South Mainland Notebook

Quarff card delivery

We know, of course, that Father Christmas has his elves to help him out at this busy time of year, but in Quarff he can also rely on some young human helpers.

“Quarff children attend so many different schools that if they didn’t have a club to go to they would hardly meet up,” says Lesley Tait, treasurer of Quarff Children’s Club and organiser of the Quarff Christmas card delivery, the proceeds of which go towards club funds.

As it is, the club, which meets in Quarff Hall on Tuesday evenings from 6.30-9pm, offers local young people from five to 16 a whole range of activities to take part in together, including table tennis, pool and arts and crafts. It also organises outings such as trips to the Clickimin Centre.

The Christmas cards are delivered around Quarff between 14th and 16th December. There is a minimum charge of 15p per card but folk can, of course, opt to be more generous. Write the recipient’s name and the name of their house on the envelope, and either take your cards along to the club or hand them in to Lesley at the Clydesdale Bank in Lerwick up until 11th December.

If last year’s delivery, which raised £140, is anything to go by, there won’t be many letter boxes in Quarff that don’t have something popped through them by these alternative young posties. Though with bad weather and early darkness Santa can, to be honest, expect some grown-ups to lend a hand as well.

Supper dance at Bigton

It’s boogie night at Bigton Hall tomorrow, where supper will be followed by music provided by the Cullivoe Dance Band.

The popular Yell-based band has been going strong since the 1960s and is widely appreciated in Shetland and beyond. It was named Scottish Dance Band of the Year at the Scots Trad Music Awards in 2007.

Tickets are £10 for adults and £6 for children, and are available from the Bigton Shop on (01950) 422307.

Celebrating renovations

Ness Boating Club plays host to a whole range of events and activities around the year, including regular supper nights, carpet bowls, a dancing club and fishing competitions.

The club also provides berths in the marina, barbecues for hire and, in association with the Caravan Club, hook-up boxes for caravans.

Having altered little since it was officially opened in 1983, the main hall has recently been renovated. Double glazing has replaced single, and new fire doors have been installed, along with new ceiling lighting and heating, increased insulation and an air management system. The toilets have also been upgraded.

The resulting cleaner, warmer, more modern and energy-efficient setting is certainly something worth celebrating, and that is exactly what the club will be doing tomorrow night from 9pm till late, with supper and music from Scaldin Bragg.

A six-piece folk rock band, which plays mostly Irish songs, with a bit of Johnny Cash thrown in for good measure, Scaldin Bragg features guitar, fiddle, mandolin and vocals, and adds its own sound to whatever it performs in order to make it unique. Tickets are £8 on the door, the event is open to over-18s only and proof of age is required.

Please note that in a change to opening times the club will be closed on Fridays until 11th December, though it will open on Saturdays as usual.

Vision conference

Since April a series of meetings, held at venues around the South Mainland, have brought together members of the public and professionals from a wide variety of key areas, in order to discuss their visions for the future of the region.

Most of these meetings have taken place on Saturday mornings, but at the end of October an evening slot proved popular, as over 20 folk went along to Bigton Hall to consider the issues affecting agriculture.

Ronnie Eunson and Peter Dodge provided topics for discussion, and people then outlined what they think needs to be done in order to maintain and improve the situation for agriculture over the next five years.

Mr Eunson’s observation that “quality is remembered long after the price has dropped” was a good summary of the general conclusion.

Another evening session saw people braving appropriately wild weather to discuss the environment at Quarff Hall. They were rewarded with interesting talks given by representatives of Shetland Amenity Trust and Scottish Natural Heritage.

The very lively debate which followed saw a range of views expressed on a mixture of subjects from global warming to the nuisance of plastic debris. “I never expected these meetings to be so lightsome,” said one of those who attended.

The most recent meeting took place at the Bruce Memorial Hall, Virkie, on Saturday 7th November. Its subjects were leisure, recreation, art and cultural heritage. Over 20 folk turned out to listen to talks by Jimmy Moncrieff, Gwilym Gibbons and Bob Kerr, and to discuss the wide-ranging issues that were raised.

Questions such as how to keep Shetland’s art and cultural heritage vibrant and alive, and how to make best use of available sources, generated a large amount of discussion, which continued long into the afternoon.

The culmination of this marathon eight-month consultation, which has also worked hard to gather the opinions of South Mainland residents unable to attend the meetings, takes place tomorrow at Sandwick School.

A day-long conference from 10am to 4pm, entitled “The Way Forward”, will seek to gather all the strands together and come up with a final consolidated action plan for the future of the area. Everyone is welcome and a light lunch will be provided.

History group calendar

Members of the SWRI with their flower arrangements, schoolchildren and family groups, peat cutters, landscapes and a man who lost the use of his legs and went everywhere by horse.

