THE ILEACH :: THE INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER FOR ISLAY + JURA

Excerpts from issue 49/22 13 August 2022

there's no business like show business
islay show champion of champions 2022

Our image above shows the champion of champions of the Islay Show 2022. For the first time in two years, visitors were able to experience the 'real thing', accompanied by wall to wall sunshine.

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In this week's issue:

Islay Show, Anger at recent ferry chaos, SNP's unbeleivable whisky tax, Kildalton Cross winners, Port Ellen beach spirit, Kilchoman fishing winners, Pamela is new assistant manager at Laphroaig, Islay Cocoa award, Kilmeny Ceilidh Club, Fèis exhibition at ICCI, Post van from Downing Street, Portnahaven School reunion, Juniors football coaching, Jura raft race, Mactaggart Leisure Centre economic crisis, Short-term lets licensing scheme, My favourite bike ride to the Oa, Islay Half-Marathon results, Sharon McHarrie on the mechanical woes of farming, Sailor Bill play one-off documentary concert, Medicine in the Mountains book review.

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'Unbelievable' whisky tax plans

The SNP’s Glasgow Southside branch and trade union group have tabled a motion for the party's October conference, to undertake a feasibility study into an additional levy on Scotch whisky.
It is claimed that the money raised would be used offset the current 'cost of living' crisis. A similar motion was proposed at last year's conference, but eventually withdrawn.
Currently, excise duties form 70% of the price of a bottle of Scotch. The Scotch whisky industry is reputedly worth in excess of £5.5.bn and supports around 40,000 jobs.
This motion comes over a year after the United States suspended additional tariffs on Scotch, an additional burden which has reputedly allowed Irish whisky to challenge sales of Scotch in the North American market.
Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP, Donald Cameron said, "This measure would be extremely damaging to the Scotch whisky industry, particularly at a time when the industry is recovering following the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Thousands of people are directly employed by the sector, including in Argyll and Bute, the Highlands and the Western Isles.
"Last year it provided £5.5 billion of GVA to the UK economy and accounted for three-quarters of Scottish food and drink exports.
"With all that in mind, and considering the amount of tax that Scotch whisky already accounts for, I find it unbelievable that such a policy would be proposed by senior SNP representatives.
"People need to know if the SNP-Green government supports this damaging and reckless measure and, if not, will want to see senior figures publicly condemn it ahead of the conference."

The Ileach asked Argyll & Bute MSP, Jenni Minto for comment. She told us, "I have seen the provisional agenda for conference and have read the resolution calling for a feasibility study.
"Any responsible government should be considering all options during a time of crisis which is what the increase in the cost of living is.
"I think there is a debate to be has around the amount of revenue generated by the tax on Scotch whisky that goes straight to the UK treasury, never to be seen again in Scotland. But also the increased costs to the industry due to Brexit which Scotland did not vote for."
We should find out over the course of the next few months, whether this resolution is upheld by the SNP in Holyrood.

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PHOTOS OF ISLAY
Photo guide to Islay

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Not quite in the swim
mactaggart swimming pool

According to the Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group, Covid restrictions, which dramatically reduced shpping containers at the beginning of 2020, brought a whole set of supply problems to the UK and Europe. The onset of this was an almost ten-fold price rise in the cost of many commodities.
This state of affairs was compounded by Hurricane Laura causing a fire at the largest Trichlor factory in the USA, with the loss of over 100,000 tons of chlorine products per year. Increased demand for these across the world only led to more price increases and greater shortages, none of which helped those in UK leisure centre swimming pools, including Islay's Mactaggart Centre.
CEO Gary Scott told the Ileach, "Historically, our costs for chemicals in the Mactaggart swimming pool are normally close to £7,000 per annum. These have now increased by 40%, so we are now in the position of having to find an additional £2,800.
According to Gary, "We have not had to close due to chlorine shortages or slow deliveries, but we have been pretty close!"
But then there's the recent dramatic rise in the cost of energy.
"The cost of our fuel oil, after Beam Suntory have provided energy from the waste heat recovery system at Bowmore Distillery, has always been around £24,000 per year.
"But now, with fuel oil doubling in price, we will have to find an extra £24,000 per year!
Gary continued, "In past years, the centre's annual electricity costs have been approx £12,000, but with a 25% increase in electricity prices this means we have now to find another £3,000."
Taking only these three increased expenditures into consideration, the Mactaggart Leisure Centre will now have to find an additional £29,800 just to provide the current level of service.
"At present, we are not sure from where this money will come."

