North Mainland Notes 23.01.09

Northmavine funding

Community council funding is often a relatively straightforward way for community groups to access money to help with equipment or project costs.

Grant assistance for this financial year is still available from Northmavine Community Council for local community projects.

Application forms, available by calling (01806) 544222, should be returned to the NCDC office by Monday 16th February for consideration at the March meeting of the community council.

Braewick refit

Although the Braewick Cafe is closed for the winter, Christina and Magnus Nicolson are busy preparing for the forthcoming tourist season.

The kitchen is the centre of activity in what has been a very busy first few years for the cafe, and understandably now requires some refurbishment work to allow the high standards of catering to continue. The refurbishment will also help make the kitchen a more useable and workable space for staff.

The cafe will re-open on Thursday 19th March and Christina and Magnus look forward to welcoming regular and first time visitors alike.

Hillswick Hotel refurbishment

If you have been up to the St Magnus Bay Hotel in Hillswick recently, you will realise that owners Andrea Manson and Paul Bird are also undertaking refurbishment work.

Much of the hotel’s external weather boarding is now over 100 years old and is being replaced under a phased scheme of renewal. With the addition of insulation to the outside walls at the same time, the building will soon be as warm as the welcome.

A recent guided tour of the hotel with Paul revealed to me the extent of the work also being carried out internally, with many of the rooms are now being refurbished. The “kitsch” turquoise and avocado green en-suites are being replaced with elegant sanitary-ware more fitting to the period of the hotel and rooms are also being remodelled, fully insulated and fireproofed.

Running a hotel in a rural location will always be a challenge to the owners, but with good food, excellent service and sympathetic refurbishment works to retain the character of the building, not to mention some of the most fantastic scenery in Shetland on their doorstep, Andrea and Paul have many of the key elements for success.

Power for Northmavine

As members of Community Energy Scotland and Development Trust Association Scotland, the NCDC has had the opportunity to be part of a successful consortium bid to the Climate Challenge Fund, known as the Community Power Down.

Twenty-seven mainly remote and rural areas from the Borders to Shetland are part of the Community Power Down network which will allow each of these communities to recruit a community carbon officer to help reduce carbon emissions. This represents a financial commitment of almost £1.5 million pounds from the Climate Challenge Fund.

From feedback received during community consultations to shape the Northmavine Development Plan, and subsequent surveys carried out during a renewable energy audit for Northmavine, members of the community identified energy use and renewable energy as a key theme in the area.

A dedicated community carbon officer for Northmavine will now be recruited to work alongside the community to assess current energy use and consider reductions, while understanding the impacts and benefits for Northmavine.

An action plan will be drawn up to highlight the community benefit that could be derived from carbon reduction measures such as developing the local food market, energy efficiency and small-scale community renewables.

NCDC chairwoman Margaret Roberts said: “This is a tremendous opportunity to find ways of making a real difference to folk’s lives by identifying ways to reduce energy consumption and the high costs of living in a remote area.

“Fuel poverty is a real issue when the toon is an 80-mile round trip. Communities everywhere are now seeking creative ways to reduce energy use and the field is wide open for finding new solutions to these issues.”

Two more communities at Unst and Fair Isle are also part of the consortium and the NCDC is looking forward to working with these areas, as well as with the carbon reduction officer employed by Shetland Amenity Trust.

The NCDC is also keen to set up an energy sub-group made up of community members to inform the work carried out by the community carbon officer in Northmavine. Anyone interested in being part of the group should contact the NCDC office on (01806) 544222.

All kinds of food on offer

There will be a wide variety of food on community hall menus in Northmavine this weekend.

Fish and chips will be available at the Ollaberry Hall tomorrow evening from 5.30pm to 8.30pm which people can either eat at the hall or take home. A games night will follow so under-18s need to be accompanied by a responsible adult.

On Sunday the Sullom Hall invites everyone to a winter lunch from noon to 4pm. The event is based on the Sunday teas concept, but with a warming feed of tattie soup, reestit mutton and bannocks as well as tea, coffee and perhaps even a pudding. The committee hope to see you there and that you will buy a pre-lunch raffle ticket fae me. All proceeds will go towards hall funds.

Burns birthday quiz

Delting Boating Club is marking the 250th anniversary of the birth of the bard, Robbie Burns, by holding another of their popular Scottish-themed quiz events tonight. Proceedings commence at 8.30pm for teams with a maximum of four people.

Members and guests who are interested in testing their knowledge of Caledonia are welcome to go along, join in and enjoy the fun. Various prizes will be on offer and any proceeds raised will go towards the car park improvement project.

Memorial pool match

Although the late Neil Jones of Brae spent a lifetime devoted to agriculture and crofting, he was also a real people person who cared deeply about his family and was a loyal friend to folk from near and far.

Neil’s friends hailed from a wide range of backgrounds and ages and, in his later years, he particularly liked to take on the “young eens” for a game of pool at the Northern Lights in Brae.

After Neil’s sudden death in 2003 at the age of 73, an annual pool competition began in the Northern Lights in his memory. The Neil Jones Memorial trophy is played for each year between Christmas and New Year and monies raised from the event are donated to various local charities. The competition is a team event where Da Awld Eens vie with Da Young Eens for the trophy.

The event is now also played in memory of James Thomson of Brae, who lost his young life in March 2007. James was also dedicated to his family and had a wide circle of friends of all ages, so it seems fitting that the “awld een” and the “young een” be remembered together.

Since the competition started Da Young Eens have only once had the pleasure of lifting the trophy. For the last three years in a row, experience has triumphed over youth and, although the competition was extremely close this year with a score of 14-13, Da Awld Eens once again were the worthy winners.

Both teams are particularly grateful to the management and staff of the Northern Lights for hosting the event and providing a welcome plate of curry for everyone.

Da Young Eens captain John Duncan, from Brae, was also delighted with the amount the competition raised for charity. Competitors and customers raised the terrific sum of £1,164.25 and the money was handed over to staff members and residents of the North Haven care centre as a very welcome addition to the comfort fund there.

Peter Manson, captain of the veterans’ team, was also pleased with the support local people gave to this special evening held in memory of Neil and James. He said: “The pool competition was a good night and a good fun for everybody.”

Perhaps Da Young Eens team should organise a few practice evenings before next competition though.

Maree Hay


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