News Archive - November 2003

Wick Gala 2004 - Fiftieth Gala - Committee Plan Bigger Than Ever
Jan Banks the new chairperson sets out call for one big idea and plans to make it a memorable one both as a gala and invites people to send in ideas for one major improvement in Wick to mark the fiftieth Wick Gala......."The date of Wick Gala 2004 is 24 - 31 July 2004 - the fiftieth Gala so lets try to make it even bigger and better. We the Wick Town Improvements Committee would like as a once only plan to use all the money from the Gala 2004 to do just one thing to improve our town. One thing that in the future we can all say that's where the money from the fiftieth gala went."

Under 13 Girls At Caithness Badminton Championships
Another picture from the recent Caithness county badminton competitions.  Winners Beth Henderson & Louise Topping seen here with  Runners Up Joanna Mancini & Yasmin Sutherland.

Thurso Meeting Packs Town Hall As Maternity Issue Escalates
A large audience turned out for the meeting organised by the League of Friends of Caithness General Hospital.  Speakers included - Jamie Stone MSP, David Flear Caithness Area Convenor, George Bruce, chair of Caithness Health Forum, and councillors Bill Fernie and Graham Smith.  Councillor Donnie Mackay who has been assisting the League of Friends set up the meetings introduced Phillip Coghill a local farmer as chairman for the evening.

Wick Gets On With Christmas Despite the Rain

New Aerial Photo Web Site - Caithness & Other Parts Of Scotland
Alan Moar who has supplied Caithness.Org with aerial photographs has now set up a new web site to include many new pictures of both Caithness and other places as he flies around the skies of Scotland.

Main Street, Castletown - End To End Picture Set Complete

Further Up Main Street, Castletown

Funding from the Scottish Executive to better protect Wick from coastal flooding has been welcomed by The Highland Council today.  The River Piers in Wick play an important role in protecting the lower lying parts of the town from coastal flooding. The improvements will enable the Council to strengthen the North Pier which has suffered from erosion and storm damage in recent years. The total cost of the protection works will be £3.1 million and the balance will met from Council funds.

Unemployment Still Falling In The North
Overall, the number of people unemployed in Caithness and Sutherland fell from 741 last month to 705. This compares to 752 in the same period last year.  The revised unemployment rates in the Sutherland, Wick and Thurso 'Travel to Work Areas' respectively are as follows: 3.4% (3.5%), 3.6% (3.9%) and 2.4% (2.6%).   Full details of all the latest grants and training awards.

Rob Gibson MSP Supports Campaign For Maternity Services
"Use Continental Practice To Support Caithness Maternity".  SNP list member for the Highlands and Islands Rob Gibson welcomes the turn out of last nights (Wednesday 26th of November) public meeting about the downgrading of Wick Maternity Ward.  He will be present at the 15 December meeting with Prof. Calder in Wick.  Rob pledging his support to the local community said…“Centralisation of the service in Raigmore would not only jeopardise lives it would also jeopardise the future sustainability of the area."   He went on to say…“The downgrading would create a vicious circle as it would make the area less attractive to young people who wanted to stay here or move here and could also put off employers from investing here.”.

A Recent Wedding - Tanya Banks And Graham Sinclair
If anyone else in Caithness or ex Caithness would like their wedding photographs placed on the web site just let us know.  it's a great way to share the moments round the world.

Caithness Connections Video - Free Competition Now Open
The next FREE competition to win one of 20 videos is now open and within minutes the first entry came in.  Have a go and see if you are one of the twenty winners.

Halfway Along Main Street, Castletown

East Caithness Draws Together On Maternity Downgrading Threat
The Francis Street club , wick was the scene of unprecedented support for consultant led services to be retained in Caithness.   Councillor Donnie Mackay one of the organisers of the meeting announced the start of the meeting and introduced Phillip Coghill who chaired the meeting.  Almost no other issue could so easily bring together so many people from many backgrounds in the local community.  The threat just three years after the last review of maternity services in Caithness is thought by many to be nothing more than a disgrace.

Further Along Main Street, Castletown

Kayak Training
Members of the Pentland Canoe Club (Simon Copsey; Andy Ford and David Mowat) completed a Level 2 Coach (Kayak) training course last weekend. This was the culmination of a session of hard work during which they had to obtain various pre-requisites for the course including a Canoeing Safety Test, First Aid and 3 Star Certificates. During the training course they were coached in the fundamentals of coaching, safety, journeying and personal skills.

Local Caithness artist Julian Smith has taken the unusual step of taking his paintings beyond the canvas and into the digital world, by turning them into evocative animations.  Julian, who has lived and worked in Caithness for most of his life, takes his inspiration from the area's wildlife and landscapes.  He recently set up a website - with assistance from Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise (CASE) via its E-business support programme - to sell his original works and prints online.

Telford Street, Wick - Progress Pictures

Main Street, Castletown End To End - Here 's The Start - The Rest Later

West Strathan, Sutherland

Achininver, Sutherland

East Strathan, Sutherland

Midfield, Sutherland

Port Vasgo, Sutherland

Under 13 Caithness County Badminton Championships
Under 13 County Championships which were held in the Wick High Games Hall on Saturday 22nd November '03. There was an entry of over 60 boys and girls all playing some really good intelligent badminton. There were 8 hours non stop badminton which included 40 games in the boys singles. In each game they had to play the first to get 21 points.

Move To End 'Postcode Prescribing'
A strengthened role for the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) will ensure that 'unique drugs' will be made available simultaneously across Scotland.  The new arrangements for the provision of drugs like Imatinib or Glivec used in the treatment of leukaemia will mean they can quickly pass into mainstream use once approved by the SMC.  Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm said: "Patients deserve equal access wherever they live in Scotland to new drugs which are the only effective treatment for a particular condition. "It is entirely unacceptable that patients are denied the benefit of such a drug simply because there is no provision for it in their local Health Board budget.

Transport Secretary Alistair Darling is to be asked to agree a "serious, pragmatic and workable solution" to the problems currently being experienced with shipping movements around coastal waters. The plea comes from Councillor  Alison Magee, Convener of The Highland Council, who is seeking a meeting with Mr Darling as the result of continuing concern about the safety of shipping movements, highlighted by the sinking in June of the MC Jambo off the Summer Isles, Wester Ross and the subsequent salvage/recovery operation mounted by the Department for Transport.

