week’s ceilidh will be hosted by Iain ‘Costello’ Maciver, who has been one of the most prominent artists on the live ceilidh scene since lockdown began.

“We have consulted with many of the artists who have been performing over recent months, and without whom none of this would be possible, and have received an overwhelmingly positive response to the continuation of the ceilidh programme. It has been quite incredible to see how the artist have so willingly supported the communities of the Western Isles and likewise how the communities have supported the artists.

“The local musical talent, including Gaelic and English songs, have seen over 30 cèilidhs take place over the last 4 months with a total of around 374,300 views to date. We do hope that this continues to be an extremely positive experience for all concerned and the Comhairle is more than happy to facilitate the continuation of the project.”

Iain “Costello” Maciver, said: “In the absence of live music events, the COVID cèilidhs have been great for keeping people’s spirits up, not only the general public, but the performers as well. I hope the Comhairle keep them going for the foreseeable future and I look forward to taking part in a few more of them.”

In addition to the continuation of the online Cèilidh programme, the Comhairle has also this week agreed to work with local artists to provide exclusive 30 minute weekly ceilidh footage to all Care Homes throughout the Western Isles in order to provide residents with some musical entertainment.

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."

Lodge Fortrose has teamed up with Western Isles Association for Mental Health (WIAMH) and the Volunteer Centre Western Isles to fund a series of Mental Health First Aid training courses for up to 40 individuals and community volunteers. 

The course advocates that the concept of first aid can effectively be applied to mental illness in the same way as first aid is delivered in response to physical illness or trauma. The course will give participants an in depth understanding of the factors which can affect mental health wellbeing and provide practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues.

Lodge Fortrose have provided funding of £2000, which includes £1000 from the Grand Lodge of Scotland’s Covid Relief Challenge Fund, towards the cost of delivering the courses. The courses will be available on a no-cost basis to local organisations and individuals to support the community response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Henry W Macinnes, Master of Lodge Fortrose, said: “Our members recognise that the mental health impacts of lockdown and the inevitable economic contraction will become a real issue. With this in mind the Lodge is working with local voluntary partners to reinforce community resilience through the delivery of Scottish Mental Health First Aid training.”

Rebecca Mahony, Project Manager for WIAMH, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be able to deliver mental health training to staff and volunteers from voluntary and third sector organisations across the Western Isles as a direct result of this project funding. 

"We believe this will be a really positive community led initiative that will directly benefit people throughout the Western Isles who are experiencing mental illness of mental health issues as a direct or indirect result of the Covid-19 crisis.” 

Suzanne Macaulay, Manager of Volunteer Centre Western Isles, said: “The role and value of volunteers has never been more apparent than over the last few months, where volunteers have led the response to community needs during lockdown. We are delighted to work in partnership with Lodge Fortrose and WIAMH to support this valuable training.”

Members of Lodge Fortrose with Suzanne Macaulay, Volunteer Centre Western Isles, and Rebecca Mahony, Western Isles Association for Mental Health.

Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB) staff and contractors are back at work at the Butt of Lewis lighthouse, after suspending work on the major landmark building during lockdown.

All NLB’s maintenance and repair work was delayed or postponed to protect contractors, staff and the public during the Coronavirus crisis. A spokesman for NLB said: “Now that the Scottish Government has initiated a recovery plan we have an operational need to return to these suspended projects in order to complete them before the winter.”

Contracted workers are staying in rented accommodation in the Ness area and taking ‘every precaution’ to avoid unnecessary contact with the local community.

The Northern Lighthouse Board is an essential service under the terms of the Coronavirus (COVID-19): construction sector guidance, issued on 28 May, for the transport sector. Safe and effective operation of the transport network is essential to the national response to COVID-19.

NLB’s project leader, Graeme Macdonald, said: “Our contractor, TRAC, resumed work on site on 2 July after putting in place measures to allow safe working under Covid-19 restrictions. They have been staying in self-catering accommodation not far from the lighthouse.

“Fortunately a lot of the work has been external painting of buildings, so it's not been too difficult to complete the work while socially distancing, and the good weather for most of July has allowed them make good progress.

“Next week their electrician will arrive on site to get to work on the electrical refit in readiness for the new fixed LED light to be commissioned and we've scheduled to have everything complete by the end of September.”

The work at the Butt of Lewis Lighthouse includes replacing the rotating optic with a static flashing LED, similar to those already installed at Tiumpanhead and Scalpay lighthouses. NLB are also refurbishing and redecorating the tower and mess facilities in the neighbouring building.

Graeme said: “The Butt of Lewis lighthouse has been guiding mariners safely through Scottish waters for over 150 years. This essential refurbishment and upgrade work means this iconic lighthouse will be fit for purpose for many more years to come.”

The lighthouse was built by David Stevenson in 1862 and was converted to automatic operation on 30 March 1998.

Picture shows Butt of Lewis lighthouse before work commenced (NLB).

Another example of on-line ingenuity in the face of the pandemic emergency lockdown has come to the rescue of a major arts project across a series of Scotland's Islands.

The Between Islands Project found itself in a position where this summer’s planned programme of activities had to be cancelled due to the covid virus and ensuing lockdown situation.

Originated by An Lanntair arts centre, and funded through the LEADER 2014-2020 regional cooperation scheme, the project had been working with a range of arts and heritage organisations from throughout the Western and Northern Isles in the creation of a collaborative series of events.

Musical performances were planned for both Shetland Folk Festival and Heb Celt in Lewis, with workshops, lectures and museum exhibition launches planned throughout the summer and on each island group.

Now, and with an extended completion date of December granted by LEADER, the project has been revived, and still promises to deliver on these original initiatives mostly through utilising online resources. 

Project coordinator Alex Macdonald explains: “As the project involved a series of live events initially we were at a loss as to how it could be saved. Also, a lot of the work was already underway so it was extremely disappointing to think it would never be seen. In particular the folk festival live events and exhibitions in Lerwick, Kirkwall and Stornoway appeared unlikely within the original funding timeframe, so I am delighted we have been able to regroup and collectively find some workable solutions.”

Lectures in conjunction with UHI will now be placed online, as will workshops and the exhibitions themselves, which are to be created as virtual presentations. Likewise short films due to be screened as part of the museum displays will be released weekly as an online series, and the live musical events will be replaced with a CD recording of new work by the original line-up of participating artists.    

Alex continued, “Ultimately placing these activities online can present its own challenges but a positive outcome will be that there is both a tangible legacy to the project and of course that these resources can potentially be accessed by a much wider audience. To that end there will be a website and utube channel launched shortly to work in conjunction with our existing information channels, and I am very grateful to our funders and participants for their determination in ensuring the project could continue.”

Professor Frank Rennie of Lews Castle UHI saidd, "In a strange way, the constraints of lockdown have encouraged us to think innovatively about education and public engagement, so it is with pleasure that we are pursuing this initiative in the online environment. Hopefully, it will allow a great many more people to view the lectures than a face-to-face audience would allow, and in due course, we can follow-up the talks with Q&A sessions and other events."

Matt Bruce, Vice-Chair of the Outer Hebrides LEADER Local Action Group added ‘A number of enterprises had to fundamentally rethink how they would deliver their projects following the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and the LAG are delighted with how Between Islands has incorporated innovative methods to achieve their goals and reach existing and new audiences and allow them to be immersed in the culture and heritage of the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland.’

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.


Lewis and Harris Auction Mart announced late on Friday (24 July) that they’ve been given the go-ahead to hold livestock auctions in their Steinish mart.

Earlier in the season there was confusion after media reports on island sales, leading Dingwall and Highland Marts – who conduct sales in Lewis – to reiterate their support for island crofters, while insisting that they must await Scottish Government guidance before making any decisions on island sales.

On Friday afternoon Lewis and Harris Mart directors said: “Late this afternoon (24th July) we were delighted to receive confirmation that we will be able to hold sales this year at the auction mart in Stornoway.”

Provisional dates have been listed on the website of Dingwall and Highland Marts, showing sales of lambs in Stornoway on Wednesday 26 August and 9 September and a sale of cattle and rams on 6 October. These dates are not confirmed.

Sales will be conducted following guidance from the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland and will include protection of vulnerable people, social distancing and new hygiene arrangements.

The directors in Lewis and Harris said: “We continue to work with Dingwall Auction Mart and our partners to put all arrangements in place and are not yet in a position to confirm exact sale dates and times. We will continue to provide updates to producers in the coming days as we confirm dates, booking arrangements and safe operating procedures for sales in Stornoway.

“We appreciate the patience of local producers this season and please be assured that we are doing all that we can to bring you information about the sales. Keep checking the website for the latest news.”

The website, which is also the portal for online booking of livestock, is at

In further good news for crofters, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar announced last week that the abattoir in Stornoway will re-open next Monday (3 August). Bookings are being taken now on 01851 706733.

The picture shows Lewis and Harris Auction Mart during one of 2019’s record sales.

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.

The Health and Social Care Partnership is pleased to announce the establishment of an Integrated Social Care Manager post for Barra as part of the wider Health and Social Care integration plan.

Peigi Maclean, Day Services Manager, will assume the role of Integrated Social Care Manager post for an initial period of 12 months.

Peigi has a great deal of experience working in the social care profession, within both statutory services and the third sector. Peigi is also an active member of the Gàradh a Bhàgh a Tuath and has led on the Gàradh Hub development in the Northbay area with the new development of an integrated multi use community building.

Peigi will manage Home Care, Day Care and Residential Services and will be supported in this role by an Oversight Team, a team consisting of senior managers from across all three Social Care services, with added input from a senior manager from Health.

Having a more integrated service will provide a more positive experience for service users and staff alike. Service users should experience more seamless transitions across social care services and staff will have opportunities to develop their skills and work across the three services to where the need is greatest. Having an integrated service provides greater resilience to each of the services in terms of staffing and other resources.  

Over the next 12 months, the Oversight Team will regularly and sensitively monitor what is working well, listen to the experiences of service users and their families and explore what is working well and what areas we need to improve further on. These experiences will be carried forward to the wider Health and Social Care integration plan.


Help us to help you is the plea from Lews Castle College UHI to those involved in the food and drink sector in the Western Isles.

As part of the college's strategic review of its Food and Drink curriculum, it is looking to collaborate with local businesses to update their courses and develop skills training.

The college wants input and ideas from both the Hospitality and Professional Cookery and Food and Drink Production sectors.

Of Hospitality and Professional Cookery the college says : "We would invite expressions of interest in a potential joint collaboration to advance our skills training in these areas of our activity.

"If as an individual, business, or public interest you have any ideas, vision, or input that you would wish us to consider as we seek to re-invigorate this area of our curriculum, then please contact us with your ideas, proposals, and input.

"We are interested in potentially working with an existing business or interest in advancing this part of our curriculum." 

And with Food and Drink Production: "We are keen to increasingly support the small business sector, including Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, micro-businesses, local community trusts, and groups and social enterprises in our area who are adding value locally in the food and drink sector.

"We are keen to target and develop our skills training in areas of current and emerging needs in this sector, and in this respect we are keen to hear your ideas and thoughts on how we might work more closely and effectively to support the needs of the sector going forward."

