Your donations help Lowdham invest in best flood defence yet

(L-R) Katherine Rae, Peter Cross and Hugh Hedderly of the Lowdham Flood Action Group pictured alongside a newly purchased flood defence storage box, on the banks of the Cocker Beck in Lowdham, Nottinghamshire.
(L-R) Katherine Rae, Peter Cross and Hugh Hedderly of the Lowdham Flood Action Group are delighted with their new partly people-funded flood defence mechanisms -Credit:Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post

Standing proudly beside a flood defence block on the banks of the Cocker Beck, Lowdham's Flood Action Group have plenty to smile about. It's summer after all, which means that, you'd hope, they're called into action less often in their hotspot village - and don't have to worry so much about the rain.

But the black block you see in the photograph is just one of 160 purchased by the Action Group through donations from Nottinghamshire Live, Lowdham's Parish Council and the Co-Op. It represents their most significant step forward and progress towards protecting their homes from flooding yet - since the Action Group was formed five years ago.

"It's brilliant," said group chair Peter Cross. "It's really helpful. We couldn't develop without it as we can't fundraise ourselves. The donation from Nottinghamshire Live has been really useful, as has the money from the Parish Council - they've been excellent. These should stand us in good stead to have a good chance of stopping around 65 houses here being flooded."

Nottinghamshire Live set about raising money for the county's flooding victims in the wake of Storm Henk in January - after months of unrepenting and unprecedented weather events, including the devastating Storm Babet in October. For many places, a flood is a freak event.

But for villages like Lowdham, Lambley and Woodborough nearby, it's all too common an occurence. Here, the Cocker Beck brook can rise to capacity in just three hours of heavy rain and spill over onto roads and the nearby cricket pitch.

The grass banks that run down from the A6097 and the nearby train line cause water to pool in certain quadrants of the village. In just the past six months, Lowdham has dealt with around seven or eight floods.

And even that number doesn't represent how much relentless work is done by the small team to make sure everything is ready every time the potential for a flood rears its head. Weather forecaster Hugh Hedderly says it's every other week that the group "stand to", when heavy rain threatens to overflow the village's brook.

Lowdham FLAG was founded after the horrendous floods of November 2019 and is now formed of a core group of six to eight volunteers and a pool of around 50 or 60 regular helping hands. Before being beneficiaries of the recent financial gifts, the group were mainly relying on Aqua-sacs and sandbags for their defence against rain.

But the new water blocks, at £25-30 a piece, will be significantly more efficient due to their solid, robust nature, and more environmentally friendly than their predecessors due to being able to be washed down and reused rather than thrown away when covered in sewage. And the first 160 just represent a trial number - in total, the group want to invest in around 1500 at a total cost of £20,000.

While the blocks won't stop the water, they'll be useful in directing it into drains. When not in use, they'll be kept in boxes like the ones in the photograph, stationed in pub gardens or on the side of the road in efficient positions for fast operation when needed.

On a call to action, volunteers will haul the 16.5kg blocks onto trolleys, which can hold 15 or 20 at a time, and wheel them towards their designated position. They're laid flat - unlike in the photo - and can be placed on top of one another to effectively build a wall, depending on how high the water is predicted to rise.

Currently, each flood costs the village around a staggering £1,000, estimates Mr Hedderly. With the new investments, hopefully that cost will be reduced.

The next few years will see the completion of the Government's £26m flood alleviation scheme which should further protect the more-than-100 at-risk Lowdham homes from the dangers of flooding. And with your donations, a start can be made on preventative plans in the meantime.

As they say: Every little helps.