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Running The New York Marathon

Matt Updates Us On His Memorable Day

Statue of Liberty

Did you enjoy it?

Upon reflection, very much so;
at the time, mixed emotions were felt! The course took us through the 5 Boroughs of New York: Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan.

To be honest, my recollections are a bit hazy but some of the moments that stick in my mind include a variety of bands playing on the sidewalk, an elderly soloist playing the trumpet and a full chorus of gospel singers outside a church.

All of the entertainment seemed to accurately reflect the multitude of cultures within the city. My favourite moment however, was when a women who ran alongside me in the final stages, wearing a t-shirt that identified her as a teacher for underprivileged kids, let her emotions get the better of her when several of her students jumped into the race to encourage her all the way to the end. This summed up the race for me; it was truly a team effort.

To compound the pain in my legs in the last couple of miles, we all ran past a man with a cruel grin on his face, holding a sign proclaiming that ‘It’s ok to cry!’ If I were to burst into tears right there and then, I would surely have not been the only one, and as I looked around, sure enough there were some faces that displayed nothing but pain.
But again, true to the spirit that I experienced throughout the whole race, one of the runners shouted at the top of his voice ‘Come on everyone! We are so nearly there, keep going!’ And so with that, those around me, with a hop, limp and a pace just above that of a walk, did a u-turn through Central Park to reveal the finish line guarded by two grandstands full of people who were there to celebrate the finish of what was an occasion that I will never forget.

To my surprise, the support from well-wishers didn’t end there; in a slight daze as I hobbled back to the hotel, at least half a dozen people came up to me to shake my hand and to congratulate me. And so with the indecisiveness of whether I enjoyed it or not, with the rollercoaster of emotions, there is one thing clear in my mind:
The motivation that I captured from all the donations, messages of good luck and best wishes most definitely kept me going throughout.

I managed to raise over £2000 for Diabetes UK, £600 of which were generously donated by friends from Tiree. My sincere thanks to you all for your support.



After public consultation, the votes are in on implementing a scheme for motor homes/campervans visiting Tiree, which would ensure that the number of these vehicles arriving on the Island would be restricted to the number of overnight parking sites available for them.

The public vote found an overwhelming majority in favour of this scheme.
The aim of the scheme is to provide designated legal overnight parking places away from the sensitive machair land. June and July 2009 saw a 154% increase in the number of these units coming to Tiree, compared to the same months in 2008 and this trend is expected to continue next year.

The erosion caused by the increase in vehicles is visible across the island and the overnight parking scheme is part of an island-wide access programme, which aims to prevent further deterioration of these sites.

Included in this programme are plans to provide improved access tracks and parking, better facilities and improved signage/ interpretation in order to improve the visitor experience whilst at the same time protecting the islands natural and cultural heritage.
The aim is to provide enough designated legal overnight parking places for all motorhomes and campervans visiting the island. To achieve this we are looking for the co-operation of crofters and land managers on Tiree to provide suitable sites on fenced croft land. This would give crofters the opportunity to generate extra income over the summer months by receiving a nightly fee from the customer.

Argyll and Bute Council planning department have stated that a crofter can site three vehicles per croft between April and October without seeking planning permission. All that is required would be a dry level area of ground with easy road access, clear of farm implements and livestock. It is planned that a central waste disposal and water collection site will be available to visitors, as it is not feasible to have these facilities on every croft. It is also hoped that all reservations would be made through a central booking system on the island.

If you are interested in providing an overnight parking site and would like to discuss the matter further please contact Alison Spence on 07765449487 or email If unavailable, please leave your contact details.

New Landmark Takes Shape On Tiree


A new landmark is taking shape on the island. The £2 million pound community project to build a large wind turbine has entered the final stages with arrival on island of 7 lorry loads of parts and two gigantic cranes, transported by Mar-Train heavy haulage based in Ireland and Scotland. A specially chartered sailing of Caledonian MacBrayne’s ferry, the MV Clansman, arrived at Scarinish pier at 10.45pm on Saturday 7th November and it took over 2 hours to unload all the lorries/ cranes and components.

By Thursday 12th the first two sections of the turbine, each measuring over 15 meters, had been erected by the team from Enercon/ Whytes Cranes with assistance from Mar Train employees. Ironically, strong winds then intervened and put a temporary halt to the construction work. This is not surprising, according to Tiree Community Development Trust chairperson, Tish MacKinnon: “Tiree is the windiest place in the UK, so we should expect some delays. It’s just a pity that it has to come now, when we want calm days to get the construction done. Last month when we had the Wave Classic windsurfing event it hardly blew at all!”

