Public and volunteer engagement

We have a long history of engaging with both the public and our volunteers. Here's just a small selection of everything we've done to help share the work we do.


Viking Genes Lectures

In January 2020, we were excited to launch Viking Genes. To celebrate, we had two lectures. One in Kirkwall, Orkney and another in Lerwick, Shetland. We had a full house of visitors and Professor Jim Flett Willson had a chance to discuss our plans with the community. 

Viking II launch lecture

In January 2021, Viking II celebrated its first year since launch. We had always planned to bring together our volunteers in an event to celebrate the moment. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 we had to celebrate online instead.  This resulted in a YouTube anniversary lecture, given by Professor Jim Flett Wilson. The great news is that thanks to being online, we managed to engage our volunteers from across the globe! 

Happy Viking II Anniversary

In November 2021, we were invited to give a further talk at the Sharing Shetland conference 2021, hosted by the Scottish Family History Society. 

Genetic insights into Shetland family history

Open Days and Festivals

Before lockdown, we were regular contributors to the Institute of Genetics and Cancer Doors Open Days and the MRC Festival. Both of these events occurred annually. We always had a poster with us to showcase what we do and sometimes we were accompanied by some fun activities too!

Early Engagement

Plane in Orkney

Some of our earliest engagement with the Northern Isles were the health information evenings held in Orkney from October 2005 - September 2006. The team visited the small and remote isles of Stronsay, Sanday and Westray, together with representatives from the health promotion team of NHS Orkney.

Volunteers and other interested members of the public were given a talk by Jim on the aims and progress of the ORCADES study, as well as a talk on healthy living by Lynn Spence, from NHS Orkney. Joy Groundwater, also from NHS Orkney, assisted Lynn with, among other things, a 3D model of the heart and vessels, showing the build-up of atheroma. Dr Sarah Wild, Professor of Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh, was on hand to answer questions.

Over a number of years, the team also attended the County, Dounby and Hope Agricultural Shows in Orkney. In their tent, they had posters about the study and Orkney genetics to show passers-by, as well as a skeleton to help visualise their discussions.