Tracey and Kevin Archer
We are often asked how we came to be running a bed & breakfast on Holy Island. Our answer usually begins with the words, “It’s a long story - but a really good story!” Perhaps you’d like to hear it…
Kevin’s first wife, Judy, suffered a severe brain haemorrhage in 1995. She did survive surgery but was severely incapacitated physically and mentally. After she spent a year in hospital and nearly nine years in a nursing home, Kevin was able to bring her home in 2005 and had funding to employ carers. Five years later in 2010, Tracey became Judy’s main personal assistant. Her 30-year marriage had recently come to an end and one thing she was able to change about her life was her job. She says that working with Judy brought her through her marriage break-up as she witnessed a life lived with faith and courage despite so much adversity.
In 2016 Tracey moved with Judy and Kevin to a larger house with a view to supporting an at-home lifestyle for an extended period. Caring for Judy was very demanding physically and emotionally, and there was the possibility that this move might allow the employment of additional personnel. A notional ‘ten-year plan’ was the objective. As it turned out, a sudden decline in Judy’s health towards the close of 2017, leading to three successive stays in hospital, meant those aspirations were not to be realised. Judy chose to come home rather than undergo further surgery and, just a couple of days later, surrounded by family, she passed away peacefully.
A beautiful Holy Island sunrise © Kevin & Tracey Archer
After Christmas, we decided we needed a break away and came in January to Holy Island, staying in a cottage on Paradise Row, over the road from Bamburgh View. It was cold and a little wild but the perfect place to regroup and consider carefully the future. We left for West Yorkshire after ten days having made two major decisions: we would get married (Kevin proposed on St Cuthbert’s Island) and we would sell our house.
A week after our wedding in April we had an offer on our house from a lovely local family who were very excited about moving beside the canal. This enabled us to make an offer on a delightful old mill cottage by a stream at the edge of the village. We thought it would really suit us although at the back of our minds we did consider it a safe option and perhaps not entirely in keeping with the spirit of ‘holy recklessness’ which had characterised our thinking for some time. The owners asked for 48 hours to consider our offer.
Meanwhile, we had Holy Island on a Rightmove watch, more out of curiosity than anything else as nothing had become available, and later that day there suddenly appeared a notification that Bamburgh View had come to the market. When we looked it up, it had already been withdrawn! We made inquiries of the estate agent who explained its temporary suspension, but as it was a bed and breakfast we found contact details and rang the owners directly. Tracey in years past had nursed a dream of running a B&B and we did need to consider generating an income of some kind, so given the timing and opportunity, we felt we really had to explore the option. It was a house we had walked past every day of our stay on the island; the cottage we stayed in was about twenty-five paces away!
We came up to stay for two nights at Bamburgh View and within a week had settled on an acceptable offer.
And so it came to pass that on the 25th July 2018, just after 10pm, we stood outside with a cat and dog and a couple of bags, with our worldly goods in a removal van off the island - to find the lights out, the door locked and our first guests tucked up in bed! It took a little while to stir them and when the door opened, we told them they were our guests and asked if we could come in.
Next morning, we were serving them breakfast!
Sandham Bay, Holy Island © Kevin & Tracey Archer