The citizens of Westray spent the last month packing straw into unexpected places.
But instead of breaking the back of any unsuspecting camels, all that straw went into scarecrows that raised money and support for Westray RNLI.
The Westray Scarecrow Trail brought visitors and residents together to scare up support for the local rescue boat crews through the month of July. Every scarecrow that was built and every vote cast for favourites raised an extra pound for Westray RNLI.
“We have always supported the RNLI as we think they’re like superheroes!!
-Bobby and Scott Tulloch
Organisers said that the total earnings had surpassed £900 – with still more to count.
Judges scrutinised all 43 scarecrows on the island and picked their winner over the weekend. Meanwhile, organisers tallied the votes to see which scarecrow the public thought stood above the rest.
Bairns work to support their ‘superheroes’
One of the standouts of the competition was a detailed recreation of beloved cartoon character SpongeBob Squarepants. Scarecrow builders and brothers Bobby and Scott Tulloch settled on the design themselves after a quick Google search for inspiration.
They earned the respect of their neighbours and won the public vote for best scarecrow on the island. But Bobby, 7, and Scott, 4, said it wouldn’t have happened without help from the family.
“We always say ‘team work makes dream work!'”
-Bobby and Scott Tulloch
“We got a bale of hay from a kind farmer and designed him from there, mum helped us with cutting the eyes and mouth out of wood. We painted his eyes and mouth and designed the rest with mum.
“It was a family effort as dad also helped us make his raft. Dad’s good at tying knots. We always say ‘team work makes dream work!'”
‘You never know when you might need help’
When asked why they chose to join in the competition, the boys said that supporting RNLI ‘superheroes’ comes naturally for an island family.
“We have always supported the RNLI as we think they’re like superheroes!! My dad, grandads, uncles and a lot of other family work on the sea. You never know when you might need help from the RNLI.”
Michelle Harcus received the judges’ nod for best scarecrow on the island with her sea-themed scarecrow couple, Mr and Mrs Fritha.
“I decided on a Scarecrow Garden party theme, as I like a bit of glitz and glam and also thought this probably wouldn’t be the same as anyone else! We decided on the name Mr and Mrs Firtha as this means ‘arms of the sea.’
After combing through charity shops and online thrift stores, she struck gold with a Ladies’ RNLI Committee badge. It proved the final touch to the family effort, which was all for a good cause, she said.
“When I saw the Westray RNLI were doing a scarecrow trail I thought this was a great idea to help raise funds. I had great fun making them and dressing them up with help from my two grown-up kids and partners!
“The RNLI workers and volunteers do an amazing job, you never know when you may need them, so always support them!”
A reason to smile
Organizers Isla Bain and Helen Bain were blown away by the trail’s reception. Community members and tourists alike went out of their way to cast votes in local shops. Tour bus drivers even diverted their routes to take visitors past some of the scarecrows.
Isla said that the residents are already clamouring for another competition next year. After such a disruptive year, she said that the trail provided an easy laugh for the community.
“As so many events have had to have been cancelled over the last 18 months or so, there has been a lovely buzz about the island around this event and it has been so nice to hear how everyone has enjoyed it and how much it has made them smile and have a laugh about.
“The Trail has raised well over £900 for Westray RNLI, with some money to come in yet, which is absolutely amazing! We are already being asked if it is happening next year again which is a fantastic sign of how popular it has been.”