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Looking Back - news from the John O’Groat Journal of yesteryear

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Members of Caithness Gymnastics Club who travelled to Huntly to compete in the north district championships in 2008.
Members of Caithness Gymnastics Club who travelled to Huntly to compete in the north district championships in 2008.

Picturesque Wick procession

From the Groat of March 28, 1924

The Wick and Ackergill branch of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution held its annual procession through Wick, with the Wednesday afternoon festivities being hailed as "an excellent tonic to the community, recuperating, as it is, from the ravages of the 'flu'".

Large crowds had assembled in Argyle Square to witness the start of the procession "and the collectors were soon busy with their model lifeboat collecting boxes".

The action began at 3pm with the procession following a well-established route through the town. Two-minute halts were made at various points along the road and the entire tour of the streets took two-and-a-half hours.

Among those taking part were the local pipe band, members of the Royal Naval Reserve, members of the lifeboat committee, the recently formed Salvation Army brass band and the youngsters of the Boys' Brigade.

This was in addition to numerous decorated "units" and the crews of the lifeboat itself who travelled in "boats mounted on lorries" which meant they were high enough to collect money from people looking out of upstairs windows.

In the evening a concert was held in La Scala Picture House comprising a variety of entertainments along with the showing of "special lifeboat films".

It was expected that the street collection would raise around £60, with the total drawings for the day hitting the £100 mark.

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Council staff ban over election work

From the Groat of March 29, 1974

Wick Town Council staff had been banned from taking on temporary employment during elections "unless all efforts to engage suitable persons from among people who require work" had been exhausted.

The move had been agreed at the council's monthly meeting following a motion made by Robert Durrand.

Mr Durrand wanted roles such as presiding officers or polling clerks to go to suitably qualified retired, unemployed or partially disabled persons in the first instance.

He told the meeting that, while council staff had given "tremendous service" over the years, the "existing arrangement" meant that opportunities were being confined to just one section of the community.

Dean of Guild James Miller, who seconded the motion, said that during the previous general election he and Mr Durrand "had been tackled about this" by members of the public.

At the same meeting, before the start of business, a 24-year-old electrician who had rescued a 10-year-old Wick boy from drowning was presented with the Royal Humane Society's certificate by Provost William G Mowat.

Magnus Hughson, of Cromarty, had jumped into the water fully clothed to rescue local lad Perry Campbell who had fallen in while fishing at Wick's dry dock with two of his friends. Mr Mowat commended Mr Hughson for his bravery.

End of the line for health trust

From the Groat of April 2, 1999

Caithness and Sutherland NHS Trust had been consigned to the history books after being in existence for just six years.

The trust, which had been formed in April 1993, ceased to exist when its responsibilities passed to the new Inverness-based Highland-wide organisations.

The move had been widely opposed in the north but had been approved by the government as part of its plan to reduce the number of NHS trusts in Scotland.

Although the mood of the trust board members at their final meeting was one of sadness, they left office on a high note. They heard that all financial targets had been met over the course of the year and that new staff appointments had just been made.

Chairman George Bruce expressed disappointment at the decision to axe the trust but stressed that its successors were taking over an efficient and viable organisation.

He said that over the six years the trust had spent £6,385,000 on capital projects, improved the facilities and services in the two northern counties, provided health centres and recruited new staff.

He added that the trust was passing into history because its fate had been decided "outwith Caithness and Sutherland by people who did not support the express wishes of the local community".

Elsewhere, Wick High School under-16 girls' rugby team had made a clean sweep of all three trophies in a new Scottish competition, beating teams from Nairn, Edinburgh and Castle Douglas.

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