Plans unveiled for £3.2m harbour development on Skye

Safe, sheltered berths and basic amenities lined up for Staffin Slipway.

Staffin Slipway is set for an overhaul. Staffin Community Trust via Contributed
Staffin Slipway is set for an overhaul.

Ambitious plans for a £3.2m harbour development on Skye have been unveiled.

Upgrading Staffin Slipway has been a local priority for some time to provide safe, sheltered berths and basic amenities such as water, power and storage facilities.

Staffin Community Trust secured a £969,000 grant last year to build a new breakwater, upgrade the existing pier and install pontoons, and increase parking.

Work is now progressing towards planning and marine licence applications later this year.

A project team led by Affric Limited is showcasing details.

Trust director Donald MacDonald said: “Since the trust was formed in 1993, there have been three consultation exercises to ascertain what key projects the community wished to see delivered.

“The redevelopment of the slipway was the top priority by far.

“This vital upgrade will make the harbour safer, provide jobs, create opportunities for local business development as well as being an important economic and social driver for the community.”

A new breakwater would create a sheltered haven that could be used by local and visiting boats, all year round.

A new slipway, built over the existing one, would be longer and wider. The gradient would be steeper to make it easier to launch and recover boats.

Residents have been invited to respond to the proposals which have been presented online.


Edinburgh Castle gun salute marks Prince Philip’s death

Saluting batteries fired 41 rounds in cities across the UK following the Duke of Edinburgh's death at the age of 99.

WPA POOL/POOL via Getty Images

Gun salutes have been fired at Edinburgh Castle to mark the death of the Duke of Edinburgh at the age of 99.

Saluting batteries began firing 41 rounds at one round every minute from midday on Saturday in cities across the UK including London, Cardiff and Belfast, as well as from Royal Navy warships.

Ships taking part included HMS Diamond, HMS Montrose and HMNB Portsmouth, while the Royal Gibraltar Regiment joined the salute from the British overseas territory, the Ministry of Defence said.

Buckingham Palace said Philip died peacefully in his sleep at Windsor Castle on Friday, two months before his 100th birthday, leaving the Queen and the royal family “mourning his loss”.

The public were encouraged to observe the gun salutes, which are fired to mark significant national events, on television or online, rather than gathering in crowds to watch outside.

Edward and the Countess of Wessex spent around an hour at the castle and Sophie told reporters “the Queen has been amazing” as they left Windsor in a Land Rover.

Two of his sons, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex, arrived at Windsor Castle on Saturday morning, while the Prince of Wales visited his mother there on Friday.

Details of the duke’s funeral, due to take place at St George’s Chapel, are also expected to be released this weekend – but the ongoing lockdown in England will affect plans.

Philip, famously described by the Queen as her “constant strength and guide”, was known to have wanted a minimum of fuss at his funeral.

Buckingham Palace said: “During the coronavirus pandemic, and in light of current Government advice and social distancing guidelines, modified funeral and ceremonial arrangements for His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh are being considered by Her Majesty The Queen. Details will be confirmed in due course.”

Speaking on a BBC tribute on Friday evening, all four of Philip’s children remembered him as someone who had encouraged and supported them.

Charles described his father’s life as an “astonishing achievement” while Edward said his father had a “challenging role” but carried it out with the most “extraordinary flare”, and had never tried to overshadow the Queen.

The Princess Royal said she would best remember her father as “always being there”, someone to help with a problem or bounce ideas off, and the Duke of York recalled Philip reading to the family in the evenings.

An online book of condolence was opened on the royal family’s official website for the public to post personal tributes, while a steady stream of mourners left flowers outside both Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle on Friday.

The Palace asked members of the public not to gather in crowds, saying: “Those wishing to express their condolences are asked to do so in the safest way possible, and not to gather at Royal Residences.”

The monarch may give a televised address in memory of her husband of more than 70 years – the longest-serving consort in British history – but details of any possible broadcast have yet to be confirmed.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Philip would be remembered for his Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, that had “shaped and inspired the lives of countless young people”, as well as his “steadfast support” for the Queen.

US President Joe Biden highlighted the duke’s “decades of devoted public service”, Second World War service and environmental efforts in remembering his legacy.

During coronavirus lockdowns, Philip stayed at Windsor Castle with the Queen for their safety, alongside a reduced household of staff dubbed HMS Bubble.

The couple are thought to have spent more time together during the past 12 months, shielding from the virus, then they would in a normal year – a throwback to the early years of their marriage.

Philip had returned to Windsor Castle on March 16 to be reunited with the Queen after spending a month in hospital – his longest ever stay.

He initially received care for an infection but then underwent heart surgery for a pre-existing condition.

Union flags were flown at half mast at all royal residences as a mark of respect and Westminster Abbey – where the Queen and Philip married in 1947 – tolled its tenor bell once every 60 seconds, 99 times, during Friday evening.

A period of mourning is expected and any planned official royal events that fall within this period are likely to be postponed.

The Cabinet met at 5pm on Friday to pay tribute to the duke, and Parliament will be recalled from its Easter recess on Monday, a day earlier than its scheduled return.

Army regiment plays key role in Prince Philip gun salute

Reservists from 105 Regiment Royal Artillery at heart of tribute marking Duke of Edinburgh's life in the capital on Saturday.

STV News

Military reservists involved in Saturday’s gun salute marking the Duke of Edinburgh’s life have spoken of their pride at being involved in the historic event.

Saluting batteries began firing 41 rounds at one round every minute from midday on Saturday in cities across the UK including London, Cardiff and Belfast, as well as from Royal Navy warships.

Jenny Findlay, a bombardier with 105 Regiment Royal Artillery, said: “It’s a big moment, it’s a sad moment, (I’m) feeling for the Royal Family, it’s a member of their family that they have lost but, yeah, proud to be a part of the moment.”

“A lot of drill goes into it, a lot of practice and preparation – I know that a lot goes on behind the scenes that we as reservists don’t always see as well; a lot of kit fittings, checks, they get done really regularly and just constant keeping on top of things.”

Jenny, who is also a mobile services manager with NHS WestMARC, added: “It’s been a busy wee while; the patients are still needing service and keeping going.”

Buckingham Palace said Prince Philip died peacefully in his sleep at Windsor Castle on Friday, two months before his 100th birthday, leaving the Queen and the royal family “mourning his loss”.

The public were encouraged to observe the gun salutes, which are fired to mark significant national events, on television or online, rather than gathering in crowds to watch outside.

Mike Frew, senior permanent staff instructor at 105 Regiment Royal Artillery, was also involved in Saturday’s tribute in Edinburgh.

He said: “I was the troop sargeant major, making sure rehearsals were going fine and marching the troops on and off of the salute itself, and also the timekeepers – I was telling them when to fire.

“It’s an absolute honour to take part in a ceremony like this, it’s such a prestigious thing firing at the castle itself but that did have a bit of additional weight to it, just to make sure we gave the correct send-off that was required.”

Charles pays tribute to ‘dear Papa’ as funeral details announced

Buckingham Palace announced that Philip’s ceremonial royal funeral will take place on April 17.

Andrew Milligan via PA Media
Duke of Edinburgh: Funeral to take place on April 17.

The Prince of Wales has paid a moving tribute to his “dear Papa” – highlighting his “remarkable, devoted service to the Queen” – as details of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral were released.

Buckingham Palace announced that Philip’s ceremonial royal funeral will take place on April 17 in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, and a national minute’s silence will be observed as it begins at 3pm.

The royal funeral like no other, with the Queen and her family following guidelines and wearing face masks and socially distancing as they gather to say their final farewell.

Speaking from his Gloucestershire home of Highgrove on behalf of the royal family, Charles said: “I particularly wanted to say that my father, for I suppose the last 70 years, has given the most remarkable, devoted service to the Queen, to my family and to the country, but also to the whole of the Commonwealth.”

He added: “As you can imagine, my family and I miss my father enormously,” and said he would be “deeply touched” by the people around the world sharing “our loss and our sorrow”.

The prince said: “My dear Papa was a very special person who I think above all else would have been amazed by the reaction and the touching things that have been said about him, and from that point of view we are, my family, deeply grateful for all that.

“It will sustain us in this particular loss and at this particularly sad time.”

The duke’s coffin will be transported from the castle to the chapel in a specially modified Land Rover he helped to design, and followed by the Prince of Wales and senior royals on foot, a Palace official said.

The Queen has approved the Prime Minister’s recommendation of national mourning, which began on April 9 and runs until and including the day of the funeral.

Only 30 people – expected to be the Duke’s children, grandchildren and other close family – will attend as guests, but the Duchess of Sussex has been advised by her physician not to travel to the UK for the funeral, a Palace spokesman said.

It is understood Meghan made every effort to be able to travel with Harry, who will be among the mourners, but has not received the medical clearance to board a plane.

Originally 800 people would have been due to gather to pay their respects to the nation’s longest serving consort, but Philip is known to have wanted a low key affair.

All public elements of the funeral have been cancelled, it will be televised but take place entirely in the grounds of the castle, the Palace said.

The Queen has decided the royal family will enter two weeks of royal mourning, and engagements will continue appropriate to the circumstances, a senior royal official said.

Public elements of Operation Forth Bridge – the codename for the duke’s funeral plans – were abandoned for fear of drawing crowds including the long held arrangements for military processions through London and Windsor.

Instead, the proceedings will take place entirely in the grounds of Windsor Castle, televised, but away from public view and with no access for royal fans.

The public has been told not to attempt to attend any events in connection to funeral in newly issued Government guidance.

The Cabinet Office reiterated a plea for flowers not to be left at royal residences and advised businesses they may wish to make arrangements to observe the national minute’s silence at 3pm that day.

Firms were not expected to close, and organisers of sporting events were told it is their decision whether fixtures should continue as planned.

The duke died peacefully in his sleep at Windsor Castle on Friday, two months before his 100th birthday, leaving the Queen and the royal family “mourning his loss”.

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award: Prince Philip’s greatest legacy

The DofE became one of the best known self-development and adventure schemes for young people.

Pool / Pool via Getty Images
Prince Philip attends the reception for The Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award holders at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is likely to be judged Prince Philip’s greatest legacy.

Aimed at both able-bodied and disabled youngsters, it became one of the best known self-development and adventure schemes for 14 to 24-year-olds.

The duke was inspired to start the programme by his headmaster, Dr Kurt Hahn, and his much-loved school days at Gordonstoun in Moray.

He was closely involved in the organisation throughout and defended it against accusations that it was an award only for the middle classes.

2016 saw the scheme celebrate its 60th anniversary.

Despite his part in its success, Philip was always modest about his role.

He once maintained that he “couldn’t care less” whether the scheme was seen as an important part of his legacy.

“Legacy? … It’s got nothing to do with me. It’s there for people to use. I couldn’t care less,” he barked.

He added: “It’s relevant too because it’s part of the process of growing up.”

Influential Gordonstoun head Dr Hahn had believed modern life was facing a decline in enterprise and compassion and encouraged boys to embrace physical and moral challenges.

His Salem school in Germany, which Philip briefly attended, was set up to produce self-reliant young people dedicated to serving the community.

But in 1933 Adolf Hitler intervened and Dr Hahn was arrested for resisting Nazi ideas.

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The award ward is likely to be judged Prince Philip’s greatest legacy.

He was later released and came to Britain and founded the UK version of Salem – Gordonstoun.

Dr Hahn began a scheme there called the Moray Badge which was aimed at giving post-war youngsters in Britain a sense of achievement.

Twenty years later, after Philip had married Princess Elizabeth and she had become Queen, it was the duke’s turn to take the concept further.

Dr Hahn reportedly instructed him: “My boy, I want you to set up an award scheme like the one we had at Gordonstoun.”

For Philip, the process was not as straightforward as that.

A number of politicians were wary about the proposed title for the scheme – the Royal Badge.

Others had concerns about a prince with German family connections being involved in the development of youngsters in post-war Britain and some feared that what he was trying to set up would have some echoes of the Hitler Youth.

But the idea moved forward despite the reservations.

An activity-based County Badge Scheme was created, then a committee was set up which included four-minute mile athlete Roger Bannister.

Finally, in 1956, the project was launched with the Duke as patron.

Initially, it was aimed at offering young men activities to complete between leaving education and starting National Service.

In 1958, a girls’ scheme began.

Philip recalled how he thought he was being “progressive” by starting up the girls’ organisation separately, but years later was told by the Equal Opportunities Commission that they had to do the same as the boys.

He said it was hard persuading the girls to part with their scheme. “They had become rather attached to it by then,” he remarked.

Each award had four areas: Rescue & Public Service, Expeditions, Pursuits & Projects, and Fitness.

Later the sections were updated to their current form: Volunteering, Skills, Physical and Expedition.

There are three levels of award: Bronze, Silver and Gold, each with an increasing degree of commitment. The activities must be completed by the participant’s 25th birthday.

The millions of people that have taken part over the last 50 years include polar adventurer David Hempleman-Adams, presenter Zoe Ball and Olympic gold medal-winning athlete Dame Kelly Holmes.

Now since 1956, more than six million have joined the scheme in the UK with over three million achieving awards.

Millions of others have taken part across the globe, with more than 140 countries and territories running DofE programmes.

The Earl of Wessex, who is expected to take on his father’s responsibilities with the scheme, is already a trustee and heavily involved in the organisation.

In October 2013, the duke celebrated the 500th Gold Award presentation ceremony.

He joked with one group who told him of the hardships of their expedition: “You were meant to suffer, it’s good for the soul.”

Scottish Cup ties at risk after Duke’s funeral date confirmed

Buckingham Palace announced that Philip’s ceremonial royal funeral will take place on April 17.

Craig Williamson via SNS Group
The Scottish FA has begun discussions over the fourth round ties.

The Scottish FA has said that it has begun dialogue over next week’s Scottish Cup ties after Buckingham Palace announced details of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.

The funeral is to take place on Saturday, April 17 at 3pm.

The fourth round of the Scottish Cup is scheduled to take place next weekend, with one lunchtime game, four 3pm matches and Celtic and Rangers due to kick off at 4pm.

Those games are now open to a change of date and time.

A Scottish FA statement read: “In light of confirmation that the funeral of HRH Prince Philip will take place next Saturday at 3pm, we have entered dialogue with the relevant stakeholders with regard to Scottish Cup Fourth Round fixtures scheduled on that day. 

“We will update participating clubs, supporters and partners in due course.”


Final farewell to Duke of Edinburgh set for April 17

Buckingham Palace announced that Philip’s ceremonial royal funeral will take place on April 17.

STV News
Philip: Funeral to take place next Saturday.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s final farewell will be a royal funeral like no other, with the Queen and her family following guidelines and wearing face masks and socially distancing as they gather to pay tribute.

Buckingham Palace announced that Philip’s ceremonial royal funeral will take place on April 17 in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, and a national minute’s silence will be observed as it begins at 3pm.

The duke’s coffin will be transported from the castle to the chapel in a specially modified Land Rover he helped to design, and followed by the Prince of Wales and senior royals on foot, a senior Palace official said.

The Queen has approved the Prime Minister’s recommendation of national mourning, which began on April 9 and runs until and including the day of the funeral.

Only 30 people – expected to be the Duke’s children, grandchildren and other close family – will attend as guests, but the Duchess of Sussex has been advised by her physician not to travel to the UK for the funeral, a Palace spokesman said.

It is understood Meghan made every effort to be able to travel with Harry, who will be among the mourners, but has not received the medical clearance to board a plane.

Originally 800 people would have been due to gather to pay their respects to the nation’s longest serving consort, but Philip is known to have wanted a low key affair.

All public elements of the funeral have been cancelled, it will be televised but take place entirely in the grounds of the castle, the Palace said.

