November 2012 Move Shetland Newsletter

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

October was an incredibly busy musical month, with the Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Festival, the Shetland Guitar Festival and an Oxjam event for young bands. We were also treated to an exceptional evening with former Catatonia singer and BBC 6 Music presenter, Cerys Matthews, and her musical friends. Our new arts centre, Mareel, has been recording exceptional cinema attendances, having reached around 40% of its annual admissions target within the first seven weeks of opening; and that's without counting the audience for 'Skyfall', the new Bond adventure, which opened in Shetland, as in the rest of the UK, on 26 October. Shetland Wool Week attracted visitors from all over the world.

The more I visit Mareel, the more I'm hooked. The café-bar - which occasionally hosts live music - has a really nice atmosphere at any time of day or in the evening and, with free wi-fi and nice cakes and pastries, it's a very congenial place in which to catch up on emails, check Facebook or even do some writing. The steep rake in the cinemas means there are no heads in the way and the sound in all three auditoria is superb.

Meanwhile, the clocks have changed and Shetland days are rapidly shortening, more quickly in fact than anywhere else in Britain. That doesn't, though, mean that there's any reduction in local activities: on the contrary. The annual programme of evening classes is now in full swing and dozens of clubs and societies catering for all kinds of interests have begun to meet again. Preparations are well under way, too, for the fire festivals that will mark the new year.

In November, entertainment-wise, we really are spoilt for choice. Mareel will host music from Indie band Aberfeldy, leading Scottish folk singer Dougie MacLean, Danish folk band Himmerland and Radio 1 DJ Vic Galloway. Jazz maestro Tommy Smith will bring his 'Karma' tour to Shetland on 11 November. The annual Thomas Fraser Festival will once again celebrate blues, country, jazz and traditional music in honour of Thomas Fraser, an extraordinary Shetland musician who died in 1978. December's looking good too, with another visit by Cerys Matthews and two gigs by the Happy Mondays to look forward to.

I'll have more news in our December round-up. Until then, don't forget you can keep up with news from Promote Shetland on this Facebook page. Recent posts there included a fantastic picture of an orca recently taken off the north-west coast of Shetland.

Amy Is Apprentice Of The Year

Amy Garrick, who recently completed her four-year apprenticeship as an electrician with the Shetland Islands Council's Building Services Unit, has become Scotland's Apprentice of the Year.

Amy says it's been a tremendous experience: "I'm overjoyed - it's been a nerve-wracking process, but I'm really proud to have won the award in the end. It's something I couldn't have achieved without the support of my colleagues. Everyone's been very supportive, and how well I've done is a reflection of how well I've been taught and helped along the way."

Newell McGuiness, SELECT MD and Director of the SJIB, said: "It is clear that Amy is an exceptional young woman who, according to her employers, demonstrates an excellent attitude towards her work and always adopts a 'can do' attitude towards any task."

Mark Boden, Chief Executive of Shetland Islands Council: "This is a fantastic achievement by Amy; it demonstrates how hard she has worked and her high level of skill. We are all very proud of her."

Scalloway Hotel Restaurant Gains AA Rosette

The Scalloway Hotel, long a focal point of life in the village, has won an AA Rosette for its well-regarded restaurant.

Peter and Caroline Mackenzie, who bought the hotel almost five years ago and are well on the way to a complete refurbishment, say they're delighted with the news. They've warmly praised Head Chef Colin MacLean and his team.

The restaurant has gained a strong local reputation for excellent food, with an absolute commitment to using the very best ingredients that Shetland has to offer. You can read more about the hotel in this article in the Spring 2012 edition of Promote Shetland's online magazine, 60 North .

Londoners Get A Taste of Shetland Food

Helen Nisbet, who hails originally from the Shetland island of Yell but is now an art curator in London, is cooking up a very special treat for Londoners. She's planning to organise a Shetland night at a new restaurant opening soon in Hackney and she has a top chef lined up to bring out the very best in Shetland produce.

The menu is likely to feature Shetland mutton, mackerel and beer, among other delights. Diners may be able to listen to some music from Shetland fiddlers, too. Helen hopes to recreate the warm and friendly atmosphere that she knows so well from Yell.

Despite the fact that neither the venue nor the date has been announced, the event is almost fully booked, so the chances are that Helen will want to organise a few more. To keep in touch with what's going on, you can follow the Twitterfeed for the night; there's also a web page. It sounds like a great - and very different - night out, and we wish her all the very best in this new venture.

Shetland Library Offers Better Online Browsing

Shetland Library's new online public access catalogue allows customers to browse library stock, request and renew items, and check their loans.

The new version has a clearer and more attractive interface, better search features, and displays book jacket images. It also provides more information about each item, including a short introduction or description and clear format information for talking books, music CDs, DVDs and large print titles.

Library Systems Officer David Thomson, who managed the project, says: "The online catalogue is well used and improves the service to folk who might not be able to visit the library. Some mobile Library customers request all their books online and then collect them from the mobile, which is a great saving on time and travel."

Vaila Wishart, Chair of the Education and Families Committee, viewed the new catalogue and commented: "It looks much clearer and more informative. It will be especially useful for folk who stay outside Lerwick and on the isles. I'm glad to hear that online Library services are already so popular."

The Library has also introduced ebook lending this year, and is planning further improvements to online services.

You can try out the online catalogue here. Just enter an author or subject in the search box and click on 'Search'.

Shetland Councillors Pledge Support To The One Fair Wage Campaign

Shetland councillors have pledged support to the Scottish Youth Parliament's 'One Fair Wage' campaign.

The Scottish Youth Parliament is the democratically elected voice of Scotland's young people and campaigns on a wide range of issues in order to influence Scotland's decision makers. The One Fair Wage Campaign asserts that everyone deserves to be paid enough money to live on and, through their campaign, they aim to encourage as many MSPs, businesses, Councils and organisations to give their backing.

The Council's political leader, Gary Robinson said: "We were the first local authority in Scotland to meet the terms of the Fair Wage Scheme and I would encourage other businesses and organisations to follow suit."

Member of the SYP, Nicole Mouat, adds: "Gaining support from individual Councillors on this campaign is really important. It is a huge issue for young people in particular, as they move away from home and try to stand on their own two feet. A living wage is a step towards them achieving this. The support that we have had so far has been excellent. I am looking forward to hopefully working further with the Council on this campaign in the coming months." There's more about the campaign here.

Project Offers Online Health Consultations To Foula Patients

People on the remote island of Foula, which lies about 16 miles west of the Shetland mainland, will shortly be able to benefit from advanced healthcare support.

A purpose-built unit will soon be installed on the island. It will offer the latest digital technology to allow remote assessment of a patient's vital signs, including blood pressure and pulse, and will allow ECG/heart monitoring and digital imaging.

Medical services in Foula are provided by a resident nurse with regular GP visits, and these will continue. However, the Health Clinic will allow live video-conference consultations to be carried out by medical staff at the surgery in the mainland village of Walls. This will be particularly useful in the event of an emergency, or when the weather makes travel difficult.

NHS Shetland's Chief Executive Ralph Roberts says the Foula pilot, if successful, could be applied in other remote communities: "Digital technology is becoming an increasingly important - and valuable - means of supporting the delivery of care and healthcare services, and is particularly valuable in communities such as ours where access to services can be difficult. This means that we can provide live, one-to-one consultations with patients whenever necessary, with all the critical medical information to hand".

New Connection To Amsterdam Opens Up More Destinations

Shetland travellers already enjoy good air connections but they've been further improved with a new link to Amsterdam.

Flybe and franchise partner Loganair now offer connections between Shetland and Amsterdam via Inverness, opening up further worldwide destinations from the Dutch hub. From Monday to Friday, flights will leave Shetland at 0740, with arrival in Amsterdam at 1500. On the return leg, a 1535 departure from Amsterdam allows passengers to catch the evening flight from Inverness and arrive in Shetland at 1920. The Shetland-Inverness leg is operated with Loganair's Saab 340 prop-jet aircraft and the Inverness-Amsterdam connection uses an Embraer 175 jet.

Phil Preston, chief operating officer at Loganair, said: "Our Amsterdam connection will be extremely popular amongst both business and leisure travellers from Shetland, particularly when considering how attractive the Dutch city is as a destination.

The new link builds on an already extensive network of air connections that allow Shetland passengers to reach many parts of the world quickly and easily. FlyBe has codeshare agreements covering many routes with Air France, British Airways and Etihad.

'Shetland' To Receive Shetland Premiere

The drama based on Ann Cleeves' Shetland crime novels, due to be screened on BBC1 in late November or December, is to have a Shetland première.

BBC Scotland will screen the first part of the two-part detective mystery on 21 November 21 in Cinema 1 at Mareel. The drama stars acclaimed actor Douglas Henshall in the lead role. The screening will be followed by a Q&A session with the programme makers, author Ann Cleeves, and actor Steven Robertson. The evening will be hosted by Jane Moncrieff of BBC Radio Shetland.

Some brief glimpses of the production were included in the BBC trailer for the autumn drama season. There have been suggestions that, if the two-parter is well received, it might be followed by a Scandinavian-style crime series shot in the islands.

Ignition Project Aims To Spark Interest In The Impact Of The Car

A new arts project will invite the people of Shetland to explore what its promoters call our 'bittersweet relationship with the automobile'.

The project is a partnership between Shetland Arts and the National Theatre of Scotland and has received funding from Creative Scotland. It will examine how the car 'shapes us, defines us, supports us, frees us, challenges our attitudes towards our dwindling resources and, sometimes, kills us'. In fact, the inspiration came from the tragic death, in November 2007, of a young 18 year old Shetlander, in a car crash. Ignition will explore the global and personal impact that our reliance on the car and its fuel has on our lives.

