August 2013 Move Shetland Newsletter

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Hi, I'm Alastair and I'd like to welcome you to the August 2013 issue of our monthly newsletter.

As always at this time of year, many visitors have chosen to spend time in Shetland and our hotels, B&Bs, campsites and camping böds have been very busy. Lots of cruising yachts have been spending time in Shetland, too; and, every few days, another of the dozens of summer cruise liners that call during the summer arrives in Lerwick.

There's been no shortage of things for either visitors or locals to do, with music ranging from punk heroes Stiff Little Fingers to the Scottish Ensemble's strings performing for, among other things, a tea dance. The Glusstonberry Festival, a sunny weekend of music and other entertainment held in the Gluss area, near Ollaberry in the North Mainland, drew well over 1,000 fans. By the end of the month, the Textile Festival was under way. Sporting highlights included some great performances at the Island Games - more about which below - and a solid 4-1 win for Shetland over Orkney in the Inter-County football competition.

Sightings of Killer Whales are common in summer and, as this BBC story explains, a family in the South Mainland had a particularly close encounter. But wildlife is all around: just the other evening, I spent a good half-hour watching a grey seal and an otter in the bay, just below the house. More Shetland wildlife was on show in the BBC's Countryfile.

The August diary includes Fiddle Frenzy, a week-long session of concerts and tuition, and other music includes a return visit from US/Canadian singer-songwriter Devon Sproule. The Summer of Sport continues with bowling, rowing and a triathlon. However, for many the highlight of August will be the annual agricultural shows in the mainland districts of Voe, Walls and Cunningsburgh and the island of Unst. These are great social events for the whole community.

If you're thinking of planning a 'recce' visit to Shetland, just a reminder that the annual film festival, ScreenPlay, and literary festival, WordPlay, both run from 31 August to 7 September. The programmes for both should be available shortly. The Blues Festival takes place from 13 to 15 September and the Wool Week dates are 7 to 13 October. Depending on your interests, any of these could make a good 'hook' for a trip.

Don't forget that our companion website, Visit.Shetland.org, has lots of information about what you can do and advice on planning your trip. You can also read our online quarterly magazine, 60 North and my colleague Abby's Visit.Shetland newsletter - the August edition is just out, and it's a good read!

Shetland's Marine College Wins Award

The NAFC Marine Centre has won the Aquaculture Supplier of the Year Award at The Crown Estate's Scottish Marine Aquaculture Awards 2013.

Commenting on the success after the award was presented at Prestonfield House in Edinburgh, Alan Bourhill, the NAFC's Senior Development Manager, said: “These awards are renowned for recognising "the best of the best" in the aquaculture industry, so we were delighted to receive two shortlist nominations, but to go ahead and win an award is a fantastic achievement for the Centre."

“I am very pleased that the innovation, professionalism and commitment to customer care shown by our aquaculture development team over the past few years have resulted in the award of 'Aquaculture Supplier of the Year'."

The Crown Estate's Scottish Commissioner. Gareth Baird, said: “Many congratulations to the NAFC Marine Centre. The winning entries displayed an exceptional level of innovation and responsibility in their approach to business and to environmental sustainability. Such excellence and high standards will help ensure the continuing success of an industry that is critically important to Scotland's coastal communities and local economies. With a record number of entries this year, The Crown Estate is proud to provide a platform to highlight the sterling work within the industry.”

You'll be able to read more about the work of the NAFC Marine Centre in our quarterly magazine, 60 North, later this year.

Shetland's Gardens And Meadows In Full Bloom

Shetland's meadows, roadsides, parks and gardens are wonderfully colourful in summer. Wild flowers are a particular highlight.

Shetland may have a climate that's cooler and windier than that in the rest of the UK, but that doesn't prevent us enjoying a kaleidoscope of colour over the summer. The meadows and roadsides are studded with a wide range of beautiful flowers, able to thrive in a landscape from which large-scale, intensive agriculture has been absent. Early purple orchid, red campion, bird's foot trefoil, acres of buttercups and dozens of other species always impress our summer visitors.

Gardening in Shetland undoubtedly presents challenges: two of the local books on the topic are entitled "The Impossible Garden" and “”Horticulture On The Edge”! But it's perfectly possible to grow a very wide range of plants, provided the garden has good shelter and that rabbits and sheep are kept at bay. The planting of trees and larger shrubs has become widespread over the past twenty years, and the shelter that they provide has made a real difference. The other very noticeable trend is the rising popularity of greenhouses and, especially, large polytunnels, allowing a range of fruit and vegetables to flourish.

Two Shetland Projects In Running For RSPB Awards

Shetland's long-running annual litter clear-up and a marine environment and tourism project in Fair Isle are among the finalists in RSPB Scotland's Nature of Scotland Awards.

The annual Voar Redd-Up (Spring tidy-up) is the UK's most successful litter pick. A testament to the strength of the community, it involves around 4,000 people or a fifth of Shetland's population. Each Spring since 1988, volunteers have cleared rubbish that has accumulated over the winter from miles of beaches and roadsides. Detailed records are kept and these show that more than 1,500 tonnes of litter have been collected over the years. It's a fixture in the Shetland calendar and there's no question that it's made a huge difference to the islands" environment.

Fair Isle is Britain's remotest inhabited island, lying midway between Sumburgh Head in Shetland and the island of North Ronaldsay in Orkney, roughly 25 miles from each. Owned by the National Trust for Scotland, it has a thriving community of around 70 people. Since the late 1980s, islanders have been concerned about trends in the marine environment, particularly in industrial fishing, over which they felt they had little or no influence, and the Fair Isle Marine Environment and Tourism Initiative (FIMETI), led by Nick Riddiford and begun in 1996, seeks to promote a responsible approach to marine management. The background to the project is explained on the FIMETI website.

The RSPB Awards recognise national projects and local heroes, working hard to protect and enhance the natural heritage. The shortlist represents a cross section of businesses, charities, the public sector and individuals working toward conserving the country's unique wildlife and natural environment. Awards in eight categories will be announced in Edinburgh on 30 October this year.

Business Network Supports Shetland Entrepreneurs

There are many challenges in developing any business but entrepreneurs in Shetland can benefit from mutual support in the Shetland Business Network.

The seeds of the network were sown back in 2009, when a small group who'd attended a business training course realised that they could benefit from keeping in touch. At around the same time, an adviser at the Shetland Business Gateway had come to the conclusion that a local business network would open up useful opportunities for mutual support. In 2010, the new network crystallised and the Shetland Business Network was formally launched that May, with aims set out in its constitution:

1. to offer support and advice to members in establishing and developing their business ventures, with special respect to the special and geographic circumstances of trading in and from Shetland;

2. to share non-sensitive business information and skills between members;

3. to lobby local council and government organisations on behalf of members;

4. to provide networking and support for local businesses.

The group has continued to meet regularly and has attracted speakers who have talked on topics as diverse as taxation, marketing and web design. Members have also stimulated a successful series of business networking events and promoted the provision of training in social media. They also have a website with active discussion forums and there's a LinkedIn group and a Facebook page.

If you're thinking of moving to Shetland to start or continue a business, the Shetland Business Network is one of the resources available to help you.

Scottish Government Announces Geopark Funding

The Scottish Government has announced investment that will support the Shetland Geopark, part of the UNESCO-supported Global and European Geoparks Network.

Speaking in Lerwick while attending a meeting of the Scottish Cabinet held in the islands, First Minister Alex Salmond said that he was delighted to announce funding of £280,000, to be shared between the Shetland Geopark and one in the north-west Highlands. "Geoparks”, he said, “are a fantastic place to investigate our rocks and terrain, to discover how our history has help shape the landscapes we see across Scotland today.”.

Brian Gregson, Chairman, Geopark Shetland, warmly welcomed the announcement. “It enables us to continue delivering social and economic benefits to the Shetland community through lifelong learning and geotourism. It also allows us to capitalise on the many development opportunities that result from being a member of the Global Geoparks Network, supported by UNESCO.”

A Geopark is an area of outstanding geological heritage. Geoparks use this heritage to benefit local people and promote sustainable development via tourism and education initiatives. Shetland has a remarkably varied geology, producing an astonishing variety of landscape and habitat, with some of the islands" cliff scenery being particularly celebrated.

Shetland Athletes Win 16 Medals In Bermuda Island Games

Forty-five Shetland athletes and officials brought back 16 medals from the Natwest Island Games 2013, held in Bermuda

For 2013, Team Shetland focused on eight sports: athletics, cycling, golf, sailing, clay shooting, squash, swimming and triathlon. Half-marathon runner Karl Simpson, flag bearer at the opening ceremony, has taken part in no fewer than five Island Games.

One of the features of the opening event is a water ceremony; each competing team brings water from their island to be poured into a specially designed fountain that flows for the Games week. Shetland's water carrier, swimmer Andrea Strachan, went on to win two gold and three silver medals during the competitions. Fellow team member Felix Gifford also won five medals - two golds, two silvers and a bronze - in the pool. Shetland's exceptional swimming facilities no doubt contributed to their success: as well as a large pool in Lerwick, there are another seven modern pools around the islands.

Emma Leask also had a very successful outing: she won gold in the women's 800m, setting a new games record, and collected a silver medal in the 400m event. Shortly after returning from Bermuda, she was asked to run for Scotland at an event in Cardiff.

The International Island Games were founded in the Isle of Man in 1985 and today include 24 member islands in, or associated with, the nine sovereign nations of Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the UK, plus the Caribbean. Twenty two island teams competed at the Games from as far afield as the Falkland Islands, Greenland, Faroe and Menorca, as well as several teams from British and Scandinavian islands. Shetland hosted the games in 2005.

Chairman of Shetland Island Games Association, Andrew Inkster, noted that it had taken “a lot of work and planning over the last few months to plan for this year's Games” and thanked everyone involved, including volunteers in the Association and local people and businesses who have supported fundraising efforts. The six-day games began on 13 July; results can be found on the games" website. Shetland finished in 9th position in the medals table, with the islands in the first eight places all having larger populations.

Jobs of the Month

There are several jobs on offer at NHS Shetland, including posts for an Oral Health Support Worker and a PA to the Dental Director.

Posts with Shetland Islands Council include a Specialist Social Worker (Mental Health); a Cleaning Supervisor and several cleaning posts; a Communications Assistant; an Environmental Health Officer; and several posts for Evening Class Tutors. Applications for most of these jobs need to be in by 12 August, some earlier.

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

Blog of the Month

Our blog this month comes from Logan Johnson, a 13 year old naturalist from the northern island of Yell. It's a well-illustrated record of his sightings.

View Blog