Tiree Trust set up a community enterprise, Tiree Renewable Energy Company Ltd (TREL) to work on the turbine project. Chairman of the TREL board, Bruce Kemp, is also not surprised by delays: “The project has taken over 4 years to get to this stage, during which we have faced every kind of obstacle, frustration, set back and disappointment. The reason it is still going ahead is that we have a team of incredibly hard-working volunteers on the board of TREL. Remarkably, the project is still almost on schedule. Construction should be completed by the end of November.

The next steps are the commissioning and connection to the grid which should take place in December and the community should finally start to earn money from the sale of electricity. The turbine is expected to operate for 25 years, during which time it should earn in the region of £3.5 million.

Liz Lapsley, the local project officer working for the Tiree Trust, sees this to be the whole point of the project; “Once we have paid off the bank loan we could be earning over £200,000 a year for the community. We will have a community chest in the form of a local grant scheme that can be used to invest in any social, cultural or economic good cause that the community wants to support.” Tish MacKinnon also said “We are so close to getting our turbine up and running. Some of the volunteers have been putting in 20 or 25 hours a week, week after week for 4 years. There is just the voltage control equipment to be commissioned and we are there. If we hit another delay we will miss the good winter wind, our bank loan will increase and we will have less money for the community. We just need everyone to do their part, and Tiree can start to harvest the wind and look to the future.

For more information and photos of this project check out the Tiree Renewable Energy Website

Youth on Tiree


I’ve spent the first week or two finding my feet and talking to various groups who I’ll be working with to decide how they can get the most out of the Youth worker position. I’ve also been working on questionnaires which will be issued to the young people in the school to hear what they have to say and what they would like to see happen on Tiree. As well as looking into Youth development and opportunities, I’ll be working with the school, the Youth club, Mothers and Toddlers and Mainly music.

The Youth club will be starting again on the 23rd of November. I will be working with the Youth club every Monday and Wednesday night. This season is looking promising with lots of new ideas and new helpers! We’re also launching the new Ch@ room at the beginning of December. This is a re-launch of the Youth Café, started up by Danny, and will be held every weekend in the Youth club room. It’s a place for young people, ages 14-21 to come and chill out. We’ll be watching movies, playing pool, making toasties.. Etc
And…. We hope to have a bus service home at the end each night, thanks to Angus-John, to save parents coming out into the wild weather late at night! There might be a small charge for this.

If you would like to get in touch with any ideas or questions don’t hesitate to e-mail me.

Sophie Isaacson Tiree Youth Worker

Friendly Food


The Friendly Food business has held its final board meeting for their cook book project. The budding entrepreneurs from the Primary 5-7 English class have sold an amazing 146 cook books. They also grew tomatoes, carrots, lettuce and a variety of herbs, some of which you may have had the opportunity to taste on a visit to Elephant’s End two weeks ago. Pupils were keen to taste the fruits of their labours and got the opportunity to do this at the end of term when they made tasty bruschetta using their own tomatoes and basil.

With the help of Mr. Neil Connor, the pupils went on a trip round the island to collect money from various businesses which sold the book on their behalf. Miss McVey and all of the Friendly Food employees would again like to thank those businesses which helped to sell cook books and also those which kindly sponsored the business at the outset. A special thank you must be made to Elaine Hutchison who has supported the project in many ways.

The few remaining copies of the cook book are on sale in Elephant’s End. We hope those who have purchased a copy of the book continue to enjoy cooking and tasting the recipes. Pupils are deciding the route which their business should take next. However all are keen that the Friendly Food message should be heard loud and clear. This is that we should celebrate local, in-season produce to help reduce our carbon footprint.

Former Tiree Teacher To Be Moderator


The Rev John Cairns Christie (aged 62 ) will be appointed Moderator designate of the general Assembly of the Church of Scotland when it meets next May.

John, who lived in Heylipol Schoolhouse, was principal teacher of Science at Tiree High School from 1978 until 1984 when he moved to Inverness Royal Academy. The teaching post there included being warden of Dalneigh Hall of Residence where students from the Highlands and Islands stayed.
Having earlier been ordained as an elder in the Parish church on Tiree and following his time in Inverness, he then went on to study for the ministry at Glasgow University and in 1990 was ordained and inducted to Hyndland Parish Church in Glasgow where he remained for 14 years.
During his time at Hyndland he was responsible for major refurbishment of the sanctuary. At present he is an interim minister in West Kilbride and the Scots Kirk in Lausanne, Switzerland, visiting the latter on a monthly basis.

