September 2012 Move Shetland Newsletter

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

Just a month ago, I was remarking on the fact that, unlike much of the rest of the UK, Shetland had had quite a dry summer. All of that changed - at least for the central mainland of Shetland - in the small hours of Wednesday 22 August, when an intense rain storm caused flooding and some dramatic landslides on some of the steeper hill slopes. The storm was localised and it appears that the heaviest rain fell in an area where there is no weather station, but it's been estimated that at least 80mm came down in just a few hours. Records suggest that such intense rainfall hasn't occurred in the islands since the 1940s, although there was a cloudburst in the south mainland in September 2003, well away from any weather stations, which also caused major landslides.

Shetland isn't, in fact, a particularly wet place. About 40 inches (1250mm) of rain falls annually, roughly the same as in west central Scotland. We're a little wetter than, say, Tenby or Cornwall but much drier than the west Highlands.

On this occasion, the most spectacular effects were at the hamlet of Uradale, just south of the village of Scalloway, where mud and water swept down the valley, carrying with it the remains of an old, abandoned croft house and a Land-Rover, trailer and car belonging to a local farmer. The water burst into his house, too, leaving the family with a great deal of mopping-up to do. Mercifully, though, nobody came to any harm as a result of the storm.

August was a busy month in Shetland. We had the annual agricultural shows, dozens of other community events and the spectacle of Status Quo raising the roof at the Clickimin Centre. In September we have the Shetland Blues Festival: you can download the programme (pdf, 210kb). Other events include talks, walks, sailing regattas, fishing competitions and, of course, lots more music.

With the Olympic Games still fresh in our memories and the Paralympics well under way, we have something of a sporting theme this time. Sport of many kinds is popular in Shetland and first-class indoor and outdoor facilities, with excellent coaching, ensure that local sportspeople are well supported in whichever field they wish to compete.

Verdict As New Cinema and Music Venue Opens: Well Worth The Wait

Shetland's new home for film and music venue has been a long time in the making but it's a hugely impressive addition to the facilities available to islanders. Its first events - two concerts by the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland - took place on 25 and 26 August, though a formal opening isn't due until later in the year.

The last few weeks have been a tense time for all involved, as it took longer than expected to obtain the various clearances needed to open the new building to the public. However, the green light was given on Friday 24th, and it was immediately decided to move the two concerts from Lerwick Town Hall. Both orchestra and audience were clearly delighted with the new auditorium, which has comfortable, raked seating giving an excellent view of the stage. Stunningly clear, warm sound really did the band justice. A sample was broadcast on BBC Radio 3's In Tune.

The £12m project has its roots back in the 1980s, when the notion of a new museum combined with an arts centre was first discussed. In the event, the two projects went ahead separately, with the award-winning museum and archives opening in 2007.

The name of the new centre, Mareel, is the Shetland word for the phosphorescence sometimes seen in the sea. Its dramatic, contemporary form contrasts with the more traditional architecture of the museum and it certainly makes an impact on the Lerwick waterfront.

Inside the building, there's a live performance auditorium, two cinema screens, rehearsal rooms, a recording studio, a digital media production suite, broadcast facilities and a cafe bar with free high speed wi-fi internet access. The new centre will have an important role in education, offering a base and superb facilities for university-level music courses.

The building was designed by Gareth Hoskins Architects, who won the design competition held in 2006. A Shetland firm, DITT Construction Ltd, were the main contractors. Work began on site in June 2009.

Mareel will provide a year round programme of film, live music and other performance events. Shetland Arts, the trust that will run Mareel, say that it will be a unique location for live, recorded and streamed performance.

Funds For Sports Week In Commonwealth Games Countdown

Shetland has secured £10,000 worth of funding from the 2012 Games for Scotland programme and a Shetland Sports Week will run from 29 September until 7th October 2012. The event aims to encourage people to participate in sport and dance, to celebrate Shetland sport and create new opportunities for participating, volunteering, coaching and spectating in sport.

The Scottish Government and EventScotland aim, through the £600,000 programme, to engage communities throughout Scotland in the countdown to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. It's hoped that people will be motivated to take part in events which celebrate Scotland's culture, heritage and role as host of the Games.

The organisers will also be introducing disability sport activities and a dance programme for Shetland's school children. Shetland's music, art and sporting cultures will come together in an event recognising volunteers. A short film about local sports will be made and there will be a photography exhibition.

The week will include coaching workshops, free physical activity sessions at rural leisure centres and visits from elite athletes and coaches from the Scottish Institute of Sport. Probably the best-known guest will be Scottish rugby hero (and often, it must be said, saviour) Chris Paterson MBE. In an international career spanning 12 years, his reliable right boot added 170 penalties, 90 conversions and 3 drop goals to Scotland's tally. With the 22 tries that he also scored, he contributed a total of 809 points.

Bob Kerr, Sports Development Officer with Shetland Islands Council, said: 'Shetland Sports Week is taking shape with a huge commitment from local clubs and volunteers to open their doors to the public and encourage everyone to give something a go. The week offers an unprecedented opportunity to help meet the legacy challenge of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It is a fantastic chance to showcase Shetland sports and for people to take part in free sports activities and workshops across Shetland.'

