Category Archives: Latest Stories

Atlantic Edge Hotels

upper_deckAileen McDonald came in and spoke with passion and enthusiasm to An Tirisdeach regarding her position as Operations Director for Atlantic Edge Hotels which now runs the Scarinish and Lodge hotels.
Aileen has recently joined the team with a lifetime of professional experience behind her and has embraced this new challenge wholeheartedly. Aileen is not only passionate about the hotels, but about Tiree too.
Telling An Tirisdeach that she could not resist the opportunity to develop a hotel on such a beautiful island. “We plan to offer diversity on the island, and having both hotels gives us the amount of rooms we need to promote the island as a destination for Celebrations, Weddings, Key Birthdays and Anniversaries.”
The aim currently is to build on the reputation of the Scarinish. The a la carte menu introduced by trained chef Ian MacArthur “Ian is building us a reputation there’s no doubt about that” said Aileen. Dolina Campbell is the chef at the Lodge hotel and she will be preparing fresh, value for money foods.
The majority of staff are from the island, therefore, the hotels must be one of the major employers on the island, and only where absolutely necessary seasonal staff are recruited from mainland.
Currently there are plans afoot to put a music programme together for the Lodge hotel. The Scarinish continues to be upgraded and An Tirisdeach popped into the hotel to have a look at the Upper Deck which will re-open as a Lounge Bar.
Carpets have been removed to reveal a beautiful wooden floor which does the room justice as it has a superb view overlooking the old harbour.
Atlantic Edge Hotels have invested heavily into both hotels and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. “There will be continued reinvestment” said Aileen.
Islanders can look forward to the traditional Sunday lunch coming back to the Lodge. There are plans to provide 3 day breaks over Xmas and New Year with entertainment which will compliment other musical events on the island.

Alan Reid M.P. Writes for An Tirisdeach

Water is one of life’s essentials which we tend to take for granted. It always comes as a shock when we turn on the tap and find the pipe is empty.
The recent disruption in the supply to 75 houses on Tiree showed that Scottish Water’s procedures for coping with a fault in the island’s water supply were not up to the job. I have written to their Chief Executive asking for an explanation of why the fault occurred and why their contingency plan wasn’t up to the job. I have asked them what their revised plans are should disruption to the island’s supply happen again in the future. I will let your readers know Scottish Water’s response.
My home is on the Cowal peninsula, so when the ferries go off, there is always an alternative route to connect the rest of the world to us. However, for islanders this is not the case and reliable ferry services are essential. The disruption to services at the end of May because of a mechanical failure on the Clansman highlighted the absence of back-up vessels. With an ageing CalMac fleet, there is clearly a risk that mechanical failures will become a more regular occurrence. Since the new agency Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL for short) took over responsibility from CalMac for commissioning new vessels, the ordering of new vessels seems to have dried up. I have written to Scottish Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson about this and urged the Scottish Government to invest in a modern fleet for CalMac.
Following concerns raised with me by fishermen about the siting of the planned offshore windfarms in prime fishing grounds, I wrote to the Crown Estate. I’ve received a reply from Ian Pritchard, their Head of Offshore Operations. In his reply, Mr Pritchard says that there is still to be a great deal of consultation and data gathering before any final decision is take and writes, “I would anticipate site boundary changes and/or mitigation measures to be adopted as a result.”
Two controversial proposals out for consultation are the Draft Crofting Reform Bill and the Council’s proposals for Care of Elderly. I would be interested in hearing people’s views on these or any other subjects.
I will be visiting Tiree later on in the summer as part of my annual constituency tour.
If anyone would like to see me during my visit, please contact my office.
I am always interested in hearing from constituents and can be contacted at my constituency office, 95 Alexandra Parade, Dunoon PA23 8AL, Tel 01369- 704840, Fax 01369-701212, email reida@parliament.uk
Alan Reid MP 20 July 2009

Tiree Pupils Take on Star Status

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As a community retailer it is appropriate that we involve the community

Tiree High School pupils take on star status to perform the ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the revamped Co-op store on Tiree.
The children, from left, Frazer MacNeill, Kara Rennie, Michael MacDonald, Lewis MacDowall and Rory Kavanagh, were presented with a donation of £200 for school funds by store manager Andrew Hayes to mark the occasion.
The store has been transformed following a £350,000 revamp and features the consumer-owned business’ new identity, The co-operative, which aims to highlight improved service standards and its support for local communities and ethical trading policies.
As well as contemporary décor, new flooring, fittings and ecorefrigeration, there is an improved range of products with an emphasis on chilled and fresh foods including fresh meat, fruit and vegetables.

