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#backtobusiness: Shropshire floods reveal the milk of human kindness

By Lisa O'Brien | Shrewsbury | Environment | Published: | Last Updated:

Community spirit has shone through after homes and businesses across Shropshire were impacted by some of the worst floods on record.

Volunteers clean-up around Barnabas Church Centre and the food bank plus in Shrewsbury

Volunteers have been helping to clear-up flood-hit communities, contractors have offered their services for free and heart warming messages of how people have helped are being shared as part of the Shropshire Star's Back to Business campaign.

We have created a hashtag #backtobusiness and set up a noticeboard on Facebook to allow you to thank those who have helped keep you safe.

#backtobusiness - how to take part

You can also share your stories using this form:

Jayne Dovaston, of Ellesmere, shared a photo of her son Daniel Dovaston who recently helped a grandmother and her grandson through flood water in Shrewsbury.

She said: "Daniel is 16 and he was checking the route that he takes to college to ensure he could get there. He is a student at Shrewsbury College of Arts and Technology.

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"He took his shoes and socks off and rolled his trousers up to help a grandmother get through the floods.

"We are very proud of how he acted but that is Daniel."

Daniel Dovaston helped a grandmother and her grandson through floodwater

Children at Coleham Primary School have been writing letters of support to affected businesses, while Shropshire Council is encouraging people to visit the town by offering Shrewsbury's park and ride services for free over the next fortnight.

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Pave Aways building contractors, which has offices in Oswestry and Wrexham, is also offering free assistance to organisations, charities and residents who have been devastated by flooding.

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Managing Director Steven Owen said: “It has been heartbreaking to see the devastation that some businesses, homeowners and other organisations have been faced with over the past couple of weeks.

“We plan to get a small team together and set aside a few days when we can do what we can, using our construction expertise to make a difference. We are keen to hear from anyone who thinks we can help them."

Anyone who requires help should email info@paveaways.co.uk

Need help - here's where to find it

  • Financial support is available to those affected, with a £500 payment and possible follow-up grants. Call 0345 6789006 for details.
  • Our councils offer up to date advice. In Telford call 01952 384000, in Shropshire call 0345 678 9006 and in Powys call 0345 602 7035.
  • If your food business had been affected, contact Shropshire Council Health Protection Team. Call 0345 6789067 or email food@shropshire.gov.uk
  • The government provides a guide on recovery from a flood. Visit gov.uk/government/publications/personal-flood-plan
  • The Environment Agency can give advice on watercourses near your home or business. Call 03708 506506.

A team of nearly 20 volunteers also rallied round Barnabas Church Centre in Coleham after the building and office flooded earlier this week. The food bank there also had to temporarily close.

Karen Williams, project lead for food bank plus, said: "We've had church members and volunteers from the food bank plus helping to clean up. There have also been people emailing in and saying they wanted to help. The support we have had has been wonderful.

"We are hoping the storm this weekend won't be so severe. If other people have been affected we'd also like to help."

Jennifer Alexandra and Alan Cambridge enjoy their lunch at the Valley Hotel near Ironbridge after being evacuated because of flooding from their homes in the nearby village of Jackfield. Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

In Ironbridge, the Valley Hotel has been offering overnight accommodation to residents who have been evacuated from their homes.

Residents have been told by Telford & Wrekin Council that they can stay in hotels until at least Tuesday.

Valley Hotel's general manager Joanne Boddison said: "We've had various numbers over the last couple of weeks.

"There has been a great community spirit in Ironbridge. People have been frustrated that they can't go into their own homes but we have been taking care of them. They have been really grateful.

"Everyone has been extremely supportive."

The owners of Darlingtons Of Ironbridge gift shop, situated on The Wharfage, also say they have been inundated with support.

They were hoping to reopen the shop today after being closed all week.

Christine Darlington, who owns the shop with her sister Claire Darlington, said: "We haven't been allowed in so trade has been non existent.

"We've got a huge cellar below the shop which flooded but we have a pump that has been working solidly over the past five days.

