HIS WRITING has been a treasure to many in Shetland for almost 30 years, and now the work of veteran author James W Irvine has been officially recognised by the Norwegian Crown.
The celebrated writer was presented with the highly prestigious Saint Olav’s Medal at a ceremony in Lerwick’s Town Hall on Monday.
Friends and family members of Mr Irvine, who at the age of 91 has written over 20 books since he retired in 1977, gathered to see him presented with the medal by honorary Norwegian consul John Smith.
Mr Irvine said he was greatly honoured to have been given the award, which was presented in recognition of his writing on Norway.
“This is one of the greatest days of my life,” he said. “It’s not every day I get a medal from the King of Norway. It’s a great honour to be here, because I have a strong connection with Norway.”
A former head teacher at Bell’s Brae Primary School in Lerwick, Mr Irvine has explored the connection between Norway and Shetland, which blossomed during World War II, through his many books.
In 1988 he penned The Waves Are Free, which was subsequently translated into Norwegian, and enhanced the strong bond that existed between the two.
One of Norway’s most prestigious honours, the St Olav’s medal is only presented three times a year at most.
It is awarded for “outstanding services rendered in connection with the spreading of information about Norway abroad and for strengthening the bonds between expatriate Norwegians and their home country”.
It is normally handed out in Norway, but arrangements were made to hold Mr Irvine’s presentation at the Town Hall because of his age.
He thanked council convener Sandy Cluness for making it possible to hold the event at the Town Hall, adding it was his “favourite building” in Lerwick.
“I don’t care what they build with government money, or oil money or wind money, they will never surpass this building.”