Setting The Record Straight

letter to the editorI was interested to read, in the last edition of An Tirisdeach, about the swimming lessons in Loch Bhasapol. This seems to be a very sensible solution to teaching swimming on Tiree where an indoor heated pool is not financially viable.

However, in the piece, Catriona Spink states that ‘ Tiree children only get one school trip in first and second year at secondary that involves swimming’. I would like to set the record straight on that comment.

When I became Depute in Tiree High School in 1990 I continued the already established practice of taking Primary 7 Pupils to the mainland in June on a Swimming Trip where the pupils were given swimming lessons every day. This continued annually until fairly recently, when the numbers dictated that the trip happen every second year with the group becoming a combination of P6 & 7.

Many pupils learned to swim on these trips and those who could already swim were able to improve their skills due to the expert tuition they received. I hope these Primary trips will continue with the main emphasis being on swimming lessons and I am confident that all the pupils who had this experience will endorse its value. Jessie Gray


  • Skipping the grammatical errors, I will set the record straight regarding your comment.

    “…where an indoor heated pool is not financially viable.”

    Who said it is not viable?
    I think you will find that the judgment is still out on this. Maybe you should come along and attend the steering group…

    Surely whatever swimming the school manages to arrange simply complements the swimming arranged by Catz and others.

    Given the level of child obesity on Tiree we should all work together to support any sport that allows our kids to keep physically fit.

  • Karl,

    Not wanting to burst your bubble of enthusiasm for this project, however ever since I was in school, and that was a fair time ago, I have been hearing about a swimming pool on the island.

    The school roll is now under 60 and I think my teachers put in a fair amount of effort in taking us away to “the mainland” on outdoor trips. With the school roll having fallen a fair bit since my time, almost halved in 10 years, the viability of a swimming pool on Tiree is I am afraid looking slim.

    The viability of other businesses is perhaps more of a concern than a swimming pool, but that is maybe for another post.

    In terms of child obesity though, if this is an issue, you can hardly blame the lack of a swimming pool for this. Plenty grass, sand and hills to run about on “when I was a boy”, and there are a lot more activities for children than when I roamed Balevullin. Can I suggest a good pair of gloves and a day spent pulling ragwort will help [think they might have introduced masks into PPE kit since I was a boy also].

    Hope my grammar is up to scratch.


  • I have been asked iby a third party if I would apologise for the above comments…and given the tone of the email I recieved obviously ( well to me at least) I may have caused some offence.

    This was sincerely not my intention…

    I too endorse any possibility for the islands Children to participate in any physical activity…I sincerely hope that Catz manages another swim session this year…Ias personally I do not feel the children of Tiree get enough tuition…

    That said i would also always hope that Tiree School and its staff would also always support any youngsters that show a flare for any sport… I would also like to see more Tilley funds diverted to the possibility of a swimming pool….diverted to sustaining what we already here, have rather than spending heaps on more Development officers etc in the hope that Tiree can attract more new Islanders. I note TCDT are advertising a position for a development officer ( with an attractive wage presumably funded by Tilley) could not TCDT also advertise for a life guard or train a lifeguard as this is one of the major stumbling blocks to getting a pool ?

    my comment on grammar was directed as much at my own grammar as to the last poster…

    Anyhow Mrs Gray no offence intended.

    regards Karl

  • We didn’t have a swimming pool in our day on Tiree we learnt to swim in the sea no money envovlved there and loved every minute , and that was with no teachers !!!

  • The standard of education on Tiree has always been second to none, and I am forever grateful for the solid grounding of knowledge and learning that I received in Balemartine School and briefly in Cornaigmore before moving on to Oban High School. I am editor of a couple of magazines in my local area in Glasgow, and I would be dismissed from my role, not to mention disgraced, if I churned out poor grammar and consequentially an inferior product. I have read Jessie Gray’s initial letter and fail to see any glaring grammatical errors. Would you care to enlighten me Mr Hughes?

  • Isobel Rutter:

    Refer to my last post…”my comment on grammar was directed as much at my own grammar as to the last poster”


  • Morven Maclean:

    “We didn’t have a swimming pool in our day on Tiree we learnt to swim in the sea no money envovlved there and loved every minute , and that was with no teachers”

    In regards to the local situation, times change, legislation changes…etc, etc. Are you saying you would not support a swimming pool if it could be funded ? or as part of a business venture ? part of developing watersports “tourism” to Tiree… it would be adventagous to provide a pool. This would encourage visitors…more visitors, more people choose to stay…though only a small part of a sustainable development package…a swimming pool would have benefits for all…old and young alike.



  • Karl,

    As you will see in this comment there might be an amount of grammatical errors, this is due to a condition I have called dyspraxia.

    Even with my condition that includes a lack of co-ordination I myself went on the P.7 trip and was able to learn to swim with the support and help of Mrs Gray along with many others over the years.

    Although there is no swimming pool on Tiree I continued to swim on family vacations as have many others.

    “Given the level of child obesity on Tiree”, I refer to your comment and would simply note that the levels of child obesity on Tiree are no different, I would imagine, to the levels anywhere else on Scotland including the areas with swimming pools.

    Gayle Campbell of good Tiree stock and only slightly obese.

  • I can see I have already answered all the Q & A in earlier posts…

    Here is something to mull over while you are all sat at the keyboard during the long nights with the wind howling, the rain battering on the window… and nothing to do but ponder on the posts in this thread.

    Getting back to the original post.

    Who said a swimming pool is not financially viable on Tiree ? Government quangos and the ilk.

    The idea of a heated swimming pool on Tiree is not pie in the sky. The school role may be 60 or so kids…but there are still 600 or so folk who live here permanently and that number thankfully (year on year increases) due to tourism through the summer months the figure at least doubles.

    I read here consistent moaning about de-population, about folks leaving , the average population getting older…of businesses closing and properties been bought up by new islanders, etcetera…anything we can do to address this needs to be done… with vigor and it has to be both unique and novel .

    If we are not pro-active and fight, then in the not too distant future the school will become non-viable in the eyes of whatever government we have and close…and the heart will be ripped out of Tiree.

    Statistical analysis carried out by the EU’s Statistical agency has found that there is a critical population mass which determines the viable and sustainable growth on Islands If this mass is reached the island tends to experience an increasing population, a relatively large proportion of young people and provision of good local services, a self sustaining service sector.

    This critical population size is between 4,000 and 5,000 inhabitants. Any island with a population below this in the modern world tends to experience net emigration, an aging population, inadequate provision of facilities and a declining service sector.

    Only 6 Scottish Islands have a population greater than this critical mass. Arran,Bute,Skye, Mainland Orkney, Mainland Shetland and Lewis & Harris.(thats why they all have swimming pools and sports centers)

    In 1961 there were 993 resident on Tiree that’s dropped to the 600 or so folk that we see now. (somewhere around 30% in a generation)

    If “On islanders” (and I use this term because contrary to the thoughts of a jaded few… all who choose to live on Tiree on a permanent basis are just that “Islanders”)… want to do something about stopping the decline then we have to start thinking outside the box.

    I have read about the thoughts on community buy out of Tiree … how this will help the de-population and not benifit all… is beyond me…? Maybe I am missing something…somebody explain !

    However, crofting and fishing aside ( as these enterprises can only support a fixed amount of residents)Building sector aside as it can only build a fixed proportion of new builds or maintain a fixed amount of holiday homes…let’s move on

    Tourism: this is the one and only hope Tiree has to increase its population, business, investment and re-population opportunities…it is one of the biggest growth sectors on the planet…and water sports specifically is one of the fastest growing tourism sectors world wide..

    Why do we not pull together as a community and create a “Center of Excellence” for water/wind based sports…we have young entrepreneurs with a love of water sports that are making a living from their passion…but why does the community not invest in buying one of the two other struggling businesses on the Island and invest in a community owned water/wind sports based facility… both the Lodge and the Scarinish Hotel are internationally perfectly placed for such a venture… put in a pool…put in a gym, a spa…a yoga center etcetera…and you have a 12 month of the year venue.

