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Community / No wool week this year due to coronavirus

Nature festival and boat week also called off

Guests posing for photos in their wooly hats as the week formally opened on Sunday evening. Photos: Shetland News
Guests posing for photos in their wooly hats at the 2018 Shetland Wool Week. Photo: Shetland News

THIS YEAR’s wool week has been called off after Shetland Amenity Trust postponed its remaining scheduled events due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Shetland Nature Festival and Shetland Boat Week will also no longer take place this year.

Wool week was due to take place in September and October, while the nature festival was set for July and boat week scheduled for August.

It comes as a further blow to Shetland businesses, with wool week thought to bring in £2 million to the local economy as visitors flocked to the isles from all over the world.

Amenity trust head of engagement Sandy Middleton said: “We are so sorry to be cancelling our key events for this year.

“We had hoped that we might be able to go ahead with wool week as it is so late in the year, however, as the situation has evolved it has become increasingly clear that it cannot go ahead.

“It is not simply about the event itself but all of the time, effort and money that goes into preparing for it throughout the year.

“The event is a huge economic boost to Shetland during the autumn months and we know the cancellation will cause concern for local businesses who are already facing immense challenges.

“With so many of our participants coming from overseas for the event, however, it became clear that it would not be feasible or responsible to try and continue with it.”

The trust hopes that as much of the 2020 wool week programme will be taken forward into next year’s event.

It is also working with the Shetland Wool Week committee to explore options for bringing some of the event online and delivering classes and events virtually.

Patron Wilma Malcolmson, whose 2020 hat pattern has already been downloaded over 27,000 times after going online in late March, will take on the role next year.

Middleton, meanwhile, conceded that the trust is facing a “significant loss of income” through closed sites and cancelled events.

“We launched an online donations page along with the free wool week hat pattern this year asking people to support the trust through this difficult time if they could,” she said.

“So far the response has been really positive and shows how much people value the event and our wider work.”