St Kilda mailboat delivers special postcards a decade later | UK News


Letters posted in a small mailboat to mark 80 years since the evacuation of St Kilda have been found by children in Norway.

The last 36 people on the remote archipelago, 40 miles west of the Outer Hebrides, were evacuated on 29 August 1930 after they decided life there was unsustainable.

In 2010, National Trust for Scotland archaeologist Ian McHardy build a small waterproof boat to carry postcards to seven people, including the trust’s patron the Prince of Wales and Norman John Gillies, who left St Kilda at the age of five and died in 2013.

Undated handout photo issued by the National Trust for Scotland of the Prince of Wales (2nd left) on St Kilda in 1971, he has replied to a postcard, which was written to him by NTS Western Isles manager Susan Bain in letters posted in 2010 in a small handcrafted mailboat to mark 80 years since the evacuation of the remote islands and have been found by children in Norway.
Image: The children found the postcards when the mailboat broke

The boat was based on the traditional St Kilda mailboats, which were the only way islanders could contact the outside world.

They were made from a range of materials and the letters were placed in a waterproof container which could be a tin or a bottle.

They were then attached to something that would float such as a piece of wood or a buoy which could have been made from an inflated sheepskin bag.

Some mailboats reached the Scottish mainland but some floated as far as Iceland, Denmark and Norway.

In April, four children found the 2010 mailboat, more than 1,000 miles from its departure point, near their grandfather’s boathouse on Andoya, the northern island in the Vesteralen archipelago off Norway.

Undated handout photo issued by the National Trust for Scotland of the Prince of Wales (2nd left) on St Kilda in 1971, he has replied to a postcard, which was written to him by NTS Western Isles manager Susan Bain in letters posted in 2010 in a small handcrafted mailboat to mark 80 years since the evacuation of the remote islands and have been found by children in Norway.
Image: Geir Soreng said the children are fascinated by the story of St Kilda

As the children carried it away one of them dropped it and it burst open to reveal the seven postcards in perfect condition.

The cards requested that they be posted back to the NTS and the children’s grandfather Geir Soreng did this.

In his letter to NTS, Mr Soreng said: “Emil, nine, Ask, nine, Tiril, six, and Erling, four, were excited when they found a secret room in the boat, with seven cards. We had never heard of this fabulous island and are fascinated by the story.”

Undated handout photo issued by the National Trust for Scotland of the Prince of Wales (2nd left) on St Kilda in 1971, he has replied to a postcard, which was written to him by NTS Western Isles manager Susan Bain in letters posted in 2010 in a small handcrafted mailboat to mark 80 years since the evacuation of the remote islands and have been found by children in Norway.
Image: The Prince of Wales, patron of the National Trust for Scotland, on St Kilda in 1971

The card for Mr Gillies was sent to his son John Gillies, who lives in Aldham, Suffolk.

He said: “It’s incredible really. For a postcard that has been in the water for 10 years it’s in remarkably good condition, you would think it was just sent yesterday by someone. It really was a surprise.

“My dad died in 2013 but he would have been really chuffed to have received it. For me to get it all these years later, it’s quite touching really.

“Even though he left when he was five he had very vivid memories of the island.”

St Kilda is now empty, apart from nearly one million seabirds, including the UK’s largest colony of Atlantic puffins.

The five islands – Hirta, Soay, Boreray, Dun and Levenish – have been under the care of the NTS since 1957.

Sheridan Smith says she suffered seizures after ‘humiliating’ joke at BAFTAs | Ents & Arts News


Sheridan Smith has revealed she was addicted to anti-anxiety medication and suffered seizures when she stopped taking it after feeling “humiliated” by a joke at a TV BAFTA awards ceremony.

In a new documentary on mental health, the star said she “went off the deep end” after the awards in 2016, when host Graham Norton made a comment about her at the event.

The 39-year-old TV and West End star, who was nominated for a BAFTA for her role in The C Word, tells the programme: “Graham Norton was hosting and made a joke at my expense about me being a drunk…

Sheridan Smith at the BAFTA TV awards in 2019
Image: The star pictured at the ceremony in 2019

“I was so humiliated. It’s a room full of your peers, people you want to work with or have worked with.

