North Mainland Notes 10.07.09

Shop plan moves on

The community of Hillswick, Eshaness, Urafirth and Heylor and the surrounding area is now a step closer to owning and running the shop at Hillswick, which closed earlier in the year.

The community-led Northmavine Community Development Company (NCDC) has been successful in raising the money to buy the development in Hillswick that includes the shop, a house and two outbuildings.

As the purchase enters the final stages, the NCDC organised a community meeting in Hillswick to ask people how they would like to see the shop run.

The meeting was really positive, with around 60 people attending to hear an update on the project from NCDC vice-chairman John Alex Cromarty, and an outline of prospective business models and structures from ex-Eshaness resident and Community Development Scotland representative Tor Justad.

Each table then discussed three themes in turn in order for the NCDC to gauge support, ideas and hear the decisions of the community. The first theme included the business model and structure.

After much discussion, an overwhelming majority agreed that the business should be a trading arm of the NCDC, which would mean that folk in the area would have direct input into the running of the business, but would still benefit from the support of the NCDC.

This model still allows for corporate membership of the co-operative. This would mean that the community could benefit from the co-operative buying group as well as local wholesalers and outlets. Application for membership is currently closed but due to reopen in the autumn.

The second theme for discussion was how people would like to be involved in the project. Fourteen people have now indicated a willingness to join the steering group to help reopen the shop. From this group the community will choose the eventual community members of the board of directors.

More than 20 people also signed up for a “redd up and refurbishment” group to help reshape the appearance of the shop initially. Several people in the area, including a number of young people, put their names forward to work in the shop when it reopens, which was really encouraging. Based on a cautious business plan, the shop could employ two full time equivalent staff initially, but it is hoped that support for the shop will exceed all projections and further employment could be created.

The final theme asked folk which services and facilities they would like to see provided in the shop. On the whole people would like a well-stocked shop with a reliable service. Further suggestions included the reintroduction of fuel sales, siting the post office service back in the shop with an increase in the proposed five-hour service and an increase in opening hours to cater for folk who work outside the area.

There is no doubt that a large amount of hard work is required by the community to provide a quality retail service in Hillswick and much work is still to be done, but the enthusiasm and commitment shown by folk in the area will help ensure the success of this project. It is hoped the sale of the development will go through in mid July and community plans can begin in earnest.

Ice cream Sunday

Organisers of those excellent Ollaberry Sunday teas are going a step further this weekend with the inclusion of an ice cream Sunday.

South Collafirth super-chef John Peter Blance is having a break from creating fantastic fish suppers and nymmy Northmavine barbecues and is, instead, turning his talents to ice cream innovations.

Sunday teas and ice cream sundaes will be available at the Ollaberry hall this Sunday from 3pm to 6pm. There will also be a raffle and a sales table, with all proceeds going towards the proposed hall refurbishment.

Sullom Sunday picnic

In times past, community picnics were a common sight during the summer months. Families took a break from the croft and donned their Sunday best to socialise together.

Eventually, social gatherings took on differing forms and the community picnic was mostly confined to history. A few years ago a number of folk in the community revived the traditional Sullom picnic, serving strong tae and a variety of land sports for all.

This year the Sullom picnic takes place at the Lunnister Loch on Sunday at 2pm. Everyone is invited to put on their Sunday best and get their best china out.

The organisers ask that folk bring a dozen sandwiches or fancies and a rug per family and each bring a teacup and plate. Tea and a barbecue will be provided, for which a silver collection will be taken.

Following the eatables a number of land and loch sports will take place for the whole family. Are you brave enough to take part in gentlemen’s paddling or the treacle bun?

Powering up for Powerdown

A new website to help communities reduce the carbon footprint of their village or town was launched last Monday.

The Community Powerdown consortium website will allow its 27 member organisations to share information between themselves, their partners, Community Energy Scotland, the Development Trust Association Scotland and the wider world.

Community Powerdown is a group of communities stretching from Unst to Langholm in the Scottish Borders. Each group has the common goal of reducing the carbon footprint of their community through projects such as: energy efficiency measures; renewable energy installations; local food production and electric transport.

Shetland currently has three Community Powerdown areas in Unst, Fair Isle and Northmavine. All have appointed a project officer who will work with individual householders and community organisations in their area to help reduce carbon emissions.

Colin Dickie has been appointed in Northmavine and is based at the NCDC office at South Collafirth. He is currently beginning an energy audit of households in Northmavine to consider ways of helping folk reduce both energy use and fuel costs.

Although he will be contacting all households in Northmavine, Colin would be delighted to hear from anyone in the area who would like more information about the project. Phone him on (01806) 544222 or e-mail

Anyone can visit the Community Powerdown website at for details on how they can make a difference to their carbon footprint. Community Powerdown was established and is co-ordinated by Community Energy Scotland. The project is funded by the Climate Challenge Fund, administered on behalf of the Scottish Government by Keep Scotland Beautiful.

Muckle Roe fun day

Many folk in Muckle Roe have been keeping an even closer eye on the weather forecast as usual this week. This is because the Muckle Roe hall committee has organised a barbecue and family fun day at the hall tomorrow.

The fun begins at 4pm and the organisers say there will be plenty of activities for everyone, so they hope to see lots of visitors. Live music will be provided throughout the day with guest musicians and an open session after 9pm.

Recycling centre sale

During July volunteer staff at the North Mainland Recycling Centre are holding a half price sale with 50 per cent off all items.

The centre is open on Monday from 6.30pm to 8pm, Tuesday from 10am to noon and 2pm to 4pm and Saturday from 2pm to 4pm. The committee would welcome anyone who has a few hours to spare as a volunteer helper and the centre is always on the lookout for donations of goods.

North Mainland Recycling Centre is situated in Brae at the former Nelson Smith print shop, near Frankie’s Chip Shop and Cafe.

Wheelbarrows postponed

This year folk will have an extra week to decorate their wheelbarrows for the annual race at Hillswick. The race has been postponed from next Saturday and will instead take place on Saturday 25th July.

The event is split into two races for adults and bairns respectively and racers should be at the Hillswick hall at 8pm for an 8.30pm start. Entry costs £5 per couple for adults and £1 per bairn.

Hungry competitors and spectators can fuel up on the suppers that will be served in the hall following the races.

Claes ‘n’ Taes for CLAN

As Shetland’s fantastic year of funding raising for the CLAN 1,2,3 appeal draws to a close there are still a number of events being held to help swell the total amount raised by folk in the isles to well over £600,000.

Tomorrow there will be a Claes “n” Taes afternoon in the Sullom hall from 2pm to 6pm. In addition to the clothes sale with teas and home bakes, there will also be a number of activities to keep the bairns occupied while folk browse the sales rails.

The hall will be open tonight from 7pm to 9pm to receive donations of good quality second hand clothes for the sale. All proceeds will be donated to CLAN 1,2,3.


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