What made you want to live and work on the Isles of Scilly?
I have been a lifelong visitor to the islands so when I saw the role advertised, it was too tempting to ignore. My background is in rural estate management and so I think that experience made me well suited to the post. It is true that living and working here full-time is very different to being a visitor, but whether you are a visitor or resident, once you have been to Scilly and discovered its unique appeal, it stays with you for a very long time.
What does a Land Steward do?
The Land Steward is the public face of the Duchy and is responsible for all aspects of Duchy property management on Scilly. My appointment is the first time a Deputy Land Steward has worked on the islands and so I work closely with the Land Steward (Chris Gregory) in fulfilling this function, with me and my family being residents full-time.
What are the issues that you feel people are most concerned about?
Housing is a perennial problem on Scilly in that there is a shortage of properties to rent. Because of scarcity and second home ownership, the price of houses on the islands is beyond the average budget and makes it very hard, if not impossible, for first time buyers to get on the property ladder. This means that the rental market plays a crucial role and the Duchy provide approximately 25% of home on the islands.
Tourism is fundamental to the local economy and so is a key consideration which lies behind much of the decision making here. The islands are going through a period of exceptional investment and development of aspects of key infrastructure and so naturally islanders have a vested interest in how these are delivered.
How are you able to help the local community?
It is very important to support local businesses which will in turn bring money to the islands, create employment and potentially improve the tourism offer. The Duchy also takes great care when considering re-letting or re-organising let properties to maximise the benefit to the local community, be it a business opportunity or a home.
What did you do before this?
I worked in private practice for a national Firm of Chartered Surveyors as a Rural Estate Manager. As well as dealing with farm agency and valuations, I managed rural estates for clients mainly throughout Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and Norfolk.
Have you got any favourite spots on the islands?
The Garrison on St Mary’s holds many special memories for me of my childhood camping holidays. Within a very short distance, as children, we had the freedom to go tramping through the pine woods, climbing on rocks or sit on a cannon and wonder about the soldiers who once fired them. To be on the westernmost part of England and gaze out across the Atlantic ocean towards America is quite awe-inspiring.
For anyone visiting the Isles of Scilly, what are the top things you recommend that they do?
I would certainly recommend taking one of the tripper boats to visit an off-island –each one has it’s own distinct character and special places to discover. I would also recommend sampling some of the fantastic locally produced food and drink that Scilly has to offer from locally caught crab and lobster to fruit juice and wine!
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