VIDEO & PICTURES: Meet High Peak’s wonderful snow heroes

The heavy snow and strong winds which blasted High Peak were unable to crush an amazing spirit and generosity shown by the area’s community heroes.

Countless tales of people rallying together to help others in need have been revealed following the bad weather which struck the area last week.

On Sunday night 73-year-old Ann Brindley, who had been suffering from pneumonia, a chest infection and a fractured pelvis, was discharged from Stepping Hill Hospital and was being transported to her home by the St John Ambulance.

However, the ambulance became stuck on Fairfield Common so Ann rang her daughter Karen and told her what had happened.

Her granddaughter Nikki Bell then put a post in a newly-created Facebook group High Peak: Community Help Offered due to Adverse Weather - and 4x4 drivers and people with shovels all offered to go and dig the ambulance out.

Nikki said: “The ambulance was stuck and we didn’t know what to do so I put a post out on the new Facebook group and around 20 people said they would go and help which was amazing.

Snow Buxton,

Snow Buxton,

“We are so very thankful to everyone, it really means a lot. It just goes to show how strong the community spirit is in the High Peak. Thank you to everyone who helped.”

Ann is now recovering with her daughter, who owns The Vault pub on High Street.

Staff at the Buxton NHS community mental health team went the extra mile to ensure they could continue offering vital services to patients across the High Peak.

Karen Allen, an NHS secretary/admin worker who has been with the Fountain Street-based service for over 20 years, was unwilling to be deterred by the snow and showed her incredible dedication to NHS patients by travelling to work on Thursday - on a tractor.

Dr David Walker, a consultant psychiatrist, said: “I really feel this shows the amazing lengths NHS staff in Buxton are going to in order to keep services going in this extreme weather.

“It has been a difficult couple of days with the weather, so the efforts of our team have been of huge help to our patients.”

East Midlands Ambulance Service issued a special thank you to the community after it rallied together last week.

A spokesman said: “We have been absolutely blown away by the generosity and community spirit shown across the East Midlands.

“We’ve seen farmers using their tractors to pull our ambulances from snow drifts, offers of free meals to our crews out on the road and communities and businesses clearing roads to allow our ambulances to access patients or take them to hospital.

“A special thank you to Buxton Mountain Rescue Team who helped collect patients in the Peaks 
who needed to get to their vital kidney dialysis appointments.”

Buxton Mountain Rescue Team, along with their Edale and Kinder counterparts, had a very busy time during the freezing conditions, with ten call-outs coming in for the Buxton group along in just three days.

Five mountain rescue teams joined forces with Derbyshire County Council, the police and ambulance services to help those in need.

Snow ploughs led mountain rescue team vehicles to check the A515, the A623 and the A624 for stranded drivers.

Keith Birkitt, Deputy Team Leader for Buxton Mountain Rescue, said: “Driving conditions were difficult and hazardous with drifting snow and sometimes white-out conditions requiring vehicles to drive at walking pace.”

Other snow heroes include Rob Dawson who offered his Land Rover and snow plough to the community last week and helped to clear two schools, as well as people’s paths, and help stranded motorists.

He said: “You do what you have to do, but I always find bad weather brings people together.

“When I was helping clear one school more than 100 people turned up and people were finding out they lived on the same street as others but never realised, which was nice.

“This was a bad winter but it had nothing on the winter of 2010/2011, but it was just the wind which made it really bad this time causing big snow drifts which meant people couldn’t get out of their houses.”

One man who got no rest during the extreme weather was front-line gritter Jamie Barrett, from Chapel-en-le-Frith, who worked 12-hour shifts in freezing temperatures in an attempt to keep vital roads open.

The 43-year-old said: “It has been chaos - a real nightmare out on the roads.

“We had a gritter which got stuck on the Glossop to Hayfield road and needed to be rescued by another gritter and the mountain rescue team.

“It has been long, and really cold shifts, but everyone has worked so hard to try and clear the roads. It was made difficult by all the abandoned car, which we also had to check to make sure there was no-one in there.”

Over a six-day period at the height of the bad weather, Derbyshire County Council said its fleet of 36 gritters had treated 19,000 miles of roads around the clock using 4,500 tonnes of grit stored at its six depots across the county.

A spokesman for Derbyshire County Council added: “A huge thank you also to all the fantastic volunteers at Peak 4x4 Response who worked alongside our countryside rangers to support vulnerable residents during the severe weather.”

The county council was also supported in its efforts by a dedicated team of contractors and farmers.

With a freezing wind chill the cold weather was certainly felt by people who work outside for a living - such as the National Trust Rangers at Disley’s Lyme Park.

Lead Ranger, Chris Dunkerley, said: “Looking after a place like Lyme is a complex job for our rangers and the work certainly doesn’t stop in bad weather. In fact, that’s usually when we’re at our busiest and face some of the biggest challenges.

“I’m proud of the hardworking efforts of my team at Lyme and their dedication to keep the estate and its wildlife safe during the worst weather we’ve experienced for many years.”

Pupils at Buxton’s St Thomas More School were also caught up in the wintry weather on their return from a trip to Iceland.

After landing back at Manchester Airport, the students were able to make it back to Buxton safe and well with the help of Andrew’s of Tideswell.

The school also thanked WST Travel, who organised the trip and were on standby to book the 50 pupils and five staff into a Manchester hotel if they couldn’t make it home.