Category Archives: Community Announcements

Tiree Ranger Service News

Sun, Sea and… Soil?

I would like to extend my warmest thanks to the community members who volunteered their time, tools and energy to overhaul the Balevullin parking area. The work was completed on a beautifully bright day, with an abundance of biscuits and good humour. The erosion pits have been filled and levelled, and the rope boundary has been moved inward from the steeply sloping section. A number of vehicles rolled down onto the beach this year. Fortunately, no one was injured (and how grateful we are for that) but this is obviously extremely dangerous. For safety reasons, the parking area has been re-marked to reduce the risk of this happening again. The posts to be extracted had the hallmark of Steve Nagy quality; whereby, like icebergs, only 10% is visible at the surface (the other 90% being set in dry cement, and practically scraping Australia). Rob Trythall reigned champion as the fastest post-digger in the west; setting most of our new boundary within the hour. John Bowler then had the opportunity to re-visit his trusty Cub Scout knot, and is likely still fiddling with it as we speak. I’m not 100% clear on whether the ‘rabbit’ goes up the tree or into the pond: Suspect John isn’t either… A huge ‘Thank You’ is also due to Lachie Brown, who very kindly transported the soil into the parking area for us – cutting down some serious wheelbarrow miles. Lachie’s help made an enormous difference to the logistics of completing this job, and allowed us to finish the task in one sitting. As the repairs establish themselves, can I ask that users avoid driving over them where possible. For the winter period, the space on the opposite side of the graveled track within the parking area should be sufficient for most occasions. With kind wishes and thanks again to all those who gave up their time; I am extremely grateful.

Tiree Access Forum

The Tiree Access Forum is made up of individuals from a range of different organisations and backgrounds. Those represented currently include: Argyll & Bute Council, Argyll Estates, Discover Tiree, island business owners, RSPB, SNH, TCDT, TRD, Tiree Ranger Service and local watersports operators/participants.

To ensure that the access forum remains representative of our community (and the cross-section of different viewpoints and interests within it) I would like to reiterate that this group is open to all. Please contact me on: ranger{@}tireetrust.org.uk if:

• You can attend our meetings reasonably regularly

• You are interested in access issues on Tiree

• You would like to find out more about how these issues are discussed

• You would like to share your own thoughts and ideas

• You would like to help steer access outcomes

We meet once a month; normally on a Thursday evening, between 19:30 and 21:30. If you cannot commit to regular meetings, I am happy to discuss access queries by email, telephone (074) or in person. I can then raise these matters for discussion at the next session. Remember: we cannot discuss concerns that aren’t raised. There are also many different viewpoints, interests and considerations to balance between different agencies and users.

With thanks and warm wishes to all, Stephanie.

Tiree Community Council

At our November meeting, we welcomed Jamie McGrigor, one of our new Argyll and Bute councillors. We talked about the cuts that the Council were threatening to make. Sir James said that the Council would not know the exact figure until early December, but the situation was unlikely to be as bad as recent newspaper headlines had suggested. There were unlikely to be any compulsory redundancies. We made the point that Tiree had had more than its fair share of cuts recently, and that we were not going to accept any further ones.

There have been rumours about the Council closing many of its public toilets; toilets are something that Councils do not legally have to provide. We had previously registered an interest in investigating taking the Scarinish toilets into community ownership. We needed to see the fine print, however, in particular whether there would be any funds to renovate them and keep them serviced. We also need to find an organisation on the island that would be happy to run them.

We had been sent a letter from someone concerned that police cover had not been sufficient while our regular policeman was away. We had been very concerned by the description of the incident and had contacted senior police management. We had been impressed that we had been put through straightaway to speak to the Divisional Chief Superintendent. She and her deputy have arranged to come to the island at the beginning of December to discuss the incidents with the Community Council in person.

We have been concerned with the length of time taken by the opening of the new public library. We contacted the organisation that now runs libraries, LiveArgyll. The manager of the service apologised for the delay, telling us that he had been unable to authorise the painting and new shelving for the Old Police Station until the school had reported that they were satisfied with their own move into the room that had housed the school library. Pat McCann, the Business Operations Manager told us that he “was confident that we can have the library operational by the end of [October].”

