Eight-foot halibut one of the largest fish caught in Scotland

The 130kg fish was bought for more than £1000 by a fishmonger in Edinburgh and will be cut into nearly 100 portions.

The giant fish was bought for more than £1000. SWNS via SWNS
The giant fish was bought for more than £1000.

A fishmonger bought this whopping eight-foot halibut which is one of the biggest to be caught in Scotland – tipping the scales at 130kg.

Landed by trawler, Aquarius, in the Atlantic off the Outer Hebrides, the massive halibut measured four feet wide.

The boat usually trawls for cod and haddock but the crew hit the jackpot when they caught the monster halibut, which weighed 130kg.

The giant fish was bought for more than £1000 by Armstrong’s Fishmongers in Stockbridge, Edinburgh, and will be cut into nearly 100 portions.

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Shop manager, Gary Huckle, 50, has worked in the industry for more than 35 years but said he has never seen anything like it before.

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The fish tips the scales at 130kg.

Mr Huckle, from Rosewell, Midlothian, said: “It’s 130kg of deadweight wild halibut, that must be one of the, if not the, biggest caught in Scotland.

“I’ve been a fishmonger for 35 years and I have never seen a halibut this size.

“I’ve done big fish before but this is off the scale.

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“It’s the biggest Scottish fish I have ever seen.

“We can’t fillet it because it’s got a big middle bone, we are cutting it into big halibut loins.

“We are in the process of cutting it up now but I think we will get 75kg out of that, you do get a bit of weight loss with halibut.”

Armstrong’s has a history of large halibut catches. In July 2017 it bought a 104kg caught by the Banff-registered Enterprise fishing boat near Rockall.

But the 130kg fish that arrived on Tuesday trumps the second biggest catch by nearly 30kg.

Mr Huckle and three other members of staff were pictured alongside the whopper to give an idea of the sheer scale of it.

He added: “It’s the biggest Scottish fish I have ever seen, it’s absolutely massive.”

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The largest halibut caught in Scottish waters – which weighed more than 134kg – was netted off Peterhead last August.


Scotland make winning start under new coach Martinez Losa

Erin Cuthbert and Martha Thomas score as Scotland kick off World Cup qualifying campaign with victory against Hungary.

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Erin Cuthbert opened the scoring in Budapest.

Scotland kicked off their World Cup qualifying campaign under new coach Pedro Martinez Losa with a convincing 2-0 win over Hungary in Budapest.

Erin Cuthbert and substitute Martha Thomas guaranteed a winning start under the Spaniard, who held his first training session with the squad four days ago.

And the Scots, who were without the retired Kim Little and the injured Caroline Weir, reacted well despite a brief scare in the opening period.

Cuthbert opened the scoring in the 17th minute when she fired home the rebound from her initial penalty, which had been saved by Hungarian goalkeeper Reka Szocs.

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Klaudia Kovacs hit the bar for the hosts, who began to grow in confidence without really managing to pressure the Scotland rearguard.

Martinez Losa made a series of changes in the second period, including the introduction of Thomas just past the hour mark in place of the experienced Jane Ross.

And Thomas’s introduction paid dividends as she effectively made sure of the points in the 73th minute when she rose to head home from a corner.

The Scots had late chances to add to their tally through the likes of Lana Clelland and Clair Emslie, but their performance will carry them into their next match, against group minnows the Faroe Islands at Hampden Park on Tuesday, in good heart.

Craig Russell wins top crime fiction prize for novel Hyde

Russell previously won the award in 2015 with The Ghosts Of Altona and is the first author to win the prize twice.

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Craig Russell won the McIlvanney Prize for his book Hyde.

Craig Russell has won the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish crime book of the year.

The best-selling author picked up the award – named in memory of the late Scottish novelist William McIlvanney – for his book Hyde.

Judges described the novel as having “a gothic background that draws you in and brings the reader back to the Scottish origins of Jekyll and Hyde’s creator, Robert Louis Stevenson”.

