Hebrides Today

News from the Western Isles

Archive for the ‘Stornoway’ Category

Island enterprises encouraged to apply for new funding

Posted by Editor On February - 26 - 2009

Social enterprises across Lewis and South Uist are being encouraged to take advantage of a new £30m investment fund.


The Scottish Investment Fund (SIF) will provide funding for services that benefit the local community.


To promote the initiative, managers from Social Investment Scotland (the body which administers the fund) will attend meetings of the Lewis and South Uist Social Enterprise Partnerships this week.


SIF administrator Social Investment Scotland is aiming to make awards to around 60 to 80 organisations over the next three years. Prime areas for investment include: social care; environmental projects; employment training; disability services and health equality initiatives.


Investment from the fund is tailored to the requirements of individual organisations and will comprise a combination of loans at affordable fixed rates as well as ‘patient capital’ and non-repayable funding.


The first stage for those who wish to find out more is a simple on-line process. In less than 15 minutes groups will know whether or not they meet the basic eligibility criteria.


Scott Anderson, Chief Executive of Social Investment Scotland, said: “The Scottish Investment Fund marks a new way forward for social enterprises. It will give an added commercial focus to the sector and help organisations across regions such as the Western Isles develop revenue generating initiatives.


“SIF offers an additional means of attracting funding for social enterprises with real growth potential. For those who qualify, the fund will give them the capital they need to help them succeed and enable them to make an enhanced contribution to Scotland’s economy."


“Whilst we have already received a number of approaches, we are looking for more at present. I would encourage any individuals running social enterprises that have the scope for growth to consider the benefits of SIF and contact us to see if they are eligible.”


For further details visit: www.scottishinvestmentfund.co.uk

Top Scottish artist grabs luxury Hebridean break

Posted by Editor On February - 15 - 2009

Scottish contemporary artist Jack Vettriano has won a break to the Hebridean Island of Lewis following a Burns supper event in London to mark Homecoming Scotland 2009.

The event, organised by sophisticated London bar and restaurant Boisdale, was attended by a host of celebrities, including Jack Vettriano, David Coulthard and Lorraine Kelly, who were each given the opportunity to bid in an exclusive auction.

One of the ‘lots’ was a four night break to Lewis for two people, staying in Hebridean Luxury Holidays’ five star lodge, which includes a sauna, jacuzzi and luxury kitchen, with a half day artist’s tutorial and also car hire to explore the Island’s tourism offering.

Hebridean Luxury Holidays was approached for an auction prize as their properties are ideally placed to offer that real get away break. As a result of the Hebrides’ unspoilt spaces and breathtaking scenery, the company decided to offer painting and photography courses as part of a short break package.

Graham McLellan from Hebridean Luxury Holidays commented: “This was a fantastic opportunity to showcase Lewis to an influential and prestigious audience. It was exciting to offer our prize alongside Gleneagles and The Bonham and to be recognized as the special destination that we are.

“We see this as just the start of welcoming many artists and photographers to discover the stunning beauty of our Island.”

MaryAnn Maciver, VisitScotland’s Islands Manager, said: “It is fantastic to hear that Hebridean Luxury Holidays was included in this exclusive auction and is proof of their superior standards.

“Lewis has so much to offer and I have no doubt that Jack will have an amazing experience, perhaps promoting him to come back again or encourage others to experience this must-see, must-visit destination.

“As an artist, he will undoubtedly appreciate the Island’s beauty.”

Stars galore for luxury Hebridean retreat

Posted by Editor On February - 15 - 2009

VisitScotland recently awarded a Hebridean self-catering retreat with its highest possible accolade - five stars.

The national tourism organisation’s Quality Assurance grading was awarded to the newly built An Airigh dweling house at Claddach Kirkibost, North Uist, in recognition of their excellent standards.

An Airigh boasts four bedrooms and its location on a working croft is perfect for exploring the Uists and Benbecula. Not only is it situated near the shoreline but North Uist itself is renowned for its fresh and sea loch fishing. It is also a known haven for bird watchers with the RSPB reserve at Balranald only a few miles away from the property.

Proprietor John MacIsaac commented: “To receive this top award from VisitScotland is fantastic recognition and provides further motivation to continue operating at such a high level.

“Providing the visitor with a quality experience is key to what An Airigh sets out to do and which hopefully will encourage that return visit.”

VisitScotland’s Islands Manager, Maryann Maciver, said: “It is fantastic to see North Uist’s tourism offering enhanced by this luxurious property. Quality, and indeed self-catering options, are becoming more and more of a draw for visitors which is why investment and developments like this are so vital to the area and the tourism industry as a whole.”

