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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

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Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 25th January 2003
Issue No 316

Lament to a Scottish and SNP Patriot

Mourners united recently to pay tribute to staunch Scottish patriot and well respected politician Stewart Ewing.

The funeral of the husband of veteran Scottish National Party MSP Winnie Ewing was held at St Geraldine's Church in Lossiemouth. Among the 500 mourners attending the service included SNP Westminster leader Alex Salmond and SNP leader John Swinney, who paid tribute to a "fine man" who made an "outstanding public and private contribution to the cause of Scottish independence". The service was conducted by Rev Tommy Bryson, assisted by Rev Duncan Murray. Said Rev Bryson, "The church was filled to capacity and it was a very good service with a particularly Scottish theme. The family was very keen the service should be a "celebration of Stewart's life." Afterwards, a reception was held at the town's Stotfield Hotel. Mr Ewing died after a house fire at the couples home in Miltonduff, near Elgin. The 76 year old was overcome by smoke and taken to Dr Gray's Hospital in Elgin where he later died. Mrs Ewing was not at home at the time. The couple had been married for 47 years and have three children - Fergus Ewing MSP, Annabelle Ewing MP, and Terry Ewing, and three grandchildren - Ciara, Jamie and Sophie. Mr Ewing was also father-in-law to Margaret Ewing MSP, wife of Fergus. Mr Ewing was a prominent SNP activist and campaigner for Scottish independence. In the days following his tragic death, tributes flooded in from across the world of politics. Scotland's First Minister Jack McConnell said: "The thoughts of all of us in Scottish politics go out to Winnie and all her family at this tragic time." Mr Swinney said the party's thoughts were with Mrs Ewing and their children. SNP Westminster leader Alex Salmond added: "Stewart Ewing was a fine man and a tremendous support to Winnie over a long period in public life. "They were very much a political team. He will be sorely missed by the many people in the SNP who had great affection for the man and great respect for his wise council." Mr Ewing supported and advised his wife, who represents Highlands and Islands, in her political career, as her election agent and constituency manager. He was a chartered accountant with his own business for most of his adult life and he was also a senior lecturer in taxation at Strathclyde University. He stepped into front line politics himself when he defeated the former Labour group leader in Glasgow and won the council seat of Summerston in 1977, helping the SNP win control of Glasgow Corporation.

Community Spirit

Several Highland communities scooped a clutch of gongs recently, in a national awards ceremony which recognised their work. Cromarty won the Young People category and Newtonmore came first in the Business category in the Calor Scottish Community of the Year Awards. Boat of Garten Community Council was also highly commended in the Young People and Older People categories and was commended for the Business and Community Life categories. The winners were announced by Magnus Magnusson at a ceremony in Edinburgh. Calor communications manager Gavin Tomlinson said: "Cromarty and District Community Council achieved the difficult task of involving all the local primary school children in the Hugh Miller bicentenary when they produced and starred in their own opera based on his life. "They were able to involve the older youths in a video project about the opera, which is soon to be featured in a BBC television programme. "The community has continued to preserve this conservation town with the development and refurbishment of the harbour area."

Youngsters on Pilgrimage

Keen walkers and auxiliary nurse Dorothy Ahern raised more than 460 to enable a Highland child to visit Lourdes during Easter. Mrs Ahern of Inverness, recently tackled the 73 mile Great Glen Way, which links Fort William with Inverness, to raise money for the Children's Pilgrimage Trust. Each year, the charity arranges for 12 children with a wide range of disabilities from the region to spend a week in the French Pyrenean town. Mrs Ahern, who works in the accident and emergency department at Raigmore Hospital, knows some of the trust's volunteers - including the holiday organiser Margaret Lamond - and decided to undertake the fundraising walk. She explained that although the children's costs were met by the trust, the volunteer carers who accompanied them, paid their own fares. "I have never been there myself as a carer, Mrs Ahern revealed. "Hopefully, one of these years I will go." Her sponsored walk took five days, during which time Mrs Ahern was accompanied by two other nurses from Raigmore Hospital. Lorraine Duff raised money for Macmillan Cancer Relief and Norma Finlayson raised money for the Chest Unit and Ward 11 at the hospital.

