Category Archives: Latest Stories

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 or visit 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:// 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.

Vaul Golf Club WInter League

On Sunday 3rd March seven hardy men set off to play the final day of the Winter League at Vaul Golf Club.

The wind was very strong but the rain stayed away until the final group were on the last green!

The overall winner was Neil Connor who received the Bill Campbell decanter for the second year in a row. The winner on the final day was Ian MacLeod. Stuart Smith had the Longest Drive at the 3rd hole and Neil Connor was Nearest the Pin at the 5th. Charlie MacDonald won the chipping competition and £50.

The gents provided a delicious buffet which the ladies set out for their return and a very pleasant time was had at the ‘19th’!

Thanks to all players

Tiree – Coll – Oban Flights To Be Grounded

The island’s air service to Oban is to stop on 16 May.

Argyll and Bute Council, having cut the subsidy it proposes to pay to an operator, has failed to find an airline willing to take the route on at the lower price. Flights to Coll, Colonsay and Islay will also stop. Teachers trying to maintain the link between Tiree and Oban High Schools, patients accessing the Oban hospital, animals on Coll being treated by Coll and Tiree Vets, Tiree companies running their business on other islands and the mainland, and politicians trying to keep in touch with their constituents on Tiree are likely to feel the pinch.

The Argyll Air Service was set up in 2008. Argyll and Bute spent over £8 million on Connel airport to prepare for the new service, as well as building new runways on Coll and Colonsay. They have invested hugely in this enterprise. In addition, the Council has offered a subsidy to any airline willing to run the service, a subsidy that used to be £720,000 a year, which works out at £220 per passenger carried. Other subsidised routes, like those to the Western Isles, work out at around £125 per passenger. One problem is that our service is under-used, with a seat take-up of only 40%. Most passengers are patients going to hospital and health and council workers making day trips.

Argyll and Bute Council are feeling the pinch. They are the second largest local authority in Scotland by area after Highland, and have a hugely spread-out population to serve, including 23 inhabited islands. This must be the main reason that capital spending by Argyll and Bute Council on their residents is the lowest in Scotland. You don’t need me to tell you that! As part of their cuts this year, they have reduced the air service subsidy to just over £512,000 a year – still a lot of money, but not enough to attract an operator within the budget allowed. Fuel prices have also gone up recently, and there is no guarantee that they won’t rise again soon. After a heap of lobbying from Tiree, Coll and Colonsay Community Councils and our MSP Mike Russell, the Council’s Policy and Resources Committee did agree to try again – but with no increase in subsidy.

We have made the point that this second tender must change – otherwise the risk is that we simply get the same result. But EU competition rules means this is a slow business, and even if there is a better response the second time we are looking at the late summer at the earliest before flights could re-start. And there is a significant risk that the Argyll Air Service will be wound up completely – leaving Tiree worse off than islands in the Western Isles, Orkney or Shetland. Tiree Community Council has written three times to the Council and our MSP. We have now lobbied John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, as the new link between Oban and Tiree High Schools must be threatened if the planes are grounded. This is the final paragraph of our most recent letter:

‘Tiree Community Council and the Tiree Transport Forum place the utmost importance on the continuation of the Argyll Air Service. The island is well served with an air link to Glasgow, but Argyll and Bute councillors must not forget that Tiree is part of Argyll and Bute Council, and that our regional centres are Oban and Lochgilphead. Other island groups in Scotland have similar or better air services. We do appreciate the problems in the service as it stands (see our previous correspondence) and we accept that there may be timetable and fare changes in a new successful tender. What we cannot accept is the loss of this service.’

The full text of TCC’s submission is on the website.

Tiree May Lose It

Cast your memory back to the summer, and the August Consultation regarding Argyll Air Services from Oban to Coll, Tiree ,and Colonsay which are subsidised by Argyll and Bute Council (A&BC)

A&BC decided in Feb 2018 to reduce its subsidy to £512,207pa for the new tender period ie 2019-2022. This was a reduction from £720,756 pa from the previous tender period.

Argyll Air Services were put out to tender in Sept 2018. When the tender closed two months later (Nov), only one submission was received. It was rejected, being deemed non-compliant. This sole bid was from the current service provider, HebAIR.

