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 occurred, some in the month they appeared in the paper.

Our front page looked forward to what we hoped we'd be reporting on in 2004: the opening of the A830 Arisaig - Kinsadel stretch and news of the development of the last piece; completion of both Mallaig and Morar Playing Fields; the opening of Marine Harvest's new harvesting station; a Spanish fish-processing firm coming to Mallaig; the reintroduction of the Uist - Mallaig ferry; official openings of the Arisaig Medical Centre and Mallaig Police Station; the Marie Curie Fields of Hope for Morar and Mallaig; and new digital technology for West Word. Eigg Community Hall received lottery funding and we highlighted the struggle to keep the community minibus going. In Council Corner, Charlie King listed the three main priorities for the year - commitment for the next stretch of the A830, more housing for the area, and the completion of the Mallaig All-weather pitch. He also mentioned the threat which a toll-free Skye bridge presented to the Mallaig-Armadale ferry, and we printed his letter to Transport Minister Nicol Stephen. We also reported on the inaugural meeting of TBag, the Belford Action group. Mallaig High School continued fund-raising for their London trip and. told us of two days of Music and Dance in December. We carried a picture of the first ever docking of a Cal Mac ferry at the new pier on Rum and Morar Field Club held their first meeting. A wetter than usual January set the pattern for the whole year.

Our first edition using our new equipment! The difference in crisp print and recognisable photos was received with comments ranging from 'brilliant' to 'Wow!' A very positive front page featuring the opening of the Arisaig Health centre and the news that Morar Gamesfield had at last been given he go-ahead. The three community councils held a joint meeting where 100 people braved terrible weather to listen to speakers and ask questions about the future of the Belford and the introduction of NHS24. The Broadband campaign was hotting up. Mallaig Marine Training Centre received funding for a further year. The draft Kinloch Village Development Plan for Rum was taking shape, and consent was given to SNH to create a large area of native woodland on the island. The Lochnevis still wouldn't attempt the new pier at Muck but Serina, a Highland mare, made island history - the first animal ever to come all the way to the island by 4x4 and trailer (via the Spanish John). cafe Rhu opened under new management and new name - and new colours! The decreasing population of Lochaber was the subject of an article by Morar Community Council Chair Mairi MacLean, . Healthwise we reported on the Beat the Blues Day held by the Pool staff, the proposed launch of the 'Step It Up Highland in Lochaber' and a day of workshops on local food for local people through Lochaber Larder and Food for Thought. There was quite a lot of snow at the end of the month, closing schools and postponing the opening of the new police station..

Heavy snow carpeted the area while Fort William was flake free! In the midst of the cold snap, the newly refurbished Chlachain Bar caught fire, causing extensive damage and delaying its reopening. Mallaig Heritage centre celebrated its 10th birthday with free admission and an Anniversary Fortnight exhibition of photographs. The Arisaig - Kinsadel part of he A830 of officially opened. Fundraising for the Mallaig minibus and also the High school trip to London continued. The idea of an annual Feis week in Mallaig was floated and Camas, Muck's new Art group, hosted the first of a programme of events. We carried a piece about the effect lack of housing was having on Mallaig High School's attempts to recruit and keep staff. The Lochnevis docked for the first time at Eigg, and Eigg Lodge was taken over to become an Earth Education Centre project. Eigg islanders carried a bench up the slopes of the Sgurr to place it beside Loch Ban Mora in memory of Brigg Lancaster. We printed the first part of Ernest Lord's Memories of Mallaig. A wet and windy month.

The front page carried a photo of local children at the official opening of the Arisaig By-Pass and the commitment by Scottish Executive to proceed with the final phase of the road. There was a two day display of the proposed route in Arisaig's Astley Hall. Pupils at Mallaig Primary won the shield for best performing team in a Cross Country course on Nevis Range and Lady Lovat pupils won dancing and poetry cups in the Lochaber Festival. The recently introduced Land Reform Act, subject of articles in February and March, was being taken seriously by residents of Knoydart, who were also waiting to find out the contractor for their proposed new pier. And hurrah! The Lochnevis finally made it onto Muck's new slipway. Meanwhile on Canna a conservation project was underway to re-house the John Lorne Campbell collection. A house on Rum was destroyed by fire and Blazin' Fiddles played to a sell-out concert in the Astley Hall fresh from a gig the night before at Buckingham Palace. Marine Harvest's new factory opened and the big red lorries began to take its fish up to Fort William. We continued Ernest Lord's memories. The Central Bar reopened under new management and the new name of The Steam Inn and David Sharpe of Cnoc-na-Faire did 'bird' in the police cell to raise money for the new Rural Watch scheme, at the start of Operation Easter which helps to protect rare bird eggs. The two new Fields of Hope in Morar and Mallaig were blooming marvellous with new signs to show off. We ran an exclusive story on Sir Cameron Mackintosh's birthday present of a London red double decker bus delivered to his Knoydart home - for April 1st! There was a hot spell in the middle of the month but only 4 totally dry days and the monthly rainfall was double the average, with gales preventing the fishing fleet putting to sea.

We carried a picture of First Minister Mr Jack McConnell at the opening of Marine Harvest's factory and the good news of approval for four new houses for Morar. Mallaig Harbour Authority was seeking authorisation to construct a new Breakwater out to the lighthouse. Mallaig got a date of August 2005 for provision of Broadband. Mallaig & North West Fishermen's Association appointed a new Secretary, Mr John Hermse. Mallaig High School was still fundraising and showed off models made in the classes held by their craftmaker in residence. Muck Primary had entered the K'nex Challenge and Mallaig Youth Forum members went to Outward Bound. Rum hosted the Small Islands games. We printed the plea from a retired German policeman for details concerning a submarine incident - in 1917! The Boathouse re-opened as Wayoutwest. A French documentary film crew came to the area to make a film involving the SOE, Meoble, the Land, Sea & Islands Centre and of course a wee ceilidh in the bar. Malcolm Ross told us about the visit he took with his parents and daughter to Huddersfield Town grounds. The weather during the month was - warm and sunny!

Shopmobility began its service in the area on Wednesdays, and we looked forward to the return of the Jacobite steam train season which kicked off with a 'Follow Harry Potter' day. Helen Kennedy received a Papal Honour and a short memorial service was held over the River Morar in memory of all those who have died at sea. The Fisheries Research Service gave a presentation to WSFPO on their recent work on prawns and we had a photo of the Waverley's visit during May. Muck held its annual Open Day, Eigg celebrated the 7th anniversary of its buyout, and Morar held a well attended scoping day - workshops with locals and agencies to gather ideas for the regeneration of the village. The Road to the Isles Agricultural Show was held. Ranald Coyne wrote the first part of his trip to Ethiopia last February and March and the preliminary rounds of the Fishermen's Mission first Open Golf Tournament were under way. The weather was - well, wet, with well above the average rainfall, over two thirds of it (30 mm) falling in six days.

We did what we said we'd never do again and went to 40 pages for a bumper issue. The Clanranald Chieftain was invited to open the Arisaig Games and the international 'Clandonald gathering' made it the most successful day for years. West Word's offices got a fresh coat of paint outside. At a Public meeting it was decided to struggle on with the minibus while possible and try for a grant for a new one. A number of local girls went down to the Loud and Live concert in Glasgow courtesy of an exclusive West Word competition. Tommy Ralston gave us the story of the replica of the Lifeboat's Iona Cross and how he took it to Iceland and Mallaig High School reported on their visit to speak to the Dalai Llama. Broadband was coming to the Small Isles and Knoydart and abseiling Kiwis were rumoured to be coming to Canna to deal with their rat problem! A bench dedicated to Bryan Walters of Muck was placed outside the Arisaig Hotel. Ranald gave us Part 2 of his |Ethiopian trip and Margaret Gillies in Canada told us the story if her Gaelic poet grandfather. We carried the first Cetacean Sightings column from new resident Marine Mammal Medic Marion Affleck and the month ended with the Mission Gala Weekend and a charity Football Match between a local Mallaig XI and Dukla Pumpherston. The weather was cool and wet, although summer seemed to have arrived by the end-but rainfall was still 40% above the average.

The new site for a Mallaig School hostel was our headline, together with the completion (at last) of the Mallaig all-weather pitch. The Arisaig regatta was cancelled at the last minute but the dance went ahead, and a keelboat race from Arisaig to Tobermory. Constable Mark McCallum joined the Mallaig Police section. We reported on 9 July callouts for the Lifeboat, nearly a quarter of the year's total, and on the dedication of a bench in Hugh Allen's memory during the Mission Weekend. The Pool ran a big fundraising raffle and their Gala Day and the Flower Festival was held again in Arisaig. Things were hotting up for the Rum Development Plan and Kinloch Castle was placed on the Buildings at Risk Register. Muck's Pier waiting room was finished and Inverie's pier work started. Two mothers on Eigg began to investigate the possibility of a 'virtual school' for the islands. We learned that in May General Petrák had received the Legion d'Honneur and carried articles also on a war-time friendship from Holland and a honeymoon in the area in 1935. we heard the sad tale of two seal pups and Allie sent us a final article from Japan after three years. Two grandchildren of David Ross, who died in Arisaig on holiday in 2003, presented cheques to the lifeboat and Police. The Mallaig & Morar and the Glenfinnan Games were held. The weather, surprisingly, was wet.

