South Mainland Notebook

Race night at Sandwick

The South Mainland Amateur Swimming Club (SMASC) Sandwick Football Club (SFC) have got together to organise a race night at Sandwick Social Club tomorrow evening.

SFC, which initiated the race night over 20 years ago, has been competing for the Shetland Parish Cup since 1952, when it was the tournament’s first winner. It will be putting its share of the funds raised towards maintenance of the football pitch.

A relative newcomer on the South Mainland sporting scene, the SMASC was started in 2003 with the aim of bringing together the area’s amateur swimmers.

In order to join folk need to be able to swim at least two lengths of the pool; the coaches then decide according to age and progress when a member is ready to swim competitively. Members take part in competitions both in and outwith Shetland.

The swimming club’s share of the funds will go towards their ongoing costs, which include developing the abilities of swimmers and coaches, volunteer training and trips to compete south.

A large number of people customarily turn out for the race night, to watch films of horse races and see if the runner they have bet on is first past the post.

“It’s a good evening out and a real laugh,” said organiser Ross Smith from SFC. “People shout at the screen and get very worked up.”

There are nine races, all sponsored by local businesses, some of whom have backed the event throughout its history. Folk can also opt to buy a horse for £5, in which case their name will be in the programme, and if it wins they get £20.

To become an owner call Mr Smith on (01950) 431437 or Sandwick Social Club on (01950) 431210, or pick up a registration sheet at the club. The races start at 8pm. Admission is £3 at the door, which includes supper, and members and guests are all welcome. The SMASC is run by volunteers and is always looking for new recruits. For further information call Jan Price on (01950) 460725.

Help for helpers

If there’s one thing South Mainland isn’t short of its volunteers. Everywhere you look there are folk more than happy to dedicate their time and effort to the greater good.

Unfortunately, however, running a voluntary group involves a lot of administrative detail, and many a person who wouldn’t baulk at producing six dozen chocolate brownies by midday tomorrow, finds the work which this requires burdensome and intimidating.

That is where Voluntary Action Shetland (VAS) comes in. Throughout the year it runs free courses with the specific goal of helping people get to grips with what many find the more difficult aspects of volunteering. “If you aren’t from an office background these things can be quite scary,” says VAS development worker Wendy Hand. “We try to reassure people that they aren’t such onerous tasks. We show them how to prepare in advance, and do anything else that we can to make life easier for them.”

VAS’s next South Mainland course is on report writing, at Sandwick Junior High School from 10am to 2pm tomorrow. It will include guidance on structuring and writing reports to communicate information accurately and efficiently, how to develop your report writing skills to meet your target audience and how to complete your annual return for the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.

The course is aimed at voluntary groups but is open to anyone who wants to come along. Refreshments are provided but bring a packed lunch. For further information or to book a place call Wendy on (01595) 743905 or email

Anniversary calendar

Cunningsburgh Show, one of the South Mainland’s most popular annual events, celebrates its 75th anniversary next year.

Originally founded to show agricultural produce, the event has grown over the decades and now includes pets, crafts, baking, flower arrangements, trade demonstrations, teas, music and much besides. Folk from all over the isles take part and this summer saw a record number of entries.

In honour of the occasion the show committee has brought out a 15-month 75th anniversary calendar, proceeds from the sale of which will go to show funds and to help with further field improvements.

“We have tried to include as many aspects of the event as possible in the calendar,” says show president Kathleen Sinclair. “There is a mixture of black and white and coloured photos, and it was difficult to decide which to eliminate.”

The pictures which were chosen make for a fascinating and beautiful archive, which vividly illustrates that if you are getting something right, although it may develop, it doesn’t need to change. Though hairstyles and hemlines vary the pride on the faces of the owners of prize winning sheep, ponies and cattle don’t.

Laughter rings down the years, provided by perennial favourites such as tilt the bucket and tug of war. One of the three April photos of flowers, field and garden produce bears witness to the courage and humour Shetlanders customarily bring to adversity: next to a cauliflower sheep is a notice which says it must not be moved due to the recent foot and mouth outbreak.

Annually, fiddlers fiddle, dogs, cats and hamsters are groomed till they shine, and Shetland’s ongoing love affair with home cooking continues undiminished: January 2011’s mosaic of jams, cakes and tablet is enough to get your mouth watering.

Fund-raising dance

A dance is being held tomorrow from 6.30pm to 9pm at the Carnegie Hall in Sandwick in aid of the kindergym.

