Isles Views 20.06.08

By Lawrence Tulloch

Inter-island ferries

THE FERRY Dagalien has returned to work after her annual docking, meaning that the Yell Sound service is back up to full capacity.

During the period when a smaller ferry was deployed on the route ferry users sometimes could not get the bookings they wanted.

It is now the turn of the Leirna to go for her docking, which has triggered the inevitable merry go round of vessels to maintain, as far as possible, an acceptable service on all routes.

The Bigga has gone from Bluemull Sound to be the Bressay ferry and the Fivla, fresh from relief work on Yell Sound, will come in her place to work alongside the old Thora.

Some temporary changes to the morning timetable will be in place during this period to give extra sailings, which will assist in alleviating congestion while the Bigga is away. Those include a 6.40am sailing from Hamars Ness to Belmont and a 7.10am from Belmont to Gutcher.

Meanwhile repairs to the Geira are ongoing. Due to a malfunction the Geira grounded near Gutcher on 8th April and has been out of action since. It is hoped she will return to service this weekend which, will ease pressure on the Bluemull Sound route.

The SIC ferry services department has discussed the ferry distribution issue with contractors and other council departments to reduce commercial traffic, where possible, for the two weeks beginning on Monday.

Peerie Nights Oot

The Peerie Nights Oot was started in Uyeasound nine years ago by Margaret Peterson as a way to raise money for charity and provide entertainment for visitors and locals.

Last year Margaret stepped down from organising the nights but the Uyeasound Hall committee and the Unst Music and Dance group took over and raised £638. This was presented recently to Macmillan Nurses and Alison Gaffney travelled up to Unst to receive the cheque.

<b>Christine Hunter, Margaret Peterson, Marcus Priest, Macmillan nurse Alison Gaffney and Anna Niven. </b><i>Photo: Hazel Peterson</i>

Christine Hunter, Margaret Peterson, Marcus Priest,
Macmillan nurse Alison Gaffney and Anna Niven.
Photo: Hazel Peterson

Many folk have helped over the years, providing various entertainments, musical items, slide shows, stories, local food and Shetland ponies. There have been Jarls’ Squads and Margaret’s famous “Ewe to You” nights of cairding, spinning, and knitting. Over the years some £7,000 has been donated to cancer charities.

Special mention should go to Da Young Eens, the young fiddle players who have played great music at the start of every event. Sylvia Priest has accompanied them on piano and Arthur Spence has organised practices and guided and encouraged them throughout.

This season’s Peerie Nights Oot are under way and still to come is a night to sample local food in the company of the Jarl’s Squad on 30th June.

Lawrence Tulloch will do storytelling on 14th July, and on 28th July Wendy Dickson will be showing slides of Unst’s nature and wildlife.

A peerie concert of local talent on 11th August will round things off and this year’s good cause is to help buy drug pumps for the Gilbert Bain Hospital to be used in the treatment of cancer patients.

Symbister Hall meeting

At the annual general meeting of the Symbister Hall in Whalsay last Sunday afternoon a new committee was elected.

The new committee of 10 wishes to thank the retiring committee for all that they have done for the hall during their time in office.

Iris Anderson is the new chairwoman and Maisie Sutherland is the new bookings clerk. She can be contacted on (01806) 566382. The hall, built in 1931, is in need of repair, and a new hall is an option to be considered.

The committee looks forward to a five-year programme of fund-raising and the members are appealing for anyone willing to help to come and join the effort. They will welcome any suggestions from Whalsay folk as to the best way forward.

It is hoped that more young folk will become involved and regular junior discos will be organised.

Another meeting is to be held on Sunday at 4pm but already numerous events are planned. There will be Sunday lunches, whist drives, jumble sales, car boot sales and dinner dances.

Shetland day in Whalsay

At the Whalsay School primaries six and seven have been working on a community-based project where the children went out to cut peats, identify rocks and minerals, have a talk on bird identification and take part in a trowie hunt.

The project was rounded off with Shetland Day, when Davy Cooper told stories to all the classes and Ian Tait from Shetland Museum came with a selection of historical artefacts.

In the afternoon the pupils had arranged lots of activities and demonstrations for other pupils, staff and guests. They included creel making, spinning, Fair Isle knitting, net mending, fish filleting, Shetland music, storytelling, Whalsay history, refreshments, games, “dress up like a Viking” and a display of artefacts and photographs.

Bannock making was another activity; despite a power cut, enough was left over from the 200 freshly made for the Shetland Day dinner – reestit mutton soup, bannocks, and rhubarb crumble.

A lot of hard work went into the day and many folk from Whalsay need to be thanked for making the project such a great success.

Pilgrimage to Gutcher

Recent visitors to Gutcher were Valerie and John Morley from south Devon. They made the long journey because they wanted to see the place where their great friend Peter Spence lived.

Mr Spence used to be the sub-postmaster, postman and telephone exchange operator in Gutcher. As well as that he was a weaver and he had a small printing press.

He left Gutcher in 1960 to live in Lerwick and worked for Historic Scotland as part of the team that looks after ancient monuments. When he retired in 1987 he decided, on the spur of the moment, to leave Shetland and live in Devon. It was typical of him that he had made no prior arrangements and he had nowhere to stay.

In Budley Salterton he went into a cafe called The Friendly Teapot and asked the owner if he knew any property that he might buy and live in. The owner was John Morley and the two men forged a friendship that was to last until Peter died in 2000.

Over time Peter told the Morleys a lot about himself, for example about his time as a soldier in the jungles of Burma during World War II, but mostly he told them about Yell and Gutcher where he was brought up. So much so that Valerie and John decided that they would have to visit Gutcher and see it for themselves.

Before he died Peter had given John his toolbox and in it John found a Christmas card list so he was able to write to some folk here and arrange the visit.

Marine wildlife cruise

On Sunday July 6th Shetland Nature – Cruises and Tours is putting on a cruise that will, weather permitting, circumnavigate the North Isles of Yell, Unst and Fetlar.

It will be with one of the Yell Sound ferries with a regular master and crew in place but it is the project of Brydon Thomason of Fetlar, the well-known wildlife expert.

Tickets and information can be obtained from Islesburgh Community Centre. If past experience is anything to go by the demand for tickets will be very great indeed and anyone wishing to go would be well advised to book without delay.


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