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8 November 2002

TRAGIC DEATH AT HUNTER’S QUAY
PASSENGERS waiting at the Hunter’s Quay Western Ferries Terminal early on Sunday evening witnessed a horrific accident.
A 38 year old woman, who had been seen sitting in her car for some time before the incident, drove her vehicle into the water.
Police, Fire Brigade, Police divers from Glasgow and the Ambulance Service all attended, but were unable to save the woman, and her body was later recovered from the vehicle, which was in more than 20 feet of water.
The actual vehicle was recovered late on Sunday night.
A spokesman for Strathclyde Police Dunoon stated that they were investigating the incident. The Health and Safety Executive are also looking into it.
The woman’s name has not been released by Police, because the incident is under investi-gation.


PUMPING STATION FUELS DEBATE
THE sewage spotlight shifted back to Tighnabruaich this week as further complaints emerged from local residents surrounding the construction of the new pumping station in the village.
Amid the controversy concerning the proposed formation of a sewage works plant in Kilbride Quarry, Dunoon - an issue reported in last week’s Observer - voices of dissent in Tighnabruaich have not faltered, accentuating the general unease which surrounds the area.
Local citizen Harry Young is furious about the positioning of the works pumping station which is situated only feet away from his front garden.
He said: “All my neighbours have complained about it. Why not have it beside the garage where there is an existing lay-by? There has to be a lay-by built here as well so the trucks can pump it out. As it is, there is a building to be built on top, but that doesn’t require planning permission, which seems crazy. It was meant to be steel. Then it was changed from steel to stone and made bigger.The side walls will be huge and there will even be seating. Can you imagine people sitting at a pumping station?”
He continued: “It is clear that the view of the Kyles will be obstructed, in an area where tourists come to admire the scenery. Even the Secretary of State has a holiday home here, but did nothing to prevent the siting of these stations from going ahead. I can hear environmentalists saying that sewerage treatment schemes are necessary and I heartily agree, having retired as an official of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. But you should understand that we will not be connected! Only those on the existing public sewerage system will be connected and there is a large area from Rhubaan to the Manse which has no pipeline laid in for future connection.”
These reported problems follow an official visit to the village by MSP Duncan Hamilton and Shadow Environment Minister Bruce Crawford in August, when both men met with Scottish Water officials and locals in a bid to calm fears regarding the proposed connection fee for the system and the apparent disarray caused by the diggers.
Meanwhile, at Tuesday’s Bute and Cowal Area Committee Meeting it was suggested that the people of West Bay, Dunoon be consulted regarding the suggested site of the sewerage works at Kilbride Quarry, Dunoon. This included demands that Innellan, Dunoon, and Sandbank have appropriate systems in place by December 2005. Councillor Bruce Marshall, unhappy at the level of sewage going into the Firth of Clyde, demonstrated his concern about cost cutting and primary treatment into the West Bay.
It was also revealed that representatives from Argyll and Bute Council’s Environmental Protection will be included in the process concerning the implementation of the proposed sewage works.


SENTENCE REDUCED YET AGAIN
FURNACE woman Kim Galbraith, who shot dead her policeman husband, could be free in January.
Kim was originally sentenced to life inprisonment after being found guilty of her husband’s murder in January 1999.
However, this sentence was reduced to 10 years following an appeal last year, where she pled guilty to culpable homicide.
But, in a further twist in the case that changed Scots law, the Criminal Court of Appeal in Edinburgh cut the latest sentence by two years.
And Kim could now be eligible for parole in January, having served just half of the new eight year sentence.
She challenged her 10 year sentence before appeal judges, who took into account the fact that she was a first offender, had been a model prisoner and has a five-year-old daughter.
Kim was originally jailed after shooting her husband dead, setting fire to the house and then claiming that intruders had broken in, killed her husband and raped her.
But she maintained at her trial that she should have been convicted of the lesser charge of culpable homicide, because of lengthy sexual abuse she claimed to have suffered from her husband.
Her murder conviction was overturned by a special bench of five appeal judges last year, who re-wrote the law on diminished responsibility over an accused’s mental state.


