Norfolk and Lowestoft flood appeal closes after helping more than 300 victims
- Credit: Archant
It was the appeal that touched the hearts of thousands, and showed how much people cared when they saw their neighbours in their hour of need.
Now, 10 months after the devastating tidal surge that swept through our coastal communities, the EDP's Norfolk and Lowestoft Flood Appeal has been wound up, after helping more than 300 people rebuild their lives and businesses.
When the appeal, launched by the EDP and the Norfolk Community Foundation, originally started, organisers hoped to raise £50,000.
But an astonishing outpouring of generosity saw the final figure climb to £330,000, winning praise from prime minister David Cameron.
Graham Tuttle, chief executive of the foundation, said: 'Our expectations were very modest because we had never tried it before. It was a very specific appeal for a specific part of the community. We went in with fairly modest aspirations.
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'It quickly became clear that it was resonating with people who could obviously associate themselves with it – they had had days there, or holidays there.
'Fifty thousand pounds suddenly became £75,000, then the ambition was to raise £100,000, and all of a sudden it was £200,000.'
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The appeal has awarded 312 grants worth a total of £287,186, including 168 grants in north Norfolk and 87 in Waveney, plus an additional £30,000 that went to Hemsby.
The remaining funds are either already committed, or being held in reserve for future emergencies in the region.
Mr Tuttle said the appeal's simplicity meant many flood victims received grants within three days of their initial application.
He added: 'The one thing that the appeal showed was that you don't need a lot of bureaucracy to make very meaningful grants to people in need.'
EDP editor Nigel Pickover said: 'With a great deal of pride, we have reached the end of this appeal after 10 months.
'We had an amazing reaction, driven by the people of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, and although the scale of the response initially took us by surprise, it was entirely appropriate as the scale of the damage started to become clear.
'Since then, we have seen other floods on top of the surge, and we have been able to help everybody we have known about.
'I can't thank everyone who supported the appeal highly enough.
'We are keeping a little of the money raised back to set up a standing fund to swing into action, if and when our region suffers like this again in the future.'
Here are just two people who would like to say thank you:
• Alan Spoor
A Lowestoft man whose rented flat was ruined by the tidal surge has said the EDP's Norfolk and Lowestoft Flood Appeal was a 'big help' as he started to re-build his life after he lost many of his possessions.
Alan Spoor, 56, was given £800 of appeal funds which he used to buy a microwave and fridge and repair a washing machine after he moved into temporary accommodation after relocating there from his badly damage Marine Parade flat.
He is still waiting to move back into the property.
Mr Spoor said: 'It (the appeal money) was a big help to me, a big help. If I had not got it I would have had no microwave, fridge or washing machine when I moved.'
He added the total cost to him from the damage caused was about £3,000.
• John Florence
A retired plumber whose Walcott home was ruined by the tidal surge is humbled by the flood appeal support.
John Florence, 66, who moved to St Helen's Road in 2009, received £1,300 from the fund.
The ground floor of his home was flooded by 3in of water destroying carpets, kitchen units and furniture.
He has fully refurbished his home at a cost of between £2,500-£3,000, which included the appeal cash.
The £1,300 money went towards a new kitchen, fridge freezer and washing machine.
Mr Florence, who has four children and seven grandchildren, said: 'I want to say a big thank you to people who donated money. It is amazing how people clubbed together for the appeal.'
• How were you affected by the tidal surge? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk