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Issue 74 - May 2017
Page visits:
The Garden in April


Two elections are rapidly approaching. On 4th May we have local elections, which have been planned for some considerable time, and then in June we have a snap general election. Two questions occur to the Voice. Firstly, does Arran matter at all to the candidates in all this? And secondly, does accurate representation of the facts matter?

We ask the first of these questions because as I write this, nine days before the local election, I have received just one election communication, from the Tories. Of the four other parties putting forward candidates for the local council, nothing has been heard.

That one election leaflet that has come through my door, from the Tories, gives rise to the second question. Have a look at the graph below, taken from that leaflet. Note the percentages quoted (which may or may not be accurate, but that is not the point here). Now look at the relative lengths of the columns. See what we mean? Is it any wonder that there is so much cynicism about politics?


Cynicism about politics is dangerous. An honest, informed, respectful and civilised democratic process is all that protects us from barbarism. Everyone involved needs to remember that.

The Voice is produced by a small group of volunteers, and we are looking for extra helpers. Some IT skills to help with set-up would be useful, as would some editorial skills to help with content. If you share our outlook on life and are interested in helping, please get in contact with us. We would like to hear from you.

Alan Bellamy

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Concern over ground-nesting birds on Arran

At this time of year Arran’s meadows and beaches are used by many species of birds for nesting, and they can be easily disturbed by walkers. As Arran’s well known wildlife guide Lucy Wallace says:

“I have a plea to nature lovers and dog walkers to be aware of and respect the space of ground nesting birds. It's a particular problem on popular beaches such as Kildonan right now, which are also special places for wildlife. I've seen a few folk in the last few days trundle through nesting oyster catchers completely unaware, often with a set of binoculars around their neck so clearly nature lovers who mean no harm. Sometimes the signs of nesting are hard to spot for the untrained eye as they deliberately camouflage themselves. It’s good to be on the safe side, so please stick to the path, and keep dogs on a lead. If birds are being noisy, it can be a sign of distress. Some of the bigger beaches such as Brodick and Blackwaterfoot are less sensitive, (especially at the village ends of the beaches), and better places to give the dogs a run.”

I'm not having a moan, I think these things are about gentle education and encouragement, we all love nature and want to continue to enjoy it.

The Jazz Café Band Raises the Roof in Kildonan Village Hall

! ! !

Mountain Festival Painting Exhibition

As part of the 2017 Arran Mountain Festival, local artists have been asked to showcase their Arran mountains related work in a special exhibition at Arran Active taking place from 8 April until the end of May.

On Friday 7th April there was a sociable preview and bubbly and live music upstairs at Arran Active to celebrate the launch of this unique exhibition.

Participating artists are:
Heather Macleod Arran Studio Shop
John Knox
Jim Mackintosh Isle of Arran Art - Scotland
Ronnie McNeice
Tessa Smith

Artwork is available for sale.

Deaf Action in Action!

!Liam Bremner is a deaf child who lives in Whiting Bay and attends Arran High School. He is supported by various deaf charities including Deaf Action which is an Edinburgh based charity that supports anyone who is hearing impaired or deafblind and their families. Liam and his friend Finn MacArthur are trying to raise funds for Deaf Action to thank them for all their support. On May 13th 2017 Liam and Finn will be taking part in ……


Gung-Ho is a 5k run which includes ten of the greatest inflatable obstacles on the planet! They have the world’s largest inflatable obstacles and the finale is Europe’s biggest ever inflatable slide!

Please help the boys to raise funds for this amazing charity by sponsoring them, forms can be found in various shops in Whiting Bay or by donating at ……

Liam and Finn

Lamlash tennis courts are open!

As you are probably aware the Community of Arran Seabed Trust purchased Lamlash tennis courts and pavilion from Lamlash Tennis and Bowling Club in December of last year. We are carrying out building work on the pavilion this spring and summer. The pavilion will become COAST’s new office. During this time we expect that at least two courts will be available. Courts 3 & 4 are currently closed and entry to courts 1 & 2 is by the gate on the Cuddy Dook side for safety reasons.

We are excited to announce that membership is now available up until April 2018!

You can get an annual membership for £60 - that's just £5 per month! - by donating through COAST's website or sending us a cheque payable to Community of Arran Seabed Trust.

Alternatively, session rates for court hire per hour are £3.50 per player (U18s = £2). We will also be hiring out rackets and balls at £1 per hour, per person. There is a family/group rate available for just £8 per group for the hire of one court for 1 hour. If you would like any more information, please contact Jenny Stark at or 01770 600656.

Arran successes in Rotary Young Writer Competitions

Two young students at Arran High School have won prestigious honours in the Rotary District Young Writer Competitions. The competitions are run by Rotary and the District includes an area approximately taking in Oban, Glasgow and everything to the west of a line south to the Scottish border.

The theme of the article to be submitted was “Reflections” and Naomi Provan won the Intermediate Prize and Louise Shankland the Prize for Seniors.

Bill Roberts on behalf of the Rotary Club of Arran commented “This is a wonderful win for the students and our small club is delighted to help young people on the island in these Competitions. The two winners will now go forward to the Rotary National Finals in May and that competition covers the whole of the UK and the Irish Republic”.

The Isle of Arran Rotary Club would be delighted to receive new members for fellowship and for supporting often forgotten good causes especially on the Island. Why not give our secretary Linda MacCallum a ring on 01770-302875.

The voice is delighted to be able to publish the two pieces of writing:


!New Arts Co-Ordinator Appointed

After several years of waiting, Arran Theatre and Arts Trust has finally managed to secure a part time arts co-ordinator - two days a week for two years. This post has been made possible through Creative Scotland, The Robertson Trust and The Leader Development Programme.

Her name is Eileen Wilson Kerr and she will start work very soon. Once she is established arts organisations will be able to contact Eileen and discuss projects with her. It is expected that she will also develop new projects. More news next month!

World’s most powerful tidal turbine hits peak power generation

The Orcadian newspaper has reported that the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, developed and manufactured by Orkney-based company Scotrenewables Tidal Power Limited, has reached its peak power generation at Orkney’s European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC).

The Scotrenewables SR2000 turbine

The 2MW SR2000 floating tidal turbine has been undergoing a testing programme at EMEC, which lead to its full 2MW export capacity being achieved on April 12.

The company’s CEO Andrew Scott said: “We are tremendously excited to have the SR2000 demonstrating the performance and cost advantages of our floating tidal technology, in line with forecasts, whilst delivering new benchmarks within the tidal sector.

“This performance resets the bar for the costs of delivering tidal power. Achieving the industry milestone is a goal the team at Scotrenewables have worked tirelessly towards for a long time - the credit lies with them for these fantastic achievements.”

Might Lamlash Bay be a suitable site for this sort of technology, the Voice was left wondering?

!Scottish Green Party News

Mark Ruskell MSP, Environment spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, has challenged Scottish Ministers over a looming export ban on farmed fish which could cost the Scottish economy £200million a year.

The United States now requires proof that seafood imports are harvested in a way that minimises harm to marine mammals including seals.

During Questions at Holyrood, Mark Ruskell raised the issue with Environment Secretary Roseannah Cunningham, who confirmed that the industry has until 2022 to comply.

Mark said:

“The Scottish Government has irresponsibly allowed a US import ban on Scottish fisheries to be set in train that could cost over £200m a year to the farmed salmon sector alone. The choice is clear: either the Scottish Government does the responsible thing and bins the laws that allow the killing of seals in Scotland by fish farm operators and fishermen, or it lobbies Trump’s administration to weaken US environmental laws that protect marine mammals.

“The killing of seals is completely unnecessary and most people find it abhorrent that this practice still occurs in the 21st century. It is perfectly possible to prevent seals from attempting to eat farmed fish through deterrents rather than the bullet.”

Meanwhile the decision to sell the Green Investment Bank to a company that has invested billions of pounds in fossil fuel projects has been criticised by another Green MSP.

Australian bank Macquarie has a history of investing in fracking and opencast coal mining projects and Green MSP Andy Wightman says that GIB’s environmental credentials are “now in tatters”.

Wightman, who has been campaigning to keep the bank open in Edinburgh, is requesting a meeting with GIB’s chairman to seek guarantees that the bank will remain true to its Green credentials. Lothian MSP Andy said:

!“The green credentials of the supposed Green Investment Bank are now in tatters. Why would the new owners allow for genuine green investments to be made if they are going to impact on the profitability of the company’s previous investments? I don’t expect the public to fully trust that GIB will make the right investments in renewables project that could eventually make fossil fuel methods redundant.

“As an MSP for the capital, I’m pleased that jobs will remain in the city. Edinburgh has a proud history of financial prudence, which has been inappropriately rocked in recent times by unscrupulous banking practices. With this sale I hope to see it return to responsible lending and investing that will be carried out with the due diligence that consumers expect.”

Joan Eardley: A Private View

A new play from Pennine based Heroica Theatre Company, Joan Eardley: A Private View, will premiere on May 5 at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art's Modern 2 gallery before setting off on a tour of art galleries and arts centres in Scotland and England during May and June 2017 just before the exhibition Joan Eardley: A Sense of Place closes in Edinburgh.

Sketching the story of the life and works of the English painter Joan Eardley who lived in Scotland, the tour offers, where possible, interactive promenade performances around the gallery spaces. Several of the venues will have works by Eardley on display during the performance.

The play’s author, Anna Carlisle whose last play The Chelsea Belladonna on the life of botanical artist Elizabeth Blackwell successfully toured Scottish gardens in the summer of 2012, says, “Joan Eardley is generally recognized as one of the pre-eminent women artists of the 20th century, yet most people have not heard or seen her work outside of Scotland. We should all, across the entirety of Britain, begin to see Joan Eardley as the world class painter, whom we tragically lost at the height of her powers. This play will resurrect a key figure of the British art world and place a new 'portrait' in the 'national gallery' of Britain's greatest twentieth-century painters.”

Rehearsals for Joan Eardley: A Private View will begin in April with Edinburgh-based Marilyn Imrie directing the production that stars Alexandra Mathie in taking the eponymous role of Eardley who worked and painted in Glasgow and in the small fishing village of Catterline on the east coast.

Mathie has just returned from a season in Amadeus at the National Theatre in London, and will be joined in the production by actors John Kielty and Ashley Smith.

Says Mathie: “Joan Eardley was an extraordinary painter who died just as her works were beginning to achieve national prominence and recognition. As an artist, she remains largely unsung, especially in England. We are excited that, Joan Eardley: A Private View will go a long way towards changing that.”

Coming to Corrie and Sannox Hall Wednesday 10th May. 8.00
Tickets £12 and £10 ( Concession)
Tickets limited to 50. To secure a ticket phone Heather Gough on 302670 or email

Morag Gardner


The family and community are saddened to report the passing of Morag on Tuesday 25th April 2017.

Morag was a character who held strong opinions and was not afraid to speak out.

Her talents were varied - being an amazing craftswoman encompassing flower arranging, knitting, crochet and dress making. She was also a keen golfer, playing mostly at Lamlash but also frequently to be seen on the course in Brodick. Her computer knowledge was wide ranging and, as a keen bridge player with Arran Bridge Club, she made an invaluable contribution to maintaining the club's technology.

Morag was a great supporter of the Rural, having served on the committee of the Lamlash branch for many years as well as being president of the Arran Federation. She could also often be found behind the counter as a volunteer at ARCAS.

The funeral will be on Thursday 4th May, at 11:30am, in Lamlash Church.

!Book Review

Kid Gloves: A Voyage Round My Father by Adam Mars-Jones

When his widowed father - once a high court judge and always a formidable figure - drifted into vagueness if not dementia, the writer Adam Mars-Jones took responsibility for his care. Intimately trapped in the London flat where the family had always lived, the two men entered an oblique new stage in their relationship. Kid Gloves is a highly entertaining book about (among other things) families, the legal profession, and the vexed question of Welsh identity. It is necessarily also a book about the writer himself - and the implausible, long-delayed moment, some years before, when he told his sexually conservative father about his own orientation, taking the homophobic bull by the horns.

William Mars-Jones with
Adam behind him

Making it his choice as Paperback of the Week in the Guardian, Nicholas Lezard wrote “It is the underlying honesty - to his own, and to others’ selves - that makes this book not just funny, but wise as well. The comedy comes from perception and insight, and a meticulous attention to language and meaning. As for the style: to read the flow of his sentences is how I imagine a cat feels when it is stroked. To call him one of the best writers in the country seems a pointless equivocation, for, at the moment, I can’t think of anyone better.”

After reading Kid Gloves I can fully support Lezard’s choice; this is a beautifully written and very humane memoir.

Alan Bellamy

Scientists at Heriot-Watt University question new oilfield findings

A recent article in The Conversation by two senior scientists at Heriot-Watt University discusses the large oil find that has been declared 60 miles west of Shetland. It’s being described as the UK’s “largest undeveloped discovery”. Taken at face value, this is exciting news for an industry still reeling after the oil price collapse of the past few years but environmentalists are less enthusiastic.

The discovery was made by Hurricane Energy, a specialist exploration firm, which announced that its Halifax well had found large amounts of oil. It said it had also successfully undertaken a production test in which oil flowed at an impressive rate. Hurricane Energy specialises in trying to extract oil from so-called fractured “basement” reservoirs. While most oil, including most North Sea oil, is found within sedimentary rocks such as sandstone, these basements occur when oil gathers in the natural cracks (or fractures) between impermeable igneous rock. In this specific case, Hurricane was actively searching along the Rona Ridge - a prominent seabed feature which hosts several oil fields.

This is undoubtedly an encouraging result for the UK oil industry as it seeks to extend the life of a mature basin characterised by ever diminishing resources. However, the scientists point out that it is important to underline that there are major geological hurdles still to overcome and the oil can’t yet be considered potential, probable or proven reserves, all of which have strict statistical and commercial definitions.

An oil tanker makes its way through the Shetland Isles. Ronnie Robertson, CC BY-SA

Although fractured reservoirs have been successful elsewhere in the world, most notably in Vietnam and Yemen, this would be a first in the UK. The rocks around Shetland are very dense, and it’s particularly hard to work out how much oil is found in the narrow, open fractures in between them.

Success is likely then to be dependent on the fractures, which not only need to be significant but also suitably oriented for a directional drill bit to intersect them. Fractured basements are notorious for fast depletion on production as the fractures are drained quickly, and such fields consequently commonly have a shorter shelf life. It is also worth remembering that no basement has been shown to work elsewhere in the North Sea to date. Concerns over economic viability mean the most notable discoveries at Cairngorm and at Bagpuss have yet to be developed. Hurricane will need to conduct an extended well test to demonstrate sufficient flow for the field to be feasible in the long term. Also, more drilling will probably be required to ascertain whether the Halifax oil exists in one large reservoir or in several smaller accumulations. The latter is much harder to develop.

The billion barrels quoted in the media is certainly an eye-watering discovery - especially now, after oil firms have been scouring the North Sea for decades. However it is unclear whether these are actual usable resources. We also don’t yet know what sort of oil has been found. Oil in nearby Clair Field is particularly viscous and heavy, which meant it was left in the ground for almost 20 years until better technology and higher prices made extracting it worthwhile. If the Lancaster/Halifax oil has similar characteristics the operator will face additional challenges.

This discovery raises various social and political questions, of course. After Brexit, is this the UK’s oil or Scotland’s, or even Shetland’s? Do people want the jobs, income and secure energy supply that comes from a thriving offshore industry, or would they instead highlight the global carbon budget and choose to leave that oil under the sea? The full article can be read here.

!Two Child Limit & Rape Clause and Justice for WASPI Women

From Patricia Gibson SNP MP

Recent weeks have seen the ushering in of yet more Tory benefit cuts, further ensuring that those who rely on financial support due to illness or disability find it increasingly difficult to maintain a minimum standard of living. The cut to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for those in the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG) commenced at the beginning of April, leaving those affected £30 per week worse off - a cut of roughly 30%. The WRAG group is made up of those deemed too ill to physically apply for jobs. Fair game for the Tories then!

What is perhaps more appalling than the financial cut, is the pretence that incentives to work are being provided, implying that those who receive ESA WRAG are otherwise happy to sit at home and ‘cash in.’ This is a bewildering notion, given that people claiming those benefits often suffer from conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease and mental illness, each of which can be wholly debilitating.

