Shetland Hamefarin New Year Update

16 January 2008

The Shetland Hamefarin 2010 Committee is pleased to report that plans are progressing well for the 50th anniversary of the first Hamefarin, which took place in 1960.

Sandy Cluness, who chairs the Committee, is particularly happy with the levels of co-operation both in Shetland and from prospective Hamefarers. Active participants from Shetland now include: Shetland Islands Council; VisitShetland; Shetland Family History Society; The Shetland Museum and Archives; Lerwick Up-Helly-Aa Committee; Shetland Folk Festival Society; Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Club; and Shetland Arts. At a more local level community groups such as the local history groups, sports groups and churches have expressed a willingness to be involved.

The online survey has generated a good response with 144 individuals, representing 477 prospective hamefarers, participating in the survey so far. The feedback received is providing a great deal of useful ideas and information that can be included in the planning of the event. Douglas Irvine of Shetland Islands Council Economic Development Unit said "The online survey together with e-mail communication and the use of the website means that there is much better engagement with the people who will travel here in 2010." He added "People should get a better holiday because of the improvement in communications and also local service providers would know further in advance about specific requirements. For example it will be easier with the modern communications to plan smaller sub-events such as sea trips and even air trips around Shetland well before the Hamefarers arrive in 2010."

While new communications are opening up wider possibilities for the Hamefarin, it is still an old stalwart that is stirring up the imaginations of Shetland exiles abroad. The call for a mid summer Up-Helly-Aa has come a-ringing over the internet and it is a challenge that the Shetland Hamefarin 2010 Committee is determined to meet, working in partnership with the Lerwick Up-Helly-Aa Committee. Speaking in support of the idea Andy Angus of the Lerwick Up-Helly-Aa Committee, is seeking an old 25 to 30ft wooden boat that could be converted into a floating galley before being burned as part of the festivities. Anyone who knows of such a vessel should contact Andy on 01595 696861.

The Hamefarin Committee is very keen to have a clear understanding of the number of Hamefarers who will be visiting Shetland in 2010. In addition to the people who have already expressed interest over the internet there will still be a large number of people who do not have access to the internet or who do not wish to use this form of communication. Sandy Cluness is therefore asking people in Shetland who are in contact with people living outside Shetland with Shetland connections to make sure that they know about the Hamefarin in 2010. He stressed "The Hamefarin Committee is trying to connect with people who have lived in Shetland in more recent times as well as those with Shetland ancestors. We would also like to see some of the many thousands of people who came here in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the people who helped to build our modern Shetland."

Another project that the public could assist with concerns the publishing of a book to illustrate the lives of notable people with Shetland connections. It is intended to publish the book as a legacy to the Shetland Hamefarin in 2010.

Suggestions on people of note, or notoriety, can be made to Laughton Johnston, Muckle Bousta, Sandness, Shetland, ZE2 9PL. Email Laughton at