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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

The Friendliest NewsPaper on the WWW

Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 12th May 2001
Issue No 231

Heritage Centre Looks to the Future

A Highland heritage centre with a difference has assumed the role of promoting the economic wellbeing of its community's craftspeople and caterers, as well as preserving the best of its past.

The new Alness Heritage Centre, opened in January by Alness Community Association, after a five year struggle to find suitable premises, has started to sell the products of local craftsmen and women. The former shoe shop has again assumed a retail function, as a centre volunteers sell woodwork, metalwork, jewellery, candles, pictures, handstitched greetings cards and knitting by talented folk with neither the resources nor desire to run shops of their own. Alness Community Association, now registered as a charitable company, will charge commission on each item sold, which will be used to fund and develop the centre. Association leaders hope the shop, which already sells bric-a-brac and books to help raise money for the venture, will run in conjunction with a badly needed tourist information centre and tea room. It will also house the local community newspaper Alness & District Times, the community radio station Ross FM and provide headquarters for the association itself. But all this is secondary to the primary aim of recording and preserving the history of Alness. The association is seeking to turn two downstairs rooms in the large house adjoining the shop into heritage rooms, and create an exhibition area upstairs for art, photography or crafts exhibitions, or seminars and training courses. Currently the organisation awaits completion of draft plans for change of the building, which are to be submitted to the planning authority. The application, which has massive support in Alness, is not thought likely to attract any controversy. "We hope it will serve local craftspeople of today in a practical way, as well as preserving something of Alness's past," said community association chairwoman Joan Ross. "We've had a great deal of interest from local craftspeople and from the general public. Local schools are also keen to co-operate and we hope they'll use it for exhibitions. "We see the centre as a focal point for the whole town, as well as a place where visitors can find information about the area. It's currently being run entirely by volunteers, though we expect it to develop within three years to the point where we will have paid employees." Alness has also received another boost with the recent announcement that its Averon Centre will this year be the venue for presentations for the annual Beautiful Scotland in Bloom competition, which the town has won three times in the past four years.


A peace flame has passed into the hands of Highland Provost, linking the North to a chain of countries around the world aiming for international goodwill. Inverness Provost Bill Smith picked up the torch from Elizabeth Rowan of the Life Foundation at the Town House in the Highland Capital recently. The group - based in Bangor, North Wales - is taking the World Peace Flame around the world and has already visited Australia, the USA and Canada. It is aiming to reach millions of people to promote the message of peace in every continent of the world. Director of Scotland for Life Foundation, Ms Rowan, said: "We have asked people to light a flame to focus on the work we are doing and to help others focus on it." The Life Foundation is a professional group working in personal development, stress management and post crisis detraumatisation. They have conducted therapeutic "self help" in areas of strife around the world such as, Bosnia, Russia and Northern Ireland and South Sudan. On receiving the flame Provost Smith commented: "I am delighted to see the organisation here in Inverness and I am equally delighted to support anything that highlights world peace. This flame has gone all around the world and I can only hope it has an effect." The next stop on the Life Foundation's circuit of the globe was Aberdeen the the group had a walk from Edinburgh to the Hague, where a conference focused on the work of the World Peace Flame.

Grantown Folk Festival

Grantown hosts its first folk festival this weekend. Called "Strathspey in May", the event's main aim is to encourage adult players of traditional and folk music. There is workshops in guitar, fiddle, clarsach, whistle, bodhran, singing, bagpipes and uilleann pipes. One of the two uilleann piping classes caters for complete beginners, with instruments being provided. Evening performances feature, with Jim Hunter, of Songhunter fame, and top Ulster uilleann piper Robbie Hannan already pencilled in to appear. "I am delighted that a player of Robbie's quality has agreed to come and both perform and teach," said committee secretary Boyd Peters. "Tuition will take place during the daytime and players will be able to play together in pub sessions at night."

Fight Pledged

Orkney council offices could have been confiscated had the authority flouted an ancient heraldic law and flown the islands' flag. A leading community council member vowed to challenge the ban on official use of the flag laid down by the guardian of Scottish heraldry. The Lord Lyon King of Arms has ruled that the islands council would be breaching heraldic law if the distinctive flag were flown from local authority buildings because the flag's colours already belong to an Irish family. Kirkwall Community Council chairman Spencer Rosie, who asked the authority to fly the flag on St Magnus Day said he understood the Lord Lyon's ancient powers extended to confiscating the council offices if the ruling was breached. But Mr Rosie said he would challenge the ban - by flying the flag from his own garage. "I would love to see him come to Orkney and confiscate my garage," he said. The Orkney flag, designed by two UK flag experts, is called the St Magnus Cross. It features a red Scandinavian style cross on a yellow background and has become popular as a community flag - miniature sticker versions are attached to many cars on the islands. Investigations by the Lyon Clerk and Keeper of the Records, based at the Lyon Court in Edinburgh, revealed that the flag's colours are linked to coats of arms of the Burgh family in Ireland and the Kingdom of Ulster. The Lord Lyon was granted control of official coats of arms under laws passed in 1592 and 1672. Prosecutions for the unauthorised use of coats of arms can be brought by the procurator fiscal to the Lyon Court, which has the right to confiscate property and hand out fines.

