Hundreds bid farewell to Janet Courtney Hostel at special reunion

Happy memories of the Janet Courtney Hostel were shared as around 300 people enjoyed a special reunion event last night.

Folk from as far away as Dubai made the trip to mark the closure of the much-loved building, raise a glass and see some old faces.

It has been a home to thousands of children from rural Shetland since 1947, and after the October break, pupils will move to the new Anderson High School and halls of residence at Clickimin.

This week the council was handed the keys to the £55.75 million project.

Among the guests was local lad and BBC journalist Phil Goodlad.

Mr Goodlad recounted his days at the hostel, and two bedrooms were opened for a trip down memory lane for former residents.

Former staff members who looked after many bairns over the years were also in attendance, including long-standing hostel manager George McGhee who spent 37 years working at the Janet Courtney.

Jennifer Nicolson attended the hostel from 2004 to 2006 and helped to organise the event.

“It was really, really good,” she said.

“It was a right good fun. We think around 300 people [attended], possibly more…

“We were reminiscing about all the stuff that we used to get up to when we were here.”

Some people had not been back to the hostel since they left in 1981, Ms Nicolson said.

Though there was sadness this was the end of an era.

“That’s why we were keen to have it in the Janet Courtney, because this could be the last time we really get to go inside it.

“It will be used for something else I think, but it will be the last time we will be in it as a hostel.

“It was the hostel, but actually it was home. That’s why it was so special for people.”

Ms Nicolson gave a special mention Gemma Jamieson, who was the driving force behind the event, she said.

•  Below is a selection of photos from the night by photographer Dale Smith.






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