North Mainland Notes

Ronas Drama

It’s a sure sign that winter is approaching when the Ronas Drama group prepare to start the new season. The group has been running for almost half a century and began in winter 1960, with Jenny Gilbertson at the helm.

Chrissie Manson of Urafirth, one of the main stalwarts of the group, was involved in drama from the 1950s but she made her first starring role as Big Jeannie the Tinker in a play called By Yir Neebir Ye Canna Win. The play was written and produced by Jenny Gilbertson and was entered in the 1964 drama festival.

Chrissie began producing plays a short time afterwards and has produced 54 of the Ronas entries for the Shetland County Drama Festival. Over the years the group has staged a prolific amount of work, entering 74 plays at the festival and countless sketches in local halls as well as a three-act play.

Another stalwart of the stage is Willie Robertson from Brae. Willie has been involved for almost 40 years, since 1971, with his first acting part in a festival entry called The Dear Departed. Willie is also a talented writer with a forte for Shetland comedy and has written many Shetland comedies and sketches for the group over the years. Audiences and cast alike always look forward to the work of his pen.

Ronas Drama group is preparing for the new season with the annual general meeting and first meeting next Thursday at 7.30pm in the Old Urafirth School (Victorian classroom). This is a public meeting and the group welcome anyone along to see what goes on. As well as actors, the committee is always on the lookout for anyone willing to help with the many jobs involved in a stage production.

Sullom Sunday teas

As the Sunday Teas season draws to a close for another year there are still a few halls open during September. On Sunday, teas will be available at the Sullom hall from 3-6pm. There will also be a raffle and a sales table, with all proceeds to hall funds.

Kirk meeting success

A recent meeting to discuss the Kirk at Mossbank and its place in the community was very well attended by folk from Mossbank, Firth and Toft and resulted in much food for thought.

The main purpose of the meeting was to investigate how the Kirk and people in the area could work together to identify, and try to answer, the needs of the community as a whole. A range of suggestions was put forward by folk and it was decided to form a small team to investigate the ideas further. The team will look at the practicalities and feasibility of each suggestion and further information evenings will be held at a later date. Anyone who may be interested in assisting or just wants to know more should contact Bob MacGregor on (01806) 522 604 or email at

Fire fighters’ charity wash

Each year, thousands of fire fighters are injured whilst protecting the public. Fire fighters are called to an incident every 30 seconds in the UK, often putting their lives on the line and sustaining physical injuries while carrying out their duties.

Brae retained firefighters are taking part in a charity car wash to raise funds for the Firefighters Charity next Saturday. Fire fighters and their chamois leathers will be at the Brae Co-op from 12-4pm where they will offer to give your car a wash in exchange for a donation to the charity. The Firefighters Charity provides assistance for fire fighters during their times of need, and assists over 13,500 individuals every year, by enabling access to pioneering treatment and support services.

Fun and games

As a culmination to her first visit to Shetland, Niki Buchan from Mindstretchers, a Perthshire-based company dedicated to encouraging children to learn from their natural environment, led a Nature Playday for local children and parents in The Booth garden at Hillswick. A fun afternoon was spent outdoors, taking part in a variety of activities. It was a real hands-on day and everyone was fully involved. Niki helped parents and bairns to construct a willow arch using the live willows in the garden, while bairns also built a den in the trees and bushes using colourful fabrics and constructed fairy houses with shells and wooden blocks.

Finally everyone gathered around a fire bowl and had the chance to light a fire with flint. Not as easy as it looked but after several attempts it worked and the children roasted marshmallows dipped in melted hot chocolate. Yummy!

Niki’s visit was the brainchild of Alex Purbrick of Urafirth, who came across the work of Mindstretchers during her research for a childcare report on behalf of the Northmavine Community Development Company (NCDC). NCDC co-ordinated Niki’s trip and Alex did much of the organising on a voluntary basis.

Funding came from Scottish Natural Heritage, North Mainland Recycling Centre, Northmaven Community Council and Northmavine Powerdown Project. Niki also worked with pupils at North Roe and Urafirth primary schools during her short visit and although the weather was wet and windy, everyone got into the spirit and had fun.

Alex said: “Niki’s trip has provided some really inspiring ideas. Everyone who took part agreed that we would love for Niki to visit Shetland again and bring more ideas, but more than anything it showed the kids they could play outside and have fun!”

Brae hall silver celebration

The Brae Community Hall has come a long way since it first began in a second-hand army hut secured from the base at Catfirth, Nesting, in the early 1920s. Although many a great night was had in the “old” Brae hall, as the population in the area rapidly increased in the early 1980s due to the oil boom, a larger community space was needed.

Fund-raising began in earnest with a succession of gala days, dances, raffles and even the chance to buy a brick for the new hall. In 1984 the new hall opened on the site of the former Brae secondary school and this year celebrates the silver anniversary. To mark the occasion the committee has organised a supper dance on 3rd October. Members are keen that this is a real family night and tickets now on sale at Brae Garage, Brae Building Centre and from committee members are priced accordingly. The hall committee is also keen to see as many former members as possible at the event. Jim Halcrow and his band will provide the music.

500 at Hillswick

Despite watching a number of 500 card sharks over the years, especially the late Mam Maggie at Skelladale, I still don’t know my left bower from my right. If you’re like me, a bit slow on the uptake, but keen to learn, or if you’re in the Mam Maggie league, head over to Hillswick on Wednesday nights, where monthly 500 drive evenings have restarted. The season begins on Wednesday at 7.30pm and will continue until lambing time.

Maree Hay


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