Northmavine Up-Helly-A’: High spirits make for ‘splendid weekend’


Although last Friday dawned wet and windy, the weather did nothing to dampen the spirits of Northmavine Up-Helly-A’ Guizer Jarl Ivan Goodlad, from North Roe.

The Jarl’s Squad, comprising 27 hardy Vikings, looked resplendent in kirtles of black velvet edged with silver. In addition, the jarl wore a silver chain mail tunic.

The suits were completed with black helmets with silver edging, white sheepskins fastened with dragon brooches, shields decorated with the same dragon design and shiny stainless axes.

The seven princesses, led by the jarl’s daughter Kelly, looked the part in deep red velvet dresses, complemented by black velvet cloaks and silver headbands.

The Jarl’s Squad spent the morning touring the Northmavine primary schools at Urafirth, Ollaberry and North Roe where they were given an enthusiastic welcome from bairns, staff and parents.

After lunch at the North Roe and Lochend Hall, it was off to Hillswick for photos at the galley Feroalangur.

Ivan was particularly keen to involve the local school bairns in the festival, so pupils from the three schools designed the shields for the Feroalangur. He especially wishes to say a big thank you to all the bairns for their contributions.

During the day the jarl was presented with a tune written specially for him by Steven Spence. The tune, entitled The Feroalangur Waltz, was a gift from his family and Jarl’s Squad members and he was very touched by such a lovely gesture.

After a Viking feast at St Magnus Bay Hotel it was time for the evening procession. Although the wind and rain prevailed, a total of 237 guizers were not about to let a drop of rain spoil the procession and the galley was burned at sea in true Viking style. Then it was on to the halls for an evening of song, sketches and gentle mickey taking. This year the halls open were: Ollaberry, Hillswick and North Roe.

A total of 16 squads took part in the evening celebrations with most acts having a local or topical slant. The standard of acts at the Northmavine Up-Helly-A’ is usually very good and this year was no exception. Squads had obviously put a lot of thought and hard work into their acts, props and outfits and should be congratulated on providing a great night’s entertainment.

List of squads 1. Jarl’s Squad 2. Compare da 3. Kung Po Joe. This act had a local slant with an array of local characters helping to create an “appetising” Chinese meal by adding their own ingredients.

4. Strictly Come Shetland. Once again the lasses of Burra came up with some superb poetic narration to explain the goings-on in this dancing squad based on Strictly. Luckily the female contestants weren’t wearing sharp jewellery or their partners may have popped!

5. Mama Magnie Mia. The lasses of the Northavine care centre had their own take on Abba!

6. Ivan Da Engine. Squad members were in fine voice with the addition of some excellent guitar and “moothie” playing.

7. Cla Dy … Last summer’s Trowie Trails at Da Bjorgs featured in this squad, with a selection of tourists being treated to a sighting of those elusive peerie creatures. This was a well thought-out squad.

8. How Tae Look Braaly Good Naked in Northmavine. A “large” girl entered the hall and was treated to a range of beauty and body enhancing treatments – including Polly Filla! She then reappeared as a tall, slim beauty. If only life was that simple.

9. Glory Hol. Remake of a Japanese-type endurance show.

10. Jock & Roll. The ladies of Northmavine treated the audience to a well-rehearsed dance routine.

11. Hollywood Goes to Frankie’s. The recent opening of Gary’s chip shop in Brae did not go unnoticed by this squad. A selection of Hollywood stars popped along the chippy for a selection of suppers to the tuneful sounds of part of Scaldin Bragg.

12. Viking Energy. Northmavine characters faced a local Dragon’s Den panel in a bid to secure funding for their individual renewables projects. A succession of contenders each suffered technical problems during their pitch and the dragons were not impressed until a local crofter came along from Lochend with an illuminating idea for cow dung. Very entertaining.

13. Strictly Come Crofting 14. Rockers v Ravers 15. It’s Good But It’s Not Right. This squad was popular with the audience and featured Roy Walker and his famous Catchphrase TV programme. Each catchphrase had to be guessed from squad members’ antics and costumes. The dog with two “male hens” was a favourite.

16. Nort Trow. This entertaining squad with a local twist featured a real-life BBC wildlife presenter among its members. Great to see him getting into the swing of local life – and a dress!

The weekend celebrations continued on Saturday with events during the day at the North Roe and Lochend Hall and the St Magnus Bay Hotel. A succession of buses ferried people to a packed hop in the Sullom Hall at night with some superb music from The Vinyls.

For anyone with a spark of energy left on Sunday, the weekend was rounded off in style to the sounds of the infamous GTL at St Magnus Bay Hotel.

As I chatted over the weekend’s events on Monday with Guizer Jarl Ivan, sporting a somewhat trimmed hairstyle and beard, his last comment was: “Everyone who took part set out to have a good time and that’s what was achieved. It really was a splendid weekend.”


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