Transgender reforms ‘can be completed before 2021 election’

Scottish ministers are 'determined' to press ahead with proposals despite a backlash from within their own party.

Plans to make it easier and quicker for people to change their gender could be approved before next year’s election, the cabinet secretary responsible for the reforms has said.

Shirley-Anne Somerville said the Scottish Government is “determined” to press ahead with the controversial proposals, which include removing the requirement to provide medical evidence to a panel before you can switch gender.

The draft legislation would also lower the minimum age of applicants from 18 to 16, and reduce the time an applicant has to spend in their new gender before being legally recognised from two years to six months.

Speaking to STV’s Scotland Tonight, with around a month to go of a public consultation on the government’s plans, Somerville insisted she aims to build “maximum consensus” around them.

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The draft Bill would keep the stipulation that applicants must make a solemn statutory declaration they have been living in their acquired gender for three months and intend to do so permanently.

A minimum three-month period of reflection between applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) and confirming the application would also be introduced as part of the draft legislation.

It would mean applicants must have lived in their acquired gender for a minimum of six months before a certificate is granted – just a quarter of the time people have to wait under the current system.

The Scottish Government insists its proposals are in line with international best practice, but stalled its plans last summer to conduct further consultation amid controversy and resistance, including from within its own ranks.

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Chief among the concerns of opponents is that a system of so-called self-identitication, or self ID, will be abused by predatory men to get into women’s spaces, with examples frequently cited including women’s toilets and prisons.

But Somerville said there had been “a lot of misunderstandings” – raised alongside legitimate concerns and questions – about the government’s proposals.

‘We have women’s rights and we have trans rights – I don’t see those aspects as mutually exclusive.’

Shirley-Anne Somerville

She told STV: “I absolutely appreciate that women’s rights are exceptionally important.

“They have been long-fought for and long-campaigned on and there is absolutely nothing I would do as a member of this government to jeopardise any of that.

“So that’s why I really do make sure that I listen to the concerns that are out there on the issue, because we not only want to protect what we have as women but we want to make sure our rights are extended.”

She added: “We have women’s rights and we have trans rights – I don’t see those aspects as mutually exclusive.”

The minister emphasised the legal right of people to change gender has been enshrined in law since Westminster passed the 2004 Gender Recognition Act.

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“That right has to exist. We are required to have that and I think that’s quite right,” Somerville added.

She continued: “What we’re talking about here isn’t something that’s new. These people are in our community, they’re part of our community.

“But they talk to us very specifically about how the current system deeply impacts on them, about the state of their mental health and particularly the high suicide rates within the trans community because they can’t be recognised for who they are.”

Somerville added: “These may be a small number of people in our Scottish population but their rights are very important.”

Shirley-Anne Somerville Scotland Tonight interview for February 20 2020.
Reforms: Shirley-Anne Somerville says she will press ahead.

The cabinet secretary pledged to “move forward” with the government’s plans despite accepting they had “generated a lot of heat”, and urged people with an interest to contribute to the consultation which ends on March 17.

Asked if the legislation would be passed by the end of this parliament, Somerville answered: “Yes – it can be done in time for next year’s election.”

But one vocal opponent of the plans within the government’s own backbench ranks, SNP MSP Joan McAlpine, claims the measures are “ideological”.

McAlpine said: “It’s a really profound change because you’re expanding the group of people who can change their sex from a small group of people who have gender dysphoria, which is diagnosed, to a much larger group of people who have no medical diagnosis and who could be changing sex for all sorts of reasons.

“It’s an ideological move, not an administrative move. 

“We’re just saying this change in the law which says sex is a feeling in your head is unscientific, wrong and dangerous.”

But the Scottish Government officially has support for the principle of self ID from all of Holyrood’s opposition parties except the Scottish Conservatives, despite notable internal divisions on the issue within Scottish Labour.

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “Those battles are not going to be won for progressive values if we see the equality movement fragmented.

“We know that there are forces, particularly on the religious right, who see this issue of trans people’s rights as a wedge to fragment and split an equality movement that is too strong for them to oppose when we are united. 

“To see some of the rhetoric that I remember so weirdly from the 80s and 90s, from the Section 28 era, it was directed at gay men, lesbians, bisexual people in those days.

“It is now being directed at trans people with exactly the same venom, and it’s being done in a way that risks fragmenting our community.”

