The Rotary Month

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During the last two months the Rotary Club in Lerwick has had several very interesting speakers.

Kieran Murray described his work on the rescue helicopter Oscar Charlie, both the present one and its well known predecessor. The impression gained is that the helicopter is being called out more and more often, not only to rescue people injured on boats and rigs offshore, but also to assist the ambulance service in the transfer of patients to hospital from the outer islands both here and in Orkney.

Bryan Peterson gave a detailed description of his work for Shetland Arts Trust in his role as musical development officer. This talk was timely in view of the probable reduction in spending from the council in several fields.

Probably the youngest speaker ever was schoolboy John Robinson who had put together a most interesting illustrated talk on the history of the humble bicycle. Starting with the original Boneshaker or Velocipede of 1839, via the Penny Farthing or High Bicycle of 1869, John took members right up to date with today’s model of carbon fibre technology costing in the region of £1,000.

Next, Fiona Dally gave a power-point presentation on the visit of the Tall Ships Race to Shetland in two years time. A private company has been set up with eight directors to ensure that this major event goes smoothly and is as memorable as the previous one in 1999. The principal idea behind this is to “showcase” Shetland in as many ways as possible, so the whole com-munity can benefit from the visit of so many wonderful vessels.

Geoff Blackman brought mem­berss up to date with the in­vestigation of family history of both himself and more particularly his wife Verity. Study of archive material on the internet plus former census returns has over the last two years led to the discovery of several close relatives whose existence was quite unknown to them. Contact has been made, visits have taken place, and the survey has widened.

To round off the two months member Larry Sutherland showed a fascinating film which had been made by the BBC in Shetland in 1970 and presented by Duncan Carse. The undoubted star of the film was “Red Robbie” Watt on his fishing boat, trying out what was then a very new fishery for Shet-land, that of dredging for scallops. There was also a visit to Unst, not looking its best in the January snow and rain.

The club recently held its spring cheese and wine evening in Lerwick Town Hall, one of the main fund-raising events of the year. Despite several members being away that evening, the event was well supported and several hundred pounds were raised for charity.

Continuing the theme of supporting youth activities in the community, cheques were presented to Shetland Table Tennis Club and Filskit Riding Club, and a donation was sent to the Elgin Rotary Club to support its clean water and drainage project in Nepal.

Continuing an activity which is now a long standing annual event for the club, 11 members took part in Da Voar Redd Up, working between the Brig o’ Fitch and the Scord quarry. As usual, and rather depressingly, a huge amount of bruck was bagged and the question arises: why do we make such a mess of our environment?