Diocese of Carlisle

    Churches help support hundreds of people stranded by heavy snowfall

    Latest News
    4 Dec. 2023

    Churches in the central Lakes have helped come to the aid of hundreds of people stranded by heavy snowfall over the weekend.

    On Saturday evening Cumbria Police declared a major incident after the wintry conditions left about 200 vehicles stranded with people forced to find temporary accommodation.

    In Ambleside up to 150 people were given shelter in the Parish Centre and St Mary’s church building, with local businesses rallying to provide hot food, drinks and bedding.

    The Rev Andy Smith, Team Rector of the Loughrigg Benefice, said: “So many groups came together across Ambleside to support these people. It was lovely to see. At first, we had no idea how long people would need to be cared for but by 8pm it became clear that they would be with us overnight.

    “The local bakery came forward to provide pasties and sausage rolls, there was soup made and pizzas provided too. We were caring for all ages, from a three-month-old baby and a child who was celebrating their tenth birthday through to a lady who had travelled up to be with family for her 60th birthday.

    “It’s so important that, as a church, we were able to help out in this way, alongside everyone at the Parish Centre with whom we work so closely on a day-to-day basis.. The church is there to look after people and to be at the centre of the community at times like this. It’s a blessing to be able to care for people when they need help the most. It reflects the heart of Jesus for his people.”

    Rydal Hall, the Diocese of Carlisle’s Christian retreat and conference centre and located just a few miles from Ambleside, provided 38 duvets and two cots which the Fire Service transported to the parish centre and church. Church members also came forward with sleeping bags and bedding.

    In Hawkshead, a Christmas fayre had attracted lots of visitors along with the Grizedale Forest stages of a car rally, meaning scores of people were stranded due to the snow.

    Twenty people sought shelter in St Michael’s and All Angels whilst 150 more bedded down in the local primary school and the Brownies and Guides hut provided shelter for 40.

    The Rev John Dixon, Vicar of Hawkshead, and his family put up 25 people in the vicarage, including 18 members of Milnthorpe Steel Band.

    He said: “The whole community came together to care for these people. Sandwiches were provided and the local fish and chip shop put on meals for everyone. The church was a part of that community effort. I was wearing my dog collar as I walked around, and various people came up to me asking for help and advice.

    “The heating was left on for the people sleeping in the church. Whilst they may not have had the most comfortable night everyone was very grateful for the help that had been offered up.”

    At Rydal Hall, a further 48 people were provided with emergency overnight accommodation.


    Picture caption

    Judith Dixon, the wife of the Rev John Dixon, Vicar of Hawkshead, hands out cake to stranded motorists.

    For further information contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Head of Communications, on 07469 153658 or at communications@carlislediocese.org.uk.