Norfolk hasn’t lost the Blitz Spirit - the snow proved that

PUBLISHED: 08:46 09 March 2018

Cathie Pike with Centre 81 bus driver Sean Nolan, who braved the snow to take her to an operation. Picture: Courtesy of Centre 81

Cathie Pike with Centre 81 bus driver Sean Nolan, who braved the snow to take her to an operation. Picture: Courtesy of Centre 81

Courtesy of Centre 81

Well done Norfolk. You tamed the Beast from the East, says Nick Conrad.

Our county deals with adversity rather well. When presented with a challenge we appear to have a well-rehearsed system in place to face the problem head-on. This has been clearly apparent in the fantastic and skilled way the various agencies joined forces to deal with ‘The Beast From The East’. Though our community faced many a trying few days, the collective response was heartwarming. The Beast brought out the best in us.

A number of heroic stories emerged. Good Samaritans, kind hearted neighbours and strangers uniting to help each other. In the freezing conditions we found a warmth for fellow human-beings, reminiscent of the rightly-lauded ‘Blitz Spirit’ which signifies our social strength.

I witnessed two homeless men huddled in a doorway swaddled in damp sleeping bags and, though only a token gesture, my offer of coffee and a sandwich would, I hoped, bring both physical and metaphorical nourishment. A short time had elapsed before I returned with a sandwich to find another good soul had already passed and offered a fair amount of food. Quite a banquet. And so the homeless man, stereotyped as ‘unsocial’ pointed me in the direction of where another woman sleeps to offer her the excess food instead.

Much of the country was brought to its knees by a few inches of snow, but our compassion wasn’t crippled. There was as much grit in our response as on our roads. The worst brings out our virtuous side. One of my colleagues who had to abandon his car in the suburbs joined fellow commuters in walking to work. Where strangers would usually ignore each other, the conversation flowed. As the common enemy descended in white clusters from the clouds, communities united to look after their most vulnerable.

Much is made of our fabulous NHS workers, police, fire, farmers, highways teams and other professional bodies. Rightly so. But the highest accolade must go to the band of volunteers who stepped forward. They seek no compensation, have no contractual duty or request for praise. In some cases we may question their motive or sanity, why court risk to help perfect strangers. The reward is an internal, unique feeling of satisfaction when you’ve put your own interest aside for the good of others.

Though paid, more should be made of our army of fantastic care workers. It is one of the most compassionate, skilled and dedicated vocations. Vital in the poor weather. An army of poorly-paid, under-valued, mostly women, ventured through the drifting snow to care for our loved ones. Cleaning, dressing and feeding our elderly before moving on to another client. Often driving their own vehicles, they venture up hill and down dale to serve the public.

The paid and unpaid, I salute the fantastic response we collectively gave in the face of a difficult challenge. There was endurance in the face of an external danger. Maybe an edge of defiance? For those reading this who will accuse me of exaggeration - you are the ones who didn’t witness the full force of last week’s storm. You didn’t put yourself in harm’s way (maybe for good reason) to help.

I don’t wish to appear overly-sentimental when I refer to the Blitz Spirit, but we can all seek solace in the clear fortitude within our community. The indomitable spirit demonstrated across the UK in the face of the Luftwaffe’s onslaught has been invoked since by politicians to galvanise national pride, and by the media to recall fondly an era when we were apparently made of sterner stuff. Last week was, of course, absolutely incomparable to the bombing of British cities but it proved the foundation of the national psyche hasn’t changed.

When confronted by the beast, we were at our collective best.

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