Interested businesses are being asked to submit their ideas, input, and proposals by 10th August 2020, to Dr Michael Smith, Head of Department (Humanities) at Lews Castle College UHI, via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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 Monday 27th July Ospadal Uibhist agus Bharraigh in Balivanich will request that where patients can have their clothes collected and washed at home, this should be done.
This was standard practice prior to the lockdown period.
Each hospital patient will be asked whether their Designated Visitor (or other family member/carer) will be able to uplift clothes requiring laundry. 
"We thank you in advance for your cooperation with this." says NHS Western Isles. 

The Convener of Comhairle nan EiIean Siar has paid tribute to the work of Mr Finlay Cunningham who is stepping down as a Councillor with immediate effect.

A former teacher, Mr Cunningham was elected to the Comhairle in 2017, representing Na Hearadh Agus Ceann A Deas Nan Loch Ward.

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 3 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.”

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 3 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.”

Marine tourism industry membership group Sail Scotland has today (Thursday July 23) launched a new web-based platform to better connect local businesses with visiting leisure craft, yachts and cruising vessels.

The new scheme promotes the purchase of local seafood, fresh food, arts and crafts but also in a manner that in light of Covid-19 respects the wishes of communities regarding visitors stepping ashore at destination ports, anchorages and harbours.

The portal promotes a range of produce including:

  • Beer wines and spirits
  • Local Seafood
  • Fresh Foods, Meats, Bakery, Dairy, Takeaway, Groceries
  • Household, Arts, and Crafts.

The scheme is in response to the recent phase of the Scottish Government Coronavirus (COVID-19): tourism and hospitality sector guidance that will see a further opening of tourism activities across Scotland.

Tourism Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “As we see the further reopening of our tourism and hospitality sectors, I am delighted that Sail Scotland are introducing their Shop to Ship initiative. It recognises the opportunities for cross-selling food and drink that tourism delivers, often in our most remote areas.

"It also enables individual businesses and their host communities to be recognised as welcoming destinations, with the processes tailored precisely to local circumstances and built in from the beginning. It’s also a part of the wider work, across a range of partners, to encourage everyone to responsibly and safely enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits of being close to or on Scotland’s ‘blue’ spaces, especially during this Year of Coasts and Waters.”

Alan Rankin Chief Executive of Sail Scotland said, “In response to the crisis brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic Sail Scotland has opened a FREE to list web directory to enable shore-based producers and retailers to gain valuable business, selling to visiting yachts. This pilot initiative is aimed to enhance the sailing experience and offer vital sales to local coastal and island businesses.”

The further easing of lockdown will allow yachts and boats to visit remote areas and island communities. The Safe Sailing Guidelines published by Sail Scotland as part of the national framework for a recovery in tourism asks visiting yachts to Respect the Destination by planning ahead, making a considered arrival and thinking local.

Sail Scotland recognised that no two destinations are the same, so the platform aims to connect the producer and the consumer as easily as possible in a way that suits local wishes.

Fiona Richmond, Head of Regional Food at Scotland Food & Drink, said: “The effective closure of Scotland’s tourism industry has had a huge impact on our food and drink producers, many of which relied on a thriving tourism and hospitality sector. With restrictions beginning to unwind and businesses seeking to find new ways of working, it’s great to see innovative initiatives like the Shop to Ship Marketplace, which provides a fantastic digital platform for local businesses to reach new customers."

Alan Rankin added. “The sailing season has been greatly impacted by Covid-19 with commercial charter operators and shoreside businesses facing a short period to generate turnover. We hope this platform will help to assist businesses across the marine tourism sector in what are very difficult times.”

The Shop to Ship campaign will be promoted widely by Sail Scotland, Scotland Food and Drink, destination groups and user social media channels to the rural business network and marine tourism users. The platform is available  for businesses to register at

Getting Listed

  • Supplier/producer logs in to Sail Scotland Shop to Ship registration page to register their business. This process automatically provides supplier with a FREE associate membership of Sail Scotland.
  • Once registered and approved the business will appear within a directory listing, pinned to a map of Scotland linking to their business and have a self-editing page linking directly back to their business.
  • On approval the business will be able to self-edit a business page to promote:
    • Availability of product for sale, price, terms and direct link back to their website or telephone number.
    • The link back to the business allows the supplier to secure the sale and to describe the safe collection arrangements that must be adhered to by the yacht crew. This can be a safe collection point that has been agreed with any harbour/moorings operator or community group.
  • Local collection: Local arrangements will be confirmed but are expected to be around:
    • It is expected the yacht will give the supplier an estimated time of arrival and then confirm safe arrival when anchored or moored.
    • The supplier can then deliver to the designated safe pick up point and advise yacht of delivery. In many cases this will be visual to the yacht.
    • Once the supplier is clear of the area the yacht can send crew over by rowing boat to collect the goods from the safe zone and then immediately return to the yacht.

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.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has welcomed the announcement today (Wednesday July 22) by the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson of an Islands Growth Deal for the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland.

In an embargoed media release timed for 10.30pm tonight, the Council states:

The Deal comprises an investment of £50m from the UK Government and £50m from the Scottish Government will now allow a suite of projects, developed by the Comhairle and its public and private sector partners, to move towards delivery.

The Islands Deal proposals are presently based around a suite of five projects:

  •  Outer Hebrides Energy Hub
  •  Outer Hebrides Destination Development
  •  Spaceport 1
  •  Primary Industries Development
  •  Outer Hebrides Campus Development 

A number of innovation projects linking the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland are also being developed.  These three joint-islands projects are under the following themes:

  •  Skills, Talent Attraction and Entrepreneurial Support
  •  Island Centre for Net Zero Carbon
  •  Creative Islands and Well-being

Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Councillor Roddie Mackay said: “The Deal announcement today is the culmination of a lot of hard work between the Comhairle, our Islands Council partners and both Governments in recent years and represents a good outcome for the Islands.  In per capita terms the overall value of the Deal compares very favourably to other Deals in Scotland and this good result is due to the high quality of the Deal submission made by the Comhairle and our partners.

“The announcement is also a vote of confidence by both Governments in the economy and future of the Outer Hebrides.  Our islands have unrivalled natural resources, we offer a world class welcome to visitors, we have some of the richest renewable energy resources in Europe, we have an innovative, adaptable workforce and an enterprising culture and heritage sector. 

"All these areas were recognised by both Governments as they assessed the final value of the Islands Growth Deal.  These are areas we hope to capitalise on and further develop as Growth Deal funding comes on stream.

“I am, however, highly aware of the challenges faced by our economy.  Our islands have major population and structural challenges that have been exacerbated by the on-going Covid-19 pandemic.  To overcome some of these challenges and to effect the transformational change our Islands need will require sustained investment over the coming years.  I am hopeful, however, that this excellent Islands Growth Deal outcome is the first step in that on-going investment in our island economies and communities.

“Working closely with Highlands and Islands Enterprise and our other partners we will now seek to build detailed business cases  and undertake further work with the Government to prioritise how we invest the Deal funds”, the release concludes.

In a news release timed at 08.39 today, Thursday July 23, na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan MSP has welcomed to announcement of the Growth Deal for the Islands.

The release states: "The £50m sum allocated by the UK Government will be match-funded by the Scottish Government. The Islands Deal is the latest in a series of growth deals awarded to cities and regions across Scotland and will benefit Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Orkney and Shetland.

Growth Deals are agreements between the Scottish Government, the UK Government and local government designed to bring about long-term strategic approaches to improving regional economies.

The cross-sectoral investment will go towards earmarked projects including agriculture, destination development, renewable energy and Spaceport 1, likely incorporating broader themes such as connectivity, housing and healthy ageing. Joint-island projects in the creative industries and wellbeing sectors will also benefit.

Alasdair Allan MSP commented: “The Islands Deal is an exceptional and long-awaited chance to invest in transformational projects in Scotland’s islands. The Scottish Government has always indicated it would match fund the sum made available by the UK Government. Now that the UK has identified a figure, the Scottish Government has been able to do the same. With each side contributing £50m, we now have a chance to start investing this in the kind of projects that the Islands need more than ever at this difficult time as we come out of lockdown. The money will go to projects in the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland.

“The Comhairle has put together a list of potential projects with which it made its funding bid, and the Scottish Government will now work closely with the Comhairle and the community to make sure that as many of these as possible now become a reality.

“Now that the UK Government have given the go ahead from their side of the bargain, the Scottish Government has matched them £ for £, and is determined to see the infrastructure and economy of the islands given a boost, at a time when that is needed.”

In a news release timed at 10:03 on 23 July, HIE welcomes the announcement of Islands Growth Deal funding

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) welcomes today’s announcement of an Islands Growth Deal comprising an investment of £50m from the UK Government and £50m from the Scottish Government.

Charlotte Wright, HIE Chief Executive, said: “We very much welcome today’s announcement of £100m investment in the Northern and Western Isles over the next ten years under the Islands Growth Deal.

“This will support projects that have the potential to benefit communities across the dispersed population and geography of the islands. It will also promote innovation and employment and help deliver sustainable and inclusive economic recovery in some of our most rural areas.

“We look forward to working closely with our partners in the Islands Growth Deal to deliver these important benefits over the next ten years.”

In a news release timed at 10:29 on 23 July, Shadow Finance Secretary Donald Cameron said:

“I am delighted that the Prime Minister is visiting Orkney to underline his commitment to the Islands Deal.

“The deal has the potential to be a game-changer for the Western Isles, where we badly need investment to sustain the local economy and reverse the worrying trend towards depopulation.

“The unprecedented scale of the deal is an emphatic demonstration of how beneficial it can be when the Scottish Government works with the UK Government to deliver on behalf of our communities. It builds on the extraordinary support being provided by the UK Treasury in protecting nearly one million jobs in Scotland through furloughing and the self-employment support scheme.

“I very much hope that Nicola Sturgeon will reflect on the benefits of working together. Her tweeted comments on the Prime Minister’s visit to Scotland were extremely disappointing – a grudging welcome coupled with a demand for independence – with no reference made to the Islands Deal or the work being done to protect jobs in Scotland.

“Instead of complaining, she would be better employed doing something about the shocking situation of the new CalMac ferries – still unfinished and years late -  which are her Government’s responsibility.”

For immediate release: July 23 2020

 In a new release timed at 16.01 on Thursday June 23, Isles MP Angus MacNeil said the deal must be seen in context

Isles SNP MP Angus MacNeil welcomes the announcement from the UK Government of the Islands Growth Deal but says caution is needed as this does not dispel all the financial difficulties still facing the island economy.

An Islands Growth Deal of £50m has been announced by the UK Government after several years of negotiation and persistence by island politicians.

The £50m sum allocated by the UK Government will be match-funded by the Scottish Government. The Islands Deal is the latest in a series of growth deals awarded to cities and regions across Scotland and will benefit Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Orkney and Shetland.

Mr MacNeil says the deal is positive but is not likely to fill the gap left as an impact of leaving the EU.

He said: “While we welcome the money we should also be aware that for context, it is about £2.2m coming in to each island group on average per year for each of the 15 years.

