Review of 2021 – July to December

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July

One of the happiest stories of 2021 featured a very special delivery on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.

On her way to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley on Thursday July 15, heavily-pregnant Tilly Martin had been having contractions before leaving home in Campbeltown.

Things seemed to be calm and steady – then baby decided, just before Luss, that he was waiting no longer.

Tilly’s mum, Donna Martin from Lochgilphead, explained: ‘By the time we got to the Rest and be Thankful her labour suddenly became intense so I called the emergency services and pulled into a lay-by just before Luss.’

Scottish Ambulance Service air and road ambulance crews were quickly at the scene as police closed the A82 by Loch Lomond for safety and to allow paramedics space to work.

Donna helped deliver her grandson Liam at 12.46pm. A wee brother for 16-month-old Lilly.

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Mum and baby were both well after the trunk road drama. no_a30BabyMartin01

Paramedics look after Tilly by the roadside. Photo by Donna Martin. no_a30BabyMartin02

August

A petition calling for more ambulance personnel for Mid Argyll was started by a group of families affected by numerous delays in ambulance arrivals amid fears that patients’ health – and potentially lives – could be at risk.

On a lighter note, world-famous paddle steamer Waverley paid her first visit to Ardrishaig in two decades, bringing people out in their droves.

The atmosphere was palpably festive. People were excited at the Waverley’s arrival, but equally to meet and catch up with friends and acquaintances for the first time since Covid restrictions arrived in March 2020.

Ardrishaig harbour owners Scottish Canals organised craft and refreshment stalls around Pier Square, while the Egg Shed exhibition and community centre was open to visitors.

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The crowds turned out to see the Waverley make her first visit to Ardrishaig in 20 years. 51_a34Waverley_Ardrishaig05

September

In the wake of apologies the previous year from health chiefs for a culture of staff bullying in health and social care, the results of the first ‘Listening and Learning’ staff survey were released.

Of 10,438 survey forms issued, 4,234 NHS and council staff – 39 per cent – took part.

Responses revealed a sense of positive change. Experiences of bullying and harassment had reduced, but 56 employees said it was still happening.

Trade union UNISON criticised the process to improve the culture in health and social care for taking too long to implement.

In Lochgilphead, Church of Scotland Minister Hilda Smith retired after 16 years in the parish.

Looking forward to having more time for hobbies including photography and crafting – stamping, stencilling, die cutting and parchment craft, Hilda said: ‘It’s the end of part of the journey and there will be more. It’s not the end of the book, it’s the end of a chapter.

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Orla Mochrie and Mara Taylor presented flowers to Hilda on her retirement as Sandy Taylor handed over a gift from the parish. 51_a36Hilda_gardenparty04

October

Claire Cameron, outreach and community development worker at MS Centre Argyll in Lochgilphead, was chosen by MSP Jenni Minto as Argyll and Bute’s Local Hero.

Claire and mum Elizabeth attended the Scottish Parliament’s opening ceremony on Saturday October 2, which featured a celebration of local heroes from across Scotland.

Claire said: ‘I am so thankful that I was nominated. We work as a small, close team at the centre and we do what we do for the love of it.’

Another remarkable Mid Argyll woman achieving great things was Yvie Young, who took part in the 2021 ‘Come Fly with Gi ‘ trek spearheaded by Giovanna Fletcher, 2020 ‘I’m a Celebrity’ winner alongside TV presenter Emma Willis and actress and Strictly Come Dancing competitor Gemma Atkinson.

‘It was a challenge,’ explained Yvie. ‘In fact it was bloody hard work. I’ve never camped in my life, but I loved it’.

In total, the trek raised more than £400,000 for the Coppafeel charity.

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Local hero Claire and mum Elizabeth enjoyed an ‘experience of a lifetime’ at Holyrood. no_a41ClaireHero_02

November

This was a month where things were shaken up a little.

A magnitude 3.3 earthquake hit Mid Argyll on November 16, its epicentre near Achnamara.

A deep, sonorous boom accompanied the quake, which struck around 1.44am as people across Argyll were woken and homes trembled for a second or two.

Many others, however, slept right through it.

With the COP26 climate change conference taking place in Glasgow, around 100 young people carried banners, played the bagpipes and chanted for climate justice from Lochgilphead Joint Campus to council headquarters at Kilmory – demanding urgent action from global leaders.

Organised by Time for Change Argyll and Bute and S6 student Donald Self, the protest was part of a simultaneous global school strike and coincided with 30,000 young people taking to the streets of Glasgow.

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Marching for climate justice – Lochgilphead pupils demand change. no_a46ClimateStrike02

December

Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership’s interim chief officer apologised for administrative mistakes made during the Covid-19 booster vaccine programme.

Fiona Davies admitted ‘a considerable number’ of communication errors had been made.

Saying that ‘lessons had been learnt’, Ms Davies continued: ‘I would like to apologise for the uncertainty, anxiety and inconvenience that this has caused.’

She also paid tribute to staff who worked hard to deliver booster and flu vaccines towards the end of the year and thanked GP practices for their contribution.

After another year in the shadow of Covid, volunteers around the region stepped up to brighten up our towns and villages for Christmas. One of the most striking displays was in Tarbert where, for the second year, the community Christmas tree was made out of fishing creels.

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Pictured with the impressive Tarbert creel tree are Ava Laing, Jack Sinclair and Rosie Little. Photo: Janet West. no_a49ChristmasLights_Tarbert02