News Archive - December 2003

More Caithness Biodiversity
It seems as if we will never run out of amazing views in Caithness and this next few are yet more examples of why it was great project.   And yes there are many more to come........
Another 12 added Sat 3 January

Back To The Caithness Coast As Caithness Biodiversity Collection Continues
Some stunning pictures of the Caithness Coast in this set just beginning with the first twelve.  Much of the Caithness coast needs you to leave your car for a short walk from the main roads and sometimes a little further but the walk is well worth while to see that many drive right past.  Much to see on these short forays.

Dunnet To St John's Loch
Adding to our collection of recent snow scenes this one has been sent in by Michael Draper showing Dunnet looking to St John's Loch.
Alan Moar flew over Dunnet Head and got one of Dunnet Head looking to Hoy.

Happy New Year From
We wish you all a great 2004.

Great Pictures Of Caithness & Sutherland In The Snow
Alan Moar has been up flying and posted some great pictures of the two counties on his web site.

Cold In Caithness Today
Caithness like most of the north of Scotland had freezing weather all day. Snow had fallen overnight but the day was bright and sunny. No problems on roads as gritters had been out. Lovely day for walks on the beach or along the rivers.

Caithness Men In New Years Honours List
The New Year Honours list includes two Caithness men who have been awarded MBE's. Willie Mackay for services to Caithness agricultural industry George MacDonald who has long been involved with the British Legion in Wick. Congratulations to them both.

Caithness Biodiversity Continues

Caithness Biodiversity Pictures
As the collection develops it will become a very comprehensive listing of flora and fauna in Caithness

Caithness Biodiversity  - You Aint Seen Nuthin Yet
The collection has a long way to go and in addition to many more pictures of flora and fauna there are some great coastal shots showing cliffs, beaches bringing home the amazing range in Caithness often not seen by the visitor racing around in a car.

Caithness Girls At The National Mod In Helmsdale
Running through the Sutherland collection of photographs we spotted this one of Caithness dancers at Helmsdale.  This collection differs from the Caithness Biodiversity colllections as it concentrates more on aspects of life rather than the flora, fauna and scenery although there are many great views included as you will see as we reach the pictures and process them onto the web site.

Dornoch and Helmsdale
Just two of the many places in this huge collection of photographs created by the Sutherland Partnership and as you will see covering many places and events.

Sutherland Collection Features Dunrobin Castle
Dunrobin Castle can hardly fail to be features in any collection of Sutherland Photographs and this collection makes sure it is seen at its best.  Extremely popular with visitors it has large collections of various  artefacts as well as being one of the largest castles open to the public.

Timewasters Or Amusement Links If You Are Looking To While Away A Few Hours
Lots of new links on our Timewasting or amusement links page ready for just the time when you have a few spare hours or minutes to while away.  Everything from games and puzzles to the plain odd and wacky.  If you get through all of these sites by next Christmas you will have wasted we mean amused yourself.  Happy Christmas!

Set Four In The Caithness Biodiversity Collection

The Sutherland Photo Collection
Starting with East Sutherland this collection will build into one of the largest individual collections on the web site.  The Sutherland Partnership has provided access to its collection of photographs taken by Michael Brookes Roper.  Get ready over the next few weeks to visit many parts of Sutherland.

Selling A Car, Computer Or Almost Anything - Try Caithness.Org First - It's FREE
It's easy to advertise on Caithness.Org to buy or sell almost anything.  Why pay for expensive advertising to sell unwanted household items when you can reach lots of people FREE.  Just join the message board and in seconds you can post your own ads and turn those unused goods in the garage or attic into cash.  Or find things you are looking for by asking if anyone else is selling what you are looking for.

Selling Property - Then Check Out The Low Cost on Caithness.Org
Whether selling yourself or through an agent think about placing your property ad on Caithness.Org.  Lots of properties have passed through the Property Page in 2003.   If you are selling in 2004 check out our prices - great value and the ad stays on until you sell the property with no repeat fees.

Snow In Caithness Does Not Stop Lybster Railway Clearance

Final Sea-life Pictures In The Caithness Biodiversity Collection
The remaining photographs from Sue Scott complete this section from under the sea round the Caithness coast.   Hundreds  of photos yet to come in this great collection showing other parts of the county.

Authenticity Leaving Wick After Delivering Fuel Oil

Continuing Under The Caithness Seas - The Caithness Biodiversity Collection

Wick Hogmanay Street Party Starts At 10.30pm
With Pipe Band, Bobby Coghill Scottish Dance Band, Communique and others set to make lively to bring in the New Year there is sure to another big crowd in the Market Square.  Once again organisers are out to have the biggest Strip the Willow dance going with as many couples as can be ordered into line.
If anyone knows of other street parties in Caithness send us details to add to the page.

Caithness Country Music Festival
Local country music enthusiasts have come together to organise the event at Thurso's Gillock Park and caravan site between the 9th - 11th April. The three-day event will feature five live shows with headline acts of international standing and will also feature popular local, Scottish and Irish bands.  Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise (CASE) has awarded organisers, the Northern Nashville Country Music Club, a funding support package totalling £9,900, which includes £7,000 from the European-funded Community Economic Development (CED) programme.

Lets Go Under The Sea Off The Caithness Coast - The Biodiversity Collection
The stunning Caithness biodiversity Collection includes pictures of life under the sea round the Caithness coast.  These pictures are by Sue Scott a diver and underwater photographer.  Many more to come.

New Local Firm (F.I.R.S.T.) Aims To Deliver Safety Services
If you have a business premises then you have a legal obligation to ensure that it is properly protected against fire, and you probably do, but are you sure that the fire equipment you do have is compliant with the regulations?  Having it regularly serviced by a competent person (as you must do by law) is not the whole answer.  You may have the wrong types of extinguisher, or the right types but in the wrong place. You may not even have sufficient to satisfy your insurance company.

Council Recycles One Million Aluminium Cans
And urges public to recycle their festive carry-outs.  As Highland Council marks the recycling of the millionth aluminium can collected in the Highland area over the last 9 months, Councillor Bill Fulton the Depute Chairman of Waste Management for The Highland Council's Transport, Environmental and Community Services Committee urged everyone over the Christmas and New Year celebrations to continue to collect their aluminium cans for recycling.  The million cans collected over the 9 month period represents an increase of around 25% on recycling figures since.