The Queen has decided the royal family will enter two weeks of royal mourning, and engagements will continue appropriate to the circumstances, a senior royal official said.

Public elements of Operation Forth Bridge – the codename for the duke’s funeral plans – were abandoned for fear of drawing crowds including the long held arrangements for military processions through London and Windsor.

Instead, the proceedings will take place entirely in the grounds of Windsor Castle, televised, but away from public view and with no access for royal fans.

Boris Johnson will not attend the service to allow for the attendance of as many family members as possible during coronavirus restrictions.

The Prime Minister was understood to have been expected to attend the ceremony for Philip by the royals, but offered to step aside with the number of guests allowed limited to 30.

It will be unlike typical royal send-offs, with the public being told to stay away because of the pandemic.

A No 10 spokesman said: “As a result of the Coronavirus regulations, only 30 people can attend the funeral of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

“The Prime Minister has throughout wanted to act in accordance with what is best for the royal household, and so to allow for as many family members as possible will not be attending the funeral on Saturday”.

The public has been told not to attempt to attend any events in connection to funeral in Government guidance.

The Cabinet Office reiterated a plea for flowers not to be left at royal residences and advised businesses they may wish to make arrangements to observe the national minute’s silence at 3pm that day.

Firms were not expected to close, and organisers of sporting events were told it is their decision whether fixtures should continue as planned.

The duke died peacefully in his sleep at Windsor Castle on Friday, two months before his 100th birthday, leaving the Queen and the royal family “mourning his loss”.

The Earl and the Countess of Wessex spent around an hour with the Queen at the castle on Saturday, with a tearful Sophie telling reporters as she left: “The Queen has been amazing.”

The Duke of York also arrived at Windsor on Saturday, while the Prince of Wales visited his mother there on Friday.

Gun salutes have been fired across the UK, in Gibraltar and at sea in tribute to the duke.

‘Let me travel abroad for life-changing treatment’

Emma Pratt says current coronavirus restrictions are stopping her from accessing stem cell treatment abroad.

STV News

Emma Pratt was a fit and healthy 25-year-old, when she suddenly lost her sight. 

Doctors quickly diagnosed her with multiple sclerosis, a lifelong condition that affects the brain and nerves. 

Emma’s sight returned but she has been left with permanent disabilities that affect her everyday life.

Despite worsening symptoms, she doesn’t meet the criteria to receive stem cell treatment in Scotland, even though it could slow the progression of her condition. 

Instead, Emma is looking to have treatment abroad but is prevented from travelling due to the pandemic.

“The flights are booked because, regardless of the rules, I know I have to do this now,” she says. “So we will figure it out, but it’s the unknown which makes it very scary. 

“Because of Covid, I haven’t been able to do bric-a-brac sales and ask people to run marathons for me [to raise money]. Literally asking for people’s help has been the only thing we’ve been able to do.”

It has now been ten years since her diagnosis, but Emma has found it impossible to come to terms with.

“I don’t think it ever really sets in,” she says. “I live every day as it comes because I don’t know how my symptoms are going to be.

“Even the simple things like pushing [my son Rory] on a swing and taking him for a walk and running races in the garden and hours of hide and seek… 

“Those are the things that a three-year-old wants to do with mummy, and it’s hard to not be able to do those things.”

STV News
David Balmer is currently unable to access MND treatment in Mexico.

Fundraising is something 41-year-old David Balmer is also finding difficult.

The father-of-two was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2019 and now struggles to speak, so his sister Lynsay helps to communicate his thoughts.

“There was one drug offered that gives you, well so they say, an extra three months on top of your diagnosis,” she says. He said ‘no way’, we weren’t accepting that.”

Despite many obstacles, David made it to Mexico last October for experimental stem cell treatment.

“It was totally beneficial, it was worth it,” says Lynsay. “And he’s now needing to go back for follow-up treatment, but it’s causing more difficulties and more problems again. 

“Time is something that we don’t really have, you need to do things quickly.”

Raising funds for the treatment has also been made difficult for David, but he’s not giving up hope.

