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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

The Friendliest NewsPaper on the WWW

Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 22nd December 2001
Issue No 262

Duo Gallops to the Rescue

You've heard of the horse whisperer - now meet the horse rescuer.

Marie Cameron from Lower Dunain, near Inverness, is an award winning welfare officer for the British Horse Society's Highland South branch. Marie has dedicated the last 20 years to giving horses a second chance in life and, together with stable owner Ann Stewart, runs the only rescue centre for sick and neglected horses in the Highlands. The pair have seen some heart breaking cases over the years but Marie says that the job has many rewarding points too. She explained the background to what has become her life's work. "In 1992, we gained permission from the British Horse Society to open the first rescue and rehabilitation centre for the Highlands. "This was an existing premises on the Black Isle owned by Ann, who runs the centre with her daughter Sheila. "Before the centre was open we had nowhere to treat animals, they were transported further afield. "I would simply find them and report the cases to the Scottish SSPCA. "Now I find the ponies and Ann and Sheila have the hard job of getting them well enough to be re-homed or transported to the BHS rescue centre at Stoneleigh in Warwickshire. She added: "I have been doing this job voluntarily for around 20 years and am the proud recipient of the British Horse Society Welfare award, and I hope to carry on the good work for many years to come. "It is so rewarding to see these ponies in the safety of the centre and I am sure Ann and Sheila will agree that it has its own rewards, to see them recover and go on to knowledgeable and caring homes." Marie and Ann have seen a great number of horses pass through the centre and most have been pretty poor cases but they say their success would not be possible if it were not for support from the public. Just three animals who have a happy and secure future thanks to the efforts of the women are ponies Susie, Kate and Chappie, reported to the welfare group by a holidaymaker. "When we found them they were very thin, lice-ridden and in bad condition after years of neglect. "After two days we finally succeeded in catching the owners at home and now Susie and Kate are re-homed with Susan Jamieson at Farr and Chappie is at Chapelton Farm. "Susan has given a home to a few of my cases and it is caring people like her who help so much with this problem." Marie added: "One of our greatest success cases was Braveheart, so named because of the trauma he went through. "I found Braveheart in a derelict shed one New Year's Eve and I managed to persuade the owner to let me have him, and with the help of the SSPCA we spent all day removing the pony to safety. "For many weeks, Braveheart could not rise or stand on his own. He had severe sores and we really didn't think he would make it. We had to lift him every day on to his feet but after months of tender loving care he proved us all wrong and was transferred to Stoneleigh where he is now waiting to be re-homed. It just shows that even what looks like a hopeless case can recover." Most of the cases Marie and Ann deal with are down to inexperienced people who underestimate the cost and dedication required to look after a horse. "Horses unfortunately are neglected and abused by owners from all walks of life so I urge people to keep a look out for any signs of neglect," she said.

Bigger Nightclub for Inverness

A new nightclub at a former city centre police station is to be even bigger when it opens next year, it was revealed recently. Gary Robertson, owner of Barbazzas, on the city's Young Street, has been granted a licence for his latest venture in Queensgate, which he hopes to open in August next year. Mr Robertson was originally granted permission for the new club last June, and an entertainment licence the month after. However, after acquiring some additional space at the site, he was granted an amended licence, which means the venue will be bigger and better by the time it opens. Mr Robertson explained: "There was some space at the back of the premises, which will now enable us to make the club bigger. "The layout is currently being redesigned, incorporating the new extra space into the final design. "The construction time will probably be around six months, with three months of construction and about two to three months for shop fitting. We still have to apply for detailed planning consent, but we got the licence, which was the main thing." He added: "I still haven't decided on a name for it yet, but I have managed to get the final list down to five."

Special Day For Dolphin Enthusiasts

The Moray Firth's dolphin colony provided the inspiration for an environmental event at one of the region's main tourist attractions recently. Peter MacDonald, of the Friends of the Moray Firth Dolphins, hosted a Dolphin Day to celebrate the area's regular dolphin, porpoise and whale sightings. The group takes regular boat trips with members to observe and enjoy their presence. The aim is to get more locals out spotting dolphins and to care more about their habitat. He said: "I want to get people to help with their research. This year has been a stunning one for spotting." Photographic displays, slides and video footage were part of his talk, illustrating the animals' behaviour and living patterns. Seven species of whales and dolphins were discussed, including bottle nose dolphins and minke whales. Mr MacDonald added: "The Moray Firth has been a real haven for whales." He showed recent video footage to illustrate how close the dolphins come to the shore. There are 50 local spotters in the club, and Mr MacDonald would like to see more people join. "This year has been fantastic for watching feeding," he said. Altogether, the club has 175 members from all over Scotland.

