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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

The Friendliest NewsPaper on the WWW

Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 17th November 2001
Issue No 257

Sam the Westie Saved

Sam the Westie

Top Queens Council (QC) Donald Findlay won his first capital punishment case this week when he saved death row dog Sam from execution.

And Findlay, more used to pleading mercy for murder accused, took the case pro bono - giving his services free for the public good. Sam was sentenced to death at Aberdeen District Court for constant barking which made 84 year old neighbour Christina Hay's life misery. But two Appeal Court judges in Edinburgh decided yesterday he should be spared. However, they refused to let Sam go back to owner William Shaw and asked the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) to find him a new home. An hour later, Sam took his first steps to freedom when he was handed over to the SSPCA by officials of the National Canine Defence League. They had won a stay of execution for Sam by taking him into care for retraining. Area manager Jack Johnstone said: "We are obviously relieved that Sam's life has been saved. While he has been with us, his behaviour has been excellent. He was hardly barking at all. "We are also very sad for Mr Shaw because he is very upset and was close to tears. We do not know why the judges made these decisions but at the end of the day the main thing is Sam is alive." At the Appeal Court in Edinburgh, Lords Kirkwood and Weir heard that Mr Shaw bought the dog to comfort his late wife who had Alzheimer's disease. But when she died, Sam was left on his own in the house all day and court orders to keep him quiet were repeatedly broken. Findlay said he accepted that Sam's barking had caused distress to Mrs Hay. He said: "He does bark but then dogs do bark. There is no indication he is more prone to barking than any other animal." A friend of Mr Shaw had volunteered to look after Sam during the day while he was at work. And Mr Findlay added: "There is no doubt Mr Shaw is genuinely attached to Sam and he is completely overwhelmed by this whole affair. "He has had a terrible fright in all of this and now realises if something is not done Sam's life may be forfeited." Agreeing to quash the death sentence, Lord Kirkwood - who saved Peterhead collie Woofie from execution three years ago for barking at a postman - ordered that the SSPCA should find Sam a new home. The judges said they would give their reasons in writing at a later date. An SSPCA spokesman said Sam would be taken to the Lothian Animal Welfare Centre at Balerno, near Edinburgh. Senior inspector Neil Bruce said: "Personally I don't think it should have gone this far. He is a nice wee dog and we will find him a good home." Mrs Hay said: "I am delighted to hear that Sam has won a reprieve and that he will go on to have a long and peaceful life."


Campaign Won

Ferry company Caledonian MacBrayne is to put Gaelic names on a number of its vessels when they come in for their annual overhaul later this year. The move has been signalled by the new to management team, following years of fruitless campaigning by local authority representatives, who saw it as a significant boost to Gaelic. Lochaber councillor Michael Foxley, who has campaigned for a higher profile for Gaelic related issues, said: "We found out recently that despite at least 20 attempts at Shipping Services Advisory Committee meetings by Highland Council representatives such as John Farquhar Munro and myself, and Western Isles Council's convener Alex Macdonald and development services chairman Donald MacLean, to have this raised with the board, and despite being given assurances that this would be raised, nothing was ever put to the Cal/Mac board. "I am pleased to say that the new top management team has taken a completely different approach to this issue." Mr Foxley raised the issue last May with Cal/Mac director Lawrie Sinclair. He suggested then that while the English version of the name should be retained on the ships' bows, the Gaelic version should be put on the superstructure. Mr Sinclair has promised that action will be taken this year.

Natures Back Yard

Highland communities will have to make the most of their area's wildlife and natural assets as part of a regional wide project. The Highland Biodiversity Project is a new two year scheme which aims to promote better management of the region's outstanding biodiversity through a range of initiatives. It has attracted funds totalling 186.000, including 79.000 of European transitional funding. One of the planned initiatives includes the "Know Your Patch" scheme which enables people to explore the environment on their doorsteps and involves production of local maps, arts activities and workshops. A project officer is to be recruited for a two year post and a Highland biodiversity website is also to be launched to provide information for locals and tourists wanting to see wildlife in the area. In addition, an annual award will be up for grabs for businesses in the fishing and aquaculture industry which demonstrates good management of the biodiversity of the Highlands' coasts and seas. The project is part of the Highland Biodiversity Partnership which includes Highland Council, Scottish Natural Heritage, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Nicholas Gubbins, head of community development at HIE, said: "The activity at a community level in making the most of an area's wildlife and natural assets has a significant benefit in terms of attracting tourists and visitors. "The project will help equip communities and local businesses with the knowledge and skills to make the most of this valuable resource."

