Lochaber Life #369 July 2024

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At the heart of your community


Beatha Lochabair
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Glenfinnan House Hotel has reopened after a bright, yet subtle, refurbishment which retains all the traditional atmosphere combined with fresh new decor throughout.

While still owned by the firmly rooted local MacFarlane family, it is now operated on its behalf by Inverlochy Castle Management International (ICMI) which is renowned for its expertise in managing quality hotels across the globe.

Dating from 1755, the building was enlarged and extended in the later 1800s giving high ceilings and tall windows not only letting in natural light but also to the front, giving views of the long, sloping lawn leading down to Loch Shiel, bordered by a spectacular skyline and the monument marking the historical landing place of Bonny Prince Charlie in 1745.

For those who have previously enjoyed the hospitality of Glenfinnan House the changes will be immediately obvious from the brightened entrance hall with hotel guest check in desk to the refurnished reception and seating area (still with the welcoming log fire), through to the friendly, well stocked bar, which as always, is open to


The dining room too has been transformed with comfortable, wall mounted seating, rearranged tables and brighter, yet still traditional wallpaper adding to the more spacious feel in which to enjoy the range of superb dishes on offer.

Much loved by all, the quiet drawing room has also undergone an extensive makeover while retaining the ‘serene magic’ enjoyed by many generations of visitors who have ‘withdrawn’ to its its comfy furniture for drinks and a chat.

New additions to the recognised excellent and long established services for both guests and locals are the barbecue and grill shed with large covered seating area on the lawn. Not only do these new additions offer hot and cold drinks, a range of soft drinks, beers and wine but also cooked dishes such as Soya Glazed Highland Beef Rib, Tiger Prawns, Garden Vegetables Skewers, and Halloumi, all

freshly made to order.

Open throughout the season this is a fantastic open space in which to relax over superb food and drink while taking in the views. Branded gifts from fudge to candles, umbrellas and bears are also on sale alongside that absolute Lochaber summer ‘must’ - insect repellent to ensure you can enjoy the great outdoors without unwanted attention.

Continuing in good Highland tradition Glenfinnan House Hotel will also be hosting performances by talented local musicians throughout the year for the enjoyment of residents and anyone dropping in for a meal or a drink.

Open all year, great accommodation, huge choice of quality food, friendly atmosphere, traditional entertainment, views and outdoor spaces - Glenfinnan House Hotel is open for business and ready to welcome you right now.




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Iain Ferguson Karen Hodgson Kevin McCubbin Iain.


Smiles, bubbles and almost 200 well-dressed ladies were the hallmarks of a special event in Caol Community Centre. But behind the happy faces was a serious purpose - to raise money for a suicide awareness group.

Organised by Libby Murray, her family and friends in memory of her son Samuel who took his life a few months ago, all the money raised is destined for the James Support Group, which holds regular meetings across the Highlands for anyone who has been affected by suicide.

Libby has been attending its monthly meetings in Lochaber to speak and share thoughts with others in a similar situation to address the daily burden each of them face.

On looking for a way to help the charity, she came up with the idea of a ‘Ladies Day’, knowing how successful similar events had been for other charities.

She said: “This group was started after the founders lost their son. It does such a good job and has a 24-hour helpline. It also goes around schools raising awareness of suicide and the consequences for families and friends.

“I thought about the Ladies

Day - a day at the races - as a chance for women to get dressed up and raise a large sum to help them”.

Incredibly, the event came together in less than a month, with family members and friends putting in a tremendous effort to make it happen.

Numerous amazing prizes were donated for the raffle from a large number of local businesses and others from outside the area.

Caol Community Centre provided the venue for free, comedian Joe Sweeney and his colleague Rab Mulhearn travelled from Inverness to entertain for free as did local band The Shine - all to make sure the day raised as much money as possible for the James Support Group.

One hundred and eighty tickets were sold - the maximum number the community centre can handle - which with the raffle, bottle stall

and other fundraisers in the hall resulted in a final total of £10,015 for the charity.

Libby said: “We raised exactly what we set out to make. It was just over £11,000 but after various costs, we were right on target.

“Thank you to everyone involved in organising it - the comedians, musicians, community centre, the businesses who donated and everyone who bought tickets and generously supported all the other fundraising events.

