Category Archives: Latest Stories

Island Kids Make a Splash on the Mainland

PUPILS from a remote island are swapping a windswept loch which was once the home of ancient Scots for a modern city pool to enhance their swimming skills.

The children from Tiree – the most westerly Isle in the Inner Hebrides – usually train next to 5000 year old settlements in the icy waters of Loch Bhasapol as they don’t have a pool on the island. Loch Bhasapol has two small islands in it which are thought to be crannogs – ancient artificial islands that were built to be defensive homes and represented symbols of power and wealth. But this week the 14 primary six and seven children from Tiree Primary School are ditching wetsuits to make the 180 mile journey to participate in Scottish Water and Scottish Swimming’s Learn to Swim lessons at Glasgow Club Gorbals.

Ruth Budge, their teacher at Tiree Primary School, said: “Trips to the mainland are a big highlight in our school calendar and we always try to fit in a visit to a pool for swimming and water confidence lessons. “Living on an island, swimming becomes an even more important skill to have. We usually hold lessons in Loch Bhasapol but with staff changes at the school, it just hasn’t been a possibility this year. “Some of the children really only get the chance to go swimming when they’re on holiday once a year and because it’s not something they’re doing regularly, it’s really difficult for them to maintain and improve their abilities.”

The island kids will be given the lesson later this week by Glasgow Sport which delivers the national swimming framework to the local area and has helped to coordinate the trip.

Tiree is part of Live Argyll – the local Leisure Trust which is also part of the National Learn to Swim Framework, however a school trip to Glasgow enabled one of the other partner Leisure Trusts – Glasgow Sport to help out on this occasion.

Tiree has a population of just 650 and is the most westerly island of the Inner Hebrides. The school has taken the ferry to Oban before travelling by bus to Glasgow to enjoy their time on the mainland. Brian Lironi, Director of Corporate Affairs for Scottish Water, said: “The Hebrides are surrounded by water so it’s so essential that children have the skills to be safe in the water. “We’re extremely proud to be supporting the Learn to Swim Framework and to be giving children the opportunity to develop their swimming skills even when pools aren’t within easy reach.” The Learn to Swim Framework helps to create quality learn to swim environments for children from birth upwards where they can become competent, confident and safe swimmers.

Sharon MacDonald, Director of Development at Scottish Swimming, said: “It’s just fantastic to see how the National Learn to Swim Framework and the strong partnerships formed within it between Leisure Trusts can support children living in the most remote areas like Tiree and give them special opportunities to swim and experience different swimming pools to help them flourish as swimmers.”

Andrena Hammond, Swimming Participation Manager, at Glasgow Sport said: “It’s fantastic having the children here. Seeing their enthusiasm and enjoyment in using our pool has been heartwarming.”

Ruth added: “We’re very grateful that everyone has been so accommodating to us. The kids have been so excited and they even started a countdown leading up to the trip.”

Milton Harbour Development Update

Contractor George Leslie Ltd arrived on site to begin a major renovation of Milton harbour in April this year.

The works are scheduled to take around 16 weeks and will include an extension to the north and south, raising the height by 1.2m, a new stub pier to give protection from the swell and a new shed on the pier.

We are grateful to Marine Scotland, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and The Windfall Fund for committing funds to the development and to the Duke of Argyll for gifting the pier to the Trust.

In a surprise visit to Oban today, 22 year-old Scots musician Be Charlotte announced live from the town’s iconic McCaig’s Tower that she will play Oban Live music festival in two weeks time.

The Dundee star, who signed to major record label Sony Music last year, is the last act to be added to an impressive line-up at Argyll’s biggest outdoor live music festival.

She joins Skerryvore, Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Lucy Spraggan, We Banjo 3, Elephant Sessions and more at the popular west coast Scottish gig.

Since starting to find her voice as a teenager with an acoustic guitar, Charlotte Brimner, performing as Be Charlotte, has been focussed on finding inner strength and inspiring others to do the same, a message that was passed over to a number of Oban’s primary school pupils today.

Touring schools in and around the scenic Argyll town, excited pupils were treated to a surprise visit from the Scots star who performed an acoustic set and talked about her inspiring musical journey. Youngsters were encouraged by Charlotte to believe in themselves, to pick up and learn an instrument and to get involved in music.

Even although she is still at the beginning of her career Be Charlotte has toured around the UK, Europe, North America and Asia as well as sharing the stage with Major Lazer in Africa in 2018.

