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Tribute to Ken Gunn, Scotlands master hotelier of the seas

The man who introduced luxury sailing to the world of Scottish hospitality has died at the age of 67..

The man who introduced luxury sailing to the world of Scottish hospitality has died at the age of 67.

Ken Gunn, the global seafarer who skippered stars on the Hebridean Princess, was also co-owner of the multi award-winning Sonas Hotels group on Skye.
Born and brought up in Oban, the son of a sea captain, Ken was educated at Oban High School, Lewis College in Stornoway and Leith Nautical College.

He had close links with St Kilda, the isolated archipelago in the North Atlantic. His Skye-born grandfather was a church minister and his grandmother a school teacher there. They took his mother there when just a couple of weeks old and she lived there for five years.

His first job was a cadet officer with Benline Shipping, making the first of many voyages around the world at the age of 17. In 1974 he joined Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) as Second Mate on the MV Columba – a vessel he would later captain as the re-designed Hebridean Princess.

Ken and Anne Gunn at their wedding in Skeabost House Hotel

At the age of 28 he became the youngest Master of the CalMac fleet and plied the waters of Scotlands West coast for more than two decades.

Prior to launching his first hotel in 2003 with his wife Anne, Toravaig House on the southern peninsula of Sleat, Ken was captain of the five star cruise ship the Hebridean Princess, sailing around the UK, Ireland and Norway. VIP guests included HRH Princess Anne, actor Sean Connery, racing driver Jackie Stewart and singer-composer Chris de Burgh.

The Hebridean Princess, twice chartered by the Queen, including a trip to celebrate her 80th birthday, and was the model for the nine bedroom Toravaig which the couple insisted should be a luxury ship ashore.

They went on to purchase and develop the nearby Duisdale House, voted Scotlands Best Hotel in the 2013 Thistle Awards run by national tourism organisation VisitScotland and Best Independent Hotel in the Catering Scotland Awards in 2015.

In 2016 they bought Skeabost House near Portree in the north of the island and recently completed a total refurbishment and extension.

Ken at his happiest, looking after his guests

In the Islands section of the 2018 Scottish Hotel Awards the three hotels won six different categories among them. Skeabost, which now has 18 bedrooms, was voted Scotlands Island Hotel of the Year in 2016 and again in 2017.

He and Anne began offering cruises for hotel guests on the 36 foot luxury yacht Solus in 2005, he as skipper and Anne as First Mate, twice updating it with larger craft, latterly the 50 foot Solus a Chuain (Light of the Ocean). The hotels were the only ones in Scotland with a luxury yacht reserved exclusively for guests. Scores of weddings were conducted on board. He took special pride in taking many guests to St Kilda, his mothers and grandparents former home.

Paying tribute to her late husband, Anne said: Ken was a perfect gentleman and at one with the sea.

From a young age he was regularly on the sea in various forms of craft. His contributions to the success of Sonas Hotels were immense. He had a firm focus on attention to detail and insisted on the highest standards.

He is survived by Anne, a son and daughter, and his stepfamily at Skeabost.

The post Tribute to Ken Gunn, Scotlands master hotelier of the seas appeared first on Scottish Field.

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China deploys anti-ship missiles in the desert making them harder to intercept

Beijing has announced it has deployed intermediate ballistic missiles to the country's north-we..

Beijing has announced it has deployed intermediate ballistic missiles to the country's north-west region, saying the weapons have the capacity to destroy US ships entering disputed waters in the South China Sea.

Key points:

  • The missiles can fire long distances and would be difficult for US ships to shoot down
  • Defence strategy expert Dr Malcom Davis said the move means China can back up its threats
  • The news came after a US guided missile destroyer passed through the South China Sea

The DF-26 missiles — which have been previously dubbed the 'Guam Killer' or 'Guam Express' by Chinese media and defence experts — are capable of carrying conventional or nuclear warheads.

They have a range of 4,500 kilometres, making them capable of reaching as far as Guam in the east and Indonesia in the south, providing Beijing with a powerful weapon as tensions continue to rise in the South China Sea.

External Link: @globaltimesnews: China's df-26 missiles

According to Chinese state media publication The Global Times, the DF-26 missiles are now stationed in north-west China's sparse plateau and desert areas, carried on the backs of trucks able to traverse the harsh terrain.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Beijing-based military expert told the Times that positioning the missiles deep in China's mainland made them more difficult to intercept as it allowed the missile to enter its final stages at a high speed.

Footage on CCTV showed trucks carrying the missiles driving through rough terrain and sand dunes.

The missiles were first paraded in 2015 and China confirmed they were now operational in April last year, but this is the first footage of the missiles outside of a parade.