Yet for many news of ESA WRAG cuts have been overshadowed by steps taken by the UK Government to amend child tax credits rules. Earlier this month, the UK Government railroaded a policy change through Parliament without debate or parliamentary approval, culminating in a new two-child limit for people claiming child tax credits.

The Tories also mandated that women who were raped must prove their child was conceived thereby to be exempted from these rules.

Fundamentally, the Government is asking women to re-live the ordeal of a rape simply to make a benefit claim. The Tories seriously misjudged the impact of this. The reason why the majority of rapes go unreported is due to the stress and torment placed on the victim when revisiting their ordeal. This seems to have completely eluded the Tories. Shame on them!

This fiasco exposed a yawning hole in UK Government’s plans to implement the policy, given that public sector workers who will arbitrate whether a woman’s child was born of rape haven’t been trained in this, despite the changes already being implemented.

The financial aspect makes for grim reading. A family whose third child was born before midnight on 5th April could be £50,000 better off over 18 years than one whose child was born a day later. As a result, an estimated 200,000 more children are expected to be living in poverty by 2020.

The outcry against this abhorrent policy has been deafening. Religious leaders, trade unions, MPs and charities, including Scottish Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland all denounced it. Even Government Ministers acknowledge the policy’s failings.

It’s clear the UK Government has refused to listen to overwhelming opposition from groups, representing some of Scotland’s most vulnerable women. These changes are anti-women and anti-family, and will decimate household budgets for the “just about managing” families the Prime Minister was so keen to speak for on her first day in office. Ill thought out, malicious policies of this sort damage lives. We in the SNP will fight to overturn this abhorrent policy.

Patricia has also called on the UK Government to deliver pension justice as she addressed a rally on Saturday in Kilmarnock in support of Ayrshire Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI).

The event was supported by many SNP MPs and MSPs who pledged to continue to work with women who have had their pension age raised with little or no notice. This fact is acknowledged by the UK Tory Government which, despite this, remains unwilling to put in place measures to ease the financial hardship caused to these women.

Patricia said:

“I have spoken in all seven Westminster debates on this important matter and collected 2,534 petition signatures across my constituency to help persuade the Tory Government to rethink this cruel injustice.

“Sadly, the Tories are deaf to the pleas for justice from these women, 4,800 of whom live in my own constituency. The contract they believed they had with the UK Government has been torn up and left many of these women in dire financial straits when they should be collecting the pension to which they are entitled.

“Until this matter is fully addressed, these woman will continue to fight for justice and I and my party will continue to support them in this fight. The Tory Government hopes these women will give up and go away. They won’t!”.

Air Source Heat Pumps Pros and Cons

By Derek Morgan

This article for the sake of simplicity will cover low temp air to water monobloc heat pumps only, air to air, split heat pumps and high temperature air to water will feature in future notes.

When purchasing an air source heat pump it is necessary to have your house well insulated especially in the roof space. It is also good practice to have your windows / external doors re-sealed before embarking on your install. There are basically two camps that air source fall into. The most popular and cheapest are from the air-conditioner companies who have basically re-jigged their air cons into heat pumps. These ‘heat pumps’ have smaller heat exchangers, fans and evaporators which make them less efficient, more defrost cycles and are harder working than pure heat pumps. They are often immersion assisted at low ambient temperatures and in some models are used to heat domestic hot water. The plus side of the new air source is that they are mostly all inverter driven which means the will modulate their power output depending on the load. The control method on these heat pumps is usually a zone stat or stats within the building. These heat pumps perform better with under-floor heating and are not recommended with radiators unless they are oversized i.e. double or triple fin. They can often be a bit noisy especially the fans! The outdoor units can be prone to rust especially on Arran with the salt air. When purchasing one make sure it is coated (blue fin or waxed) for coastal regions. The R.H.I. payments over 7 years will recoup the outlay you have made on the cheaper models but it may be a false economy over time as your running costs may be higher.