Ross-shire Voluntary Action (RVA) is the first organisation in the Highlands to benefit under the new Community Enterprise Loan Fund.  Launched earlier this year by Highland Opportunity Limited (HOL), the Fund offers a comprehensive package of business advice, access to loan finance and aftercare support to serve the development needs of the growing voluntary sector in Highland.

Highland Schools Swimming Gala - Full Results From All Events
The Highland Schools Swimming Gala held at Inverness Aquadome attracted around 500 swimmers from all across the Highlands and a small number of swimmers from the Western Isles. Entered were 23 primary schools and 20 secondary school swimmers competing for honours .The Highland Gala acts as the district heats for the Scottish Schools Finals to be held at Tollcross Pool in Glasgow on 31st Jan 2004.

Latest Funding For Charities News

Thurso Christmas Lights By Night
Thanks to Mike Brunton for these shots of the new blue look to the trees as part of the new Christmas Lights in Thurso.

Eye On Pages To Follow Caithness Maternity Services Review - Yet Again
Public meetings are to be held in Wick and Thurso this week to guage public opinion and find out if people know what they want.  These meetings are not being organised by official sources but by concerned people with the aid of councillors.   David Flear has asked that as many people as possible let him know their views as he has asked and been granted an interview with Professor Calder who will be coming to Caithness and ultimately making a report.   A new button has been added on the left so that you can follow events as they unfold in coming months.  Post any views on the Message Boards.

Mist At Dunnet - Pictures By Michael Draper
Er....we seem to have started a competition....or something! Thanks for the photographs

Northern Lights Continues Spectacular Show Over Caithness - Pictures From John Baikie

Broadband Trigger Figure Graphs for Caithness Exchanges Now In Updating Daily
Check the Broadband campaign page regularly to see how close the exchanges of Halkirk, Lybster, Watten and Wick are to the target trigger figures.

Ploughing Match At Stanstill Farm, Bower - Pictures

Thurso Gets Early Christmas Lights
Thurso Town Improvements got going with the lights early this year to show off the additional new sets of lights around the streets and near the Christmas Tree.  Thurso Christmas Fun Day is still to come on 6 December.  Wick switches on  the lights next Saturday 29 December.

Free Flu Jabs For Over 65's - Get It Now
Anyone aged over 65 is now entitled to a free flu jab if they live in Scotland.  From this year you are also entitled to a free pneumococcal jab if not previously vaccinated.  This will help prevent against pneumococcal infection such as sever forms of pneumonia, blood poisoning and meningitis. Tell your elderly friends and relatives about this offer now available and you could save them serious illness this and later winters.  Certain people under 65 with a range of medical conditions are also entitled to the FREE jabs.

Northern Lights Over Caithness
Keith Parkes caught the Aurora over Caithness last night at a great time.  We also were out taking a look and there were some great waves of pink and green shimmering overhead.

One dormant Community Council in Caithness will be re-formed and one existing body will go into abeyance following the recent nomination period of the election process. For seven of the twelve areas in Caithness, it will be business as usual, with no elections required. Elections by postal ballot are being organised in two areas, and one area will remain, as before, with no active Community Council.

Consultation Period Launched - Closing Date 7 February 2004.  UKAEA is today inviting members of the public to participate in the choice of Best Practicable Environmental Option for remediation of the rock around the waste shaft at Dounreay.  Options for remediating the rock once the waste has been removed range from natural decay of the radioactivity to quarrying large quantities of rock from beneath the seabed for disposal as low level waste.  UKAEA is consulting the public now because the agreed “end state” for decommissioning the shaft will be an important factor in choosing the most appropriate techniques for its hydraulic isolation and retrieval of the waste.

Highland Councillors have been advised that £140 million needs to be spent to meet the backlog of work required to bring the area’s roads and bridges up to scratch. £90 million is identified to maintain, repair and upgrade roads and £50 million to strengthen bridges. Members of the Transport, Environmental and Community Services Committee were advised that the overall condition of the  Council's road network, extending to 6,632 kilometres, is deteriorating, with incidence increasing of subsidence, rutting, edge damage, cracking and lack of skid resistance.

Winning Cub Scout Football Team 1972 - 73
Thanks to Dave Cormack (third from the left front row) for sending in this picture of the cub team he was a member of.  If anyone can recall the names of everyone or even a few get in touch and we will add them to the picture.   And a belated congrats as we were not around in 1972.

Three Caithness Schools Share Safer Routes To School Cash
£10,100  to Canisbay Primary for improved school signage and road markings in Canisbay Village and the construction of a footway and fence round the bus stop at Lower Gills.   £4,100 to Mount Pleasant Primary in Thurso for the building of a ramp at the front of the school to improve cycle access, the lining of car park bays on Castle Terrace and the school car parks.  £15,000 from the new “20 mph limit at schools” grant was awarded to put a 20 mph limit on Castle Terrace and associated traffic calming at either end of the road.  £11,000 to South Primary in Wick for a zebra crossings, zig zag markings and two yellow backed school warning signs on Roxburgh Road outside the front of the school.

On Through Achnahuaigh, Sutherland

Wick Has A Trigger figure For Broadband - 500
Yes a figure has finally been set for Wick at 500 and many other smaller places around the country also have figures set by BT.  You can check back here to see how things are going.  But what we really need is for everyone who wants Broadband to happen to get signed up and get everyone they know to make sure they sign up.  Broadband is essential if the area is to keep up with communications in the 21st century.  It is faster than you think and a must have for many new businesses locating to new areas.  Check back here or the Message Board Broadband section   309 have so far signed up for Wick.  Trigger figures have also been set for other smaller places so wherever you are get signing up.

On To Talmine - Kyle Of Tongue, Sutherland

Webcam From Market Square, Wick At Hogmanay To Bring In 2004
Doug Mackay and Niall from will be running the webcam from Market Square, Wick to look in on the Hogmanay celebrations - music, bands and the crowds out to bring in the New Year.  Traditional music and local bands will be providing entertainment and perhaps another huge Strip The Willow dance along the street - maybe even bigger than last year.  The webcam will have a link here on 31 December.
If anyone has a webcam, Internet link and computer in a suitable location in Thurso and would like to run one get in touch and we will supply the software and web space via Caithness.Org.

