Lochaber Rotary is delighted to hear that Ruairidh Poll of Lochaber High School has been selected for the flagship National Youth Orchestra of Scotland Jazz Orchestra after a demanding audition process. 

Thanks to the Kenneth J Macpherson Memorial Trust for Young Musicians of Lochaber, now administered by Rotary, Ruaraidh was able to attend the Access Course for the National Youth Jazz Orchestra last year and had improvisation lessons with the inspirational performer and educator, Sue McKenzie.  The Trust was set up in 1995 in memory of the late principal Teacher of Music at Lochaber High School.

S5 student Ruairidh, said; “We spoke a lot about stylistic things like having a great swing feel and the importance of articulation. It was super to learn techniques for better structuring and developing solos and different ways of implementing contrast.

“Lessons with Sue have definitely been helpful but I think that Access was even more so. In the spring I learned a lot about functional harmony and how to approach more effectively playing over complex changes, for example. 

“The second set of NYOS sessions were incredibly inspiring and motivating, connecting with other people like myself. It was very valuable to receive good information on building practice routines and exercises as well as understanding how to create  my own personal relationship with music. The summer course has had a profoundly influential impact on my playing and on my life. Thanks so much for the financial support.”

Principal Music Instructor with High Life Highland, Karen Thomson, said; “This lets Rotary see how beneficial their financial assistance has been to Ruairidh’s musical education and we are very grateful.  We cannot provide this level of experience in Lochaber High for the exceptionally talented students and it really means a lot that they can be supported in this way to expand their musical boundaries.”

Rotary President Simon Hardiman, said; “Lochaber has a strong musical tradition and it is always great to see our young folk achieving great things and we wish Ruairidh well as he moves on to the national stage”.  






The Rotary Young Photographer Competition went ahead this year as normal.  Heats take place in Rotary Districts across the UK and Lochaber’s winners go forward to the West of Scotland heat.  

Ellis John MacConnachie has won the Senior competition (14 – 17) with Cheryl C Macintyre the runner up, both from Ardnamurchan High School.

The Intermediate competition (11 – 14) was won by Fraser Sneddon from Lochaber High and the runner up Lexi Duncan from Ardnamurchan High School.

Winning entries are shown above: Ellis John’s to the left and Fraser’s on the right.

Organising Rotarian Mike MacGruer congratulated the winners and expressed his thanks to High School teachers Katie Cockerill from Ardnamurchan and Vicky Barclay from Lochaber for the encouragement given.

When presenting certificates and vouchers to the winners and runners up Rotary President, Simon Hardiman, added; “Rotary much appreciates the advice and experience of Iain Ferguson in acting as judge.”



We have again been running the annual Young Writer Competition which this year generated entries from Lochaber High School, all of which were in the Intermediate age group of 11 to 13.  

Winning this year’s competition was Sìne Grant from Faichemard, Invergarry.   The Competition is run across the UK and Ireland and Sìne’s entry will go forward to the West of Scotland District heat and hopefully beyond.

When told about her success, Sìne said; ”I was happy to be able to participate in the competition and very surprised to have won”.

Rotary President, Simon Hardiman, said; “We always find it so encouraging to see talented young folk coming forward, particularly on this year’s theme of the Environment.  We wish Sìne well in the next heats and for the future.”  

For those interested in future, entries will be through schools and age groups are Junior (7 to 10), Intermediate (11 to 13) and Senior (14 to 17).   

We appreciated The Lochaber Times printing Sìne’s winning entry in full; it follows below.

Environment – the last one

The year 2981

This will be my final entry

As the last sun set upon the last day, the people knew what they had done.I watched as the last wild animals cried, heart-wrenching shrieks, as they keeled over and fell, never to rise again. 

I saw the last plants wither and die, acid and nuclear chemicals running down like miniature rivers into the creases in the stems, poisoning their very essence. The other people stood around the last tree, watching it fall. They looked at the charred grey stumps, and felt the tight, uncomfortable press of their suits – the only things keeping them alive. The oxygen tanks on their backs were bolted on tight, so as to stop others from stealing them for their own survival. 

The rain from the sky was acidic, as the carbon emissions had dissolved into the oceans, and then risen again. It was the last rain that would ever come. The air was intolerably hot, penetrated with a smell like burning, charring, rotting flesh.

The city skylines were crumbling, as if the last will of the planet was to destroy the things that had obliterated it. The mechanical marvels, the last spaceship, that had been meant to leave, had no air, no fuel, no potential. 

The last robots had rusted and broken, their artificial minds grinding to a halt, only to explode seconds after stopping. The last dogs crawled, hairless, eyeless, mindless, searching desperately for more air, more food, more life, but it was not to be. The sky heaved and thundered as the earth seemed to take its last breath. Cockroaches, the only creatures other than humans to survive, were slowly dying too, and would be gone very soon.

The sky rained acid as the universe seemed to mourn the death of the beloved planet, the cities washing away in rivers of pain. The buildings crumbled, and the dry hollows that had once been the ocean filled with liquid misery. The rubble crawled forwards, consuming the decaying plants, the ash-coloured sky shaking. 

