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.



Ferguson Transport and Shipping continue their support of Lochaber Rotary as Jodie Jordan, Business Administrator, presents a cheque for £500. 

Group Managing Director, Alasdair Ferguson, sent best wishes from the directors and staff, commenting:  “We are delighted to support the Rotary Club of Lochaber. This year has been very challenging for everyone for a number of reasons and with the Christmas Festival unfortunately having to cancel due to Covid, it is good to be in a position to support where we can.  We have no doubt that this money will be put to good use in the local area. “

In expressing the thanks of Lochaber Rotary, President Richard Baxter said: “Ferguson Transport and Shipping has been the main sponsor of our Christmas Festival and Craft Fair in recent years.  Although we couldn’t run the event this year our work continues and so we much appreciate their continuing support.”



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.