North Action Group To Send Delegation To Perth Meeting
A delegation from North Action Group will be going to a meeting of groups from all over Scotland fighting similar downgrading and closures of local hospital services as that faced at the Maternity unit in Caithness General.  The meeting of representatives from the groups will discuss ways of helping each other and taking forward an agenda to save services and working out strategies that would be mutually beneficial.  North Action Group has several other actions planned for coming weeks.

Scottish Cross Party Political Group To Look At Health Service Changes May Be Formed Soon
North Action Group has been informed that there is to be a meeting in about two weeks time to consider setting up a cross party group to look at the huge changes currently causing many small communities to set up organisations to defend their local health services.

Caithness Canine Club
If you are looking for more activities to take part in with your dog or learn how to take part in shows why not join Caithness Canine Club.  Updated contact details now in.

Calling All Groups In Caithness - Are Your Details Up To Date?
The pages on have hundreds of groups and organisations with contact details.  However we depend on the groups themselves to keep us up to date with changes of chairs, secretaries and contacts.  Just send us un email with the latest details after any AGM's or changes and we will update your page FREE of charge.  Remember we have no idea when your group changes its committee each year.  Why not use the Free pages to add more information about your club or organisation.  It is then available 24 hours a day everyday.   And why not use the What's On section to add important dates about events or fund raisers and it's also FREE.

Wick Lifeboat Duck Race To Set New Date
The fund raising Duck Race on wick River was cancelled yesterday due to high winds.  A new date will be set shortly.  For anyone not heard of these Duck Races the ducks are plastic and are put in at a point on the river with numbers painted on.  The public then buy a number and if it passes a certain point on the river first then the purchaser wins the prize.

See Thurso Pipe Band Preparing For Tartan Day In Grampian TV News Movie Short
Take a few minutes to download in new window. 

Tent Show At Wick Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th April
The tent show was setting up today getting ready for Saturday and Sunday.  so if you are thinking about camping this year get along to the Tent Show at Riverside, Wick to see al the latest tents.

NHS Highland Announces Gary Coutts As New Chairman
Highland Councillor Gary Coutts is the new chairman of NHS Highland following an announcement today.  The new board will have their first meeting on Tuesday 6 April and up to 14 members of the North Action Group and other Caithness folk intend to be at the meeting to hear how they decide on the paper being presented by Chief executive Roger Gibbins.   North Action Group intends to contact board members regarding the situation in Caithness and to make life easier for anyone who wishes to write to the board members on the topic we have gathered together some of the contact information and details about the various board members as these are the people who will help decide on the future of maternity services in Caithness.

MSP Maureen MacMillan & MSP Jamie Stone To Attend NHS Highland Board Meeting On Tuesday
Recognising the importance of the NHS highland board meeting on Tuesday at Assynt House MSP Maureen MacMillan has announced that she too will attend the board meeting at Assynt House in Inverness on Tuesday 6 April.  MSP Rob Gibson has said he would have attended but has another appointment in London.   Rarely do MSP's attend Health Board meetings and this shows that politicians at the top level have taken on board the huge disquiet in the north of Scotland over the issue of maternity services.

Health Board Invite North Action Group Chairman George Bruce To Speak To The Board
The large contingent of North Action Group members and supporters will hear George Bruce the chairman of the group and also chairman of the Caithness and Sutherland Health Forum speak to the board after an invitation today.  A similar invitation to address the board has been extended to Caithness area convenor Councillor David Flear.

Cillr Bill Fernie North Action Group Member Interviewed For BBC Radio Scotland On Monday
As interest intensifies over the Health board meeting on Monday media contacts continue to arrive at North Action Group and Bill Fernie will be interviewed regarding North Action Group views on the Health Board meeting to take place on Tuesday.

More Media Interest As David Flear To Appear on Lesley Riddoch Programme
Convenor David Flear and Young Mum Kerry Mackenzie will be on the Lesley Riddoch programme on BBC Radio Scotland on Tuesday from 12.00 NoonThis follows the Health Board meeting in Inverness where the Caithness maternity issue is on the agenda.  Health minister Malcolm Chisholm is also expected to be on the programme.

"Wedding Belles" - 60 Wedding Dresses On Show At Old Parish Church , Wick  - Thursday 1 April
The Flower Festival runs in the afternoon and in the evening the flowers will make a superb backdrop for a display of 60 wedding dresses dating from the 1920's.  the dresses have been loaned by many local ladies for the fund raiser in aid of Wick Players who have again just won the SCDA Highland finals with their play "The Best Warm Beer In Brooklyn by Jason Milligan.  Funds raised will go towards the newly acquired premises in Moray Street.  The Scotttish finals take place in Inverness and Wick Players will be there.  If you have not got your ticket for Wedding Belles you can get them at Polteney News in Dempster Street, wick but you better be quick.
Some of the dresses at an earlier rehearsal

Flower Festival - Old Parish Church, Wick 1 April 2.00 - 4.00pm
Ladies from Wick Gardening Club got ready for the Flower Festival on Thursday 1 April.  There will be teas in the hall and a range of musical items from 3.00pm  Funds raised will be in aid of the church organ fund.

On Tuesday 29 March 2004 another man working for a sub-contractor in the Prototype Fast Reactor at Dounreay, was admitted to hospital with probable meningitis, though the type has yet to be confirmed.   Dr Ken Oates, Consultant in Public Health Medicine for NHS Highland said “On the basis that there is a strong possibility that this is a further case of meningococcal meningitis it has been decided to extend the offer of antibiotics to include all those who work on a regular basis in the Prototype Fast Reactor. Further advice and an update on the situation was given to all members of the workforce at Dounreay today.”

If You Are Selling A Property In Caithness Or Sutherland - Advertise It For Only £20
It's spring again and lots of folk are looking for houses in the north of Scotland.  A property can be advertised for sale in our property pages for only £20 and that's it until your house is sold.  No additional charges even if it takes a year.  Most properties are gone in a short time from our pages and some have been on for only days.  It might be the best £20 property ad you ever take out and with traffic continuing to break records well worth thinking about.

The last batch of nuclear fuel to be manufactured at Dounreay was completed today, signalling the end of an era in the supply of fabricated uranium elements to research reactors around the world.  Known as D1202, the site's fuel fabrication plant was the first "active" facility to commence operation at Dounreay in January 1957. Tomorrow, work will start to clean out and decommission the plant.  The plant manufactured some 10,000 fuel elements using a series of precision mechanical processes to turn billets of uranium metal and aluminium into fuel elements of the highest quality.

Scottish Society For Northern Studies - Annual Study Conference 5 - 9 April 2004
60 members of the society will hold their annual study conference in Caithness this year beginning on 5 April.  They will take part in a series of visits to Caithness sites and attend lectures on a variety of topics throughout the conference. The conference is based at the Portland Hotel, Lybster with members staying at a variety of locations along the east coast of Caithness. lectures are variously in the mornings and evenings.  The society have invited members of the public to join them for any lectures that are of interest to them at the Portland Hotel.  Places can be booked by contacting Andy Heald, Caithness Archaeology Trust.

Thurso Pipe Band have done all their final preparations for their journey to New York to participate in the well known Tartan Day Parade on Saturday 3rd April 2004. The Band’s final preparations included their last practice, and a TV interview with North Tonight which will be shown before the band leaves on Wednesday, and the unveiling of a banner, which Band President Billy Gunn will be displaying when he marches at the head of the band at Saturday’s Parade in New York.  Thurso Pipe Band Banner Carries Two Web Sites To Tartan Day The banner will publicise Thurso Pipe Band’s re-vamped website , as well as the website & the Highland Council’s corporate image.  Area convenor David Flear recently presented the band with a cheque for £5000 from Highland council to assist with the cost of the trip.  Good Luck in New York.

