Nov 22, 2009

Cumbria Floods - Donations Appeal

It's rare that I write 2 consecutive posts on the same theme but I'm going to make an exception in the light of the terrible floods in Cumbria on 19 November. The floods followed the heaviest rainfall ever recorded in Britain. A staggering 314.4 millimetres of rain fell in 24 hours in the area.

In my last post I described how on that same day I met three flying policemen during a break from their emergency rescue work in Cumbria. Having quickly shot a video clip of their helicopter leaving I turned to see an RAF Rescue Helicopter that had just landed briefly to refuel and was able to film it as it took off westward back to the flood disaster area. Here it is ....


Over the last 2 days the world's media has covered this news in one way or another. We have all seen the pictures of devastation including collapsed bridges - 6 have already collapsed, others are under threat and all 1,800 of Cumbria's bridges are to undergo tests. Then there are the many flooded and damaged homes as well as shops, banks and pubs. Even the historic Wordworth House in Cockermouth, the birthplace of William Wordsworth, has been badly damaged.

Stories of heroism and tragedy have touched people's hearts across the world and the spirit of the Cumbrian people to face and deal with this catastrophe has been heartwarming. After a few days, perhaps a week or two in the news, life will go on for the rest of the world but for those directly affected by these floods life may never be the same again. Recovering from such an event will be difficult both financially and emotionally for many people. That is why a special Cumbria Flood Recovery Fund has been set up. The aim is to help individuals and families as well as voluntary groups who suffered in the flooding. I heard about the Appeal whilst listening to a BBC Radio news interview with Deb Muscat of Cumbria Community Foundation. If you are in a position to make even the smallest of donations please do so. Go the the Cumbria Community Foundation website and follow the instructions for "Give Now".

During "Thanksgiving" week it's a great opportunity to recognise our own good fortune in contrast to the misfortune of others.

Thank you to all my readers for your time in reading this - if even just one of you makes a donation it will have made this post truly worthwhile :)

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Nov 20, 2009

Flying Police In Cumbria Rescue

Today's tv news headlines in Britain have focused on the terrible floods in Cumbria (close to the border with Scotland). Tragically a policeman trying to save others lost his own life when a bridge collapsed from under him and tonight many people are unable to return to their homes tonight with some having been rescued by emergency services including RAF Rescue helicopters.

I happened to be on a chance visit to Carlisle Airport in Cumbria today with my family where, thankfully, the weather was not as bad. Taking lunch in the cafe we were sat next to a table of 3 policemen who were clearly taking a much needed though short break. I could tell from their uniforms that they were not the standard type of police you see on the streets of Britain. In the light of the breaking news I asked if they had been on flood duty. 'Yes' came the answer. They had been out at Seaton (near Workington where the policeman had died earlier in the day). One of the 3 turned and said proudly that they had already rescued one person and they were now about to go back. They were from the Lancashire Constabulary and had come up specially to help with the rescue operation.

I then realised that these were 'flying policeman' and their helicopter was standing on the tarmac outside. They got up to leave but before the last of the 3 (who turned out to be called Phil) went out of the door I asked if they liked ice cream. With a broad smile Phil said 'Yes'. His favourite flavour? 'Pralines & Cream' came the reply. I told him that happened to be George W. Bush's favourite too - though I think he was a little bemused by how I might know that! Well, Phil if you read my page on ice cream and famous people you will see it mentioned there.

I asked Phil if he would mind me mentioning our little chat on this blog and he seemed delighted at the thought. Then off he went with his 2 colleagues John and Stuart. They boarded their helicopter and took off flying westwards into the distance and towards the flooded part of Cumbria. I managed to grab this very short video clip of their helicopter as it left.


On behalf of all the people in Cumbria who so badly needed help today ... thank you Phil, John, Stuart and all your other colleagues in the emergency services for your great work. When you are next off duty, make sure you get an ice cream treat ... if I could buy you one I would!

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