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Tributes / Tributes paid to former councillor and Foula stalwart Jim Gear

TRIBUTES have been paid to Jim Gear, former county and community councillor, who died last week aged 80.

He was councillor for the Sandness and Walls constituency between 1990 and 1999 and was a community councillor for over a quarter of a century, also holding the role of chairman of the Association of Shetland Community Councils.

Foula stalwart Jim Gear who died last week aged 80. Photo: private

Jim was known as a strong advocate and regular spokesperson for the Foula community, where he lived all his life.

He was closely involved in the development of the Foula harbour, the new school which was built in the 1990s, and virtually all other infrastructure on the island in modern times, laterally working to ensure the community could retain the Foula Kirk.

Paying tribute, Shetland Islands Council convener Andrea Manson said she first met him in an official capacity in the late 1980 when she as a member of the leisure and recreation committee at the time visited to Foula to hear about the island’s aspiration for a new school and community hall.

“Jim was kind enough to show us around that day,” Manson remembered.

“He was a hard-working councillor and a leading light in the Association of Community Councils for many, many years after having been an SIC councillor; he fought long and hard for the westside and particular Foula – a big man with a big personality.”

Outside of local politics, Jim was a fisherman, ferry skipper and successful breeder of Shetland ponies, amongst a large variety of other roles.

Well-known in the Shetland folk music scene and a passionate musician, he was a regular at the Shetland Folk Festival. He was known as a committed advocate for Shetland’s traditions and the cultural heritage of Foula.

The Shetland flag will be flown at half-mast over the Lerwick Town hall today (Thursday) as a mark of respect to coincide with his funeral in the Foula Kirk.

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