    Yes it would take funding (maybe private)…. But this sort of venture would offer employment (seasonal and beyond) and also give a solid reason for more folk to visit and more importantly stay… and a facility that all on Tiree would have access too, and be proud of…

    No location in the UK is better suited to a venture of this type…”Our Island, Our Future” …states TCDT.

    Well if that is the case and we want to improve our future we have to start thinking big… moreover we have to offer something unique … we have the venue, but do we have the commitment ? or are we going to wait until somebody else takes the initiative somewhere else… and as they are opening the doors to ever increasing numbers of clients, we may be locking the doors to the school as the last kid finishes the last essay in a Tiree school … and can continue to moan about chances lost.

  • Ref: last post ” have read about the thoughts on community buy out of Tiree … how this will help the de-population and not benifit all… is beyond me…?
    Should have read: “how this will help the de-population and benifit all who live on Tiree… is beyond me…?

    Grammatical error due to arabic keyboard 🙂


  • Mr Hughes,

    Contrary to your assertion that we all have nothing better to do than reply to posts on here, with wind howling and rain battering, in my case nothing could be further from the truth. I have very little spare time, but I can always find a moment in my busy day to attend to matters which merit some attention and, certainly in the case of an injustice, I am prepared to comment long and weary in defence of my principles and in support of an individual who – to use a contemporary expression – you have “taken a pop at”.

    In my first response, I resisted pointing out that you had not actually apologised. Saying things like: “I have been asked by a third party if I would apologise for the above comments” and “I may have caused some offence” and “Anyhow Mrs Gray no offence intended” isn’t actually, in itself, an apology and is completely unsatisfactory as such. As to your reply to my request for some elucidation on your comment about grammar, you would say that wouldn’t you?

    I will leave the comments regarding the debate on the swimming pool to those of you who are better informed on the pros and cons thereof, but would sound a warning that your last post could be viewed as nothing more than a long list of blethers,inaccuracies, speculation and subjective opinion.

    From a sunny Glasgow – no rain…and the only wind is the hot air that emanates from some of the rhetoric above.

    Isobel Rutter


    If you are based in Glasgow I would presume you are not involved in the Swimming Pool commitee ? Therefore as you rightly say you are not informed….how can you comment on the viability of a swimming pool on Tiree ( part of the original reason for the post) therefore how on earth can you state an injustice has been done when you are not in possession of all the full facts…or judge my October post on the limited information you have. I believe Ms grey was wrong in her original assumption that a pool was not financially viable….Catriona’s statement was also accurate…the kids at best get one trip a year to Oban…I know this because one of my boys goes on the trip…the other is too young.

    As for any apology…if an apology, full or otherwise is needed for any particular part of the post, it will be given to Jessie if she raises an objection to what i have written….note: the only person whom has not posted a reply to my post of now 5 months ago is Ms Grey, probably because she is in posession of the full facts of the Loch Swimming event and the current modis operandi of swimming lessons availibility.

    I live on the island it is my home…my children are in the school…If I have an apology to give it will be done face to face with Mrs grey…not via this website and certainly not to a 3 rd party who I have never met.

    Please read the link and read iin context with my lastpost the one containing the blether, an inaccuracies…I am not sure what inaccuracies you refer to, all of this information is freely available on the web…as for my subjective opinion that Tourism is the only option…this is an objective fact…the only subjectivity relates to how we secure population growth…on Tiree. A pool could be a small part of the answer.

    PS: Rhetoric/ is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the capability of writers or speakers that attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate a particular audience in specific situations.

  • Mr Hughes,

    It’s still sunny here, but the wind persists…

    I wasn’t commenting on the swimming pool, I said exactly that, and never will because I repeat, I am not informed. I was commenting only on your blatant attack on Mrs GRAY’s grammar, however much you now try to wriggle out of it. And…if you didn’t want to offer an apology via this post but in person, that’s probably what you should have done. It was yourself who posted it!

