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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

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Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 5th October 2002
Issue No 300

Pupils Forge New Scottish Links

Pupils from a South African school, which claims far more Scottish connections than many educational establishments in this country, went on a Highland safari recently.

The Glen High School in the South African capital, Pretoria, which was founded 26 years ago, was to have been known simply as East Pretoria High School, but parents and staff felt that sounded far too dull and boring. A search of a city map produced the fact that its site was near a local beauty spot known as The Glen and so it was decided to adopt the name. "From this simple beginning our ties with Scotland have lengthened," says the school's headmaster, Anthony Wilcocks. "Now they range from our pupils actually wearing tartan ties, through them being divided into clans rather than the more usual school houses for all sports and other competitive activities. "Other Scottish features which colour the daily life of our school include the singing of our school song, the Glen Air, at morning assemblies to the tune of Scotland the Brave, our school badge which is a golden thistle, which also provides the title for our annual magazine and our school motto, Urram, which is Gaelic for respect with honour. Our choice of a Gaelic motto was deliberate as our 1,000 multi racial pupils, who speak such a multitude of different languages can all relate equally to it." Mr Wilcocks went on to say that Glen High's school clans, Campbell, Gordon, MacDonald and Stewart, were again chosen carefully because the predominant colours in their tartans matched the green, yellow, blue and red of pupils' sports strips and that all children from the same household were allocated to the same clan to promote family loyalty. Representatives of all four clans were among the 14 pupils and staff who took part in the Highland safari, which was held at Glenfeshie.

Fairy Tale Ending

A chance encounter on a West Coast ferry resulted in a fairy tale ending for Jack the border collie. The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had been transporting the two year old dog from Stornoway to Ullapool with the aim of taking him on to Inverness to try and find him a new home. However he was spotted on the boat by dog lover Uta Tweedie, a tourist guide from South Queensferry, Edinburgh. She said: "It was love at first sight. I just simply fell in love with Jack as soon as I saw him. I love animals and fell instantly in love with Jack. I have another dog, Megan, a springer spaniel, who was also a refugee. "He was just so lovely. When I saw him on the ferry he was so affectionate and I knew I wanted him. "When I enquired about Jack I was told he had been in kennels on the Western Isles for 10 weeks and was being transferred to the mainland in a bid to find him a home. I can't believe nobody wanted him." Calum Watt, the SSPCA officer based on the Western Isles said: "It was a bit strange to rehome an animal while travelling on the ferry. I've certainly never encountered it before. "We were on our way to Inverness in the hope of finding a home on the mainland for Jack because no one wanted him on the Western Isles. When we met Uta it was just instant companionship. They loved each other and it's great that he's going to a good home."

Walkway Re-opens

A section of the Nairn riverside path, which has been closed for over a year, re-opened recently. Part of the riverbank on the Howford to Cawdor section was washed away by severe flooding the winter before last, taking some of the path with it. Highland Council and Cawdor Estate Rangers have worked together to re-route this section of the path away from the river with new way markers and other signs being put in place. John Orr, a new ranger with Highland Council, said: "We are very pleased to see the whole of the riverside path open again. It has taken a lot of hard work from various people, including my predecessor Lucy Stevens, and the kind permission of local landowners to make this possible." The riverside path is six miles long - although it can be tackled in sections - from the Bailey Bridge at Nairn Harbour up stream to Cawdor. It offers the chance of seeing all kinds of wildlife such as kingfishers, herons, dippers and bats along the way, and it has inspiring views across the landscape on either side. The path is one of several walks included in the Paths Around Nairn Project.

Boost for Clearances Statue

The campaign that failed to gain planning permission to topple the statue of the infamous 1st Duke of Sutherland on Ben Bhraggie, Golspie, has donated its remaining funds to the Helmsdale based Highland Clearances memorial project. Campaign leader in 1996 Sandy Lindsay, of Kingussie, said: "My late friend Peter Findlay was keen to see a monument to the victims of the terrible Highland Clearances, Scotland was brutally emptied and many of the best of Highland stock shipped off around the world. "The project initiated by Dennis MacLeod fulfills our wishes. It was first mooted in the middle of our attempt to gain outline planning permission to remove the Duke's statue - now it is becoming an exciting reality."

