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How businesses & people stepped up during the Beast from the East

19th March 2019 Print

The UK has enjoyed a sweltering summer this year, with a heatwave that stretched on for months and the warmer weather still being present as the nation creeps into autumn. However, when the temperatures do begin to dip, and the colder weather moves in, Brits are sure to start thinking about the Beast from the East and the chaos it caused throughout the country earlier this year.

At the beginning of March 2018, the UK was subjected to one of its worst bouts of wintry weather in recent memory. Blizzards, drifting snow, bitterly cold temperatures and strong winds all combined and brought the nation to a standstill. For only the third time, the Met Office issued what is its most severe alert, a red warning, while thousands of schools had to close and even hospital operations had to be cancelled. Thousands of drivers were also left stranded on roads, while many of those travelling by rail and air were met with delays or cancellations to their travel plans too. It was unfortunately a large enough storm to cause some deaths as well.

During all the pandemonium though, the Beast from the East did see quite a few people and businesses carrying out good deeds to help those who were vulnerable during the bitterly cold snap. Here, stairlift manufacturer Acorn Stairlifts reflects on some of the most heartwarming moments witnessed during the storm…

The army and the RAF helped Lincolnshire communities

To assist rural communities throughout Lincolnshire which had been cut off due to the cold snap, police who had seen their resources stretched to the limit sought the help of the army and RAF personnel.

In total, 10 military vehicles from RAF Waddington were called in to provide a vital helping hand to vulnerable individuals who relied on adult social care. The assistance meant that resources by the police could be freed up so that they could remain focused on dealing with major incidents.

Superintendent Phil Vickers, from Lincolnshire Police, told Lincolnshire Live: “We put the request into the military… and they decide amongst themselves what they can send out and deploy. The military have sent out 10 vehicles from RAF Waddington to help with efforts. They are focusing on getting out to vulnerable people who rely on adult and social care. 4X4 vehicles are also helping from the RAF and providing a level of support."

Army helps transport NHS staff in Edinburgh

North of the border in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, the army was also drafted in to help when the wintry weather got particularly bad. Throughout that city though, they used 4x4 vehicles provided by the Ministry of Defence, Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to assist in getting 200 NHS staff members to work.

With NHS Scotland faced with a potentially critical situation due to the impact the storms were having on their staff’s ability to get to and from work, the army stepped up to support shift changes at both the Western General and Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh hospitals.

As the bad weather was still sweeping in, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson had commented on the situation in relation to what was happening in Edinburgh and throughout the nation by stating: "Our Armed Forces stand ready to help as Britain is hit by severe weather.

"Our service personnel are showing great dedication and a spirited sense of duty as they support local authorities and keep people safe."

Lookers Ford helps emergency services staff around North-East England

It wasn’t just the army who were on hand to assist those who work for the emergency services when the Beast from the East took hold though. In the north east of England, staff at car dealership and commercial Ford group Lookers Ford Sunderland showcased their kind-hearted nature by ferrying both NHS and emergency employees to and from work using capable vehicles from their business.

Staff at the dealership even took time out of their own schedules to provide a helping hand, with commercial salesman Terence Kennedy pointing out to the Sunderland Echo that the team wanted to do as much as they could because “our NHS staff and emergency services do such a vital job and it's so important that they are there to help people in their time of need”.

Mr Kennedy added: "There's a buzz around the dealership, and everyone is so positive about helping people out. We're all up for the challenge and will do whatever we can. It's a bit of a community spirit and we all want to help each other."

Cancer surgeon performs operation after near three-hour walk

Back in Scotland, there was also the case of a cancer surgeon who made the walk from Anniesland to Paisley near Glasgow — a near eight-mile trek — during the torrential weather to perform on a cancer patient at the hospital where she worked.

While the surgeon remained unnamed in the Glasgow Live article covering the heroic effort, her colleague Andy Renwick commented to BBC Radio Scotland: She walked from Anniesland to Paisley – it took her two hours and 50 minutes. I saw her come in, she had snow goggles on. Gortexed up, top and bottom, snow shoes and walking poles.

"She is operating today on someone who has bowel cancer, she knew that had to be done and so she has made extra effort to get in here to make sure that was actually delivered.”

Mr Renwick was also keen to acknowledge that other doctors at the hospital remained there overnight despite not having a change of clothing or supplies as they helped to wait for staff to turn up.

These are just a few heartwarming stories to have occurred when the UK was a target of the Beast from the East and show how firms and people across the nation go above and beyond to provide much-needed and appreciated help to those who most need it when weather conditions deteriorate.