October 2013 Move Shetland Newsletter

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

September was notable for some very pleasant, if occasionally windy, weather, but the thing we tend to notice at this time of year is the rapidly shortening days. Since Shetland is so far north, the transition from the endless light in June to short days in December is very striking. However, the bonus is the extra time available for spotting the northern lights, or aurora borealis; there have already been several displays.

September also saw an appearance by a musical veteran and undisputed superstar, Kris Kristofferson, in one of just two appearances in Scotland, and we also had the pleasure of two concerts given by the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain, formed for fun in 1985 but these days - though still playing for fun - welcomed in venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to the Sydney Opera House.

October is simply packed with events. The month kicks off with Shetland Wool Week, with a rich programme. Other highlights include the opening of an exhibition by one of Shetland's best-known artists, Brian Henderson, known for his astonishingly detailed brushwork and sometimes quirky but always engaging choices of subject. There's lots more music, too, with Lindisfarne founder Rod Clements, singer-songwriters Seth Lakeman and Karine Polwart and the every-popular Big Country all putting in appearances. In mid month, we have the Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Festival and there's also to be another visit by the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra with a tribute to Duke Ellington and a performance of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.

If you're planning a visit, don't forget that our companion website has loads of information about how to get here, where to stay and what to see. My colleague Abby writes a monthly roundup that brims with ideas to make the trip really special. This month, she's included some links to video footage that are well worth exploring. She also writes another newsletter that keeps everyone in touch with what's happening on Shetland's lively creative scene.

And finally, talking of videos, here's one that's rapidly collecting YouTube hits: an A-Z of Shetland that's packed with information (and smiles).

Library Offers Gentle Introduction To New Technology

The Shetland Library is taking part in a project that should help to make people more confident in using information technology.

AgeUK are behind the initiative: they've called it their "ITea and Biscuits" week. It's a chance to try out a range of gadgets and online services, and find out how to make the most of them. As well as computers and the internet, there are iPads, e-readers, photo scanners and more. There will also be staff on hand to help out and answer any questions.

Shetland Library's Systems Officer, David Thomson, says: “The day is all about offering help to anyone who is looking for assistance with using gadgets or the internet. A big part of what the library offers comes through IT, and it's still the case that a lot of folk are not that confident about using services this way. We provide ebooks, online reference sites, free computers, free internet access and we publish all our service information online. All of that should be available to everybody who might want to use it. This drop-in day is one way of helping folk to develop the confidence to find information online, and share in the fullest range of what a modern library offers.”

David assures us that tea and biscuits really are included!

New Shetland Business Register Goes Live

Shetland Islands Council has created a new online register as a way of making information about Shetland businesses readily available.

The new register catalogues the wide range and high quality of expertise, services and infrastructure that exists across Shetland, all in one place.

It will present Shetland's industry, in a convenient and easily accessible way, to companies who may be involved in large-scale projects and are seeking local suppliers. The Council's Economic Development Service will also use it as a tool to let registered companies know about relevant business information including training opportunities and external funding sources.

Each registered business will receive a password to edit their individual profile and ensure their most up-to-date information is displayed. Companies who wish to search the database, whether they are based in Shetland or not, will also be able to obtain a password allowing them to do so.

Douglas Irvine, Executive Manager - Economic Development, says: “We expect that the new online register will become the first stop for companies looking to do business in Shetland, as well as a useful tool for local businesses to make the most of opportunities available to them.”

Cinema Fans Flock To Mareel

Shetland Arts has revealed that attendances at Mareel Cinema have now reached over 100,000 since the first cinema screening on 31 August 2012.

The two Mareel cinemas, one seating 161 and the other 37, have been more than twice as busy as originally predicted. The business plan for the venue's first year envisaged 39,000 attendances.

The lucky one hundred thousandth ticket holder was selected to win a special prize: a year's free Gold Card subscription for unlimited film at Mareel. The winner was announced at Home Made, a screening of short films made by Shetlanders shown at Mareel as part of Screenplay 2013, the annual film festival curated by Observer and BBC Radio 5 film critic Mark Kermode and Linda Ruth Williams.

Shetland Arts" Director Gwilym Gibbons said: “We would like to say a huge thank you to the cinema-going public of Shetland. The level of attendance is extraordinary when we consider the number of visits that is per head of the population. We're delighted that the level of cinema attendance has been sustained beyond the “honeymoon period” of the first few months of opening last year, with Despicable Me 2 (which opened on 28 June this year) being our second busiest week of cinema since we opened.”

