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Broadband fixer Scott McPartlin has been nicknamed ‘Bear Grylls’ after camping on an Inner Hebridean island for three days.
The Openreach engineer headed to Coll after a lightning strike left a remote and vulnerable couple who were self-isolating without connection to the outside world.
Scott parked his van when he could drive no closer and made the first of several three-mile hikes over the beach to Crossapol to reach the household.
The 46-year-old explained: ‘There’s no road from the ferry to their home so it meant a long march over the beach – it was scorching and as much as Coll is stunning, it was tough going.’
Aware that he was going be on the 13-mile-long island for days because of the ferries and that local accommodation was unavailable due to the lockdown, the enterprising outdoors man had taken along his own tent.
After repairing the lightning damage, Scott set up camp at the panoramic Feall Beach.
He had just settled down to watch the sunset when he got an emergency call-out to say there had been a phoneline fault at the island’s surgery at Arinagour which needed fixing. He has since been back to Coll to improve broadband.
Scott joined Openreach six years ago after a career as an insurance broker and is full of praise for the welcome he received on Coll.
He added: ‘Connectivity has never been more important than it is now, and I’m really happy to help. It’s no hardship as the island is incredibly beautiful and the people here are fantastic.
‘Once they knew what I was doing, they opened up the bunkhouse for me to sleep in. It’ll be top of my list of places to visit out of work, once things get back to normal.’
Andy Baillie, Openreach patch manager, said: ‘Scott is a keen outdoors man and loves nothing more than spending the evening under the stars in his tent on some mountain top somewhere.
‘He’s always willing to take on these challenges and the more remote and lonely the better. He’s Openreach’s very own Bear Grylls.’
Openreach engineers are classified as key workers during lockdown.
Their main focus is on connections which support critical national infrastructure like the NHS, pharmacies, emergency services and food distribution outlets; vulnerable customers; and those without any service.
View Scott’s photographs from his stay on Coll.