Local News for Thursday 26th October 2017

Christmas lights go-ahead in Stornoway
Stornoway will shine bright for the festive season this year with a Christmas Lights Switch-on event due to be held on December 8th. Stornoway Amenity Trust are to benefit from the launch of the Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery, who have given money towards the lights, and they are also in line for funding from the Tesco ‘Bags of Help’ initiative. Tony Robson, Stornoway Amenity Trust said: “It promises to be a great family event once again with performances from local musicians and dancers and aims to boost local businesses by encouraging the community to shop locally. The Amenity Trust is delighted to be the beneficiary of funds from Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery tickets sales from the Broadbay area. The public can also support us by choosing the Amenity Trust to receive ‘Bags of Help’ tokens in Tesco. You receive tokens at the checkout and can drop them into the box on the way out.”

‘Warm and productive’ meeting on renewables
Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil held a ‘warm and productive meeting’ yesterday with UK Energy Minister Richard Harrington, who confirmed that progress with negotiations on Island renewable energy should be ‘straightforward’. Mr MacNeil said he was grateful to Mr Harrington for his helpful and open dealings. He said:“I asked Mr Harrington about the request to the European Commission which was submitted on 11th October, he said it was a simple and straightforward request and that the Commission has to respond by 11th December. He confirmed that the interconnector will be paid for through the Contract for Difference process by the winning bidder repaying the capital over a number of years. The Minister also confirmed that while projects will have to demonstrate some community benefit the ultimate decision will be made on the basis of price. Mr Harrington remains very interested in Island renewables, he has promised that he will keep in touch with progress and I am very grateful for his assistance.”

HebCelt show will wow Celtic Connections
A show celebrating Hebridean music and culture is to be reprised for the 25th anniversary Celtic Connections festival next year. ‘Blasta’ (Gaelic for tasty or delicious) was specially commissioned by the Hebridean Celtic Festival for this year’s Interceltique de Lorient, Europe’s largest Celtic Festival, which was held in August. The sell-out opening concert launched a number of events featuring Scottish artists during the ten-day festival. On February 3rd next year the artists will take to the stage once again in Glasgow. Lewis singers and musicians Anna Murray, Mischa Macpherson, Ceitlin Smith and Josie Duncan will be joined by singer and piper Calum Alex Macmillan, who had to withdraw from the Lorient show after breaking his ankle. The anniversary Celtic Connections will be held from 18th January to 4th February 2018 and also features performances by island musicians including Isobel Ann Martin and Kathleen MacInnes, and favourite bands including Tide Lines, Mànran and Skipinnish.

Today at Faclan
Today’s events at the Hebridean Book Festival, Faclan, once more take audiences to extremes of cold and into the far north. The film Iceland is to be shown tonight, shot in 1924 as that country was seeing the approach of the modern age. In black and white, the film is silent and accompanied by a live piano accompaniment written and performed by Jessican Danz. Photographer Ragnar Axelsson (Rax) looks back at his career with starkly beautiful images of vanishing lifestyles in Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Later the same night, the owner of the Shiant islands talks about the pattern of seabirds’ lives alongside his new book, The Seabird’s Cry. A free workshop for writers is offered today and tomorrow by Lewis writer Lily Greenall, who looks specifically at the supernatural in Scottish fiction.

Barra boy makes the Ton
Barra schoolboy Matthew Davidson, aged 10, has impressed his mainland football club Greenock Morton, by making the 300-mile round trip from Barra to Greenock twice a week to train and play. Matthew’s been signed for the under-11 side for the club, through their youth academy programme. He makes the trip to Greenock with Loganair, flying from the beach at Traigh Mhor to Glasgow, and then on by road to Greenock, and is already showing his worth with a recent hat-trick against St Mirren. He’s the first footballer based in the Outer Hebrides to play for the Ton, signing on after a successful trial overseen by coach Ross Gourdie. Gourdie said: “Given that I fix Loganair’s aircraft for a living, it was a nice coincidence to find out he was from Barra. He’s definitely the first boy from the island to sign for the club. Geography is obviously a bit of an issue but we’re doing our best to help him train at home and he is still impressing us during matches every weekend. Matthew combines speed with an incredible close control, really impressive when you consider he has just been playing football with Castlebay Community School.”