    That’s all.

    Isobel Rutter

  • Well, good morning all

    I’ve just come across this thread today.

    One or two things come to mind.

    Firstly, there are no grammar/ punctuation/syntax/spelling errors at all in this thread, including the original letter, apart from the scores of them littered throughout Karl’s own contributions.

    Secondly, a swimming pool in Tiree would be nice but, as Lachie says, it is utterly fanciful that it would be even remotely viable. Literally, a 24 hour Tesco superstore would lose less money than a swimming pool in Tiree.

    Again, as Lachie said, this was looked at 20 years ago. I was the chair of a group which was set up to look at the viability of three projects which were thought important for Tiree’s future. One was a new mart, one was a new hall and the other was a swimming pool. It was concluded that the first two were both necessary and viable and they went on to be built. The swimming pool, even then, was hopelessly expensive, to the extent of being a mis-use of public money.

    That’s even more the case now. The Steering Group are pottering on but in the highly unlikely event that they come close to accessing even the smallest amount of public money in pursuit of the idea, there will be huge objections in Tiree, because that money could be spent so much more wisely. There are far more pressing priorities.

    Thirdly, Isobel Rutter (whose original interest in this thread Karl seems completely unaware of, bless him) takes issue with the wind and rain induced idleness of which Karl writes.

    So do I. It’s a slightly intangible thing but it seems it’s part of the self conscious “Islandism” so common amongst new islanders like Karl. It involves drawing attention to their familiarity with, and comfort with, the superficial downsides of Tiree life to try to demonstrate a high level of integration. It also takes in the idea that Tiree is the kind of place one escapes to in order to be cut off from the world, not just by the elements but by some kind of time wall that insulates Tiree from change and many of the other features of the world at large. It also carries a sense that there’s not much one can do to be economically active or even busy in Tiree. It’s a place, for them, defined essentially by leisure, walks on beaches and contemplation while watching the sun go down. And, as for those who have to make a living here, they think there’s not much Tiree people are able to do apart from the lowest unskilled work. Remember the “fence painting” comment from NTA a few years ago?

    For many, many people in Tiree, however, an average winter’s evening is spent on the following, amongst other things and regardless of the weather; feeding livestock outside, all tractor lights on, mucking out livestock, all tractor and shed lights on, doing the accounts, doing the VAT, working shifts in several of the service industries, caring for elderly relatives, serving voluntarily on countless local bodies, Skyping or Facetiming with their families who yearn to be home and who can’t be, preparing for their professional roles the next morning, doing the washing, getting an education, looking to the kids, working professionally from home etc.etc…. oh,and also maybe watching some telly and doing a bit of surfing (on the computer!)

    Finally, it can’t be easy for Karl and others to enjoy living in their island idyll while being so utterly at odds with the life, work and values of those whom they have come to live amongst. Just a thought.

  • Having been a little hard on poor Karl in the last post, I do have to say that I agree with his idea about the Watersports Centre of Excellence. That, of course, is exactly the kind of thing an island-owned Tiree Estate would have the clout to stimulate. So that’s one thing, amongst many others, that a community land buyout could achieve.

    While I’m on; who’s Catz? What’s a Peruvian Zerg player got to do with it? Don’t get me started on StarCraft: Brood War. I’ve got some very strong views on that subject!

  • Hi Donnie,

    Nice to see you have found a new place to post.

    you will have to decipher my grammar..and spelling, because my keyboard is in arabic…and I can only hit 9 out of ten characters correctly….anyhow, with your experience you should be able to manage..

    Based on Ms Grey’s original post…and the reasoning behind it….Most seem to have gone off at a slight tangent.
    Aye…I messed up with my grammar and thats caused me no end of key strokes….as we are now way away from the original post…lets move on..,

    just a few thoughts….no real depth to them… just some loose thoughts from a tribal liasion officer in Iraq… my head is still full of local, to here, problems…I’m sat chilling in Dubai and thought I would add a retort…on that note i have a couple of Lewis guys adding their insight also…over a dram of course.