They said it was a “dark tale that was a delight and a thoroughly entertaining read”, showing that Scottish crime writing is “amongst the best in the world”.

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Russell previously won the award in 2015 with The Ghosts Of Altona and is the first author to win the prize twice.

He received the award at the Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival in Stirling’s Albert Halls.

Also honoured at the event was Robbie Morrison, who won the Debut Prize for his book Edge Of The Grave.

Judges described it as a “terrific debut novel, with a memorable cast of characters, which impressed the judges with its ambitious, authentic, deep dive into the Glasgow gangland and class divides of the 1930s”.

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Morrison was also a finalist for the McIlvanney Prize along with Emma Christie, Alan Parks and Stuart MacBride.

The winners were presented with a trophy by Raymond Davidson, chief executive and founder of Glencairn Crystal.

Closing NHS Louisa Jordan may be ‘one of the worst decisions’

The Scottish Government has asked for military support amid a crisis in ambulance waiting times.

NHS Louisa Jordan via Twitter
On March 31, the hospital was closed to allow preparations for COP26 to go ahead.

With a shortage of beds and ambulances queueing up across the west of Scotland, closing the NHS’s temporary emergency critical care hospital may be “one of the worst decisions” made during the pandemic, a GP has said.

The NHS Louisa Jordan was opened in April last year inside Glasgow’s Scottish Events Campus (SEC). It was not used to treat Covid-19 patients but it did host thousands of medical appointments and saw 370,000 vaccines administered.

On March 31, the hospital was closed to allow preparations for COP26 to go ahead, a decision that Dr John Montgomery, South Glasgow GP committee chair, said will come to be regretted.

“You’ve got an NHS that works, before the pandemic, at maximum capacity, then when you suddenly have the crisis of a global pandemic, you don’t have sufficient beds,” he told STV News.

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Ambulances queue outside A&E at Hairmyres Hospital
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“Ambulances can’t offload patients into hospital and waiting times for ambulances have hit crisis point.”

A patient in Dr Montgomery’s part of the city died at home after waiting for an ambulance 40 hours.

The First Minister apologised to those who had endured long waits for ambulances, including the family of Gerard Brown.

The Scottish Government has officially requested support from the military to deal with pressure in the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS).

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But as Scotland continues to have the highest level of coronavirus cases in the UK, Dr Montgomery said he and his colleagues have never been so afraid.

“I’ve been practising for over 30 years, this is the most fearful that we’ve ever been when it comes to the impending winter,” he said.

“We’ve dismantled the Louisa Jordan at a time when we actually need it. We need to offload patients into hospitals to free up the ambulances.

“The Louisa Jordan would have been ideal.”

Dr Montgomery said the current crisis is not only down to the pandemic, agreeing with the president of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh who said there was “a real workforce problem in the NHS and in social care”.

NHS Scotland via Email
NHS Louisa Jordan has been dismantled.

“We don’t have the number of GPs that we need to have to serve the population,” said the Glasgow GP.

“If there are not enough gatekeepers it’s going to have a knock-on effect up the line. It puts pressure on secondary care and the issues that flow from that.

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“The tragic ambulance cases are just a symptom of what’s going on and what potentially is coming ahead.”

The Ministry of Defence has said the Scottish Government request for aid is to support mobile testing units currently deployed by the SAS, which would free up resources in the service.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Louisa Jordan was a scheduled closure to allow preparations for COP26 to begin.

“Whilst our ambulance service, like all areas of our NHS, is facing the biggest challenges it has faced since its creation, people in emergency situations can always expect an ambulance.

“We continue to work closely with SAS to put in place a number of actions to increase their capacity

“Meanwhile, our NHS Recovery Plan, backed by over £1bn of funding, is supporting an increase in inpatient, daycase, and outpatient activity to address backlogs.”


Amber and green lists merge as international travel rules ‘simplified’

Scottish Government also cuts number of countries from which returning travellers are required to quarantine in a hotel.

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International travel: Scotland's 'traffic light system' is to be 'simplified'.

