I SEE that the Ross Priory and Balloch West Riverside planning applications are making the news again, both in the Advertiser and other local national media, with some reports indicating they have little or no support.

I beg to differ. But before I start, let me make two things clear.

First of all, I am a Loch Lomond devotee. Always have been – I’ve even got the T-shirt.

In common with many Glaswegians, from as long ago as I can remember (and I will be 73 this year), Loch Lomond was my go-to recreational destination.

It was where I tried out my first home made canoes. As a boy I explored its wonderful islands and shores on foot and by canoe and sailing dinghy.

Later on, as a student of geology, I scrambled around its Highland Boundary rocks. My first Munro was Ben Lomond and during a long teaching career I introduced many a youngster to the great outdoors on its slopes.

READ MORE: 'Save Loch Lomond': Local politicians unite against Flamingo Land propositions

I love Loch Lomond and would be the first to condemn a development which threatened its special qualities.

Second, I have nothing to do with the Hunter Foundation, the organisation behind the Ross Priory plans, or Iconic Leisure, responsible for the West Riverside proposals.

Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer is a past master at whipping up campaigns using Trumpian “alternative facts”. But contrary to the “fake news” that has been, and is being, fed to social media and the press, the fact is that neither of these two planning applications is a material threat to Loch Lomond’s wildlife, environment, ecology or scenery.

The fact is that both will deliver beneficial facilities and many badly needed jobs, more important than ever as we struggle to get over the pandemic.

And ironically, the fact is that both developments have potential to deliver important conservation benefits.

The Hunter Foundation’s Leadership Centre project will aid Strathclyde University in its efforts to preserve its wonderful, but crumbling, Ross Priory building, while the West Riverside development, if and when new plans are submitted and approved, will throw a vital lifeline to those struggling to preserve the unique and iconic paddle steamer, Maid of The Loch.

So to those politicians about to leap onto Mr Greer’s pre-election bandwagon, I say this: “think before you leap!”

If people really want to “Save Loch Lomond”, they would be better advised to give support to the efforts of bodies such as The Friends of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs (of which I am a trustee and the vice-chair), the Friends of the Maid of The Loch, the RSPB, the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs Countryside Trust, the National Park, or the National Trust, all of whom offer projects where volunteers can do their bit to help look after the bonnie banks which we all hold so dear.

John Urquhart

Colquhoun Street, Helensburgh

READ MORE: Letters: 'Shameful decision to authorise Loch Lomond development plans'

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IT was with dismay that I read news in the Advertiser last week of the dismantling of the small skateboarding area at the pier to make way for the construction of the new leisure centre.

We have so few opportunities for our young people in Helensburgh. Our teenagers are very poorly served in the community.

We expect them to behave responsibly and conform to our rules but they have nowhere to meet and share with their age group.

The skatepark was a sensible meeting space. Can we please find an area where they are respected and welcomed, not moved on as nuisances?

These young people are our children and hopefully will mature into adults who want the best for their home town but unless we show them the respect they deserve they are unlikely to respect us.

They have rallied round during this pandemic, shopping for the elderly, picking up medicines from pharmacies and walking neighbours’ dogs.

I, for one, am very grateful to our young friends who have helped out.

So let us find an area for a skatepark and build a large permanent one for our young people.

Margaret Horrell

Via email

READ MORE: 'Disappointment' over Helensburgh skatepark removal during waterfront works

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THE Scottish Government, I understand, has come up with what it believes to be a simple plan designed to keep people indoors during this time of Covid: don’t grit the roads and pavements.

Unfortunately, not everyone within the various council areas has chosen the path (pun intended) towards self-preservation, with the result that hospitals are now having to deal not only with Covid patients but also a multitude of folk suffering from broken bones.

Looks to me as if this particular initiative is a non-starter, so why not revert to gritting the roads and pavements?

David W. Weir

Macleod Drive, Helensburgh

READ MORE: Letters: 'Council must show accountability and complete long overdue cycle path'

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THE Helensburgh and District branch of Save the Children would like to say a most sincere thank you to the people of Helensburgh and Lomond for the great support it received during December and indeed all of last year.

This has meant a great deal to us, especially when we have not been able to do any ‘live’ fund-raising.

Hermitage Academy, Hermitage Primary and Colgrain Primary Schools all took part in Christmas Jumper Day, raising the excellent total of £914. Tesco held a hamper raffle which brought in £102 while we received many donations from individual supporters in December, totalling £580.

We were able to hold a musical evening last March and the income from that, together with other very generous donations throughout the year, means that we raised nearly £7,900 during 2020.

Last year, Save the Children operated in 117 countries around the world, providing unique care and attention to each child its workers on the ground encountered, based on his or her specific needs.

When Covid-19 hit, the lives of children in the UK turned upside down. To help, Save the Children set up emergency grants for families worst affected and these have helped over 9,000 families cope with loss of income and day-to-day living.

Indeed a huge amount of work is being done to help families throughout the world who have been affected by Covid - in the world’s largest refugee camp in Bangladesh, for example, an isolation and treatment centre has been built by the charity while similar projects are being run in Yemen and Somalia.

Very many thanks to all who have supported us throughout this very difficult time. We just hope that we will be able to get back to holding our normal fund-raising events some time in 2021!

Diana Macintosh

Chair, Helensburgh and District Save the Children Committee

OPINION: Prize for new Covid lockdown is worth short-term pain

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THE New Year is usually a time for a fresh start – making resolutions, getting fit, setting new challenges and goals.

But with the continuing uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, it seems harder to commit to making a change.

With restrictions ongoing, it’s becoming even more important for us to find new and innovative ways to raise vital funds for NSPCC Scotland to help children at risk of abuse and neglect.

Children have been greatly affected by the pandemic. Since the first lockdown measures were introduced in March of last year, the average monthly number of referrals from the NSPCC’s helpline to agencies in Scotland, such as the police or children’s services, have been more than 50 per cent higher than they were the first three months of 2020.

And the effects are far from over.

Even with social distancing, there are still many ways you can raise funds for us. From hosting a virtual quiz or coffee morning to selling handmade crafts, cakes or old clothes, we’ve got lots of great virtual fund-raising ideas you can try while following the Scottish Government’s advice on social distancing.

By volunteering just a couple of hours each month to carry out fund-raising in Helensburgh, you can help make 2021 a better year for children locally and across the UK.

So please think about using your New Year passion and enthusiasm to come up with some ideas to fund-raise and help us be there when children need us most.

To find out more information about supporting the NSPCC, or to ask for your fund-raising pack, just visit nspcc.org.uk/support-us/events-fundraising/new-year-challenge or email me at jen.lindsay@nspcc.org.uk.

Jen Lindsay

Community Fund-raising Manager for NSPCC Scotland

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