Projects Gain From Coastal Community Awards

by Alastair Hamilton -

Textiles, boat-building and tourism will benefit from funding made available under the Coastal Communities Awards.

The boost to the textile industry in Shetland comes in the form of a grant of £95,000 for GlobalYell Ltd, a social enterprise in Yell. The money will buy new equipment, create employment and support marketing activity.

Andy Ross, Creative Director of GlobalYell, says: “It is a very exciting opportunity and time for us. This funding represents a vote of confidence in GlobalYell, giving the charity more opportunities to work with contemporary craft and design in the islands. It is hugely significant especially in the view of recent meetings we have had with representatives from Scotland, London and as far afield as Japan, all of whom have been impressed with the quality and design of our woven products. Now we will have a chance to take up opportunities like these.”

Coastal Communities funding will provide one new job in Yell in 2015 as well as supporting the existing Creative Director post at GlobalYell, as the organisation moves on with its project. It will allow GlobalYell to purchase a new production loom from the United States to complement the existing looms at the studio. There will be new equipment to go with the loom and the grant will support further employment opportunities in the future. It will also give GlobalYell an opportunity to attend trade fairs to show its fabrics.

Andy adds that GlobalYell aims not only to make cloth to its own designs but also to work with others to produce short lengths of fabric, a facility which he says is lacking in the UK. GlobalYell is interested to speak to manufacturers, designers, makers and creators about the project, and Andy can be contacted on globalyell@btconnect.com.

Another craft skill, boatbuilding, will also benefit from the awards. Shetland Amenity Trust have been awarded £105,000 in grant funding from the Coastal Communities Fund to develop an SQA accredited customised award in the construction of traditional Shetland wooden boats. The training will equip future generations with the skills necessary to build, repair and maintain the traditional Shetland wooden boats that are such a distinctive feature of the islands.

The course will be centred on the boat sheds at Hay's Dock, which form part of the Shetland Museum and Archives, and the new workshop and boat store under construction at Staney Hill on the outskirts of Lerwick. The Trust will be appointing a course coordinator to develop the course framework and units, after which the opportunity to apply for the apprenticeship will be announced.

The Trust has already undertaken the building and repair of traditional Shetland boats at Hay's Dock. It was from that boatyard that Shetland's preserved sail-fishing vessel, the Swan, took to the water in 1900.

The third of the Coastal Communities Awards has gone to Unst, Britain's most northerly inhabited island. The Unst Partnership is keen to foster tourism and they will use the grant – £63,098 – to employ a tourism development officer.

The island has much that appeals to visitors. There are two National Nature Reserves offering outstanding bird life and unique geology and botany. Two local museums provide an insight into island life in general and boats in particular; and there's a wealth of archaeological remains, particularly from the Viking period. Less traditionally, the island is also known for a fully-furnished bus shelter, scene of many a "selfie" in recent years. But it's also a great place to explore on foot, with miles of coastal and hill walks.

Unst isn't difficult to reach: there are frequent ferry services from the Shetland mainland via Yell and – by UK standards – fares are excellent value.

The project, which will last for two years, will aim to attract more visitors and persuade them to stay from longer.