Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 573

Issue # 573                                         Week ending Saturday 10th  October  2020

Is it A Misdemeanour to Misspeak Or is it Just One of These An Innocent Mistakes?
by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

No, stop it. We should not be pleased that Donald Trump was in a military hospital being treated for coronavirus. Even if he did ignore the warnings and pretty much refused to wear a mask until recently, many others in this country do the same. They don’t believe there is a virus, or if there is, that distancing or masks can help in any way. We call them covidiots but, really, they are just mistaken. It’s an education problem. They are miseducated.

Covidiots say no government, or so-called experts, will tell them what to do. It’s about government control, they say. They will decide what’s good for them. Oh, really? The Government tells us all we must all drive on the left - for our own good. I don’t see any of the Covidiots - like Piers Corbyn or David Icke - refusing to obey that one. Empty-headed, dangerous people.

This miseducation also seems to be a problem with all the leading figures in the Republican Party in America if the carry-on in the Rose Garden of the White House last week was anything to go by. They were in there - no masks, sitting close to each other, fist-bumping and generally snogging the face of each other. And I think the women also joined in at some point.

After these months of daft talk about disinfectant and general denial, Mr Trump felt well enough to bleat from hospital that he now understands coronavirus. After more than a million people have died, finally “gets it”. Really? If so, he must have immediately ordered everyone to obey social distancing and to wear masks? Er, well. I don’t think I heard him say that.

Are we doing better? Considering what Nicola Sturgeon has on her plate, she is doing better than most. By most, I mean Boris Johnson. Mixed messages about Covid from Downing Street are confusing. Even the PM gets it wrong when he starts trying to describe the visiting rules. He excused himself by resorting to a ghastly Americanism, claiming he misspoke. Listen, you are pregnant or you are not pregnant and you are speaking or you are not speaking.

That “I misspoke” came from Hillary Clinton claiming she’d come under fire in Bosnia in 1996. Some fact-checking showed that was an inverted pile of piffle - which is a Boris Johnsonism. That was when he was accused of snogging the face of someone called Petrol Station Wyatt Earp. Sorry, I miswrote. That should be Petronella Wyatt.

Misspeaking, mixed messages and mumbling don’t help BoJo. Neither does trying to collate virus sufferers’ details in an MS Excel spreadsheet in a creaking, old XLS format. In case you are not a computer geek - nor me, but my daughter is - that format was back when spreadsheets began. They should be using databases, secured in the cloud. It’s like hitting a nail with the handle of the hammer. Nobody knew. Nobody checked. Nobody cared.

Conservative commentators now see cool Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, as the next PM. More Tories want Sunak to be boss than not. They think mumbling, bumbling Boris should take his peerage now. It’s not a shock that Sunak is claiming to anyone who cares to listen that he doesn’t want the PM job and that he is very happy where he is.

Aye, right. Once upon a time, a local politician was asked if he wanted to be PM. He mumbled: “My chances of becoming prime minister are only slightly better than being decapitated by a frisbee, blinded by a champagne cork, locked in a fridge or being reincarnated as an olive.” Was that not the Mayor of London in 2012? Boris Johnson.

It doesn’t matter whether you are the president or not, being in hospital is worrying. Years ago, when I had my appendix operation, I was asked by a wet-behind-the-ears surgeon if I wanted to stay awake during it. For some unfathomable reason, I said yes.

That surgeon looked as if he was still doing his Highers. Deftly, he sliced me open and reached in. Oi, mate, that glove will be coming out my mouth in a minute. Then the young sawbones went: “Ha. Got it.” I am thinking, got what? Wow, how did stuff from the butcher’s window get in me? Put that back where you found it, you pubescent white-coated maniac. Anyone got superglue?

Then when I was having my hernia done, a relentlessly cheery Nurse Macarthur came to wheel me down to theatre. Miss Macarthur seemed to misspeak saying: “Right, who’s next for the slab - oops, I meant operating table.” I trembled. Will something go wrong? What if this surgeon is too old and knots the wrong bit? Why didn’t I make a will?