All the mountains were crumpled, left in heaps on the floor like discarded clothing. Without a stable atmosphere, meteor after meteor struck the ground, leaving blemishes and indents wherever they hit. Some of the larger ones left craters, turning the once lush landscape into a barren, moon like place. 

The hot, hard, grey, unnatural skin of the other humans was invisible under their masks, suits, nets, any way we could find to cover our bodies and protect ourselves from the poisons, fumes, and unwanted chemicals that we had brought here. EVD made our sweat glands cry for mercy. Our cracked grey hands were hidden under thick gloves. Our yellow, dark eyes could just be seen under the goggles that covered them. Our hairless, rough heads were stones under the moss of our headwear. And we knew it was all our fault.

As the last oxygen slowly depleted, the last people fell, one by one. All their families and loved ones were long gone, and they knew what they had done as they ran out of breathable air. The people all knew. 

As I, with the last oxygen, saw the last creatures and the last plants in a dead decaying pile, and my last two thoughts were ‘I wish we’d saved the environment when we had a chance’ and ‘The human race finally got what they deserved’.



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.”

Young Chef Angus Dunn 2018

Young Chef Angus Dunn 2018

Hard on the heels of winning the Lochaber-wide heat, followed by topping the judges’ poll in the West of Scotland stage, fourteen-year-old Angus Dunn from Strontian was a runner-up in the All-Scotland & North of England heat, narrowly missing out on a place in the UK finals.
The purpose of the competition is to encourage and develop creative and value-for-money cookery in young people – a valuable and highly employable life skill in today’s world.  Angus, along with his mother Justine and Trish Kennedy from Ardnamurchan High School, joined the Lochaber Rotary Club at its evening business meeting on 6 June when Past President Donald Young, who co-ordinates the Lochaber leg of the competition, presented Angus with his trophy.

Club President Donald McCorkindale congratulated Angus and said that the Club was very proud that a local lad had progressed so far in this national competition. He added, “I know Angus and know him to be a talented young man”. Angus has benefitted from support and training from chef Gary Phillips of Kilcambe Lodge Hotel as well as encouragement from his mother and Trish.Trish is the Young Chef Mentor at the school and liaises with the Rotary Club in running the popular competition. On behalf of the school, Trish said “We are extremely proud of Angus’ achievement. He worked extremely hard at home practising and refining his recipes and his wins in the earlier stages and runner-up at this national stage were well deserved”.

photo – Young Chef Angus Dunn, Club President Donald McCorkindale; Trish Kennedy, Young Chef Mentor, Ardnamurchan High School; Justine Dunn, Angus’ mother; President-Elect Iain Johnston; Past President Donald Young, Co-ordinator of the Young Chef Competition



Club President Donald McCorkindale welcomed the winners of this year’s annual Rotary poetry competition, Alan Byrne and Sarah MacEachan from St Columba’s RC Primary, along with their Head Teacher Violet Smith, to lunch at a recent Rotary meeting. The winner of the Gaelic language poem, Martha Pritchard from Acharacle Primary, was unable to attend.

Over 200 entries were submitted from Lochaber’s 25 primary schools -stretching from Kinlochleven in the east to the Island of Eigg in the west and from Invergarry in the north to Duror Primary in South Lochaber.

The subject of this year’s creative challenge was “The Seashore” – a recognition of the importance that the contribution of the sea and coastline make to Lochaber’s outstanding visual landscape, its economy and its character. This topic posed a real challenge to the youngsters who addressed it in a wide range of poetic creations.

After lengthy deliberation discussion, including reading all the entries aloud, the judges decided to award the overall winner’s prize to Alan Byrne from Primary 6 at St Columba’s Primary at the Caol Campus. Alan receives a trophy and his school receives a cheque for £50. All the winners (see below) receive book tokens to the value of £20 with £10 tokens to the runners-up.

Past-President John Goodall, current chair of the Club’s Youth Activities Committee, said “We were pleased with the quality of the entries, particularly with the inventiveness of the very young pupils in primaries 1 and 2, and we are happy with the year-on-year uptake from Lochaber’s schools. The poetry competition continues to be very popular. We extend our thanks to Lorna Findlayson who read all the poems aloud. This was a huge help to the judges”.

The winners were presented with their certificates and book tokens at the Club’s weekly business lunch meeting. Pictured are Margaret Boyd, vice-convenor of the Youth Activities Committee, John Goodall, convenor, Sarah and Alan, Violet Smith, Headteacher, and Club President Donald McCorkindale

Primaries 1-4
Winner Sarah MacEachan, p4, St Columba’s Primary, Caol
Runner Up Ailsa MacDougall, p4, Arisaig Primary

Primaries 5-7
Winner Alan Byrne, p6, St Columba’s Primary, Caol
Runner Up Brodie Groundwater, p5, Kinlochleven Primary
Gaelic language winner: Martha Pritchard, p2 Acharacle Primary