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Prawn to be wild – fishermen come out of their shells for amazing spoof videos

By Katherine Sutherland
THE crazy crew of a Scots prawn boat are whiling away the long hours at sea – making spoof pop videos.
Deckhand Frank Ronald and his colleagues on trawler The Caledonia strip off despite the freezing temperatures for their YouTube creations.
In their most popular production, Frank appears starkers on a red buoy pretending to be Miley Cyrus in Wrecking Ball.
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In another a fellow fisherman dons seaweed for dreadlocks and an enormous chain to pose as a rapper.
The team have recently diversified into parody news and weather broadcasts – complete with a tame seagull.
The boat is based at Tarbert, Loch Fyne, which is world famous for its seafood.
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Frank said: “We can be away on the boat all week, but we could be landing our catch every couple of days.
“It’s just for a bit of nonsense out in the boat, it’s a bit of a laugh when it’s quiet out on the deck. There’s not much on at this time of year.”

As well as the Miley Cyrus parody the team have produced their version of the the Avril Lavigne song Sk8er Boi. Called Skaterprawn, it features live prawns and fishermen skateboarding along deck wearing nothing but boxer shorts.

And a painstakingly choreographed dance to recent smash hit pop song “Timber”, by US artist Pitbull featuring Ke$ha, shows the lads dancing on the roof of the cabin with no land in sight.

Most of the videos feature one or all of the crew in their underwear. Frank said: “Being in your pants is the best way to report the weather. Us guys have a built-in thermometer.”
Frank, who has lived in Tarbert all of his life, posts the videos on Youtube.
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His version of  “Wrecking Ball” has attracted 19, 364 views.
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Frank said his family are amused by his antics, although he said: “Obviously they were a bit embarrassed. When they saw that they said they would prefer it if it wasn’t me.”
He has worked as a fisherman since he left school aged 16 and insists safety remain a priority for the crew.
He said: “You make sure it’s all safe. You are still out at sea and you can’t do too much nonsense. We can be out in some rough weather. You all need to pull together”
He recently decided to focus on parody news and weather reports, with several bulletins from the boat uploaded in the last week.
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Frank and fellow deckhand Bill Macfarlane, 42,  use a pile of empty fish boxes as a news desk and a wooden spoon for a microphone.
A tame seagull has interrupted several of the videos by sitting on the boxes and flapping its wings.
One report features crew members pretending to be sheep, and another shows a fisherman in yellow oilskins jumping out from under a pile of empty boxes.
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Frank, who edits the films once safely back on dry land, said: “It’s a lot easier to do the news than music videos. There’s a lot more editing with a music video.
“It’s all off the cuff. It’s not rehearsed or anything. We’ll probably keep on with the news for a wee while.”
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December 19th, 2014 | Posted in Entertainment,Multimedia,News,Scottish News,Top Stories,UK & World | Read More »

More than a reeling – trad bagpipers freestyle jam contest

YOUNG bagpipe players are being encouraged to break Scottish stereotypes and rock out at a leading competitive event.

 

For the first time ever, the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships (SSPBC) will feature a ‘freestyle’ category.

 

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The event will see musicians perform tunes under the theme ‘anything goes’, with competitors allowed to play anything from Scottish traditional melodies to Black Sabbath.

 

Kids will be encouraged to let their imagination run wild, and are even allowed to bring in their pals to play in a “mash up” of different musical instruments instead of just sticking to the bagpipes.

 

The event will be held in March next year, and entries are already flooding in. Students will be following in the anarchic footsteps of top Scottish acts like Treacherous Orchestra, which mixes dance beats and electric guitars with the bagpipes.

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David Johnston, Chairman of the SSPBC committee, said the Freestyle competition is unique in the world.

 

He said: “The Freestyle category is all about the traditional pipes and drums – but with a twist.

 

“We decided to introduce this category as a way of highlighting the versatility of the pipes and drums alongside other instruments.

 

“It offers a chance for pipers and drummers to let loose from the rigid competition format to perform some more modern pieces in a relaxed atmosphere.”

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There are just three slots left for schools in the Freestyle category, who will face a judging panel consisting of some of Scotland’s most senior Pipe Majors, as well as Craig Munro from Scottish piping favourites The Red Hot Chilli Pipers.

 

Mr Johnston said: “This category is all about injecting some fun into the competition and showcasing the outstanding musical talent of our younger generation, regardless of what instrument they play.

“It means that schools can look to use their whole orchestras and young musicians to compete.”

 

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The Scottish Pipe Band Championships will  take place on March 8 at Broughton High School and Fettes College in Edinburgh.

 

The deadline for entries closes on 26 January and the committee is keen to encourage more schools to sign up.

December 12th, 2014 | Posted in Community,Entertainment,In the Scottish Press,Scottish News | Read More »

 

A scots gamekeeper has proved he is a great shot – with a camera.

 

John MacTavish, a keeper on a 1,500 acre farm and pheasant shoot in Lochnell, Oban, takes stunning pictures whilst at work.

 

The snaps include his dogs – three Springer Spaniels and a Cocker Spaniel – leaping through the air and jumping through streams as they race after and collect pheasants.




 



He has also managed to capture incredibly detailed images of birds mid-flight, as well as shots of other gamekeepers with their kills.

 

His pictures are so breathtaking they have made several front covers of the ‘Shooting Times’, the UK’s leading weekly shooting magazine.

