Local News for Thursday 15th June 2017

Search and Rescue from Stornoway
Department of Transport Search and Rescue helicopter statistics, published yesterday, show that the Highlands and Islands region was the busiest in Scotland for taskings during the year to March 2017. 22% (565) of calls took place in the Highlands and Islands, with Stornoway responding to 123 calls during the year. Maritime jobs accounted for a quarter of all Stornoway taskings, with 40% over land and a further 35% over coastal areas. 67% of these were rescue or recovery jobs -  the rest were search only, support tasks or pre-arranged transfers. Sumburgh and Stornoway had the highest average duration of call-out, mainly due to their off-shore location.

 
Affordable housing boom for Western Isles
More than £25 million is being allocated to Western Isles Council by the Scottish Government, to stimulate investment in affordable housing. The announcement of three-year figures is designed to help local authorities and house-builders plan investment. Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “We are ensuring that Eilean Siar has homes that are high-quality, efficient and affordable. It means they can plan these new affordable homes now - with the certainty that the funding will increase year-on-year.”
 
Round the World yacht in Stornoway
Tomorrow sees the arrival of the record-breaking yacht Gipsy Moth IV in Stornoway, for a weekend visit during her round-Britain cruise. Gipsy Moth was the yacht in which Sir Francis Chichester completed the first solo circumnavigation of the globe in 1967, and she’s celebrating her 50th anniversary, now restored and owned by a specially set-up trust, by touring Britain. In Stornoway her crew will be welcomed with a civic reception and the Gipsy Moth IV herself will be in Stornoway harbour, open to the public and making short excursions out with paying passengers, until Sunday. Some crew members will also be joining Annie Delin in the Isles FM studio during Behind the Headlines on Friday afternoon.

Charity single unites island talent
A charity single being launched this weekend brings island talent together in memory of victims of the bomb blast in Manchester. Iain Neosa Mackinnon has written the song, Starlight, to raise funds for the families of Eilidh MacLeod and Laura MacIntyre and has been joined by musicians including Ceitlin Smith, Jane Macmillan, Spanish and Eleanor Nicolson on the track, which is to be released on Saturday. Neosa said: “As you all know, the tragedy that occurred in Manchester on May 22nd affected many of us in the Outer Hebrides deeply. We often feel so safe and secure out here on the edge of the world and something like this shows how we can all be struck by tragedy, but it also shows how we can all come together. I have been working extremely hard over the past few days with some amazing people to create something a bit special and I cannot thank everyone enough for all your time, effort and support.” The cover of the track features the Barra Flag with the Bee of Manchester.
 
Island kids know how to save lives
Children at schools all over the Western Isles have been learning how to save lives, and all schools in the Outer Hebrides now have an outdoor defibrillator installed. In 2016 Comhairle nan Eilean Siar approved a grant to the charity Lucky2BHere, which places defibrillators and gives training in how to use them. This week members of the Education, Sport and Children's Services committee heard that all the equipment had been installed, and training delivered to school staff and to 874 pupils from P5 upwards. Only four schools remain to have training provided: Sir E Scott School, Leverhulme Memorial School, Stornoway Primary School and the Nicolson Institute.
 
Leverburgh lifeboat shout
Leverburgh RNLI Lifeboat crew were called out yesterday at 10.40am to a report of a local fish farm vessel with engine trouble off Rodel. The vessel was towed into Leverburgh by the lifeboat and all crew reported safe and well.