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Community / Norway ties strengthened with ‘historic’ friendship agreement

Meanwhile a donation has been given from Norway for a replica boat cradle and slipway restoration marking the Shetland Bus operation

Handing over the donation for the slipway project. From left to right: Aasund Andersone, Jenny Heggvik and Jim Young. All photos: Chris Cope/Shetland News

SHETLAND’s long-standing connection with Norway was strengthened in Scalloway on Saturday morning when a new friendship agreement was signed with a region west of Bergen.

The agreement previously linked Scalloway – which became the home of the Shetland Bus landings – with Sund in Norway.

But the new agreement, signed at the Scalloway Museum, links to the wider region of  Øygarden Kommune near Bergen and also includes the community councils representing Tingwall, Whiteness and Weisdale, Nesting and Lunnasting as well as Burra and Trondra.

Meanwhile a donation from Norway worth nearly £50,000 was also handed over for a project to create a replica boat cradle at the Prince Olav slipway in the centre of Scalloway.

Local councillor Davie Sandison and Øygarden Kommune mayor Tom Georg Indrevik signing the new friendship agreement.

The proposal is to replace the current steel cradle, which was built in the 1970s and is no longer in use and corroding, with a replica of the one which was used there during the Second World War.

That wartime cradle, built in 1942 from wood, was used as part of the covert operation to ferry people to Britain from Nazi-occupied Norway.

The project is being led by the Shetland Bus Friendship Society.

A delegation of visitors from Øygarden Kommune are in Shetland this weekend, with the museum visit part of a packed schedule which also involves a walking tour.

It also coincides with a large number of Norwegian yachts berthed at Lerwick this weekend after the first leg of the annual Bergen-Shetland boat race.

Scalloway Community Council’s Mark Burgess said at the event: “The beauty of this friendship agreement is it is whatever we want it to be – and may it outlast all of us here.”

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The agreement, which helps to strengthen ties between Shetland and Norway, was first signed 2014.

Local councillor Davie Sandison has been involved in the new agreement.

He said the discussions with the visiting delegation in the past couple of days have been “really productive”.

Øygarden Kommune mayor Tom Georg Indrevik added that putting pen to paper on the new agreement was a “historic moment”.

The new agreement involves more Shetland community councils. From left to right: Mark Burgess of Scalloway Community Council, Øygarden Kommune mayor Tom Georg Indrevik, cultural representative of Øygarden Christel Movik-Olsen, Nesting and Lunnasting Community Council’s Chris Leask, Tingwall, Whiteness and Weisdale’s Dilys Evans, Burra and Trondra Community Council’s Niall O’Rourke, local councillor Davie Sandison.

Speaking on his first visit to Shetland, he said the hope is to bring young people from the region to the isles next year.

Meanwhile the new donation to the slipway project means that more than 80 per cent of its projected cost has now been met. It will be constructed by local firm Malakoff, which owns and operates the shipyard at the slipway.

The total estimated cost is around £120,000 and funding has already been secured from the likes of the Scalloway Museum and fishing and salmon companies.

Jenny Heggvik, who represented the ‘Friends of Norway’ group and helped to hand over the cheque, said the fundraising drive from Norway started in 2020, with municipalities, the Norway navy, businesses and individuals all contacted.

Jim Young of Shetland Bus Friendship Society.

Jim Young of the Shetland Bus Friendship Society thanked the many friends in Norway for raising the “major contribution”.

He added that the idea’s origins actually came at a Jenna and Bethany Reid gig in Bergen in 2019, with representatives from Øygarden Kommune expressing a desire to press ahead with the project,

The slipway was built in 1942 and was essential for the repair of Norwegian boats which travelled across the North Sea.

Young said the restored slipway will be a “new attraction in Scalloway, which will contribute to a larger project to redevelop the whole of the Scalloway waterfront”.

He said it also acts a reminder of the part the Scalloway people played in “opening their homes and hearts to the Norwegian boys during the war and also the refugees who fled occupied Norway”.

Referring to the Ukraine invasion, Young added: “It makes the restored slipway more than just a memorial – but a reminder that recent circumstances in Europe challenges us to measure up to the ideals of that wartime generation.”

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