History of Harris Tweed

A new book on the Harris Tweed industry - The Islanders and the Orb by Janet Hunter - was launched recently. The launch accompanied by the premier of a new Scottish country dance called the Clo Mor (the big cloth) which represents the movement of the Harris Tweed loom and the actions of the tweed being woven. The 350 page book covers the history of the Harris Tweed industry from 1935 to 1995, Janet Hunter - a sister of Sandy Matheson, a former convener of the Western Isles and now chairman of Highlands and Islands Airports - was born and brought up in Stornoway and at present teaches at Aberdeen University. The book is meticulously researched and traces the intricate and changing circumstances in the history of the industry. It deals in depth with the historical background to the famous hand woven cloth, the Dunmore family and Harris, the application for a trade mark, the Leverhulme era, the challenge to the Orb from the Independent Harris Tweed Producers, the celebrated Court of Session case and other issues. Duncan Martin, chairman of the HTA, described it as a unique book about a unique cloth. He said that within five years in the late 1980s they had lost 80% of their production and sales. It had been agreed that intensive modernisation was needed. That had been achieved and they had also received political support. It had also been felt that a new history of the industry was required and Janet Hunter had been approached and it had been a tremendous responsibility on her to reflect the history of the industry. He said she had done a magnificent job in producing a serious, comprehensive history. He said the other dimension they would like to see would be a Harris Tweed centre in the Isles.

Golfing Virtual Reality

Golfers proposing to visit the world famous Old Course in St Andrews are now able to plan their round of a lifetime from the comfort of their own armchair, thanks to the latest technology. A virtual reality tour of the centuries old championship links has been produced on CD using innovative computer graphics technology. Behind the initiative of the unique flight over the Old Course is St Andrews Links Trust who administers the courses at Europes largest golfing complex. They have joined forces with 3D Eagleview International, a pioneering software company in Ireland, to produce the CD which offers the tee-to-green aerial video. Peter Mason, the trust's external relations manager, explained that using video footage which has been enhanced to a high degree, the CD shows fly over views of each hole on the 600 year old course in graphic detail from tee to green. The quality is such that features such as some of the infamous pot bunkers on the course, such as Deacon Sime on the 16th hole, coupled with every one of the thousands of bumps and hollows are clearly visible to the viewer. Mr Mason said: "It is the ideal introduction to the Old Course for golfers planning to play here."

Huge Cat Sighted

A Beauly man came face to face with a cat "the size of a bloodhound" while walking his parents dog recently. And John Towner's mother, who said that her son knew a lot about nature, is insistent that he had sighted what is known in the Highlands as the Big Cat. Mr Towner, of Carnyx, was walking the family's Jack Russell terriers in Rheindown Forest when he saw a large brown creature sitting on the path in front of him. As he moved to approach it, the animal started and disappeared into the dense undergrowth, leaving no trace in the clearing. He relayed the incident to his mother, Christina Palmer, who decided she had to alert local crofters to the sighting. Mrs Palmer said: "John thought it was like a puma or a mountain lion, something like that. The two dogs, Tigger and Toby, did not react to the animal, as John approached it from upwind to try and get close. "I contacted the police, and I want to warn local farmers about this, as we have been losing more livestock than usual recently - I'm beginning to think this could be the cause." The Palmers have goats, chickens and duck, and Mrs Palmer is worried that with winter here the cat will be desperate for food and come down to the surrounding crofts to find animals. Mrs Palmer also said that the sighting made sense of a few mysterious incidents at their croft over the last year. She said: "Last winter, there were large paw markings in the snow round the house - we just assumed it was a badger, but the marks were a bit big. "We've also had a lot of strange clawmarks and scratches on the chicken coops and doors. Maybe this explains it all." There have been numerous sightings of similar big cats in the Highland region over the years, but this is the first official report from the Beauly area. Even this year, three different people have reported seeing a large, puma like animal in Moray.

New Cairngorm Path

Work has begun at the Cairngorms ski area on a new path for walkers. The trail, which is the highest all-abilities path in Britain, starts next to the new mountain railway base at a height of 630m above sea level. The trail has been specially designed for less able users, such as those in wheelchairs or people with pushchairs. As well as having a suitable shallow gradient and surface for all users, it will have handrails and stopping places with picnic benches along its length. The path will run above and parallel to the Coire Cas car park, as well as underneath the line of the mountain railway close to the base station. This route was suggested by Scottish Natural Heritage to make the most of the spectacular views over Glenmore to the Monadhliath and round into the Northern Corries. Miranda Whitcombe, of SNH, said the agency's support was part of its commitment to promoting sensitive access and enjoyment of the natural heritage. She added: "This trail will be a tremendous asset to the Coire Cas area. Now all visitors will be able to experience the mountain environment and enjoy the fantastic views."

Charity Event

Inverness water engineer Jonathan Appleby was on top of the world recently after scaling Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, raising 4400 to provide two of the country's villages with fresh water. Mr Appleby of Westhill, near Inverness, was among a group of 17 climbers who tackled the 19,335ft peak to raise money for a range of good causes. Mr Appleby's chosen charity was Wateraid, which helps to provide clean fresh water supplies to communities in developing countries.

Political Roundup

Deputy First Minister Praises Highland Firefighters

Deputy First Minister Jim Wallace, acknowledged the geographical difficulties faced by firefighters in the the Highlands and Islands when he visited the region's fire brigade headquarters in Inverness recently. "I congratulate the brigade on the commitment and skills of its workforce and for its achievements in responding so well to fire - and other emergency situations in what is appropriately described by the fire service as a remote rural area," he commented.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Snow showers, sunny intervals. Local drifting in the E. Very cold. Winds fresh/strong N'ly. Temperature 0c to 4c.
Saturday Night
Wintry showers persist near coasts. Widespread frost. Winds fresh SW'ly. Temperature -3c to 1c.
Bright spells fading as skies clouding over bringing rain/sleet or snow showers.
Cloudy and windy with periods of rain. Sleat and snow showers mixed with bright spells later.

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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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