At Random with Martin Laing

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An unimaginable tragedy for Barra
It is hard to know where to begin, such has been the scale of the tragedy visited upon the people of Barra in general and two of the island’s families in particular.

The shock that followed the atrocity which claimed the life of Eilidh MacLeod, 14, and seriously injured her friend Laura MacIntyre, 15, has been felt right across the world, but most achingly on the island.

There is still a sense of disbelief that the bombing in Manchester could have happened in the first place. Yet there is an added feeling of utter incredulity that a safe community such as Barra should be involved at all.

Tragically, such communities are, as was made all too evident last week.
However, such is the strength of Barra and Vatersay that it has been hugely moving to observe how people have come together to console, support and help those involved and each other.

This has been an unimaginable chain of events, resulting in a desperately sad outcome for the MacLeods and MacIntyres in particular, and their wider families and circle of friends in this close-knit society.

The vast majority of us are so lucky that we have never had to even contemplate the agonies our neighbours are suffering right now. Our communities have rallied to help in many ways. It is crucial that we continue to offer what little succour we can.

An appeal well worth supporting
Anyone who has been to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Regimental Museum within the confines of Stirling Castle will know what a great asset it is.

A visit to the castle is a memorable experience anyway but the museum at its heart is a fine tribute to a great regiment with an illustrious history.

As we report today on the facing page, the Thin Red Line Appeal has been launched – with the very welcome support of Prince William, the Earl of Strathearn – to improve and extend the museum and archive it contains.

The appeal wants to hear from old soldiers, their families and descendants, with a particular emphasis on setting up a ‘living archive’ of recorded recollections and memorabilia.

There must be very many former Argylls in our area who served and have vivid memories of their time in the regiment, including those who were in Northern Ireland during the troubles. They must also have photographs and other artefacts that would be of great interest to the museum.

I would urge anyone in such a position to contact the appeal and help to bolster the project.

The regiment may no longer exist as a separate entity but its long history going back more than two centuries – including service, famously, during the Crimean conflict and its Battle of Balaklava, the Boer war, both world wars, the Korean war and the Iraq war – will endure.

A good season for Oban Saints
I recall the great Jack Charlton (for those too young to know who I’m talking about: Google the name) being interviewed at the end of, I think, the 1972-73 season.

The interviewer put it to him that it had been a pretty disappointing season for the club.

To enlighten those who may not know, Leeds had finished third in the league, runners-up in the FA Cup and were beaten finalists in the European Cup Winners’ Cup.

‘Aye,’ replied the bluntly-spoken centre-half, ‘it’s been so disappointing that about 90 other clubs would have happily swapped places with us.’

This season just coming to an end has been a bit like that for Oban Saints.

The Glencruitten boys have had a decent league performance, reached the semi-final of the Scottish Amateur Cup and on Friday were defeated on penalties in the final of the Jimmy Marshall Cup after Easthall Star fired an equaliser in the 93rd minute.

Saints’ ever-affable club secretary, Davie Buchanan, was disappointed after losing the cup final.

‘We were gutted,’ said Davie. ‘But it was great to make the final and we had a good run in the Scottish Cup, only being beaten by Colville Park, the eventual winners. And we’ve played some good stuff in the league.’

Whatever way you cut it, this has been a season many other clubs would have envied.

What do you think?
Do you have something you want to share? Let me know by writing to me at The Oban Times, Crannog Lane, Oban, PA34 4 HB, or by email to mlaing@obantimes.co.uk.