Community paper for Glenfinnan, Lochailort, Glenuig, Arisaig, Morar,
Mallaig, Knoydart and the Small Isles

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A look back at the last twelve months as reported in West Word makes interesting reading. Some of the events are mentioned in the month in which they happened, some in the month they appeared in the paper.

The year started as snowy as it ended. The front page story was the unofficial opening of the Mallaig & Morar Community Centre. We printed the first in a series of articles on genealogy by Arisaig's Allan MacDonald and we started to get e-mail responses from the website. A Pakistani film unit filmed a 'soap' on Knoydart intended for Sky TV, and while Knoydart awaited the arrival of their new Development Officer, Eigg formed a steering group to deal with the problem of where the new pier should go. Mallaig's newest boat was named Green Isle, and Coastguard and Lifeboat were involved in a successful two day search for two men missing in separate incidents off Skye and Rum.

The new Lifeboat Henry Alston Hewat arrived in Mallaig to a great welcome, while the Davina and Charles Matthews Hunter slipped quietly away to Kirkwall. Muck advertised for a new family in a rare case of real life copying drama, the popular series '2000 acres of Skye.' the Mackintosh Centre received its first resident. Garth Foster released his latest recording '..live at the Crofters Rest), including such hits as 'Diver Do It Deeper' and 'The Prawns March to Armadale'. Our Internet Guest Book started. The Backward Glance was at Tougal by Ralph MacDougall.

The headline just read 'Closed!' with an accompanying photo of Rum and Eigg, proving how afraid we all were that the Foot & Mouth epidemic would spread to our area. Eigg managed however to host a Coastguard Training exercise with teams from all over Lochaber. Margaret MacNeill retired from the CalMac office after 22 years, while Joan Smith was appointed Head of Mallaig Primary School. It was the end of an era, but the start of another, at Cnoc-na-Faire when Pat and Merac handed the hotel over to David and Jenny Sharpe. The Rev. Baird gave us another article on his Mallaig memories and Mallaig Swimming Pool held a swim-a-thon in aid of Cancer Charities.

The 100th Anniversary of the opening of the Mallaig Extension Railway Line was on the 1st. And was indirectly the first victim of the Foot & Mouth outbreak, when insufficient people booked and the visit by a vintage Deltic diesel locomotive was cancelled. The 2001 Census was underway. The Mallaig & Morar Community Centre was officially opened and sir Cameron Mackintosh formally stated his intention of rebuilding hi house beside Loch Nevis. There were more than the usual muirburn fires out of control, leading to some dramatic situations. The Lochaber siding Coffee Shop opened at Fort William Station, a joint enterprise between Jenny MacEwen of muck and Kate Campbell of Strontian, selling not only wonderful baking and home cooking but crafts and books from the area too. The Achnaskia pigs moved home and the Spanish John came home. Many well kent local faces were caught on camera at the Fishing Exhibition at the SECC. And a first for West Word - a knitting pattern! Teddies in bags for children in third world countries. The local telephone directory went on sale, proceeds to West Word's hoped-for new printer. Mallaig Heritage Centre started a series of articles on local history.

ON - work on the new road would start in August.
OFF - the Road to the Isles Agricultural Show, owing to Foot & Mouth precautions.
OUT - plans for CCTV in Mallaig, because of rising costs.
Sir William MacAlpine, great grandson of Concrete Bob, came to Mallaig to unveil a plaque commemorating the line's centenary - and Dennis the Menace came too. Rum and Canna were re-opened for business. Jim and Eileen Ralph left the Fishermen's Mission to go to Lochinver. Arisaig's community computer was set up in the Astley Hall and the search for the Muck family was at the finalist stage. The fifth Loch Shiel festival was held and in Mallaig there was a performance of Moby Dick on board a converted ferry boat. Local band Daimh were on Russian radio with a dedication to the families of the crew of the Kursk.

The Arisaig and the Mallaig & Morar Games joined the Foot & Mouth casualty list . Our front page covered Sir William MacAlpine's visit. The naming ceremony for the Henry Alston Hewat took place and Princess Anne visited Canna to officially open the restored St. Edward's Chapel. Mary Duff sang at a packed concert in Mallaig, and the Screen Machine paid another visit. Mallaig & District Swimming Pool celebrated its 8th birthday. A sponsored walk in aid of Johnny Giles raised money for his headstone. Eigg celebrated the fourth anniversary of its buy-out. We welcomed Len Scott and wife Maureen to the Fishermen's Mission.