Further Along The Kyle Of Tongue To Skinnet

Jenny Redgate - Castletown Brownie Leader On 22 Mile Swimming Fund Raiser
The Brownies in Castletown have raised a considerable amount of money this year for their chosen charities - from an orange themed party in aid of children in Bangladesh, to a sponsored information collection about Castletown in aid of children with Leukaemia.   Now its the turn of their Brownie Guider - Jenny Redgate (normally seen as a bearded member of the Bosom Buddies float in the local Galas!!) - who will be swimming 22 miles in aid of ASPIRE, a charity working to help those who have suffered a spinal injury.

A Caithness sea-angler has risen to the challenge of starting his own business, and is to produce and market a range of fishing tackle to anglers the length and breadth of the country.  Graham Finn, who lives in Freswick, has started trading as Kingfisher Activities. He has converted a previously derelict outbuilding into a workshop in which he will produce various items, such as weights, pirks, traces and rigs.

Highland Councillors have agreed to give £150,000 over the next two and a half years to Ormlie Community Association for Scotland's most northerly Home Zone project. This money comes from the £1.214 million that the Scottish Executive gave the Council to spend on 20 mph speed limits around school and related capital projects over the next two and a half years.  The Ormlie Estate in Thurso is one of four areas to successfully bid to pilot Home Zones in Scotland. Home Zones are people friendly residential streets with reduced vehicle speed and integrated safety measures for children, pedestrians and cyclists.  The Ormlie project involves far-sighted plans to re-design and re-allocate road space.

The Highland Council’s second Tourism Seminar will be held in Inverness on Friday 5 December.  Last year the Council invited speakers from the tourism industry to air their views on how the Council’s services affected tourism businesses in the Highlands.  A number of issues were raised, such as public toilets, litter collection, road signs, waste collections at weekends, planning and roads maintenance  and waste recycling.  There are a few spaces left at this year’s event, which will be held in the Council Chamber, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness.  Any businesses who would like to attend should contact.

Milk Marketing Building In Wick To Be Demolished For New Houses
The former Milk Marketing Board building next to the wick railway station is to be demolished to build up to eight new private houses.   Planning permission has been granted for the change of use of the site which will include the Milk Marketing Board area and land to be acquired from Network Rail and is currently unused.  The company Trackside Developments will knock the building down.

The Traditional Musicians In Schools project run by Fèis Rois is continuing to sweep through primary schools throughout Scotland this winter with the Caithness area next to be visited. Fèis Rois, a Highland traditional arts organisation.  The group will visit 17 Primary schools over a six-day period beginning at the end of November. The visits will take place in the following areas; Wick, Thurso, Reay, Halkirk, Castletown, Dunnet, Bowermadden, Keiss, Watten, Thrumster, Lybster and Dunbeath. It is estimated that 900 children will benefit from the experience.  The visits will be conducted by a very experienced team being led by acclaimed local musician Addie Harper. He will be accompanied by fiddler Claire Campbell, singer Maeve Mackinnon and harpist and singer Kathleen Graham.

Midtown, Sutherland
Here is one of a series of small villages that sits on the coast along the Kyle of Tongue.  Plenty more of this spectacular area to come as we let you follow the route well worth checking out when in the far north of Scotland.  Leave plenty of time for these long empty roads.

Stuart Craigie Heads On To Propulsion Engineer
Young Castletown man, Stuart Craigie, has successfully completed his RAF basic training and he now moves on to 12 month trade training at RAF Cosford for his role as a propulsion engineer. He will then partake in on-the-job training at an operational base and he hopes this will be servicing the Nimrod aircraft, possibly at RAF Kinloss.  Stuart’s family travelled to RAF Halton to watch his passing out parade and were very proud of his achievement.   Stuart was a pupil of Thurso High School and a Cadet Corporal in the Thurso Air Cadets.  On passing out from basic training, Stuart said “the Air Cadets gave me a big head start with many of the skills I required such as drill, first aid and weapon’s handling.  I am sure the instruction I had in principles of flight and aircraft recognition will prove just as beneficial during my trade training.”

North Coast Swimming Pool, Bettyhill
If you have never had a look at the North coast Leisure Pool at Bettyhil here is your chance.  As with many other small communities the pool was opened after many years of fund-raising.  The pool sits right next to Bettyhill Primary School in the heart of the village.

Caithness General Hospital Praised Catering Praised In National Report
A National Report by Audit Scotland,  ‘Catering for Patients’ has today published key results of a survey taken in Scottish Hospitals.  The survey reported that 100% at Caithness General Hospital, Wick and 100%  at New Craigs and 98% of patients at Raigmore Hospital,  were either satisfied or very satisfied with the meals they received in these hospitals.  All wards have their own copies of diet folders and guidance on what type of food patients can eat plus there is a full dietetic service on site.   Caithness General in Wick was also specifically cited as having particularly good practice.  Patients admitted to Caithness General Hospital after the patient meals have been ordered from the kitchen are supplied with a "late admission tray".

Pulteneytown Academy Primary School  Newsletter November 2003
All the latest updates, Christmas dinner, Calendars .  Free milk and fruit juice has started at meal times in school.

Next Meeting Of Caithness Quilters
The next meeting of the Caithness Quilters is on Tuesday 25 November 2003 in Pulteney Parish Church Hall at 7.30 pm with a Christmas Show and Tell and Bran Tub this is the last meeting of this year.

Scouts In Wick Have New Day
Wick scouts have changed their meeting day to a Monday.  All groups including beavers, cubs , scouts and explorer scouts have times on that day.  the group cover a wide range of activities.  the scout groups in all parts of the county are always on the lookout for interested people who can spare a few hours each week.  Training is given to all volunteers.  If interested contact your nearest local group for more information.

The Highland Primary Care NHS Trust has reported that after 14 months of uncertainty, the shortage of GPs in the Medical Centre in Wick has finally been resolved. Dr. Derek Kelly will now join the others on 5th January 2004, followed by Dr. Neil Wilson on 1st May 2004.  The other piece of good news for Health Services in the north is that the vacancy at Lybster has also finally been filled after 14 months.  Dr. Bert Martens and Dr. Borja (Bobby) Echavarren have been employed as Salaried Doctors by the Trust and will start working in the surgery in January.

