Gazette Letters 18.12.14

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Featured above is our picture of the week, it was submitted by Stornoway Gazette reader Dane Miller and is an image of the Lewis War Memorial covered under a blanket of snow.

To contribute your photos, email: Include your name, address, where the picture was taken and what inspired you to take it, as well as any technical information about the picture.


Poppy appeal thanks

On behalf of Poppy Scotland I would like to thank all the retail outlets, businesses and individuals throughout Lewis and Harris who displayed poppy trays and cans and helped to raise the magnificent sum of £7534.90.

Additionally the 1st Battalion the Highlanders ACF raised £3000 through their door to door and street collection.

Funds raised by the annual appeal for Scottish Ex-Service Personnel are allocated to Providing direct financial assistance to individuals.

Funding an advice service for the veteran’s community, including war pension appeals.

Providing grants and research for organisations that deliver specialist support for veterans in Scotland.

Supporting employment of veterans with disabilities.

Once again thank you from the Poppy Scotland Appeal and the ex-service community in Scotland.

Donald Maciver

Royal British Legion Scotland Lewis Branch

Isle of Lewis

Praise for Alistair McBay

I was delighted to read the letter you published from Alistair McBay of the National Secular Society. It is encouraging to know that he tries “to behave decently towards all people” and doesn’t make “any distinction in how I approach them on the basis of their belief or lack of belief in gods.”

He would do well to share his principles with the Scottish Secular Society, widely reported in the press as being critical of Jim Murphy for being a “Catholic fanatic/extremist/Pope Benedict fan.” Interestingly, it was the Rev. David Robertson, Moderator-elect of the Free Church, who leapt to Mr. Murphy’s defence. With reference to Mr. Murphy, Rev. Robertson is to be lauded for not making “any distinction” based on belief and “behaving decently” towards someone not of his own denomination. Rev. Robertson puts into practice the qualities recommended by Mr. McBay.

In a society which seeks to celebrate diversity and promote equality and tolerance, it is a shame that the Scottish Secular Society should deem a person unfit for public office on the basis of religious belief.

Other strands of diversity seem to be acceptable in the public space – just not the religious strand. Perhaps they should take a leaf out of Mr. McBay’s book. Doing so may just prevent “secularism” from becoming tainted with “sectarianism”.

Ross S. J. Crichton

Isle of Benbecula

Thanks for your support

This has been a landmark year for me and for Action for Children. I became the chief executive of this wonderful charity in March, and in July we celebrated our 145th anniversary. That’s 145 years of supporting the most vulnerable children and young people in society.

I have spent my first year really getting to know Action for Children, and I have been humbled and inspired by the impact of our work through services such as Inverness Families and our Eilean Siar Residential Unit.

We also held a whole host of entertaining, unusual and sometimes challenging events this year. Beloved children’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar celebrated its own anniversary – its 45th – and together we held the Giant Wiggle, a fundraiser that saw children in the Highlands and Islands join thousands across the UK for a sponsored wiggle that was enjoyed by all.

Arguably less enjoyable was Byte Night. I was one of more than 1,500 people who slept rough to

highlight the issue of youth homelessness. It was cold and uncomfortable, but we raised more than £1 million for our homelessness services so it was definitely worth it!

I would like to thank your readers for everything they have done for Action for Children this year – from making donations, to backing our campaigns, to taking part in fundraising challenges. Together we have achieved a lot, but sadly there is still more to be done. Our frontline services are increasingly supporting children and families on issues such as depression and self-harm.

We’re committed to doing everything we can to stop situations getting worse and to transform lives - but we need your support.

To find out more about how you can help Action for Children make 2015 a happy New Year for children in the Highlands and Islands, and across Scotland, please visit

Sir Tony Hawkhead

Chief Executive of Action for Children

Why we must never forget

For many Forces families, this Christmas will be extra special. Last month saw the end of British combat operations in Afghanistan. 140,000

UK troops have served there, and the final few are currently on their way home to be reunited with friends and family for the festive season.

It’s a time for celebration, but also a time to remember those who lost their lives, and those who will continue to need support, in many forms, for many years, as a result of their service in that conflict.

At SSAFA we’re already responding to those needs, through a vast range of services designed to support the injured and their families, those who are suffering with loneliness or isolation, and those who have been bereaved.

But we know from past experience that this is only the tip of the iceberg. Issues relating to active service can often lie

dormant for many years, sometimes because of people’s resilience, pride, or simply not knowing where to turn for help.

Over 7,000 of those we are helping today last saw active service during conflicts in Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Bosnia and Iraq.

Many last served over a decade ago, yet they still need and deserve our help.

So while we welcome home the final few troops, I would urge everyone to remember the work that still remains to be done supporting serving personnel, veterans and their families here in the UK.

You can show your support this Christmas by posting a personal salute to them at, or text ‘HERO29 £3’ to 70070 to help continue SSAFA’s vital work with the entire military community.

Air Vice-Marshal David Murray CVO OBE,

Chief Executive of SSAFA

(formerly The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association)

EDITORIAL - Windy weather leaves legacy

Extremes are to be expected in the weather at this time of year but the recent ferocious gusts twinned with incessant rain, thunder and lightning left a lingering effect on island residents.

It served as a timely reminder of the epic power of Mother Nature and also how reliant we are on our links to the mainland as shops around the isles were stripped bare of all fresh food with milk and bread a scarcity for three days.

But amidst the ferocity of the storm many of our readers helped capture the beauty of its power with a series of striking images which were submitted and can be viewed on page 17.

They perfectly showcase the power of the ocean which surrounds us.

In the skies too the huge number of lightning strikes left their indelible mark on residents with two unlucky home owners left counting the cost of strikes on their property.

Then as the worst of the conditions eased off we were treated to a brief blanket of snow. It didn’t last but who knows, maybe, just maybe, we will get a white Christmas in 2014.