“It is a small part of each council budget in the single digit percentages around the 2 to 3 per cent  but still it should provide a focus to do particular jobs which have been earmarked in our communities.

“We would hope that the money is transformative and if more is required that the Government who control the purse strings will not be found wanting when more resources are needed.”




The NHS Scotland national screening programmes, which were paused in March because of coronavirus (COVID-19) are now resuming safely, carefully and in a series of stages, says NHS Western Isles.

Anyone who was invited for cervical screening before the pause 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 July 20), 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.

You should not attend your appointment if you are self isolating or if you are experiencing any symptoms of coronavirus (high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to sense of smell or taste). You should contact your GP Practice to reschedule your appointment.

If you are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, you should arrange a test at the earliest opportunity by contacting the COVID-19 Response Team on 01851 601151 or email: 

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

It is important to emphasise to patients that, in between screening appointments, or as they wait for rescheduled appointments, they should continue to be aware of and act on any symptoms associated with the conditions being screened for.

If you have concerns, you should call NHS inform on 0800 22 44 88, or contact your GP for advice.

Changes you may notice at your appointment

  • We are restarting our screening programme, but there will be changes to how we deliver these services. These changes are intended to keep you and our staff safe.
  • Staff will be wearing the recommended personal protective equipment (PPE) and reception and waiting areas will be quieter (if in use at all). You will be required to wear a face covering in clinical areas. You may wish to ask about individual GP Practice arrangements when making your appointment.
  • Your screening appointment may take longer to allow for safety measures to be followed.
  • We would ask that you attend your appointment alone unless you need help from a carer or family member, and please attend your appointment on time.
  • We would like to reassure you that there is no change to the screening test itself. 

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.







As Scotland slowly approaches a new normal after the Covid-19 lockdown, Shawbost artist DK Macleod has been busy creating, despite the challenges.

On a practical level, it has been difficult to source materials as art supply stores have been hit by lockdown and of course galleries have been shut. DK initially expected the lockdown period to be one of few sales and a chance to use available time to paint new work to send away to galleries when they reopened, and to add more artwork to his growing website.

What he didn’t expect was the positive and important influence of the art community on his own experience.   The Artist Support Pledge was created in March 2020 by English artist Matthew Burrow who wanted to find a way to support artists in a time of massive economic downturn.  

Using Instagram to highlight and sell their art, at no more than £200 per piece, each artist pledges to purchase the artwork of a fellow artist once they hit £1,000 of sales. The virtuous circle of buying beautiful art not only helps give artists a platform to new buyers on the hashtag #artistsupportpledge, but also helps them support each other and keep income flowing for creatives and artists around the world.

DK explains how he got into the Pledge, “I started seeing the #artistsupportpledge on Instagram in April and spoke to an artist friend who was taking part.   She said the scheme was giving her a real boost and she was seeing sales coming in. To me it seemed like something where I might just sell a couple and then it would fade away into nothing but I’ve sold over 25 paintings to buyers from as far away as New York and North Carolina!”  

DK has had exposure to new buyers, built his following and as part of the pledge has picked up some new art for his own walls, supporting fellow artists in the process.   Life on the islands is slowly returning to some kind of normal and DK is now sending work away to galleries as they begin the process of reopening.

“I’m most delighted about starting to see life return to a new kind of normal. My daughter can go and hug my parents again after changes to lockdown and I’m going to be able to restock my art materials and get painting – the world here on Lewis is slowly beginning to come back to life!”

Born and bred on the West Side, DK works from his studio in Shawbost and displays his work at local and national galleries.  DK studied Art and Design at the University of the Highlands and Islands, North Uist campus in 2004 but since completing the course, has been largely self-taught.  He has spent the subsequent years developing his style which has led to a slow evolution as experimental brush work has given way to a more assured understanding of his tools and process.

DK’s subject is predominantly the land, sky and cloudscapes in his native Scottish islands and he paints in acrylic and oil to create shape, texture and light. DK spends most weekends at the beach, photographing, sketching and capturing ideas to develop back in the studio. Beaches and bays are a particular inspiration.  Working from a converted garage on his croft, DK has created a dedicated space for painting and hanging his work.  Visits can be arranged by appointment.

Paintings are available via his website:

Lodge Fortrose in Stornoway has launched a fundraising drive to produce and donate face masks to local community groups for distribution to their volunteers and service users.

A Go Fund Me Page has been established and all funds raised will be used for the purchase of masks for community distribution and other COVID-19 relief projects, supported by Lodge Fortrose, across the islands.

The Lodge has paid £600 to kickstart the campaign and masks have already been distributed to a number of local organisations. The masks are locally produced, triple-layered and fully washable.

Henry W Macinnes, Master of Lodge Fortrose, said: “As part of the ongoing community response to the COVID-19 pandemic, members of Lodge Fortrose 108 have also been involved in a number of efforts to provide relief, including the donation of £1000 to Eilean Siar Food Bank.

“In partnership with the Western Isles Association for Mental Health, the Western Isles Voluntary Centre and Samaritans Stornoway, we are also developing a project to provide mental health first aid courses to train a minimum of 40 community volunteers across Lewis and to train four Samaritans volunteers.

"The Lodge will be donating a minimum of £2000 to this very worthwhile project.”

Photo: Archie Macdonald, Lodge Fortrose hands over face masks to Iain McPhee from the Salvation Army


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."

An Lanntair arts centre ion the centre of Stornoway is set to open its doors to the public again on Monday, August 17th.

A phased reopening will see the building’s ground floor open from Monday August 17th, welcoming visitors to enjoy the An Lanntair Sketchbook Project exhibition in the main gallery.

The gift shop will also be open during this first phase, and refreshments and lite-bites will be on offer via an outside catering pod located on An Lanntair’s forecourt.

The opening hours will be 10am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday.

An Lanntair Chief Executive Elly Fletcher said: “The whole team is incredibly excited to welcome our community and visitors back to An Lanntair.

“We have been working hard behind the scenes to put in place safety and hygiene measures to help our staff and the public to socially distance and stay safe, whilst importantly enjoying everything that An Lanntair has on offer. We can’t wait to open the doors and invite everyone in!”

Reopening the main gallery is an art exhibition created by island residents during Lockdown as the Sketchbook Project delivered a month-long series of daily challenges, designed to engage people in creative activity on a daily basis during a difficult time.

Over 100 people were posted a sketchbook and emailed daily challenges or prompts over thirty days. Joe Mahony, An Lanntair Head of Education & Outreach, said: “Those participating could respond in any way they wished. Some people emailed their responses as the project progressed which were then displayed on our Artists Support website HA! Hebridean Artists, and that gave a real communal feel to the project.”

Completed sketchbooks were returned by post to An Lanntair, and the resulting Sketchbook Project exhibition will present over 3,000 scanned images, alongside the sketchbooks themselves, as well as being exhibited online as part of An Lanntair’s Virtual Gallery.

It is anticipated, remaining in-line with any changes to government restrictions, that An Lanntair will enter phase two of its re-opening in mid-September. This phase will see the second floor Café Bar areas once again welcome visitors and the restart of the cinema programme, with limited audience seating arrangements and procedures in place to support social distancing.

Plans for An Lanntair’s Performing Arts programme and wider Education and Outreach programme are in progress and on-going, taking into account all of Government and industry guidance; and there is a wealth of creative activities, entertainment, education, music and virtual art galleries available online at

Government guidelines on social-distancing and COVID-safe procedures will be followed throughout An Lanntair’s re-opening. These will include: a limited number of public within the building at one time; wearing of facemasks; social-distancing 2m measures observed, and a one-way system of public movement through the main gallery area. Screens have been installed at An Lanntair’s reception desk, and hand sanitiser stations and provisions will be made available to public and staff throughout. Public and staff areas will be cleaned regularly and frequently.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is to undertake a review of Polling Districts and Polling Places within the Na h-Eileanan an Iar area. The review will particularly focus on the suitability of premises or facilities for persons with any type of disability.

The Comhairle would welcome any comments from electors who are registered within the constituency.  As well as the general public, the Comhairle will seek input from Community Councils, Elected Members, Political Parties, MP/MSP, Disability Groups and the Third Sector.

Comments and representations may be made in writing to Derek Mackay, Governance and Elections Manager, Chief Executive’s Department, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Council Offices, Sandwick Road, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, HS1 2BW or via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

All responses should be made by 5.00pm on Friday 14 August 2020.  The draft proposals and Returning Officer’s comments will be published on 21 August 2020 and there will be a further opportunity to make representations.

Further information is available here:


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.”


Fifty years ago today (Monday July 20), Iain MacLeod died of a heart attack at the age of 56. He had been UK Chancellor of the Exchequer for barely a month, following Conservative leader Edward Heath’s victory in the General Election of 1970.

There is a particular island interest for Macleod had closer Hebridean links than any other front-line politician, before or since (writes Brian Wilson)

Macleod was an unusually interesting political figure; the embodiment of the “One Nation” Tory tradition but fiercely partisan in debate.  He transcended class divisions in a party dominated by class, his social views forged by contact with deep poverty, both on Lewis and through his father’s GP practice in Yorkshire.

Both Macleod’s parents were from deep Lewis roots. His father, Norman Macleod, was from Kershader. His own father died when he was six and Norman secured his education through a bursary to the Nicolson Institute and scholarship to Glasgow University where he graduated in medicine and chemistry.

He then spent four years as medical officer on a tea estate in Assam before returning to the UK. A fellow Lewis doctor helped find him a partnership in a medical practice in Skipton, Yorkshire, which became the Macleod family home for most of the 20th century.

Norman Macleod met his wife-to-be, Annabella (known as Lab) Ross on a visit home. Her family was from Crobeg. Her father, Roderick Ross, the first resident GP in Lochs and later covered the whole north of the island, from Borve.  They married in 1910 and their first child, Rhodabel, was followed in 1913 by the birth of Iain.

A striking feature at this time is the family’s rapid social mobility. Iain was sent off to a “feeder” for Fettes to which he then progressed. According to his biographer, Robert Shepherd, the next step to Cambridge to read history was “little more than a formality” so long as parents could pay the fees.

In 1925, on the demise of Lord Leverhulme and the bargain basement sell-off of rural Lewis, Dr Macleod bought Scaliscro Estate – 10,000 acres with lodge, fishings and shooting - for £1000.  By all accounts, this became the spiritual home of Iain’s formative years. His father sold Scaliscro in 1947, shortly before his death.

Iain’s Cambridge student and early employment years could not have been much further removed from his Lewis background. He was an international class bridge player and turned this skill into a lifestyle as professional gambler and denizen of London nightclubs. The advent of war interrupted all that and turned him in the direction of politics.

Macleod married in 1940 and flourished in the army, rising to the rank of Major and serving at the heart of the D-Day landings. The war, wrote Shepherd, had “given Macleod ambition and defined his purpose in life”.  In May 1945, he was enjoying a spell of leave at Scaliscro when Churchill called the General Election.

The Tories had not stood in the Western Isles since 1931 but Macleod saw an opportunity. His father, a lifelong Liberal, became chairman of an impromptu local Tory organisation long enough to select Iain as candidate, at a meeting only the two of them attended. Dr Macleod sent a telegram to Winston Churchill and the Prime Minister’s endorsement arrived by return of post.

