A new £50,000 fund that will install call-blocking technology for those most at risk from nuisance calls across the Highlands has been welcomed by Kate Forbes MSP. 

The fund forms a key part of the Scottish Government's Nuisance Calls Action Plan, which will raise awareness of the issue of scam and nuisance calls and empower people to protect themselves from scams. Stats have shown that Scotland is disproportionately affected by nuisance calls.

The SNP has consistently taken action to tackle nuisance calls, forcing the UK Government at Westminster to adopt legislation that punishes company directors if their organisations are found in breach of the law on nuisance calls.

Kate Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said: "This new £50,000 fund is great news for people across the Highlands – with Scotland disproportionately affected by this issue.

"Nuisance calls are irritating for many people – and we need to be vigilant as they can be scams and leave people out of pocket as they target the elderly and vulnerable.

"This fund will ensure those most at risk from these calls can get the protection they need and call-blocking technology can be installed.

"This is part of our wider strategy to support people across the Highlands who might be affected by these calls – with the Scottish Government's Nuisance Calls Action Plan which will raise awareness and empower people to protect themselves.

"Despite SNP success at Westminster on this issue, there is still much to be done – and the power to regulate lies with the UK Government. 

"However, it is positive to see the Scottish Government taking action where it can, and we'll continue to press the UK Government to take greater action to reduce nuisance calls in the Highlands."

 

Lochalsh Junior Pipe Band is on a mission to attend the UK Championships in Belfast next year.

Lochalsh Junior Pipe Band started competing in 2015, going on to win the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championship in Edinburgh for the past 3 years in the Novice Juvenile B section, take a first in the British Championships, second in the European Championships and first place at the World Pipe Band Championship in Glasgow.

The Band are at the early stages of organising the trip to the UK Championships, held on June 16 2018.  The event is one of the five RSPBA major championships held each year.

Treasurer, Janice Nixon, told The Skye Times: "Our success has encouraged us to enter more competitions next year, so we are hoping to attend the UK Championships in Belfast. There is a considerable cost attached to competing at this level given the distances involved, accommodation & travel etc.

"We currently fund all our activity and equipment from local fund-raising efforts. With the publics support we hope to reach our target of £8000 which will allow us to realise our ambition of competing at the UK championships in Belfast."

The Lochalsh Junior Pipe Band's Just Giving page can be found here

Skye dancers are disappointed after being unable to compete at their local games, say local Highland dance group, Dannsairean an Eilein Sgitheanaich.

The group, which consists of 75 dancers, stated that the Skye Games Committee run an Open Only competition, meaning that dancers working through the rankings are unable to take part.  They claim this results in over 40 Skye-based dancers, as well as dancers from off the island, are excluded from the Games.

A petition has been started to allow Beginner, Novice and Intermediate dancers to compete at the Games.

The petition stated: "Of course, we understand that the Skye Games do attract world-class Highland dancers, and indeed Champions, and while this is wonderful, no dancer ever became a champion without first going through the ranks! It is so disheartening that some members of the committee appear to have no interest in developing talent, disregarding the young up-and-coming dancers so eager to tread the boards in the most iconic of locations.

We annually visit the games in both South and North Uist and are welcomed with open arms to their Official Board Registered Competitions. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were able to offer the same hospitality in return?

"This is not, however, just a local issue. There are dancers the world over who would dearly love to compete in Skye, in fact, one school travelled all the way from Canada to enter, only to be bitterly disappointed when not one of their pre-premier dancers was able to take part."

In the petition, Dannsairean an Eilein Sgitheanaich shared the story of Canadian dancers who were disappointed after being unable to dance.  Lee Vossler from Diamond V Highland Dance said: “I had the great pleasure of bringing my dance school to Scotland during the summer of 2016.  Being Canadian, we were all very excited, and ,of course, used the experience to also see the beautiful country and sites. 

"We decided that Skye would be one stop during our trip, and that we would dance at the Highland games. We were blown away by the number of competitors and tourists the community could bring in with their games.  It was truly spectacular and so great for the village of Portree. 

"It was with much disappointment that we realized this was an unsanctioned event, therefore the pre-premier dancers were unable to dance; a real disappointment for the little ones who just wanted to dance, and didn't really understand that the "rules" say they can't. We did have a wonderful time at the games, and it would have certainly been nice for everyone to dance, as this was the main purpose of our trip. 

"I hope to bring my dancers back in a couple of years and would love for this to be another destination point for us as it was so beautiful, and very welcoming.”

Dannsairean an Eilein Sgitheanaich conclude by stating: "We would like to ask the people of Skye whom we are proud to represent, as well as Beginner, Novice, and Intermediate dancers from all over the world, their teachers and families, to support us in our request to the Isle of Skye Games Committee: Please hold a Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing Registered Competition."

As of the time of writing, the petition has received over 1,600 signatures.  It can be viewed here.

Isle of Skye Pipe Band approached the end of a busy season with another success at the Pitlochry Highland Games. 

Joining another 17 Pipe bands with each band marching through Pitlochry to the Games field, the Skye band competed in the afternoon led into the competition arena by Pipe Major Alan Mackenzie and and were successful in achieving second place. 

Drum Major Peter MacDonald together with DM's Duncan MacDonald Badenoch Pipe band and Kenny Forbes', Vale of Atholl Pipe band provided a drum major's demonstration in the Arena in front of a large international audience. 

The Pipe Major's son, Alexander, aged 3 accompanied by mum, Megan, and drummer, Andrew Martin, led the Skye Band down the Main Street of Pitlochry.  

