Category Archives: Latest Stories

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.

Special Skerryvore Track Release

International trad-fusion band Skerryvore are to release a new music video and a special edition of their EVO album tracks Soraidh Slàn and The Rise on Burn’s Day, January 25, with all proceeds going to Oban High School Pipe Band (OHSPB).

The project was inspired by a mind-blowing on-stage collaboration between the two bands at Skerryvore’s signature music festival Oban Live back in June 2018. The slow, respectful air Soraidh Slàn, a farewell to loved ones lost in 2017, plays before The Rise, an upbeat note delivered by all eight Skerryvore musicians playing at full pelt. Both were written by the band’s co-founder Martin Gillespie (Highland bagpipes) and produced by Alan Scobie (keys).

The new adapted tracks bring a pipe band flare with the addition of snare drum sounds and instrumental drum solo, as performed with OHSPB at Oban Live. The six-minute music video, an absolute must-see, was directed and filmed by multi-talented TV actor and film-maker Dòmhnall Eòghainn MacKinnon and stars Skerryvore and members of OHSPB.

In the video’s atmospheric opening, Soraidh Slàn plays as viewers hear spoken words from William Blake’s Introduction to the Songs of Innocence “Piping down the valleys wild” while watching stunning drone footage of the Isle of Tiree and Oban. It then leads into the exciting fast paced track The Rise with footage of OHSPB at Oban’s iconic McCaig’s Tower and that very moment that inspired the project, on stage with Skerryvore at Oban Live 2018.

Around 4,500 people at Oban Live 2018, and 93,000 viewers on Facebook, witnessed the unique moment when the 25 strong OHSPB joined headline act Skerryvore on stage. Goosebumps were sent across the concert arena when around 17 pipers performed in unison Soraidh Slàn. The haunting atmosphere was soon switched up to full adrenaline pumping speed when 15 drummers from the school band joined the pipers and all eight Skerryvore musicians for an extraordinary performance of The Rise, including a spectacular drum solo accessorised by LED drumsticks and stagelighting production.

Since it was founded in 2005, Oban High School Pipe Band, led by Pipe Major Angus MacColl, has had unprecedented success claiming the titles of Scottish, European and even World Champions in Novice Juvenile, being crowned Champions of Champions in 2010. OHSPB Pipe Major Angus MacColl said: “We are really grateful to Skerryvore to have this track and video released with proceeds going to OHSPB. Joining them on stage for such an exciting spectacle at last year’s Oban Live, as well as featuring in this stunning music video, has been a real highlight for OHSPB. Working with Skerryvore on this project has brought fantastic and well deserved opportunities for the young people to showcase their hard-earned talents to thousands of people and provided them with an experience that they will never forget.”

Martin Gillespie said: “Huge credit and thanks goes to Angus and all the young people in OHSPB. Their professionalism, talent and enthusiasm is very impressive and inspirational. They are a joy to work with. We were delighted to collaborate at Oban Live and give them such a valuable opportunity and experience which was equally memorable for us in the band too. We are delighted to donate the proceeds of this release to OHSPB, a great cause that provides many opportunities for young people in traditional music.”

Download and listen to “Soraidh Slàn & The Rise” on all formats, out Friday January 25, 2019. Full length music video, featuring OHSPB, will be available to watch on Skerryvore’s You Tube and Facebook page. All proceeds will go to OHSPB.

Dolphin Rescue

white beaked dolphin

On Tuesday 15th January, the Tiree BDMLR medic group were tasked to the live stranding of a believed porpoise.

When we arrived on scene it was actually found to be a white beaked dolphin. Although an unusual event, this has occurred in the past when three of the same species stranded on Tiree.

Once on scene the training previously delivered by the British Divers Marine Life Rescue truly kicked in, and with assistance from fellow medics and members of the public, we successfully managed to re-float the dolphin using learned techniques, which enable us to help the animals effectively with minimum stress. As we assisted the dolphin it was almost as if it knew we were trying to help!

The BDMLR is an organisation dedicated to the rescue and wellbeing of all marine animals in distress around the UK. If you see a marine animal that you believe to be in distress around our coast you can call on the BDLMR on 01825 765546 after which a local medic will be called to assist.

Please note, in the case of some seals and seal pups it is natural for this species to leave their young for periods of time and in some cases human intervention can do more harm than good, however if you are unsure, call the above number and someone will be happy to advise. Many thanks Donald Brown for reporting the dolphin, and to everyone who arrived on scene.

Special thanks to fellow medics Margaret Worsley and Mike Archer, and to Jack Lockhart for literally jumping in at the deep end to help!

Polar Bears Dip

The air was crisp and the sun shining down as the Polar Bears made their way into the Atlantic Ocean on the 1st of January for their New Year’s Dip.

It was the biggest gathering yet with around 10 people turning up for a refreshing swim in the cold sea. The group has been meeting frequently for over a year and welcomes swimmers and non swimmers of any ability and any age

! Cold water swimming has been proven not only to have physical benefits but also does wonders for our mental wellbeing!

Thanks to everyone who came along and made such an amazing start to the New Year! To find out more about our sessions you can find us on Facebook under Tiree Polar Bears.

A Seal Called Taz

I have quite an active job, but I’ve never been a big fan of exercise. For a ranger, jogging on Tiree’s beaches is a sure-fire way to uncover extra work: dead things that need to be recorded and sampled, or alive things that – for whatever reason – need to be sorted out.

I’d already passed a mummified dolphin and a fusty seal. When I spotted the pup, motionless and jumbled in with a cast of kelp, I chalked it up as just another casualty. However, it looked fresh. This warranted closer inspection, as it would likely need to be sampled In fact, the little seal was so fresh it was still alive – but only just.

