The Shetland TimesThe Shetland Times Shetland News, Sport, Jobs, Properties, Shop Tue, 02 Sep 2014 08:46:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Shetland stories inspire actor Robertson Mon, 01 Sep 2014 16:13:09 +0000 Growing up in a family and community full of story-tellers inspired Steven Robertson to take up acting. Back in the isles as one of the guests of honour at the Screenplay film festival he tells ADAM GUEST why that grounding was so important and why playing a Shetland policeman was such an enjoyable role.

“I’ve always liked telling stories,” says Lunnasting lad Steven Robertson.

Shetland actor Steven Robertson.

Shetland actor Steven Robertson.

The TV and film star known by many as Sandy Wilson from BBC crime drama Shetland, was speaking at a question and answer session after the screening of the 2004 film Inside I’m Dancing on Saturday night.

The Shetland “boy-done-good” plays the role of Michael Connolly a 24-year-old with cerebral palsy and a long-term resident of the Carrigmore Residential Home for the Disabled.

After meeting the rebellious Rory O’Shea (James McAvoy) who suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Michael discovers a new lease of life, one with greater independence, love and laughter outside of Carrigmore.

It’s powerful stuff – following the wheelchair-bound characters and challenging the viewer’s perception of disability, with awkward viewing at times – as prejudices unfold on screen.

But there’s interjections of comedy and “laugh-out-loud” moments too.

Robertson’s performance is captivating, moving and questions the viewer throughout.

Speaking to The Shetland Times, he explained the detail that went in to the film, from his own in-depth research of cerebral palsy and independent living, to the difficulty Michael has in brushing his teeth, using a pay card in a public telephone rather than coins, and even how the film was shot.

The film is recorded in anamorphic widescreen, “which nobody notices, which I think is kind of brilliant,” he said.

“One of the whole things about the film is to try and get the chair to disappear and for people to see the people more, and stop looking at the chair,” he said.

“And actually that simple thought … to make the screen lower and wider, it suddenly becomes less of an issue that you have got two chaps sat down, it opens up the frame.”

Inside I’m Dancing was Robertson’s first acting role on the silver screen and he admitted it was “a bit weird” watching the film with the audience 10 years on.

The former Anderson High School pupil spoke about his interest in storytelling and how that sparked his acting career – telling stories at concerts and enjoying the stories in country music.

According to one colleague in The Shetland Times newsroom, Robertson can do a mean Elvis impersonation too.

Robertson said he learnt many stories from the late Shetland poet Rhoda Bulter, who spent a lot of her summers on a croft owned by Robertson’s family.

“She just used to tell me old Shetland stories and a lot of them are based in Vidlin,” he said.

“I learnt to remember the details and then by telling the stories that’s how you either remember the gaps or fill in the gaps.”

His English teacher George P.S. Peterson used to tell him stories too, as did his uncle Willie and his grandad – often telling trow tales.

“Just to have great storytellers in your family, even if it’s just a long joke, it doesn’t matter, it still has a narrative and it’s still going somewhere. Shetland has got lots of that,” he said.

“They used to muse a whole evening away with telling stories or reminiscing or whatever, and that had a huge amount to do with me getting into this [acting]. Because that’s what’s interesting about it [acting] everything else is bells and whistles.”

Robertson has most recently been seen as Sandy Wilson in Shetland. It was originally a two-part pilot of Ann Cleeves’ Red Bones, and Robertson said he really wanted the part when he auditioned.

“It’s an extraordinary thing that such a proper number one, nine o’clock, BBC One show, would be shot for the vast majority of the exteriors, this far away from any major or even passable studio,” he said.

“I mean it is a proper show. People can love it or hate it that’s entirely up to them.

“But it’s got quality written all over it and I thought … as a working Shetland actor… why the hell wouldn’t I be in it? I’d’ve been gutted if I didn’t get the part.”

Steven Robertson as PC Sandy Wilson during the filming of the pilot episode of the Shetland television drama.

Steven Robertson as PC Sandy Wilson during the filming of the pilot episode of the Shetland television drama.

And as a local lad Robertson said he takes a lot of pride in the role.

“One of the things I’m proudest of with the part of Sandy and one of things I liked most about the role, both in the pilot and if I’ve influenced this in any regard throughout the series as well, is that he’s a normal person,” he said.

“I like the extreme parts and I get a lot out of them but I like a mix,” he added.
The Screenplay festival continues this week and Robertson agreed it was an important thing for Shetland and hailed the venue at Mareel.

