Your letters to The Buteman: September 4, 2015

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Kidney dialysis, the Bute Highland Games, Rothesay’s flower show and a tribute to retiring MSP Jamie McGrigor all feature in the latest crop of readers’ letters to The Buteman.

If you’d like to comment on any of the topics raised, or any subject of interest to Bute, drop an email to by 5pm on Monday at the latest - though as always, the sooner we hear from you, the better are your chances of seeing your views in print.

Please keep your letters as brief as you can, and remember to include your name and address for publication. We also need a daytime contact phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice, though this will not be printed.

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Campaign for Bute dialysis unit

In response to the article entitled ‘NHS dialysis decision still a year away’, in your August 21 edition of The Buteman I would like to clarify some of the content of said article, and to reassure Mr Crichton that he is not alone in seeking a dialysis unit on Bute.

Bute Kidney Patients Support Group has tried for many years to get a dialysis unit on Bute as we are very conscious of how tiring it can be for patients having to travel three times a week to hospital on the mainland to dialyse.

The winter weather and ferry disruptions do not help and this can really make very ill patients much worse.

BKPSG’s committee is made up of a mixture of dialysis patients as well as wider members of our community and we have worked tirelessly in lobbying the NHS over the years to provide renal facilities on the island.

Mr Crichton’s sister regularly attended our meetings until she died. Her daughter is still an active member of our committee as we strive to make lives easier for renal patients on Bute and provide support for their families.

Over the years we have been given various scenarios and excuses by the NHS including a lack of funds by the NHS to provide such a facility. BKPSG offered to try to raise the funds to get a dialysis unit for the island but had to back down when the NHS wanted us to pay for the training and wages of the renal nurses required.

That was too much of a commitment as we could not guarantee raising enough from the local community to pay NHS salaries year on year.

Over the years we have had various promises from the NHS to the effect that we would be ‘next on the list’ to get a dedicated unit on Bute. We have written to MPs and MSPs only to be fobbed off.

We can provide evidence which shows that Bute has a very high number of dialysis patients as a percentage of our population.

Recent information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act shows that notwithstanding the current dialysis patients on Bute, there are a further 19 patients at stage 4 of kidney disease, so there is likely to be an increase in the number of patients receiving dialysis.

We welcome the pilot unit at Campbeltown and are aware that it will be evaluated over the course of a year. What your readers may not be aware of is that Campbeltown had to raise around £250,000 to enable this pilot to go ahead. NHS had agreed as part of this pilot to pay the salaries of the renal nurses but Campbeltown had to pay for their training which was expensive.

We are also aware that other areas of Argyll will want a similar model and will also be campaigning but we want Bute to be ‘next on the list’.

With this in mind we have decided to officially launch our campaign to get a dialysis unit on Bute on October 1 to try to raise £300,000. We believe that anything Campbeltown can do, we can also do, so if there are any members of our community who can help or support us in any way to raise this amount please contact me on (01700) 505456 as soon as possible. Anything you can do, no matter how small, will be very much appreciated.

Bute is a fantastic place to live with generous residents, we are counting on you to help those with this life-threatening disease to make their lives more bearable and to ensure that future generations of islanders do not have to suffer the hardship of travelling off the island three times a week to stay alive.

Allan McFarlane, Woodburn, 27 Marine Place, Rothesay

Games Day thanks from chairman

I would be extremely grateful for the opportunity, through your columns, to express my gratitude to all who helped to make the Bute Highland Games on August 22 such a success.

Bute Highland Games is truly a community event - a real ‘pulling together’ by so many people to make it all happen - an organising committee (all volunteers) and an army of other voluntary helpers, who work tirelessly to erect and dismantle tents, platforms, fences etc., sell programmes and generally help to prepare and run the event.

A special mention should also be made of the council staff who worked so hard to make the ground around the park in a usable condition, following some very bad weather indeed.

We were a little unlucky that there was some rainfall just prior to the opening ceremony, as this does tend to affect the numbers of those attending; however I am delighted to confirm that the numbers of visitors and locals coming through the gates picked up in the afternoon and we enjoyed a very healthy attendance indeed.

It was a pleasure to watch the vast number of competitors from so many different disciplines . We had a record number of 185 runners in the 10K Road Race and also a record number of 260 Highland dancers competing; and it was particularly pleasing to see the large number of local youngsters compete in the various competitions.

On a financial note, I am proud to say that Bute Highland Games neither asks nor receives any assistance from the public purse - we manage to operate reasonably profitably (well on dry, sunny days anyway!) by our own efforts and hard work.

