Gazette Letters 26.12.13

Reader Ali Finlayson, Ness, sent in this dramatic image taken recently at the Port of Ness.
Reader Ali Finlayson, Ness, sent in this dramatic image taken recently at the Port of Ness.

Looking to 2014

As 2013 draws to a close, it’s only natural to reflect on what was, by all accounts, a successful year for Scottish tourism – naturally!

With breathtaking scenery, a plethora of outdoor experiences and an eclectic mix of stunning wildlife, exploiting the Year of Natural Scotland has been what we call in the industry a ‘no brainer’. Media giant CNN said Scotland would be the place to visit in 2013, and so it was.

The sun shone and visitors from near and far headed into our great outdoors.

But now, it’s time to look forward. As the bells strike midnight on what will be an epic Homecoming-themed Hogmanay across the country, 2014 and a whole year of fun, festivals and frivolity will begin.

Homecoming Scotland features over 400 events covering every month and almost every square inch of our breath-taking country. It’s the icing on the cake in a year in which events like the Ryder Cup, Commonwealth Games, and the MTV Awards will put the world’s spotlight on Scotland like never before.

In the Outer Hebrides alone there are four events, staring in April with the International Environmental Interactions of Marine Renewable (EIMR 2014) conference, then the Hebridean Celtic Festival in July and in August the PWF Callanish Stones Marathon and the Harris Tweed Hebrides Tattoo.

So it’s the year to be in Scotland. Everyone must get involved, not just to enjoy these unprecedented events ourselves, but to offer that legendary Scottish welcome to our visitors.

However, the party isn’t over when 2014 ends.

The events next year must be the launch pad for a new phase of success for Scottish tourism. We need to exploit 2014 to ensure the industry prospers through the second part of the decade; to inspire watchers into becoming visitors.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year and hope you have a healthy, peaceful and fun-filled 2014.

Mike Cantlay

Chairman, VisitScotland


The long-established Stornoway High Church ,formerly a united and hospitable place,now split and tearing itself apart over the current controversy about openly-gay clergy is sad and avoidable on two counts

Firstly, it’s a fallacy to believe that any church denomination can have an entirely heterosexual clergy.

Nobody knows with any certainty how many closeted reverends and priests have over past generations served the different churches.The same will apply in the future,irrespective of denomination.

Secondly, despite the now all too familiar ecclesiastical upheaval and ongoing soul-searching , it matters little what geographical or denominational location the fine people of that congregation ultimately choose for their Sunday pew. All their individual spiritual fates have already been sealed ,as has that of everybody else.

So says the biblical doctrine of predestination, designed to counter any claim made that a person is capable of earning salvation through their own innate goodness or endeavours.

Salvation and its heavenly reward is a gift that has already been bestowed on the fortunate few ( the elect ), but denied the vast majority of humanity, who have additionally been cursed with eternal damnation in the depths of Hell (what could conceivably be a worse punishment?) This is all biblical fact.

We are also biblically informed that these individual gifts and curses were divinely administered before the universe, human life and time itself were created by God. However, the fulfilment of this biblically endorsed doctrine has a very obvious and inexplicable downside.

So my question to theologians of all abilities is this: given that there is apparently no previous existence or individual record ,good or bad, on which to pass judgement , how could a God claiming to overflow with love and mercy for each of his human creation have differentiated between their Heaven or Hell-bound destiny on a fair and just basis ?

A perplexing question indeed! But even an honest attempt at an answer,if only to share that perplexity, would be preferable to continually sweeping this crucial issue under the vestry carpet.

Iain M Macdonald

Isle of Lewis

Cancer checklist

Having been previously diagnosed with prostate cancer I was delighted to read in your paper that Alasdair Allan MSP is calling on NHS Western Isles to implement Prostate Cancer UK’s Quality Checklist.

The Quality Checklist is a clear and concise guide compiled by men and health care professionals for men and health care professionals.

It is a fantastic document that would have been invaluable to me had it been available when I was diagnosed with the disease.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and, by 2030, is predicted to be the most common cancer overall.

The disease kills almost as many men every year as women who are killed by breast cancer, but it doesn’t get nearly as much attention.

I therefore trust that NHS Western Isles will waste no time in helping to re-dress this balance by responding positively to the call to implement Prostate Cancer UK’s Quality Checklist, and look forward to reading the response in your paper.

John Thomson

Patient Representative

Prostate Cancer UK