"We've been inundated with messages on Facebook saying can we come and help. I think everyone has kept in high spirits. We just need people to come back into Ironbridge and support the businesses now."

Sisters Christine and Claire Darlington

Ironbridge Fine Arts & Framing has endured flood water seeping into its gallery space.

Co-director of the businesses Sarah Morris said the staff at the shop have been pumping water out themselves but after being advised to leave the shop on Tuesday night by emergency services, they returned on Wednesday to find the water several feet high.

She said the shop has only been open for one day in the past two weeks, with staff still needing to be paid, though her heavily-pregnant sister Jenny Gunning is trying to maintain business by fulfilling online orders from her home in Madeley.

Mrs Morris said: "It's absolutely heart-breaking.

"In 2014 it was flooded but our building wasn't affected. We've never seen it like this.

"We didn't know how bad it was going to be – at least now we know."

She said that she was heartened by the community spirit shown amongst the Ironbridge Gorge community, with residents and artists volunteering to help once the flood waters subside.

Flooding in Ironbridge

However, with the floods feared to worsen again this weekend, Mrs Morris is remaining wary.

Residents in Bridgnorth have also been offering their services for free and opening their homes to evacuees.

A rest centre was set up in Castle Hall and its occupants were pleasantly surprised when hot sausage rolls were delivered by Keith Alderson Butchers.

Co-owner of the business, Julia Spencer, originally from London, came up with the idea to deliver free refreshments and said the difference in camaraderie was clear to see.

She said: "We've been keeping on top of everything and when we heard evacuees had gone to Castle Hall, we cooked some fresh sausage rolls and got them sent down immediately.

"We wanted to share the support going around the town for evacuees and for the volunteers. A lot of them aren't getting paid and councils tend to get some stick but they've been working hard.

"I'm from London and no one knows each other there. Here, it's heartwarming. Everyone's been sympathetic and keeping each other in the loop. Everyone's telling everyone what's happening and where not to go.

"There's a great bunch of people in Bridgnorth that's definitely pulling together. The community spirit is there to see."

Meanwhile, the emergency services enjoyed free food and drink at The Falcon Hotel, which opened its doors as part of a blue light coffee break.

Emergency staff treated to curry

Hard-working experts keeping the Ironbridge floods under control were treated to curry and bhajis on the house by one of the Gorge’s restaurants.

Kumran Azan, of Pondicherry in Waterloo Road, decided to cook up an Indian feast for the emergency services, council and Environment Agency workers who have been monitoring the river levels in Ironbridge.

Ironbridge Gorge councillor Carolyn Healy went along with Telford & Wrekin Council leader Shaun Davies to thank the staff. Councillor Healy said: “

The guys have been living on sandwiches, some of them donated by the Co-op. It was nice for them to have some hot food.”

All hands to the pump for staff

Staff at Ironbridge Interiors have been working flat-out to keep pumping water out of their workshop.

Supervisor Jordan Harris said: “There has been a night crew working around the clock, 4pm through to 7am, then some of us 7am to 4pm.

“I think we’re all exhausted, it’s just a matter of keeping spirits high.

“Since I have worked for the company and been old enough to understand, I have never see anything like this.”

Mr Harris, 25, said the hard work of everyone has been outstanding, adding: “This week we have done no normal work whatsoever. Everyone at the team has been involved.”

Lib Dems donate £100 to appeal

Telford and Wrekin Liberal Democrats have donated £100 to the Ironbridge floods campaign set up by the Rotary Club of Ironbridge.

Communications officer Greg Spruce said: “We have a bi-monthly ‘Lib Dem Pint’ social to raise funds for the party. At the event at The Lion, Priorslee, it was decided by members that we should donate the money raised from the raffle to the Ironbridge floods campaign.

“We hope this will go some way with helping the victims get back to normal.”

A gofundme webpage has been set up by Ironbridge Rotary to allow the public to make donations that will be used to benefit flood victims.

Lisa O'Brien

By Lisa O'Brien
Senior Reporter - @lisaobrien_Star

Senior reporter based at Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley. Covering the Telford area.

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