Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 419

Issue # 419                                     Week ending Saturday 23rd   September 2017

Are We Just About to Find Out What Really Happens When Two Worlds Collide?
By Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Everybody loved the sound of country singer Jim Reeves. Even when he was comparing relationships to cataclysmic events of death and destruction, we were assured by his silky tones. He sang: “We both reached for heavens, but ours weren't the same. That's what happens, when two worlds collide.” And that is exactly what is going to happen on Saturday – if you are inclined to believe a bunch of loony-tunes religious fundamentalists. I'm not and I’ll tell you why.

Perhaps I was just eight or nine years old but I still remember that guy standing on the doorstep clasping his Watchtower magazine. It would have been a Saturday and Mum had just made pancakes so he was invited in for the obligatory taste test. The stranger in the dark suit quickly turned the conversation to religion, as the Jehovah Witnesses do, and as he swallowed the last of the second pancake, he said: “We haven’t much time. The world will end in two years’ time. It is God’s will.”

Halfway through my third pancake, my mouth instantly dried up at the thought of Armageddon two birthdays hence. It put me right off the remaining baked semi-circle. However, the rising panic was quelled when Dad plucked away the visitor’s plate and pushed him towards the door. Wow Dad, settle down. There are kids watching. I’m here.

As he was propelled to the gate, the Witness was told that those who claimed to know specifics about the Almighty’s intentions were fools and charlatans and he should go straight home to reflect on that. His car was seen racing out of the village soon after. My point, of course, is that it has been drummed into me from an early age that I should suspect the motives of anyone who claims that the end is nigh. Now prophets of doom are at it again.

As always, it is a sect with a low profile and high aspirations who interpret verses and numerical codes in the Bible in a way that says it is curtains for all of us on Saturday afternoon.  They talk of a celestial alignment on September 23, a planet called Nibiru hurtling towards Earth and, well … bang. They claim to have worked it out, checked it, double-checked and they have no doubt. As pater once said, fools and charlatans. The lot of them.

Er, perhaps I should do a quick check with NASA. Instant response. No planet called Nibiru even exists and no planets are on collision course with Earth. Wanna check again – just in case? Yessir. And the answer is? All planets are behaving normally. Meteor activity is normal. So, even though some of us have had the weird experience of having science teachers who were also Free Church elders, I have always gone against their advice and chosen applied science over ancient and contradictory teachings every time. I’m such a bad man.

As it happens, when two worlds collide on Saturday, I plan to be frolicking with some New Age people. I kid you not. Some of us will take ourselves and be part of an ancient mystical ceremony upon a windy hillside on the west of Lewis, calling on ancient powers to unite kindred spirits by knotting them together by mind, heart and body. Then we may have a few bevvies, apocalypse permitting. Because that is what you do after a marriage ceremony, whether New Age or Free Church.

Anyway, I have too many family health problems to deal with to be worried about impending doom. Let’s get our priorities right here. I was a bit shocked to discover that Mrs X has a touch of dyscalculia. Dys- what? I thought only men got that. And anyway I have tablets for it now and they are helping. You said so yourself, dear.

Oh, dyscalculia is another condition. Things get jumbled up when you read something? That’s dyslexia and you already have a touch of that. But dyscalculia is when numbers get jumbled and you get confused with maths, arithmetic and counting money. That’s why you’ve gone through my pockets when I’ve come back from the pub and you’ve said: “Oh you haven’t spent very much.” Listen, dear. Lager and rum are not getting cheaper. That is dyscalculia right there.

Then Mrs X heard the news about the fools and charlatans predicting the end of the world. She sent me a text saying: “What is all this Armaggeddin stuff they are going on about?” Always trying to be correct, I replied: “It’s not Armaggeddin but Armageddon.” She replied: “So what if I can’t spell Armaggeddin or whatever you call it? It’s not the end of the world.”

