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Tiree Trust February News Bites

Apologies, as it has been a while since we have updated our news-bites via An Tirisdeach.

Please see below some snippets of what’s been happening over the last month. More detailed information can be found on our website.

• Lochshell Engineering (based in Wick) has been appointed to undertake the repair works at Scarinish Harbour and an agreement with Argyll Estate to gift the Harbour over to the community is at an advanced stage. A grant has been secured from Marine Scotland and work is due to commence in late February/early March.

• Funding has been awarded from the Scottish Land Fund to cover the costs associated with the Trust taking ownership of the Hynish Buildings from The Hebridean Trust. This includes funding for a 2-year development officer post. This is currently being developed and more information about the post will be announced in due course. The legal process is lengthy, and we are still not at the point of taking on the buildings quite yet.

• We have recently funded a variety of training courses on the island, including ‘health and safety at work’, ‘food hygiene’ and ‘personal license’ which over 25 members of the community have benefitted from.

• We are pleased to welcome Youth Worker Willie MacKinnon back to the office, following a short period of absence due to a leg injury. Willie will be conducting desk duties for the next month or so, we are delighted to report that he is slowly but steadily on the mend!

• You may have noticed that Tilley has not been turning over the last month. This is due to a generator fault and we are working with manufacturers to try and resolve this as part of our maintenance contract.

• The Tiree Ranger Service Guided Walk Programme for 2018 is now available online at: www.isleoftiree.com

We’ve got three new routes for you to enjoy this year, and the programme will commence in April (rather than June as has previously been the case).

• Argyll and the Isles Tourism Cooperative held a Mini Tourism Summit at the end of the month which was attended by various people involved in the tourism industry.

Trail West to Singapore

Tiree exports, Trail West have recently returned from their first overseas trip to Singapore, where they were performing at a variety of venues to celebrate our national poet, Robert Burns.

The boys, pictured(from left to right, Ian Smith, Alain Campbell, Seonaidh MacIntyre and Andrew Findlater) were made very welcome in Singapore and their west coast tunes went down well, as they performed at three different events. At Molly Malone’s Irish Pub, The British Club – Singapore’s Hilltop Retreat, and lastly at the St Andrew’s Society Burns Supper.

The boys are back to Scottish venues this weekend, playing at the legendary Park Bar on Friday and Sunday night and finishing off February in style, playing alongside Gunna Sound at the Royal Hotel in Oban, 23rd – 25th February.

For a list of all upcoming gigs and all band news please visit the website: www.trailwest.co.uk

Phone Scam Warning

Local residents are being warned to be aware of scam calls and emails about council tax. It comes from Argyll and Bute Council’s Trading Standards team after reports of attempted frauds.

One local resident has reported a call from what appeared to be a London-based number, insisting the household was paying the wrong level of council tax. There have also been reports of callers offering refunds, and others have been sent emails asking them to provide information via an online link to claim money back.

People who get a call are told they will get the refund if they pay £74 and are then asked to call a number. The number is not in the UK and is likely to be very costly for anyone calling it. Scammers are also contacting people by email. The message claims the recipient is due a refund and it can be accessed by clicking on a link and confirming personal details before cash is transferred.

Policy Lead for Planning and Regulatory Services, Councillor David Kinniburgh, said: “These scams are widespread but have been reported to us in Argyll and Bute. “The Council would never contact you to ask for personal information or discuss your level of council tax.

“Please heed Trading Standards’ advice – don’t reply to these emails as your information could be sold to other scammers or even used for identity theft, and hang up the phone if you suspect a scam. “If you receive a call asking you to call back to claim a rebate, ignore it. You can check with us whether the call or message you’ve received is legitimate, but it’s most likely to be fraudulent.

“Too many people are being conned out of their hard-earned cash – we’ve all heard the awful stories of people thinking calls and emails are legitimate and paying the price. The elderly and vulnerable are a particular target of these scammers but they are so plausible, anyone could be taken in. “Don’t let yourself be one of them.”

If you receive any suspicious correspondence about council tax refunds, please report it to the Citizens’ Advice Consumer Service on 08454 040506.

A Night at the Races

Cùram Thiriodh are steadily building a fantastic reputation for putting on some of the best fundraising events, doing something a little different and bringing new and exciting events to Tiree.

This year was no different as they organised and ran the very successful Ascot themed Race Night, which was held at An Talla.