Tongue, Sutherland
Worth visiting at any time of the year for its remote, rugged landscape.  With temperatures still unseasonably warm and with dramatic changes of weather Ben Loyal the mountain south of Tongue makes an impressive backdrop to the whole area whether in summer with blue skies, winter capped in snow or in autumn with alternating mist, rain and sunshine making dozens of rainbows over the lochs, countryside and especially the Kyle of Tongue.

Highland Advocacy Offers More Services
A new services in Highland for people who have mental health problems including dementia,  People who have learning disabilities, Frail older people and People who are homeless.

Highlands And Islands Enterprise Board Visits Dounreay
12 members of the Highlands & Islands Enterprise Board visited Dounreay recently for a presentation on Dounreay issues and a tour of the site.   The HIE Board including chairman Jim Hunter visited a number of establishments in the far north before having an evening meeting with the board of Caithness And Sutherland Enterprise to discuss a range of issues.

Fresson Trust Calendar Celebrates North’s Aviation History
A new calendar which commemorates the rich history of aviation in the Highlands and Islands goes on sale this week and will be available from each of the 10 airports managed by Highlands and Islands Airports Limited.  The 2004 Fresson Trust calendar commemorates the life and work of Captain Ernest Edmund Fresson OBE, the pioneer of flight in the North of Scotland.   The Fresson Trust was set up to honour Capt. Fresson, who pioneered aviation in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland with the formation of Highland Airways Ltd in 1933.  Capt. Fresson’s vision and determination saw the airline establish commercial and mail flights to and from Orkney, Wick, Shetland, Inverness, Aberdeen, Perth and Glasgow.

Mobile Phone and Driving Warning As New Law Comes Into Force on 1 December 2003
The warning comes in the run up to changes to the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986, which come into force on 1st December this year and will make it illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving.  Employers could also be found in breach of section 110(2) of the regulations unless they ensure that employees are equipped with suitable mobile phone equipment and are aware of the new rules.   Those in breach of the regulations will face a £30 fixed-penalty or a fine of up to £1,000 if the case is then taken to court.  It is however intended that the fixed penalty will in the future be raised to £60 plus 3 penalty points.  Drivers of goods or passenger-carrying vehicles will face fines of up to £2,500.

A Nostalgic Visit
John Lisman was a civil engineering student at Strathclyde University when, in 1954, he was offered a one year practical experience job with Glasgow firm, Whatlings Ltd. Within a few months, the Inverness born student was despatched to Dounreay where the firm was awarded the main building and civil engineering contract. His ‘home from home’ became the Boston Camp.  Recently John, now living in British Columbia, made a nostalgic visit to site where he visited DFR for the first time in almost fifty years.....

The Board of Highlands & Islands Enterprise saw at first hand today (17th November 2003) how HIE Network investment in Forss Business and Technology Park is bringing real economic benefits to the Far North.  While touring the site the Board learned how Scottish company New Park Management’s £6 million pounds refurbishment of the Forss site, which has lain dormant and decaying since the US Navy abandoned it a decade ago, is attracting inward investment from major national and international companies.

Annual Field Club Dinner
Dr Jack Dunnet (Right) from Freswick and famous for his work in plant breeding particularly in potatoes was the speaker at this years annual dinner held in the Portland Arms Hotel, Lybster.  He is seen here with Geoff Leet, Chairman and David Oliver.  Dr Dunnet presented the Field Club with a copy of his book on Potatoes.

Thurso Christmas Lights Switch On Next Saturday
It's on Sat 22/11/03 starting at 3.00pm with singing. Lights due to go on at 3.45pm.  Wick follows on Saturday 29 November.

Wings Over Wick - Latest Request From Norway
The search for a name of an unmarked grave in Norway.  Does anyone have any information on this RAF man who died on a mission?  Check the web site and let them have any suggestions

Thrumster 1947-48
First old Thrumster school picture has been sent in by Gordon Miller, Vancouver, Canada.

Loganair Increases Flights
Edinburgh to Inverness and Stornoway Routes
Loganair Ltd, British Airways’ the principal flight operator in the Highlands and Islands, has increased its air links from Edinburgh to Inverness and Stornoway.  As a result of the new frequencies it is now possible to travel north from the Scottish capital for a day’s business in either Inverness or Stornoway and return the same day.  The move comes in response to demand from air travellers and forms part of winter schedule changes that now include an earlier Glasgow flight to Inverness, Kirkwall and Sumburgh and an earlier flight from Sumburgh to Edinburgh.

Violet Leitch School Of Dancing Coffee Afternoon

Wick Piping And Chanter Competitions 2003

Thurso Piping and Chanter Competitions 2003

North Baths Team Ready To Go
Iain Sutherland and his team have already cleared the road of many tons of stones thrown up by the sea in successive storms and are ready to start the huge task of restoring the North Baths  - another open air pool at Wick.  Once used by many locals as their swimming pool it was once as busy as the Trinkie on the other side of the Bay.  Iain Sutherland and his team have set about the task of raising money and gathering people together to undertake this work.  He has also gathered a group of local contractors who are donating materials and machinery for the job.

St Ninian's Chapel Site At Papigoe - Is This The Earliest Christian Site In Scotland?
If proved correct then the site at Papigoe would predate the site on Iona and others by a considerable number of years.  Locals Robert Gunn and Iain Sutherland of the Wick Society have tried unsuccessfully to get archaeologists to dig the site.  The view of the early Christian church in Scotland may yet be changed by this site.

This small enclosure of nearly 13 Hectares, is the most accessible naturalised woodland in this area. It appears to be hardly known by those speeding by on the busy but unclassified road from Thurso to Reay. Yet it stands out as the only mixed trees in the area: about one kilometre from the junction with the A836 on the outskirts of Reay. It is tested by salt laden winds from the north west and fierce gales from the south east, yet within is another world. Its secret lies in the ages it has been protected from fire and grazing stock. The first Ordnance Survey of 1874 showed avenues and an established wood. A recent tree survey shows evidence of careful planting and later natural regeneration.

