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COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR 2005 & 2008
Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles
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November 2014 Issue
Happy 20th Birthday West Word!
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All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
COMMUNITY UNITES IN BID TO SAVE POOL
|There was a huge turnout at - and in - Mallaig Pool on Friday 7th November for a protest meeting against proposed Highland Council cuts which would result in the Pool having to close. Around 100 people waved banners, balloons and posters while 60 more swam in the Pool. Seeing the number of children, including toddlers and babies, playing with confidence in the water brings home what an important facility this is in our local community with its of coastline, rivers and lochans Fiona Baker, Acting Chair of Mallaig & District Swimming Pool Association, said 'The Pool is essential for children's swimming lessons, keeping them safe when exploring the coastline and rivers. It's also the only wet weather activity for 50 miles in a tourist area with high rainfall. It employs seven people, and promotes fitness for life, lessening the burden on other public health services. It receives massive support in its fundraising by volunteers and the community. 'The Highland Council must keep the Pool open.'|
The cuts in funding are part of the Council's proposals to address a budget gap of £64 million over the next four years which will affect every part of our life in the Highlands from schools and community facilities to car parks and grass cutting
An online petition for the Pool, raised 1300 signatures in three days, but a petition only counts as one protest. Those wishing to support the Pool are urged to go to www.highland.gov and complete the Budget Consultation. It is essential you complete the Comment Box at Q35 and give your reasons why the Pool's funding must not be cut.
You have until Friday 14th November to do this.
We are looking at an austere future as the budget cuts take effect in all walks of our community life.
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
It seems a shame not to celebrate West Word's 20th anniversary with a ceilidh or a special publication - both of which were done when we reached 10 years old. But there didn't seem to be much enthusiasm for anything so we'll leave it for now.
Funnily enough, last month I was transported back to those early days when the printer's stapling facility failed to work. Back when we started, and for many years, the copies were printed out on individual double sheets which were then taken in sets to 10 or 11 volunteer folders who collated the pages and folded them to make the newspaper. I was one of these folders-and last month I had to do it again! I spent two days hand folding some 600 copies and broke my shatter proof ruler in the process! Back in the day I, like others, laid out the sets on the kitchen table, put on a tape, and danced round putting the pages together. I didn't dance round the table this time… Technology has changed so much in twenty years. After seven or eight years we decided to get a digital camera - we had to get some funding to buy one and a big clunky thing it was. It was also one of the first in the area! It was amazing to be able to take a photo and have it in the paper a short time later; before digitals, photographers had to finish the spool and then take it up to Fort William or post it out to be processed.
We have some birthday messages, including one from Sir Cameron who was our first front page story when he took on the Lovat Estate. In his piece of ten years ago Robert MacMillan looks back over that first issue and promises a 'Ten Years Ago' page - we did this for a while until we ran out of time and space but hopefully we will do it this time, a brief Ten Years and Twenty Years Ago look each month.
The folders have long gone but we still need our volunteers. Many thanks to Ewen, Morag and Nicky as always for printing this month, and to Miya, Anne and Sooz for sticking labels on envelopes. Last but definitely not least, so many thank yous to all those who send in articles, snippets and birthdays, photos and letters - all grist for the mill which is West Word, your community newspaper written by you. Happy anniversary everyone!
(See more about the 20th anniversary further down this page)
Hello folks. Well, that'll be me back in the hot seat. Doesn't seem very long ago I last wrote, before I went off to America for the summer! How time flies eh?! Now its Tommy's turn, and he's taking off to Morzine in France for the winter season to work as a driver on a ski resort. And speaking of winter, I think it's finally crept up on us this last week, what with high winds and torrential rain and boats being cancelled...! There has certainly been some amount of rainfall, even affecting us on Knoydart, with a lot of damage to the Torrie track and the ditches unable to cope with the sheer amount of water. The river was running spectacularly high the other day, looking very impressive it has to be said. Over at Inverguserain, the duck pond has turned into a small lake and everything has a general soggy feel to it! Just what Iain needs for the gathering....
The stag season has finished and it is onto the hinds now and the stalkers had a "roaring" end of season do, with more than a few sore heads the next day as usual I think!
Congratulations to Amie and Rachel who have got Tommy's rangers job now and will be starting it as a team in a week or so, looking forward to having Rachel around more often and seeing what fresh ideas they bring. On other business related news, I'm sad to say that the pony trekking has closed its doors now, as Anna is jetting off to New Zealand in December for a year or so and Angela is, as most of you probably know, no longer living in Knoydart. They have had a great three seasons and will be missed but hopefully the business will resume in future years. The snack van is still open, doing weekends and whichever evening the pub is closed, with a variety of burgers, curries, stews and veggie options available. Follow them on facebook to see what's on the menu. The Tearoom is still basically on regular hours, so that's 10-5 Monday til Friday and Saturday 11-3. Boats however, have changed to their winter timetables now so just remember to check if you are planning a trip.
Halloween is still to come this month (I'm writing this before the 31st), but I am sure it will be as good as always, with many a weird and wacky costume appearing... Us Knoydart folk do love an excuse to dress up after all!
Apologies that this column seems a bit itty bitty, I haven't quite found my writing flow again yet!
ISLE OF MUCK
Congratulations on reaching your 20th anniversary. Quite a milestone and it has been a pleasure to contribute over almost all these years.
After our wonderful weather in September it could not last and October the rain has been falling overtime. At least we have the consolation that the weather is highly unlikely to be as wet as winter 2013/14.
Tuesday 28th October, I was working on shore and I was able to watch the new Marine Harvest feed barge arriving on site following a powerful tug. Built in Inverness and towed round the north of Scotland this 400 ton feedstore spent a few days in Mallaig before being connected to massive anchors east of Muck. All the cages with fish in them are connected by white plastic pipes down which the fish food is blown. This is Muck's most sheltered coast and the barge is sheltered by the fish. That and its shear size must make it a much more stable platform from which to work than its tiny predecessor.
On land the new houses are now connected to Muck Electric. So at last Robert, Hazel, Daniel and David have been able to leave Port Mor House and move into their own spacious accommodation. We wish them well.!
And on top of Carn Dearg another wind turbine has been switched on to take the extra load. Up till now we have rarely needed more than three turbines (out of six) to power the island.
And at All Hallows Eve all the island children walked up the road from Godag to Gallanach in the rain assailed at intervals by weird noises and flashing lights. Apart from young Tara MacEwen. She travelled in a wheelbarrow!
All for now.
ISLE OF CANNA
It's been a quiet month on Canna with lots of residents off island on holiday etc. Sorry to see the last of our Indian Summer and back to wind and rain!
We said goodbye to Lachlan and Kirsteen as they are off to new jobs in Edinburgh but I'm sure they will be back to visit.
All livestock sales are over for another year and the new tups bought at Dingwall Mart have arrived back on Canna ready for work on the 24th November.
The grass is still growing so hopefully we can hold off our winter feeding of cattle till Christmas.
Craig Martin our rabbit trapper is back after a few weeks away and is busy lamping, ferreting, snaring etc, he will be here until the end of February and hopefully beyond.
