Isles Views 17.10.08

No more shared head

THE ARRANGEMENT whereby the Mid Yell School and the Cullivoe School shared a head teacher is to end, as The Shetland Times reported last week. Throughout Yell there is a great sense of relief that this vexed issue has been resolved.

When it was set up the agreement was that if either school community became unhappy with sharing management then it would end and, clearly, this point had been reached. Community councillor and parent Ann Smiles, who has campaigned vigorously for single heads, said: “It is a victory for common sense and I am delighted by the decision of the services committee but we have had our hopes raised before and I am cautious about celebrating, in case we are disappointed again.”

Dr Rosie Briscoe, who is chairwoman of the Mid Yell Parent Council, also expressed relief.

“I am confident that I speak for all the parents and the parent council when I say that we are relieved that this decision has been reached. It has been a period of uncertainty and now we can all move on and address other important educational issues and Cullivoe, too, can move forward with their own head teacher.”

Her opposite number in Cullivoe, Phil Kennerley, fully accepts the decision although the school there was satisfied with the sharing option.

“However,” Mr Kennerley said, “this is a decision taken by councillors, not because of Hayfield House but despite Hayfield House.”

He went on to say that a far bigger issue for the Cullivoe School was survival. He fears that when the much talked about “blueprint for education” report is published the question of school closures will again surface and that schools with fewer than 20 pupils will come under threat. Cullivoe has a realistic chance of becoming a two-teacher school in the near future; the projected roll will go beyond the numbers threshold.

Dr Briscoe said, in conclusion, that it was her understanding that Mark Lawson would continue to be head of both schools until such time as a head was appointed to Culllivoe.

LEADER support for CCI

The Centre for Creative Industries (CCI) based at Sellafirth, Yell, has been awarded funding through the LEADER programme, to implement workshops and events over the next three years.

The funding will help the organisation in its work with young people and communities across the isles, developing skills and supporting traditional art and craft. The CCI is the base for the Ann Sutton Foundation Shetland (ASF), a weave studio and Global Yell Music, which is dedicated to the understanding and appreciation of vocal music.

Creative director Andy Ross is delighted with the financial backing and points out that Shetland has a long tradition of weave, and the CCI aims to educate and train for the benefit of the islands.

CCI would like to hear from anyone with an interest in textiles or music, and welcome visits at the centre. Please call on (01957) 744 355 or mobile 07900 430429 or make an appointment to visit.

107 not out

On October 3rd Mima Gray celebrated her 107th birthday. Mrs Gray is originally from Muness but she has lived in Australia since the 1920s. She is in fairly good health, but suffers from failing eyesight.

Occasionally she has had the pleasure of welcoming Shetland friends and relations to her home in Adelaide. Among recent visitors were her nephew Magnus Inkster and his wife Rosemary from Hoswick. Mima’s brother, Captain Inkster, was well known as the harbourmaster in Lerwick.

Over the years Mrs Gray has made a number of trips back to Shetland and to Unst. Her husband, Bertie, was a Baltasound man but he passed away many years ago. They had one son, also deceased. Rather sadly Mrs Gray is quoted as saying that she has “lived too long”, all her contemporaries and the folk that she knew in her younger days have all gone.

Food festival in Yell

On Wednesday 8th the Wind Dog Cafe in Yell presented a menu and an evening of entertainment as part of the Shetland Food Festival. When festival organiser Neil Henderson suggested the idea managers Margaret Tulloch and Maggie Bowler had some misgivings.

They were unsure if such an event would be popular in Yell. Nonetheless they sourced quality local seafood and made delights such as fish chowder, deep-fried haddock, Bastavoe mussels and salmon locally smoked. Salad, bannocks and homemade chips accompanied all this and for afters there was rhubarb cake and apple pie – and those came with cream.

The two Maggies deliberately kept the dishes simple, reasoning that the quality of the food was such that it needed little embellishment. Any concerns that they had about local support were entirely unfounded. Not only did they have a full house but, in the end, they had to turn some folk away.

Fiddlers Bernadette Porter and Jim Leask came from Weisdale and Davy Cooper, the weel kent storyteller from Mossbank, came to provide sparkling entertainment. I chipped in with a few stories of my own. The audience really enjoyed the evening and after Jim and Bernadette had played the very old tune called Sigurd o’Gord, Davy told the story.

This has become Davy’s signature tale and during his expert telling of it there was total quiet – you could have heard dandruff falling off a spider. This was in contrast to the uproar caused by Jim when he told the hilarious tale of how a cow had her constipation spectacularly cured by a cat. Jim could not contain his own giggles that were truly infectious.

Everyone connected with the Wind Dog is so delighted that they intend to build on the success of the food festival and stage other events run on similar lines.

New bobby for Unst

Unst has been without a policeman for some weeks following the departure, to Fort William, of PC Scot Haig and his family. The new man is Constable Garry Ross. He is married to wife Ellis and they have a two-year son Charlie.

Cullivoe school garden

With the Cullivoe schoolhouse vacant the garden has been neglected for a number of years and it had become very untidy indeed. At a parent council meeting a few months ago it was suggested that a cleanup operation be started.

It was further suggested that a worthwhile project would be to establish a small plot and involve the pupils in growing vegetables and flowers. The children are currently working towards their first eco flag and this kind of venture might help towards that.

It was too late in the year to do any planting but a general redd-up of the garden was undertaken and all the old grass was cleared out. The day chosen proved to be warm and sunny and with the help of a few volunteers including men with strimmers a difficult job was done.

Marina Thomason says that this is very much a joint project between the parent council, the school, the wider community and, of course, the schoolchildren who will be very much involved. Local folk are offering cuttings, which are tried and tested and well able to withstand the Shetland climate.

They hope to see things planted next year but, in the meantime, they have to get advice so that they can avoid underground pipes and cables. They are lying down some old carpet to deaden the grass and hopefully make digging easier. A compost heap is being created and brucks from the school dinners, if there are any, will go in it.

Although this project is in its early stages the need for money to buy garden tools is apparent so a jumble sale will be held in the Cullivoe Hall on Saturday 25th, 11am until 5pm, and there will be teas and home bakes, raffle, bottle stall and bran tub on the following day, Sunday, from 2pm until 4pm. Anyone who brings their own shopping/carrier bags will get a 50p discount on their purchases.

The Hall will be open between 6pm and 8pm on the evenings of Wednesday 22nd, Thursday 23rd and Friday 24th. Anything will be gratefully received, books, toys, clothes, bric-a-brac and even small items of furniture.

Yell Dance Club

Yell Dance Club are looking for new members and to be welcome in the club you do not have to be a dancer already. Present club members are willing to teach new recruits at any level.

Eunice Anderson said even if someone only wanted to learn a Boston Two-Step for a wedding that was fine, they would help. Welcome too are accomplished dancers who want to learn dances new to them.

Eunice said that numbers had declined somewhat. They used to have over 30 folk in the club but some folk works shifts while others find it difficult to fit in the dancing among other commitments. Anyone interested in joining the club should contact Eunice or any other club member.

Lawrence Tulloch


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