For Argyll 2013 tributes: for the individuals

This is for people who have made a difference in 2013, sometimes in acting together, sometimes in acting alone.

Our increasingly machine-like society likes to pretend that individuals don’t matter, that it is the function not the person that makes the difference.

History makes that stance hard to defend. The committed, determined and inspiring individual so often is the game maker, the engine of change for the better.

Many people confuse attractive, often egocentric, attention seekers with the inspirational. These are often the opposite – taking other people’s light and oxygen, making a great deal of noise, sometime bullying, usually achieving very little, although few even notice this, so blinded are they by the performance.

Inspiring people are inspiring by example not by rhetoric. Argyll has been lucky enough to have some it’s good to be able to point to at the year’s end.

The skiffers

Starting with those who have worked together – Argyll has seen groups affiliated to the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association appearing around our coasts, working together to build their St Ayles skiffs and to row them, in training and in competition with others from around Scotland and elsewhere.

Islay, Seil, Lochgilphead, and Tighnabruaich are just some communities who have done this. Tighnabruaich’s skiff won in a field of four first time out – a fast craft – in its home contest. Seil and Islay also hosted competitions – with Seil holding the first competition in Argyll, finishing with a row-past under the Bridge over the Atlantic. Two months later, Islay’s Festival of the Sea saw plenty of skiff action; and the same two teams, Seil and Islay, signed up for the first World Coastal Rowing Championships at Ullapool on Loch Broom.

The whole coastal rowing initiative is simply fabulous. It creates a reason for people to learn physical making skills – in the process of building a boat together. It’s a communal activity at all points – building, training, competing and celebrating – win or lose. Most communities have several teams and some have more than one skiff.

It puts us in touch with the water and gets us on to it. It is bewildering that a place as water-rich as Argyll really has such relatively little activity on the water. But with kayaking rocketing in popularity and coastal rowing now well embedded, and some of our sailors from the Holy Loch and Rhu lighting beacons in their sport, things are looking up.

The sponsor

Sponsors are individual companies whose support really makes a difference.

One we would instance as having made a massively successful impact on communities across mid Argyll is Scottish Gas, in its three year agreement, now completed, to support the Mid Argyll Community Swimming Pool – MACpool.

This pool was built with funding raised from and by the community. It is used extensively by individuals and sports clubs in the community and its hinterland. Children and pensioners learn to swim, enhancing the capacities of both to enjoy their lives more, to develop self confidence – and to stay safer in a place surrounded by and shot through with water.

Scottish Gas marked the completion of their support for MACpool by bringing Britain’s successful Olympic swimmer, David Carry, to take a masterclass in the pool with a lively flotilla of young swimmers – and boy, did they concentrate when given the privilege of access to such a leading example of what is possible.

The seeds of what Scottish Gas has done for MACpool will continue to bloom. This has felt like a real relationship between a national company which focuses its sponsorship on the sport of swimming – and a community in real need of this resource against the background of an inert and whimsical local authority.

The hero of Helensburgh’s Heroes

Phil Worms, the driving force behind major creative initiatives in Helensburgh, focused on building the digital and performance skills of the town’s young people, has been driving the Heroes Centre proposal for a couple of years now.

He has identified a suitable building, a disused Victorian warehouse by the rail line into town, which was a handling station for receiving and distributing materials coming in by rail. He has the plans – and they are both functional and fun, reaching out inclusively into the community through the planned technical and social resources for the place.

He has recruited a cluster of notable celebrities and well known professional practitioners with local connections who are acting as ambassadors and advocates for the plan,

He has attracted political interest and support – from the Culture Secretary, Fiona Hyslop and most recently from Humza Yousaf, Scotland’s Minister for External Affairs and International Development who visited for a tour of the building.

He has a team of volunteers like himself who raise funds, take workshops, do administration and generally recruit support for the enterprise.

This can make a real difference to Helensburgh and to the chances of its young people. Worms plans a pioneering Digital Academy linked to music, film and performance. He has deployed his own professional skills and his wide-reaching contacts in the relevant industries to further the public consciousness and the achieveability of the project.

This needs to happen. We celebrate Phil Worms doughty determination that it will.

The generator for Argyll and the Isles Tourism

Mike Story will be embarrassed to be singled out from what has indeed been a team effort to create and galvanise the tourism sector across Argyll and the Isles to act strategically and in concert to grow the industry in which, more than any other, Argyll has all the resources to be a national star.

But we have made our conviction clear that the talented, selfless and hard working individual in the right place at the right time is the game maker – and that individual in this story has been Mike Story.

A genial man with a massive portfolio of senior management experience in international marketing, hospitality and brand development – and in areas, like Asia Pacific, where the national agency, VisitScotland, has no expertise of its own – Mike Story has the gifts of creating cohesion in others; of instinctive inclusivity; of building and offering support where it is needed most to get things moving; and of grasping quickly the attraction and potential of ideas and initiatives.

