District News, May 28 2021

Master distiller Jim McEwan.
Master distiller Jim McEwan.

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Liquid gold lift for air ambulance

Two of the country’s most respected names in the world of whisky hope to raise more than a dram in a joint fundraising venture for Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA).

As the life-saving charity marks its eighth anniversary, master distiller Jim McEwan and whisky bottler Dramfool are planning a special birthday present with contributions from a series of special events.

Living on Islay, Jim knows first-hand the value of air ambulance support for island and outlying communities and had no hesitation in naming SCAA to receive funds raised as part of his swan-song at the end of a long and distinguished career.

Jim’s story is being told as part of a film, The Water of Life, through drams with Dramfool’s Jim McEwan Signature Collection single cask bottling, and in print with Jim’s biography, A Journeyman’s Journey.

His expertise will also be shared through special tasting events and masterclasses.

A percentage of the proceeds from every aspect of the whisky legend’s farewell programme will be donated to support SCAA’s vital emergency response service.

‘I’ve worked in Scotland’s greatest industry all my days and now, as I prepare to hand over to the next generation, it seemed appropriate to give something back to a charity that has proved a lifesaver to the people of Islay and other remote communities across Scotland,’ said Jim.

‘SCAA is funded solely from public donations and it’s crucial that we all try to help fund its life-saving flights.

‘Everyone enjoying reading my story, tasting my whisky or sharing my passion will be helping to keep these guys in the air – that’s worth raising a glass to.’

Nick Harvey, director of fundraising and communications at SCAA, said: ‘SCAA is a regular visitor to islands such as Islay and Jura to tend and airlift those seriously ill or injured.

‘We’re extremely grateful to both Jim and Dramfool for recognising the value of SCAA’s service and for choosing us to benefit from what we’re sure will be a hugely successful series of events. Our thanks to everyone concerned.’


Pupils narrowly miss out on Gaelic film award

Talented pupils from Islay High School narrowly missed out on winning a Gaelic film award.

The students were in the running for this year’s FilmG Gaelic Learners Award after beating off stiff competition and being shortlisted for the final.

FilmG is an annual competition organised by Gaelic media service MG ALBA, which celebrates Gaelic screen talent and attracts hundreds of applications each year.

Islay pupils entered two short films, one for learners and one for fluent Gaelic speakers. This provided learners with the opportunity to see new words and phrases and gave fluent speakers the chance to use Gaelic outside the classroom.

It was the young learners who really caught the judges’ attention though, with their production, Èirich.

Èirich tells the story of a social media trend that transports people into a dangerous new world, with some students caught in an infinite loop and others caught by the ‘person in the shadows’.

Councillor Robin Currie, leader of Argyll and Bute Council, said: ‘Every year this competition attracts a huge number of high quality entries from learners across Scotland, and it is an honour that our young people made it to the final.

‘These talented filmmakers from Islay High School have created two exceptional productions and I’m very, very proud of them.

‘Gaelic has played an important role in the history of Argyll and Bute for many, many years and we’re committed to continuing to promote the language and its culture to our communities.

‘Gaelic education is offered in more than 24 of our primary schools and five secondary schools.

‘There has been an increase in interest in Gaelic Medium Education, which will have a positive impact on future generations of Gaelic speakers. Competitions such as FilmG definitely play a part in this.’

To watch Èirich, visit: http://filmg.co.uk/en/films/2232/