21st January 2020
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Linguistic expert and retired teacher Derick Herning dies, aged 86

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The long-standing chairman of the Shetland Norwegian Friendship Society, Derick Herning, died on Friday after a short illness.

Mr Herning, 86, of Lerwick’s Hayfield Court, was highly regarded for his linguistic skills.

Derick Herning compering a fund-raising concert for Shetland Tiger Fund back in 2012. Photo: Dave Donaldson

In 1990 he won a Europe-wide competition and the title Polyglot of Europe, by proving he could speak 22 languages.

Originally from Kirkcaldy in Fife, Mr Herning began his career in the isles in 1968 when he worked as a principal languages teacher at the former Anderson Educational Institute in Lerwick.

Among the languages he taught were German, Norwegian and Russian.

He enjoyed a long career, teaching generations of youngsters at the institute – later the Anderson High School – until 1995.

Mr Herning interpreted languages on behalf of the sheriff court, the police and fishermen’s mission, among others. He also interpreted for those onboard visiting cruise ships.

An expert ornithologist, Mr Herning, was vice-chairman of a local bird club as well as a leading light in the Shetland Field Studies Group.

He was also an enthusiastic member of the Islesburgh Drama Group and the Shetland Choral Society.

Mr Herning was also a member of Voluntary Service Overseas, Amnesty International and Shetland ForWirds.

A funeral service will be held on Monday at 2pm in St Magnus Church, Lerwick.

About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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  1. James J Paton

    I hope a lasting tribute/ legacy is planned by the SIC to this remarkable human being.

  2. Brian Smith

    Derick’s translation of Wilhelm Busch’s Jarm an Jeemsie into Shetland dialect, published by the Shetland Times in 1984, is a very accomplished piece of work. It should be reprinted.

    His linguistic skills were of course remarkable. I was once in Torshavn with him, and overheard a local journalist telling a colleague that Derick was Faroese.

    Derick’s political career was interesting as well. In his younger days he was a member of the Labour Party Young Socialists, and had amusing tales to tell about characters he met there. Later, of course, he became an active Scottish Nationalist.

  3. Maureen Millward

    I feel really honoured to have met Derick in Shetland a few years ago. He was a fabulous polyglot and I learned a lot from him. After meeting him, we chatted over email about all things languages. He was a huge influence on me. I loved hearing his stories of his travels and languages. RIP Derick.

  4. Graham Fleming

    Sometimes, but very rarely,the seed of the people of the tower of Babel times, walk amongst us, Fois dhut, fuamhaire mor mor,Fois dhut.


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