On Saturday 16 September, the Skye Pipe Band will be part of the opening ceremony for the new Isle of Raasay Distillery.  

Above: A celebration picture at Pitlochry Highland Games. 

A leatherback turtle was found dead, floating off the Isle of Raasay last month.

Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme posted about the turtle as part of their August strandings report.

Unfortunately, the turtle could not be recovered for necropsy.

A story with a happier ending was a report of a common dolphin entangled in fishing gear and floating at the surface at in Kylerhea Sound.

The animal was spotted from the ferry and, through great efforts of the ferry crew, was approached and released.

The animal was not very active at first, but after a while started swimming in a northern direction and has not been seen since, so the team are hopeful it has recovered well.

The full report and a video of the common dolphin can be found at their Facebook page here

Sound, sight and taste – all three of those senses will be delighted at this year's Skye Live Festival.

Festival organiser, Niall Munro, along with co-directors Ali MacIsaac and Michael Pellegrotti, have spent the best part of a year planning the festival – and, as well as creating a breathtaking audio experience, aims to utilise the senses of taste and sight.

"We will be back up at The Lump this year and it's important to make it a visual show, as The Lump is such a magical site," he told The Skye Times.  "The site lends itself perfectly to this music event, so we want to make it picturesque and iconic."

To do this, Niall has organised two stages - including one very special stage built around the Apothecary's Tower.  "Double Take Projections, who recently opened up the new Forth Road Bridge with a fantastic visual and light show, will be in charge of the tower projection duties," explained Niall.  "They are going to light up the tower and make it really atmospheric.  I'm excited to see what it looks like!"

Niall's brother, Calum Munro, will be giving the audience a true flavour of Skye.  Calum, owner of Portree's Scorrybreac restaurant, aims to feature Skye produce at the festival.  "The focus will be rustic, but local, fresh produce," Niall said.  "The Scorry pop up is going to be called Scorry Scran."

The event, which will take place on Friday, September 22 and Saturday, September 23, will feature Django Django, Niteworks, Optimo and Joy Orbison.  "Those acts are a good representation of the festival as a whole," Niall stated.  "The overall feel is Celtic, dance and electronic."

Niall's love of music festivals goes back to when he was at school.  "I remember the weeks prior to the original Skye Festival," he said.  "The excitement of knowing it was on, going there and finding out about new music I'd never heard before was phenomenal.  I want to create that same kind of thing for people on Skye and those coming from far away.  I love the fact that we are able to bring such a world-class line up to Skye."

To get tickets for two days of entertainment, visit www.skyelive.co.uk.  Tickets are also available at the Skye Music Shop in Portree.

Above: Skye Live 2015.

For the first time, Donnie Munro performed at the Aros Centre tonight (Friday 8 September.)

Donnie Munro and Friends were playing at Portree as part of the international Sweet Surrender tour.  

The concert proved to be so popular that a second performance was added and will take place tomorrow (Saturday 9 September.) 

The audience included fans new and old, including one who had followed Donnie's career through his early Runrig days until now and was in the audience thanks to her sister arranging a surprise night out!

The A82 is blocked east of Glencoe village because of an overturned crane.

Police are on scene. Nobody is thought to be seriously injured but the road is blocked and the vehicle needs to be recovered.

The police have advised road users to try and avoid the road if possible.

 

SSE will begin the transportation of turbine blades from Kyle of Lochalsh harbour to the Skye Aerodrome.

The route encompasses the local road network, the A87 and A887.  The network includes Kyle Prospect Road, where the harbour's lower level car parking bays will be closed off for the duration of the deliveries.  Alternative parking will be made available at the Lochalsh Hotel and Lochalsh Leisure Centre.

The blades will be transported between Monday September 11 and the end of October 2017.  

Deliveries will be slow moving and under police escort.  

Work is underway in Skye which is set to revolutionise diagnostic endoscopy services across the Highland are.

Capsule endoscopy or PillCam is being piloted in Skye, and aims to provide easy access to diagnostic endoscopy. Instead of having to travel to hospital for an invasive procedure, a pill - which includes a tiny camera - can now be taken.  As well as being less invasive, the capsule can be taken at home with the results discussed at home or the Medical Centre.

Commenting on the new development Dr Steve McCabe, who met the research team and proposed the local trial, said: “This is really exciting for our patients. It puts Skye and NHS Highland at the forefront of the development of Gastro Intestinal investigations. With the new technology, diagnostic endoscopy can be organised and supported locally from local practices without having to travel for an invasive procedure.”

He added: “It is a fantastic development and good example of how technology developed for other fields can and should be used to deliver high quality clinical care to remote communities.”

Dr Will Nel, clinical lead for the locality, and an endoscopist, said: “The pilot, which is also taking place in Ullapool practice, and being co-ordinated by senior clinicians from Raigmore Hospital, is going well. It will hopefully demonstrate that this approach will work in any practice irrespective of the locality.”

The test is for diagnostic scopes only. Anyone requiring biopsies or treatment scopes would still have to travel to Belford or Raigmore Hospital, as currently happens.

The endoscopy service in Dr Mackinnon Memorial Hospital was stopped several years ago due to health and safety concerns. At that time, NHS Highland was of the view that the service could be resumed in the new facility. Now the Board has confirmed that the Endoscopy unit will not be included in the specification for the new hospital.

A review conducted by Mr James Docherty, colorectal surgeon and NHS Highland’s clinical lead for Endoscopy, highlighted a number of reasons why this would no longer be appropriate.

He said: “The low level of activity would mean the service would only run for one session per week. This alone would mean it would not be sustainable including staff not able to maintain skills.”