Her new single Brighter Without You is out now. Be Charlotte plays Oban Live on Friday June 7. The event takes place at Mossfield Stadium on June 7 and 8. Tickets are selling fast and are available at www.obanlive.com.

499 and Counting

Last week Tiree was visited by two ladies attempting to add to their personal challenge of playing all the listed golf courses in Scotland.

Susie Robertson was playing round 499 and her friend Moira Aitken was on her 200th (only). They thoroughly enjoyed their round at Vaul and were not at all deterred by the cows and calves on the first hole.

Susie plays off 17 but did not reveal her score for the nine holes but did say the fences were a bit of a challenge.

It would have been nice for Tiree to be the 500th but that will be played this week at Mar Hall in Erskine.

There are 560 listed courses in Scotland so a wee bit to go yet but well done ladies this is some achievement and Vaul will welcome you back anytime.

Tiree Skiff Takes To The Waves

The beautiful Tiree St Ayles skiff Gille-Brìghde ‘the oystercatcher’ took to the waters of Loch Bhassapol last weekend for its maiden (freshwater) voyage.

Three crews, after a quick lesson in rowing technique involving broomsticks, were pushed out into deeper water by the expert team of Niall MacDonald and Alasdair MacLachlan from the Tiree Maritime Trust.

It had been a misleadingly warm morning, but a keen southeasterly wind developed, making conditions quite challenging rowing ‘uphill’ and producing a slight chop.

Once or twice, a crewmember toppled backwards gracefully when an oar was left in the water fractionally too long. But you certainly would not have known that this was the first time many of the rowers had had an oar in their hands, as they settled into a good rhythm and produced (occasionally) a good deal of power.

There was a small amount of perspiration, some well-worked muscles, an appreciation of being out on the water in this most glorious island, and a good deal of laughter.

Thanks to Kirsty MacLean for providing safety boat cover. We’ll be back on the water regularly, so if you want to give Tiree’s latest and most fashionable sport a try, get in touch: 220385

Sea, Surfing and Victory

The Scottish National Surfing Championships 2019 took place over Easter Weekend in Caithness, where Ben and Robyn Larg brought victory home.

Ben defended his title from the previous year in the Northcore under-16’s as well as taking first place in the Northcore under-18, while Robyn took second place in the Blackhouse Watersports under-18 Girls and fourth in the mixed Narosa under-14’s.

Ben said “I’m really happy with my wins and stoked to see Robyn do so well,”

Both of the siblings are now a part of the Scottish junior surfing team, making them eligible to compete in the European and World championships.

Marti and Iona said, “We’re delighted to see Ben and Robyn do so well at the Nationals in Thurso – it’s always a great competition.”

Ben is competing in the British Surfing Championships in Jersey next weekend; a competition where adults and juniors from England, the Channel Islands, Wales and Scotland come to compete for the best in each category.

We wish good luck to Ben for his competition in Jersey and to Robyn in future events!

Tiree 10k & Half Marathon – Saturday 4th May

Going into the 14th year of this event we look forward to welcoming 250 runners to take part in what is increasingly one of the must do events on the Scottish running calendar.

Entry for this year’s event was in hot demand, so much so that when registration opened in October last year it was full within 24 hours! We’re pleased to see the event’s popularity soar over the years, and are also aware how much of that is due to the friendly and supportive welcome the runners receive from the Tiree community. So thank you everyone who’s helped at these events!

We’ve also had amazing generosity at the raffles which have added to the events fundraising to just short of £10,000 over the years for local groups and charities, particularly the Oban Mountain Rescue Team.

The 2019 Tiree 10k & Half Marathon will take place on Saturday 4th May, with kids races at 12pm and the 10k/HM starting at 2pm. Race HQ is An Talla. Kids can sign up on the day, but all other entry is now closed. The cafe will be open all day at An Talla.

As always we will do our best to minimise disruption, but please be aware of runners on the roads, particularly between 2pm and 4pm around the Heylipol – Balinoe – Hynish – Sandaig – Island House areas. We’ll put signs up in advance to give plenty of warning. Thank you everyone for working with us on this, and for your tolerance and patience. If there is anything we can do to improve any part of the event please do get in touch.

We’re now recruiting for the 2019 Event Team – it’s a fun way to be part of the event, and cheering on the runners is inspiring and something that’s hugely appreciated. If you could help either indoors at registration, or out on the course please do get in touch.

And lastly, running is one of those things that helps people in so many ways. From physical fitness to mental health, and from enjoying the fresh air to socialising with others. There’s been incredible stories over the years, and people taking part for sorts of different reasons, as well as simply to get a bit fitter. So come and help at the event, be inspired, and next year it could be you standing on the start line!

Contact Will at Tiree Fitness on 07867 304640 or email will@tireefitness.co.uk or visit www.tireefitness.co.uk for more info

Campaign Offers Advice For Dog Owners

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is running a national radio and digital campaign, based on advice from the National Access Forum, to help dog owners to explore their local natural areas without disturbing vulnerable young animals during the lambing season.

The campaign was developed alongside Police Scotland, NFU Scotland, Scottish Land and Estates and The Kennel Club, and complements wider work being undertaken by the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime.

The key message is to keep dogs out of fields with young farm animals and on a short lead or close at heel when livestock are around. If cattle react aggressively, release your dog and take the shortest, safest route out of the field.

As part of the campaign, farmers have been sharing their personal stories, highlighting that as well as injury or death, livestock worrying can result in unseen distress and cause pregnant sheep to lose their lambs.

Alister Orr, 41, a farmer from Cumnock, East Ayrshire, said:

“The sheep, especially at this time of year, are heavily pregnant, carrying anything between one and three lambs. “Even the simplest thing, such as a dog running freely, is enough to disturb the ewes and cause them to run. The impact in a few minutes can be devastating. “The countryside is a great place to be, I work in it every day and I love it to bits. It’s good for yourself, it’s good for your dogs, it’s good for your children. My advice for dog owners is that, for your own safety and for the protection of the livestock, be responsible and stick to the guidelines.”

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code website provides more information, including online video tutorials covering everything from teaching a dog to be relaxed around livestock through to dog walker etiquette and legal responsibilities.

Dog behaviourist and trainer Natalie Light said:

“These videos are packed full of great tips that will give dog owners the information and skills to have fun and safe walks in Scotland’s outdoors as well as understand their rights and responsibilities under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. “I hope they encourage everyone to get involved and have the confidence to enjoy getting out and about with their pets this spring.”

Farmers and other land managers are also encouraged to support responsible access with dogs by following the guidance in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, for example by avoiding putting sheep close to lambing in fields with well-used routes, or indicating reasonable alternatives. If necessary, local access officers can also provide advice.

More information can be found on the Scottish Outdoor Access Code website

Tiree Community Council

Feelings that the CalMac service to Tiree is getting more unreliable, proposals to create a confederation of community councils of the Inner Hebrides, and falling numbers on our own community council were up for discussion at this month’s meeting of Tiree Community Council.

Catriona and Stewart MacLennan spoke about the problems they have been having with our ferry service. What appear to be office errors have resulted in a delay in supplying petrol to the garage and an almost impossible situation after this summer’s Tiree Music Festival when the Monday ferry has been filled with passenger traffic, resulting in expensive equipment being stranded on the island.

Their compelling testimony was backed up by other regular users. Businesses were losing thousands of pounds, making life in the island’s haulage industry critical.

There was a strong feeling that the culture of company had become more risk averse, with captains cancelling sailings too far ahead. The company also was getting worse rather than better at speaking to their customers.

The loss of the more robust and larger Clansman into dry dock, added to her covering for other vessels’ absence is making the situation more difficult. Supply of lead-free petrol to the island has become a serious issue.

It made depressing hearing, and reinforced the point that we rely utterly on our haulage companies to keep all aspects of life on Tiree going. We are going to prepare a submission to the CalMac Community Board.

We also decided to pursue an idea to form some sort of confederation with the other islands of the Inner Hebrides. The twenty-three inhabited Argyll islands, with a combined population of 7,200 – 14,500 if you add Bute – punch well below their weight on Argyll and Bute Council. By coming together, we might hope to influence the council and the Scottish Government more.

As a tiny example, did you know that there is £45,000 travel fund for young athletes – from the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland? This is despite the fact that our ferry crossing is much longer than that between Stornoway and Ullapool or Orkney and the Scottish mainland.

We also discussed the limited access to the EE mast at Garraphail. Only those with pricey, modern phones and people with regular EE subscription packages can use it. We will look into this, as the mast is not benefiting the community in the way we had hoped.

