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Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over: Off-the-grid millionaire lives in a derelict house on Scottish island

An off-the-grid millionaire father-of-four has revealed how he lives in a damp, derelict house on a Scottish island and bin-dives for food.

Roc Sandford, 63, from London, made his money in the property market but now lives on the remote Hebridean island of Gometra, off the north west of Scotland, which he bought for £600,000 in 1992.

The climate campaigner appears on tonight’s episode of Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over where he reveals his unusual lifestyle to the presenter and describes his mission not to use any fossil fuels. 

But despite his back to basics lifestyle, Roc’s heiress mother Nell and Old Etonian father Jeremy have some very high profile connections, including his uncle is Jacob, 4th Baron Rothschild, whose wealth is said to be around £650 million.

Roc Sandford, 63, from London, made his money in the property market but now lives on the remote Hebridean island of Gometra, off the north west of Scotland, which he bought for £600,000 in 1992

Roc’s great-grandfather was the 5th Earl of Rosslyn, while his aunt was the late racehorse owner Lady Serena Rothschild, wife of Jacob, 4th Baron Rothschild.

Lord Rothschild, a figure of great integrity who was once a shoulder to cry on over lunch for a distraught Princess Diana, started his own investment trust, RIT, with spectacular success. 

And it’s not Roc’s only high society connection – his grandparents were Sir Philip Dunn, the only son of the wealthy Canadian financier and steel magnate Sir James Hamet Dunn, and Lady Mary Sybil St. Clair-Erskine, who was the daughter of James St Clair-Erskine.  

Roc grew up in England, Wales and Spain before he was schooled at Dartington in Devon. 

Roc lives in a 160-year-old house on the island where he raised his children Cato, who works for an environmental think tank, Savannah, Lazer, 20, and Blue, 18 (pictured, his off-the-grid home on a Scottish island)

Roc lives in a 160-year-old house on the island where he raised his children Cato, who works for an environmental think tank, Savannah, Lazer, 20, and Blue, 18 (pictured, his off-the-grid home on a Scottish island) 

The climate campaigner appears on tonight's episode of Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over where he reveals his unusual lifestyle to the presenter and describes his mission not to use any fossil fuels (pictured with Blue and Savannah)

The climate campaigner appears on tonight’s episode of Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over where he reveals his unusual lifestyle to the presenter and describes his mission not to use any fossil fuels (pictured with Blue and Savannah) 

Roc  Sandford’s VERY well connected family 

The maternal side of Roc Sandford’s family stems from some of the highest branches of upper class society in Britain.

His great-grandfather was the 5th Earl of Rosslyn, a Scottish soldier, author and aristocrat.

His daughter  Lady Mary Sybil St. Clair-Erskine went on to marry Sir Philip Dunn, the only son of the wealthy Canadian financier and steel magnate Sir James Hamet Dunn.

The couple had two daughters – Nell, Roc’s mother, and Serena, who went on to marry Jacob, 4th Baron Rothschild.

Lord Rothschild, a figure of great integrity who was once a shoulder to cry on over lunch for a distraught Princess Diana, started his own investment trust, RIT, with spectacular success. 

In the past, he has worked on funds valued at £4billion, and is said to be personally worth around £650 million. 

Meanwhile the paternal side of his family also comes from wealth.

His paternal grandfather Christopher Sandford owned and ran the Golden Cockerel Press, a private venture devoted to fine printing in the 20s and 30s.

He was also a founding director of the Folio Society.

His paternal grandmother Lettice was the daughter of Lachlan Mackintosh Rate, who was director of the Imperial Bank, the central bank of the Ottoman Empire. 

Roc’s father Jeremy attended Eton and then Oxford University.

After marrying Nell in  1957, they gave up their smart Chelsea home and went to live in unfashionable Battersea where they joined and observed the lower strata of society. 

He graduated with a degree in Geography at Bristol University and is now a passionate climate activist.

Online, he describes working in ‘formal rebellion against the British Government, on grounds of its failure to deliver the necessary policy response’ and working with both Extinction Rebellion and Ocean Rebellion since their inception.

