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Community / Charitable trust on the lookout for new chairperson

Shetland Charitable Trust vice chairman Jonathan Wills (left) and chairman Bobby Hunter (right).Bobby Hunter (right) back in 2013 when he was elected chairman of the trust while Dr Jonathan Wills was made vice-chairman. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

THE CHAIRMAN of Shetland Charitable Trust has now formally stood down from the organisation – leaving behind what he calls a “much more fit for purpose” set-up.

Bobby Hunter has now left the trust after being first appointed in 2011 and being elected to lead the organisation in 2013.

A new chairperson is expected to be elected at a meeting on Thursday 6 June.

Hunter said it had been a “privilege” to chair the trust, which has disbursed over £63 million to local groups and charities since he took up his position.

During his tenure the organisation has made significant cuts to its level of spending while it also made changes to its governance structure as councillors stepped back from sitting on the board of trustees due to perceived and real conflict of interests.

This in turn led to criticism that the organisation had become undemocratic and unaccountable, as all its trustees are now appointed rather than elected.

“I believe [the trust] is now much more fit for purpose for the years ahead thanks to all the good work done by a group of forward looking and committed trustees and staff,” Hunter reflected.

“The trust disburses more than £20,000 a day in Shetland, and that benefits most people in one way or another, enhancing the standard of life here.

“But this is only possible because the trust has taken sometimes difficult decisions to put the right financial and investment strategies in place. It also ensures that future generations will gain from the funds.”

Hunter vacating the top position comes a day after it was announced that SSE would be funding all future investment in the proposed Viking Energy wind farm, which the trust has a large stake in.

However, concerns have been raised that this will mean that the trust will receive less money from the wind farm if it becomes operational.

A meeting of the trust in late February, meanwhile, heard that the value of its funds in December was £254 million.

The charitable trust has received and disbursed money paid by the oil industry to the local community since Sullom Voe Terminal began operating in the 1970s.

Among its regular recipients are organisations like the arts, amenity and recreational trusts, while it also provides funding to the likes of Shetland Befriending Scheme, Citizen’s Advice Bureau and Voluntary Action Shetland.

Reflecting on his time as chair, Hunter also said the trust has improved the board’s age and gender profile, while the standard of trustees is “very high”.

Trust chief executive Dr Ann Black added: “It has been a privilege to work closely with Bobby in his time as trustee and chair. All the trust staff would like to thank him for his support and commitment.”