Sandy Matheson recalls being “patted on the head” as a small child when MacLeod called on his great- uncle, Roderick Smith, to solicit support. “Uncle was a staunch Liberal and being of the same vintage as Iain's father, Dr Norman, they knew each other. I do not know the outcome, but of course Iain had labelled himself as a Liberal-Unionist” – a frequent device in that era to cover more than one base.

Macleod’s distinctive brand of Toryism was reflected in his election address which declared that “we must have SOCIAL SECURITY for all on the lines of the Beveridge Report”.  Declaring himself “a man of the isles”, his campaign slogan was “A Vote for Macleod is a Vote for Churchill”.  His genuine commitment to the welfare state would continue to define him in Tory politics.

The main opposition to Labour in the Western Isles continued to come from the Liberals and, arguably, Macleod’s intervention helped Malcolm K. MacMillan hold the seat. MacMillan polled 5917; the Liberal, Huntley McDonald Sinclair, 4277 and Macleod 2756. Macleod said later: “Only my cousins voted for me but I have a lot of cousins”.

Macleod’s gamble of fighting the unwinnable seat paid off and his Tory career was soon on a sharply upwards trajectory. He was found a seat in Enfield, became a Health Minister in the 1950 Churchill government and entered the Cabinet in 1959 as Colonial Secretary.

In 1963, he was Tory party chairman when Harold MacMillan resigned but refused to serve under his successor, Lord Home. His “emergence” was bitterly opposed by Macleod who thought it absurd that the Tories should look to the Lords for a leader. “When Home talks about unemployment”, he observed, “he thinks it’s to do with the lack of beaters on his estate.”

His monumental achievements were as Colonial Secretary when he faced down most of his own party to advance majority rule in Africa thereby avoiding much bloodshed and retaining the goodwill of emerging states. Macleod retained lifelong friendships with leaders like Julius Nyerere and Hastings Banda. The right-wingers hated him and the grandee, Lord Salisbury, described him as “too clever by half” – the ultimate insult in Tory circles.

For many years, Macleod lived with pain as a result of a war wound and ill health. Shortly after the launch of the 1970 election campaign, his mother died in Skipton at the age of 90, which affected him deeply.  When Heath won, he became Chancellor but made only one Commons speech before being struck down by abdominal illness.

He appeared to be recovering and was released from hospital but suffered a heart attack and died at 11 Downing Street.  Long previously, he had said that if he ever went to the Lords his title would be “MacLeod of Borve”. Instead, his widow became a peer as Lady Macleod of Borve and an effective campaigner for many years on social issues. She continued to visit Lewis up to her death in 1999.

The game of “what if…” usually yields as many conclusions as there are players but remains interesting in Macleod’s case. What if he had lived?  He might well have succeeded Heath as leader in which case Thatcherism – the antithesis of Macleod’s politics – would have been still-born.  In short, Macleod’s was one political death that made a difference.

His biographer, Robert Shepherd, observed that: “Macleod’s crofter, Gaelic and northern origins set him apart as an outsider while giving him a perspective on politics that was the opposite to that of most senior Conservatives”.  Therein, perhaps, lies an urgent lesson for today.

 “In his later life,” wrote Shepherd, “ Macleod used to tell his son, Torquil, of the sheer beauty and romance of Lewis. The pressure on his time prevented Macleod returning to the island as often as he would have liked but in the summer of 1968 they went there on holiday. It was to be Macleod’s last visit. He was totally in his element. At heart, he always remained an islander”.

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 Scottish Hydro Electric Community Trust is inviting applications for financial support to connect to the electricity network in the Highlands and Islands.

The Scottish Hydro Electric Community Trust is an independent charitable trust set up in 1998 by Scottish Hydro Electric plc (now SSE plc). The Trust considers applications for support with the cost of connecting to the electricity network for individual home owners and community groups in the Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) licence area in the north of Scotland.

Ron Brown, Trust Chairman, said: “In the last financial year, we’ve issued grants of over £98,000 to support individual home owners to connect to the network in SSEN’s distribution area in the north of Scotland, with almost £108,000 issued to support connection costs of community projects providing significant benefit to their local communities."

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

The next round of applications closes on Friday 4 September 2020, with future applications being considered by Trustees on a quarterly basis.

Iona Village Hall Community Trust is receiving a grant to provide electricity to Iona’s new village hall. Anja Jardine, Chair of Iona Village Hall Community Trust, said:  “Since 1928, Iona Village Hall has been at the heart of the island and forms part of the lives and memories of the 170 local residents and visitors alike. It is the place where our children grow up, have birthday parties, get picked for the team, perform their school plays, dance, and get married.  It is our debating chamber, our stadium, our cinema, and our gathering hub.  It is where people of all ages, locals and visitors, come together. We are completely community led and volunteer run.  We achieve our objectives by maintaining the sole community space on the island including organising or facilitating events and activities to encourage physical activity and reduce social isolation.”  

Cunningsburgh and Districts Agricultural Society is receiving a grant to provide electricity to their showfield. Hazel Mackenzie, Project Manager and Committee Member from Cunningsburgh and Districts Agricultural Society, said:“The objectives of the Society are to hold an annual agricultural and home industries show, open to all people resident in Shetland. On average we have an attendance of 4,000 people and have approximately 250 volunteers from the community and surrounding districts. Entries of livestock, home industries, crafts, produce, number approximately 2,700 on the day and we have approximately 40 trade shows on the show field bringing a wide range of interests to the village. The ground is also used for additional events: Vehicle Preservation Society, Horse and Pony event, Shetland Pony Evaluation Society, Mind Your Head Charity Fun Run and Weddings.”  

East Sutherland Rescue Association is receiving a grant to provide electricity to the Boat Shed in Dornoch. Gareth Dixon from East Sutherland Rescue Association, said: “East Sutherland Rescue Association (ESRA) is an independent charity which funds and operate an inshore lifeboat in the Dornoch Firth area. The lifeboat is crewed by volunteers and is one of only a handful of independent lifeboats in Scotland.  We provide assistance to the Police and Coastguard in the event of water based emergencies. Currently we use a generator for power which is not ideal. The electricity connection will help us to keep the kit dry, crew warm and treat any casualties in a warm environment.”  

Further applications are welcome after the closing date of Friday 4 September as the Trust meets on a quarterly basis to regularly consider applications.

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


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)











SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE, Mexico — July 15, 2002 - San Miguel de Allende, located in the State of Guanajuato and known as the “Heart of Mexico,” will start reopening to tourists today, with hotels working with a maximum 40% capacity and everyone must adhere to social distancing and mask protection.
Access to San Miguel de Allende has been closed since March to non-residents, with the city sacrificing the local economy for the health and wellness of its residents. On May 25, the city launched its “Health First” certification, which is granted after local health and safety officials evaluate each location and certify compliance with sanitary protocols for reopening. This was followed on July 2 with the city receiving the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Safe Travels seal. This was seen as an acknowledgment of the many sacrifices the city has made to contain this pandemic and ensure that all international requirements are met.
Obtaining the WTTC’s ‘Safe Travels’ seal endorses this work and reaffirms that San Miguel de Allende is properly ready in terms of sanitation, said Laura Torres-Septien President of Tourism Board.  That same day, it was announced that hotels in San Miguel de Allende could start confirming reservations for a July 15 reopening.
San Miguel de Allende and its nickname, the “Heart of Mexico,” serve as a travel and tourism metaphor, as the city plays a key role in the country’s cultural tourism. As the new normal begins to take shape, it is San Miguel de Allende that takes on the task of welcoming visitors back to Mexico. The city beats with a new rhythm, one that goes beyond the resort experience and invites visitors to an authentic experience. 
The town has a mystical quality. Its picturesque cobblestone streets and Spanish colonial architecture are complemented by age-old traditions both religious and secular, a spectacular natural setting for hot-air balloon rides and open eatery food tours, flourishing wine country and tequila fields, and rooftop bars and restaurants.
Those planning to make their way to San Miguel in its current state will find the city fits well with the new realities of social distancing and the craving for outdoor activities. The following are some activities not to be missed.
EL CHARCO DEL INGENIO: Located on the outskirts of San Miguel de Allende, El Charco del Ingenio is a privately funded ecological reserve and botanical garden dedicated to the restoration and conservation of Mexican flora and fauna and the encouragement of endangered species’ reproduction. The large grounds house a cactus conservatory, the remains of a mill and the manor house of a hacienda. It is home to native and migratory birds. All the terrain is linked by paths, ideal for walking, that allow visitors to climb the walls of the canyon, which offer excellent opportunities for bird watching. 

CAÑADA DE LA VIRGEN: One might think the site was occupied by Náhuatl groups in pre-Hispanic times due to the type of construction found but, thanks to archaeological data, experts have concluded that the Otomi people were, in fact, the inhabitants of the Cañada de la Virgen zone. The area is confirmed by five architectonic groups, of which three are in visiting conditions. “The House of the Thirteen Skies,” or “Complex A,” is a 16-meter-high pyramid with a sunken patio and three platforms. “The House of the Longest Night,” or “Complex B,” is composed of several structures such as the pyramidal basement, one more sunken patio and a series of platforms that indicate mixed functionality of the architectural spaces. The so-called “House of the Wind,” or “Complex D,” is a circular structure that presents three constructive stages.

BENITO JUÁREZ PARK: A park and garden founded in the early 20th century, it presents a French style of design, with fountains, ponds, wrought-iron benches, old bridges and wide roads and trails. Currently, the park is a recreational space with playgrounds and basketball courts. Benito Juárez Park is full of plants and trees typical of the region, such as chirimoyos, blackberries and walnuts. 

EL CHORRO PARK: Built around one of the oldest and most winding streets of San Miguel de Allende, the stairs of this quiet park rise to an ancient natural water spring, 18th century baths, a primitive chapel and the current temple. According to legend, this chapel was the site the first Christian ceremony conducted in San Miguel. 

INSTITUTO ALLENDE (ALLENDE INSTITUTE): The De la Canal family built this huge complex in the 17th century as a hacienda and a place of retirement. The old manor house is full of interesting courtyards, a private chapel in which you can see some colonial frescoes, and a modern art gallery and restaurant. In 1951, it became an art institute offering courses and classes that range from silverware and ceramics to Spanish language instruction. It attracts hundreds of students of different nationalities annually. 

LA AURORA FACTORY: After years of functioning as an important part of the regional textile industry, the walls of La Aurora Factory now house galleries, art studios, jewelry and design stores. In this art and design center, you can watch the work of many artists. There are about 50 galleries, as well as antique shops and a couple of restaurants and cafes. In this large complex, you still will be able to see some of the big machines and pipes that formed part of the textile factory. It has a parking lot, but if you decide to walk from the Main Garden, it will only take you 15 minutes. 

CRAFTS MARKET: This market occupies a three-block-long pedestrian alley filled with stores that sell folk art and local craftsmanship, silver jewelry, decoration items, souvenirs and typical manufactured objects from all over Mexico. 

