Video: Steven Spence
AS ANDREW Hunter stepped out as Uyeasound Up Helly Aa guizer jarl this morning (Friday), he continued a family tradition which stems back nearly 100 years.
His great-grandfather James-John Hunter was jarl in 1926 before his grandfather Brian took on the role in 1971. His dad Peter, meanwhile, was jarl in the Unst fire festival in 1994.
Uyeasound native Andrew said he is “very proud” to be donning the suit and helmet, like his family did, as he represents Halfdan the Black.
“Legend tells of a grandson of Halfdan the Black being buried near the banks of Clivocast – our family’s farm – with the Uyeabrek standing stone being used to mark his location,” the 33-year-old explained in the build-up to the big day.
“We are hoping to have our squad photos taken at the standing stone, which will likely be weather dependent – but I went with [sons] Jack and Robbie on a fine day last week to get our picture taken there for the front of the UHA programme.”
Seven year old Jack and Robbie, four, will join dad in his squad, which also includes 24 other men.
“Jack and Robbie have been Up Helly Aa mad since their first experiences as babies and have been keen helpers in the galley shed all winter,” Andrew said.
“It is amazing to have my boys, dad and grandad in the squad – a real family occasion.
“We’ve had an excellent winter, the squad have worked hard and it’s really been a fun too. We’re lucky to have extremely talented squad musicians with us for the day too, much needed to keep the squad right for the songs.”
Some special entries on the songlist will be a medley of Bad Moon Rising and Sweet Caroline, while the squad suits include winged helmets, grey cloaks, leather breastplates with black kirtles, breeks and boots.
The galley set to go up in flames tonight is Asbrú, which is another name for the Bifrost, the bridge that connects Midgard and Asgard.
Something that will add a slightly different touch to the day, meanwhile, is that TV presenter Kate Humble and her team will be filming the Uyeasound Up Helly Aa for a new Channel 5 series.
A total of 226 guizers are expected to take part in the torch-lit procession at half seven in the evening after the jarl squad makes visits around the area – spreading the love on what happens to be Valentine’s Day.
At night 22 squads will provide the entertainment at the Uyeasound Hall, with the Alan Nicolson dance band on hand to keep toes tapping.
“It’s looking like a poor forecast,” Andrew said earlier this week, “but there’s always such fantastic community spirit around the event that there is no doubt we will have a memorable day and night.”
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