Local News for Thursday 24th May 2018

Leverburgh’s farewell to Lifeboat
Leverburgh’s first full-time lifeboat left the pier for the last time yesterday, to a fond farewell from the volunteer crew. The Royal Thames, RNLB 12-36, was allocated to Leverburgh RNLI lifeboat station after they began permanent service in April 2013, following a trial period of 11 months. The Mersey class vessel has now been replaced by a purpose-built Shannon class lifeboat, RNLB Stella and Humfrey Berkeley, which came into service on May 2nd. The Royal Thames sailed away from Leverburgh pier yesterday morning and the team posted: “A bit of a sad day here in Leverburgh … 12-36 has served us well here in Leverburgh and has taken our crew back safely every time from some pretty nasty shouts.”

Iolaire commemoration plans timeline
A timeline showing events commemorating the centenary of the Iolaire disaster has been launched, and local groups are encouraged to add their own events into the plan. HMY Iolaire was a naval yacht which was bringing island sailors home after the end of the First World War, when she foundered on rocks just off Holm, with the loss of 201 lives. Events including performances, a new monument and community remembrance are included on the timeline, which will be continuously updated and can be referred to over the course of the next few months. You can find a link to it on the Isles FM Facebook page. https://tinyurl.com/y96bvv83 Norman A MacDonald, Chairman of the group working on the commemorations, said: "This commemoration is of major significance for our Islands. The events of that terrible night on Hogmanay 1919 impacted on communities throughout the Western Isles and remain a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by our young men in the service of their country. It is the worst tragedy to befall our Islands and its effect reverberates to this day." To inform the group of planned community events contact Colin George Morrison at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar on 01851 822615.

Port Authority reports on year
Stornoway Port Authority has reported on a busy and successful year despite challenging economic conditions. The annual report was discussed at the Port Authority’s annual public meeting last night and showed total vessel movements up by 9% and the number of ferry passengers up by five per cent to over 276,000. The number of visiting yachts had also increased, and the Port Authority’s turnover reached £3.4 million, higher than 2016. But there was a significant decrease in cruise passenger traffic, with just 45 cruise ships calling into Stornoway in 2017, down from 64 the previous year. The authority admits current facilities are hampering cruise trade as vessels over 156 metres in length cannot berth alongside the harbour and passengers have to be transferred ashore by tender. That’s already led to cancellations this summer, with choppy weather preventing passenger transfers. Chief executive Alex Macleod said: “Last year was a strong and steady period for the Port Authority. The economic climate was difficult but we increased turnover and most aspects of the business showed improvements on the previous year. The other results, such as the reduction in cruise passengers, only emphasisess that it is correct to develop our facilities.”

Point youngsters football success
Two young Point footballers have had invitations to progress their careers with Ross County football club. Matthew Wright of Bayble has signed a two-year full-time contract with the Stags after travelling regularly to Dingwall to train since last May, when he was signed up as part of the club’s youth team. Matthew is a striker who built his skills at Garrabost under the watchful eye of his father, goalie Alex Wright. At the same time Josh Smith has signed a new part-time contract with Ross County. The boys’ home club, Point FC, described both signings as: “Fantastic news for Lewis and Harris football.”