Gymnasts Jumping Through Hoops in Bid to Scoop Communitee Chest Cash

More than 120 young rhythmic gymnastics are looking to score some new glitz in an annual cash giveaway.  The Beacon Rhythmic Gymnastics Club, which has been running for 36 years at the Beacon Centre in Bucksburn, has registered for this year’s CommunitEE Chest in a bid to net a share of £15,000.  Coach Laura Ytre-Eide said: “The gymnasts, coaches and helpers work really hard to prepare for competitions, displays and galas – and as a result we have so many gymnasts competing in the Scottish Team Championships in November that we don’t have enough leotards for all of them, so our success has left us with a bit of a dilemma. The girls competing in the duo, trio and group classifications need to match their team mates and, as the members in a team can change over a season, the club provides the leotards that the gymnasts wear for the competition.”  Laura explained the club has more than 120 gymnasts in their recreational, novice and elite training groups and run classes five days a week.  The club also boasts 12 Scottish Championship titles held by its members. Laura added: “For November we need an additional 19 leotards and this is why the girls, coaches, helpers and families are so busy collecting tokens. The CommunitEE Chest funds would make an incredible difference, and as the leotards will be used for future competitions locally and nationally, this generosity would help so many more gymnasts sparkle in the future too.” The sport combines gymnastics with dance moves using handheld apparatus such as ribbons, hoops, ropes, balls and clubs.  The Beacon club has been rallying support by posting on its Facebook page and telling friends and family to collect tokens every day.

Stem Cell Hero Tackles London Marathon

A Lochgilphead firefighter will run the London Marathon to raise money for a blood cancer charity – two years after his stem cells saved a man’s life.  Dad-of-two David MacInnes, aged 32, is taking on the gruelling challenge to raise awareness of much-needed stem cell donations.  David, a firefighter based in Oban, put himself on the Anthony Nolan register after one of his friends lost a cousin to Leukaemia.  After registering, his DNA was matched with a male adult who had been diagnosed with the devastating blood cancer.  The patient received David’s stem cells after suffering a relapse following chemotherapy. He is now believed to be in remission.  David has been in contact with the man who received his donation, however Anthony Nolan charity policy is that the all correspondence must remain anonymous for two years.  In a moving letter written to David, the anonymous recipient said: ‘I can do most normal things with our children again; kick a ball, take them out, help them with homework – all things that are now so precious to us. I hope one day someone in our family can help someone in need as you have.’  The letter sits on David’s beside table as a reminder of his selfless donation, and how it has saved the life of another.  David was called up to donate his stem cells in October 2015. He recalled: ‘When they phoned me up you could tell the urgency behind it. They said to me: ‘You are the best match. Can you be in London in two days time?  ‘I am running the marathon for this charity because I think more awareness is needed for Anthony Nolan, which has saved the lives of so many. I am hoping to hold a few fundraisers in Lochgilphead leading up to the marathon in April, and there are a number of sponsor sheets dotted around the town.  ‘In six days I have received over £300 in donations which is amazing. I am aiming to raise around £2,000 for the charity by March, before I complete the run.’ David is to dispel myths surrounding stem cell donation. He explained: ‘Donating stem cells involves being given hormone tablets to increase the amount of stem cells the body produces. Patients are then hooked up to a machine that collects the stem cells from the blood. The blood that has been removed is then pumped back into the body.’  Anthony Nolan is currently fronting a campaign to tackle stigma against donating stem cells. According to the charity, fear prevents one in three people from registering for stem cell donation.  The whole procedure was pretty relaxed to be honest. Doctors encourage you to watch DVDs and to bring an iPad to keep you occupied.’  David’s procedure lasted for around four hours. Apart from moderate flu-like symptoms from the hormones he received, he was back at work within a few days.

