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Laurence leads Cullivoe Up Helly Aa

The jarl squad line up for a photo at Burravoe. Photo: Garry Sandison

YELL has already been indulging the Up Helly Aa experience ahead of today’s (Friday) procession and fiery galley burning.

Guizer jarl Laurence Odie and his squad of 15 adults and seven children visited schools, halls and care homes on Thursday as Cullivoe Up Helly Aa kicked off in style.

Guider jarl Laurence Odie in fine voice at the Mid Yell nursery on Thursday. Photo: Kevin Osborn

The festival, which celebrated its 60th anniversary last year, is one of three Up Helly Aas taking place this weekend alongside Bressay and Norwick.

Laurence, who runs a knitwear business in Hoswick and is also the chairman of the Yell community council, is representing Balder Odinsson.

“I’m representing one of Odin’s sons, because my surname is Odie,” he said.

“It originated from Odinsson, which originated from son of Odin.”

Balder was “known as the bright one, who liked peace rather than war”.

The emblem on the squad’s shields and axes is three horns of Odin, which are three interlocking drinking horns.

Laurence said his squad includes nine immediate family members, while it also features two female shield maidens.

Squad member Lisa Odie at the Mid Yell nursery. Photo: Kevin Osborn

The Burravoe man, who has been involved in the event since 1969, happens to be the first ever Cullivoe jarl from the south of Yell.

Laurence said he has only missed a few years of the Cullivoe Up Helly Aa, when his children were young.

Among his favourite squads he has been in over the years have included ‘Mr Yell Contest’ and the ‘Windhouse Ghosts’.

The squad, meanwhile, enjoyed breakfast at the Cullivoe Hall at around 8am this morning before proceeding to the local school with the galley, which is named Sliepner after the name of Odin’s horse.

The Cullivoe jarl squad ranges from the young to the somewhat more experienced. Photo: Kevin Osborn

They will then travel on to the Sellafirth Hall and undertake some house visits before taking some well-earned downtime ahead of the procession.

Guizers will assemble for the torch-lit procession from 7pm before the galley is burnt and the festivities kick off into the night.

The hop night will take place at the Cullivoe Hall on Saturday with a variety concert and a dance, while on Sunday a charity hairstyling event will be held in the hall’s clubroom from 7pm.

Money raised from the hair event will go to the three local schools, the Isleshavn care home and the Yell health centre.