Gravesend's snow heroes brave the weather to go the extra mile
PUBLISHED: 13:00 09 December 2010 | UPDATED: 13:46 09 December 2010
Tributes have been paid to an army of snow heroes who battled against the extreme weather to care for the sick and vulnerable.
As the road and rail chaos eased after several days of continuous snowfall stories emerged of a tot being taken on a three hour trip to hospital for vital treatment and carers walking up to seven miles a day through Higham to keep appointments with housebound elderly residents,
The parents of Uzayr Haider, 6, who is reliant on regular specialist kidney dialysis treatment, told how they battled to get their child to a London Children’s hospital despite the terrible travelling conditions.
Uzayr, of Havelock Road, Northfleet, has posterior urethal valves which restrict his kidney functions causing a build up of urea in his blood, which left untreated creates intense pain, nausea, vomiting and can lead to brain injury.
To combat this he uses a dialysis machine three times a week.
Parents Shafina, 43 and Ijaz, 54, began to panic when the heavy snow forced him to miss an operation on Wednesday but with the help of London-based taxi firm Riverside and driver Sam Adjetey, were able to get to Evelina Hospital in central London the following day.
Mrs Haider said: “He had to make it. There was no way he could miss another day. Because Uzayr is so young he cannot use any old dialysis machine, he has a special one calibrated to cater for his size so we couldn’t go to Darent Valley.
“Our taxi driver couldn’t make it through on Wednesday and we were so worried he wouldn’t make it again. It took him three hours to get there from East London and three hours in but he managed it.
“He said he was stuck on the A2 for eight hours on Tuesday so we were so pleased he came to help us despite the ongoing weather.”
Once at the hospital the family spent the night in a single bed ward room, Shafina and Uzayr sharing the bed while Mr Haider slept in a chair as large numbers of patients were unable to get home.
“The hospital staff were so helpful. Uzayr had missed his operation but they managed to fit him in and were very understanding. We are so grateful,” said Mrs Haider. continued on page 2
Mr Adjetey was there again to take the relieved family home again on Friday afternoon after a week to forget.
Dedicated staff working for Care UK also fulfilled their duties carrying out home visits to vulnerable adults Higham and Gravesend.
Carers Trish Plowman and Lorraine Cortoran, both 53, covered up to 7 miles a day meeting 14 appointments each on foot as they worked throughout the week from 6am to 9pm.
Mrs Cortoran, from Higham, said: “We set off early due to the conditions and at my first visit I found a 93-year-old who had suffered a fall at home. If we did not make it that day he would have been there until family could call when the weather was better.
“I had two others who are quite sick. You need to get them up, get them dressed. How can you not go out? these people are relying on us.”
Her colleague added: “It is a rural area and was thick with snow and ice but we knew we had to keep going. It’s that real Duckirk spirit and we kept going. We have a continuity of care and we could not let them down.”
Branch manager Jamie White paid tribute to to duo. He said: “The quality of our service which we provide is based largely on the caring and dedicated nature of our care workers and when we’re faced with adverse weather conditions and a significant challenge to deliver those calls, the true resolve and commitment of our team becomes so very apparent.
“Every one of our service users appreciated the efforts made by our team and I am so proud to work with those around me, and although they just see it as ‘part of their job’, they have worked tirelessly in very difficult and unexpected circumstances.”
Zena Williams, 52, from Vigo Village, also spent five nights staying at the college attached to Dorton School in Sevenoaks, which is run by the Royal London Society for the Blind.
The services manager said: “Morale was absolutely fantastic. A lot of staff knew if they made it in they would not get out for a good few days but we have residential pupils and we could not let them down.”