COYOTE CANYON GUANAJUATO: A family-owned destination management company specializing in adventure and ecotourism since 2000. Coyote Canyon Adventures is proud to offer horseback riding excursions, archaeological and cultural tours, adventure activities and unique events for families and private groups.  

MAIN GARDEN: This central square is undoubtedly the heart of the city. On the south side, you can watch the outline of San Miguel Parish, to the east and to the west are the arches of the portals and colonial buildings, and on the north side you will find the old Municipal Palace. But it is the garden itself that attracts visitors to sit and chat on the wrought-iron benches under the shade of the laurels, while they listen to musicians who play in the surroundings or watch one of the many enjoyable parades.
SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE WINE COUNTRY: The San Miguel countryside is one of the area’s most treasured hidden gems. With its mix of vineyards, orchards and cattle ranches, the stunning vistas alone are worth the visit. 

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.

This year marks the 21st anniversary of a pioneering traditional music programme, set up by an arts organisation based in Dingwall, and despite not being able to mark the occasion in the usual style with a summer of musical performances, Fèis Rois is releasing a double album featuring music from former Cèilidh Trail participants and hosting an online extravaganza to celebrate the occasion.

Fèis Rois was set for a fantastic summer of concerts and cèilidhs throughout Scotland, England, France and Australia to mark the milestone, but due to Covid19, the organisation took the decision to cancel this year’s programme back in April. Undeterred by the situation and eager to continue with some sort of celebration, Fèis Rois will release a double compilation album next month, featuring tracks donated by 21 former Cèilidh Trail participants including Highland duo Charlie Grey and Joseph Peach and Dingwall guitarist, Innes White, as well as tracks from bands which include former Ceilidh Trail musicians: Treacherous Orchestra, Inyal, The Outside Track, Project Smok and Fras.

To coincide with the launch of the album, there will also be an online concert on Saturday 15th August, which would have been the date of the final Cèilidh Trail performance at Eden Court Theatre in Inverness. Taking a similar format as the organisation’s successful Virtual Fèis Rois Tutor Concert which took place online in May and was viewed over 50,000 times, the concert will be hosted on the Fèis Rois Facebook page. It will feature 14 former participants including current BBC Radio Scotland Traditional Musician of the Year, Ali Levack from Maryburgh, BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners Josie Duncan, Brìghde Chaimbeul and Rachel Newton and TV presenter and singer Kim Carnie. Other Highland musicians involved include Chloe Bryce from Tain, who has recently graduated with a 1st class honours degree from Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, member of electronic folk band, Inyal, Conal McDonagh from Poolewe and Tain fiddler with Kinnaris Quintet, Laura Wilkie.

The Cèilidh Trail programme , which provides young musicians and singers, aged 16 to 25, with the opportunity to take part in a professional summer tour with support from a team of musicians and specialist tutors, was established by Fèis Rois in 2000 and has now been adopted by a number of other Fèisean across Scotland. The very first cèilidh trail was coordinated by multi award-winning Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis (who provided the theme song for Disney Pixar’s Brave), and participants on the first Trail included accordionist and member of Croft No.Five and Treacherous Orchestra, John Somerville, and west coast accordion player, piper and artist, Mairearad Green.

Mairearad Green, who took part in the first ceilidh trail in 2000, said: "I got regular piping tuition at school but without Fèis Rois I would have struggled to get any tuition locally on the accordion.  I was on the first ever cèilidh trail and what an introduction to life on the road! Having that platform from such a young age to develop my craft in such a supportive environment was invaluable to me and it meant that I could move down to Glasgow and support my time at University financially by doing gigs. It also meant I had a strong community and network of fellow musicians from the Highlands and we are all still friends today and many of us are working in the music industry thanks to Fèis Rois."

Fiona Dalgetty, Chief Executive, Feis Rois, commented: “We were determined to mark this big milestone in the Cèilidh Trail history, despite the pandemic and are excited to launch this new album which showcases the incredible talent that has come from the Cèilidh Trail over the years.

“The Cèilidh Trail supports young musicians develop their performance skills and provides a widespread traditional music entertainment programme in the Highlands and far beyond. It is a unique opportunity, offering participants training in the core skills required for a career in the creative industries, giving them a taste of what life as a professional touring musician can be like.

“It is also a hugely important cultural tourism initiative bringing high quality, authentic, traditional music to places where we know visitors will be over the busy summer months, but where they might not usually otherwise hear this music. We’re extremely disappointed to not being able to visit all the venues and festivals this year, which would have included major festivals such as Belladrum, Cambridge Folk Festival and Festival Interceltique de Lorient, as well as venues we have performed at since the beginning, including The Ceilidh Place in Ullapool, Inverewe Gardens and a number of SNH nature reserves. We hope our audiences will tune in for this very special concert on the 15th August and celebrate the musical talent from Scotland with us.”

This project is funded by Creative Scotland. The first Cèilidh Trail took place after former Fèis Rois Chief Executive, Rita Hunter, visited Cape Breton as part of a Highland Council delegation and was inspired by similar models of work happening there.

The album will be available from from 15th August, and the concert will be hosted on the Fèis Rois Facebook page on Saturday 15th August from 8pm-11pm,

Based in Dingwall, Fèis Rois is widely recognised as a national leader in the arts, particularly in music education and was established in 1986.  There are now more than 40 fèisean in communities across Scotland. However, Fèis Rois is unique within the fèisean movement as it has a team of full-time staff that enable the work of Fèis Rois to take place year-round and extend well beyond the local community.

The schedule for the online concert on Saturday 15thAugust will be as follows:

o   8.00 - 8.10pm Mairearad Green (Mairearad was a member of the very first ceilidh trail in 2000) 

o   8.15 - 8.25pm Rachel Newton (Rachel was also a member of the very first ceilidh trail in 2000)

o   8.30 - 8.40pm Ali Levack (current BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year)

o   8.45 - 8.55pm Chloe Bryce (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland graduate)

o   9.00 - 9.10pm Brìghde Chaimbeul (BBC Radoi 2 Young Folk Award winner) 

o   9.15pm - 9.25pm Sally Simpson (fiddler and member of female folk bank, Heisk.)

o   9.30pm - 9.40pm Josie Duncan (BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winner)

o   9.45pm - 9.55pm John Somerville (member of Treacherous Orchestra and music tutor)

o   10.00 - 10.10pm Kim Carnie (BBC Alba TV presenter)

o   10.15pm - 10.25pm Conal McDonagh (member of electronic folk bank, INYAL)

o   10.30pm - 10.40pm Iona Fyfe

o   10.45pm - 10.55pm Laura Wilkie 

o   10.55pm - 11.00pm Fiona Dalgetty, Fèis Rois

The track listing for the CD is as follows:

CD 1

  1. Mairearad Green - Full Tilt Jigs (Passing Places)
  2. Kim Carnie – Tàladh Dhòmhnaill Ghuirm (In Her Company/ Na Cuideachd EP)
  3. Hecla (feat. Ailis Sutherland, Ilona Kennedy, Kaitlin Ross) - Father Eugene’s (Hecla EP)
  4. Iona Fyfe - Guise of Tough (Away From My Window)
  5. Fèis Rois Ceilidh Trail 2019 – Duncan MacQuarrie’s (not previously released)
  6. Roya MacLean – Reels (Blackwater)
  7. Eabhal (feat. Megan MacDonald, Kaitlin Ross) Beir Soiridh Soiridh Bhuam (This Is How the Ladies Danc
  8. Joseph Peach and Charlie Grey - Maureen Fraser's (Waves Rise from Quiet Wate
  9. Fras (feat. Angus Binnie) - Castlerock Road (Dìle)
  10. Josie Duncan and Pablo Lafuente - Thug Mi ’n Oidhche (The Morning Tempest)
  11. Treacherous Orchestra (feat. John Somerville, Barry Reid) – Numbers (Grind) 

CD 2

  1. Mairearad Green – Jock Watt’s (not previously released
  2. The Outside Track (feat. Fiona Black) - Drilling (Light Up The Dark)
  3. Rachel Newton - Gura Muladach Sgith Mi (West)
  4. Jamie MacDonald and Christian Gamauf - The Boy's Lament for His Dragon (The Pipe Slang)
  5. Brìghde Chaimbeul and Innes White - Wee Donald (not previously released)
  6. Kim Richards Say We (Leaves that Fly)
  7. Pons Aelius (feat. Alasdair Paul) - Five Miles to the Mill (Fire Under the Bridge)
  8. Fraya Thomsen - Gun Urra (Phrenetikos EP)
  9. Project Smok (feat. Ali Levack) - Struan’s (single)
  10. Inyal (feat. Conal McDonagh, Josie Duncan, Robbie Greig) – Chì Mi (Inyal)
  11. Mairearad Green, Lauren MacColl, Anna Massie, John Somerville – Neil McKechnie’s (not previously released)



Bike for Sale

  • Original single speed fixed gear Mango Bike with bullhorn bars
  • Medium frame
  • Standard 700x25c Kenda tyre (Presta valve)
Seldom used. There are a couple signs of cosmetic wear, but it is fully operational and functions as intended. 
Serviced in January. 
Call or text 07478 718997

Ceòlas Uibhist and Fèisean nan Gàidheal have received new funding from The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo Youth Development Fund through Creative Scotland, to enhance opportunities for young people to develop their skills and talent in traditional Scottish music and dance.  

Ceolas Uibhist are set to work with young people from Uist and Benbecula to create a new, musical performance piece.  Specialist tutors will be running weekend workshops for piping, fiddle, dance, drumming, accordion and clarsach, with rehearsals and performances scheduled for November and December 2020. 

Fèisean nan Gàidheal’s Pitzcalzean Masterclass Weekend - postponed from September to November 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak - has also received support. The residential masterclass weekend will offer young people (15-25yrs) specialist tuition in traditional dance, Gaelic song and playing for dancing (on pipes and fiddle).  

The programme will also include a step-dance workshop for all ages and a public performance from the weekend’s expert tutors, which will be open to the wider community. 

These two projects are among sixteen across Scotland to have received support in the latest round of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo Youth Development Fund which was announced in 2019. 

Rucelle Soutar, Chief Operating Officer, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo said: “We’re delighted to see these wonderful projects being delivered from our 2019 Youth Development fund. At the Tattoo, celebrating Scottish traditional arts is a key goal, and we wish them the very best of success.”  

Colin Bradie, Head of Creative Learning, Creative Scotland said: “Whilst the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are extremely challenging in so many ways and for so many people, it’s inspiring to see these great projects adapting to offer engaging, high-quality opportunities for young people to create new and exciting work and increase accessibility across traditional Scottish arts.”  


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 sensitivity surrounding the need to help people cope with the impact of the pandemic lockdown is being reflected in an appeal by the Marybank and Laxdale Community Associations.

The two groups have been awarded funding from the Corra Foundation's community wellbeing fund in order to provide food vouchers for member of the community who have been adversely affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.

The groups explain that the £30 food vouchers for local retailers will be issued in strict confidence to any individual or family who requests one from the following e-mail addresses (e-mail relates to the area closest to where you live):

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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They explain there is no need to provide any details other than a name and address to post the vouchers to.

The group would also welcome nominations for vouchers, if you believe there is someone in need who will not, or cannot request one themselves.