Earlier on Saturday he went to the screening of Ebb Tide – a collection of six short films by Shetland film-makers inspired by an artefact or story with a link to a Commonwealth country and Shetland.

He said the technical elements of the films were great and predicted the likes of CGI would become a mainstay of film-making in future.

“I’ve being doing film and television professionally for only 10 years, but  I already feel like I come from a different era,” he said.

“When I started out, whenever they sent you a script, mine would come around on a motorcycle and they would hand you the script. Now everything is just emailed to you.”

“I already feel like a dinosaur,” he joked.

• Robertson’s appearance in First World War tale Joyeux Nöel, depicting the story of the Christmas truce, is also shown on Thursday as part of Screenplay.

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Jail for pair who pushed heroin in Lerwick Mon, 01 Sep 2014 12:29:58 +0000 A man has been sentenced at Lerwick Sheriff Court to over four years in prison after he admitted supplying heroin.

Barlinnie prisoner James Kennedy, 29, of Maybole in Ayrshire was sentenced to 50 months when he admitted pushing the Class A drug in the isles at an address in Lerwick’s Hill Grind on 15th May.

Co-accused Greg Lawrie, 25, also of Maybole was meanwhile handed a 30-month prison term by sheriff Philip Mann.

The two had been due to stand trial before jury, but admitted the charge on the indictment.

The men were arrested after police acted on intelligence and carried out a search of the address.

Lawrie was found to be concealing 70 grammes of heroin worth £7,000 at street level.

Subsequent police inquiries focused on mobile phones seized from the address where the duo were found.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said the two have no connection with the isles.

“This was an intelligence-led police operation. Police officers executed a search warrant under the terms of the Misuse of Drugs Act, having received intelligence about a householder,” he told the court.

“It soon became clear they were taking these drugs to Shetland for distribution in the isles.”

Defence agent for Lawrie, Tommy Allan, said the cocaine user became involved in the offence to “clear up” a debt he owed to various people.

He added Lawrie, a greenkeeper, had done “what was asked of him” and did not personally profit from the enterprise.

“He says he has never been a heroin user. He accepts the drugs were found on him, but says his role in this was a fairly minor one.”

Meanwhile defence solicitor Philip McWilliams said Kennedy’s experience “mirrored” to some extent those of Lawrie’s.

Kennedy, he said, had suffered difficulty with his heroin use.

He was already serving an eight month prison term after being sentenced at Ayr Sheriff Court in June on drugs charges.

Sheriff Mann told Kennedy his “extensive record” meant he was considering imposing the maximum penalty of five years in prison. However, he allowed him a discount of 10 months to reflect the plea.

He warned Lawrie his case could not be regarded as exceptional.

“I’ve said many times in this court anyone convicted of drug trafficking can expect a custodial sentence unless there are exceptional circumstances. There are no exceptional circumstances in this case and there is an inevitable disposal of a custodial sentence.”

The sentences are backdated to 19th May – the date when Kennedy and Lawrie were first taken into custody.

After the hearing Shetland area commander Eddie Graham said: “We all have a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable people in society and as such we as a community will not tolerate those that seek to profit from the drugs trade.

“With the support of the public and with access to the wider resources through Police Scotland we will continue to disrupt and target criminals that traffic drugs to Shetland. Furthermore I would again remind the public that we rely on your support and information to disrupt the supply of drugs and arrest those responsible.”

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Country man Flavin pulls in a big crowd Mon, 01 Sep 2014 12:03:30 +0000 Mick Flavin and his band on stage in the Garrison Theatre. Photo: Stephen Gordon

Mick Flavin and his band on stage in the Garrison Theatre. Photo: Stephen Gordon

It was a packed Garrison that welcomed “Ireland’s number one country singer”, Mick Flavin and his band, ably supported by Caithness’s own Manson Grant and the Dynamos for a matinee show.

It seemed the combination of two high profile bands rather than solo acts or duos had brought Shetland’s Country Music fans out in force even on a pleasant Sunday afternoon.

Flavin has been on the road for 27 years and music has taken him places and meant he has met people he would never have had the opportunity to do otherwise.

I managed to chat to Flavin in the dressing room before hand when he spoke of growing up in a farming background in Longford, Southern Ireland.

One of his tasks as a child was to fetch the water from the well when he would use the bucket on top of his head to amplify his singing. His father was an exponent of the Sean-nós tradition of unaccompanied singing but Flavin’s first love was country music – Hank Williams, Tex Ritter and Charley Pride,  among his favourites.

