Isles Views 01.05.09

Whalsay Learning Centre

The Whalsay Learning Centre recently held a very successful “Gyee it a Go” day in the Symbister hall.

The learning centre laptops illustrated some of the recent work done in the classes and folk were fascinated by the digital stories, digital photograph techniques and other information they could try out.

The rope work, small wooden toys and makkin’ belt table created a discussion on the pros and cons of different styles of makkin’ belts and which were best. Spinning and knitting also drew a lot of interest and it was good to see the bairns trying out the wheels and seeing how the yarn is produced.

Cake decorating demonstrations provided new ideas and produced a beautiful cake for the CLAN 1,2,3 raffle along with other decorated prizes.

Bannock making was very popular and the floury participants were well satisfied with the results of their efforts. They produced lovely warm bannocks to go with the tasty homebakes provided by the hall committee for the afternoon tea.

The photography display created a stir as folk viewed the results of the latest techniques that they could learn at an evening class. Painting technique demonstrations were available with a display of what the finished product can look like to inspire people to have a go.

More than a dozen folk attended a storytelling session on the recent history of the Whalsay lairds through the story of the life of Katherine Sandison/Bruce. This has generated an interest in local history.

The Peerie Linties added a musical note in the parent/child sing-along session. About 70 people attended this very lightsome event and the raffle and tea donations raised £311 for the CLAN appeal.

Anne Huntley said the learning centre would like to thank everyone very much for the success of the day, stall demonstrators, the hall committee for the teas and everyone who attended. “We hope that you all have some ideas for new skills that you would like to try,” she added.

Netball team’s win

The Unst netball team has won the second division and, therefore, promotion to the first division when the new season starts after the summer break.

The team have only played in the Shetland league for two years making their achievement of 10 matches without defeat all the more remarkable.

Captain Claire Priest said: “We would like to say thanks for all the support we’ve had from the community, many of whom we didn’t know followed the netball league. Special thanks to the community council for a fantastic donation to our travel costs – we calculate that we have travelled over 1,100 miles since January.”


“Have you ever wanted to swim at a time when the pool was closed?”

That is the question asked by David Gear, manager of the Yell Leisure Centre, who is suggesting that Dial-a-Swim could be the answer.

Public swimming normally ends at 7pm and the centre found that when they consulted users they found that some wanted to use the pool later in the evening. In response to this they remained open until 9pm on certain nights of the week. The take up was, in fact, poor and sometimes no one at all turned up.

David has decided to introduce a service whereby anyone wanting to take a dip after 7pm on weeknights can phone in and book a place. However certain rules apply. You must phone in advance on the day that you wish to swim and David warns that they might not always be able to grant a request; this will depend on the number of staff available on the day.

Normal admission charges will apply. Daytime swimming on Fridays is also a possibility – just phone in and ask (01957) 702222.

Osprey visits Unst

When all the local folk, councillors, officials and the many visitors were in the Uyeasound hall celebrating the opening of the new pier an osprey was quietly fishing in the loch nearby. It was seen flying around and sitting on a post with a nice looking fish in his talons.

Oil spill off Yell

A minor oil spill occurred on the east side of Yell when a boat tending a salmon farm suffered a broken pipe and some diesel leaked into the sea. The incident was reported and Simon Skinner of the SIC ports and harbours department came to investigate.

When Mr Skinner saw the locality of the spill he quickly realised that, given the wind direction, the most likely place for any oil to come ashore was on Burraness near the mouth of Bastavoe.

This is the area made famous by the film The Track of the Wild Otter made by award winning wildlife photographer Hugh Miles. Mr Skinner walked this area of coastline and found no more than traces of oil, a faint sheen on the water.

Mr Skinner said that, after the leak, the salmon farmers had done all the right things. They had quickly shut down the oil supply, preventing any further leak, and had reported the incident. He said he was entirely confident that no environmental damage had been done as a result.

New financial year

Yell Community Council has now begun a new financial year which means that, once again, there is money available to distribute to eligible applicants.

Grants can be given to projects, community groups or organisations but that excludes running costs. Private roads and peat roads can also be given grants. Community council clerk Jackie Smiles has put up notices in the local shops and there is also a notice in The Shetland Times. Ms Smiles’ telephone number is (01957) 722289.

Westsandwick beach

The sandy beach at Westsandwick in Yell is one of the most beautiful beaches in Yell or anywhere else, but local folk were appalled at the amount of dog muck polluting it when they did Da Voar Redd Up. They gathered what would have filled two carrier bags.

It was not just the beach itself but the sand dunes. The dunes are a favourite place and should be a safe place for children to play, but many a time the dirt is covered up and there is no telling where it will appear when the sand is disturbed.

One young mother said that, after seeing the mess, she no longer relishes the idea of allowing her child to play on the beach or anywhere near it.

At one time there were notices to warn, and deter, dog owners from allowing their pets to foul the beach. One way or another those notices were removed but they are to be replaced on more substantial poles bedded in concrete.

Yell policeman Brian Hamilton is aware of the situation and he is entirely in sympathy with the Westsandwick folk who are trying so hard to keep their lovely beach clean and a nice place to spend part of a summer day.

The situation at Westsandwick was highlighted through the redd up, but it is not the only place with the problem. The area around ferry terminals can be very dirty, not only from dogs but sheep.

One person said travellers were seen, on a regular basis, letting their dogs out of cars at Gutcher and allowing them to run off to do wherever they want and to do what they need to do without any thought of gathering up the resulting mess.

The complainer said: “It is not the case that everyone should be tarred with the same stick, some dog owners do clean up after their animals, but we know who the regular offenders are, their vehicle numbers and the dogs they own. They should not be surprised if, one day, they are called to account.”

Kirk gets a paint-up

For some time it has been apparent that St John’s Kirk in Mid Yell was in need of a facelift. The inside had become somewhat shabby and lacklustre.

Nine volunteers – Carl Anderson, Johnny Clark, George Nisbet, John Robertson, Angus Coutts, Angus Jamieson, Angus Petrie, Basil Guthrie and Jim Strachan – got together to paint the inside. It now has a nice fresh coat of magnolia and a member of the congregation wishes to thank those folk who have done such a wonderful job.

Bottle message

When the Unst Angling Club members were doing their bit for Da Voar Redd Up, Bruce Thomson found a bottle on the beach at Haroldswick containing a message.

The bottle had been put into the sea 200 miles west of Orkney by Danish seaman Jorgen Sonderkaer on 10th September, 2007. He was on a ship, the Mary Arctica, and they were making passage from Denmark to Greenland.

Hermaness warden

Alistair Wilson has been reappointed bird warden at Hermaness for a second season.

Lawrence Tulloch


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