Christmas In Caithness - Places To Stay In Caithness At Christmas
Many hotels and guest houses etc in Caithness are closed on Christmas Day and the New Year period.  Some are open and we will list any we find out about to make your search a bit easier.  If your place is open over Christmas day or New Years Day please get in touch to add your hotel of guest house etc to the listing.  We are providing this as a FREE service to both local businesses and to make it easier for folk trying to find accommodation at that time of year.   Email us details to add to the Christmas Pages

Caithness Voluntary Group AGM
John Thurso MP was the guest speaker at the AGM of Caithness Voluntary Group held in the Morven Building of Highland College, Thurso on Friday 14 November 2003.  The meeting was well attended with representatives from many local organisations affiliated to CVG and other interested people.  The annual report shows that once again the group has expanded its services in a number of areas and is finally about to move into a refurbished building in Williamson Street, Wick.  John Thurso paid tribute to the many volunteers of both Caithness Voluntary Group and the many connected organisations throughout.

UKAEA has completed the post-operational clean-out of a redundant uranium processing facility in preparation for its eventual decommissioning. The Amber Area - an annexe of the D1203 uranium recovery plant - contains solvent extraction and dissolver equipment, storage tanks and glove boxes that were used to process uranium. Work started in 1998 to prepare for the clean-out of these facilities with the design and installation of new ventilation equipment manufactured by local engineering companies. This enabled staff to carry out detailed surveys of the work required to clean out the facility. Over an 18-month period, more than 1400 entries were made by staff wearing protective air-line suits to clean out all the waste residue. This produced approximately 250 drums of solid low-level waste.

Alice In Wonderland Pantomime Tickets On Sale Now
Tickets are on sale at The Reel Thing, Wick and Nobles Florists, Thurso.  The cast is made up from the children from all over Caithness who attend Beverley Sarstedt's Junior Drama and Dance Group.

More demolition of redundant buildings has brought further changes to the skyline  at  Dounreay. The latest facilities to be knocked down are the old farmhouse  and  the former fast reactor facilities building known as D8542.  Both  buildings  have  been cleared to  make way for new plants needed to retrieve  and  manage  waste from the shaft and silo. Construction of D8542 was completed in 1962 with the work carried out by the Aberdeen construction firm.

The barking of a family dog saved the day in a Highland home when a faulty electric blanket caught fire in a child’s cot. The family removed the smouldering blanket from the child’s cot and put it outside where it then burst into flames.  The incident, attended by Fire Brigade crews based in Inverness, has highlighted once more the hazards presented by old or poorly maintained electric blankets. The electric blanket was bought second-hand from a car-boot sale.  "This was a close call," said Divisional Commander, Calum Munro. "Without the barking of the family pet, we could have had a tragedy on our hands."  Old and damaged electric blankets have been identified as being the cause of more than 5,000 fires a year and to date this has resulted in at least 20 associated deaths and 250 injuries having been recorded.

Tree Planting For Keiss Kids
Keiss School DIGG Project held a tree planting day last Saturday as part of the development and improvement of a waste and derelict area of the school grounds.  The tree planting was part of phase two of the DIGG Project.   Phase one was the installation of a paved  area of Caithness flagstone, the erection of 'standing stones,' with designs created by the children,  sandblasted onto the stone  and the siting of two picnic tables and seating.   A competition was held in school to design the pictures for the stones with the winning designs being the ones picked to be put on the stones.

Mount Pleasant Nursery - Polaroid From UKAEA To Help Literacy Initiative
UKAEA Dounreay recently sponsored Mount Pleasant Primary School Nursery with financial assistance enabling them to purchase a Polaroid instant camera for their new early literacy initiative "Adventure Ted".  "Adventure Ted" is a teddy, complete with rucksack and pyjamas, which goes home with each child from the class in turn over the course of the season and takes part in family activities. 

A pay dispute involving 220 nursery staff employed by The Highland Council and who are members of the trade union, Unison, is close to being resolved as the result of a local settlement. The Unison Working Group leading the local negotiations has recommended acceptance of the offer and this will be considered formally by nursery nurse staff on Monday 17 November.  The Council has welcomed the progress made as it also provides more support for nursery classes and schools and ensures that the continual industrial action whereby the staff were boycotting certain duties will come to an end.

The biggest building project to be undertaken by The Highland Council progressed to the final stage of consideration today when councillors agreed a limit on how much they are prepared to spend on the proposed construction of 11 schools under a second Education Public Private Partnership.  A final decision on the programme, which involves an estimated spending of £100 million phased between 2005-2009, will be taken in the spring of next year following detailed negotiations with the chosen bidder.

This celebration of Caithness in paintings and music has been brought together in a beautifully produced DVD by 'Artsmith'.  Local artist, Julian Smith has collaborated with multi-media specialist, 'inner-eye-interactive' to create a unique and truly memorable work following a highly acclaimed and very successful exhibition this summer.  The product features not only the animation, which many found very moving, but also a complete gallery of paintings, including captions or narration.

Autumn Tidy In Caithness Is Hi-Tech
Caithness may not be renowned for its forests although there are quite a few once you start looking but we do have the most modern machinery for sweeping up the leaves in Autumn.  This machine doubles for grass-cutting at one end  of the season and vacuuming the leaves up at the other.  Seen here in Argyle Square, Wick.

The Highland Council’s Environmental Health Officers are warning consumers about counterfeit vodka contaminated with methanol after another illegal product had been found on sale.  Counterfeit Kirov Vodka was discovered in Kent. It is possible that it is available in other parts of the country. Two different size bottles, 70cl and 35cl were sampled and found to be contaminated with methanol. The 70cl bottle was heavily contaminated with methanol and would present a serious health risk if consumed in sufficient quantity. The 35cl bottle contained less methanol and, whilst not a serious health risk at that level, there appears to be a large variation in levels of methanol across batches, and other similar bottles may be found to contain higher levels.

New Section On Wick Cemetery - Mainly War Graves At Present
War Memorials Index

Caithness Cemeteries Index

More Schooldays Pictures - Supplied by Isobel Ferrier
Wick High 1950-51

Academy 1947

Wick High 1946

Wick High Year Unknown

New South Public Picture

North School 1947
More Names from Isobel Ferrier
Could be 1946?