He has sung at the Grand Ole Orphy in Nashville, Tennessee, to audiences of 4,000. But his biggest audiences, I remind him, were probably in The big Austrialian Country Music festival.

Flavin is quite open about the problem he had with drink many years ago which left him needing hospital treatment several times. He hasn’t had a drink for 28 years.

Both his sons were born profoundly deaf and he has seen modern technology benefit their lives, and has had time to appreciate his grand children who have thankfully no such problems. He’s a very down-to-earth character, as he comes across on stage, and we have a good craic. He certainly doesn’t look or act like a 64-year-old.

A little while later I find myself sitting in the stalls next to, Jimmy Amooty and his wife (he tells me the name’s origins are from Auchtermuchty in Fife). He worked with Flavin as a “chippy’s mate” when he was employed as a carpenter before turning professional.

He lives two-and-a-half miles from Mick in Ireland and was even in Shetland last time Mick played.  “Are you a big fan then?” I ask him. “No I just know him!” Is his jokey reply.

First on are a red jacketed Manson Grant and the Dynamos, no strangers to Shetland at one time. Manson, 80, confesses its 25 years since they were first here – and he had hair. The trio have taken under their wing a young wizard of an accordionist Brandon McPhee who did some amazing fingerwork on The Dark Island and the Bluebell Polka.

During the polka, the rows of seats of the Garisson were rocking, as his fingers at times were a blur with movement. The band had a tight sound and a set full of crowd pleasers well embellished with three part harmonies.

Now for Flavin who was very magnanimous to Manson and Co.

There’s a good selection of songs from an obviously a seasoned group of musicians with a slick delivery. I couldn’t but help noticing the hole worn away on Mick’s guitar just below the aperture by his plectrum, that’s a lot of strumming.

There’s not too much sentimentality to the songs, and some nice lines “as he walked the straight and narrow, he collided with her heart”. There’s the obligatory Galway Girl and various members of the band are highlighted I particularly liked the drummer singing The Best Part of the Day is the Night, when the band is swinging.

Flavin has a rich voice with quite deep resonance which is delivered with genuine emotion, he went down very well with all present and folk had indeed been “travlin’ to Flavin”.

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Seven stuck in lift Mon, 01 Sep 2014 11:18:25 +0000 Lerwick fire crews were called to help seven people who were stuck in a lift at the Shetland Hotel this morning. The call was received at about 1.30am and the firemen came and opened the lift door.
Shetland Hotel said the people were in the lift for about an hour.

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Record number for annual charity cycle sportive Mon, 01 Sep 2014 10:00:34 +0000 A record 56 cyclists took part in the fourth annual Frankie’s Charity Cycle Sportive yesterday – to raise funds for the Fishermen’s Mission in Shetland.

In fine late summer weather,  30 of them completed the 40-mile ride – two times around a lap from Brae to Voe, up Dales Voe and back round to Brae – with Colin Smith first home.

Eleven did the 20-mile ride – one lap of the same course – with Jim Nicolson leading the group over the line, while 15-year-old James Holt was the first of the 15 riders in the 10-mile ride from Brae to Voe and back.

Paul Brannan from George Robertson Ltd was on hand to present a set of  headphones to each of the winners.

Aubrey Jamieson, superintendent of the Mission in Shetland, thanked all those who took part, emphasising that their support was “hugely welcome”.

The furthest travelled participant was holidaymaker Carice Allen, from St Neots, Cambridgeshire, who took part on her last day before heading south on the ferry.

“I had my bike with me – I’ve been here for three weeks staying in Camping Bods – and decided it would be fun to get involved,” she said.

“It was good. It’s the first thing like this that I have done and I went around in a good time.”

After the cycling, a bumper raffle was held, with the takings also going to the Mission. A final tally will be calculated over the next week.

Since it began in 2011, the Charity Cycle Sportive has raised more than £10,000 for the Fishermen’s Mission.

Frankie’s manager John Gold said: “It has been a record breaking event in terms of the numbers participants and the sums of money raised.

“We’ll know the final total shortly, but I just want to thank everybody who took part, my own staff for working so hard to arrange everything, the Red Cross staff  who provided medical back-up, the Shetland Motorcycling Training guys and Brae Garage for support out on the route.”

Next year’s Charity Cycle Sportive will also be held on the last Sunday in August.

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Plaque unveiled for genius Christie Sun, 31 Aug 2014 11:57:26 +0000 The family of  Shetland sculptor and “native genius” Adam Christie unveiled a special memorial plaque in Cunningsburgh  yesterday in tribute to his life and art.