Our visitor the humpback whale took pride of place in this issue, and Mo's super photo made it to the national papers and Cal Mac's 2005 calendar. The Small Isles ferry terminals were officially opened and the Coruisk broke down again. The M&NWFA pledged to fight a regulating order for Highland shellfish stocks. The high School had stories and pictures of their hard fought for London trip. Their fundraising was finished but that for the community minibus continued. The staff at the Mackintosh Centre with Nurse Julie thinked pink for Cancer Research UK. MacDonalds from Canada and Clarks from Edinburgh visited their forebears' cottage in Kylesknoydart and the canoe club gave us the 2nd episode of their summer cruise. The final of the new Inter Club Mission golf tournament was held at Traigh. Mallaig FC won the Lochaber Summer League and the Pool held a Biathlon and Triathlon. The 4th European Small islands network conference was hosted by Eigg. And the weather was wet, wet, wet. Our weather man Ian said it was the wettest month he had ever recorded - 40 mm more than July and August 2004 put together and 3 times his mean average for September.

Mallaig pupils starred as pupils on the Hogwart's Express for the fourth Harry potter film, the Belford won its battle for survival (for the moment) and Fr Donald MacKinnon left St Mary's in Arisaig for St Mary's in Fort William. Coastguard team members from Lochaber met in Morar Hotel for presentations for services totalling more than 174 years. The Highland Shellfish Management Organisation responded to M&NWFA's article with one of their own on the way forward for the industry. Funding was obtained for Feis classes in Mallaig. Rum's Development Plan was endorsed by the Highland Council and we had photos of the East Bay Clean Up. We also had photos of the very wet September - the Morar Dam in spate and Glenfinnan's Monument becoming an island. Rachel Inglis gave us story and pictures of her time volunteering in a Philippine orphanage and we carried a photo of the memorial stone to Charlie Lyons erected by Mallaig Community Council in Morar Cemetery after our articles last year on his bravery in WWI. More businesses were changing hands in Mallaig with the fishmarket restaurant and Eclipse leases up for offers. And guess what? It rained a lot.

Our tenth anniversary issue, with colour cover and four page colour insert of photos of the changes the last ten years have seen. We invited all to come to our birthday bash in the Morar Hotel and our folders and printers and other volunteers were our guests. The Mackintosh Centre's new Manager Shirley Jones returned to her roots and the first ever livestock float to arrived on Eigg via the new pier to transport sheep. The results of Morar's Scoping Day and questionnaire called for more amenities, housing and a meeting place and a public meeting was held to take matters further. John Hermse replied to the HMSO article on shellfish management. Mallaig High School went to Edinburgh to see Hamlet and reported on the visits last month from their French Exchange friends. Mallaig & Morar Community Centre ran taster sessions in music workshops and fun activities as part of their new Feis funding. The Rum Village Plan was completed and plans laid for new housing, and the island Post Office reopened under new management, while Inverie's pier work proceeded. An episode of 'Monarch of the Glen' was filmed at Cnoc-na-Faire, Traigh and Camusdarach. We started a column for people looking for forebears in the area and the first of a monthly look back at West Word ten years ago. Mallaig & District Canoe club held an Open Day in which they premiered a film of the Junior Club's summer activities. Our Coastal Ranger was celebrating his 60th birthday in New Zealand and we had photos of the Hallowe'en goings on in Arisaig. We welcomed Fr Andrew Barrett to his new parish in Arisaig (along with Louis the Bassett Hound pup). Mallaig FC celebrated an excellent year in which they won the Lochaber Summer League, the John Baird Cup and the BA Shield. And you won't believe this - but it wasn't quite so wet.

Maureen Sutherland, head of Lady Lovat Primary, was our front page pinup, receiving her Quality Award at the Highland Council annual ceremony. We had photos of our birthday cake and also of Santa abseiling down from Cnoc-na-Faire's chimney. We had discovered a Mallaig in Alberta, canada, and included an article on its history. Mallaig High School pupils sourced first class drama at home and told of their visit to Mull Theatre's Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, while the Naked Rambler featured in a play in Arisaig. Marina Muir resigned as Manager of Lochaber College Mallaig. The pages were full of festive menus and adverts. Eigg was full of plans for improvements, Aidan released his CD and on Muck Lawrence began to put his Rural Stewardship into practice. Plans for Feis na Mara 2005 were aired. Lots of fundraising for children in Need went on in November and we had photos to prove it. We hard about the Arisaig Post office Petition of 1803, soon to be hanging in the Astley Hall. A community compost site in Arisaig was being planned. And to round the year off, believe it or not, it rained a lot! Ian says December 2004 became the seventh month of 2004 to set a new high monthly total rainfall figure and the tenth month of 2004 with above average rainfall.

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