Meet the Pride of Britain Community Award winner who has nearly 20 jobs

From herding the sheep to fire fighting, Billy Muir almost runs the island of North Ronaldsay by himself

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No one really knows how many jobs 68-year-old Billy Muir holds down. If he ever had the time – or, less likely, the need – to fill out a CV, it would probably run to something approaching 20.

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“He’s up and going at 7am and very often will still be working in his office at 2am,” says his long-suffering wife, Isobel. “I only really see him when he needs feeding,” she chuckles.

Billy is a one-man northern powerhouse. Some say the economy of North Ronaldsay, where he’s lived all his life, would collapse without him.

“It’s nice to hear people saying things like that, but it’s not down to one person,” he says. “Lots of people are active on the island because they have to be to keep it going.”

It’s a fair point. Many of the 50 or so people who live on this weather-lashed, northernmost of the islands of Orkney have multiple jobs. But Billy, who’s been nominated for a Community Award at this year’s Pride of Britain Awards, is exceptional.

Try this just for starters. He maintains the island’s lighthouse; he’s a fireman at the local airport; a shepherd to his own rare seaweed-eating sheep and a herdsman for his wife’s Aberdeen Angus cattle.

He sits on countless committees that help sustain island life and, in whatever spare time he has, turns his hand to building, plumbing and car and farm machinery maintenance.

Oh, and to keep the grey matter active, he keeps the accounts for the island’s trading store.

“It’s seven days a week, there are no days off. But no one day is the same. That’s what makes life interesting,” he says.

His wife Isobel would like him to slow down, though she fears he may be a lost cause.

“I have wanted him to retire but he has no thoughts of it whatsoever. I don’t think he’ll ever retire – he’ll just carry on.” 

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The Pride of Britain Awards are on tonight, 8pm ITV