“It was a fantastic day in memory of Samuel and will not be the my last as I plan to do other events for the James Support Group and to raise awareness of suicide, which is terrible, especially amongst young men in this area and hopefully gets them to seek help before it goes too far”.

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A unique gathering took place in Lochaber recently when five generations of one family came together to celebrate the birth of their latest addition.

Great, Great Grandmother, Ursula Kruber, formerly of. Claggan, but who is now a resident of Abbeyfield, Ballachulish welcomed her daughter, Rosie Riznyk, Granddaughter, Laura Brown, Great Granddaughter, Bréagha Rhian Brown with Great, Great Grandson, Kieran James Brown for a family gathering.

The family, firmly rooted in Claggan and Caol has an interesting, international story as Ursula was sent over from

Germany in 1949 to work in the British Alcan Hostel and later married a Ukranian who also moved to the area.

Rosie said: “My Mum has dementia since April 2012 and has lived in Abbeyfield since September 2021. Six month old Kieran and his Mum came down from Orkney for 4 nights so we could get the 5 generations together for a photograph.

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The Paddle Steamer Waverley couldn’t come alongside the pier in Fort William, but was captured by Bill Cameron as she awaited the arrival of passengers in Loch Linnhe.

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) recently published research showing that 170,000 people per month in Scotland missed a Council Tax payment last year, meaning they were in arrears.

You may think everyone falls behind sometimes, don’t they? What’s so special about Council Tax debt? The answer lies in what happens to those people. What’s the consequence of missing a Council Tax payment? You’d be surprised how fast and drastic the consequences are.

When you miss a Council Tax payment, it can lead to the council demanding the whole year’s payment from you in one lump sum - not just the month you missed. There will be a 10 per cent late payment fee added on, plus an £86 charge to be notified in writing about the legal steps for debt recovery. This can be done and dusted in weeks.

Surely, this can’t be right? It is. Local authorities are just following the legal process. For more than a decade, Council Tax

has been the most common type of debt Scottish Citizens Advice deals with. Every week our advisers speak to people who are caught out by the speed of the debt recovery process and stressed about how they are going to pay what is owed.

It is one of the worst kinds of debt you can get into; worse than commercial debts to credit cards, banks or telecoms. All of these are serious but will tend to give you a bit of time to sort out a solution.

With Council Tax, the debt recovery process can be quick and painful.

CAS has been lobbying the Scottish Government and others to make the system more geared towards understanding and helping a person’s financial situation and can report progress.

The government has now endorsed guidance on how councils can improve the policies, processes and practices around Council Tax debt, working collaboratively with advice providers and

has funded pilot schemes testing this out. There is also more clarity now on why people get into Council Tax debt. Research by CAS has found the cost of living forces people to prioritise their payments. As the harshness and immediacy of the Council Tax collection process is not well known, they wrongly give it lower priority.

Most people take Council Tax in their financial stride, but if you’re struggling it’s vital you get advice – ideally before you have to miss a payment. CAS advice is free, confidential and impartial and is available online, by phone or in person.

As well as helping the individuals who need it, we will continue to advocate behind the scenes for a fairer approach in the hope that in the coming years Council Tax debt will finally have been knocked off its perch as our number one debt issue.

Email: admin@lochabercab.casonline.org.uk https://www.cas.org.uk/about-us/volunteer-citizens-advice-bureau https://www.lochabercab.org.uk/volunteer










With an estimated half of Britain’s butterfly species under threat or threatened with near extinction, leading wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation is inviting people from across the country to join in its ‘Big Butterfly Count’ between July 12 and August 4.

The annual citizen science programme attracts tens of thousands of people out into their garden, local green space or the countryside to spend 15 minutes counting butterflies and helping to inform conservation action.

The organisation says butterflies are indicators of a healthy natural environment and it has never been more important to understand how our insects are responding to the changing climate and to take action to protect them.

Last year, more than 135,000 counts took place up and down the country, with participants spending a combined total of almost four years counting butterflies. The information gathered helps scientists to understand how butterflies and moths are faring, informs conservation projects, government policies and supports other experts with their research and vital work to protect our planet.

