Letters to the editor – 9.6.22

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Volunteer with Mary’s Meals

In celebration of volunteers week, we are calling on people to donate their time and volunteer in the Mary’s Meals shop in Oban and Lochgilphead.

I started my journey with Mary’s Meals 13 years ago, when I became a volunteer at the charity’s Oban shop to help support its mission to reach some of the world’s poorest children with the promise of a daily meal in school.

I’m writing this letter in the hope of encouraging other people, from all walks of life, to also consider donating some of their time to volunteer in the charity’s shops in Oban and Lochgilphead.

As well as being a mum of two, I took on many different jobs over the years before I retired. From working in garages, to being a taxi driver, a shoe fitter, and a secretary – none have been as rewarding as volunteering for Mary’s Meals.

During my time at the Oban shop, I have found great companionship with my fellow volunteers, who were a great support to me when I lost my husband. When he passed away, I made a promise to help others in the same way he did during his life.

It is wonderful to play a part in making a difference, and to think that the support of people around the world is providing more than 2.2 million hungry children with a life-changing meal every school day.

If you have some time to spare to volunteer, we would love for you to be part of our Mary’s Meals family. Please contact us at marysmeals.org.uk/get-involved/contact-us or freephone 0800 698 1212 if you can help.
Mary MacInnes, 74, Oban shop volunteer for Mary’s Meals

New Cowal history group

A small group of local history enthusiasts and experts are looking at setting up a Cowal Historical Society as a way of sharing knowledge about the many local, heritage landmarks across the peninsula through regular meetings and the encouragement of further explorations.

With the area steeped in so much history – from prehistoric sites to the establishment of Dalriada and early Christianity, Vikings to Victorians, Cowal is blessed with a wealth of heritage – the group is hoping to organise regular meetings around Dunoon and Cowal in general, with site visits and host talks from outside experts.

The Cowal Archaeological Society existed up until recent times and they did some fantastic work in charting and recording local history. The book Cowal, A Historical Guide, by Elizabeth Rennie, is a great starting point for anyone wanting to find out more.

Those interested in getting involved can email cowalhistoricalsociety@gmail.com
Rob Wilkinson, by email.

Loch Linnhe rejected in favour of Holy Loch

Loch Linnhe follows the line of the Great Glen Fault, and is the only sea loch along the fault.

About 30 miles long with a maximum depth of 150 meters, HMS St Christopher was a Coastal Forces Training Base of the Royal Navy operational during the Second World War and located at an Admiralty Floating Dock moored at Corpach. After the base closed it was thought the military had no interest in Lochaber.
UK Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, met with US President Dwight Eisenhower at Camp David in March 1960 to discuss where the US Navy’s Polaris boats could be sited.

The Prime Minister tried to persuade President Eisenhower to consider less populated areas for the submarines carrying Polaris missiles, including Loch Linnhe by Fort William, rather than having atomic weapons stored at Holy Loch on the Clyde, within 30 miles of Scotland’s biggest and most populous city.

Macmillan suggested Loch Linnhe would be a far better location – ‘From a security point of view a robust population of three or four thousand Highlanders at Fort William is much more to my taste than the rather mixed population of the cosmopolitan city of Glasgow.’

Eisenhower agreed, but objected on the basis his men would not accept the remote location. He said the servicemen should have access to a city for ‘comfort, morale and amusement’.

And so the Clyde Naval Base, Faslane, was built on the Gare Loch. Today there are 220 nuclear weapons in Scotland. How many in the rest of the UK?

Lachie Mor MacDougall, Fort William.

Island cash should benefit those already on the islands

I’m rather surprised the Scottish Government is moving ahead with plans to pay young people and families £50,000 to move to some of our remotest islands with interest expressed from applicants as far away as Ecuador.

The first ‘golden welcomes’ will be offered by the Government within weeks in an attempt to tackle depopulation of the Scottish islands where populations range from one person to around 20,000.

Having looked at just how much money this plan would cost the hard-pressed taxpayer, wouldn’t that money be better spent improving local services and infrastructure on the Islands?

We want young people with families who have some connection with our islands not people just tempted by the cash on offer.

Lack of housing is a huge problem – our islands are very often attracting early retirees and second home owners. Poor transport connections including constant ferry disruptions, slow or non-existent broadband and unaffordable housing are just some of the factors holding back the economic prosperity of so many of our islands.

These should be addressed before we throw good money after bad by attempting to pay people to move to our island communities.
Alastair Redman, Port Charlotte, Islay.

Trains to Torlundy and the Ben

I agree with Frank Roach of Hitrans in suggesting that a West Highland Line station for Ben Nevis at Torlundy could be beneficial (Oban Times, May 26).

It is crucial to avoid the situation and ill-feeling that now surrounds Snowdon due to excessive parking choking nearby roads. Ben Nevis is better situated for public transport and needs to take advantage of that.

Publicity from organisations like VisitScotland would be essential to such a station being successful. At present, VisitScotland do not even mention on their Ben Nevis pages that Torlundy is accessible by many buses, from Glasgow and Fort William.

Indeed, it is perfectly possibly, by getting up very early, to travel from Edinburgh, climb Ben Nevis, without especially rushing, and return the same day using coach services.
Mr T Baxter, Dunoon.