Camps Car Park In Wick To Be Repaired
A car park in Wick will receive emergency repairs after the state of the facility was brought to the attention of The Highland Council's Convener, Mrs Alison Magee and Chief Executive Arthur McCourt at a recent meeting with Caithness Community Councillors, business leaders, Highland Council local members and staff.  The Council's Convener and Chief Executive heard at the meeting how Scalesburn Road and Camps car park in Wick were in need of urgent repairs and the Council's Transport, Environmental and Community Services have since authorised £30,000 worth of repairs to the car park.

Council Misgivings At A9 Improvement Scheme
The Scottish Executive is to be urged to reconsider plans to provide overtaking opportunities on two stretches of the A9 between Drumochter and Inverness at a cost of £5 million.  The Convener of The Highland Council Councillor Alison Magee has written to Scottish Transport Minister Nicol Stephen, MSP, expressing the Council's opposition to the introduction of a road lay out known as wide single carriageway (WS 2 + 1), which is aimed at guaranteeing overtaking opportunities by incorporating two lanes in one direction, with one lane in the opposite direction.

The Highland Council is to investigate the feasibility of commissioning an independent appraisal of the impact on local communities of vital hospital services.  The Council has been very closely involved in voicing the concerns of local communities at proposed NHS reviews of maternity services at Caithness General Hospital, Wick, and the consultant led acute services at the Belford Hospital, Fort William.  Their concern is that the current reviews are centred solely on clinical needs.

Unemployment In November Shows Marginal Increase But Still Below Last Year
Overall, the number of people unemployed in Caithness and Sutherland rose from 705 last month to 738. This compares to 790 in the same period last year.  The revised unemployment rates in the Sutherland, Wick and Thurso 'Travel to Work Areas' respectively are as follows: 3.9% (3.4%), 3.6% (3.6%) and 2.4% (2.4%).  - CASE November 2003 Report.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has announced today that the former Sutherland Woollen Mill in Brora has been sold to local engineering firm, Edward Mackay Limited (EML).  The property was sold to EML for £610,000.  The price achieved is in excess of HIE's current valuation of the building.

Caithness Biodiversity Collection Continues

Biodiversity Shows Huge Range Of Wild Flowers And Plants In The County
As we add more pictures to the Biodiversity collection it is possible to see the huge range to be found in the various habitats from the coast to hills and bogland.   Caithness has always had a hugely diverse range but perhaps until now only a fraction was seen by walkers and visitors.  Many more pictures yet to come.

George Winds Down For Christmas
George Index

Lybster Landmark Gone After 100 Years
The Railway Shed at Lybster has gone after 100 years.  The end of an era as the old railway shed which was a village landmark for slightly over 100 years became a bonfire on its demolition.  The railway opened on 3rd July 1903. The shed came down on 19th December 2003.

Have You Got A Home And A Business Computer?  Register Both For Broadband 20 December
If you use two different connections for Internet access why not register both phone numbers.  This will help your area reach the trigger figure and maybe get Broadband services into your area sooner.  Wick is still climbing towards the required number so every registration takes us all a little closer.

DIANA MACDONALD - New Caithness Chiropodist
After having qualified from Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh with an honours degree in Podiatry, 22 year old DIANA MACDONALD returned to her home county of Caithness to start up her business as a Chiropodist; based at her home in Hempriggs near Wick and travelling to her clients across the area.  Diana launched her business in August this year and welcomed the assistance from the Prince's Scottish Youth Business Trust (PSYBT), At the early stages of the business it is getting the finance.

More Radio Station Links In News Index Pages
A few more links to BBC Radio Stations for you to listen to while you browse or even move on to other web sites.  If you have not yet tried this then have a go.  All you need is Windows Media or Real Player and you can be listening to music or other programmes while you surf.  Even the new BBC digital radio stations are online.  If you want more then there are links to our page leading you to many more station worldwide.  If you miss a programme on BBC radio it is worth remembering that most channels have many programmes available all week for you to listen to.

Biodiversity Pictures - Set Two Commences
Commencing Set Two of the Caithness Biodiversity Collection we bring you a set by Ken Crossan.  These stunning pictures have a long way to go as we see the huge range of plants, birds, animals and countryside to be found in the county of Caithness.   Many more amazing pictures yet to come starting this set with an Albino Meadow Pipit

Highland Council Latest News
NORTH LONGMAN OFFER  - Asda Offer Rejected

Glasgow accountants, Wylie & Bisset, are warning consumers to beware of seeking advice from debt management companies following the Christmas shopping spree.  Such companies which are not subject to regulation, promise to consolidate a person’s debt into one, often substantial payment programme; they charge administration fees over an extended period for a service which is available free of charge from other organisations.  Plastic Can Damage Your Wealth!!

Lybster Indoor Bowling Club
Lybster Indoor Bowling Club are smartly turned out in their new sweatshirts sponsored by John Gunn and Sons, Lybster

Caithness Connections Video Competition Winners Announced
The winners of our free competition have been announced and are on the competition page.  the videos will be out shortly.  Still time to buy one at the Ross Records web site before Christmas or to view in the New Year.

It's Never Too Late To Email Or Write To Your MSP On The Maternity Issue
Decisions are always liable to be changed and influencing them may be possible if the weight of opinion is sufficient.  Communities all over the Highlands are already showing they are willing to respond to the threat to what is a vital service.  with probably the largest turnouts for public meetings, demonstrations and petitions that the highlands has seen for a very long time there can be little doubt about the public's views.   Convincing everyone that it is no mere flash in the pan might a little more pushing.

Highlands MSP fights for Caithness Maternity Service
Rob Gibson, SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands, tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament calling for the safeguarding of maternity services in Caithness.  It follows a busy week for the campaign, which showed its strength on Monday with big demonstrations greeting Professor Calder, the medic responsible for reviewing the future of the maternity service in the area.  The motion suggests a solution to the problem whereby medical staff also need to gain experience in both small and larger hospitals. Mr Gibson suggested a scheme whereby doctors could rotate between hospitals in Caithness, Inverness and Aberdeen.

