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Community / Retiring Jack bids farewell to Papa Stour ferry

Jack Robertson (centre, back) with family after finishing his last shift. Photo: John Coutts

A FAMILIAR face on the Papa Stour ferry is retiring from his job as engineer after nearly 30 years in the role.

Jack Robertson joined the ferry back in 1993 and on Sunday he finished his last shift, met by family at the pier at West Burrafirth.

The 74-year-old said he has really enjoyed his time on the boat – and the fact that he is a number of years over the retirement age “speaks for itself”.

“It’s been a fine crew to work with,” Robertson, who lives in Gott, said.

“There’s been some rumbly trips, back in the days when we used to do the run to Foula in the winter time. It wasn’t so pleasant – it took us two and a half hours each way to get to Foula.

“Occasionally we also used to run to Fair Isle with things.”

It takes around 35 minutes to travel by ferry to Papa Stour, with the route connecting to the Shetland mainland at West Burrafirth.

The current Papa Stour ferry is the Snolda, which used to operate on the Skerries service before being upgraded in the early 2000s and taken to the westerly route. It has capacity for 12 people.

“It’s a lovely isle, it’s lovely to go for a walk around,” Robertson said of Papa Stour.

“The population is obviously declining. A lot of the older ones have passed away, and there’s no really any young bairns in the isle now.

“The school is closed, and I think the airport is basically closed now as well. It is declining, and unless things change it will continue to decline, if there’s no new blood coming into the place, that’s what happens.”

Robertson has no grand plans in retirement, although the bassist and guitarist is keen to play live music again following the recent lockdowns.

“I don’t have any plans to sail around the world or anything like that,” he said. “I’m just quite happy to work about at home.”

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