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A heartfelt thank you to the Arran Banner in helping nudge CalMac’s managing director to attend a public meeting on the island of Arran. Local folk, visitors and stakeholders’ will now be able to ask the top man directly, face-to-face, about their concerns regarding regular ferry failures and ways to future-proof against the disintegration of Arran’s lifeline ferry services due to geriatric ships and RET induced vessel fatigue.
In a lifetime as a ferry travelling customer, I have never known a CalMac managing director visit the island for a public meeting in these circumstances.
It would be an incredible boost to the island if CalMac’s managing director can understand the merits of deploying at least three medium sized ferries between Ardrossan and Brodick. This would provide backup for the current plague of breakdowns and also help cover the 37 per cent increase in workload due to RET. The proposed ocean liner size MV Glen Sannox is far too big and utterly wrong for Ardrossan. Bad weather will cause endless diversions and cancellations if Robbie Drummond does not act now. Instead of buying another £47,000,000 white elephant that won’t fit into Ardrossan, the service might be saved from recall. We really need to study the merits of a newbuild class of ships the size of MV Isle of Arran and MV Hebridean Isles. Three to four of these ferries can be built for the price of one huge MV Glen Sannox.
With the help of the Arran Ferry Committee and the Arran Banner we should now manage to book an appropriate island venue to hold the public meeting. Meanwhile, I would personally like to thank Robbie Drummond. His letter in the Arran Banner was thoughtful and kind. Not an easy task when there are many folk, myself guilty too, throwing brick-bats in the poor man’s direction.
Scottish schools pipe band entries
Most schools in Scotland have pipers and drummers within their pupil population. Your readers’ local school in Arran is probably no exception. May I please ask your readers to seek out their pipers, and encourage them to represent their school as a piping quartet, if not as a full band, at the next Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships.
The Championships are organised annually by the Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust. The next Championships will be held at Inveralmond Community High School, Livingston on Sunday 10 March 2019. More details are on our website (www.thechampionships.org.uk).
Last March 145 schools from all over Scotland (and two from England) were represented at the Championships, with a category available for all standards of playing.
Five years ago we introduced a new category: freestyle. The aim of this is to provide an opportunity for schools to showcase their other musical skills alongside those of their pipers.
The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust (www.sspdt.org.uk) hopes that as many young pipers and drummers from your area – with other musicians too if entering the freestyle event – will participate in next year’s Championships.
Has there been any gull attacks in Arran? Has North Ayrshire got the right to threaten us with fines if we feed the seagulls – are we turning into a Nanny state? It is not a very friendly sign to be met with on a holiday Island. If there is a proven gull problem on Arran I would suggest an informative sign without the threat of a fine.
I often tip the remains of my fish supper on the beach for the gulls. I have never found them to be overly aggressive and think I should be able to feed the gulls without threats of fines from North Ayrshire.
We used to have colonies of hundreds of gulls staying on the hills above Shiskine – most of these have gone now, according to a local forester they left after the dump closed as there was less for them to eat. Certainly I used to come across them when flying but I didn’t see any during the Mountain Festival when we traversed the same hill.
Gulls are scavengers and I hope they continue to make their home on Arran after the remains of fish suppers are removed from their menu.
Kate to the rescue
I wish to thank Kate the receptionist in The Douglas Hotel and David Turner, Private Hire in Shiskine for rescuing me when I was stranded in Brodick at 9.20pm on Saturday September 22. My late arrival in Glasgow (from Euston) meant that I missed the 6pm ferry to Brodick. Luckily there was an 8pm ferry but, unluckily, there was no bus to the Northend to meet it. The ferry office was closed so I decided to go into The Douglas Hotel to seek help. After hearing my woeful story, Kate organised my taxi home to Lochranza.
Thank you very much, Kate and David, for enabling me to arrive home safely after a long arduous journey!
Kindness and care
Recently I stupidly left my wallet in the Old Byre showroom in Machrie.
I did not realise I had lost it until the following afternoon when I stopped in Tarbert en route to Cairnbaan.
I then discovered that Lorna had contacted my Arran hotel saying that my wallet was at the Old Byre.
The result of my phoning her was that she spent a lot of time and care in posting on my wallet to my new hotel.
This is another example of the great care and kindness that has been shown to us on the many visits we have made to Arran over the last 30 years.
Many thanks to Lorna and all the residents of your wonderful Island