Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Casino & Spa bids

According to the BBC, the Isle of Man government is considering seven bids to build a high-end casino and spa resort on the island.
In the House of Keys on 28 February it was confirmed the government is now in talks with applicants and tenders will be invited in March. Planning consent was given for the project about two years ago and the application deadline was 31 January. It is hoped the move will attract more tourists and help increase the island's profile in the gaming industry.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Allan Bell aspires to ensure the island becomes an enterprise zone committed to promoting innovation and entrepreneurialism

After four months in the post, Chief Minister Allan Bell believes he is past the “pulling the duvet over my head” phase in what are difficult times and claims he is leading the island forward.
The Isle of Man budget this month included serious and unpopular cuts to government staff numbers and salaries after several economic setbacks.
Mr Bell sought to prepare the island with a pre-budget announcement that explained exactly how he plans to steer the island through what he admits will be “the most challenging year it has faced for a generation”.
He said the government wages bill, standing at well over £300 million, would need to be cut by 10 per cent within three to four years, adding: “We are probably going to be losing services that many of us grew up with and loved for many years. But that’s a fact of life.”
Housing, health care, pensions, welfare, planning and judicial systems will all come under the chief minister’s scrutiny, as he warned: “There will be no sacred cows. There will be nothing that can be ring-fenced. Where savings can be squeezed out they must be squeezed out.”
On top of the problems caused by a global economic downturn, last year the UK adjusted its VAT-sharing agreement with the island, costing the Manx government approximately 40 per cent of its annual income.
The loss in revenue was compounded by Standard & Poor’s credit ratings downgrade in November to double-A plus, in which the Isle of Man was judged to be “constrained by its undiversified small economy, which makes it more vulnerable to external shocks”.
Focusing on the island’s positives, the chief minister is seeking to reassure his people that they can look to the future with confidence.
“There are no quick and easy answers to the problems which confront us,” he says. “However, we must take courage from knowing our economy is still in a position of relative strength, that we have a high quality of life and that we are a haven of peace and political stability.”
Mr Bell has taken on board the criticisms of Standard & Poor’s and is seeking to bring new business opportunities.
“The island is currently researching business opportunities with India, China and Russia,” he says, “and in doing so hopes to generate new income streams, particularly in the clean tech and bioscience technology fields, that will add to revenue already boosted by an increase in personal tax.”
“My aspiration is to ensure the island as a whole becomes an enterprise zone committed to promoting innovation and entrepreneurialism and I have tasked my minister for economic development, John Shimmin, to deliver this.
“We must clear away impediments to economic growth, ensuring that our policies and processes facilitate rather than inhibit the future prosperity of our island.
“My vision as chief minister reflects my longstanding ambition to maintain a prosperous and caring society based on fairness, opportunity for all, social cohesion and quality of life.
“Our top priorities have to be: delivering further economic growth and diversification to provide new income for government and jobs for our people; living within our means by achieving a balanced budget and protecting the vulnerable in society.”
This piece was originally published in the Telegraph Weekly World Edition By 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Dhoon Church Hall Centenary Celebrations

I have fond memories of the Dhoon as a campsite for Girl Guides in the 1960s and 70s. We were ambitious enough to bring over Scouts from Sweden who were very surprised to find the near vertical campground. It was not uncommon to slide on ones groundsheet right  under the roll-up bottom of the tent and halfway down the hill in the night. We used the hall when it rained and for accessing water. 

Christ Church, known colloquially as Dhoon Church, was once a hub of activity for those living in Glen Mona, with social and fundraising events held in the Vestry under the church until a separate hall was opened on the 2nd February, 1912.

Although a poor community many people from the village worked tirelessly towards establishing this new facility, but now Dhoon Church Hall faces an uncertain future. Lifestyles and expectations have changed radically since it was agreed to build a hall suitable for use as a Sunday School and for parochial gatherings in April 1910.

Designed by Bernard Brameld, a Manchester architect with a house in Maughold, who waived his fee, stone for the hall was donated and carted free of charge, and as their enthusiasm grew so did the amount of subscriptions. Despite this excellent start to their fundraising activities the Rev. George Gregson admitted that the area was not a wealthy community, and pleaded for others across the Island to help their cause.