 

The 48-year old developed a passion for taking photographs whilst at school. His first camera was a Zenit TTL, which he describes as an “awful thing”.

 

He now owns three Canon cameras with six lenses, ranging from 15mm to 600mm. The lenses alone can cost up to £9,000.

 

John, who has never had any photography training, said: “The most enjoyable thing with photography is getting a sharp shot of something the eye only sees for a blink. It’s not easy, but when it comes off it’s enough to drive me onto the next one.”

 

November 25th, 2014 | Posted in Multimedia,Videos | Read More »

Ceilidh on the car deck

PASSENGERS on a wind-swept ferry decided to liven up their journey by having an impromptu ceilidh.
The normally quiet car deck was transformed into a wild scene of dance and music on a journey between two islands on Shetland.
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A group of musicians returning from a festival provided the music and weary travellers joined in one-by-one.
A video of the spontaneous party shows bemused ferry workers looking on as around 30 whooping passengers reel about the deck.
pic courtest of Shetland Islands Council

The Shetland Islands Council ferry, MV Daglien on its regular Yell Sound crossing.

A full ceilidh band, including a fiddle player, guitarist and accordion, were returning the Shetland Folk Festival on the island of Yell to the main town of Lerwick.
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The ceilidh apparently started on a band’s bus and transferred to the car deck for the entire 30-minute crossing.
 The video was posted on the Facebook page of Edinburgh band Adam Holmes And The Embers.
Musician Adam Holmes, 23, from Edinburgh, said: “We were on the bus and Saltfishforty started playing a version of Highway to Hell, called Highway to Yell.
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“There was quite a lot of drinking involved. It was just pretty mental.
“It was quite magical. It felt like the Titanic before it went bad. It was quite beautiful – one of those special moments.”
Ian Pearson, assistant marine superintendent at Shetland Isles Council, said: “It’s very entertaining. It kind of happens from time to time with travelling musicians or the folk festival.
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“There are no safety concerns for dancing on the car deck – you can get out of your car
on these ferries. it’s usually done on a fine summer’s night so the ferry doesn’t move much.
“One time I was a crew member on a ferry and a Russian band started playing. Of course, they all started Cossack dancing.”

The video can be viewed here:  https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=734901599893189&set=vb.177251088991579&type=2&theater

November 20th, 2014 | Posted in Multimedia,Scottish News,Top Stories,UK & World | Read More »

Leith school kids meet world’s leading robotics expert

 

 

Children from St Mary’s Primary School met one of the world’s leading robotics experts Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro.

 

The internationally renowned scientist, who famous for his lifelike humanoid robot of himself, supervised the school children as they designed and built their own robots.

 

Professor Ishiguro was invited to Edinburgh through a Heriot-Watt Universiy professor Ruth Aylett who is an expert in human-robot interaction.

 

Professor Ruth Aylett said: This is a fantastic opportunity for Edinburgh school children to see some of the most advanced robotics in the world, face-to-face.

 

November 19th, 2014 | Posted in Multimedia,Videos | Read More »

The Sir Walter Scott Monument lit up for Remembrance Day

ONE of Edinburgh’s most famous landmarks has been lit red to mark Remembrance weekend.

 

Poppy Scotland and Edinburgh Council worked together to light up The Sir Walter Scott Monument in memory of those who died in war, one of the many dedications to Remembrance Day up and down the UK.





A Garden of Remembrance, where people can pay their respects, has been set up at the base of the monument by Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory and Poppy Scotland.

 

The west side of the monument has been surrounded by poppies attached to miniature crosses and the east side of the monument is presented as a garden allowing people to walk amongst the memorials that have been placed.

November 11th, 2014 | Posted in Multimedia,Videos | Read More »

Scotland’s first married gay couple

A FORMER DJ and a public health worker will make history seconds after midnight on December 31 – when they become Scotland’s first married gay couple.

MALCOLM Brown and Joe Schofield bonded online over a shared love of punk and alternative music.

The couple from Tullibody, Clackmannanshire, who have been together nine years, said they were “honoured” and “blown away” to be the first same sex couple to be married in Scotland.





The ceremony is being planned down to the last second to ensure the grooms are legally pronounced husband and husband moments after the clock strikes 12 on Hogmanay morning.

Malcolm and Joe were among 15 couples who took up the Humanist Society Scotland’s offer to help organise the earliest-possible gay marriage. Most of the other 14 couples are set to marry later the same day.

The weddings were made possible after a change in the law by passed at Holyrood earlier this year, following a campaign led by the Equality Network.

Former DJ and engineering student Malcolm, 42, known as Malx, and Joe, also 42, have asked Alex Salmond to be a witness.

They said their big day will also be about “celebrating the changes and the people who have campaigned”.

Malx said: “Before couldn’t have used the word marriage. We as a gay couple can now use that term. We’re now equal with everyone else. That’s really important.

“I was blown away to find out we will be the first.”

Joe, who has campaigned for gay equality since he was 16, added: “There is obviously the devotion I have, this is the guy I want to spend the rest of my life with.”

Joe, originally from Rochdale, Greater Manchester, added: “It’s also about some of the basic human rights that our relationship will be recognised as husband and husband. That’s a biggie.

“This is a real, concrete example of Scotland making changes that will change social attitudes. I was amazed to get it.”

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Malx had an eight year stint as a morning radio DJ on Central FM before becoming a mature student at Edinburgh Napier University.

He was 26-years-old before he ‘came out’ as a gay man.

