Isles Views 23.10.09

Eigg and Gigha report

There will be a community event in Fetlar on Saturday 31st October where a report, and full feedback, on the recent trip to Eigg and Gigha will be available.

The community will be informed of progress with ongoing projects relating to the development plan for Fetlar as well as being asked for their input into plans for the way ahead.

Rory Tallack, the North Isles ranger, will be consulting on a bio-diversity action plan and there will be opportunities for people to sign up for courses that will be delivered during the winter in Fetlar.

Tea and home bakes will be available during the day and Fetlar development officer Robert Thomson says that he hopes as many people as possible will go along. Full details will be included in the community newsletter.

Fitness classes

Yell Leisure Centre has started the winter programme of fitness classes, and in an effort to attract some new faces it is giving customers a chance to try before they buy. If anyone has not been to a class before, staff would like you to come along and give it a go.

If you find that it is not the class for you, you will not be charged. There are three classes to choose from. Aerobatics is on Monday nights from 6.45pm to 7.45pm – it is designed to burn calories and improves cardio-vascular fitness.

Aquacise is an opportunity to exercise with minimal stress on the joints as the body is supported by the water; these classes are on Wednesday nights from 7pm to 8pm. The multi-station workout is a mixture of aerobic and resistance exercises, giving a whole body workout, and is on Thursdays from 7pm to 8pm.

A brush with death

In last week’s Isles Views I mentioned Lowrie Moar who drove the last mail gig in Yell. He was a small wiry man, amazingly durable, nimble and quick on his feet. He was known locally as someone who was good at handling horses, even the most difficult animals, and he was the local ferrier.

One of his hobbies was writing and singing songs; sometimes he composed the tune too but other times he used an existing tune. In this he was much admired by the late Tom Anderson who visited him at home to record his songs.

I spoke to 91-year-old Andrew Anderson of Cullivoe about the days of the horses and gigs and he was able to tell me about those times, things that I did not know. Lowrie Moar’s father was also Lowrie and he did the job before his son took over.

Andrew told me of a night when Lowrie Moar Snr almost lost his life. It was in the middle of winter with snow on the ground when he went to Burravoe to collect the mail. Burravoe was the first port of call for the steamer, the Earl of Zetland, in those days. As Lowrie journeyed homewards the weather got a lot worse; it was snowing from the north, the wind got up and he was facing a blizzard.

He was on the old hill road and with not too far to go when the horse stopped in his tracks and refused to go further. It did not take Lowrie long to discover what the horse knew already – that they were no longer on the road.

With the white-out conditions he did not know where they were and his only clue as to direction was that he was fairly sure that the wind was still from the north. He off-yoked the horse and, tying the two bags of mail together, he slung them across the back of the animal and tried to walk onward but the depth of snow and the cold began to take an unrelenting and potentially fatal grip.

Meanwhile, the woman who lived in the house of Hufield kept a lookout, as she knew that Lowrie was out in the snowstorm and she was concerned for his safety. Going outside in the dark and the snow she could see nothing, but her keen ears heard a sound. She retreated to the shelter of the wall of the house and listened intently.

Again she heard a very faint sound but she knew it was Lowrie and it was a cry for help. Unable to go to him herself she got the help of neighbouring men. With the snowstorm abating a little they found Lowrie but by that time he was near to death.

They carried him in to Hufield but he could neither walk nor speak and no-one present had any medical knowledge or knew what course of action to take. Neither was there any doctor to call on, the only person in the parish with any medical knowledge being Mrs Bickett the minister’s wife.

She was fetched and immediately asked for butter and plenty of it. She had Lowrie stretched out in front of the fire, all his wet clothes had been taken off, and she began to rub in the butter vigorously, especially to his legs and arms.

Others joined in with the massage to try and get the circulation going again and eventually it worked. Andrew does not know how long it took Lowrie to recover but recover he did and he continued to drive the mail gig.

West Yell quizzes

The Sunday night quizzes regularly held in the West Yell Hall never lose their appeal for the folk who turn out time after time. The latest one was held last week and the winners were an all ladies team entered under the name Emma.

None of them bears the name Emma but they are Elsie, Mary, Marina and Alma and they all live in Burravoe. Another quiz night is organised for Sunday, 1st November with husband and wife Hamish and Ruby Polson posing the questions.

The variety and range of the questions are truly amazing. When asked if they were in any danger of running out of things to ask Ruby seemed mildly surprised that anyone should harbour such a thought.

She says that they have a large collection of quiz books and they have been given books by friends so they are well able to supply questions for the foreseeable future. From time to time they introduce novelty questions.

For the next quiz they will have a round where, either in the question or the answer, the name of a regular participant will appear. For example who shot Billy the Kid? The “Billy” referred to has the surname Williamson and has been an ever present and is a very successful player over the years.

All the teams try very hard to win but the quizzes can also be a lot of fun. Once when the question was asked “Who was the Scotsman who had a tree named after him?” someone who did not know offered the answer “Robert the Spruce!”

Table top sale

The table top sale in the Mid Yell Hall on Saturday was described as being “highly successful”.

At the time of writing not all the adding and subtracting has been done so the total and profit is still not known for sure.

The Mid Yell School took the opportunity to sell some surplus equipment, mainly office fixings and with plenty of folk there that went well too.

One of the organisers, Jackie Guthrie, said the raffle had been a good earner because all the prizes had been donated and therefore the takings were all profit.

There were a total of 22 stallholders and Jackie expressed the wish that each and every one of them had had a profitable day. She, along with her fellow organisers, thanked everyone who helped on the day and who supported the event to raise funds for the Mid Yell Hall.

Farmers’ market

There is a farmers’ market in Baltasound on Sunday afternoon from 2-4pm with the usual large selection of local produce and crafts.

This month the soup, teas and home bakes will be provided by the Baltasound School Swan trip.

To book a table for produce phone Anna Niven on (01957) 755245 and to book a table for crafts phone Sarah McBurney on (01957) 711367.

Lifeboat day and craft fair

Saturday 7th November a date for the dairy – the day when, annually, funds are raised for the Old Haa and the Lerwick lifeboat.

Although the event is organised and hosted by the Old Haa it will, in fact take place in the Burravoe Hall between 11am and 3pm. Food will be available during the day but watch this space for more details.

Lawrence Tulloch


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