Tuesday, 18 March 2008

South Uist Tragedy

I'm sure that many who read today's media coverage of the tragic death of Kaylee McIntosh, the 14 year old girl cadet from Aberdeenshire, will have felt moved when they learned the detail of how this tragedy occurred. The incident has added poignancy for me as the tragedy happened a short distance from where I grew up. As a child, growing up in North Uist, I was acutely aware of the dangers associated with water, both in the numerous lochs that cover vast areas of the islands and the coastline that can be as treacherous as it is beautiful. As a native of the island of North Uist, I often witnessed 'incomers' taking unecessary and unplanned risks that could have all too easily had serious consequences. As a headteacher of a school in the city of Edinburgh I receive and approve many requests to take pupils on excursions. I hope that generations of youngsters are able to enjoy the richness of experiences that excursions in the outdoors have to offer. What happened to Kaylee was tragic; we now know that there were major failings in safety. The way ahead for us must be to learn from what happened here and to ensure that future excursions of this nature are properly conducted. We must guard against becoming too frightened to take risks.

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