Far North Finalists Fly the Flag
The innovative approach of Far North businesses towards skills development is once again in the running for recognition in a national awards final thanks to two thriving local companies.  Following a rigorous assessment process both Scotch Premier Meat Ltd., Dornoch and AGM Batteries Ltd, Thurso have impressed the judges so much they have been selected for the finals of the National Training Awards, which will be announced at a dinner at The Hilton, Glasgow on Thursday 13th November...................

The growing trend of ‘bogus callers’ visiting vulnerable consumers in the Highland area is causing concern to Trading Standards’ officers of The Highland Council.   And they will make this the focus of their efforts to mark National Consumer Week, which runs from Monday 10 November, when Community Safety is the theme.  Trading Standards officers will be providing consumers with help and advice so they can make the right choices when buying goods and services at home or when approached on the doorstep.

The Highland Council will be asked at a special meeting on Thursday (13 November) to progress a second Education Public Private Partnership, involving a spending of £100 million phased between 2005 -2009. Members will consider the value for money and affordabi1ity of the biggest building programme to be considered by a local authority in the Highlands.  Bower Primary school was included in the earlier PPP1 bid.  Wick High fell below the affordability break point in 2001 and is not included in this second round of bidding.

Golf club managers from America and Europe are gathering in Dornoch this week for a major training event, which has been organised by the Club Managers Association of America (CMAA), in partnership with the Club Managers Association of Europe.  This is the first time that the CMAA has held an educational seminar out-with the USA, and 50 managers from American and European clubs are taking part......

Environmental Health officers with The Highland Council  are warning consumers about a particular type of red wine sold through Lidl stores. Lidl have withdrawn bottles of Australian Creston Bay Brand Cabernet Shiraz due to high levels of sulphur dioxide being present.

Promoting the Highlands as an exciting place to live and work is a key priority if the area is to combat a significant projected fall over the next 20 years in young and economically active people. Highland Councillors are eager to counter the impact of a projected decline in the Highland population – from 208,914 in 2001 to 202,490 in 2016.

The Highland Council is appealing to people in the Highlands to consider adopting a child.     Their call coincides with the launch of National Adoption Week, a nationwide campaign organised by the British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering, aimed at finding families for children waiting to be adopted.  Over 3,000 children in the U.K. are waiting to be adopted and many older children in the Highlands wait too long to find permanent and loving homes due to a shortage of people coming forward.

The Highland Council is to seek an early meeting with Transport Secretary Alistair Darling to highlight the urgent need for more effective management of shipping around coastal waters. At the same time, the Council is to set to gain membership of an influential European working group, which is examining maritime safety issues.

Caithness Open Pool Competition
The annual Caithness Open Pool competition was won yesterday by Stewart Johnstone from Falkirk who picked up £500 prize money.  Runner up was local man Tam Mulraine who received £200.  There were 22 entrants this year down from the average of 50 due to the date being changed and clashing with other competitions elsewhere.

Keiss Castle
This picture of Keiss Castle has been sent in by Michael Draper.  the picture has been added to the old Keiss Castle Gallery.  Information about the castle can be found in the Keiss Castle section.

Remembrance At Corsback Cemetery, Dunnet

Remembrance Sunday - Wick

Remembrance - Wick Cemetery

Remembrance At Staxigoe War Memorial

Another section from Appendix 5 of Calder's history of Caithness

Telford Street, Wick - Latest Pictures

Williamson Street, Wick
The building in Williamson Street, Wick being renovated for Caithness Voluntary Group is now under wraps as work on the stonework and roof progresses

Local Folk
Here is the start of a new section for pictures of local folk requested by these guys in Dempster Street, Wick.  Can anyone put names to these faces?   We will add more pictures to this section over the months and years.

Caithness Connections From Ross Records
The latest Caithness video from Ross Records is in the shops now and is available via their web site.  Last years video was a great success and Gibson Ross decided to make another compilation of Caithness music and footage of various parts of the county.  A Musical Tour of Caithness with Bobby Coghill, Jack Cowan, The Lachie Campbell Trio, Addie Harper Jnr., Alastair J. MacDonald, Carol-Anne Mackay, Laura Mennie, Katrina Scott & Sally Edwards, Karen Stephen,and featuring the Massed Pipes & Drums live in Thurso.  Places visited include Crosskirk, Dunbeath, The Stacks of Duncansby, Keiss, Lybster, Reay, Sandside Bay, Scotscalder, Scrabster, The Island of Stroma, Thurso, Watten, Westerdale and Wick.  Events visited include The Caithness County Show, The 100th Halkirk Highland Games, The Latheron Show and the Massed Pipes & Drums celebrating the 90th Anniversary of Thurso Pipe Band.  Discounts is on offer if you buy two or more videos from the web site.

Doureay Fire And Ambulance Service
From its earliest days the UKAEA site at Dounreay has had its own emergency service carrying out vital safety work and training.  Fire Fighters perform a dual role and are trained as Ambulance Technicians by the Scottish Ambulance Service.   Other Caithness Emergency Services

March Road Footpath, Wick
With all this fantastic weather we are getting great sunsets and some great skies on clear nights.  the March Road footpath leads out to the Castle of Old wick and well known to many folk out for a stroll to the castle and back into town via the old Coastguard station now a private residence.

Caithness Community Groups Free Web Pages Get Your Information On
It could not be easier to get your group or organisation on the web.  FREE pages on can have anything your group want from notes to pictures. Just email it in to us and we do the rest.  Setting up your own group web site then we charge only £50 a year including domain name to host your site.  Pages on the web site get the additional benefit of update mentions on the front page and in our index pages.  All hosting packages are not the same so check out exactly what you get and what it costs.  Check our Scorrie packages

Starting Out in Business In Caithness - Get Your Free Business Page Right Away
Starting a new business can mean cash is limited for advertising your services but your page in the Caithness Business Index is absolutely FREE.  Once established and you need a higher level of coverage then you can consider our low cost banner ads circulating round our groups of web sites and linked to your business page or web site whether you build it yourself or get one built by us or another web company.  But do get your FREE business page to be found on the web now.

