Orcadian Column, 20 June 2024

20 Jun 2024

Well it didn’t take long for hope to turn to despair as Scotland got thumped 5-1 by hosts, Germany in the opening fixture of the Euro Championships. As the mauling in Munich unfolded, distant but still painful memories came flooding back of previous major football tournaments.

Images are still fresh of my mother valiantly attempting to explain the subtleties of ‘goal difference’ to her inconsolable six-year-old son who just couldn’t understand how Scotland had been knocked out of the 1974 World Cup despite not losing a game on the last occasions we competed in a major tournament on German soil.

Some consolation was to be had in subsequent years knowing Scotland’s goalkeeper during that World Cup, David Harvey, was my parent’s postie in Sanday. David never did get the nod for a Parish Cup tie, though; doubtless a further regret to add to his World Cup heartbreak.

For a period over recent days, Munich became Scotland’s third largest city following the mass migration of around 200,000 Scots. Included were many from Orkney and our islands’ population will be further depleted this week as the Royal Highland Show gets underway at Ingleston.

I hope to make it along on Thursday and will be interested to gauge the mood.  These are worrying times for the farming community across Scotland with ongoing uncertainty around future funding and regulation of the sector.

Coincidentally, Tuesday saw MSPs voting on final amendments to an Agriculture Bill, which was supposed to put ‘flesh on the bone’ of the government’s vision for the sector going forward. Instead, we have a ‘framework’ bill which leaves much of the detail to be determined after the legislation is passed.

In some respects, this may be inevitable given the nature of the changes being made. However, it’s an approach to legislating that has become all too common under the current government, which has a penchant for launching proposals amid much hype and grandiose promises only then to quietly retreat and even dump commitments once the spotlight moves on to other issues. That cannot be allowed to happen in this instance.

The importance of providing certainty to our farmers and crofters was the focus of a question I posed to the Rural Affairs Secretary in parliament on Wednesday. I pointed to recent SRUC research highlighting the value of agricultural support to the island economies of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles. Transport, housing, broadband and other services are crucial, of course, in attracting and retaining population but no-one should underestimate the importance of agricultural support and the contribution it makes to sustaining our island communities.

And talking of contributing to our local community, let me offer my heartfelt congratulations to Anne Gregg, Angus Heddle and John Corse on being recognised in the King’s Birthday honours. Their MBEs are richly deserved and all three really do represent the best of us.

Orkney, of course, is well-blessed in this regard. I recently invited nominations for a ‘local hero’ to attend an event in Edinburgh later this year marking 25 years since the re-establishment of the Scottish Parliament. Unsurprisingly, the list of nominees was extensive and incredibly strong, making the decision on who to select almost impossible. In the end, Marty Flett stood out in light of his inspirational fundraising efforts over many years on behalf of various local charities, notably CLAN Cancer Support.

The experience, though, has reinforced my view that Orkney needs a way of recognising the contribution made by so many in our community day in, day out. While plenty of award ceremonies already exist, they tend to be specific in nature.

Speaking to Leah Seator about this last week, I was delighted to hear that she and her team at the Orcadian are keen to explore ways of recognising the contribution made by the wide range of ‘local heroes’ within our community. It may take time to work out a format, and will certainly involve a lot of work, but I’m sure it will prove to be an enormous success. Would that I were quite so optimistic about Scotland’s chances of making it out of the Group stages of a major football tournament for the first time.

This website uses cookies

Like most websites, this site uses cookies. Some are required to make it work, while others are used for statistical or marketing purposes. If you choose not to allow cookies some features may not be available, such as content from other websites. Please read our Cookie Policy for more information.

Essential cookies enable basic functions and are necessary for the website to function properly.
Statistics cookies collect information anonymously. This information helps us to understand how our visitors use our website.
Marketing cookies are used by third parties or publishers to display personalized advertisements. They do this by tracking visitors across websites.