Would You Like To Help Out At Mary Ann's Cottage This Summer?
Mary ann's cottage

If you enjoyed your last visit to Mary Ann's Cottage, or even have never been there but would like to know more, it is on your doorstep so how about considering joining the small band of volunteers who keep this unique croft experience alive for the general public to enjoy. This is our local heritage - help us to maintain it by volunteering a few hours a week throughout the summer - for further details contact Chris Cariss on 01847 851765.  Mary Ann's will open on 1 June and will be staying open thereafter for the season until the end of September.

Dunnet Beach - Clean-Up - Friday 8th April 2011 - 11am onwards.
Sick of seeing the beach look untidy? - Come along and make a difference!
Join the countryside ranger and other volunteers at The Seadrift Centre car park at 11am to help give Dunnet Beach a ‘spring clean’.  Everyone welcome - gloves, bags and a skip provided to help keep the beach looking beautiful for all the users and the local wildlife.  This beach clean is part of the Keep Scotland Tidy Group’s ‘National Spring Clean’ event.  Further details from: Paul Castle Highland Council Countryside Ranger 01847 821531
Choral Concert at West Church, Thurso
Choir - West Church Thurso

The concert is on the eve of the retirement of West Church's minister, The Revd Ronnie Johnstone, on Saturday, 26th March at 7:30pm. The choir is made up of students from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama, one of North Highland Connections cultural partners. The Choir was established in September 2007 by its present musical director Andrew Nunn. Les Sirènes is a Chamber Choir consisting of 16 vocalists who are all students at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. The Choir was Adult Choir of the day in the BBC Choir of the Year competition in Edinburgh in May 2010........

Keith Beat Academy Our Of The League Cup On Penalties - Report Noel Donaldson
Keith Beat Academy On Penalties Keith Beat Academy On Penalties

Academy were knocked out of the league cup but didn't exit without a fight, at Harmsworth Park. They took Keith right to the wire in the cup thriller, with a stalemate score of two all, at the end of normal time.  With neither team managing to break the deadlock, the place in the next round went to penalties with the visitors triumphing 3-4. 
Doanalsin's Diary - Fit's In E' Groat

The Gillie Mor - Hamish Henderson
Gillie Mor - Hamish Henderson Gillie Mor - Hamish Henderson
24th - 26th March - Caithness Horizons, Thurso
See it all for one price of £20 or select individual events and pay accordingly.

National Centre Of Excellence In Traditional Music Concert In Wick
National Centre in Traditional Music

More Event Posters
Whats On In Caithness
Local People Invited To SNH Reception In Wick
Local people are being invited along to an informal evening reception by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) at Mackays Hotel, Wick, Caithness, from 7 pm until 9pm on Wednesday 30 March.  SNH is the Scottish Government's advisor on the management, enjoyment, understanding and sustainable use of Scotland's wildlife, natural habitats and landscape.  The evening will provide an opportunity for informal discussion about the work of SNH in the area, what we do and why; giving people the opportunity to raise issues relating to the natural environment which are of interest to them.

Dream Job For The Summer
Temporary Countryside Ranger At Seadrift Centre, Dunnet

3 months in summertime working at the Seadrift Centre, Dunnet in Caithness has to be one of the best possible student type jobs.  Outdoors for most of the time working on conservation and showing visitors around on guided walks.   See the listing for full details and how to obtain an application form. Wick Couple Scoop £500,00 On Thunderball Lottery
Alasdair and Isobel Cameron

A Wick train driver and his wife are celebrating after scooping the £500,000 Thunderball jackpot in the draw on Saturday 5 March 2011 by matching all five main numbers and the Thunderball.  Alastair Cameron (53) and his wife Isobel (56) were watching the draw live on the Saturday night and to their complete astonishment all six of their Thunderball numbers were read out.  Alastair said: “Isobel began jumping around screaming that we’d won and I just didn’t believe her.  I thought she was having me on. But then I checked the numbers and it really hit me.  “Isobel then phoned her mum and our daughter Christine – we were so excited we couldn’t wait to share the news.”  The Camerons have been playing the lottery since it started and have won small amounts in the past.
The Camerons also intend to pay off their mortgage and treat themselves to a new car – hopefully an Audi. They also have a trip to Las Vegas planned in the next few months which Alistair now says they’ll be able to do in real style! 
Gary Manson Testimonial Football Quiz Night - Saturday 19th March -
6.45pm for 7.00pm - 10.00pm

Assembly Rooms, Wick - £5 entry maximum 4/team - Top prize £100

Wick Groats FC  - Casino Night
Casino Night Fund Raiser For Wick Groats FC

Shelligoe Archery Fun Shoot For Red Nose Day
Archery For Red Nose Day

Caithness International Science Festival    14th - 18th March
Yes its Caithness Science Festival time again and once again a great programme of events for youngsters. All primary school children in Caithness will be taking part in various shows and workshops every day, two lecturers will talk at Wick and Thurso High Schools and on Tuesday night there is a public event, free and open to all, please come and sample the shows and workshops.  The public event takes place at Pulteneytown Primary School, Wick and starts at 6.30pm - See Events  

Science Videos All Over Youtube
As next week is Caithness Science Festival a few inspirational videos might get you in the mood to visit.  There are ahuge range of science related videos now available on Youtube covering many topics and few might encourage you to look more closely at science or if you are still at school to think about why science might be worth looking at as a future career.  Here are some we have picked out -
Symphony Of Science - We Are All Connected

Here are a few more picked at random
Richard Feynman - a number of his talks and lectures
Cosmos - Carl Sagan
The Future Of Wind Power - Christina Archer, Stanford University
Marine Energy - Waves and Currents - Margot Gerritson, Stanford University
Quantum Entanglements - Leonard Susskind, Stanford University
Introduction To Computer Science and Programming
Science Magic and Religion
Science and History

Science For Children
Science Fun

Interesting Science Facts
Environmental Science

And nearer to home - Kelvin Probes
Professor Baikie who was one of the founders of the Caithness Science Festival runs a science based company in Wick.  His company specialises in manufacturing Kelvin Probes using many of his own inventions which he has patented.  Professor Baikie has some short video presentations to explain what his probes are all about on his company web site  - K P Technology

New Children's Home Earmarked For Wick
The Highland Council's Housing and Social Work Committee has agreed in principle to build a new five-bed children's residential home in Wick at an estimated cost of £1.2 million.

Lessons Learned From CHaP Project
The Highland Council has learned lessons from the Caithness Heat and Power Project in Wick, and introduced measures to ensure the corporate failings are not repeated in any future project.  A total of 39 actions have been put in place in a response to an internal audit of the Wick-based enterprise and these actions have been acknowledged by external audit and the Accounts Commission.

BT Continue To Boost Local Charity  - Everybody Online Caithness
Everybody Online Caithness has been given another great boost by local BT staff.  Project Officer, Shona Macdonald, has been working with the local BT management team to resolve one of the main challenges which faces the project, which is gaining volunteers.  Local BT management have agreed to support the project by releasing staff once a week to deliver basic internet and IT sessions to the public.  BT staff have committed to a similar scheme for the project previously, the latest offering highlights the continued support BT offer the local charity.  Everybody Online - Caithness, is part of national charity Citizens Online and is designed to help and support individuals or groups get online and use IT and the internet for the first time.

Labour MSP David Stewart Backs Wick Tax Office Staff

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP David Stewart has backed efforts to try to save Wick's HMRC office from closure.  He said: "I am dismayed to hear that the Wick office, which was for years the most northerly point of the old Inland Revenue, could close within a year. The Caithness economy has been suffering for some time and the loss of another 20 jobs through the closure of the HMRC office is another hammer blow . It seems senseless given the massive return we get in terms of the yield generated by the staff at Wick."