Health Board Agenda & Papers For 6 April Meeting - Caithness Maternity Under Item Nine
The agenda and papers for the NHS Highland Health Board meeting on 6 April 2004 are now available on the Health Board web site. Minutes of the meeting at the Norseman Hotel on 16 March are also included and a report from Dr Roger Gibbins on the options to be considered from the Calder Report. To see the agenda and papers go to -

Air Travel To Sweden Becomes Low Cost For Scots
A new destination of low cost travel has opened up for people in the highlands and Scots generally as Swedish airline SAS and their subsidiary Snowflake have started two new low cost routes to Stockholm.  A £46 one way ticket is available from Inverness including taxes etc or a £99 return from Edinburgh.   We wonder if Wick and other HIAL airports can ever get in on this act.  Anyone fancy watching the football in Stockholm.

CALLING GRADUATES AND EMPLOYERS - Caithness & Sutherland Graduate Fair
Graduates and employers in Caithness and Sutherland are to be given the chance to get together and discuss opportunities which will be to their mutual benefit. Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise (CASE) is organising a Graduate Fair to be held in Thurso Town Hall on Tuesday 6th April, from 1pm – 5pm, in an effort to match the skills of recent and prospective graduates with the requirements of local employers.  The date has been chosen so that it will coincide with students being at home in the area for the Easter holidays, and also to give local employers an opportunity to plan their recruitment for summer starting dates.

Donations To North Action Group Maternity Campaign Pass £3700
At their latest meeting North Action Group committee members heard from treasurer Councillor Tom Jackson that donations had now exceeded £3700 with more coming in all the time.  The group were delighted with the total raised so far and hope that this continues in case there is a necessity to pay for legal actions at a later date.

Maternity Protest Latest - North Action Group Going In Force To NHS Highland Board Meeting
North Action Group have decided to take a mini-bus to Inverness to attend the NHS Highland Health Board meeting on 6 April to hear what may if anything be discussed about maternity services in Caithness.  The group are determined to show the new board that has its first meeting on that date that they will have a presence from the North Action Group at all publicly held board meetings until the maternity services question is settled.  Places are still available on the mini-bus if anyone from Caithness or on the A9 route in Sutherland wishes to go along.  Members of the public are only allowed to observe the meeting.  Contact Bill Fernie for further details.  Other interested people have contacted North Action Group to indicated they will make their own way to Inverness for the meeting.

Easter Sports Courses At Thurso High And Other Highland Centres Proving Popular
Many senior students from  secondary schools  throughout the Highlands have registered for study courses being staged during their Easter holidays to help them make the grade in their Higher examinations. The Highland Council's Education Culture and Sport Service is using eight centres across the Highlands for the four or five-day courses, which began on Monday 29 March.  The venues  this year are:- Alness Academy, Dornoch Academy, Glenurquhart High, Tain Royal Academy, Grantown Grammar, Gairloch High, Lochaber College, and Thurso High.

Caithness Castles and other fortified buildings
A history and guide to the strongholds and lairds houses of Caithness by Michael J. Gunn

This book, the culmination of more than forty years of research by the author, recounts the histories and family connections of more than one hundred Caithness strongholds. It documents the growth and development of all types of fortified buildings in Caithness commencing with the Iron and Bronze Age hill forts and brochs, through the Viking and Norse strongholds, to the medieval castles and towers and the later lairds houses.  We have seem the draft version of this book and it is likely to become one of the most sought after books on Caithness and with only 1000 copies in the first run may be out of print fast.  So if you would like to ensure you get a copy place and order with Michael Gunn now.

New regulations affecting the disposal of animal by-products will come into effect in the Highlands on Thursday (1 April). Over the past few months, representatives of The Highland Council's Technical, Environment and Community Services have been contacting affected businesses to explain the impact of the regulations and offer advice as to alternative means of disposal.  The regulations target concerns about possible sources of diseases such as BSE, CJD, Salmonella, and Foot and Mouth Disease and aim to protect public health and animal health by controlling the treatment and disposal of animal by-products.  A wide range of businesses are affected by the Regulations including farms, slaughterhouses, rendering plants, knackers' yards, food manufacturers, catering outlets, butchers, fish processors/mongers and food retailers.

UKAEA Donates Computers To Caithness Groups
UKAEA recently donated personal computers to three local organisations.  The PC's were presented to St Fergus Bowling Club from Wick and two of our local heritage societies based in Thurso and Wick by Fiona Gunn of Director's Office, UKAEA Dounreay. UKAEA recently commissioned a study of the options for a new visitor centre to comply with changes to disabled access regulations. This has resulted in UKAEA and Thurso Heritage Society accepting an invitation from the Highland Council to become one of the partners in a new community and visitor facility being proposed by the council as part of its intended refurbishment of Thurso Town Hall.

The Highland Council's Education Culture and Sport Committee has given the go ahead to two new projects at Wick High School at a total estimated cost of £460,000.  The learning support base is to be modified and upgraded to allow access to the curriculum to pupils with special education needs. This project is planned to be completed by the start of the new school session in August of this year.  At present pupils with significant support needs have to travel to the SEN base in Thurso High.
Highland Council Has Approved the Provision Of All Weather Football Pitch At Wick High School
The Council has also approved the provision of a floodlit all weather pitch in the school grounds and work is expected to start in the new financial year. Funding is being attracted from the New Opportunities Fund. Caithness councillors warmly welcomed the investment at the school, which has been a long-standing aspiration of the community in Wick.

Scenes From "Camster"
On Friday 26th March at 7.30 pm in The Drama Studio in the Ormlie Industrial Estate, Thurso, the students from the Higher National Certificate Drama Course at North Highland College will present scenes from the play “Camster” by Caithness writer George Gunn.   Admission Is FREE

Showtime At Pulteneytown School Raises £1963.50
Head teacher Lillian Wark has sent out thanks to all who made the recent school show such a success with great performances and raising an amazing £1963.50 to boost school funds which will be used to benefit pupils at the school.

The Scottish Socialist Party is holding a public meeting to discuss the ways and means of getting rid of the Council Tax and progress to date within the Scottish Parliament.  The SSP's regional organiser, Steve Arnott, is the speaker. Chairman is Frank Ward, secretary of the local branch. The meeting is in the Nethercliffe Hotel, Wick, on Wednesday 31st March at 7.30pm

Beware Of People Contacting You By Phone About Your Credit Card  - Another Scam
This time it's a phone call from someone claiming to be with the Security and Fraud department of VISA or MasterCard sounding extremely official, tell you that there's a large amount on your card and ask if you have bought something for that amount.  When you say 'no' they continue with their official sounding investigation, saying that your account will be credited. They ask you for the security code (a 7 digit number on the back your card). This is what they are looking for and you should never give this out on the telephone. It's usually asked for when buying over the internet.  Beware, as this can really sting you and you'll need a new security number to boot.   THINK THINK THINK 

How To Get A Wind Turbine Part Round The Cliff In Wick
A tricky set of manoeuvres is required to get the main wind turbine parts round the very tight angle from the riverside to "The Cliff" in Wick.  Edward Mackay's drivers have now had plenty of practice on this corner and this load was turned round with no problems.  There are still many parts awaiting shipment lying at Wick harbour and several shiploads still to come as the wind farm at Causewaymire builds up.  Several other new wind farms are yet to begin operations in Caithness so wind turbine parts on Caithness roads will be a common site over the next couple of years. 

Fighting To Save Maternity Services - North Action Group -
Minutes Of Meetings Now On NAG Web Site 

In order to let everyone see what is happening from the North Action Group minutes of all meetings are now being posted on the North Action Group web site.  

