Local News for Tuesday 8th November 2017

VisitScotland ‘has given up’ on islands
VisitScotland has been accused of 'relinquishing its responsibilities to rural areas' following the announcement that tourist information offices in Lochmaddy and Castlebay are to close. The closures follow last year's closure of the Lochboisdale office and will mean no national tourism authority presence in the 70-mile stretch of tourist heaven between Vatersay and Berneray. Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil said: "I am very disappointed at VisitScotland's decision to close the tourist information centres in Lochmaddy, Isle of North Uist and Castlebay, Isle of Barra. At a time when tourism is increasing and the season extending, this seems a strange decision and suggests that VisitScotland are relinquishing responsibility to rural areas. I wrote to Fiona Hyslop, cabinet secretary for culture, tourism and external affairs, and asked her to intervene following closure of the Lochboisdale office. I have again written to her, following the latest closures, seeking her intervention to change this decision.” A year-round visitor information centre remains in Stornoway with a seasonal office in Tarbert but Mr MacNeil expressed concern for the future of these offices also, given the closures elsewhere.

Read more: Local News for Tuesday 8th November 2017

Local News for Monday 6th November 2017

Honour for Harris Distillers
The Isle of Harris Distillery in Tarbert has been awarded an honour from islanders, to islanders, as the 'Cuach Comunn Leodhais agus Na Hearadh Ghlaschu' was presented on Friday by the Glasgow Lewis and Harris Association. The Cuach is a trophy presented each year to someone from Lewis and Harris who has brought honour to themselves or to the islands. The committee said: "We have been extremely impressed by the Social Distillery concept and the level of positive publicity which the Isle of Harris Distillers have generated over the last year, not just for Harris gin itself, but by extension for the Isle of Harris in general." Director Ron MacEachran, who has family connections with Scalpay, was presented with the trophy at the 130th annual gathering in Glasgow, which also featured entertainment from Joan Morrison, Kathleen Macinnes, Robert Robertson, Ronnie Murray, Rebecca and Rhianna Boyle and the Glasgow Islay Junior Choir, the night rounded off by a ceilidh with Beinn Lee.

Read more: Local News for Monday 6th November 2017

Local News for Friday 3rd November 2017

Winter festival dates announced
Dates for a winter festival to remember in Stornoway have been announced, among events for Scotland's National Days of Celebration: St Andrew's Day, Hogmanay and Burns Night 2017. Arts Centre An Lanntair will host a week-long programme of events surrounding St Andrew's Day, including a specially commissioned performance of 'Burns on Strings', a focus on Scottish film and themed menus offering the best of national food and drink. The winter festival, managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland, on behalf of the Scottish Government, will include four musical evenings, and ticket holders to these musical events will be entered into a prize draw for a hamper of Scottish goodies. Isles MP Alasdair Allan, Minister for International Development and Europe, said: "Scotland's Winter Festival is an exciting and diverse events programme, offering Scots both at home and abroad the chance to celebrate everything great about our wonderful country during the winter months." Highlights in Stornoway include Scottish singer Blue Rose Code on St Andrew’s Day, a family ceilidh with Hò-Rò on December 27th,and the now legendary Hogmanay celebration with Willie Campbell and friends, this year on Saturday December 30th.

Read more: Local News for Friday 3rd November 2017

Local News for Thursday 2nd November 2017

Gaelic champions announced as finalists
Finalists have been announced in the annual Scottish Gaelic awards, and they include familiar names in island cultural circles. An Lanntair’s head of performing arts, Alex Macdonald, is shortlisted for the arts and culture award, sponsored by Creative Scotland, and Comunn Eachdraidh Nis is a finalist in the event award category. Stornoway-based e-sgoil has been shortlisted in the innovation in education award category, which supports creative ideas to deliver Gaelic education. Winners will be announced on November 15th at the Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow.

Read more: Local News for Thursday 2nd November 2017

Local News for Wednesday 1st November 2017

More quitters this year
There have been more successful attempts to give up smoking in the Western Isles than ever before this year, with the highest percentage increase of successful quit attempts. In the latest year’s figures, the number of people who stayed off the smokes at 12 weeks stood at 55%, significantly higher than the overall Scottish figure. There was also a significant performance improvement of 136% in the Western Isles. Colin Gilmour, Head of Health Improvement at NHS Western Isles, said: “Each quitter has their own reason and our service aims to provide them with a high quality, sensitive and tailored package of support.” Evidence shows that you are four times more likely to quit using specialist support and Smokefree Hebrides can be contacted on (01851) 701623

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 1st November 2017