John, and his late wife Elizabeth, had one daughter, Dr. Margaret Christie, herself a former pupil at Tiree high School, who obtained a PhD from Imperial College London and now works in the European Team at Imperial assisting its world-leading scientists gain European scientific research funding.

While on Tiree, John’s hobbies consisted mainly of helping his neighbouring crofters and being a car mechanic. It is believed that not many Moderators can shear sheep or cut a field of arable silage. However, these ‘hobbies’ have now been superceded by more genteel pursuits such as hill walking, sailing and golf. John is now married to Annette who was widowed around the same time as himself. Annette is a Scottish Indoor Bowling Internationalist and their home is in Helensburgh. The good wishes of the Tiree Community go with them as they travel at home and overseas representing the Church of Scotland.

Can Tiree win its very own Cinema?


The People’s Millions competition is run by Big Lottery Fund and ITV to give money to communities for innovative projects.

The Ringside Theatre project was entered by TRD to win enough money to transform the auction ring into a comfortable warm properly equipped cinema.
We never expected it but we’re through to the finals for STV central region which extends from Perth down to Biggar on the east including Edinburgh and from Fort William to South Ayrshire including Glasgow on the west.

Our project is one of 8 short-listed from this huge region! The competition will take place the week 23 – 27 November with two projects featured each night on the ITV regional news.
Nightly voting begins at 9 a.m for that day’s projects and closes at midnight. The two featured projects go head-to-head to win the public vote.

Our project will be featured on Monday 23rd November – Put the date in your diary now!
If we win we’ll be able to install heating, insulation, blinds and proper theatre seats in the mart and adapt the ringside so that it’s removable to create a comfortable theatre with seating for 50 and Tiree will at last have a Cinema. We’ll even have a pop corn machine!

STV are coming to Tiree during the next few weeks to film our ‘pitch’ for the competition. We need as many people as possible to come along and get the public to vote for us by telling STV how having a Cinema on Tiree could change people’s lives. If you would like to take part in the pitch please get in touch with one of the Cinema Steering Group – Alastair MacInnes, Clare Jones, Frances Woodhead, John Isaacson, Andy Phillips, Ewan MacKinnon, Jane Isaacson.

If you’d like to know what we’re up against, you can see this year’s projects at peoplesmillions

41 attended Public meeting on Tuesday 20th October


Tiree Access Steering Group put forward a proposal to the residents of Tiree on a way forward for providing sites
for the increasing number of visiting campervans/motorhomes. The meeting was chaired by Cllr Mary Jean Devon
with an introduction by John Bowler.

We know from Cal Mac that there was a 50% increase in Campervans/motorhomes in October ‘08 – May 09 on the
previous year and a 154% increase in June/July 09 compared with the same period 08.
The key problem is the lack of facilities resulting in vehicles parking illegally off-road on unfenced ground causing
erosion to the machair and dunes, most of which are designated under European law for their wildlife interest and we
have a duty of care to look after these. Disposal of sewage also became an increasing problem in these areas.

The proposal being put forward is that a number of sites for up to 3 campervans/motorhomes will be set up on crofts
and farms in time for next year. Provision will also be made for the disposal of sewage and grey water. The idea is
for sites to be booked centrally and a reference number provided before a ferry ticket can be purchased.

Q: Why is the increasing number of camper vans and motor-homes thought to be an issue?
A:We like to welcome our visitors and give them the best possible experience on Tiree. At present the only facility we
have is the campsite which was full all summer. Damage to the grazing and environmentally designated sites has
meant that campervans, vans etc are being asked to move on which is making visitors feel unwelcome – this situation
needs to be addressed by providing appropriate facilities.

Q:Why does it matter where they park? Restrictions make people feel unwelcome.
A: We need to protect the environment. The Access Officer has had many conversations over the busy season. Most
people would like an authorised site where they are welcomed and would be happy to pay a small nightly fee.
Feedback from visitors is that most are respectful of the fragility of the environment and support responsible parking.

Q: If there are authorised sites provided then why do they have to pre-book?
A: The Pre-booking system will allow numbers of vehicles coming to be limited to number of sites available.

Q: Many van users will sleep on designated sites but what about the daytime?
A: This comes under the broader issue of beach access which applies to all vehicles– the Access Group will continue
to encourage responsible access and work at providing authorised access tracks and car parks.

Q. How many sites will there be?
A. There is strong interest from several crofters to provide sites. We would like to provide as many sites as vehicles
requiring them. There is not thought to be a need at present to limit the number of sites.

Q: What happens if you’re coming with a campervan to reside with family or friends?
A: You would be allocated a special reference number.