Prestwick Spaceport Dream is 'Closer Than Ever' As Officials Insist They Are Best Placed to Send Rockets Into Space From Ayrshire
Talks are progressing to secure key funding for the visionary projects and officials say the plans could be brought 'to fruition' in the next year.  The dream to launch rockets from Prestwick is “closer than ever,” airport bosses this week insisted.  As talks progress to secure key funding for the visionary project, officials insist they are better placed than at any point to put craft into space.  And they say their plans could now be brought “to fruition” within the next year.  Prestwick has become favourite to land Europe’s first ever Spaceport licence, with orbiting craft set for take-off as early as 2020.  Airport chiefs admit the plans have been viewed with scepticism by some – but say the time to believe is now.  It comes as competing airfields across the UK make their case for government backing, with a licensing regime replacing the old ‘bidding’ structure.  Spaceport director, Richard Jenner said; “We would expect that in the next financial year we will start to bring our plans to fruition.  We will be on our way to understanding what the regulations for a spaceport will look like and preparing to secure a licence.  We appreciate that many people in our local community may feel that the idea of a spaceport is far-fetched.  “That is mainly down to misconception about what our operation will look like.  We are not launching rockets vertically, we plan to have operations where the launch vehicle takes off in much the same way as a conventional aircraft.” The airport has already signed a landmark deal with Houston Spaceport to work on the development of the £320million project.  And Jenner added: “The main differences will be the fuelling, power of the vehicle, what it is carrying – which will most likely be satellites – and where it is going.  The changes to the airport infrastructure will initially be minimal and not very visible to the public as they will be concentrated on the airfield. However, this will just be the start and once we begin operations, we will be able to continually develop as a spaceport as technology advances. This is an exciting thing for Ayrshire.  It could become the host of the first commercial spaceport in the UK and Europe.  This has the potential to be transformational for the local and regional economy, attracting more companies to establish themselves in or around the airport and creating high value jobs for generations to come.”

Troon Care Home Plan Will Create 60 Jobs on Site of Small Software Company At Templehill
An East Kilbride based company is behind the new 50-roomed development, which will include a cinema, visitor cafe and a beauty salon.  A major care home creating 60 jobs is planned for the site of a small Troon software company.  Maidsafe have occupied an office as tenants on the 0.79 acre spot at Templehill for years.  But they are now looking for a smaller base in Prestwick.  An East Kilbride based company Northcare (Scotland) and run by William and Margaret Sawers and family is behind the new 50-roomed development. The company, which posted profits of nearly £1 million last year on, already run four homes and is opening a fifth in the spring.  They say the new home in Troon would create 60 jobs and include a cinema, visitor cafe and a beauty salon.  Northcare has published plans of a T-shaped block of two wings with between 12 and 13 bedrooms on each floor. The front facade onto Templehill is planned as a three storey with balconies overlooking the street.

Nicola Sturgeon to Speak At Perth's Women of the World Festival, A First WoW for Scotland

The WOW factor is coming to Perth Concert Hall next month, when Women of the World celebrates being female with a weekend of activism headed by Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.  Perth is proud to be the launchpad for WOW - Women of the World - in Scotland, which has its Scottish debut festival in the Fair City on October 27.  The festival, one of nine new WOWs across the UK, is taking place to mark the centenary of female suffrage in 2018.  Broadcaster Lesley Riddoch will speak at WOW Perth. Over the three-day event in Perth, prominent activists, speakers, business women, artists, broadcasters and campaigners - including Kirsty Wark, Lesley Riddoch and author Halina Rifai - will celebrate and recognise the achievements of women and girls. They will highlight the challenges they face and discuss possible solutions and action.  Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, will be the WOW Perth opening speaker, talking about gender equality and women who’ve inspired her.  Her talk will be followed by questions from the WOWsers, a group of Big County young volunteers aged 15-18.  Local names taking part include Rachel Weiss, founder of Perth’s first Menopause café, storyteller Claire Hewitt and Aberfeldy-based writer and playwright, Linda Cracknell.  In the Under 10 Feminists Corner, girls and boys aged 6 – 10 are invited to an interactive workshop which explores what being a girl means and how to start campaigning for equal rights.  The jam-packed festival weekend includes talks and debates from top speakers, music, dance, theatre, performance, poetry and comedy as well as wide-ranging workshops and activities ranging from morning song to yoga, and speed mentoring to skateboarding.  WOW is now the largest women’s festival movement in the world and Perth is the first Scottish city to host one of these festival here in 2017 and again in 2018.  Launched in 2011 in London, WOW Festivals have engaged and inspired more than one million women across five continents.  WOW Perth festival programmer Lou Brodie, said: “Over the past months I have met amazing local women from Perth and Kinross and brilliant women from a variety of Scotland’s dynamic communities.

