December 2013 Move Shetland Newsletter

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

November was notable for the number of awards and accolades which came Shetland's way. As always, there was lots of good music on offer, including some from a new project that I describe below. Audiences in Mareel's cinemas joined fans worldwide for the BBC's 3D presentation of the 50th anniversary Dr Who story and, a week later, had the chance to see David Tennant's acclaimed appearance in the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Richard II, live from Stratford-on-Avon. We also enjoyed the annual Craft Fair and Food Fair.

A couple of interesting exhibitions have opened, too. At Da Gadderie in the Shetland Museum and Archives, Anne Bain and Mike Finnie have put together an engaging display of 85 paintings that feature many of Shetland's traditional croft houses as well as landscapes and seascapes. A very different, but equally compelling, show is on offer at the Bonhoga Gallery in Weisdale, where Paul Bloomer offers both dramatic, large scale images and a number of smaller, beautifully-worked compositions made on an iPhone or iPad. Christmas will soon be upon us, indeed Santa has already made an appearance in Lerwick, being welcomed by a huge crowd when he went walkabout in the town centre. He was accompanied by two Shetland ponies, wrapped up in their Fair Isle jumpers, and was followed by a procession that included many excited children, the Up Helly Aa Jarl's Squad in full Viking regalia and a tuneful Lerwick Brass Band, playing carols as they marched the length of the main shopping street. It was a thoroughly seasonal scene. Another Shetland pony will be putting in a seasonal appearance on cinema and TV screens in an ingenious revival of the Three video which went viral earlier this year.

There will be more festivities in the town centre before Christmas, with an open-air bandstand featuring many accomplished local musicians each Saturday. Shetland has some interesting Yule traditions and you can read more about them in our article on Shetland Christmas Past.

If Shetland sounds like a place that you'd like to live, we'd love to hear from you. There's a huge amount of information available elsewhere on this site, covering every aspect of life in the islands and introducing you to people who've made the move. We always recommend that you should make a couple of visits, at different times of year, before committing yourself, and everything you need to know about planning your trip is available on our companion website. My colleague Abby writes an inspiring monthly roundup that's packed with ideas and her other newsletter, which is all about Shetland's lively creative scene, is also just out and is a great read, too. Lastly, our latest quarterly online magazine, 60 North, is available and has an interesting selection of articles.

Wherever you are, and whatever you may be doing over the festive season, all of us at Promote Shetland send our very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

Two rural primary schools impress inspectors

Two small primary schools in Shetland were recently highly praised by Education Scotland and the rating of one of them places it among the best in Scotland.

Ollaberry Primary School, which serves part of the north mainland, received the very highest accolade, with all five of the quality indicators rated as “Excellent”. Fetlar Primary School, on the island of that name, received a “Very Good” in all five indicators.

The inspection report describes Ollaberry as “a dynamic school that is continually improving”. The inspector found that the children were making excellent progress in their learning and achievement. She also described the staff as meeting children's needs “exceptionally well”, providing a nurturing and supportive learning environment. Key strengths include “confident, happy children” who can “play a key role in the school and achieve in a wide range of school and community activities”. The curriculum is “stimulating and well-planned” and there is “very effective support for learning which takes account of each child's specific needs”. “Highly-effective self-evaluation” is focused on improving outcomes for children. The report concludes that, under the head teacher's “outstanding” leadership, a strong culture of team working has been established and all staff, parents, children and community members are involved in evaluating and improving the school. Ollaberry is one of just five primary schools in Scotland ever to have achieved five "excellent" ratings.

The inspector who visited Fetlar Primary School praised the school for providing “a high standard of education in a caring, family atmosphere.” She reported that the children are making very good progress in their learning and that they are developing their skills in a wide range of areas, including information and communications technology, research, mathematics, and the application of their knowledge. The children are very well supported in their learning, and the school successfully provides a broad range of fulfilling and challenging experiences. She also recognises that “staff involve the local community well in developing children's skills and confidence.” The inspection report says that Fetlar Primary School staff are ambitious, reflective and work hard to improve the school and their own work.

Vaila Wishart, the chair of Shetland Islands Council's Education and Families Committee, said: “These latest reports underline the fact that our schools are of the highest standard and are testament to the hard work of teachers and staff, pupils and parents in both schools.”

The reports for Ollaberry and Fetlar are online (in pdf format) and there's lots more information about Scottish education on the same Education Scotland website. You can also find out more about education in Shetland on this website.

Environmental Projects Acknowledged In Awards

Eleven local environmental projects demonstrating sustainability, innovation and best practice have won awards.

The successful nominees included:

- Fair Isle Bird Observatory, world famous for its research into seabird populations and habitats, which now occupies a new, energy-efficient building.

- The Garden and Ecology Trail in Sandwick (GAETS), recognised for its construction of a fish ladder to allow young trout to swim upstream.

- A nature hide at Skeld Marina, which allows local people - and visitors to the adjacent marina and camping site - to observe birds, seals and otters at close quarters.

- Nesting Primary School, where pupils transformed an overgrown area of the school grounds into a memorial peace garden to commemorate the death of a pupil.

- Olnafirth Primary School, where four pupils undertook a project to design, construct and test a model for using wave power as an energy source, working with Strathclyde University.

- Shetland RSPB Wildlife Explorers Group, which is organised mainly for under-12s and offers rock pooling, bird watching, bug hunting, bog-jumping, exploring Shetland's wild places, creating habitats and more.

- Scalloway Primary School Eco-committee, which carried out a number of environmental projects focused on waste minimisation, food and the environment and health and wellbeing.

- Shetland Islands Climate and Settlement Project (SICSP), which is a multidisciplinary, international research effort exploring relationships between climate trends and human populations.

- Shetland Young Scot Youth Legacy Ambassadors, who have led on a number of projects based on helping their community become more environmentally responsible and live more sustainably.

- Michaelswood, a woodland at Aith planted by Ray, Betty and Alan Ferrie as a woodland in memory of their son and brother Michael, which is much appreciated by the local community and hosts a wealth of wildlife.

- Rick Nickerson, a stalwart of the Shetland environmental scene for more than 25 years. He has campaigned at international level on issues ranging from maritime safety and marine litter to nuclear emissions and oil pollution.

Brian Gregson, Chairman of Shetland Amenity Trust and the Shetland Environment Group which judge the awards, said: “The awards have always been truly inclusive, attracting nominations for a wide variety of projects from all sectors of the community and this year is no exception. The 11 winning projects range from small initiatives achieved on a shoestring to a project which has raised millions of pounds.”

Mr David Sigsworth, Chairman of The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), and Mr James Curran, Chief Executive of SEPA, presented the winning projects with their awards. Sponsors of the awards were SEPA, Scottish Natural Heritage, Shetland Islands Council, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Shetland Civic Society, VisitShetland and Shetland Amenity Trust. The awards presentation event was sponsored by the Total Laggan-Tormore Project.

Leaders Win Scottish Politician Of The Year Award

Gary Robinson, Leader of Shetland Islands Council, has shared an award for Scottish Local Politician of The Year with his counterparts in Orkney and the Western Isles.

The three won the accolade, bestowed by the Glasgow-based Herald newspaper, for their joint initiative known as "Our Islands, Our Future". The aim is to persuade the Scottish and UK governments to extend the powers of the three local authorities before and after the Scottish independence referendum in September 2014.

Following the launch of the campaign in June, the Scottish Government set up a Ministerial Working Group to look at the issues raised by the Councils. The UK Government has also held high level talks with representatives from the three local authorities.

Shetland Islands Council Leader, Gary Robinson, said: “It's tremendous to win this award. It's a tribute not only to what we have put into this but also the small but dedicated team of people across the three Councils that have been supporting the work behind the campaign so far.”

Orkney Islands Council Convener Steven Heddle said that the campaign's strength stemmed from the fact that “the three island groups are working together with such shared purpose and commitment” and Angus Campbell, Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council), asserted that “through continued co-operation we can move forward with confidence that the work can bring real benefits to our island communities.”

The awards were presented at Prestonfield House in Edinburgh. You can read more about the campaign and its aims in this joint position statement (pdf)

Shetland Museum and Archives Textile Collection is Recognised

Shetland Museum & Archives' textiles collection, which contains many outstanding examples of the knitwear, weaving and lacework for which the islands are famous, has been recognised by Museums Galleries Scotland.

The Recognition Committee was impressed by the quality of the application and the considerable evidence provided of the importance of the collection. Dr Carol Christiansen, Shetland Museum and Archives Textile Curator, said:

"Our textiles collection reflects the importance that woollen textiles played in the economy of Shetland and the lives of families. But it also celebrates the enormous design and technical capabilities of ordinary people, mainly women and girls. They could spin fine woollen yarn or design and knit intricate garments, but they also gutted fish, extracted peat for fuel, tended animals, raised crops and children, often when men were away at sea. Their work became world renowned and was traded internationally, yet the garments themselves had humble beginnings, coming from a true cottage industry".

The textile collection becomes one of 41 Recognised Collections of National Significance located in towns and cities across Scotland. Managed by Museums Galleries Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government, the Recognised Collections ensure Scotland's most important collections are identified, cared for, protected and promoted to wider audiences. Ray Macfarlane, Chair of Museums Galleries Scotland's Recognition Committee, said:

"To gain Recognition status a museum must prove that their collection is of national importance. The Recognition Committee unanimously felt that the Textiles Collection cared for by Shetland Museum and Archives is completely unique – there is no other collection like this anywhere in the world and it is an intrinsic part of Scotland's identity at an international level."

Meanwhile, a short video capturing the events that formed part of the very successful Shetland Wool Week 2013 is now available and you can read more about the event – and perhaps start planning a visit to the 2014 event.

View of St Ninian's Isle and Ayre Wins 'Walks' Photo Competition

One of the joys of living in Shetland is the wonderful range of walks that is available, as photographs from our summer competition confirm.

Shetland attracts people to visit or to settle for a host of reasons, but all of them would agree that the ability to walk amidst great scenery is one of the islands" greatest attractions. The Promote Shetland summer competition invited people to submit photographs of their favourite walk and write a few lines about it. The result was a collection of beautiful photographs and memories, well worth a browse. The winner was a stunning image of St Ninian's Isle and the ayre (a sand tombolo), taken by an Italian visitor, Marina Viti. She won a week's hire of a motorhome from Shetland Motorhome Hire. The favourite picture among followers of Promote Shetland's Facebook page was also a photo of the ayre at St Ninian's Isle, by Elizabeth Wark. She won a Shetland Fudge hamper.

Exciting New Project Melds Arts And Environment

A new project, 'Back from Beyond', which was launched at Mareel in November, uses Shetland's beautiful landscapes to inspire artists, poets and musicians.

Over the summer, a host of Shetland's musicians and poets have been exploring some of Shetland's more remote landscapes. The results, together with stories from their inspirational visits, were heard for the first time at Mareel on 23rd November. Eight new musical compositions and suites of poems were presented by their creators. Each piece represented one of Shetland's National Nature Reserves (NNRs) and National Scenic Areas (NSAs): Hermaness, Fethaland, Eshaness, Hams of Muckle Roe, Noss, Foula, South West Mainland and Fair Isle.

The evening included video accounts of each group's adventures and their creative processes, together with live performances on stage. The event also celebrated the launch of the associated website, which includes information about the sites and artists involved. The new works are available to download for free.

Maurice Henderson, of internationally-renowned band, Fiddler's Bid, said:

"I took part in the project as part of the group Haltadans and we spent an incredibly inspiring four days and nights in Foula. Haltadans explored the island (most of the band hadn't been to Foula before), taking photos and meeting the locals. We held an informal concert in the hall and the islanders took along a tremendous spread of food. We all danced the Foula Reel and had tunes in folks' houses. There was also time to just relax and play music or take in the scenery. From our experiences on the island, we composed and arranged new music, very much inspired by our Foula trip. We took some video footage to accompany the new tunes."

The project was conceived and managed by Alice Mullay and Emma Perring, with funding from Scottish Natural Heritage as part of the Year of Natural Scotland.

Jobs of the Month

There are several jobs on offer at NHS Shetland. They include GP posts, a Community Nurse, a District Nurse, a Podiatrist, Physiotherapists and a CT Radiographer.

Posts with Shetland Islands Council include a Catering Supervisor and a number of domestic and administrative jobs.

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 is Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary, which comes from Elizabeth Wark, winner of the Shetland Fudge hamper for most Facebook 'likes' in the 'walk' photography competition.

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