January 2014 Newsletter

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Hi, I'm Alastair and I'd like to welcome you to the January 2014 issue of our monthly newsletter and, of course, to wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

Islanders have lots to look forward to in 2014. There's every sign that the islands will continue to benefit from a thriving economy and that unemployment will remain at very low levels. In other respects, too, Shetland is a great place to live; the quality of life is consistently rated as one of the best in Scotland. Public services such as education and health are very good, the quality of leisure facilities is exceptional by any standard, the environment is outstanding, there's a great range of entertainment and we produce some superb food.

Talking of the environment, you may be wondering how the islands have fared during the recent storms. So far, we've had a much easier time than folk in areas such as Ayrshire, west Wales or south-west England. It's been windy, of course, but not unusually so, and the disruption to air and ferry services has been relatively minor, even if one take-off from Sumburgh Airport did make for memorable viewing! There have been high tides, but fortunately not combined with gales.

One thing which will go ahead, whatever the weather, is Lerwick's Up Helly Aa, the biggest and most spectacular fire festival in Europe. It's always held on the last Tuesday in January. However, it's just one of several similar events offering a hugely enjoyable sensory overload; you certainly never forget the heat of a thousand torches but it's matched by the warmth of the hospitality. Our beginner's guide lists all the festivals. If exploring a move to Shetland is one of your new year resolutions, visiting us for one of these events would be a great way to get a feel for life in the islands. We have all the information you need to plan a visit on our Visit.Shetland website.

New Joint Health and Social Care Post Is Among First In Scotland

A new appointment, made jointly by Shetland Islands Council and NHS Shetland, is one of the first in Scotland to bring health and social care services together under one director.

Simon Bokor-Ingram has been appointed to a new post as Director of Community Health and Social Care by a joint panel consisting of NHS Board Members and Shetland Islands Council elected Members. He will lead the integration of health and social care services in Shetland. He was appointed following what's described as a “vigorous” two-day recruitment exercise that was the first of its kind in involving representatives from both organisations.

Mr. Bokor-Ingram made the move to Shetland in 2008. Previously, he had worked in the NHS for most of his career, in a number of hospitals and in a Primary Care Trust in the south of England. Until now, he has been Director of Clinical Services for NHS Shetland and has also spent the past few months acting as Interim Director of Community Care for the SIC.

Chair of SIC's Social Services Committee, Councillor Cecil Smith, welcomed the appointment, adding: “I'm looking forward to working with Simon to further develop our work to continue to provide the people of Shetland with a high standard of services.” Speaking on behalf of NHS Shetland, Chief Executive Ralph Roberts said he was “extremely pleased” at the appointment. “This is an important and key role for the future of community health and social care services in Shetland, and Simon brings a wide range of skills and experience to the post.”

Positive Coaching Brings Award To Swimming Team

Lerwick Swim Team has become the first sports group in Shetland to achieve the Positive Coaching Scotland "PCS Club" status.

Swimming is a popular sport and pastime in Shetland and its appeal is greatly strengthened by the first-class facilities available, which include a 25m pool in Lerwick's Clickimin Centre and a further eight modern pools around the islands. The vast majority of islanders live less than fifteen minutes" drive from their nearest pool. Island swimmers have frequently won awards in national and international competitions.

The award recognises the Lerwick club's commitment to the Positive Coaching Scotland programme, which promotes a strong and positive culture in youth sport. Club leaders, coaches and parents took part in three workshops provided by local tutors. The principles behind PCS include maintaining respect, rewarding effort, giving praise and learning from mistakes.

Presenting the award to the Lerwick Swim Team swimmers, coaches, and parents, Councillor George Smith, Vice Chair of SIC's Education and Families Committee, said: “This is a great achievement for Lerwick Swim Team and I hope this recognition is something that other sports clubs in Shetland will aspire to. Creating a positive environment for youth sport has to be a good thing for young people in our community.”

Shetland's Camera Centre Wins Business Award From Theo Paphitis

A camera shop in Lerwick has become the most northerly business in Britain to win a “Small Business Sunday” award from former Dragon's Den entrepreneur Theo Paphitis.

Ben Mullay, Managing Director of Camera Centre, recently travelled down to Birmingham to collect the firm's award. The win came as the result of a competition held on Twitter by Theo Paphitis. Ben received a special round of applause from Theo Paphitis and the 950-strong audience for travelling the furthest distance to the event.

Ben Mullay, well-known in Shetland as a wedding photographer, bought Camera Centre from its previous owner in May 2012. Ben has led the company into a new era which includes online photo prints, photo decor and gifting products. Camera Centre recently invested in new photo print equipment and kiosks.

