Views from the Scord 20.03.09

Harbour News

It was a relatively quiet week in Scalloway Harbour. Fish landings were down on the previous week with 965 boxes landed. Vessels Defiant, Venturous, Fertile, Devotion, Discovery and Guardian Angell contributed to this total with the highest single landing coming from the Defiant with 236 boxes. Fraserburgh-registered vessels the Ryanwood and Sunrise were also berthed in the harbour but did not land to the Scalloway market on this occasion.

The well-boat Ronja Settler made her return to Scalloway Harbour after a refit. Her replacement, the Ronja Skye departed thereafter, believed to be heading for the Hebrides.

The Bridgetown-registered coastguard rescue vessel Anglian Earl made another visit last Friday. She left the harbour again for several hours on Friday evening to perform exercises with the coastguard helicopter, then after an overnight spent alongside she was operating out of the harbour limits for the whole day on Saturday on similar exercises.

The well-boat Gripfisk took shelter in Scalloway on Saturday. The 474 grt vessel is a live fish carrier.

The last of the current batch of Aqualine cages was assembled and launched from the West Quay during the week and the Skerries ferry Filla remained in harbour for her annual refit and inspection.

Burra Frogs

A number of people have made comment recently on the number of frogs out and about this year, but none with such tangible evidence of as Wendy Inkster of Hamnavoe. Frogs hide away in damp and dingy places through the winter and emerge as the weather starts to warm up to congregate in ponds and pools to breed, producing spawn for the next generation. The pond that Wendy has outside her home in Burra gathers around half a dozen frogs in a normal year but this year has surpassed all expectations with at least 26 frogs now jostling for room in the garden pool.

Female frogs lay between 1,000 and 3,000 eggs at this time of year and a bit of simple arithmetic will suggest the scale of the gelatinous mass that is gathering in the pond. Perhaps fortunately, the pond is permanent home to some lucky goldfish that will naturally consume the spawn and grow plump in the process. The throng of amphibians has also drawn the interest of a number of neighbourhood cats who now study the pond intently.

The noise generated by the frogs at the weekend was said to be such that Wendy thought it was “a motorbike up the hill” and went on all day.

Other areas of Shetland have reported epic numbers of frogs seen crossing roads in the past week or so, with unusually large numbers also being squashed as a consequence.

Scalloway Community Council

The March sitting of Scalloway Community Council took place on Monday this week. On this occasion they were joined by guest speakers Sandra Laurenson, chief executive of the Shetland NHS Board, and Gordon Greenhill, the new SIC head of infrastructure services.

Miss Laurenson was there to provide information and answer questions about the future of healthcare provision in the area, while Mr Greenhill had alluded previously that his visit was to make himself known to the community council with a view to addressing the ongoing dialogue of maintenance and service requests for the village and surrounding area.

As the meeting revealed, Mr Greenhill arrived with an admirably dynamic approach to his new post and gave detailed and comprehensive consideration to each and every issue brought to his attention, some of them relatively longstanding, and provided assurances of either remedy or direction toward remedy for many agenda items.

Among specific items he addressed were the safety issues of specific low walls in the village, the snow clearance of pavements to the school, autumn leaf clearance, blocked drains, corroded lamp posts and even the unprompted issue of the v-shaped cutaway on the Scord quarry skyline, which has drawn discussion from many locals with a fatalistic belief that it now “is what it is” and must be accepted without any possibility of recourse. Mr Greenhill, however, provided assurances that the current prominence of the “v” was not acceptable and that action would be taken to minimise the visual impact of the quarry’s southward moving workface, with landscaping used to obscure the uppermost operation.

Notwithstanding his vigorous attention to matters specific to his remit, he opted to remain for the rest of the meeting and provided further positive input to the proceedings.

Another prominent agenda item was once again the lighting of the Scalloway castle, the replacement of which continues to be a conflicted issue, with the subject deferred to the next meeting of the community council. The group also noted with appreciation the installation of the new 20mph speed limit around the school, scheduled to be completed this month and now well under way.