ISLE OF RUM
The autumn has definitely started here on Rum after what felt like an endless summer. Ferry disruption, branches down in the wind and winter timetable at Rum shop - it will take us until January at least before we all get our heads round which day veg orders come!
A sad goodbye to one of Rum's longest residents Marcel Blankers - so long and thanks for all the fish! Rumbling Tum cafe is continuing through the winter on Tuesdays and Thursdays for short day trippers and residents alike. Rum film Club is going strong with at least one film showing every week, often two or more and the Rum Lectures have proved really popular with loads of residents taking a turn to stand up with a slideshow and teach us more about their hobbies, jobs and areas of expertise!
The red deer rut is almost at an end for this year - Sean & Ali reported plenty of action down at Kilmory this year with one stag losing an eye during a fight. The roadworks continue on the track to Kilmory and Billy Cowan and crew will be back on island for roofing work on the castle and white house over the winter too, so plenty of contractors about to bolster resident numbers.
Nic & Ady were most surprised to find a young swan on Croft 3 hanging out with the chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys and guinea fowl - it seemed to think it might be a goose but the geese were very much not in agreement - it keeps coming back though!
First bunkhouse guests have been and gone reporting a comfortable stay in the lovely new building. Lots of bookings already taken for Hogmanay and into next year.
Rum Christmas Fayre to buy Rum-made gifts will be on 6th December - competition for winning mince pie will be fierce as ever!
October finished on a high with the school Halloween party - very well attended by some very spookily dressed residents - Fliss won the trophy with her Mummy outfit which was fab but apparently took some getting out of at the end of the evening! Special mention to Ranger Trudi who made the most of the dressing up opportunity to bring out one of her corset collection - she looked fabulous! Steve showed off his carving skills to create a truly impressive pumpkin but 'Impartial Derek' disqualified it from the competition on the grounds of being on the wrong axis (ie sitting on it's side!). Joint prize went to Davies and Scarlett.
ISLE OF EIGG
The mild and bright start to October was a welcome bonus on Eigg, with a wonderful show of autumn colours in woodlands near the pier especially. It was all the more pleasant for the 100 people or so that converged to the island on 10th and 11th October to help Ailidh Morrison celebrate her 40th birthday in style! (See photo below right!) Her dressed-up birthday bashes have been pretty legendary, from Glenfinnan to Glenuig up to now, and this year she has entered the Eigg legend with an amazing full length grey satin cocktail frock and a party that brought the famed Bevvy Sisters back to Eigg for some cool jazzy glamour! Together with young beat boxer Lewis MacRae, her daughters Hannah and Megan also offered a fine singing performance. Jimmy Hay who we hadn't heard of since the three Jims' Glenuig days serenaded us and it was a delight to hear Sharon King taking the stage again. After a shot of electro swing by Lewis on the decks, Captain Andy, aka Dolphin Boy, ended the night in customary style: a great craic was had by all! Watch out, Wes, Ailidh, birthday party planner extraordinaire, is starting to plan your 70th next year! In the meantime, many happy returns to both of you…
Meanwhile, in between all this fun, building work is progressing nicely on Eigg, both at Laig with Saira and George's bothy with a sea view and at Galmisdale, with Sarah and Johnny's house, where triple glazed windows have now been installed in what will probably be the most heat efficient building on Eigg after Damian's strawbale house! Super-efficient wood pellet stoves have now been installed by Lochaber Housing in Cleadale, and all 5 tenants are extremely pleased with them. Green Eigg rocks on.
Cattle and sheep sales have been pretty good as well, with crofters and farmers very satisfied with prices obtained. They were also very happy with the fine days this autumn which allowed much silage to be stored away before rain set in again. And it certainly did set, with as a result for this solid couple of weeks of constant downpour a half a meter landslide below Eddie and Lucy's house in Cleadale: an impressive sight as they woke up one morning to see their access track cut open. With Shuggie at the rescue, the rip was soon mended, but where is it going to go next, we ask ourselves, if that rain keeps up?
Rain at Hallowe'en certainly did not deter the determined troop of guisers young and old that cruised the island on Friday 31, ending up at Galmisdale Cafe suitably bedecked with spiders and bats by Greg Carr who has taken it over for the winter and was a most genial host. 6 year old Maggie Carr was extremely pleased to win the scariest guiser's prize, although we are not sure if it was her costume or her demeanour that won her the prize! According to her mum, she had dreamt of dressing up as the Ice Queen for a full two years and she was taking her role very seriously… As winter arrives, our First Responder team is also getting ready to be fully operational as from 1st November, now that their radio training has been completed this month. Our sincere thanks go to this team of dedicated volunteers for taking on this important responsibility.
Last but not least, here's to West Word's 20th birthday! Congratulations to our brilliant community newspaper, without which we might never know what our neighbours in the other islands or the mainland are up to! And congratulations to our faithful editor who pulls it together so gallantly every month!
ARISAIG ECO PROJECT
We had an excellent turnout at the Land, Sea and Islands Centre last month when more than fifty people gathered to celebrate the success of this summer's local produce that was on sale at the Centre.
Some of the delicous food made from local produce which was on offer at the Land, Sea & Island Centre on 21st October
There was a healthy mix of locals and regular visitors to the area who enjoyed a wonderful selection of warming and nourishing soups which used Camusdarach lamb, Invercaimbe beef and locally sourced vegetables. The wild nettle and garden spinach soup and Scotch broth were very popular and were served with freshly baked wholemeal rolls and bread. There was also some delicious baking on offer including pear and almond cake, wild bramble muffins and raspberry cake which made the most of locally sourced fruit. Thank you to all who contributed in making the event such a great success. Many of those attending completed the new Eco Survey and we will be visiting homes in November and December to encourage participation with the community questionnaire. As part of the European Week for Waste Reduction which runs from 22nd November to 30th November, Arisaig Eco Project will be organising a number of free events in the community.
For children there will be a Clothes and Toys Swap at the Astley Hall on Wednesday the 26th of November between 10 am and 11.30 am held with the Arisaig Playgroup. If you have any surplus children's clothes and toys which could go to a new home, please bring your items to Astley Hall between 9 and 10am. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle before Christmas!
During the evening of Wednesday 26th November there will be a Cookery Demonstration from 7 pm to 9 pm at the Astley Hall with local chef Duncan Gibson, of The Glenfinnan House Hotel. This event is part of the Love Food Hate Waste campaign and will be looking at ingenious ways of using up items in your fridge and store cupboard, particularly useful for planning for the festive period ahead.
Alison O'Rourke firstname.lastname@example.org Tel 07585 331 085
Sara Mair Bellshaw email@example.com Tel 07585 326 220
West Word 20th anniversary
West Word has twice been pronounced Community Newspaper of the Year in the Highlands & Islands Media Awards.
The first in 2005 saw Robert MacMillan receive a Quaich and certificate from Patricia Ferguson MSP for Tourism, Culture & Sport at the Press Ball in Nairn. The second award was presented by First Minister Alex Salmond to then Director Susan Grant. Each award was accompanied by a cheque for £300, £100 of which to be donated to a charity of our choice. In 2005 we donated £100 to Mallaig RNLI and in 2009 to The Mackintosh Centre Amenity Fund.
