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Alan Reid MP’s Flying Visit to Tiree

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Mr. Alan Reid MP flew over for the day to Tiree on Wednesday 23rd September to hold a Surgery at the Council Offices.

Despite posters and advertising in the An Tirisdeach, it was a quiet morning and it would have been easy to think Tiree had no issues to raise with their Westminster MP. Also, due to Tiree’s extreme weather at the beginning of the week, the Modern Studies schedule was scuppered and Mr. Reid’s visit to Tiree High School was cancelled.

“The issue on everyone’s lips”

This gave Mr. Reid plenty time to be interviewed by An Tirisdeach before heading off for a late lunch at the Cobbled Cow, and then on to Ruaig to look at the turbine site as well as the two new builds at Caoles which have generated so much verbal indignation.

Our interview began with Mr. Reid stating that the “issue on everyone’s lips” was the camper vans that have increased due to the new RET system introduced this year. Although tourism is important to the economy of island life, it is argued that the camper vans add nothing to the economy and are frequently seen as detrimental to a fragile environment.
Andrew Montgomery, factor of Argyll Estates has had his own negative experiences with some of the drivers of camper vans who are insensitive to island life, and he is not alone as Mr. Reid stated: “the comments I have had from people have been mostly negative.” However, as the summer season is now over this is an issue that will come to the fore again next summer.

“Ill thought out regulations”

Mr. Reid’s opposition to the Draft Crofting Reform Bill has been well documented, he simply stated “ The proposed regulations are ill thought out and it will be extra red tape to no good purpose. The Scottish Government has to agree a sensible way forward with crofters that will give crofting a sustainable future. That is not apparent in the current Draft Bill.”

Inevitably the state of Cal-Mac ferries was discussed and Mr. Reid added to previous comments: “I receive regular and justified complaints that the winter sailings to Tiree & Coll are too few. I cannot stress enough the importance of building a fleet that would be reliable. The money has to be found.”

“It’s a disgrace that the firestation lacks basic facilities”

The plight of our firefighters also came up. “It is a disgrace that the fire station lacks basic facilities. It must be a priority to install them. Firefighters risk their lives to protect the local community, the least one can do is provide them with decent facilities. I will be keeping an eye on how this progresses.” The unregulated shenanigans of the bankers and the thorny subject of MP’s expenses also came up, but lack of space in this issue means these subjects will have to wait until issue 452.

Fire Chief Visit to Tiree Promises Results

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Due to the fundamental necessity of a Firefighting service on Tiree, issue 443 carried a front page story of our quietly heroic volunteers.

During the course of the interview it became apparent that all was far from well in terms of facilities, travel and training. Enquiries as to funding , and keeping the Tiree firefighters’ situation on the agenda of the relevant councillors and firefighting management , eventually led to a long overdue visit to Tiree on 25th August by the Chief Fire Officer Brian Sweeney for Strathclyde Fire & Rescue, the Argyll & Bute Commander Paul Connelly, the Convener and two Vice- Conveners of the Board as well as, amongst others, Councillor Donald MacDonald.

“The Chief Officer has given his commitment to upgrade the current site”

The visit was an excellent opportunity for the fire-fighters to air their concerns about a number of issues as well as clearly expressing their views on the need to improve the current facilities on Tiree.
The Chief Officer took note of the suggestions made as did the Board members who were fully supportive. Paul Connelly told An Tirisdeach “The Chief Officer has given his commitment to upgrade the current site if at all possible to include an extension that can be used to house toilet, shower and training facilities.”.

A commitment to explore and develop these ideas further was given with a view to putting something in place during the course of next financial year.

Tiree’s Margaret Worsley, Deputy Crew Commander was very positive about the visit and is optimistic that the guarantees they were given will bear fruit next year.

Vital Day Service Continues

councillors_mary_roddyCouncillors Mary-Jean Devon (Oban South & The Isles) and Roddy McCuish (Vice-Chair of Oban, Lorne & The Isles Area Committee) show their delight at the letter sent by Ann Austen Service Manager of the Social Work Departmment in response to the Day Service / Lunch Club’s letter to her Department.

Councillors Roddy McCuish and Mary Jean Devon held a surgery at Tiree Business Centre on Monday 7th Sept. Top of their agenda was our much cherished Lunch Club which is known as the Tiree Day Service.
Councillor Devon showed An Tirisdeach the letter which said “Sincere apologies for the manner in which people were notified of the intended closure of the Day Service. We will re-assess the situation over the next four months.” The Lunch Club were given assurances that the Club would be up and running by the 11th of September.