Analysis: ‘This debate has sparked bitter divisions’

By STV political correspondent Ewan Petrie

Few measures have provoked the levels of division, anger and abuse as plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act.

This is a debate that has polarised opinion and split campaign groups.  

It is also one where abuse has become a prominent feature. 

Much of it is online. Both sides say they are on the receiving end, and both sides condemn it.

It has also become a highly sensitive political issue, with the proposals seeing bitter divisions within different parties – including the SNP which is pushing forward the reforms.

Around 50 of its members set up the Women’s Pledge last year to uphold women’s rights.

It has the support of senior members, who are urging the First Minister not to rush ahead with the plans.

If the new bill becomes law, Scotland would follow countries like Argentina, Malta, Canada and Ireland which have adopted self-identity systems, while changes to the law in England and Wales are being considered.

A public consultation on the proposals ends next month    

The Scottish Government would then have to have legislation passed within the next year if it is to avoid this becoming an election issue next May.  

‘The current system is offensive and intrusive’

James Morton from Scottish Trans Alliance.
James Morton: Transitioned in the 1990s.

James Morton began his transition as a teenager in the 1990s, before legal rights protecting trans people were put in place.

It was also back when Section 28 was still in force and prevented teachers from providing any information on LGBT issues.

He went on to manage the charity the Scottish Trans Alliance.

“I’m one of the people who has applied for a GRC and I found it really offensive and really stressful trying to get that birth certificate changed,” said James.

“It just felt really humiliating to give that to a panel of strangers for them to decide if I was distressed enough to merit getting my birth certificate changed.”

“What we are asking for is for it to be closer in alignment to how you change your passport – and not have the same level of intrusive medical evidence and psychiatric reports and length of time you have to wait from when you’ve changed everything else.”

‘Trans community is being damaged by self-ID’

Trans woman Seven Hex on Scotland Tonight February 20 2020.
Diagnosis: Trans woman Seven Hex believes medical process helped her.

Seven Hex transitioned more than 10 years ago.

She feels the removal of a medical diagnosis for people going through the gender recognition process robs them of the chance to have other underlying issues addressed.

“For me the medical process was very appropriate.  It worked for me, and I don’t see there is anything particularly wrong with it,” Seven said. 

“The original Gender Recognition Act was specifically written for and made for transsexual people, and now that’s being carved up to include anyone and everyone. 

“There has been a huge resistance to this and rightly so. 

“Self ID isn’t even law and yet many principles are currently in practice. 

“We can’t then as transsexuals, with this transgender umbrella over us, escape the criticism.

“We take that flak too, and our reputation has been and is being damaged by self ID and its proponents who seek to use transsexuals as the gateway to legitimise what they have done.”

‘Sixteen is too young to decide to permanently switch gender’

Detransitioner Sinead Watson on Scotland Tonight February 20 2020.
Detransitioner: Sinead Watson is trying to reverse gender switch.

Sinead Watson transitioned to male in her early 20s, believing it would solve many of her issues.

But after a few years living as Sean, she realised she had made a mistake and is now trying to reverse the process.

“I’m not just speaking for myself at this point any more, I’m talking to a lot of other detransitioners,” Sinead told STV.

“There are people who can be so certain in their 20s or their 30s who can still make a mistake. 

“The idea that a 16-year-old can sign statutory declarations saying that they intend to permanently live as their acquired gender – I mean, they’re not old enough to smoke, they’re not old enough to drink. 

“I find it really concerning that they would deem a 16-year-old emotionally mature and developed enough to have the foresight to say they are going to identify this way for the rest of their lives.”

She added: “I can’t undo what the testosterone has done to me, I can’t undo the double mastectomy. 

“I’m only 29 and I need to live with this for the rest of my life, so there is bitterness.”

For more on this debate, tune into Scotland Tonight at 7.30pm on Thursday.

Train crash survivor walked a mile to raise the alarm

Train driver Brett McCullough, conductor Donald Dinnie and passenger Christopher Stuchbury died in the derailment.

STV
Crash: An investigation is under way into the cause of the derailment.

An off-duty rail worker who survived Wednesday’s deadly train derailment scrambled from the crash and walked a mile to raise the alarm.

Train driver Brett McCullough, conductor Donald Dinnie and passenger Christopher Stuchbury all died in the incident near Stonehaven. Six others were injured.