Robert MacMillan with Patricia Ferguson MSP (above)
Susan Grant with Alex Salmond (right)
Sir Cameron Mackintosh was a key player in getting West Word off the ground, and his financial support has been forthcoming over the years when required.
The news that West Word is already celebrating its 20th splendid year is a timely reminder of how quick time flies the older you get. It seems only yesterday I was hearing from Jill de Fresnes about all the long nights spent preparing the first issues in a small room by Morar Railway station. Around the same time I also received a far sadder word from Giles Foster, who was then the Factor of the Lovat Estates, informing me that the Cdr. Lord Lovat within two weeks had lost both of his sons, in the prime of their lives, one to a tragic hunting accident in Africa and the other to a sudden heart attack. On asking him "if there was anything I could do" Giles said please could I take over their Western Estate (which they rarely visited) so it would give them breathing space to reorganise the rest of the Estates. So, to my surprise, I suddenly became owner of an area of the Highlands that my Aunts and Grandmother first brought me to in 1953 when I was six years of age on the romantic night sleeper from Kings Cross, long before Harry Potters' creator was even born. My early memories of Mallaig was of a bustling sea port filled with the smell of fish with masses of trawlers and seagulls and grand puffing steam engines being turned on a great turntable so they could return down south.
On a beautiful sunny day my first visit to Morar Sands had my granny, floating with her Tammy on in the sparkling (but freezing!) water, whilst I made endless sand castles. In the evening I would often be taken by the family to concerts at the Old Village Hall, the site of which is currently transforming into a shore base for the long needed marina, which is now proving such a success bringing many new visitors to Mallaig. Concerts at the Old Hall often featured traditional unaccompanied Mouth Music, whose haunting beauty was completely unappreciated by a giggling six year old who often had to be taken out choking with suppressed laughter. Opposite the station was a row of white washed cottages, including a dairy and a baker which delivered delicious white dusted buns to seagoing trawlers in the early hours of the morning. Hopefully the new bakery in the Crannog will soon provide similar mouth-watering creations. My father's (Ian) side of the family, on the male side, were from the West Coast and near Inverness, his mother was English, they spent most of their early family holidays in Onich. However it wasn't until very recently that my Aunt Sheila (Ian's sister) traced her great-grandparents, James and Catherine MacDonald to the islands of Raasay and Skye though there was also a James MacDonald from Moy (the seat of the Lovat and Clan Chattan) - though the relationship is murky! Coincidentally the late Donald MacDonald of Tarbet, who I knew most of my life, his father also was born in Raasay and so maybe, without realising it, Old Donald and I had a family connection after all.
My youthful connections with Mallaig were strengthened in 1960 when Jim and Anthea Jarvie put down their roots there and soon became much loved characters in the community with Jim becoming a local Counsellor. He had been a rubber planter in Burma but had had to leave when the troubles started in the 1950's and Anthea was a brilliant pianist and the youngest daughter of the great Baring banking family. They fell in love and came to Mallaig to make a new life. They weren't blood relatives - Jim was brother to my real aunt's husband - but with no children they treated me as family and I adored them as they were both so fun-loving and carefree, racing their vintage Bentley from the bar at the Morar Hotel to try and beat the train to Mallaig where a huge gin waited for them at the Central Bar. Jim and Anthea had somehow persuaded Lord Lovat to sell them 300 acres by Tarbet Bay in Loch Nevis (at 10 Shillings an acre!) and there in 1960 they built their magical hideaway and I fell in love with Tarbet, staying either with them in their wooden house or with Donald and Jesse at the White House in Tarbet Bay which had been an old Inn. Miraculously nothing has changed in Loch Nevis, though thankfully there are more lights and people in the Loch - its' beauty remains timeless, and despite the fact Donald, Jesse and Old Frank are no longer with us, Norman MacKinnon and Douglas Fairbairn have now taken over as the heartbeat of the place.
Mallaig however has changed hugely, and mostly for the better. Though the fishing is a shadow of what it was, it is still part of the fabric of the village, adapting traditional fishing skills to the modern demands of this precious resource. Fast new roads have connected the village to the rest of Scotland in a way one couldn't have imagined as one waited at a passing place on the endless single track road decades ago. Ironically the bygone era of the steam train, partly thanks to Harry Potter, has come roaring back bringing great new crowds of visitors to the area, yachting is on the up and everywhere tourism has replaced herring as one of Mallaig's major attractions. The village boasts one of the top High Schools in Scotland and thanks to the steely determination and silvery tongue of ex-Councillor Charlie King, persuading me, The Highland Council, the Harbour Authority and many locals, to support major projects, Mallaig now boasts a swimming pool, a clinic, a hostel, a centre for the elderly and a cracking new hall and marina and many other upgraded facilities and walks. There can't be many highland villages that are as robust and self-sufficient as Mallaig (and its romantic neighbour Morar). It even has its old boatyard working again at full capacity. Hopefully the recently announced Highland Council budgeting cut backs will not force any of these valuable facilities to close.
The word is out that Mallaig is thriving and it is a great reflection of the self-sufficiency of people who live here that they have refused to let it slide along with the EU quotas. I have no doubt that the West Word will be chronicling many exciting new developments in the area for decades to come.
P.S. I would love to find out if anyone recognises the old fisherman with me in the accompanying picture. It is the oldest photograph I have got of me on the West Coast. A bottle of good Whisky is the reward for the first person who can successfully identify him!
First Minister Alex Salmond has sent us this message:
"Community papers are the heart and soul of communities across Scotland. They're a vital source of information for people within our towns and villages and also boost the local economy by promoting local businesses and community shops and showcasing local products. And, with the increase in social media, they are the link to our neighbours and local groups.
"I send my very best to all West Word staff, past and present, for their hard work and commitment in making this paper the success it is. It's a valued source of information and continues to be a voice for the people after 20 years, and I wish them good luck in making the next 20 years just as successful."
It is hard to believe that when West Word started 20 long years ago we were trying to establish a B&B with the new marketing tools of, credit cards for payment, No smoking on the premises, and using a fax for bookings which mostly came from newspaper ads, tourism journals and annual books such as the Best B&B.
All these methods of communicating to visitors have almost gone but West Word has gone from strength to strength still using the same method. Okay, the pages can be colour, the paper a little crisper and you can read it online, but it still plops through the mailbox on a regular monthly basis (ours courtesy of Dalla & Elliot Ironside) informing the whole family of all the happenings in North West Lochaber. It is an invaluable tool to me as a councillor, as I am sure it is to my more political colleagues, Dave and Charles, informing us and allowing us to digest at our leisure what has been happening in our patch.
Congratulations to all who had the spark to get it started and all of those over the years who have helped and contributed to making West Word such an interesting read.
Allan Henderson, Councillor
I would like to congratulate West Word on their forthcoming 20th Anniversary edition. In a world where print media is on the decline, it does not surprise me that the publication is standing the test of time, as the contributions over the years have been of a consistently high standard. I hope and expect that West Word will continue to benefit the local area long into the future and I look forward to reading future editions.
Dave Thompson, SNP MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch
In a constituency as large as mine, stretching coast to coast, it's not always safe to say that 'West is Best' but I've no qualms in doing so on this occasion. Separated by the hills and the sea, a range of communities have been united in the common endeavour of celebrating their individual and collective success and that's an achievement all contributors over the last 20 years can be proud of.
Charles Kennedy MP
NEWS FROM MALLAIG HARBOUR - November 2014
So we bid fond farewell to the "Ronja Pioneer". The salmon well boat which has been working out of the port for many years left for pastures new on Wednesday 29th October after completing its contract with Marine Harvest. The Ronja Pioneer is set to work and be based in the Shetland Islands for the next two years.
Photo courtesy of David Linkie
Fion Construction commenced work on the upgrading of the Lovat Slipway on Monday 20th October and it is their intention to complete the works by mid December.
TSL Contractors Ltd have been awarded the contract to construct the Shoreside Promenade with work scheduled to commence on Monday 3rd of November and be completed by 31st January 2015.
The upgrading of the Bandstand/Decking is also set to commence soon with The Highland Council in control of the operation. It is hoped that either Fion Construction or TSL Contractors Ltd - two companies working in the area - will carry out the work!
Ten Year Plan
The Authority is about to embark on the production of a Development Plan for the next 10 years and to commence the project a Strategy Workshop is being set up for December.
Although the Development Plan will primarily centre on the forthcoming needs and requirements of the harbour we consider it vital to the village and its environs that consultation be carried out and input garnered from Harbour Stakeholders and users and organisations like the Mallaig Community Council, Road To The Isles Marketing Group, Lochaber College etc. etc.
It is envisaged that the Core Partners in the Development Plan Project will be The Highland Council, Nevis Estate, Highland & Islands Enterprise and of course, the Mallaig Harbour Authority. Lochboisdale Ferry
As indicated in last month's West Word, the Lochboisdale to Mallaig ferry service is set to commence on Saturday the 29th November 2014!
Mallaig Lifeboat Log
This month has been very quiet as far as callouts are concerned with only one call for rescue by the volunteer RNLI crew. However the care and maintenance of the Lifeboat is an ongoing task. The Lifeboat must be ready at a moment's notice should it be called out. As are the RNLI volunteer crew who make themselves available 24 hours a day, 7days a week, 365 days a year. Even on National Holidays like Christmas and New Year when the rest of us are enjoying the festivities, the volunteers who make up the RNLI crews are always aware that they may be called out. Now that the summer months are passed and fewer people are enjoying themselves on the sea the RNLI volunteers are just as vigilant and ready to go to sea in all weathers.
Tuesday 7th October 2014
A phone call from a family member to Lifeboat station to alert the crew that two females had been cut off by the tide in the Morar River Estuary. The LOM was informed who then duly informed the Coastguard who paged the crew to muster. A mother and her daughter had gone to explore and take pictures from the steps below Morar Hotel up towards Riverside and the road bridge. On their return they became trapped on the rock armour due to the speed that the spring tide was filling the estuary. The daughter called her brother to inform him of their predicament and to ascertain when the tide would be going back out as they were prepared to wait since they were in no immediate danger. On calling the Lifeboat station and finding out that the tide was still making and darkness would fall before the ebb decided it would be best to evacuate them in daylight. A short trip found the Lifeboat off the estuary. The Y-Boat was launched with two crew members onboard who soon located the casualties and took them back to the steps and the waiting local Coastguards. None the worse for their ordeal both women were thankful for their prompt rescue and after exchanging details went on their merry way. Lifeboat back at station and ready for service at 17:30 hrs.
New model of GP provision on Small Isles
NHS Highland is to launch a new model of GP provision on the Small Isles.
Using locum doctors, the health board has managed the GP practice covering Muck, Eigg, Rum and Canna since 2012, continuing the full range of general practice services.
However, these arrangements were always intended to be temporary, and NHS Highland has been looking at various options with the local community to provide primary care services on the islands in a sustainable way that meet the needs and aspirations the residents.
Now, following extensive community engagement over the past two years that has involved the community councils, residents and the Scottish Ambulance Service, and having looked at models of healthcare delivery in other remote and rural areas both in Scotland and further afield, NHS Highland is poised to provide GP services on the Small Isles through what it describes as "trailblazing, innovative model."
The new model will consist of a combination of improved community resilience and local skills to deal with healthcare needs alongside a visiting service provided through NHS Highlands new rural support team, initially led by two doctors based on Skye, Dr Clare Whitney and Dr Angus Venters. There will be further support from community health services including district nursing, CPN and remote and rural health and social care support workers. In addition, there will be the potential through tele links for people to access services without having to travel.
As from 18th November, GPs and community team members will travel by a dedicated boat service from Armadale on Skye; at present, the Small Isles' locums travel from Mallaig on the mainland. They will see patients on Eigg, doing so by appointment on Tuesdays and alternate Thursdays from 11am-3pm. In addition, appointments will be available on alternate Thursdays on Muck, Rum and Canna between 11am and 3pm, depending on location.
Fifteen-minute minute appointments will be provided, though double appointment slots will also be available.
Residents can make appointments by contacting the surgery on Eigg on 01687 482427 between 9am and 12 noon, Monday to Friday.
Patients on Rum, Muck and Canna who require repeat prescriptions should call the surgery at least 48 hours in advance as prescriptions will have to be delivered to the ferry.
Gill McVicar, director of operations for NHS Highland's north and west operational unit, said: "We are determined that Small Isles residents receive primary healthcare services in a way that is sustainable and which matches needs with resources, and feel that this trailblazing, innovative new model will deliver that.
"We are extremely grateful for the help and co-operation we have received from the islands' residents in arriving at this solution."
A key element of the new model will be the new rural support team of healthcare professionals NHS Highland is currently recruiting. This team, which will include GPs, paramedic practitioners and advanced nurse practitioners, will support the two Skye practices involved in the Small Isles model, as well as other under-pressure practices in remote and rural parts of the operational unit's area.
Gill McVicar explained: "The idea is to provide cover where and when it is needed, using healthcare professionals flexibly. As well as ensuring that patients get the services they need, this will also reduce our reliance on locum doctors."
Dr Clare Whitney, who is based at Broadford Medical Practice, moved to Skye in May 2012 with her husband after practising as a GP in a busy urban practice in Lancashire. She attended the University of St Andrews for her initial training, followed by three years at the University of Manchester, where she qualified as a doctor in 2005.
She was attracted to Skye for the opportunity to enjoy an outdoor life and to work with and for a strong, close-knit rural community. She has a particular interest in pre-hospital care and emergency care.
Dr Angus Venters is based in the combined practices of Broadford and Sleat. Originally from Edinburgh, he graduated from the University of Glasgow and has been a GP since 1988. He has worked in Yorkshire, Humberside, Edinburgh, Glasgow and East Kilbride, and moved to Skye in 1999. Dr Venters, who is also a hypnotherapist, was clinical director for the Mid Highland Community Health Partnership and is clinical lead for NHS Highland's rural support team.
He said: "We have to develop new ways of meeting the very real challenges we face in recruiting and retaining doctors in remote and rural areas, and hopefully our new rural support team will help to address that."
