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10 November 2001

THE COST OF BEING A WINNER
TRADING standards officers are warning Cowal residents to be on the lookout for mail which promises prizes for a registration fee.
Local man Alister McAlister was alerted to the problem after he and his wife were inundated with more than 30 different competitions and schemes through their mail box promising prizes, but only if they registered between £9.95 and £29 each.
He said: “I became a bit concerned because all this mail came during a two to three week period and each asks for money to register before you can claim a prize.
“The companies behind the competitions are either based in England, Canada or South America and it would be tempting to pay the registration fee and be taken in”.
Alister added: “They seem to be targeting the elderly, and I know people elsewhere have been taken in by schemes like this before. The trading standards people said that they have heard of one or two odd ones here, but never in a batch the way we received them. They are advising people to bin them and not send away any money”.
A spokesperson from the local trading standards office based at Milton House, Dunoon, said: “We get complaints about this type of problem on a regular basis. It is a very lucrative area for certain companies, who start up and want to make a quick profit. They are relying on the fact that people won’t read the small print and will send their money away in the hope of receiving a prize.
“We investigate the complaints and usually there is information within the small print to explain the terms and conditions of how the scheme works. However, when something is found it is usually investigated at a national level and with foreign companies we pass on any information we have gathered on them to the appropriate authorities in their country. “Our general advice is to caution people, and say don’t send money away, because in our experience it is unusual to get something of value in return”.


BIG CHIEF GETS MORE PENNIES!
DESPITE a vote by members against a bumper pay rise, Argyll and Bute Council’s Chief Executive, James McLellan, is to receive an increase in salary of £12,000 over two years.
A £9,000 hike will take Mr McLellan from his current annual salary of £80,817 to more than £89,000 by 2003, and will be followed by a £3,000 rise to more than £92,000 by 2004.
The increase of 13.8 per cent was dismissed by councillors when they considered the matter in late October, as it was feared a rise in the Chief Executive’s salary could prompt increases in salaries of other officials.
However, the council admitted at the time that they may be forced to implement the wage rise, if it was agreed by the Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC), which incorporates representatives of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA).


A LONG WAY FROM HOME!
AN unexpected visitor adorned the shores of Seil Island near Oban this week, when a rare heron-like bird was blown 4,000 miles off its course.
The snowy egret was making the long trip south from Florida to South America when Hurricane Michelle swept through Cuba and the south-west coast of America.
So, instead of spending the winter among tropical scenery, the bird has ended up shivering on one of Argyll’s islands.
The snowy egret, highly prized by milliners for its beautiful white plumage, has never been spotted in Britain before.
And its unexpected arrival provoked a flurry of interest from birdwatchers across the country.
The bird is native to the mangrove and dry grasslands of South America and is common in Mexico and southern Chile.
It looks like a small heron and is white with black legs and yellow toes. It has a black bill, although the area directly in front of the eyes becomes red during the breeding season.
It lives on a diet of young frogs, fiddler crabs, snakes, snails, insects, small lizards and fish. The small egret is, however, very adaptable to climate and it has been stated that it should be okay on Seil Island.
A local ornithological expert agreed that the remarkable sighting of the bird was due to the Caribbean hurricane.


THE KEY TO SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS
STAFF training has been hailed as key to the success of business, and during the recent Investor in People (IIP) week, 20 businesses and groups from all over Argyll received their IIP awards at a special presentation at Loch Fyne Oyster Bar, Cairndow.
Among those achieving the award for either the first time or attaining recognition for their commitment to staff training, after three years were Renfield House, Dunoon, Cairns of Kirn, Shearwater Marine Services, The Royal Hotel, Tighnabruaich and Ardroy Outdoor Education Centre, Lochgoilhead.
Presenting the awards, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Chief Executive, Sandy Cumming, said: “Investors in People is good for all business whether it’s the private sector, public or voluntary. It is important because it is about investing in a key resource – staff.
“In some places within the Highlands and Islands employers have had difficulty in attracting skilled staff and this is why IIP is so important to train existing staff.
“The region also produces a third of all IIP recognitions with Argyll and Isles producing 400 of those.”
Argyll and the Islands Enterprise (AIE), Chief Executive Ken Abernethy added: “It’s a big year for IIP with the 3,000th recognition taking place awarded to a playgroup in Rothesay.
“We have the commitment from businesses and groups, within Argyll and Islands, to lay down the grounds for future growth and employment in the area”.
Mr Abernethy went on to explain how the AIE can help businesses, groups or individuals as the organisation offers a free business information service, giving advice from how to set up a new business, where to find parts for machinery and answer questions about legislation to helping track down a particular gift idea for Christmas. The organisation can also offer companies advice on how to develop their business.
A recently published survey carried out across the UK to gauge opinions on the IIP programme revealed that almost 70 per cent of small to medium sized businesses believed their participation had helped boost productivity.
Other survey findings found 90 per cent of Scots employees see new technology as a means to boost their productivity, with the majority also believing the ability to work more flexible hours would also boost their output.