The worker, who was a passenger on board the ScotRail 6.38am Aberdeen to Glasgow service, clambered from the wreckage and headed along the track to the nearest signal box.

The woman’s actions allowed Network Rail to close the line and prevent further disaster.

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A member of the public also dialled 999 after seeing smoke.

Stonehaven train derailed.
Emergency: The train derailed near Stonehaven.

Transport secretary Michael Matheson said: “There was a call made by someone who believed that an incident had taken place locally and they contacted Police Scotland on the matter.

“There was also an off-duty railway person on the train who, after it derailed, walked around a mile to the next signal box and advised them that an incident had occurred, which allowed Network Rail at its national control centre to close the line.

“During the course of that, Police Scotland obviously dispatched their staff and Network Rail dispatched some of the staff that they had working nearby to respond to the incident.”

Tragedy: Brett McCullough, Donald Dinnie and Christopher Stuchbury all died in the crash.
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A rescue operation was launched with help from police, the fire service, ambulance service and coastguard.

On Friday, Prince Charles arrived to thank the emergency responders who were among the first at the scene.

Prince Charles, Stonehaven.
Royal: Prince Charles thanked the emergency responders.

Meanwhile, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch has launched a probe into the incident and investigators are at the scene.

A separate investigation will be carried out by Police Scotland, BTP and rail regulator the Office of Rail and Road.

Network Rail will inspect trackside slopes across the country as part of a Government-ordered review, as a landslip during heavy rain and flooding is suspected to have played a part in the incident 


Derailment: Prince Charles visits scene to thank rescuers

The Duke of Rothesay surveyed the wreckage from a hillside above.

Prince Charles meets emergency responders.

Prince Charles thanked emergency responders for their bravery as he visited the site of the fatal Aberdeenshire train crash.

Three people died on Wednesday when carriages of the 6.38am Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street ScotRail service derailed near Stonehaven amid heavy rain and landslips.

Charles, known as the Duke of Rothesay while in Scotland, visited the site on Friday and surveyed the wreckage from a hillside above.

He met emergency responders including Pc Liam Mercer and Pc Eilidh McCabe, who were the first officers on the scene, and commended them on their bravery.

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He was taken to a socially distanced circle of workers including members of the police, fire service, Coastguard and Network Rail.

Many spoke of their experiences dealing with the incident and the sight of burning carriages.

Driver Brett McCullough, 45, conductor Donald Dinnie, 58, and passenger Christopher Stuchbury, 62, all lost their lives in the incident.

It is understood all of those who died were local to the area.

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Six other people were injured in the crash – four have since left Aberdeen Royal Infirmary while two remain in a stable condition.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch has launched a probe into the incident and investigators are at the scene.

A separate investigation will be carried out by Police Scotland, British Transport Police and rail regulator the Office of Rail and Road.

Network Rail will inspect trackside slopes across the country as part of a Government-ordered review as a landslip during heavy rain and flooding is suspected to have played a part in the incident near Stonehaven.


Hero paddle boarder rescues child blown out to sea

Coastguard said the individual's 'quick actions' prevented a 'tragic ending' in North Ayrshire.

Rescue: Coastguard were called to the scene shortly after 4.30pm on Thursday.

A paddle boarder rescued a child blown out to sea on an inflatable pool toy in North Ayrshire.

Ardrossan Coastguard said the person’s “quick actions” saved the young girl from a “tragic ending”.

Emergency services were called shortly after 4.30pm on Thursday.

The boarder had managed to recover the young girl, but could not return to shore because of wind.

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The lifeboat swiftly retrieved the pair, before making its way to Ardrossan Harbour. Both were checked over by paramedics but no further medical attention was needed.

A short time later, three kayakers were blown off shore north of Ardrossan Harbour. Coastguard and the lifeboat navigated challenging conditions to help them return to land.

None of the individuals required treatment and their kayaks were recovered.

An Ardrossan Coastguard statement said: “Yesterday also highlights once again the dangers of using inflatables at the coast especially in offshore wind conditions.

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“Inflatable toys are designed for the swimming pool – not the sea.

“We would also advise people to avoid setting to sea for any sort of surface water sport including paddle boarding or kayaking when there is an offshore wind.

“You can very quickly drift or be blown a significant distance from shore without realising and ultimately may require to be rescued.”


