by Ian Sharp
Although it’s the first time Tiree has enjoyed a full time Ranger, Stephen himself is not new to the island – he has been living and working on Tiree with his wife Tina for the past three years and is a ”well kent face.” His new post has been put in place after long and detailed applications made by John Bowler, a director of Tiree Rural Development Ltd, to Scottish Natural Heritage and various other organizations for funding. John’s laborious efforts paid off with the announcement that Tiree is to join other areas across Scotland that already have a Ranger service, including Orkney, North Harris, Rum, Mull & Iona, Isle of Bute, and many more.
Stephen’s many duties include welcoming and leafleting camper van and motor home drivers to make sure that they are informed of the need for the protection of sensitive machair. He will be based in the Rural Centre and will also have the task of producing heritage brochures and leaflets for Tiree Chapels, using Tiree roads, local birds, maps and wildlife and heritage guides. Stephen will also be responsible for evolving activities for children, including working with Tiree’s Beaver Scouts and youngsters at the school.Other areas of his workload includes disabled access, organizing guided walks, off road parking areas, and reporting his Ranger activities and news in An Tirisdeach.
Fortunately for Stephen his last job in the policy unit of the chief executive’s office in Northumberland Council involved him in some similar work.
He first came to Tiree as a kite surfer and moved three years ago, working as a qualified electrician until the job of Ranger came up. Stephen, 48, who lives with Tina and their dog Misty at Crossapol, said:
”I am excited about my new job. I will be just as happy working in the office as outside meeting people, although there is not opportunity for my other two hobbies, apart from kite surfing – rock climbing and mountain biking. I would like to thank John Bowler for all his hard work on the various applications, including those for grants for the funding, and for making the job a reality. I would also like thanks to be given to Discover Tiree who provided some of the funding and who helped out with lots of advice about graphics and logo items for our new van. They also gave advice on the tourist focus items in the project plan when we were applying for funding.”
Stephen’s three year contract is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund; Scottish Natural Heritage; Discover Tiree, and Tiree Trust. Ranger events and downloadable walks etc will also be publicized through the new Discover Tiree web-site an by way of the innovative new Tiree phone app, which will work on both phone and tablet.