John O' Groat Journal headlines for December 12

CAITHNESS General Howpital could be downgraded to a community hospital according to a local health campaigner. Elizabeth Smith from Thurso made the claim this week but it was strongly denied by NHS Highland yesterday.

CONFIDENCE in Dounreay management has been "shattered" by a series of incidents at the site, claims a retired Caithness minister. The Rev Ronnie JOhnstone is worried about low morale at the plant, turnover in senior managers and a recent sodium fire.

THE first-time pass rate for learner drivers in Caithness is highler among men according to new figures. However, local women fare better in the theory test, scoring a higher success rate.

ACCIDENT and emergency cover at Caithness General Hospital could be compromised by cuts in out-of-hours surgery. That was said by local MP John Thurso who is unhappy with plans to stop 24-hour surgical provision at the Wick hospital.

A THURSO-BORN producer whose show was hailed as a watershed moment in Gaelic music and theatre, has been nominated for two major awards. Jim Sutherland's production of Strulleag: Children of the Smoke, told the story of the Gaelic Diaspora who left Scotland to travel across the world and was performed in front of over 5000 people at Glasgow Green in July.

A SOAP opera actress who hails from Caithness, counts herself lucky not to have been a victim of the typhoon which has caused devastation in parts of the Phillipines. Karyn Johnston, who comes from Halkirk, has been living in the Phillipines for two years and features in a hit TV soap.

THE mothers of what culd be two of the county's highest achievers in swimming, have decried the lack of support and understanding shown by people in Caithness towards them. Wick parents Karen Bremner and Karen Hagan have children involved in the top level of swimming for their ages by the mums, believe the kids have almost reached the extent of what is possible inCaithness because of limitations brought on by local difficulty in accessing local facilities and lack of support from local people.