Mayor pays surprise visit to thank Harrogate firefighters for work during South Yorkshire floods
Harrogate fire station enjoyed a surprise visit from the Mayor this week, as he took time out of his planned civic duties to personally thank firefighters who have provided much-needed support and back-up during the devastating floods in South Yorkshire.
The Mayor and Mayoress of the Borough of Harrogate, Stuart and April Martin, wanted to recognise the crews for their relentless commitment and compassion shown in giving such a big helping hand over nine days to the worst-hit communities such as Fishlake.
Station manager Ben Cairns said: "It definitely gave a nice boost to morale to receive that recognition, Stuart has always been a great supporter of the fire service and we really appreciate it.
"We get a lot of satisfaction out of being able to help people in their hour of need. But what's important now is that support for these communities continues - there is a lot of media attention and focus during the emergency phase, then everybody disappears. These people have got months and months of work ahead of them to get their homes back into a liveable condition.
"But in any emergency, communities pull together, and that's very prevalent in Fishlake. I am sure that they will come out stronger."
Praising the crews in Harrogate and Richmond for their efforts, Stuart, who is a former firefighter, said: "I can't thank them enough for what they do on a daily basis, it's incredible. I don't think people always realise that they get involved in flood rescue as well. I'm just full of admiration and respect, and feel incredibly proud of both the Harrogate and Richmond firefighters for what they have done."
In a gesture to show solidarity and support for people whose homes have been devastated by the floods, the Mayor and Mayoress have also launched an appeal to collect clothing, food and other essential items to help.
In partnership with The Yorkshire Hotel, Stuart and April are inviting residents from across the Harrogate district to make a donation and send a clear message to flood victims that communities across North Yorkshire are thinking of them.
All items can be dropped off at The Yorkshire Hotel or Ripon Community House - suggestions for donated goods include cleaning materials, non-perishable food, wellington boots for children and adults, and new or excellent condition second-hand clothing.
Stuart said: "This time of year is a time for giving - if we can help, we should. I know that there are lots of appeals around Christmas, and I know a lot of people are struggling, but everybody has got something in their wardrobe that they have not worn for a couple of years. We can all do something.
"It would be nice to collect some children's toys and Christmas gifts as well, as so many families' worlds have been turned upside down by the flooding.
"I find it really hard to imagine how difficult it must be for everyone affected - one day going to bed with everything as it should be, and then the next day walking through water in your home. How do you cope?"