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Jim picked up this prestigious award in Glasgow recently. It was presented by athletes, Eilidh Doyle and Zoey Clark ... read more


From 23 July Stirling Observer Article
Fireman Jim Snedden has volunteered to go back to the Mediterranean on another refugee rescue mission after helping to save the lives of more than 2000 immigrants and he has earned this year's first

When firefighter Jim Snedden closes his eyes, he still sees the faces of the helpless little refugee babies and children he rescued from the sea and carried to safety. It may be nearly a year since the dad of three helped save the lives of more than 2000 immigrants stranded in flimsy dinghies in the Mediterranean but to him it seems like only yesterday. Jim spent three weeks last summer on a mercy mission with the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) charity helping refugees fleeing conflict in Africa and the Middle East via Libya. He is still haunted by the memories. As well as pulling men, women and children from the overcrowded boats, the trained rescue swimmer also plucked dozens from the sea who had fallen overboard. Jim, whose selfless bravery has earned him this year’s first Sunday Mail Great Scot Award nomination, is preparing to return to the Mediterranean, where the humanitarian crisis continues. 

He said: “I constantly think about the desperate souls on those boats. When I was out there, I was too busy to think about anything except getting people to safety but, since returning to Scotland, I haven’t been able to get the refugees – especially the babies and little children – out of my head. “The pictures on the news don’t do the horror of their plight justice. One day I boarded a small dinghy packed with at least 130 people. I noticed a hand reaching into the air from below the crush. I pulled out a 16-year-old girl, who threw her arms round my neck and refused to let go. I will never forget the look in her eyes.” Jim, of Dunblane, added: “I came home and hugged my children tighter than I have ever hugged them before. Seeing what I saw has made me appreciate my life even more. “I’ve signed up for another three-week mission with the MOAS in Malta and am expecting the call any day now. I just want to do as much as I can to help with what has become one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time.”

Jim, who trains members of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in swift water, river and flood rescues, admits it breaks his heart that, for the refugees, risking their lives trying to get into Europe is safer than staying at home. He said: “Before I left, I asked myself how parents could put their children’s lives at risk on these vessels but, after talking to them, I realised what they were fleeing from was far worse. “Some had been travelling for eight months, ending up in Libya where the men were tortured,  children were kidnapped and women raped. They would rather die at sea than live in Libya.”

The firefighter, who is dad to Lewis, 19, Stephanie, 18, and Vicki, 12, said: “My family knew I’d end up going back and they’ve been super-supportive, as have the Fire Service.”
Jim, who is married to teacher Helen added: “It’s a real honour to be nominated for an award. I can’t believe it.”

There are 40 Community Councils operating in the Stirling Council area. Community Council’s are groups of people who want to improve their area and the quality of life for residents.

Stirling Council is currently reviewing how Community Council’s work, looking at the rules they adhere to, boundaries, representation, communication and resources.
We are asking people to tell us what they think about Community Councils.
You can
• Email - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
• Write to us - Community Councils Review, Democratic Services, Stirling Council, Room 53, Old Viewforth, Stirling, FK8 2ET
• Take our survey (for paper copies of survey call 01786 233076) : http://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/stirlingccreview

 

Lewis O’Donnell receives the cheque from Peter Gouw while BB Captain, Paul Christmas, looks on.

 

DUNBLANE Boys' Brigade received a generous donation from the local Fling event committee.  They visited the club to hand over a cheque for £275 from funds raised at the popular festival back in May.

From Stirling News 26 October 2017

The Community Council started a project this March at the High School with a view to creating a community garden. The initial funding came from a budget to reduce anti-social behaviour and promote inclusion. We believe that the outcome has been of such great benefit to the children and wider community that we are very keen to keep it going and need this funding to enable that.  

So far both our 'Young Carers Cookery Class' and the 'Garden Group' who helped to design the layout and grow the vegetables have used some of the ingredients they have grown to make soups and salads. So we are re-connecting children with the food they eat. Next year we hope to continue with that and also to sell some of the produce to the community or in the school to help fund our planting and costs for the following year. We also hope to have sessions for adult carers who can work in the garden during evenings and at weekends.  The project has helped inclusivity by engaging children with additional support needs; has given both children, teachers and the wider community life skills by showing them how to plant using organic principles and using companion planting and it is also aiding health and wellbeing with the youngsters.  We included an outdoor classroom in the design so other students can and have used the area and next year we hope to have a hidden seating space surrounded with sensory plants where children can have some personal space should they need it.

DHS2

One significant outcome from this year is that the three local primary schools are now also looking at helping with our project and indeed hoping to set up their own gardens. Initially one of the ideas was to have the transitioning P7 children growing things that they would then see when they started in the August when joining their first year at High School, making transition easier and helping the kids to collaborate and make new friends. We hope to have that organised for this coming school year.  The school has even created a gardening award on the back of the project.

