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Community / Updated with photos from the procession and burning: Jarl Martin in charge of first fire festival of the season

Guizer Jarl George Martin depicting the Viking god Balder with his wife Janne Glesnes Martin while the galley is consumed by the flames at Port Arthur. All photos of the procession and the burning: Chris Brown

GEORGE Martin is stepping out as guizer jarl at the Scalloway Fire Festival today (Friday) after 20 years in the Trondra men’s squad, and for the first time in the history of the village’s fire festival the jarl is joined by his wife leading the squad.

It is George’s third time in a jarl’s squad, reflecting the seven-year cycle of the Scalloway festival – which is the first Up Helly Aa to break the winter’s gloom.

George has given serious reflection to the character and squad theme since the summer of 2018.

All was revealed on Friday morning as the jarl’s squad visited the NAFC Marine Centre, the first of their many public engagements during a long and busy day ahead.

George said: “I am representing the Viking god Balder. He was the god for light, the sun and all things good; quite a colourful character. 

The procession was shortened due to the weather on Friday night, starting on Main Street.

“Our suit is based on that character. The main element of the suit is the sun wheel which can be seen on our shields and cloaks. The sun wheel also depicts travel and going on journeys. Balder was a great explorer. So it seem really fitting with sunshine, the character and what he portraits.”

He added: “He is a character in a saga that’s got very personal connections to my life and family. The themes are something that’s quite meaningful to me and my family and the whole squad is built around it.”

George’s wife Janne Glesnes Martin, or Mrs Guizer Jarl as she was referred to, happens to be a Norwegian, so the whole Viking theme sits well with her too.

“She comes from in village in Norway called Baldersheim, which translates to Balder’s home, so Balder seems to be a fairly logical character to depict.”

The team leader at the SIC’s housing service could also count on the sage advice of last year’s jarl Maurice Jamieson, who has been a “great support” and is a “fantastic guy”.

“Maurice has been sitting in the chair in the committee and I will take over when the festival is by with,” said George.

There are 46 guizers in the jarl’s squad including bairns and five musicians accompanying the guizers, who hail from as far afield as Australia, the Middle East and Norway.

“It’s a good busful and it could have been more, but it’s good to keep it all in one bus and have the crack,” said George. 

“I am very much looking forward to it,” George said earlier in the week.

The jarl’s squad is visiting the Walter and Joan Gray Eventide Home before visiting the Scalloway Primary School. Then comes another school visit, this time to Tingwall primary, before Trondra Hall and then Hamnavoe Primary School.

At 2.30pm, the squad will head back to Scalloway Boating Club for the entertainment of senior citizens. After that the squad will be at Trondra Hall for tea at 4.45pm before heading for the evening procession.

The guizers will muster at Scalloway Public Hall at 6.20pm before the jarl’s squad’s march up the ranks at Lovers Loan.

Then the big lighting up takes place at 7pm followed by the procession through the Main Street to Port Arthur and the galley burning at 8pm.

The jarl’s squad’s rota of hall visits is: Hamnavoe Hall – 8.30pm; Bridge End Hall – 9.40pm; Scalloway Legion – 10.50pm; Tingwall Hall – midnight; Scalloway Hall – 1.10am; Scalloway Boating Club – 2.20am.

Photos from the morning events below:

Guizer jarl George Martin on the move with his squad on Friday morning.

Mrs Guizer Jarl.
The 2020 jarl squad gathers for the traditional photo on Friday morning.
A Viking kiss: Jarl Gorge Martin is joined by his wife Janne Glesnes Martin on board the galley Hringhorn.