Despite fears for the weather with a few showers in the morning, Sunday afternoon turned out to be bright and sunny for the large crowds who attended the 2009 Aith Lifeboat Gala.
The gala was opened in a blaze of colour by the Lerwick jarl squad led by Steven Mouat, Lerwick junior jarl Kristoffer Thomason and Northmavine jarl Ivan Goodlad and their squads. Following the opening all three squads marched down the pier where they were welcomed onboard the lifeboat by coxswain Hylton Henry.
No strangers to the Aith lifeboat are Lerwick jarl squad members Jimmy Nicolson, who is a crew member, and Jim Nicolson, launch operations manager, the first of many visitors to see around the lifeboat on the day.
No sooner had the squads left the lifeboat than the coastguard helicopter was heard overhead. The lifeboat left the pier and spectators were entertained by a most impressive rescue display. The rescue helicopter then landed on the football pitch where it was open to visitors.
Meanwhile on shore another of the emergency services, Bixter Fire Brigade, put on a interesting display including a demonstration showing the equipment used in cutting up a car.
By now all the other entertainment was underway; regular visitors Chris and Penny Williams from Mid Yell with their beautiful St Bernard dogs helped to raise funds, Penny having first visited the face-painting to have her face expertly made up by the talented face-painters to resemble her dogs.
The marquee loaned by Walls Show Committee was bustling with a variety of side-shows with a number of very popular new attractions as well as tombola, hair braiding and face painting.
Thanks to the Shetland Childcare Partnership the younger visitors to the Gala were able to enjoy a new area specifically for them in the Rankin Lounge with pedal cars, softplay and ball pool.
Older visitors were able to have their fortunes told by the mysterious Madame Zaza, also in Aith Hall. For those looking for outdoor activities pony rides or a ride in a gig were available.
Also provided was the ever-popular Bouncy Castle, while Spongebob Square-pants and Shaun the Sheep also put in appearances to the delight of the young and young at heart.
A stage set up at the pier organised by Mhari Moncrieff showcased a variety of much appreciated entertainment with diverse and extremely talented musicians – drumming groups Aeastaewast and the Bell’s Brae Samba Band were followed by Norman and the Folding Deckchairs and also Colin and John-Robert Deyell.
Bernadette Porter with New Tradition provided excellent entertainment in the hall.
In addition to the other activities in and around the hall it was greatly to the credit of the willing helpers that they were able to cope with the tremendous demand for teas, sandwiches and home bakes. Just about equally busy were those hard at work in the Lifeboat Station who provided delicious homemade doughnuts, ice cream, candyfloss and hot dogs and selling RNLI souvenirs.
Including the proceeds of a raffle which had as its star prize a beautiful hand quilted and embroidered wall hanging the most creditable record sum of £ 5,117.09 was raised with more still to be added. The organising committee would like to express their very grateful thanks to all who assisted and also all who attended the Gala and contributed to Lifeboat funds.