“We will be doing our utmost to keep this vital service”

Councillor Devon confirmed that this crucial service will run as normal until a consultation takes place. Councillor McCuish added ” Coming over here today can only endorse what Ann Austen said. It was handled poorly and having seen the facility for myself along with my colleague we will be doing our utmost to keep this vital service.”
Both councillors were unanimious in their unequivocal support of the Day Service, aware that the Lunch Club and Craft Class helps, amongst others, the elderly and the vulnerable. “We would encourage islanders to contact their councillors with any concerns regarding the island. We knew nothing about the situation until Mrs. MacCallum contacted us and we are thankful that she did.

“Sustaining communities in fragile rural areas is a big priority for us”

We will be more than happy to help continue this crucial service. Sustaining communities in fragile rural areas is a big priority for us, and we are committed in our support of islanders for these essential services.” The councillors pointed out that they can only act on information they receive and are keen that islanders keep them informed of issues that affect our community. Both councillors are aware that the problems islanders face are often unique to island life and do not always have a mainland equivalent.

Destruction of Caoles Dunes

caoles_beachAn Tirisdeach finally went to Caoles to find out what all the brouhaha was all about regarding the dunes at Caoles.
Indeed, it is a shocking sight to behold.
The sand in the picture is not a beach, but where the marram grass used to be. The 9,000 year old dunes were destroyed in the construction of two holiday homes.
A phone call to Andrew Montgomery the factor for Argyll Estates elicited the following response:
“ I am furious about what has happened. I have insisted the dunes have to be reinstated with netting on top of the dunes and marram grass re-planted. I will be keeping a close eye on the situation as it needs to be exactly as before.”
Mr. Montgomery informed An Tirisdeach that work will start immediately.
At time of going to press, all endeavours were being made to rectify the destruction that has taken place.

Minister for Children & Early Years Visits Tiree High School

minister_childrenMr Adam Ingram MSP, Minister for Children and Early Years, visited Tiree High School this week.
Accompanying the minister were Cllr Isobel Strong, Argyll & Bute Council’s spokesperson for Education, Mr Robert Grant, Head of Service for Secondary Education in Argyll & Bute and Miss Alison Coull, Deputy Director, Qualifications, Assessment and Skills.
The group were given a tour of the school where they were able to meet some members of staff but few pupils as the visit coincided with the end of the day for pupils. Three members of the Parent Council also met with Mr Ingram and were able to voice their views on some matters relevant to the school.
S2 pupils worked on an interdisciplinary task last term, the culmination of which was an island tour which proved very popular with tourists last June. Mr Ingram and his group were given as much of the tour as time allowed before plane time and they were highly entertained and impressed by the pupils’ knowledge and presentation skills. Mr Ingram indicated that this had been the first time he had visited a 3 – 18 school and had been impressed at the initiatives that were being taken forward especially in the field of Curriculum for Excellence. He also felt he had been able to grasp some of the particular issues which are unique to a remote island school and its community.
(Adam Imgrams MSP pictured with High School pupils Siobhan Kyle Jordan MacArthur Kyle Munn Huch MacKinnon Sean MacCallum)

Tiree Runners Island Adventures

runnersA trio of Tiree adventurers has been pounding the roads of two of our neighbouring islands.
On the 9th August, Will Wright, Joe Kavanagh and Gordon Scott set off from Tiree to take part in the Mull Half Marathon. Both Will and Gordon recorded ‘PB’s’ over the 13.1 miles as did the effervescent Joe, who was competing in the 10k walk.
Not content with this, however, the lads were off to the Isle of Coll to do it all again at the Coll Half Marathon. Will came home in 6th place in a time of 01:27, no mean feat given that the Coll route is very demanding. Once again, Joe did the 10k walk and once again he came in faster than he has done before. This time, Gordon took part in the 5k race, recording a time of 30:06 and coming in 3rd overall in a field of 16 runners.
Also running on Coll last weekend were Michael Holliday and Stephen Cameron, both of whom completed the Half Marathon is very fast times.
The evening was rounded off at the ceilidh in the village hall. Here we were entertained to yet more of what Tiree has to offer in the form of Trail West who played a blinding set and kept the audience enthralled – and dancing – all night.

Bumper Lamb Sale

sheep_and_lambUnited Auctions held their Annual Lamb Sale on Tiree on 21st August. With over 60 crofters offering stock for sale and 10 buyers from the mainland purchasing on behalf of themselves and others trade was brisk.
An excellent offering of quality lambs were shown in good bloom. 4357 lambs were sold, 87 Store cattle and 19 Cows/Bulls. The general feeling at the sale was that the prices were much improved from last year and now more nearly reflect the true cost of producing quality stock.
The facilities at Tiree Rural Centre once again impressed both buyers and sellers enabling Tiree crofters the chance to present their stock to its best . The entry of lambs sold to £70 per head for Suffolk Crosses from 2/15 Balevullin and to 186 pence per kilo for Texel Crosses from 6 Balevullin. The overall average for the Lambs recorded a rise of £13.72 on the year.
Yearling Store Bullocks sold to £790 (192pence per kilo) for Bumper Lamb Sale Charolais Crosses from Garraphail whilst Aberdeen Angus Cross Heifers from Middleton Farm sold to £775 and Simmental Cross Heifers from 10 Crossapol sold to 199 pence per kilo. Cast Cows from Croish sold to £945.

