Anna Parkes came to Tresco in the Isles of Scilly by chance – and never left. Now she’s a pillar of island life, running Gallery Tresco, blogging about fashion, and swimming in the sea every day for health and vitality

I came to Tresco in 1978 after getting a holiday job as a chambermaid. I was backpacking with a friend in Cornwall when we popped into Penzance job centre to see if there were any vacancies – two hours later we were on a helicopter to the Isles of Scilly. Two weeks after that, I met my husband to be, Steve, son of the hotel’s head housekeeper, and I never returned home to Scotland. We live in a cottage close to the sea and have just celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary, and our son and daughter also live and work on the island.

I’ve run Gallery Tresco in New Grimsby for 17 years. We’re in a converted pilot gig shed and look out onto the islands of Bryher and Samson beyond. Between March and November we mount nine selling shows focusing on the Isles of Scilly, with paintings by Cornish artists such as Neil Pinkett, Paul Lewin and Wendy McBride, who we invited for residencies to create work.

Tresco is just one mile by two miles, and to live here long term you have to be at peace with yourself and make your own entertainment. In the last five years, following a bout of illness, I’ve become an everyday sea swimmer at Pentle and Appletree Bays. I discovered that, historically, cold-water therapy was used to boost the immune system, and whether I’ve had a five-minute dip in winter or an hour’s swim in summer I always feel massively energised – it’s improved both my physical and mental wellbeing.

I run a fashion blog too, Anna’s Island Style. I’ve always loved fashion, vintage and high street. Through my blog I was invited to model for the JD Williams 2018 ‘I AM’ fashion campaign. When I turned 60, I decided that instead of it being ‘the end’, it would mark ‘the beginning’ of a new phase in my life. Now, my mantra is ‘Why not?’. If you’re receptive and take some little risks, the world opens up to you.

See for more.

For celebrity interviews, click here or keep up to date with 'My Coast' articles in the magazine.