Hunt for Piper

A Highland pipe band is looking for someone new to call the tune for its 20 enthusiastic members. The Dingwall Royal British Legion pipe band is in need of a new pipe major to lead it through the forthcoming busy season of competitions and public performances. The band, consisting of 14 pipers, six drummers and a drum major, competes in grade 3 at many of the smaller competitions across Scotland, and took home a haul of 15 trophies last year. Former pipe major Paul Harrison, who served with the Queen's Own Highlanders, is retiring from the position after a successful 10 year stint. The new pipe major should have knowledge of tuning bagpipes, selecting tunes for competitions, and tutoring all levels.

We'll Never Forget the Duke

More than 1000 people turned out recently for the funeral service of the 12th Duke of Argyll. There were tributes from around the world for Ian Campbell, the Chief of the Clan Campbell in Scotland at the service in Inveraray. The duke - Scotland's most senior peer - died suddenly aged 63. Prince Charles sent a personal message that simply said: "For Ian, in affectionate memory, Charles." The Rev Brian Wilkinson told the packed Glenaray and Inveraray Church congregation of a man as dedicated to the people of his town as the House of Argyll. He said: "Honour, honesty and duty were the hallmarks of his life. We remember him as the life and soul of every party, with a mischievous sense of humour." He also quoted from Rudyard Kipling, saying: "He walked with kings and kept the common touch." The late duke's son, Torquhil, who inherits his father's title and 30 million fortune, delivered an address at the service. Later, pall bearers from the 12th duke's old regiment, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, carried his coffin draped in Campbell tartan through the town to Inveraray Castle as a piper slowly played The Campbells are Coming. The duke's final resting place is on the island of Inishail on Loch Awe. The peer held a number of titles including Lord Lieutenant of Argyll and Bute, Chief of Clan Campbell and Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland and of the Castles of Dunstaffnage, Dunoon, Carrick and Trbert. Among many tribute messages, the one from staff at Inveraray Jail tourist attraction summed up the town's feelings, saying simply: "The town has lost a friend."

Friendship Across the Sea

A Croy schoolboy has made an American friend through paintings donated ti Raigmore Hospital by an artist hoping to start children writing to each other. Ruaraidh Stubbs has started sending letters to Rachel, who suffered illnesses in the USA, to discuss his feelings about the picture he owns, called Hurricane Burtie. Rachel owns a painting called Hurricane Rupert. Both are part of a collection by Diana Rose-Miller, of Cawdor, who donated the series of "hurricane" pictures to Raigmore Hospital's children's ward in January. She pledged the first edition prints to the ward because she likens children to hurricanes, with the colourful paintings creating feeling and movement. She says this, in turn, stimulates them. The pictures have also been printed in postcard form and used by children writing to exchange words from different hospitals. In his letter to Rachel, after describing his own painting, Ruaraidh says: "I wanted to write to you about my picture because I thought it might help to make you feel a bit better, when you are not feeling very well." Miss Rose-Miller, who has exhibited in New York and London said she is delighted Ruaraidh and Rachel are now pen pals. She added: "Every day the circle is getting bigger and bigger and I now am going on a trip to the United States for five days to see Rachel in New York State and discuss the project with hospitals and families there."

Charity Event

Fort Augustus rally team sped into action to raise money for the children's ward at Raigmore Hospital. The team of four cars took part in the annual Snowman Rally and raised over 300 by competing in the race. The money will go towards the 1,000 needed for an oxygen saturation monitor, which will allow doctors to check the oxygen levels in the blood without a jab. A spokesman for Raigmore Hospital said: "We are delighted with this gift."

Political Roundup

Ask Fewer Questions MSPs Told

MSPs complained recently about having to wait months for a reply from tabled questions to ministers. In some cases, MSPs said they were putting down a second question asking when they will get a reply to their first one. The Scottish Executive has had difficulty keeping up to speed with the volume of questions lodged by MSPs, which is one of the main ways it can be held to account. Although the Executive's performance has improved and it has broken the backlog of written questions, it warned that further delays were inevitable if it continued to be inundated with questions.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Quite sunny. Cloud/fog on the coast. A few showers in the W. Winds light E'ly. Temperature 15c to 21c.
Saturday Night
Odd showers in W, clear spells. Coastal fog. Winds light E'ly. Temperature 4c to 8c.
Mainly fine and dry with sunny spells. Some thick mist/fog in the E. Light winds.
Staying dry though cooler. Mist along N coasts will disperse leaving long sunny periods.

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This is Caledonia ( Caley for short ) A Ness-Scape family member and mascot. She is a White German Shepherd. Caley has decided to take over the editing of Nessie's Loch Ness Times, and she's sure she'll make a good job of it. What do you think?

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