The aim is that this should be a family event and it is, in fact, a result of the delighted reaction of two little girls, aged three and four, to a recent wedding. The peerie lasses were so taken with the experience of getting dressed up in posh clothes, and dancing along with the grown-ups, that they insisted on replicating it at home afterwards.

Inspired by this, the organisers came up with the idea of hosting an event along similar lines, intended for all ages. Accordingly, there will be live traditional Shetland music to dance to, and the price of entry includes refreshments.

Tickets are available from Ruth Holland (01950) 431293, Claire Adamson (01950) 431502 and Claudia Saunders (01950) 431479. They cost £12 for a family of two adults and two children, £4 for adults and £3 for children. Under-twos get in free. People can also call Ruth Holland for information about the weekly Sandwick kindergym sessions, which are for bairns aged six months to five years.

Ness school supports charities

“Shetland people in general are very keen on raising money for charity,” said Dunrossness Primary School head Lesley Simpson. “That makes for good role models for the children. Our pupils have a civic side. They take on board that others are less fortunate than themselves, and they want to do as much as possible to help.”

Recently this has taken the form of planting bulbs in aid of The Myasthenia Gravis Association, which cares for people of all ages who contract this debilitating neurological illness.

For a donation of £1 the children were given a narcissus bulb to put in the ground. They were also told how it will mature to produce lovely flowers for the school garden in spring.

“Everyone took part,” said teacher Gina Scanlan. “The older children were super at helping the younger ones and explaining what they needed to do. Mrs Rivett, a parent helper who has been involved in many of our Eco School activities, came to prepare the ground. It was wonderful to be able to improve our garden, educate the children and make money for charity all in one go.” The event raised £74.

The school will also be participating in today’s Children In Need event, with a talent show entitled “The Ness Factor” devised by the pupil council.

Each act will have a collecting pot, and the audience will vote by putting a donation into the pot belonging to their favourite. The act with the most money at the end will be the winner.

Cash will also be raised by a tuck shop run by the health committee, who last year produced special Pudsey buns.

“It is important that the children join in, and that they enjoy doing so,” said Mrs Simpson. That seems to be guaranteed!

Family bingo at Bigton It is eyes down for a full house at 8pm at Bigton Hall tomorrow, so why not go along and have some family fun? All proceeds are in aid of hall funds.

Introducing bairns to books

Cunningsburgh School has recently launched an imaginative new introduction to the world of books for its nursery class, in the form of Story Sacks made by members of the parent council.

Each sack is created around a story book, and contains props to go with the story, such as soft toys, puppets or items which encourage role play. Non-fiction books related to the subject of the story are also included, as well as puzzles or games that link in with it.

Parents and children were invited to a coffee morning, where they had a chance to look at the sacks and choose one together to take home for a week.

As well as being an enjoyable means of conveying to the children the pleasure that books can bring, the sacks are a great way to involve parents with their child’s learning. Although the sacks are now in use the project is still ongoing, and any parents who would like to have a go at creating a sack themselves should speak to a member of the nursery staff.

In another piece of news from Cunningsburgh School, the letters which the bairns wrote to their new, African partner school back in September have now arrived safely.

Head teacher Jane Husbands has had an email from her counterpart in Ghana, saying that the pupils there were very excited to receive the mail from Shetland and are now busy writing their replies.

Seal count

Grey seal counting has been taking place at Mousa as part of an annual Shetland-wide survey to monitor numbers and population trends.

Along with the adults, around 100 new pups of various ages from a day to four weeks old were registered in the isle. Karen Hall of Scottish Natural Heritage, which undertakes the survey, described Mousa as one of the most important pupping sites in south-east Shetland.

Ms Hall was eager to stress that if members of the public see any seal pups looking abandoned at this time of year, they should not approach them.

Parent seals leave their young for increasingly long periods before letting them fend for themselves, and to do so might not only mean a danger of getting bitten, but could alarm the pup and force it into the water before it is ready to swim. If a pup appears to be in any distress, however, folk should contact the SSPCA.

A fun and filling Hallowe’en

Members of Dunrossness Baptist Church’s youth club carved pumpkins, dunked for apples and donned ghoulish fancy dress for a fun-packed Hallowe’en night.

A meal of hot dogs, followed by apples coated in chocolate hundreds and thousands, resulted in a lot of sticky faces.

Cathy Feeny


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