North Action Group To Attend First Meeting of New Health Board
The newly appointed members of Health Board will attend their first meeting at Assynt House, Inverness on Tuesday 6 April at 10.00am.  Meeting of Health Boards are open to the public but are rarely attended by anyone other than the board members.  Until the question of maternity services is settles it is the intention of North Action Group to attend all board meetings open to the public.  Meetings are every few weeks and can be in different places around the Highlands but mainly in Inverness.  if anyone from Caithness or Sutherland would like to join about 8 members of North Action Group at the next meeting then get in touch with them to organise transport. 

Sunday March Raised £655 for North Action Group
Donations from the crowd on Sunday raised a further £655 towards the funds of North Action Group.  The total so far is in excess of £3000 in donations.  Some of this has already been spent on advertising, postage etc.   A donations acknowledgement listing will shortly be placed on the North Action Group web site.

North Action Group Will Consider Becoming A Charitable Group
At its latest meeting the North Action Group agreed to apply for charitable status in view of the possible long term work that may be required in fighting any down-grading of maternity decisions by the health board and Scottish Executive.  It may be necessary to seek legal advice and larger funds may be required to fight a case.  Formal audited accounts will be prepared and papers for the new formal status will be submitted shortly.

Fitness & Health Courses For Caithness Primary Schools Seen Here At South School, Wick
Tina Robinson the Caithness Sports Officer is currently doing the rounds of Caithness primary schools showing the pupils how to keep fit and eat healthily.  With practical exercise courses that can easily be kept going and some advice on healthy eating and finally a free bag with a few goodies including fruit and water.

UKAEA Adds A Classroom To Reay Primary School
UKAEA Dounreay donated a portacabin to Reay Primary School earlier this year.  The portacabin is being used as a 4th classroom as the school has increased in size and required a 4th teacher. Prior to the portacabin instalment the Primary 7s were being taught in the general purpose room that is used for PE, Art and Lunch.  The portacabin is joined to the school via a corridor which was installed by the Highland Council and is now very much part of the school. Mrs Eileen Sutherland, Head Teacher at Reay Primary School said "This has made a huge difference as we now have a dedicated classroom for P7 pupils rather than a shared area which previously meant the class had to move away from their desks and out of the room every time it was needed by another class.

A Recent Caller At Scrabster - A Tug "Maersk Fletcher"
Type: Tug/Supply  - Built: 1995
GRT: 2,961 - DWT: 4,654
Length: 82.5m - Beam: 18.85m
Draft: 6.23m - Speed: 16kts
Engine: Blohm & Voss

SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands Rob Gibson has lodged a motion in Parliament calling for the Scottish Executive to undertake a strategic assessment of the Rail link between Inverness, Thurso and Wick.  MR Gibson lodged his motion after Highlands and Islands Enterprise published a report showing an increase in the amount of people using the railways in the Highlands. He sees this report a an excellent opportunity to construct a Dornoch Rail Bridge which would cut 45 minutes off the time that it takes to travel from Inverness to the far North.....

“The Best Fed People in Creation”
An Illustrated Talk on the Past and Present of St. Kilda
Through Poetry and Prose (in English) By Donald S. Murray
Poet, teacher and writer from Benbecula
A fund-raising event open to the public, in support of important local heritage work.
Friday, 2 April, Dunbeath Heritage Centre 7:30 p.m. Admission: £2

West Caithness SWRI Bulb Show 2004

Huge Crowds Turn Out To Support Maternity Rally In Wick
he crowds turned out in huge numbers with estimates of over 2000 in support of the North Actions Group's call to support consultant led maternity services in Caithness.  From 2.20pm onwards the crowds lined up and eventually encircled the Caithness General Hospital before moving off down the Cliff and long Bridge Street and into Market Square

North Action Group Delivered Mothers Day Card To Maternity Unit
Members and supporters of the North Action Group delivered a large Mothers Day card to the staff at the maternity unit before the march to the rally began at Caithness General Hospital.   Many members of the committee of of North Action Group have been themselves or had relatives in the maternity unit.  they wish to ensure that future services are retained for the community in the future.

George Bruce Chairman Of North Action Group Overwhelmed By Support
George Bruce reiterated the north Action Groups intentions to fight all the way for maternity services in Caithness.  He thanked everyone for turning out in such large numbers and with few comparisons in recent years declared this the biggest show of felling the government has yet seen.  With other groups all over the country fighting to for other units there was little doubt that this was a force the MSP's in Edinburgh must take note of.

Rob Gibson MSP Calls For Cross Party Unity On Maternity Issue
SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands has called for cross Party co-operation over the threatened Maternity Unit at Caithness General Hospital. Mr. Gibson was speaking at the protest and he said..."This is a chance for all shades of political opinion to get together to come up with constructive solutions to the problem of centralisation of the Health Service. What we need is a unity of purpose where we all speak with a clear voice."  "Ultimately the health minister cannot leave Caithness and north Sutherland in no-man's land."  Mr Gibson also called for health board members to be made accountable and face the ballot box.

Maureen Macmillan MSP Delighted At Support For Caithness Maternity Unit
MSP Maureen MacMillan stated her full support for the people of the north and their fight to retain consultant led services

Jamie Stone MSP Says "Only God Almighty Can Change Geography"
Jamie Stone MSP was he said amazed by the huge support at the biggest demonstration of its kind he had ever seen in the north of Scotland.  Outlining the reasons why the Health board and the Scottish Executive had to think again and referring to weaknesses in the Calder report he was given enthusiastic responses from the crowd for committing himself to do everything in his power to save services in Caithness General Hospital

Area Convenor David Flear Declares Highland Council & Councillors Support The Campaign
David Flear was firm in his statements that not only was highland council firmly on the side of the campaigners fighting to save consultant led services but they were asking that no decisions were taken until the results of the Council and HIE Impact Study was completed to show the social and economic consequences of running down maternity services on the north of Scotland.

Luke Ivory For Scottish Socialist Party Supporting Fight For Caithness Maternity Services  
Luke Ivory for the Scottish Socialist Party made a stirring speech in support of the people fighting to save maternity services.  He also added his party's voice to the growing demand to remove un-elected health board quangoes.  He said it was time to remove the un-elected "Placemen" of the Scottish Executive.  The suggestion found favour with the assembled crowd and he was cheered and clapped.

Aelex Bain Vice Chair Of North Action Group Vows To Fight Campaign With Everything
Thanking everyone for speaking and the crowds for coming Aelex Bain pledged that North Action Group members would be  carrying on the campaign with everything they could think of.  Aelex Bain has two children and has her own personal story of how without consultants being on hand in Caithness she would have suffered serious consequences.  Her story is echoed by others on the north Action Committee as well as many other women who have come forward to tell there own stories. 

Global Funds Begin To Come In From Caithness Connected Folk Everywhere
North Action Group are beginning top receive offers of financial support from round the globe as the Scots everywhere and particularly those with northern connections rally to the cause of retaining consultant led maternity services in the north of Scotland.  what began as a small campaign is turning out be a rallying call to the Scottish diaspora.  Donations To the fight To Save Consultant Led Maternity services in Caithness can be sent to Treasurer - Councillor Tom Jackson, 15 Upper Burnside Avenue, Thurso, Caithness, KW14 7XA

Caithness Pipe Bands Join The Fight For Maternity Services
The spontaneous offers from three different pipe bands in Caithness brought together a big sound to lead the demonstrators at Caithness General Hospital and to lead the march along Bridge Street and into Market Square to hear from North Action Group and the assembled politicians.  The rousing sound hammered along Bridge Street and resounding in the Market Square urged folk to say "There is no way we can lose now and we will not give up" 

Call Goes Up To Scrap Unelected Health Board Quangoes
MSP Rob Gibson SNP and Luke Ivory SSP both called for an end to unelected Health Boards and that elections should be brought in to make the individuals accountable to the electorate.  In what may turn out to be an unexpected wake up call the crowds greeted the idea enthusiastically cheering and clapping each time the idea was suggested.  Calls to ensure that all the individuals are made known to everyone as soon as they take office after 1 April were in place.  NHS highland Health Board members will no longer be allowed to be faceless as the previous board were.   North Action Group members are to take every step possible to highlight who is on the new board.