Nurse Macarthur then handed me a flimsy gown that was open at the back. She told me to stop worrying about the procedure, adding cheerfully: “You are not going to die, you know.” I said: “You say that, but I know for sure that when I put on that gown my end will be in sight.”

Offshore Vessel Detained At Aberdeen Harbour Amid 'Crew Welfare' Probe

Coastguards have detained an offshore supply vessel at Aberdeen harbour amid crew welfare concerns.  The Ben Nevis will not be allowed to leave the port until an inspection is completed.  The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said it had taken action as the Port State Control Authority for the UK.  The ship's operator Global Offshore Services BV has been contacted for comment. The RMT union welcomed an investigation being carried out. Ben Nevis was detained on Monday to allow a full inspection of the ship related to the Maritime Labour Convention.  Fraser Heasley, the MCA's assistant director of survey and inspection, said: "We will always take reports around crew welfare seriously.  We have used our powers to carry out this detention so that we can investigate more fully."

Scottish Tories to support free university tuition
The Scottish Conservatives will support free university tuition in Scotland at the next election, the party's leader has said.  The party has called for a graduate contribution to fund higher education at the last two Holyrood elections.  But Douglas Ross told a fringe event organised by the Young Conservatives at the virtual party conference that this position should be reassessed. NUS Scotland said it was a "victory for students and prospective students".  Mr Ross told the event that young people have faced significant pressure on their education during the Covid pandemic.  "This group of young people have had their education disrupted like no other," he said. "They're losing out on life-defining experiences and they're going to be entering the job market at the most difficult time.  We cannot burden them any further. So now is the time for the Scottish Conservatives to rethink our policy on introducing tuition fees and a graduate contribution."  He added: "Our manifesto will support free tuition for university students, while calling for college places to be viewed as equally valuable." Students who live in Scotland currently pay no tuition fees to attend a Scottish university. However those from the rest of the UK are charged up to £9,250 to study.  From next year free university tuition for students from the European Union will end following the UK's departure from the EU.  Ahead of the 2016 Holyrood election, the Scottish Conservatives manifesto outlined plans to end free university tuition in Scotland.  Ruth Davidson, who was then leader, said she wanted graduates to pay back £6,000 towards their education once they earned more than £20,000 a year.  The money would have been invested in universities and colleges in Scotland.  The party supported the abolition of tuition fees in 1999 and 2003, before proposing a "root-and-branch review" of education funding in 2007 and backing the introduction of the means-tested graduate contribution in 2011 and 2016. The Tories change of heart has been welcomed by Matt Crilly, president of student body NUS Scotland. "Education is a right, not a privilege and must be freely accessible to all regardless of your class or income," he said.  "Now more than ever before we can see the importance of our education system as people re-train and re-skill, education is our route to a better future." Tuition fees in Scotland were scrapped in 2001, under the Labour-Lib Dem coalition government and both parties remain committed to a policy of free high education. Scottish Labour also wants better financial support for students, saying it would deliver a minimum student income of about £8,100 a year.  The Scottish Lib Dems has called on the Scottish government to prepare universities to train and retrain people in preparation for a "green recovery" from the pandemic.  A "graduate endowment" scheme which replaced upfront tuition fees was scrapped by an SNP government in 2008.  The SNP says that access to education should be based on the ability to learn, not on ability to pay. Meanwhile the Scottish Greens, who also support free tuition, says no EU undergraduate should pay fees, and all students should receive a non-repayable living grant.