“That night, for me, was like the final straw before my brain totally went off the deep end.”

Smith says she had become addicted to anti-anxiety tablets before the awards.

“That night I took myself off to a hotel on my own,” she says. “In my crazy mind, I thought, ‘I’ll do it [stop taking the tablets] myself’.

“I went there and just stopped my tablets. Weirdly, a friend of mine had rung me and she came to the hotel.

“It’s a miracle she did. It’s like someone was looking out for me because what I didn’t realise is that if you stop these tablets abruptly, you seizure.

“I seizured five times and got rushed to A&E and she’s the one who got me breathing again.”

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Smith says she wanted to make the show and talk about her experiences to help other women.

After having her son, Billy, in the summer, she tells the programme she now feels “a contentment”.

She says: “At the start of my pregnancy, I’d just got myself to a good place and I thought, ‘Please don’t let this be a turning point where things change for me’,” she said. “That was my biggest worry.”

Smith adds: “Now I’ve got this little family and I just feel, I can’t explain it, like a contentment, a calm.

“Maybe I was looking for something in the wrong places and now I feel like I’ve found it in this little boy when I look in his eyes.”

Sheridan Smith: Becoming Mum airs on Tuesday 1 September at 9pm on ITV

Coronavirus: Britons scramble to get home – as transport secretary rules out regional quarantines | Politics News


Britons in a number of countries are scrambling to return home to avoid having to self-isolate for 14 days – as the transport secretary ruled out regional coronavirus quarantine rules.

Croatia, Austria and Trinidad and Tobago have been added to the UK’s COVID-19 quarantine list, Grant Shapps announced on Thursday.

From 4am on Saturday, anybody coming to the UK from these countries will have to self-isolate for two weeks.

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Portugal, meanwhile, has been removed from the quarantine list.

This means Britons can go on holiday there and not have to self-isolate when they get back.

The introduction of quarantine restrictions for Croatia, Austria and Trinidad and Tobago has seen air fares skyrocket.

Sky News spoke to travellers at Gatwick airport about their opinion on Croatia being added to the UK quarantine list.

British Airways was advertising tickets for an economy class flight from Zagreb, Croatia to London early on Friday at €308 (£276), compared to €92 (£82) on Monday and €96 (£86) on Thursday.

Similarly, the airline was on Thursday night advertising an economy seat on a flight from Vienna to London Heathrow for €538 (£482). The price for a flight on Sunday was €122 (£109).

Liam and Jodie, from Keighley, West Yorkshire, paid around £800 to get home from northern Croatia via Munich in order to beat the deadline, after finding it impossible to book a direct flight.

“There wasn’t an alternative. There are no flights from Pula to the UK on Fridays, only a flight from Zagreb to London runs but obviously that was fully booked,” Liam said.

The latest additions to the coronavirus quarantine list – which includes Spain and France – has sparked renewed calls for the government to take a regional approach.

In a statement, Gatwick Airport said this would “reflect the UK government’s domestic approach to containing outbreaks by implementing local lockdowns” and “help the aviation industry to recover and protect jobs”.

But Mr Shapps rejected this suggestion, telling Sky News: “It is still rather too difficult to do the kind of regionalisation that you’re talking about because we just don’t have the same control elsewhere.”

“This is a very unpredictable virus which unfortunately just doesn’t play ball as far as the way that it can just sometimes take off in a country and I think anyone travelling this year will know that there are risks involved,” he said.

“Indeed, we’ve added Portugal back on to the list, but you need to go with your eyes open there or anywhere that you travel this year because coronavirus is just a fact of life, we’re having to live with it.”

The transport secretary said the government is continuing to look at the feasibility of COVID-19 testing at airports.

Heathrow Airport has revealed plans for a new testing facility which it claims could shorten the two-week quarantine period.

“I want to see systems in place to do that kind of thing,” Mr Shapps said.