“I was very concerned about coming out,” he said. “I was thinking can I come out in this town?

“I think I was worried more about losing my friends. I was left feeling guilty about that because they proved me wrong.”

Malx is in his last year of a bachelor degree in engineering at Edinburgh Napier University, said he had been going through a “low” point in his life before meeting Joe through the online music site Last FM.

He said: “You just know when something is right. I knew fairly early on, and I said, ‘This is the one, we’re going to get married one day’. Those were the words: ‘We’re going to get married one day.’ This is it.

“We’ve just been biding time since then really. In terms of what’s happening now it’s just like let’s do it. It’s all or nothing.”

“There was no official proposal,” added Malx. “We were always of the view that we would wait until that legislation kicked in.”

Joe, who is also 42, was living in London when they first met, but grew up in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.

He said: “I was exposed to the gay scene, gay politics and all the gay community early. We had very different experiences.”

The Public Health worker for Greater Glasgow has been campaigning on behalf of gay rights since he was 16 and starting off working for the Lesbian and Gay Switchboard.

In the 1980s he was involved in raising awareness of HIV and gay men’s health and since moving to Scotland eight years ago has been working on Hepatitis C awareness.

Joe said: “I was coming back and forth to Scotland as much as I could when we realised it was a goer I started looking around for a job.”

He continued: “We didn’t want a civil partnership. It didn’t feel meaningful enough in them of what is being offered.”

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It was on Facebook where Joe saw the call from the Humanist Society for couple to put themselves forward for the first equal marriage in Scotland.

On Sunday they were told they had been chosen to be Scotland’s first same sex marriage and now they are turning their attention to the big day.

“It is a real honor getting this,” said Joe. “As well as us getting the huge privilege it will be an event that’s a big celebration for all the people involved in campaigning.”

First Minister Alex Salmond and the leader of the Scottish Greens Patrick Harvey have been invited to be the official witnesses at the wedding which is expected to take place in Glasgow.

But there is still lots of planning ahead for the pair who described themselves as a “regular” couple.

Asked what their big day will be like Joe said “we’ve not got a scooby”.

He continued: “When we knew the new legislation was coming up we discussed it. Our original plan was to turn up, just us and witnesses, leave and then have a wee sesh. We don’t want to be a pair of groomzillas.

“The opportunity to be the first, as much as it’s about the wedding being about us it’s also about celebrating the changes and the people who have been campaigning for years.”

Joe and Malx will walk together down the aisle in kilts and both will keep their own names.

Music will no doubt feature heavily with their dream wedding band being either Manchester post punk band The Fall or American Celtic punk band Dropkick Murphys.

The menu on the night will cater for Joe who is a vegan as well as having a meat option.

Looking ahead the couple plan to spend their honeymoon in the west coast of Scotland putting dreams of visiting Russia on hold.

Joe said: “We’ve been talking for a while about going to Russia, we love the history, especially around the 80s when we were growing up. That would have been the ideal honeymoon. But in Russia with the climate of fear and homophobia it wouldn’t be safe at the moment.”

He added: “We love the west coast of Scotland so in the spring we will probably take a trip up the west coast and to the islands.”

The ceremony will be conducted by Humanist Society Scotland celebrant Ross Wright who has been part of the campaign for equal marriage.

“It was difficult to chose a couple,” he said. “Lot of people wanted to be the first. These two just seemed to understand the significance of it on all the levels.

Ross, who will make the legal declaration just after midnight, added: “It is a huge privilege I’ve been asked to do this. I’ve been involved in equality campaigning all my life.

“It’s going to be very emotional for me, not just the couple.”

He continued: “There are going to be a lot of weddings on the 31st. I was expecting people to be really disappointed not to be the first but they were still wanting to get married on the 31st.

“There will be a lot of people doing it.”

November 6th, 2014 | Posted in Multimedia,Videos | Read More »

Plucky poultry hop all over Highland deer

THE Monarchs of the Glen are proving a walkover for hungry chickens at one Highland hotel.

Amazing pictures show the plucky poultry perched on stags weighing up to 200kgs at the Doune Knoydart.

The wild deer have struck up a remarkable, symbiotic relationship with their feathered, domestic friends at the hotel and restaurant on the remote west coast peninsula.

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The chickens have learned that its safe to walk all over the resting stags and pluck out their troublesome ticks.

The birds get a tasty snack while the deer are relieved of nasty, burrowing beasties.

The deer come down from the hills in the late summer and autumn to breed.

Even the stags – despite being in a particularly aggressive mood at that time of the year – are happy to let the chickens hop on board.

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Martin Davies, who runs the hotel and restaurant with his wife, Jane, and another couple, keeps 20 chickens as a source of fresh eggs.

He admits his birds are brave to walk all over and peck creatures 70 times their own weight.

He said: “The guests just look amazed when they first saw the chickens on top of the stags.

“I’m not sure how the relationship started or when.

“I imagine it’s similar to what you see in Africa with birds picking insects off antelopes – it’s just these two species wouldn’t normally meet each other in this country.”

He added: “One day we just saw a chicken perched on top of a stag getting the ticks of its back with its beak.

“The deer don’t seem to mind the hens at all, in fact they look rather relaxed throughout the process.

“It’s quite funny when you see them walking around together.

“The stags are very big animals so the chickens are very brave – I’m very proud of them.”

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Martin believes the deer give something back to the chickens by scaring off marauding predators such as badgers and pine martens.

