Siân grew up in the small East Sussex village of Icklesham. She studied Marine Biology at the University of St Andrews, and after graduating in 2013 she worked with the Sea Mammal Research Unit around the Scottish coastline. She worked in places like the Isle of May, Islay, and Skye, as well as the uninhabited North Rona, and quickly fell in love with island life.
Siân then went on to work with the British Antarctic Survey, spending 16 months on Bird Island, a small island near South Georgia where she was mainly working with seals and helping the other assistants with penguins and seabirds, and spent the winter in a team of four.
After Bird Island she spent field seasons in Scotland studying red deer (which is where she met Olly, and in Chile studying seals, before moving to North Devon to volunteer with the National Trust.
Outside of work Siân can spend many hours infront of the fire knitting or sewing. She enjoys wild swimming and spending time with the animals.
Siân & Olly moved to North Ronaldsay when Siân got the job of Sheep Dyke Warden - repairing the island’s 12 mile long dry stone wall. During their first Spring there - at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic - they adopted two bottle-fed lambs and fell in love with the special characters. They spent the summer growing fresh vegetables and taking their lambs for walks on the beach.
Their ambitions to become sustainable, growing and producing as much of their own food as possible, quickly outgrew the space in their rented house. They co-founded Transition North Ronaldsay, a social enterprise that aims to help the community thrive in the face of climate change and resource depletion, first of all by creating a community garden to provide the island’s residents with organically grown fruit and vegetables. Secondly, by creating a beach plastic recycling centre to recycle beach and household plastics on island - turning a problem into a resource.
The following year, in 2021, they bought Milldam Croft, a croft house with 15 acres. 1 acre will be used to site the Community Garden, and the rest will be used to:
Create wetland scrapes for breeding waders
Practise nature friendly and regenerative farming
Siân & Olly also graze their animals at Westness Croft, a 30 acre croft in the North West of the island.
Olly & Siân are passionate about the natural world, conservation and sustainable living.