Readers’ letters - January 20

Agencies and individuals have been helping out flood victims this winter. See letter
Agencies and individuals have been helping out flood victims this winter. See letter
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Keeping flood victims safe

On Friday, January 8, I chaired my last Safeguarding Adults Board in Lancashire. It was an occasion to reflect on the flooding that has devastated parts of the county and I would like to pay tribute to the many ways in which agencies and private individuals pulled together to keep people safe.

Our homes are private places which nourish us and our loved ones. They are places where we conduct the business of our everyday lives and, crucially, they are where we should be most safe.

As I watched the bleak media coverage of the flooding across Lancashire and elsewhere, saw people wading through water-ravaged properties, filthy, icy water and passing abandoned cars, I was struck that the media made no reference to people’s trauma at having lost significant belongings, perhaps their livelihoods and property, and moving to unknown locations for unknown periods, regardless of the “national emergency response”.

During the aftermath of Storm Desmond on December 5, Lancashire County Council’s head of Adult Safeguarding briefed me about the social services response. She reflected on the activities of social workers since December 5, since Storm Eva on December 24 and then Storm Frank on December 29. There are people known to adult social care because they have support needs due to cognitive and/or physical impairments, mental illness and final illnesses. Social workers are gatekeepers to services such as domiciliary and residential care.

Many of the people being supported live alone and some live with carers who may be frail themselves. They are at different stages of their lives – from young adults to very frail older people.

So, a programme of social workers visiting people receiving different levels of social care began after Storm Desmond and it has continued. The county council’s director of Adult Services spent the Christmas period coordinating the work of social work staff away from his home, and many social care staff did likewise, comforting people waiting to be rescued, ensuring that those who wished to remain in their homes had the means to stay warm, have enough food, clean water and their medications, helping people to move salvaged belongings and furniture and checking residents of care homes were safe from the floods.

People living close to care homes have been extraordinarily attentive – they arrived wanting to help tackle damage arising from floods and lost power.

Similarly, NHS, police and Fire and Rescue colleagues were part of the fantastic service response.

Despite the closed roads and suspended rail services, so many people made their way to stricken localities with food, water, and gifts, as well as the means to help people dispose of sodden furniture and clean what was left.

Lancashire has learned the hard way that December 2015 was the wettest month ever recorded. The Safeguarding Adults Board can confirm another lesson: people’s community spirit and quiet humanity are irreplaceable Lancashire assets. I am proud to have worked with many such people over the last eight years.

Margaret Flynn, independent chairman of the Lancashire Safeguarding Adults Board

Breakfast vital for children

I was saddened to read that four in 10 teachers say they see children arriving at school hungry every day. Not surprisingly these innocent youngsters struggle to learn as a result.

Young brains need to be carefully nurtured and breakfast is a key start to children’s days.

The YouGov and Kellogg’s survey of almost 900 teachers showed it is believed the main reason is financial and, shockingly, 35 per cent of teachers blame parents seeing breakfast as unimportant. So it is plain that breakfast clubs are increasingly essential in schools in deprived areas and are to be welcomed. But what a sad indictment of parenting in one of the world’s richest nations.

Louise Bours, North West UKIP MEP

Apathy towards austerity issue

Maybe it’s my imagination but there seems to be a certain amount of apathy with regard to the so-called austerity measures.

People are losing their jobs, services are being lost, and the poor, sick and vulnerable are suffering. Yet MPs can still afford to pay themselves big pay rises.

This should be a time when whoever is in opposition should be attacking the Tories with all their might. But instead I feel increasingly disillusioned with all politicians.

No, instead of austerity, let’s distract the public with talk of immigration and the EU. Both important topics, but are they also a distraction to what is happening to ordinary people in this country? There seems to be many distractions. More people are concerned about an American idiot called Donald Trump coming to Britain (what good will it do to ban him visiting?) than museums and libraries closing or the steel industry losing more than 1,000 jobs.

Jane, Lancashire

Searching for airman’s family

My name is Laurent Viton and I’m doing extensive research on local history in Normandy, near Dieppe where I live. As far as possible I would like to hear from anyone related to Flight Sergeant Robert H. Gilleade, born December 26, 1921, and whose private address in 1944 was 18 Fairfield Drive, Ashton, Preston.

Robert Gilleade was bomb aimer aboard bomber Squadron 15 Lancaster LL889 , with Aussie Flight Lieutenant Ronald Purry as skipper and five other airmen.

On the night of June 14/15, 1944, they took off from Mildenhall RAF base, detailed to attack docks at Le Havre. Their bomber was hit by flak on the return trip over Fecamp and exploded in mid air. Only Robert Gilleade was able to bail out before the explosion but was quite bruised, his six fellows were not lucky and some are still missing with no grave.

Thanks to some nice souls in Normandy, he was given shelter and, with an USAAF fighter pilot on the run, Bob Izzard, he reached the allied lines after several weeks travelling through German troops. Robert Gilleade had been in RAF service for three years. I’ll be very grateful if some readers could help. I’m especially looking for pictures and account.

Please contact me at

Laurent Viton via email