Local News for Friday 16th November 2018

Over the summer, volunteers on CalMac ferries spotted more than 500 marine mammals across the west coast as part of the company’s Marine Awareness Programme.

The awareness Programme has involved a total of 14 conservation bodies who have partnered with CalMac to gather vital scientific data and to educate passengers more about the environment they are travelling in.

A team of more than 60 wildlife enthusiasts compiled the survey results that tracked different species on different routes as part of the programme.

They were supervised by resident ORCA Wildlife Officer Andy Gilbert, who, was taken on this year to increase understanding of the wealth of biodiversity that exists in CalMac’s area of operations.

After this initial success, CalMac is now considering expanding the Wildlife Officer programme next summer and the Marine Awareness surveys will kick off again in April.

Read more: Local News for Friday 16th November 2018

Local News for Thursday 15th November 2018

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan recently chaired a Ferries Summit in Benbecula. The islands MSP organised the summit to discuss the significant disruption and timetable changes ferry services for Uist have experienced over the course of the last year.

The Scottish Government Minister with portfolio responsibility for ferries and islands, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, and the Managing Directors of Calmac and CMAL were in attendance along with agencies such as HITRANs, HIE and Transport Scotland, community and business representatives, and local councillors.

Commenting, Alasdair Allan MSP said: ‘With the financial constraints the Scottish Government faces as a result a budget cut of nearly £2 billion since 2010 by the UK Government, it is important that we make the best possible case that we can for further funding and investment in ferries services. I think the summit has certainly strengthened that case.’

Read more: Local News for Thursday 15th November 2018

Local News for Wednesday 7th November 2017

The Move More Western Isles programme of activities was launched recently, aimed at helping islanders with long term conditions (LTC’s) including cancer, to be more physically active.
NHS Western Isles, MacMillan Cancer Support and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, have worked together to deliver the programme. Participants are referred to the Move More programme by health professionals.
Speaking at the MoveMore Western Isles launch, NHSWI Vice Chair, Mr Iain Burgess said: ‘Our goal is to have a healthier population of people who have been affected by cancer and other LTC’s, by their participation in more activity which suits their lifestyles.’

Also, CnES Convenor, Mr NA MacDonald commented: ‘we will deliver the Move More programme using a range of traditional and innovative uses of new technology. We will improve physical activity provision for people affected by LTC’s (including cancer) in rural areas of the Western Isles, where exercise referral has not previously been possible and social isolation may be an additional issue.’

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 7th November 2017

Local News for Tuesday 6th November 2018

As part of the Dìleab (Legacy) project, all schools in the Western Isles will be gifted a signed copy of the new Acair publication, The Darkest Hour, which is the most comprehensive account to date of the Iolaire tragedy.

The book, which was written by Malcolm Macdonald, Chairman of Stornoway Historical Society, and the late Donald John MacLeod.
The book is the result of 20 years of research by the authors and contains many personal stories connected to the Iolaire.

Cllr Angus McCormack, Chairman of Education, Sport and Children’s Services at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: ‘We are very pleased to gift a signed copy of this wonderful book to all schools throughout the Western Isles. We felt that it was a very appropriate thing to do, particularly given that our schools have been involved in projects relating to World War I this year, working alongside the Comhairle’s Multimedia Team.’

The Darkest Dawn: The Story of the Iolaire Tragedy is available now from www.acairbooks.com

Read more: Local News for Tuesday 6th November 2018

Local News for Monday 5th November 2018

SNP MSP Alasdair Allan recently joined Minister for Children and Young People Maree Todd MSP on a visit to Pairc Playgroup in South Lochs.

Pairc Playgroup have been operating an extended hours project in partnership with HIE and Muaitheabhal Trust offering wrap around childcare.

The Playgroup have been awarded an ‘Excellent’ grading by the Care Inspectorate for their care of the children and awarded a ‘Green Flag’ from Keep Scotland Beautiful for their Eco work with children.

Commenting, Alasdair Allan MSP said: ‘Thanks to the staff at Pairc Playgroup and to the children for letting us interrupt their play time!

‘It was really useful to hear about the impact extending childcare hours in South Lochs has had, and learning about how this has enabled parents to go either to work or into further education. It underlines the potential of the Scottish Government’s pledge to double the number of hours of free early years education and childcare to 30 hours a week for vulnerable 2 year olds and all 3 and 4 year olds by 2021.’

Read more: Local News for Monday 5th November 2018