News Archive - October November December 2020
Many  previous items are archived in the Community, Arts, Sports and Business sections

Caithness Health Action Group (CHAT) Petition on Maternity Discussed Today At The Scottish Parliament
Petitions Committee debate the CHAt maternity petition on 16 December 2020
A petition sent by Caithness Health Action Group (CHAT) was disucssed to day the Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament.  Rhoda Grant MSP opened the debate and local MSP Gail Ross was amongst the speakers. Maria Aitken's petition appeared before the Public Petitions Committee and called on "the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to ask all relevant health boards to review their maternity model to ensure that it meets the needs of remote and rural communities". The committee heard that the decision to change the status of Caithness maternity unit from an obstetric unit to a midwife unit in 2016 was made on the basis of safety. Mothers and/or babies who are assessed as needing obstetric or neonatal care are transferred to Raigmore Hospital.
See the petitions and link to the debate inside.
Expressions Of Interest Invited For New Highland Coastal Communities Fund
Caithness Awarded - £409,652
The Council is inviting communities to come forward with expressions of interest for projects that, if successful, could receive a share of funding aimed at supporting coastal communities throughout Highland. The Highland Coastal Communities Fund has been set up by the Council following an allocation of over £3 million from the Scottish Government of Crown Estates revenue funding. Most of the funding (£2.6m) is to be devolved to Area Committees with a strategic fund of 15% being retained for Highland wide projects. The eligibility criteria for deciding which projects go forward for consideration and the decision on how much funding is available to each geographic area has been calculated in line with same formula used by the Scottish Government to allocate the funding across Scotland.
New Guide "Worrying About Money" Highlights Help Available
Money Worries Guide
A new useful guide has been produced to provide people across the Highlands with information and advice on the financial and other support that is available to them. The Highland Council, along with NHS Highland Public Health, Independent Food Aid Network and the Trussell Trust, have brought a wide range of relevant financial advice and support with contact details together in a user-friendly format aimed at people who are struggling to make ends meet. The Worrying About Money? guide covers information for people waiting for claims to be assessed as well as those already receiving benefits. Topics including advice on what to do if anyone finds themselves having a sudden loss of income or if their statutory sick pay does not cover their living expenses. There is also information on how to apply to the Scottish Welfare Fund, maximising income and benefit advice, debt advice and how to challenge a decision.
Otter Spotted Between Bridges At Wick
Otter near Service Bridge, Wick

Caithness Health Action Team Petition To Scottish Parliament on Maternity Services - Sign HERE
Earlier this year CHAT had planned to hold another march and public meetings ut the pandemic halted any action like that.  To make sure the ongoing issues connected to maternity in Caithness are not forgotten and to highlight more of the data that continues to be brought forward by families a petition has been laid at the Scottish Parliament.

Read the full petition application HERE  

Comments can be left on the CHAT Facebook page

Chairman of CHAT Bill Fernie and Vice-chairman Ron Gunn will meet with the new chief executive of NHS Highland Pam Dudek on 12th November to discuss a range of issues including maternity.
Coronavirus Covid-19 Allocation Of Levels To Local Authorities Areas
Highland Placed In Level One
New protection levels that will apply in each local authority area in Scotland from Monday 2 November 2020.
Daily Covid Data for Scotland

No Thurso Community Fireworks Display this year
Scarcrow competition in Thurso
The Rotary Club of Thurso is sad to announce that we are unable to present a public Fireworks Display this year, due to Coronavirus. Like all other events in our calendar which have been lost to the virus, our annual Fireworks Event will be greatly missed. As an alternative to the Fireworks, Thurso Rotary are inviting the public to participate in our Create a Scarecrow Guy Competition, which runs until 5th November. There are cash prizes for the best entries and Thurso Rotary will donate an additional £100 to the charity of the winner's choice.

Scottish Urban Legends: 50 Myths And True Stories
Aaron Mullins new book Scottish Urban Legends - 50 Myths and True Stories - some from Caithness
Caithness residents have shared their scariest paranormal experiences in a new book released this week by former Wick High School pupil Aaron Mullins, which has gone straight into a top 100 bestsellers list on Amazon. Scottish Urban Legends: 50 Myths and True Stories features legendary stories that reveal Scotland's mysterious past. It also contains exclusive personal tales from Caithness residents, their stories published for the very first time, including a haunted Wick primary school and a scary premonition. This new release follows on from the success of his bestselling Caithness-inspired book, Mysteries and Misadventures: Tales from the Highlands. Caithness is represented in the new book with a pretty gruesome tale about Adam Melrose, a former bishop of Caithness, based in Halkirk, back when Caithness was still part of the Jarldom of Orkney, which belonged to the Kingdom of Norway.