He explains: ‘I am stricken by the immense suffering and unimaginable disasters being cooked up for us by these emergencies, which Extinction Rebellion and Ocean Rebellion strive to avert.

I have lost count of the number of times I have been sussed, detained, questioned, or cautioned.’  

He now lives in a 160-year-old house on the island where he raised his children Cato, who works for an environmental think tank, Savannah, Lazer, 20, and Blue, 18. 

His long-term relationship with his children’s mother ended some years ago and it was a court order brought by her that ruled they must be schooled in London. 

He said he was motivated to move to the island on the principle that ‘you should be able to live somewhere in Britain without money’, telling the 3ammagazine he first moved 22 years ago.

He explained: ‘Once I’d seen the place I was hooked. It had been for sale for 18 months…I raised a mortgage with the bank and was able to buy it.’  

Roc has declared Gometra a ‘Hope Island’ and is aiming for it to become carbon neutral in the next four years.

It is also home to Rhoda Munro, the postmistress (Gometra has its own stamp), and the Primrose family – a mum, dad and one daughter, who are the latest in a series of people who have tried living there over the years.

Despite saying around 40 people have passed through the island at any one time, Roc revealed he can regularly go weeks without seeing another soul, explaining island life can feel ‘like a floatation tank.’

He said: ‘It’s somewhat psycho-active as a drug, and the psycho-activity is imperfectly reversible.’ 

Speaking to The Sun he revealed he even searches for free food in bins as part of his lifestyle, explaining: ‘I’m very happy to go freegan if something’s chucked out after someone’s closing their shop or something. A lot of lovely stuff is chucked out, like peppers or bananas.’  

Roc's Old Etonian father, Jeremy, wrote the 1966 TV classic Cathy Come Home, and mother is respected author Nell Dunn, 84 (pictured together)

Roc’s Old Etonian father, Jeremy, wrote the 1966 TV classic Cathy Come Home, and mother is respected author Nell Dunn, 84 (pictured together)

Roc's grandparents were Sir Philip Dunn, who was the only son of the wealthy Canadian financier and steel magnate Sir James Hamet Dunn, and Lady Mary Sybil St. Clair-Erskine, who was the daughter of James St Clair-Erskine, 5th Earl of Rosslyn (pictured, Lady Mary with the Duchess of Rutland)

Roc’s grandparents were Sir Philip Dunn, who was the only son of the wealthy Canadian financier and steel magnate Sir James Hamet Dunn, and Lady Mary Sybil St. Clair-Erskine, who was the daughter of James St Clair-Erskine, 5th Earl of Rosslyn (pictured, Lady Mary with the Duchess of Rutland)  

Meanwhile his uncle is British peer and investment banker Jacob Rothschild, 4th Baron Rothschild (pictured)

Meanwhile his uncle is British peer and investment banker Jacob Rothschild, 4th Baron Rothschild (pictured) 

Roc's aunt Lady Serena Rothschild and cousin Nat pictured with Prince Harry at Ascot in 2011

Roc’s aunt Lady Serena Rothschild and cousin Nat pictured with Prince Harry at Ascot in 2011 

Speaking of his home, he said: ‘It doesn’t have central heating so it can get very cold in the winter and my tea froze the other day, so I was very excited about that. Typically it’s about 2C in my bedroom. But it’s a lovely place, I love it, I’m very happy here.’ 

He added: ‘I haven’t painted, it’s very damp here because we’re in the middle of the Atlantic and so the wallpaper tends to fall down.’

While Roc does generate his own electricity with a solar panel, he is frugal with its usage and only uses the generator to power up his computer, phone and torches.

Roc made his money in the property market but now lives on the remote Hebridean island of Gometra, off the north west of Scotland, which he bought for £600,000 in 1992 (pictured)

Roc made his money in the property market but now lives on the remote Hebridean island of Gometra, off the north west of Scotland, which he bought for £600,000 in 1992 (pictured) 

In a rejection of all mod-cons that would leave many baffled, he washes his clothes in a bucket with his feet and fights off the cold by wearing multiple layers of clothing. 