Bin Ends New Web Site - Will You Be finding Your Bargain Dram Here this Christmas?
Bin Ends shops in Wick and Thurso now have their own web site allowing customers to check out the latest deals on offer.  At this time of year there are quite a few from wines and beers to some quite amazing prices on malt whiskies.  Not only does Bin Ends have great prices but the shops also have huge range of malts to choose from. You can even buy one get one free on certain malts. If you are getting ready to stock up take a click over and see for yourself.

The  enabling  works for a proposed waste transfer facility at the Dounreay cementation  plant  store are nearing completion. The work has been carried out  in  four distinct parts. Building demolition has been carried out by J Gunn & Sons Ltd, new service gantry completed by Johnson Controls and D Gow &  Sons  Ltd  and  road  re-alignment, drainage and excavation works by M M Miller  (Contractors)  Wick.

Caithness Tora-Kai Shotokan Karate Club
The Caithness Tora-Kai Shotokan Karate club  held a Kata competition recently in the Assembly rooms in Wick.   Over sixty members participated and after an excellent display of technique, timing and power.   The Caithness club has run successfully for many years and has a high number of black belts within its membership.  Taking all ages from beginners to expert at all levels the members certainly have one thing in common - they are very fit.

Halkirk United V Thurso Saturday 20th December
Big Caithness Derby game on Saturday at Recreation Park in Halkirk between Halkirk United and Thurso F.C. Kick off is 1.30 pm in The MSIS North Caledonian League.   It should be a very tough, competitive game like all derbies and Halkirk United will be looking to win for the first time since Thurso joined the league in 1998.

Funding Settlement For Local Government - Highland Gets £354million
The 2004-05 and 2005-06 funding allocations for individual councils were announced in the Scottish Parliament today.  Finance and Public Services Minister Andy Kerr confirmed the funding increases announced last December as part of the three-year settlement for 2003-06 and gave details of additional money for a number of new initiatives as well as transfers of resources both into and out of the grant paid by the Executive to local authorities.  Over the next two years, local authorities in Scotland will receive: £7.667 billion in 2004-05  £7.992 billion in 2005-06.  In 2004/05 Highland will receive £354.2million with a £22.9 increase on 2003/04.  These figures do not include council tax or housing benefit.

Extra Funding For Parents Helpline
A national helpline which offers information and advice to parents of children with additional support needs is to receive a £675,000 boost, it was announced today.  Enquire, the Additional Support Needs (ASN) helpline and website, will receive the cash to help continue its work during the next two years.

Younger People And The British  Nuclear Energy Society - New Group 17 December
Do you have an active interest in nuclear energy matters? - You do not need to work at Dounreay to join.
If you work or are interested in the nuclear industry then a new email group could be of interest to you.  This new branch of the British Nuclear energy Society is based at Dounreay and is setting up an email group to keep younger members informed of what is happening.  Are you a BNES member or simply interested in hearing more about the opportunities the BNES and YGN offer, in particular the Dounreay BNES Branch? Opportunities such as: Conferences Seminars Lectures Technical Visits BNES Journal. the list goes on. The newly formed Dounreay BNES branch is looking to construct a circulation list of:  BNES members  Those interested in becoming BNES members OR simply interested in being kept informed of BNES Activities.

Make Sure You Cook That Turkey Properly
There are many recipes for stuffing but essentially the main thing is to cook the turkey or any other poultry properly to avoid any tummy problems associated with poultry that is undercooked.  Many people do not cook large birds except at Christmas or New Year so following cooking times exactly is essential.

The Caithness Goose Company Bringing Back A Traditional Taste Of The County
Still time to get a traditional Caithness taste on your Christmas or New Year Holiday table.  The Caithness Goose Company has gone back to basics and with modern delivery can get freshly prepared Caithness Goose to any part of the UK overnight.  Caithness the most northerly of the mainland counties, has always been noted for the quality of its grazing stock, and the domestic goose was once one of its principal products, with every farm and croft keeping a small flock.

Gersa 1953
Picture from Brian Polson. Other pictures now entered in this section.

Closing in On North School 1946
Clear pictures so here are some closer blow-ups to help with recognition.

Help Improve Arts In Caithness By Responding To Few Questions
Caithness Arts has been working together with Tom Bryan the Caithness Arts officer to distribute copies of the questionnaire that the Highland Council's Arts consultants have made up.  Lots of interested people have already returned their responses by snail-mail, but there are still loads of people who have not been reached.   The questions are here and the group have asked if responders can paste into Word and attach in an email to Tom Bryan by 5 January 2004.

Boundary Commission For Scotland Latest Changes Announced - None The North
The Boundary Commission for Scotland has announced its latest changes to boundaries affecting Scottish constituencies for elections.  there are no changes in Caithness, Sutherland or Easter Ross but if you want to know about other areas hop on over to the web site linked on the page.

Biodiversity Photo Collection
A stunning collection of photographs has been put together to show Caithness Biodiversity in all its splendour.  Taking a year to complete 400 photographs show images of the wildlife, landscapes and land uses of Caithness.  The collection is available to anyone - communities, businesses, organisations, agencies or individuals - to use, as long as the images are not profited from directly.   Here are the first of the photographs with all of the rest to follow in coming weeks.  the first pictures are great but you may be more and more amazed as we were as the whole of the collection unfolds.  The photographers who worked on the project have taken great care in selecting the subjects and executed the photographs to show every detail and aspect of the county.

Scottish Schools Online
A new web site from the Scottish Executive to allow you to look up a range of information about schools from exam results to where people go when they leave and much more.  Link will be on the education page for future reference.

Evening Demonstration Gets Massive Crowd At Caithness General Hospital
Up to 800 people came from all over Caithness and North Sutherland to the demonstration organised by the League of Friends at Caithness General to coincide with Professor Calder leaving after his meetings with staff, Mums , politicians and ambulance men.  He could be in no doubt how people feel about the possibility of having maternity services down graded at the hospital.

Local and Scottish Parliament Politicians Address the Crowds After Seeing Professor Calder
MSP's Jamie Stone and Rob Gibson have never seen anything like it in Caithness.  Addressing the crowd both men agreed that a solution had to be found.  Rob Gibson suggested that a form of rotation for consultants around Highland and Grampian might be the way forward.

Professor Calder Comes Out To Speak To A Few Folk After His Meetings
After being accused of sneaking round the back door at lunchtime Professor Calder came out the front door in the evening to face the much large crowds that had gathered.  Although good natured the crowd made a few shouts to ensure he knew how they felt.  The sea of banners expressed many of the sentiments.  The League of Friends certainly managed to rally the whole of Caithness like no other organisation has done in many years.  Most folk felt that the cause was worth fighting for and determined to back the ladies in their campaign.

New What's On Event Calendar A Big Hit
The number of events going into the what's On Calendar has doubled since the items began to appear daily on the front page.  Many Christmas events and more have been entered on the new simple form.  Your group can be getting great publicity and more folk are checking it every day as more events go in.  Get your group events in and it is FREE.

More Crowds Expected For 6.00pm Demonstration At Caithness General
Following the two simultaneous demonstrations in Wick a big crowd is expected at Caithness General Hospital at 6.00pm as another demonstration gets underway to show the level of support for retaining services.  Professor Calder may not be in Caithness for very long but he and his team can hardly have failed to take note of the local feeling on the issue.

Crowds Meets Professor Calder's Team For Maternity Review
Crowds awaited the review team as they flew in with folk still shouting he should have come by road to see for himself the journey of over 100 miles.

Professor Calder Held A Short Press Conference
Professor Calder gave a short if somewhat gloomy interview to the waiting press from the BBC, Grampian TV, Local and national newspapers as well as freelance writers and photographers.  He talked broadly about the position regarding shortages of consultants and European Working Time Directives but gave no indications of how his report will reflect local problems.

Another Crowd at Caithness General Hospital
Professor Calder and his team were accused of sneaking in the back door as his transport took him around the back instead of coming in the front door where mothers and many other people has gathered to show support for retaining services

Highland Council Press Conference Sets Out Why Services Are Needed In The North
David Flear area convenor led the conference with George Bruce for the Health Forum adding his weight and experience to the issues that he has been heard stating many times and on radio this morning.  Emphasising the length of the road to Inverness and the dangers in winter he was backed up by David Flear who referred to huge pile of letters in front of him.

Mothers At The Heart Of The Maternity Campaign - Claim Deaths Will Result
The ladies from the League Of Friends and Two Young Mums showed they were united in their defence of local consultant led services being retained in Caithness.  Kerrie Mackenzie and Elaine Boyle both related their stories of the trauma surrounding their children's births.  From the journey to Nine Wells hospital by Helicopter and the surrounding problems to a long ambulance trip to Raigmore Hospital over 100 miles away from Wick and up to 140 miles from parts of North Sutherland.  both of their accounts were full of the agonising future that may confront many more Mums who might need to be taken south for both maternity and Paediatric services.  There accounts of what was involved confirmed to many what they already knew that any down grading is a sentence of death in their opinion for Mums and Babies in future.

MSPs Jamie Stone and Rob Gibson Agree Maternity Is A Cross Party Issue
Politicians of all levels were agreed that
the maternity issue across Scotland needs a solution but that down grading in rural areas cannot be the answer.  With distance again being the main problem and Caithness being one of the furthest away from main hospitals in the south.  Both MSP's and Councillor Flear answered a range of questions mainly on the threats to mothers and babies but also to a lesser extent on how this all might affect the economy of the area.  Pointing to support from the local enterprise company and Dounreay there was little doubt that people in future would consider whether or not to live in the area or set up business with a lesser standard of health services on offer.  It was thought that a dentist had already made that part of his decision to move and that consultants were leaving Caithness General in anticipation that the Maternity service would be down graded and they were finding jobs elsewhere before they had to.

UKAEA Awards £90 Million Contract (Biggest Ever) To RWE Nukem
UKAEA has awarded a ten-year contract, worth upwards of £90 million, to RWE NUKEM for radiological protection services across all its sites. The contract - extendable to 15 years depending on performance - is one of the largest single contracts ever let by UKAEA and was awarded after a competitive tendering exercise.  The contract covers the full range of radiological protection services including health physics monitoring, radiological protection advice and an Approved Dosimetry Service that includes monitoring of personal radiation film badges. It covers UKAEA's decommissioning sites at Dounreay, Caithness, Windscale, Cumbria, Harwell, Oxfordshire and Winfrith, Dorset, together with some services at the fusion research centre at Culham, also in Oxfordshire.

Pennyland Kids Get In On Recycling With UKAEA & Vulcan
A charity recycling venture started by staff at Dounreay has spread to the local community, helping to spruce up the nearby town of Thurso.  Thousands  of soft drink cans are collected every year at Dounreay and sent to  an  aluminium recycling plant in Ross-shire, with the proceeds going to needy causes in the far north.  The  initiative  has reduced the amount of commercial waste produced at the site which otherwise would be sent to a local landfill.

UK Broadband Users Reach 3 million
The Ofcom web site now shows that the UK has passed the 3 million users mark for Broadband.  New subscribers are being hooked up at the rate of 40,000 a week in areas that have access.   At 10 December Wick had reached 357 people signed up as interested in Broadband still some way short of the trigger of 500 but moving in the right direction.  Maybe a few more will arrive if more folk get on the Internet after Christmas.

Pre-school children in Thurso will receive a welcome addition to their play facilities today (Mon 15th Dec) when Maureen MacMillan MSP opens an outdoor play space and garden at The Highland Council’s Ormlie Centre.  The £30K development which is jointly funded by The Highland Council and Scottish Natural Heritage includes a range of play equipment - flag-pole, wig-wam, cairn tunnel, play house and landscaping and storage facilities.  The Ormlie Centre offers services to children under 5 years old through Highland Pre-School Services but is also used by Social Inclusion Partnership projects, Save The Children, Homestart, People First and older residents of Ormlie.

The Highland Council is one of 10 councils in Scotland which has been successful in bidding for Scottish Executive funding which supports enterprising pupils who are determined to succeed. Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Jim Wallace has announced that the Council will receive £1.75 million over three years through the Executive’s £40 million Enterprise in Education strategy.

Maternity Visit Gets Good Airing On Radio and Television
The visit of Professor Andrew Calder to Wick on Monday 15 December had a big profile as it gained mentions on Moray Firth Radio, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Scotland Television News.  Repeat mentions on several news broadcasts are ensuring the issue is highlighted.  With both Grampian and BBC television crews and local and national press expected to attend the two press conferences today the evening broadcasts and tomorrows morning papers are expected to cover the issue homing in on the issues and the demonstrations supporting retention of consultant led maternity services in rural areas. like Highlands.

Pipes From The Wester Yard Go for Scrap
The "Robeta" was in Wick harbour this week taking pipes from Wester rather than the other way round.  Unwanted lengths of pipe from a variety of contracts were being scrapped and this apparently was the most efficient way of taking them out of the county.

Wick Harbour To be Busy In New Year
Wick harbour trustees heard on Friday that wick harbour would see a busy period in the New Year with a range of projects. A succession of boats about every eight days carrying windmills destined for the Wind Farm at Causeymire.   In addition the commencement of work on the north pier may also coincide with this activity and as the contract calls for the delivery of 6500 tons of rock armour for the protection work on the north pier.

George Bruce - Maternity Interview On MFR Radio - Monday 7.00am, 8.00am, 9.00am
Tune in to Moray Firth Radio to hear George Bruce chairman of the Caithness & North Sutherland Health Forum being interviewed about the current Maternity Review to coincide with Professor Calder's visit to Caithness General Hospital.  Listen on radio or on the web by going to Moray Firth Radio Web site and click on Listen.  the broadcast may be on later in the day as developments happen in Wick with the various press conferences and demonstrations at the Caithness General Hospital.

Young Mums Groups Ready For Demo
A variety of groups that involve young mothers is likely to arrive with pushchairs and prams on Monday.  Several groups from around Caithness intend to be represented at the Noon Demonstration with several intending to attend both the noon and 6.00pm demos.

League Of Friends Confirm Second Demo at 6.00pm At Caithness General Hospital
As local feeling continues to rise on the Maternity Services issue in Caithness confirmation has been given that a second demonstration will take place at 6.00pm at Caithness General Hospital on Monday 15th.  The first demo will happen to coincide with the arrival of Professor Calder and his team as part of the review.  But as support continues to pour in for the League of Friends campaign it was confirmed that in order to allow people who are at work during the day to make their views known by attending a demonstration the second one would go ahead at 6.00pm.

"We Don't Want Our Maternity Service To be Invernational"
Posters in Caithness supporting the demonstrations at Caithness General Hospital on Monday 15 December have turned a current Television advertising campaign for flights from Inverness airport on its head.  Whilst the TV ad shows how great it is that you can now fly to many places from Inverness the posters bring home the point that few in the north want the same service for delivering babies up to 130 miles away.

Santa And His Reindeer (Yes The Real Thing) In Wick On Saturday

Thurso - Mad Friday - BE SAFE - TAKE THE BUS
In the interests of personal safety, UKAEA Dounreay has organised free bus services for members of the public returning home from the centre of Thurso on the evening on Friday, December 19th. This service is available to all members of the public and will be operated by Rapsons.  The free bus services have been made possible by generous sponsorship. What Is Mad Friday? - the day has become known as Mad Friday locally as the day on which many works and offices hit the holidays for up to two weeks over the festive period marked by a huge number of parties, dances and outings in Thurso.  Wick has a similar  party atmosphere on that day but does not seem to have coined a name for it.  Most pubs,  restaurants and other places in both towns are usually packed on this Friday evening.  That is why the FREE bus services are laid on so folk can leave their cars at home.

Roads To Wick Likely To Be Busy On Monday Morning For Demo
Many groups and individuals are planning to arrive in Wick in time for the demonstration outside Caithness General Hospital leading to congestion and parking problems in the vicinity.  Groups are coming from across the county for the demonstration to support the League of Friends in their campaign to save Maternity services in Caithness.  Anyone driving to Wick should consider adding a few minutes on for the trip and perhaps think about parking at the riverside car park rather than trying to get a space in the streets near the hospital.

David Flear Gets Biggest Mail Ever On Maternity Issue
Caithness Area Convenor David Flear is receiving the biggest correspondence he has ever received on any topic by a huge margin.  Mail is arriving every day by post and email is constantly popping in to add weight to his arguments.  Mail is arriving not just at his home address but to the Council Offices in Wick from where it is being passed to him.

Highland Council Press Conference
Caithness Convenor David Flear will lead a Highland Council Press Conference at Wick Town Hall on Monday 15th at 1.00pm time in the Wick Town Hall.  Councillor Flear will chair the briefing.  He hopes to have available for interview Jamie Stone, MSP, Jennifer Spence, the campaign leader and chairman of the Caithness General Hospital League of Friends; George Bruce, chairman of the Caithness and North Sutherland Health Forum and two mothers, who will speak to the benefits of consultant-led services at Caithness General Hospital, Kerry Mackenzie, Thurso, and Elaine Boyle, Wick.

National Press Zero In On Professor Calder Press Conference
Professor Calder is to hold a short press conference at Wick Airport shortly after he arrives.  With interest in the visit now coming under intense scrutiny he is likely to face a barrage of questions from Television and newspaper reporters.  The John O'Groat Journal devoted most of the front page to the subject on Friday and had a highly supportive editorial on the front page showing the massive closing of ranks on this issue.

Toot Your Horn Campaign On Demo Day
Wick is likely to be somewhat noisier than usual from 12 Noon as a "Toot Your horn " campaign gets underway for drivers passing the demo on Monday 15 December.  Drivers are being asked to toot their support as they drive past the demo taking place outside the Caithness General Hospital.

League Of Friends Profile Higher Than Ever
Jenny Spence and her fellow fundraisers find themselves at the forefront of a growing campaign to retain services in the Caithness General Hospital.  From a small fund-raising group normally donating items to the hospital they find themselves rocketing towards national status as they galvanise local groups and support into one campaign to retain and improve services at their local hospital.  This small group of ladies has in a very few weeks lifted the campaign to heights previously unknown taking with them politicians local and national, a huge range of voluntary groups and the general public, galvanising the pent up anger from previous investigations into their campaign.  With a zero budget (they have refused all monetary assistance).