Ben says: “The quality of the professional photos, enlargements and photo-books that these produce cannot be matched by home prints. Consequently the company has seen a huge increase in customers printing in-store and online at www.thecameracentre.net.” Another of the firm's specialities is the restoration of old family photographs that have faded or been damaged.

Shetland Musicians Feature Strongly In 2013 Trad Awards

The work of three Shetland fiddlers has been recognised in the 2013 Scottish Traditional Music Awards, presented at a recent concert in Aberdeen.

Blazin" Fiddles, the band in which Jenna Reid plays, emerged as Best Band. Chris Stout was presented with the award for Best Instrumentalist and the late Willie Hunter (1934 - 1994) became a member of the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame.

You can sample the playing of all of them on YouTube: Willie Hunter appears centre stage with Aly Bain and Violet Tulloch. Chris Stout appears with harpist Catriona McKay; and Jenna Reid (in white) appears with Blazin" Fiddles.

Shetland has a strong and distinctive fiddle tradition which is very much alive, thanks to the foundations laid by Tom Anderson (1910 - 1991) and Willie Hunter. Chris Stout was taught by Willie Hunter, Aly Bain by Tom Anderson and Jenna Reid by both. Today, children continue to learn the fiddle and the islands produce a steady stream of new instrumentalists and bands.

Scottish Parliament hears about Enviroglass

Members of the Scottish Parliament have been told about a unique glass recycling project in Shetland.

Delegates at a special session of the Scottish Government's Cross Party Group on Architecture and the Built Environment heard how Shetland is using its waste glass in an innovative way to produce high quality products. The special session was arranged so that MSPs could find out how using building materials from local sources is not only good for the environment, but can create skilled jobs and support regeneration.

The group heard evidence from academics, architects and a carbon consultancy, then invited Sita Goudie from Enviroglass to explain how Shetland has developed a unique way to deal with its waste glass. The company - operated by Shetland Amenity Trust - crushes the glass and uses it in a variety of ways. Some decorative glass is sold but the MSPs' interest was focused on the use of crushed glass as an aggregate in the production of pre-cast items such as paving slabs. The slabs are produced in a range of colours and sizes and the inclusion of glass creates a natural sparkle. Intended for use indoors or outdoors, the product has won admirers all over the UK.

The use of glass in this way avoids the need to transport many tonnes of glass from Shetland to mainland glass recycling plants and it also reduces consumption of local sand and aggregate.

Jean Urquhart MSP, who chaired the meeting, described the event as "An extraordinarily good and interesting evening" and promised to help the group take forward the unanimous message that the Scottish Government could unlock significant environmental, economic and social benefits by enabling producers and users of sustainable building materials to compete more equally with more modern mass-produced products. She was also very impressed with what is happening in Shetland and hopes to visit the Enviroglass plant in Shetland in the new year.

Sita Goudie added that new equipment had just been installed, which would enable production of pre-cast items by 500%. "We hope that, by raising the profile of our social enterprise at national level, we can attract new customers and increase our sales nationally."

You can find out more on the Enviroglass website.

Campaign aims to save Shetland Whalebone Arch in Edinburgh

A campaign is hoping to restore the historic whalebone arch in Edinburgh's Meadows, originally gifted to the city by Shetland knitters.

The arch is one of the last relics of the International Exhibition of Science and Art, which took place on the Meadows in 1886. The jaw bones of a whale formed part of the stand of the Shetland and Fair Isle Knitters and whilst there are many whalebone arches around the country, particularly in places associated with the whaling industry, the knitting connection makes Edinburgh's unique.

The whalebones have formed a gateway to the Meadows ever since, and the pathway leading under them is known as Jawbone Walk. However they now require some repairs to secure their future. This will involve detailed examination before specialist conservation work can take place.

The appeal organisers are looking for donations to complete the project, with the support of Edinburgh World Heritage and the City of Edinburgh Council. If you'd like to make a donation, full details are available on the Edinburgh World Heritage website and on the appeal's Facebook page.

Jobs of the Month

There are several jobs on offer at NHS Shetland. They include a GP post, a District Nurse, a Midwife and a number of support roles.

Vacancies with Shetland Islands Council include posts for Social Workers, an Executive Manager (Mental Health) and a Head Teacher on Britain's second most remote inhabited island, Foula.

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 Andrew Halcrow, a Shetland sailor who has set out on what will be hissecond attempt at a single-handed, non-stop circumnavigation of the world. He's currently making his way down the east coast of South America.

Andrew has been round the world once on Elsi Arrub, a yacht he built himself; the name is his home island, Burra Isle, spelt backwards. Six yearsago, his second trip (the first solo one) was thwarted when he fell ill off Australia. The website has lots of information about the boat and its construction.

The blog has been updated most days and makes for very enjoyable reading. Updating, though, is dependent on good communications, so may be intermittent.

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