We have been nagging the Council for twelve months to replace the rusted railings at the War Memorial in Scarinish. After ignoring repeated requests from us, we have now got a reply from a Council officer, who told us he had been let down by a contractor, but that the Council was now going to use its own staff.

There have been a number of further requests to reinstate the recycling and rubbish bins outside the dump, for those occasions when the dump is closed. The bins were removed after asbestos and other unsuitable items were stuffed into them earlier in the year. We still want to talk to the Council officials involved, and Jamie promised that he would put us in touch.

We talked again about the sale of land at Pier View to MacLeod Construction, rather than to the community groups that had put in offers. We had written to HIE, and their Argyll manager had promised to visit the island so that we could put our points in person.

A number of people had contacted us telling us how disappointed they had been in the recent visit by Brendan O’Hara, our MP. His mailing arrived the day before his arrival, and his surgery had only been scheduled to last one hour. We have written to Mr O’Hara, but so far have not received a reply.

We have been trying to get to the bottom of why Loganair is not able to schedule the larger SAAB aircraft if the number of passengers is too high for the Twin Otter. This is still work in progress.

We agreed to appoint a (non-voting) Advisory Member to boost our numbers.

Dr John Holliday, Ian Gillies, Jessie Gray and John MacCaskill were present. Rosemary Omand and Aisling Milne sent their apologies.

If you want to raise any points with us, please get in touch at doc.holliday@tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk

Kirkapol Dig Success

As the last turf was replaced, the team involved in the excavation of Cnoc an Fhoimheir ‘the hillock of the giant’ could reflect on two successful weeks. Dr Colleen Batey from the University of Glasgow came to the site and agreed that there was no sign of a Viking boat burial. The last few days could then be focussed on exploring the cist itself in painstaking detail.

The stone chamber was beautifully constructed using four massive and unusual slabs of stone. As several people remarked, these slabs must have taken some finding amongst the boulders of Tiree gneiss, showing how much effort had gone into making this monument. Removing the sand a trowelful at a time, the archaeologists discovered more bones and a flint thumbnail scraper. We found that the capstone, as it was lying, was not aligned with the structure of the cist. In addition, one of the smaller stones blocking the side of the cist looked very much like a piece of pink granite from the Ross of Mull. This would have come from the Skerryvore workshops in Hynish some time after 1838.

A team on the island, lead by Myra MacArthur, has now started the laborious process of wet sieving the sand found inside the cist, finding fragments of pottery, charcoal, a cowrie shell and fragments of modern slate! All of this suggests that the grave has been opened several times in the last four thousand years, sometimes through the side, but at least once by taking off the capstone – not an easy task without modern machinery!

Two other trenches were opened nearby after magnetic tests suggested structures. In these, we found more pottery and flint tools, as well as buried plough marks from fields lost under the sand. The land we have called Lodge Farm since Lady Victoria Campbell lived next door in The Lodge, near a stream and a medieval mill site as it is, has been home to people for thousands of years.

The response from the island has been fantastic, with around twenty volunteers digging, scraping, cleaning and holding survey poles, and over fifty visitors coming to inspect the dig. Almost all the pupils at the school were given a tour of the site.Several cakeswere donated; they did not last long.The weather, you could say,was “mixed”: a mixture of breeze, gales, soaking showers and wind. The sun did shine one day.

At this early stage, Cnoc an Fhoimheir looks to be a grave dating from the Bronze Age, around four thousand years ago. The bones appear to be fromoneman, presumably one of high status. An analysis of the bones, flints, pottery, and charcoal by experts in Glasgow will give us a lot more information. Carbon dating and isotope analysis will tell us the exact date of the bones, as well as information about where he grew up. This will all be included in the full report, due to come out early next year.