A large crowd gathered for the ceremony including relatives, Shetland Islands Council convener Malcolm Bell, depute political leader Billy Fox, and members of the Cunningsburgh History Group.

In November, the former crofter from Aith was chosen as one of 12 Scottish figures to be celebrated with a commemorative plaque by Historic Scotland.

Christie joins the likes of John Logie Baird, inventor of the television, and steam engine visionary James Watt.

Various speeches were given in tribute of the cherished artist, who suffering from depression, went to Sunnyside psychiatric hospital in Montrose in 1901, aged 32.

There, Christie painted and carved all his life, and specialised in head sculptures, using makeshift tools such as a six-inch nail, a file and a worn down piece of glass.

During his time at the asylum, Christie carved stone heads which he distributed around the asylum grounds and gave as gifts to the people of Montrose.

Sunnyside consultant psychiatrist Dr Ken Keddie took a great amount of interest in Christie and his work.

Much of what is known about Christie is from Dr Keddie’s research of him in his 1984 book The Gentle Shetlander.

Christie’s stone heads have also been exhibited in museums in Montrose and Glasgow.

Christie created paintings using old tins of paint and old flour bags for canvasses. A lover of music and verse, he wrote poetry, music and made fiddles out of old tea chests.

His fiddle tune Aith Rant was performed yesterday by Alison Moar and Sophie Moar- crowned this year’s Shetland Young Fiddler of the year.

Christie remained in Sunnyside asylum until his death in 1950, and was buried in a pauper’s grave.

In May, a commemorative plaque was unveiled in Sleepyhillock Cemetery in Montrose  - where Christie was buried.

This was part of Historic Scotland’s commemorative plaque scheme. The second Historic Scotland plaque now takes pride of place outside of the Cunningsbugh History Group building, next to Cunningsburgh Hall.

Christie’s grand nephew, Peter Christie, has also built a cairn for the plaque, using stone from Adam Christie’s old house in Aith.

While looking for stones to construct the stand, he came across a stone with Christie’s name carved into it – this showed Christie had started carving prior to leaving the isles in 1901.

“We just found it by accident in a pile of stones,” said Peter.

“It was a total surprise that one.”

Also included in the cairn is a stone sculpture by Peter – showing the family skill has continued down the generations.

Below the plaque read the words “Adam never returned to Shetland, but his homeland never left his heart.”

Arbroath musician Dave Ramsay also gave a speech at the opening.

He has been working hard to have Christie’s work recognised and paid tribute to the man with a few lines of Christie’s poetry.

A very successful exhibition of Adam Christie’s work was held in Montrose last year, organised by Mr Ramsay, who also nominated Christie for the commemorative plaque.

Peter’s wife, Pat Christie, attended the event and is secretary of secretary of the Cunninbgsburgh History Group.

She said: “The family is just delighted that he has this recognition. It’s quite something to to be one of those 12 significant characters.”

The group is looking to have an Adam Christie garden in future, and there is more information that the history group is wanting to share, said Pat.

A collection for mental health charity Mind Your Head was also held at the event.

Leona Grains, Christie’s great grand niece, said it was “hugely important” for the family to know more about their family history and mental health issues – comparing the stigma that was attached to mental health then to stigmas attached now.

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Six-goal drama as Celtic taste Fraser Cup victory Sun, 31 Aug 2014 09:20:13 +0000 A six-goal thriller was played out in Scalloway last night – as Celtic came from 2-0 down to win 4-2 after extra time and take the Fraser Cup to Lerwick.

Both teams looked hungry from the off – with Delting making good runs forward and Celtic asking questions of their opponents.

Within minutes the heavens had opened – but it failed to dampen the searing pace of Delting’s number 10 Gary Sutherland.

The nippy frontman took first blood on 14 minutes – after latching on to a break down the left.

But he still had a lot to do, and showed great composure to nestle the ball in the bottom corner with a clean, low strike past Celtic keeper Paul Grant.

Delting had another chance within minutes – following a nice through-ball from Leighton Flaws – but were unable to make it two and the ball sailed over the bar.

Celtic responded quickly down the left wing, driving forward and drawing out keeper Brian Johnson, but they were unable to get a clear shot on goal.

A number of set pieces followed for the boys in green and white as Celtic went in search of a leveller.

But a clearance from the Delting back line fell to Sutherland – who again made the most of the opportunity he was given – cooly knocking the ball past the onrushing keeper to make it 2-0 inside the half hour mark.

Celtic began to fight back though, and were getting some joy down the right side.

A pinpoint free kick from the right wing by Jamie Duffy was curled deep to the back post and met by the foot of Connor Regan – the number eight finishing off the move in style to give Celtic a foothold in the game with about 15 minutes of the first half to play.

And it was Celtic who looked the more likely to grab another before the break – cannoning shots into the Delting box.

The second half opened with a good tempo of play from both sides.

Celtic’s Tom Moncrieff and James Aitken were driving forward in search of a second goal – though Delting almost made it three – when Flaws blasted a shot against the feet of Grant on 56 minutes.

Lightning-quick forward Haydn Thomason had been causing problems for the Delting defence all game.

And a menacing run into the box from Thomason saw the keeper dive bravely to the ground.

Celtic were rewarded with a penalty, although questions were raised by the crowd as to why the referee called it.

Regan stepped up and made it 2-2  - tucking the ball away for his second of the game, mid-way through the second half.

Delting seemed to go a little flat after the equaliser and both teams pushed for a winner to avoid extra time.

The Delts came close with a long-range effort as the 90 minutes drew closer, but this was tipped over the bar by Grant.

However the deadlock couldn’t be broken and an extra 30 minutes was needed to find a winner.

Celtic were threatening more in the extra period and Thomason was still showing plenty of energy up front.

A long ball met the Celtic number nine  - who burst forward and hit a terrific shot in off the post to make it 3-2 Celtic before the end of the first half.

Delting looked brighter in the second period – with some nice passing and quick feet from substitute Dylan McKay.

But Celtic put it beyond doubt after Thomason relieved the pressure with a run down the right to earn Celtic a corner.

Thomason then knocked in a header from the cross to seal the game for the Lerwick side.

For more coverage see next week’s Shetland Times.

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Referendum not an election (Kennedy Stewart) Fri, 29 Aug 2014 11:48:33 +0000 I am amazed at the number of people I’ve met who appear to be under the illusion we are holding an election on September 18th to decide whether or not Alex Salmond should become “Lord Emperor of Scotland”.

“He is promising this but he won’t be able to do that” they say, as if we are having a presidential election.

We will not be electing anyone or any party to office next month.

The sole purpose of the referendum is to decide whether or not Scotland should become an independent country.

A ‘Yes’ vote is not a vote for Salmond or the SNP.

We will only elect our leaders if and when independence is achieved.

Kennedy Stewart
Hillside Road,

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Calders Geo is UK’s ‘biggest cave Fri, 29 Aug 2014 11:44:32 +0000 A sea cave in Eshaness has been judged the biggest in Britain by a local geologist, providing a welcome boost for Shetland’s already well-regarded status as a geological wonderland.

Calders Geo has been measured at an “absolutely enormous” 5,600 square metres.

That is almost double the size of Frozen Deep in Somerset’s Cheddar Gorge, which has held the accolade until now.

The claim has been made by geologist Jonathan Swale.

He used a laser range-finder to help carry out his measurements, which are expected to be verified by a visiting cave expert next month.

Mr Swale began thinking about Eshaness after his research found promising results in Papa Stour.

“I’ve known about the cave for a long while, and when Shetland became a geopark we were doing a bit of research into the size and length of caves elsewhere.

“It occurred to me that the Eshaness cave might be a big one.

“I went in about a month ago, and kayaked in with a friend’s range-finder that he used for shooting and just took a few distances across the cave.

“I came back and plotted it on paper and found it’s absolutely enormous. So I thought I’d better go back and do a bit more of a detailed survey.”
Mr Swale returned to the cave this week. This time he gathered more accurate results by sitting in a fixed position on rocks rather than from a boat.

“I scanned around the cave, 360 degrees, firing at points on the rock and getting compass bearings, and then plotted that on paper again and got a rough size for it.

“In the mean time I’d been looking at, currently, the largest found cave in Britain, which is a chamber underneath Cheddar Gorge called Frozen Deep.

“That one has a floor area of about 3,000 square metres. I thought the Eshaness one was a bit bigger than that. And it turns out it’s nearly twice as big. My survey shows about 5,600 square metres.”

The discovery could spark a welcome reaction from visitors to the isles, although access is clearly restricted to those able to travel by kayak. Mr Swale said it was already attracting interest in the kayaking community.

And his reaction? “I’m delighted. I was going to say it puts Shetland on the map, but we’re already there. It just sticks on a great big exclamation mark.”

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Ford Connect Fri, 29 Aug 2014 07:02:57 +0000 Internally lined, roof rack.

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