Lyth Arts Centre Look To The Future Following Funding Award
Lyth Arts entrance - The centre has been awarded money from the Covid19 fund
Worries over the financial outlook for Lyth Arts Centre (LAC) have been eased for the time being after the venue was awarded £97,000 in Scottish Government funding. The sum - from the Performing Arts Venues Relief Fund - represents the full figure requested by co-directors Charlotte Mountford and Tom Barnes, who say the money secures LAC's short-term future up to the end of March next year.
They acknowledge there is still much uncertainty in the performing arts sector as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but say they will remain "agile, flexible and optimistic". The Performing Arts Venues Relief Fund, which is run through Creative Scotland and has a total budget of £12.5 million, seeks to bridge the financial gap for venues until they have a clearer idea of their reopening plans and income projections. Welcoming the £97,000 package in a statement on the LAC website, Charlotte and Tom said: "It is the figure we calculated which would enable us to remain solvent, avoid redundancies, and continue some form of creative output while we are closed up to March 31, 2021 (a date defined by the fund).

Posties To Collect As Well As Deliver The Mail On The Door
Royal Mail begin parcel collections from home
Royal Mail announces one of the biggest shake-ups to the daily delivery since the launch of the postbox in 1852. Royal Mail has launched a parcel pick-up service across the UK in a shake-up of the daily round. The new service - Parcel Collect - means postmen and postwomen will now be able to collect parcels as well as deliver them on their daily round. It is one of the biggest changes to the daily delivery since the launch of the postbox in 1852. As well as offering even higher levels of convenience, the move means that online sellers and online shoppers will no longer need to leave the comfort of their home if they want to mail or return a pre-paid item by post. Under the ground-breaking initiative, postmen and postwomen will collect a parcel from the customer's door or nominated safe place for 72p per parcel, in addition to postage costs. Parcel Collect is also available for pre-paid return items at a cost of 60p per item.
More Funding For Those Who Need It Most
More funding for free school meals in holidayy times and other money for low income households
A £30 million package of funding is being made available to local authorities to support people facing financial hardship as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19), including money to provide free school meals over the school holidays. Local authorities will be given flexibility to use £20 million, previously held in reserve for the Scottish Welfare Fund, to support people in their communities.
Free School Meals For Winter Breaks and Over Next Easter.

Financial support to tackle food insecurity or to meet fuel costs, or boosting local funding for Discretionary Housing Payments.

Remembrance Sunday And Armistice Day - No Gatherings This Year In Highland
No prades or gatherings this year - make donations direct thisyear to Poppy Scotland
Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day will be commemorated across Highland but in different ways than usual because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Following the latest Scottish Government guidance on commemorative events, Highland Council will not be organising any parades, events or services taking place on Remembrance Sunday, 8 November 2020 or Armistice Day, Wednesday 11 November 2020.

         Donate direct this year to Poppy Scotland web site

Castletown Heritage Society Moving On Youtube
Castletown Heritage Society First Film on Youtube
Technology is changing how we all work and play and Castletown Heritage Society like many other groups held its AGM last Thursday on Zoom. The group are not sitting idly by as things change and have decided to present more about their area on Youtube. Neil Buchan has launched the first video to show the area around Castltown and the Heritage Museum. Other films will follow in the future.

Third Sector Master Classes - Free
Free Third Sector Masterclasses
HTSI are very excited to bring you a series of Monday Masterclasses, training centred around supporting community groups. Set up a new group recently? Working to support your community? Want an update on current best practice in supporting community groups? Then HTSI's FREE Monday masterclasses are for you! Julie at Caithness Voluntary Group is doing two of these classes that are open to everyone in the Highlands and are free. The Third sector has played a vital part in supporting their communities this year and this is an opportunity to ensure organisations are up to date with current best practice. Seven FREE sessions covering...

