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Tiree SWRI News

Evelyn Baxter’s School on Japanese Patchwork

13 -14th May

swriLiz Hunter led a very informative and interesting class on E.B.S.J.P.

There was a very high attendance for this class and Liz made everyone feel at ease as she took them through the various stages. Cutting out templates, material, tacking, ironing into shape and sewing to form the ‘tiles’ which is the basis for creating so many items. Liz brought along some fine examples of how to develop the ‘initial tile’ into many ideas.

There were many levels of sewing skills in the class but everyone enjoyed learning new techniques and handy tips.

Time passed too quickly as everyone was engrossed in making their Japanes Patchwork bags. Everyone agreed that it was a very enjhoyable class and that was due to Liz’s friendly teaching skills. All hoped there would be another class in the future. Annie Mackinnon presented Liz with a gift of thanks at the end of the two day class.

Tiree S.W.R.I Sponsored Walk for Mary’s Meals

Tuesday 19th May

was a beautiful evening to do the walk.A good turnout of support with S.W.R.I walkers wearing Mary’s Meals T-shirts.

Some strode out in front, others went at a comfortable pace, but all enjoyed the event and returning to a welcome cup of tea.

The total raised was £500. A Big Thank you to all who supported this worthwhile cause

Mull and Tiree Federation Show

1st June 2009

Tiree S.W.R.I. Were delighted to bring The Championship Cup home with ten members contributing their work and accumulating 230 points which included 7 golds and 8 silvers. The Community Project was won by Torosay, 2nd Tiree, 3rd Fionaphort, Salen, Tobermory & Dervaig. Congratulations to all those involved and especially Annie MacKinnon who also won another three trophies.

Letters to the Editor

Fire and Rescue

Dear An Tirisdeach,

I think we would all agree that the Tiree Fire & Rescue Station does not have the full range of facilities that we would expect of a modern facility.

There was intent at one stage to work in partnership with the airport to try and develop a Volunteer Station to meet current standards but unfortunately agreement could not be reached at that time.

I am aware there is a meeting to be held in June between the Area Fire Commander and his Head of Property Services to see what can be done to effect improvements on Tiree, either by building an extension or providing robust portable accommodation to provide additional facilities such as a lecture room, toilets, showers and more dignity than is presently offered.

The vast majority of fire cover in Argyll & Bute is provided by Retained and Volunteer staff and the Service takes it`s responsibilities to such staff very seriously. This can be confirmed by observing the general standard of accommodation throughout Argyll & Bute. Unfortunately, the accommodation in Tiree is not yet up to this standard but we will see what can be done to improve things.

Slainte Donald

Councillor Donald Macdonald Ward 5 – Oban North & Lorn Argyll & Bute Council


Dear An Tirisdeach, Regarding your observations about mainlanders cycling habits and their lack of road sense, a few pointers.

Firstly, while there are some worrying spectacles amongst the cycling visitors it would also be fair to say that there are some pretty wearisome car drivers on the road too, and not all of them from the mainland.

I should know I am one of them – more often looking to the geese instead of where I’m going.

Poor cycling and poor car driving combined are not very relaxing to look at. However, one should bear in mind that cyclists have every bit as much right to be on the road as car drivers and the bicycle was there before the car.

As far as hold ups and appointment’s are concerned, it’s summer, the tourists are here so you simply have to set off earlier. Nothing new there and let us bear in mind it isn’t just cyclists you can get stuck behind – slow moving vehicles and livestock provide the same joys. Anyone who has ever been to Holland will have observed the extensive cycle ways built there – cyclists and cars never mingle. This could be achieved in Scotland too, however, it should be noted that the Dutch spend much less of their tax revenue on foreign military adventures so might be able to afford such plans all the easier.

Regards, Peter Isaacson

Dear An Tirisdeach,

At last I feel I am no longer alone in my frustration at driving around Tiree during the summer months. I have come to the conclusion that many of the cyclists (though not all Dr. Todd’s family of four children are exemplary in their road safety) get off the ferry and leave their sensible heads on it.