The last day was spent returning all the soil into the holes we had dug days earlier. Apparently, this endless cycle of earth moving is what archaeologists do. The cist itself has been covered over and temporarily turfed. Our aim is to restore the bones carefully back in the grave in a few months time, and then replace the capstone. Forme, as a first-time digger, opening this grave and finding a man’s skeleton was a powerful moment, and I feel I want to respectfully put it all back together again. There is always a debate about the merits of leaving monuments like this alone to sleep their historical sleep. I feel that, in this case, it was important to try to understand something about some of the earliest peoples that settled on Tiree. There has been a lot of interest around the island and beyond, and I have already been asked by some of the volunteers to set up a group to organise the next dig!

We are grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the major grant that made this possible, and the additional funding from the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and the Windfall Fund.

Dr Darko Maricevic from the University of Bournemouth makes the final archaeological visit of the year in October. He would like to continue his earlier work using geophysics on more of the island’s lumps and bumps

.Centimetre by centimetre,we are starting to discover more about the past of our ‘secret island’.

Dr. John Holliday

Tiree Ranger Service – Autumn Access Update

As we enjoy a slight lull before the competitive watersports season begins, I would like to update you all on some of our ongoing access issues:

At the beginning of this year, I informed you of our aspirations to provide a new, permanent and sustainable parking area for Crossapol Beach. This is still very much our goal. However, progress with our intended project partners has been somewhat glacial.

With support from SNH we are now working to a spring 2018 delivery. Delays such as this are extremely frustrating: Pushing this project has taken up a considerable amount of my time. Nonetheless, with the extra room for planning, we are making progress towards an improved final result. I would like to thank all of the guests, local residents and local business operators who have respected the temporary arrangement at Crossapol. Your cooperation and consideration has been greatly valued and appreciated during this tricky period – there have been no issues to speak of.

At Balephuil, access to Balephuil Bay is shifting. Following a change in apportionment, the current, badly degraded access track will no longer be in use. Recreational access to the beach will follow a new fence line to a fenced parking area. This change has been implemented by graziers through the proper and necessary channels. The beach will still be fully accessible for larger events by prior arrangement. On behalf of the Ranger Service and AccessGroup, I would like to thank the graziers for maintaining and improving access to this site at considerable trouble and expense.

At Balevullin Bay, repair work on the erosion damage commenced at the start of the season – my sincere thanks to those who assisted with this task. This autumn, we plan to continue the patch-repair of the erosion damage in the parking area; in addition to moving the rope boundary back to reduce the likelihood of vehicle rolling. New signage concerning the use of handbrakes will also be installed to this end.

I think it’s fair to say that there was a little controversy last month, with regard to the Croft Camping scheme, my role in managing it and the role of Tiree Ranger Service generally. My job is shaped by the community: I work to directives provided by the residents of Tiree, in addition to some core requirements from SNH. The Ranger Service post is fully transparent. Details of our aims and activities are available to view in the Tiree Ranger Service Development Plan – downloadable from the TDCT website. By joining community boards and committees, those with ideas for the improvement of Tiree Ranger Service and/or the Croft Camping Scheme have the power to influence the direction and remit of this post.

At present my duties include the management of Freedom Camping. I would like to remind those with strong views on the ranger post and what it achieves that I am available to discuss my work by appointment. Indeed, I welcome feedback and fresh insight.

As a professional, I extend courtesy to every person that I deal with; regardless of whether our views are aligned or not. I expect to be treated with the same level of courtesy as I dispense my duties on Tiree.

Stephanie Cope, Tiree Ranger Service

Tiree Community Council Meetings

Following a very short summer recess, the Tiree Community Council Meetings will resume as of September.

