A trio, who showed spirit, strength and true grit when the Boxing Day floods devastated their village, have been thanked personally by Prime Minister David Cameron in a special reception at Downing Street.
Hair salon owner Kellie Hughes, Whalley and District Lions president Gillian Darbyshire and volunteer Katei Blezard were amomg a group of volunteers invited to Downing Street for the reception to recognise their efforts when they pitched in to help when floods hit at various locations across the UK.
Although it looks like things are back to normal there is still a lot to be doneKellie Hughes
Gillian said: “It was a lovely reception and the Prime Minister gave a speech thanking everyone for their help.
“It was wonderful to be there and this is really for all the people who turned out in Whalley to help when the floods hit. I am still stunned and amazed at the kindness people showed to us in Whalley and how so many gave up their time.’’
Gillian, Kellie and Katei worked together to set up a clean up operation involving dozens of volunteers and Whalley Village Hall became a crisis and help centre for the families whose homes were flooded out during the Boxing Day disaster after torrential rain caused the River Calder to burst its banks and flood homes, shops and businesses in Whalley and Billington.
Kellie abandoned her own salon to rally collections of food and clothing to take round to people who had stayed in their homes. She also co-ordinated a massive clean up operation, working round the clock to help residents salvage what they could from their homes.
Kellie said: “Althought it may look like things are back to normal there is still a lot of work to be done regarding insurance claims for people to get their homes and businesses right, including my own!
“We didn’t get the chance to meet Mr Cameron personally but he said how grateful he was for the help that volunteers gave and he has said the Government is moving forward by looking at flood defence strategies in the future.’’
Katei, of Clitheroe, has been instrumental in helping to launch the Whalley Flood Action group to help prepare the area to be ready if disaster strikes again. Working with a variety of agencies including Ribble Valley Council, the Environment Agency, Lancashire County Council and other flood action groups across the UK, the group aims to set up a bank of emergency supplies and meeting points and a checklist of contact numbers for people to contact. Katei also went up to Cumbria to help out when floods hit there.