“It’s good for us because a lot of predators like foxes or birds try and get the chickens.

“But we hope that the deers and stags will put them off,” he said.

“There has never been an incident between the deer and the chickens, despite their size.”

The Knoydart peninsula is the most remote tourist destinations in mainland Britain – accessible only by boat from Mallaig or a 2 day walk over the hills.

October 3rd, 2014 | Posted in In the Scottish Press,Top Stories | Read More »

Miss World hopeful travels 7,000 miles to get her teeth fixed in Scotland

A MISS World contestant is travelling 7,000 miles to Scotland to get her teeth fixed – using a 3D printer.

Miss Singapore will undergo pioneering cosmetic dental treatment at a clinic in Edinburgh so she has a perfect smile for the global beauty pageant.

Dalreena Poonam Gill, 20, travelled halfway across the world to the clinic of Scots dentist Biju Krishnan.

Miss Singapore, Leith

He claims his Cfast treatment is faster, cheaper and less invasive than traditional methods, which can take two years and cost £8,000.

Patients undergo a computerised scan of their teeth and a 3D printer is used to create a customised dental brace.

Dr Krishnan, of the Lubiju practice in Leith, explained that his braces are unique as they are not visible on the outside of the teeth.

He said: “Most adults with crooked teeth, gaps or similar minor problems just live with it because the treatments available are too invasive, too costly or take too long.

“That’s because most teeth-straightening systems are actually based on rather complex orthodontic treatments.

“But Cfast is purely cosmetic and focused mainly on the front teeth.

“It is perfect for adults who simply want to improve their smile and want it to be quick, painless, discreet and affordable.”

Miss Singapore, Leith

Dalreena, a student, was crowned Miss Singapore World last month.

She believes the £2,500 treatment could make all the difference at the competition in London in December.

She said: “I have always wanted to have straighter teeth so was looking into treatments available, but they seemed to take a very long time.

“My dentists in Singapore recommended Cfast and sponsored me to come and be treated by Dr Krishnan himself.

“The judges look at so many criteria so it will be reassuring for me to know that I will be able to smile with real confidence.

“Hopefully that will help me to relax and enjoy the whole, amazing experience.”

Traditional orthodontic treatment involves the extraction or filing of teeth.

CFast, launched in 2011, is purely cosmetic and can be completed in three to six months.

Celebrities who have had the treatment include Holly Willoughby and Alexandra Burke.

October 3rd, 2014 | Posted in In the Scottish Press,Top Stories | Read More »

Dolphin superpod stuns Skye

A “SUPERPOD” of 400 dolphins has caused massive excitement on a Scottish island after coming to within a few hundred metres of the shore.

The huge group has been feeding in the narrow Sound of Raasay, just off the coast of Skye, which is as little as a mile wide at one point.

Tourists and locals alike have been flocking to the area to capture video and photographs of the superpod of common dolphins.

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Experts say it is rare to see such a large group so close to shore.

The spell of recent good weather is thought to be linked to the remarkable sightings. Another superpod has been spotted further south in the Sound of Sleat, Skye.

And a minke whale – also unusual for the time of year – was photographed in the same stretch of water.

Cleodi (corr) Mackinnon said she was celebrating her 18th birthday with a boat trip in the Sound of Rasaay when the superpod” began following the boat.

Remarkable video footage of the 30-minute display shows hundreds of dolphins – including calves – surging through the water.

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Cleodi, from Braes near Portree, said: “It was like something out of a movie. It was incredible, inexplicable. I’ve lived here all my life and the most I’ve ever seen is about 20.

“When we finally left for home it was like they did a big finale.

“They swam faster to keep up with the boat and kept jumping higher and higher.”

Her sister Katie, 24, said: “It’s something I’ll never forget. They were rubbing themselves against

the boat and their fins were splashing us.”

Kate Hannigan, centre co-ordinator at the Scottish Dolphin Centre in Moray, said it was highly unusual a large group so close to the coast.

“They do prefer deeper water. They are usually seen way out on the horizon when we see them off Moray.”

“It’s most likely they are there for the food for the young ones.”

Tony Macrae, 45, skipper of the Western Isles Cruise boat from Mallaig, said as well as unusually high numbers of dolphins there had been bigger visitors to the area.

“We’ve also had two or three Minke whales.

“You can hear the gasps, and the delight from people. When I’m sitting in the wheelhouse and I look out every single person has a great big grin on their face.”

October 2nd, 2014 | Posted in In the Scottish Press,Top Stories,Uncategorized | Read More »

Salmond under fire for dishing out luxury chocolates worth £100 to his pals

ALEX Salmond has been condemned for dishing out luxury chocolates worth up to £95 to his friends in high places.

The first minister was accused of having a “penchant for luxury” after it emerged he had been lavishing VIP guests with the taxpayer-funded artisan chocolates.

The treats are made by Iain Burnett of The Highland Chocolatier whose clients Albert Roux and Gordon Ramsay.

 

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The Scottish Government refused to answer a Freedom of Information request on how much it had spent on “confectionary” over the past three years, claiming it would cost too much.

But insiders have revealed that on one recent occasion the chocolates were dished out at a reception hosted by the First Minister.

High-powered guests attending the late summer event at Mr Salmond’s official residence, Bute House, in Edinburgh, were sent away with a box of the chocolates.

On its website, the Highland Chocolatier sells a range of luxurious products, with a box of cocoa dusted velvet truffles costing £95.00.

