May 2014 Move Shetland Newsletter

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

Spring is here and summer isn't far away. Shetland has had some very pleasant days recently, with the shade temperature creeping up to 18°C in my garden on one particularly calm, sunny and cloudless afternoon. But the geography of Shetland means that weather can vary considerably over quite short distances. On that day, the east coast of Shetland was foggy, thanks to a warm easterly airstream meeting a cold North Sea. Flights at Sumburgh Airport were disrupted.

This was the second time in the month that that had happened: the first time, I'd been travelling north from Glasgow and our flight had tried to land at Sumburgh – we glimpsed the runway about 100" below us – but visibility was just too poor and my return to Shetland was via Inverness (the only airport open in the north of Scotland that day), with a taxi to Aberdeen and an overnight trip on the ferry.

But it's worth stressing that Loganair, FlyBe's franchise partner, are well used to dealing with such conditions, and the arrangements they made – including the taxi journey and a comfortable cabin, dinner and breakfast on the ferry – worked very well indeed.

Fog or no fog, the puffins have found their way back to our cliffs and they are simply adorable. Migrants have been passing through, too: I spotted a Pied Flycatcher in my garden the other day, the first I've seen in Shetland. Two much rarer visitors - Night Herons that usually live around the Mediterranean – also put in appearances; there's more about all this on the Nature in Shetland website.

During April, too, around a fifth of the population has taken part in the Voar Redd-Up – our giant annual spring-clean of beaches and roadsides. We also had the first of this year's visits by the Statsraad Lehmkul, a magnificent Norwegian three-masted sail training ship, and of course huge excitement is always generated around the beginning of May by the Shetland Folk Festival, a wonderfully eclectic gathering of musicians from all over the world.

One of the things I'll be doing more of in the months ahead is getting around some of my favourite parts of Shetland on my bike; and, since I bought it from the Shetland Community Bike Project, I was delighted to see that they've won national recognition for the work they do: more about that among this month's news stories.

Daylight for cycling or any other kind of outdoor adventure is already in ample supply and during May we'll quickly reach the point where there's no complete darkness overnight. The nights will become steady brighter until the summer solstice on 21 June. If you're thinking of a move to these very special islands, we always recommend that you make two reconnaissance visits at different seasons; one of them should certainly be around midsummer, because it really is a magical time. Don't forget that you can find all the information you need to plan a reconnaissance visit on our Visit.Shetland website.

Last but not least: there's still just time to cast your vote for the Lerwick Waterfront as Scotland's best place – you can do so now on the RTPI website. The deadline is 7 May.

New Exhibition Explores Literature Of Shetland and Orkney

A major new exhibition at the Shetland Museum and Archives tells the story of the literature of the northern isles through books, sound recordings, manuscripts and illustrations.

There are four themes: myths and legends; visitors to the islands; working lives; and the sounds of Orkney and Shetland. Interactive displays bring to life what it was like to live, to work and to write in the islands from the early nineteenth century to the present day. The exhibition includes items on loan from other galleries, such as a portrait of Walter Scott by William Nicholson and a Robert Louis Stevenson manuscript.

The exhibition is part of a year-long project, Writing the North, which has explored the historical literature of Orkney and Shetland and its links with the work of writers active today. The aim is to share the literature of the islands with as wide an audience as possible. Local schools have been invited to take part in the project by introducing the work of an author to pupils, who will interpret it in their own way through film or drama. Pupils from Sandwick Junior High School, in Shetland's south mainland, have been studying extracts from Sir Walter Scott's The Pirate, the novel in which Scott coined the name Jarlshof, then a manor house, which was later discovered to lie in the middle of a major archaeological site. The Sandwick pupils, along with their colleagues in schools at Brae, Aith and on the island of Whalsay, are producing short films to complement their work. Drama lessons, set design and costume planning will also feature in the programme.

There's much more about the project on the Writing the North website. The exhibition will run until 11 May, with a final day of events planned for Saturday 10 May, including a series of talks and an evening of poetry reading. The project is a collaboration between the University of Edinburgh, the Shetland Museum and Archives and the Orkney Library and Archives and is funded by a grant of £115,000 from the Arts and Humanities Research Council of the UK.

Comedian Ross Noble Kicks Off UK Tour In Lerwick

Comedian Ross Noble has chosen Shetland as the starting point for his UK Tangentleman tour.

Mareel, the UK's most northerly arts centre, will provide an intimate setting for his first show on 11 September with space for just 330 people.

Speaking about starting his warm-up tour in Shetland, Ross Noble said: “I love playing in Scotland but unlike a lot of performers I don't think Edinburgh is as far up as you can go. I want to take the show from the top of the country to the bottom and I'm really looking forward to seeing what Shetland has got in store for me.”

