Isles Views 12.09.08

by Lawrence Tulloch

Final Checkout to expand

WHEN the RAF pulled out of Unst and the NAAFI shop closed Charlie Priest and Pat Burns of P & T Coaches decided to open a small shop in their depot in the Hagdale Industrial Estate. Included, in a corner of the shop, is a café. At the time of opening Charlie said they had no intention of damaging the trade of other local shops – they simply wanted to fill the vacuum left by the closure of the NAAFI shop.

The shop is called “The Final Checkout” and has proved highly successful. The café is nearly always busy and it can be relied on to be open. However, they suffer from a lack of space and it is true to say that the shelves in the shop are not only well stocked but cluttered. Soon more space will be available through a forward-looking idea that fulfils more needs than one.

For many years a campaign has been on-going to have public toilets built in the middle or the north of the island but nothing has happened until now. An extension is being built onto the premises, which will make the shop and café bigger but, crucially, provide the much-needed public toilets. Those conveniences, when complete, will be accessible from the shop during the shop’s opening hours or from their own separate entrance.

The important thing is that they will be there for public use 24 hours a day. The new add-on will mean the shop will be almost double the size and Mr Priest said that they hope to carry more stock and offer for sale some new lines. The café will be only slightly bigger but it will remain as an important part of the business.

The Vidlin firm of Roberson & Reid have the contract to do the build but Charlie himself and Jimmy Laurenson, who works in the business, will do some of the finishing work themselves. It is too soon to say exactly when the work will be completed but Charlie says that they will have an opening day to celebrate.

Mary MacNamara

Lovers of traditional music are in for a rare treat when Mary MacNamara from Tulla, Co. Clare in Ireland, comes to Shetland later this month. Mary has a long-standing friendship with Margaret Scollay, and they have quite a lot in common. While Margaret teaches youngsters in Shetland to play the fiddle, Mary teaches youngsters in East Co. Clare to play that great little instrument, the concertina.

Mary has recorded numerous albums, some with her brother Andrew who is a great accordion player. In the past there have been numerous exchange visits between Shetland and Co. Clare with the two ladies working together extremely hard to make it all possible.

This latest visit, led by Mary, will see a large party, around 30, who will play at a number of venues, but from a North Isles point of view the main attraction is the concert to be held in the Cullivoe Hall. Also on the bill will be Margaret’s school band, Tunester, as well as Gaddery and the Cullivoe Fiddlers. This mouth-watering event will be on Friday 26th September. It is hard to think of more welcome visitors. The quality of the music will be superb but it might also be an opportunity to repay some of the hospitality shown to all the Shetlanders who have had the privilege of visiting Mary, her husband Kevin Costello, and the family at their lovely home in Tulla.

New to Gutcher

From last weekend folk in Gutcher have new neighbours. They are the Wolff family from deepest Hampshire. They have bought North House, a cottage a few hundred metres from the ferry terminal. This house became empty, and for sale, when the Cartwright family moved to Aywick earlier this year.

A family like the Wolffs are welcome indeed in North Yell. They are Scott and Donna and their three children, Kimberley, 5, Drew, 3, and Felicity, 2. Scott is an electrician and before Donna became a full-time mum she was a care worker. Mr Wolff says that house prices were a big consideration in their decision to come all the way to Yell to carve out a new way of life.

They also love the countryside and the wide-open spaces. Job-hunting will be a big issue for Scott but right now they are busy trying to sort out schools and nurseries. Their initial move here is a short one only; they will complete their flitting at a later date.

Childcare in Unst and Yell

When the RAF operated in Unst they recognised the need for childcare facilities and allocated a house for the purpose. After the military pulled out the need for childcare remained and North Isles Childcare was set up as a company limited by guarantee with charitable status. Directors of the company are parents but the house still belongs to the MoD and the conditions for the lease are such that it threatens the continued delivery of the service.

Audits have been carried out in both islands showing the need for sustainable childcare provision. Shetland Islands Council, which supports North Isles Childcare, recently commissioned a report demonstrating the significant economic impact of childcare services for the islands.

A childminding service is seen as necessary to help Unst and Yell fulfil their economic potential. It would allow parents the freedom to train and work, and employers would have a wider workforce to access. To bring plans forward a public meeting was held in Mid Yell. It was well supported. Councillor Robert Henderson was there to give his support and the project his best wishes. Councillor Laura Baisley was unable to attend but she sent apologies.

In Yell there is no space set aside for childminding but the only registered childminder in North Yell lives in Mid Yell. She is Jill Thomson and she has 17 children on her books; this is all that she can manage and there is a waiting list.

Mrs Thomson works from her own home and she has Caroline Gray, who has recently completed an HNC course, as an assistant. They would like to expand but so far efforts to find suitable premises have failed. Any premises used for childcare have to conform to the regulations and satisfy the high standards required.

“There used to be far more registered childminders,” Jill said, “but regulations are so difficult to comply with that no one wants to do it anymore.”

An application to the National Lottery community assets fund has been successful and the next move in funding is submitting a full bid by the end of November. The next stage, locally, is to join Yell and Unst childminding at an annual general meeting in the Uyeasound Hall on September 15th.

A committee will be formed that will have equal numbers of folk from each island. North Isles Childcare proposes the building of two new childcare units that would have shared management and share a pool of suitably qualified staff.

Jill Thomson is looking for as much support as possible at this meeting and transport is laid on. To book a place on the bus (01957) 702040 is the number to ring. She also expresses thanks to Rosemary Inkster of Shetland Childcare Partnership, and Robert Thomson, North Isles learning and development worker, for all their help and support.

Any old songs?

Elizabeth Morewood is very interested in collecting old traditional songs. To ensure that those songs do not get forgotten and lost forever she has been recording them at Dave Sinton’s studio in Haroldswick. To date she has recorded a total of 21 songs but they are all short and there is room for more on the CD that will be produced.

Elizabeth would very much like to hear from anyone who knows an old song or two. She stresses that the songs must be traditional. Contact Elizabeth on (01957) 702052 or e-mail her

Clubroom open

From now on the newly refurbished clubroom of the Cullivoe Hall is to be open every Friday night from 8 until 11pm. The hall committee has drawn up a rota and members will take turns at being on duty. There is no wish to compete with other events so whenever there is a clash with a bigger function they will remain closed for that week.

At the moment only the bar will be open and there are no plans, at present, to offer food. However, if the Friday night openings prove to be popular then the committee would consider options. Michelle Morris is the hall secretary and she takes the bookings. She can be contacted on (01957) 744250.


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