Crowdfunding Healthcare in Shetland: Maakin the NHS

Research output: Other contribution


Ellen Stewart reflects on how a Shetland community are using traditional knitting to crowdfund an MRI scanner

The tiny, twin prop plane landed at Sumburgh Airport in Shetland and we boarded the bus into town. It felt like an odd quasi-homecoming; the familiar made ineffably strange. Shetland is an archipelago of islands sitting in the middle of the North Sea. My Mum is a Shetlander and my extended family are still there; I’ve visited since childhood. Author Mallachy Tallack writes that the islands' location at sixty degrees north — famously closer to Oslo than London — "is a story that we tell, both to ourselves and others. It is a story about where – and also perhaps who – we are" (Tallack, 2015, p. 3). While geographically isolated, Shetland is in the middle of a renaissance, not least thanks to the popular BBC drama series Shetland. I had landed in the middle of 'Wool Week' 2019: a major international event attracting passionate knitters to learn, admire and spend money on Shetland’s famous wool and traditional knitting (maakin, in the local dialect). It is big business for these far-flung and sparsely populated islands. The hotels were nearly full, and cafes, pubs and streets were busy with groups of enthusiastic North American visitors.
Original languageEnglish
TypeThe Polyphony - Conversations across the medical humanities
Media of outputBlog post
Place of PublicationDurham
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2021


  • crowdfunding
  • Shetland Islands
  • NHS Shetland
  • MRI Maakers
  • tradittional knitting
  • community action


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