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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

The Friendliest NewsPaper on the WWW

Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 7th December 2002
Issue No 309

Commandos Final Parade

The Duke of Edinburgh was in the Highlands recently to take the salute at what may well have been the final roll call for Britain's dwindling band of former commandos.

He was in "Commando Country", around Spean Bridge and Achnacarry, to mark a historic visit 50 years earlier by the Queen Mother. The Duke joined 200 World War II Green Berets in commemorating the unveiling by the Queen Mother in 1952 of the Commando Memorial. Half a century ago, the Queen Mother climbed to the top of Spean Hill to unveil the bronze memorial to the 1706 commandos who died in the 1939-1945 war. Now, poignantly, the occasion could mark the end of an era for the former commandos, whose average age is over 80. Commando Association president Sir Thomas Macpherson confirmed, "Today's event could well signal our last major parade." Undaunted, however, the 200 veterans marched up the hill behind the Lochaber Schools Pipe Band. The Duke, as Captain General of the Royal Marine Commandos, wore the Green Beret, and inspected the ranks. Along with members of the Commando Association were commandos from Holland, Belgium, France and Norway, and representatives of the US Rangers. Then Spean Bridge minister Rev Donald MacQuarrie - the Honorary Commando Padre, Scotland - welcomed the gathering of around 750 people. After two minutes silence, Prince Philip stepped up to the memorial and laid a card which said, "Buckingham Palace. In remembrance. Philip. One of the many Scottish veterans, David Findlay (82) from Kingsgate, Fife, a corporal with 45 Commando, said: "So many of the lads gave their lives in the war. We were the lucky ones."

Life on St Kilda

A collection of unpublished photographs, together with a pair of wool cards and a pair of hand-spun wool gloves of the same period, was on display recently at the island's Museum na Eilean in Sgoil. The items were donated by Isobel Holbourn, who lives on Foula, off Shetland. They were given to her as a gift 20 years ago by a visitor, Bunty Cornish, who had spent her summer holidays on St Kilda as a young child. Mrs Holbourn said: "Bunty was very ill and wanted the St Kilda items to go to someone who would appreciate them and look after them." But it was only recently that Mrs Holbourn realised the significance of the gifts. "I always felt that the St Kilda items had been given to me as a kind of temporary custodian and one day I would find the right home for the," she said. "When I learned that St Kilda was being put forward as a World Heritage Site for both its natural and cultural heritage, I thought I would take them to Uist in the hope someone there, much closer to St Kilda, would know the best place. I did not think Bunty would have wanted them to go to a big city museum." Mrs Holbourn consulted staff at the Scottish Natural Heritage office in South Uist for advice on what to do with the artefacts. Area officer Mary Harman, who has written a book on the St Kilda archipelago, said: "There are very few cultural objects from St Kilda in public collections. Among them I know of only one other pair of carding combs and some knitted socks and mittens, and these are all in the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow."

Tartan Message

A Glencoe man will fly the flag for Scotland at National Tartan Day celebrations in America next year. Arthur Smith of Carnoch will speak at a Tartan Day dinner and take part in the official parade on April 6 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, adopted home of famous Scot, Andrew Carnegie, who hailed from Dunfermline. The invitation was extended after Mr Smith, who is vice president of the Glencoe and North Lorn Folk Museum, was seen on a US screened travel show talking about his homeland. "I am looking forward to putting Lochaber, Glencoe and also the museum firmly on the map when I visit America," said Mr Smith. "While I am over I'll be hosting a workshop on visiting Scotland." For the past two years, Mr Smith has promoted Scotland in Seattle, US, where he has fronted presentations to over 2,000 people. "In 1999 an American travel writer made a film of me in and around Glencoe. I believe the programme was sold to 150 American television stations. The organisers of the Pittsburgh Tartan Day phoned the makers of the show and they passed on my number," added Mr Smith.

Praise for Canna School

One of the smallest and most remote schools in the Highlands has been praised in a report by HM Inspectors. But while Canna Primary School was given a glowing report, the inspectors criticised the neighbouring island school on Eigg for "important weaknesses" in its work. Canna Primary, which has just three pupils plus one nursery placement, was highly commended for its ethos and very good links with parents, other schools in the Small Isles and wider community. The quality of attainment in English language, mathematics and social subjects was described as being very good, as was the overall quality of learning and teaching. The report described Mrs Stephen as forward looking and said she provided very good leadership. But in their report on Eigg Primary School following a visit in May, the inspectors said there were weaknesses in leadership and management of the school, and in the school's approach to development planning and quality assurance. But the inspectors praised Eigg school's good ethos, the provision of staff, the polite enthusiastic and hard working pupils and the active and supportive school board.