Taxi Taxi Taxi  - Why Not Print This List and Take A Taxi This Christmas
Whatever you do enjoying yourself this seasonal holiday season do not Drink and Drive.  Why not print this list now and put it in your handbag or wallet.   Police are again going to be tough on anyone taking drink or drugs and found in control of a vehicle.  You probably need your driving license and many of you will lose your job if you lose it.   A taxi is cheap by comparison with any or all of the consequences.

Another Obstetrician Resigns At Caithness Maternity
Nigel Hobson, Director of Quality and Nursing, confirmed a report by the BBC today;  "I regret to confirm that I have just been informed that Dr Harry Olorunda, Consultant Obstetrician in Caithness General Hospital, has now accepted a job at another hospital. We have not yet, however, formally received Dr Olorunda 's resignation, but would expect this in due course.  This news, in addition to the impending departure of Dr Pranab Sarkar, comes at a particular time, which clearly underlines the urgent need for a robust plan for the way ahead for maternity services in Caithness.

Maternity Services Caithness - Issued By Highland Health Services
A group of external assessors will be carrying out an independent clinical assessment of maternity services in Caithness next week.  They will be meeting with local health professionals, the Scottish Ambulance Service and with a group of community representatives during a two day visit.  Professor Andrew Calder, who is leading the clinical assessment team,  says: "I have now received a great deal of correspondence regarding the assessment visit. There will be a considerable amount of information to review and it would be premature to respond to these letters individually until my colleagues and I have had time to examine them in detail. I would like in the meantime to thank people for writing to me to express their views."

Last Few Days To Write Your Letter About Maternity Services Before Calder Visit
As Caithness gears up for a show of protest at the potential downgrading of maternity services at Caithness General Hospital there is still time to add your email or latter to the growing pile held by Caithness Area convenor David Flear.  Send a letter to David Flear c/o Highland Council, Market Square, Wick or email to   Mr Flear will see Professor Calder on 15 December the same day that the Caithness General League of Friends will be holding a demonstration at the hospital at 12:00 Noon.  Other politicians you might contact are listed on the Eye On Maternity page.

Santa and His Reindeer Arrive In Wick On Saturday 13 Dec
Santa and his reindeers return to Wick after two years with his elves and others.  The reindeer are part of the only herd of reindeer in Scotland and offer a unique opportunity to see them close at hand as they make their way from the Coop into Wick from 2.00pm.

Caithness Livestock Centre Quoybrae - Aberdeen and Northern Marts
Sold 143 cattle and 1660 sheep at their Christmas show and sale at Quoybrae.  The cattle show sponsored by Johnston Carmichael, chartered accountants was judged by Mr Raymond Wight, Scotch Premier Meats, Inverurie. He placed as champion in the young farmers section a Limousin cross heifer scaling 595 kg from Gary Oag, Achiebeg, Shebster it realised £1100 to Scotch Premier Meats on behalf of Robert Rawlings, Devon House, High Street, Cranleigh, Surrey.  Champion in the open section was a Charolais cross heifer scaling 615 kg from A and W Campbell, No 5 West Murkle, Thurso and sold for £1800 to Mr Murray Lamont, MacKay’s Hotel, Wick.

Christmas Shop Windows
These  pictures are of R S Waters the hardware shop in Bridge Street, Wick who won the Christmas window competition for shops in Wick this year.   We will take a few more as we are out and about.

Caithness Strategic Redesign Group
Redesigning of Caithness Community Health Services. What's It All About?  A new partnership group in Caithness looking to make improvements in a wide range of health and social services.  This is a collaborative project group bringing together people who work in health, social work and the voluntary sector.  The group includes councillors, officials from several sectors and volunteers with experience of many aspects of health and welfare issues in the county.  The group aims to suggest ways of moving forward a number of government initiatives to achieve the best for the whole community and to keep everyone informed on the work in as many ways as possible including newsletters and publication of minutes and reports.  This new section on Caithness.Org is just one of the multiple approaches being adopted.

Looking for Information Ross Wellington Akey (J/19916) 519 Squadron
A Wings Over Wick Latest Request.  Wesley Spafford I live in Picton, Ontario, Canada is looking for any information on his great uncle Ross Wellington Akey(J/19916) who was part of the 519 squadron and lost his life October 10, 1944 when his crew had engine trouble (Hudson III L/519) and the went down position 60°41’N 01°30’W, about 8 miles from Scatsta.  No.519 Squadron was formed at Wick on 15 August 1943,and disbanded on May 31 1946.

Air passengers in the Highlands and Islands are being offered significant fare reductions between the region’s hub airports and Edinburgh and Glasgow. British Airway’s franchise partner Loganair Ltd has introduced a new, simpler fare structure across its network and Inverness will now benefit from the launch of ‘Everyday’ fares.  The new ‘Everyday’ range of affordable and competitive return fares start from £59 to Stornoway, £79 to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Orkney, and £89 to Shetland.

Jobs In Caithness Hit Caithness.Org Front Page As Soon As Posted - Free To Advertisers
Now you can check the latest jobs posted on the web site at a glance on the Caithness.Org front page.  As soon as a new job is posted in the section on the Message Board it will automatically be luked and updated on the this page in the left hand column.  This services is FREE to both employers and job agencies for any posts available in Caithness.  It is as easy as the Message Board to use and we can set up any employer or agency to have access in minutes.  If you are an employer or agency with jobs in Caithness get in touch and start using Caithness.Org to advertise your jobs quickly and easily to Caithness.Org users

Boss Hogg - Local Band Web Site
More local bands are making their way on to the web each year and if you are interested in checking them out from time to time you will find a link now in places in the music section such as the contacts listing  and the Caithness sites page.

Free Telephone Directory Enquiries Look Ups
If you have not found this web page it might come in handy rather than paying 118 whatever.  We have put the link at the top of the page and will leave it there for a while.  After that you will find it in our Directory enquiries links page.

