Families wanted for tiny islands

Hyndman family
NY to Fair Isle

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) has advertised for two new families to live on the tiny island of Canna in the Hebrides, off the West Coast of Scotland, which has just 15 inhabitants left. The closing date for applications is 10 November.

“Canna: The Story of a Hebridean Island” – buy it from Amazon

NTS had huge success with a similar initiative recently on Fair Isle when a family gave up their home in upstate New York to start a new life on the most remote inhabited island in Britain. Tom Hyndman, his wife Liz and their son Henry, five, will leave Saratoga Springs, a city with a population of about 35,000, and some 100 restaurants, later this month for their new home on Fair Isle with just 70 residents and a two-and-a-half-hour ferry journey from their nearest neighbours. The island has no pub, hotel or restaurant and just a small primary school, bird observatory and shop.

The Hyndmans beat off international competition from 800 applicants for one of the two houses offered for rent by the NTS, last year. The other has gone to a family from Aberdeen.

Mr Hyndman, 44, who has a hat-making business, will operate the family’s new home as a bed and breakfast business. His wife, who makes educational videos, heard the Fair Isle appeal on a radio show.

“We went over last March and just thought it was just great, fabulous. It really is going to be a great experience and we are really looking forward to it.

As the search for new residents for one island ends, another starts.

Alex Lindsay, NTS director for the Highlands and Islands, said applicants for the two homes on Canna should be eager to play an active role in the community. He said bringing in new residents would help to safeguard the school, community and economy of the island and increase the skills base.

NTS said there were potential employment opportunities on the island for people with building, gardening, electrics or plumbing skills.

Employment on Canna is mainly associated with agriculture in the traditional farming of sheep and cattle together with crofting. Tourism also plays a role with about 30,000 people visiting every year.

For more information about the opportunity to live on Canna, please contact the National Trust Scotland on 01631 564710 from Monday 9 October.

Here are some comments on this story from the BBC web site:


We would love the opportunity to move to Canna, I am a freelance writer and artist. I am married with two young adult children and a two-year-old grandaughter. We could certainly contribute to the community and would immerse ourselves in the life and history of the island.
Bryan Hammond, Sleaford Lincolnshire

Artist and mum of four small children. If I could earn the rent working for NTS, what a marvellous opportunity to be surrounded by Scottish wildlife.
Rachel Stirling, Midlands

I am a teacher in a secondary school teaching RE. I have three boys under the age of 7, and my wife is a homemaker/housewife. Have often thought about living in such a place.
Daniel Boyes, Guisborough, UK

Myself and my partner would absolutely love the chance to relocate to Canna as we are both environmentally aware, recycle and love animals and strongly believe in preservation of wildlife. This would be an excellent opportunity to become part of a community which I feel is lacking in society today.

I would love to be given the chance to learn about farming and agricultural methods. My partner has worked on farms in the past, looking after pigs and the idea of broadening our horizons to doing something new is very appealing.

I believe that we, as individuals must put back into the community and environment for future generations to come. This can only be achieved by working closely together for the good of all.
Kate Elphick, Gloucester, England.

I would love to live in a nature enviroment with the wildlife I am a avid nature lover as is my partner.This would be a dream come true to leave the concrete jungle and join a world of nature.
Andrew Whalley, Rochdale, England

We live down in the south of Scotland, with our three children and two dogs. Living on an island has always been a dream of mine, and I would definitely seriously consider such a move. We run an Internet company, so location is not really an issue, as long as we have broadband, we can be anywhere.
Alan Williamson, Dumfries and Galloway

We have just started a family and would welcome the opportunity to get away from it all, as my partner has been diagnosed with Post-Natal Depression. We feel this would be perfect for us.
Mark Trevellick, Daventry, England

I would love to live on the island, provided somebody or the authorities can make arrangement for the expenses for me and my family members for migration and citizenship and settlement requirements at that place.
Jyotsna Soni, Hyderabad, India

Here are some comments on the Fair Iske story from The Scotsman web site

1. Scott / 2:27am 7 Oct 2006 Sounds like bliss as long is there is broadband access :)

2. Rennie, Upstate NY / 4:08am 7 Oct 2006 With offtrack betting you don’t need to go to Saratoga Springs to bet on the ponies. That’s about it for local “culture”, well that and the Saratoga Battlefield National Park…

3. Peter, Tasmania / 6:34am 7 Oct 2006 Ach if nothing else it will give him a true appreciation of Saratoga Springs.

4. Comment Removed This comment has been removed by a moderator. 5. ALASTAIR JAMES BERRY, Nanaimo, B.C., Canada. / 6:43am 7 Oct 2006 I agree with PETER(4).

I wonder how long they will manage to stick it out. Their son, Henry, I suspect will adapt best to the area and I wish him luck.

6. Chris, Edinburgh / 7:18am 7 Oct 2006 We weren’t part of the committee making the decision so we don’t know just exactly why this family was chosen but I’m sure they weren’t chosen lightly. They must have met certain criteria. It would take a special kind of family to pack up their lives and move to a remote island with only 70 inhabitants so I’m sure that was considered as well. Plus they’ll probably be able to contribute to the income of the island with his hat making business which will probably work well with the industry of knitted jumpers, an important source of income on the island now. Don’t jump to conclusions without ALL the facts.

As for being white foreigners, (Johnny #4) they do have Scottish ancestry and are coming here legally. As for the ‘black foreigners mentioned by Johnny, again we don’t have all the facts but if Scotland is sending them away then they must have, or believe they have, good reason.