Mossmorran: Exxonmobil Says Flaring Has Stopped
Flaring at the Mossmorran chemical plant has stopped, operator ExxonMobil has said. More than 740 complaints have been made to environment protection officers since unplanned flaring began at the Fife Ethylene Plant at 03:30 on Sunday. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) said ExxonMobil should "recognise the depth of community anger" about the issue.  ExxonMobil apologised for the "frustration" caused to local people. It said the incident was caused by a compressor fault and confirmed that the plant had returned to normal operations.  Plant manager Jacob McAlister said: "We will finalise our own investigation into the root cause but can confirm that, contrary to misinformation, weather was not a contributing factor.  We absolutely understand and apologise for the frustration that the use of our flare can cause.  We will, therefore, continue to work to reduce future occurrences."  Sepa said specialist officers investigated the impact of the flaring on the community during the episode.  Its four monitoring sites showed there was no breach of air quality standards.  Chris Dailly, head of environmental performance, said the agency was pleased flaring had stopped but was frustrated by its frequency and the "flow of information" from ExxonMobil.  "We've also clearly heard the impact flaring continues to have on local communities through over 740 reports to us since Sunday," he said. "The evidence we are gathering will enable us to determine whether there has been a breach of the site's permit conditions and what our next steps should be in line with our published enforcement policy." Mr Dailly said ExxonMobil needed to "step up and recognise the depth of community anger". He said the company had to "make real progress in making flaring the exception rather than the routine - and we will employ all available measures to ensure they do so".

Military Exercise Begins After Concern for Whales in Gare Loch

A military exercise has gone ahead following unsuccessful attempts to herd whales away from its base on the west coast of Scotland.Rescuers feared bottlenose whales in the Gare Loch could be sensitive to ship sonar.However, as the exercise is taking place in deep waters beyond the loch, rescuers confirmed yesterday (Monday 5th ) that they had "no major concerns".The whales returned to the area despite three attempts to move them.

Edinburgh Cancels Christmas Festivals
City of Edinburgh Council and event producers said the decision to cancel the city’s Christmas festivals followed the "latest advice" from public health experts. Any event which could attract a gathering or crowd - including market stalls and rides - will now not happen.  The council said the focus would move to celebrating Edinburgh's Christmas online this year. Edinburgh's Hogmanay street party was called off in July because of the pandemic, but organisers had hoped that other events could take place with access controlled to ensure social distancing. However, the council said it was now clear the "best place" to experience Edinburgh's Christmas and Hogmanay would be from home.  Very soon the Council looks forward to announcing details of an innovative digital 2020 programme.

Band Gives up The Booze
Three-piece band, Peat and Diesel, whose music is known for its light-hearted take on island life are giving up the booze for an entire month.  Peat and Diesel band members Innes Scott, Calum ‘Boydie’ MacLeod, and Uilly Macleod are taking part in Macmillan Cancer Support’s Go Sober for October campaign.  In solidarity with fisherman Boydie, the other boys in the band and the crew of his fishing boat, Comrade, have decided to go on the wagon to start raising much needed funds for the charity.  They said Macmillan Cancer Support, is a much-loved charity across the Western Isles and support a lot of people in the community so it’s great to be doing something for them. Macmillan Cancer Support is doing everything it can to help address the immediate and unique challenges that having cancer during this pandemic brings, but it needs support.

A Query on Scottish Australian Heritage Council
I was asked last week who and what was the Scottish Australian Heritage Council a fair enough question but one that had me a bit puzzled as I thought that everyone with a claim to Scottish Heritage was aware of this organisation.  Silly me obviously not so - therefore in this news segment I thought it appropriate to briefly outline what the SAHC is all about.  The Scottish Australian Heritage Council (SAHC)  was founded in June 1981 for the purpose of fostering the heritage brought by Scottish immigrants to Australia, including Scottish music, literature, culture, language and history. They do this by: promoting Scottish cultural and heritage issues with governments, business, and like-minded organisations both nationally and internationally ·promoting and organising events ·supporting other Scottish organisations ·  participating in the celebration of Scottish festivals ·promoting liaison between groups and societies in Australia of Scottish Heritage, or which celebrate Scottish heritage · encouraging the continued use and survival of Scots Gaelic.  Incidently the Heritage Council are seeking a Newsletter Editor as well as a Director of Social Media (to manage the website, and other social media platforms) If its for you contact them by email on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Coisir Ghaidhlig Astrailianach

Coisir Ghaidhlig Astrailianach aka Australian Gaelic Singers report that although due to strong restrictions on Group Singing they haven’t met on a face to face basis for several months they are still rehearsing by Zoom.  Despite Zooms many drawbacks for a singing group, the AGS still rehearse on Thursday night concentrating on perfecting their Gaelic and most importantly keeping a close social contact with each other.

