Flood-hit farmer’s generous support

HELPING HANDS: Volunteers at Hunters Oak Farm
HELPING HANDS: Volunteers at Hunters Oak Farm

A lifelong livestock farmer has told of the devastation he experienced when the Boxing Day floods washed away more than 100 of his sheep.

Chris Smith, the fourth generation of his family to live and work at Hunter’s Oak Farm in Ightenhill Park Lane, is still dealing with the aftermath of the terrible floods which swamped his farm.

He has been heartened recently, though, by the efforts of friends, family and members of Burnley’s Life Church who have helped to clear up debris left by the floods.

Chris said: “Boxing Day was very traumatic for my family. I was out in the fields trying to rescue the sheep when I saw more than 100 of them washed away.

“It was horrendous – they were all in-lamb too. As well as the upset of seeing what happened, there are financial implications further down the line for me. Luckily, I was covered by the National Farmers’ Union, but that didn’t take the pain away.

“My family have been on this farm since 1938 when my great-grandfather came here, but Boxing Day was the worst floods I think we’ve ever known.

“The problem is that the Calder and Pendle Water meet here and the volume of water used washed everything away, including some land. It was devastating.”

Chris, whose wife Lindsey attends the Life Church in Gannow, recently welcomed around 20 young volunteers from there, as well as friends and family, to help with a massive clear-up operation.

He added: “I waited until now because for a long time the wet weather continued and the ground was just saturated, it was like a bog.

“I wanted to wait for the river level to drop so the land could dry out.

“I would like to thank everyone who came along to help. There is a still a lot to clear but we are getting there. A lot of thanks must also go to Dan Randall and Stephen Piessens for organising the project.

“Looking ahead, I fear there will be future floods but I’m determined to stay. We are planting willow trees by the river side, but we are also in the hands of nature.”