Keeping fitter than otherwise, having a good time together, making new acquaintances and developing friendships, sharing tea and biscuits (and sometimes doughnuts!) … oh and quite some dancing, although some of that can be done sitting down!

That’s the welcoming formula for weekly classes taught by dancers Claire Wilson and Kirstie Anderson at the Hebrides Dance and Wellbeing Centre based at Stornoway Golf Club.

And those involved in the longest running of the classes – the Tuesday morning event now called Dancercize – talk of a wide variety of benefits.  Some of the group have been attending for the nine or ten years which the class has run for, others are almost new.

Until Christmas at Dancercize (formerly Groovy Movers) they'll be learning routines “inspired by Strictly Come Dancing – cha-chas, sambas, salsa and jives!  They are choosing a song from Strictly Come Dancing each week.  Lots of laughs to be had, followed by a cup of tea in the Golf Club lounge,” participants are told.

There are many obvious gains – better mobility, more flexibility, greater dexterity, even mental stimulation from all the learning and co-ordination – but one class member also mentions how much coming out to classes had helped her mental health, after suffering from depression, and they all agreed that in today's society, with much more emphasis on mental health as well as physical, that this is an important point to mention.

 

Traigh Mhor Pony Trekking is a new company in Tolsta, run by biology teacher Leigh Minion with help of her husband Gavin and daughter Kirsty Hart.

The riding and trekking centre saw its first customers saddle up in the first week of September. Since then there have been beach and moorland treks, lessons on the croft and tips on horse care for riders from the age of six to those well into their seventies. Several grannies and at least one grandad have returned to the saddle after a long absence, and horse-riding parents have been able to bring their youngsters for first lessons.

“It has surprised us how much of a need the business fills,” said Gavin, who runs the company’s website at www.tolsta41.com. “We have people who came in the first week and have been back every week since – sometimes more than once. Some people are on holiday here and want the experience of riding on the beach and some are riding for the first time ever.”

The croft is home to four horses and ponies, three of which are now showing their gentle natures and patience to riders. 18-year-old black cob mare Ginti is the 'schoolmistress' and has just returned to Leigh after two years on the mainland, rejoining her old stablemates as if she had never been away.

Her companions are Oakie, a dun American quarter-horse, a utility breed with a good nature and stamina, and Six, a five-year-old gelding broken and trained by Leigh and Kirsty and keen on jumping and dressage.  Young Darby is a beautiful black horse who will be ready for his first customers by the end of this month(October).

Lews Castle College UHI launched a new Innovation Centre on Tuesday 21st August.

The innovation centre offers training, advice and development facilities for the use of modern high technology and for people who would like to start their own business.

The centre is ‘free at the point of use; offering not just college students but all members of the public an opportunity to develop these skills.

Opening proceedings, in front of a considerable crowd, College Principal Mr Iain Macmillan said: “The College is committed to broadening people’s views of future business and employment opportunities in the Energy and Technology industries.”

“At Lews Castle we take a broad perspective on Technology, Engineering and Innovation. We believe that they offer huge opportunities for the future “

The initial idea for the project came from former NASA contract engineer Dr Chris Macleod of Lews Castle College.

Chris said, “Universities should not, just, be about training. They should be about Innovation and wealth creation.”

The boss of the Carloway Mill has returned from a major craftsmanship exhibition in Venice after being invited to be an exhibitor.

Mill director Annie Macdonald made the trip to the inaugural Europe-wide “Homo Faber” craftsmanship event.  She was invited to represent the Carloway Mill after a film crew from the Michaelangelo Foundation visited earlier in the year and captured the history and workings of the very Harris Tweed traditional mill

The Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship is an international non-profit entity based in Geneva that celebrates and preserves master craftsmanship and strengthens its connection to the world of design.  The foundation has worked with the mill for the last two years and Annie says their support is because they consider the mill workers at Carloway to be true craftspeople.

The event title comes from the Latin expression "Homo faber suae quisque fortunae" (Every man is the maker of his destiny).  Homo Faber is an expression that was first coined during the Renaissance and it is said to capture and celebrate the infinite creativity of human beings.

Barbara Geary Truan, Secretary General of the Michelangelo Foundation, said: “Visitors were extremely touched by the story of Carloway Mill, of the connection it has to its stunning territory and to its faithfulness in making sure its traditions stay vibrant and relevant.

Ruairidh Moir, originally from North Tolsta, runs his own Glasgow based architecture firm, BARD Ailteir.

“The thing about growing up in Lewis is the strong sense of place and deep connection to heritage and culture that you develop. This has given me a respect for the history of buildings and a willingness to find out about the people and stories behind them.”

Ruairidh studied architecture at the University of Strathclyde. During his time at Strathclyde he co-founded an architecture society, with the aims of “challenging the attitude of the University and bringing everyone together as a community.””

Ruairidh undertook an Erasmus exchange in Barcelona before the completion of his degree course at Strathclyde.  He later returned to Barcelona working in the studio of Miralles Tagliabue EMBT, the architecture firm behind the Scottish Parliament building.

Since graduating Ruairidh has continued to work with Strathclyde University as a tutor. This has allowed him to involve university students in BARD’s work both in the office and through trips to the Western Isles.