A family spending their summer in Lewis have praised islanders for rallying round to help them out of a tight spot.
Emma Tilley, her husband John Officer and three young daughters are visiting from Glasgow, staying with family in Back for the summer.
Yesterday (Monday July 23rd) they planned a short trip to the beach to let the girls, aged two, five and six, burn off some energy before lunch.
But after a happy hour running about, spotting dolphins and enjoying the views from a secluded sport north of Garry beach, things went downhill as they turned for home.
Emma says: “We had gone off-road, which isn’t a problem as we have a 4x4, but when we reached the bottom of the stony track from the shore we realized we had a completely flat tyre. John tried to see if could inflate it while I kept the children occupied, and when that didn’t work he tried the foam filler, which just kind of exploded and did no good.
“If we were on the mainland, we would just have picked up the phone and called for help, but there was no signal and we were in a bit of an out of the way spot, two hours had passed, the children were bored and hungry and we thought ‘now what do we do?’”
The answer was not long in coming. A couple celebrating a birthday stopped to see if the family were OK – and shared bananas and water with the children to keep them in good spirits.
“Then a young lady on a walk on her own came along. The kids were going crazy but she didn’t hesitate to offer us a lift back to Back in her wee car. Meanwhile John walked up the road to see if he could get phone reception and was invited into a house in Tolsta.”
John takes up the story: “The gentleman’s name was Roddy and he was just so helpful. He offered me tea or coffee and then gave me a can of Coke, let me use his phone and told me he wouldn’t go to his croft that afternoon, so we would know he was there in case we needed more help.”
A recovery vehicle came out from Stornoway Spares Service. Because they didn’t have exactly the right tyre, they said they wouldn’t charge for the repair, and sent John away with a fully-functioning car and a broad smile on his face.
He said: “I was just sitting in the recovery vehicle chuckling at how amazing the whole situation was. They pulled all the stops out and got me on the road again and they will be fitting the correct tyre when it arrives on Wednesday.”
The experience has given both Emma and John a new reason to love their island holidays. John said: “I travel the world with my job and this level of hospitality is very unusual. Everyone went the extra mile to make sure we were alright and it was all authentic and natural as well. We now realise that whatever you need here in the islands, you’re only a family away from someone who will provide it for you!”
And the experience hasn’t put the family off adventures – they’re off to Uig today (Tuesday July 24th) for another day on the beach!