"The Fiddle Workshop" A New Tuition CD From Karen Steven
This month sees the release of local musician Karen Steven's latest CD entitled "The Fiddle Workshop." It is aimed at fiddlers wishing to expand their repertoire of tunes.  This is a double CD consisting of over 2 hours of recording.  The recording begins with all 14 tunes performed in 3 sets on fiddle (Karen Steven) and piano (Anne Taylor).  Eleven of the 14 tunes are traditional and the final 3 tunes are Karen's own compositions.  Karen has two other fiddle CD's which can be seen on her web site.  You can also hear sample tracks from the earlier ones on the web site or from the links on this item.  If you know someone learning to play this might make a good stocking filler. Karen also features on the new Ross Records video of Caithness, a follow-up to last years production entitled Caithness Connections  - a copy of which you can win by entering the simple FREE competition we are running. 

Model Show - Another Success
Thurso Traders had a successful time over the weekend. It wasn't long before the streets were full with everyone enjoying the entertainments provided. Most of the shops were dressed up and all welcomed the public with their usual festive spirit.

Grey Partridge Preservation Scheme At Thrumster Estate Featured on BBC Radio
Isla McLeod at Thrumster estate featured on the Out of Doors programme on Saturday speaking about the Grey Partridge.  Local girl Jan Richard who researches for the programme also says a few words.  The Out Of Doors programmes is on Radio Scotland every Saturday morning and can be heara all of the following week on the Internet.  The programme lasts for 55 minutes and the item is about 44 minutes into the programme.  Unfortunately there is no way of jumping to the item.  If you want to hear it you will need to listen to the whole programme.  Hit the button "Listen Again"

SNP Highlands and Islands MSP Mr Rob Gibson, called for the Executive to give a true picture of Highland depopulation by publishing a 'Counterdrift Index'.  The index, designed include affordable housing, dispersal of public jobs, community transfers, conversion of modern apprenticeships to permanent jobs, and incentives to attract trades people, would give a new weapon in the battle to reverse depopulation.

Christmas Lights Around The North
Mike Brunton sends us these Christmas lights pictures taken on his drive south a few days ago.  We will add others in this section as we take them.  If anyone else wants to add a few just send them in.

Wick Pipe Band Winter Variety Show
Wick RBLS Pipe Band will be holding a Winter Variety Show in the Pipe Band Hall, High Street, Wick on Wednesday 17th December 2003 commencing at 8pm.

Young Farmers Battle It Out In Brains Quiz
Ten Young Farmers teams battled it out at their district elimination for the Harbro Brains of the North Quiz held recently. After a close competition, Halkirk A (Stephen Sutherland, Roy Watson, Douglas Gunn & James Morrison) and Watten A (Liam Swanson, David Wilson, Dianne Allan & Jennifer Easton) went head to head in the final. Halkirk emerged as the winning team, taking home the Skinnet Trophy and they now go forward to the Regional final to held at the North Regional Conference in Newtonmore at the end of January.

Winter Stock Judging Results

Caithness District Young Farmers also held their Winter Stockjudging at Quoybrae by kind permission of Aberdeen & Northern Marts. Mr Charlie Angus, Oldfield and Mr William Oag, Brims Mains were the official judges for the evening with 25 competitors judging the 4 classes.

Dounreay Employees Boost Caithness FM Toy Appeal
The Dounreay Employees Charity Fund have made a donation to Caithness FM in respect of their local Christmas toy appeal which is run as part of the Moray Firth Radio toy appeal.  All toys collected by Caithness FM stay in Caithness and are distributed to the most appropriate homes by the Social Work Department, Wick.  Dounreay employees contribute voluntarily to the Fund, which in turn is administered and run by a committee of employees from the workforce.   The main aim of this fund is to help and assist local charitable organisations.  You can deliver toys to the CFM studio in Neil Gunn Drive at the following times: Sunday - Friday 1900 hours to midnight Saturday - 1400 hours to 1600 hours and 2000 hours to midnight.

Free 2004 Calendar - Focus on Caithness BIODIVERSITY
The Caithness Biodiversity Collection, a set of over 400 images of the wildlife, landscapes and land uses of Caithness, was launched last Friday, 5th December in the Waterlines Centre, Lybster.  The Collection represents a year's work by wildlife and landscape photographers Ken Crossan and Iain Sarjeant, and by underwater photographer Sue Scott.  After a short introduction, those present were treated to a slide show of a selection of the images and given a calendar that has been produced from the collection.

Birthday Party In Wick

Dr Maurice Pearson Hands Over To Son Dr Ewan Pearson
Dr. Ewen Pearson has taken over the family business from his Father and joined The Pearson Medical Practice. His father, Dr. Maurice Pearson, worked as a single-handed GP in Wick for 28 years and retired happy in the knowledge that the practice he had successfully led for so long was being handed over to his son. The experienced practice staff are being retained and Ewen is happy to run the business along the same lines as his father.

Caithness Highlander Meets Caprice In Bosnia
Christopher Chalmers from Caithness currently serving with One Highlanders in Bosnia may be working hard with the rest of the troops but there are a few lighter moments and we can see this was definitely one of them when top model Caprice arrived to meet the men and women out there.

Can Anyone Identify The People In This Photo?
From John Mowatt, Australia.  The photo was one of several that were in an old shoe box when my grandmother died in 1960 in Sydney. My grandmother was Margaret Murray Mowat ms Bremner (b.1885 in Hempriggs). Until recently I thought that the subjects were John Alexander Sutherland, his wife Marjory Mowat (a g-aunt) and their two children Robert and Elizabeth but now I am having second thoughts and wonder whether the family is from my grandmother's Bremner side.

More Pictures From Thurso Christmas Fun Day
That's them all in now.  If anyone has any from yesterday that are missing please feel free to send them in to add to the gallery.

360' Pictures Of Caithness by Hillhead Primary Seven
This is your chance to order a fantastic 360' pictures of Caithness by Hillhead Primary Seven, which were on display at this year's Heritage Fair.  Pictures will be on sale at the school.    Mondays 9:00am to 10:00am - and Wednesdays and Fridays 2:00pm to 4:00pm.  Contact A.P.A.C.H.E. - 360' at Hillhead Primary School on 01955 603233 of email

Site Map Upgraded
An updated site map is now in place to make life easier tracking things on the web site.  A Google Search Engine has been added to the page so you can use it or our own in-house one.  The Google search Engine allows searches on the whole web or you can restrict the search to

Thurso Christmas Fun
First pictures in from the Thurso Christmas Fun at Thurso Shops on Saturday.  Staff in a the shops were ready for a few laughs and Caithness FM the local community radio station was out to join in.

