Criomagan: Council support in Skye; tourism bosses lockdown plea; veteran’s special birthday

97-year-old Donald Morrison

Council support to those affected by coronavirus at Home Farm

Highland Council has put a range of measures in place to help those in the Skye community affected by the coronavirus outbreak in the Home Farm.

An information leaflet is being distributed to raise awareness of the support on offer – from access to food and prescriptions, to advice on welfare benefits.

The leaflet, which is being distributed by NHS Highland to staff, residents and their families, signposts readers to the council’s helpline – 0300 303 1362 – and also provides a list of useful local contact details.

New head for Gaelic school

The new head teacher of Bun-Sgoil Ghàidhlig Loch Abar is Ciaran Joseph MacInnes.

Mr MacInnes comes from Fort William, with family links to Eriskay.

Mr MacInnes was previously the acting principal teacher for Gaelic at Rockfield primary in Oban, and prior to that taught in Bun-Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghleann Dail in Glasgow.

Mr MacInnes, a graduate of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in Skye, was awarded the traditional Gold Medal at the National Mòd in Dunoon in 2018.

Tourism bosses want lockdown lifted “at the same time as others”

Highland tourism leaders have signed an open letter to the First Minister demanding support to protect the industry and save jobs.

The group – representing businesses supporting 1200 jobs from Skye, Wester Ross and elsewhere – said that as soon as it is safe to do so, the region should open in alignment with the rest of Scotland, and ideally the rest of the UK.

The difference between re-opening in July or September could likely be the determining factor in the survival of our industry, its suppliers and producers here, the letter said.

 The businesses also urged the government to “balance both the short- and long-term impacts when evaluating the risks” and Avoid a ‘one size fits all’ approach to ongoing financial support

Crown estate cash isn’t for plugging gaps

The Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Roddie Mackay, has said that the authority ‘should resist any attempt by the government’ to use funds from the Scottish Crown Estate revenues to “plug gaps” in finances that may occur as a result of the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

The comments came during a debate at full council last week.

The fund was established so that all local authorities in Scotland would receive a share of net revenues of Scottish Crown Estate, with initial allocations based on each council’s share of the adjacent sea area.

The funding was originally intended to benefit coastal communities but In April the Scottish Government and COSLA agreed that  the 26 councils in Scotland that have coastlines could use any remaining, unallocated share of the fund to offer ‘direct support to struggling coastal enterprises and organisations’, potentially extending the funding for use by coastal businesses and third sector organisations. Peter Urpeth

CalMac travel warnings

Concerns that some islanders may be breaking travel restrictions and booking ferries for non-essential mainland shopping trips, have been raised by Cal Mac.

A Cal Mac spokesperson said that the ferry operator was also having to deal with cases where staff suspected that some islanders, with no specific routes identified,  were taking non-essential trips to the mainland, and said that there was “not a lot” that ferry staff could do to stop the trips if passengers insisted that their journey was of an ‘essential’ nature.

Last week, Harris woman , Catriona Morrison, started a petition calling for tougher controls on those planning to visit the islands with Cal Mac being given extra powers to deny travel to anyone who cannot prove necessity of journey.

The petition, which had over 3000 signatures, also called for a restriction on the ‘acceptable forms’ of ID for travellers planning to make a journey to the islands, to require a driving licence with an island address for car drivers and a similar utility bill dated in past six months for all foot passengers. Peter Urpeth

Safety visors for Isles care staff

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar took delivery of the first batch of safety visors this week for care home staff across the Western Isles, as community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust, working in partnership with Lews Castle College UHI, roll out their provision of free personal protective equipment.

Staff from the college and the wind farm charity have been working together to produce PPE for the islands’ frontline and began delivering the safety visors – made using facilities at the windfarm-sponsored Innovation Centre at the college – last month to NHS doctors and nurses.

World War Two Veteran celebrates 97th birthday on VE day

Birthday wishes were made to a special Harris World War Two Veteran last week.

Donald Morrison celebrated his 97th birthday, sharing his special day with the 75th anniversary of VE day.

Donald was born in Mollinginish on 8th May 1923.

He attended school in Mollinginish along with his older siblings Murdo and Katy.

He left school at age 14, to work with his father on a fishing boat until he joined the Merchant Navy on 3rd March 1943 when he joined the ship Empire Diplomat at Kyle of Lochalsh.

He was home on leave from the Merchant Navy when VE day was confirmed.

That day he had left Mollinginish early morning and was walking to Tarbert on route to Stornoway to visit his mother in hospital.

Near Tarbert he met some jubilant school children who told him the school was on holiday as the war was over.  He continued his bus trip to Stornoway and recalls on his return journey seeing bonfires lit all along the way into Tarbert.

He walked home from Tarbert to Mollinginish and on reaching had a celebratory dram with his father and brother Murdo, who had been a Prisoner of War for five years.

Donald continued life at sea until he met his wife Mary, who comes from Kershader in South Lochs.

They got married in Southport in 1953 and moved back to Harris where they have spent their entire married life.

They have five children, three grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

HebMade help for Covid hit crafters has been created as a community-led social business response to Covid 19 providing an online gallery shop specifically for Hebridean artists and craftspeople.

Other Scottish Island groups have formed similar web services in this crisis but HebMade has an entirely Hebridean focus

Their aim is to make selling online as easy for an artist as setting up a table in a craft market.

HebMade is totally free to use.

You can find HebMade at:

Contact Suzanne for more information at: