Butt to Barra


Tribute - In remembrance of Norman Smith, 10 Lionel, Donald A Morrison writes: I suppose that if anyone deserves to be remembered in the Ness News column of the ‘Gazette’ it is Norman Smith, known to us all as Tarmod Sgiugs, who sadly passed away in the closing hours of 2014.

For the past thirty or so years Norman ensured that each death in our villages was recorded for posterity in this column with appropriate words of condolence to those left behind to mourn.

His final tribute was in last edition of 2014, where he writes about the untimely death of Councillor Kenneth Murray.

Norman served the community in many and varied offices and perhaps his most enduring association was with the congregation of Cross Free Church where he diligently carried out the duties of Deacon, and later, Elder, for nearly forty years including long stints as Treasurer and Sunday School Superintendent.

He was fondly remembered in the congregational Bulletin of 4 January: “We lament his passing, and know not how to express our feelings but we have that lively hope that he has now been called to a higher service.

“We are thankful that the Lord in His goodness spared Tarmod for fourscore and ten years. We are weakened by his passing… We mourn over a departed friend - a brother and a faithful ambassador for Christ, who used his talents for our good, has gone.”

There are many memorials in our community that testify to Norman’s endeavours in addition to his column in the ‘Gazette’ and his service to the church.

He was secretary and treasurer of Ness Cemetery Committee, serving in a voluntary capacity for thirty-three years from 1955 to 1998 and it is largely due to Norman that we have that frequently consulted publication, ‘Ness Cemetery Record’. Maybe it is only a list of dates with names and ages of all who were interred in the Ness Cemeteries from 1914, but it is one of our most valuable local records for research or just for rekindling memories of loved ones who have passed on.”

Bethesda Home and Hospice in Stornoway was always close to Norman’s heart. He was a founder member of the committee chaired by the late Rev Alex Murdo Macleod, set up in the 1980s following the pioneering work of Lochs nurse Christina Maclean to build support for the provision of a local hospice and nursing home.

There was island-wide support for the venture and, following active fund-raising, the splendid facility in Stornoway was opened by Princess Anne in 1992.

Norman always appreciated the generous contributions made by the people of Ness to Bethesda.

Norman was renowned for his extensive knowledge of local history and was frequently consulted by individuals and organisations seeking information.

He was always more than willing to share his vast store of knowledge of local families and events.

Norman was largely responsible for the research for the Comunn Eachdraidh Nis (CEN) publication ‘An Seann Chladh’ which records all the inscriptions on the memorial stones in St Peter’s Old Churchyard on Swainbost Machair.

Norman was a Justice of the Peace from 1971 to 2008 and was frequently called on to verify documents and testify to the bona fides of signatories – a task to which he applied the necessary rigour and scrutiny.

Perhaps in recent years Norman’s continuing commitment to the local community was most visible in his association with the war memorials at Cross and Borve.

Back in the mid 1990s, Norman along with like-minded local people, took steps to establish visible reminders in our villages of the great sacrifices made in the two world wars of the 20th century.

Two fine memorials are now in place in Cross and Borve, looked after by volunteers and by the committee of which Norman was the chairman for many years.

He ensured that the annual Remembrance Services focussed on the fallen and the pattern he set for the services is now followed each November when we gather together round the memorials.

His service on the committee was honoured at a ceremony at CEN on Remembrance weekend last November.

Another memorial to the fallen in which Norman was involved was the publication, ‘Roll of Honour – Ness to Bernera’, a precious account of all who served King and Country between 1939 and 1945.

Comunn Eachdraidh Nis too was an organisation that was dear to Norman.

He provided valuable support and guidance to CEN since it was set up in 1977 and last year his service was recognised in a tangible way when he was appointed Honorary President of the Society.

Norman was born on 8 April 1924, the fourth child of Christina and Donald Smith of 11 Lionel. He was educated in Lionel School and was called up for war service in 1943, aged eighteen.

A period of training as a wireless operator in the Reconnaissance Corps followed, and, by December 1943 he was on a troopship bound for Africa.

A month later Norman was on the beachhead at Anzio, 35 miles south of Rome, surrounded by hostile German forces.

Later in 1944 his unit was captured by the Germans near Florence and Norman’s war ended as a prisoner in Stalag VIIA.

On his return home after the war he began weaving. In June 1956 the Decca Navigator station in Lionel was commissioned and Norman was one of the first technicians at the station. He remained there till he retired around 1989.

On 19 March 1959 Norman and Cairstiona Macleod, 2 Lionel were married by Rev Donald Macdonald, a native of Cross, at Greyfriars Free Church in Inverness and they settled at 10 Lionel where they brought up their family.

In retirement Norman helped his brothers Donald and Allan John in the family business, Lionel Stores.

The shop, now long closed, was a favourite place for locals to catch up on the latest news and gossip and is fondly remembered by us all.

Norman was a man of prayer, a man of faith, a true friend and mentor, a pillar of the community that will mourn his passing.

We have lost one who was blessed with abundant spiritual gifts and graces and who was perhaps our most trusted human source of guidance.

When Cross Free Church marked Norman’s 90th birthday last April a friend said: “We as a congregation, have much to thank the Lord for, but especially for Norman, a man who has witnessed for the Lord for so long. He has been such a tower of strength and wisdom to all ages, devoting his energies to teaching for so many years in the Sabbath School, and always available for any occasion needing his knowledge and assurance. May the Lord raise up many more like Norman.”

Norman is truly worthy of remembrance and we as a community have many reasons to mourn his passing.

