Lochaber residents show solidarity with Ukraine

Demonstrators against the invasion of Ukraine gathered in Fort William’s Parade. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos.

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Caring Lochaber residents gathered on the Parade in Fort William on Saturday to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

People from all walks of life attended the drop-in event from 11am to 4pm.

Many wore Ukrainian colours, while flags of blue and gold fluttered in a gentle spring breeze. People discussed the horrific events unfolding in eastern Europe while members of the Sing Mor choir provided thought-provoking background music.

Busker Will Jones entertained attendees, while Togs Needlecraft in Caol donated ribbon which organisers made into knots for hope to hand out.

Duisky resident Andrew squire helped organise the event and told the Lochaber Times: ‘I feel so sad about what is happening to the people on the ground in Ukraine.

‘There is so little we can do here but, hopefully, people will be inspired to make donations and show solidarity which means something.

‘People can say Lochaber is a long way from Ukraine, but there are ways and means of getting messages across and showing thought and care.

‘I believe coming together and working collectively at grass roots level can be part of the solution to many world problems including warfare and negotiating peace.’

Highlands and Islands MSP Ariane Burgess was among those who dropped by, along with local Greens candidate Kate Willis and Fort William and Ardnamurchan councillor Sarah Fanet.

Ms Burgess said: ‘What has been coming through to me is that we need to raise as much money as we can to help the people on the ground.

‘Funding to help the charities that already have the systems in place to get help out there seems to be the best way to deliver that help at the moment.

‘And talking, of course. Coming to events like this. What is happening is really heart breaking and being alone with it is hard. By coming along and being with other people who are troubled by it can also help greatly.’

Highland Council will convene an emergency item at its meeting this week to discuss how it can support the humanitarian effort in Ukraine.

Council convener Bill Lobban called for a minute’s silence at last week’s budget meeting, while council leader Margaret Davidson broke down in tears.

It was a sombre start to a meeting that’s usually fraught with budget tensions.

Mr Lobban called Russia’s actions a barbaric attack on a sovereign nation, that left him lost for words.

He told members he had agreed an emergency debate with a specific focus on how the Highland Council can help Ukraine financially.

‘Words mean a huge amount, but cash means a lot more,’ he said.