Halloween Shop Window Competition Thurso For Boys Brigade
Boys Brigade Halloween Competition
This competition is open to all

Look around the shops in thurso for letters of the alphabet hidden in the window displays. Participating windows will display the BB Logo 

Council Provides Details On Accessing Covid-19 Self-isolation Support Grants
The Highland Council has published new information on the Coronavirus Covid-19 button on the front page of its website on how people can access the new Covid-19 Self-Isolation Support Grant.
Spirit Of The Highlands - Autobiography - Call For Stories
This "Spirit:Autobiography" will be an authentic insight into life in the Highlands today, and the heritage that has shaped this unique region, in the words of people from across the Highlands. We're looking for stories behind the headlines of history, stories about people you might hear at a ceilidh.  And we want to hear stories of communities too, large and small - the local events that shaped it, or how global events have affected it; about its singing sands or Viking graffiti - the things that give it a distinctive fingerprint.
Wick Community Council Looking For New People
Wick comunity council looking for new members

Hollandmey Renewable Energy Development - Public Information Event
Hollandmey Wind Farm Consultation

ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) invites you to participate in its Public Consultation on the draft proposals for the Hollandmey Renewable Energy Development (Hollandmey RED). SPR is proposing to develop Hollandmey RED, situated approximately 8 km south-west of John o'Groats and 16 km east of Thurso within the north-eastern part of the Caithness area of the Highlands.  The proposed Development is anticipated to consist of approximately 10 wind turbines with tip heights of up to 149.9 m. The deployment of other renewable technologies within the Site is also being proposed, including battery storage and solar photovoltaic (solar PV) generation.
Wick High Street Devastation Continues - TSB To Close Wick Branch
TSB Bank in Wick to close
TSB has today announced it will close 164 branches as the Bank continues to implement its three-year strategy announced in November 2019. 73 Branches of TSB in Scotland will close including the one at Wick.  The wrting has  been on the wall for bank closures for sometime but the pandemic has made more people sign up for online banking. - currently 4000 per day opting to go online for bank services.

UK Businesses And Cybersecurity: A Troubled Relationship
UK Businesses and Cybersecurity
Security company Carbon Black released a report showing that 88% of UK businesses suffered from a data breach during a 12-month period. It also revealed the average number of breaches per organization: 3.67.   Remember any size of business can be attacked.  Along with backing up all your systems and data every day in case you computer or laptop falls over consideration of cibersecurity might be a long-term lifesaver for your business if any of it is online even if you only use the same computer to store or send invoices and for emails.  Think about it then get safe.

Caithness Community Groups See Investment Of Over £150k In Latest Funding Round
Seven community projects are to benefit from over £150k of funding following the Caithness & North Sutherland Fund's latest grant awards.

Wick hotel celebrates 65 years of independent family business
Mackays Hotel 65 YearsMackasy Hotel celebrates 65 yearsMackays hotel celebrates 65 yearsMackays Hotel celebrates 65 yearsMackaysy Hotel celebrates 65 years

One of the north Highlands' most iconic hotels is celebrating 65 years as an independent family business this September. Mackays Hotel on Union Street in Wick has been a leading accommodation provider and a cornerstone of local community life in Caithness for over six decades since being purchased by the first family member in 1955, Murray Lamont's maternal grandmother.
Scottish Government Latest Announcements On Covid Restrictions
A wide range of measures have been changed or brought in by Nicola Sturgeon for the Scottish Government today.

In England Covid changes were announce by Boris Johnson Today
In England broadly similar changes were announced by Boris Johnson but there are some differences and higher fines havebeneintroduced there.

A Minimum Income Standard for Remote and Rural Scotland - Volunteer Participants Wanted
Volunteers wanted for research project - £50 voucher for participants
The Scottish Government have commissioned research to help create a better understanding of the needs and costs experienced by people who live in rural and remote areas of Scotland. This research initiative is called Minimum Income Standard for Remote and Rural Scotland and updates similar work which was commissioned in 2012 by Highlands and islands Enterprise and partner organisations. The project has now begun recruiting in Wick and surrounding villages, for participants from a variety of backgrounds and age groups. The research will be conducted by the Centre for Research is Social Policy (CRSP) team at the University of Loughborough working alongside two Highland based researchers. Participation in this important study will help our understanding of the cost of living in rural Scotland. All participants who attend our focus groups will receive a £50 voucher from a selection of options to say thank you for your time.
Miller Academy And Victoria Walk In Thurso Benefit From Caithness Community Payback
Community Pay Back
Despite restrictions during COVID-19, the Caithness Community Payback Team have been working throughout the County ensuring that clients sentenced to carry out unpaid work by Wick Sheriff Court have been paying back the Community. Following a three month closure and COVID-19 restrictions greatly reducing the number of clients that can be facilitated daily by the Community Payback Team - work has continued to benefit Caithness Community organisations. Miller Academy in Thurso has taken receipt of five refurbished children's benches which were repaired and re-painted in bright Rainbow colours.

