THIS YEAR’s fire festival season is approaching its finale with the Delting Up Helly Aa this weekend.
Guizer jarl Andrew Hall is leading his squad of over 40 adults, teenagers and children around Brae, Mossbank, Voe and Vidlin on Friday ahead of the ever-popular hop celebrations the following day.
Doing things a little differently, Andrew’s squad aren’t wearing helmets – instead they’ve got hoods – and the band’s traditional fiddles and accordions have been ditched in favour of ska-influenced brass instruments.
The guizer jarl has nine family members in his squad, with his two sons Fraser and Gary inspiring the galley name Fragar.
This weekend Brae man Andrew – who is originally from Leeds – will be going by the name of Halfdan Ragnarsson due to the links the Viking leader had with Yorkshire.
After his father Ragnar Lodbrok was killed, Halfdan and his two brothers vowed revenge by heading to England with an army, ultimately capturing the king of Northumbria.
“This Halfdan Ragnarsson created a Viking kingdom of Yorkshire,” Andrew said. “I’m originally from Leeds, I moved up here 38 years ago. It’s no surprise I’m representing a viking with a Yorkshire connection.”
Andrew has been on the Delting Up Helly Aa committee since 2005, and he is the treasurer too.
“I’m really proud,” he said. “I think Delting Up Helly Aa is a fantastic community event and I’m honoured to be jarl.”
The basis of his squad stems back to the late 1980s and 1990s, with Andrew guizing since around 1991.
“I’m also proud to be following my wife Barbara’s father, the late Fraser Peterson, who was jarl in 1982.” he added.
Andrew’s squad members are carrying with them a larger than usual shield, which spans 32 inches across, to reflect shields excavated by archeologists, while he has gone for hoods instead of shields.
Trumpets and trombones will help to add a different touch to the backing music too. “It kind of links back to when I was a young lad,” Andrew said. “I liked Madness and ska music.”
Among the musicians will be First Foot Soldiers members Arthur Nicholson and Chris Thomson, while Trookers’ Robert Balfour and Andrew’s wife Barbara have written a special song for the squad to sing.
The squad’s first visit on Friday was to the galley shed in Brae before they headed to the Lunnasting, Brae and Mossbank primary schools.
The squad is due to have lunch with the Sullom Voe Terminal manager at the Mossbank Hall in the afternoon, while the procession in Brae will light up at 7.30pm.
The night’s festivities will be spread across five venues – Delting Boating Club, Mossbank Hall, Voe Hall, Vidlin Hall and the Brae Hall – throughout the night.
The popular hop day will see live music in the Mid Brae Inn and Delting Boating Club through the afternoon and evening before Rack N’ Ruin take to the stage at the sold-out Brae Hall at night.
The Walls Brownie Up Helly Aa, meanwhile, was also due to take place on Friday but it has been postponed until 30 March.
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