Wir Shetland chairman John Tulloch has resigned to allow an isles-based person to take over the role.
In a statement to members, issued immediately after the close of polling in yesterday’s Scottish elections, Mr Tulloch said it had been a privilege to fulfil the role.
Mr Tulloch, of Arrochar, said there had been the “obvious communication difficulty of being Argyll-based”, which had become increasingly troublesome.
The group, which campaigns for Shetland autonomy, was launched in October and since then has attracted 400 members.
Mr Tulloch, who spent many years as an engineer at the Lerwick Power Station before moving south, said: “Since launch the group has grown rapidly to over 400 members and is already making a significant impact on Shetland politics, which is great.
“However, it is becoming progressively more difficult to lead it without living in Shetland. I have therefore decided to step down as chairman with immediate effect, before the start of the next campaign, namely the EU in/out referendum on 23rd June.
“Fortunately we have an able committee, now confident and eager to take on the task, so my time as chairman can come safely to an end.
“It’s politics, of course, and no two persons’ views are identical so, doubtless, members will notice differences in both content and style with the new chairman or chairwoman, whoever that may be.
“That is to the good. Much has been achieved, the group has changed and it’s time for a new leader to bring fresh impetus and new ideas to the fore.”
Mr Tulloch said he had been asked to help set up the group and that had been achieved.
He added: “It was an honour to be asked and a privilege to serve. However, my job is done and while I would consider helping again in future (if and when Shetland-based), I feel I’ve done my bit as an expat and it’s up to local people to drive progress from here.
“I hope that my departure will trigger an early restructuring of the committee, to expand it and provide a more even geographical and industrial balance.
“Lerwick, South Mainland agriculture and the North Isles, in particular, are currently under-represented. That needs to change.
“I would like to thank all those who have helped along the way. Without that help, nothing would have happened.
Wir Shetland vice-chairman James Titcomb will take over as acting chairman until such time as a new chairman is elected by a general meeting of members.
Mr Titcomb said: “The committee would like to express their thanks to John for the excellent work since the inception of Wir Shetland in October last year.
“John was the driving force behind the formation of Wir Shetland, and has worked tirelessly to grow the group to its current size.
“The Wir Shetland committee are pleased to note that Tavish Scott has been returned as MSP for Shetland. We believe that Tavish holds beliefs and pursues policies that match the aims of Wir Shetland closer than any of the other electable candidates.
“At the first meeting of Wir Shetland on 14th October last year the committee was elected from a membership of less than 50 people.
“We have grown nearly tenfold since that first meeting and John feels that it is no longer practical for him to take a leading role while remaining in his current home in central Scotland. John will return to full-time retirement immediately following this election and prior to the EU campaign intensifying.”