THERE are no shops, let alone a doctor, on the small Orcadian island of Graemsay.

Its 28 residents rely on deliveries from the mainland, with food and other essentials coming in on the ferry.

But during the coronavirus pandemic, many of the island’s elderly or vulnerable people have been unable to pick up their parcels due to social distancing regulations which have kept them housebound.

Now, mother-of-three Sandra Davey has stepped up to deliver messages to her neighbours at the same time as running a croft farm and even overseeing the community’s Post Office.

“We live on a little island and there are not very many of us, so we all have to do quite a few different jobs,” she said.

“I’ve been making sure deliveries get to people.

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“We don’t have a shop on the island. Everything comes by boat.

“The ferry comes twice a day and brings all the groceries and post.

“No-one has been able to travel to the mainland to visit the supermarket, so to save people going to their pier I have been trying to deliver, especially to the older ones who are shielding. “

Sandra was already busy before the pandemic, but is now flat-out.

She was brought up on Graemsay, but left when she was younger and returned roughly 20 years ago.

The island is home to a tight-knit community. Sandra has cousins living nearby, whilst her partner’s relatives are also close at hand.

“There’s a good community spirit here,” she went on.

“We all know each other quite well and get on, most of the time.

“When times get hard, most people help each other. That’s the way it is.

“There are quite a lot of older people on the island.

“I don’t want to call them elderly folk, because I’ll get in trouble!

“Initially [at the start of the lockdown, they were quite worried because we live in an isolated place.

“They are not quite as worried as they were, but we’re still trying to be careful.”

The anxiety of older people was made more acute by the difficulties in getting basic provisions from the mainland.

To help out her neighbours, Sandra has made an arrangement with the team who run the ferries.

They tell her when parcels or packages are on their way to Graemsay.

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Then she heads down to the pier, picks them up and delivers them personally to everyone living on the island.

Although Sandra runs the Post Office, it only opens a few days a week.

Despite the fact she’s going above and beyond her duties, Sandra is modest about her hard work.


“Folk are quite pleased to have someone doing it,” she added.

“Many of them are not allowed to be out and about, so it helps them to know they can get their stuff.”

“There have been a few times when getting supplies has been a bit more difficult than usual, because shops were struggling to get stuff.”

“There is still a lot of parcels coming in, but not much going out.

“The guys on the ferry let me know when parcels are coming and I’ll get it delivered.”

Orkney has experienced a low level of coronavirus infections. No-one has yet tested positive on Graemsay.

“We don’t have medical services on the island. You need to go to mainland Orkney for that. I think folk are quite used to it,” Sandra said.

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“It’s probably better here than in the city, because at least we can get outside.”


Malcolm Buchanan, chair, Scotland Board, Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “There isn’t a person who remains unaffected by Covid-19, directly or indirectly.

“Sandra is one of thousands of heroes who spend every day on the frontline to allow us to get on and make the most of the everyday. Wherever in Scotland it may be, volunteers and key workers are making a massive difference.”

If you know somebody's actions deserve extra recognition, let us know in our nomination sheet here and we’ll publish their name in next week’s list.