Isles Views

Burravoe development

Burravoe and District Development Group has been given planning permission for a multi-purpose building and adjoining allotments. Group member Elspeth Clark says that this has been the culmination of three years of hard work by the committee.

The group initially carried out a community needs assessment in 2007 and a follow-up assessment in 2008. From there an options appraisal was done to look at the best way to meet the identified needs. This concluded that building a multi-purpose facility with adjoining allotments was the best way forward.

The proposed building includes an area for rental, for a local shop and post office and for a craft workshop to act as a base for local craft workers. There will also be a multi-use room, which among other things will be suitable for hairdressers and therapists to rent.

The group also plans to have displays on Burravoe’s culture and heritage throughout the building and a demonstration allotment linking to the crofting past. The remaining seven allotments will be open for rental by individuals and groups. Work is ongoing to ensure that the project complements the work of other organisations in Burravoe.

In 2009 funding applications were prepared and all applications have now been submitted. The group now has to wait to find out if it has been successful. The group would like to everyone that has supported and helped it, particularly with the funding applications.

New members to the group are always welcome. The annual general meeting will be held at 7pm on 9th February in the Burravoe School.

Corries’ remastered

As reported earlier, Dave Sinton from Haroldswick has been working to preserve and enhance recordings, stored on tape, in the Old Haa’s archive. Restoration is a big part of Mr Sinton’s work but he has been involved in another important project as well.

The folk group The Corries were extremely well known and popular in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. When TV came to Shetland in 1964 it was a single channel, BBC1, and of course in black and white.

The Corries were one of the first groups seen by Shetlanders on TV. In those days they had an Irish girl, Paddie Bell, who sang with them and they appeared on a programme called Hoot’nanny.

It was the so-called folk revival, and the programme ran for quite a long time. As well as the Corries there was a host of other big names appearing. Joan Baez, Julie Felix, Martin Carthy, Roger Whitaker, the Ian Campbell Folk group and with them the quirky, but very good fiddler, Dave Swarbrick.

Also appearing were Rae and Archie Fisher and all their sisters as well as some who got no further. The Corries went on to great things and they are best remembered as a duo, Roy Williamson and Ronnie Browne.

Roy Williamson was a woodworker and craftsman and he invented and made the combolins, the strange looking instruments that they played. They had bodies like large guitars but they had more than one neck and they were, in effect, a number of instruments all rolled into one.

Sadly Roy Williamson died in 1990 when he was 54 years old and with his passing the Corries ceased to exist as a group. Ronnie Browne still works occasionally as a soloist; he says that he could never take another musical partner. Nowadays he spends much of his time as an artist specialising in paintings of Scottish rugby scenes.

Roy Williamson will be remembered best of all for writing the song Flower of Scotland. This song has become the unofficial anthem of Scotland and teams representing Scotland – the national rugby union team, for example, use it.

Dave Sinton has long been a friend and he recorded some of the 14 albums that the Corries made during their career. They were all on vinyl and now the time has come to remaster and reissue them on CDs. Gavin, son of Ronnie Browne, through a company called Moidart Music, markets the CDs on the internet and had found this to be a full time job with demands from Corries fans all over the world.

Roy Williamson bequeathed the combolins to Dave and he has them proudly displayed in the living room of his house in Unst.

Ferry fare concessions

Important reductions have been made to the fares that young people pay on inter-island ferries. Currently it is the case that anyone over the age of 16 pays the full passenger fare of £3.40.

In future the same people will pay 40 pence only until they reach the age of 18. In the Isles this concession has received a warm welcome; a campaign along those lines has been ongoing for a very long time.

One predominant campaigner is Yell community councillor Laurence Odie. He too welcomes the news as being “a step in the right direction”. However he feels that those concessions do not go far enough. They should, he says, include all full-time students.

To retain population in the North Isles is the biggest challenge facing planners. To retain young folk is the most important aspect of all. With this, and the need for businesses to flourish and provide employment, affordable travel to and from the isles is vital.

Councillor Robert Henderson is a businessman and founder of the firm, R S Henderson, a company with a shop, ice plant, gas depot and a fleet of trucks. Mr Henderson is chairman of the SIC ferries board and is leader of those who want to see ferry fares abolished altogether.

The most powerful argument here is that if the Scottish government can afford to forgo the millions of pounds collected in tolls from bridges like the Forth Road Bridge and the Skye Bridge then it can afford to write off the income from inter-island ferry fares in Shetland.

No fares are collected on the Bluemull Sound ferries to Unst and Fetlar. Whether this was to be continued has been reviewed on a number of occasions but fares were never reintroduced because, leaving aside any consideration for Unst and Fetlar folk, the fact is that any revenue gained from fares would be largely negated by the cost of collecting them.

Fetlar trees

It was back in 2003 that the Fetlar Biodiversity Action Plan was written and it requested/identified a tree planting project. Consultations have taken place and James Mackenzie, Shetland Amenity Trust’s Woodlands Project Officer, has been to Fetlar along with North Shetland ranger, Rory Tallack, and others looking at possible sites.

Also involved is archaeologist Chris Dyer. His brief is to make sure that the best sites to plant trees have no archaeological implications. However Mr Tallack points out that this is a community project and they will have the last word in regard to sites and, indeed, if the project is to be taken any further.

Tai Chi, Zhan Zhaung, Qi Gong

This jaw cracker of a class is proving very popular in Fetlar and it appeals to young and old alike. The exercises are slow but beneficial. Many people have reported that they enjoy a good night’s sleep after a session. Tai Chi is said to have physical and mental benefits. Instructor Kim Dixon says that 70 per cent of the teaching is given to learning Qi Gong, translated into “energy work”. These are a series of standing, sitting, moving or inclined exercises aimed to open the energy channels of the body, which, with practice and over time, have enormous accumulative healing benefits to the body and mind.

Originally a famous Chinese doctor, Hwa Tou, followed animal movements called five animal play. He understood how wild animals lived and how they moved to maintain their body’s balance.

This practice was driven underground in China but still prevailed and is now used as a tool for healing a large proportion of people in Chinese hospitals. Hwa Tou felt that people had lost this natural ability.

This class takes place in the Fetlar Hall every Wednesday night. For more information call Kim Dixon on 0131 208 1597 or e-mail

Badminton tournament

February 6th is a big day for the Yell Badminton Club. It is the day when they hold their annual Restricted Tournament at Yell Leisure Centre. It will begin at 11am and everyone from Secondary 1 and up can enter.

Jackie Guthrie says the format is that the names of the stronger players get drawn out of a hat and are paired with less experienced players. To enter put your name on the sheet that can be found at the Leisure Centre, or you can contact Jackie on (01957) 702029. Please do this on or before 5th February.

In the evening the Mid Yell Hall will be serving suppers between 5.30 and 7pm. Yellicrack will be providing the music. It is intended as family night out and everyone is welcome, but anyone under 16 should be
accompanied by a parent.

Lawrence Tulloch


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