North Action Group Calls On People To Attend Health Board Meetings From Now On.
All Health Boar meetings are open to the public but few people if any ever avail themselves of the opportunity to see them in action.  north Action Group hopes to change all that and have people attending every meeting until the maternity issue is settled.   the next meeting in on 6 April in Inverness and NAG is organising for people to attend and anyone without transport can contact NAG to arrange for a lift.  Depending on numbers a bus may be organised although this expensive.

Thurso Pipe Band All Set For Tartan Day In New York
The Thurso Pipe band are in their final preparations to travel over to  America to take part in the Tartan Day Parade in New York on the 3rd of April 2004. There will be in the region of 2000 individuals, including pipers, drummers and Scottish groups from around the World taking part in the cities 6th annual tartan Day Parade. The parade marches down 6th Avenue from 44th Street to 58th Street at Central Park. as well as the tartan Day parade the band will be playing at several other functions. The band departs for America on the 31st of March

Gaelic Student Wins Wallace Broadsword Prize In Gaelic Community Radio Competition
Jaqui Yuill, winner of The Highland Council's Gaelic Community Radio Competition receives the Wallace broadsword prize from Councillor Neil Clark.  The Highland Council's Gaelic Community Radio Competition is supported by the Gaelic Media Service and Burn Stewart Distillers PLC, makers of the Wallace Liqueur.  The aim of the competition is to encourage radio groups to develop Gaelic programming within their broadcast schedules and encourage Gaelic speakers to participate in Community Radio.

Recent Fertiliser Boats Calling At Wick
Amongst the Wind Farm parts being delivered at Wick harbour are also the usual fertiliser boats and recent shipments were brought in by River Dart and Annuity.

So You Think Maternity Downgrading Only Affects Pregnant Women - Think Again
Aelex Bain one of the North Action Group members was shocked to find that people in Wick on Saturday morning still had little idea of the huge possible knock on effects of the possible maternity unit downgrading recommended in the Calder Report.  North Action Group are very aware of the possible detrimental effect on Gynaecology services closely allied to maternity.  But it is the potential for a domino effect running right through the hospital that might be the worst scenario.  Not least of the factors is that with downgrading will be the loss of jobs in another of the biggest employers in the county.  If you want to be treated for health reasons at a hospital in Caithness for anything in the future think about joining the march on Sunday for an hour.  Could be your wife, sister, mother, grandmother who has to be treated in Raigmore, Inverness in the future.  Stop the downgrading and join with North Action Group on Sunday.

Primary 7 South School, Wick Throw World War Two Party For A Few Guests
South School's Primary 7 class brought their World War Two project to an end with a party for some of the folk in Wick who were around at the time.  The class had looked a various aspects of the war and how it affected people on the home front and for the party they even cooked some food using WW2 recipes.  Primary 6 provided waitresses for the event.  Lots of songs from the period were sung.

Northern Nashville Caithness Country Music Festival - 9, 10, 11 April
Tickets are going fast with most concerts now at around 60% sold and daily sales likely to make the concerts a sell-out.  Anyone wanting to attend any or all of the events would be well advised to get their tickets now.  Once all the tickets are sold there will not be any chance of getting in to the concerts over the three days.  Block tickets are available to cover the whole three days and proving popular with people planning to staying in Caithness for the full three days of the event.  The venue is a luxury marquee with stage and dance floor - plenty of space for line dancing.  There will be camping space nearby with great views of Thurso Bay and the Pentland Firth.  There will be a licensed bar, food, trade stands and much more.  This is the first country festival organised by the Northern Nashville Country Club and already it looks to be so successful it will be run in future years.  Many of the tickets have been sold to country fans from many countries including the USA.  Various hotels are offering special deals on accommodation.  If you enjoy country music and want to get into the festival get your tickets now.

Wick Rally On Maternity Makes It On To BBC Highland Radio News
The BBC Radio Highland News gave coverage to the protest rally being organised by North Action Group on Sunday 21 March 2.30pm Mothers Day.  The item appeared at the end of the broadcast and can be heard by anyone with Real Player installed by following the link at the top of this item.

Murkle Man Gets Nine Months Jail for Cannabis Possession
41 year old Steven Morris was given a sentence of nine months imprisonment after having been caught with £1600 worth of the drug.  He had previous convictions.

Six Men Now In Hospital With Suspected Meningitis
The men all work at the Dounreay site and two were taken in yesterday with a further four today.  One man from yesterday is being treated at Raigmore.  Both of the two taken in yesterday are improving.  The other four have been taken into hospital in Wick as a precaution and do not show signs of the infection as yet.

Councillor Katrina MacNab Calls For Rally Support Over Hospital Issues On Mothers Day
Councillor Katrina MacNab who represents the Pulteneytown ward on Highland council and is also the manager of the Pulteneytown Peoples Project has added her voice urging people in the north to support the rally on Sunday 21 at 2.30pm Mothers Day.  Her letter which has also been published in the John O'Groat Journal today is to be found on the North Action Group web site.  Councillor MacNab has pointed out the link that many people are beginning to make in the danger to other hospital services including gynaecology, anaesthetics and so on if a domino effect was set in motion.

Halkirk 1983 Primary 1
Picture sent by Joanne Mackay and no doubt this one like many others will stir a few memories.  If anyone would like to add information to the picture please send in anything including any information on the one name Joanne has a question mark on.

Maternity Rally In Wick On Mothers Day Likely To Get huge North Support
At 2.30pm on Sunday - Mothers Day people fighting to save consultant led maternity services in the north are likely to see one of the largest public protests for many years.  After the large numbers who attended the protests during the day and later when Professor Calder came for his visit to look at the service many more are expected to come out on Sunday.  The fact that so many politicians have agreed to speak in the Market Square in Wick shows that the matter is a cross party issue and regarded with utmost importance.  Outwith an election seldom do so many agree to come so speak publicly on a single issue.  some folk are travelling a long way to Caithness to support the place where their children were born and can hardly believe that downgrading is being considered.  North Action Group accept that change will come but that change should include the retention of consultants in Caithness.

The Tomorrow's House Today Seminar which was originally due to be held on 30 January has now been rescheduled to Wednesday 14 April 2004, at Ackergill Tower, By Wick, Caithness from 09.00am until 16.30pm  The Local Economic forum for Caithness and Sutherland is organising this Seminar owing to a lack of available modern quality affordable housing which is seen as a major constraint to development. Sponsoring members of the forum include Ackergill Tower, Caithness & Sutherland Enterprise and The Highland Council.  All interested parties, whether community housing association or groups, professional architects, builders or private developers as well as those with an interest in the latest low cost technologies for energy efficient housing for their own use, are invited to this Seminar with national and international speakers.

Caithness Guides Open A New Web Site
Caithness Guides and Brownies information can now be found on their new web site just launched.

Show Time At Pulteneytown Academy
The curtain came down after three shows in two days by the children of Pulteneytown Academy in Wick.  Wick players should not be short of talent for many years to come with some great performances and music coming via a state of the art sound system that showed off the singing to great effect.  The school has in recent years invested in modern stage, lighting and sound equipment and the kids really took advantage of it all in the performances.  Great show - well done everyone.

Demand for rail services in the Highlands has grown significantly in recent years according to a major new report published by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).  The study challenges perceptions that the Highland rail network is lightly used, dominated by tourist traffic and represents poor value for the public funding it receives. It details how rail contributes significantly to the Highlands and Islands' economy, supporting more than 1,500 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs and underpins the viability of many businesses in the region.

