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Tuesday, 5 February, 2002, 16:54 GMT
Storm delivery delay for castaways
Bardsey Island
A nature reserve and burial place for saints
The lifeboat taking supplies to a farmer on one of Wales's most remote conservation areas has called off its mission due to rough sea conditions.

The five people marooned on Bardsey Island off the coast of north Wales have been left with dwindling food supplies as the weather has cut them off since December last year.

Dave Barnden - who landed the job of farming the island and preserving its wildlife - was hoping his wife, Libby, could use the voyage to arrive with their children as well as a food parcel.

Dave Barnden
Lone farmer is waiting for a delivery of food and family

But Holyhead Coastguard has called off the landing as the conditions are too poor for the Pwllheli lifeboat crew to put to sea for a non-emergency mission.

The Barndens, who are from Bexhill on Sea, beat off around 1,000 applicants to join the tiny community which comprises the island trust manager, his wife and two children, a nun, and - for just six months of the year - a fisherman and his wife.

But the storms which have lashed Wales for the past few days have wreaked havoc on the community's sea-route supply line and Mr Barnden has not had a food delivery since 31 December.

Mrs Barnden is on the mainland with their daughters and had been hoping to join him to start their new life on the isolated outpost where the family has been granted a 25-year lease and plan to run a 350-strong flock of sheep.

But the storm-delayed reunion is now not likely before Wednesday.

In addition to their family, Mrs Barnden is also taking her partner an emergency food delivery to replace the depleted provisions in the 130-year-old farmhouse which has become their new home.

A Celtic cross on Bardsey Island, off the Lleyn Peninsula, north Wales
Bardsey Island: A burial place for saints and now a nature reserve

It includes 10 catering packs of toilet tissues, large sacks of potatoes, cabbages and carrots and large boxes of cornflakes.

The island is already home to a family, Mick and Sian Lipscombe, who are Bardsey Island Trust wardens, and their two children, Ffion, six, and Tudor, one.

According to the island trust's director, Simon Glyn, their food supplies are also getting very low.

The trustees of Bardsey Island - or Ynys Enlli in Welsh - began their search for suitable tenants in January 2001, and received a flood of applications.

Applicants had to be willing to give up all the comforts and trappings of modern day life - and they had to be willing to commit the next 20 years of their lives to working and living on Bardsey.

They also had to be prepared to spend around 30,000 to buy a flock of sheep, a tractor - and fishing boat to travel to and from the mainland.

The money can be recouped by selling farm produce and running a cafe and bed-and-breakfast accommodation which attracts hundreds of tourists in the summer.

Bryn Terfel, opera star
Bryn Terfel: unofficial 'king' of Bardsey

The Bardsey Island Trust bought the land in 1979, following a public appeal, and is responsible for its administration and upkeep.

It was once a place of pilgrimage and a legendary burial place of saints - it has ruins from a 13th Century monastery - and it became a national nature reserve in 1986 tower.

Bardsey even has its own "king" - the Welsh opera star Bryn Terfel - who agreed to be patron of the island's trust.

He is only the symbolic head of the island and does not wear the original crown - that sits in the Merseyside Maritime Museum.

The original, made of brass and tin, was last worn by King Love Pritchard, who died in 1927.

When he visited the mainland town of Pwllheli in 1925, he was welcomed by former Liberal Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, as an "overseas king".

The island even declared itself neutral in World War One after King Love was refused entry to the British forces.

See also:

06 Nov 00 | Wales
Island is home to rarest apple
16 Jul 99 | Entertainment
Opera star Bryn's a king
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