“As a community retailer it is appropriate that we involve the community in our special events and we are delighted that our local school could play a central role,”
said Andrew.

College Trains Cow and Elephant

cow_elephant_staff

Staff from two acclaimed eateries on Tiree were the recipients recently of One Hundred Thousands (100k) Welcomes, a customer service training programme delivered by Argyll College.
The Elephant’s End restaurant in Kirkapol and the Cobbled Cow tearoom in Crossapol are both renowned for a warm welcome and quality fare, and customers can continue to be rest assured that the highest standards of hospitality are being met.

The course, which took place in the island’s Rural Centre, provides participants with practical information, guidance and advice to help deliver an exceptional standard of customer service.
Darlene Russell, Argyll College’s Commercial Training Manager, said:
“For all customer-facing staff, the objective of this one-day event was to generate awareness and passion leading to a visitor–focused approach to delivering top class customer experience”.
“The feedback from the delegates was excellent and I was delighted to be asked to deliver the 100k Welcomes programme on Tiree to tourism professionals,” added Darlene.
Elaine Hutchison, proprietor of both establishments said:
“This was a rare opportunity to get the whole staff together for two days of valuable interaction and exchanging of ideas.”
“Sometimes a neutral facilitator is better able to focus an existing group on their strengths as well as their weaknesses and reinforce their importance and valuable input to the hospitality trade which is sometimes inadvertently overlooked in the general day to day working environment,”
said Elaine, adding:
“We all need to be assured that we are doing a good job as well as being advised how we can always improve our product.”

The 100k Welcomes programme is one of a growing suite of flexible commercial training courses offered by Argyll College across the West Highlands. Dunstaffnage Learning Centre, By Oban, Argyll. PA37 1PZ Tel: 01631 559504 Fax: 01631 559501

An Iodhlann – Sheaves From The Stack Yard

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The 1872 Education Act took control of schools from the churches and set up new School Boards. On Tiree there were two Parish schools, in Heylipol and Kirkapol, and six others scattered around the island.

In 1873, the headmaster of Heylipol School reported that the new Board was at loggerheads:
“Very unfortunately for those who have children at school age, our School Board is not a harmonious body, and therefore instead of providing efficient schools with the utmost speed, they are wrangling, disputing, reporting, and protesting amongst themselves as to the sites of the new schools. The east end of the island is the part on which they differ. The majority wants only two schools, one about 1 ½ miles further east and another 1 ½ miles further west than the present Public schools.
The minority wants 3 schools, the present Public School and one in each end of the district, but they allege that the side or end schools may be of a lower class or less expensive while they would maintain the Public School in the centre as it is – a better class school to which the older scholars in both ends could go when they got beyond the qualifications of their own master.
The inhabitants of both ends object to being only supplied with an inferior school and master, maintaining they have a right to an efficient school seeing they pay the same rates with the rest of the island. The whole affair has been referred to the Education Board Edinburgh.
The division which this question has made of the Board is ominous. The minority (the minister, the factor and doctor) being those who under the former laws had the management of such affairs. The majority are Messrs Campbell, Hough; McQuarrie; and two natives being those called into management for the first time by the new Act.
The minority are all men of cultivated intellect who can always give a reason for their actions which will be intelligible to others. For the majority Mr Campbell, Hough is an intelligent and active minded gentleman who can maintain his own opinion against anyone, while Mr McQuarrie is a man of far-seeing and well-digested plans who generally thinks twice before he commits himself.
The two native members are simple minded honest men who I believe are quite conscientious that their votes are for the public good. They all agree that Cornaig or Kilmoluaig ought to be the site for the north end and the 120 or 130 scholars in the district calls aloud to the School Board to get up a school without delay. They propose to add a classroom to my school of which I stand in great need.” John MacFarlane, Schoolmaster.