Q: Who will the money go to?
A: The person providing the site with a small percentage going to the run the booking system.

Q: What about panel vans? Why are campervans and motor-homes being singled out?
A: They will not be ignored. If they park in unauthorized areas they will be moved on to authorised sites

Q: What will be done if people continue to park in unauthorised areas after being asked to move?
A: It is an offence to drive off the public road unless using designated tracks and sites and if people refuse to move to
authorised sites then the police would have to become involved.

Team 15 Success


The Tiree Team 15 Junior Racing Event was a great success at Loch Bhasapol on Wednesday 14th. 17 rounds of racing were completed with the junior racers prior to finally announcing the winners of the event.

A big thank you to everyone who came along on the day and contributed in some shape or form.
Additionally a special thanks to George Shillito and Chris Murray from Tushingham/Starboard who were kind enough to come along with demo equipment from their sponsors.

The boys also got in the water and completed the final race of the day with the kids prior to teaching the children how to perform some pretty sporty freestyle moves!

Overall the day turned out to be a great success, even with the light winds that we had over the course of the day. This is an event which we hope to grow for next year to involve more young windsurfers in racing and give them the opportunity to interact with the top stars in the sport. Watch this space for 2010!

-Wild Diamond

Tiree Wave Classic and Coll Challenge


In endurance sports, they say that if you’re not living on the edge then you’re taking up too much room. The annual invasion of the tiny Hebridean island of Tiree by windsurfers from all over the world (including many top-ranking professionals) brings with it some of the most focussed, single-minded athletes you could ever wish to meet. But even though these surfers (or should it be sailors?) come to compete against each other they do it in a spirit of camaraderie and community.

They also like a bit of fun, which is as well because after the first day of the Tiree Wave Classic, sanctioned as a World Cup event since 2007, the Isle of Tiree decided not to live up to its reputation as one of the windiest places in the country.

For most of the week the little island, 14 miles long, 6 miles wide, was well and truly becalmed. Nice if you live here. Nice if you’ve come on holiday with the family. Not so nice if you’ve travelled, say, thousands of miles to get to the Tiree Wave Classic only to find there is not so much as a breeze and very little in the way of waves.

Timo Mullen (Ireland) effectively won the Wave Classic on day one of the competition. But these bare facts don’t paint the whole picture. The Tiree Wave Classic is so much more than a competition. Many ancillary events play an important part in making this 23-year-old competition a hit with islanders and competitors alike. For instance, the Tiree Team 15 Junior Racing Event, held at Loch Bhasapol, was a great success. 17 rounds of racing were completed with the junior racers prior to finally announcing the winners of the event. William Angus MacLean, of Wild Diamond Windsurfing, said ‘Overall the day turned out to be a great success, even with the light winds that we had over the course of the day. This is an event which we hope to grow for next year to involve more young windsurfers in racing and give them the opportunity to interact with the top stars in the sport.’

The highly anticipated Coll Adventure Challenge had to be ‘tweaked’ in view of the lack of wind. However the brave souls who took part were enthusiastic and the large crowd of spectators did their utmost to cheer them on. After a 6k run on the beach the competitors raced paddle boards in Gott Bay (instead of windsurfing to Coll). After the paddle board heats were over everyone piled into a Rigid Inflatable Boat to be ferried to Coll for the mountain bike stage. This was the second year in which this very special triathlon has featured at the Wave Classic and hopefully it is now a permanent feature. George Shilitto won the C.A.C. in spite of falling off his bike while going round the half-marathon course on Coll.

A host of peripheral events and activities ensured noone would be stuck for anything to do. This included a community drinks reception in which the public were extended a warm welcome to come along and find out more about the Tiree Wave Classic. In addition, the Tiree Lodge Hotel ensured there was something different on every night including two full to capacity gigs by local bands Trail West and The Defenders. And this is where the bit about ‘surfers liking fun’ comes in. There’s no doubt about it: if you want to be in the middle of a great party you had to be at The Tiree Lodge Hotel in the evening during the Classic! And whether you approve or not there’s no denying the fact that the photo-shoot at Gott Bay of three naked windsurfers certainly got the island into the news. There’s something about the combination of the words ‘nude’ and ‘windsurfer’ which causes internet search engines to go into overdrive. My own blog – Isle of Tiree Diary – had hundreds of hits within hours of my featuring a link to an internet report on the subject.

And so, the Tiree Wave Classic is over for another year. Undeterred by the unseasonably good weather here’s hoping these good natured, dedicated sailors – or is that surfers? – will come back next year. We’re looking forward to it already. And some wind to go with it, hopefully!

-Gordon Scott

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