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Tyree Gin Spreads Festive Cheer

A Hebridean distiller is set to spread some festive cheer this December by giving a free miniature bottle of local gin to every islander on their native Tiree.

Tiree residents over the age of 18 will be treated to a free miniature of Tyree Gin or Hebridean Pink Gin in the run up to Christmas as distillery bosses add some unexpected joy to what has been a difficult year.

Rather than coming down locals’ chimneys, owners Ian Smith and Alain Campbell have teamed up with the island’s local shop, Buth a’ Bhaile, so that lucky residents can collect their miniatures from the store in Crossapol on the island. Ian Smith, owner of Tiree Whisky Company, said:

“2020 has been a challenging year for most people so we wanted to inject a bit of festive cheer into the lives of everyone in Tiree and give them a small gift. “We’ll be taking orders and delivering to Buth a’ Bhaile from today until 23rd December. Together, as a community, we can reflect on 2020 and raise a glass to the New Year.”

Islanders over the age of 18 among Tiree’s population of 650 people can apply for their gift by filling out a form on the Tyree Gin website.

The Isle of Tiree has a fascinating distilling heritage which Tiree Whisky Company Ltd has resurrected in recent years. Their distillery is the first on the island in over 217 years.

The company’s first product, Tyree Gin, was launched at Tiree Music Festival 2017. This product reflects the landscape in which it is distilled, incorporating kelp harvested from the icy waters, coastal salty flavours and a range of botanicals from the machair ground inland from the shore. Earlier this year, the small spirits’ producer launched Hebridean Pink Gin, which comes in a striking pink bottle and is distilled using juniper berries, raspberries and sweet peels.

Despite the challenges of 2020, the company also recently invested in new stills and equipment for future production planned for 2021 as they look ahead to a positive year.

Notice of Thanks

Derek Wilson Carrier Services was owned and run for many years by Derek Wilson himself. He has recently sold the business and begun his retirement.

I would like to extend my very sincere thanks to Derek for the excellent service he has given to me over the years, from the day he delivered the new kitchen to Urvaig (twenty years ago) to present day deliveries of vehicle parts.

Derek has always gone beyond a basic service: for example going to Home Base to buy a tin of paint for me so I could get the painting finished; delivering my items in good condition and at a very reasonable cost and taking parts to be returned free of charge.

When I was desperate for a vehicle part and he wasn’t sending a van to Tiree, he would go out of his way to get it to me by taking the package to the pier and finding someone who could bring it over to me.

Derek, I would like to thank you for the fantastic service you have given to me and I wish you a long and happy retirement.

Sandy Macintosh

Tiree Community Council – December Meeting

Even with the allure of Christmas Shopping at the Pier, the December meeting of Tiree Community Council continued to show good a good level of attendance with 32 total participants.

There were many items to be discussed including more from the boundaries commission proposals, a very informative presentation from Scottish Water, and an insight into our Agenda meetings and some of the sub-committee meetings we attend throughout the month.

Correspondence included notification that Tiree and Coll and the Sea of the Hebrides would be awarded Marine Protected Area status. It is thought that this will not impact the fishermen on the island but could cause issues for trawlers and any future sub-sea cable plans.

The Police Scotland Report was also received. An incident of a sheep being struck by a car in Scarinish took place on 9th December. This accident resulted in the death of the sheep. PC Tanner reminded that is an offence to leave such an incident unreported and urged anyone with information to get in touch. Mark Petrie and Brian McCarthy of Scottish Water were then welcomed to the meeting. A very in depth and interesting presentation was given on the current structure of Tiree’s water network and what we can do to reduce waste going forward. Did you know a leaky toilet or dripping tap can see up to 400 litres per day of water wastage? Scottish Water have schemes and financial support available for domestic properties in priority areas such as Tiree to help with water waste on the island, the details of which can be found shortly on the Tiree Community Council website or by visiting www.scottishwater.co.uk

The community council was anticipating a meeting with the Boundaries Commission to discuss what the future of Tiree’s Councilor representation might look like. However, this meeting has not materialised. After a successful consultation period there was found to be an overwhelming mandate to push for a designated single councilor ward for Tiree and Coll. A vote took place at the meeting and it was unanimously decided to pursue this motion.