Contract For World's Deepest Nuclear Clean-up Awarded At Dounreay
Dounreay as new contract awarded to clear the shaft
Dounreay has awarded a major contract as the world's deepest nuclear clean-up job gets underway. Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (DSRL), on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, awarded the £7.5 million contract for "advanced transition works" at the 65 metre deep shaft and silo to Nuvia and its partner Graham Construction, through the site's decommissioning framework following a competitive tendering process. Nuvia is an international nuclear engineering, project management, products and services contractor. The work will include the rerouting of existing services as well as minor construction and demolition works, preparing the 2 waste facilities to be emptied of legacy higher activity waste.
Look Around Wick Harbour and Consider How It Was Just a Few Years Ago
Wick Harbour 28 August 2020Wick Harbour 28 August 2020Wick Harbour 28 August 2020Wick Habour 28 August 2020Wick Harbour 28 August 2020

December 2001        November 2002      2007 Changes Began     2009 Marina Construction  

Harbour Day June 2013    Wind Turbines 2012  
New Signs For John O'Groat Trail
New Signs for John O'Groats Trail
The John o' Groats Brewery has provided signs to mark the start/finish of the John o' Groats Trail just outside the brewery location near the harbour in the village. The John o' Groats Trail is a charitable project to develop a coastal trail in Caithness and Sutherland with additional links in Easter Ross to connect to Inverness, allowing a continuous trail walk to or from as far away as Land's End.

Thurso And Wick High School Students Gain For Local Groups
Schoosl Get funds for their chosen charities
Secondary students have raised vital funds and awareness for charities in their communities addressing a range of social issues. Through The Wood Foundation's Youth and Philanthropy Initiative (YPI), young people from throughout the country represented causes they cared about in a bid to secure their school's grant. Mental health charities, health support services, and organisations supporting people living in poverty were the top three issues to receive more than £600,000 of funding this academic year. 16 High schools were successful in Highland gaing £3000 each for their chosen charity.

Wick Map Streets For All Update: Exploring The Designs - Have Your Say On Draft Designs For High Street

From Sustrans - In a series of engagement activities and events last year, the local community told us what changes they wanted to see in the High Street to make it attractive, accessible and welcoming to people, as well as highlighting Wick’s cultural heritage. We’ve used this feedback to come up with design proposals and are giving you the opportunity to view, comment and shape these initial proposals. These draft designs are now available to view outside Caithness House as well as on our project website.   Read more and register for online webinars
High Life Highland Is Ready To Welcome Customers Back To Pools And Gyms
Pools and Gyms to Reopen in Highland
High Life Highland have expressed delight at today's announcement from the First Minister that gyms and swimming pools can reopen from Monday 31st August 2020. Steve Walsh Chief Executive of High life Highland said, "I am absolutely delighted with the news that we are able to welcome our customers back earlier than we had first thought. We have been working incredibly hard behind the scenes in preparation for September and I am pleased to be able to confirm that we are ready and raring to go from Monday 31st August."

East Caithness Bounceback Into Sports And Games - Term 1
Active Schools Bounceback

Caithness Voluntary Group Funding Update August 2020
Thanks to Yvonne at Caithness Voluntary Group for putting together a few funding suggestions that may be of interest to local groups.  

Wick Paths Group Return To Work On The Coghill Bridges - Saturday 15th August
Wick Paths work on Coghill Bridge
Wick Paths Group will be returning to work on upgrading the Coghill Bridges at Wick Riverside this weekend - Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th August and the bridge will be closed to the public both days to enable the work to proceed safely.......................To coincide with the bridge work there will be a litter pick of both sides of the river - Highland Council are providing refuse sacks and will remove the full sacks. Members of the public are invited to join with the Paths Group, the Wick Riverside Volunteers and members of Pulteneytown Parish Church for this community event - meet at 10.00am on Saturday either at the Riverside play park or beside the Boating Shed but remember the Coghill Bridge will be closed!
Green Health Packs To Benefit Environment And Boost Wellbeing Across Caithness
Yvonne Hendry and Maisie Calder
Green Health Packs have been bagged and are being distributed to community groups in a project that will bring environmental benefits across Caithness while also boosting people's wellbeing. Caithness Voluntary Group has assembled 450 packs with help from volunteers and staff at Pulteneytown People's Project in Wick, while Caithness Rural Transport has helped get them distributed. The purpose of the packs is to provide enjoyment, release some creative talents and encourage people to discover new hobbies in the outdoors.