Chomhaid mi timchioll

Chomhaid mi timchioll air eilean mo ruin N’uair bha a ghrian na h-airde Air latha samhriadh ciuin;
Bha m’agane sona le spiriod dusgaidh Gam leannachd san am sin Is e mo bheachd gu’n robh flaithneas Gu cinnteach faisg ri lamh

Bha’n t’shobhraig flur an aogais maiseach Ga’m thraghadh buileach bho thuighse saoghail ‘S no heoin gam lagachach ien rifid gleuste;
Gach fod buileach fo bhuaidh a ghrein A derrsadh le gloir na madainn:
O’s tric bhios fear siubhail nan crioch Fo buaidh an t-sealladh na chridh

Bi clann beaga na firichean a ruith sa leum Iad pailt don oige is gann do trioblaidean Tha ri aireamh feadh ar saoghal;
Nach buide do gach paisde tha fo Bhuaidh riaghladh na goraiche faoin;
Tha fios g’eil pairt aca anns an tsuimhneas Bu mhiann lean bhith dhomh dluth.

Bristidh tuinn air cladach ‘s gu fior Is e’n sgeul bi buan ‘S an uiseag ni a h-al a chuir air doigh Air reir an staid san am;
Ach tha mise an dith dhan t-sealladh suil:
Is gann don tuigisinn no toinisg seo, S nach nach bi mi buan.

Tiree Pipeband Wins Strathaven Gala Shield

tiree_pipe_bandTiree Pipe Band’s annual participation in Strathaven’s Gala Day was more successful than usual this June – as they won the Strathaven Gala Shield in competition with Strathaven and East Kilbride Bands.
While it was a pleasant surprise to win the Shield, to most of the Band it came as a complete shock, as few were even aware that there was a trophy up for grabs – hence, perhaps, the total absence of nerves as they marched and played their way through the streets. It’s also a safe bet that the Band will be invited back to Stathaven in 2010.
The success of the Band is certainly reward for all the hard practice put in over the winter months.
For those who like a historical flavour in among the news, it’s exactly 40 years since Tiree Pipe Band last competed at the World Championships in 1969.

Team Tiree’s successful Breast Cancer Moonwalk

moon_walkWell deserved Congratulations to the Tiree ladies and all participants who have to train rigorously to take part in what can be a gruelling event.
We did it! After 26.2 miles and seven hours of walking, TEAM TIREE crossed the finish line at 6.58am.
Fiona, Myra, Jackie and Caroline would like to thank everyone who kindly sponsored them and to those who telephoned and sent texts before and during the night, your encouraging words were great to hear.
Walking with 10,000 women, and a few men, fine weather, lots of laughter and friendship around, even a mobile disco unit at one point, made Saturday night truly one to remember.
We walked thinking of others and to raise money to go towards the new Maggie’s Cancer Centre in Glasgow, 20 NHS scalp coolers to reduce hair loss during chemotherapy treatment and £1.5 million to the Edinburgh Breast Unit.

Helicopter Visit To Tiree By Strathclyde Police Force

police_visitAssistant Chief Constable John Neilson and Convener of Strathclyde Police Authority Paul Rooney helicoptered into Tiree to spend the day with P.C. Kevin Harrison.
The morning was spent visiting the Airport and the Radar station. The afternoon plan was to rove around the island.
An Tirisdeach caught up with them before they lunched at Elephant’s End with some of the island’s invited luncheon guests.
Mr. Neilson told An Tirisdeach “the purpose of the visit is to let the people of Tiree know that they have the full support of the Strathclyde force.”
The choice of helicopter was due to time limitations as well as accomodation issues. The Chief Inspector of Oban was also due to come over, but cancelled flights on Monday 22nd June meant she was unable to do so.
Mr. Neilson also stated that there is a training package in the pipeline for Tiree for Special Constables which would bring training to the island instead of islanders having to go to the mainland to pursue such a career.

Cal-Mac Chaos?

g_chalmersI’m sure that following the events of Friday 29th to Sunday 31st May there must have been a few raised eyebrows when I was quoted in the Oban Times as commending Calmac Route Manager Ian Fox for his efforts following the breakdown of the Clansman.

