Wales

Bardsey Island 'needs permanent residents to survive'

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Media captionBardsey Island "needs a community, it needs more people living there"

A family who beat hundreds of hopefuls to be the only permanent residents on a Welsh island have said it needs a full-time community in order to thrive.

Ned and Sophie Scharer were chosen as wardens of Bardsey Island, off the Gwynedd coast, but left the role after their son Sam was injured on the beach.

Sam had to be flown back to the mainland by Coastguard helicopter after he fell on rocks exploring the island.

Mr Scharer said the island "needs people" all year round.

Mr and Mrs Scharer and their children Sam, 10, and Rowan, 12, moved from just outside Betws-y-Coed in Gwynedd to Bardsey in February.

But Mrs Scharer and the children moved back to the mainland just a few days after Sam's injury.

She said: "It made us realise very quickly something we hadn't anticipated before which was just that island needs a community, it needs more people living there to support each other and help each other."

Mr Scharer stayed on the island, which was once home to a self-sufficient community of more than 100 people, in order to prepare for the arrival of tourists.

As part of their role as wardens, the Scharers had to prepare the island's ten holiday homes for visitors, as well as providing entertainment for them.

Image caption The family moved to the island via the only mode of transport available - boat

After restoring the houses, Mr Scharer elected to go home due to being separated from the rest of his family for a long period of time.

He said: "This island needs people and these houses need people. Working together, living together and they need people all year round.

"You could probably take five houses out of the equation in terms of tourism and then next to each house you've got a ready made business of a holiday let and give them over to permanent residents."

The other semi-permanent residents of the island, farmer Gareth Roberts and boat operator Colin Evans, both agree more people are needed.

Mr Evans said: "Poor Sam suffered an accident that, had there been a larger community here, everyone might have been able to deal with a lot better.

"Ned told me he thought the island was lonely and I've thought that for years. It's got the potential to be a viable community again. The more people you've got the easier it is to be here and that's what we really need."

Mr Roberts added: "If there had been more people maybe the support would have kept them here.

"When you talk about community here it needs a different approach to take it forward."

  • Our Lives: Our Island Home is on BBC One and BBC One Wales at 19:30 BST on Monday 12 August

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