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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

The Friendliest NewsPaper on the WWW

Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 3rd August 2002
Issue No 291

The Young Pretender

It is a claim to fame many Highlanders would love to be able to make, and one which some charlatans have made up.

But one London born art historian insists he is the real thing - a direct descendant of Bonnie Prince Charlie. Peter Pininski, who lives in Warsaw, Poland, claims he has documentary evidence backed by leading historians to prove he is related to the legendary hero of the 1745 Jacobite Uprising, which ended at Culloden in April 1746. He says that until his new book, 'The Stuarts' Last Secret, which was released recently, it was long accepted the prince's Stuart line died out in the mid 19th century. It was always presumed his two granddaughters died childless. With the death in 1854 of the prince's only grandson, it was thought the bloodline had ended. But now Peter (45), who held a book signing at Culloden Battlefield after the release of his book, says he has unearthed evidence that one of the granddaughters, Marie Victoire, had a son in 1806, and married Polish nobleman, Paul Chevalier de Nikorowicz. Having found her baptismal, marriage and death certificates, and the baptismal certificate of her son, Peter's painstaking research concluded that he is part of the bloodline. A spokesperson for Peter, said: "Peter Pininski's discovery was pure chance. Aware that his ancestress, Marie Victoire, whose pastel portrait hung in his home, was said to be the daughter of a Prince de Rohan, he was struck by that familiar name whilst reading a biography of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1997. Haunted by the coincidence he embarked upon a pan European search of family archives to discover what connection might exist between Princess de Rohan and Count Pininski. "In doing so, he stumbled across the long hidden secret of the last Stuart. "The Stuarts" Last Secret completely rewrites the story of the Royal Stuarts from the Battle of Culloden to the present day. And it also adds a totally unknown chapter to that legendary ill fated dynasty's extraordinarily romantic history.

Wartime Mission Remembered

Moves are under way to mark the 60th anniversary of an ill-fated wartime mission which set off from the small RAF airfield at Skitten in Caithness. Forty one men were lost when the top secret foray to destroy a key installation near Rjukan in Nazi occupied Norway went tragically wrong. A contingent of commandos in two gliders behind two Halifax bombers set off from Skitten on November 20 1942, with the intention of destroying the heavy water plant which was a key part of Hitler's nuclear bomb programme. The mission, known as Operation Freshman, ended when the craft crashed at Rogaland. The German plant, in the Telemark region, was later taken out by members of the Norwegian resistance. The latest tribute to those who died is being spearheaded by the Highland branch of the Aircrew Association. It is in the throes of organising a parade and ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary at the memorial erected at the airfield, which was operational between December 1940 and may 1945. Highland Council is being asked to host a civic reception for the 200 people expected to attend the event.

Back in Time

Highland pupils now have the chance to go back in time at the new education centre on the banks of Loch Ness. Historic Scotland's visitor centre at Urquhart Castle opened at the end of last year and recently schoolchildren from Glen Urquhart Primary were the first to experience a colourful history lesson. Alba Adventure Company's Ian Deveney certainly seemed to make an impression on Glen Urquhart Primary School pupils in his period costume, bristling with medieval weapons. He said: "We've got costumes and weapons that we let the children dress up in and try out - it brings it all to life for them. It's better than sitting in front of the TV or in a classroom reading a book. "The children love it and it's good for teachers too. The children tend to get more involved and take more in - and we're here to answer their questions as we go along." Inverness based Mr Deveney, who has been working with the National Trust for five years, does activities based on the Wars of Independence, castle life and the Jacobites. He also takes groups of children at Fort George on his virtual historical tour. Castle manager Euan Fraser said: "We've got the visitor centre up and running and now we've put in the education centre to try to encourage schools to use the site more. They'll be able to take part in storytelling, crafts and drama - hopefully, it will fit in with the school curriculum."

Sheep Dog Mother

Dogs and sheep normally have a pretty defined relationship - the dog chases the sheep, and the sheep runs away from the dog. But this has all been turned on its head on a Highland croft recently. For countryfolk have been astonished to see a big powerful Alsatian (German Shepherd) become a surrogate mother to a weak lamb. The unusual pairing occurred when one of the sheep on the smallholding run by saddler Amanda Milne and her coalman father Frank, at Derelochy outside Nairn, gave birth to triplets. One lamb was so weak it could hardly stand, and when feeding time came it was knocked aside by its tougher siblings. The runt, named Toots by Amanda, was taken into her house to be fed by bottle, and that was where guard dog Zara came over all maternal. Toots and the 12 year old bitch, who has never had pups, immediately hit it off, and like Mary and her little lamb, everywhere Zara went Toots was sure to follow. When Zara lay down for a rest in the sun, Toots snuggled against her, and fell asleep while being licked by her canine carer. Amanda said: "Zara's maternal instincts really came out when Toots appeared. She is very protective with her and will step in when the lamb got too close to the other Alsatian Oscar or our Spaniel, Sampson. "Zara can be quite aggressive towards anyone coming to the house, when dad and me are not here, so we find it quite amusing seeing her nursing the wee lamb. "Visitors to the area who spotted the lamb following the dog could hardly believe their eyes."