“But you’ve also got to be sure that you’re testing the right person on that second time round because are you going to just send the kit to the house or are you going to require the person to perhaps drive to a test centre?”

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He added: “It’s a bit more complicated than is sometimes suggested.”

The Foreign Office has said it would look at putting any country with more than 20 cases per 100,000 people on its quarantine list.

Croatia’s average number of cases has risen to 29.5 cases per 100,000 people in the past week – compared to a rate of 13.54 per 100,000 a week ago.

The mayor of Dubrovnik, one of Croatia’s most popular tourist cities, said he had tried to speak to the British government to exclude travellers to the city from quarantine – as Germany has done – because he said it has had very few cases.

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Mato Frankovic said he had hoped airport testing for coronavirus would be introduced in the UK instead of quarantine.

He told Sky News: “But we were not successful. I do hope those British citizens who want to come to Dubrovnik still do, and I want to send a very strong message that Dubrovnik is a COVID-safe town.”

Trinidad and Tobago’s cases have risen rapidly, with 25.81 cases per 100,000 people in the past week compared to 9.10 cases per 100,000 the previous week.

Austria’s rate has nearly doubled, with 20.31 cases per 100,000 in the past seven days, up from 10.45 cases per 100,000 the week before.

Coronavirus: Self-employed affected by pandemic can apply for new grants | Business News


The second stage of the government scheme to support the incomes of self-employed people through the coronavirus crisis opens for applications today.

Under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), eligible applicants will receive a single grant worth 70% of average monthly trading profits for three months, capped at £6,570.

Anyone whose self-employed business has been hit by the pandemic since 14 July may make a claim – and the Treasury has said money will be paid into their accounts within six days.

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The SEISS scheme has already handed out £7.8bn of grants to more than 2.7 million people across the UK.

Examples of those eligible might include builders unable to work on construction sites due to government restrictions or a slowdown in work, and shopkeepers affected by closures, reduced trade, or higher costs due to social distancing.

The first stage of the scheme saw it pay out 80% of average monthly trading profits for three months, capped at £7,500.

But, as with the larger coronavirus jobs retention scheme (CJRS) furlough scheme for employees, the scale of support is starting to be tapered off.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Our self-employment income support scheme has already helped millions of people, whose hard work running their own businesses is crucial to our economy.

“It means that people’s livelihoods across the country will remain protected as we continue our economic recovery – helping them get back on their feet as we return to normal.”

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The Treasury said HM Revenue and Customs would contact all of those who are potentially eligible, even if they did not apply for the first grant.

As with the first stage of the scheme, applicants will need to have trading profits of no more than £50,000, making up at least half of their total income.

The scheme closes on 19 October. An online application service is available to claim the grant.

People can claim if they are a self-employed individual or member of a partnership whose business has been adversely affected through coronavirus.

Those trading through a limited company or a trust cannot claim.

People who are unable to work because they are shielding, self-isolating, on sick leave, or who have caring responsibilities due to coronavirus are among those counted as adversely affected.

Others include those whose businesses have had to scale down or temporarily stop trading or incurred additional costs.

That may because their supply chain has been interrupted, they have fewer or no customers, staff are unable to come into work, contracts have been cancelled, or they have had to buy protective equipment to carry on trading.

Those who receive the grant may continue to work, start a new trade or take on voluntary work.

Coronavirus: Pandemic forces regulator to abandon measures to fix UK’s funeral market | Business News


The competition regulator says the coronavirus pandemic has forced it to abandon a series of measures it was considering to fix the UK’s funeral market.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it would be unsafe, given the COVID-19 crisis, to take forward much of its findings on a sector that, it said, was “not working well”.

It had previously identified “rip-off” charges among operators and its investigation, first launched in 2018, found inflation-busting increases in costs going back over a decade.

The CMA had been considering measures such as price caps but it admitted on Thursday that its in-depth inquiry had been blown off course by the pandemic.

It had not only hampered access to funeral and crematorium providers, the watchdog said, but it also noted that the industry had been under great pressure to handle a surge in death rates and meet the needs of grieving families amid tough funeral-related restrictions.