Gaelic on the piste

Posted by Editor On February - 12 - 2009

SCOTLAND’s skiing industry has been given a Gaelic makeover as an extensive programme of bilingual signage gets underway at Highland ski centres.

This week sees the completion of stage one of the programme with both The Lecht Ski Centre and Glenshee Ski Centre formally launching their new Gaelic signage and fully bilingual piste map.

As part of the initiative both ski centres have prepared Gaelic Language Plans which will ensure that the bilingual approach is continued in the future and that Gaelic will have a much enhanced profile at the locations.

The Lecht and Glenshee Ski Centres have delivered the new signage and maps through a partnership between Comunn na Gàidhlig, Bòrd na Gàidhlig and Highlands & Islands Enterprise with Bòrd na Gàidhlig providing financial support for the initiative.

The important role played by skiing in the Scottish economy and its appeal to all ages means that a whole new audience is now able to access Gaelic and be informed on the many opportunities available through the language.

Acting Chief Executive of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Rosemary Ward said: “We are very pleased to be able to support both The Lecht and Glenshee to promote and use Gaelic in their daily business. This is the first time that Gaelic Language Plans have been implemented in the private sector and we very keen to draw attention to the extensive range of employment opportunities available though Gaelic.”

Comunn na Gàidhlig (CnaG) provided practical support for the ski centres and supplied the bilingual piste maps.

Archie Maclean, Chief Executive of CnaG, said that all businesses in the Highlands and Islands are able to access financial and practical support to use bilingual signs. "We provide support to a range of businesses and are actively seeking other companies who might wish to introduce bilingual signs.”

Speaking about the developments at Glenshee Ski Centre, Graham McCabe, Managing Director commented: “We are really pleased with the new signs and visitors to the ski centre have already expressed great interest in Gaelic. We will be continuing with this approach in the future.”

The Lecht and Glenshee projects will be followed by similar developments at other ski centres during the winter. Comunn na Gàidhlig wishes to encourage feedback on the initiative and has set up a dedicated email address for people to contact them. [email protected]

Western Isles Primary School closures

Posted by Editor On February - 12 - 2009
FALLING numbers of children and a poor standard of school buildings has lead Western Isles Council to consider the closure of many Primary Schools throughout the island chain. The number of school age children in the region has plummeted over the last 30 years from 6,300 to only 3,730 in September 2008. Councillors at a meeting on Tuesday discussed a report into the Future Strategy for Schools and named possible receiving schools in the event of closures. This left room for speculation over the future of Tong, Tolsta, Sandwickhill, Cross, Bragar, Carloway, Bernera, Balallan, Selibost, Scalpay, Lochmaddy, Eriskay and Eoligarry Primary Schools. Also included were Aird and Knock Primaries which are already scheduled to close on the completion of the new Point community school and Barvas and Airidhantium which would come together in the new Westside community school. Members have decided to go to a public consultation exercise, but they heavily emphasised that no school has yet been selected for the chopping block. The issue is a controversial one, especially considering the public backlash the Council faced over their decision to close seven junior secondary school units. A decision which has not found favour with the Scottish Government, who have today (Thursday) refused permission for the closure of S1/S2 units at Daliburgh and Paible in Uist and Lionel and Shawbost in Lewis .

Logging on to ‘Bebo’ Gaelic

Posted by Editor On February - 12 - 2009

IT’S NOT pants! Or rather we should say "Drathais", as Gaelic takes a large leap into the land of teen-talk.

The language may have been pronouncing a death rattle in recent years but it is receiving the kiss of life and this latest move could mean that it is in with a shout of survival.

It is hoped new words, including ‘rock stars’, ‘thongs’ and ‘piercings’ will give the ancient language some ‘street-cred’ and in a bid to graft it onto the Bebo landscape a social-networking site – mygaelic – has been created to appeal to teens and learners of the language.

The 250,000 price tag of the new site, which was Government funded, has created controversy against the current bleak economic outlook but those behind the initiative believe they are on to a winner and are convinced the scheme will present the language as modern and vibrant.

Mygaelic.com spokesman Hugh Dan MacLennan hoped the new words would soon become an established part of everyday language. He said the team behind the initiative were keen to challenge the idea that Gaelic is a language of the past, adding: "The reality is that it is a modern, constantly evolving language. Our hope is that these phrases will be adopted by the younger generation who log on to the site."

The images to promote the website are striking with posters featuring pictures of a "Drathais Iallach", or a thong, riding up above a young woman's jeans, as well as a "Tolladh", or piercing being shown off on a shapely belly.

High heels are "Sàilean Àrda", a sunbed translates to "Leabaidh-ghrèine” - Sunbed and tattoo becomes "Wuss".