    You supported the array..admirable, you raised your head and said…count me in…few had the balls to do that…either of the parties could have been theoretically wrong…its just all to do with perception, or standing back and looking at the bigger picture…much the same as the swimming pool…It doesn’t necessarily need to be the sole objective..,just part of the objective, a spin off, the objective for Tiree long term, is I presume is increasing the population of Tiree, keeping the school viable…..which however you wish to spin it means New Islanders…yes…new Islanders.

    The next question boils down to investment…Tiree does not have the critical number of folk to be able to expect massive investment from the Scottish Government, EU or Westminster…we get subsistency handouts…much the same as th CAP grants.

    WE want Investment because we want the population to grow….do we agree on that ?

    now some could go on the road to handouts and grants… well there ain’t no money in any governmental purse for that… so lets scrap that…investments to me mean not a new bus stop, or litter bins…but life changing investment.

    The only real choice is to look at private investment…its quicker, if the returns are solid…are they solid ?..much the same as SPR’s plans out on Skerryvore…they balanced the books…it would not work, they packed up and went elsewhere…will you not agree ? actually you must agree because thats what they said.

    Anyhow, Me, I originally thought of the array…yes thats a good Idea…and then took stock, and looked at the issue as a ” bigger whole ” outside of a Tiree contex…and was found out after much soul searching that I was right in thinking… that it was a white elephant, a waste of TAX payers ( electricity bill payesr)money..QED.

    I’ve done very much the same with a pool and water sports complex…and found the opposit…it could work…especially if the community sold it…and lets face it, all are more likely to benifit from community projects, unlike a community buy out of Tiree which, which if handled wrong, would benifit only a certain few…agreed ? but again…how much change does the majority of Tiree residents want ? …. all to do with cost/ benifit analisis.

    From your perception of Life on Tiree….You focus on crofting, I understand this..I was a farmer, a successful one at that…year on year in the top 5% on fat lambs at Corpach….crofting is an integral part of Tiree…its heart…but it cannot be the carthsis for a growing population….can it ? < excuse the grammar…my arabic key board skills are still rusty)

    Correct me if I am wrong but I see no irreversible downside to Tiree life…if I do, then please highlight it…Tiree gives me and you everything we Need, and more, and also gives all of my island friends everything they need…if it doesn't…then we pull together and help them out until it does ( community spirit) I

    I have solid friends, a safe and healthy environmant, good school for my boys, and good local services, and a place I call home….But I am fortunate, I have a supportive Tiree family and also good and chalenging job in Iraq and beyond…

    If you wish to add to the NEW ISLANDER, ISLANDER scope of thought to all of your arguments, then you actually are doing nothing to open the door to inviting new folk in…its counter productive….it causes division…we who choose to live on Tiree have a common value…we choose to live on Tiree…would you not agree?

    Still Donnie…you quote the etheral … " those we have come to live amongst" line, I do not have a problem with who ever I live amongst…do you ? who are you refering too, your neigbours, new islanders ? ..

    The only folk who have ever shown any anoyance at my train of thought or my convictions against the array are those who originally thought that the array was a dead cert…well there are only two certain things in this life Donnie…Taxes and death….I would not place a bet on anything else until it is in the byre.

    I had the choice to come to Tiree…funny the way things turn out…thankfully…come what may…my family and i are an integral part of the island…we want new people to move here…black, white, yellow, red…we don't care…if they have something to offer to the greater whole they are welcome…and we do the best we can, with a little success…to promote the good things about life on Tiree…which far out weigh the bad.

    Anyhow…I here my plane a coming…catch you soon, face to face …rather than on this cold media 2d highway.


  • LOL…Oh Donnie..that was a quick back step….

