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Community / Junior Up Helly Aa to offer ‘equal gender split’ of guizers

The burning of the Junior Up Helly Aa galley in 1959. Photo: Thomas Moncrieff

NEXT year’s Junior Up Helly Aa will offer the opportunity to have an “equal gender split” of guizers, its organisers have said.

It comes after the historic decision earlier this year to remove gender restrictions from both the senior and junior Up Helly Aa events.

In the junior event any person in primary seven, and secondary one and two, at any school in Shetland can apply to be a guizer.

A spokesperson said there is capacity for 110 guizers, and there will be space for approximately 55 girls and 55 boys.

“The numbers are approximate because young people who self-identify will be included fairly into the festival on a first come, first served basis,” they said.

“After applications close on the 1 December, if there is a waiting list of guizers in one gender category and an under-subscription in another, numbers can be topped up off either waiting list.”

The spokesperson told Shetland News that if only 30 boys for example have registered and more than 55 girls have expressed an interest then the balance of unallocated boys spaces – 25 in this example – could be allocated to more girls.

Parents/guardians of those interested are encouraged to help get their children organised into squads and submit completed forms before the deadline of 5pm on 1 December 2022.

Application forms and guidance notes can be requested by sending an email to juhasecretary@btinternet.com, and completed forms can also be returned to this address.

After a vote at the Clickimin among S1 and S2 pupils in Lerwick James Morrison was confirmed as the junior jarl for 2023, and he will form his own squad.

The news of the Junior Up Helly Aa opening up to girls was warmly welcomed by many, including equality campaigners who struggled to see how an event involving children could remain boys-only.

It culminates in a procession, which was first held in 1956, before the senior event takes to the streets of Lerwick.

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