With the expertise of Iona Campbell, Tiree Community Council stepped into the 21st Century and used an online survey tool called Survey Monkey to carry out aspects of the consultation. There are many positives to such a platform including clear quantitative results, transparency and anonymity. Of course, there will always be the option to have a show of hands or to put pen to paper for those not quite ready to take the technological leap.

A discussion then took place regarding meetings attended by councillors throughout the month. An initial planning sub-committee meeting took place to discuss current planning guidelines and informally chat about what the Tiree Community Council Planning Policy might look like. This subcommittee will be working hard to have a draft planning policy ready for community feedback in February 2021. The notes from this meeting will be made available and anyone with an interest in observing future planning sub-group meetings is welcome to do so.

An agenda meeting also takes place between every public meeting whereby the councillors can discuss any upcoming issues and raise any matters brought to us by the community. Every issue raised to us by the community is discussed, and an agenda is formed. Our Convener is a Community Council enthusiast and also attends various meetings from other islands throughout the month.

The next TCC public meeting is on the 13th January. An invitation of attendance has been sent to Argyll Estates Factor Hugh Nicol to attend. If anyone has any issues they want to raise, then please get in touch.

Dr John Holliday was in the chair. Phyl Meyer, Gerard McGoogan, Louise Reid, Iona Campbell, John Patience, Stewart Carr and Alison Clark were in attendance.

“Seal of Approval” From Local Volunteers

Sunday evening, all cooried in for the night and a call comes through. “We are just heading to check out a seal at Balevullin, meet you there.”

It’s that time of year here on Tiree, the wind that attracts all those who love watersports is pretty constant and it’s been a bit rough all day. By the time I arrive Louise Reid and Margaret Worsley, two Marine Mammal Medics with BDMLR, have already assessed the seal and are on the phone to control.

The seal is a young Common and it looks exhausted. The waves are crashing in at Balevullin and it’s obvious this one has had a bit of a time of it. The decision is made and the wee one is going to head to the vets for the night to get some fluids and rest. However, how to get it there? After a bit of a discussion, the seal is wrapped up in a make shift stretcher, Louise’s Barbour coat, with its head in a sleeve so it doesn’t bite and after struggling across the sand we get it into a holdall to transport it to the vets. However, I hear the zips coming undone as we drive along and sure enough its head is poking out the bag when we arrive.

The next day was full of excitement as the seal decided it wasn’t happy being at the vets after a night’s rest and it was agreed to release it as soon as possible. A couple of fish boxes tied together were used to transport it this time and the seal was off like a rocket when it arrived back on the beach. We were all ecstatic but also discussed how we could improve on our rescues in the future. Being a volunteer team and based on an island it has always been a case of make do. I used to work for a wildlife hospital on the mainland and knew there was equipment we could use but it is expensive. One of the key items was a seal stretcher which would make carrying the seals along the beaches and rocky shoreline a lot easier. Now seal stretchers are specialist bits of kit and hard to come by so I spoke to 1-2-1 Animal Handling Products who make shark carriers for moving animals between aquariums. They were intrigued by our request and offered us one of their carriers at a discounted price. So that evening we put the story out about the seal rescue along with a link to a Just Giving page and a target of £500.

Within an hour of the page being set up I got a message from Frazer MacInnes. Frazer co-runs Tiree Sea Tours which take folk out looking for dolphins, whales, seals and basking sharks. Tiree Sea Tours wanted to pay for the stretcher! In Fraz’s words “Our business relies on the wildlife in our seas around Tiree and it’s important that we also help to look after them”. I let the team know and by the next day we were buzzing as not only had we had this great news, we had exceeded our fundraising target to £695. Our new stretcher arrived last week and the team have had a chance to practice with it and it’s all ready to go. We are also in the process of ordering some other essential pieces of kits such as transport carriers to keep the seals safe on their journeys off the island into rehab. If required.

We are incredibly grateful to Tiree Sea Tours, 1-2-1 Animal Handling Products and all the generous supporters of our appeal which will ensure the safety of rescued seals and cetaceans in the coming years on Tiree.