Dr Zoë Randle, Senior Surveys Off icer at Butterfly Conservation, said: “We’re

getting reports that although many species have been seen early this year, likely due to the warm early spring, sightings are actually down, which is probably a result of the wet and windy weather. So people getting out and counting will be invaluable in helping us to gauge what’s going on.

count is a great way to enjoy time outdoors, connect with nature and have fun.

“In total, more than 1.5 million butterflies and day-flying moths were recorded in last year’s count, with the Red Admiral reigning supreme with almost 250,000 sightings. This was the first time this iconic species hit the top spot and we’re curious to see whether the warmer winter will enable it to keep its number one position or whether another species will come out on top this year”.

Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count is the largest project of its kind and is a positive way that everyone can help. As well as contributing to important scientific data collection, taking part in the

Whether done with friends and family, or in a moment of quiet calm and solitude, the Big Butterfly Count is free, fun and takes just 15 minutes. It is open to anyone, of any age, in towns, cities or the countryside. No green space is too small - a back garden, a small terrace or balcony with some pot plants, a public park, allotment or country lane are all important spaces to explore, track and report.

For more information and to take part, visit www. bigbutterflycount.org or download the free Big Butterfly Count app.

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Iain Ferguson Orange Tip
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1951 – 2024


Suddenly and unexpectedly at home, on Sunday 21st April 2024, Peter John Harrop (Pete), aged 72 years, Kinloid Cottage, Arisaig (former member of Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team). A loving partner and soulmate to Kate, a treasured dad to Lewis and Aileen, a proud grandpa to Robbie, Niamh and Maia, a caring brother to Claire, Liz and Sarah, a much loved uncle, relative, a good friend to many a musician, mountaineer, sea kayaker, adventurer and, above all, an egalitarian good man. Sadly missed.


1951 – 2024


Sadly, but peacefully, following a short stay in the loving care of Abbeyfield Care Home, Ballachulish, on Sunday 12th May 2024, Cameron MacLeod, aged 73 years, Aryhoulan, Ardgour (former Shepherd at Ardgour Estate for over 30 years, latterly employed with MOWI Scotland until retirement). A loving husband to Sandra, a treasured dad to Steven and Rhona and father-in-law to Donna and Scott, a wonderful papa to AJ, Aimee and Findlay, a cherished brother to Roddy, Jessie and Mairi, a much loved relative, neighbour and a very good friend to many. So dearly loved and missed.


1934 – 2024 (Strontian)

Peacefully at home, surrounded by his loving family, on Saturday 27th April 2024, Donald Carnegie McIntosh, aged 89 years, Scotstown, Strontian. Beloved husband of Margaret, a loving dad to Trudi, John and Alistair and father-in-law to Douglas, Helen and Hazel, a cherished grandpa to Holly, Rowan and Sandy, Shelley and Katie and Gregor and Daisy, a proud great grandpa to Robbie and Tyler, a dearly loved relative and a very good friend. So greatly loved and missed.


1930 – 2024


Sadly, but peacefully, following a short stay in the loving care of Invernevis House, Fort William, on Tuesday 7th May 2024, Sadie Barron Hartley, aged 93 years, Brown Terrace, Kinlochleven (former owner of Kinlochleven Paper Shop from 1970 until 1985). Beloved widow of the late Arthur, a loving mum to Ewen, Tracey and Michael and motherin-law to Willie and Jane, a treasured granny to Jonathan, Shannon and Aaron, a caring twin sister to Muriel, a dearly loved auntie, relative, neighbour and a good friend. So greatly loved and missed.

JULY | 2024
MANSON & MACBEATH FUNERAL DIRECTORS 10 Battlefield Crescent, Inverlochy, Fort William PH33 6NB Tel (24 Hour): 01397 701110 www.mansonandmacbeath.co.uk


1930 – 2024 (Claggan)

Peacefully at home, with loved ones by his side, on Monday 20th May 2024, Duncan Cameron, aged 93 years, The Corries, Claggan, Fort William (retired HGV Driver for Hydro Electric). Beloved husband to the late Jean, a much loved uncle to Evelyn, Billy, Davina and Carol, a treasured great uncle and a good friend. So greatly loved and missed.

