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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

The Friendliest NewsPaper on the WWW

Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 14th July 2001
Issue No 240

Here We Blow

They've been striking fear into the hearts of Scotland's enemies for longer than historians care to remember. From the fields of Flanders to the beaches of Normandy, the bagpipes have led the way whenever tartan goes into battle.

But now the Scottish Football Association has given the pipes their most unusual challenge yet - to get us to next year's World Cup finals. Bosses want the Tartan Army to really blow away the opposition. So they plan to devote a whole section of Hampden Park, Scotlands national football stadium, to bagpipe playing supporters. The first side to taste the Hampden Skirl will be Croatia on September 1. A good result is vital if we're to have any chance of getting to Japan and Korea. So SFA chief executive David Taylor has given the go ahead for the pipes only section in the crowd. In a letter to Scotland Travel Club members, Taylor says: "We now hope this initiative will go from strength to strength at home and abroad." But his plans for drone and away piping could hit trouble with police overseas. Some countries could class the pipes as offensive weapons! They were outlawed at games in England for the start of Euro 96 but the authorities relented after an outcry. Until now, pipers have had to hand their instruments in before matches at Hampden and collect them afterwards. The SFA's change of heart was well received by the fans, but with a few reservations. Scotland's best known Tartan Army piper, Calum "Spud" Fraser from Grantown, said: "It's a good idea but pipers are being discriminated against by being forced into one section." Spud famously played Like A Virgin for Madonna at her wedding. But he fears the enemy won't even be able to hear him at the national stadium. He explained: "My travel club letter says the pipers will be at the rear of the North Stand."Look at your history books man - when did pipers ever do anything from the rear? "I can't see us scaring the Croats from the back of a stand." The man co-ordinating the musical attack is piper and travel club member Craig Stevens from Edinburgh. He said: "It's a bold initiative by the SFA. "Everyone has their thoughts on pipes at Hampden but this way we can get them in and play them together. That's got to be something every piper and drummer can get behind. "I'm hoping we can have 30 or 40 pipers at the match."

Award for Fire Team

Firefighters based at Wick Airport have won a prestige UK wide training award. Personnel from the small outlying station top scored at the latest annual training course, held at Teeside College. The award is open to stations based at the UK's 147 licensed airfields, ranging from island airstrips to Heathrow and Gatwick. It is based on an average of scores attained by at least six personnel on the course, which firefighters have to attend every five years. Eight of the 16 strong team based at Wick Airport went on the latest course with six of them coming out top of the individual courses. Wick has previously won two individual awards. Station officer William Sutherland said: "We're obviously very proud of the achievement. It's very unusual if not unique, for a station as small as ours to come out on top."

Exotic Trees Introduced

Users and staff of the Isobel Rhind Centre in Invergordon have been sprucing up the grounds in partnership with Woods for All, a branch of Reforesting Scotland. They have been planting trees and learning about growing and planting native trees. Now there are hundreds of new trees including hawthorn, blackthorn, cherry hazel, elm and willow planted in the grounds. There is also a hedge, a screen, a wild-life refuge, a woodland and a productive willow coppice. Sue page, manager of the centre said: "The Woods for All project carried out by staff and attenders has added to the ongoing work of awareness and care for the environment being undertaken at the centre. "The planting of trees and the ongoing care for them has given the group a sense of purpose and a real pride in what they are doing." A short ceremony took place at the centre when the final trees were planted by local councillor Lou Wilkerson and some of those involved on the project. Anne Macdonald a centre attender read a poem about trees, which she had written and Les Bates, from Reforesting Scotland, also contributed a poem.

Spectrum Celebration

Celebrating 25 years of serving the community, the Spectrum Centre in Inverness threw open its doors to the public recently. Among the colourful groups who use the centre were belly dancers, keep fit enthusiasts, musicians, amateur actors and people keen to learn how to use a computer. The centre was opened in 1976 by the then chairman of the Highlands and Islands Development Board, Professor Kenneth Alexander. Twenty five years later the centre in Margaret Street is still offering people of all ages and types facilities for meetings, drama, sport, conferences and educational programmes. Pat Hayden, chairman of the centre was happy to receive about 200 people, including MP David Stewart, and MSP John Farquhar Munro. She commented: "This is a very happy occasion for us and it's good to let people in the area know about what's going on at the centre." Mrs Hayden, like the other 12 members of staff at the centre, volunteers her time freely to keep it running. She said the event had had the desired effect of having people previously unaware of the centre, walk in and find a class, hobby or room for a meeting which they had been so far unable to find. The marking of the centre's 25th birthday was made more poignant by the fact that only a couple of years ago it was threatened with closure.

