20th February 2018
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A soggy but very groovy Bannock

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Rain didn’t stop play at this years’ Big Bannock in North Roe. Despite several doonpoors, the sell-out charity event was a great success and bannock-goers got into the groove regardless.

Platforms, medallions and muckle hair were the order of the day for the ‘Disco’ theme this year. The theme was a tribute to veteran disc-spinning, bannock stalwart Duncan Leask and his classic GTL Roadshow.

The afternoon kicked off with the traditional baking of the bannock which was flavoured with smarties this year to compliment the theme. Sprinkles and silver balls also added the finishing touches to the disco bannock. A number of bannock-tasting aficionados agreed it was the best for mony a year.

Next it was time for some light-hearted competition between the Northmavine and Delting Jarls’ squads. The boys were joined this year by the ‘Westside Jarls’ squad’ – it’s not clear whether the folk of the Westside were aware they had a Jarls’ squad, until today! 

Disco Kings Walter Leask, Steven Grains and Ewan Tulloch (right) stop for a chat with Skea Sports commentator, Murray Mayfield (second from right).

Disco Kings Walter Leask, Steven Grains and Ewan Tulloch (right) stop for a chat with Skea Sports commentator, Murray Mayfield (second from right).

Wet weather meant a quick change of competition programme and the three teams took part in a variation of the ‘Hank to hank challenge’. The main object of the game seemed to be that the teams had to turn a ‘hank’ into a ‘cloo’ whilst passing the wirsit through the sleeves of each team members jumpers. Confused? Most team members were, despite a concise explanation by Skea Sports presenter, turned hank to hank expert, Murray Mayfield.

Barry Anderson and his Delting Vikings were the eventual winners and it was a closely fought battle for second and third placings. Newly-formed Westside Jarls’ squad just beat John Spall and his Northmavine lads to take second place.

The final competition of the afternoon was the Merry Tiller Grand Spree. Competitors are guaranteed a soaking whatever the weather with the presence of the Islesburgh Fire Skeeters and their muckle hoses.

Pumped-up tiller drivers and their highly tuned machines stood at the start line, facing a torturous course that included stops at Stout Island, Sherry Chicane and the wrath of Liam Doull’s muckle hose.

Merry Tiller Grand Spree competitors celebrate. From left – Alan Ratter, Winner Kenny Robertson, Andy Steven and (front) Grant Anderson.

Merry Tiller Grand Spree competitors celebrate. From left – Alan Ratter, Winner Kenny Robertson, Andy Steven and (front) Grant Anderson.

Alan ‘Kiwi’ Ratter took an early lead but just didn’t have the stamina to hold first place when faced by a challenge from veteran-tiller racer Kenny Robertson of Muckle Roe. Kenny’s experience, coupled with his ability to drink stout at speed, saw him take the chequered flag with ease. Alan held his nerve and his tiller to take second place, while Andy ‘118’ Stephen and Grant Anderson got in a witter just before the flag. This meant a nail-biting race to the finish for third. In the end, Andy managed to cummel his tiller back on her wheels again to take third place on the podium.

Six year old Connor Doull and his eighteen month old younger brother Zander had a very busy afternoon. As well as being junior members of the Islesburgh Fire Skeeters, the brothers also had a practice on the tiller course. Connor and Zander had a selection of mini-tillers carefully crafted by dad Keith. The boys had a great time zipping round parts of the track like their adult counterparts – could this be the start of a junior race for next year?

By the early evening the Birsay Boys and Jacqui were well into their musical stride on stage in the hall and DJ Duncan had revellers in the marquee jumping to the disco beats. This is the fourteenth year of the Big Bannock and once again it would appear that the committee will have raised an incredible amount for cancer and local charities. Worthwhile causes have benefited from well over £100,000 and once again we salute all those who organise this incredible weekend of folly for such a great purpose.

By Maree Hay

More photographs in next week’s The Shetland Times.

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