Scotland’s traffic light system for international travel is to be “simplified” and the number of countries from which returning travellers will be required to quarantine in a hotel is to be cut, the Scottish Government announced on Friday.

Green and amber classifications will merge from October 4 but the red list will be retained for those countries deemed to have high Covid-19 case rates or variants of concern.

And Scotland will not follow the UK Government’s decision to ease testing rules.

Those arriving north of the border will still be required to take a pre-departure test before returning – including from non-red list destinations – even if they are fully vaccinated.

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The Scottish Government will also not follow their UK counterparts in allowing vaccinated travellers to replace the day two PCR test with a cheaper lateral flow test from the end of October.

Current amber list rules – which allow fully vaccinated people to avoid isolating – will be the default for non-red list countries.

Transport secretary Michael Matheson said the changes to the system recognise “the success of global vaccination programmes”.

He said: “This is a major step but one with sensible safeguards built in recognising the success of the Scottish Government’s vaccination programme.

“The expansion of the eligible vaccinated traveller policy combined with the changes to the traffic light system will provide a welcome boost to Scotland’s tourism industry.

“However, we have concerns that the UK Government’s proposals to remove the requirement for a pre-departure test for some travellers will weaken our ability to protect the public health of Scotland’s communities. While we want to maintain a four nations approach to these matters, we need to consider urgently their implications.”

The number of countries recognised in the eligible vaccinated traveller policy (currently only UK, EU/EFTA and USA), is being expanded to recognise countries where vaccine certification meets appropriate standards.

The 17 countries added to the policy from October 4 are: Canada, Australia, Israel, New Zealand, Singapore, Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Brunei, Taiwan, Dominica, Japan, South Korea, Qatar, Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

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Furthermore, Bangladesh, Egypt, Kenya, the Maldives, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Turkey will be removed from the red list at 4am on September 22.

The Scottish Government recently relaxed rules, allowing people travelling from non-red list countries to choose from a variety of private test providers.

Derek Provan, chief executive of AGS Airports Ltd, which owns Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports, said Friday’s reforms are “significant” but long overdue.

He said: “Today’s announcement to overhaul international travel rules may be significant, but the reforms detailed today are what we have been urging the UK Government to implement for months.

“The outgoing traffic light system was both costly and confusing. Not only did the data show it to be ineffective in terms of protecting public health or detecting variants of concern, but it has been extremely damaging to our industry which has been on the brink for the last 18 months.

“It was inconceivable to think 2021 would be worse than 2020 for aviation, however, that is the reality. Now that progress is being made to strip away the layers of complexity associated with international travel, we urge the Scottish Government to adopt a four-nations approach without delay.

“Moving forward we need government to work with the industry to help rebuild passenger confidence and, more importantly, restore the connectivity we have lost.”

A spokesman for Edinburgh airport criticised the Scottish Government’s “decision to diverge yet again and further curtail Scotland’s aviation and travel industries in their recovery”.

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He said: “We are now the most restrictive country in Europe yet there is no justification or health benefit to retaining testing measures, something clinical professionals and experts have themselves said.

“This is great news for airports in Manchester and Newcastle – passengers will now travel there to avoid expensive tests and save around £100 per person, taking money out of Scotland’s economy and threatening our airline capacity.”

He added: “This will harm our recovery, impact on Scotland’s economy and cost jobs and livelihoods across the country.

“It now seems the economy boosting step previously referred to will benefit England rather than Scotland.”

Vaccinators get set to bid farewell to Caird Hall after 135,000 jabs

NHS Tayside staff are now preparing to move on to the next stage of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

NHS Tayside via Email
Caird Hall: NHS Tayside staff are now preparing to move on to the next stage of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

After eight months and 135,000 jabs, vaccinators are preparing to bid farewell to Dundee’s Caird Hall.

The final session will be held on Monday.

NHS Tayside announced the move on Friday now that all adults in the region have been offered both doses of a vaccine.

