Tributes paid to much-loved is­land sto­ry­teller

The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) - - Features -

He cre­ated a dis­tinc­tive voice for Scot­tish is­lan­ders through­out his di­verse life.

And that helps ex­plain why such rich tributes have been paid to well-known Shet­land sto­ry­teller and au­thor, Lawrence Tul­loch, who has died, aged 74.

Mr Tul­loch was a sto­ry­teller of in­ter­na­tional re­pute and ap­peared at many fes­ti­vals through­out the world. He was also a fa­mil­iar voice to is­lan­ders tun­ing into BBC Ra­dio Shet­land from the ear­li­est days of the sta­tion.

He passed away at the Gil­bert Bain Hospi­tal on Mon­day and is sur­vived by his wife Mar­garet and daugh­ter Liz.

He loved his roots and lived in Yell for most of his life be­fore mov­ing to North Roe in his later years.

Born and brought up in North Yell, the great­est in­flu­ence on his love of sto­ry­telling was his fa­ther and bearer of the tra­di­tion, Tom, whose folk­lore was col­lected by the School of Scot­tish Stud­ies.

In his younger days, Mr Tul­loch worked as a tour guide and was a weaver, light­house keeper and post­mas­ter, while he also ran a bed and break­fast. He was chair­man of Shet­land Is­lands Tourism for a spell.

Many of the tra­di­tional tales he gath­ered over the years were cap­tured in print and on CD, with The His­tory Press in 2014 pub­lish­ing Shet­land Folk Tales, a com­pen­dium in­clud­ing an eclec­tic va­ri­ety of sto­ries from the isles in­clud­ing The Boy Who Came from the Ground and Nor­way’s First Troll.

BBC Ra­dio Shet­land man­ager, John John­ston, said: “Lawrence was a stal­wart of Ra­dio Shet­land. He was in­volved in the sta­tion right from the start, pre­sent­ing many pro­grammes in­clud­ing Give us a Tune.

“He was a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor, and our main con­tact for sto­ries in Yell. As a trib­ute, we plan to re­peat the In About the Night pro­gramme that he recorded with Mary Blance some years ago.

“We ex­tend our heart­felt sym­pa­thy to his fam­ily. It was with great sad­ness that we heard the news – he will be sorely missed.”

Former BBC Ra­dio Shet­land se­nior pro­ducer, Jonathan Wills, was a boat­man when Lawrence was the light­keeper at Muckle Flugga in the 1970s and added he was “very sorry to hear the sad and shock­ing news".

He said: “He and Mar­garet were my neigh­bours when he was a light­keeper on Muckle Flugga and I was the light­house boat­man, and they were very good neigh­bours.

“We kept in touch after our paths di­verged and, when Ra­dio Shet­land started up, Lawrence was a great help to us with his fund of sto­ries, many of them from his fa­ther, Tom, who was an­other of our early stars.

“Lawrence had a great cu­rios­ity about Shet­land his­tory and folk­lore, and an amaz­ing fund of knowl­edge. His was an un­pre­ten­tious writ­ing style – he wrote just as he spoke – and I much en­joyed his book On the Rocks in par­tic­u­lar.

“Our po­lit­i­cal views were com­pletely op­posed, but we al­ways en­joyed good-hu­moured ban­ter about cur­rent af­fairs when­ever we met up, as well as rem­i­nisc­ing about our very happy shared time in North Unst all those years ago.

“Lawrence will be a sad miss to all who had the plea­sure to know him as a friend and col­league."

Shet­land sto­ry­teller and au­thor, Lawrence Tul­loch

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