Up-Helly-A’ history as first female Guizer Jarl is chosen

Lesley is congratulated by 2010 Jarl David Smith.

History was made at the South Mainland Up-Helly-A’ mass meeting at Sandwick Social Club on Friday, when Lesley Simpson from Maywick was chosen as the Guizer Jarl representing Bigton and Levenwick for the 2015 South Mainland Up-Helly-A’. She will be the first ever female Guizer Jarl.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Lesley. “Various people encouraged me to consider being a Guizer Jarl, and I had a think about the idea and decided why not?

“I have long taken part in the country Up-Helly-A’s, and I thoroughly enjoyed this year’s first South Mainland one, which was a wonderful community event that I hope will go from strength to strength.

“I was in Bigton Hall helping to make the breakfast, and I helped make the evening meal there too. I had a fantastic time.”

Lesley is the head of Dunrossness Primary School, and another thing which clinched her decision to stand was the electric atmosphere there was at the school when the SMUHA Guizer Jarl’s squad visited the pupils.

“All the bairns were very excited, and the members of the squad told me that the whole occasion was really special to them.”

Lesley will join the SMUHA committee in 2013 as a future jarl. At the moment, however, her focus is firmly on the 2011 SMUHA.

“I’m not thinking about 2015. I am part of the South Mainland community and 2011 is Brydon Robertson’s year. He is the present Guizer Jarl, and all folk’s attention should be on him.”


Add Your Comment
  • Ted Knight

    • November 2nd, 2010 7:39

    In my view, the entire Up-Helly-A organisation is based upon a flawed Viking perspective.

    No-one could argue that the “celebrations” are great fun and a good excuse for a twenty-four-hour binge, but an honest representation of Shetland’s Viking hisory it is not.

    I imagine that the remoteness of Shetland might have something to do with this child-like clinging to a Viking history, but if one considers the entire Viking story which covers the entire eastern seaboard of the UK, Ireland and beyond, it begs the question of WHY these celebrations are virtually exclusive to Shetland?

    I have discussed this with various historians and archivists based on Shetland, and, by a large majority, they agree with me that Up-Helly-A is a spurious (though entertaining) representation of the Viking presence upon Shetland.

    But now, it seems, along with the Sisters’ onward progress, we have a female Viking warrior to contend with.



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