Scotland's Year of Stories Project: Untold Orcadian Stories

In the Orcadian Stories films community group from Orkney set about interviewing people who have made a valuable contribution to the community through arts, culture, and/or voluntary work, and who may not have a high public profile. Some were quite well known locally, but not nationally.

The project team spoke to three individuals who were instrumental in the initial success of the St. Magnus Festival, all of whom emphasised that it was the mixture of visiting professionals with highly motivated and skilled local volunteers that made the Festival unique and special. They each had memories and amusing stories to share, some of which have not been told before. In addition, the founders of the Workshop and Loft gallery in St Margaret's Hope, which was founded by socialists and run as a cooperative, were also interviewed.

A wide range of individuals involved in organisations which help with mental health and well-being in the isles, including the Men’s Shed organisation, Friends of Happy Valley, The Veterans’ Breakfast Club, and Hoy Wellbeing Centre were also interviewed. These films provide some insight into the challenges facing people living in island communities. For example, dealing with isolation and the daily living problems in a small island community such as Hoy during the Covid-19 lock-downs.

An effort was made to speak to individuals representing a cross-section of modern Orcadian society, including those born elsewhere. Some of the interviewees are originally from England, and one, Theophilus Ogbhemhe, is a teacher of religious, moral and philosophical studies from Nigeria. Orkney is not a racially diverse place and Theo has a powerful and positive message promoting diversity and inclusion. He did not shy away from describing the personal challenges he has faced in his time in Orkney.

Two of the interviewees spoke about local media – Bruce Fletcher of the Stronsay Limpet newsletter, and Kim Foden whose father and uncle brought the first television pictures to the isles as young men, and went on to careers in the industry. Kim’s family has deep roots in Orkney and her Televisor story provides a historical glimpse. She also has family among First Nation Cree people - Homecoming tells the story of how researching an ancestor who worked for the Hudson Bay Company unexpectedly led her to find them.

Mhairi MacInnes was interviewed about the anti-uranium mining campaign which took place in the late 1970 and early 80s, and which is a successful example of local activism triumphing over large corporate interests. She attended the protests herself and her father, the artist and teacher Ian MacInnes, was a key figure in the campaign. She spoke about the campaign and how it led her to become a life-long environmentalist.

All the stories can all be heard via The Orkney News youtube channel

This event was supported by the Year of Stories 2022 Community Stories Fund. This fund was delivered in partnership between VisitScotland and Museums Galleries Scotland with support from National Lottery Heritage Fund thanks to National Lottery players.

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