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Tiree’s Longest Tee-Off for Charity

The longest and largest round of golf in Tiree’s history has now been completed. After 32 miles, over two days (19 hours), using just three clubs and hitting over 900 shots, three intrepid golfers have successfully managed to circumnavigate the coast of this fair isle, whilst hitting a golf ball, all in the name of charity.

The three friends, Gordon Archibald (Perth), Jonathan Jack and Rory Murray (both Edinburgh), set out on this adventure aiming to raise money for three causes that were important to each individual: Lauren Currie Twilight Foundation for Vasculitus, Cancer Research UK and Sphephelo, a charity that supports disadvantaged women in South Africa. Starting their challenge at approximately 1pm from the first tee of Vaul Golf Club on Friday 3rd August, the trio played towards the renowned beach of Gott Bay before heading in an easterly direction around the island, with the aim of reaching their accommodation for the night: The Mill Hostel, before sunset. The weather gods had been kind and periods of sunshine were coupled with unusually light winds. Sporting some colourful trousers and matching polo shirts, the group were warmly greeted by countless locals and visitors that they came across. Coffee, water and golf balls were kindly offered at every turn and, most importantly of course, donations!

Amassing a total of 14 miles walking on day one, the boys reached the hostel as light was rapidly fading. The tough terrain around the famous Ringing Stone was particularly draining for the group but fortunately they utilised their secret weapon in case of emergency, a tennis ball. Rory tell us, ”The grass was just too thick and long and we were losing balls on every shot, but the tennis ball really saved us.”

Continuing their challenge early the next day from the front door of the hostel, the group set off with the intention of finishing the challenge on the 9th hole of the golf club that they started their journey. “It was tough going on that second day”, Johnny remarked, “The thick drizzle was unrelenting and we didn’t see a soul for a few hours, the enormity of the task was now firmly in our minds.” “A turning point was reaching the beautiful Balephuil Bay”, Gordy described. “The sun appeared and spirits raised accordingly. It was also at this point that we realised we would have enough golf balls to complete the challenge!” In total, the boys lost only 36 golf balls and 1 tennis ball.

In Scarinish, a slight detour to the police station was made to recover Rory’s lost wallet, which of course had been handed in by a member of the public, testament to the wonderful nature and character of those on the island.

At around 6pm on Saturday, some 29 hours after they had set off around the island, the boys putted out their final ball into the 9th hole of Vaul Club and embraced, completing their Golf Marathon. Raising a staggering £500 in cash donations on the island alone, coupled with £2500 of donations made online, the group amassed a total of over £3000. If you still wish to donate, then please visit our Facebook page: “3 Men and an Island”.

The boys wish to thank the committee of Vaul Golf Club for their incredible support in making this challenge a success. “And to the wonderful people of Tiree who donated money, cake, golf balls, coffee, water or just said hello and gave us a wave – a profound thank you, you are amazing!”

Aardman Animations are back on Tiree!

We are delighted to welcome Jim Parkyn from Aardman Animations back to Tiree. He loved his trip last time and was eager to return.

This time he will be working with S1 & S2 students for 2 days with Jack Lockhart and Alasdair Satchel. Each student will make their own animation about their experience growing up on Tiree and what Scotland means to them. The finished animations will be screened at The Oban Phoenix on the 7th October and will tour with the Screen Machine’s programme. The animations will also be submitted to a competition that the National Library of Scotland is running.

While Jim is here he will introduce a special Scratch and Sniff version of Aardman Classic: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. This will be held in An Talla at 6pm on Thursday 20th September.

Screen Argyll are delighted to be working in partnership with Regional Screen Scotland and the Highland and Island Enterprise as part of the Year of Young People. This project has also been made possible by the support of Into Film and is part of a national celebration of animation called Anim18.

