Salt cave cures throat problem for stricken folk singer

Dolina Maclennan breathing in the Salt Cave air
Dolina Maclennan breathing in the Salt Cave air
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AFTER years of being unable to sing a note, folk singer and actress Dolina Maclennan says she is stunned to have her voice back, thanks to an unusual treatment centre in the Capital.

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As the Evening News reported when it opened last June, the Salt Cave in Marionville Road is the first in Scotland. With walls and ceilings plastered with Red Sea salt shipped from Israel, it also has fine salt particles sprayed into the air, which are said to help clean the respiratory system, easing a range of conditions.

The star of Two Thousand Acres of Sky and Hamish MacBeth, who is 74, said she had suffered from nasal and chest problems for many years. She was diagnosed with acute asthma, has been unable to sing ever since, and is prone to throat infections.

On hearing about the salt cave, she decided to give the unorthodox treatment a try, initially visiting three times a week, before reverting to a weekly visit: “It has done wonders for me,” she said.

“I initially went to try and regain my sense of smell, and although this has not happened yet, miraculously I have got some of my singing voice back. So I really cannot thank them enough. I just love it, I go and just relax and breathe in the salty air and you can feel it giving your airways a good clean out.”

Raised on the island of Lewis, Ms Maclennan first came to prominence in the 1950’s when she moved to Edinburgh at the beginning of the Scottish folk renaissance period. Particularly renowned for singing Gaelic folk songs, she was the Gaelic voice of Radio Free Scotland and sang in the show Plain Songs and All That Jazz in 1962, the first show to feature folk music at the official Edinburgh Festival.

As well as her TV roles, she appeared in the film The Queen, playing the switchboard operator at Balmoral.

While her first love was singing, she had resigned herself to it being a thing of the past, until she unexpectedly caught herself singing along to a song: “It was great, I couldn’t believe it. I haven’t sung on stage for many years, and I don’t know if I will, but I’ve got an SNP dinner on Saturday and I will sing there and might even do one by myself, which I never would have dreamt of six months ago.

“I’m delighted. I don’t feel such a freak now that I can join all my friends in a song!”

Owner of the Edinburgh Salt Cave, Pete Flynn, said: “It’s a pleasure to help Dolina and she certainly adds a bit of glamour to the Salt Cave. Singing is obviously very important to her and we are just delighted that the salt therapy can help her continue doing something she loves.”