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December 2008 Newsletter


Here is our newsletter from December 2008. To receive our monthly newsletters by email, please sign-up using the form in the left column.

This month, of course, we send you our warmest Yule greetings. If that sounds a little old-fashioned, all will become clear if you read our special feature on Shetland Christmas Past.

Shetland Voted Best Place To Live In Scotland

Shetland has come out very well in another of the quality of life surveys that appear from time to time. The most recent assessment, by the Bank of Scotland, puts Shetland at number one in Scotland, overtaking last year's winner, Aberdeenshire. According to the Bank:

'Residents of the Shetland Islands tend to have higher than average earnings in Scotland as well as a high employment rate; they also have good health, the best education results and suffer low burglary rates. The Shetland Islands also offer the best value for money property due to a combination of the best quality of life and relatively low property prices; house prices trade at a discount to the Scottish average of £39,290 (24%).'

There has been extensive media coverage of Shetland's success, for example by the BBC, but the full details of the survey are contained in the Bank of Scotland press release.

Shetland Amenity Trust Wins Green Award

The work of the Shetland Amenity Trust, which tackles a wide range of projects, has been recognised in a Green Award in this year's Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards, held recently in Inverness. The Trust is very committed to minimising its own environmental impact and operates a number of innovative recycling schemes. For example, glass is collected and turned into paving slabs, shot-blasting sand or decorative material for gardens. Many of the building projects that the Trust has undertaken have used recycled building materials. The Trust also operates a collection service for old vehicles, keeping Shetland largely free of the clutter that so often mars rural areas.

Other activities tackled by the Trust include the provision of an archaeology service, research on place-names and, last but not least, operation of the Shetland Museum and Archives. However, it's thought that one of the things which particularly impressed the judges was the annual 'Voar Redd-Up', a community clear-up each Spring that sees up to 4,000 volunteers - nearly a fifth of the islands' population - clear rubbish from beaches and roadsides. There's a video featuring the award winners here.

Shetland Museum And Archives Scoops Two More Awards

The Shetland Museum and Archives, opened in June 2007, was recognised in this years British Urban Regeneration Awards and in the 2008 Wood Awards.

The BURA awards recognise best practice in regeneration and competition is always very keen. The Museum and Archives project, which cost around £12m, is one of several developments along Lerwick's historic waterfront seen as vital to the regeneration of the area. Once dominated by the fishing industry, the fortunes of this part of the waterfront had declined during the 20th century and, from the 1980s, the Council's Planning Service promoted both regeneration of the whole area and the development of the Museum and Archives on the site at Hay's Dock. The Shetland Amenity Trust took on responsibility for the Museum and Archives project and, by common consent, the result -designed by BDP - is a quite outstanding building in an entirely appropriate setting. Other projects have included the creation of a new business park on the nearby North Ness, formerly an area of run-down warehousing, and the creation of a new access road serving the whole area. The next project to be undertaken will be 'Mareel', a new music and cinema venue being constructed by Shetland Arts. Work should start on site early in 2009 and the £12m building is due to open in 2010.

The Wood Awards recognise excellence in the use of wood and the judges recognised the creative use of various timbers throughout the building. They were particularly impressed by the towering boat hall, which from the outside is an iconic 'marker' for the Museum and Archives and on the inside offer a remarkable space for the display of suspended boats.

HIE Helps Firms Keep Young Workers in Shetland

The government-sponsored body that pursues economic development, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, is assisting local firms in Shetland to employ local graduates. Funding of £7,500 is available per graduate for the year-long initiative. Local businesses have welcomed the scheme.

Shetland Gets Ready For Festive Season

As Christmas trees and lights appear in all the usual places around Shetland's capital, Lerwick, and in homes throughout the islands, the usual round of seasonal events is getting under way. The annual Christmas exhibition featuring art and craft under £100 is on at the Bonhoga Gallery, an attractive venue converted from an old water mill. This year's pantomime at the Garrison Theatre is Jack and the Beanstalk, in which members of the Islesburgh Drama Group will, as always, amuse the crowd with some topical references blended into a time-honoured tale. And, to mark the season, we've added a new article about Shetland Yule traditions on this website.

Shetlander In Bobsleigh Success

We've all heard of the exploits of the Jamaican Bobsleigh team, which first hit the headlines when they turned up at the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988 then, four years later, went on to beat the US, French, Russian, Italian and Swedish teams. Unlike Jamaica, Shetland does get a little snow, but nowhere near enough for regular winter sports. However, that hasn't stopped Kenny Simm from Shetland. He's one half of a Royal Marines team - the other member is Chris Wooley - who have recently been making their mark in Italy and Austria, finishing in fifth place in one competition. Now, they're looking ahead to competing in other major events, maybe even the Winter Olympics. We send Kenny and Chris our very best seasonal wishes.

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