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Cumbrian church plays host to an evening of flood stories

A riverside church has played host to an evening of flood stories on the third anniversary of Storm Desmond which wreaked havoc across the county.

St Paul’s Holme Eden, Warwick Bridge, on the banks of the River Eden, was the venue for the event last night (Tuesday 4 December, 2018) which was attended by more than 30 people.

Residents and business owners from the Warwick Bridge area and nearby villages and hamlets - Wetheral, Warwick-on-Eden, Aglionby, Little Corby, Corby Hill, Great Corby, Burnrigg and Brocklewath – took the opportunity to talk about how flooding had hit their properties.

‘Flood Stories’ was the idea of the Rev Graeme Skinner, who was appointed Vicar for Wetheral and Holme Eden and Mission Community Team Leader earlier this year.

He explained: ““As my wife, Philippa, and I have gone out and about meeting people in our local community the first thing that many have spoken to us about is the flooding.

“The last floods may be three years on but it remains very real for many people. There are people who were not able to come this because it is still too raw for them. Others who spoke were close to tears as they shared their stories.

“The main purpose of the event has been to build community and to give people hope. Through the evening we saw people weaving together through shared experience and shared stories.”

Approximately 2,100 properties were directly affected by the flooding in 2015, with the flow in the River Eden the highest ever recorded. Storm Desmond brought new 24 hour and 48 hour rainfall records for the UK, both recorded in Cumbria

Members of Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service who helped evacuate people in the area also spoke of the effects of the devastating floods.

One firefighter detailed how his watch was called out to rescue families from two houses close to the bridge which crosses the River Eden at Warwick Bridge.

He added: “It was a terrible night but it was fantastic to see how people rallied round and there was a ‘never give in’ attitude, a feeling of ‘we’re stronger than this’. That shone through on the night.”

Addressing the gathering at the start of the evening, Rev Skinner said: “It’s great that the fire service can be represented here tonight. But there are also other heroes here too, and that’s those of you who have managed to come here to talk about events which have profoundly affected your lives.”

Other flood events in and around the Warwick Bridge area were also marked during the ‘Flood Stories’ event, including those of 2005 and flash floods in 2011 which badly affected properties in Great Corby.

Mike Crawley and his wife, Liz, were flooded out of their beckside cottage in the village. He said: “One of my abiding memories is of my wife at our front door with her foot up against it, shouting ‘I can’t hold the water back’. The door was flung open and within minutes we were in four feet of water, with our sofa floating on its side with two cats perched on it.

“The panic we felt in the immediate aftermath has now subsided to one of slight anxiety. We have a flood plan in place should the same thing ever happen again.”

SALLY LONGSTAFF webWetheral resident Pat Howe documented the terrible after-effects of the same cloudburst which saw her garden patio and boundary wall tumble 40 feet into a mill race. She was supported by the Cumbria Flood Recovery fund in 2015 after a garden shed was washed away.

She added: “I have a little prayer card in my kitchen which says ‘Lord help me to remember that nothing is going to happen today that you and I together can’t handle’.”

Meanwhile Sally Longstaff from Sally’s Tea Room in Warwick Bridge – which has also been affected by flooding - explained how she had opened up her business to provide free food for those affected by the floods of 2015.

Rev Skinner added: “What came through forcibly was the resolve of people and the willingness to help each other through adversity. As a church it’s important that we continue to pray for all those people who were affected and also listen without giving quick answers. We’ve heard how good things can come from bad, but we must not tidy the bad things away; there needs to be a balance.

“I think there’s something of our Christian faith in that. We can’t tidy suffering away but we can walk alongside people offering support and empathy.”


For further information please contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager, on 07469 153658, 01768 807764 or at


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