Early-morning rain cleared up just in time for the start of the South Mainland Up-Helly-A’ this morning, as Guizer Jarl Ian Bray led his squad on their rounds.
After carrying the bill from Sandwick Social Club to be erected ouside the the Sandwick Baking Company shop, the Jarl’s Squad made the short journey along the road to the Carnegie Hall for breakfast.
The morning visits began in Lerwick, with stop-overs at the Anderson High School assisted learning department and the Sound Primary School.
From there it was on to Cunningsburgh Primary School and Dunrossness Primary School, before heading to the Sumburgh Hotel for lunch.
At Cunningsburgh head teacher Wilma Sineath welcomed the squad, which in his ranks had plenty of her former pupils including the jarl.
The school hall was pinned, with P6 and P7 pupils paying their own musical tribute with a rendition of Boney M’s Disco, imaginatively changed to Smuha.
Children also had photos with the galley Spindrift.
The afternoon began with a visit to the Sandwick Junior High School, then the Overtonlea Care Centre at Levenwick and the Levenwick hall for tea.
The squad mustered at the Park Road junction in Sandwick for the light-up at 7.30pm and the burning at the Sandsayre beach.
It was a tremendous spectacle as the 400-odd guizers crowded round the galley before singing the Up-Helly-A’ songs and throwing in their torches.
Then, in flat-calm conditions and by way of a pulley system, the blazing Spindrift was unleashed down the ramp and into the water to provide a fitting climax to a memorable burning.
As Guizer Jarl this year Ian is portraying the colourful character Olaf Tryggvason, who features in the Heimskringla sagas which were penned in Old Norse by Snorri Sturluson of Iceland.
Olaf is said to have converted to Christianity and helping introduce the religion to Shetland, hence the appearance of Christian cross symbols on some of Jarl’s Squad dress.
• For a full report and photos see next week’s Shetland Times.