Isles FM News in association with Hebrides News - Wednesday 5th August 2020


School pupils across the Western Isles, received the results of their SQA National Qualification results yesterday. This follows the most challenging and unusual academic year for those undertaking qualifications.

Despite the difficulties experienced by both pupils and staff this year, the Comhairle is pleased to be able to report significant improvements in results this year, with many more awards being achieved by Western Isles pupils than in previous years.

The introduction of lockdown in March resulted in national school closures at a time when pupils were at a critical time in their studies. The SQA subsequently then confirmed the cancellation of all exams across Scotland, meaning that qualifications this year were going to be based on teacher professional estimates, analysis of past performance and careful scrutiny of results across the country. The consequence of this is that, for the first year on record, pupils received their qualifications having undertaken no exams.



Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has welcomed recommendations from the Infrastructure Commission for Scotland (ICS) The recommendations are for one public sector approach, to planning and developing sustainable places.

The Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Roddie Mackay, said
This recommendation, is very much in line with what the Comhairle is doing and its aspirations for our communities. The Islands Deal which was secured last week clearly has a focus, on supporting a net zero carbon economy in the Islands and we will be, working on that with our partners, as we move forward out of the COVID pandemic towards Recovery and Renewal.

In Barra, we are working closely with the Health Board and other partners to develop a model of integrated services in one campus, in line with the community’s wishes.



The Lewis and Harris Piping Society’s, annual competition, for junior players was very successful. The new online format, enabled an increase in participation from pipers from the Southern Isles. A total of 102 players took part from throughout the Outer Hebrides,

The Piping Society’s secretary, Ashley MacDonald, said “There was a huge increase in the number of entries and we welcomed the participation of a pipers from Barra. There was also a high volume of inquiries from the mainland”, although they were not eligible, as it was only for the Western Isles. This however shows that demand existed for an online piping competition.

The results were broadcast as part of an online ceilidh with performances from
prize winners. The format was similar to a typical post-competition recital and the online ceilidh can still be accessed, either via The Lewis and Harris Piping Society’s Facebook page or its website.

There were so many excellent performances submitted, that the Piping Society hopes to hold a second online ceilidh later in August to showcase more island talent.”



As part of an ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic Lodge Fortrose, has provided a funding donation of £400 to Samaritans of the Western Isles.

The group is one of 20 Samaritans branches in Scotland and provides emotional support to people experiencing feelings of distress or despair. Like other Samaritans branches, the Western Isles branch is run entirely by volunteers and is responsible for securing its own funding.

Last year volunteers from the Western Isles branch answered over 3,000 calls and replied to over 200 emails and 500 texts from people struggling to cope. Many of the calls currently being dealt with are from people affected by covid-19 and struggling with loneliness and isolation, anxiety and depression and other issues such as bereavement, loss of income and relationship problems.

Diane Hankinson, Samaritans of the Western Isles, said “Samaritans can make a real difference to the emotional well-being of a society struggling through a difficult time. Being listened to, in confidence, and accepted without prejudice can help people to find a way forward. We are grateful for this funding from Lodge Fortrose it will enable us to train new volunteers.



Community organisation’s locally, are currently experiencing the cost of ensuring their facilities are COVID safe and the popular Newmarket Playpark is no exception.
The Playpark Committee were recently dismayed to discover that their hand sanitising units were maliciously emptied. The Western Isles Lottery Team have stepped in, with funding of £250.00 to replenish supplies, thereby ensuring the park is maintained and safe for everyone.