Former BP Senior Executive to lead pioneering authority.  The Minister of Energy, Stephen Timms, has appointed Mr Dipesh J Shah as the new Chief Executive to the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) in succession to Dr John McKeown.  He will take up his appointment on November 15, 2003.  Dipesh Shah, 50, has spent most of his career at BP plc. Before leaving BP late in 2002 he was Vice President, Acquisitions and Divestments. Prior to that he had been CEO for the Forties Pipeline System and General Manager of the BP Grangemouth complex.

Japanese Visitors At Dounreay
Seven members of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations Members visited Dounreay recently.  They are part of a Committee making studies on pollution control and preservation of environment.  During their visit they had a site tour and received a presentation on Dounreay's past, present and future.

The Highland Council is being recommended to take active steps to encourage the establishment of the Highlands as a Genetically Modified Free Zone. The advice comes from its Land and Environment Select Committee, which believes that following farmscale trials comparing GM Herbicide Tolerant crops with conventional crops, there is no evidence to date to support the claim that GM crops will benefit the environment.

Scoular Anderson Talks To Pulteneytown Kids
Writer Scoular Anderson visited wick library and is seen here talking to the children from Pulteneytown Primary school about some of his work.

Highland Tourism Businesses Aim for Monster Impact in London
The Scottish Highlands’ most famous resident, Nessie is preparing to forsake the waters of Loch Ness for the banks of the Thames at this year’s World Travel Market (WTM) in London.  The Loch Ness Monster will be backing the efforts of 37 North tourism businesses at the UK’s largest tourism and hospitality expo at the ExCel conference centre in London from 10-13 November.  A large model of the region’s most elusive resident prepared to journey south on Friday 7 November with assistance from Robbie Bremner, owner of the Loch Ness 2000 visitor attraction at Drumnadrochit.

Family Portraits Offer From John Baikie - Photographer

The initial findings of an independent study into the economics of renewable energy confirms the viability and profitability of developments in the Highlands and Islands and the scope for communities to negotiate up to £5,000 per megawatt of electricity production per year for the community benefit.  IPA Energy Consulting of Edinburgh were commissioned by The Highland Council and Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) to evaluate hydro, wind and wave power schemes and have produced a preliminary draft report, the highlights of which were presented to The Highland Council’s Sustainable Development Select Committee in Inverness.

Thurso Community Councils recently collected a free computer system from The Highland Council.  A large number of voluntary and community organisations throughout Highland are benefiting from a scheme operated by The Highland Council and their information technology partner, Fujitsu.  The scheme involves organisations receiving free computers, which are surplus to the Council’s requirements. The computers have become surplus as the result of the Council’s programme of updating their Information and Technology capability.

Seal Pup Rescue At Brough
This time of year can be a busy time for the Marine Rescue Group in Caithness with injured seals and orphans.  This one was being released at Brough after treatment.   If you would like to see seals and their pups then check out the Ranger walk between Skirza and John O'Groats on Sunday 16 November organised by the Rangers

Suas leis a' Ghaidhlig - Up with the Gaelic! - Gaelic Classes At Wick
Gaelic classes in Wick Comm Ed Building, Ackergill Street, starting on Monday Nov 10th at 7:30
We would welcome learners of all abilities and also any fluent speakers willing to pop in and help us practise our skills.   Your chance to learn to understand the songs on the T.V.Mod programmes or  Gaelic Place names..

The Highland Council has welcomed the likely abandonment of plans to dismantle laid up Royal Navy nuclear submarines at the Nigg oil fabrication yard in East Ross.  KBR, operators of the Nigg yard, have announced that they have asked DML, one of four consertia bidding for the Ministry of Defence contract, to withdraw Nigg from their outline proposal.   However, there is still concern that the Vulcan Naval Reactor Test Establishment site at Dounreay could be used as the national repository for the nuclear reactor compartments of the redundant submarines.

MSP Rob Gibson Asks For North Ferry Users Group
Rob Gibson SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands has lodged a written  question with the Scottish Executive asking whether it has plans to extend  the remit of the Caledonian MacBrayne Users Committee Scotland to include  passengers on Northlink Ferries.

Cheaper To Use Caithness Business Index Than Directory Enquiries
Lots of people now use Caithness.Org business Index rather than pay for directory enquiries to find a local business phone number.  Not only can they find the phone number but they often find the company has a web site and can link right through for more information.  Make sure your business details are kept up to date and users why pay for a phone number when you can look it up for FREE.  If you are not sure which section to look in type the name into the search engine at the foot of the page and you will be offfered a link to the page.

The Highland Council’s Caithness Area Committee visited New Park Management’s new Business and Technology Park at Forss, Caithness today (4TH NOVEMBER 2003), to see at first hand how the decommissioning at UKAEA Dounreay is bringing major benefits to the local economy.  The £6m  development by Scottish company New Park Management is converting the Forss site, which has lain derelict for a decade, in to a hi-tech Business and Technology Park.

The Caithness Area Committee of the Highland Council has nominated Cllr Bill Fernie as their representative on the Board of Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise (CASE).  Bill represents the West Wick ward and is the Area Committee's chairman of Housing and Social Work.  He is currently a director of Highland Housing and Community Care Trust a voluntary group building houses for elderly and disabled people in Highland and a director of Highland Prospect a Highland Council company.  He also sits on a range of other committees and local groups.

A History Of Thurso Pipe Band - Now On Sale
Thurso Pipe Band have just released a book on the history of the band from 1913 to the bands 90th anniversary year 2003. The book was researched and written by Sheila Plowman and is now for sale at £10.00.  It is available from Sheila Plowman on 01847 893901 or the band secretary David Manson on 01847 891042 or by contacting any band member and various local shops.

Loth, Sutherland
Another small scattered village on the east coast of Sutherland with long views from the main A9 road north and south.

Haunted House By Castletown Mothers & Toddlers Group Was A Big Hit
Castletown Mothers and Toddlers created a fantastic Haunted House for Halloween. It proved very popular with long queues of people waiting to go in throughout the two hours it was open.

Barrock School Reunion Donation At Lyth Harvest Home
A  cheque for £500 which was raised at the Barrock School Reunion was presented at a Harvest Home Supper dance in Lyth Hall on Saturday 1st November  by Jean Bain (on the right) on behalf of the Reunion Committee to Isobel Nicolson, Chairperson Macmillan Cancer Relief (on the left).  Also in the picture is Evelyn Richard, Treasurer Lyth Hall Committee.

