Local News for Friday 13th January 2016

Romantic Harris for eloping couple
A couple of lovebirds who eloped to Harris have called their runaway wedding ‘just perfect’. Gladys and Richard Clark, who are both 50 and live in Aberdeen, came to Harris on the spur of the moment, having decided just weeks earlier to marry. The wedding was officiated on January 2nd  by Western Isles registrar Helen Maher, at Blue Reef Cottages, Scarista, where they were staying. Their only witnesses were Blue Reef’s owners Rhoda and Neil Campbell, Rachel Bibby of 58º North taking the pictures. Gladys said: “We went to the same school in Aberdeen, where we had a secret crush on each other, but our paths crossed again in September 2015 when we went on a cycling date after chatting on Facebook. In August last year we stayed in Harris and fell in love with the area, and decided in December to return and marry here. We managed to get to Luskentyre beach to get some photos – barefoot and freezing! Although less so for Richard in his Harris Tweed attire bought in Tarbert. The wedding feast was provided by Croft 36 at Northton and the day was just perfect from start to finish, with rainbows provided.”

Tourism drives economic growth
The number of people working in tourism in the Western Isles has increased by 22% in one year, compared to a national average increase of 11%. The statistics from Visit Scotland show that tourism supports 1,100 jobs in the Western Isles, 10% of all the jobs in the islands. Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan welcomed the figures, saying: “At a time of great economic uncertainty is it great to see such a large increase in the amount of people employed in the Isles’ tourist industry. While it’s easy for us to take where we live for granted, the Isles plays host to stunning scenery, diverse wildlife and one of the most welcoming and friendly cultures you could ever come across. We should not be shy to celebrate this and encourage more people to visit”.

Energy savings for community groups
Community groups are to be encouraged to look at energy saving measures, as Western Isles Development Trust (WIDT) works with Community Energy Scotland (CES) for a two-year project improving energy efficiency and encouraging renewable energy schemes. WIDT currently invites applications which focus on alleviating fuel poverty and promoting renewable energy.  It has invested almost £75,000 in payments to groups across the islands. Meanwhile CES has helped support numerous community energy efficiency, feasibility and renewables projects. They’ll now get £28,000 to help develop more applications. If a community group in the Western Isles is looking to improve energy efficiency or develop a renewable energy scheme it is invited to visit the website of Community Energy Scotland or WIDT. www.commnunityenergyscotland.org.uk
Rugby opens chance for Stornoway progress
This weekend Stornoway Rugby Club’s senior team welcomes the Inverness team Highland RFC to Bayhead, in a re-arranged game from earlier in the season. A win will give Stornoway a fantastic platform to build on going in to the second half of the season, and with a strong selection to choose from, confidence and home support, it should be a great game. Show your support on Saturday at 12pm at the Bayhead pitch.
Cross country
The second cross-country race of the season sets off from Lews Castle Green tomorrow morning, with registration from 9am at the Bridge Centre on Bayhead. There’ll be runners from primary age upwards setting out from 9.45am.