Leaders Welcome New Police Call Handling Team for Inverness
Community leaders have welcomed the setting up of a specialist police call-handling team in Inverness aimed at better prioritising officer responses.  The move is being hailed as further decentralisation of services following previous complaints that Police Scotland had removed control and staff from rural areas.  Similar teams have already been rolled out in other parts of Scotland, providing a first-point-of-contact for people calling 999 and 101.  Police Scotland said it will mean an enhanced assessment of threat, harm, risk and vulnerability to ensure issues are correctly prioritised. Previously, response to calls were determined by the type of incident or crime reported and an automatic computer grading that could see officers despatched even if not required.  The new approach will see trained officers consider the circumstances of each incident before deciding on an appropriate and proportionate response. This could include immediate attendance at an incident or within a specified time, an appointment with an officer or help over the phone. The 25-strong Inverness resolution team will be drawn from the three North divisions, including staff with experience and local knowledge of the area. Police Scotland said it is committed to decentralising its workforce and ensuring national resources are distributed around the country. Divisional Commander for the Highlands and Islands, Chief Superintendent Conrad Trickett, said: “The ability to conduct this enhanced assessment of vulnerability on every call and provide increased resolution options allows us to provide the right response to every caller.”  Highland Council leader Margaret Davidson, who had raised concerns about the closure of the Inverness police control room in 2015, said the high-quality service sector jobs are a welcome boost to the community. She said: “I am particularly pleased that Police Scotland is recognising the personal value that the new team of specialist police officers will bring to the 101 and 999 services, with their local knowledge and experience of policing urban, remote and island communities.” Councillor Matthew Reiss, Highland Council’s strategic lead for police and fire, added: “Chief Constable Iain Livingstone told us that jobs would be decentralised to the remoter areas and, whilst it has taken time, that promise has been kept and I am genuinely delighted.”

'Fantastic Opportunity' As Jedburgh Distilleries Approved

Plans for two whisky distilleries in the Borders have been approved as a "fantastic opportunity" by councillors.  It is the second time Scottish Borders Council has agreed the proposals at the former Jedforest Hotel near Jedburgh after a previous permission expired. The local authority heard that the £40m complex could create up to 70 full-time jobs in the area. The planning committee unanimously agreed to give fresh approval to the scheme. The work will be carried out in two phases with a smaller distillery to be constructed first, followed by a large-scale one.  Councillors were told the plans were a repeat of an application they had previously approved but that permission had lapsed. "I think it is a fantastic opportunity to see this visitor attraction coming to the Borders," said Jim Fullarton, who represents East Berwickshire.  His view was echoed by a number of others on the planning committee. "I think it is great that we can have rural diversification of this type," said Mid Berwickshire's Donald Moffat.  "This will be a destination that people will want to come to and want to visit."

Multi-million Pound Galashiels and Peebles School Replacement Bids Agreed

Funding bids have been agreed for two replacement secondary schools in the Borders. The local authority hopes to build new facilities at Galashiels Academy and Peebles High School - which was badly damaged by fire last year.  The plans in Galashiels have been priced at £55.5m and include a replacement swimming pool for the town.  Proposals in Peebles are estimated at about £40m with some of the funding coming from an insurance settlement. A report to councillors said the Scottish government had sought an update on the council's learning estate investment plans last month. A response is to be submitted by 13 October. It has identified Galashiels and Peebles as "priority projects" with proposals for Hawick High School at an earlier stage of development. Councillors agreed to endorse the submission of the plans to the Scottish government. The Galashiels project would see the construction of a new secondary with a school roll of 1,000.  It would also include an additional special needs unit for 50 pupils and a hydrotherapy pool as well as a swimming pool.  In Peebles, the biggest secondary school in the region is being proposed with capacity for 1,400 students.  It is hoped both projects could be completed by 2025.