The programme for Ignition will unearth people's recollections and opinions through a programme of unique, car-related, Shetland-flavoured activities, ending in large scale performances.

Shetland Arts' John Haswell said: "Shetland Arts is proud to be working in partnership with the National Theatre of Scotland on this important project. It is wonderful to be working with such a talented group of people and I am certain that this dynamic project will engage with the Shetland public".

The programme includes workshops in primary and secondary schools in which pupils will design their dream cars, plan their dream journeys and devise a giant live car game. Youth groups around Shetland will work with old cars and bring them back to life. A parkour specialist will run workshops in schools looking at the different ways that they can map, and travel across, the local landscape.

The White Wife - a ghost who is said to join lone drivers on a stretch of road in Unst - will feature prominently in the project. She has been hitch-hiking her way around the islands during October, gathering car stories as she does so, and she'll also appear in buses, on ferries and at Sunday teas.

This being Shetland, other elements include the creation of a knitted car, to be assembled from parts (on which work has already begun) at an event in Mareel in January. There will also be workshops, lectures and seminars that will touch on the future of Shetland, oil, transport, innovation and energy. All the material gathered will be brought together in a series of performances from 25-30 March.

Preparations In Hand For Craft Fair And Food Fair

This year's Christmas Craft Fair promises to be the largest ever, offering a unique range of products, all created by producers in Shetland. Alongside it, there will be the Shetland Food Fair.

Both fairs run from 9 to 11 November. Craft fair visitors will be able to choose from a wide range of textiles, cards, woodcraft, leatherwork, paintings, photography, jewellery and much more. The organisers, the Shetland Arts and Crafts Association, say that it's an ideal opportunity to pick up some unique gifts in plenty of time for Christmas.

The Association assesses the quality of its members' products and those who meet the required standard can use the Association's logo. Producers need to demonstrate an original approach to the design of their product, a thorough understanding of the materials they are using, satisfactory presentation of the product and consistent quality.

A number of the producers are people who've made the move to Shetland. They've found that, with the flourishingShetland Arts and Crafts Association, Shetland Arts and groups such as Veer North, Shetland is a very welcoming and supportive creative community.

Food Fair stands will offer a wide range of Shetland products from the islands' exceptional range of produce. Known best for unique native lamb and wonderfully fresh fish, Shetland also produces succulent mussels, delicious cheese (and oatcakes to partner it), a wide range of vegetables and all kinds of sweets, chocolates and preserves.

Solo Yachting Effort Will Raise Funds For Five Charities

Next summer, sailor Alan Rankin will sail alone around Britain and Ireland in his trimaran, Trade Winds, stopping en route at Lerwick in Shetland.

Alan, whose day job is Chief Executive at the Cairngorms Business partnership, will also do a ten kilometre run at each port along the 2,300 mile route.

The voyage will begin and end at Ullapool on Scotland's north-west coast and other intermediate ports will be Blyth, Lowestoft, Brighton, Poole, Falmouth, Dingle, Broad Haven (County Mayo) and Stornoway. At all ten ports, Alan will undertake a 10k run. The whole trip will rely entirely on renewable energy and all Alan's food and drink will come from sustainable producers. He is no stranger to this kind of challenge, having circumnavigated Scotland by boat and bike in 2006.

The aim is to raise £20,000 for Ocean Youth Trust Scotland, Cancer Research UK, Parkinson's UK, the British Heart Foundation and the Multiple Sclerosis Society. You can find out more about the challenge, and make a donation if you wish, on the project's website.

Shetlander Reaches Final In Great British Bake-Off

James Morton, the Shetland medical student who competed in the 2012 Great British Bake Off, made it all the way to the final.

He didn't carry off first prize, which went to Wigan law graduate John Whaite, but during the course of the series he was crowned star baker on three occasions, more than any other contestant. His approach was always adventurous and, most of the time, his innovations paid off. In the last episode, though, his pithivier suffered from the dreaded soggy bottom and judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry weren't sufficiently impressed by his collection of United Kingdom cakes.

However, James thoroughly enjoyed the series and his Fair Isle sweaters were a hit with viewers. Just after the series ended, James made a guest appearance at the BBC Good Food Show in Glasgow and he's now writing a recipe book.

There's more about the programme on the Great British Bake Off home page, including a photo album featuring the best and worst bakes from the series.

Blog Of The Month

It's been a characteristically productive autumn for Shetland birdwatchers and for the many enthusiasts from elsewhere who flock to the islands during the migration season. Martin Garner of Birding Frontiers was one of them and in this well-illustrated blog post he speculates that 23 October may be the best date in the birding calendar. You can find a day-by-day account of what can be seen around the islands on the Nature in Shetland website.