Wales

Bardsey Island family leaves after son falls on first day

Parents Sophie and Ned with children Sam, 10, and Rowan, 12 Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Sophie and Ned Scharer moved to Bardsey Island with their children Sam, 10, and Rowan, 12

A family who moved to manage an island off the coast of north Wales have been forced to return home after an accident on their first day.

Ned and Sophie Scharer were chosen as wardens of Bardsey Island - Ynys Enlli - two miles off the Llyn peninsula.

But they have had to leave after their son badly injured his leg in a fall on the first full day of their new life.

However they have said the job - being advertised by the Bardsey Island Trust - remains a "wonderful opportunity".

Image copyright Amanda Ruggeri
Image caption Bardsey’s sheep vastly outnumber its human residents – which is part of the island's charm

The Scharers and their two children set off in February for a three-year "family adventure" on the isolated spot off the coast of Gwynedd.

They had been selected from 50 applicants to become wardens of the island that is a national nature reserve, a working farm and a bird observatory.

Yet just a day after waving off the boat that ferried them into the Irish Sea, their son Sam, 10, slipped and fell on rocks.

An injured child on a remote island could have been a parent's worst nightmare, but Mrs Scharer said within minutes he was airlifted to hospital on the mainland by Holyhead coastguard.

"The warden has a direct line to the coastguard, so even though you're on the island, you have this amazing back-up," she said.

"The seas were too rough to launch the boat so they sent the helicopter and he got to hospital quicker than if we tried to drive from our home in Snowdonia."

Mrs Scharer had to remain at the family home in Llanrwst while Sam had treatment for his injuries following complications.

Image copyright Amanda Ruggeri
Image caption Ten Grade II properties are rented to visitors

For her husband on the island, work maintaining the trust's letting houses and looking after the 2,000 visitors to the island each year proved too much.

"It was such a shame but in the end, it made the decision to leave the island easier for us because we effectively had no choice," said Mrs Scharer.

"What happened was just one of those things. It could have happened anywhere.

"Sam has only recently healed but he now has a beautiful scar in the shape of the island. It's a wonderful souvenir."

Image copyright Amanda Ruggeri
Image caption Bardsey is thought to have some 200 grey seals

Bardsey Island Trust is now seeking two new island wardens to manage the island for the next three years as part of the tiny community that includes just four people during the winter.

The wardens will also recruit and manage the volunteers who help out on the island.

The wardens will have an annual salary of around £25,000, though accommodation and utilities are provided.

Candidates must be physically fit, comfortable with periods of isolation and capable of taking on a "challenging but rewarding opportunity to live in a unique part of Wales", according to the trust.

Image copyright Amanda Ruggeri
Image caption The only shop on Bardsey sells books, postcards and the island's own honey, willow baskets and wool
Image copyright Amanda Ruggeri
Image caption The view from Bardsey's 'mountain', looking northwest across the Irish Sea

They must also be prepared for no mobile phone signal.

"That is a blessing because it releases you from the burden of people expecting to get hold of you at any time," said Mrs Scharer.

"It's an amazing opportunity for a family who love to spend time together and to have an adventure.

"The isolation is an attraction for many but it's incredibly social in terms of the community.

"You have to be pretty hardy to put up with the weather and work - but we were lucky to live somewhere so beautiful.

"It certainly was an experience."

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