"We are grateful to be able to add to the support that other agencies, community groups and businesses are offering in such difficult times.

"The associations hope to continue to support our local community throughout the pandemic, please e-mail the addresses above if you wish to get involved."

North Uist Distillery today (16th July 2020) announced the acquisition of the iconic Nunton Steadings on the Isle of Benbecula.

Nunton Steadings was the scene of several important chapters in island history and is one of the oldest surviving structures in the Western Isles.

Now the local landmark is set to be the site of another historic development, as the base for production of the first whisky to be legally distilled in the southern islands of the Outer Hebrides.

Jonny Ingledew, Master Distiller, and Kate MacDonald, Creative Director, are delighted to have completed the purchase of the steadings, which will be redeveloped as a distillery and visitor centre, and give the couple the space to distil whisky and build on the success of their popular range of premium ‘Downpour’ gins launched in 2019.

“Our main goal has always been to put the islands on the whisky map and therefore we are incredibly excited to have secured Nunton Steadings which will allow us to fulfill our whisky dream,” commented Jonny.

Kate and Jonny plan to make whisky using a grain that local crofters produce, Bere barley, which is one of the oldest cereals grown in the UK. “At one time all whisky would have been made from Bere barley but it was changed out for higher yielding barleys. Bere tastes incredible and is not mass produced, so it retains a remarkable flavor that we want to harness,” explained Jonny.

Jonny and Kate are keen to work with crofters to create a supply chain of Bere barley on the islands with the intention of one day being able to malt the barley, allowing for full grain to glass production in the new premises, Nunton Steadings.

Nunton Steadings was constructed in its current form in the early 1700s on the site of a nunnery dating back to 1300. Prince Charles Edward Stuart took shelter there while on the run in the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

Built on what was then a substantial farm, the structure was seized with the land when crofters raided Nunton in the aftermath of the Great War. Local crofters housed cattle and stored animal feed inside the building until it fell into disrepair and was transferred to the Uist Buildings Preservation Trust, later renamed Nunton Steading Trust, which saw the building renovated in the late 1990s. Nunton Steading Trust placed the building on the market earlier in 2020.

Kate MacDonald said: “Nunton Steadings has beautiful original features, such as the cobbled floors on the south side of the building, which will be the perfect home for our whisky casks during maturation.

“We will be providing tours which will cover the whisky and gin production process and also share the stories of this historic building and the surrounding areas.”

North Uist Distillery is now working on ambitious plans to bring Nunton Steadings back into use as a hub for the community and visitors with pop up events and a visitor centre.

Kate and Jonny are keen to give the community ownership of this venture and will be running a crowdfunder later in the year to raise money to procure whisky equipment, which has been sized to create a single cask with each production run. It is anticipated the kit will be purchased in March 2021, once finance is secured, with production commencing in 2022.

Studio Hebrides architecture firm and Allen Associates process engineers are now working with the North Uist Distillery team to redevelop Nunton Steadings into a distillery and new visitor centre on Benbecula.

North Uist Distillery started to trade in 2019 with ‘Downpour’ dry Scottish gin, described as a strong and bold-flavoured premium gin, drenched in extra-strength botanicals, crafted to capture the spirit of life in the Hebrides. Later in 2019, North Uist Distillery launched ‘Downpour Sloe and Bramble’, which uses local heather and brambles as the main botanicals, making the product a real taste of North Uist.

Both the ‘Downpour’ gins are available to purchase from the website (

Earlier this month (July 2020) North Uist Distillery won ‘Gold’ in the Spirits Business Gin Masters 2020 for both the original ‘Downpour’ and ‘Downpour Sloe and Bramble’.

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 popular travelling cinema Screen Machine, a regular visitor at six Western Isles locations, is being prepared for return to service in the near future.

Cinemas are among the venues allowed to reopen from today (Wednesday 15 July) under the Scottish Government’s lockdown easing plan, but the need for careful planning of hygiene and distancing is keeping the Screen Machine off the road a little longer.

The Screen Machine usually calls into Tarbert, Lochmaddy, Carinish, Linaclete, Daliburgh and Castlebay on a rolling programme offering blockbusters, kids’ favourites and special-interest films.

The 80-seat auditorium is funded by Creative Scotland with Highlands and Islands Enterprise and receives further support from Caledonian MacBrayne, with ferries helping the huge road tourer to reach many of its destinations.

Since they suspended operations on 16 March, the operating team have been undertaking annual refurbishment and cleaning, to minimise future downtime once they return to business.

In a statement released yesterday (Tuesday) the screen’s operators asked for the views of the film-going public as they plan their own re-opening road map.

They said: “We have all been looking forwards with confidence, anticipation and excitement to the day we can resume the service. Whilst we can’t yet give you specific dates for the resumption of the tour, or our next visit to your location, we are working hard to put in place all that’s required to help you feel confident in visiting your cinema.

“You can expect the same warm welcome and high levels of service, but some aspects of the service are likely to be different. it is very important to us that you feel confident in returning to the Screen Machine – we want to get it right.

“So we’d like to understand a little bit more about what you think of visiting the Screen Machine. If you have any particular concerns, we’d like to hear about them now, so that we can try to address them before we start touring again.”

A survey has been prepared and is available here: , with just ten questions to help shape future operations. It must be completed by noon on Wednesday 22 July.

The pictures show the Screen Machine at Castlebay and on the ferry from Tarbert to Uig during last summer’s tour.


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.


A brand-new island-based business is linking the start of their new business with the start of many new lives together, as Western Isles Wedding Nannies launch their new service.

Wedding Nannies are a new idea for Lewis and Harris, where children have traditionally always been part of wedding celebrations, but Ness-based Tori Macinnes is determined to combine the best of traditional family celebrations with new ideas.

“When I got married my own parents missed parts of the day because they were helping to look after my children, who were then very young. My ambition is to let people relax and enjoy themselves on what is such a special day, but at the same time to make sure that children can be involved and enjoy the day too.”

Tori, a registered childminder, has got together with Stornoway-based friends Julie Drummond and Anna Macleod to plan the service. All three have their HNC qualification in childcare, have been PVG checked and are certified by the Scottish Social Services Council, while Tori has recently added training in Covid-19 hygiene to her portfolio.

They’re also all very experienced in childcare, both in professional settings and with their own families, having worked in nurseries in the islands. Tori has her own three sons Ryan (10), Charlie (7) and four-year-old Jamie. Ryan is pictured here when he was four years old, at Tori’s own wedding.

The business-plan for Western Isles Wedding Nannies has been hatching during lockdown, as brides and grooms hold their breath for Phase 4 of Scotland’s lockdown easing, when ceremonies and mass gatherings will be resumed.

The uncertainty of the exact timetable when weddings might start again hasn’t stopped the planning. Two packages are to be offered, one offering a dedicated kids’ zone in a room set aside with space to play, explore and nap. Two nannies will be needed for that option.

The second package will involve three or four nannies and offers two kids’ zones. One provides a calm, separate space where younger children can be looked after and older children chill out later in the evening. The second zone is in the wedding hall itself, where children can be more active and get involved in the dance and other activities.

Toys, snacks and juice, art activities, naps and preparation for bed-time are all part of the packages. Even wedding themes – whether it’s a colour scheme or an ‘event’ theme – can be built in.

Tori has built up a stock of toys and materials including a tee-pee for play, games and puzzles, bubbles, playmats and even a trampoline if there’s space. All the toys and equipment will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before and after use and there will be sanitiser, regular hand-washing and food hygiene practised throughout.

Tori said: “We looked at what other wedding nanny companies were doing in Glasgow and down south and mixed it up with the way island weddings are planned. We want this to add to people’s day and make special memories for kids as well as adults.

“We have advertised the service locally and on some Highland and Scottish wedding pages, although we plan to work just in Lewis and Harris initially. If things take off, we’ll look at recruiting more nannies.”

For now, as it is for couples everywhere, it’s just a question of waiting for the go-ahead from the Scottish Government and then Western Isles Wedding Nannies will be ready for special wedding days galore!

You can contact Tori Macinnes and Western Isles Wedding Nannies via their Facebook page at


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.”

From today (Monday 13th July), women across the Western Isles will be invited to identify one designated person to accompany them to scans, antenatal appointments and postnatal appointments.

Unfortunately at this time, NHS Western Isles unable to allow children to accompany the woman and designated person to the hospital, which is in line with Scottish Government guidance.

Following on from yesterday’s announcement on visiting in hospitals, NHS Western Isles is also now allowing one designated visitor (in addition to the birth partner/essential visitor) to visit women in the Maternity Ward. Unfortunately at this time, we are unable to allow children to visit until further notice.

Visiting slots for the designated visitor will be provided by ward staff to the mother-to-be, and will be for 30 minutes at a time, until further notice. Visitors will be met by a member of staff from the Maternity Ward at the door, where they will be asked a few questions about their general health (wellness check) and will be asked to use hand sanitizer and to put on a mask.

There are no restrictions on how often birth partners can visit and, if physical distancing permits, there is no restriction on the period of time that they can visit.

In terms of the birth itself, the updated position from today is that, in addition to the birth partner, women who choose to can also now have one additional person attending the birth.

NHS Western Isles Head of Midwifery, Catherine Macdonald, said: “The health, safety and wellbeing of pregnant women and their babies and the staff providing maternity care remains our absolute priority. We are delighted to be able to ease some of the restrictions in place and to allow, in particular, women to be accompanied to scans and appointments, but we would ask that anyone who feels unwell, has been in contact with anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, or has had any symptoms of COVID-19 themselves, does not attend the hospital.”

The use of digital technology and home monitoring to supplement routine care in maternity services will continue.

NHS Western Isles will not be resuming parenting classes until further notice, but will continue with the Solihull Education programme as has been the case since the COVID-19 restrictions came into effect.





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.


Those attending appointments at hospitals or dental surgeries in the Western Isles are able to choose an accompanying person to attend appointments with them, from today (Monday July 13).

Restrictions to date have prevented carers and family members from accompanying patients at appointments, unless critical to patient care, however today’s change means that they can bring a supporting person with them, if they wish to do so.  

For attendance at GP Practices or other private healthcare premises in the Western Isles, please contact them directly in terms of individual arrangements on attending appointments.

Anyone attending healthcare appointments must ensure they continue to follow physical distancing guidance (maintaining a 2 metre distance from others), and adhere to hand hygiene measures (using hand sanitiser on entry, and before they enter clinical areas) to reduce the risk of infection. All those entering clinical areas will also be required to wear a face mask, which will be provided. 

If a patient is experiencing any symptoms of coronavirus (high temperature, a new, continuous cough and a loss or change to sense of smell or taste), they must contact their clinician to reschedule their appointment.

Anyone experiencing coronavirus symptoms must not attend their GP, pharmacy or hospital – and should arrange a test at the earliest opportunity by contacting the COVID-19 Response Team on 01851 601151 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


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

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


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

Young fishing enthusiasts will have the chance to make a great catch in Barra this summer, as the hotly contested Barra and Vatersay fishing competition becomes the latest event to go virtual.