The front page covered Mallaig Lifeboat's naming ceremony and Princess Anne on Canna. The story of Eilidh the Castaway Pony continued as Eilidh was sold to a lady from Bradford. The valiant struggle to fund the Morar Playing Field continued. Fr Michael Hutson left the area to go to America via Paris after a big farewell gathering in the Mallaig Hall. The 'Home and Away' exhibition, on loan from Museum of Scotland International, came to the Arisaig Land, Sea & Islands Centre for a month, and the Mission Gala Weekend made a triumphant return. The Canoe Club had some successful outings to Tarbet and the Summer Isles. The Noble family arrived on Muck as the chosen family, and Lawrence celebrated his 60th birthday with a surprise Shearwater cruise to Tobermory with friends from Eigg, Muck and the mainland. The Kinloch Castle Friends' Association held their AGM on Rum as they put the finishing touches to the rebuilt Japanese Bridge.

First Minister Henry McLeish and Transport Minister Sarah Boyack cut the first turf on the new stretch of the A830 at Kinloid while archaeologists raced against the clock to uncover a Bonze Age burial site at Arisaig before it was destroyed by roadworks. We carried two pages of photos of the Mission Weekend as well as covering it on the front page. Sgt. Colin Souter was promoted to Area Inspector. Major Petrįk, a Slovak trainer of the SOE at Traigh House during the war, paid a visit to the area with a group making a documentary. Arisaig held its second Regatta and the Orienteering Championships came to Craigmor. The Mallaig Co-Op officially opened its doors and the Old Forge in Inverie won the Highlands & Islands Business Award for smaller businesses. Canna held a popular Open Day to celebrate the finish of St. Columba's Church and Mallaig ex-postie David Rodgers won the Ben Nevis Race.

Henry and Sarah on the front page - both gone now! - in the 'most scenic turf-cutting ceremony ever'. Work on the Knoydart Hydro scheme continued apace. A host of family and friends took part in the sponsored cycle for little Drew Coupland and the Canoe Club reported on a trip to the Queen Charlotte Islands in the Pacific - a long paddle from Mallaig! Fr. Calleja arrived in Morar - quite a change from Pakistan...the first Citizencards were handed out to local youngsters. We reported on the Knoydart Fun Games and Eigg hosted a digital imaging weekend. Glenuig continued to work towards re-building their shop as a community venture.

The front page featured Maureen MacMillan MSP, launching the new LCNL website in Mallaig. There was a report on the Mallaig Schools' Gala Day, held in September, and the Hogwarts Express made a stop at Glenfinnan on its way to the School for Wizards. The Shearwater made her last scheduled run to the Small Isles and the remains of an 18th Century galley was found at low tide off Eigg. And we had a day of steam trains as the nine day Scottish Highlands Rail Festival focussed on the West Highlands celebration of the Mallaig line centenary. We had photos of the third Madam Prawn contest. Mary Boyle walked the Wall of China to raise money for Cancer Research and Allie MacDougall began sending back reports on her experiences teaching in Japan. Eleven of the Duke of Edinburgh Award team were presented with the Bronze Medal. Glenuig held a big fund-raising concert for the new shop fund, featuring lots of local talent from young to old.

Mallaig & North West Fishermen's Association achieved the 100th recognition of the Investors in People Award while seven other local businesses also qualified. West Word was seven years old. Two new families had arrived on Rum and they got a new Reserve Manager too - Rhodri Evans. Neil Cameron won the Player of the Year Award in the Lochaber Summer League. A new ferry for the Mallaig - Armadale route got the thumbs up from the Scottish Executive. We had a pantomime at the Mallaig Community Centre. The Eda Frandsen from Knoydart was sailing to the West Indies. We had the results of the Hallowe'en Parades and the Astley Hall had its official opening. Mission Assistant Keith Dickson went and new Assistant Martin Blewett arrived.

The main story was of the extravanza at Cnoc-na-Faire Hotel when Santa arrived by fairly-lit dog sledge to turn on the Christmas tree lights. Nevis Radio broadcast live Robert MacMillan's programme and Primary School children from the area sang to Lochaber. Mallaig Youth Forum won a £2000 prize from the LCNL to decorate their space and Inspector Souter finally said good-bye to Mallaig. Canna Primary School was renovated and Eigg's new Development Co-ordinator was appointed. The Internet Guest Book continued to attract lots of entries, many to do with genealogy inquiries, and our genealogy pages expanded to include articles from Marlene MacDonald Cheng. We had the first in a series of articles from geologists working on the new road and we heard of the new set up at the Mallaig & District Swimming Pool, now under local management. The sprat fishery was disappointing. The area responded magnificently to Children in Need 2001 with various events and lots of dressing up - and we had the photographic evidence!

West Word wishes all its readers
a very Happy and Prosperous New Year
Bliadhna Mhath Ur!

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West Word
Morar Station Buildings
Inverness-shire PH40 4PB
Tel/Fax: 01687 462 720
E-mail: editor@westword.org.uk

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Page last updated: January 2002

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