It's not hard to see why the cinemas have such tremendous appeal. The seating is very comfortable and much more steeply raked than in the modern "shoebox" multiplexes so often found elsewhere, so heads don't get in the way. The projection and sound systems are the most up-to-date available. Customers can enjoy their film with a drink from the bar or buy popcorn, nachos and ice-cream at prices that don't provoke gasps of horror. Many mainstream films open at the same time as in major cinemas on the UK mainland but the programme also includes a range of more unusual international or offbeat offerings, which have also proved very popular. The cinema was also able to show the National Theatre's production of The Audience, starring Helen Mirren, and more events of that kind will be presented in the future.

Ideal Homes Show Proves Popular

Shetland's Ideal Homes show, which is held every two years, drew in large numbers of folk seeking inspiration or advice.

The show is organised by the Shetland Rotary Club and features exhibits from a wide range of local firms. Visitors can look at ranges of furniture, find out about the latest technology or talk to local architects about getting their new home designed to meet all the family's needs.

This year's show, held in Lerwick's spacious Clickimin Centre, was attended by around 2,300 people over a Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday, meaning that around 10% of the islands" population included it in their weekend. The proceeds go to local charities and voluntary groups and, this year, they're set to benefit by around £15,000.

Dinosaurs Rule At Shetland Museum

A new exhibition at the Shetland Museum and Archives features dinosaurs and fossils, with lots of complementary activities planned over the period when they're on display.

The Gentle Giant exhibition includes the skull of a triceratops, some model dinosaurs and an impressive selection of fossils. The triceratops is on loan from the Hunterian Museum, at the University of Glasgow and has been shipped to the islands by the exhibition sponsor, Shetland Transport. Dr Neil Clark, Palaeontologist from the Hunterian, gave two talks shortly after the exhibition opened and youngsters had the chance to look at the fossils with him. Other workshops and tours, and even a dino disco, are planned.

Museum Curator, Dr Ian Tait , noted that 65,000,000 years wasn't too long to wait. “Everyone likes dinosaurs, and if you loved them when you were very young, you never lose that fascination.”

The exhibition runs until 8 December.

Design Work To Begin On New Secondary School

Plans for the a new Anderson High School and associated facilities in Lerwick have taken a significant step forward.

Hub North Scotland, a consortium which builds major community projects in the north of Scotland, will design and build the new secondary school and halls of residence. They'll also refurbish the Clickimin Leisure Complex, which is adjacent to the school site and will provide the necessary sports facilities. The project is to cost £42m and it'll be financed jointly by the Scottish Government and Shetland Islands Council.

The project has been several years in the planning, with much debate about the location of the new school; the present buildings are situated on the other side of the town centre. The school was originally founded by local benefactor Arthur Anderson (1792-1868), born in Lerwick and co-founder of the P&O shipping line.

Councillor Vaila Wishart, who chairs the local authority's Education and Families Committee, said: “After such a long time it is good to know that a new Anderson High School will now be designed and built over the next couple of years.”

Shetland Chippy Triumphs Again

A Shetland fish and chip shop has battered the competition to land the title of top chippy in Scotland in the 2014 National Fish and Chip Awards.

Frankie's, in the village of Brae in Shetland's north mainland, opened in 2008 and was purpose-built. It doesn't just offer takeaway food: there's a café with 24 covers and there's outside seating with a sea view. Nor is the menu limited to haddock and chips: the large and succulent local mussels are a speciality, not to mention home-made lasagne, fish cakes, soup, desserts and cakes. Gluten-free options are available.

In January, we'll find out if they've won the overall United Kingdom title and we wish them the very best of luck.

Just after gaining the 'top chippy' accolade, Frankie's celebrated a win in the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards, collecting the prize for training and development. The firm has already picked up several other awards, including the National Fish Friers" Quality Award. Carlyn Johnson has twice been runner-up in the National Young Fish Frier category.

Jobs of the Month

There are several jobs on offer at NHS Shetland, including posts for a Dental Officer and Dental Hygienists and Therapists.

Posts with Shetland Islands Council include roles in administration, social work and the roads service.

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

Blog of the Month

Our intriguing blog this month comes from Island Mouse (who lives in Shetland) and City Mouse (based in Glasgow). These mice are accomplished photographers, engaging writers and keen travellers.

View Blog