District News February 9th

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Tong

Lewis Highland Games – As reported in last week’s Gazette, the Lewis Highland Games Company has had to dissolve due to a lack of people willing to serve on the committee.

The Games Constitution states there has to be a committee of at least seven people. This number could not be obtained. No one was willing to take on the Chairman’s position.

This means that the Lewis Highland Games, which have been held in Tong for over 30 years, will not be held this year.

Tong Recreation Association are hoping that the Heavy and Strongman events will be held sometime this summer but details are still very much at an early stage of discussions. Similarly with the Highland Dancing Competition.

Highland Games throughout Scotland have been going through difficult times and the Lewis Games now join over a dozen other venues who will not be running this year.

Soup and Pudding Lunch – The Lewis Pipe Band is holding a Soup and Pudding Lunch in the Tong Hall this Saturday (February 11th) between 12 and 2pm.

There will be music from the band itself as well as a display from Highland Dancers. Tea and coffees will be available as well as a home baking stall and a raffle.

All the money raised will go to the Lewis Pipe Band Funds.

SCALPAY

Services – Services in Scalpay Free Church last Sunday were conducted by Rev Andrew Coghill, who ministered formerly in Leurbost.

Hospital – At the time of writing this Alasdair Macleod, Tigh a’Chnuic, is detained in the Western Isles hospital and Bannatyne Macleod, Blackhill, is hospitalised in Glasgow.

On behalf of everyone we wish them a quick return to better health and a speedy homecoming.

Unicef Day For Change – On Friday, February 3rd, pupils and staff of Scalpay School held a non-uniform day to support Unicef’s Day For Change.

Unicef helps children throughout the world by providing health care, nutrition and education and thanks are due to all who donated to this worthy cause.

Care Home Residents – Several from Scalpay are resident at this time in care homes in Harris. Morag Morrison, 19 Bayhead, and Donald John Morrison, 16 Seaside, are in Harris House, and Annie Cunningham, Enfield House; Donald John Maclennan, 33 Ardheaguinish; Christina Macleod, 33 High Hill, and Sarah Macleod, 4 Scalpay, are in Leverburgh Home of Rest.

All are missed from our community although we know they receive the highest possible standards of care where they are.

School Closure – Another Open Evening for the community will be held on Thursday, March 1st, when a display of further items received to do with the school will be exhibited.

We are still on the lookout for material and anything of possible interest will be gratefully received at the school.

Please also note for your diary that not only will there be an event where old photos and memorabilia relating to the school will be on display, but also it is planned to have a buffet and ceilidh evening on Friday, June 29th, to which all present and former pupils, staff and anyone connected with the school are warmly invited.

It is hoped for a large attendance on this nostalgic occasion and that everyone who can, wherever they now live, will try to attend this momentous event.

It would be helpful to ascertain numbers if friends from away who are intending to attend would let the school (Tel: 540245, email: scalpayschool@gnes.net) or myself (Tel: 540356) know. See you there!

NESS

Death in Oban – Only 16 days after the sudden passing away of her husband Angus Campbell, Angaidh Iain Ruaidh, formerly of 14 Lionel, relatives were again saddened when the news came on Thursday, January 26th, that his wife Elsie had also passed away at their home in Oban.

Elsie, who was aged 70 years, had been in failing health for some time. The funeral of Elsie, again attended by family relatives who travelled to Oban on Friday, February 3rd, with the funeral service in Oban Parish Church taken by Rev James Beaton, Free Church minister in Oban.

In their continuing time of sorrow we again remember and extend our thoughts in sympathy from Ness to their daughter Fiona, sons Derek and Innes, the grandchildren who mourn, and all others in the close and extended family circle who mourn in this further family bereavement.

Commun Eachdraidh – On Saturday, February 4th, a well attended and successful lunch in aid of funds was held in the new premises of Comunn Eachdraidh Nis in the Old School in Cross.

The premises are now open to the public on Monday to Friday except Wednesday, from 10am to 4pm.

Those wishing to update their annual Record of Burials in Ness Cemetery are reminded that the record for the last year, 2011, is now available in Cross at 30p per sheet.

Correction – In the item Ness Funeral in this column last week the words given as ‘suited to the sole unity of an occasion’, should have read ‘suited to the solemnity of an occasion’.

UIG

100th Birthday – congratulations and best wishes from the Uig community to Angus Smith, Aonghas a’ Choisich, formerly of Ungishader and Eneclete, who celebrated his 100th birthday on Saturday, February 4th at the Care Home in Aultbea, Wester Ross, where he now lives and where his family joined him for that very special occasion.

We’re delighted to hear that he’s in good health; he’s in Aultbea with his daughter, Mairi Macneill, whose home is there, his son, Robert, lives in West Lothian.

Angus, the eldest of the family of the late Donald and Mary Smith, was last in Uig over a year ago on holiday with his brother, Peter, and sister in law, Katie, at the family home in Eneclete. Angus and Peter also have their sister, Mrs Kennag Campbell in Portnaguran.

Comhairle Budget Meeting – the Consultation Meeting when Comhairle nan Eilean comes visiting to inform us of the cuts in their next budget and which is now becoming an annual feature, was held in the Community Centre Cafeteria on Thursday 26th January.

The Comhairle Leader, Cllr Angus Campbell, who was accompanied by the Head of Legal Services and the Head of Finance, patiently took an audience of about 20 people through the lengthy consultation document and each department’s savings.

