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Andy appointed new crofting commissioner

| Written by Chris Cope

New crofting commissioner Andy Holt. New crofting commissioner Andy Holt. ANDY Holt has been appointed the new Crofting Commission board member for Shetland.

The Papa Stour crofter was the only person up for election for the isles so he was automatically selected.

Holt replaces previous commissioner Kathleen Sinclair, who was elected in 2012.

Holt moved to Shetland from the Scottish Highlands in 1973 and alongside his wife he developed a croft from scratch on the island of Papa Stour while raising a family.

He said the appointment came as something of a shock as he didn't think he'd end up landing the role when he applied.

"I saw [about the election] in the paper. My wife and I were sitting having a bowl of soup at lunchtime and I said, 'I think I could do that'," Holt said.

"I thought I would apply, but I thought there would be a lot more competition, so I was very surprised to hear it announced that the position was mine."

He added that his interest in crofting and his passion for the "way of life" in Shetland are two things he will bring to the role.

The Crofting Commission confirmed on Friday that Cyril Annal, who was also unopposed in the election, will be the new commissioner for Caithness and Orkney.

Rod Mackenzie was elected to represent the East Highlands and Billy Neilson won the South West Highlands election.

Mairi Mackenzie will represent West Highlands and Iain Maciver was elected for the Western Isles.

Rural secretary Fergus Ewing said it is "essential" that the industry has "dedicated" people to represent the interests of communities across Scotland.

"The elected crofting commissioners will give crofters a stronger say in how they are regulated, bringing valuable local knowledge and experience to the role and I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the six newly elected commissioners on their election and wish them every success," he said.

Crofting Commission chief executive Bill Barron added: "With the three commissioners appointed/re-appointed by the Scottish Government earlier this year, we now have a full complement of nine.

"We believe there is a positive future for crofting and I will do all I can to help the new board of commissioners carry out their functions effectively."

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