Islanders cross the Pond...into the world of US soccer 

 

By Katie Macleod  

More and more British footballers are moving 'across the pond' to play in the USA – and among them are two island players making a name for themselves in the American soccer world. 

31-year-old Ally Mackay, from Lewis, and 25-year-old Robert MacGillivray, from Benbecula, both took the scholarship route to US football careers, one that saw them attend university in the States, play for their university teams, and move into the professional football industry after graduation. 

Both Ally and Robert now live in Florida, working ‘behind the scenes’ in the ever-growing industry that is soccer in America. Ally works in Orlando as an agent for Global Premier Management, a role he took on when he returned to the US after getting his MSC in Sports Management from the University of Stirling. 

Read more: Islanders cross the Pond...into the world of US soccer 

Sylvia takes charge of oil-rig salvage battle

By Eilidh Whiteford

As islanders, residents of the Outer Hebrides are used to the odd unusual object washing up on the shore – but an entire oil rig platform, which ran aground at Dalmore Beach in Carloway last year, was still something of a surprise!

The semi-submersible drilling rig, 'Transocean Winner', was being towed by tug from Norway to Malta in August 2016 when the tow-line snapped during a storm while on passage west of the Hebrides.

And Carloway residents woke up on the morning of Monday, August 8th, to discover an oil rig sitting on the rocks at Dalmore.

Read more: Sylvia takes charge of oil-rig salvage battle

Hands-on chance to feel life on croft 

By Katie Macleod 

Visitors to the Hebrides looking for a real taste of island life need look no further than Ness in Lewis, the location of Donald ‘Sweeny’ Macsween’s croft tourism venture, Air an Lot. 

Air an Lot – Gaelic for ‘on the croft’ – offers tourists and locals alike the chance to experience the day-to-day happenings on an island croft, from feeding the animals to cutting peats.  “It just depends how hands on people want to get,” says Donald of the activities available.   

“Generally people will come and have a wee tour.  If you want to just look at the animals and don’t go near them, that’s fine, but if you want to get stuck in and spend a bit more time, you can muck out the hen house, help feed the sheep, stuff like that.”  By next year, visitors looking for a real taste of the islands will even able to stay on a nearby croft in the Port of Ness, where Donald is currently renovating a self-catering ‘Air an Lot’ holiday cottage for tourists. 

Through Air an Lot, Donald also sells fresh eggs, meat boxes, and sausages, and is starting to branch out into areas such as sheepskin rugs and wool, too.  “I enjoy working with animals on a daily basis, and I think it’s important that they’re valued as well.  If that animal has had to die to produce food, then it’s only right that we make the most use possible out of that animal.” 

Read more: Hands-on chance to feel life on croft 

From life in Carloway to the US world of whisky... 

By Katie Macleod  

It was January 2016 when Gemma Paterson received the phone call that would change her life as she knew it. 

Gemma, who moved to Carloway with her family as a child, was working as a senior distillery guide for William Grant & Sons in Speyside when she was asked if she would be interested in applying to be a US Ambassador for Balvenie. Five months later, she was living in New York City. 

“I’d never thought about moving to the US, but it’s not an opportunity anyone’s going to turn down,” remembers Gemma. “I went home in a daze and sat down and was like, ‘Is this real? Is this actually happening?’” 

In her first six months as the Balvenie Ambassador for the east coast of America, Gemma has already travelled to twenty states – some more than four times – and is set to clock up even more miles this year as she promotes what she describes as “the most hand-crafted single malt whisky.”

Read more: From life in Carloway to the US world of whisky... 

Community strength supports local shop

An Clachan – the community shop run by Co-Chomunn na Hearadh – has gone from strength to strength in recent years.

Chris Ross, who chairs the board of Co-Chomunn na Hearadh, said that first he would like to thank the management and staff for their input in achieving another successful year in spite of the constant threat from online home delivery shopping super giants Tesco and Amazon.   The shop achieved annual sales as high as £1.3m and has remained in profit since 2013.

“We are fortunate to enjoy good support from local customer together with great participation from an ever increasing tourist trade, the latter being absolutely vital to the long term viability and survival of CCnH.  

“Today, An Clachan is one of the few community shops to, not only, survive but to flourish.  Speaking of the tourism, we are uniquely and strategically placed at the southern gateway of the Island, being the first and last shop to purchase groceries and fuel for arrivals and departures gives us a great advantage.  

Read more: Community strength supports local shop