Interactive Forum on Wind Farms At Scottish Parliament
On Thursday 6th November, Parliament will debate the issue of Wind Farms in Scotland. The motion will be introduced by Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser. Along with his co-signatories, Murdo Fraser is concerned about existing planning regulations, and their ability to respond to local concerns about the environmental impact of wind farms.   You can go to the Scottish Parliament web site or via the link in our Wind Farm section to leave your comments both for and against.

Open 4 All - Deadline For Businesses 1 October 2004
The Disability Rights Commission is currently running the Open4All Campaign, a major campaign to raise awareness of new duties under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA). The duties come into force in October 2004 and will affect anyone who provides a service to the public.   By 1st October, 2004, every business, large or small – from the local shop to restaurants, health clubs, dentists and supermarkets – will need to become more user-friendly to Britain’s 8.6 million disabled people.

SNH Appoints New Gaelic Officer
Scottish Natural Heritage has appointed a new Gaelic public relations officer.  Working from the SNH office in Inverness, Mairi Gillies will become the lead Gaelic spokesperson for the organisation, liaising with the Gaelic media and other relevant bodies.

Highland Eye Photographers Has A New Web Site
A new photography business web site is now up and running in Caithness offering a diverse range of pictures from landscape to wildlife.  Keith Parkes will be adding an increasing number of high quality pictures for sale to the web site.  The web site offers services from Weddings to Contract work.   Find the site via the banners or Business Page

The Highland Council is appealing to people in the Highlands to consider adopting a child.   Their call coincides with the launch of National Adoption Week, a nationwide campaign organised by the British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering, aimed at finding families for children waiting to be adopted.  Over 3,000 children in the U.K. are waiting to be adopted and many older children in the Highlands wait too long to find permanent and loving homes due to a shortage of people coming forward to be adoptive parents for the older child

A  41 per cent increase in visitors to the Dounreay Exhibition has made the 2003 season one of the most popular for many years.  Almost  8,000  people  passed  through  the  doors of the Highlands' latest four-star visitor attraction since it opened in May.

2003 Elections Of Community Councils In Caithness
Elections take place later in November and nominations can now be sent in for all of the Caithness Community Councils.  Nominations should reach Ian Hargrave, Council Offices, Market Square, Wick KW1 4AB by 4.00pm, Thursday 13 November 2003.

Laurie Terrace, Thurso

Mount Pleasant Road, Thurso

Holborn Avenue, Thurso

Smith Place, Thurso

Sunset Over Golspie

Kirkwall Library Old and New
Kirkwall's new library is nearly completed and should be ready for opening soon.

Junction Road, Kirkwall

St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall

Caithness Under 15 Rugby - Final Score - Caithness 43 :: Ross-Sutherland 5
Played Today at Wick High School - Caithness Rugby Club Under 15s played host today to their counterparts from the Ross-Sutherland Club. The game kicked off under perfect weather with a clear sky and light wind. Both teams spent the first 10 minutes in the middle of the park but gradually the Caithness boys began to find gaps in the Ross-Sutherland defence and ran up a 26 point to nil lead by half time with tries from Douglas Hill, James Paterson and 2 from Andrew Mackay. Douglas converted the 3 tries.

Traditional Scottish Music Workshop Evening Concert Sets The Mood For The Future
The traditional music workshops day moved on to an evening concert in Mackays hotel on Saturday night that turned out to be one of the best musical evenings in Caithness.  With a most amazing line up of some of Scotland's most talented performers in Scottish Traditional music ranging from Scottish dance styles to traditional music with a cutting edge.  the line -up of tutors all themselves currently working as performers and teachers included Ruby Randall, Marc Clement (Blazin Fiddles), Charlie McKerron (Capercaillie), Bruce McGregor (Blazin Fiddles) Iain Fraser (Principal fiddle tutor at Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama), Louise Mackenzie (Fiddler, Composer, Teacher),  Gordon Gunn (Gordon Gunn Band and Session A9) and Addie Harper Jnr (musician , composer and local recording artist).  Playing with their respective classes from the day and then either individually or in impromptu pairings and groups they delighted the audience with renditions of many of their own and well known works rising to a great finale with all of the tutors on stage together.  Let's hope they can make it all happen again next year.

Traditional Music Workshops A Big Success In Caithness Today
Over 70 people including young and old players was voted a big success by the participants from Caithness , Sutherland, Orkney and Shetland.  some of the top tutors in Scotland had gathered to teach at the workshops and play at a concert in Mackays Hotel on Saturday night.

Alice In Wonderland Rehearsals For Caithness Junior Drama
Caithness Junior Drama group run by Beverley Sarstedt were well into rehearsals today for their Christmas season presentation of Alice In Wonderland.  The three Alice's are explained as their way of making Alice Grow larger and smaller.  Plenty of singing and dancing.  Ticket sales will be announced here shortly.

New Cables Being Laid In Union Street, Wick for New Sub Station
A new electricity sub-station will shortly be installed at the Telford Street project to supply the expected increased demands of much of the Lower Pulteneytown area as the regeneration continues.  Scottish Hydro Electric are in the process of laying new cables to connect the substation when installed.  With new houses and an expected influx of new businesses over the next few years the power supply to the area needed increased.

Telford Street Pulteneytown Project Latest

Thurso Pipe Band March Wick To Thurso
Thurso Pipe Band set off on a march from Wick To Thurso today in the first of a series of fund raisers to help take them on a trip to play in the USA.  A piper and drummer will be playing all the way between both towns and the route goes via Castletown.

The Upward Trend Continues On Caithness.Org in October
Hits 6,038,820  Visitors 119,285
Daily Average - Hits 194,805  Visitors 3,879
The general trend in visitor numbers is still up and October recorded the second highest visitor numbers and the highest for the past five months.  Comparing with September (a 30 day month) the numbers are still up as the daily average was also passed.  Compared to a year ago October 2002 had 27,044 more visitors than October 2002 - a 29.3% increase.  The increase in the last two years is 92.8% with October 2001 visitors of 61,852.  We thought those were amazing then.   Thanks again for your many emails on what you like on the site - we try to deal with as many requests as possible.  And thanks for looking in.


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