He said he misses the ‘luxury’ of having a washing machine, but said he could ‘easily’ wash his clothes by hand instead.  

Sheep farmer Roc, who rears 300 sheep on the island, follows a vegan diet and grows much of his own food including salad, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes and squashes.      

To cook, Roc boils his food on the stove and then transfers it to a big thermos, to continue cooking without using energy.  

Roc, who lives without a car, hot water or central heating, even searches for free food in bins as part of his lifestyle

Roc, who lives without a car, hot water or central heating, even searches for free food in bins as part of his lifestyle

Meanwhile he said his children, who now live in London, have always been given Independence and freedom to do as they please.

He explained: ‘They’ve learned domestic duties, rather than just being waited on.’

Roc confessed there are ‘costs and benefits of the upbringing’ his children have had, saying it could be quite ‘tough physically’ for them because there was no hot water at their home.

Roc, a proud supporter of her and Extinction Rebellion, recently gave two daughters Christmas presents made out of rubbish found on his Inner Hebridean isle of Gometra.

Despite enjoying life on the island, Roc regularly travels to London to protest with Extinction Rebellion, Ocean Rebellion and against HS2 (pictured with daughter Blue)

Despite enjoying life on the island, Roc regularly travels to London to protest with Extinction Rebellion, Ocean Rebellion and against HS2 (pictured with daughter Blue) 

The businessman, who identifies as non-binary on his website and uses the pronoun ‘They’ had made the reclaimed items into art and wrapped them in old newspaper. 

Despite enjoying life on the island, Roc regularly travels to London to protest with Extinction Rebellion, Ocean Rebellion and against HS2.

Having not flown for years, travelling between the island and his second home in London can take more than 13 hours. 

He navigates an eight-mile trek along a dirt track on Gometra, and also uses a folding bicycle, two ferries and two trains. 

Father and daughter campaigning together at the Extinction Rebellion protests in London

Father and daughter campaigning together at the Extinction Rebellion protests in London 

His children Blue and Lazer recently made headlines among the protestors setting up camp in a network of tunnels beneath Euston Station. 

He said while it was ‘stressful’ that his daughter spent so much time in the dangerous tunnels underground, he was ‘proud’ of her.

Roc acknowledged people might think he’s ‘indoctrinated them’ but denied that was the case.  

Blue has been nicknamed ‘The British Greta Thunberg’ after many years of green activism, despite only recently becoming old enough to vote.

Blue, 18, declared she puts 'the crime in criminal' when she spent time in a tunnel underneath Euston Station earlier this year to protest HS2

Blue, 18, declared she puts ‘the crime in criminal’ when she spent time in a tunnel underneath Euston Station earlier this year to protest HS2

Ms Sandford's father Roc's Inner Hebridean isle of Gometra boasts incredible landscape views

Ms Sandford’s father Roc’s Inner Hebridean isle of Gometra boasts incredible landscape views

She once claimed she reluctantly became a campaigner, but wants to rewild the capital by stealth ‘guerrilla gardening’.

She splits her time between her father’s island and her mother’s west London property.

The teenager last year brought out her ‘manifesto’ called Challenge Everything: An Extinction Rebellion Youth guide to saving the planet.

And she revealed in an interview promoting the book she had been arrested in September as part of the controversial protest group’s fortnight of action in London.

She said she spent the start of her 17th birthday in a custody cell and a month later was  charged with obstruction of the highway. It is not clear what happened with the case. 

She was dubbed Britain’s Greta Thunberg by The Times after doing an interview with them, but later told euronews she did not appreciate the comparison. 

She said: ‘I don’t like it, it’s making it about individuals rather than the movement.

‘It’s not about Greta Thunberg, it’s about climate change.’

In the same chat she said she wanted to ‘rewilding cities like London’ and advocated ‘guerrilla gardening’ to make  wild spaces. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk