Clare Bettison's StoryClare Bettison is originally from Berkshire in the UK and moved to the Isle of Man in 2007. She is now a Member of the House of Keys having won the elections for her post in 2016 with responsibilities for Social Care.
Journey to the Isle of Man
I have lived on the Isle of Man since 2007 but had been taking my annual holiday here with my family since 1986.
My father first came here as a child and then brought my mother here for their honeymoon. They also brought their scout troop here for camps. Every summer when I visited on the ferry I felt like I was coming home, it was always only a matter of time before I moved.
When first I moved here as a nurse in 2007, I received a relocation package to cover my moving costs which were useful! The hardest part was paying money into a bank (I didn't have an offshore bank, to begin with), and registering my car as everywhere I went I needed something else I didn't have – all routes led back to needing something with my address on which I didn't have to begin with.
Working for the local community
As an MHK, I work to represent the people of Douglas East on a constituency level, and also the Isle of Man on a national and international stage. My specific responsibilities include Social Care, Prison and Probation Service, the Post Office and the Tynwald Advisory Council for Disabilities (amongst others!). There is no specific training – you jump in the deep end and have no choice but to swim. I love the diversity of people I interact with at work and the total variation in my day-to-day work.
The beauty of politics on the Isle of Man is that truly anyone can get involved. There are opportunities for young people to attend the CPA (Commonwealth Parliamentary Association) day once a year and there are also work experience opportunities within the Legislative buildings. Anyone can put their name down for election, whatever background or political persuasion and then campaign for election. We have finally got increased gender diversity, but there is more work to do.
I previously lived in the South of England and also have travelled extensively through Africa and Asia. The Isle of Man is unique compared to anywhere I've visited – it has the best of England in a small area in respect of scenery, with its own unique cultural branding. There is a huge opportunity for people to truly make a difference and influence change here – whereas the UK is driven purely through party politics. Our schools are excellent with autonomy still retained with teachers for many aspects, crime is low, and tax regimes mean more of your money is yours to spend.
Some would argue that we are devoid of restaurants, cinemas, and other entertainment facilities – I would argue that we have plenty here for those who are looking – what better playground than the safe environs of our wild outdoors!? What better dinner than locally smoked kippers with Manx Queenies? Who wouldn't have their day brightened by a tailless cat, a four horned sheep or a talking mongoose...? Where else could you watch motorbikes in the morning, roll backwards up a magnetic hill, stand with a foot each on 2 different paleo continents, visit a vampire grave, see waterfalls, castles and beaches, see wild wallabies and grab an ice-cream on the beach to watch the sunset – all in one day!!!
My favourite things about the Isle of Man
I have had the chance to meet some amazing people from all walks of life (as well as hosting many visitors who are couch surfing on our Island). The fresh air is unbeatable and the scenery stunning. If I ever need reminding of how lucky I am, a brisk walk down to the chasms to listen to the waves, the birds and the wind is all I need to make me realise that the Isle of Man is unbeatable as a place to live. I look forward to exploring more of its unique history and heritage, and to visit it all with my partner Chris and his boys, Oliver and Benjamin.
I feel a huge sense of responsibility within my role as MHK to protect this unique lifestyle and location for our future generations to enjoy as I am. While I might only be a 'stay over', I couldn't be more passionate.
The Isle of Man is unique and I believe offers something for everyone. It has stunning scenery, friendly people, strong communities, fascinating heritage, broad history, preserved culture and fabulous cuisine. It truly is an Island – where you can.