Will Wright takes 1st at Coll Half Marathon

After a last minute decision to participate, on the 18th of August, Will and Becky Wright chose to travel to Coll for the islands annual half marathon. In previous years, Will had only just made it into the top ten runners. Despite feeling as though his winning days were over, he came in strong and took first place, finishing in 1 hour and 20 minutes! “Although it was only the local half marathon it did actually feel really good to be at the front of a race again and feeling strong. Since the Coll runners have supported our events so often it was nice to return the support and go and take part over there,” said Will. Becky also ran a great race, finishing in 1 hour and 51 minutes. She’s now looking forward to the Edinburgh Half Marathon towards the end of September.

People of Tiree – Rhoda Meek

Rhoda Meek was born and raised in Edinburgh, moving to the island around five and a half years ago. She works remotely as a Director of Customer Service for a Software Company in America, troubleshooting problems within the programs, but also took on her family’s croft.

Not only has Rhoda taken on with learning how to manage and work the croft, but she has accomplished a variety of projects since joining Tiree’s community. She took the time to sit down and talk about some of her experiences, including her latest project with building hayricks using traditional methods.

What did you have to do at the start when you arrived here?

I don’t think I knew what I wanted to do when I got here; I just do the things I enjoy. The main thing is that I knew this house needed attention and it was my main focus.

Did you live here in your grandmother’s house at the start or did you live somewhere else?

I lived in here and did up the other side. I stripped it out myself then had other people come in to fix it up. I’m quite good at building functional things but they don’t look pretty so I had professionals put it back together. The house was my main focus to make it liveable and reasonably modern. I started taking lets for the other end of the house because there’s no point in it just being me.

What was after fixing up the house?

I actually started the vegetables before the house was finished; I needed a project to keep me busy. The house was very cold and had little hot water so I needed something to take my mind off it. I had to SEE progress so that’s why I started doing the veg. As the house came to an end I started working on the croft.

So it’s all gradually come along, but you’ve made it work! You’ve built it up from something that wasn’t in the greatest condition.

Yeah it was cold, damp, draughty and came with a collection of insects. Before I decided I was going to rip the whole place apart – which we did – we stripped it all down to the stone and dirt, I hired a damp surveyor from Oban. He was quite a while before saying I have good and bad news. He says, “Well you have wet rot, wood weevil, woodworm, condensationary damp, rising damp and penetrating damp, but you don’t have any dry rot.” That was the one bit of good news! So, I decided to just start again. The stonework is still the original. The house was built in 1891, it’s never going to be perfect, never draft free etc but I like it that way, I want the house to keep its soul.

So how did “Fresh Off the Croft” start?

It started out because I enjoyed being outside. I wasn’t doing anything with the croft when I moved here and I wanted to be able to do things. I can’t spend all day on the computer so it was nice, but I also can’t spend all day staring at vegetables. The first year wasn’t that great but on the second year I had a few extra and decided to start selling them to people. I had enough money to pay for the seeds for next year and I thought maybe I could start selling vegetables. That’s how it kicked off. Then I spoke to Jane Williams my neighbour and she decided to get involved. It’s fun and people seem to enjoy eating them. We keep spare potatoes, carrots, onions, leeks so we’ve always got enough for soup. Kale grows throughout the year and this time of year there’s cucumbers and tomatoes. There’s usually lettuce but the caterpillars ate them this year. A lot of work goes into it and I dread to think what the hourly rate would be, but I really enjoy it. I think one of the nice things about crofting in general is that you cannot win against nature. Nature will always find a way to do what it wants to do. It sort of takes the pressure off as you’ll never be able to achieve perfection. You always get to think next year will be better. It doesn’t matter how rough it’s been, there’s always a glimmer of optimism.

So no two years are ever the same?

There are no two years that are the same. This is now the 6th Summer I’ve been growing vegetables and the 4th Summer I’ve been doing it as Fresh Off the Croft and I haven’t yet had two Springs or Summers the same. Problems you have one year don’t appear the next year. Things grow perfectly one year, you do the exact same next year and they just don’t grow. You’re constantly trying to find reasons and coming up with theories but it is what it is. I guess I like that challenge of trying to problem solve. It’s never boring, and you never get the same problem twice which is infuriating!