Fun In The Green At Argyle Square, Wick
Fun in the Green at wick attracted big crowds to what looks like becoming an annual fund-raiser for improvements to the amenities of Argyle Square.  The Junior wick Pipe Band provided a couple of spots of music and the ever popular bouncy castle , stalls and of course Santa.

Form On Caithness.Org Gains 123 Sign Ups For Broadband - Keep Them Coming
Colin's form has certainly given the numbers a great boost.  If everyone who has signed up could get just one more person to sign up we would sweep past the 500 trigger to enable the Wick exchange.  But other small rural areas should keep asking folk as you might just reach the 100 target set.   Come On Wickers lets hit the target before the end of the year.

Visitors From Ukraine At Dounreay
Mr Vasyly Kuts and Mr Volodymyr Kolochko from Ukraine visited UKAEA Dounreay this week during their week long stay in the UK. The purpose of their visit was to discuss and view Waste & Decommissioning Strategies at Dounreay. They are pictured here with Derek Campbell of UKAEA during their tour of the Dounreay Cementation Plant

French Students Check Out Dounreay
A group of French students and staff from The UHI Environmental Research Institute visited UKAEA Dounreay this week. They are pictured with Marie Mackay, Dounreay Communications - left - during their tour of the site. While at Dounreay they also visited the Dounreay Cementation Plant and the Waste Receipt Assay Characterisation and Supercompaction facility

Wedding Of Shelly McIntosh And James White
Recently married in Glasgow were Shelly McIntosh and James White.  Shelly comes from Thurso and sent in a few photographs from the day.

High Noon At Caithness General - Monday 15 December
An unusual site in Caithness is to take place on Monday 15 December at 12 Noon when a demonstration organised by The League of Friends will take place outside the Caithness General Hospital.  The demonstration ( a rare thing in Caithness) is to show the strength of feeling about the possibility of downgrading the Maternity services in the county.  The demo will coincide with the visit of Professor Calder and his team to Caithness where many people have objected to the fact that he will flly in and not use an ambulance from Raigmore Hospital in Inverness to get a true picture of the journey required by pregnant mothers should they require to go south due to lack of facilities in A downgraded unit in Caithness.  with feelings running high and organisations and individuals coming from Thurso and other parts this could be one of the biggest protests on the streets of Wick for quite a few years.   Meanwhile Convenor David Flear is still gathering in letters and emails on the subject to present as evidence as to local feelings on this matter.

Under 15 County Badminton Championships
The Under 15's county Championships which were held in Thurso Games Hall on Saturday 29th November '03 and because there was such a large entry (46 boys and 17 girls) all the games did not get played. The games took a lot longer to play and was of a very high standard so the semi finals of the girls doubles and boys doubles and all the mixed matches were held on Tuesday 2nd December in Wick High Games Hall.

Two young Modern Apprentices who had the adventure of a lifetime on the high seas have donated their bounty, otherwise known as sponsorship money, to the MacMillan Cancer Relief fund.  Gordon Mackay, Watten, and Liam More, Wick were fortunate enough to secure two of the three berths funded by Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise (CASE) in the Tall Ships Adventure 2003. They are both engineering Modern Apprentices, employed by UKAEA and Subsea 7 respectively.

Alexander Tvardovskiy At Wick Harbour
Another fertilizer cargo at Wick.  Lorries Tractors and trailers are all on the go when one of these vessels arrives.  For the day of arrival there is a whirlwind of activity to ensure the boat has a quick turnaround.
Cargo Boats Index

HIGHLAND COUNCIL Welcomes Change in Direction for West Highland Health Services Project  - 5,900 people  - three quarters of all households wrote letters
The Highland Council has warmly welcomed a decision by NHS Highland to rethink plans for future acute hospital services in the Belford Hospital,  Fort William.  As a result of unprecedented representations from throughout Lochaber, the Board has  agreed that the next phase of the West Highland Project will bring together a Solutions Group, which will involve key parties to agree the best possible solution for sustainable and affordable acute services for the Belford.  Local GP and Vice Convener of The Highland Council Dr Michael Foxley was asked to address the Highland NHS Board during their discussion in Inverness today.

Thousands of people may be missing out on the support they are entitled to whilst looking after a sick or disabled relative at home.  As part of the “Joint Futures for Carers” Project, Highland Carers Project, are joining forces with NHS Highland and Highland Council Social Work Services to promote Carers Rights Day on Friday 5th December, a national awareness day organised by Carers Scotland in partnership with Scottish Gas. 

More Graphs For Caithness Exchanges Added To Broadband Page
A few more graphs for the smaller exchanges in Caithness for you all to keep an eye on how your area is doing.  Have you signed up yet?  Remember there is no commitment at this stage just a sign of interest in getting the services.

Highest Yet For Visitor Numbers In November
Hits 5,757.954  Visitors 119,307   Daily Average Hits 191,930  Visitors 3975
Yet again the daily average of visitors has grown in November.  Last month the average was 3879 and a year ago it was 3081.  The highest ever monthly total was in May 2002 at 120830 - daily average3897 (May was a 31 day month).  Figures for November 2001 show a daily average of 1793.    Accordingly this month November 2003 is the highest visitor month to date on

Colin Manson's Simple Sign Up Form Brings Surge In Sign Ups For Broadband
A very simple form devised by Collin Manson on the message board has resulted in 55 new sign ups in three days.  Broadband services may be closer yet but we still need more folk to reach the triggers for the various Caithness exchanges.  Keep checking that everyone who might be interested has signed up.  We spoke to folk in Market Square on Saturday who were still to sign up. 

Use Of Mobile Phones While Driving Becomes An Offence From Today
From Monday 1st December 2003 it will be an offence under the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 to use a hand held mobile phone while driving a vehicle.  Fines range from on the spot £30 and up to £1000 if a case goes to court.


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