Caithness Glass To Close At Wick
The receivers for Caithness Glass Deloitte and Touche have announced that the Wick factory is to close with the loss of all 45 jobs.  25 people were given their notice today with another 20 being kept on temporarily for a few days to pack everything up.  Councillor Bill Fernie was at a Social Work committee meeting of Highland council in Inverness when the news was passed to him by area convenor David Flear who had himself been contacted by the press on his way back to Wick from a morning meeting at the Highland council offices.  Both Bill Fernie and David Flear told the press how devastating this was for Wick and especially the employees concerned.

MSP Rob Gibson Fears Other Affects Of Maternity Downgrading For Caithness
SNP MSP fore the Highlands and Islands  Rob Gibson is calling for an inquiry into the Social, Economic and Clinical impact that the downgrading of the Maternity Unit at Caithness General Hospital in Wick will have on the County.

The Scottish Socialist Party has condemned the report by Professor Calder, describing it a ‘a death warrant for rural surgery’.  Frank Ward, secretary of Caithness & Sutherland SSP and a member of the North Action Group formed to organise resistance to the threat of downgrading, added to withering criticism of the Calder Report.  He said  - “The Report is a disgraceful rubber-stamp on NHS plans to centralise all medical services and it must be resisted. It exaggerates the difficulties and dismisses alternative solutions without any serious consideration. It is a death warrant for rural surgery.” 

George Our Cat Has Died
Sadly we have to announce that George our cat has died.  George who was 18 years old had been ill since last May but the ailments had been controlled with medication although with less success very recently.   A constant companion with Bill in his web site work she sat nearby on a chair or under the table over the last four years as the site has developed often scolding loudly to say "Time for Bed" around midnight.   Like most cats she had all her own character with likes and dislikes conveyed in no uncertain terms.    She will be missed.

Local Councillors Check Out State Of the Art Fitness Equipment In Wick and Thurso Centres
Members of The Highland Council's Caithness Area Committee tried out the new equipment installed at The Highland Council's fitness suites in Thurso and Wick swimming pools.  Costing some £90K the equipment includes treadmills, elliptical trainers, cycles (upright and recumbent), rowers and strength equipment at both centres in Wick and Thurso.   High Life Card leisure card holders will benefit greatly from the introduction of the new fitness equipment in Wick and Thurso fitness suites. High Life offers special benefits to all cardholders including exclusive deals for regular users, people looking for work, senior citizens, any one in full time education and family groups.

Two Pipe Bands To Lead Mothers Day Rally From Caithness General Hospital
As support continues to flow into the North Action Group campaign to save services at Caithness General Hospital the group are delighted to have been offered the services of the North Highland Junior Pipe Band who will now join wick Pipe Band to lead the march to Market Square, wick on Mothers Day at 2.30pm

Highland Council Holds Special Press Conference On Maternity Issue In Wick
the importance of the maternity services to Caithness and Sutherland was shown today when a press conference in Wick today saw MSP's Rob Gibson, Mary Scanlon and Jamie Stone sit alongside David Flear Area convenor and Alison Magee Highland Convenor and Sutherland councillor along with George Bruce chairman of the North Action Group.  TV cameras, radio and press from various newspapers both local and national heard from and than asked questions of the group

NHS Highland Special Board Meeting In Wick Hears From Professor Calder
Professor Calder delivered his report to the board and the assembled audience today in Wick.  A wide group of people were in attendance with board members to hear the Professor deliver the report and some of his thinking behind it.   Questions were asked by MSP's councillors and members of the North Action Group.  Questions ranged across clinical and social issues and touched especially on the geography and safety of the services for mothers and babies.  Full reports will appear in the press.

North Action Group At the Health Board Meeting In Wick
Having prepared a long list of questions the North Action Group were on the whole happy that they got a hearing for many of their points.  Whilst not happy at many of the pints in the Calder report they were content that their views are being listened to.  A minority of members were very outspoken at the meeting and received rebukes from Health Board chairman Caroline Thompson.  Later in the meeting after refusing to keep quiet Frank Ward was escorted from the building by police.

North Action Group Live On Caithness FM Tonight At 8.00pm
North Action Group members George Bruce and Aelex Bain will feature on Radio Caithness FM tonight to highlight maternity services following the delivery of the Calder report to the Health Board today at the Norseman Hotel in Wick.

North Action Group Web Site Launched In Time For Special Health Board Meeting In Wick  -
The new web site of the North Action Group fighting to save the consultant led services at Caithness General Hospital maternity unit has been launched.  The new web site address is
the Health Board will hold the special meeting to receive Professor Calder's report on Tuesday 16th at 2.00pm  Members of the board will begin to arrive much earlier and demonstrators may gather at the beginning and for the end of the meeting.  The new web site set up by will be found by a link at the side of this page.  Reports from the North Action Group, Press Releases and comments will shortly begin to be posted.  anyone can add their comments about the current situation. 

North Action Group Donations Pass £2000 Mark
Fastest Growing Funded Group Seen In Caithness
The North Action Group has already received over £2000 in donations and donations are coming in fast as businesses respond to a letter requesting support.  Individuals also are beginning to send in donations.  North Action Group realised from the start just a couple of weeks ago when they formed that funds would be required to fight a long campaign against any downgrading decisions they feared would be the result of Professor Calder's report.   Unfortunately the report has bourne out the fears of the group and the recommendations have not changed the group's mind.  Greater funds may be required for some of what the group intend to do next.  Further announcements will follow after the health board meeting in Wick later today.

Pulteneytown Academy, Wick - Spring Extravaganza - Show Time -  Tickets £3
Wed 17 and Thursday 18  - School Hall  - Curtain Up 7.00pm - Get along and support a local primary school  

John Thurso MP Helping Out At the Marie Curie Daffodil Day Collection
John Thurso MP was out at the shops in Thurso helping generate support for the well-known cancer charity as part of their daffodil day collection.  Meanwhile over in Wick Bill Fernie and helpers spent a few hours at Safeway and the Co-op collecting £304 in the collecting cans.

North Action Group Prepare To Attend Special Health Board Meeting In Wick
The North Action Group fighting to defend maternity health services in Caithness meet tonight to discuss their response to the Calder report for the special meeting of the Health Board at the Norseman Hotel in Wick tomorrow (Tuesday) at 2.00pm.  The meeting is open to the public but seats will be limited as a range of people have been invited including North Action Group members ,and people who gave evidence to Professor Calder.  Some MSP's are making the trip north to be present when the report is formally delivered by Professor Calder.  There may well be spontaneous protests at the Safeway car park in Wick as members of the Health Board begin to arrive some time after 1.00pm for lunch before the meeting. 

John Thurso MP To Deliver a Clear Message To The Health Board - Retain Services
John thurso MP leads a debate in the house of commons on Tuesday and cannot be in Caithness but he has sent a letter set out in clear terms that he supports the retention of services at Caithness General Hospital.  David Flear convenor of the Caithness area committee of Highland council will deliver the letter to the Health Board meeting at the Norseman Hotel in Wick

Support For Mothers Day Rally In Wick Growing
More messages of supporters organising to come to the Mothers Day rally in Wick are be flowing in to the North Action Group.  Not just MSPs will be coming to the march and rally in wick but ordinary people from many places are to make the trip north to support the services.  People who left eh county some years go are indicating their intention to come to Wick for the weekend specifically to join in the rally in support of their former home county and its people. 

Getting Ready For "Wedding Belles" By Wick Players On 1 April
The ladies were trying out the dresses at Wick Old Parish church as they prepared for "Wedding Belles" the latest production by Wick Players.  With many wedding dresses and bridesmaids outfits as well as other clothes for the production the wardrobe department is gearing up for a busy night.  The production will be performed in the church itself lending an appropriate backdrop for this fundraising production aimed at boosting the coffers and raise money for the new premises recently purchased by Wick Players.  Dresses have been loaned for the production and includes the wedding dress of the late Lady Jessamine Harmsworth.