It didn’t open its eyes to my voice, hand clapping, or even to a judicious prod with a kelp stipe. Though it was carrying a good amount of weight, it was clearly sick. Once it stirred, it started to shiver uncontrollably.

A group of community volunteers were recently trained to assist marine mammals in distress. After contacting the BDMLR and explaining that vets Anne and Mark were on standby, we were cleared to assess the animal. As a new volunteer team, we don’t yet have a full strandings kit. Following an examination by Anne, the seal was rolled onto a discarded tonne bag and carried back to our vehicles. This sounds straightforward – but the pup weighed almost 30-kilos. Even its weak protestations were enough to make the job awkward. It was deposited in the back of my jeep. At the surgery, Anne and Mark expertly administered antibiotics and hydrating fluids. Noting the animal’s laboured breathing and yukky nasal discharge, nobody was getting their hopes up.

The next morning, thanks to the fluids and initial medication, the seal was much better. Anne managed to source some Tiree Mackerel, which he munched with enthusiasm and then spat out all over the large animal area. Giving further treatment became challenging: 30-kilos of ‘no thanks’ – with big teeth at one end – will give even experienced handlers cause for thought. Anne consulted with the BDMLR and the decision was made to try for immediate release; rather than transporting the animal to the Fife rehabilitation centre, and causing considerable stress to all parties.

Volunteers Stuart and Linda came to help load the animal into a borrowed livestock trailer. When we arrived at the surgery, it was reclining in the bottom of the large pet unit like a giant slug; peppered with bits of half-chewed fish, and stinking to high heaven. It had no desire to leave this paradise. Indeed, it was so keen to remain where it was, that encouraging him out of the pet unit proved difficult.

All went smoothly until we reached the trailer ramp. Sensing that the good times were coming to an end, the seal wriggled off the tarpaulin and set out purposefully across Anne and Mark’s lawn. It made its feelings very clear on recapture, with a series of ill-tempered gargling noises. We had high hopes for a fairy-tale ending once we reached Balephetriash Bay. The water was calmer there than over at Gott, and as this animal was fully weaned Balephetrish offered a better option for the release.

When the ramp dropped we all stood back, record button at the ready, expecting our seal to sprint out and be joyously reunited with the sea. A couple of hostile snorts came from the trailer, but nothing else. Eventually, we decided to walk him out – at which point he bounced down the ramp in a very undignified fashion and landed like an angry sack of potatoes on the sand. From this vantage point, he glared at us all, and declined to move for the next two hours. We withdrew to the dunes and watched as the tide crept in.

Other seals bobbed in the surf, craning their necks and holding themselves upright to get a better look. While seals naturally spend time out of the water, they get all of their moisture from their food. As our seal had experienced a difficult few days, it was important for it to feed and avoid further dehydration. Even when the tide washed over the seal, it stayed put. Our proverbials were comprehensively frozen and it was pitch black. I couldn’t see the sea anymore; never mind the seal. Stuart and Linda kindly checked on him in the morning: he was very close to the same spot. Anne and Mark took another look, and decided that despite the previous day’s progress, something still wasn’t right.

Ann from The Green kindly lent us her large dog crate, and arrangements were made to have the seal collected at the Oban ferry terminal. Coaxing it into the pet crate was tricky. We then used straps to lift him up the dune track and into the back of the ranger van. When we reached the Scarinish Pier ferry queue, negotiations opened to find a suitable seal chauffeur. Alan Worsley and his canine companion Butch crumbled first. Alan chatted to the seal as it was removed from the back of the ranger van and safely installed in his transit. The seal responded with a series of yowls and much snapping of its teeth. Butch looked apprehensive.

Upon arrival in Oban, the seal was collected by a SSPCA officer and our BDMLR area coordinator. I am told that he was quite a handful when it came to administering further treatment. Staff at the SSPCA rehabilitation centre in Fife have called him ‘Taz’, after the famously angry cartoon character; at the last check, they still hadn’t quite got to the bottom of what was troubling him.

My sincere thanks to everyone who assisted us with Operation Seal: – Volunteers Linda, Stewart and Louise for time given; – Claire and Duncan for the Mackerel; – George for the use of his livestock trailer; – Ann for the use of her pet crate; – Alan and Butch for being Seal Chauffers; – Derek Wilson Carriers for very kindly transporting the borrowed pet crate back, free of charge. A special mention goes to Anne and Mark of Coll and Tiree Vets – who not only bore the main burden of caring for this animal, but have also purchased and donated two plasterer’s baths to construct a custom-made seal transporting device! This will be a huge help to Tiree’s Marine Mammal Medic team, and we will be fundraising for other items of kit in the near future.

Hopefully, Taz the seal will live to gurgle another day.

Highly Commended At The Nature of Scotland Awards

The awards presentation dinner was hosted by TV wildlife presenters Kate Humble and Euan McIlwraith at the Sheraton Grand in Edinburgh on the 22nd of November.

There were nine different categories: Young Nature Champion, Food & Farming, Business, Political Advocate, Innovation, Nature Tourism, Sustainable Development, Youth & Education, and our category – Community Initiative.

Within each category, there were between four and eight shortlisted projects, seven in ours.

Tiree’s bees got a special mention from Euan McIlwraith who “loved the title of this project”. Perhaps he thought that it was a great project about yellow bumblebees!

I am delighted with the result and proud of the recognition that our work has received, possibly even be a little relieved that we didn’t win the top prize – winners of each category were invited onto the stage in front of bright lights, cameras and around 400 people! Nervewracking.

As this award is for all participants and supporters of the project, we’ve made the original framed certificate available to view in the Ranger Service Information room at the Business Centre. Congratulations everyone!

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