Woman who left Edinburgh for the Orkney islands is now holding down nine jobs

A woman who packed in her city retail job for a quiet life on a tiny island is having to hold down nine jobs - because there's no-one else to do them.

Sarah Moore is holding down nine jobs on North Ronaldsay in the Orkneys
Sarah Moore is holding down nine jobs on North Ronaldsay in the Orkneys

Sarah Moore, 26, quit her job selling clothes at Next in Edinburgh after becoming fed up of city life, and moved to North Ronaldsay, in the Orkney islands - which has a population of just 45 and average age of 65.

As the youngest person living on the island, she soon found herself with no fewer than nine different jobs to hold down - carrying out duties as everything from a firefighter to a shepherdess.

She started a job working as a carer, but now also puts in shifts as an air traffic controller, airport baggage handler, and also delivers the island’s post.

She’s a clerk for the island council, drives diggers on the farms, and even leads tours of the island’s only lighthouse.

But Sarah, who moved to the island just two and a half years ago, says she wouldn’t have it any other way.

She said: “It’s not an easy life here and it’s not a place anyone comes to get rich in, but I love it.

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“The city is too crowded and there’s no greenery or scenery. For me there was just a dead-end job - retail work is not for me.

“It was lonely in Edinburgh, even though there are so many people. I lived in the same house for 23 years and I only knew the people to the left and right of me and here I know everyone.”

Romance is difficult to drum up on an island with such a tiny population, and Sarah believes the other islanders would love for her to settle down.

“Being the youngest person on the island there is pressure to settle down and have some kids.

She said: “Most people are already coupled up, but you can meet people on other islands - I’m not really looking for anything right now though.

“In the summer, we had a summer festival and there were a few lads coming over from the other islands.”

She added: “Some of the older residents were practically handing out my CV to the young guys - they would love me to settle down on the island.

“It was quite embarrassing but all in good spirit.

“Our school closed last year because the only pupil left, so we are desperately in need of families to live here.”

When Sarah made the move to Ronaldsay, it was her first time living away from home and while some of her schoolfriends struggled to find just one job, Sarah soon became inundated with them.

“My folks and I had gone to western isles were for many years and it always feels like coming home. A house became available one time as the people were moving out and I wasn’t ready but I decided to go for it.”

“Moving here was terrifying as it was the first time I’d lived away from home, but strangely I didn’t really struggle with the change.

“I think it’s because I had a good idea of what it would be like from when I’d been here before – I had visited about four or five times on holiday before I moved up.

Sarah says life on North Ronaldsay is like a ‘different world’ and that there’s actually a shortage of people to take up the jobs.

“I grew up quite quickly, as I spent a lot of time with older people on the island and I don’t really notice age any more when I’m speaking to a person.

“The problem is that some of the islanders are getting to an age when they need to retire, but the people coming in and taking over those physically demanding jobs are also in their 50s.”

Many of Sarah’s jobs are voluntary and because she has so many different roles, no two days are alike.

“I like a bit of variety and that’s certainly what I’ve got here - it can sometimes be hard to keep track of what jobs I’m doing on any particular day.

“I enjoy working at the airport the most: there’s a lot of responsibility and it’s more social than my other jobs since there’s three other people.”

“I don’t really miss Edinburgh. I went back last month to help my parents move, but I never got that nostalgia feeling.