Blance ‘braaly excited’ to receive fellowship award
Broadcaster and dialect aficionado Mary Blance has gained special recognition for her work in support of Scottish literature.
Ms Blance has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship of Association for Scottish Literary Studies at a prestigious Edinburgh event.
The fellowship has been awarded to her in recognition of her work in broadcasting and her efforts to preserve and promote the Shetland dialect.
Ms Blance, who has decades of experience in radio broadcasting, now plays an integral part in Shetland ForWirds, the body set up to promote spaekin’ Shetland. Ms Blance acts as chairwoman for the organisation.
She said she was delighted to have gained the recognition, even though it came as a very big surprise. She said she had no idea who had put her name forward for the fellowship.
“It’s really exciting, but also really humbling, to ken that what you are doing is actually being noticed by somebody. It’s exciting to get the recognition,” she said.
“Somebody must have put my name forward but I’ve no idea who it was.
“It’s really braaly exciting. But I feel a bit embarrassed because I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve it.”
It may be that a special scroll, presented to her, will offer a big clue. It confers the title to Ms Blance in recognition of her “valued and major contribution” which, it says, has supported and enriched the tradition of Scottish literature.
“That was really quite exciting,” she added.
She said she had enjoyed attending the event in the capital, which was also attended by a number of literary figureheads.
“I was very lucky because mine was the first one. They did it in alphabetical order and it meant I could then enjoy hearing about everybody else.”
Ms Blance has been active in the literary and cultural world in Shetland for many years.
Born in North Roe, she went to school in Lerwick before moving on to study at the University of Aberdeen.
In November 1978, just 18 months after it was launched, she joined Radio Shetland, and soon afterwards was making doubly sure that the mother tongue was being heard on air.
Over time she rose to senior producer and senior presenter. Despite having retired several years ago, she now presents a regular books programme on Radio Shetland, as well as tending to her Shetland ForWirds duties.