Local News for Friday 6th January 2017

Coastguard support for charity walker
Benbecula coastguard teams were sent out to find and support charity walker Alex Ellis-Roswell yesterday, as he continued his trek the whole length of the islands to raise money for the RNLI. Alex has slowed his pace after a gruelling start on Tuesday, when he set off from Castlebay and endured a soaking and cold winds as he passed through South Uist. The 350 mile walk up and down the Western Isles is part of a much bigger enterprise for Alex, who aims to complete a trek around the coastlines of the while of Britain and Ireland, started in 2014. He’s over halfway through the 9,500 mile feat and is expected to be in Harris over the weekend.

Growing initiative at college
Lews Castle College and the Lewis Harris Horticultural Producers have agreed that LHHP can use a piece of croft land to produce locally-grown vegetables. LHHP chairman Matt Bruce said the lease would enable an increase in producer numbers and a wider range of fruit and vegetables available to the public at its weekly market stall in Perceval Square. The horticultural group now have allotments and beds in polytunnels for lease at nominal rents. Some tools and plenty of advice are also on offer.

Crofting commission nominations open
Nominations opened today for the Crofting Commission elections, including election of a commissioner for the Western Isles. The election is being run by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and all of Scotland’s 16,000 crofters are eligible to put forward candidates or stand themselves for election. Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy Fergus Ewing said: “It is vital to have a Commission made up of people who represent and reflect the interests and diversity of Scotland’s crofting community. To achieve that, we need people with a commitment to ensuring a long term future for crofting to stand for election or to nominate people they believe have the qualities to be an effective commissioner. It’s also important all crofters make their voices heard by voting in March’s election.” North Uist crofter Donald Macdonald said: “Crofting has a significant bearing on maintaining the local population, communities, and townships by giving people a place to live and work.  The Crofting Commission gives crofters a voice and platform through which we can stand up for ourselves, raise any concerns and make sure our interests are not overlooked. Crofting is evolving so it is important that we are able to influence any changes to the way we are regulated from above, particularly with all the uncertainty and concern around Brexit and CAP reform.”
Mini Hebrides on show at Lochmaddy
A scale version of CalMac’s MV Hebrides – the vessel which serves the Uig, Lochmaddy and Tarbert triangle – is settling into her new home at the port office at Lochmaddy. More than a metre long and nearly half a metre in height, she’s now on show as part of an exhibition mounted by port assistant John MacDonald. John said: “It’s absolutely great to see the model here in Lochmaddy right beside the pier where her much bigger sister calls in. We’re really proud to have her here and I’m sure that loads of people from the island, as well as visitors coming through the port, will enjoy seeing her”. John’s exhibition at Lochmaddy port, which showcases his collection of CalMac artefacts, has been growing for about two years and has become a very popular feature for both locals and tourists alike.
Island athlete to compete for Scotland
Lewis runner Conor Maclean has been confirmed as part of the Scotland squad in the Celtic Nations Cross Country event in Cardiff on January 22nd. Connor runs in the Under-23 mens team.
Shinty awards
Lewis Camanachd held their end-of-year awards ceremony this week, after the traditional New Year match. Senior player of the year was 
Michael MacLeod and womens player of the year Alicia Macsween. Youth player of the year was Steven Morrison, who shone particularly against Skye in the Mod Cup. The Manager’s choice award, a presentation caman, went to Michael Macleod and Club Chair Annette Murray - Michael's auntie – accepted his awards on his behalf as he is currently away in Austria. The captain’s choice, made by outgoing captain Kenny Murray, was Ally Lamont.  The club start the New Year with the first Lewis and Harris shinty festival of the year for all primary school pupils between p5 and 7, although younger pupils are also welcome to make up a squad. The festival is on Tuesday January 17th at Lewis Sports Centre.