An engineer who camped on an island for three days during lockdown to keep remote islanders connected has been praised for his actions.
Openreach’s Scott McPartlin headed to the Inner Hebridean island of Coll after a lightning strike left a vulnerable customer with no connection to the outside world.
Aware that he’d be on the island for three days between ferries, and that local accommodation wasn’t available due to social distancing rules, he took his tent with him.
Accessing the remote property involved him making a three-mile hike over the beach to Crossapol to repair the damage.
He then set up camp at Feall Beach but, as he settled down to watch the sunset, he got an emergency call-out from the island’s surgery.
Scott, 46, arrived in the pitch dark and waited until the air ambulance came, with a doctor on board, to fix a phone fault.
He’s since returned to Coll twice to improve broadband connections for some of the 190-strong population.
Scott, who joined Openreach six years ago, said: “The first customer was vulnerable and he and his wife were self-isolating when their line was hit by lightning.
“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.
“Connectivity has never been more important than it is now and I’m really happy to help. I
“t’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.”
Openreach manager Andy Baillie 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 – Openreach’s very own Bear Grylls.”
John Fraser, acting chairman of Coll Community Council, said: “Everyone is delighted with Scott and appreciative of his consideration for the community.”
During lockdown, Openreach engineers are regarded as key workers, focusing on supporting critical national infrastructure including NHS, pharmacies, emergency services, food distribution outlets, vulnerable customers and those without service.