Community Council By-Election

A recent by-election for the community council was conducted by Argyll and Bute Council.

There were four vacancies, for which six residents put themselves forward. The number of votes cast were as follows below.

There were 302 ballots counted with 6 rejected, a turnout of 58% of those entitled to vote. Dr John Holliday, Convenor of Tiree Community Council welcomed the new councillors:

“It’s wonderful,” he said, “to have a full complement on the council again. We had hoped that the new council would be more diverse, and that has certainly happened. Hats off to everyone who stood for election. It’s a nervewracking thing to do, but it makes the council a much stronger body.”

Congratulations to those elected and thanks to all for taking part!

Tiree Trust News

Tiree Renewable Energy (TREL)

Some of you may have noticed that Tilley has not been turning for the last few weeks. A generator fault was registered in September and since then two teams of engineers from Enercon (the turbine manufacturer) have attended.

The first team conducted diagnostic tests to locate and identify the fault, and the second carried out preparatory work so that the repairs can be made smoothly. A third team of engineers will be attending shortly to install replacement parts and complete the repair. Enercon are planning to have Tilley operational again by 30th November.

Tiree Broadband

Tiree Broadband continues to be affected by a fault in the BT Cabinet in Crossapol. Tiree broadband normally uses 7 fibreoptic lines from the Crossapol Cabinet as it’s ‘backhaul’ (i.e. where it gets its internet from) and then distributes it to the network via wireless dishes.

Our network is currently operating from one backup fibreoptic line at An Iodhlann which is fed from the cabinet at the Scarinish Exchange. The result is that Tiree Broadband customers will have a restricted service but should still be able to do essential tasks online.

We apologise for any inconvenience this has caused our customers and would like to assure you that we are working hard to resolve this issue and have been speaking with Tiree Community Council to make sure our voice is heard by both BT and The Scottish Government on this issue.

The Cruas Fund

In direct response to the economic impact of the Covid-19 lockdown, The Trust has decided to launch The Cruas fund. Cruas is the Gaelic word for hardship. The Trust will be supported by Cùram Thiriodh to administer the fund via the Solar food project.

The fund is aimed as a short-term support mechanism for people in our community whose financial circumstances change quickly and is not meant to supplement any longer-term benefit system.

If you have recently found yourself in financial difficulty you can contact Solar in the strictest confidence on solartiree{@}gmail.com or 07375 929350 (text or phone).

Crossapol Playpark Needs Your Help

No matter when you pass the Playpark at Crossapol you will probably see someone in it. Whether you are a child, parent, grandparent, auntie, uncle or friend you will have enjoyed the experience of ‘playing’ there. It is a very well used park by both locals and visitors and the users all make very positive comments about what a great Playpark it is.

Tiree Community Business in partnership with ACHA take care of the Playpark and keep it as safe as possible for all to enjoy. However, most of the equipment has had its day and has outlived its safe lifespan. This means that it needs replacing and this means a large amount of money – about £24,000.

Tiree Community Business have funded some new pieces of equipment over the last few years with the help of many generous donations and these newer pieces will remain. If you feel able to donate towards the replacement of the equipment please contact Norma at Tiree Community Business:

Tel: 01879 220 520 Email: tireecommunitybusiness@btconnect.com

Cheques should be made payable to – Tiree Community Business and sent to Tiree Community Business, The Island Centre, Isle of Tiree PA77 6UP

Remember “Every Little Helps’ and Thank You

Your Views Needed On Amenity Services

Argyll and Bute’s council has to identify options to meet a projected budget gap of £6.7 million in 2021/2022, and as part of that, is asking for your views on amenity services.

Savings can only come from a relatively small proportion of the council’s budget (32%), because of national priorities and other factors outside council control:

• Teacher posts are protected nationally

• Social work costs are managed by the Health and Social Care Partnership

• Utility, loan and other costs depend on external factors.

Some savings have to come from amenity services, which cover everything from bins and grass cutting, to parking, road repairs and public toilets.

The council is therefore asking people to give their views on how best to make savings in amenity services by answering a short consultation. The survey also gives people the chance to give their thoughts on whether local communities would consider stepping in to save a service at risk, and what if any support they would want to be able to do this.

