Category Archives: Latest Stories

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.)

Skerryvore Debut At T In The Park

skerryvorePlaying in the Ceilidh Tent, the band were delighted with the enthusiasm in which they were received. Accordion player Daniel Gillespie told An Tirisdeach “ It was really exciting to play at Scotland’s biggest festival. It was a fantastic crowd and the atmosphere was amazing.”
The band also played some of their own compositions from their new album which was enthusiastically received.
Although the album is not due out until November the band have a busy summer schedule which includes being in concert with Skipinnish at the launch of their new album on Tiree.

Draft Crofter’s Reform Bill

tractorA public meeting on the Draft Crofting Reform Bill scheduled for June, finally took place on the evening of Monday 13th July at Tiree’s Rural Centre. The meeting was lively and reasonably well attended.
Unavoidable reasons meant Chairman A. Innes and Vice Chair P. Boyd of the Scottish Crofting Foundation were unable to attend. However, An Tirisdeach asked the Honorary Secretary Mary Mackinnon to comment on the meeting which lasted for two and a half hours. “The draft Crofting Reform Bill, currently out for consultation is far from what the crofting communities need. It is a great disappointment to crofters who are already facing anxious times. The Bill just cannot be accepted and must be rejected now. It is so far from what is needed. I could see from the audience it was enough to make one speechless.”she said.
The civil servants who presented the draft document were keen that crofters made their thoughts known so future legislation could take their views into consideration.
Senior Civil servant Richard Frew who presented several aspects of the Bill told An Tirisdeach “ We need to address absenteeism & neglect and we want people to stay positive with the possibility of good changes.”

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

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