Isles Health

People in the Western Isles looking for new ways of improving their health were given a sneak preview of the complementary therapies that could become more available to them in the future. Local voluntary group Complementing Our Health, which promotes ways in which people can improve their wellbeing, hosted a visit from a natural therapy unit recently in Benbecula. The event offered people the chance to meet the founders of Ferringtons Natural Therapy Centre and look at ways of brining therapists more regularly to Benbecula and the Uists in future. Seminars and practical sessions gave those interested an insight on therapies such as massage and cranial osteopathy, which uses gentle manipulation of the skull and spinal column to restore balance. There were also experts in the Japanese hands on system Reiki and Pilates, which focuses on abdominal strength, breathing and alignment. Chairwoman Pauline Prior-Pitt said: "This is a great opportunity for people in the Uists and Benbecula to come along and show their interest. The logistics and funding of a regular programme of visits is a challenge, but this is an exciting step in the right direction." Last September, the charity ran a three day seminar which brought together the local community and health professional to try out different complementary therapies and discuss what people wanted for the future.

Ross of Mull Ready

The remote Ross of Mull could soon rival its island neighbour of Iona as one of Argyll's most outstanding visitor attractions. Thousands of holidaymakers currently drive straight past the Ross to reach historic Iona, unaware they are bypassing an area which is packed with more than its fair share of ancient treasures. But now the Ross of Mull Historical Centre aims to change all that by helping visitors to discover the wealth of ancient sites in the area. As part of the project, called Discover the Ross, the centre staff and volunteers are unearthing a host of fascinating facts and establishing access trail routes, and leaflets, to guide visitors to historical hotspots. Amber Knight, the project administrator, said: "We are going to create trail routes to sites of important heritage and interest." Over the next two years the team will look at what is on offer in the Ross areas of Kilvickeon, Creich, Ardtun and Lee, Fidden and Ardfenaig. Work on the Kilvickeon area is the first to be completed and Miss Knight said: "At Kilvickeon there is, for example, Scoor Cave, which has got prehistoric cup and ring carvings on it and carvings of crosses, from the sixth to the ninth century, when nuns used to use the cave for shelter. There is also a submerged crannog in a local loch which dates back to Neolithic times, and a bronze age cairn in a local burial ground.

Back to Their Roots

A Gaelic Camp School in Badenoch and Strathspey brought together Gaelic pupils from across the Highlands recently. Taking part were first year pupils from Lochaber High School, Mallaig High School, Millburn Academy, Tain Royal Academy, Farr High School, Dingwall Academy and Kingussie High School. The theme for the week was the Highland lifestyle in the past. Thirty six teenagers accompanied by Gaelic teaching staff participated in a programme of activities including drama, Gaelic singing, music and dance. At the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore, pupils visited the farming museum, the black house, old school and looked at the traditional skills and crafts of the Highlands. Camp organiser and Highland Council Gaelic community education worker, Morag MacCallum, said: "If Gaelic is to survive we must provide opportunities for young people to use the language naturally away from the classrooms."

Charity Event

It was smiles all round recently as Safeway supermarket staff at Millburn Road shed more than 100 pounds to raise money for Raigmore Hospital's children's ward. A big fat cheque for 267.59 was presented to Irene MacInnes of Macdonald Family Homes which offer accommodation to parents of children facing a lengthy stay in Hospital. The homes unit will use half of the donation to put towards the up keep of the facility, while the remaining money will go towards buying play equipment for children.

Political Roundup

MSP Makes a Challenge

A Highland MSP recently invited Scottish transport ministers to drive along the notorious A82 Glasgow to Inverness trunk road to see for themselves how dangerous it is. He hopes the journey would also show the ministers the problems the road causes for economic development in the Highlands and Islands. Inverness Nairn and Lochaber MSP Fergus Ewing said that parts of the road were no better than a "goat track" and that the Executive and the wider community must fight to get road improvements included in a trans-European programme by 2004.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Cloudy, rain in S and E, easing pm. NW mainly dry. Winds mod NE'ly. Temperature 16c to 19c.
Saturday Night
Cloudy, local light rain. Coastal fog in the E. Winds light variable. Temperature 12c to 14c.
Mainly dry with sunny spells and variable cloud with the odd shower.
Dry with spells of hazy sunshine over most places. Cloudier over coasts and hills.

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