New Roots on Island

A rare orchid has been discovered for the first time on a Tiree nature reserve, it emerged recently. The mysterious appearance of the flower, Spiranthes romanzoffiana, commonly known as Irish Lady's tresses, has left staff at the Reef Reserve baffled as to how it reached the Inner Hebridean island. The rare species is most commonly found in North America, but very little is known about how it spreads. Although the flower has never been found on the 355 hectare RSPB Scotland reserve before, there have been some sightings on the nearby isle of Coll and some other Hebridean islands. RSPB conservation officer John Bowler said: "We regularly tour through the reserve grounds to make sure that our wetland management scheme is running smoothly. We have recently started to use our cattle to graze the vegetation on one part of the reserve more heavily over the autumn/winter period. "After six years of this style of management we were surprised to find a new orchid for the island growing within this area, and a rare one at that." The species has never been found to produce fertile seed in the UK. Insect pollination is one possible explanation of the flower's appearance but even that cannot be confirmed.

Aspen Boost Planned

With only tiny remnants of the aspen tree left in Scotland, moves are under way to boost the numbers of the ancient species in the Highlands. From Glen Affric to the Cairngorms efforts will be made to encourage landowners and land managers to plant the tree over the next five years. A biodiversity officer in Grantown Peter Cosgrove said areas where conifers were previously felled for timber would now be targeted for aspen renewal. "It is a beautiful tree that can improve any landscape," he said. "Its colour changes all year round and this will be aesthetically pleasing, especially in those areas that are a bit drab just now." Following centuries of decline, only 160 hectares of aspen woodland remain in Britain. Nicknamed "old wives tale" - it has been a rich source of debate down the centuries, being both revered and loathed by generations of Highlanders. It is believed to have been the first species to grow in Scotland after the Ice Age, and, according to 18th century Highland folklore, Christ's cross was made from aspen. In ancient times its supernatural powers were favoured by Celtic warriors, who used it to make battle shields.

Environment Awareness

A bio-diversity action plan for Inverness and Nairn was launched at Abriachan Hall recently. Abriachan Forest Trust secured the contract to prepare the plan which is designed to encourage local communities, businesses and industry to protect their environment and raise awareness on environmental issues and have compiled it in association with Highland Council, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Partnership for Rural Inverness and Nairn. "Governments around the world signed up to do as much as they possibly could to protect our planet for our children at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro 10 years ago - the same summit which recently took place in Johannesburg," Trust member Suzanne Barr commented. "Governments across the globe produced national Bio-Diversity Action plans and this has spread down the line to councils and local community level." The Abriachan site was chosen for the launch following the successful community buy out four years ago of Abriachan Forest.

Charity Event

A fete and dog show at Munlochy Animal Aid proved to be a real success recently. Score of visitors and their four legged friends flocked to the event, and enjoyed it so much that about 2,500 was raised. Iona Henderson who runs the centre, said: "It was an absolutely super day and we had such a great turn out." The proceeds will be shared between Munlochy Animal Aid and K9 Katz, a group which provides funding for neutering cats for those on low incomes. People come from all over the Highlands use the rescue centre's services.

Political Roundup

Scottish Parliament Football Players Win

Members of the Scottish Parliament emerged triumphant recently as they took on their Irish colleagues on the football field. Politicians from parties on both sides took part in the interparliamentary match to highlight the Irish-Scottish bid to host the Euro 2008 football championships. The Scottish squad which travelled to the match at Dublin's Trinity College was led by Dennis Canavan MSP and included former First Minister Henry McLeish. Ireland's Environment Minister Martin Cullen and Enda Kenny, leader of opposition part Fine Gael, were among the Irish players who were defeated 3-2. A decision is due to be announced on December 12, in Geneva, on where the 2008 tournament will be hosted.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Cloudy or overcast. Scattered showers in the E. Winds light/mod E-SE'ly. Temperature 2c to 7c.
Saturday Night
Clear spells in the W with frost. Elsewhere remaining cloudy. Winds light/mod NE'ly . Temperature -1 to 5c.
Still feeling cool but quite sunny and mostly dry. Risk of wintry showers in eastern areas.
Another cold day. Sunny in the W, cloudier in E with a risk of wintry showers. Frosty at night.

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