The first one will take place on Wednesday the 6th of September, following on from the usual pattern as the first Wednesday of the month. The start time is 7:30pm in An Talla and all are welcome. The agenda for the meeting is detailed below. Please also note the  Tiree Community Council took the decision earlier in the year to remove AOCB from the meeting agenda, this however doesn’t mean they don’t want to hear from you and would encourage all members of the community to let them know about any issues of concern. You can do so in a number of ways, email, written letter or having a chat with a community councillor. Please visit www.tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk for more information

MEETING ON WEDNESDAY 6th September 2017 7.30pm @ An Talla ALL MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC WELCOME

1. Welcome and Apologies

2. Correspondence

3. Minutes of 7th June 2017 and matters arising

4. Tiree Community Council Elections, co-options and forward planning

5. Caledonian Maritime Assets (CMAL), Pier-head proposals

6. Tiree – Glasgow Air Service, implications following removal of security

7. Scottish Government, meetings during July/August, update.

8. Transportation updates

9. Public Library

10. Tiree Flag, verbal update

Please note. Tiree Community Council holds a monthly pre-agenda private meeting, which normally takes place approximately ten days following the public meeting. The meeting is solely to agree agenda items for inclusion and discussion at the following month’s public meeting. No decisions, other than these, are taken.

Scottish Government Minister for Transport and the Islands Visits Tiree

Humza Yousaf, the Scottish Government Minister for Transport and the Islands visited Tiree on Wednesday the 16th of August.

The visit was arranged by Tiree Community Council who had previously met with the Minister back in January of this year, in Holyrood. At the meeting, they invited the Minister to visit Tiree and were delighted when it came to fruition last week.

Mr Yousaf only had a few hours on Tiree due to an earlier than usual return flight to Glasgow, but managed to jam pack a number of visits and worthwhile conversations into the day, meeting with a variety of local businesses, visiting community projects and Milton Harbour where he was updated on the ambitious refurbishment plans currently being undertaken by the Tiree Trust and the Harbours’ Steering Group.

The Minister didn’t get to see Tiree in its best weather, as the rain and wind battered down most of the day. He was still very complimentary of our island as he posted pictures on Twitter of his arrival on the twin otter with the caption: ‘Arrived on Tiree. Looking forward to day of Ministerial meetings with the local community & businesses. Even wet & windy it looks stunning’.

After a quick tour of the island, the minister was treated to a beautifully prepared buffet lunch, where Tiree’s produce was showcased with a variety of local fresh shellfish and Tiree lamb and beef. The lunch was followed by a meeting, where the minister got the opportunity to hear from members of Tiree Community Council, Tiree Transport Forum, Tiree Community Development Trust, Tiree Rural Development, Tiree Community Business and Tiree Broadband regarding various island issues.

There was a variety of agenda items, the meeting starting off with a viewing of the recently released ‘Tiree Maritime Plan’ video which was created to promote the harbours’ development project. Mr Yousef was very positive about the project, having visited the site in the morning, he got first hand evidence of the type of conditions our fishermen are currently working in. He vowed to investigate what funding, if any, might be available from the Scottish Government to support this project.

The idea of Tiree and Coll having a dedicated councillor was also discussed, with the Minister indicating that he thought this would be a very positive move and something that he might be able to assist with.

The discussion around the Islands Bill was mostly centred on Argyll & Bute Council’s involvement, with Humza informing the group that A&B Council are the only council which has not sent its leader to the working group meetings. Instead, Policy Lead for the Islands, Robin Currie has attended. It was felt that this was not adequate and something that should be raised with Argyll & Bute Council.

The Crown Estate Consultation has been on the agenda of the Tiree Community Council for some time now, with the Crown Estate Scotland coming into operation on 1st of April this year and is tasked with managing Scottish Crown Estate assets on behalf of Scottish Ministers, which includes agricultural and forestry land, most of the seabed and around half of the foreshore, areas that could be crucial to future developments on and around Tiree. Mr Yousef was again very positive about trying to assist communities to investigate the possibility of Crown Estate Revenues going to local communities, at island level, and said he would forward on further information regarding this.

Other items discussed included the current lack of availability of good affordable backhaul (internet source) from BT for community broadband providers, in this instance Tiree Broadband, which currently cover areas on the island that BT cannot reach. A paper explaining the concerns was prepared and given to the Minister in the hope that he will back the case and see the need. It was suggested that a requirement to comply with this request should be included in the contracts for the next round of publicly funded infrastructure upgrades which is most likely to be delivered by BT. It was also discussed that the Transport Forum has expressed the community’s desire to have a consistent Monday, Wednesday, Friday ferry service throughout the winter, this request will be sent in writing to the Minister.

Overall, the visit from Mr Yousef was extremely positive. Although there is no guarantee that anything will come from the points mentioned above, it is very positive that we as an island can communicate at a one to one level with the Minister for Transport and the Islands and he has given us assurances that he will support us where he can. It is extremely encouraging that he took the time to come out to Tiree and mentioned that he feels it is his role and duty to visit and support rural and hard to reach communities such as ours.

We hope, in the near future we will be able to update you with positive developments on some of the points mentioned above.

Thanks to everyone who was involved in the meeting. A special thanks to Fiona Malcolm, Neil and Alison MacPhail and Eileen Tainsh who helped to create and serve a wonderful showcase lunch.

Tiree Community Council

The well-attended June meeting of Tiree Community Council was also its AGM, and I gave a run-down of the campaigns with which we have been involved over the year.

These included facilities for the disabled on the ferry, the withdrawal of security at the airport, proposals for a cash machine for the bank, a scheme to create a Marine Protected Area around the island, organising the Remembrance Day service, the loss of the school library service, abandoned trailers in three locations, an area next to Pier View in Scarinish where builders’ waste was lying, buying the old phone boxes from BT and setting up the project to design a flag for Tiree.

We also set up a ballot concerning the beach huts at Gott and Balevullin, and presented the results to the planning officials of Argyll and Bute Council. It has been a busy year, and it is hard now to imagine life on the island without a community council.

I told the meeting about the resignation of John MacCaskill from TCC. John it was who first had the idea of re-forming the council, and his energy brought together the first group of us to stand for election. Since then he was Vice-Convenor for several years, and has also chaired the Tiree Transport Forum. John’s major success was to persuade the authorities that Tiree needed two planes a day, something long taken for granted by Campbeltown and Barra. He also fought hard to improve signage on the roads. John has now decided that his new job managing the airport has made it impossible to devote enough time to TCC matters, and he is reluctantly standing down for the moment.We would all like to thank him for his considerable political achievements.

We discussed the triangle of land to the west of Pier View,which belongs to Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Both the Tiree Trust and Tiree Community Business had made an offer to buy the land in the past few years for use as a play park and community garden. We have learned recently that the ground is now under offer from MacLeod Construction of Lochgilphead. MacLeod’s, the builders of the original ‘Tank Farm’, have proposed three further houses with workshops attached. The way that this process was handled has raised questions about how HIE negotiates with communities, and we have written to them to ask them to come to the island to explain how this decision was taken. Under Part 4 of the Community Empowerment Act (2015), community bodies have a right to buy land that is “neglected”.

We remain concerned about the pier head, which struggles to cope during peak season. The car park is often full and cars have to find space where they can on the surrounding ground. CMAL, who own and manage the land, have written to the Community Council detailing their investment plans for the pier and surrounding area. These amount to over £8 million pounds between 2013 and 2022, including the replacement of much of the link span deck. While this is extremely welcome, we still feel that congestion and parking at the pier head is not getting the priority it deserves. There have also seen worrying reports about corrosion affecting the columns supporting the pier itself. We have asked for a meeting with CMAL and will persevere with these two important concerns.

Efforts to design a flag for Tiree took an important step forward recently with a visit from an expert from the Flag Institute. Philip Tibbetts told us how to organise a successful competition, how long it would take and how much it would cost. We now know how to proceed, and hope to have the official unveiling next summer.

We discussed the state of the police mortuary at the airport. This has no running water and is powered by a generator. While needing a considerable amount of work, we decided that, as it was used solely by the professionals involved, this was a matter that was outside our remit.

We had also set up an online survey about setting up a cash machine on the island. 96%of those who responded said they would use one, with comments like: “I am often asked if there is an ATM on the island. It would be very handy to access cash without having to make a purchase to get cash back, and I am sure it would benefit local businesses and increase transactions on the island generally.” It was pointed out that post offices were another useful way to access one’s account.