We want to keep our garden growing for years to come - so please support our project and give us your vote – thanks. Please vote for this project on the Aviva website, you can award your full 10 points. The link is: https://community-fund.aviva.co.uk/voting/project/view/17-5327  The website can be a little slow to respond so please persist, this link takes your directly to the project, you then just either login or register and cast your 10 votes.

 

On Tuesday, October 24, the Bridge of Allan and Dunblane Rotary Club will mark World Polio Day along with other Rotarians across the country and with the 'Purple4Polio' campaign in full swing, Dunblane Cathedral and other buildings will don the colour for one night.

Since Rotary and its partners launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative nearly 30 years ago, the incidence of polio has plummeted by more than 99.9 per cent, from about 350,000 cases a year in 125 countries to under 15. But mass inoculation has to continue to ensure the final eradication of the appalling disease. In order to sustain the progress, local club members will be raising money to support 'End Polio Now' – for more, visit endpolio.org

 Rail Closures : Dunblane Community Council has been working with Scotrail to sort out the replacement bus services for the ongoing electrification scheme which is going to run for many months.  Until December 9th there are no trains in the evenings from Sunday to Thursday between Polmont/Croy and Dunblane. This affects both the Dunblane/Glasgow and Dunblane/Edinburgh trains. In reality the works are likely to last much longer than December but this has not yet been advertised. There is also full line closure on occasional weekends.

Replacement Buses from Dunblane : Until Monday 23rd October, replacement buses will run from the Tesco car park. From Monday 23rd October, the buses will run from the Victoria Halls area rather than the Perth Road as was the case up until last weekend. Scotrail has promised to update websites and notices.

Scotrail provides information on the line closures at: https://www.scotrail.co.uk/plan-your-journey/engineering-works

This is a letter from the Stirling Observer from 11 October 2017

It is with great disappointment, but not surprise, that I have heard about the controversy regarding the footpaths on Dumyat. Two months ago I retired to Keswick in the Lake District but prior to that I lived in a cottage visible from the Dumyat path for over 20 years and was a regular, often daily, walker up Dumyat. So it is an area that I know extremely well and love. During that time, I was secretary of Stirling Before Pylons, a community member of Stirling Council's Beauly-Denny working group and most recently the council's Beauly-Denny legacy group.

It seems to me that all the official parties to this process have been negligent and not dealt with the matter professionally enough. Some examples include:

1. The Energy Consents Unit of the Scottish Government appointed consultants, Ironside Farrer, with no in-house knowledge of hill path restoration, although the Government knew this work was a requirement as part of the permission they had given for the Beauly-Denny power line.

2. Scottish Power transmission director Pearse Murray is quoted in the Observer of September 20, 2017, that the works had been approved by the legacy group. This is not the case. The group approved the principle of the works but had not, to my knowledge, seen any of the detailed current proposals.

3. The legacy group has failed to meet over the last 12 months despite a number of written requests by myself to the chair that meetings were needed to monitor and approve the detailed proposals. This would have highlighted the current issues in advance.

4. Ironside Farrer held several consultation meetings with Friends of the Ochils and myself. At these meetings we stated that these proposals would be sensitive to the wishes of the community and that wider consultation was required but they decided not to pursue this.

We also stated that their plans were over-engineered and not appropriate for the landscape setting and scale of Dumyat. In our view a more sensitive and complete solution to the erosion caused by walkers and mountain bikers was required. They wrote saying they didn't accept our views and that they were proposing to proceed with their plans which have led to the current complaints.

I visited Stirling last week and was fortunate enough to meet the contractor's site manager who was on Dumyat at the time. He gave me a thorough explanation of the works he was carrying out. This was the first time in all the meetings over several years regarding this project that I felt I was talking to someone who understood the issues associated with upland paths and how they can be implemented. Following this discussion I have some confidence that if his revised proposals are implemented we could see a satisfactory solution on Dumyat. This should involve consultation with the community and experts in the field. My own feeling all along has been that a satisfactory solution would be more expensive than budgeted and I was surprised to learn that Scottish Power have threatened to pull out of the scheme and reinstate their works to date. That is not a realistic option given that their approval for Beauly-Denny included a condition that compensator works would be carried out to the Dumyat path.

In his letter of approval for Beauly-Denny, the Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing, also highlighted that the Ochils Area of Great Landscape Value, including Dumyat, was an area where compensatory environmental improvements should be made. He made funds available for this through the Beauly-Denny Mitigation Scheme and provided an additional £75,000 through the planning condition to Stirling Council.