ON AND OFF THE RAILS
Well, blow me down, I didn't have long to wait before the Autumn winds, rain and darkness came, did I! but we still managed to pack in a full month of rail travel and news - in a big way!
Congratulations must go to ScotRail, Network Rail and Jacobite staff who worked so hard to keep our services (and us!) safe when we travelled. On the ScotRail services, Network Rail staff were on the trains at times with chain saws at the ready to cut down any fallen trees in the way and at Corpach one night we almost floated through the station where the canal had flooded over. Buses and taxis were laid on if the service was halted, and reversely, one Sunday Mallaig passengers travelling from Glasgow by bus were taxied when the bus could go no further due to road closures from a land slip to Bridge of Orchy where they continued onwards by train.
On the Jacobite service, the sand boxes were constantly used to improve traction from wet leaves stuck to the track. Thanks to every one of you who helped sort the public on their journey - including the conductor who on more than one case sprinted from the main road - when the substitute motor coaches were too large - up to Glenfinnan and Arisaig stations to ensure no-one was left stranded. Thank you all.
Competition Result - October West Word
Only one copy of Bradshaw's Guide to Scotland's Railways: East Coast - Berwick to Aberdeen and Beyond to give away - so there could only be one winner from the many entries (all correct) received this month. The answer was Michael Portillo, and the lucky dip winner is Ken Ibbs from Monkseaton, Northumberland. Congratulations Ken, your book should be with you shortly.
End of Season Jacobite look back
Thank you to the hardy few who turned up in the teeth of a gale, with rain pouring down, to see the last Jacobite into Mallaig for 2014 on Friday October 24th. Steve and I were more than soaked putting up (and taking down!) the banners, flags, bunting and balloons! A round of applause to Kay Jones for making the cake, which was magnificent. The huge meat pie (hot) which was baked by Pat MacKenzie went down a treat, along with a pot of parsnip soup. The Mission Café provided the tables and a pot of lentil, veg and meat soup. All the ingredients were contributed by the local shops and businesses - with a bit of harassment on my part - as a thank you for all the business they receive from west Coast Railways. It was truly appreciated, and was devoured heartily by all involved in bringing the passengers to Mallaig.
The next day, Saturday October 25th, saw the two Ian Riley owned Black 5s with passengers in coaches depart Fort William, overnighting at Boness (the engines that is) before travelling to their base in Bury, Lancs, on the Monday. They will now be working the various Christmas Market and Santa Special trains throughout England.
We look forward to welcoming back the confirmed Jacobite season of 2015, running from May to October. Dates in next month's issue.
Before that, there are Spring diesel charter trains two weekends in March due to visit Mallaig. The Catering contract on the Jacobites will be in new, safe hands next year following Neil MacLeod's standing down after seven years of sterling work with his two teams of staff. I will announce who it will be next month.
Catering Manager Neil MacLeod shows off his retirement present from Glenfinnan Station Museum. As well as the print of an old railway poster there were other gifts - the Jacobite crew collected £100 and also gave Neil a bottle of Mallaig Harbour Water whisky. Neil was catering manager on WCR Jacobite for seven years. Happy retirement!
The Jacobite team celebrated another successful season on this year's last day (24th October) with a splendid cake made by Kay Jones of Mallaig.
WCR train crew (l to r) Paul Freer, Mat Garnshaw and driver Peter Walker take a well earned break at Arrochar as their engine No 45871 takes on water.
Photos courtesy of Steve Roberts.
ScotRail Franchise awarded to Abellio
It was announced on 8th October that the Dutch passenger transport group Abellio had won the franchise to operate Scotland's railway network for the next ten years. The company was one of the groups to bid for the £6 billion franchise which included Arriva, MTR, National Express and First Group. The contract starts on 1st April 2015 with a provision for Ministers to cancel at the halfway point if the franchisee is not meeting its obligations.
Among the promised benefits are: faster services between all cities, new trains in the Central belt, a Great Scenic Railway scheme bringing more tourists, major shopping developments at Aberdeen and Inverness, more space for prams and pushchairs, cleaner trains, CCTV on every train and improved waiting facilities at 40 stations. Glasgow will be the new base for Abellio in the UK with around 100 jobs.
Unused railway stations will be transformed into premises for start-up businesses, locally sourced food and drink will provide improved on train catering and the franchise will pay out £500,000 every year for rail related community schemes.
The Great Scenic Railways of Scotland scheme will include the West Highland Line, Far North, Borders, Stranraer and Dumfries lines to market Scotland's scenery, its heritage and its tourist attractions to a wider audience. Trains on these routes will be refurbished and there will be dedicated tourism ambassadors, trained by Visit Scotland, to provide information on attractions, history and journey connections. Transport Scotland hopes that community rail groups, local businesses and the wider railway industry will engage with the franchisee to maximise the opportunities arising from this initiative.
Date for your diary - Wednesday November 19th
Malcolm Poole, myself and Dr John McGregor cordially invite you to An Evening Presentation, Talk and Book signing at Mallaig Heritage Centre on Wednesday November 19th , from 7- 9pm. The title is 'Railway Mania in the Highlands? The West Highland Extension', and John will enthusiastically talk for approximately 50 minutes, have documents to pore over, answer questions and sign copies of his three books which will be on sale. What's not to like!! Admission will be free, tea, coffee and refreshments will be served, donations to the Heritage Centre will be accepted! Malcolm will have the shop open for Christmas shopping.
John's latest three books, The West Highland Railway 120 Years, West Highland Extension: Great Railway Journeys Through Time and, in the same series, West Highland Line will all be available for purchase.
If travelling to Mallaig for the evening by train or car, Glenfinnan Railway Station Museum and Signal Box will be open to delight you between the hours of 12.30 and 5pm. This fits in well with the train timetable. You could then travel on to Mallaig for a bite to eat before the evening. On the night, we will have a piper to pipe you into the event, Oiseann Beag's local crafts will be on sale, home baking will be available (donations of baking will be gratefully received during the day of the 19th at the Heritage Centre) and a raffle will take place (the proceeds of which will go to the Heritage Centre).. ScotRail have given two return rail tickets for anywhere in Scotland as a prize in the raffle.
An interesting night is guaranteed! Honestly!
See you on the train-and at the Heritage Centre!
On this, our 20th anniversary, we thought it appropriate to reprint the piece written by Robert MacMillan, then Chair of West Word's Board
Ten years ago in West Word (November 2004)
I would like to start off by thanking all those who have assisted West Word over the past ten years and who have enabled us to 'stagger along' to finally achieve this local literary milestone. Editors, committee members, folders, printers, contributors, advertisers, distributors and financial benefactors deserve great credit but it is YOU, the reader, who has been the key to west Word's ten year success story.
I find it interesting to look back (a sign of advancing years?) and it should be remembered that the first issue of West Word - printed and published in November 1994 - didn't just suddenly appear overnight. I think back to the night of Monday 24th January 1994 when Jill de Fresnes, Mgr Thomas Wynne, Ross Campbell, Ann Martin, Alison McLean, Stephen Burt and, of course, myself, met up in the Fishermen's Mission - the very first meeting of the Mallaig & District Newspaper Association.
West Word's gestation period therefore went the full nine months, but in that period of time the groundwork was done. Work like getting legalities completed, drawing up the constitution, finding out about printing machines, computers, grants, meetings with anyone and everyone who could possibly help. High school teacher Denis Rixson organised a special Desktop Publishing Computer course for several of the committee members but as Jill de Fresnes, who had been appointed Editor, sent out flyers and put up posters informing everyone about our plans, September came and went without the committee coming up with a suitable name for the new community paper.
Just days before publication, on the 31st October 1994 to be exact, the Minutes of the meeting state: 'After much discussion and with a little trepidation the name West Word was selected as the title of the newspaper.'
The very first West Word cost 50p and consisted of 24 pages. On the cover was a picture of Cameron Mackintosh, with the lead story being the purchase by the West End producer of he North Morar section of Lovat Estate. Inside was an exclusive interview with Mr Mackintosh and the paper carried letters of support from Councillors King and Foxley, Rev Alan Lamb and Foreign Office Minister Douglas Hurd, while local advertisers all wished us well.
Never one to miss out a publicity opportunity, the Mission News column was provided by Superintendent Murray Campbell and Mgr Thomas Wynne provided the first Christian Message. Gaelic wasn't forgotten, with Paul Galbraith providing a piece in both English and Gaelic entitled 'Our Language and heritage', while Arisaig's Nellie MacQueen remembered her childhood in Ardnish. Glenuig Hall was about to open after '12 years of gritty determination by the 150 strong community' and the Mallaig Swimming Pool, the Team Relay Triathlon, Our Environment, a Tourist seminar and a Tourist Survey (the untidiness of Mallaig - 'the litter along East Bay and the rubbish below the boatyard slip is a disgrace') were all highlighted.
Mallaig's Heather Smith recalled her 'operation Raleigh' trip to South America and three High School pupils, Kevin and Graeme Gillies and Naomi Spirit, showed their artistic skills. There was a competition page and a cartoon by Viv de Fresnes, but the one page which has remained unchanged over the past 120 issues is the back Page with its What's On listing.
Now-let's just blow out the candles on West Word's 10th birthday cake and be thankful that we are still here!!!
CROFTING ROUNDUP by Joyce Wilkinson, Crofters Commission Area Assessor and Scottish Crofting Federation Area Representative
There will be 3 more courses before the end of February, please can you register an interest if you would like to attend these
Basic Vet Course Cattle & Sheep
Covering admin and safe use/ storage of medicines, correct use of calving equip/ correct and best practice treatment of down, ailing, lame stock This course will be tutored by a vet and trainer and will be indoors and outdoors hands on A one day course and will be during January /February
Animal Transport Certificate
This is obligatory for anyone towing their stock over 40 miles to sale or abattoir
Crafting from the croft
Indoor workshops for anyone interested in learning how they can turn basic materials grown or found on the croft into saleable craft works, including felting, papermaking and all things wool
Land Classification Letters
If you received a white envelope from the Local SGRIPD office last week and don't understand the relevance of it, the numbers you have been issued next to your field identification codes relate to all future payments through SFP and 2015 CAP. Under the new payment scheme those fields that were already classified as Permanent grassland on your IACS and which should have been eligible for a high payment have been reclassified as Rough grazing if the department think that 40% or more of the field parcel is not permanent grassland. Rough grazing has been allocated a very low payment of £8 a ha
There is only a time slot of less than 60 days to have fields appealed and advice on how to do this will be at roadshows and special meetings. On 14th November in the Corran Halls Oban at 7pm there is a special meeting relating to this specific problem.
CAP roadshow meeting concerning the new CAP is in Ben Nevis Hotel 19th November 7PM
Wide World West Word
Iain and Maureen MacNeil took their copy on their cruise to Ventura where they visited Kotoe in Montenegro.
It's Pete Harbridge again, visiting Abu Dhabi on his way home to New Zealand from a working spell in Arisaig House with wife Billie. Last month he was at the White House in Washington, USA. We know they arrived home safely and are waiting to see the next WWWW photo from Auckland!
Many thanks to Sue Wrathall and Robert Wilson for re-sending the information to go with this photo, in answer to the Editor's plea last month! Sue and Robert, who are subscribers, took West word with them when they were waiting for the Tour de France cyclists to pass their house in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire. They are regular visitors to Mallaig.
What's this? A real live astronaut reading West Word? Yes indeed - astronaut John-David Bartoe was pictured at the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida by Steve Brown of Arisaig. We might make outer space yet!
Green Allies - healing plants in the forest, garden and kitchen by Tim Robinson
The days are shortening and the winds are picking up. In my house this signals what is known not as autumn, but rather 'curry season'. All of a sudden I become less interested in raw food and fresh herbs, and more concerned with food that will stimulate my circulation, stoke the inner fires and create a healthy glow on a dark night. For the next few months I'm going to write about the herbs and spices that most of us have lurking in our kitchen cupboards, and I'll begin with perhaps the most significant - the fiery chilli pepper.
Chilli pepper - Latin name Capsicum spp.
Some people hate it, others love it, and some are positively hooked on it. It's probably impossible not to have a strong opinion about chillies, because they make sure we know they're around. Bite into a fresh red chilli and you'll know about it. Taste the skull and crossbones-labelled hot sauce in a Mexican restaurant and, like me, when you begin hallucinating and can longer feel your face, you might wish you hadn't. Decide not to wear rubber gloves when deseeding a big pile of pungent dried Korean chillies destined for chilli oil, then answer the call of nature, and believe me, you'll know about that, for approximately two hours and twenty-five minutes afterwards (me again). The list of my chilli-related misdemeanours is long. How often we eat spicy food will to some extent dictate our tolerance for it, but it also depends on our disposition. People who feel the cold, with cooler temperaments, are more likely to appreciate and benefit from a little chilli, while those who are still strolling around in their shorts in mid-winter, with fierier personalities, are less likely to appreciate its charms. But the chilli is much more than an extraordinary food. It is a powerful and versatile medicine. First and foremost it is a remedy for the heart and circulation. When the circulation is sluggish, and there are areas of stagnation of the blood (sometimes seen as varicose veins), chilli will help to keep things moving, and equalise blood flow. Every part of the cardiovascular system is stimulated by chilli, from the heart to the tiniest capillaries, in which red blood cells often have to fold themselves in order to squeeze through. Chilli helps to spread the blood more evenly throughout the body, hence someone who has a red face but cool hands and feet could probably benefit from this fiery fruit. It has such a strong action on the cardiovascular system that it was a tried-and-tested traditional remedy for heart attacks. Today, herbalists use chilli in tiny amounts as part of a formula, to improve the circulation to the extremities and the vital organs, and to help get other herbs in a prescription to where they are most needed.
Chilli is useful in acute conditions, particularly those affecting the upper and lower parts of the respiratory system. It will bring on a good therapeutic sweat if you have a cold, helping to remove toxins through the skin, particularly if you add a pinch to a tea of freshly grated ginger. If you have gunge in the lungs, chilli will help to clear it - just make sure you have a spittoon handy. Likewise, stubborn catarrh in the sinuses can be moved on its way with some chilli, particularly if combined with horseradish or its Japanese counterpart, wasabi.