The bins outside the gates of the waste facility in Gott, which had been removed by Argyll and Bute Council because of indiscriminate dumping, have now been reinstated after representations by TCC.

We decided that, due to the hectic Tiree summer-fest, our next public meeting would be in September. The Council would still be working behind the scenes, however, and if there were pressing matters, we could still call a meeting in the next two months.

Dr John Holliday (chair), Rhoda Meek, Ian Gillies, Aisling Milne and Jessie Gray were present.

Tiree Ranger Service Update

One aspect of my job that I find particularly rewarding is meeting people.

Offering opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy being active in nature is core to our remit as a Ranger Service. I’m delighted to tell you that, since the beginning of our events and guided walk programme in mid-April, almost three hundred guests and community members have joined in. This is an incredible show of support for Tiree Ranger Service, and I am extremely grateful to each and every person that has taken part. As the summer jollies approach and Tiree girds itself for the height of the visitor season, I thought it would be nice to reflect on the activities and experiences that we have shared so far:

The first event to take place was our Great Easter Eggcase Hunt on April 14th. This event was jointly led by myself and Willie Mackinnon – Tiree’s Youth Worker. Though I produced a written summary at the time, I hadn’t fully appreciated the long term positive impact that this session would have. The event was enormous fun and I had a great time leading it. However, what has struck me since is the number of families that now actively look for (and hopefully record) eggcases as they spend time on the beach. Young people often approach me in the Co-op to tell me about their most recent finds! Genuinely, I couldn’t have asked for a better result. On the day, the weather was rather changeable: Instead of collating our finds at the end of the activity, some families took them home to record, while others left the fruits of their labour with me to be processed in one large batch. I must say, well done to those families that went ahead and submitted their findings (presumably after a cup of something hot!) – it was great to see the new records popping up online. When I finally completed this task for the pooled Gott Bay samples, I was left with 137 records. These are currently being added to the Shark Trust website:

•120 Smallsoptted Catshark eggcases •6 Thornback Ray eggcases •9 Spotted Ray eggcases •2 Cukoo Ray eggcases

I was also given one Blond Ray eggcase and three Flapper Skate eggcases from unknown locations around Tiree – these were recorded separately. The enthusiasm engendered by this event is almost worth the perma-layer of sand that has ingrained itself into my carpet, and the hours of trying to untangle and measure the sodden eggcase mountain… If you’re interested, there are eggcase ID leaflets (with information on how to submit your findings) available from my office at the Tiree Rural Centre.

Our next session was Beach Bingo – a family scavenger hunt to spot and identify different items on the seashore. In essence, this was an excuse to dole out a few sweeties (!) but the children did practice identifying different colours and textures – or different types of seaweed, seashell and gull for the older participants. This event caught the tail end of the Easter break and attendance by visiting children and younger residents was good.

The third event of the year, Seòid a’ Machair, was a guided walk jointly led by myself and Donna MacLean – Tiree’s Music, Culture and Communications Coordinator. We explored the formation of Machair; learning how traditional crofting practice supports Tiree’s impressive biodiversity. Janet Bowler gave us an introduction to the rare bee species that she monitors here, and spoke about her ongoing project to encourage the planting of native wildflowers.

With Donna’s expertly prepared handouts and pronunciation guides, we learned the Gaelic names for many species that we encountered on the way – in addition to hearing about the language’s history and modern use on the island.

On May 12th, I led a short but terrifically enjoyable Wellness Walk down to Lag naCleite. Though the walk wasn’t intentionally aimed at viewing wildlife, there was simply too much to ignore! Highlights included lovely views of Great Northern Diver, Common Eider, Arctic Tern, Lapwing, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Turnstone, Dunlin and a tiny Lapwing chick.

The following week, I was joined at Loch a’ Phuill by an enthusiastic group of Learner Birders.We got to grips with the basics of bird identification using our ID books and the new Tiree Ranger Service telescope; looking at a number of different wading and water species. A particular highlight was a small party of distant waders –which turned out to be a late passing group of female Black-tailed Godwits (thanks to John Bowler for following this up).

