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Community / Up Helly Aa squad plans overnight relay walk in aid of charity

Lerwick Up Helly Aa celebrations, January 2019. Photo: Shetland News

ON THE last Tuesday in January squads of guizers would usually be touring around venues across Lerwick to perform their Up Helly Aa act – and drink, dance and be merry.

But with Up Helly Aa cancelled due to the pandemic for a second year in a row, one squad is planning to mark the occasion in a somewhat different way.

Squad number one – the Teachers Squad – plans to walk the Up Helly Aa halls route as a continuous relay through the night, all in aid of Cancer Research UK through Relay for Life Shetland.

They will walk the 5.5 mile circuit between 8.30pm on 25 January and 8.30am the following morning – similar to the time the festivities often last.

The squad plans to split up into around four teams to walk the relay, which could take one and half to two hours per loop, with group featuring two or three folk each.

Nearly £2,000 has already been raised despite their online fundraiser page only being up for a matter of hours.

It is also a cause close to the squad’s heart. One member was diagnosed with cancer shortly before Christmas, and others are going through treatment.

Squad member Graeme Garrick said: “We came up with the idea to try and raise some money for a local charity – CRUK Relay for Life Shetland – which we thought was appropriate and because it’s connected to our Up Helly Aa squad we thought it would be fitting to raise the money on what would have been Up Helly Aa night, when in normal times we would have been getting together anyway.

“We can’t believe the generosity and messages of support we have received and want to just thank everybody that has donated and offered help in anyway.”

People can donate to the fundraiser here.