North Mainland Notes

Sisters launch community shop

“Excited, exhausted and emotional.” This described how I was feeling last Thursday when the Hillswick Shop re-opened after the community buy-out in July this year. As project officer for the Northmavine Community Development Company (NCDC), I’d played a small part in the valiant community effort to get the business up and running again, and it was with much pride – and the odd tear – that I listened to the splendid speeches that marked the “official” opening.

Hillswick Shop Ltd was officially launched by local sisters Anna Irvine and Janette Sandison. Both women have a lifetime’s association with the shop, and the committee was delighted that they accepted the invitation to cut the ribbon and open the shop.

NCDC chairwoman Margaret Roberts welcomed a capacity crowd and outlined the oft-times roller coaster ride the company faced in purchasing the shop on behalf of the community.

She thanked the Highlands and Islands Enterprise community land unit for the essential additional funding of £50,000 to help buy the buildings and recognised the additional help with refurbishment costs from Shetland Islands Council. She also paid tribute to the tremendous voluntary effort from local folk that ensured such a speedy and professional refurbishment.

Hillswick Shop board of directors chairman John Alex Cromarty reinforced much of what Margaret had said and also gave a special thanks to all the helpers and folk who had donated money over the past four months. Vice-chairman Peter Sinclair also highlighted the tremendous community effort – and jokingly complained about often being conned into “peerie” painting jobs by a certain boilersuit-clad project officer at 11pm.

The highlight of the evening was a tremendous speech by Anna during which she emphasised the fact that the entire community now own the shop and, although the refurbishment group have delivered a first class facility, it is now up to everyone to support the shop to ensure it succeeds.

The ribbon was cut by Janette and she declared the shop to be officially open for business. I would also like to say a special thanks to Jenna Mowat for the beautiful gifts she presented to me on behalf of the committee.

I’d also add that it’s amazing what can happen in a community when folk get together. Here’s to the next project – noo whar’s me boilersuit!

Turbine may turn again

Shetland Islands Council is now looking to recommision the ill-fated wind turbine at Urafirth Primary School with a downsized version. Before any final decisions are taken regarding the project, local people will have a chance to air their views.

The original 15kw turbine was taken out of action four years ago following safety concerns. After investigations and discussions with turbine manufacuters Proven, a decision has been taken to replace the 15kw machine with a 6kw turbine. The smaller machines have run at a number of community buildings throughout Shetland with little trouble over the past few years.

The SIC is committed to consult with the wider community surrounding Urafirth Primary School before plans progress and discussions will include issues relating to safety and location. Information from the SIC working folder for the recommissioning of the Lunnasting turbine is currently available at the school. A public meeting is to be arranged soon and will be advertised locally.

Vidlin Christmas carol concert

Such was the popularity of the Christmas carol concert in the Vidlin hall last year that folk struggled to find a seat – so you’re advised to go early this year.

The concert takes place on Wednesday and doors open at 6.30pm for a 7.30pm start. The wide and varied programme will include pieces from The Wisharts, Vidlin SWRI, Lunnasting Primary School, Loris MacDonald, Cheryl Goodlad, Stewart Grains and Isobel Jamieson, Roland Dawson, Margaret Robertson and Lorna Hughson, Margaret Sandison and Chris Burton.

Tea and homebakes will be available and donations at the door would be gratefully received to assist the Vidlin Methodist Chapel.

Flu jab reminder

Dr Bowie and the team at Hillswick Health Centre would like to remind any patient who has not yet received their winter flu jab to contact the practice or pop along.

It is especially important that those over 65 or with certain chronic underlying health conditions receive the injection. For more information call (01806) 503277.

Powerdown help needed

Northmavine powerdown officer Colin Dickie, employed by Northmavine Community Development Company, is getting some very useful results from his home energy audits locally.

Although many houses are fairly well insulated, most people are increasingly concerned over the increasing cost of heating. Colin’s tailored reports allow householders to see exactly where they are using electricity and how much they are wasting.

He said: “By taking a free loan of our energy meters, people can see for themselves which appliances are using the most electricity, which are essential and which are not. I can also give a breakdown of where the heat escapes from each individual house, and recommend steps to help reduce losses.”

As a result of the home energy audits, some people in Northmavine have already taken advantage of insulation grants and this has made a huge impact on their living conditions. Grant levels vary, but can be as much as 100 per cent in some cases, so they are well worth looking into.

Other simple measures, like using thick curtains to cut down on drafts and heat loss from windows, is having a significant impact on people’s comfort and on their pocket.

The success of this project to date, has resulted in much more work than anticipated and Colin is getting bogged down in writing up reports, as well as progressing other exciting projects. He is therefore looking for some part-time help to get round more houses and clear his backlog. Training will be provided and competitive rates paid. Anyone interested should contact Colin at the NCDC office on (01806) 544222.

Emergency meeting

The Mossbank Public hall will hold an emergency general meeting in the new year after the committee was unable to attract a sufficient number of office-bearers to take up the vacant posts created at the annual general meeting last Wednesday.

Members standing down from the posts are keen to help anyone who may wish to take over, and the committee feel that it is important to have a wide selection of folk on board to help spread the load.

The date of the emergency meeting will be advertised in the new year, but if anyone is interested in getting involved and would like further information, they can contact Heather on (01806) 242986, Maureen on 242711 or Kathleen on 242544.

Final road grant reminder

Anyone who has not yet returned receipted invoices for road grants from Northmavine Community Council, is asked to do so by Friday 11th December at the latest. All documents should be returned to the office at Greenbrae, South Collafirth, Ollaberry.

Maree Hay


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