He has made all the difference to date in Argyll and the Isles Tourism’s recruitment of membership and support at all levels of the industry and of government. The spirit and reality of collaboration has been energising within and enviable without.

He has taken the body to new and major league prominence – for its ideas and its performance. He has professionalised it. He made Argyll proud of it and believing in its ability to succeed.

He has now moved on – but not, fortunately, from Argyll whose business interests will, in new ways, remain the focus of his attention, so this tribute is also a valediction.

The seeker after truth

Dr Christopher Mason, historian, former senior councillor in Glasgow and Director of the Actual Reality Trust is an exemplary seeker after truth.

The outdoor education company whose Trust he directs and with which he has long been involved, has demonstrably been mistreated by senior officers and a Council Leader at Argyll and Bute Council in matters around the sale of Castle Toward and its estate in which it was a tenant and which came into council ownership through a local authority boundary change.

This mistreatment appears to have involved breaches of the code of ethical standards in public life.

Dr Mason has made a complaint on that basis to the relevant authority.

He is now instituting legal action against those involved.

He has also complained about and to the national audit commission, Audit Scotland, about that agency’s own clear dereliction of duty in neglecting to investigate this matter as it requires to be investigated.

He is a meticulous interrogator of evidence and a skilled case builder. He is not going to go away.

We need people like this, who are prepared to persist while remaining judicious and implacable in equal measure. We need more of them. We must support them.

Without them, those who weight the scales in the shadows would get away with it.

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30 Responses to For Argyll 2013 tributes: for the individuals

  1. I would like to nominate all the staff at Waitrose in Helensburgh, who make the shopping experience actually feel special ( as if the quality, choice and value for money compared to the Coop ripoff stores wasn’t enough).

    Perhaps the Coop, especially in Lochgilphead, should send their staff to Helensburgh for a day to learn how to deal with customers, and understand that we are actually paying their wages and not simply getting in the way of them stacking shelves.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 14 Thumb down 11

    • Your comments need moderation – I’ve been shopping in the Lochgilphead Coop for a long time, and I honestly can’t remember meeting anything but helpfulness from the staff. Yes the shelves don’t stack themselves, sometimes the food labels are upside down or backwards, and there is a surprising incidence of unpriced food and missing shelf labels – but all-in-all it’s a good place to shop.
      Waitrose is a great place for occasional ‘treats’ (especially late on Christmas Eve) and they do have their economy range of food, but I doubt the good people of Helensburgh will be forsaking their Coop en masse.
      I like criticising things when they seem to need it, but your remarks are perhaps driven by post-festive indigestion?

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 9

        • I do visit Waitrose, occasionally – and I think you’re over-egging the pudding.
          For my money, it’s the rather cheerless supermarkets operated by Lidl & Aldi that give often astonishing savings on good quality food, compared with the supposedly good value big chains.

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 6

          • But that’s my point, we aren’t well served by the local Coops, and even the perceived ‘purveyor of luxury items’ such as Waitrose offers better value for money.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 6

          • Aldi in Oban seems to be reaping the benefit of folks finally rejecting the relentless disproportionate influence of Tescoland.
            This should feed throught to profits and invigorate the quality of choice in Oban.
            Sadly the Coop seems to be slipping, in general despite many having a historical pull to go there.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4

    • Having shopped in the Helensburgh Co-op for years and now shopped in the new Waitrose a handful of times I have to agree and disagree with Mel on this. I would agree entirely about the staff. The staff in the Co-op with a few exceptions are a fairly surly bunch and lacking in any cheer when you ask for advice (the fact that so many are suggests it is the way the shop is run). In comparison the staff at Waitrose are very friendly and more than happy to help.

      Where I disagree is value for money. I don’t consider either shop to give value for money as both are overpriced. If I had to choose between the two for value I would actually choose the Co-op however I wouldn’t give either any stars for it.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 7

  2. Robert – I made a terrible mistake yesterday – I persuaded my wife rather than go to Oban as usual to get some groceries, and then have to go down to Lochgilphead to pick up a prescription, that she goes to Lochgilphead to do both. We have rarely been to the Co-op in Lochgilphead because of past experiences but this was I gather the worst ever. Absolutely shocking – it would take too long to list all the reasons.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 7

  3. Just to get away from “Supermarket Challenge” and back on track could I voice my gratitude on behalf of travellers to Argyll and all points north of Crianlarich on and after 5/12/13 to the unsung and unheralded heros and heroines who kept the alternative route via Stirling to Crianlarich open to traffic while the two main routes despite the presence of great numbers of engineering sorts stayed closed. There was plenty of evidence on the alternative route of their unrelenting efforts on our behalf, many thanks again! Vastly better than the Erskine bridge people who had a sign up saying closed to HIGH sided vehicles and a diversion towards Greenock when the bridge was closed to ALL

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 8

    • I’ll second this, as it allowed regular trips to Waitrose in Helensburgh, bypassing the Lochgilphead Coop, and making savings over and above petrol money on our weekly shopping.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 7