We also held our AGM that evening. Sadly, Willie Angus MacLean has decided that he needs to step down from Tiree Community Council because of his growing business commitments. Willie has been an outstanding councillor and is a local politician to watch in the future! That leaves us with just two elected members – Robert and myself – and the two coopted members Ian and Alison.

We need to recruit some more members, and we are able to appoint other non-voting members for their ‘Skills and Knowledge’. If anyone wants to volunteer for this, we would be extremely grateful. Let me know.

As a reminder of how important the community council has become, this is a brief list of some of the areas we have covered in the last year:

• We successfully lobbied HIE to assist island community groups to bid for the land at Pier View

• We completed the competition for the Tiree community flag and organised the unveiling

• We successfully lobbied HIAL to improve facilities for disabled passengers at Tiree airport and new loading equipment was purchased

• We successfully lobbied the Council to prevent closure of the Customer Services Point in Crossapol

• We organised the centenary War Memorial service on Remembrance Day

• We successfully lobbied against a proposal to harvest kelp around the island from Marine Biopolymers Ltd

• We successfully lobbied Argyll and Bute Council to re-tender for the Argyll Air Service

Not a bad year’s work! Please help us to keep it up.

Dr John Holliday (chair), Robert Trythall, Ian Gillies and Wille Angus MacLean were in attendance. Alison Clark, Roddy McCuish and Jim Lynch sent their apologies.

Dr John Holliday

Anyone wanting more information about the state of play with the Argyll Air Service tender should see our website:

http:// www.tireecommunitycouncil.co. uk/tiree-oban-air-service-retender/

Tiree has been selected to be part of a pilot project aiming to tackle marine plastic pollution on UK islands by implementing innovative, community-based solutions.

The initiative is part of the ‘Cold Water Islands Project’, led by the national marine conservation and campaigning charity Surfers Against Sewage, which has joined forces with Parley for the Oceans to develop a strategy that ten volunteer-led island communities will work to implement throughout 2019.

The plastic pollution crisis can have a disproportionate negative impact on island ecosystems, wildlife and communities from the tropics to the tundra. This new project, targeting small cold water islands around the UK, will explore plastic pollution pathways and promote community-based solutions under the Parley AIR Strategy (Avoid, Intercept, Redesign) to demonstrate how these microcosms can provide a template for global action towards a plastic-free future.

Tiree joins a selection of islands communities across a broad geographic spread, from the Northern Isles to the Channel Islands, each of which faces unique challenges in respect to addressing plastic pollution pathways. The list of selected islands includes:

  • Orkney, Northern Isles, Scotland
  • Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland
  • Skye, Inner Hebrides, Scotland
  • Tiree, Inner Hebrides, Scotland
  • Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland
  • Bardsey Island (Ynys Enlli), Wales
  • Hayling Island, England
  • Alderney, Channel Islands
  • Herm, Channel Islands

The selection was based on detailed applications by prospective ‘island community leaders’ – individuals who are instigators of change and ocean activists; passionate individuals who can stimulate positive change and grow a movement within their community.

Catriona Spink, the selected community leader coordinating the project on Tiree said:

“When I first came to Tiree 35 years ago there was no plastic. This plastic tide is a blight to such a beautiful wild rural environment and needs to be urgently addressed, which is why I’ve taken on this project with my community.”

The project aims to demonstrate how these small island microcosms can provide a template for action for transitioning to a plastic-free future on a global-scale. Ben Hewitt, Director of Campaigns and Projects at Surfers Against Sewage says:

“Our island communities are on the front line battling the scourge of plastic pollution and we want to support the groups and individuals working tirelessly to tackle avoidable single-use plastic.”

Cyrill Gutsch, Founder of Parley for the Oceans says:

“Islanders know that plastic has to go. It doesn’t belong on beaches and it has no place in a circular economy. Together with SAS, we’ll continue to grow our Parley AIR Strategy and SAS’s Plastic Free Communities to these new islands by empowering and connecting communities and their leaders, whose local actions can shape both a nationwide and global model for change”

The strategy involves a community-based approach, with local businesses, stakeholders and individuals all encouraged to participate in the project’s positive action through steering groups, events and beach cleans.

The programme incorporates the learnings of both SAS’s community initiatives and Parley’s AIR strategy. Each community leader will be supported with a toolkit resource, that will be crafted to guide the island’s strategy and detail the tactics for achieving change.

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