Plenty To Set Science Festival Alight At The Sunday Opening
Check out the programme for talks open to the public

Caithness Science Festival Starts Today -  Sunday 14 - Thursday 25 March
The Caithness Science Festival gets going with a week of events for school children with a few events open to the general public with hands on demonstrations and lectures by scientists.  The events open to the public are on 14, 16, 18, 23 March.  The festival kicks off with three thirty minute science shows at Wick High on the 14th with Black Holes, Electronics in Miniature and Electronic Musical Instruments being the topics of later lectures open to the public.

Indoor Bowling - Caithness County Rinks Competition Won By Wick Indoor Bowling Club
The 2004 Caithness County Rinks Competition was won on Saturday after a whole day of play offs between 29 teams entered in the competition.  In the semi-finals Town and County, Wick beat Watten 1 and Wick Indoor Bowling Club beat Royal British Legion 1, Thurso to make it a an all Wick final.   Indoor Bowls remains one of the most popular activities in Caithness with clubs in many of the village halls as well as in Wick and Thurso.  There are a range of county competitions as well as league matches.  If you have not played before and would like to give it a try take a trip along to your local club.  Open to all ages.

Telford Street Housing Renewal Project - Final Stages Underway

Halls In The Community Seminar 20 March 10.30am - 3.15pm At Strathy Hall
Sutherland Partnership are running another Halls In the Community day following last years successful event.  A chance to get a variety of information that can help the running and financing of your hall.

Duke Of Edinburgh Award Show Trailer At Dounreay
The Duke of Edinburgh's Award Show Trailer, which was generously supported by TNT recently visited the Dounreay site, with the aim to encourage young employees working with UKAEA and Contractors to take up the challenge of participating in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award.   Brian Lavery, Award Officer, Highland Council and Diane Gibson, Development Officer for the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Highland Award Project were on hand to speak to staff about the award.

The Health Debate - Feature On the Herald Thursday 11 March
The editorial comment on a survey on the public's views on current changes to the NHS

Expanding Business Opportunities In Decommissioning At Dounreay
Simon Cole-Hamilton, Chief Executive of Inverness Chamber of Commerce and Carol Gunn of HIE Network Decommissioning Task Force based in Thurso recently visited Dounreay to explore ways in which more members of the business community in his area could become involved in Decommissioning at Dounreay.  They are pictured here with Robert Nicol of UKAEA (right) who gave them a presentation on the Business Opportunities at Dounreay, which was followed a by a tour of the site.

The Convener of The Highland Council’s Caithness Area Committee, Councillor David Flear, has welcomed the chance to speak to the NHS Highland Board when it meets in Wick next week to discuss the findings of an independent review carried out by Professor Andrew Calder into the safety and sustainability of maternity services in Caithness and Sutherland.  Councillor Flear emphasised that Professor Calder’s recommendations were the starting point to the consultation with the public and interested partnership agencies and many more factors, including the social and economic impact of potential change, needed to be given equal consideration before a solution was found.

Kinbrace Folk Organise Bus To Come To Mothers Day Demo In Wick
It is a long way from Kinbrace To Wick but the folk there know that it is also a long way to Inverness for any woman expecting a baby if there are problems.  People from Kinbrace in Sutherland will travel to Wick to join the march and demonstration in Market Square, Wick on Mothers Day at 2.30pm from the hospital.

Maternity Discussion On Lesley Riddoch Show on BBC Radio Scotland  - Play Again
Go to the play it again place and select Thursday.  the show last for an hour and begins with the news headlines etc.  The programme last for an hour.

Safeway Staff Raise £319 For Maternity Campaign
Safeway Staff were delighted with the response to their home-baking stall to raise funds to support the North Action Group in their campaign to retain consultant led services at Caithness General Hospital.  Staff baked a wide range of items for sale at the stall.  The company also donated store vouchers that were raffled.  Pictured are just a few of the staff who contributed and served on the stall in the morning.   The stall was quickly sold out such was the enthusiastic support from customers in the store.    Many thanks From North Action Group

Professor Calder's Report In Full

From NHS Highland Board
The report on maternity services in Caithness from the independent group led by Professor Calder has been published.  A spokesman for NHS Highland said:  "We have now received the report and have placed it immediately onto our website so that the people of Caithness can have direct access to the full report. Professor Calder will be attending the meeting of Highland NHS Board on Tuesday 16th March 2004 to present the report and to answer questions from the Board on the report."

North Action Group Getting Ready To Launch Huge Letter Writing Campaign
The North Action Group campaigning for maternity services in Caithness are gearing up to prepare a big letter wiring campaign.  The group have already sent out over 600 letters to to businesses in Caithness and Sutherland as well as writing to several politicians and other bodies.  now they are preparing to write to all of the Scottish MSP's individually to ensure that the strength of feeling in the north of Scotland is expressed nationally.  This along with several other local initiatives other parts of the Highlands and Scotland will begin to be co-ordinated via the Internet.   NAG Chairman George Bruce made contact with several groups from around the country at a meeting of the Save Stobhill Hospital Group in Glasgow on Saturday and it is hoped that by widening the campaign to include other areas more focus will be achieved on the issue at the Scottish Parliament.

Letter From Amicus AEEU Trade Union (Thurso Branch) On The Maternity Issue
To Malcolm Chisholm MSP - Minister for Health and Community Care
Dear Mr Chisholm,
At a recent branch meeting our members expressed concern about the ongoing review of maternity services within the Highland area and the effect it will have on the existing services provided. Our local unit at Caithness General Hospital is at present under going a review by Professor Calder. It has been suggested that the outcome of this review may lead to the present consultant lead service being downgraded to a midwife lead service. Our members see this as a very unsatisfactory situation for several reasons..............................

Caithness Maternity Issue To Feature On The Lesley Riddoch Programme BBC Scotland
North Action Group representative and councillor for Wick West Bill Fernie will be on air live on the Lesley Riddoch programme - BBC Radio Scotland on Thursday between 12.00 and 1.00pm when the topic under discussion will be health services in rural areas in Scotland.   The programme can be heard on BBC Radio Scotland or on the web by following the link above.  Real Player is required to listen to the broadcast live or it can be played back later as the show is available online later.

Professor Calder's Report In Full

Rob Gibson SNP MSP Says Calder Report Part of Scottish Executive Centralisation
Caithness maternity services must be designed around the needs of patients and a consultant-led maternity service maintained, Highlands and Islands MSP Mr Rob Gibson said today after the Calder Report called for it to be downgraded.  Coming on the eve of his Parliamentary debate on the future of the service, Mr Gibson called for local people to unite in support of a consultant led service and target the Executive as part of a campaign to change their centralising culture. Commenting he said:  "Centralisation of maternity services and the closure of the consultant-led service in Caithness will place the lives of mothers and their new born children at risk.
"The Calder report is part of an Executive culture of centralisation. The people of Caithness have to unite to change this culture.  "The disbandment of the four year old Remote and Rural Areas Research Initiative was an ominous sign, now our worst fears are coming to fruition with the proposed downgrading of the maternity unit.
"The total lack of understanding of the geography of the far North and the need of NHS patients is there for all to see. The people of Caithness and Sutherland must now unite to change the centralising culture of the Health Service and Ministers.

Caithness Badminton Assoc - Junior Section Hosts North Competition
Held their 2nd Caithness Highland Restricted on Saturday 6th /Sunday 7th March in Wick and Thurso Games Halls.  In the Wick games hall Caithness were host to the u14's from from Caithness -Shetland - Orkney - Forres - Culloden - Beauly - Ardgay.  There was a total 38 boys and 18 girls entered and a total of 138 games of excellent badminton played. Despite not having the facilities that the other competitors have on their door steps ie a Community Sports Centre our local boys and girls did very well.

