At Random with Martin Laing

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Inspiring individuals deserve our gratitude

This time of year often presents what appear to be insurmountable problems, frequently because of adverse weather conditions.

Yet it is always inspiring to report on the actions of some people who go well beyond what might normally be expected in response.

So it has been this festive season in a number of ways.

First, there has been justified praise for Les Robinson on Colonsay, who carried out repairs single-handedly in the freezing rain on Christmas Eve to ensure the water supply was restored to 10 households who had lost theirs as a result of a burst main. Les conquered many difficulties, including the very remote and hard-to-access location of the burst to save the day.

Then there are the volunteers who man the lifeboats around our areas of coastline. They, too, venture out in all weathers and sometimes in extremely dangerous conditions to go to the aid of others.

The crew of the Oban RNLI lifeboat Mora Edith MacDonald have had a very busy year and were called into action yet again by the UK Coastguard just before Christmas to assist a stranded motor vessel near the area of water known as Dorus Mor.

The lifeboat went to assist the vessel which had suffered engine failure in this notoriously dangerous area of water. Although the boat was able to drop anchor, it was deemed necessary to tow it to a safer location for repairs.

Another charitable organisation that won deserved plaudits over the holiday period was the splendid Hope Kitchen, whose staff laid on fantastic Christmas dinners for the disadvantaged of the Oban area.

There can be no worse time of year for those who are lonely, homeless and  distressed than Christmas, but manager Lorraine MacCormick and her team pulled out all the stops to provide a welcome festive meal for dozens of people.

And over the festive period there have been superb efforts made by countless people in our area, including the Lions and Rotary clubs as well as other charities, to bring cheer to people in the town and its surrounding areas.

The Spotlight Musical Theatre Group deserves a pat on the back for producing another great panto – Rapunzel: A Tangled Tale – to delight the packed crowds in the Corran Halls. And there have been many other Christmas shows staged by too many people to name but they know who they are and all should be justifiably proud of themselves.

These people and many others are inspiring pillars of our communities and I salute them.

An initiative to be welcomed

The initiative taking shape to increase Oban’s profile as a university town should be widely welcomed.

When we published our recent report on the project, there were some unfortunately snide comments on social media from one individual who sniped about elitism and ‘selling’ places to wealthy students from overseas.

Personally, I cannot find a downside to the ideas being promulgated. Increasing the number of students – wherever they come from – can only be good for us all, socially, educationally and economically.

From an economic perspective, these students will bring additional spending power to businesses in the town, and that is to be welcomed.

Educationally, more university places in Oban and Dunstaffnage means greater choice for our own young people. Not everyone wants to move to the cities to continue their studies after leaving school, so having the option of studying here is welcome.

And, socially, increasing diversity in our communities is, for me, an exciting prospect. Bringing in bright young people from around the country and world to live among us will only benefit us all and I welcome that too.

What do you think?

Write to me at or The Oban Times, Crannog Lane, Oban, PA34 4 HB.