Perth Praised by Muslim Community for United Stance Against Visiting SDL Protesters

Strong demonstrations of support for Fair City Muslims turned the shame of a Scottish Defence League march into a show of city unity. The Muslim community in Perth has come together to thank the city for its support in drowning out a hate-filled protest by the Scottish Defence League last weekend.  Around 50 SDL members came to Perth on Sunday to protest against plans for Perth Islamic Society to move from its current site on the Glasgow Road to a new site on Jeanfield Road.  The far-right group was met with more than 1000 anti-fascist protesters in the city centre, keen to spread the message that the Fair City holds diversity at its heart. Large numbers of Police were deployed ahead of the September 17 demonstrations. Earlier this week the PA met with representatives of the Muslim community within Perth and Kinross wanting to thank all those who stood with them against the SDL protesters.  Safdar Ali, who spoke to the anti-fascist crowds at Perth Railway Station before the demonstration began, said: “I would like to thank every one of them who joined. I am very, very proud of these people. I have got no words to thank them.  I have been here in Perth for 35 years now, and I have never had a problem whatsoever. We want to thank all the churches that were involved, Pete Wishart MP and all the councillors and the people who organised this counter-demonstration We are very proud of all of them.” Kaiser Khalil added: “We find the people of Perth extremely decent. This is a great, friendly place to stay, and I have encountered no problems at all since I have been here.  I just want to thank all the people who came to the protest against the SDL and to the police for doing such an excellent job for keeping everything in order and calm. This is the first time I have experienced anything like this in Perth, and this protest has actually brought us all together. Instead of dividing us they have made us closer – we love Perth and the people of Perth.” Malik Rashid added: “It was very peaceful on Sunday. I married a Scottish woman and I have got all my kids here. We are a peace-loving people.”  The counter-protest was arranged after groups calling themselves ‘Perth Against Racism’ met to organise the demonstration against the SDL last week in the Queens Hotel.  At the meeting, representatives from the Muslim community told those gathered the police had advised them to stay inside on the day. Fears were also expressed about what might happen on the day.  Mr Ali was in attendance at the meeting and said the group which got together on Wednesday last week made him feel safe enough to come to the counter-demonstration.  He told the PA: “Really the difference was made when I went to the Queens Hotel for this meeting.  When I went there, I thought, they are all doing this for us, why should I not come out? Look at all these people and what they are doing for us, we should not be staying behind.  I made up my mind there that I would be there no matter what the circumstances and I encouraged my family and the rest of the community to come too. In the end there were about 50 of us, I am so proud.”  Shakia Khalil explained how she has been telling her family in Pakistan about the protest, and said they are also very proud of the people of Perth – despite never having been to Scotland themselves.  She said: “Everyone is so proud. We were so amazed when we went along. I have no words, from my soul I love the people of Perth.  I have been here since 1985. We were one of the first Muslim families in Perth and we have never had any trouble. We are very happy here and I want to thank everyone, thank you very much. Whenever they need us, we will be there for them. We are good neighbours and we have good relationships with them. We don’t feel different, no one here lets us feel we are from the outside. I feel Scottish and I am so proud of the people of Perth and all they have done for us.” Although Perth Islamic Society is still using its premises on Glasgow Road, members hope to move to Jeanfield Road soon – subject to planning permission being granted by Perth and Kinross Council – and say they will be welcoming the people of the Fair City in to their new mosque.  Mr Ali explained: “Everyone is very happy about the mosque. Everyone will be welcome in the mosque, the people of Perth will be proud of the mosque.  It is a mosque for everyone. Once we are there we will have a special welcome day, and it will be for everyone, Muslims and non-Muslims.”