Those are just some of the fascinating and moving archive photographs in Cunningsburgh History Group’s 2010 calendar, which is now on sale at £6 in the local shop.

It is appropriate that the calendar should feature the past activities of Cunningsburgh folk, for this is just the kind of thing that the history group is interested in.

Its meetings take place on the second Tuesday of the month from September to May, and anyone who would like to is very welcome to attend. Refreshments are served and there is always a good atmosphere.

Adverts of upcoming topics are put up in the Cunningsburgh shop, and you can phone Pat Christie on (01950) 477372 for further details. All proceeds from the sale of the calendar will go towards the group’s activities.

Up-Helly-A’ get-together

Committee members, galley builders, the Jarl’s Squad and quite a few others attended a recent get-together to celebrate all the work that has been done so far on next year’s first South Mainland Up-Helly-A’.

The event was held at Ness Boating Club’s boat shed, with pride of place going to the galley. A team of folk has been meeting once a week since August to construct it, and the main structure is now completed. It is made out of eco-friendly offcuts, which would otherwise have been thrown away, and its graceful form fills the boat shed with the sweet aroma of new wood.

The next tasks will be to paint it and to make the figurehead. It will also need lining, in order to prevent it from burning too fast. The name on the galley’s side at the moment is the nickname of the 2010 Jarl David Smith, but this is only temporary and David has chosen another name for the launch which he is currently keeping secret.

The fire festival looks set to be one of the biggest in Shetland, and it is already keenly anticipated. As a setting for the boat burning St Ninian’s Isle couldn’t possibly be bettered, and with permission for fireworks now granted a stunning spectacle is in prospect, especially if the night is still and clear.

Whatever the weather, though, if the get-together is anything to go by there will be merriment in abundance. The revellers enjoyed live musical entertainment, a lot of laughs and even the odd drink or two. They didn’t leave until the wee small hours.

If you are interested in volunteering to help, or would like to advertise in the Up-Helly-A’ programme, please contact Dale Smith on (01950) 431419 or email him at


Emma Graydon and Marghie West, who have been running the recent South Mainland Bookstart Rhymetime sessions, are pleased at the positive response they are getting.

“Emma and I are really appreciative of the support of the parents and bairns who have been attending,” says Marghie. “We are a friendly group and there is always room for newcomers. Our greatest compliment thus far has been a bairn saying ‘Again! Again!’ after one of the action rhymes. We were happy to comply.”

Parents and children are welcome to come along to the next South Mainland Rhymetime, which is at Dunrossness Primary School on Thursday at 10am. The sessions are free and last for 30-45 minutes. Their aim is to introduce children from birth to age four to the joy of books and stories. For more details phone Marghie on (01595) 745320.

Bar suppers and beetle drive

If you fancy a night off from cooking, there are bar suppers at Quarff Public Hall tomorrow, with a delicious menu which should please all the family.

The main courses on offer are fish and chips, burger and chips, macaroni, chilli and cheese baked tattie, and sausages and chips. For pudding choose between apple crumble, ice-cream sundae and cheesecake.

The suppers are served from 5.30pm and 7pm. Phone Helen Smith on (01950) 477655 to book a table. And why not stay on after you have eaten and let the bairns enjoy the prize beetle drive which starts at 7.15pm. Or you can simply sit around and have a gossip.

Gulberwick parties

Two Christmas parties are being laid on at Gulberwick Community Hall for pre-school and primary school children on Sunday 6th December.

The pre-school party will be from 3pm to 4.30pm, and bairns attending should be accompanied by an adult throughout. The primary school party will be from 6.30pm to 8pm. Snacks and refreshments will be provided at both and everybody is welcome.

The parents of Gulberwick’s primary six and seven children will be organising the parties, and any who have not yet been contacted about them are requested to phone either Edna Peterson on (01595) 690067 or Eileen Hunter on (01595) 696589.

Parents helping out are asked to be at the hall for 2.30pm to assist with preparations, and to remain there for both parties and for clearing up afterwards.

Parents of bairns who are going to the parties should provide a present, wrapped in Christmas paper, for each of their children who is attending. A spend of around £10 per present is suggested.

The presents can be delivered to the hall on Monday between 6pm and 7pm, or on Tuesday between 1.30pm and 2pm. If folk can’t manage these times they can contact Edna to make alternative arrangements. Presents will be labelled at the hall. There is a charge of £2 per child to cover the cost of the parties, which should be paid when delivering the presents.

Racing night fund-raiser

The racing night at Sandwick Social Club on Saturday raised almost £450 each for the South Mainland Amateur Swimming Club and Sandwick Football Club. All who attended had a very enjoyable time.

Cathy Feeny


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