Yorkshire man goes from living on council estate to CEO of a ‘paradise’ island

One Yorkshire man went from a Doncaster council estate to CEO of a ‘paradise’ island.

The tiny Channel Island Herm is a beautiful, tranquil island which has been home to pirates, monks, smugglers and even a Prussian princess.

With picturesque sandy shores, untouched scenery and barely a car or tourist in sight, the island could well be confused with any holiday destination on the far side of the world.

Home to only 100 people, the 2.2km long and 873 metres-wide Channel island is tucked away, just east of Guernsey, north-west of France.

The island is now home to Craig Senior, a 52-year-old man who hails from Doncaster, who now not only lives on the island, but he runs it too, Yorkshire Live reports .

Mr Senior lives there with his partner Emma Ellis, and their two young daughters and he has been CEO of the island since November 2019.

The Rotherham United F.C. fan has taken on the unique role of being in charge of overseeing the day-to-day running of the self-sufficient island.

Mr Senior said, “My favourite thing about the island – besides the beautiful views are the community.

“The people here actually remind me of the people in Yorkshire, and what it used to be like when I was growing up.

“Here, we don’t lock doors, if someone’s popping to the shop they’ll pick you up a tin of beans.

“Or if you walk into a pub everyone will say, ‘Hello’, and ask how your day has been. It’s got a lot of Yorkshire similarities. Plus the weather here isn’t too bad either.”

Craig attributes his path from Doncaster council estate to Island CEO, down to luck and stubbornness.

“I was born in a council house and now I live on a paradise island. A lot of it has been down to luck and working with fantastic people.” He said.

He added, “It’s been hard work, and being stubborn too, which is a typical Yorkshire trait.”

But Mr Senior never forgets where he grew up and returned to Doncaster just before the first lockdown began where he took his wife to watch his beloved Rotherham.

He has spent his career working as a director and manager of operations in the hospitality industry.

Before applying to be the CEO of an island, he was as a Group Food, Beverage and Retail Manager at Mytime Active.

It was when he was on holiday in Portugal that he saw an advertisement from a recruitment agency about the role as Herm’s CEO.

He said, “I remember, I was having a mojito and reading the advert.

“At first Emma said, ‘No way are we going there’, as we were settled and our daughter was starting school.

“But after consideration, we decided I should apply.”

Craig beat out 277 other applicants and made it to the final three where he was invited to the island for three days of interviews whilst Emma and their children got to know the community.

“As much as it was about me, it was about how my family fitted into the community,” he said.

“Emma is my rock, and she’s an amazing ambassador, and she really cemented our relationships over here – and I think that’s why I was picked.”

He added: “After 12 hours on the island, and three sets of ice-creams for the kids, I think we were all sold. The island lifestyle and the community are amazing.”

Three years since, no two of Craig’s days are the same.

Mr Senior said, “I know it sounds cliche but there isn’t an average day. Each day depends on the weather, the tide, and the business needs.

“When I first walked into the job we had recruitment to sort, then Brexit happened and then there was Covid. There’s multiple challenges with everything – from managing stakeholders to getting cargo on and off the island.

“The island is self-sustainable, so there’s managing that, and we’re refurbishing a lot of it. It’s not a nine to five job – I’m not intelligent to do it in nine to five – its more of a 24/7 job. But it’s brilliant and I have a fantastic team.”

“I like to use the analogy that I’m picking up every pebble on the island, polishing and putting it back. We’re refurbishing throughout the island, the utilities, and the structure within the business.”

Alongside that Mr Senior and the team often welcome guests to the island.

There are no cars to get around, or TVs in the hotel rooms but he stresses the family-friendly environment on “paradise island”.

He said, “Every time I walk round the island I spot something different, but in parts you have amazing views – I can see two countries made up of about seven different islands – it’s amazing.

“And there’s beautiful places to go rock pooling – it’s a bit like Whitby, but with the warmer weather.”

Craig works for John and Julia Singer, a couple who bought the island after meeting and falling in love on it in 1994.

He and his family still aren’t sure what the future holds for them, but he and his family took to the island instantly.

“My daughters have taken to the island like ducks to water,” he said. “They’ve gone from going to a school where they were one of 30 in a class to being one of seven.

“It’s a bit like Enid Blyton. My wife and children are very happy. The only negative is that it can be a bit remote in winter. But it gives you a reboot for when the season starts again.

“For now, it’s brilliant, at first we said we’d do a year and see how it went, and now we’ve been here over three.

“You can never look much beyond a year, especially at the moment, but for now, we’re enjoying island life.”