Royal Border Bridge to Turn Green for Charity

Berwick’s Royal Border Bridge is among the North East landmarks which will be glowing green this weekend. It is being illuminated ‘Barnardo’s Green’ on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights to to start a big push for adoption and fostering across the region. The Gateshead Millennium Bridge, Penshaw Monument in Sunderland, The Beacon in Redcar, The Heart Building in Redcar, South Shields Town Hall and Newcastle Civic Centre will also be lit from dusk to midnight. By lighting up these world famous landmarks, Barnardo’s wants to salute all those volunteers and friends of Barnardo’s who do so much for vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people, and to raise awareness of the urgent need for more foster carers and adopters. Ann-Marie Henderson, fostering manager, says: “Barnardo’s believes that children and young people need a family environment that is safe, secure and nurturing for them to grow and develop their full potential in life. Fostering placements can last for a few weeks or several years depending on the circumstances so we are looking for a wide range of people who can offer different kinds of support.  There is no typical foster carer for Barnardo’s - we welcome all applications regardless of sexuality, ethnicity, religion or marital status and whether or not you have children of your own. So long as you have a spare room and are able to commit time to the children and young people, Barnardo’s will commit to you in terms of training, support and a good financial package of fees and allowances.”

Scottish Diaspora Tapestry Comes to Helmsdale
Helmsdale Community Centre will be hosting the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry in a special two week exhibition which opens on Saturday.  The exhibition has been arranged by Helmsdale Knitters who created three panels for the tapestry in 2014.  They also hosted the exhibition in  2014 and Ros Hulme a leading member of the group also accompanied Caithnessian artist and historical researcher Jenny Bruce when they drove to Bergen, Norway on the first leg  of its European Tour in March 2015 travelling through seven countries in seven days. Since then Jenny has been the tour director for the last two years travelling to France, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Iceland with the exhibition. These 305 remarkable panels of crewel embroidery designed by East Lothian artist and illustrator, Andrew Crummy depicts Scottish migrants who left Scotland for various reasons and made new lives in the colonies. Five more Icelandic panels are still to be completed making Iceland the 35th country in the project and these will join the show later in the year.  In the meantime five canvas illustrations will be on show instead.   In total 1010 stitchers throughout the world have participated in this unique community art project, some simply amateurs with a passionate story to relate and their work is equally beautiful when alongside those panels undertaken by professional embroiderers. There are five Helmsdale panels depicting the story of Sutherlandshire with some referring to the Clearances and the Red River Settlers, others of the Border Collies sent to Australia from  a Kildonan shepherd, whilst others tell  the stories of  settlers in New Zealand and a pioneer woman from  Loth, Helmsdale who set up the famous Sutherland Homes for children in Masterton  NZ and Melbourne Australia.  The Patagonian panel made by Caithness Stitchers  is also on show and depicts Caithnessian shepherds who settled in South America in the late 1860s, so it is well worth a visit down to Helmsdale to see the full complement of intricate crewel embroidered panels on show.  The exhibition runs until Saturday, September 30.

Missing Town House Dogs Found After Half A Century
Sculptures missing from the top of Inverness Town House for 60 years have been found – just hours before scaffolding was due to be removed from the building.  Hopes of finding the two original sandstone dogs had faded during the £6.2 million renovation of the city centre building and replacement wolves had already been sculpted and placed in situ.  But on Thursday, the same day as project manager Jason Kelman had given his staff the green light to take down the scaffolding that has surrounded the building for months, he received a call to say the dogs had been discovered gathering dust at Highland Council’s Diriebught Road depot. Work has now been halted work while the dogs’ conditions are assessed.  If it is found that they can be adequately restored they will be returned to the top of the A-listed building.If not, they will go on display within the building itself.  The sculptures have been missing for at least 40 years but Mr Kelman thinks they may actually have been removed 52 years ago, during previous renovations carried out in 1965. He said: "I had just signed off on the removal of the scaffolding when I got the call saying something I would be interested in had been found.  I had my suspicions they were they dogs so I told the staff not to take anything down until I checked it out.  It is almost too much of a coincidence, it’s quite spooky actually."  The discovery was made as the depot was being cleared to make space for staff at the Harbour Road depot to move in.  Inverness Provost Helen Carmichael said: "This is a truly remarkable discovery. We hope to put them on display in the museum for a short time so that everyone can have a chance to have a close-up look at them and find out about their amazing story."