Direct Payments In Community Care - What are Direct Payments?
Thursday 18th March 2004 7.30pm - Nethercliffe Hotel, Louisburgh Street, Wick
A Direct Payment is money paid by the local authority directly to a person who has been assessed as needing community care or housing support services.  Recipients can employ their own personal assistants or purchase a service from an agency when and how they want the service.  As of 1st June 2003 Local Authorities have a duty to offer direct payments to disabled people, including children with disabilities, who require community care services.  Learn more about Direct Payments, bring your questions and find out if this route could be suitable for your needs.

Ex Headmistress Mrs Janette Pollock - Watten School Died This Morning
We regret to announce the death of former headmistress at Watten Primary School.
The funeral of Mrs Janette Pollock will be held in Watten Church on Friday 12 March at 11.45am.  Mrs Pollock who retired last year was head at the school from 1979 until 2003.

Milk Marketing Building In Wick Reduced To Rubble For New Housing Development
The former Milk Marketing Board (The Creamery) building next to the Wick railway station has been demolished to build up to eight new private houses.   Demolition work is moving quickly to remove the rubble that lies where the building stood.  Planning permission was granted in November 2003 for the change of use of the site which includes the Milk Marketing Board area and land acquired from Network Rail which is currently unused.

Help Wanted for Wick Players - American Branded Spirits Bottles
Yep.  those local thespians are looking for some props for their next production.  if anyone can help out with some old American sprits bottles such as Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, Jack Daniels, Southern Comfort etc.  If anyone can help hand bottles to any members of the group who are Grant MacKenzie, Kevin Farmer, Drew McLeod, Andrew Craigie, Duncan Robertson, Bottles will be filled with cold tea.....Suffering for their art eh!!!

Achvarisadal Woods; Night Walk - Friday 12th March  8pm - With The Rangers
Enjoy the sounds of the night, look for stars and perhaps pick up the first bat of the year
Meet at entrance to the woodlands at 8pm.  Bring torches and wear warm clothes Children must be accompanied by adult.  Walk is Weather dependent.  Cost - free.   About Achvarasdal Woods

'CAITHNESS CRITTERS' TAKE FIRST PLACE                         Well Done Caithness Critters
A Caithness based children's nature group, organised by The Highland Council’s Planning and Development Service Rangers are the winners of the Scottish Wildlife Watch Group of the Year Competition for 2003.   The group, 'Caithness Critters', won the Scottish Wildlife Trust competition which celebrates the achievements of Watch Groups around the UK and encourages the groups to keep a diary or yearbook of their activities through out the year.  The 'Caithness Critters', organised through Highland Council’s Rangers is a club for children aged 8 - 14 with an interest in wildlife.  The group meets every month to explore the great outdoors and learn about the wonders of nature.  Events take many different forms and over the past year have included forest treasure hunts, rock pool rummages, bat walks, gold panning, bird cake making and mini beast safaris.

Meet at Janet Street car park at 10.30am. Meetings are aimed at beginners and last about 2 hours. They involve a little walking and it tends to be cold. Wrap up well and bring a hot drink. Binoculars can be provided.  This activity is weather dependent.  cost - FREE.

The Emuna Arrives At Wick Harbour With More Wind Turbines
A flurry of activity to turn round the Sea Falcon and let the next wind Turbines in with the Emuna at Wick harbour was immediately followed by a fuel oil boat today

Craft Residencies in Caithness, Lochaber and Wester Ross
Three nationally acclaimed craft artists-in-residence start work this week at schools in Caithness, Lochaber and Wester Ross.  Each artist has been specially selected by pupils from local schools who also chose the craft they wished to study. Applications were received from craft makers from all over the country and pupils in each area selected three to interview before deciding on the successful applicant. 

North Action Group Gets Three MSP's So Far To Come To Mothers Day Rally
Three MSP's have so far agreed to come to Wick for the Mothers Day Rally in support of retaining consultant led maternity services in Caithness.  The three who have so far indicated they will come to speak at the rally in Market Square , Wick are Maureen MacMillan, Mary Scanlon and Rob Gibson.  Invitations were extended to all the Highland MSP's.  Replies are awaited from the others.

Web Cast Live From Scottish Parliament on Caithness Maternity Issue
On Thursday 11 March at 5.00pm the same day that Professor Calder's report into maternity services is published there will be a debate on the Caithness maternity service in the Scottish Parliament on a motion put down by Rob Gibson SNP MSP.  To view the debate go to the Scottish Parliament Live web site and click to the main chamber.  The link will be on this page on Thursday to make it easy to find.

Freedom Charters For Angling, Diving & Sight Seeing Round The Caithness Coast
This new venture based in Wick Harbour and run by Colin Richard will give folk the opportunity to get involved in activities based from Wick.   The boat can take up to ten people.  The boat is fully equipped with safety equipment, radar and radio.  If you want to see the cliffs of Caithness with a party of friends then this could be worth checking out whether for a day or half day.

More Wind Turbines Waiting Off Lybster On Sunday
The next shipment of wind turbines for the Causewaymire was spotted off Lybster on Sunday no doubt waiting until the Sea Falcon had discharged its cargo of fertiliser.

Holborn Place, Scrabster

Scrabster's New Pier Glistens In The Winter Sunshine
These pictures show the fantastic contrasts in Caithness weather.  Many visitors are often surprised at the amount of sunshine the far north gets in winter.  But as spring is almost upon us and the daffodils are bursting towards flowering we should not be too surprised.

Sea Falcon At Wick  - Ready To Unload Fertilizer On Monday
With space at a premium right now there has been plenty of activity to clear wind turbine parts away from the quay to make space for fertiliser to be landed on Monday from the Sea Falcon.  In rapid succession due at the harbour in the next few days are an oil boat, coal boat and then more wind turbines for the Causewaymire wind farm.

Sunday Football At Staxigoe - Boys Organise Their Own Mini Five-a-side Competition
Boys from Staxigoe, Wick and Pulteneytown organised their own five-a-side competition for Sunday afternoon and certainly got stuck in with a few goals on the pitch at the site of the old Staxigoe School

Caithness Science Festival - Sunday 14 - Thursday 25 March
The Caithness Science Festival gets going with a week of events for school children with a few events open to the general public with hands on demonstrations and lectures by scientists.  The events open to the public are on 14, 16, 18, 23 March.  The festival kicks off with three thirty minute science shows at Wick High on the 14th with Black Holes, Electronics in Miniature and Electronic Musical Instruments being the topics of later lectures open to the public.

Views From The Polo At Scrabster

St Clair Avenue - Scrabster

Boys And Bikes - Scrabster Saturday

East Caithness 2004 Bulb Show  
Another successful bulb show at the Assembly Rooms in Wick for the East Caithness branch of the SWRI.  Entries were slightly down on last year but a good crowd turned out to see the show and catch that whiff of perfume from the hyacinth bulbs - sorry we can't transmit the fragrance on the web.

Did You Know You Can Now Pay Highland Council Bills Online
No need to go to the bank or post office to pay Highland council bills any longer.  You can now pay online for any council related bills as long as you have a reference number.  You may want to continue paying at your local sub post office if you stay in a village as their future is threatened as the turnover is partly how they make a living and less payments through their till means they move ever closer to closure.  But online payment may be convenient for anyone who has difficulty accessing banks etc.

