Review of 2018 – July to December

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Inveraray action

The absence of obvious signs of work to improve the town was a source of frustration for some at Inspire Inveraray’s annual general meeting.

The community company plans to focus on Inveraray Community Hall, Inveraray Pier and wider access to Loch Fyne.

Chairman Derrick Anstee said new moorings were planned and the condition of the community hall would be assessed.

Work from then would be based on priorities set out in a community action plan.

A close shave

After the best part of a year cultivating his flowing locks and facial hair, landscape gardener and rugby fan Gavin Allan shaved the lot off.

Gavin’s head and beard shave in Lochgilphead was in aid of Motor Neurone Disease research and more than £600 was raised for the Doddie Weir Foundation.

A remarkable artist

Since the beginning in 1973, Tarbert arts and crafts centre ‘Earra Gael’ had been part of Sarah Coats’ life.

The Advertiser spoke to 81-year-old Mrs Coats about her memories of Earra Gael just before she handed over the reins to Tarbert artist Wilma MacKenzie.

Mrs Coats said: ‘It’s nice to feel it is going to continue.’

Sadly, Mrs Coats died later in the year. Our condolences go to her family and we thank her daughter Amanda for helping arrange the meeting with her remarkable mum.

Inveraray pomp

Inveraray was all red tunics, shiny buttons and gleaming boots as the colours of the 1st Battalion Scots Guards were laid up.

Reverend Dr Roderick Campbell accepted the colours at a moving church service in the town on Sunday August 26.

The regiment was raised in 1642 by Archibald Campbell, 1st Marquess of Argyll, and won its first battle honour in 1692 at Namur during the Nine Years War in Europe.

Inveraray’s mobile gnomes

A police investigation was launched after three garden gnomes were taken from a property near Inveraray.

A mysterious note to the Argyllshire Advertiser, though, suggested they had been kidnapped.

The trio were later returned ‘gnome’ safe and sound.

Autism Argyll winds up

After 18 years, a group set up by families affected by autism voted at its annual general meeting to cease operations, citing ‘lack of support from senior management over many years’ at Argyll and Bute Council as a primary reason for the decision.

The council said it was working with partners on residential resources in Garelochhead and Helensburgh and improving services for people with autism across Argyll and Bute through the Autism Toolbox.

RBS sparks fury

There was anger and sadness as Royal Bank of Scotland closed the final bank in Inveraray.

Accountancy firm Johnston Carmichael carried out a review before the decision was taken to close the branch.

Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara said: ‘Zero account has been taken into the impact on Inveraray when the last bank in town closes. To say I’m furious is an understatement.’

RBS said it was ‘committed to providing the best possible range of banking alternatives, including mobile branches, banking in the local post office, community bankers and remote services such as telephone banking’.

Protests outside the RBS Inveraray branch in December 2017

Landslides prompt pledge

The Scottish Government promised Argyll would be at the front of the queue in the second Strategic Transport Projects Review after two landslides at the Rest and be Thankful closed the road for nine days.

Though mitigation work is accepted by most as far from a solution, it will be completed before a more permanent answer is found to keep Argyll connected after landslides.

The limitations of mitigation measures on the A83 were summed up by one lady who said: ‘When I am sitting at the traffic lights I am shaking, always looking up the hill wondering if it will come down.’

Poppy tribute

Ceremonies were held across the region to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.

In a fitting end to five years of events since the centenary of the beginning of the war was marked in 2014, thousands of knitted poppies were draped around Inveraray Parish Church in a project led by ladies of the parish who received donated poppies from all over Argyll.

The stunning Inveraray poppy display around the parish church. 06_a45Inv_Poppies02

Stormy Diana

One of the first winter Atlantic storm systems, named ‘Storm Diana’ arrived on the afternoon of Wednesday November 28 with strong winds pushing in already high tides and causing some roads to be strewn with shore debris.

For the first time in a few years, Lochgilphead front green was completely under sea water as far as Poltalloch Street, with tonnes of seaweed debris left behind.

Brexit lubrication

Our thanks go to Ann Thomas for providing some highly imaginative artwork for the Advertiser throughout the year.

In December she mused that Prime Minister Theresa May’s alleged penchant for a dram after a hard day’s Brexiteering might give a boost to Argyll’s whisky industry.

Awakening minds

Howling wind and rain failed to deter a hardy group sleeping outside in Lochgilphead to raise awareness of homelessness.

Gill Hutton of recovery cafe Grub’s Up arranged the ‘Big Sleep Oot’ and said: ‘We were not subjected to threats of violence, so we’ll never truly know the absolute horror that many people face, but it afforded us the opportunity to collect much-needed items and our hope is people are more empathetic towards the homeless in the future.’