Staff are now preparing to move on to the next stage of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, which includes vaccinations for those aged 12-15 as well as booster and seasonal flu jabs.

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Drop-ins will continue at local venues in communities across Dundee for anyone who is eligible and who hasn’t yet had their first or second vaccine.

The vaccination team will then move to a new city centre venue for the wider seasonal flu and Covid booster vaccination programme.

Grant Archibald, the health board’s chief executive, said the venue had been an important part of the programme.

He said: “I want to thank every single person who has been involved in this.

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“From our vaccinators, administrative and support staff, security and marshal teams, to colleagues in Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership, Dundee City Council, Leisure and Culture Dundee and the armed forces, it has been a fantastic example of partnership working to get the venue set up and deliver a programme of this scale.

“A huge thank you also goes to everyone who has attended the centre, come rain or shine, and rolled up their sleeves to get vaccinated.”

Dr Daniel Chandler, associate director of public health, said the programme has been a “great success” with more than 600,000 vaccines delivered across the region with “very high levels of uptake”, particularly amongst the older and more vulnerable groups.

He added: “As we move into the next phase we will continue to make vaccination as accessible as we can by continuing to offer drop-in sessions at community venues across the city while we get our new Dundee vaccination centre set up. 

“I would encourage anyone who has not yet been vaccinated to take up the opportunity and head down to the Caird Hall this weekend, or to one of our pop-up clinics, and get the jab.”

For details of drop-ins taking place across Tayside, click here

University branches out with outdoor learning for future teachers

Queen Margaret University says it is revising the way it teaches life lessons.

STV News

Queen Margaret University has been branching out with its first year teaching students with outdoor lessons.

And the university says it is revising the way it teaches life lessons and is looking to impart the skills it takes to teach outside.

Lecturer Patrick Boxall is hopeful the teachings will have a ripple effect as the students go on to teach all over the globe.

He said: “This is more than learning about learning outdoors, it’s about learning full stop. And if we can build the agency of people to take control of their own learning, to be creative, to make meaning for themselves and others, that’s going to have massive impact in the future.

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“Students will go off to the many corners of the world and will have impact in the future.

“I can see this having a ripple effect, sending out branches and seedlings into the future.”

That future will lie in a new outdoor learning hub at the uni’s Musselburgh campus and giving the next generation of teachers the skills and resources to think outside the classroom.

Student Latifah Johnson said: “I feel like that’s how I would like to be as an educator when I’m older and once I have finished university.

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“Being able to teach people ways and different styles, because not everyone’s good at just reading and writing and just picking up things from just reading it in a book, they’d rather draw something or go outside and like learn things by nature.”

And following the last 18 months and a disrupted learning style, the students are grateful for an alternative.

Anna Murray said: “It’s just brilliant to be outside because you’re always stuck on a laptop screen and you don’t see anyone from your course and it’s lovely to be outside.”

The space will also be available to other schools and communities from across the country and is designed to connect more with nature.

Danny Hunter, from Architecture and Design Scotland, said: “A big driver for us in the collaboration with QMU was the fact that outdoor forest spaces are fantastic but a lot of schools across Scotland are very urban – they’re city centre-based.

“They don’t have access to these type of spaces, so part of the collaboration is about creating outdoor learning environments on the campus.”


Motherwell’s Van Veen hopes to spoil Rangers’ title party

The champions will unfurl the Premiership flag before Sunday's match.

Craig Foy via SNS Group
Kevin van Veen believes he can cause Rangers trouble at Ibrox.

Motherwell striker Kevin van Veen feels playing in front of 50,000 at Ibrox can bring the best out of him as he recalled giving Chelsea a fright at Stamford Bridge.

Van Veen was part of a Scunthorpe side that lost 2-0 against a side featuring the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Pedro and Diego Costa six seasons ago. But he should have had a penalty when Ramires tripped him, and he almost caught out Asmir Begovic with an ambitious free-kick.

Motherwell take on Rangers on Sunday after the home side hoist the league title flag in a ceremony delayed from the opening day, and Covid restrictions mean there will be no visiting fans inside Ibrox.