Knights in the Saddle

Medieval malarkey arrived at Fort George recently as hundreds of people enjoyed a jousting extravaganza. The Knights of Royal England - Europe's top touring jousting company - presented a visual feast featuring combat, skilful horse riding and fantastic stunts. Four knights from Scotland and England jousted, and occasionally had swordfights, against each other in an arena set within the grounds of Fort George. The commentator on the day was "Lord Anthony of Bollinbroke", who began the tournament after addressing the crowd on horseback to fanfares. He also persuaded a group of young volunteers to parade as the King's soldiers for a few minutes before the jousting began. All horses and knights were colourfully costumed and fully armoured. Large crowds, including many tourists, thronged around the jousting arena or enjoyed the spectacle from the fort's battlements. Jeremy Richardson, of the Knights of Royal England, said: "This is always a very popular and entertaining event. "We last appeared at Fort George on Hogmanay a couple of years ago to mark the millennium and we're delighted to be back in what is a truly magnificent setting."

Traditional Music

Traditional music made a return to Inverness Highland Games recently, following its successful introduction last year. Construction company Tulloch again sponsored the traditional music tent which once more was compared by Andy Ross of Moray Firth Radio. Highland Council events officer Gerry Reynolds decided to introduce the music tent last year believing that traditional music could be better represented at the games. "The athletic events are the Highland Games' jewel in the crown, and what I have tried to do is put a crown round them by adding things like this," he said. Musicians of all ages featured in the tent, which was opened by Provost Bill Smith. Children's and over 60's fiddle classes were among those providing the entertainment. Other taking part included Inverness Fiddlers, Highland Harpers, the Highland Accordion Club, members of the Traditional Music and Song Association and a number of ceilidh bands. As well as Scottish music, the traditional tent featured song and dance from Scandinavia, courtesy of Swedish visitors Folkdansgillet Stjantnan.

Highlanders are Top

Highlanders are the happiest people in the country, followed by Grampian and Tayside residents, a recent survey revealed. Those living in Dumfries and Galloway, seconded by Central Scotland residents, according to results of the survey carried out by a market research firm, Scottish Opinion. The rural idyll of low crime, a strong sense of community and good health remains intact in the Highlands, according to the "quality of life" index, and accounts for the joie de vivre in the North. The vast majority of Highlanders, 92% of those surveyed, feel safe in their communities at night, compared with the Scottish average of just 80%. The Highlanders again topped the poll in the cleanliness stakes, with 86% saying their towns and cities were clean and litter free. More than eight out of ten people living in the Highlands, Grampian and Tayside felt fit and healthy, compared with 73% in Central and only 71% in Dumfries and Galloway, which is 10% less than the Scottish average.

Charity Event

An Inverness busker braved the waters of Loch Ness recently in an annual dip for charity. Donning his wet suit for the 10th consecutive year, Kim Gordon took to the water at Dores, swimming the breadth of the loch which raised 500 for the Inverness branch of Barnados. "It seems to get colder every year, but it hasn't put me off," Kim said.

Political Roundup

Backing for a New Runway Sought

Campaigners seeking Government guarantees for future flights from Inverness to London were urged to throw their weight behind demands for new runways in the South east. But Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber Labour MP David Stewart warned that under Government options no additional runway capacity will be available before 2011 "at the earliest".

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Cloudy, rain at times in W. Brighter in the E. Winds mod NW'ly. Temperature 13c to 17c.
Saturday Night
Patchy rain in the W. Clear spells in the E. Winds light/mod N'ly.Temperature 7c to 11c.
A cloudy start with patches of drizzle on W coast. PM dry with sunny spells.
A band of patchy rain across the region from the W. Drier in the far NW by evening.

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