When we do make a profit, we guard the money wisely, because that is what keeps us going through the occasional wet days, when income is considerably reduced.

However, we could not manage this without the assistance of our many supporters - our sponsors, our advertisers and our army of Patrons. Without the financial support given to us by these individuals and businesses, then we could not survive.

We are also grateful to the vast number of locals and visitors who flock through our gates in such numbers, for without them there would be little point in carrying on.

This year, we had a wonderful Honorary Chieftain in Len Scoullar, Provost of Argyll and Bute. Len, accompanied by wife Beverley, circulated throughout the park, chatting to many of the competitors, officials and visitors, prior to taking the salute and presenting the prizes at the end of the day.

The feedback which we have received so far regarding our Highland Games this year has been tremendous. It certainly seems clear that many people had a thoroughly enjoyable day.

The weather was very kind to us (other than the shower of rain early on) and this always helps to make success come more easily.

To those who worked so hard to make the event happen; to those who attended and supported the event; and those who were unable to attend but supported us in other ways, I offer my sincere gratitude - without you, there would be no Highland Games.

I feel very privileged to be the chairman of Bute Highland Games. The normal period of office for a Games chairman is two years, so I will be standing down at our next AGM, but will continue to serve on the committee.

The last two years have been an honour and a pleasure for me and I wish every good fortune to my successor.

I hope that I may ask you to note the date of Saturday, August 20, 2016, in your diaries as I very much look forward to seeing you again next year at Bute Highland Games.

Gordon Sutherland (Chairman of Bute Highland Games), Birgidale School House, Kingarth

Thank you from show organisers

On behalf of the committee of the Rothesay Horticultural Society I would like to thank all our members and supporters for all the help and support they have given the committee over the last few days.

We had a successful ‘Beechgrove Garden’ Gardeners’ question time on Thursday night and our members turned out in great numbers to give us a full house. Many people have told us how much they enjoyed the night. There were many question and great answers, much laughter and a good time was had by all.

We then had our annual Flower show in which Jim McColl from the Beechgrove opened our show and presented the prizes. Again this was very busy.

The exhibits were fantastic and even though we have had a wet and windy summer, the exhibits showcased the talents that our members have.

The Beechgrove crew including Carole Baxter were filming on Saturday as well and they all remarked on the quality of the exhibits.

The shows will be broadcast on September 10 (Gardeners ‘Question time) and September 17 (the Flower Show).

Thank you to everyone who helped us out with donations, stewarding, judging, taking photographs, catering, engraving and everything else that is needed to host another successful show.

Thank you to James McMillan and all the Pavilion staff for their support over the weekend.

Next year’s show will take place on September 3-4, 2016, in Trinity Church halls and garden. The schedule for this is already out and members were able to get their copy at the 2015 show.

For anyone that didn’t get a copy, if you contact a member of the committee we will make sure you get one.

The schedule is also on our website and regular updates are on our Facebook page as well as our website.

We have had over 60 new members this year so gardening, crafts, baking etc., is truly thriving here on Bute.

Thank you again to everyone and look forward to seeing you at the 2016 show.

Margaret Williams (show secretary, RHS), Rosehill, Academy Road, Rothesay

Thank you to retiring MSP Jamie

I’d like to add my words of thanks to Jamie McGrigor MSP for his 16 years of service to Argyll, the Highlands, the rest of Scotland and the UK.

I first contacted Jamie at the age of 17 when I had just taken over the local post office and was expanding the retail side of my business.

With his support along with letters from my local community I was successful in getting an off licence thus helping my business grow and helping ensure the local business stays open.

Jamie was of huge help to the island of Islay when we were campaigning about the seemingly endless power cuts our island was suffering from a few years ago.

As a result, from active local campaigning and huge pressure from parliamentarians including Jamie, the power cuts have all but stopped and compensation was paid out to many households on Islay.

Jamie has pointed out time and time again the huge imbalance between the vast tax revenues generated on Islay and the little we receive in public spending.

Shortage of housing, slow broadband, poor condition of our roads and shockingly low dairy prices: when it comes to all of these issues Jamie has been at the forefront, fighting for a better deal for Argyll and for the Highlands and Islands.

At times he seemed to be the only parliamentarian bothering to attend meeting and speak up for our corner out side of election time.

Jamie will be greatly missed and I wish him and his family the very best for the future.

Alastair Redman, 23 Shore Street, Portnahaven, Islay