Dream job going – interest in Scottish islands essential

St Kilda. Picture: Ian Rutherford
St Kilda. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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It is a job unlike any other, with the successful candidate travelling throughout some of Scotland’s most spectacular places, presiding over historic archaeological gems, and working with some of the furthest flung communities in all of Britain.

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) has launched a recruitment drive to find a custodian for the clutch of remote islands under its care.

In a role that is sure to appeal to island hoppers, Scotland’s largest conservation charity has created the post in order to protect and promote some of its most treasured assets.

Described by the trust as a “richly diverse, rewarding and demanding” position, the operations manager will assume responsibility for safeguarding the likes of St Kilda, the UK’s only dual Unesco World Heritage Site, and Staffa, the national nature reserve in the Inner Hebrides, regarded as one of Scotland’s most outstanding natural wonders.

Dominic Driver, the head of natural heritage at the NTS, said the decision to create the new role reflected the “importance of the islands and landscapes we’re lucky enough to care for”.

He explained: “The position really has an emotional connection to the islands and to the communities who live and make a living there.

“It’s also a highly professional role which needs someone who is financially astute and excels at project management.”

While much of the work will involve protecting landscapes and marine habitats, the operations manager will be expected to form strong working relationships with residents and crofters who live on the trust’s islands.

They include Fair Isle, which lies halfway between the Shetland and Orkney archipelagos, the historic isle of Iona in the Inner Hebrides, and Canna.

Driver said: “We want to enable the people who live in places like Fair Isle and Canna to develop their own communities, that’s the 21st century way of doing things – the best way of doing things.”

The vast scale of the role – which has an attractive starting salary of £40,645 – is detailed in the trust’s job description. The operations manager will be responsible for nine islands in all, with a remit spanning an area of 76,600 acres, covering 45 scheduled ancient monuments and 5,192 known archaeological sites. Such figures, says Driver, serve as a reminder that the trust, as well as being the steward of flagship properties such as Culzean Castle, is also Scotland’s third largest landowner.

The trust makes clear that due to the geographic spread of its properties, travel will be frequent but irregular, with the postholder expected to have a head for heights as well as sea legs.

Its job advert states that the travel will be “on land, over sea, and by air as appropriate,” with the candidate expected to “be comfortable with using cars, travelling by scheduled ferries and chartered boats, and by planes and helicopters”.

Due to unpredictable weather and limited travel options on places such as Fair Isle, which can be cut off for weeks during the winter, those applying are advised that planned overnight stays can last for several days.

So far, five people have expressed an interest in the job, but with applications being accepted until Friday, the trust is hopeful of hearing from more candidates.

TOP NTS ISLANDS

St Kilda (left)

The isolated archipelago, which lies 41 miles west of Benbecula, is the most important seabird breeding station in north-west Europe.

Fair Isle

The most remote inhabited island in Britain is home to 60 people. It is famed for its thriving seabird population and textile heritage.

Canna

The Hebridean enclave, which has a population of 26, was left to the trust by John Lorne Campbell, the Gaelic folklorist and scholar.

Staffa

The Hebridean island has been visited by Queen Victoria , Lord Tennyson and Jules Verne.

Iona

With around 120 permanent residents, the isle is regarded as the cradle of Christianity in Scotland.

Mingulay, Pabbay and Berneray

Part of the so-called Bishop’s Isles, which lie at the southern end of the Outer Hebrides chain, the isles were evacuated in the 20th century.