      • Take your seconding back it does not make any sense (without a starting point) and don’t hi jack mt genuine post in an attempt to further your petty squabble over supermarkets

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 9

        • I seconded your vote of gratitude to those who kept the Rest open. Makes sense to me.
          And your comment became public property after you posted it so don’t tell me what I can and can’t say.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4

          • Precisely, my vote of gratitude was to those that kept the Stirling to Crianlarich route open when the REST was Closed & PULPIT ROCK was Closed, BOTH routes closed hence redirected via Stirling, don’t know what your drinking but surely you don’t have to go to Helensburgh to get it cheaper, I’m not going to tell you what to do, just guess? but I would cordially suggest you sober up before hi jacking posts, but there again naming oneself after an ignorant rascist bully speaks volume eh? no?

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 7

          • Sokay – it might be the same syndrome as when the Metrocentre at Gateshead opened many years ago, and somebody rushed down to buy a fancy washing machine when they could’ve bought it cheaper (a lot cheaper, given the travel costs) from Burgh Electrics in Lochgilphead.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6

          • just one WEE point you’re missing regarding my post, the REST was closed, yes CLOSED so your gratitude is false and misplaced, mind you if that’s the effect of the elixir that merits such a waste of time,money and fuel to go to Helensburgh I might try a wee drop given the chance, is it legal?

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

          • check the real Mel Gibbon’s rascist behaviour at police and Jews ,not a typo just an insult! if you’re sober or straight enough check the dross you posted yesterday and it’s Sokay not Soay or Soakay!

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

          • according to you nobody does? How do you figure that it was economic to go to Henesburgh via Stirling when both other routes closed? Also thanks to the poor policeman stationed at the Helensburgh Tarbet roundabout freezing re directing traffic, did you see him, did you ask if he was Jewish?

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 7

      • I thinks that Mel Gibson talks absolute rubbish. If they live beyond Lochgilphead and travel a round trip to Waitrose and back, they are driving at least 130 miles which will require approximately 4 gallons of gasoline which will cost them approximately £24. They will also be spending about 3 hours driving back and forward. Crazy.

        Even without the cost of the fuel, you will not make savings at the very high prices at Waitrose. I have tried it once and could not believe how expensive it was.

        I have spoke to a few folk who have also been to Waitrose and they have said that apart from the occasional visit for something special, they certainly will not be going back. Even M&S beats them on quality and prices.

        Me don’t think that Mel Gibson is being very honest on what they are saying?

        I have visited the Co-op in Lochgilphead and Helensburgh on a number of occasions and have always found the staff to be helpful and pleasant. I certainly would not criticise our fellow Argyll residents the way that Mel Gibson does. Looks like they have no respect for our residents and probably do not think much of any of us either.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 6

        • ‘Spoke to a few folk…’ , well that’ll be a representative sample then.

          Your math on fuel usage is incorrect for modern cars (and fuel type and units of measure), and the savings on a family weekly shopping trip over the Coop will be £40 to £50.

          Of course, I’m not advocating we all go to Helensburgh each week, I’m simply pointing out that we are not well served by the local Coops, which isn’t an attack on Argyll it’s a plea for some proper competition/ management and the realisation that foodstore shopping doesn’t have to be a bad experience.

          And for Sokay, I apologise that I didn’t read your original post properly. Life’s too short for that. So I don’t second your comments, I independently nominate the road workers and digger drivers that cleared the Rest whenever and kept a clear route between me and Waitrose. If you want to stay in the dark ages with your wretched Coop, I am pleased for you (and Robert).

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 5

          • Sokay, you will note that Mel Gibson has avoided answering your question. Looks like you may have caught her or him out. They probably do not have to drive over the Rest to get to Waitrose as it looks like they live much nearer to the shop than they would have you believe. Just watch them “dance” around the subject rather than answer your questions.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4

          • Harry, the only question Soay asked was whether the policeman was Jewish, which I didn’t understand.

            I think my post was quite clear that the Rest lies between me and Waitrose, so I don’t understand your comment either. But pleeeeaaase, don’t try and explain.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

  4. Well, well, is it that Mel Gibson does not reside with us in the depths of Argyll but is actually the local cheer leader councillor for Waitrose from the Helensburgh area?

    No wonder she is promoting Waitrose and believes that it is value for money. With the money that she makes form the Council along with all her other sources of income, money is no object to her and even Waitrose extortionate prices will be nothing to someone of her means. The problem is that most of us do not have access to the kind of money that she has and therefore, the very expensive prices at Waitrose are out with the means of most of us.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  5. Robert – what the whole Co-op organisation needs is a replacement of management – top to bottom and always has. Headhunt people from the retailers who are doing it successfully. A reasonable motto however for those at floor level is the old saying ” do unto others as you would have them do unto you” so only employ people with the right disposition rather than consider the business a job creation scheme for all and sundry.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

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