Three cheers for Leslie as Unst gets into Up Helly Aa spirit

THE FIRST of Unst’s two fire festivals kicked off this morning (Friday) as guizer jarl Leslie Stickle finally got his turn to lead the Uyeasound Up Helly Aa.

At 70 years old, he believes he may be one of the oldest guizer jarls.

But age is just a number, and the Unst man is set to enjoy a busy day of visits in the northerly community.

The jarl’s galley was named after his three children Rhea, Sally and Finley. Photo: Desley Stickle

It has been a long time coming, as he was supposed to be the guizer jarl in 2021 before two years of Covid postponements put off the big day.

Stickle’s jarl squad features 17 adults and three children, including his son, son-in-law and grandchildren.

He has chosen Dorbjorn of Burrafirth as his Viking name, representing his family links to that area of Unst.

The galley, meanwhile, is called Rhesal-fin, which uses the first three letters of his children’s names – Rhea, Sally and Finley.

His squad are wearing black kirtles, with a maroon cloak.

“Our shields have a picture of Unst on it,” Stickle added. “The shields have actually been used before – they’re recycled.”

There is also embroidery of a shield on the front of the kirtle.

The squad’s day started off with breakfast before a visit to the school and care centre.

People can get a chance to meet the squad at the Uyeasound Hall from 2.30pm to 4pm, with tea, homebakes and bar facilities on offer.

The procession takes place at half seven before the night time at the revelry at the Uyeasound Hall, with a total of 20 squads due to perform.

Uyeasound is Shetland’s second oldest Up Helly Aa, with its roots stemming back to 1911.

The Uyeasound jarl squad pictured on a school visit this morning. Guizer jarl Leslie Stickle is wearing the helmet with gold plating. Photo: BBC Radio Shetland

Shetland News