Letters: Hearts with a heart help Citadel theatre group

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Everyone involved in our forthcoming First World War play When the War Came Home would like to express thanks for the great help we’ve received from Heart of Midlothian Football Club and Tynecastle High School – and for the support of many individuals.

This powerful new piece, by a team of Edinburgh writers, depicts historical figures such as Sir George McCrae, who led the Hearts players and their followers into battle; Dr Elsie Inglis, who founded battlefront hospitals; war poet Wilfred Owen, who taught at Tynecastle while recuperating in Edinburgh; and Chrystal MacMillan, who courageously opposed the war.

It also gives voice to everyday Edinburgh people, caught up in a Zeppelin raid, working in munitions, affected by the Gretna rail disaster and fighting at the Front.

When the War Came Home is presented by WEA Scotland and Citadel Arts Group. Over its 20 years Citadel has worked with people of all ages to create living theatre and community memories, in particular offering people of more mature years opportunities to write and see their work performed.

Liz Hare, artistic director, Citadel Arts Group, Edinburgh

*The play is at Edinburgh’s St Bride’s Centre, Dalry, on January 14, 7pm, and at Tynecastle High School, January 16, 7pm

Martin is wide of the mark on Loony Dook

As one who has been involved with all 29 Loony Dooks since it first took place in Queensferry on January 1, 1987, I write to address the ill-informed and irresponsible comments by Martin Hannan in his column (‘Loony officials ruining it for Dookers’, News, January 6).

Ill-informed, as it is patently obvious that Mr Hannan was neither at the event nor had he spoken to any of the many hundreds of Dookers who enjoyed a great day’s fun.

Irresponsible, as Mr Hannan seems to be encouraging people to go “dashing into freezing cold water” with no thought of safety.

The waters of the River Forth are not a safe environment, particularly at this time of year, as is evidenced by the number of times that the volunteer crew members of Queensferry Lifeboat are called out to assist people in trouble.

The Loony Dook is a hugely popular and successful part of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations. It is due to this popularity that arrangements have to be put in place to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

Far from officials ‘ruining’ the event we have cause to be very grateful to Unique Events, Edinburgh City Council, G4S, the Red Cross, Police Scotland and the RNLI for ensuring that The Loony Dook will next year celebrate its 30th anniversary.

David M Steel, Springfield Terrace, South Queensferry

Are we giving away honours too easily?

My grandfather was chief Air Raid Protection (ARP) warden in Portsmouth during the Second World War. He was out every night pulling the dead and injured and many body parts from the ruins of Portsmouth, usually while the bombs were falling. This lasted for six years!

It is hard to imagine how he could have coped were he not a butcher by trade. PTSD was not recognised then.

In the early fifties, my grandfather was awarded the MBE for his incredibly brave and unselfish service and, when we visited him in Portsmouth at that time, he was so proud of his award and delighted in telling us how wonderful it was to meet the Queen.

I see that in this year’s New Year’s Honours list, James Corden and Sheridan Smith have also been awarded the MBE, principally, I assume, for their performances in Gavin and Stacey.

While I think they are good actors and entertainers and do not begrudge them their awards, I do think that, somehow, we have lost our sense of values in 70 years of peace at home.

A comparison between two actors enjoying their chosen profession and what my grandfather went through to earn his award is hardly equivalent in the sacrifices involved and the services provided to the country.

Howard Thompson, Pinkie Hill Crescent, Musselburgh

Holding Holyrood to account on healthcare

We noted with interest that in the Scottish Government debate on mental health (January 6), Jamie Hepburn MSP made a commitment to ensuring that waiting time targets to access child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) would be achieved by all health boards this year.

Currently only five of Scotland’s 14 health boards have achieved an 18-week target from referral to treatment for specialist CAMH services which came into force in December last year. Indeed, only half of the health boards have achieved a 26-week waiting time target dating from 2013.

What is required now is a commitment that children in Scotland are no longer admitted to non-specialist units such as adult and paediatric wards, nor to being sent further afield, such as to England for treatment, where the number has increased from 177 last year to 202, meaning they may not get the support they require.

Indeed, under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Act 2003 it is clear that there is specific duty on NHS boards to provide sufficient services for young people, something which is clearly challenged by them being treated in non-specialist settings.

As a coalition we will hold the Scottish Government to account on ensuring that the waiting time target is achieved and would also welcome a further commitment to ensuring that those children requiring treatment are cared for in a setting that is suitable to their needs.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition, Edinburgh