One of these birds was wearing leg rings, which indicated that she had originally been captured by French ringers. The same group had been spotted in Ireland just days before. Building on the enthusiasm of Learner Birders, our next session took us to the windy tops of Ceann a’Mhara for some Super Seabirds. Though the focus of this walk was primarily cliff-nesters, we experienced a diverse array of plant life and some very interesting natural history finds – such as the brightly coloured shells of predated seabird eggs. There was quite a bit of rain; but the walk was still one of my season highlights so far. In addition to learning about our environment, Tiree Ranger Service is here to encourage people to look after it.

On June 3rd, around 40 community members from across the island joined a Tiree Community Development Trust Big Tiree Tidy session to clear Crossapol Beach of debris. There is a lot of enthusiasm, and there are lots of great ideas, within our community. Watching people and their children come together and take time out of their day to help was extremely rewarding. A special mention needs to go tour local Argyll & Bute Council Workers, who very kindly offered to come and collect the material from the roadside. This made a difficult job much easier and was greatly appreciated by everyone.

June 8th saw me out and about early, placing riddles and clues along an 8km cycle trail for the children of Tiree High School. The Tiree Treasure Trail activity was part of a two-day programme to help P7 students through their transition to S1 after the summer break. The questions and clues had a broadly environmental and healthy living theme, and the students did a brilliant job of both finding and solving them – in fact, I think I rather underestimated their abilities?! I’d like to thank the children for being so sporting, and for their good behaviour and friendly manner throughout. To quote one student it was “slightly better than doing maths” – be still, my ballooning ego.

I’d also like to thank Will Wright of Tiree Fitness for his contribution of spare bikes, helmets and equipment checks; plus the other staff leaders (includingWillie, our island Youth Worker) for helping me to guide the group around Tiree’s roads safely. (…only one bike disintegrated, so I consider that to be a resounding success.)

Our Guided Walk Programme is now available to download from www.isleoftiree.com, in addition to being on display around the island in printed form. These walks will be running weekly on Thursday afternoons, weather and circumstances permitting.

Events, such as those featured above, normally run on Fridays. Currently, they are advertised locally and through our social media accounts. The first Guided Walk around Salum and Vaul produced amazing behaviour from the Salum Common Seal colony – with animals play fighting and leaping out of the water in the shallows.

Three routes will run on rotation until further notice – but please note that advance booking is essential! I’ll look forward to welcoming you and your guests along,

The Hynish Centre Story

As many readers will know, the Hebridean Trust, a Scottish Charity, has offered to gift the village of Hynish to the Tiree Community and discussions are at an advanced stage with the Tiree Community Development Trust. From the mid 1980’s The Hebridean Trust acquired the village and over the past thirty years raised almost three million pounds to renovate it. We thought readers would like to know a little more about the work of this Charity that also owns The Treshnish Isles.

In the late 1980’s the Trust renovated the old ruined store rooms down by the pier and in 1990 HRH The Princess Royal opened the buildings that were by now a 20-bed centre with dining-room, sitting-room and games room known as Alan Stevenson House or the Hynish Centre. The main objective of the Centre has always been to subsidise visits from disadvantaged and disabled young people, especially from Scotland, but also from the rest of the UK. Wherever possible these young people would be given either heavily subsidised or free holidays.

Monica Smith was appointed the first Warden, a post she held until ill health lead to her retirement in 2014. During her enormously successful time as Warden the clientele grew to cover a wide range of visitors. By 2012 a major refurbishment of the building had taken place creating accommodation with accessible showers and bathrooms more suitable for the 21st Century. To do this the Trust raised £500,000, which also enabled them to produce the ‘Treshnish Isles Exhibition’ in nearby buildings.

The Trust’s policy has always been to use local building firms to carry out all their work at Hynish and this project was no exception. When Monica retired, Fiona Malcolm took over the role of Warden and has continued Monica’s good work. From their wide range of visitors the Trust has built a strong relationship with The North Argyll Carers in Oban. For the third year a group of young carers will visit Hynish at no charge this summer. Carers involved in end of life care in Oban will also be at Hynish for free visits.