Covid Death Figures: 10 Things We've Learned
The National Records of Scotland (NRS) has released its annual statistics on population, including a special analysis of the effect of Covid-19. Here are 10 things we've learned:
The average age at death for those who died with Covid-19 in Scotland was 79 for men and 84 for women. Elsewhere in the NRS report it showed that life expectancy in Scotland is 77.1 for males and 81.1 for females.  The report says the age profile of those dying with Covid was significantly older than that for deaths in general.  More than three quarters (77%) of all those who died were aged 75 or over and 43% were aged 85 or over.  This compared with overall deaths in 2019 where 63% were aged 75 or over and 33% were aged 85 or over.  The NRS figures use the wider measure of coronavirus deaths which includes all those where Covid-19 is mentioned on the death certificate.  Men are more likely to die with Covid, Statistically this is an odd one. More women (2,133) have died with covid on their death certificate than men (2,098) However, the NRS report says that males are 1.4 times as likely to die than females. There are fewer men in the older age groups (over 75) so their deaths account for a larger proportion of the male population. In the early part of this year, the number of deaths was lower than the five-year average, meaning there were no excess deaths. In April, excess deaths began to increase rapidly and continued to be above average until mid-June, after which point they returned to the average levels.  The report says there have been 4,306 more deaths registered than would have been the case if numbers were similar to the average over the past five year years.  The National Records of Scotland report cites ONS analysis comparing excess mortality rates between European countries covering the period from January to mid-June.  The analysis found that Scotland had the third highest excess mortality rate in Europe, behind England and Spain.  By mid-June, Scotland's age-standardised mortality rate for the year to-date was 5.1% higher than the five-year average. Spain was 6.0% above average and mortality in England was 7.6% higher. People in large urban areas more likely to die. The age-standardised rate for deaths involving Covid in large urban areas (116 deaths per 100,000 population) was over four times that in remote rural locations (27 per 100,000 population).  The gap was substantially smaller when considering the rate of deaths from all causes (1.3 times as high in large urban areas compared to remote rural areas). West Dunbartonshire has had the highest age-standardised death rate of all council areas with 314.3 deaths per 100,000 population. This was closely followed by Midlothian (294.3), Glasgow City (291.0) and Inverclyde (280.0).  Highland (37.5), Moray (40.4) and Dumfries and Galloway (50.1) had the lowest rates (Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles were excluded as the numbers were too low to calculate). After adjusting for age, people in West Dunbartonshire were eight times as likely to die compared to those in Highland. People in the most deprived areas were over twice as likely to die as those in the least deprived areas, the report says.  It says there was a clear pattern when analysing by areas of multiple deprivation. The numbers of deaths among working people in the 20-64 year old group were small, 6% of all Covid deaths up to the end of August. The NRS report says a "broad analysis" by occupation group identified that those working as "process, plant and machine operatives" had the highest age-standardised death rate with 25.8 deaths per 100,000 people. This group covers occupations whose main tasks involve operating and monitoring industrial plant and equipment, assembling products from component parts as well as those driving and assisting in the operation of transport vehicles and other mobile machinery.  An analysis of health care workers and social care workers had relatively small numbers involved and concluded death rates for these two groups were not significantly different from the average. Most people who died had a pre-existing condition Of all Covid deaths occurring between March and August, only 8% had no pre-existing condition. Of the 92% who did have a pre-existing condition recorded on the death certificate, the most common were dementia and Alzheimer's disease (31%); Ischaemic heart disease (13%) and Chronic lower respiratory diseases (11%).

2019 Population Statistics

The National Records of Scotland's Population report provided figures for last year, including:
-Scotland's population was at a record high at 5.46 million.
-The lowest number of births were recorded since records began in 1855, with fewer than 50,000 registered.
-The number of marriages registered was also at an all-time low of just over 26,000.
-Deaths have outnumbered births for the fifth consecutive year, meaning the recent population increase is due to migration.
-The number of households is growing faster than the population, with 1 in 5 people now living alone.
-Life expectancy was improving for decades, but has changed very little in the last five years.

