Local News for Wednesday 19th July 2017

HebCelt opens tonight
The opening concert of Hebridean Celtic Festival 2017 is this evening at 7.30pm, as three fiddlers from across Scotland’s island bring their unique collaboration to the stage at An Lanntair. Between Islands is the second phase of a project produced by An Lanntair, which began in 2015 with a collaboration between singer/songwriters from Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles. Now Lewis fiddler Jane Hepburn is joined by Shetland’s Maggie Adamson and Orkney’s Louise Bichan to explore the similarities and differences in island tunes, traditions and playing styles. Also tonight is the community concert at Breasclete with Tidelines, a concert that has been sold out for some weeks.

Rally Hebrides mega-donation
Over £16,000 was presented to Macmillan Cancer Support’s Isle of Lewis Branch this week by Rally Hebrides, the proceeds of their 2016 event. The annual rally is organised by Lewis Car Club with support from volunteer marshals, and is a substantial fundraiser each year for Macmillan. This year’s Rally is on August 18th and 19th, with the rally shop opening on Saturday August 5th and the route and further details all available in the August edition of Events newspaper.

Economic stats ‘grim reading’ - SNP
The SNP group leader on Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has hit out at council policy after the latest Socio-Economic update was published by the Comhairle’s development Department. Councillor Gordon Murray described the update as ‘grim reading’, showing that the Outer Hebrides is again projected to have the highest population decline in Scotland. Cllr Murray said: “Over the next 25 years the working age in the Western Isles is projected to decline by 27%. The biggest decline is expected in those aged 16 to 24 years with a decrease of 36%. These stark predictions come with a warning that if the current leadership and committee chairs do not change their way of doing things, these statistics will be realised. The Comhairle urgently needs a comprehensive change agenda - shared by all members and led from the front to tackle the big issues facing our Islands."

Pipe band’s championship boost
A £1000 boost has been given to Lewis Pipe Band as they plan their Scottish Championships campaign for the event on July 29th. The money’s come from community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust ahead of the band’s trip to the Scottish Championships in Dumbarton. Five pipe band championships are held in the UK every year, but Lewis Pipe Band only attend two due to the cost of travel and accommodation for the band and their gear. After a disappointing finish this year at the European Championships in Forres, the band are now determined to be ready for the Scottish Championships, where 130 pipe bands will be taking part. Pipe band chairman Sandy Gomez explained how fundraising forms a major part of their activities, during the playing season and beyond. He said: “We fundraise hard over the winter to get to these competitions. Each competition costs £3000 or £4000 to get to and we're only playing for four or five minutes. It's more expensive for us, getting on and off the island. Most of the other bands are travelling on a day trip, leaving in the morning and back at night, but we've got overnight costs. It's a lot of money." Lewis Pipe Band will lead the parade up to Hebridean Celtic Festival’s main arena tomorrow afternoon, and also plays in town and at the festival on Saturday this week.

Shellfish toxin warning
Monitoring work undertaken on behalf of Food Standards Scotland has identified raised levels of shellfish toxins in Seilebost Sands in Harris. Eating shellfish such as cockles, mussels or razor fish from these areas may pose a risk to human health and notices to warn the public and casual gatherers will be posted at various locations on it is a sensible precaution to avoid eating shellfish from these areas until further notice.