Gazette Letters 25.12.14

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Pictured above is an image by reader Ron MacAlpine, who perfectly captured the peace and tranquillity which accompanied the recent cold snap and snow fall in Point. At the forefront of his image some ducks take a frosty seat while the lighthouse at Tiumpan Head can be seen in the background.

To contribute your photos to our Beautiful Islands Feature, 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.


Two faced Braighe

The Braigh has two faces, some years ago, I had to cross every morning to go to work in Stornoway. I was driving a borrowed car at the time.

On a brilliant summer morning with the sun already strong and shining from a cloudless sky, I drove across the white causeway. I looked at the calm sea and there, close offshore, was a basking shark. This large but harmless animal was cruising slowly along, probably filtering plankton. Nobody, I thought, could have had a better journey to work.

One winter morning I was again at the Braighe. It was now very different, with a full gale blowing the lumpy sea directly onto the road. High tide was at its peak and I was stopped by a bus driver. “Don’t cross” he said, “It’s too dangerous.”

But I had to get to work that day. I looked at the black sky and the few other people waiting and made a decision. If I drove fast, I thought, I could just make it between waves. Wrong!

As a big wave crashed on the road I set off. At first all went well but the amount of water left on the road reached the electrics and the car stopped in mid-Braighe.

I saw the next huge wave loom above me and then it crashed down with a roar. The noise and the shock were made worse by the falling stones that the wave brought with it. As soon as the water began to drain away, I leapt from the car, jumped the fence and rushed over the field towards the loch and Broad Bay. I was soaked, but the car was stuck until the tide went down, which did not improve its appearance.

I learned two things from this second experience: If you borrow a car, it’s useful if the lender is two hundred miles away and listen to bus drivers.

Bill Yule


Robust debate

I humbly accept Ross Chrichton’s praise for me (Letters, 18 December) but he is quite wrong about the Free Kirk’s Moderator-Elect Reverend David Roberson.

In numerous letters to the press, in live debates, on his own blog and Facebook page and occasionally as a trustee of Solas, Reverend Robertson has used words such as “aggressive”, “fundamentalist” and “militant” to describe me, my National Secular Society colleagues and secularism generally.

He would seem to be the one guilty of the intolerance of which he accuses others for referring to Jim Murphy as a religious fanatic, which seems rather pathetic by comparison.

To use the Reverend’s own word, I find his frequent, occasionally personal comments about me ‘disturbing’ but I do not try to make personal or political capital out of it as he has.

Perhaps the Reverend just sees his attacks on me as freedom of religious expression, to be permitted and excused in the name of robust debate. If so, it is a courtesy he seems unable to extend to others.

Further, given the Free Kirk’s well-known attitudes to Catholicism it is hypocritical for David Robertson to harangue anyone else for allegedly intolerant comments and opinions.

Season’s Greetings to all your readers.

Alistair McBay

National Secular Society

Thanks for your support

On behalf of Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, may I take this opportunity to send sincere thanks to all of the many volunteers and supporters in the Western Isles who have contributed to the work of our charity in 2014.

Chest, heart and stroke illness can affect anyone. Thanks to advances in treatment, and changes in lifestyle, many more people survive heart attacks and strokes than ever before - a real success story for Scotland’s health.

However, this means that many more people, and their families, are living with the long-term impact of these conditions.

Right now one in every ten people in Scotland is living with chest, heart or stroke illness.

CHSS is the only charity providing services throughout Scotland for people affected by chest, heart and stroke illness.

During 2014 we were able to help more than 18,000 people through our advice line and patient information, support groups, financial grants, and our wide range of local services, which we provide in communities throughout the Western Isles.

None of this would be possible without the contribution of our volunteers.

Their work is absolutely vital in our local support services, charity shops and other activities.

We very much appreciate the commitment, enthusiasm and care they bring to the charity and to their local community.

With continuing grateful thanks, and best wishes for 2015.

David H Clark

Chief Executive

Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland

Price rise

You will no doubt have noticed when you bought today’s paper that the price has gone up by 5p. It is a challenging time for newspapers and we need to raise the price to meet overheads such as the rising costs of print, paper and transportation and, most importantly, to further invest in our journalism.

We want to ensure that the Stornoway Gazette continues to bring you the best possible coverage of all the local news and sports, opinion, details of what’s on and much more.

We know a price rise is far from ideal but I hope that you don’t find it a prohibitive increase.

If you’re an existing subscriber, your vouchers will be accepted by retailers at the new price and the current price of a standard subscription will remain the same for the next few weeks.

For those of you who want to avoid paying the increase, why not lock in the old price by subscribing. Not only do you beat the price rise, you will also get an additional discount of up to 20% when you pay by direct debit.

It’s easy. Just visit or call 0844 991 6464.

Melinda Gillen

Editor Stornoway Gazette


Christmas has come around once more and our pages are full of Christmas celebration and giving, with a great spread of party images on pages 12 and 13.

This time of year is all about giving, whether that is to each other, or to charity.

It also a time for families and communities to come closer together.

In recent years the Islands’ communities have been put under strain due to the rocky economic outlook, causing some families to move away for better opportunities.

Falling school rolls have also caused the closure of some village schools, with the result that some island villages are less attractive as a base for young families.

It is good news then that we see in our page three story the announcement of new social housing to be built in Crowlista in Uig in a bid to attract people to the area.

It is this kind of support for rural communities which will a difference.

If you would like to comment or write a letter on this topic, or any other contact me at: