April 2014 Move Shetland Newsletter

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Hi, I'm Alastair and I'd like to welcome you to the April 2014 issue of our monthly newsletter.

It's amazing the way that the weather changes the mood. With rapidly lengthening days and a sustained spell of dry and sunny weather around the beginning of the month, islanders definitely have a spring in their step. Indeed, Spring seems to have arrived earlier this year; I had to get the lawnmower out before the end of March, which I reckon is at least a couple of weeks ahead of last year.

On Tuesday nights at 9pm, many of us have been watching Shetland on BBC1 and the consensus seems to be that this second series is really taking hold. Quite a number of local people either became involved in the production as extras or in some other way; and many more of us are keeping a look-out for the folk we know, like the former colleague of mine who turned up as a policeman. The third two-parter begins on Tuesday 8th April and is set in Fair Isle. The series even spawned one of this year's April Fool stories, in which the series' Shetland 'fixer', the irrepressible Davie Gardner, was alleged to be heading for stardom on the strength of his brief cameo appearance.

Of course, we also have home-grown drama. Amateur dramatic groups have flourished in Shetland for as long as anyone can remember and, between them, they perform a wide range of work. Towards the end of March, I went along to Islesburgh Drama Group's production of Noel Coward's Fallen Angels at Lerwick's Garrison Theatre. The play centres on two women who, in the absence of their husbands, await the arrival of an old flame with whom they'd both been involved. Regarded as risqué when it was first staged in 1923, it made for a great evening, with Jennie Atkinson and Morag Mouat outstanding in the leading roles. The next production is the Christmas pantomime, Babes in the Wood. As always, the group welcomes new talent.

There was drama of a very different kind earlier in March when yachtsman Andrew Halcrow's solo westward circumnavigation came to a premature end off the coast of southern Chile. He'd rounded Cape Horn but was faced with a spell of appalling weather in which the Elsi Arrub was dismasted. A helicopter rescue followed, and we're all very relieved that he's now safely back home in Shetland. You can read the whole story on his log.

With these longer days, thoughts will be turning more and more to outdoor pursuits. The trout season is well under way now and anglers will be trying their luck, with hundreds of lochs to choose from. Walkers will be getting out and about and it'll soon be time to get dinghies and yachts ready for the season; most areas have a sailing and rowing club such as the one in Lerwick. But there's lots of indoor entertainment on offer too, for example at Mareel.

If you're thinking of joining those who've made the move to Shetland, don't forget that you can find all the information you need to plan a reconnaissance visit on our Visit.Shetland website. Check out our Visit.Shetland newsletter, too: Abby's last edition is, as ever, packed with holiday ideas and lots more information on events.

At Cruft's, Ragnar Takes The Biscuit

A Shetland dog lover is “absolutely gobsmacked” after collecting a trophy at Cruft's, in London, Britain's premier dog show.

Fiona Johnson showed Ragnar, a rehomed seven-year-old German wirehaired pointer, and he took the top trophy in the Gamekeepers" Classes at Crufts 2014.

Ragnar, whose full name is Trudvang Gyldenborste at Gyldearn, won the Northesk Memorial Trophy after going up against other class winners for final judging in the main arena.

Fiona was delighted. She said: “I am absolutely gobsmacked at winning. I feel like I could cry. Ragnar's previous owner fell ill and we rehomed him but he loves working and being a gamekeeper's dog. He is a veteran but you would think, with the way he bounces around, that he was seven and a half-months, not years.”

This year was Ragnar's first time in the BASC's Gamekeepers" Classes and Fiona's first experience in the Cruft's main arena, although, as we reported last year, she won several rosettes at Cruft's in 2013, thanks to two of her other dogs, Gunnar and Ylva.

Fiona was presented with the trophy by BASC's chief executive, Richard Ali.

The Gamekeepers" Classes are organised by the UK's largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC).

More Sports Coaching Available

Free coaching training is to be made available in badminton, football, gymnastics and golf as part of a Zero Cost Coach Education project supported by Big Lottery Awards for All.

Courses will take place over the next three months and spaces are expected to be in high demand, given that each place will be free to candidates. The aim is to help potential new volunteers overcome one of the barriers to getting involved in coaching and volunteering. It's hoped that more people, from all backgrounds, will get involved in leading and supporting Shetland sport in Commonwealth Games year 2014.

Three sports have already taken advantage of the Zero Cost Coach Education programme with new volunteers and staff achieving certificates in rugby, athletics and a netball course provided by Shetland Islands Council's Active Schools team. With the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup just around the corner, more coaches are required to meet the anticipated spike in interest surrounding these international events.

Carl Clinton, Community Sports Hub Officer said, “These are excellent opportunities for local sports people to extend their knowledge and skills by achieving sport-specific qualifications and attending personal development workshops. Shetland's Coaching and Volunteering Group are excited about the opportunities we are bringing to Shetland clubs and coaches with the support of Lottery funding and are encouraging people to take advantage of this year of free education.”

It's Spring Clean Time Again!

Shetland Amenity Trust has announced the dates for Shetland's 27th annual Voar Redd Up, with the main weekend to take place on 26th and 27th April 2014.

Originally launched in 1988, Da Voar Redd Up – which means The Spring Clear Up – quickly became the largest such community-based voluntary event of its kind in the UK, with over 20% of Shetland's population regularly volunteering for the event. Last year, 4,769 participants volunteered more than 13,000 man hours to collect over 68 tonnes of bruck from roadside verges, beaches and coastline.

Sita Goudie, Environmental Improvement Project Officer with Shetland Amenity Trust, commented: “What is achieved through Da Voar Redd Up is incredible, and we hope 2014 will again rid our landscapes of a significant volume of litter. Groups which participated last year should be receiving registration forms soon. For those who have not taken part before, or individuals who would like to join a group in their area, please contact the Trust or log onto the Redd Up pages on the website for further details on how to get involved.”

As well as providing an opportunity for the community to improve their environment, taking part in the Redd Up can raise funds for local groups through sponsorship, and businesses and schools can earn points towards environmental schemes and awards. Young Scot card holders can also earn points through the Young Scot Reward Scheme.

Shetland Amenity Trust supplies all gloves and bags for the Redd Up, and takes away all the rubbish (or "bruck") collected, free of charge. The event receives cash or in-kind help from BP Sullom Voe, Keep Scotland Beautiful and Shetland Islands Council.

Shetland Children Taste The West End

Shetland children from the ages of 4 to 12 will taste London's theatreland when a regular performer on the London stage runs performing arts classes in Lerwick.

Francesca Leyland, originally from Shetland, will present the "West End to Shetland" classes in Mareel, Shetland's new arts centre, at the beginning of April. The children will have the chance to dance, sing and act like real West End performers, with lots of well know musical theatre songs.

For Francesca, it's a welcome break with friends and family in Shetland, for she grew up in Lerwick. As a student, she was a finalist in the Stephen Sondheim Society Student Young Performer of The Year. She went on to perform in many shows in London and south-east England, including 'Les Miserables' in the West End and at the O2, and she has also appeared as a soloist in Norway. You can see her in this video, performing in a charity show staged by the cast of Les Miserables.

Francesca has been teaching young children across London for over 6 years now, achieving high success rates at the Stagecoach theatre schools, and has taught for Pineapple Dance Studios.

Performing arts classes for children have long been popular in Shetland. For around thirty years, there have been regular visits by Adam Darius, a New York-based mime and dance artist, and choreographer and dancer Kasimir Kolesnik. Hundreds of Shetland children have benefited from their teaching.

Shopping In Lerwick Rewarded With Poetry

Thanks to a project marking the Shetland Year of Dialect, poetry has appeared in shop windows in the centre of Shetland's capital.

The poetry on display has emerged from a competition that ran towards the end of 2013. Twelve poems were chosen and all are in Shetland dialect. Shops on Lerwick's main street donated prizes for the best three poems.

The display follows a very successful "Bards in the Bog" competition, which saw poetry displayed in Shetland's public conveniences and, later in the year, this fresh group of poems will be available in the same places. The initiative involves the Shetland Library, dialect group Shetland Forwirds and the town centre development project, Living Lerwick.

Morag Nicolson from Shetland Library said: “Bards is much appreciated by poets and the public. I think a project like this is a very good way to bring poetry out into public spaces and grab folks" attention. It's good to see that dialect writing is so popular and of such a high standard.”

The entries were judged by a panel from Shetland Forwirds, kicking off a busy year of activities and events for the group. Committee member Laureen Johnson said: "Wir been delighted ta gie a haand wi dis competition. It's been encouragin ta see da response, an da standard o writin. Whit a great wye ta start da Year o Shetland Dialect!”

All the poems from Bards on the Street and Bards in the Bog can also be seen on the Shetland Library website.

Shetland Brownies Celebrate Century With Giant Conga!

Brownies from throughout Shetland have participated in a giant conga, the first of a series of events to mark the centenary of the Brownies.

79 participants from eight Brownie packs throughout Shetland gathered in Lerwick and started their conga with a lap around the Toll Clock Shopping Centre before heading over to the Co-op supermarket to wind through the aisles. The following weekend, the Brownies held very successful Sunday Teas, with additional stalls and a raffle. They raised funds for further celebrations of what's dubbed the Big Brownie Birthday.

Anona Hughson, the Brownie Link Guider who is coordinating the Shetland events, said: "All the Shetland Brownies are excited about our Big Birthday and the events we have planned. The conga was an idea from our Brownies and it was a great way to kick-start our celebrations. The success of the Sunday Teas and other fund raising activities means we can now plan our other big events. We would like to thank everyone who has supported us with our activities so far and look forward to the events to come."

Shetland Brownies are linked to Girlguiding, which has well over half a million members throughout the UK. Girls and young women can be involved in Rainbows (5-7 years), Brownies (7-10 years), Guides (10-14 years) and The Senior Section (14-25 years).

Shetland Businesses Vie For Food And Drink Awards

Three Shetland food and drink businesses have come through to the final stages of the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards.

All of the businesses nominated are young. Frankie's Fish and Chips, established in 2008 in the north mainland village of Brae, has already carried off many awards, including the best independent takeaway fish and chip shop in Scotland and the second-best in the UK. Frankie's is nominated in the "Scottish Sourcing" category.

Jay Hawkins and Dilys Evans moved to Shetland in 2008 and their Shetland Cheese company began producing a range of cheeses in the westside village of Skeld in 2010. In 2013, they won a Great Taste Award for one of their cheeses. Another picked up a Bronze Medal in the British Cheese Awards Best New Soft Cheese category. They've been nominated in the Dairy section.

Remarkably, the newest of the firms to win a nomination, the Lerwick Brewery, produced its first beer less than a year ago, in June 2013. Its flagship Pilsener lager, 60° North, has been confirmed as a finalist in the Best Alcoholic Drink category.

Graham Mercer, Lerwick Brewery's Distribution Manager, says: “60° North has been attracting a lot of attention recently from both reviewers and retailers and we are thrilled to be announced as a finalist in what is one of Scotland's leading awards. Whilst the craft beer market is full of emerging dark beers, there are less locally-brewed Pilseners coming on to the market. We seem to have hit the nail on the head with 60° North.”

The lager-style, 4.8% ABV beer, available in Shetland and elsewhere in the UK, is named after Shetland's latitude: the 60th parallel passes through Shetland's south mainland. Sold in a 330ml bottle, it has no isinglass, so is suitable for vegans; it's said to pair well with a variety of foods.

We wish all these businesses good luck when the awards are announced in Edinburgh on 22 May.

Lerwick Waterfront On Shortlist Of Scotland's Best Places

The Lerwick waterfront, much of which has been revitalised and conserved in a project that began more than thirty years ago, is on a short-list of ten favourite places in Scotland.

The competition has been launched by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) in Scotland as part of the RTPI's centenary celebrations. The aim is to identify the top ten places that have been built, enhanced or protected by planners and the planning system within Scotland since 1914. 55 places were nominated.

Cath Ranson, President of the Royal Town Planning Institute, said: “We'd like everyone to vote for their favourite place from this impressive and diverse shortlist. We hope that in doing so, people talk to their friends and relatives about what they value most about each of the places, and that the discussion provokes debate about the positive and persuasive role planners have in creating great places.”

The Lerwick waterfront has evolved over centuries and the historic centre of the town is an Outstanding Conservation Area. During the 1980s, the Council's Planning Department began to formulate proposals for regenerating a run-down area just north of the town centre. It took many years to overcome difficulties over land ownership and road access but the area has now been transformed.

The redevelopment incorporates the award-winning Shetland Museum and Archives, the new Mareel arts centre and a business park offering a range of office accommodation. Pedestrian access to the waterfront has been improved and the historic Hay's Dock, dating from 1830, has been restored. The regeneration of the area has already won Scotland's top planning award.

Voting for Scotland's Best Places is now open and you can see the entries and cast your vote on this page. The winning places will be announced in June.

Shetland Nature Festival 2014 Programme Launched

The organisers of the 2014 Shetland Nature Festival have announced the programme for the 7th annual festival, to be held from 5th to 11th July.

The festival is organised jointly by Geopark Shetland, the RSPB and Scottish Natural Heritage but, this year, two new partners have joined to create a varied programme that mixes old favourites with some exciting new opportunities.

The team from Our Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh will be inspiring all comers as they explore Earth's 4.6 billion year history and the Clipperton Project will be running a series of unique expeditions of discovery aboard a floating laboratory at various locations around Shetland.

As always, there will be guided walks for all abilities. The ever-popular open days at the National Nature Reserve on the island of Noss and Sumburgh Head – an RSPB reserve – are included in the programme; both of these are superb sites for viewing seabirds. Other ways of engaging with the natural world also feature, such as Parkour sessions and snorkeling tours. Art lovers can enjoy an artist studio and nature trail, while craft workshops using recycled materials are also new for this year.

The full programme is available online at www.shetlandnaturefestival.co.uk. Bookings will be taken from 1st May, so nature lovers are urged to plan their week now and be ready to book.

Jobs of the Month

Jobs on offer at NHS Shetland include a pharmacy post and domestic support workers.

Vacancies with Shetland Islands Council include posts for a communications officer, ferry deckhands and an occupational therapist.

It's also a good idea to check the job sections of the Shetland Times and Shetland News.

Blog of the Month

For our blog this month, we return to BBC1's Shetland. Alison O'Donnell, who plays Tosh, writes about her role and her relationship with DI Jimmy Perez, played by Douglas Henshall...

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