A dental technician using his skills to keep smiles pristine on the world’s most remote inhabited island has taken a little taste of home on his trip – an Evening Telegraph thunderstick.
Stan Riley, who works at Dundee Dental School, is currently the visiting technician on the island of Tristan Da Cunha in the South Atlantic Ocean, and has pinned one of our pieces of Dundee United merchandise to his surgery wall.
The previous long-serving technician Bob Carse was also from Dundee and visited the island 14 times – although as a massive Dundee fan, Stan couldn’t resist having a dig at his predecessor as he made the office into an Arab zone.
The British territory is 6,484 miles away from the City of Discovery and there is no permanent dental professional on the island, so staff visit once a year to perform all necessary procedures.
The city’s association with the island goes back a number of years, with the current visiting dentist also travelling from Tayside, and most of their predecessors were also hospital staff.
Many visitors to the island have hosted those from Tristan Da Cunha in Dundee to show them the city. And the RRS Discovery also made several visits to the island in the early 20th Century.
Ships remain the only way to access Tristan Da Cunha, with dental staff required to leave on a ship from South Africa on a week-long journey. In total, their three-week visit takes six weeks when travel time is included.
And while Stan says he enjoys being on the island there is one thing he’s missing in particular. He said: “The isolation is a shock to the system. The next nearest town to here is same distance between Dundee and Moscow. I’m missing my son Gavin’s 21st birthday.
“I also missed his 15th and 16th birthdays due to previous visits. I’ve left him a big bag of goodies to make up for it.”
The only settlement on the island is Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, which has a population of just 280.
The island has a 100% employment rate. A South African fish factory provides the vast majority of the island’s employment.
On good weather days men will head out to sea at 5am and the women will work in the factory processing the fish at night.
The islanders also produce all their own food on a small patch of arable farming land. Stan is working on the island until the beginning of October before he makes the long journey back home via South Africa.