But van Veen believes he can thrive in the hostile atmosphere.

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The Dutchman said: “The last big one was the FA Cup with Scunthorpe against Chelsea away so that was quite a big game too. This is going to be something similar or even bigger.

“Chelsea put their strongest team out. I played left wing and I actually had one of the best games in my career on the left wing, against (Branislav) Ivanovic. I should have had a penalty and I hit the post.

“I do feel I am really looking forward to these type of games. I feel it brings the best out in me and hopefully I can show on Sunday that I can be on the level to threaten and be dangerous and creative even against Rangers, just play my own game, work hard for my team-mates and hopefully get a good result.”

Van Veen, who netted his second goal in three league starts against Aberdeen last weekend, added: “It’s a big test, everyone knows how good they are. We are in good form, we played quite well on Saturday and didn’t give much away. Hopefully we can defend well as a team and going forward we can be an attacking threat.”

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The talented former Northampton player has spoken of how he is motivated to get fans off their seats, but he will be looking to silence the crowd on Sunday.

“Personally, I love to ruin a title party,” he said. “That would be good but it’s going to be really tough. We really need to be on top of our game, every single one of us, we need to be at the top of our game and even a little bit more, to get a good result there.”


Woman found after disappearance sparks police search

Florence Brooke, 24, had been reported missing from the Quarrywood Road area of Glasgow at around 2pm on Tuesday.

Police Scotland
Found: Florence Brooke has been traced.

A woman whose disappearance sparked a police search has been found.

Florence Brooke, 24, was reported missing from the Quarrywood Road area of Glasgow at around 2pm on Tuesday.

On Friday, a Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We are pleased to report that Florence has now been traced.

“Thank you to everyone who shared our information.”


Martindale hopeful Livingston can extend record against Celtic

Livingston haven't lost at home to Celtic since being promoted in 2018.

Ross Parker via SNS Group
Martindale doesn't think Celtic will enjoy playing on the plastic surface at Livingston.

Livingston manager David Martindale says he’ll look to use every advantage he can find to get a result against Celtic on Sunday – and extend a proud record in the process.

Celtic haven’t won at the Tony Macaroni Arena since Livingston were promoted to the top flight in 2018, and Martindale is hoping that Ange Postecoglou suffers the same frustration as his predecessors when the teams meet on Sunday.

The Livi boss says he knows the artificial pitch at the stadium isn’t popular with visiting players and hopes that continues.

“I think you’ve had Brendan Rodgers and Neil Lennon here [who failed to win],” he said. “It’s a nice stat to have.

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“Let’s be honest, the calibre of player that Celtic can afford to put on the field, I don’t think they like playing on the plastic surface.”

Celtic are much changed under new boss Postecoglou, with a raft of new players in the side. Martindale has been impressed with the attacking intent of the side but will take on the challenge of trying to outwit the Australian.

He said: “I think you can see Ange has put his blueprint to the team and you can see his style of football.

“They’re a very entertaining football team and very good coming forward. I don’t expect anything less going into our game.

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“It’s always tough no matter who you’re playing with the Old Firm and no matter who the manager is. You’ve got to try and find a way to win that game of football and coming up against Ange and a new Celtic team is not any different.”

Celtic go into the game after suffering a 4-3 defeat to Real Betis in the Europa League on Thursday and Martindale believes it’s another factor that could be in his side’s favour as they look to upset the odds once again.

“Within these four walls we’re expecting to go and try and pick points up on Sunday,” he said. “I’ve got to go and try to use every advantage I’ve got.

“The park is obviously horrific, which helps us.

“They’ve played a hard European game and from my point of view the game went very well in our favour because it was a really difficult game for Celtic. Albeit I thought they were very, very good in moments in the game.

“But the way the game went you could see they were putting everything into it and there was a lot of energy. So I don’t know if they travelled back late Thursday night or today but all these factors can help us going into Sunday’s fixture.”


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