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 the pages of West Word. Some of the events are mentioned in the month in which they happened, some in the month they appeared in the paper

A mild month ended with the strongest winds since the 'hurricane' of 1996. Our front page looked forward to what the year might bring in the way of improvements. How have we fared? Turn to page 2 to check. Mallaig got its own cinema with funding and equipment for its Film Project. We carried pictures and story of Mary Boyle's walk along the Great Wall of China for Cancer Research and continued the short series on the geological history of the route of the new road, which told us where the sands of Arisaig were 16000 years ago. George Baird continued his series of occasional articles looking back at his boyhood in Mallaig. An Comunn Eachdraidh Arasaig held its first meeting and the Pool launched its 2002 Millennium Swim Challenge. Mallaig High School reported on its Drama Competition of the previous November, the first of its kind in Lochaber, and the third series of Fraternal Talks began.

The new Fishery Training Centre project was headline news. This month was the wettest for many years, with 241 mm (9.5ins) falling compared to 45 mm in 2001. The Marguerite Explorer's new masts were prepared from two Knoydart trees and the water mains replacement for Mallaig and Morar caused a little disruption to road users. Burns Suppers were celebrated by Muck, Knoydart, Eigg, the Mackintosh Centre and Lodge Mallaig. We had another 'Backward Glance' from Gordon MacLennan. Mallaig Youth Group won £2000 in an LCNL competition, to fit out their youth space in the Community Centre, while parents of small children rallied round to find a solution to the partial closure of Rainbow's End Nursery. Ally was still in Japan while Sam was raising money to go to Kenya. We learnt that Mallaig Heritage Centre had received Registered Museum status at the end of last year which would give them funding to manage the Centre. The Pool set the Starlight Challenge.

Our headline was the launch of the Mallaig Fishery Training Project and a photo of the first fishermen to be receive certificates through studying in their home port. The Shearwater finally left Arisaig for her new home in Inverness and the poor state of the road between Arisaig and Beasdale received considerable coverage. Three RNLI Vellums were awarded, two posthumously, to Patrick Morrison, Derek Fowler and Bruce Watt. Chrissie MacDougall retired as Head Teacher of Rum Primary and CCG left both Muck and Rum, piers unfinished, and were not to return. Poor weather with numerous power cuts all round but we dubbed 8th March the wettest day ever!

An artist's impression of the 'Gateway' into Arisaig was on the front page, together with news of Forbes Jackson's retirement as Head of Mallaig High. A mild month, April was also very wet. Mallaig Coastguard received No. 1 status as the Emergency Cliff Rescue Team for the area, and Police Sgt. Donnie Smith took up post in Mallaig. Lorna MacKay with help from Samantha Verrall, was the Lochaber Young Chef of the Year. Morar Beach (actually in Arisaig opposite the golf course) won Clean Beach Status for 2001, one of six Highland beaches on the list. The Royal Commission for the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland arrived on Muck for the summer to continue their surveys of the Small Isles. We carried a reminiscent article on the Shearwater as her successor prepared to start the summer run.

The front page story was the 'biggest heath fire Mallaig has ever seen', which had threatened the village. There was news of Martin Sullivan's appointment as High School head and more on Eigg's 'most important archaeological find' of the previous year ~ the remains of a birlinn. Arisaig Community Council elected a new council and Lochaber Area Committee held its monthly meeting in the Astley Hall. Arisaig Moorings Association came into being. Rev George Baird continued his series of articles on Mallaig memories and Marlene MacDonald Cheng hers on various aspects of traditional Highland life. Muck hosted the inter~island Games.

Our bumper 40 page issue caused problems when we came to post the subscriptions and we had a photo of Tommy with the receipt to prove it! Jubilee parties were celebrated in Muck, Arisaig and Mallaig, and Eigg celebrated the fifth anniversary of their buy-out. Muck held it's annual Open Day. The Road to the Isles Agricultural Show returned after missing last year because of the Foot & Mouth scare, and a plaque to the SOE trainees was unveiled at Traigh House. The Canoe Club reported on an active winter and proposed summer programme and Marguerite Explorer's new masts were fitted. Duncan Gibson of Arisaig House won Menu of the Year for his Mushroom Weekend gourmet menu, and the completed Arisaig WRI Millennium Scrapbook was presented for display to the Land, Sea & Islands Centre. Mrs Jackson retired from Mallaig High School. The continuing wet conditions caused concern for bird life.

The main story was the moving ceremony at Traigh House and the unveiling of the plaque to honour the SOE heroes, by Major General Anton Petrįk MBE MC. The Rev Alan Lamb also hit the headlines of local papers when he uncovered a scratch card scam. A dull and drizzly month meant the midges were particularly ferocious. Knoydart celebrated the 3rd anniversary of their buy-out, Feis Eige held a successful weekend, Muck a Whistling Workshop and the Arisaig Games returned to Traigh. The BBC descended on Rum to start filming a 'Survivor' type series, and the dig continued on the site of a rare find of iron age weapon moulds on Eigg. The Chernobyl children were visiting Lochaber and we carried the photo of James, Iain and Simon on their sponsored walk from Loch Quoich to Inverie to raise money for their visit. We printed the results of the Agricultural Show and a photo of Winnie modelling a Shopmobility Scooter as the Peggy Dobson Memorial Fund was started to raise money for a 'local' scooter. The new Lochaber Horticultural Society was looking for local 'trial' sites and Mallaig Community Council ran a 'Best Hanging Basket' competition. The Canoe Club planned a trip around the Sound of Harris and reported on their recent paddle along the coast of Skye to overnight on Soay. The Astro Turf pitch in Mallaig was unusable and summer football training had to be cancelled and Rainbow's End Nursery closed its doors.