Tiree can be a difficult place to drive when one is unfamiliar with ‘the pockets’ system. It becomes unbearable when watching a small child wobble all over the place while parents seem to have lost all sense of potential danger. I cycle myself, and on a good day prefer bike to car but at no point do I forget that four wheeled vehicles can appear out of nowhere. Complete safety is an illusion, for that reason I think cycling, road safety leaflets should be in all lodgings pertaining to tourism.

Name & address withheld

Dear Reporter

I think it’s an excellent idea to make leaflets about safe bike riding on Tiree to all road users who might benefit from them, but what should this advice consist of?

A bike is a noble form of transport, healthy and planet saving and might be accorded the same kind of relative esteem that sail and motor powered water transport enjoy: that is, on the water, steam gives way to sail. Thus nature takes precedence over the piston engine: so a car should give way to lung legs and personal effort. We motorists do not hold an unassailable right to the public highway. On Tiree, residents and visitors alike might be expected to extend a little generosity to those not used to riding a bike on such narrow roads.

The safety of small children is of course paramount. Is it is not beyond all of us to add a little extra time to our journeys in the summer to allow for visitors on bikes, as would be necessary in any busy holiday location? My suggestions, given that to my mind it is much safer for cyclists to continue pedalling at the prospect of an approaching car than to wobble or crash to a panicky stop, are therefore:

  • For oncoming cyclists:The motorist waits in a pocket to allow oncoming cyclists safely past
  • For cyclists ahead:The motorist drives slowly a safe distance behind cyclists who are ahead, waiting for a pocket on either side of the road that is wide enough to allow overtaking without causing alarm or danger.

There are probably other considerations. But surely there is nothing but good to be gained by all of us from some agreed, public “Rules of the Road”? And we need to be proactive. I cannot bear to contemplate how utterly appalled we would all be by the injury or death of a child (or anyone) cycling on the roads of Tiree, whoever might be behind the wheel. And a patient courteous and gracious accommodation of our cycling visitors would surely do nothing but enhance Tiree’s reputation as a wonderful place for a holiday

Sally Frank

Tiree’s Voluntary Firefighters – Our Quiet Heroes


Our proud firefighters

Recently a close friend’s chimney caught fire, and, unable to deal with it herself, she called 999. Within minutes a fire fighter was at her home, closely followed by more members of the team. Quickly assessing the situation, they pumped water up the chimney extinguishing the flames. They followed this procedure with a check on the upstairs walls for heat. Satisfied that all was well our Voluntary Firefighters left the scene. My friend was very relieved that all had gone well and that her children were safe. She was also impressed by the skillful and professional way the volunteers dealt with the situation.

“They were very professional. I felt safe and knew that the situation was in good hands”she said.

Crucial Role

This incident prompted this article. Not just to sing the praises of those committed and dedicated people who work on our behalf, but also to take the opportunity to remind us all of the crucial role they have within our community.

An Tirisdeach spoke to Stuart MacLean, Group Commander of Argyll & Bute Firefighters.

“The trainees deserve to get the best and right training. This means, the service we provide is the best we can achieve for the members of the local communities that we serve” he said.

This excellent training was very much in evidence the evening of my friend’s chimney fire.

Skillful and Professional.

At present, our volunteers are made up of seven men and two women. Three new male recruits are currently undergoing training. New recruits have to attend two weekend training courses in Oban to learn skills in hose running, pump and ladder work. Another two weekends are required for Breathing Apparatus training. Also, a trainer comes from the mainland six times a year, training is also supplemented by superior officers several times a year. On top of all that, ‘drill night’ is every Wednesday. All volunteers who commit themselves to the Unit know they must be able to drop everything at a moment’s notice. Margaret Worsley, who is currently the longest serving volunteer (14years) and second in command said

“ I could never have done this job without the wonderful support of my family and friends.”

Family Fire Plan

An Tirisdeach asked Crew Commander Macintosh’s advice about staying safe at home.

Smoke alarms were very important and should be at top and bottom of stairs and in every child’s bedroom. Overloading socket’s is asking for trouble, as is smoking in bed. Candles, very much in vogue for some years now, are in fact one of the most common reasons for domestic fires. They should never be placed on plastic or other flammable surfaces, for example T.V.s and stereos. In the event of a fire, it is recommended that you have a family fire plan already in place, which includes a rendezvous point outside. This helps the firefighters, as their lives have been put at risk in the past looking for people in a house when they have already left the building.

