Alex Salmond warms up with a hearty bowl of Scots porridge

By Christine Lavelle

FIRST Minister Alex Salmond put a Scottish staple on breakfast when he joined a group of school kids for a hearty bowl of oats to mark the upcoming World Porridge Day.

Pupils from St Mary’s Primary in Edinburgh and Dalmally Primary School in Argyll sat down to a true Goldilocks-style breakfast with Mr Salmond today (Wed), and declared it was “just right”.

The schools are getting behind Mary’s Meals, a charity which provides daily school meals for 400,000 of the world’s neediest children.

Nine-year-old Eve Woahrling, a primary five pupil from St Mary’s, told the First Minister why she enjoyed helping the charity so much. Continue reading

First Minister hails Pope’s ‘tremendous’ visit to Scotland

By Shaun Milne

FIRST Minister Alex Salmond tonight hailed the ‘Pope Benedict XVI’s State Visit to Britain as “tremendous” after his journey kicked off in Scotland.

The First Minister, who was presented to His Holiness at the State Reception hosted by Her Majesty the Queen at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in the morning, hailed the start of his visit in Edinburgh as a huge success.

He said: “The public response to the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI in Scotland has been tremendous.

“The excitement of the young people who joined hundreds of pipers for the St Ninian’s Day parade was very clear. Continue reading

Papal tartan welcome as thousands cheer Pope in Edinburgh

By Shaun Milne

THE POPE arrived in Scotland to be greeted by an adoring crowd of some 125,000 people in glorious Edinburgh sunshine on his first State Visit to Britain today.

It dwarfed protests from less than 100 or so people after flashpoints failed to materialise and mar what turned out to be huge success for the city with coverage of the historic visit beamed to a worldwide audience of around a BILLION people.

One lucky schoolboy found himself being hugged by his Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in an impromptu walkabout in Morningside before lunch, while others revelled in being able to grab just a fleeting glimpse of the Catholic leader.

But in his first speech of the four-day UK wide visit, Pope Benedict XVI made it clear that he wanted to extend “the hand of friendship” to everyone gathered. Continue reading

Andy Murray gets castle party promise from Salmond

By Christine Lavelle and Martin Graham

ANDY Murray will get a champagne reception at Edinburgh Castle if he wins Wimbledon.

Scotland’s tennis ace was given the ultimate incentive to become king of the castle today by First Minister Alex Salmond.

The 23 year-old has had a difficult couple of weeks in the run up to next week’s tournament, beaten at the French Open and at Queen’s.

Even his own mum Judy admitted it would be “difficult” to win the tournament earlier this week.

But the tennis star has the full backing and good wishes of top Scottish politicians, who are preparing to celebrate his win.
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Fire Hero Is Among First Ever Brave@Heart Award Winners

By Cara Sulieman

A MAN who tried to save tragic teen Jessica McCagh after her boyfriend set her alight was among those being awarded a bravery awards from First Minister Alex Salmond today (Weds).

Jessica was just 17 when her boyfriend Stewart Blackburn poured petrol over her and set her alight before trapping her in their flat in Arbroath in April 2009.

Blackburn, 18, was found guilty of murdering Jessica earlier this year and was ordered to spend at least 21 years behind bars.

Neighbour Ricci Foreman – who was 19 at the time of the attack – was in the flat above and rushed to help when he heard Jessica’s screams. Continue reading

PICTURE OF THE DAY: Sun Shines For Gardening Scotland

BLOOMIN’ MARVELLOUS: First Minister Alex Salmond chats with schoolkids from Kinlochleven at the opening day of Gardening Scotland 2010 which was taking place at the Royal Highland Showground in Ingliston until Sunday. Photograph by Mike Byrne

Ship Shape Skipper At Heart Of Norfolkline Ferry Anniversary

By Shaun Milne

A ferry skipper’s ship finally came in today (tues) – a year later than planned.

Captain Antonio Arbilli was to have taken the helm of Scotland’s only ferry route to Europe last May.

But the 44-year-old Italian seaman suffered a blockage to his heart only minutes before setting sail from Zebrugge in Belgium for Rosyth where a host of VIPs and dignitaries were waiting to greet the maiden voyage.

Surgeons performed life-saving surgery on the skipper, and a ship-shape Captain Arbrilli was finally handed the honour of commanding the vessel into port to mark celebrations to mark the first anniversary of the service today.

He said: “No one was more disappointed than me that I could not take part in the maiden sailing last year.”

“But bringing the ship in today was my moment of glory. You know this is like a new birthday for me so now I can celebrate twice.

“It’s such an honour to travel this route.

“I always enjoy travelling to Scotland as the passengers are always so friendly and tell me how much they enjoy the ferry.

“It was a big disappointment not being able to travel the first time but I was very pleased to be able to be involved today for the first anniversary.

“I feel amazingly good right now.” Continue reading

Salmond plays down halving of apprentice builders

By Rory Reynolds

FIRST Minister Alex Salmond played down figures that showed more than half of all construction apprenticeships are expected to be cut this year.

A Scottish Building Federation survey revealed that more than half of all construction firms north of the border said they cannot afford to take on any apprentice builders this year.

The group, which speaks on behalf of the industry, also warned that the current trend will damage the industry further, and called for VAT on building works to be slashed to boost trade.

However, yesterday First Minister Alex Salmond said that the Scottish government has exceeded its targets for apprenticeships.

He said: “Delivering 18,500 Modern Apprenticeships in a time of severe economic turbulence as well as tight public expenditure due to the £500 million Westminster cuts has been challenging. Continue reading

Nursing agencies paid higher hourly rate than First Minister

By Rory Reynolds

NHS boards in Scotland are paying nursing agencies a higher hourly rate than the First Minister in a desperate bid to cover for staff shortages.

Health authorities across Scotland are throwing up to £4,500 per nurse per week at firms supplying temporary nurses in an attempt to keep staffing levels up.

And one trust even revealed that it paid up to £890 per shift for each nurse on public holidays – nearly 10 times the amount that a registered NHS nurse is paid.

It works out at up to £74 per hour for a single nurse and cost the NHS £12.9m last year.

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Snow-blanketed Britain seen from space

THE extent of Britain’s winter whiteout is revealed in a stunning picture from space, received today by scientists in Dundee.
The nationwide blanket of snow and ice came as temperatures dipped to as low as minus 18.
The image, sent by NASA’s Terra satellite, shows the UK framed by cloud sweeping in from the East.
Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond declared it Scotland’s worst winter in 50 years, while forecasters said the country faces another ten days of freezing conditions.
Continue reading