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Do you recognise any of these Blizzard Busters?

PUBLISHED: 15:06 11 March 2018 | UPDATED: 15:06 11 March 2018

Helen McDermott and friends (Picture: Helen McDermott)

Helen McDermott and friends (Picture: Helen McDermott)

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All hail the blizzard busters of 2018!

Helen and Paul Barnes (Picture: Helen McDermott)Helen and Paul Barnes (Picture: Helen McDermott)

Well, it made a change from talking about Brexit. Go on, own up, you know you do it all the time. And then, along came the snow. Somebody decided it needed a pet name so they persuaded us to call it The Beast from the East. I’m sure it was beastly for some people, but I have to confess to finding some aspects of it rather glorious.

On that first day, when the snow was fresh, clean and bright white I went out in it, partly to road-test a pair of gadgets attached to my shoes which were designed to keep me upright. They were like something out of a Bond movie, criss-crossed metal springs attached to the soles that bit into the snow and stopped me slipping. They did the trick until one pinged off into some deep snow. If you find it, I would like it back.

For those of us lucky enough to be able to get around, for a few hours it was like living in a different world. With very few cars it had become a peaceful place. As the sun came out it was wonderful to see mums and dads pulling their children on sleds along pavements and roads, fresh-faced with the rosy glow from the chilly air. Laughter was the loudest sound.

Apparently, this was “the worst March weather since records began”. Really? I remember that back in the sixties when I was a very small girl, weighing next to nothing, I could walk on top of the snow, and it went on for weeks and weeks. It was cold, yet it didn’t seem so cold then as now, but that might have been because we were hardier then with colder houses and no central heating, when frost formed on the inside of bedroom windows.

During the past few days we’ve had reminders of winter in the eighties. When it snowed in 1987 was it as beastly as what we’ve just experienced? Perhaps it was. When my partner Paul Barnes and I presented Write Now for Anglia TV we heard stories of people who were going out of their way to help others we had some hefty medals struck to reward them for their efforts as “Blizzard Busters”, as seen in the photograph. Neither Paul nor I can remember where it was taken, so if you recognise anybody in it, do let us know.

Just as there were heroes then, so there have been heroes this time. But besides the champions we’ve had the usual crop of idiots, like the ones who defied the warnings and found themselves stranded for hours on motorways and then blamed anybody but themselves for their situation. There were the ones who had hissy fits about the trains being cancelled or delayed by weather problems. Mind you, those stuck on stalled trains for hours without heat or light and with no information had a right to be annoyed. Couldn’t the railway people use a spot of common sense and stock the buffet cars with extra provisions?

To end on the plus side, there were this year’s Blizzard Busters and their acts of kindness to people in distress, sometimes paying a heavy price. Richard Fiddy from Mattishall stopped to help dig out a stranded car but the effort was too much for his heart and he died in the snow. There were the paramedics who trekked three miles over Norfolk fields to reach a patient. There were so many stories of the refusal to give in to the elements. We had one on our own doorstep: Tony from News Direct, with his bobble hat and cheeks as rosy as Father Christmas, delivering our papers (including the EDP, naturally) every day. “Just a bit of snow,” he said, whistling his way up the empty street.

Do you recognise any of these Blizzard Busters? Let us know in the comments below.


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