Dealing with danger

Firefighters not only respond to domestic fires, but assist the ambulance service and medical team as part of the Emergency Services when the situation requires their presence, this includes road accidents. Work may involve carrying casualties from inaccessible locations to the ambulance. Obviously, physical fitness is a prerequisite for the job, but psychological robustness must also be necessary, as sometimes people are seriously injured, and on occasion there are fatalities.

One volunteer described the team spirit as “fantastic”, another said “it’s like another family.” Part of the reason for this is these people have to deal with danger, the unexpected, frightened and sometimes traumatised people. Supporting one another must be part of the firefighting experience.

Crew Commander Macintosh recalled one of the worst fire’s he attended was at Milton harbour in 2004 when five boats and the pier were on fire. Four boats were completely lost. This incident lasted twelve intense hours and involved Fire Investigators coming out to investigate the cause. Thankfully, there was no fatalities.

Dedication and Commitment

In the course of writing this article An Tirisdeach has been deeply impressed by the dedication and commitment of the Tiree firefighting volunteers. Therefore, it seems inappropriate that the basic facilities they require to make their training lives easier (e.g. Toilets & showers) have not been forthcoming in any budgetary allowance for Tiree.

An Tirisdeach has been in touch with Councillor Donald MacDonald who is our Argylle & Bute representative who sits on the joint Strathclyde/Argyll & Bute Board to ask if he is putting forward Tiree’s case for, what one might call, basic facilities. By next issue one is hoping he will inform us of any progress made on their behalf.

Basic Facilities

Volunteer fire fighters generally join the service out of a desire to serve their community. Anyone reading this who thinks they could be a committed member of our firefighting team should contact Crew Commander Macintosh on 01879-220-829. The same number applies if you need to have a fire safety check. An Tirisdeach would also like to interview members of Tiree’s Voluntary Ambulance service for a future issue. Like our firefighters, they are an indispensable emergency service.

The Tiree 10k

tiree_10k_2On Saturday morning there must have been a groan of apprehension as for the first time it looked like a wet and windy day for the 10k Fun Run.

However, there was a spirit of determination in the air, the rain was not going to dampen enthusiasm or spoil the day. Indeed not, the Tiree 10k 2009 turned out to be a fantastic success with record entry numbers and course records beaten in many of the events. A day that called for great physical strength and stamina was met with the determination to succeed. Congratulations to all those who took part and who made it such an enjoyable day.

10k_runnerIn the 10k Run the winning time was from a young man from Mull. Stuart Greenway travelled over on the day and having cycled to Crossapol he went on to race and win with an incredible time of 31 minutes 49 seconds. First back for the ladies was Joyce Salvona from Lothian Running Club in a time of 43:39. First locals back were Stuart MacLennan (45:15) and Sarah Holliday (51:33).

The walkers as always completed the 10km course in great style, with several of the walkers raising money for charities while also training for the Edinburgh Moon Walk. You may also have spotted a shark walking the course, and would have certainly heard the fantastic Tiree Pipe Band who marched the whole 10km course.

Rain, wind and crying babies. Not a great combination you might think. Never to be put off though, the Power Pushers pushed all the way to Heylipol Church and back to An Talla. Great determination from the pushers and the pushed, well done.

10k_bride_groomAnd finally the Family Fun Run and the Under 16s race. It’s always encouraging to see so many young people taking part, especially on a wet day when it’s tempting to stay indoors. This well attended race was won by Jack Straker. Well done to all the runners, with the fastest run coming after the finish towards the chocolate fountain! As always the day was made possible with the help of many volunteers and sponsors. Thank you to all the people who backed the event with such enthusiasm. The best reward is to see so many people enjoying an event on Tiree that has been made possible by local support.

This year the Tiree 10k had over 200 people taking part. Including a bride and groom, a shark, The Tiree Pipe Band, athletes, firsttimers, fund-raisers, the young and the old. Congratulations to everybody who took part and made it a record breaking day. The 10K Family Dance was, as predicted sold out. A great night out was enjoyed by islanders and holiday makers alike.