TIME TO REMEMBER by Catriona MacColl
WHEN Colintraive and Glendaruel Community Council were looking for a way to mark and involve their community in commemorating the new millennium, they couldn’t have found a better way than to make a book that records that very same community, and the people who live and work in it, into a pictorial record.
Community Council secretary Bridget Paterson explains how the idea came about.
“As a community we wanted to do something that would make the millennium. A meeting was called for council members at Ormidale House, where after several good ideas were put forward, we decided on a walkway and pictorial record book.
“After eventually nailing down funding from the lottery commission Awards for All programme, the book was at last under way. The idea was to photograph every member of the community and print a few words about their lives and put it into a book.”
So Bute photographer Iain MacLeod was chosen for the task and he spent four months cycling on his bike over a huge 20 mile long area, hoping to catch folk in, to get those vital pictures.
Bridget explains: “Iain spent an immense amount of time going back and forth trying to get pictures of everyone who wanted to be included in the book. Of course, in such a big area, and a population of 400 people, someone was going to be missed out, for which we can only apologise.”
And to keep the book very much a community project it was even designed and published by Derek Rodger of Argyll Publishing in Glendaruel.
The book was finally launched last Saturday with a display of photographs in Kilmodan School Hall, tea and coffee for the adults and the local children commemorated the event by burying a time capsule not to be removed for the next hundred years.
Prepared by head teacher Danuta Steedman, the children chose to place many items in the time box that they thought would be of interest to their counterparts one hundred years from now.
A copy of the new book and the Dunoon Observer was included as well.
Three children were introduced by Councillor Douglas Currie, and Raymond Kennedy, Ruth Paterson and Mark Gamer addressed a gathering of more than 60 people on the items to be included in the time capsule.
With the help of local minister, Rev. Robbie Donald, a commemorative cairn was built over the site.
And when the time comes in the future for the capsule to be opened, not only will future researchers get invaluable information from its contents as to how things were at that time, but they can also see the faces of a whole community in the amazing unique pictorial record.
Colintraive and Glendaruel: A Pictorial Record can be purchased from all good bookshops priced £9.99.


JUST THE TICKET FOR PANTO SEASON
Hilary and Roger Brayshaw will be offering a bonanza to groups and individuals, who are looking for costumes and items for up coming shows and pantomimes.
The couple will be having an ‘Unusual Sale’ on November 24 at Sandbank Village Hall to showcase and sell their collection of fancy dress items, accessories, western wear, massive frilly petticoats, joke items, masks and wigs.
The duo’s collection is the sum total of their two businesses, Hilary ran a successful fancy dress shop in Scarborough for 17 years and Roger until recently ran a joke wholesalers. In fact it was through their businesses that the couple met.
The Brayshaws decided to move near Otter Ferry on the shores of Loch Fyne from Leeds just over a year ago after spotting an advert in Lady Magazine describing the area as remote, safe and a wonderful place to bring up children or for retiring couples. And despite leaving family and the bustle of Leeds behind they say they’ve never been happier.
It is easy to see why they have been so captivated. The couple’s home offers a beautiful view of the loch a stone’s throw from their front door, and Hilary and Roger are delighted to spot visiting wildlife, which can include anything from deer to a whale!
However, the real selling point of their home was the option of storing their collection.
Hilary said: “We had a lot of stock left over from the shop and Roger’s business and wanted to keep it in storage and because there would be a warehouse here we thought it would be ideal”.
The storage area is in fact an old smokery, with no gas, electric or water. The couple expected the building’s rates to be fairly low, in line with a previous warehouse in Yorkshire.
Unfortunately they were going to have to dig deeper to keep the warehouse and after deciding they could not afford this, for what had become a glorified hobby, they decided to start selling their collection.
However, if some of the stock is used to entertain audiences around Cowal the show business theme will continue as some of Hilary’s former clients included stars such as Les Dennis, Bobby Davro and Barbara Windsor.
And Hilary herself believes a lot of the items would be ideal for shows.
She explained: “We helped out with a pantomime in Kames last year with pieces such as false busts for the dames, wands for the fairies and other things like wigs”.
Hilary also described how different the fancy dress business is these days from when she began in the trade.
“When I started up you had to hand make things, that these days come ready made. For items like turbans I would sit and wind material around myself and the coloured wigs that are so popular now I would make by spray painting normal coloured wigs!”