What possessed you to make hay this year using traditional methods?

Well I had some really good grass at the top of the field; the field’s quite wet so the grass grew in nicely. I thought it’d be a shame to let it go to waste, so I decided to cut it. I thought it was a really good idea at the time to get a contractor to cut it and after it was cut it dawned on me I was going to have to turn it, and dry it, and store it. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. So, I went and got some advice from people, found some old pitchforks in the garage, and turned the hay by hand. I did it three times, then I realised it wasn’t drying fast enough. I decided to go up a generation and I borrowed a haybob and turned it with that. It started drying properly since it spreads out so it’s not quite as thick. I was feeling delighted with myself and my hay was lovely and dry and then the rain was forecast… I had a minor meltdown because I had no idea how to get that amount of hay secure. One of my neighbours, Lachie, gave me his time and he taught me how to build hayricks in the old style. The idea was that you would build these hayricks in the field with three fence posts, in a triangle, in the middle and you tie them. You go around putting the hay on loosely and carry on in a circle building it up until you get your hayrick. Then you put a little hat on it, which is kind of crisscrossed hay. The idea is that water doesn’t penetrate that and it just runs down the sides. So when you get a couple of good dry days the top and the side of your stack are all that needs to dry out and it keeps the rest of the hay inside nice and dry. What they would have done back in the day was get a buckrake, like a huge fork on the back of the tractor, and put it under the rick, lift it up and then take it into the stack yard. You would then fork the off the ricks, and rebuild them into a full haystack.

So you do your research on the history of crofting?

For me there is a lot of value in understanding the old ways. It doesn’t mean it makes the most sense to use them these days when there are easier methods but equally I think there are things to learn from looking at how things were done in the past. I’ve been looking at drains recently. You look at how my ancestors built them and they run perfectly and they make perfect sense and I can see exactly why they were built this way and I wouldn’t change them – aside from cleaning them! I’ve learned a lot by looking at just the way things were laid out.

Did you have help from other people?

I’ve had a huge amount of help from people. I honestly couldn’t do a fraction of what I attempt without people giving me their time so generously. I’m forever asking questions! I try to use my computer skills to help people in return. I will go as far as I can before asking for help. I’m naturally proud, but after I spent 3 days trying to hit a bolt, I asked for help and of course, when you ask someone with expertise, it gets done in 30 seconds, but I’m always determined to give it a good try.

Do you have any other big projects planned?

Loads of them but whether any will happen I don’t know. There are still two out buildings on the croft that need a lot of work; they need reroofed at the very least. I haven’t finished my building projects by any stretch, but I am going to have a pause before doing more, assuming winter doesn’t take any roofs off! I’d like to get some cows in the next year. I would also like to actually complete a crofting year feeling like I know roughly what I’m doing… I think learning is my biggest project at the moment.

So you’re still learning?

Definitely! Lambing this year, I’ve never felt so ignorant in my life. It was like a vertical learning curve. It was incredibly humbling actually. I’ve helped other people in previous years but doing it yourself is different. When I’m on my own and I have to make a decision, it’s 50/50 and 9 times out of 10 I don’t even know if it was the right decision. That was the really challenging bit for me – I hate not knowing things!

So, besides your family ties, what made you decide to move to Tiree and take all this on?

I’ve always felt like I had a connection with this place, I always wanted to come back. It just suits me. I think I benefitted not growing up on Tiree; from growing up in the city and coming to Tiree on holiday, the freedom was incredible. This was a paradise for me as a kid, and I think as an adult looking for somewhere I could just breathe, and somewhere which felt like home, Tiree became an obvious choice. My favourite part of Tiree is the silence, especially in the winter. I love the storms, lying in bed and listening to the storm battering the roof.

Thank you to Rhoda for sitting down with me to talk about her experiences!

– Rou Worsley, Editor

Tiree Ultramarathon returns on Sunday 9th September

250 runners will once again gather on the shores of Tiree to run around the complete coastline in one day. Or for some of them a mere four and a half hours!

