Letters to the editor

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Banks serving communities


Following the announcement of RBS branch closures in Campbeltown and Inveraray, we in Lochgilphead are still in the fortunate position of having three different banks which have chosen to keep their branches open to customers.

After experiencing particularly poor service from RBS in recent years, I made the decision to switch accounts and now use a local bank.

I would advise all RBS customers who are unhappy with the latest cuts to take the same step and support the banks who listen and, above all, serve their local communities.

Mary-Anne Buntin, Lochgilphead

Memories of Andrew Grinlaw


This is just a little more information about Andrew Grinlaw and the Ardrishaig Belle following the letter from Ewan MacInnes in the November 24 edition of the Argyllshire Advertiser.

The photo, showing the carriage with three horses, I’m sure was passing through Ardrishaig itself. It may have been carrying passengers from MacBrayne’s summer steamer PS Columba or from her 1935 successor, the turbine steamer Saint Columba on the Glasgow-Ardrishaig day return, allowing time for some passengers to board the Ardrishaig Belle.

In those days there were buildings on both sides of the street, but the loch-side buildings were demolished in the early 1970s, as were many on the other side up to – but not including – the Argyll Hotel.

My father was tenant of Ballymeanoch House, half way between Kilmichael Glassary and Kilmartin on the Poltalloch Estate, between 1930 and 1938. About 1935/36 he was cutting the grass one fine day when the Ardrishaig Belle drew up outside our gate and Andrew announced to his passengers: ‘Here is the home of Neil MacLean, the celebrated Gaelic/Scots singer.’ Well, father was marching up and down with a rake over his shoulder singing to me and my sister, aged six and four and a half, at the pitch of his considerable voice ‘A frog he would a-wooing go – hey ho said Rolly’.

What the passengers thought I don’t know, but the coach went down the Long Walk, and then along the Mhoine Mor to Bellanoch – a very tidy, prosperous wee village then, I can assure Mr Anderson of Costorphine – and so back along the Crinan Canal to Lochgilphead, Ardrishaig and the steamer.

It’s funny how childhood memories can stick in your mind.

I got to know Andrew Grinlaw in later years as he was a supporter of ceilidhs, had a good baritone voice and was a popular singer at such events, often with Belle Campbell who was another great favourite.

Andrew always had a little black book with his songs in it, and when he reached the last verse  he would close it, put it back in his breast pocket and we all knew to clap and cheer. He was a member of the Free Church in Lochgilphead and precented the psalms (no musical instruments allowed).

In business he was a contractor, with one or two lorries. One of his nephews, Archie Ferguson, drove for him and when Andrew retired he became the new owner. Archie fairly expanded, moved to Spean Bridge and became a haulier of timber in a big way. His family still run his lorries through Inverness-shire and Argyll to this day.

I have seen the Ardrishaig Belle and a horse-drawn hearse in the Museum of Transport in Glasgow, both belonging to Andrew Grinlaw.

Happy memories.

Niall Iain MacLean, Inveraray

Queen illuminates Tarbert


I would like to thank everyone involved in the wonderful evening we had at Tarbert Christmas Festival last Friday.

The festival committee did a tremendous job organising the event and the children’s choir entertained us and set the festive atmosphere with Seafood Queen Jacquelyn Clark lighting up the village with perfect timing.

Thanks also to Argyll and Bute Council staff for their work and to Colin Hunter who once again arranged the sound system.

A big thanks to you everyone involved and very best wishes for a happy Christmas

Councillor Anne Horn, Tarbert

Precarious poverty progress


Following the recent Joseph Rowntree report, we welcome the news that over the last generation Scotland has made significant progress in reducing poverty.

We believe this is in no small part the result of a concerted effort to listen to the voice of those with direct experience of poverty and learn from their wisdom.

Initiatives such as the Poverty Truth Commission, Wevolution, the Grassmarket Community Project and the hundreds of other projects enabled by congregations across Scotland, help us all better understand the nature of poverty and enable those who live with it to shape its demise. This success is theirs and it is to be celebrated.

Nonetheless, as the report’s projections suggest, there is more to be done and this progress is precarious.

Now it is more important than ever that we work to ensure that all have access to the employment, money, education, housing and relationships necessary to thrive. We would urge the Scottish Government to use the forthcoming budget to ensure that this happens, particularly for young people growing up in Scotland.

This is not just about tackling poverty, it is about creating a society in which everyone might flourish. For Christians, It is part of living out our gospel imperative to love our neighbour as our self.

Rev Dr Richard Frazer, convener of the Church of Scotland’s church and society council

RBS under fire over Inveraray branch closure

When the Argyllshire Advertiser posted news on Friday December 1 that the Royal Bank of Scotland is to close branches, including Inveraray, the Advertiser Facebook page was red hot with readers condemning the decision.

Nance Smith wrote: ‘Closure of Inveraray bank is an appalling decision. Inveraray is the capital of Argyll, has two of the largest tourist attractions in Inveraray Castle and the jail, and excellent hotels. An RBS decision showing lack of understanding of rural communities.’

Lindsay Russell gave her opinion: ‘To pay fat cats bigger bonuses.’

Suzanne Mawer said: ‘Crazy! You can’t get change or pay cash/cheques into your account via internet banking. How are you supposed to run a small business which handles cash during high season? I hope the local MP for Inveraray is looking into this.’

Jimmy McCallum wrote:  ‘Disgraceful. They wouldn’t even exist if the taxpayer hadn’t bailed them out. I’m sure the Tory government will force them to reconsider. Aye, right. They haven’t voiced so much as a concern.’

Derek Munro said: ‘Disgrace! didn’t the taxpayers bail them out? We do things online but what about the elderly and infirm who might have to travel up to 30 miles?’

Jackie Bradley gave her thoughts: ‘That’s awful. Love to visit Inveraray when on holiday up there. It’s such a busy place, and I would have thought there’s enough business there to keep the bank busy.’

Jamie Macnab posted: ‘It’s going to be a hard fought battle to save our coastal communities. That’s the bad side to the internet.’