Keith Siseman captured this image of a rainbow at St Abbs on New Year’s Day.
Please email photographic contributions, with a brief caption, to firstname.lastname@example.org
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
COFFEE MORNING CASH BOOST
We need to relay our thanks to local people who helped us raise a gross sum of £457 at Saturday’s coffee morning to be dedicated to the repair, conservation and research of the medieval Lennel kirk.
We were overwhelmed with the generosity in terms of bakes that Mary Berry would have loved, raffle and tombola prizes, donations, willing helpers and the splendid refreshments of the refurbished British Legion and popular Sonia Martin.
Henry VIII etc. made sure that our famous Coldstream Priory was no more, but somehow Lennel kirk survived and is being conserved today with the help of external grant funding. The £457 collected in the British Legion last Saturday will be used to cover expenses not covered by the grants.
Overall, June 2017 should see a conserved, safe, tidy and fully-researched kirk site that will have a longer life than our priory and where the level of volunteering (satisfaction, achievement, enjoyment and camaraderie) has lifted the roof on the amount set for it by one of our grant funders, the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Thanks to everyone for giving their support to our project, in any shape or form. The project has not always been a smooth journey, but days like last Saturday’s coffee morning definitely lift the spirits, if you know what we mean!
Will Murray, Trevor Swan and Gerald Tait
(Coldstream’s Heritage Ltd – community interest company)
INTIMIDATING THE MEDIA
In recent days, SNP MPs have described themselves as “liberal”.
Party leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has even declared she will defend “liberal democracy” in 2017. It is almost as if nationalism might become a tainted brand in the coming year.
But someone needs to advise Nicola Sturgeon accurately.
As a rule, liberals don’t march upon and intimidate independent media. Liberals don’t demand public broadcasters are bought under their control, as the SNP does. Also, First Minister, seeking the sacking of critical journalists, like Stephen Daisley, is really not very liberal either.
Liberals don’t ban football songs. A liberal places free speech above offence. And liberals don’t organise the state monitoring of private family life.
Note to Nicola Sturgeon: you may be many things, but you are not a defender of liberal freedom.
Mrs C. Sharwood-Smith
UK Chancellor Philip Hammond has recently been quoted as predicting that after 2020 it will no longer be possible to maintain the “triple lock” on state pensions.
This is the commitment that annual pension increases will be determined by the highest of price inflation, earnings growth and 2.5%.
It is easy to understand the Chancellor’s prediction when we consider the obscene amounts of our money being spent by the UK Government on vanity projects such as renewing nuclear weapons that can never be used and pursuing military adventures around the world in a vain attempt to pretend that we are still a world power.
Contrast this with the commitment by the SNP that in an independent Scotland the triple lock will be maintained indefinitely.
And before anyone asks, “How could you afford that”, it has to be pointed out that once Scotland was a nation again, after independence, we would no longer be paying our share of the enormous cost of Trident renewal and the huge cost of upgrading the Houses of Parliament. In addition, tax receipts from North Sea oil – although currently less than a few years ago – would be retained in Scotland instead of, as at present, disappearing into the black hole that is the London Treasury without ever touching the sides.
The moral is quite clear: if Scots wish to protect the value of their state pensions, the only way is to vote for independence next time.
Anyone wishing to be kept informed about pensions and the case for independence is invited to contact email@example.com.
Earlier this month we saw gunfire on the M62 and a funeral accompanied by alleged general disorder in Bradford.
The only necessary thing for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
If we address society’s addiction problem, don’t we then solve the disorder problems we have?
I am told that alcoholics in prison are placed on the hospital wing upon arrival and sedated for two weeks for a drying-out treatment.
If this is the case, can’t we do something similar for drug addicts too? It is claimed in Holland, Canada, Mexico and other places that a drug called ibogaine, made from the root of a West African plant, is being used to successfully cure drug addicts of withdrawal symptoms with one simple dose costing £2.60.
Ibogaine also cures 50% of smokers, it is said, and some claim it cures depression too.
If even a tenth of the claims being made for ibogaine turn out to be true, could we explore if this is a viable way of treating those drug addicts who go to prison? Could this help keep order in our prisons? What of the massive long-term potential savings for the NHS?
The methadone programme has improved the situation in society in general. But methadone takes a very long time to work, making treatment very expensive.
Shouldn’t we at least look at licensing ibogaine to be available upon private prescription, even if the NHS and prison service decline to use it?