Inverness Hogmanay Line-up Announced

Comedian Craig Hill will host this year's Red Hot Fling Hogmanay celebrations in Inverness.
The bands for Scotland’s biggest free Hogmanay concert - The Red Hot Highland Fling - have been announced.  Opening the show in Inverness's Northern Meeting Park Arena will be Hò-rò; who were winners of the “Danny Kyle award” at Celtic Connections. Hò-rò have quickly become one of the most popular new bands on the European music festival scene and will come to Inverness after successful tours to Germany, France and Belgium. They were recently in the news for all the wrong reasons after they lost all their equipment when their van went up in flames due to an arson attack in Glasgow.  Thanks to the generosity of fellow performers, however, the band have been able to borrow everything they need to complete their autumn tour and to make what will be their debut appearance at The Red Hot Highland Fling.   Hò-rò will be followed on stage by two former winners of the prestigious “Scottish Traditional Music Live Band of the Year Award”.  Skipinnish have been given the honour of headlining the show in the prestigious middle slot; a tradition unique to the Inverness Hogmanay Show which enables as many youngsters as possible to see the headline act at this family-friendly show. The band have played a string of headline appearances at some of Britain’s biggest music festivals in 2017; and their unique mix of traditional and contemporary music has firmly established them one of the most popular live bands to be found in Scotland today.  Closing the show - and making sure that the music pauses just in time for the spectacular midnight fireworks display - will be Skerryvore.  A firm favourite with the Inverness crowd Skerryvore are one of the few bands in the world that organises its own annual music festival, Oban Live, which now attracts over 10,000 visitors a year. This year’s show will see the band's newest member, Scott Wood, make his debut at The Red Hot Highland Fling. Scott, who plays pipes and whistles, has replaced founder member Martin Gillespie who,  in common with many pipers, developed ‘focal hand dystonia,’ a neurological condition which affects the hands, causing involuntary contractions, spasms and often discomfort.

Scottish and Welsh Governments Publish Brexit Bill Amendments
Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones have published a series of demands they are seeking from the UK Westminster Government in order to avoid a constitutional crisis over EU withdrawal.  The Scottish and Welsh Government’s published 38 amendments they believe are required to stop Westminster taking control over areas of EU law they believe should be devolved to Edinburgh and Cardiff.  The Scottish Government also published a list of 111 powers, including areas such as agriculture, the environment, fisheries, forestry, research and justice co-operation, which ministers believe would be vulnerable to a Westminster power grab if the EU Withdrawal Bill remains in its current form.  The Scottish Government has repeatedly argued the Brexit Bill will see a Westminster “power grab” that would undermine the principles of devolution. The UK Westminster Government has countered by saying that once it has been decided which areas are best dealt with by a UK framework Scotland would benefit from a powers “bonanza”.  In a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, Ms Sturgeon and Mr Jones warned: “The current Bill will need to be substantially amended for us to be able to recommend to our respective legislatures that they give their consent to it.  Our Governments have therefore prepared a set of amendments which, if made, would make the Bill one which we could consider recommending to the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales.”  They added: “We hope that they will be received in the way they are intended: as a constructive contribution by the devolved administrations, which would enable progress to be made among the governments in a way which respects the hard-won devolution settlements of the UK.”  Scotland’s Brexit minister Michael Russell published the 111 powers alongside a letter to Holyrood’s Finance and Constitution Committee. The list included environmental regulations and genetically modified crops as well as bureaucratic items like fertiliser regulation and food labelling.The list was originally drawn up by the UK Westminster Government and sent to the Scottish Government.  Mr Russell said: “The list represents an initial assessment by the UK Westminster Government of where it believes that EU competences intersect with devolution and which therefore would be affected by the restrictions in the Bill. We were taken aback by the size of the list that was presented to us, but it shows the scale of what is at stake. They represent control over agriculture, fisheries, environmental regulation, relations between Scotland’s independent legal system and our European counterparts, State Aid and many more. It is perfectly possible for UK-wide frameworks to be agreed, but they must not be imposed by the UK Westminster Government with no respect for the founding principles of the devolution settlement.”  Mr Russell said the Scottish Government was willing to co-operate with the UK Westminster Government but must not mean allowing Westminster to “drive a coach and horses through the devolution settlement”. “At present that is what the EU (Withdrawal) Bill does. The UK Westminster Government will take control of all policy areas exercised at EU level, whether they are devolved or not,” he said. “That is why the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales have described this bill as a naked power grab. The 38 amendments have been designed to ensure devolved policy areas come back to the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly of Wales on EU withdrawal. They also stop UK ministers unilaterally changing the Scotland Act, which established devolution, and the Government of Wales Act. They require the agreement of the Scottish Government on the changes that are required to EU law in devolved areas after Brexit. They also ensure restrictions are not placed on devolved ministers compared with UK Westminster Government ministers.”

