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Skye man becomes captain for the day as he celebrates 100th birthday

Donald MacAskill, known as Dolan, with his captain's hat and Master Iain Mackenzie
Donald MacAskill, known as Dolan, with his captain's hat and Master Iain Mackenzie

A 100-year-old man from Skye who spent his life at sea was granted a birthday wish to become captain for the day thanks to CalMac.

Donald MacAskill, known as Dolan, was invited on board the MV Lochnevis by Master Ian Mackenzie and his crew to mark his milestone birthday.

He was presented with a captain’s cap and a gift bag of goodies when the CalMac vessel was berthed in Armadale on Skye, in between runs to Mallaig, earlier this week.

A lifetime at sea

Donald MacAskill celebrated his 100th birthday this week. Supplied by CalMac.

Mr MacAskill was born in the village of Flesherin in Point on the Isle of Lewis on February 6, 1922, where he lived with his four brothers and three sisters.

He left school at 14 to make Harris Tweed with his father before starting an apprenticeship at a bakery in Stornoway.

He said: “My ambition was always to join the Merchant Navy and as soon as I was old enough in 1939, I left the island and went to Glasgow where I joined the crew of the SS Manela.

“I worked on the ship and helped out in the kitchen – the food was very bad at times.

“I also went to America, Canada and Australia while at sea, and could be away for up to two years at a time. It was always great to get on the boat in Glasgow and head home to Lewis.”

‘A huge character’

He is now a popular resident at the An Acarsaid Care Home on Broadford on Skye, where he participates in all the activities.

Manager Mandy Mackinnon described him as a “huge character” and shared that he loves playing and listening to ceilidh music, enjoys a nice dram and is a very competitive dominoes player.

Mr MacAskill added: “I returned to the Isle of Lewis a time after the war and spent many happy years living with my sister Mary Ann down in Back.

“I loved going down to the pier and watching the ferries come and go when we went to town, many a journey I enjoyed with CalMac – I have a small picture of the MV Suilven in my room – the seas and boats have also given me so much joy.”

Donald MacAskill was gifted a captain’s hat and a gift bag of CalMac goodies. Supplied by CalMac.

Mr Mackenzie said he and his crew were delighted to welcome Mr MacAskill to the MV Lochnevis to celebrate his special birthday.

He added: “He is a really interesting character who has travelled the world, and me and the crew were privileged to talk to him and listen to his wonderful stories.

“I am from Aird, a nearby village in Point, and it was my pleasure to present the hat and goodies to a fellow rubhach!”

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