The 35 mile Tiree Ultramarathon is now in it’s 5th year, and starts at 8am on Sunday 9th September. At Tiree Fitness we’re busy with final preparations but are still keen to hear any feedback to help the event run smoother, and also looking for volunteers to help out on the day.

• Course details: visit www.tireefitness.co.uk to see where the course goes. We’re always grateful for the cooperation and support from people who live and work around the route, and please do get in touch if there’s anything we can do to minimise disruption

• Event team: the runners really do need all the support we can give them, if you can help out on the day please let us know

• Island inspirations: we’ve got local runners taking part again this year, and we wish them all the very best as they take on the challenge and inspire others along the way

Oban Mountain Rescue – so far this year our events have raised £1,850 for the OMR Team – thanks everyone for your contributions, in particular the raffle donations at the 10k. We hope to add to this amount at the ultramarathon.

Thanks everyone, and good luck to all the runners!
Event contact: Will Wright – email will@tireefitness.co.uk or call 07867 304 640

Unleashed Dogs

Dear Editor,

I am surprised by the amount of dog owners –both local and visiting– that do not carry a leash with them for their furry companions and allow them to wander freely unattended, especially in public areas, including the beaches.

I understand that we place a lot of trust in our animals. We consider them a part of the family, but we put far too much belief that they won’t hurt another creature. We need to remember that dogs are pack animals and can act aggressively towards others without prior provoking.

I have been regularly informed that “My dog is very friendly!” when their dog wanders up to mine, who I make an effort to keep on a leash when I know there are animals or people nearby. I don’t think these individuals take the time to consider that perhaps my dog is on a leash because they may not be friendly. I don’t want to risk the safety of my dog or anyone else’s animal because of their naivety.

We need to also consider that there are other human beings who are uncomfortable with dogs and to children many dogs can appear terrifyingly enormous. Having a strange dog that they have either never encountered or don’t know very well creates a stressful situation that could be easily avoided if the owners took responsibility and kept their dog on a leash in public areas. It isn’t funny to see someone react in fear to a dog or interrupt their day with a dog dashing through their outdoor activities.

It’s not my intention to put a damper on anyone’s day or holiday if they are visiting the island with their dog(s) with this letter, because we are very lucky to live in such a beautiful open space, but people need to take more consideration when it comes to their dogs; both for their own enjoyment and for the comfort of those around them.

– A Local Resident (Name & Address supplied)

Tiree Music Festival 2018

Tiree Music Festival’s 9th celebration began on Friday the 13th July with beautiful sunny warm weather – an excellent way to kick off the weekends festivities.

While the main events taking place at An Talla attracted around 2,000 individuals from across the globe, it wasn’t only the festival grounds that were bustling with activity. Everyone at Taigh a Rudha were thrilled on Sunday afternoon when some of the artists generously took the time to visit and play for both the residents and the staff.

Although the sun had eventually dissappeared behind a humid mist on Saturday, the atmosphere around the festival site was buzzing with positivity and the attendees were full of enthusiasm and energy despite the weather.

While TMF gives visitors a reason to visit the island for such an expansive event, it also presents opportunities to the locals that they previously may not have had the chance to experience. It was Clare Jones’ first visit to TMF since it debuted nine years ago and she was impressed by the family friendly atmosphere of the event. Rachel Gwilym, a regular to the festival, was able to seize an opportunity to test out her idea for the Tiree Story Tent and had plenty of positive comments regarding the festival in general;

“I think TMF brings musicians to the island that the young people here perhaps wouldn’t hear normally. It gives the local children a chance to engage in an event that’s really happening here, so they can sort of showcase their own environment somehow and I think it’s a safe place to have a holiday at home. I come because the children really love it and I like the music; this year I’ve really enjoyed having this opportunity with the story tent to develop my own skills at home, in my own setting. My favourite thing so far this year is been having the tent; it’s given me an opportunity to engage with the children and quite a lot of the adults. I’ve had a lot of people in. I’ve really enjoyed doing the meditation; it’s created this very grounding experience.”

