We were delighted to be able to take our young people who have been attending the Youth Alpha course to visit our former youth worker Ellen in Shetland. We set off on the 1st of August, our four teenagers, two youth leaders and myself on an amazing and transformative journey that involved both car and plane journeys, the first part of the journey starting off at 2am! We were all delighted to see Ellen who met us at the airport, and she led us on a wonderful itinerary to see as much of the islands as possible in the four days we were there.

On the first day Ellen had us making kites and going to St Ninian’s Isle – a beautiful tombolo beach – i.e. a sandbank connecting an island to the mainland, with water on both sides. As you can see from the photo, the weather was warm and clear, and we played in the water, visited an old chapel and roasted s’mores (a North American treat) on the beach. We also saw a beach full of seals on the way back.

On the second day, we got the boat over to Mousa island, and visited a Broch, which was over 2,000 years old – great for climbing on! There were many storm petrels on the island, some black guillemots, gannets and arctic terns. Afterwards we went north to see the spectacular cliffs at Eshaness, before having fish and chips at Frankie’s, the most northern fish and chip shop in the UK. In the evening, after another Alpha course session, Al, Ellen’s husband, made a roaring fire on the beach, and Ellen led us in a time of quiet reflection. The fire was a very powerful symbol of God’s light and warmth, with the gentle lapping of the waves in the background.

On the third day, we visited the red algae pool at Exnaboe, and visited Ellen and Al’s house, and it was great to see them so settled! Then we went to Lerwick to play “ hunt the leader” which was a lot of fun. After the evening Alpha, we went up to Sumburgh Head where the light house is located, where we saw puffins (or pelicans, as some of us like to call them!). These were very dainty and cute little birds, and it was great to get so close to them. A wonderful finale to our third day!

On day four, we worked to clean the Christian centre we were staying in, and to get packed. Then it was a quick 5 minute run back to the airport, and the flight home.

The trip was beyond our dreams – lots of fascinating things to see, spectacular places to visit, interesting mealtimes, wonderful fellowship and times of worship, learning and laughter. It was great just being together, catching up with Ellen, admiring Shetland’s stunning scenery, learning new things, sharing meals together.

I want to say an enormous thank you to Ellen for organising and co-ordinating our visit in Shetland, and to her and Al for their hospitality and patience! I am grateful to James our youth worker and First Aider for his humour and kindness, to Debbie for her hard work and enthusiasm, and to Chantelle, Gemma, Megan and Amy for being such fun to travel with. Your behaviour was brilliant, and you were a joy to be with. An enormous thank you to all those who gave such generous donations to make all this possible. I am deeply moved by your desire to invest in our young people. In this, the Year of the Young Person, we want to encourage the young people in our midst, and to commit to praying for them and to say how much we value all those in our congregation. Thank you so much for helping to do this.

Fiona