Snow gives added lustre to the festivites in Unst for Jarl Derek Ritch’s big day

Last Friday morning saw the start of the biggest weekend in Uyeasound’s calendar. This year’s Guizer Jarl was former Unst man Derek Ritch, who made the journey up from Edinburgh. His sons Thomas and Peter along with cousin Thomas Anderson were the peerie Vikings in the squad.

The Jarl’s Squad met at the galley shed for a hearty breakfast before donning their black kirtles and chain mail suits and with the extra protection of their new shields set off on their day’s adventuring.

In spite of the snow they headed off for the Westing for photos and then complete with the galley Vestmaenir set off on course for the Baltasound School where they enjoyed a sing song and a few cheers with the bairns.

After that they stopped at the Nordalea care centre where lunch was warmly received. They were joined here for a few tunes by Steven Spence and Sylvia Priest.

After lunch the squad headed back for the south end and on to the Uyeasound School so the bairns could enjoy the highlight of the school year, their annual trip over the beach to the hall in the galley. A well-deserved trip it was as they had kitted out the hall “rugby” style, even going in on their day off to put up decorations. Here it was open house for all and many took the chance to get a closer look at the fantastic bill heading, painted by Eyvor Renwick, and the now infamously decorated bill with cartoons by Frank Renwick.

Following this the jarl left his squad to get the hall set out for the evening’s festivities and went to visit a very special ex-jarl, Allie Smith at Brucehall Terrace. This year sees the 70th anniversary of his year as Guizer Jarl in 1939 and Derek presented him with an Eyvor Renwick painting of the Westing (his former home) from the festival committee to mark the achievement.

At 8pm, on what had become a beautiful flat calm night, the 153 guizers set off from the galley shed in the torch-lit procession along the beach and the snow provided a stunning background for the burning galley on the Shalder Taing.

From the burning site the 17 squads went to the hall to perform their acts, with Derek’s passion for rugby (a former Shetland captain and now playing in Edinburgh) and the newly revamped Springers Bar featuring as the main themes. After supper the Alan Nicolson dance band struck up the music and played for a very lively dance well into the night.

The jarl said he would like to thank everyone who took part in making the weekend an absolutely brilliant experience.

List of squads
1. Guizer Jarl’s Squad
2. Da Jarl’s Tipple
3. Batavia Haka
4. Viking Valentines
5. Hi Jinx!
6. Tak no notice
7. S.O.S.
8. Springers Cosmopolitan
9. 29 Kung Po (Spicy)
10. Mama Mia
11. Ding Dong
12. Cam Doon
13. Naebody’s Hug
14. If I were a Ritch man?
15. Derek’s earth shattering dream
16. Go for Gordon for a’ that
17. Tur Langton Vikings


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