DECISION TIME FOR LESLEY
CONTRARY to reports made in the Observer last week about a trial date being set for Lesley Jane McCulloch, sources close to her have revealed that a trial date has not been confirmed.
Lesley, who has been detained in Indonesia since September 10 with American woman Joy Lee Sadler, has not been formally charged. However, reports from Indonesia have highlighted that the two women are being held under visa violation offences.
Lesley, who has written material in the past about the Indonesian security forces, has told of the poor treatment she has received since being held in custody.
A decision will be made this week as to whether the pair will be officially charged or released. After 60 days, the Indonesian authorities must either let the women go or try them in a court of law.
Friends and family have continually campaigned for Lesley’s release through petitions and letters of support, and local MP, Alan Reid, has also raised questions to Mike O’Brien, Minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, in relation to Lesley’s situation.


SAS DEFEND NEW PROPOSALS
REPRESENTATIVES from the Scottish Ambulance Service defended their corner at this week’s Bute and Cowal Area Committee meeting.
Heads of Service and the Divisional Officer for the North Clyde Area attended the council meeting to allay local fears over the future of the ambulance service in Cowal.
Regarding the removal of the two Dunoon based on-call ambulances through the night, Head of Service Ron Lilley stated: “Due to a change in EU legislation we are no longer able to depend on the stand-by delivery, whereby ambulance crews operate from home.
“Dunoon’s general health service provision has changed and there is an increased requirement for a number of patients to be transferred to Inverclyde Royal Hospital, Royal Alexandra Hospital and hospitals in Glasgow – the more specialist hospitals. Therefore, there is a heavy demand on the local ambulance crew day and night.
“In September 2001, we were served with a prohibition, because it had become clear that the crew in Dunoon were working well over their 48 hour week, with some into treble figures.
“Because of this we had to put together a business plan for the Scottish Executive and have since received £125,000 which we have put into Dunoon this year, increasing staffing levels from eight to 13.”
He explained: “There has now been a change in the number of ambulances at certain times of the day. From midnight to 8am there is only one ambulance available. However, this means that there is permanent live cover instead of two ambulances on stand-bys. There is now a paramedic and a technician at the ambulance station in Dunoon 24 hours a day.”
Mr Lilley continued: “This has been perceived as a shortfall by members of this community. However, I would like to stress that we will still be employing auxiliaries with limited training, and they will cover during periods of holiday and sickness. We are also still engaging three staff as auxiliaries, who will operate from midnight to 8am.”
The last five years have seen ambulance resources allocated on a more dynamic basis, with the nearest to the call being resourced to it.
An ambulance from any area travelling through Dunoon can be tasked to an emergency within the town.
Mr Lilley went on to say: “We are now treating the Cowal Peninsula as an island, whereby ambulances based in the area will not leave it. They will provide the immediate response, then another ambulance will be despatched to transfer the patient should they require it. In extreme emergencies the patient will be air lifted out – by the Ministry of Defence if necessary.”
When asked whether transferring patients in transport outwith the area could mean that the transferring ambulance encounters three ferry journeys before the patient reaches the desired hospital, Mr Lilley stated that, yes, this could happen.
If the transferral is during the night, the ambulance crew will firstly have to alert the ferry company, so that they can call out their crew, then this ferry will have to cross to collect the ambulance from Gourock and bring it back. The ambulance will then collect the patient from Dunoon General Hospital before taking them back on the ferry to the chosen hospital across the water.
Regarding the ambulance situation at Tighnabruaich, an advert has been placed for a paramedic/technician for the area.
Mr Lilley said: “We are hopeful that in the next two to three weeks we will have filled the post at Tighnabruaich, either with one or two paramedics/technicians.”


HAPPY HALLOWE’EN
MANY distinguished guests joined Harry Potter and friends last Wednesday night — not at Hogwarts School, but at Tighnabruaich School — for a Hallowe’en bash hosted by that famous quidditch team, Kyles Athletic.
Some arrived by broomstick, some by sheer magic, for their costumes to be judged by local couple Iain and Hazel Davie.
After the formalities, a little magic opened the chamber of secrets to reveal juice and biscuits for all. Everyone agreed it had been a magic night as they vanished into the darkness for another year.
Results: Primary 1 and 2: 1, Harry Potter, Ross MacRae; 2, Dinosaur, Justin Jacques; 3, Wizard, Jon Fraser.
Primary 3 and 4: 1, Witch from Snow White, Shannon Lamb; 2, Count Dracula, David Boyle; 3, Butterfly, Lana Blair.
Primary 5, 6 and 7: 1, Clown, Thomas Boyle; 2, Headless Woman, Leoma Armstrong; 3, Mummy, Liam Jacques.
Pairs/Groups: 1, Two Tiggers, Jade and Adam Wren; 2, Cowboy and Indian, Helen MacRae and David Scott; 3, Witch and Wizard, Sam and Elenor Everall.
Babies and Toddlers: 1, Fairy Princess, Rowan Mobeck; 2, Fairy, Ellise Blair; 3, Blues Brother, Jamie Johnston.
Pre-5’s: 1, Clown, Nathan Mobeck; 2, Pirate, Kieran Mobeck; 3, Witch, Theo Andrews.


