Local News for Thursday 29th June 2017

Gotland Gold Rush continues
Golden girl Kara Hanlon followed up the first gold medal of the 2017 Island Games with two more in the pool on Tuesday, giving a huge boost to the team as they entered Wednesday on a total tally of eight medals, five of them gold. Kara’s three medals sent her away from the games in fine style, as she left Gotland for the Commonwealth Games trials, and earned her a mention in the Scottish Parliament, where Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart moved a motion of congratulations which said that she was “a tremendous inspiration to all young people, especially those on the Western Isles, demonstrating the results of hard work and commitment while living and growing up on the islands”.

Also in the pool, Kara’s team-mate Kathryn Offer yesterday qualified fastest for a place in the finals of the 50metre freestyle race, going on to win another gold yesterday afternoon. In the athletics Michael Macmillan made it through to the finals of the 1500m on Friday, after coming agonisingly close to a bronze medal with a fourth place in the 800 metres. Eilidh Mackenzie experienced the same frustration last night, coming fourth in the 5,000 metres and missing out on bronze. The women’s 4x400metre relay team squeaked into Friday’s final, Eilidh Macleod qualified for the semi-finals of the 200m and Calum Fraser is into the semi-finals of the 100m, after stepping in for Ruaraidh Muncaster, who became unwell and was unable to compete. The women’s football team played their last match in the group stages against Ynys Mon, and were 1-nil up at half time with a fighting chance of a place in the semi-finals. On Tuesday Western Isles men won their last game of the group against Froya 4 - 2 to finish the group in third place. Goals from Micheil Smith, Ness FC, two from Angus Macdonald and one from Stewart Munro, both from Point.

Today’s events include the triple jump, with Abbie Mackay and Heather Mackinnon in it for the Western Isles, and sisters Kerry and Kirsty MacPhee once again in action on their bikes, this time in the mountain bike criterium. There’s more golf and shooting too, and plenty more to come in the pool.

Youngest shooter for Scotland
Meanwhile congratulations have also been offered to Harris Gun Club's youngest member, Andrew Hughson, who at 14 years old has made it onto the 2017 Scottish DTL Junior Team, after competing in the Scottish DTL Championship last week. Andrew also won the Walter Thomson Trophy as the 2017 Scottish Colts (under 16) Champion. He will now represent Scotland at the 83rd ICTSC DTL Home Countries International Tournament and British Open Championships next month at Scotland's new National Shooting Centre, Falkirk. Harris Gun Club Members said they were very proud of Andrew, and offered congratulations and good luck for next month.

HebCelt shop open for business
The shop front for the 2017 Hebridean Celtic Festival is open for business, with island-dwellers being encouraged to pick up their tickets early and avoid the rush. Merchandise including new colours of hoodies and sweatshirts, and t-shirts and hoodies for babies, is expected by the end of the week, and there are a limited number of freebie stickers, badges and pens for early callers. During HebCelt week, from July 19th to 22nd, artists will be giving free live gigs at the festival's shop at 79 Cromwell Street - the first band to play in the shop Willie Campbell and the Tumbling Souls, whose debut single ‘Dance a Little Better’ was released by the new Wee Studio label and has clocked up over 50,000 views on YouTube. The HebCelt shop will now be open Monday to Saturday from 10am-5pm and during festival week the hours will be extended to 10am-6pm, with late opening until 8pm on Wednesday 19th July. Festival director Caroline Maclennan said: "The opening of the festival shop signals the real start of the build up to HebCelt. It gives us a focal point in the town centre and gets people talking about the event.”

Weight-shifters really do shift stones
A weight-loss initiative by NHS Western Isles has brought an incredible 43 stones of weight lost to the people who took part. 'It takes three to shift a stone’ encouraged people to get into teams of three mates, for three months, and to walk three million steps between them. Since its launch in February teams of three people have been encouraged to aim for a sensible weight loss, and 38 teams, 114 people in total, from the Butt to Barra signed. The combined weight loss of all those weighing in regularly is just over 43 stone, nearly half of them dropping 5% of their weight. Members of leading team 'Mission Slimpossible', Marion Macleod, Sarah Morrison and Donella Brown. Said: “It was a long three months, but worth it in the end! ‘It takes 3’ definitely gave us a kick start and it really helped being part of a team as we didn't want to let each other down, and we encouraged each other through the hard timesThe competition is continuing for a full year, with motivational messages and encouragement sent to those taking part, as well as regular weigh-ins.