Let's Stick Together
by Nicola Sturgeon
I’ve just updated Parliament on steps we need to take to stem the current surge in coronavirus cases.  Earlier we recorded more than 1,000 new confirmed cases of the virus in a single day for the first time. So, all pubs and restaurants across central Scotland are to be closed. These restrictions cover about 3.4 million people living in the Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Lanarkshire, Forth Valley, Lothian, and Ayrshire & Arran health board areas.  In other areas, pubs and restaurants will be able to open - but can only serve alcohol outdoors. My senior clinical advisers have put together a paper summarising the evidence on infection trends across Scotland.   There will be no travel ban. However please avoid public transport in the central belt unless it is absolutely necessary. And please do not travel outside your health board area if you do not need to.  After seven long months, I know these restrictions are not easy. But they are essential. So, let’s all stick with it - and above all, let’s stick together. Thank you, again, for all you are doing.
Nicola Sturgeon First Minister of Scotland

Brexit: MSPs Vote to Reject UK Internal Market Bill

MSPs have voted not to consent to the UK Westminster government's legislation to set up an "internal market" after Brexit.  The Internal Market Bill is making its way through the Commons, but has led to rows with the devolved administrations.  Constitution Secretary Mike Russell said the bill would "fundamentally undermine" the Scottish Parliament. However, the Scottish Tories argued that the legislation will protect jobs and deliver "significant" new powers. MSPs voted by 90 to 28 to say that parliament "agrees not to consent" to the UK legislation as it "constrains the competence of the Scottish Parliament and breaches international law". Only the Conservatives voted against the motion.  The Scottish government argues that Holyrood's consent is required under the Sewel Convention - which says the UK Westminster government will normally consult devolved bodies before passing a law that affects powers they exercise.  However, the last time MSPs voted to refuse consent - over the EU Withdrawal Act - the Supreme Court ruled that while Sewel was important, it was a convention only, and could not be policed by the court.  Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has already indicated that the UK Westmnster government will press ahead with the legislation even without devolved consent, saying that "leaving the EU is not a normal occurrence, it is an exceptional one".  The UK Westminster government has clashed with the EU over provisions in the Internal Market Bill which ministers admit would "break international law" by overriding parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement. They are also locked in dispute with the devolved administrations over what the legislation could mean for trade and regulations across Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland from January 2021.  The proposed system of "mutual recognition" would see each administration set standards and regulations locally, but they would still have to accept goods from all other parts of the UK.  The UK Westminster government say this is important to make sure there is still a free flow of goods and services across the UK, but the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland say it could spark a "race to the bottom".  The parliament's constitution committee recommended MSPs reject the bill, with the exception of the three Tory members, with MSPs from all other parties saying they were "dismayed" by the UK Westminster government's approach. Mr Russell told MSPs that the bill would "take a wrecking ball to Scotland's parliament and democracy" and would place a "blanket constraint" on Holyrood's powers.  He said the proposed system was a recipe for "regulatory incoherence and a race to the bottom" and would "require Scotland to accept lower standards for food, environmental standards and building standards".  The minister also said it was "nonsense on stilts" to suggest the bill would protect jobs, or that it would see extra powers come to Holyrood.  He added: "This bill is wholly unacceptable and should be rejected."  For the Scottish Tories, Dean Lockhart said there were "legitimate questions" about the detail of how the plans would work, but said there was "too much focus on constitutional scaremongering and hypothetical concerns". Scottish Labour's Alex Rowley said bill was a "full on attack on the existing devolution settlement", saying "we will not give support to any measures that reduce and constrain the competence of the Scottish Parliament". He said: "The greatest threat to the future of Scotland, its economy and its relationship with the rest of the UK is Boris Johnson and all the Scottish Tories who have lined up behind him in blind loyalty."  Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie hit out at "an extraordinary bill which poses an extraordinary threat to us all", and said if the UK Westminster government pushed ahead without consent it would make the case for a second independence referendum "unanswerable". Meanwhile Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said the bill "exists to smooth a trade deal with the US" and would "sweep away objections from devolved administrations on matters like food safety and environmental safety". Scotland's Constitution Secretary Michael Russell called on the UK Westminster government to withdraw the legislation. "The Scottish Parliament has overwhelmingly backed this government's rejection of the bill. Now we urge the UK Westminster government, once again, to abandon this deeply damaging bill," he said.