The website also sells boxes of 90 “enrobbed” chocolates for £89.95, “just truffles selection” for £63.95 and £39.95 for “chocolatier’s selection”.

Scottish Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said: “Alex Salmond likes to create the impression the most any visitor to Bute House will receive is a Tunnock’s tea cake.

“It seems from this the First Minister’s penchant for luxury at the taxpayer’s expense has crept its way through the Scottish Government too.”

And Eben Wilson, director of Taxpayerscotland, criticised the Scottish Government for refusing to reveal full details of expenditure on the luxury giveaways.

He said:: “We have called, as others have, for all expenditures over £50 to be posted online as they happen.

“This would be real information freedom and stop local and central governments hiding behind excuses that it costs too much to tell us how they are using our money.”

He added: “That shows contempt for taxpayers who may not mind how much is spent on sweetmeats but don’ t want those who rule us to have sweet privileges

“It’s time public servants understood that they can no longer assume taxpayers are willing to fund their happy hours of luxury living on expenses.”

In 2012 the government came under fire when it was revealed the government spent almost £500,000 sending the First Minster and his entourage on a week long trip to the Ryder Cup in Chicago.

It also spent nearly £43,000 on a ‘panda party’ when the panda’s arrived at Edinburgh Zoo from China.

Two years ago Alex Salmond was heavily criticised for spending £25,000 of taxpayers’ money every day of the Olympics on hiring out an exclusive gentlemen’s club in London to entertain businessmen and dignitaries.

The Scottish Government claimed it could not provide the information because it would involve a manual check of 75,000 orders, costing more than the £600 limit set by the Freedom of Information Act.

Despite this, a spokesman was quickly able to confirm that £291.24 had been spent on Highland Chocolatier products last year at official receptions and dinners.

The spokesman said: “At Scottish Government official dinners and receptions, we always seek to showcase Scotland’s finest produce. Highland Chocolatier are one of a number of suppliers used at events.”

October 2nd, 2014 | Posted in In the Scottish Press,Top Stories | Read More »

£1.3m spent spent ferrying pupils between schools for lessons

SCOTS councils are squandering millions of pounds ferrying pupils between schools by taxi for lessons.

Teacher shortages mean youngsters are getting cabs from their own school to another to study a specific subject.

Five councils have confirmed spending more than £1.3m on taxis for this purpose in the past five years.

 

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But with 32 local authorities in Scotland, the national total bill is almost certain to be many times higher.

Critics said it was a scandal that hard-pressed councils are handing cash to cabbies rather than investing in teaching staff.

Councils were asked under the Freedom of Information Act how much they had spent since 2009 on transporting pupils by taxi between schools for lessons.

North Lanarkshire revealed they had spent £500,291, West Lothian spent £394,909 and Glasgow forked out £309,687.

Aberdeen Council spent £83,365 on taxis and a further £34,951 on buses. Fife Council said it spent £31,827.

The total for these five councils was £1.32m.

A spokesman for TaxPayers Scotland said: “While they may claim it is at times necessary, this is a large amount of taxpayers’ money going to taxi drivers rather than lessons educating our children.

“We have to ask if we are seeing the outcome of an over-centralisation of education services such that common sense cannot prevail through localised decisions that would cut down on this wasteful expense and make our education providers more productive for our tax pounds.”

Scottish Conservative young people spokeswoman Liz Smith said: “Aside from the additional cost, these journeys will undoubtedly result in time spent away from the classroom, which can only be a negative.

“It’s crucial a school’s curriculum offers as wide a range of subjects as possible to avoid such journeys in future.”

Alan MacKenzie of Scottish Secondary Teachers Association said: “We’ve had grave concerns over the amount of money spent on taxis for quite some time.

“That amount of money could be spent in a more positive way.

“Even if it’s not on front line spending, it could go on equipment or books.

“The experience the young people get when they do this is not good, they don’t like it.

“That amount of money is a serious worry.”

Some Scottish high schools struggle to offer mainstream subjects to senior students, including history.

In 2009 it was revealed that St Mungo’s, Falkirk, had withdrawn history from S3 Standard Grade pupils because it only had one history teacher.

It was also withdrawn as a Higher exam option.

Last month it was revealed that Edinburgh Council made the controversial announcement that groups of high schools would be brought together as “consortia”.

Pupils will travel between schools to take subjects under the plan.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “School transport arrangements are clearly a matter for individual local authorities.”

October 2nd, 2014 | Posted in In the Scottish Press,Top Stories | Read More »

Joiner beats taking the stairs with Fireman pole adaption

HOUSEBUYERS are flocking to an unusual des res – to try out the fireman’s pole.

Joiner Kevin Wallace has put his Edinburgh bachelor pad on the market and hopes to get at least £250,000.

But while the location in upmarket Stockbridge is a big draw, most viewers are turning up for a shot on his 18ft stainless steel fireman’s pole.

The 30-year-old joker installed the pole as a quick way to reach his basement “man cave”.

He has used it so often he can slide from the kitchen to the basement with a full cup of coffee – and not spill a drop.

The 30-year-old from Edinburgh said: “Anyone who comes to the flat has to go down it – It’s an initiation.

“Everyone who has come to view it has been down it.”

Kevin hasn’t fitted a safety rail round the pole and admits his home is presently not the best place to bring up young children.

He said: “It’s great fun on a Saturday night when your mates are round.

“I can get down it with a cup of coffee in my hand.”