Councillor Gary Mulvaney, Depute Leader and Policy Lead for Strategic Finance, said:

“Another year and millions more expected to be cut from council services for Argyll and Bute. It’s not enough to say that these are tough times for councils. Years of budget cuts are eroding Argyll and Bute’s council services, and at a time now when they have never been more important – look at how much our communities have depended on council services to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. We have to focus on the support that is most vital for the area. We have to look again at the work we do that is above and beyond the ‘must-do’ duties of a council. I would encourage anyone who uses our amenity services to give their views.”

You can answer the consultation on the council’s website:

https:// www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/ consultations/amenity-servicesconsultation.

If you have difficulty accessing the web version, you are welcome to contact the council at 01436 658 981.

A Bird’s Eye View

Dear Editor

Well, they do say a warm welcome awaits Canadian visitors to Tiree.

I was lost, tired and hungry after riding the weather system across the North Atlantic, and could easily have perished. Instead, I found sheltered gardens buzzing with tasty insects on a remote Scottish island, where I could rest and feed, and where I was protected from over-zealous ‘twitchers’.

The Great British Twitcher is a peculiar species: dark muted plumage adorned with paired neckwattles which flick up to the eyes when stimulated, their characteristic call of “have you got it?” joining the dawn chorus.

Rarely forming lasting pair-bonds, they migrate in loose flocks of (mostly) males and are tunnel-visioned when pursuing their prey. Feverishly competitive, they are prone to exaggeration and territorial clashes when hunting. They tick a lot.

I’m glad I didn’t land on public land on the mainland. I could have been surrounded by hundreds, if not thousands, of these strange, twitchy predators each desperate to take rapid-fire multiple shots. The stress and disturbance caused by such scrutiny could have finished me off as surely as if I had plunged into the Atlantic.

So my thanks to all on Tiree who made my unscheduled visit to your continent so safe and fascinating: that Birdy-man and the Ranger-lass who ensured that all twitchers were masked and herded into socially distanced groups, and the neighbouring water-bearers who prevented unprepared twitchers from dehydrating.

The weather is too cold for me now, so I’m heading south. Perhaps I’ll stop off in Spain for a bit, hopefully avoiding Los Twitcheros.

– Y B McFly

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher at Balephuil

On the morning of Tuesday 15 September 2020, a very rare bird was spotted in the gardens at Balephuil. This proved to be a young Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, a colourful migrant that breeds in the northern spruce forests of North America during the summer and winters in the tropical forests of Central America. This species has never been seen before in Europe, let along the UK, and had presumably been blown off course across the Atlantic by the fast-moving depression that hit the island on 13 September.

Knowing that such an exotic vagrant would attract much attention from other birders wishing to see it, and given the current Covid19 situation, we decided not to publicise the sighting. Unfortunately, one of the other birders present on the island at the time let the news slip to a friend of his and by midnight it was clear that the news had been broadcast widely. Together with Hayley Douglas, the Tiree Ranger, we therefore had no option but to manage the ensuing “twitch” following strict ScotGov Covid19 guidelines.

Some 120 people arrived over the following three days, car-parking was organised with help from neighbours, and a strict queuing system was put in place. Fortunately, everyone who came was well behaved and followed the advice given, such that they were all able to see the bird safely. Access to the gardens was closed on the Friday night to give everyone and the bird a rest.

A further 40 people arrived in much smaller groups over the following five days and most were able to view the bird from the adjacent track. After nine days of busily feeding up on insects, including many of our neighbours’ honey-bees, the bird finally departed on the night of 23 September. This was a cold clear night with a light northerly breeze, ideal for the bird to continue its journey south. Quite where it will end up is a mystery. Let’s hope it will refuel again in Spain and end up wintering in the tropical forests of sub-Saharan Africa.

As a thank-you gift, the visiting birders (and some who didn’t come) donated generously to the Tiree Community Trust via a bucket on the site and through a just-giving page. To date this has raised at least £1,800 so far for the island.

John Bowler & Hayley

Image courtesy of John Bowler

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