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News round-up / Nature festival, crofter competition, Northlink app

Coasteering will feature in this year’s nature festival.

SHETLAND Nature Festival starts this Saturday at Noss and concludes next weekend in Unst after featuring a whole range of events.

Coasteering, open days at Noss and Sumburgh Head, family activities, guided walks, a talk on Seabirds by Will Miles, croft tours, botanical drawing classes, and much, much more are on the bill as this year’s festival boasts its biggest programme yet and events are booking up fast.

Punters can have a go at things as diverse as watersports, botanical drawing, learn about marine ecology, go rock-pooling with the kids, and even search for minibeasts.

There are a huge range of guided walks and expert talks with events taking place throughout the day and in the evenings too.

Shetland Amenity Trust put on the annual Nature Festival and are keen to get as many people as possible involved.

The Trust’s Paul Harvey said: “Shetland really comes to life in the summer and we are keen to help people to get out there and enjoy it. With the summer holidays starting next week, we have worked hard to put on lots of events that will appeal to families as well as events that will attract seasoned wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts.”

The Trust has been working closely with local businesses, organisations, individuals and community groups this year to expand what the festival can offer.

The new Heritage Season Ticket will also save money on entry fees for people visiting the Sumburgh Head, Crofthouse Museum, and Old Scatness open days.

Harvey added: “We hope this will be our best festival yet and we are really pleased to be working with local communities to deliver events throughout Shetland.

“We are also excited to have a range of expert speakers giving talks throughout the week, including author of The Dark Stuff, Donald Murray. He will explore our relationship with peat and moorland throughout Europe, and the role it plays in culture, folklore and in mitigating climate change.”


One of the prizes in this year’s competition.

Time is running out to enter the amenity trust’s ‘Seasons of the Shetland Crofter’ competition which closes for entries on 21 July. 

Entrants do not have to be a professional photographer or a crofter to win,
they just have to submit a photo or video that reflects an aspect of life on a Shetland croft.

The entry can be a new image or video, or one from the past. Winners can claim a luxury Vispring real Shetland wool bed or a stay at the “spectacular” Sumburgh Head lighthouse.

The competition is being run by local wool firm Jamieson and Smith in collaboration with the Shetland Amenity Trust who run Shetland Wool Week.

Entries will be compiled into a book and video presentation which will be launched at Wool Week in September. The winners will be announced at the opening night of this year’s event which is in its 10th year.

Oliver Henry of Jamieson and Smith and patron for this year’s Wool Week said: “The Shetland summer may have had a few false starts but for crofters this is something they take in their stride, often having to deal with all of the seasons in a single day.

“We are looking for photos and videos that really capture crofting life, it can be an old photo or video or something more recent.  We hope the book will be a real insight into the industry past and present and the people and environment at the heart of it.”


The Neatebox Welcome app.

Serco NorthLink Ferries has partnered with one of Scotland’s digital start-ups to improve journeys for customers who require additional support.

The ‘Welcome’ app by Neatebox helps to overcome hurdles for passengers with specific accessibility requirements.

The free app allows users to indicate the areas they need customer service to be aware of and the specific assistance they require. Service providers are notified of the visit request and receive an overview of the users condition and top tips to aid their interaction with the customer.

Gavin Neate, the founder and chief executive of Neatebox, said: “Our app helps disabled people to receive a better service, communicate with ease and travel with confidence. Even staff at companies with excellent customer service, like NorthLink, can struggle sometimes to know how best to support customers. We’re delighted that they have seen how the product can help both passengers and staff, and hope that other operators will follow suit.”

NorthLink Ferries customer service director Seumas Campbell said: “We use the Welcome app to make staff aware of the specific needs of their visitors in advance of their arrival. We can greet customers by name and offer them the assistance they may require. This greatly improves the confidence and interactions between customer service teams and passengers helping to build lasting relationships.”

Earlier this year NorthLink implemented its new ‘Recite Me’ accessibility tool to the website to “enable more people to experience the NorthLink Ferries website in a way suitable to their needs.”

General Election - 12 December 2019