Cùram director Jackie Jones and outreach worker Margaret Worsley have been the driving force behind this event, working tirelessly to create a fun filled evening, which was enjoyed by over 70 people. An Talla was decorated with fantastic bunting, created by the lunch club and an array of jockey hats and race memorabilia. The event was billed as ‘Ascot Themed Race Night’ with hats very much encouraged and many in attendance made a brilliant effort, with lots of fancy headgear, some of which was homemade and customised beautifully.

Guests were treated to all of the Ascot fineries, with some bubbly on arrival and beautiful canapés which were hand prepared by Jackie and assisted by Alison and David Clark. The main event was of course the horse racing which was excellently explained and arranged by Stuart Smith. There were seven races in total, with eight horses in each race, which were already bought by members of the public and very aptly named by Stuart.

All in attendance were then encouraged to place their bets with the attentive tellers before the race was then projected onto the big screen. Much like previous Tiree Race Nights, the audience got very into the ‘races’ cheering on their chosen horse, which I’m sure made all the difference and definitely added to the atmosphere. Pictured within this article are all the owners of the winning horses, which includes: Jo Vale who was the owner of ‘Chocolat’, Fiona Green who won two races, with ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’ and ‘Ernie’s Lot, Barbara MacLean with ‘Postmans Knock’, Jennie Niven with ‘Jack the Lad’ and Elaine Hayes (stand in for Bino) who’s horse ‘Power Ranger’ won the 4th race. The last race was slightly different, as none of the horses had been previously bought and were instead up for auction. Eight ‘horses’ were sold, raising a total of £280, with the winning ‘horse’ owned by the table ‘Syndicate Shergar’ headed by Claire Urquhart.

Each race was very generously sponsored by local businesses, some who were on hand that evening to present the winners with their prizes. Cùram would like to say a big thank you to all of the businesses who sponsored each race, which includes, Cornerstone Construction Scotland Ltd, Bottomley Optometrist, Esteem Ltd, John MacKinnon Builders, Rockvale Guest House and CKR Construction Ltd.

Much like all Tiree events, there was of course a huge raffle which was again donated to by a host of local businesses and individuals, which was greatly appreciated. Rosemary Omand did a fantastic job of organising the raffle on behalf of the committee. A lengthy game of stand-up bingo also took place, with a beautiful painting by Annine MacLean up for grabs, which was won by Elspeth Gilles. A second painting was also donated by Andrea MacArthur, which was won by Maureen McMullen through the envelope game.

From start to finish the entire evening was very professionally put together and I’m sure enjoyed by all. At half time we were treated to a beautiful buffet, prepared by An Talla committee, who had worked very hard throughout the evening to help with various aspects of the event – a big thank you must be said to them. As there were so many fantastic hats on show, it was only right that a few prizes were given out to two of the best on display. Julie MacLennan was awarded a runner up prize for her very apt design and Catriona Cowling scooped first place with her black addition, which featured its very on ‘cat’ teddy – well done ladies!

Overall the entire evening made a fantastic profit of £1600 for Cùram Thiriodh which will go towards running costs for the next year. Cùram are responsible for the running of the Lunch Club and the Cùm a’ Dol bus which is a fantastic resource for the island. The event also generated over £700 in fundraising for An Talla, bringing the grand total to £2400 raised throughout the night. A fantastic effort for one evening of entertainment and for two very important local charities – what a generous community we live amongst.

Jackie, Margaret and the rest of the Cùram team would like to thank everyone who attended the Ascot Race Night and helped to make it such a great success. The event would not have been possible without support from all of the sponsors and those who generously donated to the raffle and other fundraising activities. Various other people were involved in assisting on the evening, including Jack from Screen Tiree who assisted with the projection and IT, Stuart for his expertise and commentating, Monica, Jessie, Louise, Donna and Teen who were all assisting throughout the evening and of course An Talla committee and helpers.

Let’s hope Cùram have their thinking cap on for their next fundraising event – we already can’t wait. Well done once again.

Passenger Growth at Highland and Islands Airports Reaches New Heights

Latest figures have revealed a record number of people used Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) airports in 2017, as the group reported 1,722,913 journeys during the year.