The overall impression given was that most of the not insubstantial savings identified would have little impact on the public - the audience found it hard to disagree with that!

The main issue raised from the floor was that of gritting roads, with this community’s general dissatisfaction with the current “economical” policy being expressed by several people.

There was no reassurance forthcoming on this one, however. Gritting gets done according to the priority status of a road: low priority roads, even when they are the only means of access, will not be gritted in time to get kids to school or workers to work.

The issue of the funding of Community Transport was another matter of interest to the community, also raised from the floor.

Calum Morrison, the local Community Transport Operator, stated that vulnerable people in the area with no independent form of transport would suffer most if services to the surgery or shop were discontinued and also, if either of the late runs to town were to stop.

The reply given was that this has not been finally decided yet due to uncertainty over awarding of contracts and there will be a further review of transportation over the summer.

Street lighting, identified for cutting at last year’s meeting, also came under discussion; some villages were reported as remaining fully lit and still at the old timing. Road repairs, as always, came up but the audience were left slightly uncertain on this one due to confusion over what’s going to be revenue or what’s going to be capital expenditure.

One road matter, which was perfectly clear and very welcome news, was that the road in the Glen, and the Valtos road by Loch Sgaillear, are down for imminent repair in the next financial year.

The numbers at this meeting were well up from last year’s but the attendance should have been better still for a consultation which affects us all.

The audience would also have appreciated a more thoughtful seating layout; the cafeteria is a very comfortable and pleasant area but those who are speaking to the public need to be put in a position where they can be seen and heard well by everyone present which wasn’t the case at the meeting of the 26th.

Gaelic Classes – last week’s item omitted to say that Gaelic classes are absolutely free of charge this term - for the first time ever - due to a very welcome initiative by Comann na Gaidhlig, who have formed a partnership with Community Education to enable this.

Adult learners say they have been finding it difficult to access Gaelic classes and also finding classes expensive; the low numbers attending Gaelic classes throughout Lewis in the last few years have certainly reflected this.

Everyone is welcome to this term’s free classes but they are targeted at young parents because the numbers of children in Gaelic Medium classes in Lewis are low compared to the cities, where the uptake is much more significant.

It’s very good for everyone to have funding for promoting the language spreading right out into the communities, especially into the remoter communities like this one, which used to be regarded once as the heartland of the Gaelic language.

CARLOWAY

Bereavement – Mary Ann Campbell passed away peacefully in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada on Sunday, December 18th, 2011, at the grand old age of 97.

Mary Ann was the only daughter of Mary Macleod, Mairi Dhomhnaill Mhurchaidh na h-Airde, of 6 Doune Carloway and Malcolm Gillies, Calum Aoghnais Ghillis, of 30 South Shawbost.

Her mother died in 1920, leaving three children. Her father later married Cairstiona Anna Dhomhnaill Bhàin of 17 New Shawbost and emigrated to Canada in 1924.

Her brother Malcolm, born in 1916, survives her in Canada; he returned to Lewis for the first time for his 90th birthday in 2006.

Mary Ann was married to Norman Campbell, of Ness stock, who predeceased her; they visited Lewis in 1980; they had three children all of whom survive her, as well as seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Congratulations - to Calum Iain and Kathryn MacArthur, of Upper Carloway, after the early arrival of their baby boy. A new grandson for Donald (Toni) and Joanne MacArthur, of Upper Carloway, and Cailean and Malina MacLeod, of Garenin. Meal-do-naidheachd!

Còisir Ghàidhlig Chàrlabhaigh – The Carloway Gaelic choir are now meeting at 7:30pm on Tuesday evenings in the Carloway Community Centre. New members are always welcome. Please keep your diaries free for two upcoming choir events: a light lunch on Saturday 14th April, followed by a ceilidh on the evening of Saturday 28th July.

NORTH UIST

Bowling - North Uist bowling club held their annual competitions on Saturday 4th February at Sgoil Phaibil. The competition was well attended and a great day was had by all.

The winners were: Singles - Nollie MacKinnon; Doubles - Iain Bramwell and Oisin Buckley; Triples - Nollie MacKinnon, Hector MacAulay and Ronnie MacKenzie.

Line Dancing - Margaret MacLean and Tina MacDonald, leaders of the dynamic band of Uist Line Dancers are on the look out for some more lively and energetic folk to join them. Lads and lasses of any age are welcome for a fun night out on Wednesdays 7:30pm to 8:30pm in Hosta Hall. £2 per session.

UIST AND BARRA

Work on houses - Contractors Mears Ltd of Paisley have since September 2011 been at work on Uist and Barra under the auspices of Hebridean Housing Partnership (HHP), this is a very significant contract awarded them by HHP and that will see them continue operation in the area until the end of March 2012.

Mears currently have two teams working – one focused on the kitchen replacement contract with the other concerned with the replacement of doors and windows. Noticeably in their labour at Winfield Close in Balivanich, Mears maintain a consistently rigorous pace during their working day, moving steadily towards set goals and within their schedule. Disruption within homes has been inevitable as work continues at pace. Very satisfied tenants have accepted that this will be most beneficial to them in the long run. Keep up the good work Mears!

On an interesting note and with football never far from the mind of the writer, site foreman Jim McCann from Erskine is the father of well known under 21 internationalist Kevin McCann, who obtained a CIS Insurance Cup winners medal with Hibs and had loan spells with Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Morton. Jim tells me that his son (24) in at present on the lookout for a club so hopefully this will come to fruition in the not too distant future.