Scots race home after overnight changes to quarantine list

Prices skyrocket as thousands of tourists try to find a way back to Scotland.

Quarantine: Travellers returning from Frances, the Netherlands and Malta face a 14-day quarantine from Saturday.

Scots face a race against time to return home from France, the Netherlands and Malta after the countries were added to the quarantine list.

Travellers returning from the destinations, who arrive in the United Kingdom after 4am on Saturday, will have to self-isolate for 14 days.

A speedy return comes at a cost – British tourists in France are being charged hundreds of pounds to return home before quarantine restrictions are imposed.

Air fares are more than six times higher than normal for flights from Paris to London on Friday, with the cheapest British Airways tickets being sold for £452. The lowest priced Eurostar tickets available on Friday morning are £210.

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Travellers willing to pay these inflated fares could still miss out due to many services already being fully booked. An estimated 160,000 holidaymakers are expected to try to return to the UK from France on Friday.

The decision by the Scottish Government, also made by the UK Government and devolved administrations in Northern Ireland and Wales, aims to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus by those travelling.

The public health measures now also apply to those arriving from Aruba, Turks and Caicos, and Monaco.

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf said: “We have always been clear we are closely monitoring the situation in all countries and that we may need to take action to remove a country from the list of places exempt from quarantine requirements should the virus show a resurgence.

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“These are not decisions which we take lightly but on the basis of the evidence it is important that we take action to suppress transmission of the virus and protect public health.”

Failure to comply with requirement to quarantine can result in a fine of £480.

Department for Transport officials said data from France shows that over the past week there has been a 66% increase in newly reported Covid-19 cases and a 52% increase in the weekly incidence rate per 100,000 population, indicating a sharp rise in infections.

The latest 14-day cumulative figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control show 32.1 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in France, compared with 18.5 in the UK.

The move will come as a bitter blow to the hard-pressed French tourism industry which relies heavily on visitors from the UK.

France’s secretary of state for European affairs said the UK decision would lead to “reciprocal measures” across the Channel.

The decision to add the Netherlands was made after a 52% increase in newly reported cases between August 7 and 13 after a consistent series of rises in previous weeks.

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Over the past week, there has been a 273% increase in newly reported cases in Turks and Caicos, a 1106% increase in Aruba and a 105% rise in Malta.


English club train in Edinburgh even though Hearts can’t

Hull City can continue to train in Scotland despite a ban issued by governing bodies.

SNS
Base: Hearts training headquarters at Oriam in Edinburgh

English League One team Hull City have been cleared to hold training sessions in Scotland despite a ban in place for most Scottish clubs.

Hull are holding a pre-season camp at Oriam in Edinburgh – the training base of Hearts, who were told on Thursday that they must cease their preparations until at least August 24.

Scottish football’s Joint Response Group yesterday enforced a ban on training activity north of the border for all clubs outside of the 12 Premiership sides and Glasgow City, who are preparing for a UEFA Women’s Champions League tie later this month.

This morning, the JRG said because Hull City and Oriam have a private arrangement to use the facilities and the Humberside club do not fall under the jurisdiction of the governing bodies in Scotland, they were clear to continue training in Edinburgh as long as they continue to follow the relevant Coronavirus protocols.

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The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.

Hearts last night issued a statement claiming they would examine their options after being told to stop their pre-season camp for the next ten days.

In a club statement, they said: “We have done nothing wrong and yet, once again, we are being disproportionately disadvantaged by a decision which has been described as ‘the fairest’. 

“We should not forget that this situation has come about, not because of Covid-19, but because of behavioural issues, not by our employees but by those of other clubs.

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“This delay reflects a lack of confidence that certain clubs will be able to comply and meet the required protocols.

“How can it possibly be ‘fair’ that we should be penalised?”

Three other Scottish Championship clubs were preparing to return to training on Monday, but will now have to postpone their plans by at least a week.


Camper clampdown: Call for ‘dirty tourism’ prosecutions

Community leaders hit out at lack of action to tackle wild campers leaving litter and setting fires.

Wild camping has become a common sight during the post-lockdown tourism surge.

Community leaders in the Highlands are calling for prosecutions to clamp down on “dirty tourism” at beauty spots.

In the village of Durness, the number of wild campers has regularly outstripped the local population.

Fires, litter and bad parking have also been causing problems in the area.