The 2017 figures show numbers were up 102,577 on 2016’s total of 1,620,336 people who used the company’s airports across Scotland, an increase of 6.3%. Highlights include a 6.3% increase at Inverness and an 18.9% jump in passenger numbers at the world-renowned Barra Airport which had 14,264 passengers using its beach runway in 2017.

Sumburgh, which serves the Shetlands and the North Sea oil and gas industry, recorded a rise of 13.9% to 386,039 – up 46,948 – continuing the growth it has enjoyed sinceHIAL refurbished the airport and enhanced facilities for offshoreworkers. Orkney’s Kirkwall Airport saw passenger numbers increase by 9.2%to 195,544 from 179,140 in 2016 and Stornoway also saw increased demand with passenger numbers up 4%to 137,103. Tiree, Campbeltown, Benbecula and Islay all reported increases year-on-year.

HIAL managing director Inglis Lyon said the performance of the airports was encouraging and demonstrated the growing demand for regional airport services. Mr Lyon said: “These figures indicate a positive economic outlook for the regions. This illustrates the continuing need for strategic investment across the HIAL operating area.We are working with our colleagues in Transport Scotland to deliver a regional airports network that can grow passenger numbers and has long-term sustainability.

“We continue to see the benefits to passengers of increased connectivity that our airports deliver for the communities they serve.

“We are pleased that the increased numbers at Inverness which has seen strong numbers on the international connecting flights to Amsterdam, Heathrow, Gatwick and Dublin. Sumburgh is performing well on the back of an improving oil and gas industry and our other island airports have also seen encouraging passenger increases.”

Mr Lyon said an anticipated increase in international visitors to Scotland in 2018 could see the strong growth figures continue.

“The UK is very attractive as a destination for visitors benefiting from favourable exchange rates. With the number of connecting flights growing, it means they are better able to arrive in the Highlands and Islands, spend less time travelling and more time enjoying the stunning natural beauty of Scotland and experience the hospitality of the region.”

“HIAL will continue to invest in our airports and we continuously work to improve and enhance the passenger experience for all those who use our facilities.”

Passenger numbers were down 16,029 at Dundee as a result of the withdrawal of the Flybe Amsterdam service by the operator in December 2016. Figures also decreased at Wick by 7,871, due in part to reduced demand from energy sector services to-and-from Aberdeen and offshore platforms.

Scarinish Harbour Set for Emergency Repairs

Tiree Trust is pleased to report that following successful discussions with Marine Scotland we have secured emergency funds to make repairs to Scarinish Harbour. The Harbours’ Steering Group has been working with the Trust for the past 2 years to plan improvements for both Scarinish and Milton Harbours and the Trust is now seeking funds to deliver on those plans.

Marine Scotland has approved a grant of up to £200,000 for urgent repairs at Scarinish Harbour but the work must be completed by 31st March 2018. Discussions have already started with a specialist contractor capable of undertaking the work, which includes pressure grouting the end of the pier to stabilise the structure.

A funding package for Milton, which requires a larger investment of around £1.2m, has not yet been secured but discussions are ongoing with HIE and the European Maritime Fisheries Fund to secure the required funds.

Tiree Flag

The long process to create a community flag for Tiree is finally bearing fruit.

Following Barra,whose new flag, a white Nordic cross on a green background, was given the official seal of approval last year, the Tiree flag competition is now in sight. The competition itself, run by Tiree Community Council, opens at the start of April and will last one month. But there’s no harm starting to think about it now.

A similar contest two years ago in Caithness attracted over three hundred entries from as far afield as Australia and Brazil, and there is no reason why Tiree would not attract more. Young and old are all encouraged to enter. Ideas for a flag can be as simple as a scribble on a piece of paper – it’s the idea behind the scribble that is important. Designs can also be submitted fully drawn or in digital form.

Philip Tibbets from the Flag Institute will be holding workshops on the island at the end of February to show budding designers what they need to do. But designing a flag is harder than it looks! The design needs to be inspired by something fundamental to the island: its colours, its shapes, its thatched houses, its history of emigration, its music or its birdlife. The design also needs to be simple, only two or three colours are recommended, and with no lettering or crests.

Cutting the entries down to six finalists will be done on Monday 4 June, by a panel consisting of the Lord Lyon, Philip Tibbetts, Dr John Holliday, Ian Gillies, Rosemary Omand, Lachie Brown, Iain MacKinnon and Donna MacLean. The public vote will be focused at the Agricultural Show on 20 July, and in the week that follows. Formal approval then comes from the Lord Lyon, the ultimate authority on all things to do with Scottish flags.

