The Arran Banner battles on, despite blizzards

IT would have required more than huge snowdrifts and power lines being brought down to prevent the local newspaper service on the Isle of Arran from being published, as per usual, this Friday.

In fact, not only is The Arran Banner being published as per usual, it is also increasing its pagination, as per usual, to celebrate the Easter weekend.

From 24pp to 28pp, the paper – printed in Carlisle – is unsurprisingly going to be mostly taken up with stories of the island being without electricity for days and some parts being cut off by snow drifts as high as 14 feet.

There are two reporters based on the island, with editor, Stewart Mackenzie, located at the paper’s publishers, Wyvex Media, in Oban.

Senior reporter, Howard Driver, lives eight miles south of Brodick, where the newspaper’s office is based. His home was without power for five days until yesterday; the newspaper office has been powered by a generator brought in by the energy company, SSE, since Friday.

At the weekend, he was out and about with the emergency services, to report what was happening ‘on the ground’.

“I am shattered,” he told “It’s been hard sleeping in the house, because it is so cold, and I’ve not stopped working. But these last few days have been a fantastic example of community spirit, of people pulling together, and looking out for each other. We’ve had SEE bringing in giant generators and hot food trailers and the local fire station in Lamlash providing hot water and free food to people, 24 hours a day.”

Internet use and computers have sometimes been slow due to the load on the generators.

Chief reporter, Jenny Lyon, was unable to make it into the office for three days, until Monday, on account of the north end of the island, where she lives, suffering as badly as the west side. The east, where Brodick is located, has been largely unaffected by the snow.

Added Howard, who has been a reporter with the paper for 28 years and is retiring this year: “The paper has become a focal point. The police and other emergency services have used us to get messages out to the general public, via our Facebook page, and the general public, both on the island and the mainland, are able to use us to get messages to the emergency services. It has been social media in action at its very best.”

Pic: Howard Driver, taken on a tractor trying to clear a path for a snow plough.