The latter are heat pumps designed and built by heat pump companies. They will have larger fans and casings with bigger heat exchangers. The expansion valves will be electronically controlled offering greater efficiency. They will be quieter having specially designed fan blades and acoustic damping technology inside. The control systems are more sophisticated offering greater control over your heating system and remote control / diagnostics. These heat pumps will generally be twice the cost or more of the budget models but will generally be more reliable and last longer. The RHI payments may only recoup half of the outlay costs for these units but they will be cheaper to run in the long run, not relying on immersion assistance.

Some common questions about this technology:

1. We have all been told an air source will run at -20 degrees is this true?

It would not be advisable to run an air source in temperatures below -10 for any length of time as the efficiency would drop significantly making it no more efficient than gas, oil or electric heating.

2. What is SCOP ?

This has replaced COP and is the seasonal coefficient of performance and is a ratio of efficiency based on power in power out rating of the heat pump based over a 12month period and is dependent on where you live.

3. How long will my heat pump last for?

Most suppliers have told their customers their heat pumps will last 30 years or more. This is simply not true only in very exceptional cases have I seen a heat pump still running with its original compressor that is more than 10 years old. Most heat pumps are operating between 10 and 14 hours a day imagine running your car for that period every day how long do you think it would last?

4. How often do I have it serviced and how much does a service cost?

The R.H.I. insist on having your heat pump serviced every year to receive their quarterly payments over the 7 years they guarantee. A service will cost anything from £150 to £300 depending on who you use.

5. Where do I have to site my air source?

It is preferable to have the pump on a south or west facing wall but generally the closer to the internal tank the shorter the runs of pipe the better.

6. Will it rust?

Yes it will corrode on the Island if it is not coated for coastal air.

7. Do I need planning permission?

Yes, unless your nearest neighbour is 100 metres away.

8. Are they noisy?

The noise will vary greatly from model to model.

9. Why is there steam coming from the heat pump sometimes?

This is when the heat pump goes into a defrost cycle this can happen several times a day depending upon the moisture in the air and is most prevalent around the 1 to 5 degrees c ambient temperature level.

10. What temperature will my air source provide for domestic hot water?

Realistically if your air source is using r410a refrigerant don’t expect to get any more than 55 degrees out of it. If you have a small tank and need more hot water, the heat pump may use a boost or add heat 4function to elevate the temperature to your set point.

If you need any free advice please call Derek Morgan on 01770601214 or 07806950483

!Scottish Labour Party News

Our plan to ban fracking has huge public support.

Last year, Labour MSP Claudia Beamish launched a consultation on her plan to change the law to ban fracking in Scotland. The results are now in, and 87 per cent of respondents were in favour of a ban. More than 1,000 people responded to the consultation - one of the highest response rates in Scottish Parliament history.

Labour will now press on with a bid to change the law and ban onshore fracking outright in Scotland.

Last year the Scottish Parliament backed a Scottish Labour motion calling for fracking to be banned. The SNP has refused to rule out allowing fracking in Scotland, despite widespread public opposition and health and safety fears.

Dr Sam Gardner, Head of Policy at WWF Scotland, said:

“The results of this consultation are another reminder that there is overwhelming public support in favour of cleaner forms of energy and against fracking occurring in Scotland. The climate science is clear, the vast majority of known fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground. Scotland should put in place a clear legal block on unconventional fossil fuel extraction and instead play to its natural advantages in clean, green renewable energy.”


Corrie Film Club

On the 14th May at 8pm in Corrie Village Hall the film will be The Danish Girl (2015, UK, directed by Tom Hooper, 119 mins, Cert15)

A fictitious love story loosely inspired by the lives of Danish artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener, whose work evolves as they navigate Lili's ground-breaking journey as a transgender pioneer. “The Danish Girl poignantly explores thought-provoking themes with a beautifully filmed biopic drama.”

Everyone is welcome; bring a bottle and nibbles; visitors are asked for a small donation.

Rescue teams battle to save minke whale

from John Kinsman

Rescuers battled to save a mink whale beached in the Neuk of Fife on April 21st.

The 21ft long minke whale was stranded at Largo Bay on the Firth of Forth between Elie and Lower Largo. A first attempt failed when it was refloated only to beach again on a rocky reef. By the time it was refloated again at around 10pm it was too dark to see whether the female minke whale had remained in the water.