TCC /TTF has not been informed as to the reason(s) HebAIR bid was rejected ,but can only assume the reduced subsidy was a significant factor. In the interim period A&BC has considered options to move forward. After intense lobbying, jointly from Coll,Colonsay and Tiree Community Councils, the Policy and Resources Committee(PAR), at its most recent meeting decided to retender the tender, but under EU tender rules, any resulting positive tender award can only re-commence services from 28 June 2019.

It is unclear, at this stage, what the re-tender will specify , but Tiree has to anticipate that air services to Oban may cease as of 15 May 2019. TCC/TTF has submitted the letter below to all parties ,including Mike Russell MSP ,and hopes for a positive outcome from this re- tender to ensure a prompt re-commencement of Oban air services.

To all parties: Argyll Air Services. We were obviously relieved to hear last week that the Policy and Resources Committee (PAR)decided to re-tender for the Argyll Air Service. We do appreciate the considerable sums that Argyll and Bute Council have spent over the last decade, both on the PSO itself and the running of three airports. We on Tiree place an extremely high value on this service for the reasons set out in our joint letter to the PAR Committee. Clearly, it would be a major step backwards if an island group such as the Inner Hebrides did not have an air service connecting it to its regional hub. We are committed to restoring the service as soon as possible after it lapses on 15 May 2019. Our concern now, however, is that simply sending out exactly the same tender documents to the same airlines will result in the same answer: no compliant submissions to the tender.

Our feeling now is that Argyll and Bute Council should introduce additional flexibility into the second tender document to allow any potential operator to make a value for money bid, based upon their own operating and cost centre criteria. This would maximise the chances of retaining a renewed Argyll Air Service within the financial constraints agreed by the Council for the next three years. As part of this flexibility, one proposal that you might want to consider is switching the Oban-Tiree service to a commercial basis route. On this basis, Oban-Tiree would come out of the PSO and operate in much the same way that Hebridean Air Services currently operates the Oban-Islay route. Our understanding is that passenger figures and profiles are broadly similar on the Tiree and Islay routes.

We have to say that we have been disappointed over the last two weeks by the lack of information and consultation that our community’s representatives have received from elected Council members and officials. We do understand the principles of commercial confidentiality, but we do not think we should be receiving almost all of our news from the media. We would certainly be interested to see a copy of the new tender document. Please come back to us if you would like to discuss this further

Thank you for your work on this project,

Yours sincerely, John MacCaskill, Chair, Tiree Transport Forum Dr John Holliday, Convenor

Tiree Association Burns Supper 2019

Ralston Community Hall on 26th January 2019 was a veritable hive of sheer talent! From the chefs in the kitchen to the entertainers in the hall the evening was an incredible and resounding success.

Margaret kicked off the evening by welcoming all present and reciting – along with the assembled company – the Selkirk Grace. Thereafter John piped in the Haggis and Kenneth delivered the Address…

Delicious chicken soup, courtesy of Alasdair, followed by haggis, neeps and tatties, then Susan’s tremendous trifle, before coffee \tea and fantastic homemade shortbread provided by Jessie and Elspeth, ensured that all were replete before the first class entertainment commenced.

Cathy Lees, as always, entranced the audience with her beautiful voice. Despite the fact that Graeme could not attend, due to ill health, she still regaled us with ‘John Anderson My Jo’ – get well soon Graeme!

John Omand ensured that all feet were tapping as he, on accordion, and Seamus, on keyboard, treated us to a selection of old favourites. Fantastic! Isobel Rutter sang ‘My Love is like a Red, Red Rose’ like an angel, then surprised those present with her tale of Jen and her biker partner – (it did not end well) but had an appreciative audience in stitches.

‘Charlie is my Darling’ was subsequently , sublimely, delivered with eager audience participation. Robert Robertson not only delivered the Burns Address but delighted the audience with a song later in the evening. After a light hearted start to his address Robert gave us food for thought as he reminded us of the tremendous messages sent out in Burns’ poems and songs. Burns was born in 1759 and died 37 years later. In this (sometimes strange) 21st century world of ours these messages still resound and (should) make us realise what is important in life. Burns was a lexical genius and left a wonderful legacy of which we should always be inordinately proud.