1932 – 2024

(Caol, formerly Victoria Court)

Very Peacefully, surrounded by her loving family, in the care of Moss Park Care Home, Fort William, Margaret MacFarlane Ellis (née McAleese) , aged 91 years, formerly of Glenkingie Street, Caol and Victoria Court, Fort William (retired District Nurse). A treasured mum to Graeme, Steven, Morven and Shona, a wonderful granny to Sean and Caitlin, Martin and Michael and Ross, Amy, Greig and Jasmine and a proud great granny to Kole and Winnie Rose, a caring sister to the late Robert and Rena, a dearly loved relative, neighbour and a good friend to many. Forever in our hearts.


1929 - 2024 (Onich)

Russell Ward Morgan, formerly of Heron Bay, Druimarbin and Croit Anna Hotel, passed away peacefully at the Mains Care Home, Newtonmore on Friday 10 May 2024. A dearly loved relative, neighbour and friend. Rest In Peace.


1938 – 2024 (Caol)

Peacefully at home, on Friday 17th May 2024, Fraser McLean, aged 86 years, Camesky Road, Caol, Fort William. A loving husband of the late Margaret, a much loved dad, grandpa to 7 and great grandpa to 10, a dearly loved brother, relative, neighbour and friend. Sadly missed.


1946 – 2024 (Plantation)

Suddenly at home, on Wednesday 8th May 2024, Ian William Symmers, known to all as Jake, aged 77 years, Kennedy Road, Plantation, Fort William. A loving husband to Doreen, a treasured dad to Scott, Nicola, David and Gordon and father-inlaw to Angela, Toni and Lisa, a wonderful granda to Savanah and Maren, Dale, Kayleigh and Ben, Lauren, Emma, Calvin, Bailey and Charly and Danny, a proud great granda to Freya, Leigh, Lily, Ryleigh and Jackson, a caring brother to Brian, a much loved uncle, relative and a very good friend to many. Forever loved and always remembered.


1938 – 2024 (Ardgour)

Peacefully, in the excellent care of Abbeyfield Nursing Home, on Wednesday 1st May 2024, Anna Elizabeth Craig, aged 85 years. Beloved wife to the late John Craig, loving mum to Joanne and Griogair, and cherished Granny to Christopher, Craig, John, Daniel, and Ailsa. A much loved relative, neighbour, and friend. Our own wee Flower of Scotland.

Fort William PH33 6NB
Tel (24 Hour): 01397 701110 www.mansonandmacbeath.co.uk


1945 – 2024 (Plantation, Fort William)

Peacefully, in the care of the Belford Hospital, Fort William, on Tuesday 21st May 2024,

Elizabeth Agnes Silver, known to all as Betty, aged 78 years, Douglas Place, Plantation, Fort William. Beloved wife of the late Jack Silver, a treasured mum to Caroline and the late Marianne and mother-in-law to Dinkie Stewart, a much loved step-mum to Billy, Dougie and Alan, a cherished granny to Michael, Jerez, Ben, Joel and the late Rae, a proud great granny to Jude, a dearly loved relative, neighbour and friend. A kind, gentle lady who will be sorely missed.

1960 – 2024

(Fort William)

Unexpectedly at home, on Tuesday 14th May 2024, Jacqueline (Jacqui) Marshall (née Cowie), aged 64 years, Camanachd Crescent, An Aird, Fort William. A loving wife to Rob, a treasured sister to Jamie, John, Jeanie and the late Janette, a wonderful auntie, a much loved relative, neighbour and a very good friend to many. Forever in our hearts.


1934 – 2024

(Kinlocheil, formerly Acharacle)

Suddenly, but peacefully at home, in her sleep, on Tuesday 30th April 2024, Elizabeth Gallagher, known to all as Betty, aged 89 years, Kinloch House, Kinlocheil (General Assistant at Petstop, Fort William). Beloved wife of the late Jimmy, a treasured mum to Linda and the late Janice and mother in law to Sandy and Alan, a cherished granny to Joel, a loving sister to the late Alan, Jack and Bobby, a caring auntie to Allan, Robert, Mavis, Robert and Jim, a dearly loved relative and friend. So greatly loved and missed.

