Light Dragoons soldiers muck in to help parish building project at Hoe
© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2014
A squad of soldiers dug deep to help a community building project after answering a desperate plea for assistance from a neighbour in need.
The parish of Hoe and Worthing, near Dereham, aims to open its renovated parish room in May after building an extension with new toilet and kitchen facilities.
But the project left an estimated 20 tonnes of excavated earth piled up outside Hoe church – in an enclosed area which is inaccessible to diggers and vehicles.
So as the job needed to be done by hand, and with many of the committee members aged in their seventies, parish meeting chairman Trevor Wood wrote to the Light Dragoons, based nearby at Swanton Morley, asking them to lend a hand.
Within 24 hours, ten soldiers from the Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess at Robertson Barracks had volunteered to spend their day off toiling in the rain, moving and spreading the soil and clearing the large rocks from beneath the surface.
Mr Wood said: “We had a number of volunteers from the parish but, with the best will in the world, their enthusiasm was probably outweighed by what was practical.
“The only option really was to do this by hand. It would have taken us a considerable amount of time – assuming we lived through the task! “So this was really an SOS call to our neighbours. I thought, customarily, you might ask your neighbours for a cup of sugar, but this is what we asked of them – and within 24 hours this lot had volunteered.
“They laid into it from the crack of dawn and have been doing it with such massive good humour ever since they arrived. What they have achieved in a few hours has been fantastic. I couldn’t thank them enough.”
The Light Dragoons have also recently sent troops to Kent and Wiltshire following the devastation of the recent floods, demonstrating the army’s commitment to assist in civilian emergencies nationwide.
But Regimental Sergeant Major Carl Loughney said they were also more than happy to help a needy cause much closer to home.
“It is really important for us to be seen to be getting out and doing things like this,” he said. “They are not pressed men – they volunteered to do this off their own backs, and the promise of a few cups of tea and cakes was all that was needed to sway them.
“The people here would never have got it done themselves. It is quite hard work for us, and we are all relatively fit, but for someone in their seventies to be humping and dumping wheelbarrows full of soil would have been difficult.”