Fines of £200 can be imposed, but STV News has learned none has been dished out during a post-lockdown tourism surge.

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Tackling the problems of littering and dumping of general and human waste is primarily the responsibility of local authorities.

However, police and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency have also been part of a co-ordinated effort to deal with well-documented recent problems affecting countless communities across Scotland.

A spokeswoman for Highland Council said: “No tourist-related fixed penalty notices (FPNs) have been issued during lockdown by (our) environmental health service.”

She added that its officers were investigating claims of camper van illegally disposing of chemical waste and a wild camper leaving litter behind.

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“If sufficient evidence is established, then a FPN will be issued in both cases,” she said.

Community council leaders said they wanted to see tougher enforcement action.

Kinlochbervie Community Council secretary Margaret Meek said: “I’m shocked that Highland Council have issued no fixed penalty notices and are only pursuing two cases.

“Although I’d imagine gathering sufficient evidence to pursue an individual case would be difficult, it seems clear the current measures to address the ‘dirty tourist’ problem are inadequate.”

Durness Community Council chairman Donald Campbell said: “I’m not surprised by Highland Council’s response.

“They haven’t put any staff in place to cover this area in order to enforce any litter or pollution infringements by tourists. If the same happened in Inverness it would be dealt with.

“If we, as locals, break the same law they seem to have the resources to deal with it. We can’t ask people to put themselves in danger by asking people to obey the law.”

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Highland Council is keen to promote the fact that it welcomes lifeline tourism as “a crucial component of our local economy”.

It pointed out that there is no statutory requirement for it to provide public toilets, but that it supports communities taking responsibility for them through asset transfers or with bids to develop new facilities.

In an effort to prevent littering, council officials said there were bigger bins and more collections in key sites including Sutherland.

The council, together with the Highlands and Islands Local Resilience Partnership, has established a working group to tackle so-called “wild camping” issues.

The organisations are developing a leaflet for local communities to use to promote “responsible tourist/camping behaviour”.

Highland has applied for a £358,000 Scottish Government grant for infrastructure to provide enhanced waste services.

The council is also planning to develop a “visitor management plan” with the aim of addressing key tourism related concerns.

Police Scotland said local officers carry out regular patrols in the north-west Highlands to respond to concerns raised about irresponsible camping and parking.

Inspector James Rice said: “We’ll continue to work with our partners to address any antisocial or illegal behaviour and take the appropriate action.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “We’re aware of incidents of littering, antisocial behaviour and damage to our natural environment since lockdown restrictions began to ease, and are clear that this behaviour is completely unacceptable and disrespectful to local communities.

“We’ve taken exceptional measures in every area of government as we deal with the challenges of Covid-19 and that’s particularly clear in our support for local services.”

She said the Scottish Government had committed almost £330m of extra funding to local government, of which Highland Council would receive “a fair share”.


No contact info, no beer: Pubs clamp down on details

Further rules introduced to combat spread of virus in sector, meaning tables should be pre-booked and queuing avoided.

Getty Images
New rules: Scottish Government tightens guidance for pubs and restaurants.

Pubs and restaurants are now required by law to collect customers’ contact details as new rules come into force.

The requirement is to help Test and Protect teams as the Scottish Government looks to contain coronavirus.

Further rules have been introduced to combat the spread of the virus in the hospitality sector, meaning tables should be pre-booked and customer queuing should be avoided.

There should be no background music and TVs should be muted to reduce the need for people to shout or lean in close to one another.

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No more than three households at a time should meet in a group.

Additionally, staff have been told face shields may be used but only if they are worn in addition to a mask.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon previously said a common factor in the rise in new coronavirus outbreaks across the world – including the Aberdeen cluster – is the hospitality sector.

Settings such as pubs and restaurants are particularly susceptible to the virus.

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She last week: “I now intend to make it mandatory for a range of settings, including hospitality businesses, to collect customer details.”

Placing compliance on a “statutory footing”, Sturgeon added, will ensure Test and Protect can function as effectively as possible.

She said Police Scotland will enforce the measures, which came into effect from Friday, if necessary.


Three victims of train derailment named by police

Christopher Stuchbury died alongside train driver Brett McCullough and conductor Donald Dinnie during the crash.

Deaths: Brett McCullough, Donald Dinnie and Christopher Stuchbury.

Tributes have been paid to the three men who were killed in the train derailment in Aberdeenshire.