1947 – 2024 (Inverlochy)

Suddenly and unexpectedly, on Saturday 25th May 2024, in the care of the Belford Hospital, Fort William, Wendy O’Brien, aged 76 years, Lundy Gardens, Inverlochy, Fort William. Beloved wife of the late Andy, a treasured mum to Dawn and mother-in-law to David Rodgers, a caring step-mum to Andrew and Julie, a wonderful nana to David, Carys and Iona, a cherished sister to Sheryl, a much loved relative, neighbour and friend. So greatly loved and missed.



As reported in a previous Lochaber Life, Kenny MacLaughlin from Ardtornish has been training for months to achieve a huge challenge - climbing Ben Nevis three times in day to raise money for the Samaritans.

Well he did it and has raised £11,000 for the charity so far. In his own words, this is how it went:

“The 4.15am alarm sounded like a lorry reversing but, to be honest, I’d been awake on and off for a couple of hours. A quick coffee and a porridge pot, a final check of the kit that I’d triple checked the previous night and I was good to go.

“Pick Scott Pickles up at 5.20am and head for the first ferry to depart from Ardgour.

“We stood outside The Ben Nevis Inn at 6.55am, in the car park, waiting on the last five minutes to pass before we would start. We had been joined for the first climb by another good friend Danny Conlon. Bang on 7 o’clock, we were off.

“No matter how difficult we knew it would be and how long we were going to be hiking for, it was still difficult to hold back

on the pace. Adrenaline and excitement had us racing on for the first kilometre or so, before we settled into a nice steady pace.

“A quick check on the phone almost stopped me in my tracks...

“Around about 150 messages of support from Twitter, Facebook and Messenger - and it was only 7.30am!

“It’s humbling to think so many people had followed my training for the previous six months and were now actively willing me on to succeed.

“Not only willing me on, but my JustGiving page also lit up, with donations made on the day

itself reaching around £1,500. It was absolutely staggering.

“We had a rough target of reaching the Lochan in an hour and the ‘halfway burn’ in around 1 hour 15 minutes. We were bang on track with both of those check points. Our first summit was reached at 9.40am.

A quick couple of photos and we were on our way back down, reaching the car park at 11.31am, roughly an hour quicker than my initial plan.

“We had booked a room at the Ben Nevis Inn for the night ahead and they were kind enough to allow us early access so we could get showered, boil a kettle and remake drinks for

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the next climb. After refuelling, with noodles and tinned fruit we set off again.

“This time it was just myself and Scott, as Danny had headed home to put his feet up and relax for the remainder of the day. Our second climb was much like the first, although we were beginning to get some odd looks from people as you could see them questioning themselves as to whether or not they had already seen us earlier on our way down the first time.

“Again, get to the summit, photo and head back down. Four hours 30 minutes, shaved a minute off our first time. Back into the room, a much longer period of rest, a freshen up and yet another change of clothes and more noodles.

“We set off on our third and final climb at 18.57pm. I actually felt pretty fresh as we headed away from the car park. That fresh feeling had left me within the first half hour though, as my thighs started to get heavier and heavier. There had been a few fleeting moments a couple of hours earlier when we had contemplated trying for four climbs but those over ambitious thoughts had long since

vanished. We were still meeting guys coming off the hill that we had chatted to earlier, during either our first ascent or our second or both. The banter we had with those guys most certainly lifted the spirits as the night skies began to darken.

“Before we finally reached the summit for our last time, it became clear we were the last two people out climbing the Ben that day and as we slowly made our way to the trig point in the darkness, a beautiful eerie silence fell upon us. We spent 10 minutes at the top this time, soaking in what we had achieved, before cautiously making our way back towards

the track back down.

“It took us five hours and 28 minutes to complete our final climb, a time that was still not too shabby. We were met by our own little group of cheerleaders at the bottom. It had taken us just over 18 hours to complete the three climbs and the sense of elation, pride and achievement at the bottom was almost palpable.

“Add to that, I had raised around about £11,000 for the Samaritans and the last six months of training felt they had paid off.

“Most definitely, the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life and not something I intend to do again anytime soon, but am I glad I did it? Absolutely.

“If anyone would like to make a donation please scan the QR code here to donate on my JustGiving page.“


‘Go make films with your mates!’