Here are some comments made by three groups:

North Argyll Carers – “Everyone talked about how much more confident they felt about themselves and their abilities.” “This has been the best holiday I have ever had.”

Oxfordshire Children and Family Care services – severely disabled children, this year is their fourth visit to Tiree. ‘The laughter and the smiles far outweighed the tears. “Thank you for bringing me on this holiday I have never done anything like this before” said H. Z shouts of “I’m happy, I’m happy” must have been heard 10 times a day! Cheeky big beaming smiles from J every time he seized the opportunity to lie in the sea, sometimes fully clothed.’

The Junction Foundation –‘This trip is the highlight of the year, due to complex family situations, poverty and disadvantage, these young people do not get to go on holiday.’

Finally a big thank you from the Hebridean Trust to all the individuals and organisations who help these young people have the holidays of their lifetime.

Tiree Community Council Report

Ideas about a new housing development in Scarinish, a presentation from the new Ranger Stephanie Cope, and disappointing news about an ATM cash machine: these were some of the topics discussed at the April meeting of Tiree Community Council.

The April meeting was delayed by a week because a combination of travel setbacks had meant that the Council no longer had a quorum. The meeting went ahead a week later with one loyal member of the public in attendance (thank you Robert!). TCC had been notified that unaccompanied young people would no longer be allowed on flights to Glasgow because all airline staff did not have the necessary clearance.We agreed to write to Loganair for clarification.We had received a letter suggesting that the lorry drivers’ rest room on the vessel – a facility required by law – should also be available for disabled travellers, and that the disabled toilet door should bemade easier to open.CalMac had responded positively to these ideas. The suggestion that an afternoon sailing should be part of a future winter timetable was thought by John MacCaskill, chair of the Tiree Transport Forum, to be unlikely: they had been asking for this for years with no success.

TCC had recently met Councillor Roddy McCuish. He showed us draft proposals to build three house/workshops on the triangle of land between Pier View and the road. This provoked some discussion as TCB and the Trust had both had offers to buy this land from HIE turned down. We decided to look into this. After months of pressure, the corner of land cluttered with rubbish left over from the building of Pier View has substantially been cleared. The electrical box and cable, however, are still there, and we would continue to press for this to be removed.

Councillor McCuish also told us about discussions concerning the transference of the West Highland Housing Association Housing stock to the Tiree Trust. He advised us that this might be too large a task for the Trust, but that a management agreement might make more sense. We also discussed taking the Scarinish public toilets under community control, and would see how much interest there was in the island for this. The next day we met with our MSP Mike Russell. TCC has hopes tomeet the Transport and Islands Minister,Humza Yousaf, on Tiree, and have asked Mike Russell to keep the matter in the minister’s diary.

We passed on a number of complaints about the long time some customers on Tiree had to wait for a BT connection.Mike Russell asked us to pass on complaints at an early stage as he had good contacts with the company.

We expressed our disappointment with the decision to keep the proceeds of the Crown Estate – principally rights arising from the coastal seabed – in Edinburgh. Russell said he was sympathetic to the view that Tiree should get its fair share of profits and has written to the minister involved.

Stephanie Cope gave a very interesting talk about how she is developing her job as Ranger. Erosion at beach access points in Crossapol, Balevullin and Balephuil is a concern. She is continuing the programme of guided walks during the summer and is initiating a series of welcome evenings, including talks about the environment, history and culture, during the main summer holiday period. We had asked the Royal Bank of Scotland about the possibility of installing an ATM cash machine at its Scarinish branch. They have now written to us to say that this will not be going ahead. We were disappointed and will pursue this matter. It was suggested that ATMs are often placed in places other than banks, and this may be a way forward.

The Tiree flag subcommittee is making progress in setting up a flag competition, and is currently waiting for a decision from the Windfall Fund.

The meeting closed at 9.30pm. Dr John Holiday, Rhoda Meek, Ian Gillies, John MacCaskill, Jessie Gray and Aisling Milne were in attendance.

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