He added: “Even my gran has been down it and she loved it.

Kevin, who is the director of a joinery company, said: “I just thought, ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be cool to install a pole to simply slide down into the basement?”

October 2nd, 2014 | Posted in Multimedia,Videos | Read More »

Police reverse ban on colour-blind cops

POLICE Scotland have reversed their blanket ban on recruiting colour-blind officers.

An aspiring police officer, who was rejected from the force, mounted a legal bid to have the decision overturned.

The recruit had passed all of the other tests to begin training to become a police officer.

 

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But was told his moderate colour-blindness meant he would be unable to pursue a career in the force.

As the candidate, was set to launch a bid for damages at an employment tribunal, the force confirmed it had changed its policy and he would be allowed in.

Police Scotland confirmed: “Colour-blindness will no longer be an obstacle for recruiting.”

Solicitor Stephen Smith, represented the candidate, who did not wish to be named, said his client was now looking forward to “a long and fruitful career in the police”.

Mr Smith, of Glasgow Law Practice, said: “I know there have been people who have tried to join the police and have been refused because of this policy in the past, and our client had been trying for more than a year.

“Who knows how many officers have been refused entry over the years?

“This decision recognises the aim of anti-discrimination law is to ensure employers look at the individual’s own circumstances and how any hurdles in the way of them being able to work in a role can be overcome.

“If the hurdle can be overcome relatively easily, it is not going to be a good enough excuse for employers to turn down candidates who are highly motivated and have worked hard to qualify for roles.

Between 2004-2008, eight candidates were rejected by the now dissolved Strathclyde Police force because they had a form of red-green colour-blindness – usually found only in men.

 

lights4

 

Those who had previously been rejected from the police because of colour-blindness are to be contacted by Police Scotland and invited to re-apply.

Mr Smith argued that as colour-blindness affects more men than women, the previous policy was discriminatory towards males.

He also argued a blanket ban was unlawful and recruits should instead be considered on a case-by-case basis, given there are different degrees of colour blindness.

They believe that issues involving colour-blind officers being unable to fulfill their role efficiently could be solved by pairing them with offices with full vision.

Scottish Government guidance, published in 2003, had stated full colour perception was not a requirement to become an operational police constable.

However, the ban on colour-blind officers continued and Police Scotland has maintained its previous stance was legal.

Chief Inspector Alison Higgins, of Police Scotland’s Training and Recruitment centre, said: “We are committed to keep people safe and all our officers contribute to helping us achieve this.

“I can confirm we have now reviewed our policy and for some people their level of colour-blindness will not longer be an obstacle for recruiting.

“Previous candidates rejected on this basis will all be written to and advised of the change of the policy and invited to re-apply.

“While we are content our previous recruitment processes and procedures were legally sound met the guidance laid down in the determination of Scottish ministers for the assessment of eyesight standards for constables, it was felt this change of policy was necessary to improve accessibility and opportunity and help support the building of an inclusive workforce.”

October 1st, 2014 | Posted in In the Scottish Press,Top Stories | Read More »

Recycle crew rubbish at road safety

RECYCLING workers have been snapped parking their vehicle on a pavement and zig-zag lines – outside an off licence.

A passer-by photographed the vehicle in Edinburgh as the apparently thirsty workers made a pit stop.

While the crew may have been doing their bit for the environment, it seems they’re rubbish at road safety, blocking the path and obstructing the view of a pedestrian crossing.

RECYCLE_PARKING_HORROR_DN01 to use 2

According to Edinburgh’s Worst Drivers, the website which posted the snap, van was caught on Newcraighall Road last Thursday afternoon.

An Edinburgh council spokesman said: “The vehicle in question belongs to our recycling collection sub-contractor.

“Although not a council vehicle we expect the same high driving standards from our contractors as we do our own staff.

“We will be raising this incident with our contractor and reminding them of the importance of safe driving and strict adherence to the highway code.”

October 1st, 2014 | Posted in In the Scottish Press,Top Stories | Read More »

Nurse altered patients’ records to prescribe herself drugs

A NURSE used confidential patients’ medical records to prescribe herself powerful sedatives.

Rebecca Preston sneaked into GPs’ consulting rooms and used their computers to create false prescriptions for real patients.

The Glasgow-based practice nurse obtained diazepam on three occasions, using the drugs to self-medicate, a hearing was told.

She was only caught when alert staff at a supermarket pharmacy spotted a discrepancy.

A doctor at the McGlone practice, part of Baillieston Health Centre, Glasgow, admitted computers were left logged on when they were out of consulting rooms.

Mrs Preston, 49, from Robroyston, Glasgow, admitted 12 charges when she appeared at a hearing of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in Edinburgh this week.

Disgraced nurse

She admitted that between August and December 2012 she accessed GPs’ computers without authorisation, created prescriptions for diazepam in the names of patients, deleted an electronic record, attempted to obtain diazepam and attempted to conceal her actions.

Case presenter Natasha Partos told the panel that Mrs Preston had a health problem and had printed off extra prescriptions for patients already on diazepam.

She said the nurse was caught after staff at the pharmacy at ASDA Parkhead Forge who could see that the electronic record of one of the paper prescriptions had been deleted.

Dr Gerard McKaig, a partner at the practice, told the hearing: “It’s our policy that if you leave a room, you log off a computer.

“But it’s quite a clunky IT process. If you were going out for lunch or something you would log

off. We were obviously not adhering to that policy enough.”