Gardener’s Corner – Composting

gardeners_cornerWaste Aware Scotland offers the following tips to ensure householders get the most from their composting:

  1. Positioning the compost bin.
    Ideally place the bin on soil or grass in a partially shaded area of the garden that can be accessed easily all year round.
  2. Getting the right mix.
    Aim to get a 50/50 mix of Green materials such as fruit and veg peelings, cut flowers and grass cuttings and Brown materials such as paper, cardboard, egg shells and hedge trimmings.
  3. Adding air.
    Air speeds up the composting process. This can be done by adding air pockets created by placing scrunched up paper and card in the bin or manually by turning the compost with a garden fork.

Compost bins can be ordered at Waste Aware Scotland or by calling 0845 076 0223 from as little as £8.
Anyone interested in finding out more about composting should visit the Council’s website

The Spirit Of Adventure

An Tirisdeach was invited aboard this fine cruise ship by the National Trust for Scotland Cruise Director Elaine Bruges to have a look around.

Security was tight, and a driving license had to be handed over to verify identity, and was retained until leaving the ship.

Interestingly, there was a bacterial hand washing spray unit in place due to the current concern over the Swine flu virus. The ship is basically a floating 5 star hotel which included a classy restaurant with delicious cuisine, a hairdressing salon and one of the loveliest libraries one could ever hope to pass time in. Many of the courteous staff were Filipino, the head chef Cornish and Captain MacLundie was from Argyll.

Elaine explained that the cruises remain very popular and were initially started to get people to their more inaccessible properties such as St. Kilda, The Fair Isles, Orkney and Shetland. Now they are important fundraising cruises with all profits going towards Conservation. Elaine also pointed out that the N.T.S is a charity and not a government organisation. ‘ All funding comes from members and ventures such as this’ she said.

Time aboard was short, but Elaine, Billy Kay, the Entertainments Officer, the lovely Alison and Jim the Piper all made the trip to the vessel well worth while.

Despite worrying weather predictions for the day, Iain Skipinnish managed to make two wildlife trips down the Gunna Sound and the side of Coll with his N. T. S. visitors. Abandoning the idea of Staffa due to the swell ( it would have been unlikely anyone could have gone ashore. ) Nevertheless, Iain remained rather concerned for his passengers safety, as the average age was around 70 years. However, Iain told An Tirisdeach “the rougher it got, the more they liked it!” One passenger even exclaimed “This is the most exhilarating boat ride I have ever had.”

Swine Flu – Is the Health Service on Tiree prepared?

docs_surgery_signWith daily newspaper reports of this new flu virus, An Tirisdeach wondered just how prepared our own medical service was if a much feared flu pandemic was to occur here on Tiree.
What is a pandemic? A pandemic occurs when a new flu virus which people have no immunity to occurs and spreads as easily as normal flu with simultaneous epidemics worldwide. Last century three occurred; in 1918, 1957 and 1968. The pandemic of 1918, took 18 million lives compared with WWI which also ended in 1918 and claimed 8.5 million lives. The pandemic of 1957 took 1.4 million lives and the 1968 outbreak took one million lives. We now find ourselves at the beginning of the 21st Century contemplating such a possibility again. But is our medical team prepared ? Are we prepared ?

“the commentary has become less measured”

In the winter of 2008, we suffered, according to our G.P. Dr. Holliday “a two month flu epidemic” which decimated, in Tiree School alone, staff and pupil levels. Dr. Holliday informs An Tirisdeach that the surgery has had a Flu Disaster Plan for the last two years and has received a small amount of Tamiflu from the government. Discussing the current media coverage of swine flu and the concerns that people had he felt that the commentary has become less measured. .
Dr. Holliday explained that the first phase would be mild due to the time of year. Autumn and winter would be the critical months and that Tamiflu was no panacea as it only shortens the disease by a day. Dr Holliday was frank and to the point. “ By far the most important measure that everyone could take responsibility for is hygiene, this is crucial “ he said.

“Sing Happy Birthday twice”

“Washing hands with soap and water while singing Happy Birthday to yourself twice then drying hands on clean towel or paper towel would go a long way to protecting yourself against the virus”. A sanitiser gel would also do the same job as soap and water. Dr. Holliday is under no illusions as to how difficult it is to wash our hands conscientiously and constantly to wash away the germs one comes into contact with. He is also aware that children will say they have washed their hands when in fact they have only ran them under a tap. Singing Happy Birthday to yourself while hand washing actually takes quite a time. Longer than one would normally spend on such a task, but it is a critical element. All households have been given a Swine Flu leaflet by the government. The guidelines on sneezing and nose blowing should also be strictly adhered to with hand washing following. Not always easy, and this is when a Sanitiser gel would be useful to have on hand at all times.

