Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 349

Issue # 349                                                                      Week ending 21st  May 2016
If You Forget Your Yellow Wellies, Where Will Ye Be? By Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

A couple of church ministers tell me they make notes on their smartphones about things that happen to them so they’ll have ideas for their sermons on Sunday. I do the same for this column so it’s great to follow the same lifehacks as these esteemed men of the cloth. They admit they are a bit technophobic and are not very good with devices, apps, search engine optimisation and that sort of thing.

Some ministers put their sermons online. However, I hear many of them are disappointed how few read their blogs and websites. One preacherman asked me recently what he should do to boost his online visitors. Purely in the interests of research, I have been perusing sermon sites.

You wouldn’t know many were supposed to be spreading the Good News. They are old-fashioned and a tad sexist - like when they quote how women must submit to husbands. An Inverness church in the east of the city lists one of its sermons under the heading Warnings For The Believer. Another is starkly entitled Obedience.

However, Professor Bob Akroyd of the Free Church has it down to a tee. I found a sermon by Bob, which was about lessons from the southern Asian tsunami tragedy in 2004. His title was a call to action. It was practical. It was almost life-enhancing. It said: Get Off The Beach Now. Wow. What a title. And it was OK, as far as Free Church sermons go. It was effectively marketed by that title. Well done, Prof Bob. You have the idea.

Now I hear the Church of Scotland is to “consider” online baptisms. Gosh, I didn’t expect that. Will you still have to have a minister present or will they sit at a webcam somewhere asking: “Wilt thou take thy brat to thy kirk on each every Sabbath morn and raise them up to put their spondulaks in the collection?”

Why don’t they go the whole hog and have online weddings too? A preacher with a Skype connection could conduct a dozen or more weddings in a day. That’s the crisis in minister training and recruitment solved at a stroke. If you are reading this at the churches’ HQs on George Street or on The Mound, just send the cheque to the usual address.

Talking of sexism, isn’t it awful how big companies feel they can force their female staff to dress a certain way, regardless of whether they are still able to do their jobs without that? The row over that poor temp in London who was sent home for not wearing high heels will have ramifications in other offices and industries near and far.

Now a dejected fishing boat skipper has been telling me he is afraid he will be the next to hit the headlines. One of his young trainee fishermen kept forgetting to take his tough yellow welly boots to work. Even if his oilskins did cover his trainers, they really were not suitable. The lad’s feet were sodden the whole time as they fished around the Minch and he always had the sniffles.

He can’t say he wasn’t warned. Billy Connolly’s song If It Wisnae Fur Yer Wellies Where Wid Ye Be? makes it clear to everyone, at least those who can understand those words sung in broad Scots, what happens if you don’t wear footwear appropriate to the prevailing conditions. So the ingenious skipper came up with a brilliant way to make him remember.

The forgetful trainee was told if he did not take his yellow wellies to work he would be forced to wear footwear provided by management. That would be stilettoes. The thought of a beefy 19-year-old fisherman teetering around in killer heels on the deck of a wave-tossed trawler is enough to bring a tear to any old salt’s eye.

However, it helped focus the young fisher’s mind. He hasn’t forgotten his Dunlops since. Now the skipper fears maybe he should not have have given the young crewman such an ultimatum. Is he no better that the London bosses who wanted their female staff to be perched on heels, he wonders. Will he be hauled before an employment tribunal for mentioning high heels?

I assured him he should not fret about it. It was only banter to motivate the lad. No actual stilettoes were involved. He needn’t worry because he is not a sexist pig. Who cares about high heels, I said. They are only a silly fashion accessory. They have no real use, I said to him. He looked puzzled and said: “Really? I thought they were invented so women could put dishes away on the top shelf.”