Members of the rescue team which included medics from British Divers Marine Life Rescue, coastguards, SSPCA, and Coastwatch St Monans helped in the rescue operation.

The distressed but unhurt mammal was reported to police by a member of the public at 4pm and rescuers attached inflatable pontoons and gave first aid to keep it alive as they waited for the high tide.

A spokesperson for BDMLR said "We got it refloated and it went into the bay then it stranded again on a rocky reef. We refloated it again but lost sight of it in the darkness."

A search of the area was made the next day and there was no sighting of the whale. A good outcome, it seems.

Poem of the month


by Vicki Feaver

I used to iron everything:
my iron flying over sheets and towels
like a sledge chased by wolves over snow,

the flex twisting and crinking
until the sheath frayed, exposing
wires like nerves. I stood like a horse

with a smoking hoof
inviting anyone who dared
to lie on my silver-padded board,

to be pressed to the thinness
of dolls cut from paper.
I’d have commandeered a crane

if I could, got the welders at Jarrow
to heat me an iron the size of a tug
to flatten the house.

Then for years I ironed nothing.
I put the iron in a high cupboard.
I converted to crumpledness.

And now I iron again: shaking
dark spots of water onto wrinkled
silk, nosing into sleeves, round

buttons, breathing the sweet heated smell
hot metal draws from newly-washed
cloth, until my blouse dries

to a shining, creaseless blue,
an airy shape with room to push
my arms, breasts, lungs, heart into.

This poem from Vicki Feaver’s 2009 collection ‘The Handless Maiden’ exhibits her trademark wry humour and undercurrents of eroticism. ‘The Handless Maiden’ is published by Cape Poetry.


Andrew to set sail

COAST’s Executive Director, Andrew Binnie, is moving on at the end of June to work freelance on new projects. Andrew led our successful campaign for the South Arran Marine Protected Area, built our organisational capacity and negotiated last-year's purchase of a shore-side site in Lamlash - soon to become our new HQ.

!COAST Chair, Howard Wood, OBE said, ‘We have been very fortunate to have had someone of Andrew’s calibre and commitment for the last six years. His wide ranging expertise, passion and determination, have been critical to our evolution and achievements. Thanks to him we are well prepared to continue our journey towards the sustainable use of our seas. While sorry to see Andrew move on, we wish him all the very best in his future ventures and adventures!'

Andrew said, ‘It’s a real wrench to be leaving such a dynamic group. However, I am looking forward to contributing to progressive marine management in new ways and to continuing my association with my colleagues and friends here on Arran and around Scotland. It’s been a privilege working with Howard and the COAST team during such an exciting period.'

A Flame shell

Meanwhile, BBC News has reported that marine conservationists have condemned the “devastation” of a rare flame shell reef off the west coast of Scotland by a scallop dredger.

The Loch Carron reef near Plockton was “intensively” dredged on two occasions and could take decades to recover. The dredger was operating legally, but marine conservationist Howard Wood said it represented a “complete failure” of inshore fishery management.

The Scottish government said it would investigate the “worrying” reports.

Flame shells are bivalves that make nests on the sea bed. The reef that forms around the nests is a valuable nursery ground for young scallops, crustaceans and fish.

Two flame shells which have been
torn from their protective nest
at the bottom of Loch Carron

Many of the flame shell beds that used to be found off the west coast of Scotland have now disappeared and Scottish Natural Heritage considers large beds rare.

Mr Wood, a winner of the international Goldman Environmental Prize for his marine conservation work, said he was “mad and outraged” by the destruction of the bed, which has been photographed and filmed by divers.

“It’s a complete failure of Marine Scotland’s inshore fishery management,” he told BBC Scotland. “We’re way behind other countries. Norway and other Scandinavian countries would not allow this in inshore waters. We need to bring our inshore fisheries up to modern-day standards.”


Dear Editor: Why We Won’t Wait

Thanks to research and modern technology, we live in an era when medical breakthroughs are producing results that truly transform people’s lives. But it’s shocking that the foremost drug that people with Parkinson’s rely on, those like my brother in law Gordon Scarfe, has not changed in over 50 years.