It is unclear when the missiles were moved to the northwest region, the Times reported. (more…)

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Melbourne driver who cheated death when sign fell on car in no rush to drive again

Related Story: Dashcam footage shows moment car was crushed by falling freeway sign

The Melbourne ..

Related Story: Dashcam footage shows moment car was crushed by falling freeway sign

The Melbourne driver who cheated death when an overhead road sign fell and crushed her car says she cannot believe such an accident could happen in Australia.

Key points:

  • A second sign on the Tullamarine Freeway has been taken down as a precautionary measure
  • An inspection of similar-sized sign and gantries is underway
  • VicRoads says an independent investigator has been brought in to determine what happened

Extraordinary dashcam footage shows the moment the five-by-four metre sign fell in front of, and then on top of, Nella Lettieri's car as she was travelling on Melbourne's Tullamarine Freeway earlier this week.

While the 53-year-old was not seriously injured, she is bruised and battered — and wondering how she is still alive.

"It felt like a roller door had slammed shut in front of me," Ms Lettieri said.

"I've gone to swerve, but as I swerved, it just felt like the sign was actually falling on the car.

"And it just kept bouncing, and I felt like it was pushing me to the right, and I'm thinking, 'OK, is it going to stop?'"

A woman smiling and looking off camera.

She thought the metal object may have been from a plane landing or taking off from the nearby Essendon Airport, or from a truck on the freeway.

But she was shocked to discover it was actually an overhead sign, meant to be directing drivers to their destination. (more…)

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In his Brexit speech in Wakefield, Jeremy Corbyn again demanded the impossible

Speaking in Wakefield this morning, Jeremy Corbyn restated his demand for a solution to the Brexit i..

Speaking in Wakefield this morning, Jeremy Corbyn restated his demand for a solution to the Brexit impasse that appears effectively impossible: a general election.

In what is likely to be his last major public statement before MPs vote on the withdrawal agreement next Tuesday, he attempted to redefine the terms of the question facing both the Labour leadership and its MPs – from those that threaten to stretch his fissiparous electoral coalition to breaking point, to those which, on paper, unite it.

That resulted in a speech whose thrust was an appeal to class consciousness from Remainers in Tottenham and Leavers in Mansfield, rather than any meaningful debate over the validity or viability of Brexit itself. “Youre up against it,” Corbyn said, citing austerity, stagnant wages, and the cost of living crisis, “but youre not against each other.”

Accordingly, his cursory repetition of Labours policy – that a second referendum should remain on the table as an option in the event a general election does not happen – came with a caveat so huge that it amounted to an implicit dismissal of a so-called peoples vote. “Any political leader who wants to bring the country together cannot wish away the votes of 17 million people who wanted to leave, any more than they can ignore the concerns of the 16 million who voted to remain.”

But despite the fact that his attention was more or less exclusively focussed on the question of what sort of future relationship with Europe would negotiate – with the fact of the divorce undisputed – Corbyn categorically ruled out doing anything but whipping his MPs to vote against the withdrawal agreement. The vast majority of them will do so on Thursday, after which point Corbyn said, as expected, that Labour would table a motion of no confidence in the hope of securing an election and with it the chance to renegotiate Brexit (rather than, say, holding a second referendum).

Notably, however, he did not specify a timescale for tabling a confidence vote after Mays deal falls – despite several of his shadow cabinet ministers insisting that he would do so “immediately”. He instead put on the record the more cautious line briefed by his team yesterday: “Labour will table a motion of no confidence in the government at the moment we judge it to have the best chance of success.”

That statement of intent was followed with a caveat seldom offered by shadow cabinet ministers sent out to spin the partys line on Brexit. “Clearly,” Corbyn said, “Labour does not have enough MPs in parliament to win a confidence vote on its own.” As he himself alluded to when he urged opposition MPs to join Labour in voting against the government, Labours chances remain slim until such time that the ten DUP MPs drop the government. (That every other party will is a racing certainty.) Paradoxically, the defeat of the withdrawal agreement – and with it the backstop Mays sometime coalition partners object to – will make that chance even slimmer.

We know from what Corbyn said this morning that the Labour leadership will not whip its MPs to approve Theresa Mays Brexit, back a second referendum out of choice – both courses threaten its electoral base in different ways – or support any attempt by Downing Street to make the Brexit deal more amenable to Labour MPs by tacking on guarantees on workers rights. That strategy has held until now.

But failure to roll the pitch for any alternative at all – or, indeed, for the inevitable breakdown in party discipline after Mays vote is defeated and Labour has no way to bind MPs who seek mutually exclusive Brexit aims – will make the messy politics of the aftermath of next Tuesday rather more difficult to finesse.

Patrick Maguire is the New Statesman's political correspondent. (more…)

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