Island remembers its fallen soldiers
Special services were held in churches throughout the island on Remembrance Sunday to honour the memory of those who lost their lives in the two world wars and other conflicts.
Following the traditional acts of worship, attended by representatives of voluntary and uniformed organisations, wreaths were laid at the war memorials in the various island parishes.
A special Armistice Day service was conducted by parish minister Reverend Valerie Watson at the military cemetery at Kilchoman.
Among those buried at Kilchoman are 75 of the 431 American servicemen and crew who perished when the HMS Otranto sank off the nearby Machir Bay following a collision with another vessel when on convoy duty on October 6, 1918. It also marks the last resting place of the ship’s captain Ernest Davidson.
Good season for museum
The Museum of Islay Life at Port Charlotte has completed another successful season and reports visitor numbers are up by 10 per cent on previous years. Those using the facility include a number of overseas visitors seeking information on forbears whose roots were decidedly Ileach.
Amongst the points of interest to both locals and visitors was a First World War exhibition and a display devoted to the life and career of local war hero Rev Dr Donald Caskie, a former minister of the Scots Kirk in Paris who earned the sobriquet ‘The Tartan Pimpernel’ for his role in arranging an escape route for allied troops from German-occupied France.
Recently, the museum was pleased to receive artefacts from the estate of the late Betsy West, as well as copies from her extensive photograph collection. While there was much to celebrate, the museum trustees were greatly saddened by the death of Gina McAuslan, a secretary and minute secretary who made a valued contribution to the smooth running of the facility.
Thanks to funding from the Schroder Foundation and other sources salary provision for two staff members will continue over the winter months and beyond. Amongst the task to be undertaken by the retained staff will be the scanning of more than 3,000 black-and- white photographs and postcards, as well as the library object contents. Plans are also afoot to digitise the vast collection in the museum archives, including letters, pamphlets, reports and press cuttings.
The island museum is housed in a former Free Church of Scotland property, with the collection held on behalf of the people of Islay. The extra funding will ensure that the contents are kept in the best possible conditions and, as much as possible, will be readily available to both visitors and locals.
Building contractor and local RNLI branch station manager Islay MacEachern was the top shot at the eighth annual clay pigeon shoot held at Ballard on Jura in memory of Calum Bell of Port Ellen.
Islay’s perfect 50/50 score secured him the commemorative quaich, while the ladies’ championship went to Christy MacFarlane. Awarded the highest scoring junior shot prize was Angus MacMillan, the youngest winner to date in this section. The trophies were presented by Calum’s mother Maggie Bell and a later auction raised £1,000, for the Les Hoey MBE DreamMaker Foundation, a charity that supports children with life-threatening illnesses.
Among those benefitting from this charity is local couple Margaret and Russell Aitken’s young daughter Isla.
The Bell family thanked all who supported the 30-bird shoot and praised the organisational skills of Willie MacDonald.
Hugh Smith, 4, Flora Street, Bowmore, Islay PA43 7JX. Telephone: 01496 810 658.
Islay MacEachern received his quaich
from Maggie Bell.