A night spent with Scotland’s first ever drive-in choir

Perthshire's DanceSing choir came up with the idea after getting bored rehearsing online during lockdown.

As they belted out Mamma Mia in perfect harmony, it was as if Perthshire’s DanceSing choir had never stopped rehearsing.

But it was, in fact, their first time singing together in more than five months; as lockdown brought their weekly rehearsals to an almighty halt.

As restrictions lifted, the group’s leaders were desperate to bring the choir together again in order to provide a sense of normality to members’ lives. It was then they came up with the novel idea to launch Scotland’s first drive-in choir.

“We just can’t rehearse like we used to because of the virus”, said DanceSing’s director Natalie Garry.

DanceSing’s founder and former Scottish Ballet dancer Natalie Garry.
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“So this is a new way for us all to get together.

“There were a few tears at the start. I did get quite emotional because we haven’t seen each other in months.

“We now finally have an opportunity to sing together”.

For DanceSing members, it’s not all about singing. They credit the friendships and community that come from the choir for helping them escape the daily realities of coronavirus.

Some performers couldn’t resist getting out of the car.
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“The friendships and the benefits that come from that is so important to everyone”, said member Elaine Bruce.

“We’ve made so many friends since we started here – people we’d never normally have met.

“It was really hard not seeing them during lockdown, so being able to get together now at a social-distance is really fantastic.”

Singing has proven benefits for mental health. It releases endorphins and as is evident with the DanceSing choir, it can make people feel connected.

The concept was devised to keep singers safe while rehearsing together.

The group rehearsed regularly online during lockdown, although they admitted it just wasn’t the same.

“It was okay doing it at home but you don’t get the camaraderie with everybody”, said singer Jan Higgins.

“It’s so much nicer being here in person.”

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“I think we all committed to doing lots of things online at the start of lockdown”, added DanceSing’s musical director Lindsay Ashworth Fraser.

The event took place near Loch Leven in Kinross.

“But I think for us all just to come together… There’s nothing like it. There’s just energy in a place when there’s a group of people doing something all together, with the same goal.”

It’s clear that Scotland’s first drive-in choir practice was a resounding success. But will there be an encore?

“You can see there’s lots of cars here tonight… But there’s so much more scope to let this grow”, said Natalie.

“This is very much the first of many.”

MSPs to vote on proposed five-tier coronavirus system

The plan, outlined by the First Minister last week, aims to control the spread of the virus in Scotland.

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Vote: MSPs to decided on proposed coronavirus tier system.

MSPs are set to vote on a proposed five-tier system which aims to control coronavirus in Scotland. 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon outlined the proposed system last week, which if voted through would come into force on November 2.

The plan ranges from life being “closest to normal” without a vaccine at level zero to almost a full lockdown at level four, when non-essential shops would close.

Level two will be similar to current rules outside central Scotland, with level three likened to those inside the central belt, where pubs and restaurants are closed.

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On Tuesday, MSPs will vote on whether to adopt the new proposals.

Under the plans, council areas in Scotland will each be given their own alert rating, with restrictions designed to match the risk of Covid spreading locally.

However, the whole country could be placed in the same level if necessary, the First Minister has warned. 

Under the proposed five tier system, schools would not close, even under the strictest measures.


Race against time to raise £1.7m for abandoned estate

Locals want to buy the property to prevent another holiday home in the area.

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The Killundine Estate in Morvern has lain bare for years.

A small rural community in the western Highlands has until Saturday to find £1.7m to rescue an abandoned estate.

Nestled in 6000 acres of forest moorland, the Killundine Estate in Morvern has lain bare for years.

Locals are attempting to buy the land and have been awarded £1m by the Scottish Land Fund to go towards the £2.7m asking price.

They want to stop more properties in the area being turned into holiday homes. But they face a race against time to find the money.

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Alasdair Firth, from Morvern Community Woodlands, the group behind the project, said the increase in holiday homes had made it challenging for locals to buy in the area.

He said: “It’s very hard for people who live here to afford to buy a house.

“It’s difficult for people to compete with this house market, where prices are so high.

“There’s a critical mass of people that you need to have all the services that the community wants to have and need, and we are getting to a point where we are losing that.

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“The estate could be used by local people to live in. We want all these buildings redeveloped, with people living and working. Hopefully the people that are here and want to stay here can stay here.”

As the number of holiday homes in the peninsula increase, it’s causing other problems. With fewer families arriving, the school roll has dropped in recent years. Where it once stood at 25, this year only 11 children will attend.

Keith Adams, Lochaline Primary School head teacher, said: “We had a family in recently, it was the first we’ve had into the area for two or three years – it used to be revolving doors here.

“That’s stopped and I can only put that down to the affordable housing.

“I always see the school as the heart of the community and we try to be that, so if the school becomes smaller and smaller, then the heart of the community becomes smaller.”

Despite covering 250 sq m of land, only around 320 people call Morvern home.

There are jobs in mining and fishing, but with the population dwindling, it’s having an impact on the industries.

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Veronique Walraven, who works at the mine and is part of the estate buyout project, said: “The percentage of the working age in Morvern is getting smaller and the older population is getting bigger.

“If nothing does change, if we are not proactive, then in the whole of the Highlands the working age population will shrink considerably – that will have a huge effect on businesses.”


Lanarkshire ‘considered for level four restrictions’

Leaked documents say tier four restrictions for North and South Lanarkshire 'cannot be ruled out'.

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Covid-19: Lanarkshire facing toughest restrictions.

North and South Lanarkshire are the only two areas being considered for level four of the Scottish Government’s new Covid-19 restrictions, according to a leaked report.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) documents also suggest that most of the country, including Glasgow and Edinburgh, is set for “tier three” of the new measures, meaning a continuation of current restrictions.

However, while the letter to council leaders states that the situation in Lanarkshire “may be stabilising”, it says the use of level four restrictions ”cannot be ruled out”.

It also says that rising numbers in Dundee is “causing concern”.

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The Scottish Government will lay out which areas will be subject to the new coronavirus tier system in a parliamentary debate on Tuesday.

COSLA has written to council leaders, giving them a strong indication of what tier of restrictions their authorities will be subject to.

Level three of the tier system would mean alcohol sales both indoors and outdoors will not be permitted, although some restaurants may be able to open under strict conditions.

Level four is closest of the levels to a full lockdown, similar to the one introduced at the end of March, with non-essential shops being forced to close.

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Socialising would not be allowed in people’s homes, but six people from two households could still meet outdoors and there would be no limit on outdoor exercise.

Non-essential travel would be banned and there could be limits on the distance people can travel, as well as guidance to stay at home.

Schools will remain open and some outdoor meeting will be allowed.

The confidential letter reads: “I hope it will be helpful if I set out the approach being taken to these decisions.

“The starting point is the measures currently in place. These are broadly equivalent to Level 3 in the central belt, and Level 2 elsewhere.

“Changes from these levels, whether up or down, need to be justified by the data, supported by public health advice and consistent with the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 Framework for Decision-Making.

“Because of the severity of the impact of the measures in the highest level, Level 4, Ministers will only consider using it if necessary.

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“The data currently indicate that level of concern for two areas: Level 4 is being considered for North and South Lanarkshire.

“There are, however, some signs in the latest data that the situation in those areas may be stabilising.

“Ministers will not reach a decision for these two areas until the latest possible point to ensure that they can take account of the fullest possible picture of the effect of measures already in place; but at this stage the use of Level 4 cannot be ruled out.

“If it was necessary, it would be used to avoid still greater harm, including many deaths.

“No changes are currently being considered in relation to other central belt areas. If that remains the case and is confirmed later this week, these areas would remain in Level 3 for the time being.

“There are some signs in the data of progress in the east of the central belt area, for example in Edinburgh and East Lothian, but some further consolidation of that progress is likely to be required before it would be safe, on public health grounds, to move them to Level 2.

“The data for Dundee City also gives cause for concern, with rising numbers of cases.

“Again, a final decision will be made on the basis of data becoming available in the next few days.

“Meantime, consideration is being given to moving Dundee City to Level 3 in the new framework, broadly equivalent to the measures currently in place in the central belt.

“Further consideration is also being given to the interaction between Dundee and neighbouring areas within the Tayside Health Board area.

“At this crucial stage in suppressing the virus, with higher case numbers, the winter approaching, and the introduction of a new strategic framework, the public health advice to Ministers is that it would not be safe to move any area straight to the lowest level, Level 0.”

By Local Democracy Reporter Joseph Anderson.


Fourteen charged over alleged paedophile ring in Glasgow

Nine men and five women make court appearances in connection with alleged child sex offences.

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Police have made 14 arrests in connection with alleged paedophile ring in Glasgow area.

Fourteen people have been arrested and charged in connection with an alleged paedophile ring operating in Glasgow.

Nine men and five women appeared in court over an 11-day period spanning from October 9-20.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We can confirm 14 people have been arrested and charged in connection with alleged child sexual offences in the Glasgow area.”

The charges are as follows:

  • A 36-year-old woman and 47-year-old man have been arrested and charged and were due to appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Friday, October, 9.
  • Five men aged 38, 42, 43, 47 and 54 have been arrested and charged and were due to appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Monday, October 12.
  • Three other women, aged 35, 49 and 48 have also been arrested and charged and were due to appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Tuesday, October 13.
  • A 50-year-old man has been arrested and charged and was due to appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Wednesday, October 14.
  • A 39-year-old woman and a 44-year-old man have been arrested and charged and were due to appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Thursday, October 15.
  • A 44-year-old man has been arrested and charged and was due to appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Tuesday, October, 20.

More than 1050 people in hospital with coronavirus

The First Minister confirmed the latest figures at the daily briefing.

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The number of patients in hospital with coronavirus has risen to 1052, as Scotland recorded more than 1000 new cases.

It’s a rise of 36, with 90 people receiving treatment in intensive care. Meanwhile, another person confirmed to have the virus has died.

The latest figures, which saw the country record 1122 positive test results, were revealed by the First Minister at the daily briefing.

The death toll under the measure of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days has risen to 2701.

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Of the new cases recorded, 428 were in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 274 in Lanarkshire, 105 in Lothian and 97 in Ayrshire and Arran.

Bar opens its doors to protest coronavirus lockdown rules

Buck's Bar in Glasgow handed out complimentary meals to people in need to highlight curbs on the hospitality sector.

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A Glasgow bar opened its premises in breach of local coronavirus lockdown rules to protest curbs on the hospitality sector.

The owners of Buck’s Bar in Glasgow handed out free meals to those in need on Monday.

The owner of the bar, located on the city’s West Regent Street, said he was inspired to protest the restrictions after being contacted by a nurse who works in an intensive care unit.

Michael Bergson said: “She basically told me the amount of admissions they were getting in through attempted suicide and overdoses was starting to eclipse the amount of Covid patients they were getting.

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“It made us realise the lack of social interaction is causing an incredible amount of damage and hospitality is vital to (easing) that.

“We hope the government will start to listen, to recognise all the measures the entire industry has put in place. We hope they’ll realise it doesn’t matter what you are – a cafe, a restaurant, a shop, a pub – if you have the correct safety measures in place you should be allowed to trade.”

Mr Bergson also called on the Scottish Government to review the restrictions associated with Level Three of the framework being debated at parliament on Tuesday, saying it is “completely unworkable for the hospitality industry”.

He said: “The three-tier system cause outrage in our industry in England, with Tier Two hospitalities generally complaining ‘we can’t make money’.

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“We seem to have made something that’s more draconian and even more restrictive. They need to start listening to the will of the people. You can see from the response we’ve had to this that the general public believe hospitality is being made a scapegoat and that is unfair.”

The protest comes after five hospitality industry bodies joined together to launch legal proceedings against the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Beer & Pub Association, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, UKHospitality (Scotland), Scottish Hospitality Group and Night Time Industries Association Scotland served notice of the action last Wednesday.

They say coronavirus restrictions imposed on the licensed trade sector have placed businesses under intense pressure and left many fighting for survival.

The trade bodies launched their action after receiving an opinion by legal expert Aidan O’Neill QC.

A deadline of 4pm on Wednesday, October 28 has been set for a response from the Scottish Government, with a petition for a judicial review being submitted if none is forthcoming.

Celtic financial results show impact of coronavirus on club

The Glasgow club posted a narrow pre-tax profit but saw revenue drop sharply.

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Celtic say their financial results are 'satisfactory'.

Celtic chairman Ian Bankier says the club must proceed and invest with a degree of caution after their latest financial results revealed the impact coronavirus has has on the club.  

For the year ending June 30, pre-tax profits fell to £100,000 from £11.2m the previous year.

Revenue dropped by 15.8% to £70.2m from £83.4m while operating expenses including wages fell 7.3% to £80.5m.

Celtic still have around £18m in the bank and revealed that they had increased their borrowing ability to £13m, which remains unused.

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Bankier said the pandemic and subsequent shutdown of football had unsurprisingly had “an adverse impact on operations and the balance sheet”.

He said the plunge in profits was “largely attributable to the value destructive impact” of the virus but said that: “Nevertheless, these results are satisfactory in the circumstances at hand.”