There’s been no announcement as yet on the status of Barra’s other great competitive event – the Barra and Vatersay potato competition – but at least the fishing will go ahead.

But instead of the adrenaline-fuelled smell of competition at all ages this year, there’ll be a spirit of co-operation from the older generation as just one single category of the contest puts youngsters first.

The slimmed-down event, on Saturday 8 August, is working within the current guidelines to prevent sizeable public gatherings in one place.

It offers first, second and third prizes for the heaviest fish landed, but only under-16s are eligible to enter.

Competitors under 16 years old can take to the water at any point during the day and boats can head out from anywhere around Barra and Vatersay, rather than congregating at the usual departure and landing points.

Entries should be submitted via private message to the competition’s Facebook page at

There must be clear photographic evidence of the weight of the fish, which must have been caught on a handline or rod. Entrants are being advised not to eat their catch until winners have been confirmed, just in case there’s a photo-finish!

Boat skippers will be responsible for ensuring compliance with Scottish Government guidance on social distancing, hygiene and mixing household groups as well as for safety equipment and behaviour.

Entries must be submitted by 5pm on Saturday 8 August – and may the biggest fish win!

Pictures show competitors heading out to sea during last summer’s Barra and Vatersay fishing competition.

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.

To celebrate the Year of Coasts & Waters, Gaelic arts organisation, Fèisean nan Gàidheal, is championing the rich collection of Gaelic songs connected to coasts and waters, with a new song resource which features a weekly series of online content for people to use to learn and enjoy songs, all sung by some of the country’s top Gaelic singers.

‘Cladaichean is Uisgeachan’ (Gaelic for Coasts and Waters) is a Gaelic song resource featuring new recordings of songs and archive recordings along with the history and background information of each song and the links to local Fèisean. A fascinating resource, it provides people with an opportunity to delve into Scotland’s rich Gaelic heritage and culture. Each song is accompanied with an image celebrating Scotland’s beautiful coasts and waters, taken by Cailean Maclean. 

Fèisean nan Gàidheal, one of Scotland’s top arts organisations, is working with Gaelic song expert, Jo Macdonald, to compile the resource which includes interesting historical and local information whilst the singers involved include Royal National Mod gold medallists Cristin Mackenzie, Ruairidh Cormack and Jenna Cumming, all members of female trio, Sian (Eilidh Cormack, Ceitlin Lilidh and Ellen Macdonald) and Trail West’s Ian Smith.  

So far, the existing videos and recordings have reached over 40,000 people on Facebook and YouTube and the project is only at the halfway mark.

The resource, which has received support from Scottish Government, is an extension of Fèisean nan Gàidheal’s ‘Fuaran’ Gaelic song resource which was established to encourage a new generation of Gaelic speakers and singers to actively engage in the research and collection of Gaelic songs in their local area. 

In total 52 songs will be added to this expanding resource, 51 from the Gaelic song heritage and there will also be a commission awarded to a Gaelic songwriter to compose a new song to celebrate the theme of Coasts and Waters.

Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, commented: “Scotland’s languages and culture have invariably been linked to the land and sea and I am pleased to welcome this resource from Fèisean nan Gàidheal in support of the Year of Coasts and Waters.  I am sure that this rich resource will not only bring benefits to our young people who are in Gaelic education but also to those at home as well as overseas who are interested in our culture.”

Calum Alex Macmillian, Development Manager, Fèisean nan Gàidheal, said: “We're now halfway through our Cladaichean is Uisgeachan project, with 26 songs, complete with new recordings of each one, links to archive recordings, the words, history, background information on the area from where the songs originate and a link to the Fèisean in those areas.

“We are so fortunate to be working with Jo MacDonald on this project, her knowledge and expertise has given us an invaluable new collection of Gaelic songs that will be an invaluable resource for singers and teachers. It has also been fantastic to hear the various singers who have been involved with this project and I hope that this will encourage them, and others, to be singing more.”

Jo Macdonald commented: "It's both a pleasure and a privilege to work with Fèisean nan Gàidheal on this project. We have such a wonderful heritage of songs in Gaelic but it's not always easily accessible especially to young people.  It's so rewarding to be able to help make more of this rich corpus of song easily available and the Coasts and Waters theme provides a fantastic focus for exploring some classic songs and unearthing new treasures." 

For more information about the resource and to access the weekly content please visit or

  • Fèisean nan Gàidheal (FnG) was established in 1991 as the independent umbrella association of the Fèis movement. It is a membership organisation that offers a range of services.
  • FnG is funded by Creative Scotland, Bòrd na Gàidhlig and Highlands & Islands Enterprise and delivers contracts for several local authorities.
  • FnG supports 47 tuition-based Fèisean that offer tuition in traditional Gaelic arts to around 13,000 young people across Scotland every year.
  • FnG also runs the Fèisgoil service to deliver work in schools. This organises music tuition through the Youth Music Initiative and teaches Gaelic language to support GLE and 1+2 languages. 

  • Drama work is a feature of FnG’s arts and education service, producing and touring a number of original Gaelic language theatre-in-education plays for schools and providing drama skills tuition.
  • FnG’s FèisTV service livestreams events and offers online tuition.
  • Overall, Fèisean nan Gàidheal’s work engages around 70,000 people annually.

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.

Earthwatch Europe has launched a new digital platform to support community wildlife project Naturehood

Designed to develop a network of thousands of local people who each do tiny actions for nature in their neighbourhoods, the aim is to create a tapestry of habitats that, combined on a national basis, will help protect and increase biodiversity in the UK.  

Scotland has an urgent need for its people to take action and utilise community connections to save the region’s biodiversity. 

Although 18.3 per cent of Scotland is under wood or forest, and in this respect, it is the most green part of the UK (England for example has just 10.3 per cent woodland cover and Wales 9.1 per cent) loss of biodiversity is still a problem.  

Almost half of the species in Scotland are reported as less abundant than they were a decade ago and almost one in ten are threatened.  

With the loss of hedgerows and more intensive farming practices, urban gardens and green areas are therefore vital places for wildlife. With over 626,000 people living in Glasgow, half a million in Edinburgh and 220,000 in Aberdeen, for example, the potential for people power to support nature is immense. 

In March, days before lockdown, Earthwatch, an environmental charity, created the UK’s first tiny forest, an area the size of a tennis court planted with 600 different native trees, to create a fast-growing dense forest. The Naturehood campaign follows the same approach, centring on the need to connect communities to support biodiversity. It aims to create an army of people across the country each taking a tiny step for nature, who together will make a difference.   

Research conducted by Earthwatch during lockdown proved how valuable being near nature is for mental well-being, with 67% of all adults from Scotland saying that looking at nature left them with a sense of calm. The community approach of the Naturehood programme takes this further and invites people to sign up and become actively involved with nature, taking small positive steps for biodiversity.  

Once signed up to Naturehood, people will be offered a choice of different activities in their local area which will vary in scale and approach, for example making a leaf or log pile, creating a gap in fencing to act as a wildlife passageway or surveying green spaces for wildlife. The activities have been selected based on scientific evidence of their impact on increasing or protecting biodiversity. An accompanying online platform will allow people to select actions, network and share ideas and activities. 

The important aspect is that hundreds of people can make a small action for nature in their own neighbourhoods, which will be coordinated to make a collective difference. Stanford scientist BH Fogg, author of ‘Tiny Habits’ has described how making a behaviour ‘radically tiny’ can be the cornerstone to achieving successful change. Earthwatch’s Naturehood incorporates this approach where no step is too small to take, to encourage more people to sign up and begin ‘the small changes that change everything’.  

Nick Baker and Michaela Strachan, who presented the BBC’s Really Wild Show, are both supporting the Naturehood project, alongside ‘Urban birder’ David Lindo. They are all keen to show how this new platform makes it easy for anyone to take a step toward helping nature in their area:  

“It can feel like the scale of change required to help nature and improve the environment is so big and that it’s pointless trying to do anything. We are saying to people everywhere, no matter what you do or who you are, you  can help. Nature is for you and needs you more than ever,” said David.  

Michaela continues: “In the quietness of lockdown we heard nature like never before. Naturehood offers everyone the chance to keep that connection going, to respond to nature and be part of something bigger.”  

Ben Williams, Earthwatch Project Manager for Naturehood, explained why this particular platform is all about connecting neighbourhoods and people:  “Loss of habitat and biodiversity is one of the most urgent environmental issues of our time. Since 1970, 41% of UK species have declined, but if we each created one new tiny habitat or protected one small area in our neighbourhoods, and we connect these actions up, it will make a difference. We can help hold back that loss, or even bring back more species to your area. By signing up to Naturehood we can work together to make a real difference to biodiversity in the UK.” 

To find out more visit

Earthwatch is an environmental charity with science at its heart. We drive the change needed to live within our means and in balance with nature. We do this by:   

  • connecting people with the natural world  

  • monitoring the health of our natural resources  

  • informing the actions that will have the greatest positive impact.   

Nominations are now open for the Scottish Health Awards 2020 - and whilst 2020 has been an unprecedented year for everyone in the health and social care sector, you can show your appreciation by nominating your unsung heroes at:

The Scottish Health Awards are the most prestigious and recognised awards for those working across NHS Scotland and its partners to deliver high quality health and social care services to the people of Scotland. Run by the Daily Record in partnership with NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government, the awards are now well established in the Scottish calendar and recognise those that go that extra mile to improve the health and wellbeing of others.

The awards reflect the amazing diversity of talent and showcase the dedication and commitment of those who work tirelessly on our behalf. NHS Scotland is committed to providing sustainable high quality health services for the people of Scotland. Increasingly, health and social care services are being delivered in an integrated way focusing on prevention, anticipation and supported self-management and the awards aim to recognise this approach.

In a year when staff across health and social care have been rising to the many challenges of dealing with Coronavirus (COVID-19), there’s never been a better time to recognise and reward them for what they have been doing day-in and day-out.

There are 16 award categories including a People’s Choice Award which will be open to a public vote from 19 October. While it is expected that COVID-19 will feature across the majority of the award categories this year, the People’s Choice Award will specifically recognise individuals and teams who have responded so magnificently to the challenge of caring for people during the pandemic, while at the same time maintaining a range of essential services and continuing to provide essential care.

The finalists in the remaining categories on 11 November and all winners – including the winner of the People’s Choice Award – will be announced on 9 December at the virtual ceremony which can be viewed online. Details of how this can be viewed will be shared closer to the time.

The award categories are:

• Support Worker
• Innovation
• Volunteers
• Midwife
• Allied Health Professional
• Young Achiever

• Unsung Hero
• Care for Mental Health
• Integrated Care
• Healthier Lifestyle
• Leader of the Year

• Nurse
• Doctor
• Top Team
• Global Citizenship
• People’s Choice

Nominations can be submitted to the Scottish Health Awards 2020 website at until 5pm on Wednesday 30 September 2020.


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.


Monitoring work undertaken on behalf of Food Standards Scotland has identified raised levels of shellfish toxins in 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 Comhairle nan Eilean Siar 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.

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."

The fast-changing role of communications technology in search and rescue has been highlighted by Stornoway Coastguard officers – using incidents which took place 99 years apart!