Start looking at the Tiree landscape in a new way over the next few weeks and think what elements might make a winning design. It could be yours!

A seasonal ‘Thank You!’ from Tiree Ranger Service

As 2017 draws to a close, I would like to extend sincere thanks to the following members of our community:

William Welstead very kindly auctioned his compete collection of “Birds of the Western Palearctic” to raise funds for Tiree Ranger Service. These beautiful books are now in the hands of a professional marine surveyor – so they should be put to fine use! This was an incredibly generous gift, and I look forward to finding an exciting project for the resulting funds in 2018. Thank you, Bill.

Earlier in 2017, William Welstead also donated a second telescope to Tiree Ranger Service, for use during my guided walks and events. This second piece of equipment was extremely helpful during a recent visit from the North Argyll Carers Association; all of whom were keen to learn more about Tiree’s bird life, and to see as many of Loch a’ Phuill’s denizens as possible.

Dr John Holliday has been a generous donor of his time (for both our Welcome Evenings and our Hiking through History walks), plus two additional pairs of binoculars. As with Bill’s equipment, these extra sets came in very handy with larger groups; helping each guest to get maximum enjoyment from their experience.

John Bottomley gifted a generous amount to Nàdair Thiriodh with his membership subscription. These funds will be pooled with the book proceeds, and they were gratefully received.

Many local residents have donated their time and energy to support access work (such as the overhaul that has been completed at Balevullin carpark), and to assist with the delivery of Tiree’s Great Yellow Bumblebee Project.

I am delighted to tell you that our Nàdair Thiriodh website now boasts a brand-new project page, and a sumptuously illustrated project brochure. Many thanks to Janet Bowler, Colin Woodcock and Fiona Dix for their outstanding work here.

Finally, I would like to thank the photographers that have kindly waived charges for the use of their images. It would be infinitely harder to attract interest and support for our work without these exceptional pictures: They act to inspire our audience by demonstrating why Tiree is so deserving of protection. Image donors include: Fiona Armstrong, John Bowler, Tony Davison, Christine Hall, Ian Morrison, Steve Nagy, Malcolm Steel, Colin Woodcock and Richard Whitson.

This ‘Thank You’ has been taken from the Nadair Thiriodh blog which can be accessed by becoming a member of Nadair Thiriodh, please go to www.friendsoftiree.org.uk for more information.

Low speeds

As many are aware, Tiree’s internet isn’t exactly wonderful, but it does the job.

This past month we had reason to submit a ticket about our speed as it had gone from 1.5MBps down to a terrible 0.4MBps. This impacts me personally, as I run a shop online and need to be able to see orders and update listings.

We had a phone call from our provider last night (We don’t use Tiree Broadband, we’re getting ours via the phone line), saying that BT had brought in a new rule. They now have a minimum speed for areas, and unless the speed drops to that or below, they will not investigate. For Balemartine, perhaps Tiree, it is 0.2MBps. We’ve had that speed once, when we moved to the island. You can’t open a page with images; Facebook (where a lot of communication on the island happens), won’t open; you’ll have to try a few times to even open email clients.

I know that BT struggle to keep up with issues, but I think it terrible that the way they address this is to set such a low limit that people with online businesses suffer, as will the school’s pupils at home. They won’t be able to load educational videos, contact their friends online, or load pages such as Wikipedia.

 

Jacqui Bennett

Community Bulb Planting

As you may remember from previous An Tirisdeach editions, Tiree was very kindly gifted a selection of planting tulips earlier this year, from a Aad van Ruiten, a bulb expert based in Holland who had links to Tiree through Dr Robert Nisbet.

Mr van Ruiten explained in his letter that he planned to visit Tiree in 2018 having been fascinated by the bulb project (The Hebridean Bulb Growers Ltd.) that took place on Tiree throughout the late 1950s. Along with the letter, Mr van Ruiten had enclosed over 100 tulip bulbs which he had suggested could be planted somewhere on the island as a homage to the project.

Last Saturday a small group got together and planted the bulbs within the grounds of the Business Centre, located in Crossapol. There are two patches just at the entrance to the grounds which will hopefully come into bloom in Spring time.

Well done to all involved, let’s hope they make for a nice display for Mr van Ruiten’s visit next year.

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