Chilli also excels in first aid scenarios. In line with its blood-moving properties, chilli powder sprinkled onto a cut will stop bleeding quickly, and, because it's strongly antiseptic, help to prevent infection. (I realise that sprinkling chilli on a fresh cut sounds like a recipe for searing pain, but surprisingly it hurts much less than running a cut under a cold tap, for example.) Its warming nature also makes chilli an excellent remedy for muscles which have gone into spasm, where heat is needed in order to encourage relaxation; in such cases, a chilli-infused oil is the best choice. Chilblains can also benefit from a little chilli oil rubbed around the toes, where it will help to improve circulation and tone the blood vessels.
A simple chilli oil is easily made by putting some chopped, strong fresh chillies in a jar, covering with olive oil, and leaving to infuse for a few weeks. This is the best kind for rubbing on the muscles and toes. My favourite type for eating is Chinese chilli oil from Sichuan, and this is made as follows: Heat 250ml groundnut oil to 200C, then allow to cool to 140C. Pour this over 50g of chilli flakes, 1 tsp of sesame seeds, and a small piece of crushed fresh ginger. The mixture should fizz pleasingly, and will smell amazing. When cool, add to stir fries and noodle dishes.
Tim Robinson is a medical herbalist living in Glenborrodale. He is available for private medical consultations, health MOTs, talks, and herb walks.
Visit Tim's website at www.timrobinsonherbalist.co.uk or phone him on 01972 500252
Birdwatch by Stephen MacDonald October 2014
A much more unsettled and wetter month than September.
Passage of Whooper Swans was evident throughout the month, with the first report on the 5th, when a group of 14 adults were seen struggling into a strong southerly wind over the west end of Loch Morar.
The next reports were from the 8th, this time in much calmer conditions when several groups were seen from mid-morning, including 19 that flew low over Gorten then settled on Loch nan Ceall for about an hour before continuing south. Layer approximately 51 birds flew over Arisaig between 16.30 hours and dusk in several flocks. The next large group noted was on the 24th when 61 were counted were counted resting on the moor just to the east of the A830 where it crosses the Caimbe river. This group contained many juveniles. Two days later another 37 were counted while resting on a tiny lochan on the Rhue peninsula, Arisaig. Several small groups were seen on Loch nan Eala, Arisaig, from the 20th, where there is usually a wintering flock.
Several skeins of Pink-footed Geese were seen on the 8th flying over Morar and Arisaig. On the 19th, two groups of Brent Geese (16 and 12) were seen from the MV Sheerwater between Muck and Eigg and on the 22nd, 7 Barnacle Geese were seen from the same vessel just off Muck harbour. The first Goldeneye reported were 2 seen on Loch Morar on the 21st. Wigeon were reported from the Morar Estuary, Camusdarach, Loch nan Ceall and Loch nan Eala. The latter site also had good numbers of Teal present, along with Mallard and 2 Little Grebes. Good numbers of Red-breasted Mergansers were seen on the Morar Estuary and Loch nan Ceall all month.
Five Great Northern Divers were seen offshore from Gorten on the 6th, by the month end they were widely reported from Mallaig and Loch nan Uamh.
Golden Plovers were seen on several occasions, mostly on fields by Traigh Farm or on the shoreline there. Also noted at Traigh were Ringed Plover and Dunlin.
Greenshank were reported from Traigh, Loch nan Ceall and the Morar Estuary, including 3 together at the latter site on the 13th. Curlew and Lapwing were seen in fields at Back of Keppoch and Invercaimbe on several occasions during the month. On the 6th, two Ruff were seen at the mouth of the Caimbe, by a visiting birder.
The first main groups of Redwings were noted from the 9th at Rhubana, Morar. So far there have not been the numbers recorded in other years and still no reports of Fieldfares from this area. There were however several reports of Brambling coming to garden feeders in the Morar area. The first on the 12th near Woodside and the last at Bracara on the 29th. Good numbers of Goldfinches coming to feeders throughout the area, Great Spotted Woodpeckers in Morar and Long-tailed Tits on feeders at Fank Brae, Mallaig.
Several reports of birds late in leaving for warmer climes. On the 19th a single Wheatear by Traigh Golf Course, on the 22nd a Stormy Petrel off Arisaig, on the 23rd two Swallows on wires in Arisaig village and on the 30th a Sandwich Tern by the mouth of Loch nan Ceall.
Jays were reported from both Arisaig and Morar and a Barn Owl was heard in the Woodside area at the end of the month.
Several reports of Dippers, including a slightly unusual one on the seaward side of the bridge over the burn at the Camusdarach Beach car park on the 30th.
Arisaig & South Morar War Records: Donald McInnes
I have noticed, in looking through the Arisaig & South Morar Record of Service 1914-1918 (on the searchable CD) that the enlistments were mainly from 1916 to 1918, with hardly any being in the services at the beginning of World War I. Some entries have no dates. One of the earliest dates is September 14th 1914 when Lieutenant Arthur Nicholson was killed in action at the Battle of Aisne, barely six weeks after the beginning of the War.
I was trying to find an entry for November 1914 but with no success: so I have chosen what is an unusual entry in that Donald McInnes enrolled in 1903 and spent some time in South Africa during the Zulu War and then the Far East, thus being a seasoned soldier by the time war broke out. I don't know if Donald has relatives still living in the area - please let us know if so. There follows a letter from Private Donald McInnes which seems to have been written on request from Lady Nicholson when compiling the Record.
I enlisted in the Army on August 31st 1903 at Fort William and served in Inverness till December the 2nd, when I joined the 1st Battalion of the Cameron Highlanders in Fort George. We left Fort George on September 21st 1904 for South Africa, and arrived in Pretoria on October 21st. We served in Roberts' Heights, Johannesburg for 2 and a half years, and for 6 months in Pietermaritzburg, Natal, during the Zulu Rebellion of 1906.
In December 1907, we left Durban for Hong Kong, South China, and after a stay of 3 months on the mainland at a place called Kowlon, we embarked on HMS Soudan for Tientsin, North China. After a period of 1 and a half years, we proceeded to Pekin, and thence to the sea-side at Shan-hai-kwan, completing six months in all.
Then we embarked on HMS Dufferin and went back to Hong Kong again; this time to as Island called Stone Cutter's Island. After a stay there of ten days, we sailed on RIMS Rewa for Madras, India, arriving at Bangalore on January 4th 1910.
After a few months in Wellington and Bangalore, I came home time expired on October 11th 1911, and was transferred (from Gosport) to the Army Reserve.
While in the Army Reserve, the Great War broke out on August 4th 1914, and I proceeded straight to Inverness from Kinlochleven, and joined the 1st Battalion Cameron Highlanders in France on August 22nd. 1914.
I was wounded in the left knee on September 23rd 1914, and was invalided home. After a month's treatment in a London hospital, I recovered sufficiently to be sent out again in December 1914, this time rejoining my old Battalion, the 2nd Cameron Highlanders, which had gone out to France at the end of December 1914.
From the time we landed, we continually faced the enemy, but on May 17th I got severely wounded in the thigh, thus being useless for any further war service.
After nine months, I was consequently discharged from the Army, on February 22nd 1916.
