Caithness Courier review: August 31, 2011

paper leads with a human story involving an intrepid Thurso businessman who plans to undertake a formidable sponsored challenge to help his younger brother who lies critically injured in a hospital in Singapore. Mark Taylor, owner of Picture Box and Hush boutique, intends to swim part of the Pentland Firth, climb the three highest peaks in the UK and cycle over 500 miles, all within the space of a week. He announced the ambitious triathlon,after brother Matthew was involved in a head-on collision and came off his motorcycle in Bali. The 30-year-old required numerous operations to rebuild his skull and treatment to fight infections such as pneumonia, septicaemia and MRSA, but with no travel insurance, the hospital bills are running high. In the nine weeks since the accident, the family has had to find tens of thousands of pounds for Mathew’s care.

choreographer is set to hit the nation’s TV screens in a brand-new reality show. Nicky Alexander (43) will be one of the judges in Sky One’s new show, Show Boaters. The programme, which has been described as the cruising world’s answer to the X-Factor, sees 10 amateur entertainers compete on the Thomason flagship cruise liner, Dream, around the Caribbean. The winner will receive a contract with the ship’s prestigious entertainment troupe this winter. Nicky enjoyed being a judge on the show but said the contest was not for the faint-hearted.

, Gordon Calder reports that a wartime tragedy is to be commemorated when a plaque is unveiled to the 15 men who lost their lives when their boat sank off Wick, almost 70 years ago. The memorial to the crew of the Isleford, will be unveiled at a special ceremony, which is to take place in the town at the weekend. The vessel, requisitioned by the Nave to ferry munitions and other supplies, came to grief in a gale below Proudfoot in January 1942. The 150ft vessel ran into difficulties after developing engine trouble and was driven onto rocks. Conditions at the time were so severe, it was not possible to launch the local lifeboat and a lifesaving crew could not get a line on board. The loss of life will be commemorated when a plaque is unveiled at the Kirkhill garden and two-minutes silence will be observed.

are under way to help a Caithness village, which was affected by flooding at the weekend-for the second time in 10 months. Halkirk was one of the worst hit places in the Far North during the extreme weather which struck late on Saturday and continued into Sunday. A total of 67mm of rain fell in Caithness in the space of 24 hours, which caused the drainage system in the village to overflow. Church Street and Sinclair Lane were the worst hit areas in Halkirk. Gardens were flood with excess water and sewage flowed out of a manhole. It was the fifth time in four years that flooding has hit the village and the second time in 10 months.

budget of less than £175 to provide snacks at a Wick nursery was yesterday described as “absolutely crazy”. A spokeswoman at the North school nursery hit out after Highland Council decided to stop parents giving their children £2 per week for snacks in local authority-run nurseries. The move was prompted by the council after an audit report found some schools were making unreasonable charges to families and breaching financial regulations. But the nursery spokeswoman, who wished to remain anonymous, said parents were unhappy with the council’s decision and preferred the previous system which ended shortly after the start of the new school term.

IMPROVEMENTS to access will result in more people being able to enjoy one the Far North’s best-loved beaches. The main public pathway onto Reiss beach is to undergo refurbishment to help those with mobility problems enjoy the beauty spot. The work is to be done thanks to a project organised by the Caithness Voluntary Group. After applying to the Scottish and Southern Energy’s Community at Heart programme, volunteers from local businesses will be working on the initiative next month. It will involve lowering the steps from the car park to the beach. They also plan to extend the handrail and erect a pole at the dunes to indicate the exit point, from a distance.

A POWER-to the-people rallying call, made by a local MSP, has met with a mixed response from Caithness councillors. Rob Gibson launched a public consultation early last week, asking voters what they thought of taking certain decision-making responsibilities back from the Highland Council to Caithness. He also accused the local authority of becoming “distant” from the Far North and said people in the county were “hungry for local control”. Six of the ten councillors gave a response, with opinions ranging from support to scepticism that devolved powers would be the best things for Caithness.#

£125,000 was raised at the Caithness Relay for Life event, despite severe weather conditions bringing things to a premature end. Organisers were forced to pull the plug on the fundraiser, the biggest ever held in the Far North, in the early hours of Sunday as gale-force winds and heavy rain swept the county. Sixty five teams out of the 74 registered, braved the elements to walk, run and dance around the track as proceedings got underway at the Dammies in Thurso, on Saturday.

manager Davie Kirkwood said the only way to describe his team’s performance at the weekend was by comparing it to the second game of the season when the Scorries made all the right moves but failed to pull the necessary punches. Both sides were out for three points at the Rothes ground, and were not afraid to show it. However, Kirkwood’s outfit failed to put the finishing touches to multiple opportunities leaving Rothes with the winning scoreline of 2-1 and all three points.