Learners' Stories

Learner B.B, Intermediate photography courses with Richard Ashbee

I attended the class because I needed some positive motivation and some face to face instruction/guidance in the more detailed aspects of advanced photography. I was getting lazy, manuals can be complex and difficult to understand and absorb. Richard’s classes gave me just what I needed.

As a result of my work improving, I have been asked to take for photos for the Shetland Times and in particular to fully cover last years Walls show, standing in for Dave Donaldson. I now have a far greater enthusiasm than previously and really don’t mind going out in all weathers and late at night to get the Mirrie Dancers!

I also get asked to do slide shows for various organisations, stroke association WRVS etc. Life is very busy on the photographic front! All this is all very gratifying, just what a retiree needs!

Learner A.M, Mindfulness for Health with Judd Brindley

I had to retire over ten years ago on health grounds and after my husband died five years ago I had to rebuild my life. I have constant pain which is helped by tablets and pain patches as well as other medication which all have side affects. and has left me feeling very worried and scared in daily situations. I wanted to see if this Mindfulness would help me.

The other day my mobility car didn't pass its MOT and I was left worrying about another appointment, friends I was meant to be taking home and how I would get home. The man in the garage went off to see what he could do, and I was at ten on the anxiety scale. It was then that I thought about the Mindfulness and meditation, and that's what I did. The effect was amazing. It calmed me right down and I was able to take control of the situation. I made other arrangements for my friends and cancelled my appointment and then I was able to relax, and eventually with the kind man at the garage my tyres were replaced and I was on my way feeling calm and able to drive.

I do the meditation and scans everyday and I have felt it invaluable. This is something that should be taught in schools and work places. When you think you're too busy to do this, that is the exact time you need to be doing it.

Learner C.S, Introduction to Fair Isle Knitting with Wilma Pottinger

I had done knitting in the school years previously but had not done any Fair Isle knitting in years. I loved Fair Isle garments and was paying a fortune for them. I was also aware that the art of Fair Isle knitting was dying out in communities which had previously taking this skill for granted. So it was a mixture of wanting to improve on an existing skill and be able to pass this on to future generations that led me to the night class.

It may seem a little extreme to say it changed my life but it pretty much did. The skill came flooding back when I joined the class. Wilma had us making a small teddy bear ganzie but gave us the know how to be able to scale this up to bigger garments. By the end of that year I had made my teddy bear ganzie, a small fair isle jumper for my toddler nephew and a fair isle lumbercoat for myself which I still wear.

I did the night class for two years in a row. The second time, my friend joined me at the class. When we felt we had gone beyond the beginner stage but had been left wanting more, we started up the “Pink Hall Knitting night”. This is held the second Tuesday of every month all year round. All knitters, regardless of age or ability, join together to knit and have a cup of tea with some homebakes from 7-9pm in the Pink Hall at Hamnavoe. We get knitters ranging from 15-85yrs who come regularly.

Learner E.W, Art with Heather Wilson

I took the class to learn new techniques and help to relax. I discovered I could actually draw and paint!

I have learned to be confident in my work, and try new things with the help of the tutor. This has made an immense difference in my life as I always have something on the board and I can lose hours just drawing.

I would like to start taking commissions of folks' pets when I have more time.

Learner J.M, Introduction to Makeup with Babs Clubb

Having just completed a 4 year part-time Master’s degree (distance learning), I realised I had become very insular and had spent far too much of my time with my head in a book. I really wanted to do something creative that was within my own community; to renew old friendships and meet new people. I needed to become less isolated within my own community.

I learned so much about skin care as well as the creative possibilities in changing someone’s appearance by applying makeup. I now have a range of skills that are new to me but also, thanks to my tutor’s encouragement I have the confidence to use them. I have done a friend’s makeup since the class finished and plan to do more.

For the last night-class I invited my friend to come for a makeover. She hadn’t been well for a while and found her makeover a real boost. She was delighted with the result and has professional photos to keep.

I also appreciated making new acquaintances through the night-class. If Bab’s repeats this night class I would definitely enrol again as there is more to learn.


  • The Scotish Goverment
  • Shetland Island Council
  • Learn Direct Scotland