With the support of the Lord Bishop money trickled into what became known as the Church Room Building Fund. As the community pulled together church teas, concerts, lantern show lectures and other social occasions were organised, with local children particularly eager to help bring about something that would benefit them all.

By the summer of 1911 builders had started work on the new church hall and Sunday School, so the children elected to forego their annual outing to Laxey or Glen Wyllin for that year.

This was quickly followed by the laying of the foundation stone by the Lord Bishop during September 1911, before the building was formally opened by the Lieutenant Governor, Lord Raglan, on the 2nd February, 1912.

The hall became a popular venue for many group activities and social meetings for both adults and children, with the ever popular Shrove Tuesday Tea and Concert still a firm favourite, although pleas for financial support to clear the debt continued for some time.

Those involved with the hall are confident that it still has a role to play within the community, but its future security is dependent on the support of those living in the area.

The Bishop’s Missioner to Dhoon Church, Nigel Cretney, said “As to the future of the church hall we believe it has a future and we want it to have one, but it needs to be used more and financially supported by the community. Yes it is owned by the church, but we want to see the community work with the church to ensure its future”.

A number of celebrations are planned during the course of the next twelve months to mark the building’s centenary, so this is your opportunity to follow in the footsteps of those early pioneers and carry on the work of those dedicated local fundraisers.

Valerie Caine
© February 2012

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Chico and Rita Oscar hopes

Isle of Man Film will be represented at the Oscar ceremony this weekend after receiving a nomination in the Best Animation category.
Chico and Rita is the 91st project for Isle of Man Film but the first to receive an Oscar nomination.
During the making of the film, 10 animators from the island were employed for about 18 months.
Film company manager Hilary Dugdale said: "To have an Oscar nomination on their CVs' is amazing."
She added: "All the artists were fully trained up in the art of colouring, they actually worked on every single frame to make sure this film looked perfect in every single way- so they are right to have a sense of pride and sense of ownership.
'David and Goliath'
"It was one of the conditions that we laid down to the producers that we have Manx people involved in making the film- we asked them to open an Isle of Man studio and employ a minimum of 10 people."
The young artists received full training and worked as colourists in collaboration with studios based in Hungary, Spain and the Philippines.
The story of Chico and Rita is set against the backdrop of Havana, New York City, Las Vegas, Hollywood and Paris in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
The film's main rival in the Oscar category is Rango, produced by Graham King and Directed by Gore Verbinski.
The budget for Rango, according to Ms Dugdale, was in the region of $135m whereas the budget for Chico and Rita came in at about $7m.
"It's like David and Goliath but we are quietly confident," continued Ms Dugdale.
The awards will be presented by Billy Crystal and take place at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Isle of Man Stamps – William Hoggatt

Hoggart was a friend of my grandparents and I have a hand painted Christmas card from him to them

Although William Hoggatt was born and educated in Lancaster he was to spend fifty four years living and painting on the Isle of Man and would describe himself as ‘almost a Manxman’.

The son of a joiner, Hoggatt’s obvious flare for art won him a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in London which he declined on the pretext that ‘he wanted to work freely’. Electing to become an apprentice at a firm of stained glass manufacturers, Hoggatt continued his art studies at the Storey Institute in Lancaster. The quality of Hoggatt’s work was noticed by Herbert L. Storey, the son of the founder of the Institute, who generously paid for the young artist to study at the L’Academie Julian in Paris under the watchful eye of Jean Paul Laurens 1901 – 1903.

Returning to England Hoggatt rented a cottage at Caton, near Lancaster and took up painting as a full-time career, including a brief spell at the Tate Gallery in London. A significant turning point in Hoggatt’s lengthy career, he met Leonard Archer who invited Hoggatt to his home at Chalfont St Giles. Hoggatt met Leonard’s sister, Dazine, and they quickly agreed to marry, but the match was strongly opposed by their parents. Despite this they eloped to the Isle of Man and in 1907 Hoggatt moved into ‘Glendown’ in Port St Mary. Sending for Dazine shortly afterwards they married at Kirk Christ in the parish of Rushen.

Hoggatt worked with oils, watercolours and pastels, exhibiting both at home and abroad in a number of respected galleries, and was elected a full member of the Royal Institute of Painters, the Liverpool Academy and the Royal British Colonial Society of Artists.

