Isles Views 24.10.08

Skerries tea party
THE WOMEN’S Guild in Skerries held a tea party and auction sale in aid of the Christian Aid Harvest Appeal last Thursday. This organisation helps people all over the world regardless of religion and tea parties were held in many different and unlikely locations ranging from office spaces to mountain tops. Some were big and attracted hundreds of folk, others were small.

In Skerries, 15 people attended at Sunnybrae and, in the auction, the bidding was brisk with buyers prepared to pay well over the odds for items that they set their hearts on. One of the organisers, Jean MacBride, who was also the auctioneer, says that many are interested in what one lady is going to do with the large carton of water bombs that she bought. In the end the splendid total of £220 was achieved.

Unst roads
When the “Member Officer Working Group for Roads” and council officials visited Unst in the summer a number of concerns were pointed out to them. Those included the adoption of the Banks Road in Norwick; the blocked cross drain at the Ark in Haroldswick; the need to widen the top part of the Setters Hill road between Haroldswick and Baltasound; the lack of drainage along Hunters Road in Baltasound; the erosion at the Ballista brig; and the Shirva junction which needs a draw-off. Repairs are also needed to the new Skaw road and in the Westing there is no turning place for coaches.

At a recent meeting of Unst Community Council it was decided to write again to the roads department of the SIC in an attempt to get some action.

Midden Court development
The Whalsay Culture and Heritage Centre has taken on the conversion of the Midden Court for the History Group. The Midden Court was a place where the lairds kept animals and it is an open site among existing buildings. Some of those buildings have fallen into disrepair but they are seen as pieces of historic and valuable infrastructure.

The project is at an early stage and input and suggestions from members of the community are being sought. Ideas put forward so far include a Learning Centre, offices that will allow remote working, child minding and the possibility of roofing in the court with glass so that the school could use the area and create a venue for music events.

The fund raising has already started and an “Any Questions” is to held in the Symbister Hall tomorrow night. Answering the questions will be a “distinguished panel” and the admission fee will include supper. A number of events will be held each year to help gather the necessary funds.

Winter activities
After a successful open day the Yell Leisure Centre is ready to launch its winter programme. Aquacise classes will be held on Monday nights from 7 to 8pm starting on 3rd November. Centre manager David Gear says that this is a great way to improve fitness without undue stress on the joints because body weight is supported by the water, and it is even suitable for non-swimmers.

Circuit training will be on Wednesday nights from 7 until 8 and this starts on 29th October. The circuit has both aerobic and muscular exercises and is suitable for a broad range of fitness levels.

Late night swimming will also start on the 29th. The centre has had some requests for the pool to be open later at night. In response to this they are adding two extra, adults only, hours from 8 to 9pm on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Those who attend the circuit training will get discounted access on Wednesday nights.

The centre is used regularly by a number of clubs for activities including badminton, football, carpet bowls and choi kwang do. All those clubs are open to new members and anyone who wants more information can contact the leisure centre.

Pitlochry wedding
Two things that summer 2008 will be remembered for are the good weather and the number of weddings in the Isles. One of the latest weddings that was of huge local interest was the marriage of Phil Goodlad and Susan Ferguson, which took place in the Holy Trinity kirk in Pitlochry.

Phil, a Yell man, is extremely well known because of his work as a radio journalist. He can be heard most mornings, as a reporter, on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme. In the past he has worked for Radio Shetland and Radio Orkney.

Susan is from Stonehaven and while her work is unlikely to make her famous she does a job that is just as valuable and arguably more difficult. She teaches teenagers who suffer from serious disabilities and learning difficulties in Glasgow and it is here that Phil and Susan have made their home.

A slice of Shetland descended on Pitlochry for the big day and at the reception in the beautiful Atholl Palace Hotel the 40 or so Shetlanders made their presence felt. Lee Jamieson from Cullivoe brought with him a Shetland flag and hoisted it to the top of the flagpole in the hotel grounds but, somewhat sadly, there was not so much as a catspaw of wind so it hung limp and largely unseen.

Liz Tulloch, one of Phil’s cousins, contributed many metres of Fair Isle bunting, which was used to decorate the dining room. The Atholl Palace has hosted over 70 weddings so far this year but it is fair to say that the staff will remember this one, a truly wonderful occasion.

The ceremony itself will be remembered too, for the relaxed, friendly and unfussy matter of the Minister, the Rev Francis Foreshaw, and for the tears of joy, shed in bucketfuls, by the groom. When he saw Susan walking up the aisle with her father Ron, in her wedding dress, and how radiant and beautiful his bride was, perhaps he had difficulty in believing that he had landed such a gorgeous catch.

On the day tears were plentiful. Mothers, grannies and others joined Phil in tasting the salt and digging into pockets and handbags looking for tissues. It was all very illogical on a day that was a total delight from start to finish. The happy couple had another, if slightly lesser, celebration on Sunday, because they share the same birthday.

New road into Mid Yell
A new road is to be laid into the heart of Mid Yell from the north. Many feel that this road is long overdue given the volume of heavy traffic using it but worries exist, mainly on safety grounds, regarding the junction on to the main Ulsta-Gutcher road.

This road can be very busy with cars travelling at speed between the ferry terminals but the junction is also a point where school children are picked up and dropped off and there is no bus stop or anywhere other than on the road for a bus to pull in. Not only that but children have to cross the road, sometimes in the dark.

It was hoped that when the new road was built those concerns would be addressed but it seems that it is to be a simple T-junction, just as dangerous as the present set-up. What campaigners want is a short loop where vehicles can pull off the road – a junction the same as at South Nesting is considered ideal.

Worried parents have lobbied, and won the support, of Yell Community Council and a petition containing over 240 signatures has been handed in.

Dental suite for Unst?
Unst GP Dr Hamilton is applying to get an extension to the Baltasound surgery, which could incorporate a dental suite similar to the one at the Yell Health Centre. Unst Community Council supports this move and the clerk, Josie McMillan, is to write to the NHS dental service asking for the dentist, based in Yell, to come to Unst for two days. This would save a lot of travelling by Unst residents.

Farmers’ market
The latest in the series of farmers’ markets is to be held in the Baltasound Hall on Sunday from 2.30pm until 5pm. As usual there will be a wide variety of local produce in the main hall and a wide variety of local crafts in the library.

This month the soup, teas and home bakes will be provided by the Unst Women’s Football Club. To book a table for produce phone Anna Niven on (01957) 755245 and for crafts phone Sarah McBurney on (01957) 711367.

Away gallivanting
For the next two weeks the Isles Views column will be in the capable hands of Margaret. I am off to be a “performer” at the International Storytelling Festival in Edinburgh. Please send your contributions to Margaret using the same phone number and e-mail address.

Lawrence Tulloch


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.