Police Scotland Rolls Out Dual English-Gaelic Logo

Police Scotland has today (Tuesday, September 19) introduced its dual language logo featuring both English and Gaelic.  The branding, which carries both Police Scotland and Poileas Alba, will be introduced on the service’s website and intranet.  It will also be carried on signage, stationery and vehicles, and will be introduced on these items as they are replaced on reaching the end of their serviceable life.  The changes are being made as part of the force’s commitment to implementing its Gaelic Language Plan, which sets out the service’s pledge to creating a sustainable future for the language in Scotland by integrating it within Police Scotland’s services and corporate identity. Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Cowie (Local Policing – North) said: “This is the latest step being taken by Police Scotland as we move towards full implementation of our Gaelic Language Plan.  We are keen that Gaelic speaking communities across the country are well served and ably represented by the national service. Upholding tradition and supporting native languages is important, as is making the service as accessible as possible for members of the population who use Gaelic. More work will take place in the coming months and years to deliver the improvements contained within our Gaelic Language Plan. We have a keen group of Gaelic speaking officers/staff who are ably assisting in progressing these improvements.” Speaking on behalf of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Daibhidh Boag, Director of Language Planning and Community Developments said: “The inclusion of Gaelic as a normal part of Police Scotland’s identity is a really significant milestone for the language. By including Gaelic as part of the logo renewal process, Police Scotland have contributed significantly to the Scotland-wide effort to raise the profile of Gaelic and have done so in as cost-effective a manner as possible. We very much welcome Police Scotland’s commitment to Gaelic generally and to increasing the visibility of the language across the communities that they serve.”  Police Scotland’s Gaelic Language Plan is a five-year project, scheduled until 2021. Work will be ongoing throughout that time.

New Scottish £10 Note Featuring Robert Burns Released

Clydesdale Bank has released the first Scottish £10 polymer note into circulation.  A £5 polymer note was issued last year and the £10 is described as the latest implementation of the “evolving technology” surrounding British bank notes. The new note, which is smaller than previous variations, features an image of Robert Burns on the front and a landscape of Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns on the reverse.  It includes new security features, with the outline of Scotland depicted in a “shiny ink” over a transparent window to make it harder to forge.  The older £10 Clydesdale note will remain in circulation.  Lorna McMillan, company secretary of Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banking Group, the owner of Clydesdale Bank, said: “More durable and more secure than normal paper notes, the move towards polymer is an important milestone in our history of innovation.” The polymer notes are water resistant, much less likely to tear, and are said to be more environmentally friendly in production. Ms McMillan added: “We have been issuing banknotes since 1838 and it’s just as vital as ever to ensure we are creating and developing currency that is fit for modern day use.”  The notes are already in tiered sizes, and have bold numerals, raised print and different colours to allow easier use by blind and partially sighted people.