An issue brought up on more than one occasion in the evening was that of recurrent dog mess in the village, particularly in certain areas. As it is now widely known that it is an offence to leave dog mess in a public place the perception seems to be that certain offenders choose to ignore the consequences of being caught, and ignore the bins provided for the purpose. Perhaps less well known and worth promoting is the free provision of bags and scoops by the local authority for dog owners, leaving them with no conceivable excuse.

Red Nose pyjamas

Never one to shirk a fund-raising challenge, Anita Smith, with her two sons Theo and Jake, raised an impressive £115 for Comic Relief on Friday. Anita, who lives in Scalloway with her husband, Adrian, and the two boys, is well known locally for her fund-raising altruism and on this occasion she set herself and the boys the challenge to spend the day in their pyjamas for charity. On first glance not the most difficult challenge, but put into perspective when it is revealed that this meant travelling to and from the school and, for Anita, working in the Scalloway shop where she drew some startled glances and humour as she went about her business.

The boys very much enjoyed the spirit of the occasion as Theo, 4, attended nursery and Jake, 3, the playgroup in their night-time attire. They raised the money from friends, family and anyone Anita accosted during the day.

As she reflects: “We all had a ball, the boys thought it was brilliant. We got some very strange looks. We wanted to do something together for Comic Relief and it was a really good laugh.”

Comic Relief efforts nationally have so far raised over £59 million.

School fund-raisers

The Scalloway Junior High School held two sets of fund-raising events last week with laudable results on both occasions.

The school library ran a week-long book fair in association with World Book Day on Thursday the 5th. This annual event raised funds for book provision in schools with up to 60p of every pound spent on books going toward school book funds. The fair was run at lunchtimes and after school with parents often accompanying their children to select and purchase books. The event is run nationally to promote ownership of books and to encourage children to respect and take care of them. It is part of a greater international promotion by UNESCO, the relevant offshoot of the United Nations. This year’s fair was themed to complement the Comic Relief Red Nose Day and raised a total of £508.51. Perhaps surprisingly, the library’s book lending and the school’s regular book club were pretty much unaffected in the same week with a percentage of funds from the book club also going toward the promotion.

The school pulled out all the stops for the Comic Relief Red Nose day on Friday with fund raising events running throughout the day. Among the jollified charity events and fancy dress were a themed tuck shop selling irregular items, such as jelly, design contests for different age groups in the school in which P1-3 had to design a bookmark to signify the meaning of Red Nose Day and P4-7 met the same challenge with a poster design. There was also a spelling competition between teachers and pupils, during which the teachers retained their dignity in winning, despite the troublesome word choices made for them by pupils. Deputy head Colin Nicol took honours and achieved the highest score for the teachers, while sporting the colourful apparel of a rastafarian.

The afternoon brought a Red Nose themed roller disco during the regular golden time activity, rounding off an enjoyable and profitable day for all with a grand total of £320.52 raised on the day.

Paddy’s Result

Scalloway Boating Club played host to a combined St Patrick’s Day celebration and fund-raiser last Saturday. Local Irish themed band Scaldin Bragg played to a packed venue through the afternoon and early evening for the family oriented event which sold out in advance, leaving the organisers’ telephones ringing red hot on the day with people determinedly trying to find more tickets.

The atmosphere was said to be “brilliant” with a lot of family groups attending, and as organiser Carina Isbister said: “It was great to see everyone getting out together and enjoying the day with the bairns, and a massive effort made of the Paddy’s Day theme by a lot of folk wearing green, carrying flags or faces painted.”

The band take a lot of credit for the atmosphere too and their lightsome tunes had the dance floor filled. The organisers would like to thank everyone who got involved in supporting and helping to organise the event, making and serving sandwiches and home-bakes and to thank all the businesses and individuals who donated raffle prizes. It is now thought and hoped that this may become an annual event on the Scalloway social calendar.

The amount raised on the day was around £600, which will go toward provision of an outdoor play and social area at the Scalloway Youth Centre.

Mark Burgess


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