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Marine / New society aims to preserve maritime heritage

The Vaila Mae and Far Haaf in Lerwick Harbour. Photo: Shetland Amenity Trust/Shetland Boat Week

A NEW group is being established with the core objective to promote, protect and preserve Shetland’s maritime history and traditional skills.

The Shetland Maritime Heritage Society is appealing for anyone with an interest to sign up as a member.

The society aims to carry out a number of activities including the development of a training programme for squaresail skills, and enabling safe public access to sixareen sailing aboard the Vaila Mae.

Permission has been granted by Shetland Amenity Trust for this activity to resume this summer.

The group will bring together local service providers, skilled craftspeople and others with relevant knowledge and experience to develop a series of public facing maritime activities, including a bi-annual festival.

The week-long Shetland Boat Week event, organised through the amenity trust in celebration of local marine heritage, has not been held since 2019 due to the pandemic.

Membership for the society is now open to any individual or organisation for a token contribution of £10 per year.

Members will receive regular updates and invitations to participate in events, as well as having the opportunity to join the committee.

One of the Shetland Maritime Heritage Society founders, Brian Wishart, said “Those of us driving this new society wish to see more opportunities for all ages to engage with sea and land-based activities, learning about the skills, history and traditions of Shetland’s maritime past and present.

“It’s important that we build on the positive outcomes from previous Shetland Boat Week events and bring people together to enjoy and experience our maritime connections.

“We hope to work with Shetland Museum and Archives on future events to tie in with the important maritime collections held there and using the befitting setting of the historic Hay’s Dock.”

Early discussions with Dr Ian Tait of the Shetland Museum and Archives have been positive, the group said.

Dr Tait said: “A society such as this can only be a positive force for the promotion and celebration of Shetland’s Maritime Heritage.

“Those with a real dedication to the subject, of whom there are many, will naturally encourage others and develop a strong community, capable of great things.”

People interested in applying for membership are asked to send £10 with their name, telephone number, postal and email address to: Shetland Maritime Heritage Society, c/o Realta Events Management, 14 Alexandra Buildings, Lerwick, ZE1 0LL.

Cheques should be made payable to ‘Shetland Maritime Heritage Society’ and bank payments made to RBS account 00781652, sort code 83-24-22.

For enquiries or a digital membership form, contact shetlandmhs@gmail.com. There is also more information on Facebook.