Nice news: Your favourite stories from around Scotland


The news isn't always doom and gloom. Here are some of your favourite "nice news" stories from around Scotland this week.

Three amateur photographers from Strathaven scoop top prizes in prestigious UK contest

Image copyright Henry Memmott
Image caption Henry Memmott's winning youth category shot of a feather on Glengavel Reservoir in Strathaven

Three budding photographers from the same Scottish town have scooped top prizes in the UK Landscape Photographer of the Year awards.

Lesley Smith and young winners Hannah Faith Jackson and Henry Memmott all hail from Strathaven in South Lanarkshire.

The coincidence was only discovered when Lesley, 45, revealed her win on the town's community Facebook page.

"There's no connection between us at all," she said. "I only realised after they announced the winners."

An exhibition of all the winning photographs will be held at London's Waterloo station from 21 November.

Image copyright Lesley Smith
Image caption Lesley Smith won the urban category for her Red Road flats demolition shot
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Hannah Faith Jackson won Young Landscape Photographer of the Year 2016
Image copyright Henry Memmott
Image caption Henry Memmott also won the Youth urban category for his night scene of city lights in Glasgow

Community bid to take over Edinburgh church given the green light

Image copyright Google

A community bid to take over a former church in Edinburgh has been given the green light by the Scottish government.

The former Portobello Old Parish Church in Bellfield Street is set to become the first urban community buy-out under new legislation.

Locals want to turn the church into a multi-purpose community hub for clubs such as Scouts and Brownies.

The government has agreed the project is of community benefit and given it first option to buy the building.

Forth Road Bridge repair wins engineering award

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Media captionThe Forth Road Bridge was closed for 20 days while engineers fixed the truss end link

The project to repair damaged steelwork, which led to the closure of the Forth Road Bridge in 2015, has won a prestigious engineering award.

Amey engineers were given the Greatest Contribution to Scotland Award at the 2016 Saltire Society Civil Engineering Awards.

Judges described the repair to the "truss end link" on the bridge as "a remarkable" engineering feat.

Helicopter transformed into glamping pod

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Media captionSea King helicopter becomes a glamping pod

A retired helicopter, which was bought at an MoD auction, has been transformed into a glamping pod.

The 17m (56ft) Royal Navy Sea King was bought by Stirling farmer Martyn Steedman for £7,000.

He has now had it converted into a holiday home, complete with a shower room and mini kitchen, which can sleep a family of six.

Image caption The helicopter now has a single bed in its tail

The idea for the conversion came to Mr Steedman and his wife Louise following the Sea Kings' final fly past over Stirling earlier this year, which marked the end of active service for the entire fleet.

Many of the Sea King's original features have been retained inside, except for the sonar station which was removed and donated to The Helicopter Museum in Weston-super-Mare, to make way for a shower room and mini-kitchen.

From the cockpit, holidaymakers can enjoy panoramic views over the Carse of Stirling. The flight deck has been refitted with swivel seats and a table made from an old fuel tank cover.

Gender pay gap narrowed in Scotland last year

Image copyright Getty Images

The gender pay gap has fallen in Scotland over the last year, official figures have revealed.

The difference between men and women's median hourly earnings for full-time work fell from 7.7% in 2015 to 6.2%.

Scotland had the third highest gross weekly full-time earnings for females (£482.60) after London (£609.50) and south east England (£497.80).

Who makes turnip lanterns anymore?

With Halloween just around a shadowy, cobwebbed-cloaked corner supermarkets are jam-packed with orange pumpkins to be hollowed out as spooky lanterns.

But it was not always this way. The staple of the 31 October vegetable-based lantern was a turnip, or swede - or a neep as they are fondly known in Scotland.

Is the tradition of hollowing out the much tougher innards of a neep now long dead, or does it still survive in Scottish households?

Donna Heddle, professor of Northern Studies at the University of the Highlands and Islands, says she remains committed to the hardy turnip.

She says: "This is a very old tradition in Scotland and Ireland based on will o' the wisps and Celtic mythology which settlers and emigrants took to the USA and, not really finding neeps, used pumpkins.

"The whole Halloween celebration today has been taken over by the US version which bears no resemblance to ours."

Prof Heddle concedes that colourful pumpkins with their soft insides make for an easier proposition than a neep.

She adds: "Pumpkins are sold very cheaply up to Halloween.

"However, my husband uses a drill bit to hollow our neeps out."

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