The details of Mrs Preston’s health problem were heard in private but reference was made during the case to the potential for “social drinking” in a new job she was about to take in medical sales.

One of the uses of diazepam is to treat people suffering from problems related to alcohol.

Mrs Preston, who represented herself, said: “I genuinely felt I wasn’t hurting anybody.”

She added: “I can’t justify it”.

“I was functioning. I was doing things. I was just in a bit of a fog. “

She said she did not realise she was making lasting alterations to patient’s records.

“The first time it happened it was quite impulsive. I went in to do something

legitimate and I thought, I could just get the records out.”

“I was trying to find a solution to my problems without a requirement to admit the nature of my problems.”

“I am very sorry for what I have done. My intention would never be to hurt a patient. For all I can say about how bad I feel about myself, I was a good nurse.”

The NMC panel will now decide whether Mrs Preston is fit to practice.

October 1st, 2014 | Posted in In the Scottish Press,Top Stories | Read More »

Homebuyers flock to try out des res’s fireman’s pole

HOUSEBUYERS are flocking to an unusual des res – to try out the fireman’s pole.

Joiner Kevin Wallace has put his Edinburgh bachelor pad on the market and hopes to get at least £250,000.

But while the location in upmarket Stockbridge is a big draw, most viewers are turning up for a shot on his 18ft stainless steel fireman’s pole.

Fire pole house

The 30-year-old joker installed the pole as a quick way to reach his basement “man cave”.

He has used it so often he can slide from the kitchen to the basement with a full cup of coffee – and not spill a drop.

Sellers DJ Alexander describe the property as a “stylish two bedroom apartment, recently been renovated, and in truly splendid condition.

They say it has a “wonderful breakfasting kitchen complete with modern fitted units and sold oak worktops”.

Fire pole house

But the mention of a “very quirky fireman’s pole” has caught the eye of prospective buyers and helped draw more than 30 views in the first seven days it went on sale

The 30-year-old from Edinburgh said: “Anyone who comes to the flat has to go down it – It’s an initiation.

“Everyone who has come to view it has been down it.”

Kevin hasn’t fitted a safety rail round the pole and admits his home is presently not the best place to bring up young children.

He said: “It’s great fun on a Saturday night when your mates are round.

“I can get down it with a cup of coffee in my hand.”

He added: “Even my gran has been down it and she loved it.

Kevin, who is the director of a joinery company, said: “I just thought, ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be cool to install a pole to simply slide down into the basement?

“As far as bachelor pads go, it ticks all the boxes.

“It’s a man cave basement, with a 55” television and you can literally get food from the kitchen and slide right down and relax on the sofa.

October 1st, 2014 | Posted in In the Scottish Press,Top Stories | Read More »

Scots “hensioners” to get the benefit of chicken power

CHICKEN power is set to transform the lives of lonely Scottish pensioners.

OAPs at risk of social isolation and depression will be given hens to care for under the inspirational charity scheme.

Already a big success south of the border, HenPower is being introduced to Scotland in November.

 

Hensioners, chicken rescue

 

The £10,000 pilot – paid for by the Big Lottery Fund - will see more than 200 pensioners at six care homes get feathered friends.

In England, the scheme has proved so successful it has resulted in reduced medical prescriptions for OAPs with dementia.

Charity Equal Arts say the birds provide a triple bonus.

“Hensioners” enjoy the company of the chickens, socialise more with each other – and get a steady supply of fresh eggs.

Rosie Harrison, who is leading HenPower Scotland said: ““Hen-keeping is the catalyst to engage people at risk of loneliness and isolation.”

She said they enjoyed “meaningful activities such as arts and crafts, exercise, dance, healthy eating and intergenerational sessions with schools”.

 

Hensioners, chicken rescue

 

The Hensioners, are responsible for the daily care of the birds, including feeding, cleaning and collecting eggs.

Along with enjoying weekly activities based around the hen keeping, such as creative writing, painting and photography.

Couple John and Jean Dow, from Edinburgh, spent a few hours in the company of hens to see what all the fuss is about.

Mrs Dow, 79, said: “They love cuddles. They are soft to touch and like attention.

“I think it’s a good idea, especially when you’re old, it gives you something to do. I’m not able to get about much so I could just sit in a chair in the garden and watch them all day long.”

Mr Dow, 70, said: “They are curious wee animals and fun to watch. And you will get lots of free eggs.”

 

Hensioners, chicken rescue

 

The Scottish pilot will take place in Edinburgh and the Lothians.

Douglas Hunter, director of Equal Arts said: “We are very happy to be introducing our scheme to Scotland. We hope the Scottish pensioners get as much enjoyment out of the hens as those who have in England.

“The health improvements for older people who care for hens is significant. It improves well being, reduces depression and reduces loneliness.”

October 1st, 2014 | Posted in In the Scottish Press,Top Stories | Read More »

Scottish government plans drone and laser attacks on geese

DRONES and lasers are set to be deployed by the Scottish Government in a £41m bid to rid an island of its rampaging population of geese.

Islay has 70% of the world’s barnacle and white-fronted geese – but the birds are acting like “a swarm of locusts” according to angry farmers.

A report reveals that Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has already tried and failed to control the flocks using bizarre methods such as self-launching kites, helium balloons, fireworks and a gas-inflated, siren-blazing ‘scary man’ mannequin.

scary man

The birds barely paid any notice and SNH is planning a tougher strategy, under pressure from Islay farmers concerned about the damage geese are causing to their £11m-a-year industry.

