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New NorthLink boat is named

NORTHERN isles ferry operators NorthLink yesterday (Tuesday) announced the name of their new freight vessel after a competition, which saw 183 entries from across the globe.

Shetland girl Sophie Wishart was named the winner, being one of 20 people who picked the name Hildasay, an uninhabited island off Shetland’s west coast.

The 12 year old, from Ocraquoy, near Cunningsburgh, said she chose the name because of its local associations; it began with same letter as NorthLink’s other ships and had the same number of syllables as Hascosay, the name of the aging boat it will replace.

Sophie, an accomplished piano and fiddle player who is Shetland’s current Junior Musician of the Year, will take centre stage at the naming ceremony at Lerwick’s Holmsgarth ferry terminal, on 10 February. She also wins the prize of four return trips with cabin for two plus car with NorthLink.

She said: “My dad John works as a maintenance joiner with the Lerwick Port Authority and he sees the NorthLink boats virtually every day. We saw that the company had organised a competition to name the new freight boat and dad suggested that I should put in an entry.

“My younger sister, Kirsty, and I got out the maps and had a look at all of the peerie islands around the Shetland mainland to see if there was anything which would be a fit for a freight boat. We had to get the name starting with an ‘H’.

“We saw Hildasay and thought it would be perfect. I was amazed when I got the phone call saying that I had won. But what a great surprise and I’m really looking forward to the naming ceremony in Lerwick.”

Hildasay, previously named the Shield, is being time-chartered from owners Seatruck Ferries of Heysham. She was built in Spain in 1999 and is expected to be better able to maintain a reliable service than the 38 year old Hascosay, which was too small to meet growing demand, especially during the livestock season.

NorthLink commercial director Cynthia Spencer said: “The response from islanders was terrific, but it wasn’t just islanders who entered the competition. We had entries from as far afield as New York, Poland, Greece, Finland, Sweden and from all over the UK.”

Hildasay, thought to take its name from an Old Norse war goddess or to mean Battle Island, was the most frequently suggested name. The next most popular was Havra, another island off the Shetland mainland, which was selected by eight entrants. Other popular names included Hermaness, Hjalmarr, Hoy and Hraustr.

The company said the time-charter arrangement, identical to that currently in place with NorthLink’s other dedicated freight vessel Clare, is an industry-standard practice and represents a value for money option for the chartering company as the owner continues to assume financial responsibility for all ship-related costs such as maintenance and repairs as well as crewing.

Assurances have been given to the 40 crew members on Hascosay that they will be retained and redeployed on the company’s other vessels.

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