Kinsadel Hill was disappearing from our landscape though not our memories and the story shared the front page with the dramatic call out of Lifeboat and Coastguard to a serious accident on Canna. Arisaig held its third Regatta and Fun Day, once again accompanied by a Flower Festival in the Church and a Model Exhibition in the Hall. A huge demand from the youth of Arisaig for cycle jumps next to the new playing field hit the national news after the story and photo appeared in West Word. Inverie hosted the Chernobyl children courtesy of the Western Isles. The month started off hot for the Mallaig & Morar Games and Mallaig Pool held their Gala Day. The Pool took delivery of their new Orca and Spaceship chutes, and an unusually large number of real whales were spotted by Ronnie from the Sheerwater. Inverie held their fun games. Good weather (at last) helped local farmers with their harvests. The new layout at the entrance to Arisaig was ready for use, and the 'back road' was closed off.

The front page intimated that progress was being made on some of our 'wish list' from the January issue (but nothing much seems to have happened since). Mallaig and Canna Primary Schools received excellent reports from HM Inspectors of Education. Joan Stephen retired as Head teacher of Canna and Morag MacKinnon as Head of Eigg Primary Schools. A theft from Spar in Mallaig the previous month was still unsolved. Local community groups met with the Scottish Minister for Transport to learn that the future of the West Highland Line ~ and the sleeper ~is secure; but the Highland Rail Festival 2002 was cancelled. Sam Foster sent in his first report from Kenya and the Song of the Whale research vessel left Mallaig with the Olympic Curling Team aboard to track basking sharks. Muffy the dog was working on the new road with Barr's and became famous. Lawrence of Muck also became famous as he starred in an ad for Peugeot cars and Camusdarach Beach looked wonderful in a commercial for Orange mobile phones. The second Drew's Challenge was a sponsored cycle from Dalwhinnie to Fort William, and a number of local people were off to various locations around the globe in the name of charity. Meanwhile Tearlach MacMillan entered the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow The Canoe Club reported on their summer trip to the Western Isles. Feis na Mara made a welcome return after an absence of two years and Mallaig Schools held their annual Gala Day. The Pool announced the start of its Triathlon and there were more record sightings of whales, this time from Ross Carr.

A replica birlinn (highland galley) sailed to Eigg from Mallaig and into our headlines. The new entrance into Arisaig and its wall was attracting a lot of attention as the effect on the neighbouring houses and the village became apparent ~ on a lighter note we featured the 'musical dykers' who were building the wall. The Land, Sea & Islands Centre was awarded a 4 Star Quality Award as a visitor attraction from the Tourist Board and Mallaig Heritage Centre took possession of microfilm of the 1901 Census. September's Friday 13th had proved unlucky for a few as our Emergency Services were all called out at once. Traigh cows were enjoying the use of their Portaloos ~ a story and photo which was taken up by the Herald. Sam sent in his second report from Kenya and the Duke of Edinburgh Award girls conquered Ireland. We welcomed two new contributors to our pages ~ Morar's Stephen MacDonald on bird watching, and Ottawa's Allan Gillis on highland genealogy and customs. Lots of changes afoot in the hospitality trade as Arisaig's Old Library and Mallaig's Marine Hotel got ready to change hands, and Arisaig House prepared to close as an hotel and open up to self~catering holidays. Morar and Mallaig Community Councils held their three-yearly elections which resulted in a ballot for a new council for Morar and no council at all for Mallaig. Gray Thompson retired from the Co-Op in Mallaig 50 years after he'd started at the Co-Op in Arisaig, Michael Currie from the position of Coxswain of Mallaig Lifeboat after 11 years, and Charlie MacGillivray from CalMac after 34 years.

The recommendation to close down cod fishing areas threatens Mallaig's fleet and was highlighted on our front page. The A830 was going to be closed for four hours every week day for a period of six weeks to enable much needed repairs to be done. Madame Prawn was chosen from a bevy of hairy beauties and Michael Currie featured on a Gaelic TV programme with his brother Callum, filmed in Australia. Wet weather but morning of frost and little wind resulted in glorious autumnal colours for the trees. Gaelic pantomime came to Mallaig and storytelling to Arisaig, while the Film Club held a free Star Wars Double Bill. We carried reports from our charitable adventurers ~ Ishy in Madagascar, Su back from Romania, Ranald in Bangladesh, and Heather's walk in Brazil, while Shona reported on the sponsored walk of the West Highland Way undertaken by herself, Molly and Linsey, with the photos to prove it. Students from Mallaig Study Centre attended a Graduation Ceremony at Lochaber College, including Jane MacEachen, the first to graduate with a degree through Mallaig. Cathie Grant officially retired from the position as Mallaig Traffic Warden after 16 years.

The road closures continued to cause some disruption to daily life, all in a good cause ~ a shame the road wasn't gritted as much as our teeth! Canna Primary School again won a trip to Disneyland Paris courtesy of coupons collected in the Press & Journal. Mallaig Community Council had a second attempt at electing a council ~ were they successful?…. Santa arrived by dog sled to Cnoc na Faire to light the tree. We reported on a tribute to Farquhar MacRae at the Fiddle 2002 Festival in Edinburgh. Silver and Bronze awards were awarded to Duke of Edinburgh participants. And half of Mallaig went up for sale as Scott decided to be a hotelier in Tain.
All through the year we've been grateful for all the many regular contributions. Sales are up, subscriptions are up ~keep it up! Here's to 2003!

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