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This is Islay
this is islay podcast

A monthly podcast featuring individuals, personalities and features of Islay and Jura. Listen now at https://anchor.fm/thisisislay

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Book Review

Medicine in the Mountains by David Hawker, Ellen Findlay and Mike Smith
medicine in the mountains Islay and Jura residents will have many memories of GPs David and Beryl Hawker who worked here for several years either side of the millennium. In the 1970s the Hawkers lived for nine years in Pokhara in Nepal, where they raised a family of three and David worked as an anaesthetist at a hospital founded by the International Nepalese Fellowship (INF), a medical missionary organisation.
Here David met Ellen Findlay, a nurse born in Wishaw, who had been working with the INF in Nepal since 1970. Later, in 1980, Ellen was working in another INF foundation, the Green Pastures Leprosy Centre in Pokhara, where she met Dr. Mike Smith, who was the volunteer medical officer there.
Mike returned to England in 1982, completed his training as an ENT surgeon and in 1990, with his wife Fiona and two children, returned to Pokhara to establish an ENT service. Here he again found himself working closely with Ellen, who, as a senior nurse, had established the outpatients and A+E departments.
By 1992 Ellen and Mike had realised that there was a huge unmet need for medical and surgical treatment across Nepal. Most of the population lived in remote rural settlements with very poor communications, dreadful roads and no medical services at all.
They conceived a model of itinerant medical camps where a team of doctors and nurses would take equipment and supplies into remote areas, set up a temporary field hospital using tents and local buildings, and offer treatment to all comers over a short, intensive two week's work.
The first camp in 1993, and many subsequent camps, drew on Mike's ENT expertise. Initially the camps offered general first aid, examination, diagnosis and ENT operations including mastoid abscess drainage.
As the team gained experience hearing tests, hearing aids and increasingly sophisticated operations using operating microscopes were also provided. In time general surgical camps were added to the itinerary and then gynaecological camps to provide treatment for the distressing symptoms of uterine prolapse, pelvic growths and cysts and chronic vaginal fistula and incontinence caused by traumatic birth injury.
Ellen became the driving organisational force behind the camps. She begged and borrowed equipment, found funders, liaised with and supported volunteer doctors, surgeons and nurses who came to work in the camps.
She organised helicopters, landrovers and porters for the arduous and often dangerous journeys across difficult and extreme terrain and coped with many unexpected disasters and difficulties – one of which roused David Hawker from his bed in Jura early one morning in 2001 when Ellen phoned with an urgent request – 'a volunteer had dropped out, could David fly to Nepal at short notice to act as an anaesthetist at an ear camp?'
This was David's first experience of work in a surgical camp and led eventually to the book under review in which he, Ellen and Mike give an account of the camps over the last 25 years.
It is a remarkable book: unselfconscious, factual, specific and detailed. You should not expect polished narration, irony, metaphor, allegory or subtle thematic philosophising. Each year's camps are described chronologically, with extensive quotations from Ellen's many letters to supporters at home and repeated exclamation marks denoting the daily recurrences of disaster on the roads, dust and mud, primitive living conditions, poor food, digestive upsets, exhaustion, horror, joy and despair.
Volunteers, local staff, patients, people and places are named and described and large numbers of black and white photographs add visual detail and illustration. Non medical readers should be prepared for details some of which they may find upsetting.
Historical, political, administrative and personal background information is scattered throughout the yearly record piecemeal, exactly as it is acquired in real life, as one plods on through the years, putting one foot in front of another, only partially aware of where one is going and what has been achieved. In the best possible sense it is an artless description of what has been done.
This is a real record of real lives and real events. It raised in me a strong sense of admiration and respect. I am glad that it has been written and that I have been able to read it.

Chris Abell

Medicine in the Mountains is available from Amazon.

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NEXT ISSUE ON SALE, Saturday 27 August 2022

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