But it is Norman’s family we seek to prayerfully uphold before the Lord.

To Cairstiona, now widowed after fifty-five years of marriage, we offer our condolences as we do to son Iain and his wife Yvonne; the daughters - Margaret and her husband Angus John, Ina and her husband Iain.

We remember the grandchildren, Sarah, Andrew, Calum, Rhoda, Lorraine and Gordon and their loved ones, and also little Samuel, Norman’s great-grandson.

We remember too, Norman’s sister, Catriona - the last surviving member of the family of Dòmhnall Tharmoid - and all of Tarmod’s nephews and nieces. We commend them to the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.

Norman was predeceased by brothers John, lost in France in WWII in 1943, Allan John (d. January 1977 age 74), Donald (d. January 2005 age 79) Gordon (d. June1943 age 14) and sister Dolina (d. February 2000 age 79).


Service - The next Gaelic Service in the Dingwall Community Centre on Tulloch Street will be on Sunday the 1st of March.

On this occasion the Rev Donald Mackenzie [Rtd] will lead the worship. Mr Mackenzie’s last charge was in the United Free Church in Balintore.

The service to which all are welcome begins at the usual time of 3:00pm.


Great Bernera Estate Buyout - The Development trust met again last week and have arranged a drop in session in the community hall on Saturday 28th February 2-5pm. The purpose of this is to meet members of the trust and discuss progress to date.

Following this on Tuesday 3rd March both companies who have carried out feasibility studies will give presentations to members of the community regarding the work they have been doing.

It is important that as many as possible attend this meeting as this will give you information and let you decide how you wish to vote.

The ballot papers for the vote will be posted out on the 4th March and the official count will take place at the community hall on 19th march. Again all are invited to attend this.

Whist - Whist night in café on Friday at 7.30pm.

Birthday Wishes - Celebrating their 18th birthdays next week are Sarah Maclean and Lorna Latimer.

We send them both many congratulations and hope that they enjoy their special day.


Silent Auction - Grimsay Community Association is maintaining momentum with development plans for the Centre for Grimsay (the former Free Church) by holding a Silent Auction and an Auction of Promises to raise money for the project.

A wide selection of furniture and homewares will be auctioned, including a pair of three-seater leather sofas and a television.

The Auction of Promises already includes delicious home baking, local trips and experiences as well as gardening services to help get your plot in order for the spring.

There will be a viewing night at the Centre for Grimsay to allow people to see what is up for grabs on Friday 6th March, from 5pm till 8pm.

The auction itself will be held at the Centre on Saturday 7th March, starting at 2pm with tickets sold at the door.

Entry is £2.00 and includes a complimentary cup of tea or coffee and some tempting home baking.

The purchase of the former Free Church building on behalf of the community of Grimsay was made possible through funding from the Scottish Land Fund.

The Association is now firmly focussed on securing further funding for the capital works required to bring to fruition the community’s vision for the Centre for Grimsay as an economic, social and cultural hub for the island.


Saturday 28th - Is Volunteer Day at the Old School in Balallan. Kinloch Historical Society’s monthly ‘roll up your sleeves and get wired in’ day.

From 10am till 4pm, feel free to join us at any time on the day, for whatever amount of time you can spare.

There are many tasks such as archiving, recording, cleaning, grass clearing, restoration, joinery and kitchen work.

We will endeavour to match volunteers to their chosen skill/trade. Let us know if you are able to attend - phone Kenny MacKay on 075570384439 - and we can plan a task to suit your skill.

Charity Quiz - Night: Win prizes in aid of your favourite charity (local or national) at Balallan School on Saturday 28th February at 7.30pm.

Quiz is open to teams of three (Teams to register by 7.15 on the night). Entry Fee is a donation of £10 per team.

Come along with your local knowledge and learn even more about the Kinloch area.

Pamper Night: Ladies this is a date for your diary. Pampering, therapies to make you relaxed and feel good, combined with friendly company and bubbly.

It is on Friday 13th March at North Lochs Community Centre, Leurbost The charity we will be supporting this year will be the British Heart Foundation.

We have lots of lovely things planned for the evening and hope it will be as well supported as our previous Pamper night.

Payment of £10 will be taken on the door - this will cover the cost of a glass of bubbly, canapés and will guarantee a treatment. There will also be a Swap Rail and raffle.

Gun Club - Harris Gun Club AGM is on Wednesday 4th March at 6pm in Committee Room 3, Council Offices. Sandwick Rd.

We are looking for nominations by post or email to harrisgunclub@gmail.com for a safety officer and a child protection officer for events at Aline Community Woodland.

A reminder that Gun Club membership fees are also due on this date.

Western Isles

Visitor boost - The Outer Hebrides are to feature in a special VisitScotland competition which will give 8,000 people the chance to enjoy a free return trip to one of 23 islands in Scotland.

VisitScotland has teamed up with Caledonian MacBrayne and Serco NorthLink Ferries to encourage people to discover for the first time or reacquaint themselves with Scotland’s islands.

The new campaign, which is open to UK residents offers 8,000 free passenger tickets

There will be a draw each week, up until 25 March with 4,000 winners receiving one pair of foot passenger tickets for their chosen route.

The Islands Visitor Survey revealed that of the 425,000 visitors who went to the Outer Hebrides, Shetland and Orkney between 2012 and 2013, around three quarters said they would be likely to return in the next five years for a holiday or short break. The Survey also revealed visitors contribute over £100m to the local economies. For more information visit: www.visitscotland.com/brilliantislands