For the lads footballing terms have also been given a Gaelic makeover with player becoming "Cluicheadair", the net translating as "An Lìon" and a goalkeeper is a "Neach-gleidhidh".

The Gaelic social networking site, which was launched last week, has been in production for the past two years. It allows Gaelic-speaking people from all over the world to connect with each other and also acts as an information site for people who want to learn the language, already the site has attracted 400 users.

Rosemary Ward of Bord na Gaidhlig, the Government body responsible for Scotland's 60,000 Gaelic speakers, described the site as having “something for everyone with an interest in Gaelic.”

She added that users can set up their own social networking profile, have a group of friends, send messages and add comments, as well as being able to find out about a wide range of Gaelic activities and organisations.

To check out the site log on to:www.mygaelic.com

Interactive website to aid local historical knowledge

Posted by Editor On February - 11 - 2009

LOCAL history in Lewis received a boost recently when Comunn Eachdraidh na Pairc launched their new interactive web site.

The new on-line facility with its blog-style format means that visitors can comment on and add to every item featured – it is hoped that this will add to the fund of knowledge already gathered about the life and times of Pairc, which includes the townships of Habost, Kershader, Garyvard, Caverstay, Torostay, Cromore, Marvig, Calbost, Gravir, Lemreway, Orinsay, throughout the area’s history.

Already presented on the website are a collection of photos featuring people who are unknown and it is hoped that visitors will be able to identify them, such as an unidentified photo found in Uig but marked as belonging to an ‘M.Campbell of Gravir.  The group of seven people look like they are dressed in clothes dating from the 1930s but no one in the photo is named.  Or perhaps visitors will be able to help identify the guests at a wedding party again looking like it dates from the early 1930s.

As well as these pictures there is also an archive of old school photographs and a record of community outings from the last 12 years.

If you would like to visit the new website log on to: www.cepairc.com.

The past comes to life

Posted by Editor On February - 9 - 2009

Stornoway museum

WESTERN ISLES museums - Museum nan Eilean and the Comainn Eachdraidh are taking part in a project entitled 'Lewis at War, 1939-1960', a new oral history initiative which explores the theme of military service from World War II up to 1960. The project is part of the ‘Their Past Your Future (TPYF) Scotland initiative. Kildonan Museum in South Uist has also announced the launch of its TPYF programme - ‘Proiseact Beinn na Coraraidh’. Working with pupils from some local schools, the groundbreaking project will collect reminiscences from islanders focusing on island life during the Second World War and the longer lasting impact it had on the community. Themes range from the experience of war to reminiscences of what life was like on Uist and how the development of the airfield went on to impact on the island in later years. In Lewis students from the Nicolson Institute are receiving training in producing multimedia recordings of the personal histories of veterans. Combined with film footage, photographs and newspapers cuttings from the period, these recordings will be edited to create a series of fascinating on-line exhibitions, which will be available on the ‘Their Past Your Future’ Scotland website. Among the memories to be explored and recorded in both Gaelic and English will be service in India, Burma and Africa, bomb disposal on the front line, Lewis servicemen’s participation in major engagements in Europe, and of course the way the war was experienced in the islands. People with their own memories of the Second World War and conflicts up to 1960 are invited to become part of the project and share their living histories - for Lewis, contact Chrisella Ross, the project officer on: 01851 870400 or 07824 664 225 and for South Uist, contact Mairi MacLeod: 07747 092427. Their Past Your Future Scotland will culminate with the launch of a website in 2010 - www.tpyfscotland.org.uk , which will feature some 300 online mini-exhibitions or 'vignettes'. The vignettes and related historic objects will be available as a classroom teaching aid via Learning and Teaching Scotland’s new Scottish schools’ intranet, Glow.

Piping comes home

Posted by Editor On February - 9 - 2009

Stornoway CastleIn August Stornoway is set to play host to some of the world's greatest pipers who will be travelling to the Western Isles to take part in ‘Tattoo Hebrides’, comprising of at least eight pipe bands, including the 78th Fraser Highlanders from Ontario; the Mauchline and District Caledonia Pipe Band led by Pipe Major Gordon Walker and the Strathaven and District Pipe Band led by Pipe Major Chris Mackenzie who is originally from Point in Lewis.


The Homecoming event, organised by Stornoway Amenity Trust, will also include Lewis Pipe Band, Eilean an Fhroaich, Uist and Skye Pipe Bands, Liniclate Junior Band.


The Tattoo will be the first such event to be held in Lewis since 1966 and will take place on Lews Castle Green on August 7 at 7pm.


For further information about the event see: www.stornowayamenitytrust.co.uk