2015 - Jarl John Williamson

The 2015 Festival took place on 27th February

While Guizer Jarl John Williamson and his squad enjoyed hearty breakfasts in the Cullivoe Hall on the morning of Friday 27th Feb, they must have been feeling anxious about the day that lay before them. The wind was howling and the showers were sleety. The previous day had been successfully spent visiting the Burravoe Hall and School, the Mid Yell School and Nursery Department, the Peerie Breeks Club, Isleshavn Care Centre and various homes before the signing of the bill back in Cullivoe that night. They were all fired up for the great day ahead, and in need of the weather to be kind for the next 48 hours, at least. Rain was threatening as the bairns were transported to the school in the handsome blue and white galley, Fenrir, later that morning, but the Cullivoe School dinner, the visits to the locals and the photo shoot all took place without any real weather related problems. At 7.30 a flash of pyrotechnics intimated the lighting up, and to everyone's delight, the wind dropped significantly and the rain stayed off as the guisers proceeded from the Cullivoe Hall to the marina where Fenrir was burnt. Jarl Ragnar Lodbrok and his squad were magnificient in their blue and silver kirtles, reindeer skins and shields depicting wolf heads. They were accompanied by the Jarl's three daughters as Viking Princesses and a young nephew as a junior Viking. Once in the sea, the blazing Galley lit up the surrounding water and the Vikings in their finery; this amazing sight, never fails to bring a lump to the throat. Back at the Cullivoe Hall and in the local primary school, a large number of spectators were entertained by the Jarl Squad and another 14 squads who performed with song and ribald humour which went down very well with the crowd! At this point last year's Jarl David Spence took the opportunity, on behalf of the Committee, to thank Carol Williamson, a former Cullivoe Head Teacher, for her input into Uphellyaa and to give her a small token of their esteem. He stressed how much her encouragement of her pupils in the past had helped to fire the enthusiasm that there is for Uphellyaa today. After supper, the spectators were glad to stretch their legs and dance to the music of the Wast o' Firth Waltzers until the early hours. But it wasn't all over! On Saturday, after a massive cleaning up of the Hall and School, two busloads of revellers and musicians visited the Burravoe Hall where delicious bar meals were on sale. This was followed, at night, by a variety concert, with the very able Brian (o' Houll) Nicolson, as MC, providing the packed Cullivoe Hall with an enjoyable mixture of song, music and a couple of very amusing sketches. Again the band played for some enthusiastic dancing until well after bedtime. Sunday evening provided the last night of this hectic weekend when the Jarl Squad's shaving night finally got rid of their beards and hair - or at least some of it! During this week you may have spotted some rather strange hairstyles and facial hair as the Squad opt to keep their comic styles for a week in a bid to gather funds for a charity of the Jarl's choice.

Galley Name:-

John's Jarl Squad

  • David Spence (Firth) [Former Jarl]
  • John Saunders (Innhouse) [Future Jarl]
  • Matthew Saunders (Innhouse)
  • Darren Saunders (Greenbank Square)
  • Andy Williamson (Brae)
  • Stuart Williamson (Brae)
  • Robert Williamson (Camb)
  • Andrew Leaper (Mossbank)
  • Junior Members

  • Lana Williamson
  • Emma Williamson
  • Katie Williamson
  • Bradley Simpson
  • Jarl Squad Musicians

  • Andy 'Shakin' Stephen
  • Ryan Couper
  • Brendan Scollay



Squad List


Shetland Times Articles:

  1. The Jarl Squad performed the Uphellyaa Song and their squad song, accompanied by the talented squad musicians.
  2. Hugs Heed Heroes. Some local characters at a local bar invited one member of the Jarl Squad to join them in order to tell his weel kent tale for which he is famous. This squad member is John's uncle Robert who, at the age of 77, still proves to be a stalwart and valued part of the Uphellyaa scene.
  3. Cilla's On Blind Strike. Based on Cilla Black's Blind Date, this squad depicted some local characters and brought to our attention the problems caused by the recent ferry strikes.
  4. Midnight Dynamos. The Cullivoe School pupils entertained in fine style once again as they sang and danced their way through the Simmer Dim Rally and chased a few cute little lambs off the camping grounds!
  5. Wha Gees a Frack? The ubiquitous Hansie and Cissie were caught up in fracking fever, with a portable oil well producing worryingly large flames at times!
  6. It's all About The Beard. Elvis Presley introduced "Cullivoe's Got Talent" with lots of fun, silly string and party poppers to add joy and excitement to this act.
  7. Man Yana. Some members of the Jarl Squad were portrayed here caa-ing sheep as if they were playing football.
  8. Ladies and Gentlemen, There Will Now Be A Short Interval. This Squad was holding a meeting to decide what to do for their act at Uphellyaa. The audience appreciated the trays of port which this squad dished out to the adults!
  9. God Loves A Trier. Local people were portrayed here as they vied to qualify for the Cullivoe Commonwealth Games.
  10. Back In Da Galley. A Time Machine, in the shape of a Galley, transported this squad back in time to various years where they asked the Jarl of that time for advice before travelling to the future and finding out that Cullivoe had adopted a female Jarl in 2045.
  11. Wag Nads. After a very colourful 'duvet dance', a flock of sheep appeared to have some fun while the crofter was away.
  12. Yeah Na. As the title of this act suggests, it was based on the referendum of last September, with several local characters giving their opinions.
  13. Viking Dream Machine. Three Jarl Squad members were given the opportunity to experience their 'dream', with smoke and lighting effects.
  14. Mock The Year. The television show Mock the Week was depicted as two of the Jarl Squad were given local events to figure out.
  15. I'm A Crofter, Get Me Oot o' Here. It is obvious which television show this squad was based on! The audience were transported to the jungle, and three members of the Jarl Squad had to come along and eat some rather dubious looking food while blindfolded.

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