Tiree’s Event Filled Summer

Tiree Show – 31st July
tiree_showThe Isle of Tiree glistened in the sun as the ferry brought the mainland judges and many visitors to the Annual Show. Crowds gathered to watch the island’s quality livestock being judged. Cattle judge, Donald Campbell, Camaghael, Fort William, was impressed with the standard of stock on the island.
The Cross Bred Champion was Bullseye, a Limousin X bullock calf from Iain MacInnes, Ruaig. This February born calf by Grahams Volvo was out of a pure Charolais cow, Thrunton Voucher. Reserve was the Limousin X autumn born heifer, Hilary, from Tearlach MacDonald, Main Road, sired by his own stock bull and out of a British Blue X cow.
Overall Cattle Champion was the Crossbred winner and Reserve was the Pure Bred leader, Ruaig Diago, a British Blue bull calf by Elogieux and was shown by Iain’s sister, Morven.
Sheep judges were both from North Connel. Archie Cameron brought forward a Suffolk X ewe from Sandra Brown as his Crossbred Champion. Reserve was Iain MacInnes, Ruaig with a Mule gimmer.
Champion of the Pure Bred Sheep Section, judged by Donald MacCorquodale, Achnaba, was Fraser MacLean, Heylipol’s Suffolk shearling, Westcarse Islander by Cairness First Glance. ComingReserve after some fierce brotherly competition, was Alasdair MacLean’s Beltex ewe lamb, Tiree Nellie by Beechtree Maxi Muscles. This ewe lamb was 4th in her class at the Highland Show. The Overall Sheep Champion at the Show was the Suffolk shearling tup from Fraser MacLean who was then delighted when his tup went on to win the Champion of Champions award.
The Pony Champion was won, once again, by Janis MacArthur, Balephuil with her Highland Gelding Struan. Standing Reserve was Janet Bowler with Achnalarig Whiskey.
The afternoon programme saw crowds gather to hear Tiree Pipe Band and the popular Pet Show and Dog Agility competition. Judge Gail Cameron, North Connel, chose a young Golden Retriever shown by Alastair Kennedy from Stirling as Champion.
A new feature was Tiree has Talent competition. A huge success! The crowds were entertained to singing, dancing and piping tunes before the three judges chose young Ashley Watson and Niamh Wilson as the winners. With the Fun Fair, Bucking Bronco, Craft stalls and a fantastic amount of entries in the Home Industries marquee, there was certainly plenty for everyone to see and do at Tiree Show.
Tiree Regatta – 8th August
tiree_regattaThe Tiree Regatta was originally scheduled for 1st August but the weather was having none of it. With very strong winds and driving rain the committee took the decision to postpone the event. The 7 day weather forecast promised the return of Tiree’s glorious BBQ summer, so it was agreed to try again the following week.
Saturday 8th came not with the promised weather, but with more wind and rain. However with the conditions improving during the morning the 2009 Tiree Regatta was on.
At 2pm with the sailing boats leaving the sanctuary of Scarinish harbour for the start line, the sky darkened and the rain came down. Undaunted the fleet and safety boats gathered at the start gate and the race was underway.
This year the Regatta Club had adopted the Old Gaffers Association Handicap System. This meant all of the sailing boats competing against one another, in the same race. Classic Tiree Dipping Lugs were competing with modern boats, including a catamaran!
The sea conditions were unkind to all. The brisk southerly wind had kicked up a big chop. In one of the gusts, the Tiree Lug Boat Catadh Mara crested a wave, momentarily ‘took- off’ to land in the trough, taking water in over the gunwhale. The lug boats battled it out, exchanging typical Tiree pleasantries, as they keenly contested the marks. Similarly the Drascombes were in close contest. With a display of excellent seamanship the Tiree Dipping Lug boat, Catadh Mara, with Angus MacLean at the helm and Duncan MacLean as crew won the day. Not only were they the quickest in their class but their handicapped time was enough to secure them overall victory.
The shore events started with the pillow fight which proved to be a slug-fest in the rain. However, the rain passed through, the weather showed some improvement, and the shore events continued with a record entry Raft Race. The Airport Crew brought a hi-tech raft which was in stark contrast to the more traditional rafts which included a floating bedstead complete with fluffy head board. Inevitably there was some equipment failure, assisted by some very aggressive sabotage. The winning crew at one stage, abandoned their raft to attack, and de-power the Airport crew by dragging their power-rower, Andy Philips, into the water. Mission accomplished, they re-manned their own raft, to finish just ahead of the Airport Crew, who had fired up a 9 hp outboard, which they had somehow smuggled onto to their raft!! As the raft race finished, the racing fleet, lead in by the victorious Catadh Mara returned to harbour, to the start of the swimming race.
In a running start, 26 bodies of all ages hurtled into the water, and in a flurry of spray swam the 50 m to the turn. This proved somewhat illusory, as the mark was a crewed kayak which constantly moved station. Some very tired swimmers returned, collapsing exhausted on the finish line… 100 m had stretched to 150m!!
The regatta concluded with the traditional fishing Boat Race. Willy Grafton’s Silver Spray, fully dressed, looked stunning. The prizes were presented by Wendy Jupe outside a, by now, heaving pub.
The wind had died off, the sun had come out. Sailors, spectators, and Scarinish harbour, basked in an aura of calm contentment.
Tiree Regatta Club would like to thank everyone who contributed time, effort, cakes and bottles and all participants together making the day such as success. The Regatta could not happen without the support of its sponsors:- Tiree Services, Agrimarine, Andy Cameron, Ross MacLennan, Macleod Builders, Argyll Estates , Tiree Kayaks, David Kerr, MacKinnon Builders, Bernie Smith, Skipinnish Sea Tours, PaperWorks, Nan Maclean, and the CO-OP. Look forward to seeing you all at Tiree Regatta 2010.

