YOU recently published my letter regarding coronavirus vaccinations (Advertiser Comment, December 3, 2020) encouraging all of our community to trust the safety and efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccine, and also of the vaccination programme itself.

More than six weeks have gone by since then and the vaccinations are now well under way at Lomond School’s sports hall on Rhu Road Higher, and by all accounts, the arrangements have been first class.

I am deeply disturbed, however, by misinformation being peddled, particularly on social media platforms, casting doubt on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

There is not a single shred of evidence that the vaccines are either unsafe or have bad side effects.

There is, on the other hand, a great deal of evidence that they are safe and effective.

The vaccination is simple, quick and painless.

READ MORE: 'No reason not to trust Covid vaccine'

As the roll-out increases, the next few weeks will be crucial for the safe functioning of our NHS, particularly in our hospitals.

As a town, we owe it to each other to do our level best to uptake the vaccine, and so I wish to repeat my plea for everyone who is offered a vaccination to have it, and to completely disregard the “fake news” and lies.

Please remember that if you do not have the vaccine, you are are putting yourself, as well as your family and friends, at risk of infection.

In doing so you run the risk of our NHS buckling under the pressure of new Covid cases.

Dr Brian Calder


READ MORE: Opinion - 'Obeying rules is only way to drive down virus spread'

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I AM writing on behalf of the Lomond Patients Group, who, for the past 20 years, have worked with the community and the NHS to sustain and improve the services in our area.

There has never been a more important time for us all to do just one simple thing: get vaccinated.

Some people will of course be hesitant about being inoculated – whether that is for decent reasons, through misunderstandings, or prompted by deliberately false assertions – but these doubts must be put aside, for everyone’s sake.

Provided that, when it comes, we all answer the call to “bare our arms”, we can look forward to many more years of supporting, and being supported by, the people who look after us in the NHS.

Mairi Harvey

Chair, Lomond Patients Group

READ MORE: Opinion - 'Prize for new Covid lockdown is worth short-term pain'

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I WOULD like to request more kindness and respect, both for nature and your fellow human beings.

Over the past few months I have been subjected to nails, screws and staples being hit into me. As you can imagine, that was a horrible experience!

Furthermore, some ironmongery might poison me and also make it more likely that I might get an infection. The people who did this probably meant well - they wanted to make the woods a fun place for children and chose me to be the “Fairy Tree”.

Other people have broken branches off me, which is also distressing and makes me more likely to get a disease. I’m not sure why they did it - perhaps they felt they needed to show off to their friends, or maybe they are frustrated about the lack of facilities for them.

Either way, speaking on behalf of all trees, we would really appreciate it if humans could treat us in a more... loving way.

Simply appreciating us just as we are would be a great start. We still want you to come to the woods and believe that an online search for “woodland activities” will suggest lots of positive and fun ways in which humans of all ages can interact with nature.

READ MORE: Losing Local Nature Reserve status 'would not be catastrophic' for Helensburgh woodland

So, now on to your relationships with each other. I was very distressed that a vitriolic poem was stapled to me which described some of you as a “subspecies” and “not worth the space they take up”.

Whilst I agree that destroying things is wrong, I believe that such words will only serve to alienate and antagonise your target, thus leading to further destruction.

The people who behaved in that way need to be offered the opportunity to participate in activities which would raise their self esteem, not have their confidence eroded further.

It would be great if some post-lockdown activities in the woods could be organised which would facilitate respect and unity, both with nature and each other.

The Beech Tree near the north-west corner of the Duchess Wood

(submitted by Nicky Brownrigg, Helensburgh)

READ MORE: Your letters to the Advertiser: January 14, 2021

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THE Scottish Government’s decision to completely close churches is disproportionate, and I was pleased to read in your sister paper, The Herald, that 500 Christian leaders are standing up for the rights of religious communities.

The fact that England has allowed its churches to welcome worshippers – albeit in a restricted manner – is the first red flag that this move is disproportionate.

Freedom of religion or belief is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, among various other international agreements, because it is a foundational right.

Churches have taken great care to comply with mask-wearing, no-singing and social-distancing mandates, and Chris Whitty admitted in November that there was weak medical support for full closure.

The suspension of a human right carries a heavy weight. The question as to why that weight is measured differently in the balance of Holyrood than in Westminster is awaiting answer.

But the case for reopening places of worship should not only be based on calculated legal or medical arguments.

In a time of crisis, people turn to God. Churches have been deeply engaged in bringing help and healing. They have been extending charity to those in need, comforting the mourning, providing structure in the lives of the lonely. To many, it has been a lifeline of stability and peace.

The open door of the church is one of our nation’s greatest public services, and the government is choosing to cut the supply at our greatest point of need.

Lois McLatchie


READ MORE: Letters to the Advertiser: December 17, 2020

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RECENTLY the SNP announced they are setting up an indyref2 ‘task force’.

Escalating their plans for indyref2 is rash and incredibly self-indulgent when the country is struggling through another lockdown.

Their shameless push for another referendum this year would wreck our recovery from the pandemic, diverting precious time away from fighting the virus and protecting jobs. We cannot afford to be distracted by the constitutional debate. Another referendum is the last thing Scotland needs right now.

This news comes as the UK Government are deploying the armed forces to support the SNP’s patchy Covid-19 vaccine roll-out. Nearly 100 personnel will be deployed to deliver 80 coronavirus centres across Scotland.

Medical professionals warned vaccine targets were at risk of not being met due to distribution issues and extensive red tape. Ongoing blunders and a lack of planning from the SNP have left them behind their own targets.

Vaccines are our best route to reducing restrictions, returning life closer to normal and rebuilding Scotland’s communities.

Cllr Alastair Redman

(Conservative, Kintyre and the Islands)

READ MORE: Letters to the Advertiser: December 10, 2020

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AS parents, teachers and pupils once again find themselves facing additional challenges to deliver and attain a full and rounded education, it is worth remembering the role that music can and should play in improving our lives.

Music will help support and sustain our young people through the coming months. For children and adults, the creative arts play a vital role in promoting wellbeing and positive mental health.

Just as importantly, playing an instrument is complementary to academic subjects and has been shown to improve wider educational success.

As we consider the often daunting challenge of the return to home schooling, those parents whose children can mix domestic timetables with musical lessons will understand the release and stimulation playing an instrument can deliver.

Across society music is integral to our identities and is made to be shared. We now have the means to do that successfully and safely with online tools whose use has been well-honed by recent experience.

So whether you’re at the start of a musical journey, or are well advanced in music-making, let’s keep singing, keep dancing and keep music lessons flowing, particularly while the restrictions necessitated by the pandemic keep us apart in our own homes.

Dr Kenneth Taylor

Head teacher of St Mary’s Music School, Edinburgh

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