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Also in the news / Crofthouse museum opens, sperm whale rescue, avian flu relaxation, MS awareness and more …

Two of the museum's roofs have been rethatched. Photo: SAT

THE Crofthouse Museum at Dunrossness will be opening for the summer season from Sunday 1 May.

The site which give a glimpse into crofting life in the 1870s has been closed for the last two years due to Covid restrictions.

Shetland Amenity Trust (SAT) has used the time during closure to work on two of the thatched roofs and on general maintenance. Roof turf for the third main roof on site is currently drying.

SAT’s Ailish Parham said: “The peat fire will be lit and visitors can step back in time and hear about traditional crofting life from our experienced custodians.”

The Crofthouse Museum will be open six days a week (closed on Wednesdays) from 10am to 4pm. Hourly visitor slots are available to allow for an uninterrupted, leisurely experience, but booking is essential. The link can be found here

Old Scatness Broch and Iron Age Village will also be opening one day a week for the summer from Friday 27 May – Friday 26 August. Again, booking is essential.

The sperm whale near Nesbister at the end of March Photo: Steve Groom

THOSE behind the successful rescue of a sperm whale from the shallow water of Whiteness Voe were invited to the local primary school to speak about the unique situation which unfolded in the area at the end of last month.

Wildlife photographer Hugh Harrop along with Karen Hall from NatureScot and volunteers Sharon Jack, Martin Robinson and John Burns were all fundamental to the rescue of the whale, shepherding it back out into the deep ocean.

Whiteness primary headteacher Rachel Colclough said: “The reason for the visit was to celebrate the unique situation on our doorstep which the majority of children were aware of.

“Martin and John were able to give some perspective on the size of the whale using the oars Martin had in his boat.  The sperm whale named ‘Jack’ was around 45 feet long, which was 7 lengths of the 1.9m oar that Martin brought along.  His weight would have been roughly the same weight as all the children and staff attending the assembly.

“Sharon Jack sat for 15 hours a day for 10 days and monitored the whale’s activity. Karen explained to us how the activity of the whale reassured those watching it that it was in fact healthy and lost, rather than ailing and dying.”

THE SCOTTISH Government is introducing some relaxations to the current strict rules to prevent the spread of avian flu among poultry and other captive birds.

From 2 May (Monday) these animals will no longer need to be house unless they are in a protection zone. However, other measures such as disinfecting and other precautionary biosecurity measures stay in place.

Those who intend to allow their birds outside are advised to use the upcoming days to prepare their outside areas for the release of their birds.

This will include cleansing and disinfection of hard surfaces, fencing off ponds or standing water and reintroduction of wild bird deterrents.

The public continue to be urged to not touch or pick up any dead or sick birds that they find but to report.

SHETLAND MSP Beatrice Wishart has called for more support for those living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and highlighted once again the high prevalence of the condition in the Northern Isles.

It is not known why but Orkney and Shetland have some of the highest incident rates of MS anywhere in the world.

During a debate in the Scottish Parliament, she said: “Getting the help from government, such as PIP [personal independence payment], often requires a walking test. What these tests don’t measure is the long term, changeable, fluctuating nature of MS. Walking any distance could feel much easier one day than the next for someone living with MS.

“Appeals and bureaucracy contribute to the uncertainty and sense of powerlessness. The effort to overturn something you know to be unjust can be exhausting. A system has developed whereby people are forced through hoops of admin to survive.

“With the uncertainty of MS comes a sense of powerlessness. We must address both and ensure those living with MS, and those around them, feel supported.”

FIREFIGHTERS with Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) have donated £18,000 to support Ukrainians caught up in the war.

The old fire engines saw service at Islay and Campbeltown airports before being transferred to Dundee around 11 years ago. Photo: HIAL

The money was raised from the sale of two vintage Predator fire engines which had been in service with HIAL since the mid-90s. The 20-tonne machines were sold at auction earlier this year.

The money raised will be donated to the British Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal.

HIAL chief fire officer James Millar said: “Given the tragic events unfolding in Ukraine we wanted to support the aid efforts to help people in the best way we could.

“We had initially thought about donating the fire appliances to our fellow firefighters in Ukraine, but transport and logistic costs made that idea unviable.”

The old fire engines saw valued service at Islay and Campbeltown airports before being transferred to Dundee around 11 years ago.

LOCAL people are being reminded that funding is available to support homeowners and community groups with the cost of connecting to the electricity network.

The Scottish Hydro Electric Community Trust, an independent charity, is able to support up to 75 per cent of the cost of connections for successful community projects and up to half of the cost for individuals looking for support to meet the costs of a new domestic connection.

The next round of applications closes on 17 May with future applications being considered by Trustees on a quarterly basis.

Trust chairman David Telford said: “In the last financial year, we’ve issued grants of almost £128,000 to support individual homeowners to help them connect to the network in SSEN’s distribution area in the north of Scotland, with almost £39,000 issued to support connection costs of community projects.”

An application form can be found here.