Kirk 'To Introduce Online Baptism' in Bid to Boost Membership
The Kirk is set to introduce online baptism for the first time as the clergy seeks new ways to address the needs of worshippers in a digital age.  A landmark report backing the plans will be presented to 730 delegates, known as commissioners, at the Church of Scotland's annual gathering on The Mound in Edinburgh next week.  The document will also include proposals to allow "access to the sacraments while not being physically present in the congregation". It is hoped the plans will spark a debate about how to engage more with parishioners while also inviting suggestions for executing baptisms remotely through the internet.  Norman Smith, vice-convener of the Mission and Discipleship Council, described the plans as forward - thinking.  "Most people live out their Christian faith not in church buildings," he said.  "We are responding to where we find ourselves in society in a positive and engaging way.  It shows that the Church is not behind the times."  Theological and legal experts will discuss how the physical acts of sacrament such as baptism could be carried out if adopted. Rev Smith, minister in Granton, Edinburgh, said: "They are the questions that have yet to be addressed and we are yet to have a discussion."  The move to embrace online audiences comes amid an acceptance by the church that the "nature of membership and belonging to the Church of Scotland is becoming more and more blurred.  As fewer people join up in the traditional sense and as they make choices which include ever greater interaction with the Church through online access and social media, questions arise about online membership and even about access to the sacraments while not being physically present in the congregation," the Kirk report said.  The Kirk is looking for new ways to reach people as membership numbers continue to drop and technology plays an increasingly important role.

Comment -R
This is absolute madness! How can you baptize someone with no water? A person needs to be there, present for any sacrament to be valid. So, are they going to invent a do it yourself communion service, or a stay at home wedding?  The details of how they hope to manage this idea would be interesting, but by the sounds of it, will just bring the church into disrepute. No other Church worth its salt would recognize such a thing. Unless, the media have got it  wrong, and the online thing is a registration process? Possibly the most stupid idea I have ever heard, the church might as well say "our religion is a joke" because that is what they are making it.

Commemorative £5 Bank Note for the 125th Anniversary of Opening of Forth Road Bridge
Entering circulation in March 2015, a year before the Bank of England puts plastic notes in general circulation, the Clydesdale banknote is the very first UK bank note to be printed using polymer (plastic) coating. It features the iconic Forth Rail Bridge and marked the 125th anniversary of its opening on 4 March 1890 by the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII. In addition to illustrating the bridge itself (now a UNESCO World Heritage Site) the bank note highlights its designrt Sir William Arrol whose company not only created the unique Forth Rail Bridge but was also responsible for Tower Bridge in London. The methods of working and techniques developed by the company are still used by engineers around the world today.  The polymer notes are produced from a thin plastic filmrather than paper. It can incorporate advanced security features - such as the transparent "window" area and a hologram of a map of Scotland with a "C" floating on it. Plastic notes are tougher to forge, more durable and collect less dirt and stay cleaner longer than paper money. The plastic notes should last at least two and a half times as long as current paper notes.  Clydesdale Banks new polymer note was short-listed for the International Bank Note Society Banknote of the Year award for 2015 (but lost out to a Bank of New Zealand 5 dollar note).   On the reverse of the note are a number of representations of the Forth Rail Bridge. The bridge spans a total length of 8,296 feet across the estuary of the river Forth from South Queensferry in the south to Fife in the north. It was the longest single cantilever bridge span in the world until 1917 and is still the second longest ingle cantilever span. Prior to its construction ferry boats were used to cross the Firth for hundreds of years. The bridge was the first major structure in Britain to be constructed of steel - large amounts of steel had become available after the invention of the Bessemer process in 1855.

