Isles Views 27.02.09

Whalsay Hall

Iris Anderson says that the new committee of the Symbister Hall is going from strength to strength. She says that the previous committee did many good things for the hall but, sadly, over the years they had dwindled in numbers and it was time for a change.

The new committee of 15 took over last June and since then the whole place has been a hive of activity. The committee is grateful to the many willing helpers who have come forward. They have held a great many events ranging from farmers’ markets to bar suppers.

They had a film show before Christmas with two seasonal films for the bairns. They even had popcorn, burgers, hot dogs and lots more. It was such a great success that they are looking into the possibility of buying their own projectors because it is not easy to get to and from Lerwick in the winter time with the ferries finishing at 11.10pm The hall itself is looking a bit different now. The kitchen underwent a deep clean and had new stainless steel shelving and units fitted; this has made a huge improvement. The ceiling of the main hall has been painted and they are in the process of getting nice new pelmets to go over the old red blinds.

The committee have plans to wallpaper the main hall too and all 18 doors have already been painted. Iris says that it is nice to get it freshened up especially when they are having so many functions.

Starting in April, Sunday teas or lunches will be offered and this will be ongoing until September. As well as boosting hall funds there is the hope that it might encourage folk to come to Whalsay for the day. Those Sunday slots will be open to any local club who want to raise funds for their activities.

The next big project is the projectors. A PA system is badly needed but the Whalsay Boating Club has donated money to help with this. A folding partition across the extension is on the cards. This will, in effect, create another room in the hall suitable for small functions.

Mrs Anderson put out a newsletter last November to keep the community informed of the committee’s work and what they have done so far. People seem to like this and another will be issued in March or April.

On March 14th the Symbister Hall is having what they call an old boot sale. It is the same as a car boot sale except that there are no cars. The £5 that it costs to hire a table will go to hall funds. Iris says that it provides the opportunity for folk to sell their old junk, or new junk, and make some money for themselves.

The sale is from 12-5pm but, for stallholders, the hall will be open from 11am. Lunches will be served from 12-2pm and to book a stall or for more information phone Iris on (01806) 566346. Look out for a separate advert elsewhere in the Shetland Times.

Yell health centre

Dr Kerry Taylor started work in Yell Health Centre at the beginning of February and will be in the island for the next six months. She is a fully qualified doctor who is undergoing specialist training in general practice.

Originally from Barbados, Dr Taylor notes the contrasts between both islands, especially in winter. However, she is enjoying her time here and all that the island offers and hopes to gain much experience. She enjoys the tranquillity of the island.

After her stint in Yell she will continue her training at the Gilbert Bain Hospital for a year before going to Hillswick. We welcome her here and hope that she enjoys her time working among us.

The practice nurse Hilary Franklin is off sick at the moment and it might be some time yet before she is able to return to work.

Hilary was responsible for the very successful Slimathon programme which caused a great many folk to shed mountains of unwanted weight last year. As a follow up to this she is involved with another programme, Counterweight, designed to help those who have lost weight to stay slim. The core emphasis of this is healthy eating. We all hope that Hilary is soon restored to full fitness.

Congratulations are in order to Patricia Odie. When a patient calls the health centre Patricia’s is one of the pleasant voices that answer the phone. Recently she has completed an approved programme in pharmacy services. She has been studying towards this NVQ level 2 for the last two years.

Save energy in Unst

Unst Partnership is looking for a Community Powerdown Officer. This post involves looking into ways of saving energy in the North Isles by considering ideas such as a recycling centre, a community compost scheme and saving energy in the home as well as examining ways of saving energy in public buildings based on the Flensberg University study of two years ago.

The post is funded by the Scottish Parliament’s Climate Challenge Fund, and is administered by Keep Scotland Beautiful and Community Energy Scotland. The officer will be linking up with similar postholders in Northmavine and the Shetland Amenity Trust to encourage all of us to save energy and save money too. The post is part time for two years. For anyone interested application forms are available from Unst Partnership; they have to be returned by next Friday.

Africans visit

Visitors from Africa arrive in Shetland this weekend, some from Ghana and some from Kenya. The Ghanaians consist of four adults; one 16-year-old pupil and another aged 10.

From Kenya there are five adults and three teenagers. At first they will be two parties arriving separately but they will meet up in Lerwick and travel north together.

During their visit to the North Isles they will be the guests of the Baltasond Junior High School and of the Mid Yell Junior High School. For their time in Yell and Unst they will stay with a number of local families.

The teachers, staff and pupils have organised a range of activities and attractions for them to enjoy. They will visit the Boat Haven in Haroldswick and a Shetland food buffet will be laid on for them at the Northern Lights Café.

They will hear all about Up-Helly-A’ and they will have the opportunity attend the Norwick Up-Helly-A’ tomorrow night. They will, of course, be shown around the schools and they will meet knitters, weavers, local musicians and dancers.

The party splits again next Friday when the Kenyans leave Unst to catch the ferry to Aberdeen that night. The Ghanaians stay for one more night, leaving on Saturday morning to start the long journey back home.

Saxa Vord community buy-in?

An advert in last week’s paper was looking for someone to undertake a feasibility study at the Saxa Vord complex, examining the idea of a community buy-in. Unst Community Council and Saxa Vord Properties PLP have had discussions recently on this subject and Unst Partnership has been asked to fund the study. The study should take two months and after that there will be a chance for the Unst community to examine the results and see if this is worth pursuing.

The complex had a lot of visitors last year, but there are significant costs involved in expanding further and in demolishing some of the redundant property. It might be that community involvement could attract Scottish Community Land Unit funding, for what is a substantial complex, to make it even more attractive to visitors.


The Unstfest Committee met recently to discuss progress for an Unst Festival on the Island from 9th-19th July. The committee are in the process of applying for funding and hope to have a co-ordinator in place soon to act as a point of contact.

Some of the usual summer events will be taking place at this time but several new events are also being planned such as a record attempt on the world’s biggest Palais Glide and a bannock making masterclass. Viking Unst will feature strongly again this summer with the visit of Danish archaeologists to Belmont, and a Viking feast.

Welcome to the Wolffs

As we reported earlier the Wolff family from Hampshire bought North House in Gutcher towards the end of last year. Scott and Donna have three young children, Kimberley, Drew and Felicity. They decided that it would be unwise to move here at the start of winter.

In the event they got a perfect day, weather wise, last Monday to arrive. Donna’s parents and uncle came with them with a large van full of their belongings. Kimberley is the only one of the children old enough to be at school and she has started in Cullivoe this week. Welcome folks, best wishes for your new life in Shetland.

Lawrence Tulloch


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