Storm Emma may be wreaking havoc on travel, business and schools across the nation – but vital care services at Weston Hospicecare remain fully functional thanks to a team of volunteer 4×4 drivers from Burnham-on-Sea.

Snow and ice has brought much of the South West to a standstill today (March 2), but the hospice continues to provide free, expert care to people with life-limiting illnesses and their families.

A number of hospice staff have battled their way through the snow on foot from across the area to ensure care services could be maintained.

Volunteer Christine Garrity made it to hospice headquarters in Uphill to man the reception desk as normal, while facilities manager Darren Fairchild walked to work from Lympsham – and was then pressed into unexpected service in the catering team for the day. The hospice’s team of community nurses continue to reach as many patients as possible, in most cases by travelling to appointments across North Somerset on foot.

However, it is thanks to volunteer search-and-rescue drivers from Burnham-on-Sea’s BARB (Burnham Area Rescue Boat) that the hospice’s In-Patient Unit continues to be fully-staffed.

That is because BARB drivers have been busy ferrying the unit’s nurses into and out of work from across Weston-super-Mare, Worle and Burnham, and outlying villages too. In many cases, standing snow would otherwise have made their journeys to work impossible.

As a result of BARB’s gesture, the seven patients currently onsite at the hospice’s In-Patient Unit continue to receive their usual round-the-clock care from a full complement of clinical staff.

Weston Hospicecare’s Director of Patient Services, John Bailey, said: “Snow storms over the past couple of days have caused chaos for people all across the area, but even in tough conditions such as these it of course remains essential for us to be able to ensure our patients continue to receive the quality of care they need.

“We know Weston Hospicecare’s staff and volunteers are committed and passionate about the work they do, and we’re grateful to all of those who have gone above and beyond to make it into work today, and to those who have taken on extra tasks to ensure services are maintained.

“However, we know too that some of our inpatient unit team simply would not have been able to get here without help from the team at BARB, so we’re enormously grateful to them for their efforts on our behalf. BARB’s work has made a real difference in helping us to support our patients.”

BARB chairman Mark Newman said: “BARB Search & Rescue is happy to be providing emergency snow transport to Weston Hospicecare during the extreme wintry conditions to enable the hospice’s vital work to continue.

“BARB has a team of trained 4×4 drivers who are able to drive in a variety of demanding conditions. As an organisation with the local community firmly at our roots, we will always try to help other similar charities in times of difficulty.”

If anyone has any queries about the impact of the snowy conditions on Weston Hospicecare’s services, they can contact the hospice on 01934 423900.

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