Views from the Scord

Harbour activity

The main focus of events in the port of Scalloway was the grounding and subsequent rescue of the Buckie-registered fishing vessel Vela last Thursday. The early evening calamity, accompanied by the spectacle of the Shetland Coastguard rescue helicopter and a large assembly of shore based services and spectators, was in stark contrast to the relatively unnoticed subsequent rescue at around 11.20pm.

Her pair trawling sister ship, the Peterhead-registered Nordfjordr hauled her back off the shallows at Port Arthur with seemingly little effort and she was soon underway to Blacksness. The Scalloway harbour pilot vessel was in attendance for support and there were a small number of spectators evident at this late hour.

The defective navigation buoy immediately forward of the stricken vessel where she lay, and partially attributed for her grounding by the skipper, was repaired and back in service on Saturday once a break in the weather allowed the harbour pilot launch to moor alongside the buoy and safely deliver SIC electricians to address the fault.

As an interesting historical aside, shoreside discussions of the grounding suggest that the shallows on which the Vela lay is apparently an artificial reef, created by shipping in previous centuries pausing in the harbour approaches to deposit their ballast before continuing to the quayside to load cargo.

The harbour was relatively quiet for the remainder of the week, with the Ronja Settler making several voyages to harvest salmon for the factory at Blacksness. Scottish Sea Farms continues its program of cage repair and modification with 10 cages towed to port and lifted out for dismantling ready for reassembly.

The standby vessel Grampian Conquest called in early on Monday this week for a regular crew change, supplies and bunkers.

Mussel harvesting continues in the area with an approximate of 23 tons of shellfish brought ashore in the port in the week to Monday.

Fish landings were low in the week to Friday with the Aquarius, Norlan, Fertile, Valhalla, Alison Kay and Copious contributing to a total of 653 boxes with the Alison Kay landing the largest single catch with 264 boxes.

Jarl shearing

Scalloway was a lot less hairy on Sunday than it has been for some time and complaints of “cold heads” are common in the village this week. In a spectacular blend of entertainment and fund-raising last weekend, members of the Scalloway Fire Festival jarl squad were ceremoniously sheared of hair and beards in the Scalloway Boating Club. This event, along with accompanying events of the previous weekends, have led to an incredible sum of money being raised for charity.

The evening’s antics began with a crew of seven squad members primed for rapid hair loss and the winter chills thereafter. Jarl Michael Pottinger had been growing his hair and beard combination for over two years and the resulting coverage may well have been enough to warrant plans for the making of knitwear items.

With a team of four eager and expert hairdressers present to retain quality control in the end results, the squad men took centre stage two at a time with the jarl’s wife Cyndi Pottinger acting as MC and auctioneer to seek bids for all-comers to take a turn in the shearing. She brought punter after punter to the stage, squad members, friends and family of the volunteers to each take a turn with the clippers. Andrew Thomson and Alistair Fullerton were the first victims, followed by Sidney Nicolson and Kenny Pottinger and then Gary Garson and Davie Inkster, leading ultimately to the jarl himself much later after many other impromptu volunteers also took the stage for shearing, some keener than others. Worthy of special mention in the proceedings is Ronnie Leask, who after bidding £100 to keep his self-acclaimed hirsute good looks, was outbid by the squad and rightly scalped. Scaldin Bragg providing the musical entertainment later in the evening and even a band member succumbed to the “clipper fever”. There was also a large raffle held during the band’s break. Saturday evening alone raised an astonishing £2,800.

All the funds raised from these events are being generously donated to Edinburgh Sick Kids Friends Foundation as a token of gratitude for the support Michael and Cyndi Pottinger received when their youngest son Charlie had to be hospitalised in Edinburgh last year, which was the reason the fire festival was postponed at that time.

Reflecting on his time as jarl of the festival this year, Michael said: “It all went as good as it possibly could, there’s nothing that could be any better about it.” The running total of funds accumulated from Scalloway Fire Festival events now stands at £4,515.75 but there are a several sources still to come and the estimated grand total is thought to be nearer £7,000.

Definitely due a mention for fund-raising is Steven Umphray, who accepted a dare at the hop celebrations to don a Borat-style mankini and parade around the Boating Club, the reward for which was close to £1,600 in sponsorship and donations toward the same fund. As well as all the hugely generous donations from individuals, the main commercial sponsors that thanks are extended to so far are as follows: Hjaltland Seafarms, Malakoff, Enertec Renewables, East Voe Shellfish, LHD, Skelda Salmon, Scalloway Boating Club, A9, Hunter’s Fish, Ocean Kinetics, Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group, Shetland Transport, Scottish Sea Farms and HNP with the other possible contributors still yet to be confirmed.