Noble rose to mainstream popularity through making appearances on British television, particularly on celebrity quiz shows, which brought him widespread attention. Described as “a randomist”, his stand-up routine is a largely improvised and surreal performance. Although he does often have a few set topics which he performs throughout a tour, he describes the planning for the entire show as “about four words on a piece of scrap paper.”

He'll also be playing to audiences in Lossiemouth, Mull, Skye, and Oban, before the tour hits its first big venue, Eden Court Theatre in Inverness, on 25 September.

These days, Shetland is very much part of the UK comedy circuit, with recent appearances by Bill Bailey, Ed Byrne, Al Murray and Kevin Bridges.

Shetland Beaches Among The Cleanest In Britain

Five of Shetland's beaches are featured in the latest version of the Good Beach Guide, published online by the Marine Conservation Society.

All five beaches are recommended for their excellent water quality. In Shetland's south mainland, the beaches at St Ninian's Isle and the West Voe at Sumburgh are highlighted. On the island of Yell, two recommended beaches are at West Sandwick and Breckon. The fifth beach is at Tresta on Fetlar.

Although these are the only Shetland beaches mentioned in the Good Beach Guide, the islands have many more, which isn't surprising given that the coastline extends to 1,697 miles. You can find a wider selection in our list of favourites.

Larger Aircraft Introduced On Shetland Routes

Flybe franchise partner Loganair has introduced the first of three Saab 2000 aircraft to be added to the airline's growing fleet, needed to meet increasing demand on Shetland routes.

The first aircraft, which has a 50-seat capacity compared to the current 34-seat Saab 340 model, began operating between Aberdeen and Shetland in mid-April, boosting seating capacity by 40 per cent. Two more aircraft will come into service soon and the very popular Edinburgh route is expected to benefit.

To celebrate the launch of the first flight, Loganair Chief Executive Officer Stewart Adams presented the Saab 2000's first paying passenger, Shetland-based GP Dr Aileen Brown, with flowers and a voucher for complimentary return flights to celebrate the aircraft's induction into service.

Loganair operates five weekday services between Aberdeen and Sumburgh and a further three on Saturdays and four on Sundays – a total of 64 flights a week. Passengers between Shetland and Edinburgh can choose from up to three return flights per day and there are one or two daily return services between Shetland and Inverness, Kirkwall and Glasgow. There are good connections through Aberdeen, Inverness, Edinburgh and Glasgow with other FlyBe flights and it's also possible to book through the British Airways website for flights from Shetland to destinations worldwide.

Shetland residents receive lower fares thanks to the Scottish Government's Air Discount Scheme, which cuts the basic fare (before taxes and other charges) by around 40%.

Great Programme Announced For 2014 Wool Week

The programme for the 2014 Shetland Wool Week, which takes place between 4 and 12 October, has been released and it promises to be a really enjoyable and informative event.

In addition to favourites such as the Makers" Market, factory tours and Fair Isle classes with Wool Week Patron, Hazel Tindall, there are many new events and exciting locations for classes this year.

A joint exhibition of the Moray Firth Gansey Project will be held between Shetland Museum and Archives, Shetland Textile Museum and Unst Heritage Centre. The exhibition looks at a range of traditional Scottish fishermen's ganseys. In a similar thread, visiting tutor Stella Ruhe will be teaching a class to knit a modern gansey based on old Dutch designs. Stella is the author of "Dutch Traditional Ganseys". A second visiting tutor, Vivian Høxbro, author of "Domino Knitting" will offer knitters a new experience in using colour in different ways.

New venues for classes this year include the new Education Room at Sumburgh Head and aboard the training ship, the Swan. One class on the Swan will be an introduction to the Foula Froke – the only gansey design to originate in Shetland.

The opening ceremony at Mareel, Shetland's new arts centre, will offer visiting and local textile enthusiasts an opportunity to meet with local designers and fellow Wool Weekers at a Shetland Textile Showcase. The opportunity for interaction continues through the week, with the Wool Week Hub open every day in the Boat Hall at Shetland Museum and Archives. Information on classes, events and Shetland's textile history will be available there, with members of the Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers in attendance to demonstrate and teach their skills.

A full range of classes will again be held at Hoswick. Following a successful week of full classes in 2013, the "Hoswick Wool Week" will be repeating some of the favourites and adding in a few new ways to look at fleece, dyeing and spinning.

With fine lace classes in Unst, Fair Isle classes in Whalsay, Hap knitting with Gudrun Johnston and a visit from Kate Davies promoting her new book, the 2014 Shetland Wool Week is sure to continue the success of previous years.

Full event listings can be found at www.shetlandwoolweek.com and booking for classes is now open.

Shetland Crime Drama Will Return

The BBC has been so pleased with the reception accorded to Shetland that it has commissioned another six-episode series.

So far, a two-part pilot project and a six-part series have been shown, based on the detective novels written by Ann Cleeves. The pilot episodes received mixed reviews but the series has clearly begun to capture audiences" attention, with around six million viewers tuning in and a 29.5% audience share in Scotland. Judging by comments in the press and social media, the consensus in Shetland appears to be that the series just ended has been thoroughly absorbing. Almost all of the exterior scenes were shot in Shetland and several interior scenes have also been filmed in the islands.

Christopher Aird, BBC Head of Drama Production Scotland, said: "Shetland is a really distinctive crime series that has proved hugely popular with audiences both here in Scotland and across the rest of the UK. I am thrilled it has been commissioned for a third outing and rest assured we have some really exciting plans for viewers from DI Perez and his team.”

Elaine Collins, ITV Studios - which makes the series for the BBC - welcomed the return of Shetland for another series: “I'm delighted that Shetland has been recommissioned and proud to have made a distinctive Scottish show that is enjoyed all over the UK. It's also been a pleasure to work with outstanding actors like Douglas Henshall, Alison O'Donnell and Steven Robertson, who have made Jimmy Perez and his close-knit team a regular fixture in the homes of millions of viewers.”

However, Perez" fans will have to be a little patient, as filming won't take place until 2015. Meanwhile, a DVD of all the episodes screened so far has been released.

Shetland Is First Island Group To Gain Superfast Fibre Broadband

Homes and businesses in Lerwick are set to be the first island community to get fibre broadband as part of the £410 million Digital Scotland partnership.

Lerwick will receive the service as part of the Digital Highlands and Islands project which will deliver fibre broadband to 84% of premises across the region by 2016. Fibre broadband services offering speeds of up to 80Mbps will roll out in the autumn, as BT engineers deploy the technology.

The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband initiative consists of two projects – one covering the Highlands and Islands area and the other covering the Rest of Scotland.

Stuart Robertson, HIE's Director of Digital Highlands and Islands, said: “The start on cabinets in Lerwick is great news for the local community.”

Brendan Dick, BT Scotland Director, said: “Today marks an important next phase in our deployment, with the first island community now set to connect to fibre broadband several months ahead of schedule. This technological sea change will help island locations such as Lerwick to compete and thrive in the 21st century.

The new fibre based network will be open to all communications providers on an equivalent basis. Its installation follows work by Shetland Telecom over the past two years involving the creation of a fibre "backbone" for broadband linking Shetland to Faroe and the Scottish mainland and providing connections to key public facilities.

Shetland Bike Project Wins National Praise

A Shetland business that helps young people get back on track has been recognised Scotland-wide for its efforts in supporting youth employment.

The Shetland Community Bike Project has been named Skills Development Scotland's Youth Employer of the Month. The award was presented to the bike project for its role in providing employment and volunteering opportunities for young people facing barriers to work including mental health, drug or alcohol-related issues.

Project Manager at the Bike Project, Caroline Adamson, said: “It feels great to be recognised with this award and it will hopefully raise more awareness of what we do here. Many people think we are just a bike repair shop but we are so much more than that. The young people we work with have some challenging issues and need a lot of support but it is so rewarding to see them develop and make a positive contribution to the business. As an employer you get out what you have put in and it is great to see the young people come out the other end of their experience ready for employment.”

The bike project currently employs five young people with the aim of helping them to develop essential employability skills, such as team work and time keeping, as well as hands-on experience in the repair shop.

The project also helps young people with a range of training opportunities tailored to what they want to do, which have included first aid and driving lessons.

SDS Careers Coach, Alison Williamson, said: “The Shetland Community Bike Project is a fantastic local resource to support young people facing barriers into employment. It provides them with an opportunity to get some paid work and get their life back on track. We work closely with the project and have referred some of our customers to Caroline who is always keen to meet and tell them more about what they can offer.”

Chairman of SDS, John McClelland CBE, added: “I would like to congratulate those involved in the Shetland Community Bike Project for showing an outstanding commitment to supporting youth employment in their local area. It shows that no matter how large or small a business is, it can make a difference and help young people into work.”

The Shetland Community Bike Project has a Facebook page and there's more information about it, and about the Youth Employer of the Month Award, at http://www.ourskillsforce.co.uk/attracting-new-talent/youth-employer-of-the-month/

Jobs of the Month

Jobs on offer at NHS Shetland include nursing posts, a Biomedical Scientist and a Consultant Physician.

Vacancies with Shetland Islands Council include posts for Social Workers, a Solicitor and an Executive Manager – Estates.

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 head over to Shetland's west mainland ('the westside'), where Transition Turriefield is a model of self-sufficiency.

View Blog