You ask me to give you the names of some of the places in France where I served, and their dates, but I can only tell you the names, as I have not kept at record of the exact dates.
Of course in those days we were not supposed to know the names of the places where we found ourselves, but we did somehow contrive to arrive at them very often!
Amongst the places where we were are the following:
Sissons, Compiegne, Le Cateau, Bray, Hazebrouck, The Aisne, Ypres, Hooge, Messines, St Nici, Hilll 60, Zillebeke, Peperinghe, Sanctuary Wood, Menin Road.
Glenaladale Heritage Trust
As part of their mandate, the PEI Scottish Settlers Historical Society is in the process of forming the Glenaladale Heritage Trust, an interesting and worthwhile project designed to honour the bravery, hard work, and determination of our ancestors in the 'new world'. The mandate of the project is to "purchase and oversee the development of the Glenaladale property on Tracadie Bay, Prince Edward Island" (from the project website: www.glenaladalepei.com
In an effort to assist with the project, we are contacting various genealogy sources in order to spread the word. There are multitudes of folk, in Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, and Scotland, who are descendants of Glenaladale settlers. If all of us send even a small amount of money, it will be a huge boon to the project and the hard-working members of the PEI Scottish Settlers Historical Society.
Please read the information on the website www.glenaladalepei.com and pass along the information to your relations, friends, and anyone else who might be interested in the project. PLEASE consider making a contribution to the Glenaladale Heritage Trust, for without sufficient funds, the project will not survive.
The website www.glenaladalepei.com has information regarding the vision and campaign, as well as how to send money to the fund. Please note that thee PEI Scottish Settlers Historical Society is a registered charity and will issue tax receipts for any donation of $20.00 or more. Your contribution, large or small, will be MUCH APPRECIATED!
Marlene MacDonald Cheng Victoria BC
Kin Connections by Marlene (Màiri Éilidh) MacDonald Cheng (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In the last column, we learned about the ancestry of Malcolm Hugh Gillis of South West Margaree, Cape Breton. This month we shall find out more about Malcolm H.'s life and family. As you can well imagine, times were quite tough for the Gillis crew! With eighteen children to feed and clothe, and a farm to run, Malcolm and his wife Margaret worked very hard. As mentioned last month, Malcolm's only child to his first wife, Mary MacFarlane, was Mary Catherine Gillis (b. 28 Sep 1888). The first child of Malcolm and his second wife, Margaret MacFarlane, was John Duncan, who was born on 14 Mar 1892 and died five weeks later. It must have been devastating to lose him. In Jul 1912, a daughter, Catherine Agnes (known as Kate, b. 23 Feb 1912) died of croup at the age of five months. In 1918/1919 they lost three more of their children to the Spanish flu, brought back after World War I by returning soldiers. More than 50,000 Canadians lost their lives to the flu epidemic and it killed more than 21 million people worldwide.
The first one to succumb to the flu was Dougald (b. 23 Dec 1901) who died 29 Oct 1918, after a week with pneumonia brought on by the flu. He was seventeen years old. The next family member to die from the flu was their daughter Mary (known as 'Minnie'), born 31 Jul 1899. Minnie had been teaching school in Saskatchewan, but she was called home when her brother Dougald died. On her long journey home, she fell ill in Montreal and was close to death when she finally arrived at Inverness, Cape Breton. Her relations hurried to Inverness from Margaree in the middle of a fierce snowstorm and moved Minnie from a hotel to her cousin's home, but she died the following day (18 Jan 1919) of the Spanish Flu at the age of nineteen. One day later they buried her. An hour after the family returned home from Minnie's funeral, they learned that her younger brother, John Joseph (born 5 Dec 1903), had died of the flu at age fifteen (on 19 Jan 1919). He had been taken to St. Martha's Hospital in Antigonish with Appendicitis a few days before his brother Dougald died. After the operation he was in a weakened state and was struck down by the Spanish flu. Another brother, Alex (born 14 Sep 1900) was very ill with the flu for some time, but he recovered. Can you imagine the anguish of Malcolm and Margaret, losing five children to early deaths?!?
In addition to the remaining children of Malcolm H. and Margaret were John Archibald (Jack, b. 23 Apr1893); Hugh Daniel (Hughie, b. 4 Apr 1894); Mary Ann (Mary, b. 19 Jul 1895); Catherine Elizabeth (Kate Eliza, b. 1 Nov 1896); Mary Jessie (Jessie, b. 13 Oct 1897); Angus Bernard (Bernie, b. 20 Jan 1905); James Daniel (Jimmy, b. 26 Nov 1906); Malcolm (b. 11 Nov 1907); Annie Belle (Ann, b. 14 Feb 1909); Ambrose James (Ambrose, b. 25 May, 1913); and last but not least, Catherine Agnes (Agnes, b. 8 Oct 1914, the second Catherine Agnes, called after her sister who died in 1912). With the children mentioned above, including Malcolm's first child with Mary MacFarlane, they had eighteen children altogether.
In spite of the heartbreak caused by the loss of John Duncan, Kate, Dougald, Minnie, and John, there was plenty of love and happiness to go around. Malcolm and Margaret worked out a system that worked well for their family. She ran the home, looking after the children and the farm, while Malcolm taught school, wrote his poems, made and repaired violins and bagpipes, taught his children how to play various musical instruments, and participated in teaching his children about their ancestry. Margaret was very good with money and ran "a tight ship". Her grandchildren say that she had a "commanding personality", and she was affectionately labelled "The Generalissimo"!
Malcolm was a very sociable man, very talented musically. He was took part in weekly ceilidhs and helped other musicians. He enjoyed writing and reciting poems, writing about local events and happenings, some expressing satire, some humourous and some eulogies of departed friends and relations. He was known far and wide for his skills, especially when he wrote in Gaelic. A born teacher, Malcolm spent many long hours teaching young people about their Scottish heritage and the fundamentals of their Roman Catholic traditions.
When Malcolm died, people from miles around came to bid him a sad farewell! My own grandfather cried when he heard that Malcolm was gone. He was much loved by everyone, and his obituary told the tale. Here are some excerpts from his obit in "The Casket" (Antigonish) on the 10th of October 1929:
"He (Malcolm) ranked high as a musician, his performances on the violin being exceptionally good, often winning prizes at competitions all over the country. He was church organist for many years, often making sacrifices in order to teach sacred music to young people in the parish. He composed many songs of considerable merit, in both English and Gaelic. He immortalized his native district in "Cnoic is Glinn a Bhraighe", a song that is very popular wherever the Gaelic language is spoken.
Many a gathering he enlivened and cheered with music and song, and his company was always sought after. He was hardly ever heard uttering a cross or offensive word, and he made hosts of friends wherever he moved.
... The death of Malcolm Gillis has left his friends the poorer, and his place is hard to fill. May his soul rest in peace."
If you are interested in getting copies and translations of Malcolm's tunes and poetry, please feel free to contact me by e-mail and I shall accommodate your wishes. Until next time, stay well and happy!
NOTE: Margaret E. Gillis, a grand-daughter of Malcolm H. Gillis, wrote a lovely summary of Malcolm's work in West Word in July 2004. There is a picture of Malcolm there.
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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