Local News for Monday 14th May 2018

Death of popular radio presenter
Tributes have been paid to Isles FM’s much-loved veteran presenter Lionel Sewell, who passed away early this morning. For many years Lionel presented popular shows including Southern Comfort, Country Roads, the Tuesday afternoon show with the late Peggy MacNeil and Saturday Night's Moonlight Shadow, with his beloved partner Chrissie. Listeners commenting after the news broke earlier today described him as a charming man, an asset to the community and a big part of the Isles FM family. We send our deepest condolences to Chrissie and to all Lionel's family, and hope listeners will keep them in their prayers at this sad time.

CalMac director told ‘communicate better’
Calmac’s interim Managing Director Robbie Drummond was in Uist on Friday to listen to concerns from infuriated islanders, who have recently experienced considerable disruption. During the Easter period the MV Hebrides was taken off the Uig triangle to be replaced by the much smaller MV Hebridean Isles, while it was sent south to service Tiree, Coll and Colonsay. This decision was later reversed. The Mallaig – Lochboisdale route has also been cancelled until the end of May. The meeting was chaired by Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan, who said: “The last few months have not represented Calmac’s finest hour. I cannot recall a similar level of confusion and service disruption in my time as MSP for the islands. The meeting on Friday was a useful opportunity to bring senior Calmac management together directly with community representatives. Communities in Uist made their views abundantly clear that the service they have received in recent months is unacceptable to them. Calmac urgently need to get better at communication with island communities and involve them much earlier and more meaningfully in the design of both vessels and services.” Dr Allan added that Calmac undertook to meet again and to keep up contact with community councils and others.

Fastrack for midwives offered
Western Isles nurses are being encouraged to consider training as midwives, with the new availability of a fast-track pilot scheme which will get them qualified in just 20 months. The shortened midwifery programme will be available to registered adult nurses, studying at the University of Highlands and Islands and then working in the region. It’s being delivered in conjunction with NHS Highland and NHS Western Isles. The programme will start in January 2019 with Scottish Government funding for 20 students. Chris Anne Campbell, Nurse Director, said: “NHS Western Isles welcomes this exciting new initiative that offers opportunities for qualified nurses to advance their careers further and for newly qualified nurses to complete their midwifery training within 20 months. This is an important development to sustain and enhance midwifery care in our island community and we are grateful to UHI and the Scottish Government for making this possible.”