The Shetland Rotary Club has continued with its weekly meetings during the last two months, and an interesting and enjoyable feature of this time of year is the number of Rotarian visitors who join us for the evening from all parts of the world.
In that respect a record for our club was surely set on 10th June when we had no fewer than 12 visitors, two couples, one from Canmore in Canada, and three individuals from Scotland, and a family group of five from Gothenberg in Sweden who were visiting Lerwick for the third time on their yacht.
Laura Sandison gave us an interesting presentation on the city of Venice which brought back happy memories to those of us who had been there. She mentioned how over the years Venice had attracted a steady stream of poets and composers from Britain, including Shelley, Robert Browning, Wordsworth and Vivaldi.
Member Larry Sutherland showed the second half of the fascinating film made by the BBC in 1970, featuring Duncan Carse, who interviewed Duncan Sandison in Unst as well as Brian Hunter, and also Jim Nicolson on the then brand new fishing boat Wavecrest.
Member Sylvija Crook introduced members to the beauty of Japanese Gardens following a holiday she and her husband had had earlier in the year. Of particular note at that time was the uncontrolled exuberance of the cherry blossom trees which was in marked contrast to the strictly controlled formal gardens where not a leaf or bloom was allowed to be out of place. This even extended to gardens which consisted entirely of carefully raked gravel – again not a pebble was out of place.
Member Beatrice Wishart told how she had visited the Imperial War Museum in London in pursuit of the history of the Army Film & Photographic Unit (AFPC) in which her father Basil had served during the war in Burma.
Using the then standard very heavy equipment, and rolls of film which only lasted a few minutes, he and his team filmed the Japanese retreat and eventual surrender as Allied forces entered Rangoon in August 1945. Mr Wishart would have liked to continue in the film industry after de-mob, but The Shetland Times newspaper had become somewhat run down during the war, and he made the decision to return home and put the family paper back on its feet again, which he did very successfully.
Finally, guest speaker Melanie Henderson of Lerwick Port Authority told about the recently established Sail Training Shetland organisation. This aims to give young Shetlanders the opportunity to participate in some of the annual Tall Ships events; this year eight young people will be able to join the Swan in Orkney, and sail to Greenock and then Belfast.
Next year’s trip was over subscribed, so the candidates were put through some initiation tests to select those most suited to life on the high seas. Then in 2011 Lerwick is a host port for the Tall Ships Race and Sail Training will be very much involved in the preparations and running of the event that year.
At the end of June the club was pleased to become involved in The Fairbairn Challenge.
Andrew Fairbairn, a member of the Rotary Club of Banbury, Oxfordshire, had undertaken a mammoth journey to raise funds for the Leonard Cheshire “Schools 4 All” which look after disabled children in Uganda.
Setting off from the Scilly Isles he and a small support team travelled by kayak, bicycle and on foot the length of the British Isles with the final destination being Muckle Flugga.
Mr Fairbairn arrived in Shetland last Friday, cycled from Sumburgh to Burrafirth, canoeing across Yell Sound and Bluemull Sound on the way, and finally on Saturday achieved his goal by paddling round Muckle Flugga before landing on the rock and climbing to the top.
His aim is to raise £25,000 for this worthy cause in Uganda, and already a substantial part of that has been pledged, with the Shetland club making a suitable donation.