Despite being exposed to the outdoor elements, the wonderful entertainment lined up for the ‘Elevate stage’ was organised by Jamie MacDonald who said,

“I had a great opportunity in programming the elevate stage. Getting to work at an event of this scale has helped to further my music career.”

It provided Catriona Spink a chance to sell her Whalesong products. “It’s been good,” she started, taking a chance to move her stall outside with the sunny break in the weather, “It’s lovely to come down to meet previous customers who bought merchandise the year before. When I walk in, it’s all smiling faces, great music and a casual atmosphere.”

Inside the Big Top tent, in the audience and enjoying the performance on stage, Chalky said,

“It’s great. Despite the weather everyone’s enjoying themselves; it’s great to see so many of the islanders at the event. Tiree Song Book was brilliant – my first time hearing them. It’s great to see Tiree bands on stage each day and the food has been amazing.”

Mido and Dave had travelled all the way from Saudi Arabia to visit Scotland, and were making use of the campsite provided by TMF and said,

“This is our fourth time on Tiree, and TMF is the only music festival we visit. The beaches are amazing and the locals here are very kind. The festival has a great family atmosphere.”

After performing on stage earlier in the day, Eilidh MacFadyen said,

“It’s a nice experience to come home to play to familiar faces; both locals and the regular visitors to TMF.”

TMF gave Cúram the chance to raise funds with two separate raffles; they raised £541 from the raffle for the 1 Gallon of Whisky kindly donated by the Scarinish Hotel, which went to A. Mitchell, Milton while ‘Tiree Ted’, an enthusiastic teddy bear whose favourite band is Trail West, raised a total of £129 and found a loving home with Martha Campbell.

From the displays of the impressive fire show by the Delighters from Edinburgh, the circus skill workshops with Polly and Duncan and a variety of food stands, Tiree Music Festival 2018 may have finished in a downpour of rain but its high spirits and organisation offered a range of positive and unforgettable experiences to the islanders, our regular visitors and newcomers.

United Auctions’ Donald Morrison to “hang up the gavel” after 45 years

One of Scotland’s longest-serving auctioneers is to step out of the rostrum in the Autumn.

Donald Morrison of United Auctions will relinquish the selling aspect of his role serving the West Coast of Scotland, almost 45 years to the day since he started in the sale ring aged just 17 years old.

His last time in the rostrum for Scotland’s leading livestock auctioneers will take place on Friday 28 September 2018 on Islay. However, crofters and farmers on the Islands, Dalmally and at Oban Mart will be pleased to know that Donald will be continuing with all his other roles and will still be their main operational contact for the West Coast sales.

The existing team of auctioneers, comprising Raymond Kennedy, Peter Wood, Ross Fotheringham, Derek Anderson and Richard Close, will conduct all the sales from September.

Donald Morrison, who has not yet reached retirement age, said:“The milestone of 45 years seems like a good time to hang up the gavel and step out of the box to let the next generation in. The team has been working together for a while now as part of the Company’s succession planning, so it will essentially be business as usual for our customers at the sales.” He continued: “I’m often asked how long it takes to train as an auctioneer and the answer is: a lifetime. You’re never fully fledged, there’s something new to learn every day because as farming changes, we have to change and adapt. I don’t think you can ever know it all. That’s why I’m looking forward to still being involved with the sales without being the man in the box, so I can, probably, enjoy it more – and keep learning.”

George Purves,Managing Director of United Auctions, said:“Donald has worked tirelessly for nearly half a century on behalf of the crofters and farmers in the West Coast of Scotland. As an Islander himself, he inherently understands the needs of the community, how the area works and will continue to add to his impressive legacy.”

Tiree’s Annual Art Exhibition Opens Doors

Tiree’s annual art exhibition opened its doors at 7pm at Baugh Church on July the 2nd.

