Isles Views 20.02.09

St Valentine’s night

St Valentine’s night promised to be very special this year and so it proved. The place to be was the Burravoe Hall and the purpose was to raise as much money as possible for the CLAN 1,2,3 appeal.

Rosmary Johnson was the main organiser but, like every other good organiser, she gathered around her a great many able helpers including Elspeth Clark as MC; she kept everything moving and in order. The hall was beautifully decorated with red hearts and all the romantic symbols associated with the day.

The evening began with a welcome and the wonderful news that the appeal, in Shetland, had passed the £200,000 milestone. Then it was games for the bairns including old favourites like pass the parcel.

The Mr and Mrs contest was the centrepiece of the evening and husband and wife Frank and Debbie Guthrie were fantastic hosts. The three couples taking part were Robert and Julie Jamieson, Keith and Janet Nisbet and Tommy and Mary Robertson.

Humour and spontaneity were the order of the night but some searching questions were asked and ready answers were not always easily found. In the end it was Robert and Julie who came out on top but the winning took second place to the fun.

Games for adults followed and yours truly, along with partner Jean Robertson, an old school friend, won an elimination waltz. When it came to the siccar nips, with only three couples left on the floor, I was the only man not wearing Y-fronts. For a horrible moment it seemed that visual proof was required!

Another scary game involved a ping-pong ball. Men had to lie flat on their backs on the floor while their wives (or someone who knew them very well) put the ball up one trouser leg and down the other. The winner was the one to complete the exercise in the shortest time. It proved to be a tricky operation requiring deft ball control, especially given the nasty corner to be rounded at the halfway stage.

After supper the auction took place and auctioneer Laurence Odie took to the stage. He was sharp, witty and as good as any auctioneer you are likely to see and hear. Many businesses had donated items and services; bidding was on the frantic side of brisk and it took a surprisingly short time to sell the mountain of sale items.

The final lot in the auction was romantic, exotic and provocative underwear for ladies, modelled on a dummy because no lady present was brave enough to be seen wearing it. After much mirth and doubtful comment it was knocked down to Tommy Robertson at a hugely inflated price.

All evening proceedings were punctuated by a “Wheel of Fortune” and dancing. The band was all local musicians; sometimes on stage there were as many as two fiddles, four accordions, piano, bass and drums. With so much talent it can be said that Burravoe is the musical capital of Yell.

A free bus service to take folk there and back was a donation from Robert and Julie of RG Jamieson & Son. There were not as many folk present as might have been, around 100, but Rosemary says that she was overwhelmed by the generosity, and the willingness of everyone to give and pay over the odds.

Although in Burravoe the event involved the entire island. The contributions were not all financial – the help and support was equally valuable – but to date the organisers have cleared £1,150.30 with promised donations yet to come.

New business for Fetlar

Nowadays we hear much about Fetlar’s population loss so it is good to learn of at least one young couple who are committed to staying in the isle.

In December Vaila Thomason, who is married to wildlife expect Brydon Thomason, graduated from the Scottish Massage School with a diploma in Swedish massage.

Right now Vaila is studying for her Remedial and Sports massage qualification and she hopes to finish that by July this year. She has set up her own business, Northern Soul Massage, and is offering massage therapy in the leisure centres in Yell and Unst and will provide a home visit service in Fetlar.

The Thomasons have bought a house in Fetlar and are committed to staying there.

Da dentist

One of the complaints most commonly levelled against the National Health Service is the lack of availability of dental services. Sometimes folk have to wait for a very long time to get an appointment for routine treatment. We have seen, on television, queues stretching back the length of a street to try and register with a dental practice.

It is a supreme irony that when push comes to shove many people are far from brave when the time comes to face up to the dentist, the black chair and the associated accoutrements.

The young lady who is the dentist working between Yell and Brae at the moment is not at all frightening. She is Jill Stevenson from Lisburn, Ireland.

Lisburn comes under the umbrella of Belfast but it is a city in its own right with a population of over 71,000 people. Its Gaelic name is Lios na gCearrbhach and it means “fort of gamblers”.

Jill arrived in Yell in the last week of 2008 and found a home from home with Mary Jane and Sandy Hill in North-a-Voe. She now lives at the Herra and she will remain here until the beginning of April.

Nonetheless Jill is still a regular visitor to the Hills’ house. Mary Jane is not convinced that she can feed herself properly and Sandy looks on her as a daughter. It could be that all her time will be spent in Yell but, at the moment, she is in Brae two days each week.

Jill loves it here but says that it is not the best time of year. She is full of praise for all the folk who have offered friendship, not least those who have dug her out of the snow. She also feels that she is fortunate in have such good and efficient colleagues in her team, in particular receptionist Janet Nisbet and dental nurses Sandra Jamieson and Helen Bruce.

Patients also get on well with Jill – it’s a pity that we could not have her as our very own dentist for the long term.

More money raised in Skerries

The parents of the Skerries bairns held a bingo night in the hall last Saturday night. This time the money raised, the handsome sum of £231.00, will stay in Skerries as it is for the bairns’ and senior citizens’ Christmas parties.

It was a follow up to the fund-raising day on 31st January and the opportunity to give out the prizes for the various competition sheets sold that day.

Prize-giving took place during the break in the bingo and the winners were: crossword – Marina Anderson; word search – John William Anderson Jr; place names – Anna Henderson; spot-the-difference – Ryan Arthur and family.

It was St Valentine’s night so the eight o’clocks consisted of heart-shaped goodies to have with the tea and coffee.

Secondary three pupil John Anderson said that it was a most enjoyable evening and on behalf of the school he would like to thank everyone who supported the event.

Roadmen shortage

Some concern has been expressed in Yell that the number of roadmen employed by SIC had been allowed to drop – at present there are four men plus a foreman employed.

SIC executive director of infrastructure Gordon Greenhill said the number was sufficient for 90 per cent of the time and it would not be cost efficient to have more staff employed all year round when they were not always required.

In cases of severe weather the council hire local contractors as well as calling on local building services staff to help clear and maintain roads it this becomes necessary.

Cullivoe festival

Cullivoe Up-Helly-A’ takes places next Friday night with the usual concert and guizers’ hop on the Saturday night.

Alex Nicholson has been the secretary of the committee for over 40 years and he would like to remind folk that tickets for the hall and the school are now on sale at the Ulsta shop and the Cullivoe shop.

“Da Tup frae Gloup”, aka Euan Henderson, is the Guizer Jarl this year and he will chair the mass meeting of guizers in the Cullivoe Hall tomorrow night at seven o’clock.

Sponsored bird race

Last September Brydon Thomason and Paul Harvey, two committed birders, did a sponsored bird race to raise money to go towards the purchase medicine pumps for the Gilbert Bain Hospital.

Brydon and Paul raised over £500 and they want to say a belated “thank you” to everyone who contributed.

Lawrence Tulloch


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