“PAST FORGETTING” . . . for Lady Veronica Maclean
NOT many people can claim to have danced with Jack and Joe Kennedy, been friends with Sir Winston Churchill, and still have energy to organise a mercy mission, taking medical supplies to Dubrovnik at the height of the Yugoslavian war in 1991.
Nonetheless, the individual in question – Lady Veronica Maclean, from Strachur House, Argyll - is one such lady who has lived a life of which only a few can dream.
Even at the ripe old age of 82 she shows no sign of slowing down and has just written another book, this time her autobiography, entitled ‘Past Forgetting.’
Born in 1920 to Simon Fraser, 16th Lord Lovat and 22nd Chief of Clan Fraser, at Beaufort Castle in Scotland, Lady Veronica describes her childhood as happy days. She grew up on a large estate, which hosted glamorous parties to which the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) and many other members of the Royal family were invited.
On entering Strachur House, always with a warm welcome, you cannot help but notice the signed pictures of Sir Winston Churchill and portraits of the late Queen Mother as well as one of a young Prince Charles. I felt totally captivated by these individuals – icons of the twentieth century.
Nonetheless, Lady Veronica tells of how she set off for France, aged 19, to work as a nurse during World War Two.
Life was particularly grim during this period. Not only did she lose her first husband, Naval Officer Alan Phipps, when he was killed in action in 1943; it also left her widowed with two children to bring up. Lady Veronica tried to get on with life as best she could, but two years later she was to meet and fall in love with Fitzroy Maclean, whom she later married.
Speaking to the Observer, about their relationship, she described it as: “A very happy marriage – just over 50 years.
“The things that mattered most to Fitz were writing, travelling and being a soldier.”
Many people have described Fitzroy Maclean as being the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s James Bond character.
On one occasion he parachuted into occupied Yugoslavia to link up with the partisans under Marshall Tito, who later became his personal friend.
Lady Veronica explained: “ Fitz was a friend to Marshall Tito, and although a lot of people thought he was awful for backing him, Fitz thought he was a brilliant General, and I liked him.”
Lady Veronica goes on to describe how her cousin, David Stirling started up the elite SAS regiment ( Special Airforce Service), and jokingly describes their initial training as comic.
She said: “David Stirling asked Fitz to join up and when he asked what the training was he said that it consisted of jumping off a double decker bus. It was no surprise that most people ended up with broken legs.”
When asked what she thought of John Kennedy, Lady Veronica declared: “I got to know Joe and Jack Kennedy after the war. Jack was writing articles for ‘Life’ magazine and stayed with us for two or three nights.
“If anyone had said to me then that in four to five years he would have been president, I would have thought they were mad. He was full of charm, had an amazing sense of community and timing, but was rather lightweight.”
Described as an ‘It girl’ of her time, Lady Veronica laughs at this suggestion, saying: “ I had lots of clothes and had great fun, from the age of 17 I used to get invited to house parties. It was a marvellous, wonderful time, and a tremendous time to flirt.”
Although Lady Veronica has had to sell off her family home - Beaufort Castle - she is a person that seems to be happy with what she has had in life and thinks of others who are less fortunate. Many people take a back seat as they get older, but Lady Veronica is not the person to conform to this way of life.
Just 10 years ago she was to be found behind the wheel of a seven ton truck, which was on a mercy mission to Croatia.
Any suggestion that Lady Veronica is ready to wind down is dispelled when she tells me her advice for a good life: “See the world, or get some sort of a trade. Go to America or Australia and then come back again.”