I must say that on Saturday morning at 6.30am in Craignure, with a cup final ticket in my pocket, I was far from happy to be told that the first sailings from either side had been cancelled; I mean a cup-final is pretty time-sensitive – after all, 56,000 people are hardly going to wait for me to get to Hampden.I had to do some serious rearranging, but I finally made it with two minutes to spare.

I arrived back in Mull on the Sunday and started to get stories about the various inconveniences visited upon travellers throughout Saturday and Sunday with many more cancellations, and it became apparent there would also be disruption to other islands which would filter through to me later. I therefore asked Ian Fox for a full detailed timeline and the rationale behind what had been done to secure services to the islands. The very next day Ian obliged with an email that ran to 4 pages and gave a full picture of the scale of the disruption and how decisions were arrived at to provide services to Tiree, Coll, Castlebay, and Mull.

It is obvious that Mr Fox and his Masters and their crews worked extremely hard to try and maintain services while what had seemed a routine repair originally expected to take 6 hours ran into two days. Some points were made in the Email which are worth passing on.

Replacement vessels are not easy to locate for these routes. Early on Saturday enquiries with regional manager at Islay about the availability of MV Isle of Arran showed this vessel fully booked for every sailing on Saturday up to 8.20 pm. It then sailed to Oban and performed an improbable overnight return journey to Lochboisdale. Required rest periods meant a further reshuffle and further disruption.

I am sure your readers do not need me to tell them about the delays on the Coll and Tiree services. What is clear is that there is much to be praised about the way the local staff and management performed, but there are nevertheless questions about how this situation can arise.

Why is it so difficult to get replacements if one vessel breaks down and why is the result so seemingly chaotic? In truth there are a variety of contributing factors, never forgetting that vessels DO break down and staff DO need to rest. Not all vessels can get into all piers. Even if there was another vessel in the fleet it would be running a regular route rather than lying idle waiting for a breakdown, so unless you have an entire crew and vessel to spare at any time (dream on!) there will always be a reshuffle and the attendant cancellations and delays- it’s just inherent in the system.

At Ferry Consultations over the Spring I have heard it said that Calmac’s fleet needs a capital investment of some £30m to start to address the ageing state of the fleet. Lead times on new build ships are several years. Even if three new ships were ordered now, they wouldn’t come into service till 2013 or later. None of this makes particularly happy reading but I am glad the Government is trying to establish a long-term ferry strategy to identify and work to resolve these types of problems before the system breaks down entirely.

I can be reached on 01688 302 689 or by email on gordon.chalmers@argyll-ukbute.gov.

Tiree SWRI News

Evelyn Baxter’s School on Japanese Patchwork

13 -14th May

swriLiz Hunter led a very informative and interesting class on E.B.S.J.P.

There was a very high attendance for this class and Liz made everyone feel at ease as she took them through the various stages. Cutting out templates, material, tacking, ironing into shape and sewing to form the ‘tiles’ which is the basis for creating so many items. Liz brought along some fine examples of how to develop the ‘initial tile’ into many ideas.

There were many levels of sewing skills in the class but everyone enjoyed learning new techniques and handy tips.

Time passed too quickly as everyone was engrossed in making their Japanes Patchwork bags. Everyone agreed that it was a very enjhoyable class and that was due to Liz’s friendly teaching skills. All hoped there would be another class in the future. Annie Mackinnon presented Liz with a gift of thanks at the end of the two day class.

Tiree S.W.R.I Sponsored Walk for Mary’s Meals

Tuesday 19th May

was a beautiful evening to do the walk.A good turnout of support with S.W.R.I walkers wearing Mary’s Meals T-shirts.

Some strode out in front, others went at a comfortable pace, but all enjoyed the event and returning to a welcome cup of tea.

The total raised was £500. A Big Thank you to all who supported this worthwhile cause

Mull and Tiree Federation Show

1st June 2009

Tiree S.W.R.I. Were delighted to bring The Championship Cup home with ten members contributing their work and accumulating 230 points which included 7 golds and 8 silvers. The Community Project was won by Torosay, 2nd Tiree, 3rd Fionaphort, Salen, Tobermory & Dervaig. Congratulations to all those involved and especially Annie MacKinnon who also won another three trophies.

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