Review of 2018 – January to June

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January

Tragedy and community

The year began with sadness and shock at the tragic sinking of Tarbert fishing boat Nancy Glen TT100 on the evening of Thursday January 18.

Skipper Duncan MacDougall and crewman Przemek Krawczyk were missing, while crewman John Miller was rescued before the Nancy Glen went down.

Painstaking searches of land and sea followed, but no signs were found of the missing men. After a sustained campaign driven by the people of Tarbert and the Clyde Fishermen’s Association, government help was secured and the boat was raised from one of the deepest parts of Loch Fyne.

Duncan and Przemek were finally brought home to their families and laid to rest in April.

In its darkest hour, the tight-knit community of Tarbert rallied round and shone like never before.

Our thoughts remain with the families of Duncan, Przemek and everyone affected by this tragedy.

February

Pothole plague

Transport Scotland admitted to struggling to keep up with pothole repairs on the A83, amid record garage callouts for burst tyres in January and February.

In February, heavily pregnant Kirsty McDougall from Tarbert was forced to walk along the road in the dark after her car hit a pothole on the A83 heading for Lochgilphead, bursting a tyre and cracking an alloy wheel.

Management firm BEAR Scotland said at the time: ‘Permanent repairs are planned for Ardrishaig, Erines, Inverneil and Lochgilphead in the coming months as part of our ongoing £650,000 urgent programme on the A83.

The repairs have since been made.

Fire drama at school

Lochgilphead school pupils returned to classes two days after a fire in the school – in the middle of prelim exams.

It was later confirmed the blaze started as a result of an electrical fault in a boiler.

A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said: ‘There were no casualties. Crews remained at the scene until the area was made safe.’

March

Mid Argyll melodies

Mid Argyll Music Festival was all about musical competition and fun for all ages.

Festival adjudicators Luis Allan, Joy Dunlop, David Hoult and Sheila Kent had many tough decisions throughout the week with consistently high performances across all sessions.

Festival administrator Sheila McCallum said: ‘The festival received lavish praise from the adjudicators on how well it was organised and I would like to say a huge thank you to the committee, led by Martin Gorringe, for all their hard work.’

Pool makes a splash

Mid Argyll Community Enterprises was awarded £315,788 from the Scottish Land Fund to kickstart its plans to redevelop its swimming pool.

The money will be used to buy the land Mid Argyll Community Pool is built on and two adjoining buildings as part of a major redevelopment.

Plans include upgrading the swimming and changing areas, a new public gallery, a community cafe and a soft play area.

April

David’s charity marathon

Stem cell donor David MacInnes battled through the heat to complete the London Marathon in four hours 46 minutes.

David was running in aid of Anthony Nolan, a blood cancer charity which organises stem cell donations for patients.

David thanked everyone who donated, as well as his wife Hazel ‘who has stood by me throughout all of this’.

Later in the year David was given the Donor Champion of the Year award at the Anthony Nolan Supporter Awards, recognising his work raising awareness of the need for more stem cell donors.

Ardrishaig hub takes shape

Work started on a £1.5 million project to create a  heritage and community centre at the former Gleaner Oils site in Ardrishaig.

The Scottish Canals-led project would see the transformation and extension of the derelict building known locally as the ‘Egg Shed’ into an interpretation centre telling the story of the canal and the communities on its banks.

May

Life begins at forty

Loch Fyne Oysters celebrated its 40th birthday with a sun-drenched party at the head of Loch Fyne.

Four decades after local landowner Johnny Noble and marine biologist Andy Lane began farming oysters near Cairndow at the head of Loch Fyne, the company now sells 2.5 million oysters, 400 tonnes of mussels and nearly 1,000 tonnes of smoked salmon a year.

The ‘Fyne at 40’ celebration featured fireworks, music, seafood and an intimate show by Scottish band Hue and Cry.

Off to the palace

Well-known Mid Argyll woman Betty Rhodick was heading to the Royal wedding.

Accompanying 66-year-old Betty to Windsor Castle for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 19 was her granddaughter Kelly.

Betty and Kelly were nominated as wedding guests by the Lord Lieutenant of Argyll and Bute Patrick Stewart for her contribution to the community, in particular Armed Forces Day.

Betty said she was looking forward to seeing the wedding up close and was looking out a hat – despite the fact there is no obligation to wear one. Betty’s view was: ‘You can’t turn up in jeans and a tee-shirt.’

On a more serious note, she added: ‘I’ll be representing all the veterans and Lochgilphead when I go down there.’

June

Youth shinty under threat

The future of youth shinty in Mid Argyll was under threat after the sport’s ruling body enforced a rule limiting the pool of players from which primary school teams can be selected.

Under the rule, Kilmory and Dunadd Junior Camanachd  would be barred from national competition as it breached the upper limit of 150 pupils.

But from Lochgilphead, Ardrishaig and Glassary schools, with a combined roll of 350, there were just 37 players to choose from across all age groups.

A Camanachd Association spokesperson said: ‘Our schools competition rules are designed to ensure a level playing field for all participating schools and players and as a result will significantly benefit all those taking part.’

Hooray for Hollywood

The producer of a Hollywood movie being shot in Argyll said he had fallen in love with the area.

The film ‘Love You To Death’, starring Craig Ferguson and Kathie Lee Gifford, was being filmed at locations across Argyll, with Lochgilphead, Inveraray and Cairndow among the areas featuring.

Producer Matthew Weiner said: ‘Our experience of filming in Argyll and Scotland as a whole has been phenomenal.

‘Filming in Lochgilphead has been one of our highlights. As a New Yorker, I will be going home without a question in my head that I will be returning to Scotland and Argyll.’