District News: Butt to Barra 16.01.14

This striking image of the Callanish Stones at sunset was sent by reader Ali Finlayson
This striking image of the Callanish Stones at sunset was sent by reader Ali Finlayson


Sympathy from Ness – On Saturday January 6th relatives and friends in Ness were sad to hear of the passing away of Dolina Matheson (nee Morrison), Dollad an Todalan of High Borve.

Dolina, who was aged 91 years, was formerly from 20 South Galson.

From Ness we extend our thoughts in sympathy to her daughters Catriona and Joan Alice, her son Murdo, and we remember at this time her sisters Margaret at Green Acres in Glason, Murdina in Newmarket and Effie in London; and all others in the close family circle who mourn in this bereavement.

Changed Days – Among the calenders kindly given to us at the turn of the year we feel sad to note, with interest, that only one of them remind us what calendars have told us through the years, that Sunday is the first day of the week.

The wind of change leaves nothing untouched.

Services - In the absence of the Minister, who was preaching in Leverburgh, services in Scalpay Free Church last Sunday were conducted by Rev. George MacasKill, senior minister of Stornoway APC Church.

Master Mariner - Congratulations to William Benjamin Morrsion, Number Seven, who recently passed his exams to qualify as a Master Mariner. On behalf of the whole community we say well done to Captain Morrison on reaching the top of the maritime ladder, we’re proud of you and wish you well in your future career.

Driving Test Success -Congratulations also to Scott Macleod, GreenVale, who has now passed his driving test. Good Luck to you Scott!

In Hospital - At the time of compiling this Ewen Morrison, Lauren Bank, is detained in the Western Isles Hospital and we send best wishes for a speedy and full recovery and a quick return home.

Sad Passing - The island was saddened to hear of the passing on January 10th of Helen Baird, Adelaide, South Australia at the age of 73.

Helen, who last visited Scalpay in 1996, had strong family ties with the area, as her grandfather was from Drinnishader and her grandmother from Ardnakillie.

Her mother Morag and the late Christy Ann (Caw), Morag (Blackhill) and Sarah (Ardnakillie) were cousins.

Helen was heavily involved in and respected by the South Australian cycling team.

She will be greatly missed by all, but especially by her husband Lyle, son Ian, daughter Keryn, son-in-law Marc and grand daughter Maddie.

To them and to all relatives in Scalpay and away we offer our deepest sympathies.

May God be their strength and portion at this difficult time.

Football Memories - Looking at the recent Lewis and Harris Select statistics in the Gazette showing all the greats it brought back memories, especially seeing Donald ‘Lally’ Mackay, Tigh an Rudha, as the second most capped player.

I well remember taking Donald to primary select training in Stornoway and I thought he had potential.

Although the smallest player on the park he soon established himself and the rest as they say is history!


Sympathy - The whole community were shocked and saddened at the recent sudden passing of Mary Ann Matheson late of 30 Gravir following a short spell in hospital.

Mary Ann could be described as an outgoing, vibrant individual who was an active member in the community over the years, including being involved in the Community Association and Ravenspoint.

Over the years she dealt with various trials and tribulations in her life with courage and was never one to complain, she always accepted her lot. Pre-funeral services were held in the Gravir Free Church with interment taking place in the nearby cemetery.

To the sons and daughters, Allan, Kirstie, Mairi and John Murdo and their respective families and the wider family circle we send our sincere condolences on their sad sore loss.

We send sympathy to Iain Nicolson and family (Orinsay) on the recent passing of his mother on the mainland.

Get Well - We send get well wishes for a speedy recovery to Bellag Maclennan (Marvig) who at the time of writing is a patient in the Western Isles Hospital.

Happy Birthday - Many Happy Returns are sent to Kate Mackay (ex 2 Gravir) now resident in Dun Eisdean, Stornoway who has just recently celebrated her 99th Birthday.


Weather - As we began to compose these notes high winds and torrential rain were yet again an unwelcome visitor to our Benbecula shores.

These were only the latest of an unprecedented Autumn and early Winter band of ferocious and seemingly near perpetually disruptive weather conditions at times.

Venturing out of doors during this period proved difficult for the pedestrian. As a local shopkeeper simply remarked when his customer was having a right good moan about our weather: “We just have to take it as it comes.”

An Caladh - 2013 was a difficult year for An Caladh, the drop in centre situated at East Camp in Balivanich.

Due to falling attendances the cafeteria was forced to close down with the loss of jobs there.

On a brighter note came the arrival of a young and vibrant Minister Rev Lachie MacDonald, following his ordination in September and on his first ever ministerial charge with The Free Church of Scotland.

The post had remained vacant since Rev Iain MacAskill departed in August 2009, but in Rev Lachie it seems that the parish has now a similar younger version in stature, personality and preaching acumen to his predecessor, something which has frequently been commented on.

The minister resides in Lionicleit, Benbecula, with wife CJ and children Isabella Kate and Lachlan Alexander, the latter who was born just last month.

He said: “We are settling in and enjoying Uist, meeting and getting to know people, and it is a learning curve, but a privilege to forward the work of Christ in the community.”

On Sunday, January 12th, at An Caladh, Rev Mr MacDonald took as his theme the highly topical ‘Storms’, which he maintained many of us undergo in one form or another throughout our earthly lives.

He espoused that: “If you are living a life without Jesus (in this respect) then you are living one without hope.”

It was impressive as a member of the congreation to witness the way in which Rev MacDonald brought the children in to participate in the service.

Meanwhile An Caladh - in spite of the cafe closure - continues to meet for the Monday club and the Wednesday club for a lunch and games day also on Wednesdays.

It is perhaps to be hoped that with public support the club can open on a daily basis in future?

At present this service is free of charge with all welcome to come along.

Berneray celebrated the Old New Year (Oidche Caillean) in traditional unique fashion when the children set out in disguise, visiting island homes and reciting verse from “The Caillean” along the way.

By all accounts the children did very well on the night as ever, each gaining a bounty of money, confectionery etc before returning to the confines of Berneray Community Hall for a reception there.

Prior to this the Annual Dinner was held at the same hall, where a sumptious meal was partaken of, with local singers performing and dancing to follow, for a great night.

Budding Berneray artist Nicky Spears, of Ferry, recently produced a series of cards with his own sketches, including one ‘Fun in the snow at Berneray Hall’, which was great to recieve.

It is to be hoped that Nicky (17) is perhaps destined to follow in the footsteps of his artist and playwright dad Chris Spears.

Western Isles

Retirement - A consultant oncologist who has provided a visiting consultant service in the Western Isles for more than 20 years is due to retire in March.

Dr David Whillis is well known throughout the whole of the Western Isles for the service he has provided for more than two decades.

Extremely well liked and respected he travelled to the Western Isles from Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, where he is based, on a monthly basis and has provided a vital service to those in the island affected by cancer.

The Lewis and Harris Breast Cancer Support Group would like to raise awareness of his retirement as the group are keenly aware of how valued his services have been throughout the years and across the islands.

Mary Macleod, of the Lewis and Harris Cancer Support group, explained: “The support group would like to commend Dr Whillis’ dedication and commitment to the Western Isles over the years. Over this time he has become extremely well known and liked.”

A bank account has been set up at the Bank of Scotland to allow anyone who wishes to make a small gift contribution.

The account number is 10123661, sort code 800973, please remember to take these details with you.

The account will be open until Friday 21st February and Dr Whillis will be presented with a gift on his last official visit to the Western Isles in March.