Local News for Friday 6th April 2018

New York adventure for school band
Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band will be marching down Sixth Avenue in New York tomorrow, participating in the city’s annual Tartan Week for the first time. The band travelled on Wednesday to arrive in the Big Apple in good time for the programme of events celebrating 20 years of Tartan Week, and they’ll also perform for Gaelic-speaking audiences within and beyond New York, and learn more about emigration from the Hebrides to the USA. The Tartan Day parade tomorrow will be led off by KT Tunstall, this year’s Grand Marshal, and features mass pipe bands playing tunes including Scotland the Brave and The Bluebells of Scotland. Sgoil Lionacleit band consists of 24 pipers and drummers aged between 12 asand 17, together with Highland dancers. They raised £40,000 through crowdfunding and local events to pay for travel for themselves and their adult escorts. The band said: “Our plan is to travel to the USA as youth ambassadors for Gaelic Culture, the Outer Hebrides and Scotland. This will be the first time any pipe band (youth or adult) has represented the Hebrides at Tartan week - a great achievement for a bunch of island kids! Our main objective while there will be to share our pipe music and dance, Hebridean and Gaelic culture with a huge international audience.” The band will also perform their tribute to piper Eilidh Macleod, who died one year ago at the Manchester Arena bombing. In her honour, the tune Fair Maid of Barra will be played.

World’s best in Stornoway
Meanwhile the world’s best pipers are gathered on Stornoway today for the annual Pipe Major Donald Macleod piping competition. Eight pipers are invited annually to compete for the PM Macleod memorial trophy. The competition this year is between Finlay Johnston, Ben Duncan, Niall Stewart, Roderick MacLeod MBE, Craig Sutherland, Iain Speirs, Glenn Brown and Angus MacColl and is being held at the Caladh Hotel.

An Lanntair’s statement on Sunday opening
An Lanntair arts centre is to delay any further Sunday opening, after trial openings between January and March. The centre yesterday issued a statement saying that, while each event was very well attended, demonstrating that there is strong demand, feedback also confirmed that people would like to see the whole building including the café bar, open. The board considered the outcome of the trial and said: “We would like to be able to service this demand to the highest quality, however we are not quite ready operationally to open the doors on Sundays at the moment. We will work to resolve this in the future, and intend to start Sunday opening as soon as operationally possible. We have made a firm commitment to all of our staff that we will not expect anyone to work on Sundays if they do not want to. An Lanntair exists to serve the entire community, and can serve different parts of it in different ways.”

Cashpoint promise from ATM firm
The cash machine in Tarbert will be maintained and repaired more regularly in future, according to a statement by operators Cardtronics. Following an enquiry from Isles FM, a spokesperson from Cardtronics UK said: “We can confirm that the ATM has been repaired after a fault was reported over the Easter weekend, and it is now in working order again. The team at Cardtronics has been in close contact with a number of local community representatives over the past weeks and will continue to do so in order to deal with any issues as quickly as possible, should they arise." The ATM at Tarbert bus station has repeatedly broken down and has, in some cases, been out of order for weeks. This week Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil reported the matter to the regulator after finding that Cardtronics did not respond to direct approaches either from him or from community representatives.

Rodel Hotel plans on display
Plans for the redevelopment of the Rodel Hotel in South Harris are on display today, upstairs at An Clachan in Leverburgh, where the new owner and the architect will be available between 10am and 1pm to answer any questions. The plans include redevelopment of the derelict sail loft building at Rodel harbour as a venue for events, as well as recreating a walled kitchen garden to produce vegetables and fruit for sale. Owners Anderson Bakewell and Francine Stone also plan to have a home there – Mr Bakewell is the founder of the Harris Distillery in Tarbert.

Football season starts
The first games of the island football season kick off tonight at 6.30pm, with a minute’s silence to be observed at Carloway in honour of player Jordan Macleod, who sadly passed away at Hogmanay. The team will be playing Lochs FC in the first round of the ABC cup, with a second match in the competition played tonight at Goathill between Aths and United and Back playing Ness on Monday. The first league matches are next weekend.