Isles Views

Basketmaking workshop

For anyone with an interest in basketmaking there is a great opportunity to improve knowledge and skills at a workshop to be held in the Sellafirth Hall on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st March from 10am until 5pm each day. The classes will be run by Lois Walpole and Jeanette Nowak.

Mrs Novak, affectionately known as Peanuts, needs no introduction to anyone in Shetland. She is multi-talented, being hugely skilled in many different crafts but perhaps best known as an artist with wonderful portraits being a speciality.

Dr Walpole is arguably the doyen of basketmakers. She has a great string of qualifications too numerous to mention, and she is on the Index of Selected Makers at the UK Crafts Council, a Yeoman Member of the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers, to mention only two of many important associations.

She is also a part-time lecturer at the London College of Furniture as well as at many other colleges and universities. She has strong Shetland connections and comes from a family with a history of military service. She is married to the artist JJ Ignatius Brennan who, in turn, has strong Irish connections.

Dr Walpole’s grandmother, Elizabeth Catherine Tulloch, was born in the Haa of Midbrake in Cullivoe and she was married for no less than 72 years to Captain G J Potter of the Royal Army Medical Corps, one of the first soldiers to enter Belsen Concentration Camp in 1945. Dr Walpole’s father Ken is an army man too with a long and distinguished career; he held the rank of colonel before he retired.

Her brother Peter is a senior naval officer, a veteran of the Falklands War where he was serving on HMS Sheffield when she was devastated by an exorcet missile.

Nowadays Dr Walpole and her husband John live in south-west France but spend a slice of every year in the holiday house in Yell. Her mother and father, Irene and Ken, come here too for holidays.

For the workshop itself, the technique of twining is the theme. This is how the traditional oat straw kishie was made but twining has a wide potential for making baskets and bags out of found, natural and recycled, materials. Indeed many different materials can be used and all this will be explored.

Dr Walpole says this technique is particularly suitable for soft or fine materials and therefore lends itself to grasses, leaves, yarns, ropes, wool, fabric and plastic bags.

No experience is necessary but to find out more contact Dr Walpole on (01957) 702345 or at or Mrs Nowak on (01957) 702485 or at

Hamefarin in Unst

Unst Heritage Centre is planning events and displays for the forthcoming Hamefarin.

Unst, in common with other isles, has suffered depopulation, and this is quite marked especially in the time from the First World War.

The heritage centre has a set of drawings of all the vod houses in Unst and has prepared a portfolio to display them in.

The organisers are also setting up a display of “sent hom” items including a wedding dress, made from silk, sent home during the First World War.

Rhoda Hughson of the Heritage Centre says that most poignant are the quotes from letters sent home by a young man who was in the Royal Navy and serving in Gibraltar.

“24/12/16, HMS Welford. Glad to get your letter and Christmas card. My first Christmas at sea.”

In May 1918 the same man wrote: “Well Jamie got wounded already poor fellow, a great thing at least he is still living, many a poor fellow is not.”

In November 1918 he wrote: “Well, the war is finished, the best news for a long time … being kept till things settle down … very busy times right up to the last, and some dirty times too … but God be thanked it is all over now and hope we never see another.”

Two guided walks are also being planned, one “alang the hill dyke” at Sandwick following on from research done on AT Cluness, and one “a walk wi da gutting lasses” along the Baltasound shore and through the foundations of huts lived in by the gutters. There is a guided tour and a self guided tour with a booklet.

Thunderbolt for Unst

Sustainable transport for Shetland came another step closer last week with the procurement of an electric scooter for the Community Powerdown officer in Unst, Mike Smith. With a remit to reduce the island’s reliance on fossil fuels, Mike will now be able to go about his daily business without producing carbon emissions, while raising awareness of this more environmentally friendly way to travel.

The scooter, an S4 Thunderbolt, was supplied by Charge Limited based in Edinburgh, and been funded by the Shetland Islands Council’s economic development unit and the government’s Climate Challenge Fund.

With the kind permission of the inter-islands ferries service and NorthLink Ferries, Mike will be able to charge the scooter while on both ferry services, thus allowing him to attend meetings throughout Shetland and further afield. The scooter has a range of up to 100 miles when fully charged.

The Community Powerdown project is a consortium of 25 community groups throughout Scotland whose remit is to reduce our carbon footprint and encourage behavioral change with regards to energy awareness and usage.

Unst’s electric scooter project will add to the many other communities already investigating sustainable transport systems, ranging from electric scooters and quads to cars and community minibuses. It will also form the basis of Unst’s participation in the Shetland-wide Sustainable Transport Demonstration Project, run by the council, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and Community Energy Scotland.

This demonstration project will see the establishment of an electrical charging infrastructure throughout the islands in a bid to make electrical transport a reality for Shetland.

At the end of the Powerdown programme, on 31st March 2011, it is proposed that the Unst scooter will be used as a research and development vehicle in partnership with renewable energy company, Pure Energy Centre in the development of hydrogen-based transport system for the island. If anyone would like any further information on the scooter or any part of the transport project, contact Mike on 07966 056884 or at

Yell Health Centre

The Yell Health Centre currently closes for staff training every Thursday afternoon from 2pm.

All the other practices in Shetland close on a Wednesday afternoon and therefore it is felt appropriate for the Yell practice to fall into line with the rest of the Shetland practices.

Many educational activities and meetings take place on Wednesday afternoons and staff in Yell will be better placed to take advantage of those activities. Currently an antenatal clinic is held on a Wednesday afternoon and this will be switched to Thursday afternoons. With the changes Dr Briscoe will work on Thursday afternoons and Dr Aquilina on Wednesday afternoons.

The Yell practice want patients to be assured that those alterations will not in any way affect the number of patient appointments that the Yell Health Centre offers. The morning surgeries on Wednesdays and Thursdays will continue unaltered.

The changes have been fully discussed with NHS Shetland and Yell Community Council and all are fully supportive of the changes. The changes will take effect from Monday.

New ferry information

The SIC ferry services has launched a new passenger information service, which is now up and running.

Anyone can now subscribe to receive free “real-time” SMS text and email service status updates.

The new system will inform subscribers of delays and cancellations as well as letting folk know when services are returning to normal. The subscription pages can be accessed at

People can subscribe to SMS text and/or emails and to as many routes as they wish. When you subscribe select a user name and password – this will allow you to update your mobile/email and route selection. The text message format is 160 characters maximum and is broken into seven sections.

This new service has experienced one teething problem, as it seems that around one in 10 folk have had trouble in subscribing. David Polson of infrastructure services is keen to clear this up.

To help everyone subscribe and to help resolve the issue will anyone not receiving a confirmation page after subscribing please contact David at

Careers officer in Whalsay

Careers Scotland senior adviser Linda Robertson will be in Whalsay on Monday.

She will be available for one-to-one interviews in the Whalsay Learning Centre from 2.30pm till 6.30pm.

To book an appointment call the Whalsay Learning Centre on (01806) 566729.

Lawrence Tulloch


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