Local News for Monday 19th December 2016
Tragic news for island relatives
Relatives of a Stornoway family are now known to be among those who have lost their lives during the chaotic conflict in the Syrian city of Aleppo. Two related Syrian families came to the Western Isles this year and have settled in Stornoway, where they are being supported by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and other agencies. Comhairle convenor Cllr Norman Macdonald told councillors at a private meeting last week that the trauma of the families had now been compounded, with news that some of their close family were among casualties in Aleppo. He said: ““It is with the deepest regret that I inform you that the Syrian families resettling in our community have lost very close family relatives during attacks in Aleppo over the last few days. Our thoughts and prayers are with them all at this time.”
Barra Lifeboat was called to help out a fishing vessel with engine failure in wild conditions within Castlebay harbour on Saturday. The FV Spindrift called for help just before 2pm, and the lifeboat launched to take her in tow back to the quayside. The lifeboat was alongside and refuelled by 2.40pm.
Christmas travel disruption
There’s increasing likelihood of travel disruption for those heading home for Christmas, with stormy conditions towards the end of the week, and proposed strike action at some of the airports connecting with Stornoway. Ground handling staff at Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports are among those expected to take strike action in a dispute over pay and conditions and weather models are predicting a possible severe storm on Christmas Eve, with deep low pressure systems building in the North Atlantic.
Harris Santa run
Christmas started early in Tarbert at the weekend, where the village tree has been up and lit in the distillery car park, and the annual Isle of Harris Santa Run organised by Tarbert Fire Service on Saturday, the real Santa leading the way in his sleigh. Santa later settled down by the distillery peat fire to give out presents to children, while parents and grandparents enjoyed mulled wine, hot chocolate and mince pies. All proceeds from the event will be going to a local charity. A Harris Distillery spokesman said: “It is a rare Hearach who has never leaned on a neighbour for a helping hand and a rarer one who will never offer theirs to those in need. Each and every day we turn to each other to get things done, so Christmas provides a great opportunity to celebrate all that is good about being part of the Harris community.”
‘No-one alone for Christmas’ – Salvation Army
The Stornoway-based corps of the Salvation Army want to make sure that no-one has to spend Christmas alone this year, and also to respond to numerous enquiries from local people keen to help with donations of food and gifts for children and families in need. This year the Salvation Army will be serving more Christmas meals than last year, and requests for gifts, food parcels and hot water bottles are also up. Lt Emma Newton told Isles FM: “We are providing gifts for over 100 children, food parcels for more than 50 families and dinner to anyone who would otherwise be on their own, serving two sittings, one on Thursday December 22nd at 12 noon and one on Christmas Day from 2pm. Anyone is welcome to join us for the meals, we don’t want anybody to spend Christmas Day on their own. We’d also like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has already made a donation either directly to us or through Tesco’s Giving Tree.” If anyone wishes to donate towards the annual toy, food and gift appeal, they can get in touch with the local branch at 59 Bayhead or by phoning 703875.
Stornoway athlete’s selection
Stornoway athlete Connor Maclean has been named in the Scottish Athletics under-23 squad for the Celtic Nations cross-country championships, due to take place in Cardiff on January 22nd. Connor is one of four in his event, and 24 across all age-groups, representing Scotland. There’s a total of 14 athletics clubs represented in the selection, and a Scottish Athletics spokesman said: “All at Scottish Athletics would like to congratulate those athletes selected, their families and coaches on the honour – and the clubs involved down the years in the development of these hard-working, talented young athletes.”