Kenneth MacLeod supplied the proof of Burns’ sheer genius with his incomparable rendition of ‘Tam O’Shanter’. As he wandered and then galloped his way round the hall he treated all present to the highlight of the evening (which was an evening of highlights) by allowing us to hear the words of the Bard delivered and performed with such precision and attention to detail that all were able to savour the tale O’ Tam O’Shanter.

The Burns Supper would not be complete without the Table Singing – four tables … all to play for. In the end it all came down to the President’s choice – table four!! Still, no arguments there! Who was singing? Kenna Kennedy – check! Mairi MacArthur – check! Isobel Rutter – check! Add to this Seamus’s enthusiastic leadership and there was no question of the outcome.

The committee would like to thank all those who helped in preparation for the evening, those who performed on the evening, and those who provided a vast array of raffle prizes and – very importantly – those who came out to support the Burns Supper and make it a very enjoyable and memorable occasion.

A special thanks to those who travelled from Tiree to make the evening extra special and a very Happy Birthday to Elspeth who , very generously, shared her cake with 70 other people!

Hope to see you next year!

Special 10th Year Line-up At One-off Show

Tiree Music Festival showcased a special night on Friday (18th January) at Glasgow’s Old Fruitmarket to kick off a year of celebrations to mark its 10th edition. Surprising fans throughout the night with a host of festival favourites from over the years, the sold-out Celtic Connections show TIREE: A Toast to 10 years of Tiree Music Festival finished in style with a spectacular countdown to TMF10’s line-up being announced and tickets going on sale at midnight.

The full concert was also livestreamed via the festival’s Facebook page to an international online audience of 13,000 and a reach of nearly 30,000 (and counting!)

Artists confirmed for TMF 10, taking place on the island of TIree between Friday 12th – Sunday 14th July, include TMF stalwarts Skerryvore, who have performed at every festival since it began. Other acts include Tide Lines, Sandi Thom, Jill Jackson, Mànran, Niteworks, Trail West, Gunna Sound, Face the West, Funbox and Heron Valley.

A unique collaboration will also take place at the festival. Entitled Waiting on a Sunny Day: TMF’s Tribute to ‘The Boss’ – this will be a collective performance from some of artists on the Scottish folk scene who have been inspired by the one and only Bruce Springsteen. The title is also a nod to the slightly less than favourable weather the festival has had over the past few years, with TMF using the hashtag #waitingonasunnyday over the past couple of years.

Also joining the bill are The Tumbling Souls, Gentlemen of Few, Katee Kross & the Amberjax, Willie Campbell, Dun Mor, Anna Rachel Macdonald, The Defenders, Cornaig Ceilidh Band, Buddha & the Band.

The TMF10 All Star Ceilidh Band will make a welcome return to the stage, encompassing a plethora of past ceilidh performers who have played the festival. As if that’s not enough, more acts are also still to be arranged and will be announced in the coming months. Daniel Gillespie, Skerryvore founding member and Artistic Director for Tiree Music Festival, said: “Our special ‘TIREE: A Toast to 10 Years of Tiree Music Festival’ was an incredible night and the perfect way to start our TMF10 year of celebrations! I’d like to say such a huge thank you to all of the festival’s friends – artists and audiences – for coming along and making it such an unforgettable night! It was brilliant to be able to stream the whole thing live too for any of our loyal TMF fans who couldn’t make it on the night, “It’s an amazing feeling to be looking forward to celebrating our 10th Tiree Music Festival and we promise everyone who is heading for Tiree this July that this festival will be our best yet.”

The inaugural Tiree Music Festival took place in July 2010 and was attended by a capacity crowd of 600. The annual event has since flourished with an increased 2000-strong capacity – an attendance that is 3 times the population of the island. The festival offers a diverse programme with a mixture of genres including folk, pop and indie. Artists across the years have included The Fratellis, Dougie MacLean, Sharon Shannon, The Levellers, Capercaillie, Sandi Thom and Eddi Reader.

Since it’s humble beginnings, TMF has prided itself on being a family friendly festival with a creative programme for young people and their families, including workshops, sport, music and culture.

The Island of Tiree is often dubbed “The Hawaii of the North” and with picture-perfect white sands and world-famous surf, a trip to Tiree Music Festival is a real Island adventure. Tiree has been described as one of the most stunning festival locations in the world and so it is little wonder each year visitors from around the world flock to this tiny island for three days of outstanding music, culture and friendship.

1 2 3 4 39