Lynsay says: “He’s saying without his family and the people behind him that he wouldn’t be here, but he’s very strong.”

There are exemptions to the current travel and quarantine restrictions, but David and Emma don’t meet the criteria. They feel this needs to change.

The Scottish Government said: “We understand the difficulties faced with those who are dealing with health issues, but to manage the risk of importing new variants and to give vaccine deployment the best chance of bringing us closer to normality these limits on international travel are necessary.

“There is a provision that an exemption can be granted to a person whom Scottish ministers consider requires exceptional arrangements to be made on compassionate grounds. 

“It would be preferable for all concerned if any such exemption were applied for and confirmed or denied in advance of travel, to remove uncertainty.”

Former Big Brother contestant Nikki Grahame dies aged 38

Grahame appeared on the seventh series of the reality TV show in 2006.

Jeff Spicer via Getty Images
Nikki Grahame: Former Big Brother star dead at 38.

Reality TV star Nikki Grahame, who rose to fame as a contestant on Big Brother, has died aged 38.

A statement from her representative said: “It is with immeasurable sadness that Nikki Grahame passed away in the early hours of Friday 9th April 2021.

“Please respect the privacy of Nikki’s friends and family at this tragic and difficult time.”

Grahame, originally from Northwood in London, appeared on the seventh series of the reality TV show in 2006, and despite finishing fifth became one of its most recognisable characters.

She subsequently secured her own show, Princess Nikki, won a National Television Award and published two books, the autobiographies Dying To Be Thin and Fragile.

Grahame had recently received treatment for an eating disorder at a specialist clinic following a fundraising campaign organised by friends and fans.

A statement on the Gofundme.com page said: “It is with great sadness, we have to let you know that our dear friend Nikki passed away in the early hours of Friday 9th April.

“It breaks our hearts to know that someone who is so precious was taken from us at such a young age. Nikki not only touched the lives of millions of people, but also her friends and family who will miss her immensely.

“We would like to request privacy at this difficult time, while Nikki’s friends and family process the sad news.

“Full details will be released as and when we know them.”

Prior to finding fame on Big Brother, Grahame, then an aspiring actress, appeared as an extra in the BBC soap opera EastEnders and played a footballer’s wife in Sky One’s Dream Team.

She also appeared as a contestant on ITV dating show Blind Date and competed in the 2004 Miss Hertfordshire pageant.

After entering the Big Brother house dressed as a Playboy bunny, Grahame became known for her temper tantrums and Diary Room histrionics, including an infamous “who is she?” rant.

She formed an unlikely relationship with the show’s eventual winner Pete Bennett, but their romance ended a month after they left the house.

Nikki was evicted on day 58, but went back into the house after the remaining contestants picked her to return. She eventually finished in fifth place.

After Big Brother, she bagged her own reality show, Princess Nikki, which saw her attempt to keep various jobs.

She also appeared on Celebrity Scissorhands, 8 Out Of 10 Cats and The Weakest Link, and a Channel 4 poll named her the 12th most “written about” person of 2006 in the UK.

Grahame chronicled her battle with anorexia in the book Dying To Be Thin.


Coronavirus: Four new deaths and 281 cases in last 24 hours

Official figures show that there were a total of 281 new cases of Covid-19 in the country.

BlenderTimer via Pixabay
Coronavirus.

Four coronavirus deaths have been recorded in Scotland in the past 24 hours.

Official figures also show that there were a total of 281 new cases of Covid-19 in the country.

More than 10,000 deaths have been registered in Scotland since the start of the pandemic last year.

And, as of Saturday, 2,643,524 people have received the first dose of the Covid vaccination and over half a million have received their second dose.

From 22,183 new tests that reported results on Friday – 1.5% were positive.

Scotland’s national clinical director Jason Leitch received his first dose of the vaccine on Friday.

And he urged everyone else to take theirs when offered.

On thanking NHS staff administrating the jag he said: “From invention, research, manufacture, procurement and distribution to my arm. I am enormously grateful.”


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