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Caithness News Bulletins March 2003

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A cartoon mascot enlisted by the Scottish Crofting Foundation to attract young people into crofting will make his debut on the organisation's revamped website today.

Cartoon character Calum the Crofter will have a starring role on the Foundation's new-look site - www.crofting.org   - which has been developed to generate more interest in crofting.

The colourful mascot is part of the Foundation's efforts to attract younger members to the industry and encourage them to use the internet site. He will be used to present information on crofting in an easy to understand way, and Carol Anne Stewart, office manager at the headquarters in Balmacara hopes he will encourage young people to think about becoming a crofter.  She said:  "Crofting offers stability to local communities and the contribution that crofting families make to the economy is vital. With Calum, we are trying to encourage young people to take an interest so we can be confident in the future survival of crofting."

The site was built and hosted by Calco UK from Kyle of Lochalsh, and was designed specifically to be updated by the Foundation and its members. Discussion areas and bulletin boards have been included as part of the Foundation's move to improve communications with crofters and offer more support to crofters, as well as links to external sites. The site will also have a password-protected area containing policy documents, and users will be actively encouraged to have their say on consultation papers.

The Scottish Crofting Foundation's recently appointed chairwoman, Netta Mackenzie, said: "We have been looking at ways to improve communications with our members since we transferred from the Crofters Union in November in 2001 and we hope crofters will find our new site a useful source of information."
The design and development of the website has been part funded by a 1,500 grant from LEADER+ and 1,000 from Skye and Lochalsh Enterprise.

Skye and Lochalsh Enterprise's e-business advisor, Alaistar Nicolson said: "The Internet is a useful tool for overcoming distance barriers so is a good way for SCF to communicate with its members.  I'm sure both the site and Calum the Crofter will be a big hit."