The galley which will be the centrepiece of the final act of the Hamefarin has now been named after a competition judged by the Up-Helly-A’ committee.
The winning entry Siglaheim, meaning “sailing home”, came from 11-year-old Tom Ward from Tough, near Alford in Aberdeenshire, who has Shetland connections and will be coming to the Hamefarin. The name was chosen from around 120 entries.
As winner of the competition Tom will receive the nameplate from the galley, which is traditionally removed just before burning, and will also get the chance to throw the first burning torch into the galley.
Tom said: “It’s brilliant to have won. It’s a real honour to be a part of the Hamefarin. I am really excited and a little bit scared to be throwing in the first torch. It is something I will remember forever and I am looking forward to getting the galley nameplate. I will treasure it.
“The name of the galley was chosen by looking at words in Old Norse that have to do with returning home or sailing home.”
His mother Valerie, who comes from Kantersted in Lerwick and was at the last Hamefarin in 1985, added: “We are all delighted. Tom is very keen on his Shetland heritage and has been interested in Vikings since he was a peerie boy.
“He has lived most of his life abroad but we have always celebrated our own Up-Helly-A’ wherever we have been.
“Tom’s uncle, Mark Evans, is on the Up-Helly-A’ committee and so Tom will one day be in the Jarl’s Squad with his dad Mike and brother Rory, aged eight.
“Tom is studying Vikings for a topic at school at the moment. The children are in the process of building a small 5ft galley out of cardboard.”
The name Siglaheim was a popular choice, according to ex-Jarl Stephen Mouat, and is particularly appropriate as Tom is a Hamefarer himself who will be coming to Shetland with his family.
Stephen said: “The decision was fairly unanimous and there were a lot of duplicates among the entries. We basically chose [Siglaheim] because it depicts Hamefarin, it is also Norse, connected with the galley and easy to say and pronounce.
“We’re pleased it turns out to be a Hamefarer that’s won it, that’s fortunate.”
The galley is now nearly ready, he said, being “all painted up” with the shields fitted and just the head (made by ex-Jarl Roy Leask) and tail (made by this year’s Guizer Jarl Rae Simpson) to fit. It will go on show on Saturday 19th at the Johnsmas Foy, said Stephen, who would give nothing away about its appearance, wanting to “keep it as a surprise”.
The galley will go out in a blaze of glory in a memorable end to the Hamefarin, on Saturday 26th June, in the Viking parade to be held immediately after the Final Fling concert. Four hundred guizers will parade in a torch-lit procession round Clickimin Loch before buring Siglaheim on the water.
The galley posed a huge challenge for the Up-Helly-A’ committee as it had to be watertight for its burning on the water. They eventually decided the best way forward was to adapt an old boat into the galley rather than start from scratch. Earlier this year a boat was sourced from Lerwick man Danny Arthur and transported to the Galley Shed for work to start.
The committee members, aided by Eric Moncrieff and overseen by retired boat builders Jack Duncan and Robbie Tait, stripped the boat down but agreed it needed more length in order to look the part. The boat was duly cut in two and around seven foot was added to the middle, and decks, mast and oars were fitted before the painters got to work.
The naming competition was jointly organised by the Shetland Hamefarin 2101 committee and the Up-Helly-A’ committee.