Special Job for Mike

An instrument maker working in the West Highland village of Strontian has been given the royal seal of approval. Mike Vanden has designed a guitar which was on show at The Craft of the Luthier exhibition at Viscount David Lindley's furniture shop in London. Beatles producer, Sir George Martin CBE, opened the exhibition of British handmade guitars. A luthier since 1978, Mike is world famous for his work and has in the past made guitar pickup systems for bands like Oasis, Blur and the Pretenders. Guitar wizard Eric Clapton has also been a customer. Mike mainly sells his instruments to musicians in America, Hong Kong and Japan. Making musical instruments is one arm of Mike's business, the other is designing pickup systems for acoustic instruments. Unfortunately Mike couldn't stay for the grand opening of the exhibition as he had to carry out an inspection of a very special guitar before its owner took to the stage in Fort William. Jazz guitar virtuoso Martin Taylor befriended Mike several years ago and they joined forces to design the Martin Taylor Artistry Vanden guitar.

Ancient Carvings

Ancient Pictish carvings dating back to the eighth century are to be re-created in electronic form, with the launch of a new website for Nigg Old Church in Easter Ross. The facility, funded by Ross and Cromarty Enterprise, will offer a 360 degree view of the church's site, which houses the "Nigg Cross Slab" - one of the best examples of Pictish stone carving in the Highlands. Nigg Old Church, which was rebuilt in 1626, is open from April to October and is cared for by the Nigg Old Trust. Chair of the trust, Elizabeth Budge, hopes that the website will let prospective visitors see in advance what the church has to offer. "I am particularly pleased that our website provides an image which can not only be rotated through 360 degrees but is placed in an outdoor setting, allowing our virtual visitors to imagine what the cross slab might have looked like in its original position, over 1200 years ago. Of course, we hope that visitors to the website will become real visitors too, she said.The new website can be found at

Culloden Centre Enlargement

The National Trust for Scotland is considering enlarging its visitor centre at Culloden. The centre is sited on the eastern edge of the battlefield where the Jacobites were defeated by the Hanovarians in 1746. Around 120,000 visitors pass through it each year and during the summer it is unable to cope with numbers. National Trust for Scotland regional director Alex Lindsay said: "At peak periods the present centre is just not big enough. July and August get quite fraught. Culloden does well but there is the potential to make it better, so we will be taking a fresh look at it." The Trust, which owns the battlefield, will be reviewing the situation over the coming months. Mr Lindsay added that NTS would have a full public consultation before any alterations were made. "We want to ensure nobody is upset by the Trust impinging on anything historical," he said. The Trust came under fire last year over plans to build a large new visitor centre in Glencoe. Some of the local community were against the move as they felt the centre would take trade away from businesses in the area. Rumours that the Culloden centre might be relocated further away from the battlefield towards Sunnyside were dismissed by Mr Lindsay.

Charity Event

High fashion was the key to a fundraising evening in Inverness recently aimed at raising cash for two local charities. Organised by the Soroptomists International of Inverness and Nairn, the charity fashion show, which was held at MacEwans of Perth at Church Street raised around 700 which will be divided between Macmillan Cancer Care and the National Osteoporosis Society Inverness.

Political Roundup

Action on Roads Demanded

Highland MSP Jamie Stone has demanded action from Transport Minister Sarah Boyack over the state of repairs at a trunk road in Sutherland. There have been a number of complaints about the poor standard of repair, including an uneven surface, water pooling on the surface and poorly maintained manhole covers on the A9 Inverness-Wick road at Main Street, Golspie.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Cloudy, a few showers. Drizzle on the coasts. Winds light/mod N-NW. Temperature 11c to 16c.
Saturday Night
Clear spells. Rain or showers. Mist on coast. Winds light N-NW. Temperature 6c to 9c.
A ridge of high pressure will bring a dry day with some sunshine. Winds light N-NW. Settled overnight.
A day of mainly sunny intervals, thin cloud over SW parts by evening with some rain at times overnight.

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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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