In mid May, it wasn’t just Harry Potter fans who were filling up Glenfinnan car parks as vehicles, catering vans, drones and cameras arrived along with cast, crew and Oscar winning director Danny Boyle to work on one of his latest productions.

They took over the village car parks and set up their base for drone operations in the garden of Lochaber High School.

Thanks to this ‘close encounter’ with so many industry professionals, English and drama teacher Stephen Carruthers was able to witness how they make films and them to record interviews to share with his pupils.

Mr Carruthers said: “At the moment, my S2 drama classes are making their own short films. Each pupil has the choice of making either a video advert or a film trailer. To be able to witness how the professionals do it has been a great opportunity and they spoke quite freely about their work”.

Drone camera operator Peter Keith and location manager Calum Green both spoke about their education and work experience and gave advice on pursuing a career in the film

industry. Mr Carruthers also approached Danny Boyle, the Oscar-winning director of films such as Slumdog Millionaire, (which is studied as part of the school curriculum), Trainspotting and the creative director of the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony, amongst many other top level projects. He readily agreed and spoke for several minutes as Mr Carruthers became the cameraman and interviewer using his mobile phone.

Every bit the professional, Danny Boyle spoke straight to the young people using the medium in which he is an expert, talking about his life, how he first became involved in the film

industry, education, career and most of all encouraging them to pursue their interests by actually making, producing and acting in their own videos.

Asked if he had any advice for pupils, Danny said: “I grew up in a small town, without any film-makers or artists in my family to give me a leg up. The big thing is to start trying with your mates. Make music videos to songs that you like, cut footage from games or intercut footage with you and the games.

“Just express yourself crazily. What you want to do is generate ideas and the best way is to do that practically by just doing and the best way to do that is by making films with your mates”.

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The traditional and always popular Glengarry Highland Games return to the shinty

field beside the community hall on Saturday July 6.

This year is their 52nd event and sees the reintroduction of an event once lost - but now found - the Invergarry Stone.

Once a common feature across the Highlands, heavy stones were located on clan boundaries, with warriors lifting them to settle a dispute rather than fighting.

Is is thought the stone last featured in the Games in the 1960s and was found being used as a ‘leg up’ for horse riders. It will be lifted again this month.

All the usual competitive and ‘fun’ events will also be featured as well as stalls for food, drink and crafts. The games are guaranteed to be a great day out for all ages.

Scottish Field Shop, brimming with luxury gifts, food & drink from across Scotland

SHOP 01631 568055 shop.scottishfield.co.uk Sign up to our newsletter for weekly offers!


Artists from across Lochaber are being asked to pick up their brushes, pencils, crayons or whatever media they choose to work with to produce an entry for a landscape art competition.

Organised by Gallery in the Fort to encourage and promote local interest in producing artwork, the competition is free to enter and covers a range of ages so that fair comparisons can be made by the judges, who themselves are each experienced professional artists.

All entries should be no bigger than A4 size and should be submitted to the shop no later than July 31. All entries will be publicly displayed in

the gallery throughout August with the winner announced at the end of that month. There will be three age categories: up to nine years old; ten to 15 years old and 16 and over, with the judging being carried out by three well-known local professional artists. There will also be an extra prize for the People’s Choice which will be selected by people visiting the gallery during the display throughout August.

Prizes are as impressive as the entries are predicted to be, with each category winner and runner-up having their picture professionally framed by Gillian Sloan. There will also be vouchers to spend on art materials from the shop to help buy more paints, brushes and surfaces.

Gillian said: “Living in this area, there are so many fantastic opportunities to produce a variety of landscape artwork, which is why we chose that as the subject.

“I know from the number of local people who come into the gallery to buy their materials that there are many local artists working in all kinds of media and producing amazing work. This is an opportunity for us to say thank you to them as well as encouraging their artistic flair and having the chance to show off their work to the many thousands of visitors who come to Fort William during the summer”.

Full details and competition rules will be on the Gallery in the Fort Facebook page.