“I would hope and expect the strength of Community to rally round”

If the Tiree Community found itself in the throes of a pandemic Dr. Holliday felt that a close knit community such as ours would cope well with it. “I would hope and expect the strength of Community to rally round”. This virus is virulent. Normally a flu would infect one in ten , this virus is expected to infect one in three. Dr. Holliday has been informed that there will be a flu hotline in the Autumn with increased stockpiling of drugs. We can be sure that Dr. Holliday and his team will be keeping a close eye on developments.

Argyll & Bute have the worst roads in Scotland


The simple fact is Argyll & Bute have the worst roads in Scotland, and Oban Lorn and the Isles the worst roads in Argyll..
“Councillor, when are you going to do something about our roads”
This is one of the questions I’m asked with alarming frequency. My colleagues and I dread those words. Although, my colleagues and I constantly battle for better roads and will continue to do so on our constituents behalf.

While nothing can fully excuse the chronic underfunding of our roads network, it has to be seen in context. Our biggest spending department is Social Services. As with any council it is wide ranging; from schools, the elderly and the vulnerable. These areas are scrutinised by outside agencies. Any council seen to be failing will face sanctions from the government. However, there is no such direct scrutiny for roads (although public transport is monitored by various bodies). Therefore, year on year underfunding has led to a situation where restrictions and closures loom. We are not the only council in this predicament – we simply have less flexibility than most because of our geography.

Tiree has an extra “streetscene” operative newly recruited to the post. Currently, priorities for ditching work are Balevullin, Cornaigbeg & Cornaigmore. As well as the chicane at Crossapol due to be resurfaced in the next month or so. In my next article for An Tirisdeach I will explain what a “streetscene” operative means.

I am due to be over in June with my team mates from Tobermory Golf Club for our biennial visit, when I hope to meet up with many old friends (and opponents). See you then.

I can be reached on 01688 302 689 or by email on

Gordon Chalmers

The Spirit Of Adventure


The Spirit Of Adventure Cruises Into Tiree on 26th May 2009

The National Trust of Scotland has chartered the cruise liner The Spirit of Adventure for three weeks as part of Scotland’s Homecoming Year. The three week trip will cruise round the West Coast of Scotland before heading off to Iceland. The three hundred passengers will have Lecturers and Entertainers on board too.

David Munro, Former Director of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society will be giving lectures on geographical topics. Billy Kay, Broadcaster and Writer will be lecturing in Scottish Diaspora and Rabbie Burns. Entertainers will include the gaelic singer Anne Lorne Gillies and George Donald from Scotland the What?

The vessel will be arriving on Tiree around 8am on Tuesday 26th May until 6pm. The passengers will disembark for the day. Everyone will enjoy Tiree hospitality throughout the day, and some will take a bus tour round the island, our R.S.P.B. Officer John Bowler will conduct wildlife walks, and for others a Rib to Staffa. A great day on Tiree seems to be awaiting the lucky people aboard the Spirit of Discovery.

Anyone interested in such a trip with the National Trust of Scotland can call them on 0844-493-2457 Or look at their website on Prices start around £1,000

Scottish Youth Parliament


Attention 14-25yr olds

Young people in Argyll & Bute are being urged to put their names forward for election to the Scottish Youth Parliament.

The two youngsters who are standing down said
“It’s a great opportunity to find new ways of making things better for young people”.

The role of a MSYP is to represent the views of other young people both locally and nationally. To be an MSYP, you must be aged between 14- 25yrs and live in Argyll & Bute. Argyll & Bute Council Leader Dick Walsh urged young people to put their names forward
“This is Scotland’s leading rural area, and it is vital that we have an effective voice at all levels. This is an excellent opportunity for any young people who want to make a difference.

A chance to have your voice heard as a representative for your generation. If you have any questions about what is involved in being an MSYP, EMAIL Argyll & Bute at

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