Shropshire Star

Loaves and fish (fingers): 'Miracle' farmer drove through floods to feed hungry church school kids

A church school which only had five loaves and two fish fingers to feed children and staff was helped by a hero farmer who trucked food through Storm Babet floods.

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A view from the farmer's tractor cab as he drove to deliver children's school meals

Bitterley Church of England Primary School in Bitterley, near Ludlow, normally get their school dinners from Ludlow School, but they became cut off by the floods last Friday.

One of the primary school's office team called a local farmer for help, and he was able to collect the food from Ludlow School with his tractor and trailer before delivering them where they needed to go.

The Diocese of Hereford shared the tale. A spokeswoman for the diocese said: "From time to time we get stories that offer a truly uplifting message of hope amidst what may first appear a disaster.

"As many schools broke up for a much-needed half-term break, we enjoyed hearing the tale of one CE school in Bitterley where a very kind local farmer saved the day during the extreme conditions of Storm Babet.

"Bitterley, which is a tiny village just outside Ludlow in Shropshire, is home to a small Church of England Primary school of 90-odd children and staff, led by executive headteacher Kerrie Lewis. Last Friday, October 20, as Storm Babet raged and torrential rain fell, the tiny CE school began to worry about how it would cope.

"By 10.30am, most of the children had made it into school. As the rain fell, staff worried about getting everyone back home at the end of the day.

"They alerted local emergency services but recognised they were swamped with calls. The children were safe and warm and not in any immediate danger – but as time ticked on, staff and children began to get hungry.

"Usually, school lunches are brought in each day from kitchens at Ludlow School. Due to the rain, the usual delivery vans would unlikely make it through the flooded country lanes. School staff began to consider what they could feed the children whose tummies were starting to rumble.

"A scramble through the kitchen cupboards revealed five loaves of bread and two fish fingers – you couldn’t make it up for a church school!

"Without a miracle, the staff needed another plan to feed everyone. One of the office team took the initiative and rang a local farmer for some help. Thankfully he came up trumps, driving his huge tractor, with a suitable trailer attached, through the flood waters, into Ludlow School car park, to the kitchens. He collected the food for the Bitterley children and then drove the tractor back through the rising flood waters and to the school.

"There was much joy at the sight of the farm vehicle which proved to be the miracle ‘Shropshire Ark’ delivering all the school meals during the storm.

"The day ended on a high note when a few hours later, the waters began to recede. It wasn’t a dove with an olive branch who brought good news, but an Amazon delivery driver who casually walked into the school office having made it through the local lanes by about 2pm. This news allowed the 4x4 army of local parents and volunteers to spring into action at home time, getting all the children and finally the staff through the water and back home for the weekend.

"We hope everyone at Bitterley CE Primary and all schools across our diocese enjoys a well-earned half term break. We also want to add a special thank you to the very kind local farmer who saved the school day for Bitterley pupils and staff."