The unlikely secret weapon behind Norfolk's Beast from the East farmer army
PUBLISHED: 12:00 11 March 2018 | UPDATED: 22:23 11 March 2018
Praise has been heaped on young farmers who rushed to the aid of ambulance crews stranded in last week's snow - thanks in part to a clever bit of admin.
Generous members of the public volunteered their 4x4s, tractors and other vehicles to help those stuck in snow drifts as the Beast from the East roared.
But some of the most urgent people in need were medics trying to reach seriously ill patients, like Bryony Shipsey, an intermediate ambulance practitioner with the East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAST).
Miss Shipsey, 23, and a colleague were called to a job near Long Stratton in the midst of the snow and responded in a rapid response vehicle.
She said: “The road was fine and then we hit a massive snow drift. We tried to drag the car out but it didn’t happen.”
So Miss Shipsey called on her young farmer friends to help and two came to her rescue. But the scenario gave her an idea.
“I thought we could generate a list - which is now a spreadsheet - of volunteers and young farmers happy to help. Most of them had been going 24 hours to help so I got names, if they had tractors and their contact details.”
Miss Shipsey then circulated the list among EEAST colleagues.
“Of course we had plans in place,” she said. But the fact the farmers were already out and about helping meant they could easily reach stricken vehicles.
“If someone was local we could be out within 10 minutes sometimes,” Miss Shipsey said.
Since circulating the list, Miss Shipsey, of Costessey, had been congratulated by colleagues who thought it was a great idea.
Now there are 47 people on the list.
Miss Shipsey said: “One call I had from a young farmer, he said at the end of the day we’re there to help them 24 hours a day 365 days a year, so he said it was about time they helped us. I think it’s amazing.”
Lucy Stowell, chairman of Norfolk Young Farmers, said the response had made her proud. She said: “We had members on snowploughs throughout the county. One of our members was out for 36 hours straight - they did not stop - they did a phenomenal job.”
She added: “It was a real team effort, there were Snapchats and videos going around and it made me really proud because no one asked them to do it, they just had that passion, they wanted to help and keep Norfolk safe.”