The opening night held a marvellous atmosphere with people excited to see the show. Miss Norma Omand was the Guest of Honour, opening the 24th Exhibition with a wonderful speech. She said, “Having always looked forward to seeing the art work submitted to the annual art exhibition myself, I was delighted to be invited to open this year’s exhibition. I am always amazed at the talent and confidence of the exhibitors who are prepared to put their work on display for others to admire, comment on and purchase! As a native of Tiree, it is no surprise to me that people are inspired to produce works of art…but the way each individual chooses to interpret the colours and places I know so well is always something I enjoy. This year is no exception and it is always pleasing to see works from new contributors as well as those who regularly exhibit.”

Though missing a few“faithfuls” this year due to various reasons, the exhibition was happy to welcome new faces to the event. High quality, interesting work was put on display, with this years pieces providing an energetic, almost ‘Mediterranean-fresh’ vibe within the heavenly vibe space of the church, which is the perfect setting for the expression of the island’s artistic talents. Shona would like to give special thanks to Bear (without whom it would not have happened); the Baugh Church Leaders, Liz Kerr, Norma Omand, Neil Connor, the artists, Maya Sutherland, the Co-Op staff, loyal crew of “Show-Sitters”, her daughter Daisy Johnston for being her “Emily” on the opening night and of course, the general public.

“Thank you so much and I really do hope you love Tiree Art Enterprises 2018 Summer Show as much as I do,” – Shona Johnston.

The Tiree Art Exhibition is open every day through July , except Friday and Sunday, between 1pm- 4pm and everyone is welcome. This years donation box is for Miss Maya Sutherland who will be traveling to Cambodia via Project Trust to teach English to children. Please note that the Exhibition will close for 5 days from the 30th of July to allow a prior church commitment to take place, but will resume as normal afterwards. It finishes on the 11th of August at 4pm. All work should be collected then.

Tiree Community Council

On the hottest day of Tiree’s summer 21 hardy souls, in equatorial conditions,attended the June meeting.

The main topic was CalMac, and issues arising from the Clansman’ s extended dry docking and repairs.

CalMac:-

Angus Campbell formerly leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar,and Chairman of the newly formed CalMac Community Board (CB) ,held the floor for nigh on an hour and half. He outlined the role and function of the CB , its bi-monthly meetings with CallMac, his direct access to the Minister of Transport ,and attendance at two CalMac Board meetings/year. To understand the genesis of the CB, and its Remit, please go to:- https://www.calmac.co.uk/community-board

Having covered the CalMac issues that the CB was currently addressing he took Q’s from the floor. These were overwhelmingly directed at CalMac’s ‘not-fit-for-purpose’ reservation system, exacerbated by Gourock’s abysmal customer information service. Peripheral issues were (a) the lack of capital investment in ferries, (b) poor contingency planning, and (c) the poverty of response from both Humza Yousaf, then Minister of Transport ,and Robbie Drummond( CEO CalMac), to the Tiree ferry issues TCC had raised with them, at the outset of the Clansman’s protracted dry-docking.

It was decided that TCC would summarise these issues in a formal submission to the CB, to be raised /addressed at the next CB Board meeting with CalMac scheduled for the end of Aug . This would also be submitted to David Gibson, CalMac’s Director of Service Delivery, to respond to ,on CalMac’s yet to be arranged Tiree visit.

TCC expressed its gratitude to Angus Campbell for addressing the meeting, and offering detailed responses to all the questions raised .

Other Issues:-

On conclusion of this lengthy CalMac discussion, it was decided to press on with the balance of the Agenda. Due to the near universal, lack of responses from Loganair, Scottish Government, and A&B CC these were expeditiously dealt with, and rolled-over to the next TCC.

Upgrades in internet connectivity have progressed ,and cleaning issues re the Scarinish Public Toilets have been resolved.

Co-option:-

The meeting was advised that TCC has vacancies for 2 co-opted members and it is hoped that these would be filled in time for its next meeting (5th Sept ) Gratefuly, we emerged into glorious sunshine, and cool evening air .

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