As such, the watchdog said at this stage it would only require funeral directors and crematoria to provide more clarity on the prices of the services and packages they offer.

The CMA added that it might launch a supplementary market investigation following the conclusion of the coronavirus crisis.

Shares in Dignity, the UK’s largest listed funeral provider, were more than 6% up in early Thursday dealing in response to the announcement.

Martin Coleman, the chairman of the regulator’s funeral inquiry panel, insisted the door was being held open to the prospect of future price controls.

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“Given the inherently distressing circumstances in which people arrange a funeral, we want to make sure they can be confident that they are not being overcharged and that their loved one is cared for properly – this is what our
investigation has focused on.

“The later stages of the investigation have been conducted in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused a tragic increase in death rates and has materially changed how funerals are carried out.

“This has had a big impact on how far we can immediately address some of the issues we have identified.

“But there are remedies that are feasible and effective in the short term.

“We are proposing a package of ‘sunlight’ remedies which will shine a light for consumers on the pricing and practices of the sector and make sure that deceased people are cared for properly.”

UK weather: One more day of sun before nationwide thunderstorms hit | UK News


Britain will bask in one more day of blistering temperatures – before thunderstorms sweep the nation next week.

Temperatures are expected to reach 35C (95F) in Kent, Sussex and parts of London on Sunday.

But this weekend’s heatwave is set to come to an abrupt end on Monday, with the Met Office issuing a yellow weather warning for thunderstorms for the whole of the UK.

Forecasters say all of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are at risk of storms from 12am on Monday to the same time on Thursday.

But they said there is “significant uncertainty in location and timing” of where they will hit.

The Met Office's weather warning for Monday
Image: The Met Office’s yellow warning for Monday

Dan Harris, Met Office deputy chief meteorologist, said “the ingredients are there” for storms to strike, but “it’s just too early to pinpoint the details of exactly where and when thunderstorms will occur”.

The worst affected areas could get as much as 80mm of rain in just a few hours, he added.

And this could see homes and businesses flooded, train services cancelled and roads closed.

Thousands of people are soaking up the sun in Bournemouth
Image: Thousands of people soaked up the sun in Bournemouth on Saturday

Sky News weather presenter Kirsty McCabe said Sunday will “bring more sunshine once early low cloud in the east clears to the coast, with the sunniest skies across northern Scotland”.

She added: “It will be very hot again in southeast England. A few showers may pop up in England and southeast Scotland, but most places will stay dry.”

In England and Wales, the mercury is expected to reach the high 20Cs and low 30Cs.

Saturday’s top temperature was 34.5C (94.1F), which was recorded at Frittenden, Kent, Wiggonholt, West Sussex, and Herstmonceux, East Sussex.

Beaches in Brighton, Bournemouth, Blackpool and Margate were packed with people, triggering major concerns over social distancing amid an apparent rise in coronavirus infections.

Friday was the hottest August day in 17 years, with health warnings put in place before the mercury hit 36.4C (97.5F) at Heathrow and Kew Gardens in London.

The record for the hottest August day ever was set in Faversham, Kent, on 10 August 2003, when temperatures there reached 38.5C (101.3F).

Fulham back in the Premier League after victory in football’s richest game | UK News


Fulham have booked their immediate return to the Premier League as Joe Bryan struck twice in extra-time to see them past Brentford 2-1 in the Championship play-off final.

Said to be the most valuable one-off game in world football, victory is estimated to be worth around £135 million to Fulham over the next three years.

Nil – nil after normal time at Wembley, Fulham fullback Bryan scored a remarkable 105th-minute free-kick at Wembley to break the deadlock.

Around 35 yards from goal, Bryan looked as though he was going to cross it but instead bent one straight into the corner, completely wrong-footing Brentford keeper David Raya.

He then added another in the dying minutes to seal his side’s spot back in the Premier League after just a season away.

Fulham fans celebrate outside the team's Craven Cottage ground
Image: Fulham fans celebrate outside the team’s Craven Cottage ground

Brentford, meanwhile, who were trying to end a 73-year wait to reach the big time, will have to deal with yet another play-off failure.