Radio-controlled drone aircraft, powerful laser beams and robotic four wheel drive vehicles are among the techniques being considered to drive away the geese.

If that fails, a large-scale cull could be ordered, either by shooting or covering geese eggs in oil and smothering the chicks inside.

The controversial crackdown – which is opposed by groups including the RSPB – is set to cost taxpayers between £30m – £41m over the next 15 years.

Almost 5,000 of the 55,000 geese have already been legally culled since 2011 by farmers, who have also received almost £850,000 in compensation.

The ‘Islay Sustainable Goose Management Strategy devised by SNH’s and the National Farmer’s Union (NFU) aims to cut the population by 30%.

According to a draft report on the scheme, self-launching kites, squawkers that replicate bird noises, spinning, light-reflective ‘peace pyramids’ and ‘flash harry’ – a powered rotating device, have all proved “ineffective”.

Helium balloons were “not robust enough to withstand the severity of Islay’s winter weather”.

Goose-scaring techniques labelled as “possibly” to be used on Islay include lasers, with laser pen trials due to be carried out in 2014-15, “long-term work at the development of automatic robotic vehicles to scare geese and radio-controlled drones that require a “skilled operator”.

Techniques ruled out by government researchers include ‘raptor models,’ falconry’ and ‘chemical deterrents’ – due to its “expense.”

Andrew Bauer, deputy director of policy at the NFU Scotland said: “The ground at Islay is very fertile, there is plenty of food, and their numbers have grown, there are around 50,000 geese currently.

“On a field of grass, the geese are like a swarm of locusts, eating everything and farmers are left with mud. They eat crops and foul on the grass, making it unsafe and unhealthy for livestock, with concern for salmonella.”

Mr Bauer said that if birds have to be culled “one technique that may be used is oiling eggs, meaning embryos and baby geese will be suffocated to death.

“It is a hugely contentious and very sensitive issue.”

But Eben Wilson, director of Taxpayerscotland, questioned the cost of the programme.

He said: “Can this very expensive program really be justified as being value for money? Clearly a lot of centralised planning is going into thinking about how to resolve this problem, but we have to ask if taxpayers would be better served by locally sourced effort at much lower cost?

“The approach smacks of an expensive centralised bureaucratic approach to a local issue, which inevitably leads to gold-plated ideas about scaring methods, strategic processes and reporting audits.”

Libby Anderson, Policy Director or animal charity OneKind, said: “It would be hugely disappointing to see the emphasis on Islay change from a combination of deterrence, diversionary feeding and compensation for farmers to potential killing on a large scale.”

A spokesman from RSPB added: “Though we acknowledge that geese can affect farm profits, we have expressed our opposition to this plan, and questioned its compliance with international law.”

A Scottish Natural Heritage spokesman said: “We are currently finalising a new longer term goose management strategy for Islay. This will reduce the crop damage caused by barnacle geese, improve habitat for white-fronted geese and make best use of available funding.

“The aim is for a pragmatic approach that balances the need to support sustainable goose populations with the interests of Islay farmers and the limitations on available budgets.”

September 29th, 2014 | Posted in In the Scottish Press,Top Stories | Read More »

1,000 racist incidents recorded in nine Scottish council primaries

A SICKENING catalogue of racist abuse in Scottish primary schools has been unveiled by education chiefs.

Nine of Scotland’s biggest councils confirmed there had been almost 1,000 racist incidents serious enough to be recorded in primary schools in the past three years.

The worst last year was Edinburgh – with almost three incidents reported on average every week.

Fife Council was the only council to give specific information about the 94 incidents recorded in the area’s schools since 2011.

In one case, a pupil talked about putting another “in the washing machine to turn him white”.

And a child from an ethnic minority was taunted that “he looked like he had chocolate on his face”.

Ten of Scotland’s biggest councils were asked to provide details under the Freedom of Information Act.

Nine councils revealed a total of 971 cases since 2011 but the figure is likely to be much higher because the country’s biggest council, Glasgow, did not provide figures.

Since 2011, Edinburgh has seen 428 racist incidents, ranging from verbal to physical assaults.

Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: “The children involved in these incidents are extremely young, and will be saying these things without knowing their potential consequences.

“As a result, it’s important the solution is education rather than simple punishment.

“If we can make children realise at a young age that such remarks are unacceptable, this will reduce the chances of them being repeated in later life.”

A spokesman for BEMIS (corr), a charity which empowers Scotland’s ethnic and cultural minority community, believes more needs to be done to tackle racism in schools.

He said: “Our Schools do not exist in a social vacuum and while it is naturally a concern that these attitudes have been reflected across 32 local authorities it does not wholly surprise me.

“As communities and citizens we must empower people to utilise the legislation at their disposal in fighting racism.

“Schools should be accountable to their duties but equally to be supported by us all in advancing their effort in addressing such serious issues.”

Craig Munro, Executive Director of Education and Children’s Services for Fife Council said: “The welfare and well-being of all our pupils is our number one priority.

“We take a proactive approach to multi-cultural education and to valuing all diversity.

Racism is an issue we take very seriously within our very well developed and robust approach to equalities and inclusion.

“This means that all incidents are reported and meticulously recorded.”

“In Fife we have implemented a range of approaches to ensure children and young people develop positive attitudes to support an inclusive society.”

September 29th, 2014 | Posted in In the Scottish Press,Top Stories | Read More »

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