Rare Visitor in Shetland

A type of Asiatic warbler not seen in Britain for 30 years - and only once before that - made a flying visit to one of Scotland's remotest spots recently. The thick billed warbler (Acrocephalus aedon), which nests no nearer than southern Siberia, Mongolia and Manchuria was discovered on Housay, Out Skerries, Shetland, according to the Birdline Scotland information service. Housay faced a mass invasion of twitchers anxious to see the most unusual species to reach the UK this Autumn, but as they drove North for flights to Shetland, news was flashed that it had disappeared after a one day stay. It has continued its wanderings after drifting several thousand miles to the West when it should have been migrating South to spend the Winter in India or South East Asia. The two previous UK records of this 7in olive brown, white and buff coloured bird were also on Shetland. One was on Whalsay on September 23 1971, and the very first on Fair Isle on October 6, 1955.

Islanders on Gigha Buy Their Island

Islanders on Gigha entered the history books after clinching the most expensive community land buyout deal in Britain The 110 residents achieved their historic victory in record time. It took them just six weeks to turn an idea into an acceptable offer. The amount which the community paid for their island home has not been revealed. Sandra Howden, daughter of island owner Derek Holt, said the islanders' bid was one of four offers, two of which were greater than the community's. Argyll adviser for the Highlands and Islands Enterprise community land unit Duncan Baird said: "This is the biggest community buyout in financial terms, in the UK, and the fastest. When you think that it's only been six weeks, it's remarkable." When the good news reached Gigha, islanders jumped in the air with delight before celebrating with champagne. Their feet were soon back on the ground as they spoke of the enormous task ahead of them. Sheila Mohr, one of the seven strong board of directors of the Isle of Gigha Trust, which lodged the bid, said: "I am delighted, but I think it's going to be a long hard road ahead. We are all feeling our way, but we are very positive." Fellow directors Lorna Macalister and John Bannatyne were also in no doubt about the challenges awaiting them. Mrs Macalister, headteacher at Gigha Primary School, said: "We have much work ahead of us now, but we are all excited and enthusiastic and we will certainly give it our best. "We are absolutely over the moon, everybody is over the moon. It's only been six weeks but it feels as though it's been a long haul." Mr Bannatyne, skipper of the CalMac ferry which provides the island's lifeline link with the Argyll mainland, said: "It's a big step for a small island. The future of the island is really up to the islanders now. They can make of it what they will." Asked what his main hope was, now that the people would be in charge of their own destiny, Mr Bannatyne replied: "For contentment among the islanders and to make sure that everybody gets some good of it, rather than just some people benefiting." William McSporran, chairman of the trust's board of directors, was delighted that owner Mr Holt had opted to go with the community's offer. He said: we are pleased that he didn't go for the highest bid. The bid we put in was the bid we could put in."

New Gaelic Centre for Islay

Building work on a new Gaelic learning centre at Gartnatra on Islay started recently. Energy Minister Brian Wilson was a leading player in pushing for the centre in his past role as Minister of State at the Scottish Office. And Mr Wilson was on Islay to help mark the start of the work, by cutting the first sod. As the building work began, the project received a large cash boost from the Government. Alasdair Morrison, Deputy Minister for Gaelic, announced the cash help for the project which has been successful in winning funds from a host of private and public sources. The Ionad Chaluim Chille Ile Gaelic and educational heritage centre is to open next summer. It aims to boost the island's economy by attracting educational and cultural visitors to the island. Announcing the funding help, Mr Morrison said: "The new centre will have the dual function of promoting and supporting Gaelic language and culture and serving as a focus for economic growth and community development.

Freeman of Inverness

A popular former provost has been granted the greatest honour the new city can bestow, in the form of the Freedom of Inverness. Allan Sellar, who stepped down as provost for the second time in 1999, was officially approved as only the third person to receive the honour, and the first since city status was granted to the Highland capital. A flurry of hands at a council meeting in Inverness signalled that Mr Sellar was a popular choice, and several councillors had already requested the former provost be honoured. Current provost Bill Smith said of the new Freeman: "He's a great man who has done fabulous work for the community over the years. "I commend him for his achievement in winning this well deserved award."

Charity Event

Smithton and Culloden Youth Centre was given a cash windfall recently with a cheque for 153 from Culloden Freezer Centre. The money will be used to buy equipment for the Keppoch Road centre which community volunteers have been working hard to get up and running over the last couple of years.

Political Roundup

Claims of Land Grab

The chairman of Highlands and Islands Enterprise has criticised the sporting and angling organisations which have described Scottish Executive land reform proposals as a "Mugabe-style land grab". Mr Hunter accused the organisations of speaking "total claptrap". He said land reform was already a key element in development strategies which were helping people living in the Highlands to benefit from a growing economy and from the lowest unemployment rates the area had ever seen.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
W mainly cloudy. Rain/drizzle in E. Misty. Winds light/mod Sw'ly. Temperature 9c to 13c.
Saturday Night
Cloudy, rain in W spreading E later. Winds mod/fresh W-SW'ly. Temperature 6c to 10c.
Sunday
A dry and mild day with mostly broken cloud and some sunny spells. Winds will be light and mainly W'ly.
Monday
Dry and settled with broken cloud and bright or sunny periods. Winds will be light.


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Caledonia



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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