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LOCHABER LIFE | 25 Voluntary Board Members
For an informal discussion, telephone 01397 702530 and ask for our Chief Executive, Margaret Moynihan.
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1937 – 2024

Maureen and all the MacDonald family would like to express their gratitude to everyone who has helped and supported us so much since Fergie’s passing. We are so grateful to everyone who came together to fulfil Fergie’s last wishes. To Natalie, John, and Peter at John McLellan Funeral Directors, thank you for your professionalism and care. Thank you to Fr. Joe for the beautiful mass and to everyone involved in preparing the church. A special thank you to all the amazing musicians who made the day so special. To everyone who came from near and far to help us say goodbye to The Ceilidh King, we are so thankful for all of your support. A total of £1,360.00 was raised in memory of Fergie and will be donated to the Eilidh’s Trust.


1944 - 2024

Gordon, Thomas, and Andy wish to express their most sincere thanks to everyone who sent cards and kind messages of condolence after the passing of their Dad Tommy. We are incredibly grateful to all the staff at the Belford and Queen Elizabeth University Hospitals for the wonderful care they gave Dad. Thanks to Fr. David Connor for his lovely mass at St. Mary’s and thank you to all the staff at John McLellan Funeral Directors for their care, compassion, and help with everything in arranging the funeral.

We extend our thanks to McDonald Bros. Inverlochy for the beautiful floral tributes and to all the staff at The Railway Club for the funeral tea. Finally, to everyone who came out on the day of Dad’s funeral to pay their respects and be with us, thank you all for your support and help at this difficult time. £477.10 was collected at Dad’s funeral and will be donated to the Belford Hospital.

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The answer to this question is not as complex as you may think, as it is people and the activities they create to make life interesting.

Throughout Scotland, events like traditional Highland Games are populareven when they are not in the Highlands - bringing participants and spectators together from far afield to unite in a common interest.

On July 6, the Invergarry community will come together to stage its Highland Games which always attract large crowds. Highland Dancing and heavy athletes showing their strength in events including throwing the hammer and tossing the caber combine with fun races and games for all ages to form a community connection.

Recently, members of Lochaber Showstoppers took to the stage to perform “Shrek the Musical’ - more in next month’s Lochaber Life - to the delight of audiences from all over Lochaber who watched the show, cheered and clapped the performers as one.

Sporting communities can also be found across the area with numerous organisations catering for a wide variety of interests. Individuals work together or communicate with each other to get together with like-minded people.

Fort William Football Club held a well-attended day to mark its 50th year. Communities also recently came together to champion a common cause with the ‘Build the Belford’ campaign for a new hospital and to make the case for and against a proposed National Park.

The Volunteer Oscar Awards, organised by Voluntary Action Lochaber, recognised the huge voluntary and charitable communities in every part of the area with people giving up their time to help others, all with one aim - making lives better.

So one big community has one common connection - the people who make it happen and support every event to ensure the wider Lochaber area continues to thrive.

Iain Ferguson

I have loved reading recent “thoughts” in Lochaber Life. Congratulations to the editor for finding so many good contributors as it’s not easy to write something sensible, spiritual and scriptural in 300 words.

Jade in June who asked “Who are the people who helped to make you, you?” inspired me for this month with Miss Bell, an inspiring teacher of English, coming to my mind.

Her rules included:

1 Never start a letter or paragraph with the ‘first person singular’. (I)

2. Use short simple sentences - no ands/buts.

3. Don’t overuse literary devices like alliteration (3Ss, 3Js)

So she would not approve those messy 100 words above. Let’s write the way Miss Bell taught.

Here’s a brief Bible story: Nicodemus was a religious ruler. He visited Jesus one night. He had seen miracles. You are a ‘teacher straight from God’ he said. Jesus told him: “This is how much God loved the world. He gave his Son, his one and only Son, so that no-one need be destroyed. By believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.” John 3.16 [The Message]

However, Nicodemus struggled to believe.

Our head teacher made me struggle. She was a bully. Once she tried to put me down in front of my English class. Miss Bell bravely said something supportive. I was so thankful.

Nicodemus tried to support Jesus as bullying fellow rulers strove to condemn him. (John 7.50) He later showed respect by providing the traditional spices to preserve Jesus’ body. (John 19.39)

This piece is my token of respect for Miss Bell and all good teachers everywhere. In Scotland, they will be having their well-deserved holiday in July, while politicians hassle. Perhaps we could all make time to pray for both this month. God bless you all.