The club chairman said that Celtic’s strong financial position before the pandemic had offered “a degree of protection” but also warned that given the inherent uncertainty of the current environment, we must proceed and invest with a degree of caution. 

Though Celtic took in £24.2m over the financial year from player sales, the club spent £20.7m.

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Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell added to Bankier’s warnings.

He wrote: “The year ahead is unpredictable and Celtic are not immune to the extent of the challenges that we could face at many levels. Whilst we will continue to invest and not deviate from our strategy, we are also cognisant that we may have to endure the Covid-19 restrictions for longer than we would all hope and therefore must balance our desire to progress the club against long-term sustainability.

“The transfer market is likely to be unpredictable as clubs around Europe struggle to adapt and many of the key stakeholders in European football are expected to be inward facing and adopting defensive strategies.

“It is important that Celtic’s interests and that of Scotland’s are represented within European football and through my role at the European Club Association, I will continue to promote these interests.”

More on:

Father delivers baby daughter in nature reserve car park

Andrew Still delivered baby Eliza at Lochwinnoch Nature Reserve, which has been listed as her place of birth.

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Special delivery: Father delivered daughter at nature reserve.

A father who delivered his newborn baby in a nature reserve car park has listed it as his daughter’s official birthplace.

Andrew Still, 32, had to pull over on the way to the hospital and help wife Sara, 31, deliver baby Eliza as she began to emerge.

He stopped at Lochwinnoch Nature Reserve in Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire, where the baby was born and had to wrap her in a picnic blanket until medics arrived.

Baby Eliza, the couple’s second child, arrived safely weighing 5lbs 14oz and her proud parents even had the nature reserve put on her birth certificate.

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The pair said their hypnobirthing lessons helped during the dramatic delivery.

Stay-at-home father Andrew said: “It was a bit overwhelming. it’s something nobody expects to do.

“It’s still not really sunk in that it actually happened.

“With Covid going on there’s a lot of people we haven’t seen and are still telling people about it.

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“I think the hypnobirthing classes put us in a more settled state.”

The couple, from Largs, North Ayrshire, were on their way to Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, Renfrewshire, when Sara told Andrew to stop.

Sara said Andrew was tempted to “put the foot down” to make it to the hospital but stopped at the popular bird watching reserve and called an ambulance instead.

Civil servant Sara, also mum to Ezra, aged three, said the experience wasn’t traumatic and was glad it worked out the way it did.

Sara said: “My husband got our wee boy ready for nursery and we had breakfast but within half an hour I started getting contractions.

“I phoned Andrew and said ‘we’ve got to go to the hospital’.

“By the time we set off I told Andrew we weren’t going to make it and he’ll need to stop.

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“The temptation was there to put the foot down but he pulled over and phoned the ambulance.

“Andrew said he felt quite panicked but I thought he was good.

“In hindsight he’s so glad he did it.

“We only had picnic blankets and wrapped [Eliza] up until the ambulance crew arrived.

“It was quite peaceful. At that time in the morning nobody was around.

“It wasn’t traumatic, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“A lot of our friends have said their partners would have fainted if that was them.

“In the hypnobirthing he had a big part to play.

“I expected to be in hospital with everything around me but the hypnobirthing helped a lot with the birthing techniques and there’s a relaxation CD I listen to in the car.

An RSPB Lochwinnoch spokesman said: “We would like to share our congratulations once again with the family.

“It was great to meet all four when they returned to the reserve and we are delighted that mother and baby are doing well.”


Man in hospital with serious injuries following hit and run

The 32-year-old was struck by an unknown vehicle around 10.45 pm on Sunday in Dalshannon View, Cumbernauld.

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Injured: Man taken to hospital following hit and run.

A man has been seriously injured following a hit and run in North Lanarkshire.

The 32-year-old was struck by an unknown vehicle around 10.45 pm on Sunday in Dalshannon View, Cumbernauld. 

He was taken by ambulance to Glasgow Royal Infirmary with serious injuries.

Detective Constable Derek Wilson at Coatbridge CID said: “The young man sustained serious injuries and we are trying to establish the full circumstances surrounding the incident as well as trace the person responsible. 

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“We know that there were a number of people in the area at the time and ask that anyone who witnessed the incident or anyone who has dashcam footage of it to contact police immediately. 

“In particular we are very keen to speak to the occupants of a black coloured Hyundai Santa Fe and a blue/green Corsa that were seen in the area at the time. “

Anyone with information should contact Coatbridge CID via telephone number 101 quoting incident number 3902 of October 25. 

Alternatively calls can be made to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 where anonymity can be maintained.


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