I quit my Red Arrows job to live alone on a forgotten island and run its only pub… here's what made me uproot | The Sun

A MAN has revealed what motivated him to chuck in his job with the Red Arrows to go and live alone on a remote island.

Simon Parker, 38, now has a dramatically different lifestyle as the warden of Flat Holm island, just off the coast of Cardiff, Wales.

Before that though things were very different for Simon as first he was an engineer with the Royal Navy and later took up a role as an engineer with the Royal Air Force, mostly working on the Red Arrows.

Explaining his dramatic change of both lifestyle and career, he told Wales Online: "Sometimes it takes a bit of a shock to wake you up a bit, something, and it tends to be a bad thing, that will just make you sit up and take notice of things and then you realise how short life is."

For Simon, that “shock” was the death of his friend he had met when they were in the Royal Navy together.

His pal had followed his dream of being a paramedic and was killed in a car crash on his way to work.

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The tragedy made Simon take stock of his own life.

He said: “Sometimes it is interesting how we settle into a comfort zone and then we carry on living a certain way and we’ve got all these ideas in our head that maybe we are not that satisfied but we are comfortable so we carry on.

“Sometimes it takes a bit of a shock to wake you up a bit, something, and it tends to be a bad thing, that will just make you sit up and take notice of things and then you realise how short life is and I think for me that was a bit of a moment like that.

“And then you have just got to go with what your gut is telling you and listen to it and just do it and that is what I did.”

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In his role as warden, he basically has to look after the island, the wildlife and any tourists that come and visit.

He is also the landlord of the one and only pub on the island, The Gull and Leek and attends to the accommodation if any tourists want to stay overnight.

Simon previously told The Sun Online: ”I knew what I was getting into. I knew that the island is very unique. It's difficult to describe fully how it feels to live here. It's so cut off, but also so close – I can see Cardiff out of my window.

"There's always something going on, on the island. The wildlife is always up to something. I've felt lonelier in cities and in towns where I feel there's a big disconnect in people's lives."

The island is fully self-autonomous, so he is always busy. He has to collect his own water, make sure power supplies – including solar power and generators – are in good working order, and take care of heating.

Food is delivered to the island, and Simon says they have a good stock of tins of beans and tomatoes, as well as pasta. "It's a treat if somebody brings something crazy like, I don't know, a loaf of bread," he joked.

The island has a water catchment area dating back to the Victorian times that Simon uses to collect water.

Rainwater is funnelled to an underground tank, which is pumped and filtered before being fed throughout the island. The water is sterilised so it is safe to drink and is tested regularly.

He said the best part of the job was meeting the mix of people that come for a visit and then the wildlife itself.

Not so pleasant were some of the tasks he has to fulfil as warden, like fixing a blocked toilet and he does miss his friends and family although he said he tried to return to the mainland once a month.

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Simon said: “I miss my family, I miss my friends, I miss all the activities. I don’t miss towns, I don’t miss cities, I certainly don’t miss driving or traffic.

“That is one of the best things about being here I don’t hear the sounds of vehicles anymore. I don’t miss the hustle and bustle at all.”

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