Shetland's Amy Harper selected for Scotland's Young People's Sport Pane

Meanwhile, 20-year old Amy Harper has won a place on the Young People's Sport Panel, a project run by sportscotland and Young Scot to promote the benefits of sport to young people across the country. Sports Panel members come from all over Scotland and its members all have one thing in common, an inspirational attitude towards sport.

Following a series of interviews, 16 young people from across Scotland were selected by sportscotland and Young Scot to sit on the first Young People's Sport Panel. The standard of the 180 applicants was said to be incredibly high, reflecting the talent and dedication of the young people that are interested and involved in sport.

Panel members will work together and on their own to influence the future of Scottish sport and help raise awareness of sport in Scotland. They will create online content, videos and blogs and share their sporting experiences, stories and case studies to help and inspire more young people to get involved in sport.

Boost For Skatepark Enthusiasts

There was good news for another group of very active people when the Shetland Skatepark Association was awarded £62,000 by the Shetland LEADER fund towards the construction of a skatepark. The funding was approved by the Shetland Local Action Group on Thursday 9 August and the money will now be added to the £100,000 promised by the Shetland Islands Council last year.

The Association intend to build the skatepark at an area called the Knab, a rocky peninsula to the south of Lerwick's town centre. They'll be applying for planning permission soon.

Community Work Officer, June Porter, said: 'This is a fantastic boost for the project and opens the door for the Association to now apply to SportScotland for what will hopefully be the final piece of the funding package. Having supported the Association through the highs and lows of trying to develop a skatepark over the last ten years, everyone is excited at the positive steps being made. On the back of the Olympic Games where we saw BMX biking feature for only the second time, we expect interest in extreme sports such as BMX'ing and skateboarding to grow locally even more. Whilst it might be just too soon for skateboarding to feature at the Rio Olympics in four years' time, by then, all going well, Shetland will have its own top class venue in which to develop our own extreme sports stars.'

Shetland Nurse Plans To Promote Hill Running Route

A Shetland nurse, who has just completed the challenging task of running the length of Shetland in 24 hours, wants to promote hill running in the islands. Luke Holt hails from the tiny island of Papa Stour, off Shetland's west coast, and has been active in the sport for several years. His arduous journey began at Sumburgh Head, the southernmost point of the Shetland mainland,and ended on Hermaness, beyond which lie just the rocky outcrops of Muckle Flugga and Out Stack, Britain's northernmost point. The course extends over 74 miles of hill and dale that, in total, involved an ascent of about 5,000 metres. That's roughly equivalent to running off-road from Manchester to York, or Glasgow to Dundee, with a climb up Mont Blanc thrown in.

Luke has launched a new website which he hopes will attract hill runners from well beyond the shores of Shetland. He plans to make available all the GPS information necessary to allow others to follow the same route and his hope is that it will become a favoured challenge for long-distance hill runners. In the meantime, his efforts have raised a very useful sum of money for medical good causes.

Ann Cleeves Shortlisted For Crime Writing Award

Ann Cleeves, whose crime stories have attracted attention from the BBC, has been nominated in the Specsavers Crime Thriller awards. Other contenders are Jo Nesbo, Anthony Horowitz, Kathy Reichs and Stuart MacBride.

'Shetland', a two-part BBC television drama based on Ann's book, Red Bones, will be shown later this year. However, her nomination is also based on the successful series, Vera, starring Brenda Blethyn. There's more about Ann, her work and the awards on the Ann Cleeves website.

Local Community Facilities Get Help With Energy Management

More than 100 community buildings in Shetland are managed and run by volunteers, including public halls, youth centres, boating clubs and heritage centres. Energy costs are a major element of their running costs, so the Community Energy Efficiency Programme was launched last year to help them keep costs under control. Cash came from LEADER and Shetland Islands Council, with expertise from Community Energy Scotland.

The programme has just passed the halfway point and, so far, just over £130,000 has been granted to twenty different organisations. Eleven energy audits have been completed, with three more under way, and six community facilities have so far received funding for capital projects.

The Council's Michael Duncan says: 'We're really pleased with the progress of the scheme to date. It's helping groups preserve the fabric of their buildings, cut running costs and attract more users and income'.

Shetlander Makes Good Progress In Great British Bake-Off

A medical student from Shetland has impressed the judges in early episodes of the 16-part BBC2 series, The Great British Bake Off.

James Morton, from the small village of Hillswick in Shetland's north mainland, is just 21 and is the youngest baker in the series. He has been an enthusiastic baker for several years, learning from his granny and his mum.

In this, the third series of the programme, the participants have to undertake a wide range of baking that tests all their skills. In the first episode, James was successful with his cakes, which included an unusual upside-down cake that included parsnip, and he produced excellent rum babas. In the second, he demonstrated his bread-making talent, producing one of the three best plaited loaves and impressing judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry with his bagels, in particular a sourdough version.

The third episode saw him tackle a tarte tatin and make an open-faced tart featuring raspberries and pink macaroons. The judges were so impressed that they made him the star baker for the week. Back in Shetland, he has been reproducing his baking on the morning after each episode in the Peerie Shop Café on Lerwick's Esplanade.

You can find out more about the programme on the Great British Bake Off home page, from where there are links to individual episodes on the BBC i-Player. We wish James the very best of luck.

Blog Of The Month


With summer fading, it's a good time to look back at some of the season's wildlife highlights, so here is a well-illustrated blog from Shetland Nature that does just that.