Community spirit helps flood victims

Representatives of Whalley Freemasons hand over a cheque for 18,000 to Neil Martin of the Whalley, Billington and District Flood Relief Committee.
Representatives of Whalley Freemasons hand over a cheque for 18,000 to Neil Martin of the Whalley, Billington and District Flood Relief Committee.

A generous organisation is helping Whalley residents to get back on their feet by donating a whopping £18,500 after the village was hit by the devastating Boxing Day floods.

In December last year, homes were evacuated and dozens of people rescued from rising flood waters in Whalley. The national spotlight fell on Ribble Valley when it suffered the worst floods in 50 years.

The village was hit by the extreme weather with King Street resembling a river, forcing water up through the floorboards of properties, after the River Calder burst its banks.

The army was called in and people were helped out of their homes in rescue boats, some wearing shorts, wellington boots and carrying just a small rucksack of belongings.

Seven months on and local organisations are continuing to help the flood victims with an amazing £18,500 donation from The Freemasons in Whalley.

Freemason Jim Sutcliffe, who lives in Whalley, said that the contributions were just a small part of what the Freemasons do both nationally and locally.

He commented: “The day after Boxing Day it was obvious that both residents and rescue volunteers needed to have basic refreshments such as tea, coffee and biscuits in the aftermath of the dreadful floods.

“The Freemasons in Whalley came to the rescue with a no questions asked with a donation of £500.

“The first purchase was 2,000 plastic cups followed by tea, coffee,sugar and milk.

“Once things had been assessed, the Freemasons donated a further £17,500 for specific relief of hardship cases through the Whalley, Billington and District Flood Relief Committee, led by Whalley Lions Club. Other monies from the Freemasons were also distributed in East Lancashire including Padiham.”

Jim added: “Grants are still being given to residents in Whalley and recovery for some is still some time off. In addition to the £18,000 already given by the Freemasons, Abbey Chapter based in Whalley have topped up the Flood Relief Fund by a further £500.

“He hoped that there wouldn’t be a further disaster in Whalley, but if there was, the response would be better next time with the Masonic Hall on Accrington Road being opened for residents to get a cup of tea and a bit of warmth at the very least.”

Whalley councillor and the deputy leader of Ribble Valley Borough Council, Coun. Terry Hill thanked the Freemasons for their kind gesture. “It is a wonderful gesture and one that will be well received by Whalley residents hit by the floods. The Freemasons must have worked very hard to raise this amount of money and it will make a huge difference towards flood relief work.”

Coun. Hill went on to explain that although most of the village businesses were now up and running, some of the householders haven’t been able to return to their homes.

“I know residents haven’t been able to move back into the houses in Calder Vale or along the bottom of King Street. Work is still being carried out. Some thought they would be able to move back in after a few months, but unfortunately that hasn’t been possible.”