‘We’re so grateful’ - Community spirit shines through to help those cut off in sub-zero conditions

PUBLISHED: 07:00 02 March 2018 | UPDATED: 10:24 02 March 2018

Snow and stranded vehicles in Hempnall. Photo: Zak Nelson

Snow and stranded vehicles in Hempnall. Photo: Zak Nelson

Zak Nelson

It may have caused temperatures to hit sub-zero but reaction to the Beast from the East has warmed hearts as community spirit shone through.

Snow and stranded vehicles in Hempnall. Photo: Zak NelsonSnow and stranded vehicles in Hempnall. Photo: Zak Nelson

While misery was caused for many as they found themselves snowed in, cut off, or stranded in their cars generous members of the public equip with 4x4s, tractors, or simple manpower stepped forward to help those in need.

And none were more appreciated than those clearing the paths for emergency vehicles, rushing to try and save lives.

Yesterday, Nick Smith, duty locality officer with the East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAST) was called to a van which had ended up in a ditch in Main Road, Rollesby.

And although the major routes were clear, he soon found himself blocked by snow drifts.

Snow and stranded vehicles in Hempnall. Photo: Zak NelsonSnow and stranded vehicles in Hempnall. Photo: Zak Nelson

“You couldn’t push through them with an ambulance or a car,” said Mr Smith, who was in a 4x4..

“But two JCBs came out of nowhere and pushed their way through. It took 15 to 20 minutes, just stopping and shovelling it on to the side of the road.”

He said the snow did impact the service, although all their vehicles and staff were equip to deal with it.

One group who helped ambulance crews out were Peter Utting, Andy Ward, and Harry Ward, from Mix a Man in Long Stratton.

Snow in Norwich. Kiera ODonoghue and Cameron Russell who have been helping people out of the snow, with their 4x4, on Stoke Road, near Arminghall. 1/3/2018. Picture: ANTONY KELLYSnow in Norwich. Kiera ODonoghue and Cameron Russell who have been helping people out of the snow, with their 4x4, on Stoke Road, near Arminghall. 1/3/2018. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The trio had been out in their teleporter helping free cars, when Mr Utting said they saw an ambulance go past.

He said: “We thought there’s no way they are getting through so we followed and we came across them stuck between Long Stratton and Pulham on the A140, he was stuck in two foot of snow.”

In Norwich, residents of Primrose Hill turned out in aid of nurse Claire Whitehouse - who is due to give birth any day.

Mrs Whitehouse, 34, and her husband Rus were concerned if she went into labour the snow and ice would make it difficult to reach the hospital.


But when Mr Whitehouse went to clear their road - just in the case - he was soon joined by a number of neighbours.

Mrs Whitehouse said: “We’re so grateful to everyone for helping - some of the neighbours we only met that day actually came out just because they wanted to help and didn’t realise the potential urgency of it all.”

While in Hempnall, three police officers jumped out of their unmarked car to help free a van.

Zak Nelson, who lives in the village, said lorries and vans had become stuck as only one lane of the main road had been gritted.

He said: “It’s interesting because in this country people just get on with their own stuff but then something like this happens and everyone grabs their shovels or is out directing traffic. There’s a chap called Fez in the village, and he’s been out on the road all day with his digger trying to make it safe.”

‘We just wanted to help’

Keira O’Donoghue and her partner Cameron Russell, both 23, were out over the last couple of days in their 4x4 rescuing trapped drivers.

The 23-year-old farmers were out between 7pm and 11am on Wednesday and again on Thursday driving around and offering up their help.

Miss O’Donoghue said: “We Just wanted to help people really, it was an opportunity. Some people have been really great saying thank you for the help. We’ve been up the hospital and we even helped a nurse who needed to get to her patients.

“She was on call and she needed to get to some patients and she was stuck, so we got on the tow bar and helped - she was two hours late but she got there.”

The pair, from Norwich, even followed an ambulance to help move cars which had been abandoned on slip road around the city.

• The couple said if anyone needed help in the snow or needed food delivered, to call them on 07340 906188.

Butchers’ three-hour journey

A Swanton Morley butcher braved the snow and ice to ensure elderly residents were able to collect their food.

David Smith, 63, has been the village’s butcher for 12 years and was not put off by the conditions he woke up to yesterday and walked to work.

Instead of taking 20 minutes to get there, it took him three hours, but Mr Smith said it was important to get in.

He said: “There’s a lot of old people here and I thought if there’s something they need I should be here. We dug three or four cars out on the way.”

Mr Smith said he had a few customers, but wary of the weather was closing early.

“The last time it was like this was in the late 80s,” he added.

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