Union in protest march over closure of Wick tax office - Press & Journal
Join Facebook Campaign To Save Wick Tax Office
Caithness Community Awards
Caithness Community Awards Caithnes community Awards - Young Citizen Caithness Community Awards - Citizen of the Year Caithness Community Awards - Memorial Garden

The Caithness Community Awards recognise and reward individuals and groups who have brought distinction to themselves and the Caithness community during the years 2009 and 2010.  The community awards are sponsored by generous local businesses who wish to recognise and thank those who do most for their community.  
The Caithness Community Awards 2009/10 were facilitated by the Caithness Partnership and a committee of sponsor representatives was formed to undertake the voting process.  Members of the public across Caithness were invited to submit nominations and an excellent response was received.
The award ceremony was held on the 16th of February in Ackergill Tower where the nominated finalists and guests were invited along with the sponsors.  The guest speaker was local bred comedian Colin Campbell who thoroughly entertained all with his local radio humour.  Harpist Amy Todd provided some excellent music which was very well received by everyone.  The Master of Ceremonies was conducted by Eric Farquhar who himself was a previous community award winner as he received the Good Neighbourhood award in the 2007/8 Awards.

2010-2011 Neil Gunn writing competition - Last Few Days To enter
This biennial competition is organised by The Highland Council and The Neil Gunn Trust; the 2010-2011 competition, the eleventh, is now open and entries are invited. The lead judge is Scottish author Andrew Greig.
Theme for 2010-2011 : 'A Wrong Turning'
"Our river took a wrong turning somewhere! But we haven't forgotten the source."
Highland River, Neil M Gunn
Writers are invited to interpret this theme in any way they wish.  The piece of writing does not have to be set in Scotland; any international setting is welcome.
The closing date for all sections of the competition is Friday 11 March 2011.  Winners will be notified as soon as possible and the award ceremony will be held in Inverness on 14 June 2011.  Entries were first called about 6 months ago

News Items From Around the Web

£2.2m bid to boost north after closure of Dounreay - Herald
Thousands of jobs to go at Dounreay over next 15 years - BBC
RSPB object to windfarm plan - Scotsman
Samurai sword attacker detained for Caithness stabbing - BBC
Careers Convention - Thurso 2nd March - 6.00pm - 8.80pm
People living in Caithness are being offered expert advice and information on taking the next step in their careers.  The Careers Convention will be held on Wednesday 2nd March 2011 at Thurso High School, Ormlie Road, Thurso from 6.00 pm - 8.30pm and will offer people of all age's comprehensive information on careers, employment, training and education.

From The Accounts Commssion
Highland Council Failed To Establish Effective Governance Arrangements
For innovative Heat and Power Project

The Accounts Commission has considered a report on The Highland Council's Caithness Heat and Power (CHaP) project, which was run by an arms-length community enterprise. In its findings the Commission says the lack of appropriate risk management and effective governance arrangements for the project was a corporate failure by the council. It also highlights aspects of the performance of two senior officers in relation to governance.

The Highland Council established a not for profit company in 2004 to provide a heating system to 500 houses in Wick. The company failed to deliver its objectives and the project experienced technological and financial problems. The council's total commitment to the project including provisions stands at around £13.8 million. It has spent around £10.5 million so far but because the project is still ongoing the full cost and any losses  cannot be determined yet.

The Commission says that there were weaknesses in the council's arrangements for oversight of the project. From the start there was a lack of appropriate risk management. The council did not monitor progress effectively and failed to ensure that appropriate control mechanisms were in place.

The Commission notes that the council has taken action to avoid a similar situation happening again. The structure of the council has also changed in recent years and there is now less emphasis on area-based decision making.

Chair of the Accounts Commission for Scotland John Baillie said: "The CHaP project was established as an innovative scheme to benefit the local community. Unfortunately the council's arrangements for managing its interest in the project were not as good or as effective as they should have been. However, The Highland Council has been addressing the difficulties in governance and financial stewardship and has taken action to avoid a similar position developing again......................................more and report
Caithness Heat & Power - Accounts Commission Report
The Accounts Commission has now made its findings on Highland council and the CHaP project and the report is published on their web site in a report of their meeting of 17th February published today.  In view of the huge  local interest and in order to make it easy to find it is published HERE
The report is published in Pdf form at
The report is critical of the Highland Council's governance arrangments and of a number of individuals connected with the scheme.  A press release was issued today but carries an embargo against publication until just after midnight tonight.  Shortly after that time the press release will be published here.

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