Building A Wind Turbine At The Causewaymire Wind Farm
This series of pictures from National Wind Power show the phases of construction of a Wind Turbine from construction of the foundation to the complete turbine at Causewaymire

Safeways Staff, Wick To Hold Fundraising Baking Stall To Support North Action Group
Responding to a letter for support from the North Action Group the staff at Safeways store in Wick have decided to have a Staff Home Baking Stall on Thursday 11 March from 9.30am.  Safeways Store itself are contributing Safeways Shopping Vouchers to be raffled at the Baking Stall on the same day.  Staff said they were keen to to help in a practical way and get involved in supporting the North Action Group campaign on Maternity services in Caithness.  Wick Thistle Football club have already offered a sum of money to be presented to NAG next week.  All funds raised and not used in the campaign will be donated to the League of Friends Of Caithness General once North Action Group winds up.

Thurso V Halkirk At Recreation Park, Halkirk On Saturday 6 March
The BIG Caithness Derby match is on Saturday 6th of March 2004. It is in the Morris Newton Cup Second Round, to be played at Recreation Park in Halkirk with a 2.30 pm kick-off. Should be a good game of football. Hope the weather is better than the last time the two teams played before Christmas when Thurso won 1-0 with a goal from Allan Sutherland.

NHS Highland To Hold Additional Board Meeting In Wick Tuesday 16 March
An additional board meeting will be held in Wick on 16 March to consider the report of Professor Calder on Maternity Services in Wick.  Members of the recently formed North Action Group have been invited to attend the meeting.  Professor Calder is to attend the meeting to present his report. 

Calder Report To Be Released To The Public and Press On 11 March
The report by Professor Calder will be made available on 11 March and posted on the Board web site later that day.

North Action Group To Discuss Calder Report Prior To NHS board Meeting
the North Action Group will discuss the report into Maternity services at Caithness General Hospital at its meeting on Monday 8 March  - the day before its members attend the NHS highland board meeting.   A few members of the group are to be allowed to ask questions and some of these will be formulated at the committee meeting.  Public representatives who met Professor Calder during his previous visit gathering evidence will also be asked to attend the NHS board special meeting on 16 March

Highland Council Agrees £40,000 Spending To Research Affects Of NHS Changes In Highland
Highland councillors agreed to the proposed research into possible NHS changes in hospitals in Wick and Fort William and changes to out of hours services by GP's.  The £40,000 will be matched by HIE making a total of £80,000.  NHS highland will co-operate ins supplying information to help the study and the results will be supplied to them along with politicians and others.

Rob Gibson Gains Scottish Parliament Debate On Maternity In Caithness
Rob Gibson SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands is to bring the issue of the Caithness General Hospital Maternity Unit to the attention of the parliament on Thursday the 11th of March.  The debate will be available live as a webcast on the Scottish Parliament web site from 5.00pm

Caithness Youth Sound is a one day Youth Event for young people aged 14 upwards (S3 and above).  It will be held in the New Weigh Inn on Sunday 28th March 2004 starting at 12 noon. There will be free food throughout the day, free transport for anyone living outside outside Thurso. Lots will be happening, we have workshops, (including Music & making Jewellery) with lots of other stuff to do, there is live entertainment in the evening too!!  If you are interested or you know anyone who is please contact the Community Learning Office, Thurso on 895782 for an application form by 15th March 2004.

Designated Port Fish Landing Status For Wick
Four fishing ports will be added to the list of those designated for haddock landings.  Haddock can now be landed at Scottish ports of Whitehills, Wick, Arbroath and Macduff by vessels with special haddock permits under EU arrangements introduced earlier this year. The addition of these ports brings the total number of designated haddock landing ports to 23 and ensures the continuation of tradition within the four communities.

National Success for Halkirk Young Farmers
Halkirk Young Farmers Club represented Caithness in Orkney at the weekend, competing at the National Competitions Weekend. Young Farmers from throughout Scotland attended the event in Kirkwall which hosted the National finals of the Country Cooks, Ten Pin Bowling, Member of the Year, Senior Speechmaking and National Quiz.

Caithness and Sutherland Pupils Make it in Scotland
School pupils from across Caithness and Sutherland will find out more about how local businesses operate, as Careers Scotland brings the Make it in Scotland roadshow to The New Weigh Inn, Thurso, The Waterfront, Wick and the Links Hotel, Brora on 16, 17 and 18 March respectively.  The roadshow is part of a major enterprise initiative with young people and manufacturers across Scotland and aims to create and raise awareness of manufacturing in the 21st century. It will demonstrate that manufacturing has a strong future in Scotland to secondary pupils prior to them making their subject choices.

ASSEMBLY ROOMS, WICK    WEDNESDAY 10TH MARCH 2004    6.00pm – 8.30pm
Careers Scotland staff be on hand to provide expert careers advice, but also representatives from more than 50 organisations will be ready to give you up-to-date information on opportunities in learning training and employment.  The convention is the ideal opportunity to meet first hand with people from a range of career areas, universities, colleges, employers and training providers – all there under the one roof, ready to help you as an individual.  Whether you’re a school pupil planning for the future or a parent/carer wanting to help, whether you looking for work, returning to work, or in work but seeking new horizons.

Hot On The Heels Of One Load Another Delivery Of Wind Turbine Arrives On Tuesday 2 March

Wind Turbines Arriving On Monday 1 March At Wick Harbour

ASSEMBLY ROOMS, WICK    WEDNESDAY 10TH MARCH 2004    6.00pm – 8.30pm
Careers Scotland staff be on hand to provide expert careers advice, but also representatives from more than 50 organisations will be ready to give you up-to-date information on opportunities in learning training and employment.  The convention is the ideal opportunity to meet first hand with people from a range of career areas, universities, colleges, employers and training providers – all there under the one roof, ready to help you as an individual.  Whether you’re a school pupil planning for the future or a parent/carer wanting to help, whether you looking for work, returning to work, or in work but seeking new horizons.

The success of a youth technology and innovation competition developed in the Highlands and Islands will see it become a major national contest next year.  The PICT ICT Youth Challenge encourages small teams of people under the age of 20 to develop innovative information and technology projects that have the potential to become commercially viable ventures.  PICT (Producing Information Communications Technology) Innovation Ltd takes innovative IT related ideas, supports and champions them in order to turn them into real businesses and jobs.  That popularity has led to the decision by the organisers and sponsors to extend the contest to young people throughout Scotland from next year. 

Due to inclement weather on Thursday, 26 February, the Crossroads (Caithness) Annual Draw was cancelled but was held on Saturday, 28 February at a staff appraisal day at "Derwent".  The prizes were drawn by Care Attendants, the Coordinator and Members of the Management Committee. Prize winners will be notified early next week.   Fundraisers would like to thank all those who donated prizes, sold tickets and continue to support the scheme. The proceeds of the draw will be spent in continuing to provide respite care in the home to carers in Caithness.

Latheron School Late 40's or early 50's
Adam Miller has sent in this photograph.  Perhaps someone out there can pinpoint the year exactly and possibly supply names to go with the picture.

Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm On Radio Highland News 1 March 04
Needs Real player to listen again to the interview.
Interview from Saturday in Inverness when the North Action Group spoke to the minister.  In this interview Malcolm Chisholm gives his views on the current situation with regard to Health Services.  Eye On Health

The Alternative Energy Caithness - A Bright Future
 From wind power to wave power the possibilities for alternative energy in Caithness are many and varied.  In this item we look at how Caithness is shaping up to quite few of the new alternative energy sources and you may be surprised that much of it is closer than you think.  your heat may soon come from biomass and electricity from photovoltaics and anaerobic digestion. Monthly Stats Yet Again With That OFt Repeated Phrase - Biggest Yet
February 2004 - Hits : 5,823,861 - Visitors : 121,317  - Daily Average 4172 visitors
February 2003 had 96,720 visitors.  A 25% increase.   If that rate were to remain the same will have over 1.5 million visitors in 2004. However projecting the rate of increase forward would take the visitor rate to over 2 million per annum.  Who can tell.  We remain truly gobsmacked and thanks to everyone for looking in and to many of you for your contributions to the site.