Biggest Meal Deals Ever - Compliments of the Government
Eat Out To Help Out - Look For The Logo - Up To £10 Off Every Meal Mon - Wed
Eat Out Up To £10 off
Lots of Caithness Eating Places Have already signed up. Diners who eat-in will benefit from a 50% discount, up to a maximum of £10 per person, on food and non-alcoholic drinks, any Monday to Wednesday in August. More than 53,000 outlets across the UK have so far signed up to the UK government's Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

         Check Which Places Have The Offer HERE

Spotted At Scrabster Harbour Today - A Ship Flying The Union Jack Flag Upside Down
Chemical Ship AntaresUpside down Union Jack
German registered chemical Tanker “Antares” alongside at Scrabster Harbour today. The vessel is in theory committing “Lèse-Majesté" (to do wrong to majesty) by flying the Union Flag upside down.  An easy mistake to make if you do not know your flags.
In 1950 there was an attempt to have the regulations changed so that British merchant ships would be allowed to fly the Union Jack as a jack. One point made in favour of the change was that some foreign merchant ships flew the Union Jack as a courtesy flag, without any action being taken against them, whilst a British merchant ship that flew a Union Jack at the yard would be made to remove it. In considering the matter a survey was made of the foreign ships in the Port of London. Fifty percent flew no courtesy flag, forty percent flew the Red Ensign, and ten percent flew the Union Jack. David Prothero, 17 October 2000

Coghill Bridges Temporary Closures 
Coghill Bridges cloosures for upgrading
If you regularly walk over the Coghill bridges at Wick river check the temporary closure dates.  
Upgrading work will commence on Saturday 1st August and runs over two weekends.

Why it's better to give to a food bank now than three months ago
Food bank donations
Food banks in the UK reported that demand had tripled in March this year as the coronavirus lockdown threw millions out of work. Many food banks faced an urgent need for money to buy extra food and launched appeals through crowdfunding websites. The public response was impressive, with a massive surge in support. Nearly a million people volunteered to help the NHS and local support centres. Later, public backing for footballer Mark Rashford's appeal also forced the government to reverse its decision not to continue funding free meals for the nation's poorest children over the summer holidays. This surge in generosity has led to hope that the pandemic signals a transition to a kinder and more humane society after the pandemic. To find out whether that might be the case, we developed a piece of data scraping software to chart the generosity of the public in response to appeals by food banks. We looked at how much was being donated during the pandemic to see if the goodwill was sustained.
Society Of Caithness Artists 2020 Annual Showcase Exhibition - Online For the First Time
Societyof Caithness Artists online showcaseSocietyof Caithness Artists annual showcaseSocietyof Caithness Artists annual showaseSocietyof Caithness Artists annual showcaseSocietyof Caithness Artists annual showcase

Eighty Five artists have taken up the invite from the Society of Caithness Artists to join their on-line exhibition this year.
The exhibition will run from 1st July until 31st July 2020 and there are three hundred and fifty nine images to scroll though. The exhibition is divided into two main sections, with the 3D and sculptural section showing three images of each work.  Most works are for sale by contacting the artist
Northland Creative Glass Takes Unique Film Festival Online After Covid Cancellation
Film Festival 2020 - Northland Crative GlassFilm Festival 2020 Online - Norhtland Creative GlassFilm Festival 2020 Online- Northlands Creative Glass
Scotland's arts links with Japan are being supported by over £100,000 from a partnership between British Council Scotland and Creative Scotland. Following an open call for proposals, which drew 24 responses from individuals and organisations working across the Scottish arts sector, North Lands Creative was selected to receive a share of the funding. The successful bid covers several art forms including glass, film and cross-disciplinary practices. UK in Japan is a major bilateral campaign that started in September 2019 at the same time as the Rugby World Cup. It will be extended into 2021 with the culmination of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.