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Fruit and veg for all as health centre polytunnel opens

Archer Simmons cuts the ribbon, helped by dad Andrew and watched by Dr Susan Bowie, holding Maisie Simmons, and (on the right) Pam Muir.

THERE was a celebratory feel in Hillswick on Thursday afternoon as the local health centre’s polytunnel was formally launched.

The Polycrub is now being used by patients of the surgery after being opened for planting eight weeks ago.

GP Susan Bowie said the idea is to allow patients to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of growing their own fruit and vegetables.

The Polycrub, which was supported by NHS Shetland’s endowment fund and built by community company Nortenergy, was opened to guests on Thursday for drinks and nibbles.

The opening ceremony was performed by Archer Simmons from Ollaberry, who cut a ribbon aided by his dad Andrew and watched by baby sister Maisie.

It is believed to be the first polytunnel attached to a health centre in the UK.

A month-by-month growing plan has been devised by westside organic specialists Transition Turrifield, while surgery staff tend to the plants daily.

“The Polycrub has been funded by NHS Shetland’s Endowment Fund, and we’re very grateful for that,” Bowie said.

“Local people and staff generously provided extra cash and services for site preparation and landscaping the surroundings, and the take-up of plots has been fantastic – there’s a waiting list!”

The doctor also paid tribute to Pam Muir – who is married to Dr Andy Muir, Bowie’s associate GP – for helping in the planning of the polytunnel, as well as the St Magnus Bay Hotel and surgery staff for supplying food and drink at the ceremony.

“I think all Shetland health centres should think about having a Polycrub,” Bowie said.

“It’s of tremendous benefit to patients and staff, and is also a real community resource.”