It is important that those currently involved, particularly the community, should ensure that all these funds are fully utilised on the scheme and not used elsewhere. My own view is that additional funding will be required and that this should be forthcoming from Scottish Power. The visual impact of the Beauly-Denny line is recognised as being much more severe than anticipated in this location. I am also concerned that the existing process has wasted a significant proportion of the budget on professional fees and works on site, and that this is ultimately a failure by Scottish Power to manage the process.

Peter Pearson

 

Here are the Designs and Presentation Boards that were shown at the Event on 30 October

Over the past year Stirling Council, Dunblane Community Council, Dunblane Development Trust, Discover Dunblane and Sustrans have been exploring possible ways of raising the quality of streets in the Cathedral area. Amey were commissioned to work with the community to develop proposals that are suited to the heritage and history of the area including the Cathedral, Leighton Library, Dunblane Museum and Braeport Centre.

Since the initial proposals were released in spring 2017, the proposed designs have been refined, to account for issues raised both at consultation opportunities in April and May, and by the steering group. At this point in time no funding has been identified to deliver these proposed changes, and if this changes in the future then there will be a further opportunity to comment on the final designs. In the meantime, we’d like to invite you to comment on the refined designs, as we draw the current design process to a close.

The revised designs were shown at the Cathedral Halls on Monday 30th October, with over 150 local residents dropping by to view the designs and discuss them with officers. If you were unable to make it along to the event, a summary of the updated designs can be seen at Dunblane Library until Wednesday 8th November, or by following the links above.

You can submit your comments on the ideas until the 8th of November through an online survey, available at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/9J995QY. Your suggestions for improvements will be considered as part of any steps taken to implement the proposals, if funding becomes available in the future.

Andrew Adam, Senior Project Officer, Active and Sustainable Transport, Stirling Council, Teith House, Kerse Road, Stirling, FK7 7QA, Sustrans Scotland, Rosebery House, 9 Haymarket Terrace, Edinburgh, EH12 5EZ

From the Stirling Observer on Wednesday 11 October 2017

Two brothers from Dunblane are just weeks away from taking to the seas in an epic charity challenge. Kris and Blair Elliot will battle giant waves and potential shark attacks when they jump in a rowing boat and embark on a 3000-mile endurance race across the world's most dangerous ocean - the Atlantic. The event, which is called the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, will see participants start at La Gomera in the Canary Islands on December 12, before heading for Antigua in the West Indies. Dunblane woman Elaine Hopley completed last year's race in just 59 days to raise money for Alzheimer Scotland. And Kris, a 30-year-old Stirling fire fighter, and Blair (28), who works off-shore as an engineer, are aiming to follow suit in aid of the Fire Fighter's Charity. They will be rowing under the banner Team Noble in memory of former Alloa Watch Manager John Noble. John was tragically killed in January 2008 when the fire appliance he was travelling in hit a tree on the A91 between Dollar and Tillicoultry. The aim is to raise £100,000 for the good cause and they have already managed to reach the £50,000 mark.

 TeamNobleKris Blair

The original team consisted of two firefighters, Kris and Allan Hundy, from Stirling Fire Station, but when Allan had to withdraw Blair stepped forward in his place. Father-of-two Kris said: "We're out training every weekend - launching the boat off the west coast of Scotland and going for a 12-hour row. In addition to that, we've been going to the gym and working on the rowing machines. "While we need to train we also need to put on quite a bit of weight as we'll lose around two stone while were out there. "We've both done some challenges in the past but this is the first really big one for both of us. There's going to be a lot of unknowns. We're going to be sleep deprived while we'll be pushed to the maximum physically, then add the unpredictable weather into that." The duo will be spending Christmas Day at sea and will need to keep each other entertained throughout what could almost be three months contained in a 23ft rowing boat. Kris added: "We'll be taking a selection of music and some cards with us - and we've got our Santa hats looked out. There's an array of food we've collected too. "When we arrive in Antigua, our families will be there to meet us - my wife (Linsey) and daughters Fia (9) and Mila (6) along with Blair's wife, Beth. Hopefully we'll get the chance to wind down while we're there. "We just need to keep reminding ourselves that with every stroke we'll be nearer to seeing our families. "Anyone who would like to help out and contribute to our fund raising can visit our website www.team-noble.org.

 

The duo have spent £15,000 renovating their own boat ahead of the challenge. The Fire Fighters Charity provide services that aim to enhance the quality of life for serving and retired fire fighters, fire personnel and their families. This can range from recovery after an injury or support with mental health conditions. Kris and Blair will be at The Thistles Centre on Saturday October 21 to chat to shoppers and help promote their charity cause.

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