Ollaberry hope for rally riders

Bikers arrive off the boat for a previous Simmer Dim rally. They hope to have a new base in Ollaberry for this year's event. Photo: Dave Donaldson

Bikers arrive off the boat for a previous Simmer Dim rally. They hope to have a new base in Ollaberry for this year’s event. Photo: Dave Donaldson

The bikers preparing for their annual Simmer Dim Rally are hoping to go to Ollaberry this year instead of the camp site in Vidlin which they have used for the last 32 years.

But they will not know if they will be allowed to use land near Ollaberry Hall until the hall’s annual meeting next week.

Committee chairman of the bikers’ group Michael Leask said: “We’re still in the same position [as last week]. It will be decided on the 26th. Hopefully if we don’t get Ollaberry we’ll get somewhere else.”

He said the Vidlin site, a field opposite the hall and John Hercul­son’s shop, was ideal for the

rally, which attracts between 300 to 350 bikers. Bikers would use the hall’s kitchen for cooking, and

Mr Leask described the shop as a “godsend”.

If the bikers are allowed to go to Ollaberry, they would have a similar set-up, near the hall and shop.

Mr Leask said the committee had received a letter last week saying Vidlin landowner Dennis Johnson would not be in a position to let the bikers use the land this year, but no reason was given. Mr Johnson could not be contacted on the phone this week.

Mr Leask said: “It came as a bit of a shock. We always had great support from the community, the Vidlin folk never complained about our music and John Herculson’s shop was a godsend.”

Meanwhile Mr Herculson said he and his staff would miss the bikers. They enjoyed meeting them every summer, and he described the added trade they represented as “a bit of a bonus”, although it was offset to a certain extent by having to hire extra part-time staff.

Mr Herculson said: “It was very enjoyable. Part of the thing we liked about it was the craic.

“There was never a wrong word and the [event] was very well ‘policed’ internally. It was enjoyable to see the bikers on the road. Hopefully they would go away and tell everyone about Shetland.”

He added: “Good luck to Ollaberry. I’ll be able to have some time off this summer.”

He had offered the bikers the use of a field, he said, below the shop sloping down to the loch: “Rather than lose it [the rally] they were welcome to it, we had a dozen tents there two years ago.”

If they could not find a suitable new venue, he said: “I would be vexed for Shetland, it’s too big a thing to write off.”

In Ollaberry, hall committee chairman John Peter Blance said nothing would be decided until the annual meeting. He said he would speak to the landowner before then, but did not foresee a problem with the use of the land and did not think the community would object.

Mr Blance said: “We’ll speak with the bikers’ committee and see if we’ve got the criteria they’re looking for. It’s just the logistics.”

He added that it would be good for the local shop, and mentioned that there is a football pitch at the back of the hall, although it is “more like a swimming pool at the moment.”

About Rosalind Griffiths

I am a Shetland Times reporter covering news, including health stories, and features. I have been in Shetland for more than 30 years.

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One comment

  1. Dave Cooper

    My wife & I first attended the Simmer Dim Rally in 1991. We had intended it to be a ‘been there done it. Got the T shirt’ experience. One way or another we returned to Shetland most years since then.
    John Herculson is correct when he says that rally goers spread the word about Shetland. We have constantly encouraged people to visit. A number of our acquaintances have subsequently done the rally. Others who don’t ride have seen a visit to Shetland as part of the purchase decision when booking a cruise.

    Reply

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