North Mainland Notes

Good luck Berzerkers!

The fruits of a long winter’s labour finally come together today as Brydon Anderson of Eshaness takes his place as head guizer in the Northmavine Up-Helly-A’.

Jarl Anderson and his Northmavine Berzerkers have spent long hours in the galley shed over the past few months, preparing all the aspects of their costume. As well as some traditional elements, the outfit features some unique and intricate additions like the beautiful spears each member will be seen carrying. Like most Guizer Jarls, Brydon has taken inspiration for his squad from Norse history. The Berzerkers were Norse warriors who are reputed to have fought hard while wearing a kind of shirt or coat made from the pelt of a bear during battle. A shortage of bears in the wilds of Northmavine in recent times may necessitate that Jarl Anderson and his crew have fashioned their battle coats from a more readily available native species!

The day will begin with the traditional unveiling of the galley and the proclamation in the morning. Both will be on display in the car park at The Booth in Hillswick. During the day the Jarl’s Squad will visit venues and schools throughout Northmavine, culminating in a photo session at the galley around 3pm.

The evening procession starts from outside the Hillswick Hall. Guizers should assemble at 7.30pm for light up at 8pm. The procession travels along the road, past Swarthoull, towards the loch at Urafirth where the galley is burned. Three halls, at North Roe, Hillswick and Sullom will be open to ticket-holders after the procession for an evening of song, dance and merriment. The visiting order of the Jarl’s Squad will be Sullom, North Roe and finally, Hillswick.

Good luck and best wishes to Jarl Anderson and his squad members for a most enjoyable Northmavine Up-Helly-A’.

Question time

The debating society at Brae High School has been busy recently, with a number of school events including an Althing Challenge and a visit from MSP for Shetland, Tavish Scott. Mr Scott was in the hot seat for a special question time session where knowledgeable secondary two and three pupils grilled him on a wide range of issues that are currently giving them cause for concern. The visit began with a presentation of certificates in recognition of pupils who had been successful in the latest Althing Challenge. Winner of the Althing Trophy was Drew Manson, with Declan Turner taking the runner-up prize. Certificates were also presented to Iwan MacBride, Rachael Smith, Joy Ramsay, Aron MacGregor and Shaun Alderman. Congratulations to everyone involved in the challenge. Then it was on to the questions. The students had prepared a number of questions on a variety of subjects. These ranged from serious issues like school closures and the current Blueprint for Education consultation, to light hearted subjects such as whether politicians should appear on reality TV programmes like Celebrity Big Brother. Students also queried UK involvement in Afghanistan, Scottish independence and MPs’ expenses.

Much of the discussion centred around the proposed Viking Energy windfarm project for Shetland. As Mr Scott pointed out, the final decision on whether the project will go ahead will be in the hands of the Scottish government but he went on to highlight the possible positive impact the development could have for Shetland and recalled the economic decline in the islands prior to the oil era.

Shetland’s population is now showing worrying signs of falling below 20,000. Mr Scott felt it was possible that the windfarm could provide jobs for young Shetlanders wishing to return home or remain in the isles. He also felt that people needed to look at the bigger picture, be brave and accept the positives. He acknowledged that there were those who felt the current scale of the windfarm was intrusive, but he also pointed out that there were concerns about environmental impact when the Sullom Voe oil terminal was being built. These concerns proved unfounded and and no-one now looks back and wishes that the oil terminal was never built in Shetland.

Mr Scott also noted that although tourism was an important part of Shetland’s economy, it provided a very small part of Shetland’s income. In comparison, the abundance of natural energy from wave and wind power and other renewable sources could provide a good source of income for the community and this should be invested in. Pupils at Brae High School would like to thank MSP Tavish Scott for providing some thought-provoking answers to some of the key issues of concern. Brae High Debating Society’s next question time will be a hustings event involving the representatives of local political parties contesting the next general election. My thanks goes to Brae High School pupils for providing this report.

District heating for Brae?

Sixth-year student at Brae High School Graham Farmer is currently involved in research into a possible district heating scheme for Brae. Graham is keen to hear local views from folk in the community and whether people would wish to join the scheme if it became a reality. I caught up with Graham to hear more about the possibilities and the sort of information he was keen to gather. “Initially we are looking at a district heating scheme which would include Brae households from Burravoe to Ladies Mire,” he said.

“The project would be community-led and we are currently looking at ground source heat pumps and/or biomass boilers to provide the heating energy. We’d like to begin by gauging the level of interest there might be in such a scheme for Brae, so at the moment we’d like to hear from anyone who would like to hook up to the heating scheme, should it happen.”

Graham added: “We would also be keen to hear of any ideas folk in Brae might have on heating possibilities and how the scheme could operate. Feedback is essential in order for us to progress the idea.”

Anyone who would like to be part of this proposal should express an interest in writing to the Brae High School Office by 5th March.

Great cure for a hangover

If you’re still feeling a bit fragile after the Northmavine Up-Helly-A’, why not exercise the grey matter at the Hillswick Hall on Thursday and Friday night.

This Thursday there’s a chance to learn or improve your 500 skills. The novice night starts at 7.30pm. On Friday the monthly quiz night takes place. Questions begin at 7.30pm and there will be prizes for the winners. Teams should contain a maximum of four folk and for anyone who still has a hint of the DTs, the bar will be open!

Sorry Val!

My humble apologies to Gary and Valerie (but mostly to Valerie!) for my slip of the fingers last week while typing Neil Doull’s phone number. This probably resulted in lots of phone calls requesting tickets for the Sullom Hall tonight. Sorry!

Maree Hay


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