Harry returns to village flooded by 2015 storm to check recovery progress

Prince Harry has returned to a village which was devastated by floods in Storm Desmond to see how the recovery effort progressed.
Prince Harry meets well wishers as he arrives for his visit to the village hall at St Michaels on WyrePrince Harry meets well wishers as he arrives for his visit to the village hall at St Michaels on Wyre
Prince Harry meets well wishers as he arrives for his visit to the village hall at St Michaels on Wyre

He first visited St Michael's on Wyre in February last year after the floods in December 2015 damaged 1,700 businesses and homes.

On Monday, he reopened the refurbished village hall and met residents who were forced to move out of their homes following the storm.

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Julie Bostock, who lives next to the village hall, wrote to Harry after she was diagnosed with a brain tumour while spending eight months in temporary accommodation waiting for her home to be repaired.

She said: "I wrote to him about the work he does with mental health and said what a shame I hadn't been able to meet him last time."

Harry met Mrs Bostock, who has fully recovered after surgery to remove the tumour, with her husband Ralph and son Jack Prince and was shown photos of the damage which was done to the house.

He also spoke to their neighbours Graham and Lynne Mortimore who were unable to return to their home for nine months after the flood.

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The Prince spoke to 99-year-old Winnie Hodson, who first met him when he visited last year.

Her daughter Winnie, 77, said: "He remembered her from last time. He was asking how we were and about the floods."

The Prince was greeted outside the village hall by children from St Michael's on Wyre Primary School, which had to be completely refurbished, and presented with a stick of Blackpool rock by one member of the crowd.

Headteacher Diane Carroll, 46, said the children were taught in portable cabins at Myerscough College, and on a nearby farm, for almost six months while work was carried out.

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She said: "Harry was asking about the school and said he had been speaking to one of the students outside whose home had been flooded as well."

Margaret Thompson, 78, told Harry some of the children were taught on her farm while the school was repaired.

She said: "They were marvellous, we missed them so much when they had gone."

She added: "Harry was lovely. He wanted to know all about farming and about the children. He was interested in potatoes."

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Harry visited staff at Veterans UK earlier and thanked them for their "amazing work" as he marked the 25th anniversary of its helpline service, based in Blackpool.

The 24-hour helpline provides welfare support for ex-service personnel and their families, working in partnership with charities and support networks, and receives hundreds of calls daily.

He met widow Jemma Neilson, 29, of Preston, whose husband, Darren, 31, was killed four months ago in a tank explosion during a training exercise at Castlemartin, west Wales.

Mrs Neilson and daughter Millie, eight, moved out of military accommodation following the loss of her husband who had been her childhood sweetheart since the age of 14.

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They are living with her parents but with the ongoing help of Veterans UK she hopes to buy her own home.

She said: "The service has been absolutely invaluable. I don't know where I would be without it."

Retired RAF squadron leader Stephen Flaherty, 66, who receives a war disablement pension, said the Prince was "a delight".

He said: "He has a very detailed knowledge of an awful lot, without a shadow of a doubt. A very caring person."

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Mr Flaherty, from Lytham, gave up flying in 1986 because of medical issues and was eventually put in touch with Veterans UK.

He said: "They tell you about allowances that I had never heard of. They are always there."

During a tour of the site in Norcross, Harry listened in to a call to helpline adviser Lyndsay Ethell, 32, as she dealt with a pensions query.

Ms Ethell said: "It was a great honour meeting Prince Harry, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I feel extremely privileged to be part of."