Commemorative £20 Bank Note New Lanark Signed by First Female Major Bank Chief Executive
Clydesdale Bank Chief Operating Officer Debbie Crosbie has become the first woman to sign a Scottish banknote. The new run of 30 million  £20 notes - worth  £600 million - features the iconic images of the historic mill house at New Lanark on one side and Robert the Bruce on the other. The hologram on the front of the note is also of Robert the Bruce. The banknote has Debbie Crosbie's signature clearly visible.  Ms Crosbie joined Clydesdale Bank in 1997 and has been an executive director since May 2014. A new study has shown that gender inequality starts at an early age, with girls expecting to earn less than boys when they start work.     Research involving more than 3,000 teenagers found that girls believed they would earn  £7,000 a year less than boys in their future careers. Of course, although there is much to be done to provide equal opportunities for boys and girls entering banking, it was only a generation ago when female staff were discouraged from sitting professional banking qualifications - and pay scales (based on age) for male and female staff clearly illustrated the male staff salaries rising faster than those for females.  Bank of England notes had their first female Chief Cashier signature in 1999, but the Scottish ones have been an all-male preserve until now. Only Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland and Clydesdale Bank are still allowed to issue bank notes in Scotland. It was Sir Walter Scott in the 19th century who famously persuaded the UK Parliament to allow these Scottish banks to continue to issue bank notes.  Reverse of the banknote showing a drawing of the mill house at New Lanark. New Lanark was founded in 1786 by David Dale, who built cotton mills and housing for the mill workers. Dale sold the mills, lands and village in the early 19th century to a partnership that included his son-in-law Robert Owen. Owen, who became mill manager in 1800, was an industrialist who carried on his father-in-law's philanthropic approach to industrial working and who subsequently became an influential social reformer. New Lanark, with its social and welfare programmes, is important historically because of its role in the developing industrial revolution in the UK and their place in the history of urban planning. Owen found the conditions unsatisfactory and resolved to improve the workers' lot. He paid particular attention to the needs of the 500 or so children living in the village and opened the first infants' school in Britain in 1817. New Lanark became celebrated throughout Europe, with many leading royals, statesmen and reformers visiting the mills. They were astonished to find a clean, healthy industrial environment with a content, vibrant workforce and a prosperous, viable business venture all rolled into one. Owen left Britain to start the settlement of New Harmony in the US.  It has been estimated that over 400,000 people visit the village each year. The importance of New Lanark has been recognised by UNESCO as one of Scotland's six World Heritage Sites, the others being Edinburgh Old and New Towns, Heart of Neolithic Orkney, St Kilda, the Antonine Wall and the Forth Bridge.

Stornoway Black Pudding Butcher Left £3.3m in Will
The butcher behind the world famous Stornoway black pudding left a fortune of more than £3.3 million in his will.  Charlie “Barley” Macleod, 67, had fought ill health for many years after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and died last September.  He ran the Charles Macleod family business with his brother Iain, working the same 365-acre hill farm that their father Charles had established in 1958 and selling their produce through their butcher’s shop in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis.  He was responsible for the meteoric rise of the Stornoway black pudding and locals and tourists flocked to his shop to purchase the delicacy.  Mr Macleod was instrumental in getting European protection for the pudding, putting it on the same level as Parma ham and Cornish pasties.  The status – Protected Geographical Indication – means it can be described as Stornoway black pudding, or marag dubh in Gaelic, only if it is produced in the town or parish of Stornoway.  It has now emerged that Mr Macleod had an estate valued at £3,334,072 at the time of his death.  His wealth included his £2.4m share in the family butcher business, Charles Macleod Ltd.  Mr Macleod left his instructions that his entire estate should be passed to his widow Julia.  Born and brought up in the village of Steinish on the outskirts of Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, Mr Macleod went to school on the island before attending the Balmacara Agricultural School.  However, he only lasted one year and at the age of 14 gave up school to join the family business. As well as his passion for farming, Mr Macleod was an adrenaline junkie with interests in water skiing, free-fall sky diving, wind surfing and scuba diving.  He was also a keen judoka and it was through this sport that he met wife Julia, who he married in January 1975.  Together the couple had three daughters, Lorna, Shona and Ria, and eventually three grandchildren, Charlie junior, Ronnie and Eva, who was born four weeks before his death.  In 2013, after a five-year battle, Mr Macleod helped Stornoway black pudding gain Protected Geographical Indication status from the European Commission.

