Gazette Letters 23.7.15

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Tired but happy

I feel that I want to write to express my gratitude to the management team of the Hebceltfest for yet another stimulating and well organised festival.

I have been at the festival almost every year since it first started, for many years as a volunteer.

After a break of some years, I felt strongly drawn again to get involved, as I have the greatest of respect for the HCF and all that it means to the island.

I was delighted to find that the volunteering experience was very well managed, with great support and a real feeling of being part of the team that make the festival happen.

We worked hard but had a lot of fun - and I met some delightful people, both local and from far afield.

Without the volunteers it just could not run – and HCF certainly do aim to make the whole volunteering experience an enjoyable, positive and well- structured one.

At one point on Thursday evening I took a break and sat looking around me: it was hard to believe this really was Stornoway – it was just a magical scene in the pleasant evening light, with the tents, the fine music and food, and an interesting mix of visitors as well as local friends.

I want to say well done HCF and a big thank you for all that you do to bring us this amazingly good festival: I also greatly enjoyed all the concerts I attended as a festival goer.

So many other small festivals have fallen by the wayside, and I think we should be glad and proud that our festival is still going strong.

It needs our continued support and enthusiasm as both festival goers and volunteers – surely this is a small contribution to make to such an outstanding event?

Kirsty Macdonald

Isle of Lewis HS2 9AG

Conservation

Well what do you ? it looks like the initial plan for areas of marine conservation are getting more likley to happen than not.

So, now is the tome for all folk who know the real story, and have a backbone to stand up and show that action speaks louder than words,

Our grandfathers took a stand and right now is our time to take the stand, and show our determination to hold on to our rights, to live and work in our communities at liberty.

If we as a people do not have the guts to protect what was freely given we are simply not worth the ground that we stand on.

If it is left without any real action or fight for our privelages and rights we will live here on our reservations, not conservations.

Angus Campbell,

South Uist

Fellowships scheme

It’s a source of real concern for the cultural life of our nation that most Scottish writers earn less than the minimum wage for their writing – a key finding of a new report from Creative Scotland.

A survey commissioned by the Saltire Society last year found Scottish writing has a broad appeal.

Almost 70% of Scottish adults said they purchase new books by Scottish writers and almost a third buy at least one new book by a Scottish writer every six months.

But this new report highlights the real challenges today’s Scottish writers face in making a living from their work.

The Saltire Society recently launched a new Trust with the aim of raising £5million by St. Andrew’s Day 2016 to help foster Scotland’s cultural talent.

One early ambition of the Trust will be to create the Saltire Fellowships scheme.

The scheme would provide financial support to enable exceptional individuals in Scottish arts and culture to devote their full energies to their work.

Once established, I sincerely hope that some of Scotland’s outstanding writing talent can benefit from the scheme.

That way, we can help ensure that Scottish writing continues to make a valuable contribution to our cultural life for many years to come.

Sarah Mason

The Saltire Society

Edinburgh EH1 1TF

Caged hens

Since the ban on battery cages in 2012, many people believe that egg-laying hens are no longer kept in cages in this country.

But unfortunately millions of hens in the UK remain incarcerated in crowded, filthy cages simply to produce cheap eggs.

As revealed in Animal Aid’s latest undercover film, these ‘colony cages’ offer little - if any - improvement on the traditional battery cages they have replaced and are almost indistinguishable to the layperson.

Around half of eggs laid in the UK come from caged hens, and they are not just sold whole in supermarkets. Many are used in the catering industry and in processed goods such as cakes, quiches and fresh pasta, meaning many people are eating them without even realising.

Anyone wishing to see Animal Aid’s caged-hen footage for themselves, or who would like information on cruelty-free living, should visit www.animalaid.org.uk or call 01732 364546.

Ben Martin

Animal Aid

Tonbridge TN9 1AW

EDITORIAL - Importance of the HebCelt to the Isles

Another Hebridean Celtic Festival has went off without a hitch.

Aand despite the forecasts of dire weather, which had me searching out my wellies, only a fine drizzle on Saturday nightresulted.

And with a jam-packed line up of artists, withmore than 50 hours of performances this year - the fullest programme ever offered - there was plenty of entertainment on show.

The Heb Celt is a 20 year success story, what is amazing is that it continues to grow and develop each year, and that is down to the enthusiasm of its organisers and volunteers.

Undoubtedly it brings a stunning boost to the Western Isles economy and reports of £20m generated ove the past 20 years surely must be a conservative figure.

The unique selling point of the HebCelt as a festival is the fact that you may not know all the acts who are appearing, and each year is like a magical, musical discovery tour.

In its 20th anniversary year there has been some public comment about the line up with a few disappointments expressed.

How well it went down with the public will be borne out by the ticket sales - although statistics are not yet available - they will get to the heart of how this year’s HebCelt delivered to its market.

In the meantime well done to the team overall for a growing and developing event.

And already we are looking forward to the line-up and ideas being planned for the festival’s coming of age 21st celebration in 2016.

Our featured image was sent in by reader Steven Welsh, who said: “Imagine opening the door to this view. You have to imagine it because the door is not there anymore and part of the doorway is also missing.

“This photograph was taken from a ruined house above the far away beach Tolstadh on July 19th using an iPhone 5.”