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A visiting group from the Basque Country dancing in Fort William High Street and playing the Txalaparta - an instrument made from cylindrical sticks - as the men celebrate their culture of music and dance. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, The Write Image.
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Ardnamurchan shinty girls in America for training

At the end of June, ten lucky young girls from Ardnamurchan High School headed to America to attend a shinty camp run by the Camanachd Association in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

They were accompanied by pupils from Portree High School, Kingussie High School, Inverness Royal Academy and Kilchuimen Academy to take part in shinty training sessions with shinty coaches, taking full advantage of the American school’s amazing sports facilities which boast playing fields, tennis courts and swimming pools. There were also day trips to Princeton University and New York.

To qualify, the school proved its strong shinty connections; from May shinty has been included in the PE curriculum. It also has links to local shinty Club, Ardnamurchan Camanachd. These gained them Camanachd Association Shinty School status, which allowed them to nominate ten girls to be part of this exciting trip.

The purpose was to promote the women’s game, where numbers have been declining in recent years.

However on the peninsula this is not the case with female players outnumbering their male counterparts.

Being invited to take part came with a list of goals the girls had to achieve which included playing for their club or school for the year, giving back to the community – which the girls have done by coaching in local primary schools and promoting shinty within the school cluster. They also took part in the High Life Highland ‘Choose to Lead’ programme for which they will gain a National 4 certificate on completion.

Raising money to meet the costs have seen the girls eagerly fundraising since September 2023 raising more than £20,000 with events ranging from sponsored cy-

cles and swims to raffles and dances. They thank everyone in the community who has supported them by buying raffle tickets, sponsorship or going along to the dances.

Thanks must also go to the Kinlochmoidart Hydro Scheme which donated a large sum towards the trip –without which the trip would not have been possible.

Leading the trip was Alan Gray, Active Schools Co-ordinator, and Jacob Green, Ardnamurchan Camanachd Coach. He said: “The generosity of local communities and the dedication of the girls and parents who have driven them everywhere has been unbelievable. The girls have worked hard and I am so proud of all of them for committing to everything we have done”.

There will be a follow up report on the girls’ adventures in a future Lochaber Life.

38 | JULY 2024
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Members of the British Drug Free Powerlifting Association (BDFPA) converged at the Corpach-based Wolfhouse Gym in April to take part in the Highland Challenge Championships with competitors from across Scotland and the UK joining local lifters for the event.

One of the many success stories on the day was that of Lochaber’s Aidan Taylor who stepped onto the stage in his first powerlifting event since injury pushed the active and talented sportsman out of any active pursuit.

A herniated disk in his back and developing facet joint arthritis in his lower spine completely ruled out any sport, forcing him to give up his role as Fort William Football Club player and captain over two years ago. After undergoing two nerve root injections, he was told surgery was the next step, which carried its own risks and the possibility of leaving him worse off.

Aidan said: “Having been active in many sports all my life, I was really down in the dumps at suddenly having to stop everything but after a short time I started to look around for something I would be able to do”.

His investigations led him to online strength coach Callum

Barney MSc who took him on as a rehab athlete to get him back to lifting and moving again. “When I started with him I was struggling to put on my socks and wasn’t able to tie my shoelaces. Seven months on and I am competing in a powerlifting competition and benchlifting an all-time personal best of 120kg at 73.8kg bodyweight”.

Focusing all his energy outside of work into carefully building up his fitness and confidence while protecting his back, Aidan gradually got himself into the position where felt ready and able to compete.

He said: “I am grateful for the support from my coach, family and friends who all had a role in putting myself back in a competitive environment”.

This is the second year Wolfhouse has hosted a divisional level competition, with more competitors entering including local lifters Sarah Ralston, Squat 130kg, Bench 65kg, Deadlift 150kg, Total: 345kg; Charis Sneddon, Squat 97.5kg, Bench 57.5kg, Deadlift 135kg, Total: 290kg; Chloe Cameron, Squat 100kg, Bench 55kg, Deadlift 137.5kg, Total 292.5kg; and John Treasurer, Squat 180kg, Bench 127.5, Deadlift 240kg, Total: 547.5kg

An inspiration for anyone finding themselves in a similar life-changing situation to never give up, Aidan is already hoping to take part in another competition.

46 | JULY 2024
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