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Also in the news / Lottery funding, Hrossey’s delays explained, cruise ship season begins, Brexit losses and more…

FOUR local charities have received a total of more than £250,000 in funding from the lottery’s awards for all and improving lives grant schemes.

Mind Your Head has been awarded two grants, £135,000 for funding its “holistic to well-being” which complements existing statutory and NHS services.

A further grant of £9,958 over two years will sustain the group’s ‘Well Youth’ low-level, early intervention service.

Shetland Bereavement Support Service, meanwhile, is due to receive £110,000 to fund the groups “comprehensive bereavement support service”.

Finally, Shetland Community Connections, is in line to receive £6,592 to help expand the group’s shared reminiscence project across all local care homes.

A PROBLEM with refitting a 330-kilo pilgrim nut on the Hrossey’s starboard rudder resulted in the passenger ferry being two days late in returning to service from drydock earlier this month.

NorthLink’s managing director Stuart Garrett said on Thursday that a replacement had to be manufactured and flown in from Scandinavia after the original nut became seized and could not be released.

“The additional remedial work meant that the planned maintenance schedule overran by 48 hours, and the Hrossey missed one return journey from Aberdeen to the Northern Isles,” the NorthLink boss said.

“Whilst it was unfortunate that the combined impact of weather and the delay of the Hrossey in drydock meant there were a number of sailings we could not operate, our customer service team worked hard to re-arrange travel for those affected.”

The drydock delay coincided with weather related cancellations of the other passenger ferry serving the route.

MSC Virtuosa, sister ship to MSC Meraviglia (pictured beyond) will be the largest cruise ship yet to visit Lerwick Harbour. John Coutts.

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THE EASTER weekend will see the first cruise ship of 2024 in what is expected to be a record season for Lerwick.

British-based Ambassador Cruise Line’s Ambition is due to berth at Mair’s Pier East on Saturday. Built in 1999 and refitted in 2023, the 216-metre vessel has a capacity for 1,200 passengers.

There are currently 149 cruise ships booked to visit Lerwick until mid-November carrying an estimated 130,000 passengers including the MSC Virtuosa, which at 181,541 gross tonnes will be the largest cruise ship yet to visit the port.

The port’s cruise manager Melanie Henderson said: “The cruise industry’s contribution to Shetland’s tourism sector continues to go from strength to strength.

“The number of ships arriving significantly contributes to the local economy, providing employment, keeping the attractions and venues busy, and providing important footfall for local businesses.”

BREXIT has cost Scotland up to £100 million-a-year in ‘lost’ salmon exports, according to industry body Salmon Scotland.

In 2019, there were more than 53,000 tonnes of Scottish salmon exported to the EU, with the figure falling to 44,000 tonnes in 2023.

The Brexit impact has been mitigated by growth in other markets, particularly Asia and the US, but when exporting to the EU Scottish salmon was at a competitive disadvantage, the trade body’s chief executive Tavish Scott said.

“Brexit red tape continues to hold back the potential of Scottish exports, despite the hard work and investment put in by farmers to address the issues,” he said.

“We need the next UK government – whatever formation it is – to ease the burden on exporters so that sectors like ours can sell more Scottish produce, delivering economic growth and creating jobs here at home.”

Isles MP Alistair Carmichael.

ISLES MP Alistair Carmichael has called on the UK Government to apologise to fishermen after a U-turn on medical certificates for small fishing vessels.

Following consultation with the industry, the government has now waived the requirement for ML5 medical checks for fishermen on vessels measuring 10 metres and under.

“Retracting this policy is a good step but it would have been better not to start down this road in the first place,” the Orkney and Shetland MP said.

“Fishermen around the country have been in fear for their livelihoods because of this policy from the Conservatives.

“It is really not good enough to act as though nothing has happened. Ministers should not be trying to claim credit – they should be apologising to coastal communities.”

LOCAL MSP Beatrice Wishart has called for increased spending on brain tumour research during a debate in the Scottish Parliament.

The debate highlighted March as brain tumour awareness month.

Wishart said: “We know that, every year in Scotland, around 1,000 people are diagnosed with brain tumours and, sadly, around 400 people die from them.

“Which leads me to concerns about how much longer such a diagnosis might take today, as the NHS’s recovery from Covid continues, with pressure on primary care and a shortage of GPs.

“Historically, there has been underfunding of research into brain tumours, with just one per cent of the national spend on cancer research having been allocated to them, so let us work together to support the work of charities and other organisations such as brain tumour research and close the care gap.”

THE COUNCIL’S Gremista waste management facility will be open an extra hour each weekday from April.

Opening hours are as follows: –

  • Monday to Friday: 8am to 7pm
  • Saturday: 8am to 4pm
  • Sunday: 10am to 4pm

For anyone who may have had wheelie bin lids damaged over the winter, replacements are now available for collection, the council added.

THE NEXT meeting of the Althing debating society will hear from four individual speakers on four separate topics.

Called the Althing soapbox, the speakers and topics are:

  • Vic Thomas: A cashless society is a scammer’s utopia
  • Shannon Boston: Blame Game – Shetland’s drug and alcohol culture
  • Barbara Fraser: Da Green wey forward is tae go back
  • Frankie Valente: Politics and the English language.

Debating takes place on Saturday 13 April in the Lerwick Town Hall starting at 7.30pm. Admission is £2, with all welcome.

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