The Shetlanders: the returning family

Shetlander Ross Smith and his New Zealand-born wife Bronwyn had a great life living near the beach in Orewa, north of Auckland, back in 2011.

So why did they decide to pack it in and move to Shetland? “People thought we were mad,” says Bronwyn. “But we chose Shetland because of the beautiful, unique sense of community, and because we knew that the kids, and us, would be looked after here.”

Today, it’s not hard to see what they moved for. They live in an airy new home near Whiteness, on Shetland’s west side, with beautiful views across the voe and out to the land of the croft that Ross’s family had lived on for hundreds of years.

Their daughters — Sienna, 10, Isla, 8, and baby Mia — are surrounded by friends and possible adventures: biking, sledging, whale-watching, and trips to the nearby Kergord forest to build dens and play on the swing. “They just go wherever they want and they have that freedom to just go together,” says Ross. “It’s like the childhood I had here.”

While Bronwyn works part time at the 18-pupil Skeld Primary School, Ross runs Injury Shetland, a successful physiotherapy business in Lerwick. “Shetland’s actually a great place to start a business,” he says. “Word spreads fast and, if the service you offer is good, people are prepared to pay for it.”