Local News for Monday 3rd July 2017

Heroes return from Games
An elated party of Western Isles athletes landed at Stornoway airport on Saturday afternoon, to a heroes’ welcome from family, friends and supporters. Lewis Pipe Band turned out in full to serenade the returning champions, with joyous and sometimes chaotic scenes as last team pictures were taken. The Western Isles squad had their best-ever games for gold medals, with 10 between swimmer Kara Hanlon, cycling sisters Kerry and Kirsty MacPhee, Kathryn Offer in the pool and Heather Mackinnon in the triple jump. Eve Carrington’s silver in the shot put, with two more silvers for Kirsty MacPhee and a bronze for Kathryn Offer, made up the total of 14 medals, putting the Western Isles at seventh place out of 23 competing islands. Kerry MacPhee, who has now won 10 gold medals in successive island games, left early to participate in a World Cup mountain-biking event in Andorra, while Kara Hanlon also departed before the end of the games, heading to Aberdeen for the Scottish Championships, a Commonwealth Games trial ahead of Gold Coast 2018. She placed 2nd in her 100 metre breaststroke event there.
Team coach Iain GG Campbell said: “There were lots of personal bests for our young swimmers, but arguably the highlight of the week was Heather’s gold in the triple jump. A fantastic series of PB jumps, an inspiration to other youngsters watching and lovely that her family were there to witness it. Eve Carrington has also been an incredible all-round athlete over seven games. Gotland have been fantastic hosts - very friendly and accommodating. It’s a beautiful island, which I am sure some of us will re-visit in the future.”

Coastguard volunteer off baby duty
A Stornoway coastguard volunteer left the bedside of his wife and new baby on Saturday to answer an emergency call-out at the hospital. Members of the Coastguard volunteer team were tasked to man the helicopter landing site just after 5pm, when rescue helicopter R948 was inbound with three casualties. The three men had fallen from a fishing boat into a loch on the Scaliscro estate, near Uig and, despite making their own way out of the water, called for emergency help. The helicopter was sent to recover them to Western Isles Hospital, where they were checked for hypothermia and the effects of immersion. Coastguard volunteers then went to Scaliscro to search for the party’s dog, a spaniel called Breagha, which is still missing after coming out of the water. Anyone who sees the dog in the area is asked to contact the estate or Stornoway Coastguard. The new father returned to parent duty immediately after the call.

Read more: Local News for Monday 3rd July 2017

Local News for Thursday 29th June 2017

Gotland Gold Rush continues
Golden girl Kara Hanlon followed up the first gold medal of the 2017 Island Games with two more in the pool on Tuesday, giving a huge boost to the team as they entered Wednesday on a total tally of eight medals, five of them gold. Kara’s three medals sent her away from the games in fine style, as she left Gotland for the Commonwealth Games trials, and earned her a mention in the Scottish Parliament, where Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart moved a motion of congratulations which said that she was “a tremendous inspiration to all young people, especially those on the Western Isles, demonstrating the results of hard work and commitment while living and growing up on the islands”.

Read more: Local News for Thursday 29th June 2017

Local News for Wednesday 28th June 2017

Gold at Gotland
Kara Hanlon was the Western Isles golden girl going into day three of the NatWest Island Games in Gotland, Sweden, and she started a gold rush for her team, with sisters Kerry and Kirsty MacPhee also topping the podium on Tuesday afternoon. Kara beat all-comers in the pool on Monday evening, winning her final in the women’s 50metre breaststroke half a second ahead of silver medallist Laura Kinley of the Isle of Man. The MacPhee sisters, from South Uist, commanded the field in the mountain bike cross country yesterday afternoon – Kerry bagging the individual gold medal and Kirsty the silver, to make sure of the team gold between them. Those medals moved Western Isles well up the table, placing them ahead of Orkney and Shetland in the good-humoured Scottish island rivalry, but a long way below table-topping Jersey, already on 31 medals, 14 of them gold, by yesterday afternoon.

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 28th June 2017

Local News for Tuesday 27th June 2017

Action hots up at Gotland
It’s been a busy first couple of days for the Western Isles team in Gotland, Sweden, as 88 competitors got into action in the 2017 NatWest Island Games. On the first day Donald Walker and Ruairidh Macdonald, both from Uist, came agonisingly close to a bronze medal in the automatic ball trap team event, missing out by only one point. The women’s football team played the Isle of Man in their second group game yesterday, running out as 2-0 victors. Beth Macleod of Ness scored in the first minute, and fellow Niseach Mary Macleod completed the job at 60 minutes They will face Yyns Mon tomorrow at 5pm. The men’s team played games host Gotland yesterday evening, disadvantaged as a number of the team were hit with a bout of food poisoning the night before, ruling some out of the game. On the track Abbie Mackay competed in the 100 metres semi-final, finishing in fourth place, just outside a position for the final. Jenny MacTaggart got through to the final eight in the long jump, and finished 7th overall. Donald Macleod and Michael Macmillan both eased through the men’s 800 metres heats and are through to the final on Tuesday evening. The swimmers started their campaign yesterday. Kara Hanlon came first in her 50m breast stroke heat and younger brother Mathew Hanlon, the youngest athlete in the squad, came second in the backstroke. Lucy Doig made two personal best times in the 100m breaststroke and 50m breastroke, and there were PBs for Isla Budge and Katie Murray in the 100metre fly. Kathryn Offer had a PB in the 200m freestyle and the team also qualified for the final of the 4 x 100m swim relay last night. Coming up today is action in golf, badminton, swimming, athletics, mountain biking, and mens and womens football. See the website for further information www.islandgames2017.com or follow WIIGA on Facebook.

Read more: Local News for Tuesday 27th June 2017

Local News for Monday 26th June 2017

Miniboats cross the ocean
Three mini mailboats sent to sea by schools in the United States have launched an exciting series of exchanges with island schools, after two of the vessels came ashore in Benbecula and Harris this weekend. The miniature boats, each fitted with a GPS tracking device and loaded with messages from American schoolchildren, form part of an educational programme teaching pupils about geography, earth sciences, maths and technology. The weekend’s strong winds brought the miniboat Shields Surfer ashore on Saturday on rocks somewhere near Huisinis, where it’s yet to be located despite a search by Coastguard volunteers. It’s spent 187 days at sea, since being launched by children from an elementary school in Lewes, Delaware, a seaside community of 2,500 people. On Thursday the miniboat ‘Lilboatthatcould’ came ashore in North Uist, 168 days after being launched by children from Kennebank Alternative Education School in Portland, Oregon. She’ll now join the first boat to arrive, the miniboat West, which landed in North Uist in November last year after drifting via Portugal. Before the end of this term, pupils from Sgoil Uibhist a Tuath (North Uist School) will have completed messages and decorations on the boat as part of a project run with Comunn Eachdraidh Uibhist a Tuath (North Uist Historical Society). She’s later to be relaunched as the project continues, thanks to help from CalMac, who restored and waterproofed the sea-battered boat. In a strange twist, a North Uist descendant, Ru Morrison, is Executive Director of one of the US Oceanographic Institutes which has collaborated on the project. He’s expected to arrive in North Uist next week, bringing a new sail and new GPS trackers to set the West off on her next journey. Meanwhile anyone who finds the miniboat Shields Surfer on rocks north of Huisinis is asked to contact Seumas at Sea Harris, or Stonroway Coastguard.

Read more: Local News for Monday 26th June 2017