Local News for Thursday 29th June 2017

Gotland Gold Rush continues
Golden girl Kara Hanlon followed up the first gold medal of the 2017 Island Games with two more in the pool on Tuesday, giving a huge boost to the team as they entered Wednesday on a total tally of eight medals, five of them gold. Kara’s three medals sent her away from the games in fine style, as she left Gotland for the Commonwealth Games trials, and earned her a mention in the Scottish Parliament, where Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart moved a motion of congratulations which said that she was “a tremendous inspiration to all young people, especially those on the Western Isles, demonstrating the results of hard work and commitment while living and growing up on the islands”.

Read more: Local News for Thursday 29th June 2017

Local News for Wednesday 28th June 2017

Gold at Gotland
Kara Hanlon was the Western Isles golden girl going into day three of the NatWest Island Games in Gotland, Sweden, and she started a gold rush for her team, with sisters Kerry and Kirsty MacPhee also topping the podium on Tuesday afternoon. Kara beat all-comers in the pool on Monday evening, winning her final in the women’s 50metre breaststroke half a second ahead of silver medallist Laura Kinley of the Isle of Man. The MacPhee sisters, from South Uist, commanded the field in the mountain bike cross country yesterday afternoon – Kerry bagging the individual gold medal and Kirsty the silver, to make sure of the team gold between them. Those medals moved Western Isles well up the table, placing them ahead of Orkney and Shetland in the good-humoured Scottish island rivalry, but a long way below table-topping Jersey, already on 31 medals, 14 of them gold, by yesterday afternoon.

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 28th June 2017

Local News for Tuesday 27th June 2017

Action hots up at Gotland
It’s been a busy first couple of days for the Western Isles team in Gotland, Sweden, as 88 competitors got into action in the 2017 NatWest Island Games. On the first day Donald Walker and Ruairidh Macdonald, both from Uist, came agonisingly close to a bronze medal in the automatic ball trap team event, missing out by only one point. The women’s football team played the Isle of Man in their second group game yesterday, running out as 2-0 victors. Beth Macleod of Ness scored in the first minute, and fellow Niseach Mary Macleod completed the job at 60 minutes They will face Yyns Mon tomorrow at 5pm. The men’s team played games host Gotland yesterday evening, disadvantaged as a number of the team were hit with a bout of food poisoning the night before, ruling some out of the game. On the track Abbie Mackay competed in the 100 metres semi-final, finishing in fourth place, just outside a position for the final. Jenny MacTaggart got through to the final eight in the long jump, and finished 7th overall. Donald Macleod and Michael Macmillan both eased through the men’s 800 metres heats and are through to the final on Tuesday evening. The swimmers started their campaign yesterday. Kara Hanlon came first in her 50m breast stroke heat and younger brother Mathew Hanlon, the youngest athlete in the squad, came second in the backstroke. Lucy Doig made two personal best times in the 100m breaststroke and 50m breastroke, and there were PBs for Isla Budge and Katie Murray in the 100metre fly. Kathryn Offer had a PB in the 200m freestyle and the team also qualified for the final of the 4 x 100m swim relay last night. Coming up today is action in golf, badminton, swimming, athletics, mountain biking, and mens and womens football. See the website for further information www.islandgames2017.com or follow WIIGA on Facebook.

Read more: Local News for Tuesday 27th June 2017

Local News for Monday 26th June 2017

Miniboats cross the ocean
Three mini mailboats sent to sea by schools in the United States have launched an exciting series of exchanges with island schools, after two of the vessels came ashore in Benbecula and Harris this weekend. The miniature boats, each fitted with a GPS tracking device and loaded with messages from American schoolchildren, form part of an educational programme teaching pupils about geography, earth sciences, maths and technology. The weekend’s strong winds brought the miniboat Shields Surfer ashore on Saturday on rocks somewhere near Huisinis, where it’s yet to be located despite a search by Coastguard volunteers. It’s spent 187 days at sea, since being launched by children from an elementary school in Lewes, Delaware, a seaside community of 2,500 people. On Thursday the miniboat ‘Lilboatthatcould’ came ashore in North Uist, 168 days after being launched by children from Kennebank Alternative Education School in Portland, Oregon. She’ll now join the first boat to arrive, the miniboat West, which landed in North Uist in November last year after drifting via Portugal. Before the end of this term, pupils from Sgoil Uibhist a Tuath (North Uist School) will have completed messages and decorations on the boat as part of a project run with Comunn Eachdraidh Uibhist a Tuath (North Uist Historical Society). She’s later to be relaunched as the project continues, thanks to help from CalMac, who restored and waterproofed the sea-battered boat. In a strange twist, a North Uist descendant, Ru Morrison, is Executive Director of one of the US Oceanographic Institutes which has collaborated on the project. He’s expected to arrive in North Uist next week, bringing a new sail and new GPS trackers to set the West off on her next journey. Meanwhile anyone who finds the miniboat Shields Surfer on rocks north of Huisinis is asked to contact Seumas at Sea Harris, or Stonroway Coastguard.

Read more: Local News for Monday 26th June 2017

Local News Update - Friday 23rd June 2017

Island athletes off to Games
A chartered flight from Stornoway airport will tomorrow morning take off with the Western Isles Island Games team aboard, heading for Gotland in Sweden for the 17th NatWest Island Games. The 126-strong Western Isles party includes 72 competitors, who’ll be up against the finest of the world’s island athletes in sports including football, track and field events and swimming. Physios, coaches, managers and administrators make up the rest of the squad, together with 38 parents and supporters. The team, sponsored by the Scottish Salmon Company, will attend tomorrow night’s opening ceremony before the first events on Sunday. 23 teams are competing, from islands as far afield as the Cayman Islands, St Helena and the Falkland Islands, with closer to home rivals Shetland and Orkney also participating. First to compete for the Western Isles on Sunday will be Ruaraidh Macdonald and Donald Walker, who’ll be competing in the shooting from 8am, while at 11.30 Christina Mackenzie goes in the women’s individual triathlon. Both football teams are in action – the women’s team against Aland at 1 o’clock and the men against Greenland at 5pm. In the evening events on the track and field, Duncan McKellar is in the men’s 10,000 metres, and Abbie Mackay and Jenny Mactaggart are both in the women’s long jump.

Lewis Pipe Band
Also heading off the island tomorrow morning are members of Lewis Pipe Band, setting out for Grant Park in Forres to compete in the European Pipe Band championships. Piping at Forres, the biggest event in the Highlands piping calendar, attracts competitor bands from all over Scotland, but also from Europe, Canada and the US. Lewis Pipe Band are defending champions this year at Grade 3a, after a storming year of competition last year, and have been working hard to up their game. There are 11 bands competing at their grade, and Lewis will compete at no 10 in the list, around 2.30pm tomorrow afternoon.

New local leader for SNP
The SNP group of councillors has a new leader, after Councillor Donald Manford announced he was stepping down from the role. He will remain as councillor for Barra and Vatersay, a role he was re-elected to last month, but has handed on the group leader’s baton to Cllr Gordon Murray of Stornoway North. Cllr Donald Manford suffered a collapse, from which he quickly recovered, during the Council election count in May. Announcing the change of leadership, Cllr Manford said: "After ten years as the SNP Group Leader on CnES, the time is right for me to hand over the reins to someone else. Working closely with colleagues and guiding the group over the past decade has been a huge privilege. I will now be concentrating all my efforts on ensuring that the Comhairle focuses more effort on tackling the huge issues of disparity and opportunity facing the Southern Isles in particular." Cllr Murray paid tribute to his predecessor, saying: "I am honoured to have been elected by the Group to replace Donald. He has been at the heart of our growth at the Comhairle and in presenting a real vision for change as set out in our published manifesto. The Group has benefited enormously from his advice, leadership and experience. I am delighted that he will still be there to support me as I take on my new role as Group Leader."

Ness Gala Day postponed
A foul weekend weather forecast has forced organisers of Ness Gala Day to postpone their annual event, expected to take place tomorrow. A spokesman said this morning “We're very disappointed to have to do this, but we need to consider the health and safety of all those involved and all those who would be attending. We would also be very limited in the attractions we would be able to run if it were to go ahead. We are looking to rearrange and will advertise a new date as soon as we have it. The gala day dance with Strange Brew will still go ahead in the Ness FC Social Club at 9pm tonight.

Ferry disruption
The weather forecast is leading to some early warning of ferry disruption tomorrow, CalMac advising that services between Oban and Castlebay, and across the Sound of Harris and Sound of Barra, could be disrupted or cancelled due to winds forecast to gust up to 45 knots. Mallaig Lochboisdale sailings could also be affected.

Lewis Camanachd have had a productive week so far, with Katie Drain from the Camanachd Association running 'come and try' sessions for ladies and girls and a referee qualification course. On Saturday the senior team are up against Marine Harvest North Division 2 league leaders Glengarry at Shawbost. Throw up is at 2:30pm and local support is welcome.