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Community / Bressay Up Helly Aa a fiery occasion for jarl James

Bressay jarl James Anderson enjoying every moment of it. All photos in this story by Malcolm Younger/Millgaet Media

IT IS the case of following in dad’s footsteps for James Anderson today (Friday) as he leads the Bressay Up Helly Aa jarl’s squad.

The 27-year-old’s father was jarl back in 1986 and he is wearing the same colour of suit as his dad – orange.

The theme of fire won’t just be restricted to the outfit or torch-lit procession at night, though, with references scattered throughout the squad.

Guizer jarl Anderson, who has lived in Bressay all of his life, is representing Njord, who is said to have had the ability to calm both sea and fire.

“My suit is the fire [orange] and the rest of my squad’s suit is the sea – which you can imagine the colours of that,” he said.

“My dad Keith was the jarl in 1986 and his suit was orange too.”

Anderson’s penchant for cinnamon-flavoured whisky Fireball, meanwhile, is getting a starring role in the day too.

The galley name – surely a bit of a mouthful after a few drams – is Fflórabitélshós, which is an anagram of ‘shot o Fireball’.

The squad – 37 adults and five children – will also sing a medley of tunes featuring an Elvis song, an Irish folk ditty and Fireball by Pitbull, of course.

There will also be reference to James’ interest in attending Scotland football matches through the Tartan Army tune Coming Down the Road.

Some of the squad are travelling far for the day, James said, with a cousin travelling from Stockholm.

“He came back three weeks ago and he’s been helping out,” he said.

“I’ve got two members from Newcastle, and a member from Edinburgh as well.”

James, who has been on the Bressay Up Helly Aa committee for ten years, kicked off the day alongside his squad at the Speldiburn Cafe for some stomach-lining grub.

The Vikings are being let loose on the Shetland mainland during the morning as they visit the Bell’s Brae Primary School and the ASN department of the Anderson High School.

It is back to Bressay at midday, with visits scheduled to Maryfield, the shop, hall and galley shed before folk muster at 7.45pm for the procession, which encourages anyone to participate.

“There’s 140 torches been made,” James said.

“Any spectator can actually have a torch. It’s a little bit different than your usual Up Helly Aa.

“This year there’s nine squads including the jarl squad. Last year was only four squads including the jarl squad, so it’s more than doubled this year.”

The night time revelry will kick off at  the Bressay hall at 9pm to cap off a busy day.

“There’s been a lot of build-up to the Bressay Up Helly Aa this year,” James said this week, “so hopefully the weather stays dry and we get a good day.”

Guizer jarl James Anderson with his squad at Bell’s Brae Primary School on Friday morning.

Bressay jarl James Anderson with some of his squad in Lerwick on Friday morning. All photos: Malcolm Younger/Millgaet Media

It’s all about having a good time.