RESOURCEFULNESS has become the key to survival as many parts of the UK head towards a fourth week covered by snow.
For many living on ungritted sideroads, just getting to the clearer carriageways has been impossible – but in the Wibsey area, above Bradford in West Yorkshire, joiner Gavin Raistrick has proved a salvation.
The 30-year-old father-of-two brought his imagination and engineering skills to bear when he became fed up with using a shovel to clear snow – by constructing a home-made snowplough for the front of his white Mercedes van.
First, he cleared the cul-de-sac where he lives with his fiancée Hayley Moore (whom he plans to marry in June) – and now he’s thinking about helping out further afield.
All the family has been involved. His daughter Morgan, seven, and Kian, two, are really enthusiastic.
‘They think their dad’s brilliant,’ admitted Gavin, ‘better that Father Christmas.
‘“Everyone has been really supportive. I just wanted to get in there and get it done. It seemed an easier way that using a shovel.”
He set to using surplus wood that he’d kept in his garage – “’I never throw anything away,’ he said – before finding that chipboard flooring was best. It’s fixed to the front of the van with a piece of two-by four, he explained.
Because he’s self-employed, Gavin was aware of his own situation as well as the predicament of the others living in the cul-de-sac’s 20 houses.
‘If I can’t get to work,’ he said, ‘then I let clients down and in turn then I don’t get paid.’
For those neighbours, the snow was affecting lives. Bins were filling up, because collection lorries hadn’t been able to make it down the slope; now they can.
And, said Gavin, the local community has really come together in the face of the white adversity. They’ve even clubbed together, putting £10 each into a kitty to go to B and Q to buy half a wheelie bin full of salt.
Gavin has also found himself with a rapidly-growing online fan club. A neighbour set up an appreciation page on Facebook, which attracted 30 members as well as scores of messages of gratitude within a few hours.
As well as clearing an area around Buttershaw Primary School in Bradford, Gavin is thinking of offering his services and his van to other schools still cut off along roads which haven’t been ploughed or gritted.
But, in the meantime, he’s keeping his eyes on the weather forecast.
‘It looks as if there’s more snow on the way,’ he said, ‘so I’ll be ready to go out again in the morning if the road needs clearing.’