Local News for Friday 23rd March 2018

Respond quickly in Stornoway Trust vote
Residents of the Stornoway Trust area are being urged to vote as quickly as possible, when ballot packs in the forthcoming Trust election arrive today. The ballot papers are arriving by post, and are running late due to the unprecedented level of interest shown by candidates. 22 people are standing for just five available positions as trustee, with fiercely debated issues such as wind power and Sunday golf boosting the number of candidates. The most densely populated areas of Lewis are within the Stornoway Trust area, with all residents in Stornoway, Point, Broad Bay and parts of Lochs entitled to participate in the postal vote. The deadline to receive votes is on Tuesday March 27th, but with the unexpected interest in the positions, ballot papers took longer than usual to get printed. The packs arriving in the post today include all candidate statements, which the Stornoway Trust has printed and included in the envelope, although they are not legally obliged to do so. Trust factor Iain Maciver urged voters to read, vote and return the packs as soon as possible. If posted by Saturday, the votes should reach the Electoral Reform Services count centre in London in time. You can also vote in person at the Trust’s office in Perceval square between 8am and 8pm on Tuesday.

Iolaire Memorial unveiled today
Pupils of the Nicolson Institute will be among those gathered in Carn Gardens today as a memorial to the loss of the First World War troop transport ship Iolaire is unveiled. 201 men died at New Year 1919 when the ship went aground off Stornoway harbour, and pupils decided to commemorate every one, 100 years later, by bringing a stone from their home village or town and constructing a cairn. The project involved collecting stones from all over Lewis, Harris and Berneray, and from other locations in Britain, including London and the Isle of Wight. Together with Stornoway Amenity Trust the monument, including a slate plaque and a bench donated by Stornoway Port Authority, was planned for Carn Gardens, right next to Stornoway Town Hall where most people will be able to see it and reflect on the tragedy. Today’s unveiling will include poetry, music and song by pupils including descendants of some of the men lost, who will be led back to the school by pipers as the dedication concludes.
New youth café gets WILL support
Plans to set up a Youth Café at the North Lochs Community Centre are being supported by funds from the Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery (WILL). All community funds from ticket sales in the Lochs, Uig and Breasclete areas will go towards the project this quarter. The committee of the busy centre in Leurbost are keen to begin a youth café project which would run a monthly soup and pudding event for all the community. Residents in this area can directly benefit the project by taking part in the lottery and be in with a chance of winning a weekly prize. A spokesman for the lottery operators, Western Isles Community Society said: "We are very pleased that funds will support this worthwhile project at the Community Centre and wish them well in taking this forward."

New Gaelic culture centre planned for South Uist
Plans have been submitted to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar for a £7million Gaelic culture centre in South Uist. Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant said she was very pleased to hear that the project was moving forward, after meeting the project team in the early stages of their planning. The centre for Gaelic music, dance and cultural heritage in proposed to be based in Daliburgh. Cnoc Soilleir is a partnership project between Ceòlas Uibhist and Lews Castle College UHI, which will support the growth of activity around Gaelic language learning, music and dance, as well as Lews Castle College UHI music programmes. It will also serve as a community and visitor hub and is expected to bring 40 jobs to the area. Mrs Grant said “When I met with the project team you could feel the buzz in the room and it was catching. The centre will do much to promote Gaelic culture but added to that it will breathe new life into Daliburgh and the whole of South Uist. The project team are to be congratulated for their tremendous efforts in bringing this to fruition. The centre will not only provide students with a fantastic learning experience but it will also be a centre for the whole community to enjoy and I can’t wait to visit it.”

Weekend events
In the weekend’s sport, Stornoway Rugby Club are away to Moray in the BT Caledonia League Division 2 North. Kick-off is at 1.30pm. Lewis Camanachd also have an away game, to Kilmallie, while the youth team will be welcoming Beauly Under-14s to the island this Saturday 24th March. It’s the first time a mainland youth shinty team have visited the island for many years and will allow the youngsters to expand their skills against other opposition. The game will be played on the Smith Avenue Astro from 10am tomorrow.

And Lewis Car Club are holding their latest autotest event, with an 11:30 sign on,12:15pm start. Memberships for 2018 are still available at the clubhouse. The weather forecast is likely to be windy, cold and wet, so the club suggest wetsuits, and invite anyone out and about to come and watch.

London men remembered at Iolaire memorial
Three stones from the banks of the River Thames will be among those laid in a cairn commemorating the loss of the Admiralty yacht Iolaire, which is to be unveiled tomorrow. The naval yacht sank off Stornoway, with the loss of 201 lives, almost 100 years ago, on January 1st 1919, and a programme of commemorations is planned throughout this year. The three stones were selected to represent crew members Albert Matthews, 22, 19-year-old William Stanley and 33-year-old Alfred Taylor, who were all from the city of London and who drowned in the wreck. They were collected by Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil during a break from business at the House of Commons recently, when he went to the shores of the Thames to lift the stones commemorating the three men. The plan to include stones from the home village or town of all victims was devised by pupils of the Nicolson Institute, who have collected stones in villages all over Lewis, Harris, Berneray and also from the home towns of the 20 victims who were not from the Isles. The memorial is to be unveiled by pupils in Carn Gardens, Stornoway, tomorrow at 11am. A bench donated by Stornoway Port Authority will also be put in place nearby.

Road repairs in Barra
Road repairs are starting in Barra on Monday, beginning west of Castlebay and continuing round to the East of the island over the next four weeks. During the hours of resurfacing work, suggested diversion signs will be in place. Delays of up to 20 minutes can be expected during these hours.