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Letters / The Significance of 17 May

I was absolutely astonished to read John Tulloch’s letter Embarrassing Snub (SN, 19 May 12) suggesting the visit of Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg to Scalloway should have been postponed because of Alec Salmond visiting Norway earlier that week.

Possibly Mr Tulloch does not understand the significance of the 17 May for Norwegians. The Constitution of Norway was signed at Eidsvoll on 17 May 1814. Ever since, it has been a national day of celebration. Here in Shetland on 17 May Norwegian war dead are remembered at their graves in Lerwick and at the Shetland Bus memorial in Scalloway.

The Shetland Bus Friendship Society extended an invitation to Norway to send a senior representative to open our new museum and were delighted when Prime Minister Stoltenberg agreed to come on 17 May. Scalloway has a special place in Norwegian hearts as the base of the Shetland Bus. After the events of 22 July 2011 they felt it appropriate to remember the 44 crewmen who lost their lives fighting for Norway’s freedom.

The events at Scalloway were broadcast live by Norwegian TV as part of their all day programme on celebrations around Norway. The parade in Scalloway was joined by a huge number of Norwegians, including relatives of Shetland Bus veterans, who had come across especially for it.

Mr Salmond himself understood the significance of the day when he chose to use it to make his announcement about the investment in a new deep water quay for decommissioning oil rigs at Dales Voe.

The Shetland Bus Friendship Society were delighted to have Prime Minister Stoltenberg be the centre of the event of the century and look forward to our ties with Norway becoming closer.

John N Hunter
Shetland Bus Friendship Society