Northern Schools “In Crisis”
Council chiefs in the north will write to newly-appointed Education Secretary John Swinney for help with their looming schools “crisis”.  Schools in Inverness have been unable to keep pace with the demands of one of Europe’s fastest growing cities, while in other parts of the Highlands, pupils are suffering in sub-standard buildings.  The gravity of the situation emerged at an education committee meeting in Inverness.   Although the region is in the process of getting several new schools, councillors admitted that they, their predecessors and planning officials had underestimated the scale of population growth.  Some members also claimed the authority had failed to secure enough money from housing developers to fund more schools to cope with the rising population.  Inverness’s Cradlehall, Hilton, Inshes, Lochardil and Milton of Leys – which was over-capacity within months of opening in 2011 – schools have already been capped.  The council has earmarked £48million for primary schools, but yesterday Liberal Democrat group leader Alasdair Christie estimates that a solution to the problem could cost £100million.  Now education committee chairman Drew Millar has vowed to write to Mr Swinney to pitch for a huge cash injection to address the issues.  Mr Millar said: “There’s huge pressure on schools and the amount of houses being built in Inverness suggests there is a crisis. We need to address that. We should have seen it coming. When Milton of Leys was opened, within minutes it was over capacity. We’re assured that officers are now using a different matrix for predicting more accurately what rolls are going to be.  If you look around the Highlands the number of schools, through years and years of neglect, are falling into disrepair then we have a significant problem with our capital plan. The only way to address that is with more funding.”  A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “Under Scotland’s Schools for the Future programme we’re providing £37million towards the reconstruction of Wick Academy and Inverness Royal Academy.  In addition, we announced on January 25 that we would support a further 19 school projects under the programme including support for the replacement of Alness Academy.”

Spielberg's Giant Boost for Highland Tourism
It is a fantasy story about giants plucking children through the windows of a London orphanage for their late-night snack.  But as The BFG’s lead character Sophie is whisked off to Giant Country, Steven Spielberg’s latest film showcases a mystical landscape – filmed in some of the most scenic spots around Scotland.  Now the film, which has already won rave reviews after premiering at this weekend’s Cannes Film Festival, is expected to provide a significant boost to the economy of the Highlands and Islands.  From The Quiraing on Skye to the Old Man of Hoy on Orkney and the Shiant Isles off Lewis, the acclaimed movie provides another welcome, visual marketing tool for the Scottish tourist industry.  It follows on from a series of major blockbusters which have led to an influx of tourists in recent years – from James Bond movie Skyfall in Glen Etive to Harry Potter films in Glenfinnan and Glencoe and Michael Fassbender’s adaptation of Macbeth in a very atmospheric, not to say wet, Skye.  Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: “It’s wonderful to hear that the first screenings of The BFG have been a success in Cannes with Scotland playing a starring role once more on the big screen.  Set-jetting, where people visit the shooting locations of their favourite movies, is big business.  Research suggests around 40 per cent of visitors to the UK are inspired to visit a location after seeing it on film or on television, so hopefully many will be inspired to visit Skye, Orkney and the Outer Hebrides after seeing this truly magical film.”  Drew Millar, the Skye councillor who used to run the post office in Portree, said: “When people see a location on TV or in a film, they often seek it out. I remember when (BBC series) Hamish Macbeth was filmed in Plockton, there was a huge upsurge of interest.”

First Pictures Released of Tragic Fishing Boat Louisa As it is Raised From the Seabed Off the Coast of Barra

Investigators probing the sinking of a fishing boat off the Western Isles have issued images of the stricken vessel being lifted from the seabed.  Three crew members were lost when the Louisa sank while at anchor near the island of Mingulay, south of Barra, early on April 9.  The bodies of Martin Johnstone, 29, from Halkirk, Caithness, and Chris Morrison, 27, from Stornoway, Lewis, were found shortly after the boat sank.  Fellow crew member, Paul Alliston, 42, from Lochs, Lewis, remains missing despite several major land and sea searches.  The wreck of the boat at the centre of the worst fishing disaster off the Outer Hebrides in half-a-century has been raised from where it sunk last month.  A fourth crew member, fisherman Lachlan Armstrong, 27, from Stornoway, swam to shore and clung to rocks before being rescued by lifeboat.  The Marine Accident Investigation Branch is carrying out an investigation into the tragedy along with Police Scotland.  As part of the probe, the Louisa has been raised and is being transported to Glasgow for further examination.  Chief inspector Gordon MacLeod said previously: "Understandably, the families involved will seek answers and we hope by carrying out a thorough investigation with the Marine Accident Investigation Branch we will understand the events which lead to the vessel sinking and the loss of life."

£35m Revamp of Kelvin Hall Into Museum and Research Centre Will Soon Benefit Glasgow University Students

The transformation of a Glasgow landmark into one of the UK’s biggest museums and research centres is well under way, with the facility expected to open in the autumn.  The September intake of students at Glasgow University will be among the first to benefit from the £35 million redevelopment of Kelvin Hall in the city’s west end.  The facility will offer teaching and research rooms, and vast new storage areas are being prepared to house around 1.5 million museum items, currently spread across nine separate sites.  It will also house the National Library of Scotland’s Moving Image Archive and digital collections, while retaining its legacy as a former international sports arena.  A health and fitness centre will incorporate an eight-court, multi-purpose sports hall, a gymnastics and martial arts hall and the city’s largest fitness gym.  The project is a joint partnership between Glasgow University, the Hunterian, Glasgow Museums, the National Library of Scotland and Glasgow Club.  Professor Murray Pittock, pro vice-principal of Glasgow University, said: “Kelvin Hall is a hugely exciting and unique project which brings together for the first time anywhere in the world civic organisations, higher education and national organisations under one roof.  It will be a world-leading facility and is excellence available to all.”  Kelvin Hall opened as an exhibition centre in the 1920s and was used for musical performances before becoming a sports arena and home to Glasgow’s Museum of Transport.  Over the years it has hosted major sports events including the 1990 European Athletics Indoor Championships.  A planned second phase of redevelopment will turn a 16,000sq metres hall, once occupied by the Transport Museum, into a new home for the Hunterian museum by 2020.  Glasgow University principal Professor Anton Muscatelli has previously suggested that when complete, the Kelvin Hall area will be the “best museum district outside of London”.

Welfare Cuts Since the General Election to Cost Scots £1.1bn A Year by 2020

Welfare cuts announced by George Osborne since last year's General Election will cost Scots £1.1bn a year by 2020, academics have calculated.  Cities like Glasgow will be among the areas hardest hit, according to researchers at Sheffield Hallam University. But London and much of the south east of England are set to escape the brunt of the impact.  The SNP said that the estimate laid bare the cost of the Conservative Government's "obsession with austerity".  But the UK Westminster Government said its policies were designed to ensure that people kept more of the money they earned.  A spokesman also pointed to new powers soon to be transferred to Holyrood, including the ability to "top up" social security payments and create new benefits.  Scottish Secretary David Mundell said that he looked "forward to hearing from the Scottish Government how they intend to use that power, which they fought so hard to ensure they had".  He also announced that the cabinet minister in charge of the benefits system, Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb, has volunteered to be grilled by MSPs.  His predecessor Iain Duncan Smith was criticised for snubbing requests to appear before the Scottish Parliament's welfare reform committee.  Mr Duncan Smith dramatically quit the cabinet earlier this year in protest at continued welfare cuts.  Glasgow is among the 40 UK areas that will be hit hardest.  The average cut in the city will be £420 for every adult in work.  Around 350,000 Scottish households will be affected by the changes to tax credits alone.  These reforms, alongside cuts to the new universal credit, a one-stop payment designed to replace a number of current benefits, will affect mainly those on low and middle incomes.  Most of the post-2015 welfare cuts are expected to hit families with children. The cuts comes on top of the billions taken from the welfare bill by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government between 2010 and 2015.

400-year-old Graves Found in Edinburgh School Playground Dig
Graves of children and adults dating back at least 400 years have been discovered in a school playground.  The human remains were unearthed by archaeologists brought in after a skeleton was discovered during investigative works for a new classroom at the Edinburgh primary school. The outlines of at least nine coffins were found in the grounds of St Mary's Primary School in Leith.  Edinburgh City Council archaeologist John Lawson said: "Leith and the surrounding area has a rich archaeological history.  These excavations have unearthed what appears to be a complex cemetery thought to date from the 15th to the 17th centuries, containing at least nine graves including adults and young children buried in coffins. The discoveries of these burials in this location, although always a possibility, is nevertheless a surprise.  Further excavations will reveal more evidence which will allow us to accurately date these burials and how they relate to the history of Leith."  The area containing the remains has been fenced off but the school remains open.  The discovery means a delay in the construction of the new classrooms as further archaeological analysis is expected to last until the end of June.

Edinburgh Tattoo Makes £30 Million in Melbourne
The antipodean tour of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has a viewing figures, ticket and DVD sales hit.  The five-night sell-out tour attracted over 2.46 million views and generated an estimated $60 million gross economic boost (£30.3 million equivalent) to the City of Melbourne economy during its February visit.  Hosted at the Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, the spectacular recorded 155,000 tickets sales, 1.2 million TV viewers, 1.1 million online streams, over 15,000 DVD sales in the first week of release, making it number one in the music DVD sales chart.  Organisers said that the audience figures reaffirm the international appeal of the Tattoo and the important economic contribution it provides to partner nations. Brigadier David Allfrey, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo chief executive and producer said: “Australia has really taken the Tattoo to heart, helping make this our most successful international tour to date.  To have been able to reach such a large Australian audience demonstrated the lasting appeal and spectacle of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, and just how much it means to the hearts, minds and treasury of the Australian nation. A magic result.”  Over 1200 performers took part in a specially tailored programme that featured a mix of Australian military and police bands, as well as performers from the UK, Fiji, Tonga, Norway, Switzerland and New Zealand.

Men-only Vote At Muirfield Costs Golf Club the Open

Golf Chiefs have stripped course Muirfield of the The Open Championship after its members threw out a proposal for women to join the East Lothian club in a move branded “simply indefensible” by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.  The decision by members of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, which owns and runs the club, also drew the ire of Prime Minister David Cameron who said the move was “outdated.”  It also led to Scottish No 1 Catriona Matthew saying she was “embarrassed to be a Scottish woman golfer from East Lothian after that decision”.  A two-thirds majority of those who voted – 616 out of the 648 who were eligible to take part in a postal ballot from a total membership of 750 – was required to change the club’s membership policy, but 64 per cent voted in favour and 36 per cent against.  Henry Fairweather, the club captain, and his committee had recommended that women should be offered membership on the same terms as the men at the 272-year-old allowed in the club. However they were left to rue the decision of a minority of fellow members as the proposal failed by just 16 votes at the end of a two-year review of the membership.  Within minutes of Mr Fairweather announcing the result of the vote in front of the Muirfield clubhouse, the R&A announced it would not be taking The Open back there under the current membership set-up. “The R&A has considered today’s decision with respect to The Open Championship,” said Martin Slumbers, chief executive of the St Andrews-based organisation that runs golf’s oldest major, which has been staged 16 times at Muirfield, most recently in 2013, when American Phil Mickelson claimed the Claret Jug. “The Open is one of the world’s great sporting events and going forward we will not stage the championship at a venue that does not admit women as members.  If the policy at the club should change we would reconsider Muirfield as a venue for The Open in future.”  The Equality and Human Rights Commission said the decision could cost the Scottish economy £100 million.  “Crushing is a pretty strong word. But The Open does deliver a boost to the local economy every ten or 12 years and we saw that in 2013,” admitted Fairweather, who lives in East Lothian. He admitted to being both “disappointed” and “frustrated” by the decision, which was clearly influenced by a 33-strong No group sending a letter out to fellow members outlining “risks” they felt were likely if women members were admitted at a club that laid down its roots at Leith Links in 1744 before moving to Muirfield in 1891.  Ironically, the decision was made just before 117 women descend on Muirfield on Monday to play the course in a mixed event as part of the ‘Captain’s Weekend’. The club also plans to press ahead with providing an upgraded ladies’ locker-room but those using that will have to be content with visits as a member’s guest.  Unless, of course, the matter is put to the vote again, with Alex Salmond, who boycotted the 2013 Open when he was First Minister, insisting that needs to happen. “Muirfield almost joined the rest of us in the 21st century today,” he wrote on Twitter. “They need to look at this issue again and quickly. So near, yet so far.” According to Peter Alliss, the BBC’s ‘voice of golf’, the vote was influenced by wives of members who are happy playing the course for free at the moment as guests. I am not sure how many members whose wives would control their thoughts, but I would think they have a great interest in it. Wouldn’t you? Would you be happy to pay £10,000-£12,000 the first year if you could keep playing for nothing?”  First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We live in a country where women inhabit the offices of First Minister, the leaders of opposition parties, where we have a woman Lord Justice Clerk, one of our most senior judges (Lady Dorrian), a woman law officer (solicitor general Lesley Thomson) and women lead businesses the length and breadth of this country.”  George Kerevan, MP for East Lothian, has written to the club and urged it to hold a second ballot.  He said: “This utterly selfish move sends entirely the wrong message to the rest of the world about our county, as well as undermining years of collective effort and public support to attract visitors to Scotland’s historic ‘golf coast’ in East Lothian. It also tells young women in our schools that their interest in the sport is being discouraged by some, and it sends a very wrong message to young men about treating women as equals. The negative impact on the reputation of East Lothian cannot be overstated and it certainly threatens the ability of the county to attract major golfing events in the future.”

Gala War Hero, 96, Receives Highest French Honour
A Galashiels war hero was awarded the highest French honour this week for his services in France during the Second World War.  John Webster, known affectionately as Jackie, received the Legion d’Honneur at a special wreath laying ceremony and lunch. His comrade in combat, George Coltman, has also been awarded the honour - although his medal will be presented at a later date.  On the 70th anniversary of D-Day in June 2014, the French President announced that the Legion d’Honneur would be awarded to all British veterans who fought for the liberation of France during the Second World War.  It is the highest decoration in France and is divided into five degrees. And a humble Jackie is now a Chevalier (Knight), which is the highest rank.  It was a proud and poignant afternoon for the two Gala men, who are the only remaining living members of the 6th (Border) Battalion KOSB to fight in the Second World War.  Relatives and other members of the battalion gathered to celebrate the lives and achievements of the two veterans at the 6th KOSB’s annual lunch at Quins in Galashiels.  Jackie, who will be 97 in August, has lived in Galashiels all his life, except when he was serving. He joined up in 1939 on the outbreak of the Second World War and had his first post in Melrose.  His weeks there were short lived however and the battalion were soon shipped to South East England for training. He didn’t know it then, but Jackie wouldn’t see his hometown for another six years.

