Local News for Monday 13th November 2017

“Massive blow” if BiFab folds
There’s serious fear for the jobs of 160 workers at Arnish, with weekend reports that Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab) is set to go into administration. The company, which has yards at Arnish in Lewis and in Fife, has reportedly cited cash-flow problems resulting from a huge contract to construct 26 jacket sub-structures for a windfarm development in the Moray Firth. Two support structures for the same project were constructed by BiFab when it was in its experimental stage. At the time the project was the deepest offshore wind installation in the world. BiFab expanded their work in that sector and became one of the leading suppliers of jacket support structures for offshore wind turbines in Europe. But reports at the weekend said they were set to call in administrators with papers already lodged in court to begin the process. Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil called on Saturday for all agencies to work together urgently to help solve the situation. He said: “This is a massive blow for the workforce at Arnish and their families who will undoubtedly be very worried. It is imperative that all agencies come together to save these jobs. I have tonight contacted Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy.”

Pupils to be ‘dealt with’ after school fire alarm
Three pupils at the Nicolson Institute are being dealt with under school procedures, after the school was disrupted last week by fire alarms. On Tuesday lunchtime the school was evacuated, and police and fire services called, when pupils noticed a bin that had been set alight. The school fire alarms were also activated on two separate occasions, with the school describing the action as ‘inappropriate’. A statement on social media reassured parents: “The school implemented evacuation procedures and the Fire Service and Police were notified immediately. The three pupils involved in the incidents are being dealt with under appropriate procedures.”

Nurses collect awards for decades of care
Two Western Isles community nurses, who have between them worked for 45 years for NHS Western Isles, have received long service awards from the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland (QNIS). Joan Macarthur, Senior Charge Nurse, Eastside Team, and Ann Fraser, retired Community Nurse, were both presented with their awards at Carloway Surgery, with nursing colleagues past and present helping to mark their long service for the NHS. Awards are presented to community nurses who have worked for over 21 years, with Joan having already worked 24 years and Ann working 21 years before retiring in 2016. NHS Western Isles Chief Executive Gordon Jamieson said: “I would like to congratulate Joan and Ann, and also thank them sincerely, on behalf of the Board, for collectively delivering decades of care to patients. The dedication and commitment shown by these nurses is inspirational and both NHS Western Isles and local patients are extremely fortunate to have such experienced nurses providing care and support across the communities of the Western Isles.”

Harris bond strengthened in Canada
Iconic companies from Harris made the transatlantic crossing to Canada last week, to seal bonds first forged during the emigrations of the 19th and 20th centuries. The Harris Tweed Authority, Harris Tweed Hebrides and the Isle of Harris Distillery were at the British Consul General’s residence in Toronto, re-telling the island story on Canadian soil. Simon Erlanger, managing director of the Tarbert-based distillery, said:“It is fitting to recognise the relationship and history our two lands share and we are heartened that, even after losing so many of our island friends and family to these emigrations, our community here in Harris continues to survive and, through the work we do together, ultimately thrive.”

Bowel on tour in Western Isles
A giant inflatable colon is to go on tour through the islands this week, as part of NHS Western Isles promotion of the importance of bowel screening. The inflatable model is a walk-through, large-scale replica of the human bowel, helping visitors to learn about their gut, bowel cancer and other diseases of the large intestine. The idea’s already triggered plenty of online conversation, helping with the Health Board’s aim of breaking down taboos and putting an animated twist on the very serious topic of bowel cancer. Bowel screening uptake across the Western Isles has increased over time, but still less than three in five people who receive testing kits use them. Invitations and kits are sent to everyone between the ages of 50-74 years every two years. Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Scotland, after lung and breast cancer. A walk through this blow-up bowel will, it’s hoped, encourage more people to get tested when they receive the kit. You can take a walk through the giant inflatable colon at Castlebay Hall in Barra, tomorrow from 10am-2pm, on Wednesday in Balivanich Hall from 10am–2pm and 4.30pm-6.30pm, at Talla na Mara in Harris from 10.30am-2pm on Thursday and in Stornoway, at St. Columba’s Hall on Lewis Street from 5pm–8pm on Thursday and 9am–12noon on Friday.