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Croston gets back on its feet after devastating floods

PUBLISHED: 09:20 08 November 2012 | UPDATED: 14:59 03 November 2017

Town Bridge at St. Michael & All Angels Church.

Town Bridge at St. Michael & All Angels Church.

Flooding devastated Croston earlier this year. But the residents of this pretty Lancashire village won't be beaten. Emma Mayoh reports

John Twinn is one of the members of the Croston Community Flood Plan Action GroupJohn Twinn is one of the members of the Croston Community Flood Plan Action Group

‘If it happens again I’ll just get on with it. I’ll just move everything upstairs because I can’t do anything else.’ These are not the words you would expect from a 74-year-old woman who, on the day her Croston home was due to be redecorated following flooding earlier this year, was facing the prospect that waters may breach her property again.

Jean Hampson has already had her home flooded twice before and dealt with several threats during a lifetime of living in Croston. But the one thing that strikes you about her and everyone in this pretty village is their unshakeable belief.

‘It’s the Croston spirit,’ said Jean. ‘I’ve lived in this village all of my life and floods are something you have to accept if you are going to live here. Everyone pulls together and gets through it.’

Croston was hit by severe floods in the 80s and on the day Lancashire Life visited flood warnings were again issued. Fortunately, that day, water pumps and sand bags mainly managed to keep the waters at bay.

But it is the night of June 22 this year that will long remain in the memories of Croston residents.

High water levels at the River Yarrow and Town Bridge.High water levels at the River Yarrow and Town Bridge.

Flash floods caused the River Yarrow to burst its banks and drains to overflow putting many parts of the village, including many homes, under several inches of water.

Former policewoman Fiona Evans, who runs a school uniform supplies business, Favourites of Croston, battled with help from many residents to remove stock from her Town Road shop to The Grapes pub. Jon Lilley, the landlord at The Wheatsheaf, was a relative newcomer to the village. He only took on the pub in October 2011. Water gradually edged its way up to his front door before pouring into the cellars and up to the first floor.

He had only recently refurbished the premises. Meanwhile, solicitor Amanda Nicholson, whose business faces Jon’s pub, lives in nearby Bretherton. She travelled to Croston the morning after the floods to find her office under several feet of water.

John Forrest, chair of Croston Community Centre, had just returned from holiday the night before. When he returned he discovered the devastation at the centre used by many village groups.

Jean Hampson in her flood-hit homeJean Hampson in her flood-hit home

But like everyone we came across, there was a determination to succeed and to get through the hard times together. Fiona was soon back in business, Jon is even more determined to be at the heart of the local community, Amanda’s offices have been repaired and renovated and John Forrest is now overseeing works that will get Croston Community Centre back up and running.

‘Stoic is what we are,’ said resident John Twinn, who was only able to move back into his home a matter of weeks ago following June’s floods. ‘My wife jokes that if we get flooded every 25 years then at least it gives her an excuse for a new kitchen.

‘But when things like this happen it really proves what a fantastic community we have here. Everyone gets together and gets through it.’

Much positive work is already being done to get the village on its feet.

Croston Community Flood Plan Action Group is due to meet the different authorities to discuss measures to prevent further flooding. But residents are also keen to move forward and celebrate the village they live in.

Jon Lilley, landlord of The WheatsheafJon Lilley, landlord of The Wheatsheaf

There are big plans for the Croston Christmas Lights Switch On being held on December 2 and the Croston Christmas Fair taking place on December 9. Members of the Croston Village Festivities Group are now in the final phases of organising the festivities.

The success of the Christmas fair again shows the passion, determination and dedication of the locals to their village. The event was first set up by Villages in Partnership but lack of funding meant they could not continue its organisation. In 2008, just 12 weeks before the fair was due to take place, a group of locals got together to stage the event.

Shirley Dodd, one of the founder members, said: ‘There were 15 of us and we went and knocked on every door in the village to try to raise some money.

‘It costs about £4,000 to put on a show but we raised about £1,800 of it just from knocking on doors. It was incredible.’

Amanda Nicholson found her office under several feet of waterAmanda Nicholson found her office under several feet of water

Since then, the event has gone from strength-to-strength with people flocking from across Lancashire and further afield. At this year’s Christmas Fair there will be stalls lining many areas in the town, performances from local brass bands, Stone the Crows morris dancers, fairground rides, a torchlight parade, a carol service and a Santa’s grotto.

Alan Smith, chairman of Croston Village Festivities Group, said: ‘We are the village that won’t be beaten and the Christmas Fair will go on this year, despite the floods.

‘What happened earlier this year has proved what determined and fantastic people we have in the village and we are all going to work together to make the Christmas Fair the best yet and to show people from outside the area that Croston is back in business.’

Come rain or shin, Croston is a village full of people with sunny dispositions.



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