New Accolade for Dunnet Distillery
Dunnet Bay Distillers has been named one of the UK’s 100 most pioneering new businesses. The prestigious Startups 100 2016 index has included the Caithness company in their list of Britain’s best and brightest start-up companies launched in the last three years.  The award-winning distillery – one of only two Scottish businesses listed – was started up by husband and wife team Martin and Claire Murray in 2012.  With its now world famous Rock Rose Gin and recently launched Holy Grass Vodka, the distillery has been overwhelmed with demand since it opened. The list features privately-owned UK companies which demonstrate innovation, a solid financial base, economic impact and the ability to scale up.  Startups.co.uk editor Lucy Wayment, said: “The average turnover of the start-up businesses in this index is £1.54 million, nearly £400,000 more than in 2014, which is a good indicator that the UK’s start-up businesses are thriving and are only set to scale further in the coming months.”

Calmac Wins Ferry Tender Award
CalMac, one of Europe’s leading transport operators, has welcomed Transport Scotland’s decision to award it the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services (CHFS) contract for up to eight years. Martin Dorchester, Managing Director of CalMac said: “We are proud to be given the opportunity to transform ferry passengers’ experience across the west coast of Scotland and to work closely with our partners to connect towns, cities and communities like never before. Our successful bid demonstrates our ability to provide innovative service improvements and value for money for customers. Drawing on our experience in the UK ferry market where we have won a number of awards, our bid delivers industry-leading customer care and high standards of reliability.  The detail of our bid is confidential until the formal procurement process is concluded, however among the things that people can look forward to seeing are more opportunities for local employment; a refreshed on-board retail offering; investment in on-board facilities; closer, more responsive working with communities and an innovative approach to vessel maintenance to minimise disruption to services especially during the winter refit period. Our commitment to safety, support for local economies and businesses and protecting the very special environment in which we operate will not change.”  David McGibbon, Chairman of CalMac, said: “This is great news for the staff, the company and the communities we support up and down the west coast of Scotland.  A huge amount of time and effort has gone into understanding the aspirations of these communities for these vital services and preparing a bid which reflect these and our own ambitions.  I am delighted to see this hard work has been rewarded with this prestigious contract.”                

Deportation of Family From Ross-shire Would Be 'Travesty', Says New MSP
A Dingwall-based MSP is challenging Home Secretary Theresa May to intervene in the case of a family facing deportation from Ross-shire.  Kate Forbes, the new SNP MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch says the Brain family should be allowed to stay in Scotland.  Gregg, Kathryn and Lachlan (7), an Australian family, originally moved to the Highlands as part of a Scottish Government initiative, backed by the Home Office, to attract people to live and work in the region.  They have lived in Dingwall for more than four years. Lachlan has attended a local primary school and speaks Gaelic. The couple have Scottish roots on both sides of the family. Kate Forbes and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon have both written to the Home Office.  Forbes said: “The Brain family are exactly what we need to see the Highlands thrive.  They have thrown everything into their adopted community and have contributed to our economy, culture and society. It is ironic that they first came to the Highlands as part of a strategy to draw people to live and work here.  As one of my very first actions as a new MSP, I have written to Theresa May to ask her to rethink the Home Office’s threats to deport this family, which undermines our best efforts to reverse years of depopulation from the Highlands.  I also submitted a motion to the Parliament calling for a return of post-study work visas. The situation that the Brain family are in demonstrates how necessary these visas are.”  In her letter to Theresa May, she says: “In the constituency which I have recently been elected to serve at Holyrood we need more families like the Brains and threatening them with deportation undermines efforts to make the Highlands thrive.  The family are a great asset to the Highlands and their deportation would be a travesty, not only for the Brains themselves, but for those who have had the benefit of living, studying and working with them. For the sake of the Highlands and the Brain family, please reconsider the decision to deport them and look closely at the provision of the necessary visa to live and work in Scotland."  Forbes has also submitted a motion to the Parliament asking the UK Government to reconsider its decision not to grant a visa.  She said: “There is widespread support for the Brain family in the Highlands – I would urge Theresa May to grant an extended visa and allow Gregg, Kathryn and Lachlan to continue contributing to our community.”  The Home Office has previously said: “All visa applications are considered on their individual merits, and applicants must provide evidence to show they meet the requirements of the immigration rules.”