Isles Views 26.09.08

Sudden death shocks Skerries
FOLK in Skerries have been stunned by the sudden death of Laurence Henderson.

Laurence was 44 years old and one of the best known men in the isle. He was involved with all aspects of life – he was a community councillor and he was close to receiving long service medals from both the auxiliary coastguard and the fire service.

He was a man ever ready to help others. If someone could not get their car started or had any other sort of a breakdown it was “send for Laurence”. Eight years ago he took over from his father Donnie as the man who looked after the supply of drinking water.

Like many other Skerries men his main source of income was from the sea. He was at the fishing with skipper John David Anderson, first in the Jasper and then in the Fertile. After that he worked for a time in the salmon industry before buying his own boat the New Venture.

Latterly he purchased a bigger boat, the Aranatha, and fished for scallops. Just before his death he had had his moorings checked, making ready for the winter. Laurence was a person who never enjoyed the best of health but he was always on the go and never allowed health issues to get in the way of his daily routine.

On Monday 15th September, however, Laurence felt unwell; on Tuesday a sudden deterioration occurred when he collapsed in the bathroom. Coastguard rescue helicopter Oscar Charlie responded to the emergency and flew Laurence to Tingwall airport where a waiting ambulance took him to hospital. Sadly it was all to no avail as he died later in the day.

Laurence’s funeral was the biggest that Skerries has ever seen, with over 200 attending. Ferry services played an important part that was much appreciated by the community. The ferry Thora took 70 passengers into Skerries and the islander aircraft made three trips from Tingwall with mourners.

For this very large company the kirk was far too small so the funeral service was held in the hall. Chairs and fittings were taken from the kirk for the service, which was conducted by Richard Charlton.

Pilot Eddie Watt, a family friend, took a part of the service and read out a moving poem written by Laurence’s nephew Ryan Arthur. Paul from the Fisherman’s Mission also contributed to the service.

Messages of condolence and tributes came from as far away as Norway and many who attended described the service as a deeply moving experience.

After the funeral a soup and sandwich lunch, paid for by the community council, was served in the hall. Donations totalling £1,700 were collected and will be divided between the Stroke Foundation and the Fishermen’s Mission.

Laurence will be sorely missed in Skerries and the thoughts of many are with his family, his partner Anne, his mother Anna, sister Alice, brother-in-law Gibby and their family.

On a personal note I knew Laurence when he was a child. I was one of the last lightkeepers in Skerries and I spent many pleasant hours and enjoyed great kindness, fun and laughter in Houll, the Hendersons’ family home.

Transport changes
Ken Duerden has returned to Sellaness as head of ferry services. He will now have a wider remit and his job title has been changed to transport operations manager. This will include, in addition to ferries, responsibility for Tingwall Airport, the fleet management unit and directly provided bus services for education and ASN.

This new role for Mr Duerden includes some of the responsibilities undertaken, in the past, by Ian Bruce. As The Shetland Times reported recently, Mr Bruce has asked for, and been granted, voluntary redundancy.

The new post that Mr Bruce’s job has now become will be taken over by Emma Perring. It will cover transport strategy, engagement with users and the wider community, concessionary travel and research.

All this signals a change in management roles at Sellaness and managers working under Mr Duerden might find that they will be expected to take on extra responsibilities as well as continuing with the work they do at present.

Head of transport Michael Craigie said: “I am pleased that Ken and Emma have agreed to take on the challenge of those redesigned posts. I am sure many know that Ken has a wealth of experience in transport operations and Emma has a strong track record in policy, strategy and research as well as excellent experience in engaging with communities and wider stakeholder groups.”

Ken Duerden and Emma Perring are both well known in the North Isles. Ken has attended a great many community council meetings in the past and Emma has been recently concerned with STAG, the study into transport links on Bluemull Sound.

In the meantime Alistair Christie Henry who had been seconded to ferry services as manager during Mr Duerden’s absence, is currently working with Mr Craigie.

GP registration
Recently the folk who live in Yell but work on a different island received a letter from the Yell Health Centre suggesting that, because they spend more time away from Yell than in Yell, they should consider registering with another practice.

Some of those who received the letter were dismayed because they are entirely satisfied with the service from the Yell practice. They did not want to register with another practice, and they were at a loss to know why the local practice, seemingly, did not want them anymore.

The Yell and Fetlar doctors are husband and wife team Rosie Briscoe and Mark Aquilina, who are reinforced by an associate doctor who steps in to give them time off. The doctors are very keen to make it clear that they have no plans to force anyone to re-register but suggest that anyone whose main place of residence is elsewhere might wish to consider this option.

They point out that anyone working away from home might have a very long way to travel to the surgery in Mid Yell and it might be out of the question to get a visit from any of the doctors. To be seen by a doctor from another practice, on an emergency basis, can happen but that doctor would not know the patient or have immediate access to patient records.

There is always a surgery in Yell on a Saturday morning and some who work off the island take this opportunity to attend. However, the practice nurse works from Monday to Friday only and the routine procedures that would normally be undertaken by the nurse have to be done by doctors on Saturdays.

Some of those procedures can be quite time consuming and to take up a lot of the doctor’s time in this way is unfair to other patients. However, the doctors wish to emphasise that they do not insist that anyone leaves their list and the letter sent out was never intended to cause any anxiety or offence.

They also want to point out that if anyone does decide to register with another practice that will not in any way stop them, if they are in need, from contacting or seeing the Yell doctors while they are on the island. Patients can be seen as a “temporary resident” and, in fact, this is done routinely with, for instance, students. Anyone who wishes to discuss the matter, in detail, can do so at the Yell Health Centre.

CCI prepares for winter
Last Saturday the Centre for Creative Industries kicked off its winter series of workshops with bonded fibres, run by Sarah Hoseason.

The technique uses paste to join layers of wool and other fibres easily and effectively. Different materials can be trapped within the layers, the finished pieces are decorative and useful, and it is a creative process that allows people to explore fibre craft in an interesting and fun way.

Other textile sessions that are going on this winter are playing with colour on 11th October, indigo dyeing on 31st January and block printing over the 14th and 15th March.

For the last workshop, 20 per cent of the proceeds are going to be donated to Ingonyama, a Zimbabwean singing and dancing group of young men orphaned by AIDS.

St Colman’s harvest festival
St Colman’s Church, referred to locally as “da English kirk”, is having the harvest festival on Sunday at 2.45pm and Bishop Robert Gilles will be there.

Alma Lewis said: “As well as our normal harvest display of fruit, vegetables and flowers we are also remembering the ‘hidden homeless’ in Shetland, particularly the young people in need, and we are donating ‘store goods’ to the Children and Young People’s Rights Information and Support Services.

“There are boxes in the shops in Yell and also a poster explaining what is needed and any donations would be very welcome. Everyone is welcome to come to the service.”

Lawrence Tulloch


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