    I need educating from an objective source regarding the ” community buy out” seems to me this may only be good for the chosen few…so i am awaiting a source of holistic insight.

    having been involved in similar ventures ie; “School of Excellence ” in regards to Scottish and Welsh based Mountaineering, French alps based Guiding..and seeing all of those community based charity, turning over in the region of 1.25m a year each now…these venture models can work…we have a perfect location….

    Seems to me that the needed to ” buy out ” Tiree could, I dare say ( subjectively) be better spread tnroughout the community if focused, with the support of the estates and a couple of crucial business partners to benifit all… hey, but thats just from my perspective…

    FYI…Glenmore Lodge employes in the region of 60 auxilery staff ( non instructors) Cumbrae…20 or so…Plas y Brenin…30 or so…

    They all have spa, pool, gym facilities…all started with investment…paid off the loan ans pd are now running at a profit.

    Alternativlly ( tried 3 times and still cant find the right keyboard key…am i becoming paranoid LOL ) on current rates of decline we can wait 10 years and watch the school close….?

  • PS…Catriona Spinks= Catz….she is a Tiree resident of 10 years or so. and refered to in the initial post.

  • Hey DC…in regards to development…noticed you placed an objection to the new cafe complex…I take it you objected because of the access issues ?



  • Right, I know you have an ‘a’ on that keyboard the names ‘GRAY, as in fifty shades.

    Don’t the bulk of folk who come to Tiree in the summer come to do water sports in the elements?

    If there’s a child obesity issue in Tiree get them up and out NOW not in 100years time when we have privately raised funds and have been awarded all the grants and loans we’d need to build it not to mention train up staff, by which point said obese children will have graduated Uni.

    Also has anyone’s asked these poor obese children if they want a pool? If kids don’t want to move….they don’t want to move. If they need to move as a matter of health I say we punt some money on new sports kit or wetsuits at the school that will cost less than a pool and when the novelty wares off the comunity won’t be left with an unused building and a dose of chlorine…just a thought.


  • This is an interesting late lunch thread for someone with Tiree family connections, who knows some of the posters (related to one, at least!..), who used to work for the national sports agency, sportscotland and now manage sport and leisure facilities including a swimming pool. Here’s my thoughts then if they are of help;

    Pools are indeed expensive to run. I read the feasibility study a while back and it was a pretty good piece of work which laid out the pros and cons fairly. I think I recall it might have missed out the Shetland experience on similar islands to Tiree like Yell and Unst? I worked there too in the past, and Yell in particular is a good benchmark. The pool there is part of a small leisure centre within a group of community facilities, and is financially supported from the Shetland Oil Fund via the Shetland Recreational Trust which manages a network of sports facilities including the largest in Lerwick. So there is an element of corporate cross-subsidy going on there as well to be mindful of. So the choice is really about whether you think its worth making the ongoing investment year on year in operational costs against investing in other projects which could also benefit the community. There is also the capital build cost to consider obviously.

    I do like the broader idea of the Watersports Centre of Excellence and I debated years ago with colleagues in sportscotland that why if we were sending performance athletes say in track cycling to train in Manchester, because that’s where the nearest best facility conditions were, why our windsurfers weren’t on Tiree? Supporting infrastructure used to be the most common response, although maybe the fact that the agency ran Cumbrae National Watersports Centre on the Clyde might also have been a factor.

    What do you need for a Performance Centre model? Tiree has a school, tick the education box, excellent wind and waves and a loch, tick training facilities box (for some of the disciplines anyway), coaches & instructors – that looks like a tick too, year round accomodation for young and older performance athletes – possibly a challenge but not insurmountable. land based training and support provision – integrate with a new building for the Sailing Club? An income stream to pay for the services you deliver – enough users across the year, grants, governing body revenue investment, support from Tilley?

    So the watersports centre idea has maybe got some legs for development potential, although I’m not sure a pool would be a requirement to make it happen. The examples of Glenmore Lodge and Cumbrae are interesting as both these Centres are run as sportscotland Trust companies as part of its organisational delivery.

    For what its worth that’s my take on the thread to date. Hope it is of some use,


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