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Gary is new guizer jarl

Lerwick guizer jarl for 2032 Gary Smith with his son Jackson and dad Willie.

LERWICK Up Helly Aa has its latest guizer jarl in waiting.

Gary Smith, who currently lives in Sandwick, will lead the event in 2032 as he follows in the footsteps of his father who was guizer jarl nearly 20 years ago.

He was voted in by the Up Helly Aa committee at Tuesday’s mass meeting at Lerwick’s Garrison Theatre, with 2017 juizer garl Lyall Gair welcoming him into the fold.

Smith has a long history with the event, which stretches back to when he was a young child and would visit the galley shed in Lerwick.

In 1997, his father Willie was the guizer jarl and it seems Smith will be honoured to do the same.

“There’s obviously that family connection,” he said. “He was on the committee as well for 15 years, and when you’re going to the galley shed when you’re a five, six, seven year old, you catch the bug.

“Up Helly Aa has always been part of my life.”

Smith said the idea of going for jarl has been suggested to him a number of times in the past, but he now has the time to dedicate to being on the Up Helly Aa committee.

He used to be a squad leader and feels it is a “natural progression” to eventually becoming jarl.

“I’ve been quite a big Up Helly Aa man since I was a boy. Joining the committee, you can’t really do it unless you have a lot of time to commit, and at this stage in my life I feel I can give that commitment,” Smith said.

Smith will be 54 when his big moment arrives, but he isn’t frustrated by the long wait.

“There’s also plenty of work to be done each year to organise the current festival,” he added.

It was also confirmed at the mass meeting that Mareel will act as a hall for the first time at the 2017 Up Helly Aa.

It will take the place of Lerwick’s Town Hall, which is currently undergoing essential refurbishment work expected to last through to summer 2017.

Mareel will also host the traditional daytime reception.


Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021