Train driver Brett McCullough, conductor Donald Dinnie and passenger Christopher Stuchbury all died in the crash on Wednesday.

They were all aboard a train that came off the rails near Stonehaven amid heavy rain and flooding.

Six others were also injured on board the 6.38am Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street service.

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The family of Mr Stuchbury, 62, from Aberdeen, described him as “much adored” and said he was “loved by many”.

Three men were killed during the crash in Aberdeenshire.

A statement read: “Chris was a much adored husband, son, dad, stepdad, grandad, brother and uncle and was a treasured and loved friend to many, including the Targe Towing Team where he was an integral and valued member of staff.

“He also volunteered at Roxburghe House in Aberdeen during his spare time which he thoroughly enjoyed doing.

“We are devastated by his death and we request privacy at this difficult time as we come to terms with our loss.”

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Mr McCullough, 45, who was a former gas engineer before deciding to switch careers after servicing the boiler of a railway worker, leaves behind wife Stephanie and three children, two girls and a boy.

Emergency crews at the scene following the derailment.

His family said: “Words cannot describe the utterly devastating effect of Brett’s death on his family and friends. 

“We have lost a wonderful husband, father, and son in the most awful of circumstances. 

“Brett was the most decent and loving human being we have ever known and his passing leaves a huge void in all our lives.”

Stonehaven train derailed.
Emergency response at the scene near Stonehaven.

Relatives of 58-year-old train conductor Donald Dinnie also paid tribute following their loss.

They said: “As a family we are devastated by the sudden and tragic loss of Donald, a loving and proud dad, son, partner, brother, uncle and friend.

“No words could ever describe how much he will be missed by us all and there will always be a missing piece in our hearts.

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“It is so heart warming to see how many people have fond memories of Donald and I am sure they have plenty of happy and funny stories to tell. He was a kind, caring and genuine person who was never found without a smile on his face. We know he will be deeply missed by all.

“Together we thank each and everyone of you for your kind words and condolences but we kindly ask at this time that we have the chance to grieve privately as a family.”


Barn owl trapped in thick mud saved from ‘sticky end’

Lauren Moir was enjoying a stroll in the Angus Glens with her daughter and partner when she came across the distressed bird.

Rescue: The rare barn owl was saved after getting stuck in sticky mud. Picture by Angus Glens Moorland Group.

A rare barn owl was saved from an untimely ‘sticky end’ after getting stuck in thick mud.

Lauren Moir, daughter Layla and partner Dale Dunbar were enjoying a stroll in the Angus Glens when they came across the distressed bird.

Due to the hot weather, the water course had dried up but left a circle of deep mud that entrapped the owl as it hunted for prey.

Ms Moir launched a rescue mission by piling up stones in the mud to get closer to the animal. Mr Dunbar was then able to free it by using a tree branch.

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Ms Moir said: “When we first spied the owl, we knew we had to get it out. I started to pile stones to get closer but the mud was quite deep. 

“I piled about four or five stones on top of each other so we could get as close to the bird as possible. 

“Dale managed to hook the owl out of the mud with a stick from the woods. The whole thing took about 45 minutes.”

Clean-up: Rowan was given a gentle wash in a kitchen sink.

With its feathers caked and matted, Ms Moir wrapped newly-named ‘Rowan’ safely in her hoodie before seeking the advice from a falconer and local gamekeeper Garry MacLennan.

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Mr MacLennan collected Rowan and took it home for a clean-up in his kitchen sink.

The owl was then kept warm overnight in a box, fed with a rabbit leg, and released the following day after regaining its full strength.

The rescuers were there for the grand release, along with Layla’s friend Pyper and Mr MacLennan’s son Mason.

Once free, Rowan flew towards trees at a field edge.

Ms Moir said: “It was great to see Rowan get released and we are happy to know we probably saved its life. 

“It was a really positive experience for my daughter Layla and her friend Pyper to see it flying away again.”

Release: Rowan was back to full strength by the morning.

Barn owls are Schedule 1 birds and are fully protected all year round. There are only around 4000 pairs in the UK. 

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Without timely assistance, it is likely Rowan would have starved to death.

Mr MacLennan said: “We have four breeding pairs of barn owls on the estate. 

“They are majestic birds and I love to watch them hunting at night. 

“I was happy to help Rowan recover from otherwise a horrible death.”


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