Henrik Dalsgaard grabbed them a last-gasp consolation, but there was no way back and it is now nine attempts in their history without managing to seal promotion on a single occasion.

Fulham manager Scott Parker said it had been an emotional night
Image: Fulham manager Scott Parker said it had been an emotional night

Fulham manager Scott Parker thanked those who had stuck with him following relegation from the Premier League last year.

“I feel emotional,” he said. “The journey you go on, the ups and downs, along the way the disappointment, I’m the face who fronts up, but behind the scenes is a support network of people that keep you going in those times and those moments.

“That’s why I feel emotional, I feel for the people who aren’t here, the people who’ve supported the team and me as manager, sometimes you’ve not always got that and I’m very proud of my team, so so proud of them.”

Magnanimous in defeat, Brentford head coach Thomas Frank wished Fulham well for next season, offering his congratulations to Parker and his coaching staff.

The new Premier League is set to kick-off on 12 September. The campaign was initially scheduled to start on August 8 but was forced to be delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Universal free TV licence comes to an end for over-75s | UK News


The universal free TV licence has come to an end for over-75s in what has been called a “sad day for our older population”.

The BBC will now means-test the entitlement, having previously delayed its introduction because of the pandemic.

Over-75s must be getting pension credit to receive a TV licence – which costs £157.50 – for free.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, said: “This is a sad day for our older population, many of whom are feeling badly let down by both the government and the BBC over the demise of these free licences.”

She said that “more than half a million of the poorest pensioners will still have to pay for a licence, cut spending on other essentials like food or heating, give up TV altogether or keep watching without a licence, in breach of the law”, because they still do not qualify for pension credit.

Ms Abrahams added: “It is deplorable that any older person should have to make such a horrible choice. Some over-75s have an income which ‘is just a few pounds or even pence too high to qualify them for pension credit, who will find another big bill too much to manage’.”

She continued: “Many months ago we said that we thought the BBC’s plan would turn out to be a ‘slow motion car crash’ and nothing that has happened since leads us to change our minds.

“As the disastrous impact of the BBC’s plan on some of our ‘oldest old’ becomes apparent over the next few weeks, we hope this will bring the corporation and the government back to the table, to find another way to keep TV free for the oldest in our society.”

Age UK is “calling on everyone aged over 75 to see without delay if they are eligible for Pension Credit, if they haven’t already done so”.

The BBC agreed to take on responsibility for funding the scheme as part of the charter agreement hammered out with the government in 2015.

It has said it cannot afford to continue the universal entitlement, which would hit “programmes and services”.

TV Licensing will write to all over-75 licence holders from August, outlining what action to take.

A BBC spokeswoman said “it was the government that ended funding for over-75s TV licences” and that the “BBC has made the fairest decision possible to support the poorest, oldest pensioners”.

She added: “Critically, it isn’t the BBC making judgments about poverty – the government sets and controls pension credit.

“The decision to start the new scheme in August has not been easy but delaying the introduction has cost the BBC over £70m and we cannot afford to delay any further.

“Continuing with the government scheme would have cost £745m a year and rising” and would have meant the closures of BBC Two, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, the BBC Scotland channel, Radio 5 Live, and a number of local radio stations, the spokeswoman said.

They added: “These closures would profoundly damage the BBC for everyone, especially older people who use the BBC the most.”

“Our focus is now on making the transition as easy as possible for all older people. Over 75s households will be given plenty of time to set up their licence and can do so safely without leaving home. For those who currently receive a free TV licence but have to pay from August 1, we’re introducing a new plan so they can pay safely in smaller, more flexible instalments.”

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A Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) spokesperson said: “We are bitterly disappointed by the BBC’s decision not to extend the over-75 licence fee concession beyond August.

“The BBC remains responsible for the concession and for setting out what those affected will now need to do. It must now look urgently at how it can use its substantial licence fee income to deliver for audiences of all ages, including by making efficiencies.”

The DCMS says the government agreed a deal with the BBC in 2015, which the director-general said provided “financial stability”.