Kildrummy announces ambitious plans for £20 million isles airline company
The year began with Shetland launching an official bid to stage the 2005 NatWest Island Games, which if successful would undoubtedly be the biggest sporting event ever seen in the isles.
An international venture which would untimately not prove so popular was Shetland Development Trust’s initial proposal to buy a large stake in the Faroese shipping company Smyril Line.
March dawned with a massive seaborne protest at Sullom Voe by the whitefish fleet, as the Scottish Executive announced a £25 million decommissioning scheme. Shetland fishermen, along with those throughout Scotland, echoed the words of Defiant skipper Magnie Stewart: “It’s absolutely no use!” The proposal was surprisingly defeated and Shetland MSP Tavish Scott, who had decided to back the executive, believing he could work from the inside to support the industry, announced his resignation as a junior minister.
Ken Beer of Kildrummy Technologies hit the front pages with his plan to start a new airline, Shetland Airlines Ltd, with Delting councillor Drew Ratter revealed as one of the directors of the company. Between £10-£20 million would be required to launch the concern, with three aircraft being leased initially. We are still waiting . . .
An epic civil case over vehicular access between Sandsound neighbours Jimmy Moncrieff and Keith Jamieson, following a two-year long legal wrangle, was begun in Lerwick Sheriff Court.
The conflict, which centred on the right to park and could result in a legal precedent, was such that the Moncrieff and Jamieson families, once close neighbours in both senses, were now at war with each other.
The trouble began when Mr Jamieson, intending to “square off” his garden immediately above Mr Moncrieff’s house, began building a new wall which greatly reduced his neighbour’s parking area.
Mr Moncrieff claimed that a settlement could have been reached two weeks before the case went to court if it were not for Mr Jamieson asking £26,000 for a piece of land measuring around 80 square metres, which forced him to pursue the matter to its conclusion.
Two scallop fishermen, father and son Davie and Ronnie Young, had a miraculous escape when their boat Kedana III sank off Fair Isle. “Go on your own – I’m not going to make it!” was non-swimmer Mr Young senior’s memorable instruction to his son, before he went under the water still holding on to the boat.
Ronnie had thrown a lifebelt into the sea and jumped off the boat but his father, a non-swimmer, was trying to wrestle a liferaft off the top of the shelter deck when the boat tipped over and the mast struck him on the back of the head.
A few seconds later he bobbed to the surface and Ronnie managed to swim over to him, but both men despaired that the self-inflating liferaft was ever going to surface. After what seemed like an age it did, however, and they managed to clamber inside.
The men set off three flares but it was thanks to a Fair Isle couple John and Betty Best that they were quickly rescued. Having risen earlier than normal and actually seen the boat go end up before it sank, they alerted the coastguard and the Youngs were picked up by the rescue helicopter.
Orkney and Shetland gained a new MP at Westminster when Alistair Carmichael successfully held on to the seat vacated by fellow Liberal Democrat Jim Wallace. The majority was a comfortable 3,475 votes over second-placed Labour, although the share of the vote fell to 41.3 per cent as opposed to 52 per cent in 1997.
The council was accused of being “raiders of their legacy to future generations” in the opening paragraph of the 29th June edition of the paper, having plundered the Capital Receipts Reserve Fund to meet an £18 million shortfall in spending. This one would run and run . . .
There were celebrations in July as archer Billy Finnie returned from the Island Games in the Isle of Man with not one, but two gold medals, and a milestone at Sullom Voe as the 100 millionth barrel of Schiehallion crude was discharged by the dedicated shuttle tanker Loch Rannoch on her 177th visit to the terminal.
One of the most controversial stories of the year was carried by the paper in August, when three empty containers of a horse-delouser called Barricade were dredged up off Scalloway. The organophosphate compound is completely illegal when used on fish, but widely known to be favoured by salmon farmers.
The salmon industry did not have its troubles to seek as a couple of weeks later Millburn Salmon, whose site at Mangaster Voe was the first to be infected with ISA, saw its cages devastated by an algal bloom, which later spread to other farms.
The isles got their first taste of would-be round-Britain sailor Stuart Hill, who arrived at Baltasound on his aptly-named 15-foot boat Maximum Exposure. “Captain Calamity” as he was tagged following a number of earlier lifeboat call-outs, some of which he claimed to be unnecessary, lived up to his name a few days later. He was airlifted by the coastguard rescue helicopter Oscar Charlie when his boat capsized in 20-foot seas 50 miles west of Shetland. Penniless and alone, he decided to settle here and, well, you should know the rest . . .
Two Shetland students on scholarships in New York told of their experiences on 11th September, when terrorists hijacked US aircraft and flew them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Magnus Bray, from Sandwick, was actually in an underground train below the centre when the attacks took place, while Fiona Dally, from Whalsay, had been admiring the views of Manhattan from the building just a couple of days previously.
Ironically on the day of 9/11 two elderly Whalsay men were recounting their experiences of World War II. Andrew Sandison recalled how his Merchant Navy ship was captured by a German raider in the Indian Ocean, and how he spent many months in captivity, first in the hold of a commandeered cargo ship and then in Somaliland in east Africa, before being repatriated.
His next-door neighbour Willie Anderson recounted how, after his ship was torpedoed in the Atlantic Ocean, he spent 15 days on a makeshift raft, seeing half of the 18 survivors die before the remaining nine men were rescued.
As the news of events in New York came through on the radio, Mr Anderson shook his head and said: “I don’t know what can be done about terrorism. We knew who the enemy was, but now it could be the person sitting next to you on the plane or the bus.” True words indeed.
The council decided to throw out a proposal, instigated by the police, to make it illegal to drink outside in Lerwick’s town centre. But we had not heard the last of this controversy.
It was a busy time for the council and, showing an unusual desire to bite the bullets, they decided to defer a decision on a new Anderson High School, along with the Bressay Bridge proposal, for at least another year.
The boss of the internet service provider Zetnet, Ghufar Razaq, expressed fury at Shetland Development Trust’s decision not to lend his company cash for technical improvements. Much happier were the owners of Hoove Salmon, who received £1.2 million to buy Papil Salmon Ltd.
A black Labrador named Lydia became the first sniffer dog to be deployed in the isles. And her nose was very successful, trapping drug abusers at Sumburgh and Scatsta Airports and at various Shetland nightspots.