Isles Views

Powerdown officer

The Bluemull Development Company is in the process of applying for funding for a powerdown officer for Yell.

This post would employ someone to promote awareness of, and sustain, long-term carbon reduction and energy-saving activities by collecting information and building an energy action plan for the community. The post will help to reduce the use of energy and, therefore, ongoing costs.

The Climate Change Fund states that the post must be community-led and requires it to be shown that the community has specifically asked for a powedown officer, and this feedback has to be included in the application deadline for the first week of January.

Jackie Smiles of the Bluemull Development Company points out that the timescale is very tight and she would kindly ask Yell folk to take the five minutes required, she has timed it, to complete the community feedback form which would help to get Yell ahead of the game in the area of energy consumption and savings to individuals and to the community.

Rather than calling a community consultation regarding a powerdown officer for Yell which would take time, money and, of course, more fuel costs please take the five minutes to complete the survey form. It could make all the difference to the success of the application.

The form can be found at As well as passing on season’s greetings Jackie asks that everyone forwards this to as many friends and interested folk as possible. She will also take surveys over the phone if folk want to call the office. She will call them back for a two-minute survey and she very much hopes to meet the tight deadline.

Skerries guild

The Skerries Women’s Guild has done it again! They had a “big Christmas sing” on Sunday 13th and a bring and buy sale and a total of £700 was raised.

They sang along with folk all around the UK who were pledged to sing that day and proceeds will go to Christian Aid.

Jean McBride says they feel that this must be a very substantial effort in such peerie islands and they are proud to be able to make this contribution to such a worthy cause.

Card deliveries

North Isles youth worker Lesley Gray would like to thank everyone who took part in the North Isles Youth Club Christmas card delivery.

All the young people and parents have gathered together over the past week in local schools and halls and have managed to work their way through approximately 17,300 cards.

The cards were sorted into households and then hand-delivered to local businesses and homes, raising a staggering £1,700 for the local youth clubs.

Lesley says that the youngsters have learned many things in the Christmas card sorting from people’s surnames to geographic areas plus much more.

To Edinburgh and back

The Netherbow Centre in Edinburgh is the headquarters and the most prestigious storytelling venue in Scotland.

The director and driving force is Donald Smith who, over the years, has given many a would be storyteller, including myself, the opportunity to perform on stage and face a discerning audience.

Each Yule time they have a “Yule Night” and I was proud, indeed, to be asked to be the principal storyteller this year. Judy Patterson, a fine storyteller from Fife, was to be my partner and Donald also asked Danny Jamieson from Yell, nowadays a civil servant who is among other things an advisor to justice minister Kenny Macaskill, to come along as a fiddle player.

It is somewhat unusual for Margaret to accompany me on such adventures but she did so this time and after meeting Danny we all had dinner together. The following day our friends Tom Muir and Sheila Faichney joined the party.

The Yule Night itself went extremely well, there was a large audience and the event was expertly hosted by Donald himself and I was given the honour of sitting in the magnificent chair that was commissioned in memory of the great traveller storyteller Duncan Williamson.

Danny played tunes that were in keeping with the occasion like Christmas Day in the Morning. Donald sang a song that he had heard from the late great Stanley Robertson, and I started by telling a ghost story about Windhouse that I had heard from Brussie Henderson.

Judy told, among other things, the story of the Muckle Maester Stoor Wirm. I felt that this was a very brave thing to do in the presence of Tom Muir who has made this story his own. But she told it well.

The following evening the action shifted to the “Guid Crack Club”. This is to found upstairs in the Waverley pub just across the road from the Netherbow. Here the guest was another old friend, storyteller and harp player Heather Yule. Her performance was hugely appreciated.

Donald was to host this gathering as well but he was called away to be with an aunt who had been taken ill. He asked Tom to stand in for him and this he did really well. He did tell a story but never sought to hog the show and he even asked me to tell a story.

Sooner than we wanted to we had to say goodbye to all our friends. Tom is off to Norway for Christmas and New Year while Sheila has gone home to Brechin and will be with family and friends. Heather is working over the holiday period but she will, when she can, join her boatbuilding husband, Davie, deep in the beautiful West Highlands.

We made our way to the airport on Saturday forenoon for the flight timed for 1.50pm and this was when the adventure became something of an epic. A snow shower delayed the take off and our aircraft had to take its place in a queue for de-icing.

When we descended on the approach to Sumburgh there was a very lumpy period and a few minutes later another short turbulent area. This should have been a clue. We were climbing again and the captain announced that because of conditions we were returning to Edinburgh. We had only been five minutes away from landing.

On arrival back in Edinburgh we were offered accommodation and transport. The folk who lived in Edinburgh were sent home by taxi. Over 20 of us were booked into a city centre hotel and given a £20 voucher for dinner.

In the morning there was no time for breakfast at the hotel – we were taken back to the airport and our flight was scheduled for 9am. This time came and went and many were phoning Shetland for news of the weather conditions. News coming to us did not always tell the same story but it seemed that nothing was going to happen before the runway at Sumburgh was cleared of snow.

There was considerable confusion and misunderstanding when the flight scheduled to go to Shetland at 9.50am took the passengers on board. Some of the folk in our group felt that we had been sidelined but eventually our turn to board came and we were on our way home.

During this whole period we had, I felt, been well looked after but I also know from long experience that nothing, at an airport, happens quickly and on this occasion a little more up to date information would have prevented the anger expressed by a few of the passengers.

Not everyone is an experienced traveller and it is, no doubt, easy for harrassed airport staff to assume that everyone understands the way that delays are handled. As it turned this journey had one last sting in its tail.

When we landed at Sumburgh, the seatbelt sign was switched off and the door opened but we were not allowed to leave the aircraft. Another aircraft was on the move on the tarmac and we had to stand in the aisle of our plane for about 10 minutes until the way was clear.

Trustees appointed

At the annual general meeting of the Old Haa a total of five trustees were appointed.

Appointed on the night were Derek Walsh, Eddie Pugh and Charlie Inkster while another two expressed an interest but they could not attend on the night.

One is Patricia Odie from Burravoe who lives only a short distance from the Old Haa and the other is Cass Slater from North-a-Voe.

This means that the Old Haa now has a full compliment of trustees to carry forward the work of this tourist attraction and place that is a very considerable asset to the Island of Yell.

Happy Christmas

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my readers a Happy Christmas. Also there have been many cards, phone calls, e-mails and letters wishing Margaret and myself well in our new home in North Roe. Thanks to you all.

Lawrence Tulloch


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