Scotland, like America, is a melting pot for whomever wants to come live here. As long as people can prove they will be an asset to the country (and not a burden) and will be good citizens of Scotland it shouldn’t matter if they’re black or white. This isn’t a white vs black issue Johnny. If the ‘black foreigners’ you speak about were here legally (according to Schttish imigration law) they wouldn’t be sent packing. And, the Scotsman did report the story you’re speaking of just a few days ago.

7. Johnny / 7:54am 7 Oct 2006 Chris 6, you plainly know nothing about immigration law. That’s not a criticism – why should you? – just my observation. This is being treated as a quirky, human interest story. Poor reporting, missing out the obvious questions and failing to recognise or acknowledge the political context. Immigration law should be colour blind and it patently isn’t.

There are lots of black and minority ethnic families who leave their countries at a moment’s notice and come here to set up a new life – not at a whim because they fancy a better lifestyle but because they fear for heir lives and have seen families and friends slaughtered. The Vucacs, the Cobans, the Benais, to name three whose situation has been reported. They have made roots gere and the kids have gone to school here and often only know Scotland. Ripped out from their homes and neighbours at dawn by uniformed thugs, with only their neighbours to defend them.

My point is that the Scotsman didn’t set out the facts behind the obvious ones –
… that these people are white foreigners and are being let in,
… and that black foreigners get expelled.

8. John, Greenock / 10:29am 7 Oct 2006 Strainge how some people can twist things to suit themselves. The ‘whites’in this instance are coming here legally. Why do people from Africa and the Balklans end up in Scotland. International law says asylum seachers go to the nearest safe country.Does my geography fail me or is Africa not separated from Scotland by a fair distance and there are quite a few safe countries between. How many of these countries from which people are fleeing have direct flights to Scotland , so how do people end up here. Dawn raids,these shouldn’t be unexpected since the people invollved will have already been advised that they are here illegally and should leave.
The important point here is illegal.

9. jennifer / 11:02am 7 Oct 2006 Chris, Johnny,and John,get together somewhere else.

10. Gerry / 5:29pm 7 Oct 2006 #9 – Jennifer why should 3 of them go somewhere else – why don’t you bog-off somewhere else. At least they made a good attempt at talking about thr article.

Don’t let the door hit your a*se on the way out darlin’.

11. Kathy / 5:57pm 7 Oct 2006 #10 – Gerry — the article is NOT about whites vs. blacks, dawn raids, etc… So Chris, Johnny, and John would better serve making comments at that article. But then, it’s not popping up on today’s highlights, so for lack of convenient venue, they bring their more “serious” topic here. Sad really.

Personally, I would rather discuss how Fair Isle made such an important contribution to the world of knitting, introducing such a challenging and colorful pattern technique, and what a shame it would be if it would die out, particularly on the island that gave it it’s name. Care to continue?

12. Longblackveil, USA / 1:21am 8 Oct 2006 Actually, one of the most interesting questions is why a family established in the U.S. is so eager to leave and go someplace so remote. A small but still significant number of americans have been emigrating elsewhere recently. Contrary to what some political opportunists say, it has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with our lifestyle here, I think. I just wonder how they can grow a population with the addition of two families …

13. Angela, Fair Isle / 11:33am 8 Oct 2006 As one member of the Aberdeenshire family who recently moved to Fair Isle, could I just point out that life here is not as doom and gloom as some might think.

The fair isle bird observatory opens from march till october, is licenced, has a bar & frequently hosts island events from themed food nights to the regular Fair Isle Thursday events which include slide shows,local musicians & poets, which is widely attended by locals & visitors alike.

As to why anyone would pull up sticks & head out here to live or croft as we do… We’ll you’ll just have to come visit & see for yourself.

14. sandy, USA / 5:22pm 8 Oct 2006 #13–thank you & maybe we will some day!

15. R Bell / 7:39pm 8 Oct 2006 McConnell seems to think that he can hide the economic problems and depopulation of Scotland by advertising for people to come and live here. However, I’d like to see if these American children stay on Fair Isle, or their grand children. I doubt it, and so the cycle begins again.

FACT: Scotland’s rural areas and islands have appalling infrastructure compared to ones in independent Norway, Denmark, the Faroes and Iceland.

16. Dave, Western Isles / 11:40am 9 Oct 2006 R Bell

As someone who lives on one of these islands I can tell you the infrastructure is excellent as long as you don’t want to go anywhere, are happy to be excluded from the rest of the mainland unless you have money to burn, can put up with rip off ferry service, air service and pay the same road tax as everybody else but shell out an extra 10 to 15p per litre for petrol.

Apart form that, it’s spot on mate!

17. Linda, Saratoga Springs NY / 12:56pm 9 Oct 2006 WOW we are really going to miss Tommy and Liz! Fair Isle chose a wonderful and unique family to add to their community, and they will enhance Scotland while leaving a bit of a tear in the fabric of Saratoga. What a wonderful opportunity. Congrats and good luck! You have my blessings and support.

Ten facts about Fair Isle
1. Fair Isle has been occupied since the Bronze Age.

2. It lies between Orkney and Shetland.

3. The island is just 5km long and 3km wide. Most of the 70 residents live in crofts.

4. The population has decreased to 70 from around 400 in about 1900.

5. There are no pubs, hotels or restaurants. It has one primary school and a shop.

6. It is mentioned on shipping forecasts.

7. The Fair Isle Electricity Committee is the smallest electricity utility in the British Isles.

8. The island is served by a ferry and an eight-seater plane from Shetland.

9. It was bought by the National Trust for Scotland in 1954.

10. Fair Isle is famous for its knitted jumpers, with knitting forming an important source of income.

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