Lunch Club Closes, Then Opens Again!!

sandwichLunch club were dismayed to be informed that funding by Argyll/Bute Social Work Department was being withdrawn. The users and staff were given only one week’s notice and the Community Workshop was also informed that funding was being withdrawn. This came as a surprise to members as Social Work have no financial input!
The Lunch Club provides a vital service for the health and well being of the older population of Tiree not only offering social contact but support and access to other services. In the autumn people are offered not only a meal but a flu vaccination as well!! The manner in which the closure of this vital service has been conducted by Social Work has angered and dismayed the island population. One week’s notice has left very little opportunity to try to organise an alternative. For such a service to be discontinued thereby detrimentally affecting peoples lives it would have been courteous for a member of Social Work management to sit down with members of lunch club and explain the rationale behind this decision.
A meeting was held which was very well attended and it was decided that such a vital service should be continued and a plan of action was formulated. A letter will be sent to all our island representatives including the Head of Social Work protesting at their handling of this matter. Lunch Club will continue on a Monday and Friday offering tea, coffee soup and sandwiches and will be manned by volunteers. At the meeting we were able to identify people who would assist with transport and food but more volunteers are needed. So if you can help with transport , a pot of soup or just a little time we would love to hear from you. Alternatively you could drop into the Lunch Club and meet the present volunteers. Significantly everyone is now welcome so come along and join us. There will a small charge for refreshments but the important thing is that we keep going !!! Any enquiries regarding transport requirements or volunteering please contact the Lunch Club at the Resource Centre.

Danny Lapsley QPM

danny_laspleyAs you will all recall it was announced in the New Years Honours List that Danny Lapsley was to be awarded the Queen’s Police Medal. The award investiture took place at the Palace of Holyrood House in Edinburgh on Tuesday 30 June 2009, and this is Danny’s account of the proud day.
I was accompanied at the ceremony by Liz, my mum and my sister. We had a really wonderful time and after the medal was attached the queen spoke to me for a few minutes. She knew about Tiree and the fact that I worked here on my own for 15 years. She also asked me if all the islanders behaved themselves!! My answer, which will remain private, caused her to laugh. I originally thought she had prompts which she read prior to speaking to each individual but I have since found out that she memorises every piece of information about everyone. I found this incredible since there were 74 different award recipients including knighthoods, CBE’s OBE’s etc.
The only people I recognised were Sir Ian Wilmut who cloned Dolly the Sheep and Sir Tom Farmer from Quik Fit. I also spoke to Douglas MacNeilage, a retired school janitor from Tobermory who was made an MBE for services to education and the community.
The Queen’s Police Medal (QPM) was introduced in May 1954 as a replacement to the King’s Police Medal. It is awarded to police officers in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth for gallantry and distinguished service. I have thought long and hard over my 30 years police service and I have come to the conclusion that I must have got it for distinguished service!
The Queen’s Police Medal is normally awarded to high ranking officers and only rarely to officers of the rank of constable. So to have it awarded to me makes it even more special (and surprising). Two other police officers received the QPM at the investiture, an assistant Chief Constable from Strathclyde Police and a Chief Superintendent from Lothian & Borders Police. I am allowed to use the post nominals QPM after my name but I am unlikely to use it other than to secure a table at Elephant’s End.
Danny
(The reason for the late submission was that we had to wait for the pictures from inside the palace to be sent to us.)

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