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Community / Fair Isle Bird Observatory staff made redundant after 10 years in the job

The previous observatory.

THE REMOTE community of Fair Isle is said to be in shock after the warden and administrator of the island’s bird observatory were made redundant.

David and Susannah Parnaby have been working at the observatory since 2011.

They lost their belongings in the tragic fire almost two years ago when the observatory burned to the ground. A replacement building is being planned.

The Parnabys after the fire in 2019. Image: BBC Radio Shetland

The Fair Isle Bird Observatory Trust, which runs the renowned facility, said it was not able to comment while in the middle of a redundancy process.

Director Mike Wood said a statement would be issued as soon as possible after the process is concluded, which may be at the end of the week.

The Parnabys both took to Facebook to reveal the news on Tuesday. They said they had both been told earlier in the day that they were being made redundant.

“As the only two permanent staff members of the Obs, and considering the work that we have put into FIBO during the ten years we have run it, we are very disappointed,” they said.

The couple said they were unable to comment further at this stage and encouraged anyone with questions about the future operations of the observatory to get in touch with the trust.

A source on the island said the community was “beyond shocked” by the news, considering the couple and their children lost their belongings in 2019’s fire.

The trust, meanwhile, is currently fundraising for £650,000 to cover a financial gap for a £7.4 million replacement observatory, with the rest to be covered by insurance. Over £543,000 has been pledged so far.

The proposals for the new, revamped building have already been drawn up and have secured planning permission.