Isles Views 31.07.09

Isleshaven care centre

It has been clear for some time that Isleshaven Care Centre in Mid Yell needs to be replaced. It has been overtaken by events and can no longer offer clients the standard of care required in the present day. Day care is just one area where it has been found wanting.

Corridors are narrow – even two people with zimmer frames find passing each other difficult. While there is no immediate danger of it being closed down there is a real likelihood that it might not be able to accept high dependency clients in the future.

In light of all this the focus is on planning and building a new care centre for Yell. A number of options exist but it is a near certainty that any new building will be in Mid Yell and, of course, a new greenfield site is one of the options.

A new Junior High School is about to be built in Mid Yell and the site of the present school is very much in the thinking for a new care centre. The first thought was to demolish the old school but on closer inspection it has shown itself to be a building that is structurally sound and has a life span of another 60 years or so.

It seems absurd, on the face of it, to demolish a perfectly good building so planners have taken a close look at the possibility of converting the old school into a care centre. Somewhat surprisingly it seems entirely feasible and it would save around £1 million. It could become an 18-bed centre with five extra-care homes.

Being so close to the school and the leisure centre there is scope for sharing services like a boiler, kitchen and drainage as well as access roads. Surveys have shown that clients like the idea of being part of the community and seeing activities when they look out the windows.

At a recent meeting of Yell Community Council Wolfgang Weiss, service manager for SIC community care resources, gave members a very comprehensive presentation of the options for a new care centre. However he was at pains to point out that what he was putting forward was only part of a feasibility study and no-one should regard it as a definite plan.

He was equally adamant that, given the shortcomings of Isleshaven, to do nothing is not an option. If and when a new care centre comes on stream it will leave the present building redundant. It too is a sound building with a long life ahead of it but it is too soon to try to predict what its future might be.

Wirlie brig reopens

Work began on 20th July to replace the bridge over the Burn of Hamnavoe in south Yell. The old bridge was ailing and in danger of collapse. Part of the problem was that it could not cope with the volume of water at times of spate. The bridge itself was being undermined and the road was sometimes flooded.

Local residents, road users and Yell Community Council have been, for some time, pointing out the need for a new, wider and stronger bridge. The fact that SIC road services was prepared to do the necessary work came as welcome news but there were some complaints that little notice was given about the road closure. There was no way of keeping the road, the B9081, open during the work and a notice did not appear in the Shetland Times until the 17th.

This road starts at Ulsta near the ferry terminal and goes around the south and east of the island to rejoin the A968 at the head of Mid Yell voe. During the road closure anyone wishing to go from, say Hamnavoe to Ulsta, found that the five minute trip had turned into a 40 minute journey through Mid Yell.

Road closure signs were erected at either end of the road to advise of the situation and suggested that the work would last until 31st July. In fact the road was reopened last Saturday morning a week ahead of schedule thanks to the long hours worked by the contractor Victor Jamieson and his men.

Mr Jamieson described the job as being “major” and he was somewhat taken aback by the size of the hole that they had had to dig to get the old pipe out and make room for the new ones. Nonetheless he was very pleased by the way the work had gone and pleased that they had managed to minimise the time that the road was closed.

The Grand Ole Opry

Mid Yell lass Lynda Anderson lived the dream of thousands when she appeared on stage in a Saturday night show, before an audience of 4,500, at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. Lynda is a fiddle player who, as a schoolgirl, had Trevor Hunter and later Willie Hunter as teachers.

She was invited to play with the Mike Snider Band. He looks on himself as an old time musician and plays in the claw hammer banjo style. The fiddler in the band is Brian Christianson; Lynda says that he is a great fiddler who can play anything really well. They have been friends for a few years and shared many a tune together and it was he who suggested to Mike Snider that they should ask Lynda to join them.

At the Opry each band is given their own dressing room and it was not until a short time before going on stage that Lynda knew what she was doing. It was all very democratic with everyone throwing around ideas. It came as big surprise to Lynda when she was asked to play a solo.

With only 10 minutes before the curtain was raised it was decided that Lynda would play two reels by herself and the band would join in with the third.

Of course she had a Shetland tune among them. She said that she never had time to be nervous but if all this was not enough Mike Snider had her introducing the set.

After their part of the show was over Lynda spent the rest of the time back stage. She says that all the musicians are true professionals but they are laid back, warm and friendly. She could rub shoulders with big stars such as Little Jimmy Dickens, Connie Smith and Wynonna. It was a lovely atmosphere and a never to be forgotten experience.

In her professional life she is Dr Lynda Anderson. For the past three years she has been working as a medical research scientist at the Vanderbilt University in Nashville. But now her time in Nashville is over and she is on the move. And this makes her a bit difficult to keep track of.

With the help of her mother, Jean, I was able to catch up with her in New York, by email. When her delightful reply came it was quite long and written in dialect but by this time she was in Newfoundland on her way to Cape Breton. She explained that she had also been in Boston on the way to New York.

Travelling with a friend, another fiddle player, they have been doing gigs in all of the stopovers. Lynda has achieved much in her young life but I happen to know that she has at least one unfulfilled ambition and that is to meet Irish icon Tommy Peoples. When she worked in Ireland he was in America but it seems that he goes home to Donegal every time that Lynda crosses the Atlantic.

Waddir eye

Waddir Eye is an exhibition of new work by Peanuts (Jeanette Nowak). It opens in the Old Haa, Burravoe, on Tuesday 4th August and runs until Sunday 30th August. Jeanette’s new work includes baskets, beach jewellery, collages and paintings.

This weekend is the last chance to see the current exhibition by Liz Gott and Pauline Walsh, which finishes on Sunday. Please note that the Old Haa is closed on Mondays and Fridays.

Fiddle Frenzy

Fiddle Frenzy is here again and it will run all next week. It is run by Shetland Arts and while it is, first and foremost, a summer school for fiddlers it has developed into much more. For the visiting students there is the opportunity to see many rural parts of Shetland with guided tours and some storytelling mixed in.

On Wednesday the action will be in Whalsay from 1-4 pm but this year the furthest flung part of the festival is Fetlar. A coach will leave Lerwick next Friday morning and it will not return until late.

It will be an open afternoon in the Fetlar Hall with the chance of guided walks and there will be a concert in the evening starting at 7.30pm. Among others performing in the concert will be the Cullivoe Fiddlers and Fullsceilidh Spelemannslag.

Lawrence Tulloch


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