Longniddry Woman Elaine Clarke Raises Thousands for Charity by Making Face Coverings

Fashionable face coverings have raised more than £11,000 for a charity helping children with life-shortening conditions. Elaine Clarke, of Longniddry, has been busy producing colourful creations to raise money for Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS). Over the past few months, the former primary school teacher has been selling her own fabric coverings through her Needles and Pines Handmade Crafts Facebook page. Elaine, who has made more than 3,000 fabric masks since April, said: “This all came about as I was initially making scrub sets to help key workers during lockdown and made a few face coverings for my nearest and dearest at the same time. My friends and family told me they thought they would sell so I decided to concentrate on making more of them to try to raise some funds for CHAS as I have been a volunteer there for the past five years.  I set myself a target of raising £500 by charging £3 per mask plus asking buyers to make a donation to the charity.  I thought if I raised double that I would be really happy but never in my wildest dreams did I expect to raise £11,000! It was after the First Minister’s announcement that face coverings were to be made compulsory on transport and in shops that the orders really took off and since then they’ve just kept coming!”  A core group of six friends helped Elaine, 60, when orders were at their peak. She has gone through 330 metres of interfacing, 1,050 metres of elastic, 4,035 metres of thread and 330 metres of fabric.  Elaine, who has worked as a supply teacher at Haddington’s Compass School, added: “I think they’re so popular because they’re good quality, breathable and as they are hand-washed they are also reusable. They’re comfortable too as they are made up of a fabric outer layer lined with a firm interfacing to give it structure to fit the face.  “The soft inner lining also has a lightweight interfacing for added protection. It’s been rewarding seeing people order then re-order for their friends and family and I’m really grateful to everyone who has made a purchase and supported CHAS.”

Harry Potter Book That Lay on A Shelf for 21 Years is Worth £50,000

A rare Harry Potter first edition could sell for £50,000 when it goes under the hammer next week.  The book, Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, was bought by an English expat to help his children learn English growing up in Luxembourg. It had been sat on a bookshelf for 21 years when the owner decided to check and see if it was a rare copy.  Some 500 first edition copies of the book – penned in Edinburgh by author JK Rowling – were printed, 300 of which were sent to schools and libraries. This book is one of the remaining 200, and the fourth to be found by Hansons Auctioneers' book expert Jim Spencer in a year.  Although original estimates set the price at £20,000 to £30,000, the good condition could mean it fetches as much as £50,000 when it goes up for sale on October 13.  The retired vendor, who worked in aviation and asked to remain anonymous, said: "A couple of months ago when JKR bounced into the main news I decided to reread the Potter series. I knew there had been a few first editions sold recently and Hansons was featured on the BBC website so, just to be safe, I checked the criteria.  I did not think mine would be valuable as it was certainly not purchased when first published. I was very surprised and shocked to see that it did in fact tick all the boxes, but still could not quite believe it until I checked with Jim Spencer."  He said the book had only been read once, although his children had stuck some pictures in the back after the first film came out. There are various ways to identify a Philosopher's Stone first issue, published by Bloomsbury in 1997, including duplication of "1 wand" on page 53. Most importantly, the issue number must read "10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1".  The book, which would pave the way for Harry Potter to become a global success, arrived at the auction house wrapped in a tea towel.  The owner said: "I was a big fan of the Potter books when I first read them. There are a lot of ethical and human behaviour discussion points in the books and I had a lot of respect for JKR for producing such a polished and nuanced body of work. I sent it to Hansons in a tea towel as a little nod to the Hogwarts house-elves, especially Winky and Dobby." Mr Spencer said: "True first issues are seriously scarce. This new copy deserves to do really well because it's in astonishingly good condition. I would love to see it make £50,000. When the vendor contacted me, he said he'd come to me because I'm 'the number one man in the world for Harry Potter' - what a wonderful compliment." The money from the sale will be used by the vendor to pay off his daughter's student loan and help her apply for a mortgage.