Last Friday saw the end of the Up-Helly-A’ season in Shetland as Delting’s festival took place.
The day started with onlookers eagerly awaiting the arrival of this year’s Guizer Jarl Hakon Herdebreid, (aka Stuart Robertson) from his home in Muckle Roe. No-one was disappointed when, just after 8am, three motorbikes roared up the road to the Northern Lights Function Room, each with a Jarl’s Squad member on them – and the jarl himself delivered courtesy of a Harley Davison!
The squad, dressed in dark red kirtles with leather breastplates, leather boots, deer skins and carrying impressive swords, received the customary start-of-day toast, which this year was delivered by Eddie Thompson, jarl in 1995, and last year’s jarl Wilbert Constable.
After last year’s gales everyone was delighted when the early morning cloud cleared away and there was hardly a breath of wind. The jarl, on more than one occasion, thanked squad member Ian Irvine for his almost “divine” intervention on the weather front.
Having had photos taken with the galley Sjodryen, the jarl and his squad headed out to Vidlin to visit the Lunnasting Primary School. After belting out the Up-Helly-A’ songs the squad gave the bairns their rendition of Garth Brooks’ Friends in Low Places. Everyone agreed that, in leading the squad in this song, jarl Hakon had perhaps found his true calling as a country and western star.
From there it was on to the Olnafirth Primary School, the Brae High School primary department and the Mossbank Primary School. As with Lunnasting, the jarl presented the bairns at each of the schools with a box of sweets to thank them for painting the galley shields.
At around 1pm the squad enjoyed lunch at the Mossbank Hall, hosted by Sullom Voe Terminal manager Lindsay Boswell. With bellies full the squad, some of whom having donned shades by this point due to the sunshine, visited the SIC ports and harbours department at Sella Ness. The customary warm welcome was provided, with harbourmaster Captain Roger Moore welcoming the squad in this, his first Up-Helly-A’ in his new post.
The afternoon was rounded off with visits to the Brae Police Station, the Northaven Care Centre and the Brae Community Hall where the squad had a very welcome chance to rest their feet and get a cup of tea.
Just after 7pm, slightly earlier than previous years, the procession of 450 guizers set off around Brae, led by the Lerwick Brass Band. With such a beautiful night, the galley made a spectacular sight as it was pulled off into the dock at the Delting Boating Club.
The Delting Up-Helly-A’ jarl and committee said that they would like to thank everyone who had contributed in any way to making the weekend such a success and look forward to next year.