Seabirds Nest on Remote Islands After Rat-Catching Blitz

The country’s smallest seabird has set up home on remote islands in the northwest of Scotland for the first time as a result of innovative conservation tactics.  Tiny storm petrels have now begun nesting on the Shiants, a few miles off the coast of Harris in the Outer Hebrides, following a major extermination project to kill a plague of black rats that had overrun the isles.  After the rats had been wiped out, ornithologists used a novel technique to attract the birds – speakers were set up to broadcast recordings of storm petrel calls, to signal a safe place to settle.  And the measures seem to be working, as the unmistakable sounds of real, live storm petrels has been detected from underground burrows on the islands and nesting behaviour has been witnessed.  “The churring of a storm petrel is very distinctive, and we’re delighted that it has been recorded on the Shiants this summer,” said senior project manager Dr Charlie Main.  “While we are still some way off the islands being officially declared rat-free, these calls indicate that all the biosecurity work we’re doing to keep these islands predator-free and make them ideal breeding sites for seabirds is paying off.” The latest developments mark an important milestone for the Shiant Isles Recovery Project, which is funded by the European Union. The initiative, a collaboration between conservation charity RSPB Scotland, nature agency Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Nicolson family, which owns the islands, began in 2014 to provide safe breeding grounds for globally threatened seabirds. Dr Andrew Douse, policy and advice manager for ornithology at SNH, added: “Storm petrels only occur on islands without rats, which means that they are very vulnerable to the effects that arise from invasive species such as these. The Shiants are an ideal breeding location for storm petrels and hopefully they will go on to become an important stronghold for this species.”  The islands host internationally important colonies of seabirds, including puffins and razorbills.  Black rats are thought to have arrived there after a shipwreck in the 18th century – a survey in 2012 estimated the population had reached at least 3,600, more in summer.  The rats are known to consume eggs and chicks of seabirds and their presence was having a major impact on ground-nesting species and preventing Manx shearwaters and storm petrels from breeding on the islands. An eradication programme was completed in 2016, and the Shiants should be officially declared rat-free next March.

House “Older Than Stonehenge” Found in East Ayrshire Field
The remains of a pre-historic dwelling older than Stonehenge or the Callanish Stones have been found in a field in East Ayrshire.  Archaeologists believe the site near Kilmarnock is 6,000-years-old and was settled as man moved away from nomadic existence towards farming the land.  The discovery has been described as one of the most important of its kind in recent years.  Excavations have unearthed a number of post-holes which formed part of a rectangular building and fragments of Neolithic carinated bowl, used for cooking and storage.  It is thought that they date to around 4000 BC.  The rectilinear hall, which measured 14m in length and 8m in width, belonged to a type of house built by the first farming communities in Scotland.  Kenneth Green, excavation director at GUARD Archaeology of Glasgow, who carried out the archaeological work for Scottish Water, said: “This is one of the most important discoveries of this type in south west Scotland in recent years. Heavily truncated by millennia of ploughing, only the deepest parts of some of the post-holes survived, arranged in a rectangular plan and containing sherds of early Neolithic pottery, hazelnut shell and charcoal.  The width and depth of these post-holes indicated that they once held very large upright timber posts, suggesting that this building was once a large house, probably home to an extended family or group of families. Up until this time, during the earlier Mesolithic period (c. 8000-4000 BC), Scotland was inhabited by small groups of hunter gatherers, who led a nomadic lifestyle, living off the land.  The individuals who built this Neolithic house were some of the earliest communities in Ayrshire to adopt a sedentary lifestyle, clearing areas of forest to establish farms, growing crops such as wheat and barley and raising livestock such as cattle, sheep, goats and pigs.” The archaeologist have been working with Scottish Water to identify sites of potential interest along the route of a new water route.  Evidence of an old water course was found very close to the Neolithic house. GUARD Archaeology’s operations manager Warren Bailie said the site for the house, built on a small hill. was likely chosen given its close proximity to the water. The discoveries have been removed for recording and analysis. They will be claimed by the Crown and deposited in keeping with Scottish legal requirements as set out in the Scottish Government’s Treasure Trove Code of Practice.