His first one-man exhibition at the Hampstead Art Gallery in London included sixty paintings of the Isle of Man, many of which were sold during the exhibition, prompting stronger recognition of the artist’s talents.

The Hoggatts remained faithful to the south of the Island and in 1926 moved to ‘The Darrag’ in Port Erin where they remained until their deaths.

Hoggatt also exhibited locally with the Isle of Man Artists’ Exhibitions in the 1930s and later with the Mannin Art Group, where he was vice-president. But he also won a competition to design a commemorative stained glass window in celebration of T. E. Brown and designed travel posters and the programme cover for the ‘Festival of Mann’. Two of his paintings were presented to members of the British Royal Family whilst a third was bought privately.

William Hoggatt died in 1961 and was laid to rest in Rushen Churchyard, upon his gravestone these words ‘He loved the Island dearly and revealed to its people its wondrous beauty’.

Valerie Caine © February 2012

Manx Girl Revving Up for Manx Grand Prix

Despite motorcycle racing still being a male dominated sport, Manx girl Ali Foster is one of a growing number of women proving that they can cut the mustard when it comes to racing on the many tracks and circuits around the British Isles.

Having completed her second season of club racing, Ali is setting her sights on the 2013 Manx Grand Prix along with her partner, Steven Beale, who also doubles up as her mechanic.

Although not having mastered stripping a bike (a job she leaves to her fiancé) Ali has always been interested in riding motorbikes, which is perhaps somewhat unsurprising as she comes from a family of bikers (her cousin Decca Kelly is a former Manx Grand Prix winner) and has been devoted to the TT since childhood.

Described as a natural rider, her first outing on the track at Jurby Airfield, in poor weather conditions, did little to inspire Ali by her own admission. Considering how she felt about the sport Ali withdrew for a while, but her circumstances changed in 2007 and with it came the confidence to start racing.  After mastering the Race School at Jurby Ali progressed to gaining experience on the popular track days, held at the Jurby Motodrome, and has never looked back. Entering her first race in 2010 on an SV650 Suzuki, Ali made a promising start, and with it came the realisation that racing was more than a possibility.

Her lap times began to rapidly improve and after finishing third in her class during the annual Endurance Race at Jurby (with James Ford) Ali won her first trophy.

During 2011 Ali finished second in her class in the annual Endurance Race at Jurby (with her cousin Eddie Venn) under the banner ‘Team Yessirs’, and was overall fifth in the 650cc championship, with her lap times showing great promise for the future.

Having now discarded her ‘novice bib’, Ali aims to work methodically towards the allocation of her National Licence and her ultimate goal the Manx Grand Prix. She is now building up her confidence by racing on some of the UK circuits, coming sixth in the Formula Lites at Mallory Park last year before heading for Elvington in Yorkshire. Circuits at Cadwell Park and Anglesey are already in her sights for 2012.

Although there are both drawbacks and compensations in the sport, Ali never loses her bright and infectious smile as she focuses on her goal and heads into this year’s season of racing riding a Kawasaki ER-6. But racing is an expensive sport and a drain on resources, so if anyone is interested in helping with sponsorship Ali would be delighted to hear from you.

Valerie Caine
© February 2012

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Manx 'pirates' dock in Argentina

Published online at 15/02/2012 17:15:38
A Manx-flagged vessel has defied a boycott by unions in Argentina and docked in the South American country.
On Monday, the Argentine Confederation of Transport Workers announced its workers wouldn't service British vessels, or ships belonging to what it calls 'convenience flags from the English pirates'.
The move was announced as tensions grow between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the Falkland Islands.
But that hasn’t stopped the British Ruby landing a cargo of liquified natural gas at Bahia Blanca in the southwest of Buenos Aires province.
The 84,000-tonne double-hulled vessel belongs to BP and flies the Isle of Man flag.
She is delivering the third of five shipments from BP to Argentina, which imports large quantities of natural gas.
The vessel, which is 288 metres long and has a crew of 29, was due spend a day in the port while unloading.
The gas will supply a local re-gasification plant run by YPF, an Argentine oil company.
(Picture: The hull of the British Ruby. The image is from and the word 'Douglas' can be seen under the name of the vessel).