Bairns from Sound Primary School provided a warm welcome for the South Mainland Up-Helly-A’ Jarl’s Squad this morning, as the penultimate country fire festival got under way.
And the youngsters proved themselves to be in fine voice as well, giving a rising rendition of The Up-Helly-Aa Song as Guizer Jarl Brian Halcrow and his squad came to visit.
Later there was a chance for the youngsters to head outdoors in fine, calm weather, to inspect the impressive-looking galley Dynraust. The galley takes her name from the notorious rough waters in the Roost south of Sumburgh Head.
The visit to Sound – a number of South Mainland youngsters attend schools in Lerwick, and a trip to Bell’s Brae was also on the agenda – came as part of a full day of events and visits.
Cunningsburgh man Mr Halcrow, aka Ulf Bjalfason, said he was enjoying a special day.
“I’m delighted with the squad today and the weather. I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” he said.
“It’s all going on time so far. I think we got a good reception with our suits. It’s all gone well.”
He said the bairns had been in “fine voice”, which had made it all the more enjoyable.
Mr Halcrow added that going round the schools and seeing the bairns was what made Smuha so special for him, although he admitted he was looking forward to the climax of the evening, which will see almost 500 guizers visit halls as far afield as Gulberwick and Bigton.
“It gets everybody involved. I’m looking forward to the burning, especially,” he added.
Former Guizer Jarl Lesley Simpson, who led her squad two years ago, said she was delighted to be watching the event from the sidelines – although she does count herself among the dedicated squad of torch makers.
“It’s a brilliant day – it’s absolutely super weather, and the Jarl’s Squad’s costumes are just fantastic,” she said.
“We’re really looking forward to the day and especially the burning at night time.”
Recalling her own days as Guizer Jarl in the Smuha festival, she added: “We had a super day, and as this day goes on you just remember the things that happend on your own day, and things in your own squad. We just hope that this squad has as wonderful a time as we did.”
Also looking on was Sandwick man Ross Smith. Along with Mrs Simpson, he had a hand in building the galley.
He said he was a great enthusiast for the South Mainland festival, and had been to the every one of them.
“I’ve been here every year since Smuha started, in 2010. I’ve been with the galley every year. It’s a lovely galley – a really nice galley.”
Video by South Notes correspondent Gary Cape.