Isles Views 30.01.09

Celebrating Bobby’s life

This year the company Island Holidays Plus is celebrating its 21st birthday. This company has its headquarters in Perthshire and is owned and run by Libby Weir-Breen. For more years than she cares to remember Libby has been a frequent visitor to Shetland and her business partner in setting up the firm was the late Bobby Tulloch from Yell.

Bobby was famous as a naturalist, but he was much more. He was passionately interested in wildlife and all aspects of the environment; he was a writer, a presenter of wildlife programmes on radio and TV and a wonderful photographer. Couple all that with his talent as a musician and songwriter and you had someone very special indeed.

In the early days Island Holidays took folk to the Falkland Islands and Bobby had many hilarious stories to tell of those adventures. Nowadays Island Holidays Plus offer holidays in a great many different places from Spitzbergen to Antarctica and dozens of places in between.

It is a coincidence that if Bobby was still alive he would have celebrated his 80th birthday on 4th January. To celebrate his life and to mark the birthday of Island Holiday Plus Ms Weir-Breen has chartered the Russian ship Griroriy Mikheev to carry around 40 passengers on a celebratory cruise.

The cruise starts in Oban and will visit Yell and Unst on Tuesday 9th June. A “must see” part of the day will be the Bobby Tulloch Memorial at the Old Haa in Burravoe. There they will be met by Bobby’s sister Mary Ellen Odie.

Among the guests on the ship will be Hugh Miles. He was a friend of Bobby’s and made the highly-acclaimed film The Track of the Wild Otter. This was filmed at Kirkabister, near the mouth of Bastavoe, and a return by Mr Miles to this area is a possibility on the day. Also on the cruise is John Busby who illustrated the book.

Ms Weir-Breen is planning a visit to Yell in the next month or so to finalise the programme and make sure that all the ground work has been done.

Farmers’ markets

Initiative at the Edge is going to be organising the Yell farmers’ markets this year following on from the success which Sarah McBurney had in Yell in 2007.

I@theE will be working with the Unst farmers’ market and holding it every month on alternate fortnights, therefore ensuring that there will be a market in the North Isles every two weeks.

The first one, in Yell, will be in the Cullivoe Hall on Sunday 15th March between 11am and 2pm; the April one will be in Burravoe; in May it will be in Mid Yell; and then back to Cullivoe.

Development officer Michelle Morris said: “Anyone who has any local produce, whether food or craftwork, is welcome and if you are just thinking of what you may be planting this year why not plant extra and come along and sell it?

“We would like to ask Yell community groups if they would like to come along and sell tea and homebakes for fund-raising.”

If anyone is interested in either booking a table or doing the refreshments please ring the Initiative at the Edge office on (01957) 744394.

Burns supper

The Cullivoe Primary School held the annual Burns supper and included all the components. As well as the haggis, neeps and tatties there was shortbread and Irn Brew on the menu. The haggis was piped in and some of the older bairns did the address.

Primary three and four pupils had done some research; they had found out a lot about the bard and delivered an impressive immortal memory. Older boys did the toast to the lasses and, of course, the lasses replied.

Primary one and two pupils sang some Burns songs and this was followed by older children reciting Tam O Shanter. Meilo So was the pianist for the evening and Louise Thomason and Calvin Brown played their fiddles. Calvin’s rendering of Auld Lang Syne was beautiful.

The Bluemull Sound choir further entertained the well-filled school and Robert Jamieson read a comic poem written in the Burns style. Johnina Nicholson was the cook but the children served the tables and cleared away the used dishes.

The evening was enjoyed by everyone who was there and, yet again, appreciated, to the full, the talents of the children some of them so very young.

Symbister dock

For a long time the dock in Symbister in Whalsay has been in urgent need of repair. It is equally recognised that a project to repair the dock may take a long time to find its way on to the capital programme of Shetland Islands Council.

Whalsay Community Council chairman Gilbert Hutcheson reported to the December meeting that Historic Scotland might become involved in the restoration. This seems a deserving cause given the history associated with Symbister as a trading port.

The Hanseatic League traded here from medieval times until the early 18th century and the booth has already been restored. To allow the dock to crumble away would be to lose an important piece of local history.

Singing taster sessions

There are going to be singer taster sessions starting in the Sellafirth Hall for young people with Alison Dobson. The sessions are starting on Sunday at 3pm and ending at 4.30pm. Parents/guardians are welcome to come along and see what is happening. Refreshments will be available.

More weather problems

The week beginning the 19th was another where the weather caused problems to ferry users. Thursday was the worst of those days with no service at all possible to Skerries. The Whalsay ferries managed a few runs first thing in the morning before having to suspend the service until the wind moderated.

By mid-afternoon conditions had improved enough to allow the service to resume and run normally for the rest of the day. On Yell Sound it was a one ferry service all day and on Bluemull Sound ferries spent a big slice of the day tied up.

On that same day about 50 households in south Unst had a power cut. Local engineer Ninian Johnson quickly discovered that the fault was caused by the failure of a brass bolt on the 11,000 volt overhead line – it had sheared off. Paul Gallacher of Scottish-Southern said that the fuse unit in the area worked well, localising the fault and saving the rest of Unst from going off.

The repair team from Lerwick could not attend because they were stuck in Gutcher waiting for the weather to ease and the resumption of the ferry service. The ferry managed to cross in the late afternoon and the engineers quickly righted the fault.

The Baltasound post office had to be closed that day too, not because they had a power cut but because the electricity was fluctuating and sub-postmistress Valerie Johnson had to switch off the computer. Mrs Johnson said that as Thursday is their half-day anyway it did not cause too much disruption. Normal hours and normal service resumed on Friday.

Lawrence TUlloch


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