Letters to the editor

First class

Sir,– I collect and send used postage stamps to South Africa, where the stamps are used to fund “Mission Doctor Flights”.

If any of your readers would like to donate used stamps, they can be handed in to Long and Gilmour Dental Practice in North Street, Bo’ness marked for my attention.–Yours etc.,


by e-mail.

Makes census

Sir,– Regardless of whether we think or believe the upcoming Census is either a good thing or a waste of time and money, the contents, once collated and analysed, affect all of us.

The census data is used by government, both local and national, and other organisations to shape policy at all levels of society.

A recent poll showed that 65 per cent of people in England and Wales and 56 per cent in Scotland, said they did not believe in a god or had any religious belief.

The Humanist Associations in both countries, who commissioned the polls, said people often identified themselves as religious for cultural reasons and could well simply enter the religious denomination either born into or brought up in.

If, like many people, you have no religious belief the proper entry is none.

It is clear that many people feel there is no place in society and in particular, education, for the continued and disproportionate ‘special consideration’ bestowed upon those professing a religious belief.

Social policy, including the possible extension of faith-based schools, will be shaped by it until 2021 and by that time it just might be too late!

Although the only voluntary question in the census, I would urge everyone to think about what box they tick in Q 13 when prompted for their religious affiliation.– Yours etc.,


by e-mail

More funding

Sir,– I was delighted to read that 10 years ago ‘Grumpy and Doc’ raised money for Breakthrough Breast Cancer by walking across the Forth Road Bridge (Journal and Gazette, March 11). Since that time Breakthrough have funded the first and only dedicated breast cancer research unit in Scotland with the University of Edinburgh at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh.

And since that time, the lifetime risk of developing breast cancer has increased to one in eight for women in the UK. Around 4,000 women in Scotland are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.

The efforts of fundraisers across the country have led to real advances in better treatments for breast cancer. The need for this work remains as strong as ever.–Yours etc.,


Breakthrough Breast Cancer in Scotland

Teacher woe

Sir, The following is a letter I sent to Mike Russell MSP, following his TV appearing on the Great Education Debate.

‘‘I was very surprised by your very positive portrayal of the current state of education in Scotland. As you will know, local councils have recently made considerable cutbacks in the funding of education, leading to poor levels of staffing and temporary contracts for many teaching staff, especially new teachers.

I retired from teaching myself in August 2010 after 35 years of service with West Lothian Council, and am dismayed to see that newly qualified teachers are in a worse position than I have ever seen in this time. My own daughter qualified as a mathematics teacher in 2009 and was fortunate enough to be employed in her first year out of probation. However, she was very upset to discover that her contract comes to an end in May, with no guarantee of a job for August 2011, despite a shortage of maths teachers in her particular school. It seems ridiculous to myself, my daughter and her colleagues that new graduate teachers will be given priority for posts over teachers with one or more year’s experience.

I would like to question the reasons for this policy, and whether it relates to an attempt by SNP to gain political advantage before an election. My own perception is that the public, especially parents are not aware that experienced teachers are losing their jobs in order for the SNP to meet the promises they have made to student teachers about to graduate and those about to complete their probationary year. I will therefore be forwarding a copy of this letter to my local newspaper so that parents in my area are aware of the situation.” –Yours etc.,


Pilgrims Hill Linlithgow