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Sandwick school secures funding to build observatory

Sandwick Junior High School headmaster Stuart Clubb (left) with architect George Clarke (right) after winning a prize in the Jewson Building Better Communities competition.

THE COMMUNITY of Sandwick will soon be able to gaze at the stars after the local junior high school won £5,000 worth of materials to build an observatory.

The school was one of 37 prize winners in this year’s Jewson Building Better Communities programme.

Sandwick Junior High has in its possession a 12-inch Dall Kirkham telescope which was built in Lerwick by amateur astronomer Billy Kay in the 1960s.

Despite having it for over 17 years, there has not been a dedicated space at the school to allow it to be used properly.

Thanks to the funding boost, local builder Tommy Williamson will now erect a 12 square metre timber frame observatory so that pupils and the public can use the telescope.

Headmaster Stuart Clubb said: “Considering the number of entries nationally, to even have been nominated is fantastic.

“To win this £5,000 worth of materials means that a project we’ve been working on for a long time will actually happen, so we’re delighted.

“As a school we’ll reap the benefits as Shetland is a small community. With the observatory, we’re hoping to offer outside physics classes and also have people from the area who have a genuine interest in astronomy to use the new facility.”