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Community / Tens of thousands and counting raised by islanders for Ukraine

From cakes, cycling and concerts to pop-up shops and auctions – Shetland has risen to the fundraising challenge

Rachael's cake fridge in Lerwick offered lemon and poppy seed cakes in the colours of the Ukraine flag and raised £150.

A HOST of local fundraising efforts to support the people of Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s devastating five-week long invasion has so far raised at least £40,000.

Shetland Solidarity with Refugees ran a pop-up shop for a fortnight and also took in donations, with their total alone so far exceeding £16,000.

Rita Smith from the organisation – which has previously spearheaded fundraising efforts in aid of people fleeing Syria and Afghanistan – said that a combination of takings from the pop-up shop, which closed last Saturday (26 March), and donations had already past the £16,000 mark with donations continuing to roll in.

When she spoke to Shetland News on Wednesday, Rita was busy sifting through boxes of clothes and other donations.

Once that task is completed DFDS has committed to take a van all the way to the Polish border, though she said it was frustrating that as a result of Brexit the donations will be held up until customs clearance is obtained.

She is hopeful the shipment can leave the islands sometime next week. Margaret Goodlad made “a whole pile” of yellow and blue ribbons which were sold in the shop, raising several hundred pounds alone.

Rita said the response from the Shetland community had been “absolutely phenomenal”, with people “nearly gowling in the shop and giving every ha’penny they have”.

She said “one peerie old man came in and wrote a cheque for £500 and I was just absolutely gobsmacked”.

Olive Pearson raised £250 by selling cupcakes.

There have also been some sizeable donations from companies including Don Leslie’s, Ness Engineering and Mainlands shop in Dunrosness: “Folk have been affle generous.”

Rita added that the volume and size of donations was particularly impressive given there were a number of different fundraisers taking place simultaneously.

She had high praise, in particular, for Michelle Leask who organised an online auction and raised over £4,500.

“There’s oodles of things been going on – we’re just one of the many things that’s been happening,” Rita said.

Two separate JustGiving pages – Shetland Stands With Ukraine for the British Red Cross, set up by Ryan Thomson, and an appeal on behalf of UNICEF organised by Kate Niesciur, have raised over £9,000 and £5,000 respectively.

Michelle’s auction was held between Thursday 24 and Sunday 27 March, raising £4,518 including donations.

She said the support had been “unbelievable” and “I can’t thank you all enough”.

“The support has been unbelievable,” she said. “Well done Shetland. What started as a small bake sale… grew arms and legs and became the auction.”

A tea, homebakes and bric-a-brac sale at St Margaret’s Kirk last weekend, meanwhile, raised £1,918 in addition to a sum of £422 sent to the Red Cross Ukraine appeal last month. That means the parish has raised over £2,340 since the conflict began.

Celia Smith of the kirk said it was the first parish event since 2019: “We weren’t quite sure how many people would turn out, so it was wonderful to see folk on Saturday morning, in spite of the grey clouds, and to catch up with people we hadn’t seen in a while, over a cuppa and homebake.

“People have been so generous. We never really expected to raise that much. It was a great day.”

A Shetland Community Orchestra concert last Saturday at Quoys Baptist Church in Lerwick raised £1,080. The event included a piece composed by Renzo Spiteri about the war.

Meanwhile Clickimin Leisure Complex fitness trainer Alan Williamson yesterday (Friday) undertook the challenge of cycling 100 miles in an attempt to raise £500 for British-Ukrainian Aid.

“I’ve raised money for very important causes in the past, but this is a cause which literally needs help right now,” Alan said on his JustGiving page.

Grace Wood with her painting before auctioning it off.

Youngsters have been getting in on the act too. Eight year old Grace Wood painted a picture with her new art kit to raise money for children in Ukraine, and her dad, musician Peter Wood, auctioned it and raised £105 – with more coming in. Grace’s mum Karen Wood said her daughter was “absolutely delighted”.

After listening to the news, meanwhile, five year old Olive Pearson from Tingwall felt sad for people in Ukraine and decided to bake cupcakes for charity, raising some £250.

In mid March, Rachael’s cake fridge in Lerwick offered lemon and poppy seed cakes in the colours of the Ukraine flag and raised £150 for the Ukraine humanitarian appeal.

And Shetland’s efforts for Ukraine won’t stop there: tonight (Saturday) Lerwick Boating Club hosts a fundraising concert by local Eastern European music lovers Odesa.

Their live set has always featured helpings of Klezmer and Balkan sounds, and for this occasion they will dedicate the first half of their set solely to Ukrainian folk music.

Then, on Sunday (3 April) a fundraising event at the Baltasound Hall in Unst will also support the Ukraine cause. Soup, sandwiches, teas and cakes will be on offer between midday and 2pm, with people paying an entry fee. Stalls will also be held.

There will also be food and live music at the Cunningsburgh Hall on Sunday 10 April in aid of the British Red Cross Ukraine humanitarian appeal. There will be soup, sandwiches and homebakes, as well as a raffle. Doors will be open between midday and 3pm.

On Saturday 16 April, a variety concert at Sound Hall featuring Odesa alongside High Level Hot Club, Skelburn, Sarah Thomson and Jenny Henry + Friends, will take place with proceeds going to the UNICEF and Shetland Stands With Ukraine appeals.