Local People Get a Say

An innovative agreement to boost the benefits for local people of the Glen Affric National Nature Reserve was signed by the Forestry Commission and Strathglass community recently. During a visit to Cannich and Glen Affric, the commission's North of Scotland territorial director Hugh Insley officially endorsed a partnership with the Strathglass community group. The concordat will ensure local people can get involved in the management of the reserve and help develop commercial projects, such as a visitor centre in Cannich village, safari tours and social, educational and recreational activities through What's On events and forest walks. Dr Insley was joined by Walter Forbes of Strathglass Community Development Group and Fort Augustus forest district manager Malcolm Wield for the signing of the declaration at Cannich Village Hall. He learned how the group is working closely with the Forestry Commission and other partners in developing and improving recreational and educational facilities in the wood. Glen Affric was awarded National Nature Reserve status as it is a haven for many rare plants and animals and boasts one of the most important native pinewood restorations in Britain.

New Chapter in Gaelic History

A visual anthology of contemporary and historical Gaelic poetry and art was unveiled recently with a host of people from the North among its authors. The Great Book of Gaelic was opened for the first time in Glasgow, and will go on tour this year. More than 150 poets, visual artists, calligraphers and typographers from Ireland and Scotland contributed to the 330 plus page tome. It features poetry and artwork commissioned specifically for its publication, with publishers Canongate, producing four versions of the book. First mooted after the millennium as part of the Proiseact Nan Ealan, the book celebrates Celtic culture, with one version of it featuring full page, full colour plates of the artwork, Gaelic poems with selected lines presented as calligraphy, full English translations and information on all the contributors.

New Sculpture

World renowned sculptor Gerald Laing is working on a new statue to commemorate the Highland Clearances. He lives in Kinkell Castle on the Black Isle in Ross-shire, where he moved 34 years ago. Many of his statues adorn shopping centres. Rather than a busy square in Edinburgh however, his current work is destined eventually for a hill top above Helmsdale in Sutherland. Made up of a husband, a young boy and his mother with a babe in arms the largest statue will be 30ft and will dominate the area. The sculpture is the idea of Clearances Centre Ltd, a charitable organisation which hopes to install the statue and provide a related interpretive centre to inform people of some of the horrors of the Clearances. One of those responsible for part of the Clearances was the then Duke of Sutherland, a huge statue of whom stands on Benn Bhraggie above Golspie. The new statue should redress the balance somewhat. When complete the model will show the father looking out to sea, his son in higher spirits, and the man's wife holding her baby and looking wistfully back at what had been her home. One of the men behind the project, Helmsdale born mining millionaire Dennis MacLeod, said: "Too often descendants arrive in the Highlands only to wander aimlessly in search of their roots. The Clearances Centre will provide the kinship of common heritage and the knowledge which will direct them to more specific locations throughout the Highlands and Islands."

Woodland Paths to be Extended

The path network at Daviot Wood is to get an additional footpath and cycleway. The extensive new network will offer over 10km of path and off road routes between Inverness and Daviot village and circuit to and from the Old Edinburgh Wade Road. The development, which was recently started, is in response to a call from Strathnairn Commmunity for direct access into the Daviot Woods, and to provide additional options for the large numbers of visitors and locals who use the woods from the Tourist Information and Picnic Site car park, which has been upgraded by Highland Council's Planning and Development Service. Additional parking and access for walkers and cyclists will be available at Daviot and tracks will enable cyclists to connect through to Inverness via a viewpoint at Bogbain.

Charity Event

Young bookworms at Munlochy Primary were delighted recently when a 400 gift to the school was used to purchase new reading material. Each of the school's 80 pupils chose their own book with their 5 share of the money, donated by organisers of Munlochy Fun Day and dance. The school was one of several local groups to receive a slice of the 1000 raised at the event held late last year.

Political Roundup

MSP Attacks Executive over Funding

MSP for Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber, Fergus Ewing, has said the Labour/Liberal Executive has, in its flawed method of funding the McCrone settlement to Highland Council, discriminated against the Highlands. Mr Ewing said that Highland schools had small rolls because of population scarcity. He added: "It is obvious that a package based on the number of pupils rather than teachers will discriminate against the Highlands. "It will also cause problems for other rural areas such as the Borders. But the package in the Highlands is an extraordinary example of bungling which has created discriminations."

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Early rain clearing in the E. Showers later. Winds strong W'ly. Temperature 6c to 8c.
Saturday Night
Patchy drizzle along coast clearing. Rain spreading E later. Winds strong W-SW'ly. Temperature 3c to 5 c.
Cloudy to overcast skies with a risk of patchy light rain or drizzle.
Cloudy with rain at times. Brighter in the W. Windy.

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