Stornoway Coastguard Operations Centre (CGOC) handled an emergency search operation at Ardnish near Mallaig early on Sunday morning (5 July) after two silent 999 calls were received at around 7am.

Thanks to a series of telecoms advances, the search and rescue co-ordinators at Stornoway were able to pinpoint the origin of the calls, which had come from two different mobile phones in the same location. The callers had lost connection and were unable to give any information.

A Coastguard spokesman said: “The position was fixed using the enhanced information service for emergency calls (EISEC), a system which accesses a secure BT database to display details of the callers in the emergency co-ordination centre.

“The first display places the call within a certain search radius and the second one is much more detailed. It gives us a good idea of the probable location of the mobile phone and, on that basis, we can begin the search.”

Maritime operations team leader Carl Taylor, who was on duty at the time of the incident, said: “People are often unaware that, when you dial 999 from a mobile phone, the location services automatically switch on. While you’re talking to the emergency services your position data is automatically sent.

“It’s a significant aid to operations rooms in an emergency, meaning we can speed up the process to get assistance to you quickly, and it’s one of the reasons why in an emergency it’s important to call 999 rather than the routine numbers.”

Sunday’s search saw Coastguard Rescue Teams from Mallaig and Salen dispatched to the location, where two people had become disorientated after hill-walking and camping overnight near the shore. They were found safe and well at 8.44am and given safety advice by CRT members.

Carl said: “If you compare this incident with the communications recorded in the historical log of Stornoway Coastguard station you can see how much times have changed.

“In 1921 a fishing vessel went aground on the west coast of Barra and the distress call was sent by letter, which took almost four days to reach Stornoway. The same message can now be sent in a fraction of a second.

“In some circumstances, modern communications are progressing towards taking the ‘search’ out of search and rescue, meaning that we can get rescue assets to you so much more quickly.”

Some things haven’t changed, though. Sunday’s casualties returned to their vehicle safe and well and, in 1921, the four fishermen aboard the grounded vessel made their own way to the shore and were safely brought under cover by local residents.

Stornoway Coastguard’s logs, dating back to 1897, are in the safekeeping of Stornoway Historical Society.

Picture shows Stornoway Coastguard Operations Centre, search and rescue co-ordination hub, with maritime operations controller Angus MacIver and maritime operations officer Carol Campbell (MCA).

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

The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust is calling on members of the public to record their at-sea excursions and sightings of whales, dolphins, porpoises and endangered basking sharks off Scotland’s west coast to boost monitoring efforts and strengthen understanding of the coronavirus lockdown’s impact on these animals.

With wildlife around the world reported to be taking advantage of reduced human activity, the Trust wants to discover more about what has been happening in Hebridean seas, which are globally important for cetaceans – the collective name for whales, dolphins and porpoises – and basking sharks.

But the Trust’s ability to gather crucial scientific evidence for the effective conservation of these remarkable animals has been hit hard by the global Covid-19 pandemic – leaving it facing the biggest gap in its data collection for two decades.

The charity’s regular at-sea scientific research expeditions by scientists and volunteers onboard its specialised yacht, Silurian, are cancelled. There has also been an 80 percent decrease in reported sightings of cetaceans by members of the public compared to 2019.

With lockdown restrictions easing, the Trust is appealing to people living and working on the west coast to log their excursions, report sightings and submit photographs through its quick and easy-to-use Whale Track website at or free smartphone app, which works in the most remote areas of the Hebrides without network coverage or WiFi.  

“We don’t yet know what the impacts of lockdown will be on cetaceans, but with fewer boats and activities taking place at sea, it will almost certainly have been a lot quieter out there. This may have had important benefits for whales and dolphins, which rely on sound for communication, foraging and their ultimate survival,” said Dr Lauren Hartny-Mills, the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust’s Science and Conservation Manager.

“Reporting is easy, and every excursion logged on Whale Track – whether a ferry crossing or a kayaking trip – will make a difference to our understanding of what impact lockdown has had on Scottish whales and dolphins.”

Sightings and photographs will also help the Trust’s researchers track the movement of resident coastal species like bottlenose dolphins, and learn more about rarer visitors like killer whales and humpback whales.  During lockdown there have been almost 350 sightings of 10 different species reported by 90 people using Whale Track during their daily exercise or essential work at sea. The Trust has been hugely grateful for these reports – which have included super pods of common dolphins, the return of migratory species like minke whales and basking sharks, and spectacular sightings of resident harbour porpoise and bottlenose dolphins.

“Sightings of cetaceans are scientifically important, plus getting outside and being by the sea can also help boost people’s mood and well-being during these difficult times. As restrictions in Scotland are relaxed, we appeal to anyone living or working along the Scottish west coast to get involved with Whale Track and join our community of amazing citizen scientists,” said Becky Dudley, the Trust’s Marine Biodiversity Officer.

For those shielding or unable to reach the coast, Whale Track has an interactive map showing all sightings reported since 2017. This allows anyone to look up sightings of their favourite species or find out what’s been seen near them – connecting people with nature from the comfort of their own home.  Marine ecosystems are increasingly under threat from human activities – including climate change, entanglement, pollution, underwater noise and habitat degradation. At a time of global climate emergency and biodiversity loss across the UK and globally, the need for the Trust’s monitoring, education and conservation work has never been more critical.

The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust's vision is of healthy Hebridean seas for whales, dolphins, porpoises and people. A registered charity, established in 1994 and based in Tobermory, Isle of Mull, the Trust works to conserve Hebridean whales, dolphins and porpoises through robust science, inspirational education and meaningful engagement, so that they thrive in harmony alongside coastal communities.

Finland, July 6: Cities are places where people come together and the COVID-19 pandemic has created a need for new, safe spaces to enable people to meet.

In Helsinki, the city has taken an active role in helping the businesses that have suffered economical losses due to the pandemic and simultaneously animating the city centre.

Helsinki’s main square, the Senate Square, has been transformed into an urban culinary oasis; a vast garden-like terrace area where savours of the city’s ambitious culinary culture can be enjoyed. 

“If there’s anything good about the coronavirus, it just might be the fact that we have been forced to rethink our ways of doing things in a new way. Good ideas and an innovative culture of experimenting are now truly welcome,” says Jan Vapaavuori, Mayor of Helsinki. 

One of the essential new openings is the new extensive terrace and meeting point created at the city’s main square, the Senate Square. The terrace is located in front of Helsinki’s landmark, the Helsinki Cathedral, and the city hopes it will help revive the city centre that is recovering from the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. New and increasingly vast terrace areas have been opened in different parts of Helsinki as the city has eased the processing of permits to support the businesses recover and regain their actions.   

“This summer is a critical time for many entrepreneurs in Helsinki. The Senate Square terrace experiment does not only serve the businesses that will operate in the area but also acts as a refreshing shot for the whole city centre, the entrepreneurs, domestic travel and for the international travel that is slowly starting to resume,” continues Mayor Jan Vapaavuori. 

The Senate Square restaurateurs were chosen to represent an exclusive and diverse set of high quality Helsinki restaurants. The selection contains, for instance, refreshing breakfasts, summery lunches, pizza, Baltic herring, tapas, fine dining, premium hot dogs, cocktails and craft beers from local microbreweries. 

Safety and the area’s cultural and historical values have been at the core of the terrace area planning. The visual image of the area has been inspired by allotment gardens with their cottages and plots. Allotment gardens have been a part of the urban culture in Helsinki for a hundred years. The plots at the Senate Square are separated by circa 200 boxes, which have been planted with different flowers and useful plants. They help form clear paths on the area and guide the safe circulation of the customers. The planting boxes are also used to create a distance between the seating areas in order to respect safety regulations, while keeping the area pleasant at the same. 

“Helsinki has a fine culinary and restaurant culture and a wonderful tradition of allotment gardens. Senate Square has become a culinary oasis and a showcase of quality restaurants in Helsinki. We believe that those who travel in the future will be looking for local experiences just like this. Even if we may travel less in the future, we want to invest more in it and enjoy local services together with the locals,” states Laura Aalto, CEO of Helsinki Marketing. 

The Senate Square Summer:

  • Open daily from 9 am to 11 pm starting 1 July until 30 August (alcohol serving stops at 10 pm)
  • 16 restaurateurs
  • 4 pop up spots
  • 480 customer seats
  • 16 toilets
  • 12 spots for washing your hands
  • #senatesquaresummer

Safety at the Senate Square Summer:

  • The whole terrace area has been planned according to national guidelines about coronavirus
  • Safety distances have been carefully considered in the planning of the area, as well as the number of customer seats, walking directions and the locating of the tables and seating areas
  • The area has clear signposts with information on safety guidelines, walking directions, etc.
  • The area has spots for washing hands with running water
  • The area has enough toilets in which hygiene has been carefully considered (cleaning, walking directions, options for handwashing)
  • The area has special supervision.

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

July 2, 2020 - Vilnius, Lithuania: Vilnius International Airport is known for finding ways to amuse arriving passengers. Last Christmas, it displayed a Christmas tree constructed of confiscated objects (mostly scissors).

And during the coronavirus lockdown, it served as an outdoor drive-in cinema.

But starting from this month (July) there are now 70 international routes operating to and from Lithuanian airports.

And since June 29, travellers arriving at Vilnius International Airport will find themselves following a trail of pink-coloured aiming to coin as “cold pink” – a distinct colour of its national šaltibarščiai soup.

This pink trail ends at an Instagrammable 10-foot replica of the famed dish, which tourists inevitably try during their visit to the Baltic country.

 “This year, we’re taking our gastronomical identity to the next level. Two weeks ago we presented a taste map with more than 30 varieties of šaltibarščiai, last week we launched a country-wide survey on what the national menu should look like, and now this,” says Indre Trakimaitė-Šeškuvienė, Head of Marketing at Lithuania Travel, the country’s Tourism Development Agency, responsible for the installation spots on the floor Rapalis). That is not an ordinary pink, but Šaltibarščiai, frequently referred to as “pink soup” by foreign visitors…one of the most iconic Lithuanian dishes.

"Having developed somewhat of a cult following, šaltibarščiai has an active Facebook fan group with daily discussions on the best way to prepare it. Souvenirs are available in the form of socks, t-shirts and even bathing suits with the distinct soup pattern on it. Finally, the Lithuanian Post Office has issued a commemorative stamp and painted one of its 30-foot self-service terminals with a distinctive pink design.

Commemorative postage stamp displaying šalibarščiai

The installation at the airport is set to kick-off the “Discover colours you never knew existed” campaign that invites to explore Lithuania via vivid and distinctive colours. In addition to Cold Pink, the campaign invites to discover Vilnius Rooftop Red, Deep Forest Green, Baltic Blue, Rye Bread Black, Amber Yellow and even Kaunas Modernism Grey. The video of the campaign, which highlights Cold Pink and is also shown at the airport, can be found here.

“You have to be bold if you want to be seen on an international level. We believe that this colourful campaign will help attract the attention of tourists around the globe and will make them consider the possibilities to visit Lithuania - one of the safest countries this summer,” says Marius Zelenius, Head of Communication at Lithuanian Airports.

(photographs: Gintautas Rapalis)


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 qualifie