Islay letter with Hugh Smith

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The stuff of legend

Congratulations to island GP Dr Kate Pickering who has taken top place in the Pulse magazine’s list of the most influential GPs in their ‘local heroes’ category.

She has been honoured by the publication’s as a GP Community Champion and was described as ‘truly a legend’.

The citation points out that when she took over the island practice five years ago its three-handed practices were largely dependent on the services of locum doctors.

This situation was exacerbated by the fact that adverts for newcomers regularly failed to attract a single applicant.

When Dr Pickering, who previously served as a locum on the island, took over the vacant principal post she achieved great things for the medical services on both Islay and neighbouring Jura.

These achievements saw the recruitment of a new team for the islands, reduced the need for a large number of patients to travel to the mainland for medical treatment, and saw a reduction in the number of air ambulance call-outs.

There has also been a favourable and encouraging response to staff recruitment. The island GP, who is also an honorary senior lecturer in Remote and Rural Medicine in Glasgow University, was also responsible for federating the island’s three medical practices into one provider, the Umbrella Model, resulting in patients’ records being available across the involved practices.

Well done Dr Kate – a local hero indeed.

First grandchild

Congratulations go to my friend in Japan Takeshi Mogi and his wife Masami, who have become grandparents for the first time following the safe arrival in Tokyo’s Yonehama Maternity Hospital of their 7lbs plus grandson Noah on September 13.

Noah’s proud parents are Canami, the Mogis only daughter, and their son-in-law Shogo Izumi, who both tied the knot in Japan and had their marriage blessed at a ceremony in Bowmore’s Round Church in August, 2014.

Papa Takeshi, a Gaelic-speaking, bagpipe-playing pharmacist, has visited Scotland and Islay on a number of occasions and Noah’s mum spent some time here when she worked at the Suntory-owned Bowmore Distillery.

Meal ar naidheachd gu lèir and –shussan omedetou – gu dearbh!

Piping and drumming tuition

Fledgling pipers and drummers will be well tutored at the newly-established Islay Pipe and Drum Club whose meetings are held on Thursday evenings from 7pm to 9pm at Kilarrow House, the council-owned property and former manse on the outskirts of Bowmore.

The club is being run by Ileach Neil Mactaggart who has returned to his native isle after a 40-year absence.

Neil is a highly experienced piper having been a member of a number of mainland pipe bands and has even entertained Her Majesty at Balmoral.

The club will encourage all ages and abilities and is seen by Neil as complementing the local pipe band and could be a means of nurturing future band members.

More details can be obtained by contacting or by phoning 07876 334540.

Baton bearers

Two Bowmore stalwarts who have 80 years of football coaching and match arranging experience between them were rightly honoured by being among those locally nominated to be baton bearers during the Queen’s Baton Relay team’s recent visit to the island.

Neil Bonar, known to all as ‘the Duke,’ spent close on four decades coaching the Islay Boys’ FC, while his cousin Iain (Bruno) Brown was at the helm of the Bowmore Village FC as well as being responsible for the Islay Football League and the island Easter Tournament.

Didn’t they do well?

Hugh Smith, 4 Flora Street, Bowmore, Islay A43 7JX. Tel: 01496 810 658