This is not because it’s so effective that no new medication is needed - far from it. Parkinson’s is a relentless, cruel condition that causes immense suffering, from deep depression and pain to complete immobility. The lack of new treatments, and no cure, means that there is nothing to stop the relentless progression and worsening of symptoms over time for the 127,000 people living with it. It has been extremely painful and distressing to witness this at first hand, knowing there is currently nothing on the horizon that can offer Gordon the prospect of any improvement.

According to new findings from Parkinson’s UK, released to highlight this month’s Parkinson’s Awareness Week, misunderstanding about Parkinson’s is still widespread, and it’s time to create greater awareness that it causes so much more than just a tremor. We need to drive forward ground-breaking research: the science is ready and we have the knowhow to make this happen.

This year is the 200th anniversary of the condition being described by Dr James Parkinson, and Parkinson’s UK have launched their first ever public fundraising appeal, We Won’t Wait, to raise the funds urgently needed to tackle the condition head on.

It will be too late for my beloved brother-in-law, but I would love to see a medical breakthrough for Parkinson’s during my lifetime, and I hope that your readers will join me in donating to We Won’t Wait. Every penny brings us closer to new and better treatments and to the day when no one fears a diagnosis of Parkinson’s.

To find out more about the We Won’t Wait campaign and to donate, please visit

Thank you
Jane Asher
Parkinson’s UK

COAST Job Vacancy - Director of Operations and Development

Do you have the skills to lead the Isle of Arran’s acclaimed community-based marine conservation group and develop a new marine centre on Arran? If so, please see below for full details of the position and how to apply.


Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST)

COAST is a multi-award winning marine restoration group established in 1995 by two local divers in response to the collapse of commercial fish stocks and the degradation of seabed habitats in the Clyde. Described by George Monbiot as 'pathfinders', COAST established Scotland's first and only community-driven No Take Zone in 2008 after a 13 year campaign. We proposed the South Arran Marine Protected Area (MPA) in 2012 which came into full effect in 2016. COAST is a passionate volunteer-based organisation with a staff team committed to the full realisation of the environmental, social and economic potential of our MPA and the progressive development of Clyde marine management. To help deliver this, in December last year, we purchased a shore-side site and pavilion in Lamlash which we are converting into a hub for marine engagement and recreation.

The job

The Director - Operations and Development, will lead COAST on the next phase of its growth and deliver on our strategic objectives. Working closely with the Board, staff and volunteers you will be responsible for the development of our new site, capital building projects, organisational evolution and sustainable financial management. Diversification and development of income streams and the oversight of core and capital grant applications is a central component of the role. As a campaigning organisation you will work closely with the team to ensure we are focused on improving the health of the Clyde marine environment for the benefit of local and wider Clyde stakeholders.

The person

We are looking for strong leadership and communication skills and a demonstrable commitment to environmental management. You will have a track record in team building, organisational development and project management within the marine, environmental, tourism or wider NGO field, preferably with experience in capital project management. The successful candidate will also have business acumen and the ability to negotiate and represent COAST at all levels and through a variety of broadcast, print and social media.

To apply

An application pack with a job and person description is available here. To apply, a full CV with a covering letter detailing how you meet our requirements, should be sent by email to Jennifer Stark at by 12th of May. Interviews are planned for 24th and 25th of May. If you would like to discuss this position with us informally please email us at the same address.

Please click here to download the Arran COAST Director Application Pack.

And Finally

!The Voice has on a number of occasions highlighted the invaluable work done by Andy Wightman, “writer, researcher, analyst, commentator and activist on issues of land, power, governance, democracy and money”, and now also Green MSP. On the 21st March Andy posted the following on his website Land Matters:

“Today I was served with a Summons from legal agents acting on behalf of Wildcat Haven Enterprises CIC to appear in the Court of Session seeking interdict on a charge of defamation and claiming £750,000 damages (plus 8% interest from date of citation). In light of the fact that defending this action will be very expensive, I will be launching a crowd-funder shortly to seek assistance with meeting the likely costs.”

We know Andy to be a hard-working, helpful and approachable MSP with excellent values, and we wish him well in this matter.