New fire engine

The Scalloway Fire and Rescue Service now has a full size fire engine for the first time its long history. The fully equipped Volvo fire engine has taken the local crew another step up the ladder in terms of the service they can provide and the speed and efficiency with which they can do so. In the cab they have full access to Fire and Rescue Service control room in Inverness via both digital radio and integrated “Mobile Data Terminal” computer system.

The MBT allows them to send and receive messages about any incident while on the move, or on site, at the press of a button. They can even print off information in the cab while in transit. This extremely powerful computerised system allows Inverness to instantly assess what resources are needed for an incident and allocate them accordingly while the system also ensures that clear and accurate information is received by the crew to help them prepare for, and find, an incident. The appliance can carry six firefighters, four of whom can comfortably don their Breathing Apparatus within the cab.

The fire engine carries a vast array of equipment. They have a hydraulic ram and “jaws of life” cutting gear for road traffic collisions with air bags that can lift any weight of vehicle if necessary. There are two high-pressure hose reels on the tender, one each side. They have equipment to deliver foam for certain fire types. The engine carries a substantial 1,800 litres of water and the self-priming main pump can deliver to three hoses concurrently from the mains or a natural water source. The unit has an automated “Night Owl” floodlighting system on its roof that can provide a huge area of light for night incidents. They have portable pumps for supplying water over long distances and a huge range of tools for handling fire and rescues situations. The appliance carries a huge 13.5 metre ladder, taller than just about any physical structure in the Scalloway area, as well as standard three-stage and roof ladders.

Temp watch manager Andrew Hunter said: “This is a huge boost for the station and the community to have a full size fire appliance. With the amount of equipment you need to carry this is essential for us. It also makes training exercises much more interesting for the crew with the situations you can simulate. It’s brought a great moral boost to the crew.”

The Scalloway crew cover an area that includes Scalloway, Trondra, Burra, Tingwall and Whiteness, although they also provide cover for incidents in Lerwick and further afield. The new fire engine has attended seven shouts since it arrived and has already proved itself to the crew. They have been able to deploy faster and have the assurance, particularly for remote rural incidents, of having plenty of water on arrival.

The engine is currently housed in a garage belonging to Scalloway Motors at Gibblestone Road as it is too big for the existing Fire Station, but a new station is to be built in the park next to the commercial garage below the Scord Quarry that will be fit for purpose. “We look forward to the prospect of the new station,” said Andrew. He would also like to remind the public that they provide a free home fire risk inspection service upon request and anyone that wishes them to visit can either contact them directly or call the district office on (01595) 692318.

Blueprint meeting

On Wednesday last week a series of consultation meetings on the Blueprint for Education options were held at Scalloway School.

In the afternoon, officials from the schools service met school pupils and then staff. In the evening a parent meeting was held. Two options have been highlighted for Scalloway Junior High – one is to shut the secondary department and the other is to cut provision with children staying at Scalloway for secondary 1-3 but shifting to the Anderson High School to do their 4th year.

Karen Eunson, vice chairwoman of Scalloway School Parent Council, said: “I have spoken to people who attended each of the small group discussions and the feedback is overwhelmingly that parents are opposed to these options as they believe they will have a negative effect on their children’s education.”

Speaking after the meeting Parent Council chairwoman Gwen Sales said: “I would just like to remind parents that this is still at a consultation stage and this is their chance to express views. If they agree with us and are opposed to the viable options and would like to see Scalloway JHS remain as it is with S1 to S4, they should state so on the forms provided and return them.”

She added that schools service officials assured parents at the meeting that all parent responses will be considered when they review the options and that nothing has been decided yet. The outcome of the consultation process will ultimately be put to councillors to make a final decision on the future of Shetland’s education provision.

While this was the meeting for parents of children at, or soon to attend, Scalloway school it is also emphasised that parents of children who attend the rural schools that feed Scalloway’s secondary can express their responses on this subject when the consultation meetings are held in the individual feeder schools. The dates for these meetings are: Nesting 15th March, Tingwall 17th March, Whiteness 18th March and Hamnavoe 22nd March. Staff and parents/carers of pupils at those schools will receive their information packs approximately two weeks prior to the meetings.

Parents – and other community members – can also put their comments in writing to schools service at Hayfield House, Hayfield Lane, Lerwick, Shetland. ZE1 0QD, by email to or address their responses to the local community councils who will also be consulted as part of the process.

Mark Burgess


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.