Last year’s Intermediate winner from Megan Park, Ardnamurchan High School

Despite Covid, the Rotary Young Photographer Competition is going ahead this year as normal.  Heats will take place in Rotary Districts across the UK and Lochaber’s winners will go forward to the West of Scotland heat. 

Based on a qualifying date 31 August 2021 the competition categories are for Intermediate (11 to 13) and Senior (14 to 17).    Competitors are invited to send entries on the theme, “Colours of Nature”.  To accompany the photograph, each entrant must provide a brief sentence describing the relationship of the photograph to the theme.

Lochaber Rotary is grateful for the expertise of Iain Ferguson, Photographer, who will be the principal judge.

Entries should be sent to Iain Ferguson by 3rd December with a view to making a decision before Christmas with winners and runners up being announced in early January.

High School Head Teachers have a copy of the full competition rules but the details can also be downloaded from the Lochaber Rotary website here.   

President Simon Hardiman, said; “I encourage High School pupils to take part and hope Lochaber can be as successful as last year when we had an entrant from Ardnamurchan High School in the UK final after winning the District then senior Scottish and North of England heat.”


Although plans had been well in hand for the Christmas Craft & Food Producers’ Festival and Cairngorm Reindeer Parade scheduled for 27th November, Lochaber Rotary has decided to cancel the event this year.  

Traditionally, numbers attending have been high and while the Parade would be straightforward to manage, some elements within the Nevis Centre would ideally need fairly close contact to be successful.

Lochaber Rotary President Simon Hardiman said; “In the interest of community safety, we came to the conclusion that this still doesn’t seem to be the right time to be encouraging families to gather together.” 

Santa has been reported as being disappointed but relieved too because he would have had to stay quite distant from the children and said; “I would be quite sad if anyone caught Covid as a result of coming to see me”.


After 75 weeks of on-line meetings, the members of Lochaber Rotary returned last week to their regular weekly lunch meeting at the Alexandra Hotel where they were welcomed by deputy manager, Val McIver, who is also an honorary member of the Club.

President Simon Hardiman hosted the meeting and members discussed a range of issues and made initial arrangements for the Christmas Craft & Food Producers’ Festival and Cairngorm Reindeer Parade scheduled for 27th November.  Prospects look good with nearly 80 craft-workers stalls signed up already.  President Simon said; “It’s good to see plans coming together for the Festival – we will be going ahead unless some major Covid difficulty stops us.” The work of Rotary has continued over the various shutdowns and Lochaber gave a £500 donation to the overseas work of polio eradication, which has been Rotary International’s prime humanitarian project since 1985.   At the present time, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation match Rotary’s donations, so doubling the benefit.  While polio continues through the Covid Emergency in some parts of the world, the vaccination infrastructure that Rotary helped build has also been used to distribute Covid vaccine



Lochaber Rotary has chosen Simon Hardiman as it’s 2021-2022 President. Simon is a bed and breakfast operator, running Coire Glas in Spean Bridge with his wife Morven. He takes over from the current president, Richard Baxter at the end of June. Simon is pictured receiving the chain of office from Richard near the Commando memorial just outside Spean Bridge, and club members will see a video version of the handover.

Richard commented that he was passing on the chain of office without too much extra wear and tear, after an unusual year in which almost all Rotary’s meetings have taken place by Zoom, and when many of the regular events and fundraising activities were not possible. However, he was pleased that the club had stayed busy and active throughout the year, with a range of initiatives and grants in support of Covid recovery, polio eradication, and causes as diverse as Mary’s Meals, footpath regeneration, youth competitions, music tuition and outward bound courses.

Simon said that he hoped in the near future it would be possible for club members to meet again at the Alexandra Hotel, in addition to their online gatherings, and that he was very much looking forward to his year in office.



The Rotary Christmas Festival and Craft Fair towards the end of November has been a popular annual event in recent years.  Those who have attended previously will realise that a great deal of close interaction is involved but with the restrictions it quickly became clear that managing activities like Santa’s Grotto, queueing, cash handling and movement around the Nevis Centre would prove close to impossible.   While the reindeer could walk side by side (!) only Santa could ride in the sleigh and everyone else on the parade would need to keep their distance.   To ensure the safety of all the participants but with a heavy heart, the decision was taken to cancel the 2020 event.

But Rotary’s work had to continue and so we developed “Knitivity”!   This ambitious community project created a 13 feet / 4metre high Christmas tree made up of hand knitted and crocheted items that formed the decorative cladding to a steel frame fabricated by Macphersons Welding & Engineering Services.   The tree was on display in the lead up to Christmas. Organiser Sheana Fraser said, “It took a huge effort to cover the framework as the surface area was around 500 square feet and we needed around 1,000 items!” 

The community responded admirably and we had plenty hats, scarves, wrist-warmers, etc. and these will be donated to homeless charities, Alzheimer Scotland and local care homes.  A new word for some of us was “twiddle-muffs” which are knitted muffs with items attached such as buttons, ribbons and the like to keep dementia patients’ hands active and busy and are a source of visual, tactile and sensory stimulation.  The Club’s traditional base, the Alexandra Hotel, also played its part by providing a prominent bin into which the knitters could tip their work.

All in all it was a great success and President Richard Baxter said, “While Covid 19 has given us plenty challenges there have been opportunities and scope for some fun too.  Thanks to the community for getting behind this imaginative idea!”  

Thanks are also due to Ferguson Transport and Shipping who continued their support of Lochaber Rotary by presenting a cheque for £500 and to the Highland Cinema for hosting the tree where their patrons enjoyed some seasonal colour.



Undeterred by Covid restrictions the Reverend Richard Baxter (left) receives the chain of office from President Clive Talbot at the Peace Memorial in Fort William on Wednesday, July 8.  The handover was filmed and shared. 

‘Since we cannot have our normal meetings in the Alexandra Hotel at present, this part of the Parade seemed like the perfect place for the handover,’ said Clive. 

Richard explained that the bell-tower in the middle of the monument came from the old Maryburgh Church (later the Town Hall), the successor of which was Duncansburgh MacIntosh.   ‘The monument has a plaque unveiled in 1995 to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, and this year is the 75th anniversary of that milestone,’ he continued.  ‘It marks the friendship between Fort William, Dudley and Hiroshima, and contains the words “May we all work together for peace and goodwill and live together as one great family”, words that are very close to the heart of Rotary’s values.

‘Finally, the back of the monument has a plaque bearing the words “Rotary and Peace the world over”. It would be hard to think of a more fitting place.’

Lochaber Rotary has been serving the community since 1949, and marked its own 70th anniversary during Clive’s presidency.

Asked about plans for the year ahead, Richard Baxter said: ‘Many of our regular activities cannot go ahead during the Covid-19 outbreak, but we are meeting online, and planning a series of events.

‘We will focus on supporting a wide range of local causes and helping local businesses to recover from the effects of the pandemic, and we will support Rotary’s international work on eradicating polio and a range of other humanitarian causes.’

We wish President Richard well for the year ahead.