Nigel F.H. Boddy
(solicitor and former researcher to two MSPs)
In response to Richard Walthew’s comments in last week’s letters pages, I would like to point out that the people he has mentioned (but not named) have a democratic right to their opinions without his childish comments that bear no useful content whatsoever.
COSYING UP TO COLDSTREAM
If Galashiels has already bagged the right to house the Great Tapestry of Scotland, might I be so bold as to suggest that perhaps Coldstream should have the honour of housing the Great Tea Cosy of Scotland?
I am sure the local ladies would happily create this masterpiece at no expense at all to the Scottish taxpayer, and probably boost the country’s foreign earnings by exporting replicas to China.
Duns could perhaps do the Great Thimble of Scotland. And so on. There may indeed be no end to our national teatime delights.
Name and address supplied
A WELCOME AWAITS VETERANS
The Scottish Borders Veterans’ Breakfast Club meets on the last Saturday of each month in the Reserve Forces Centre (TA Centre), Paton Street, Galashiels, between 10am-noon.
This is open to all veterans – RN, Army, RAF, reserve forces – who have the chance to meet old and new friends in a casual and relaxed environment, have a brew and a bacon roll, and to ‘swing the light’ over memories of derring-do.
All veterans are urged to make every effort to attend this great wee event, particularly those who may be in need of some form of support, which can be given here.
The next meeting takes place on Saturday, January 28, and I hope that anyone who knows of any veteran who might not see this message passes on these details.
GRATEFUL BEM RECIPIENT
I am writing to thank everyone who has sent emails, texts, cards, letters and people who have spoken to me and my family, congratulating me on being awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s New Years Honours List.
I am most grateful to the people who put my name forward to receive this prestigious award.
A YEAR OF GOOD AND BAD TIMES
By common consent, 2016 has been a challenging year – 12 months of disasters, what with Brexit, the election of Donald Trump as US president and a litany of celebrities who have sadly passed away.
It is therefore often difficult to remember that parallel to this we are living through somewhat of an arc of progress. We are living in a world that is getting richer, with the number of people living in extreme poverty falling below 10% for the first time. Indeed, since 1990, almost 1.1bn have escaped extreme poverty. World hunger also reached its lowest point for 25 years in 2016.
For the first time the death penalty has become illegal in more than half of the world’s countries.
And the world got healthier, with a World Health Organisation report showing that since 2000 global malaria deaths have declined by 60%. Since their peak a decade ago, Aids-related deaths have fallen by 45% and infant mortality has halved since 1990.
Taiwan is on the verge of becoming the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage and Tanzania banned child marriage.
For many, 2016 may have been seen as the worst of times, but let’s not forget it has seen the best of times too, so let’s not be too pessimistic as we enter 2017.
SEEKING STORIES ABOUT GAY MEN
Testimony Films need your help for a new Channel 4 documentary to mark the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act 1967.
Through this film, we want to tell the story of gay men throughout the United Kingdom during the 20th century.
If you have a story to share we would love to hear from you.
Please contact Pete Vance or myself on 0117 925 8589, or at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
BATTLE TO BEAT DISEASE GOES ON
Like millions of people, I spent post-Christmas lunch with the family.
It was great to tune into the BBC’s Call the Midwife at 8pm and see a popular programme cover the horrors of a polio epidemic in a realistic, contemporary and sensitive way. It was a welcome reminder of the polio eradication programme that continues abroad and of the 120,000 people in Britain still living with Post Polio Syndrome (PPS).
At home and abroad, 2017 is going to be pivotal in the ongoing battle to beat polio and PPS. With this disease endemic in just two countries, the End Polio Now campaign can count on our ongoing backing, but the British Polio Fellowship continues to focus on members of the public living with PPS and in need of our support.
Call the Midwife rightly depicts the polio epidemics of the 1950s – the Dickensian conditions of post-war Britain – and the Christmas special set in 1962 South Africa accurately portrays the extension of the polio eradication programme. Sadly, many children unfortunate enough to contract polio then face the perils of PPS today, and like the ghost of Christmas Past, PPS has established itself as the unwelcome footnote of Polio UK.
While there is no cure for PPS, there is much we can do to alleviate the symptoms if properly managed and the British Polio Fellowship continues to raise awareness and offer support to those who continue to be affected by it.
For more information on polio, its late effects and PPS, call 0800 043 1935 or visit www.BritishPolio.org.uk
British Polio Fellowship