B4RN’s awards trophies have made their second stop in Dolphinholme.
The INCA and ISPA prizes are doing the rounds of the volunteers, champions and communities who’ve been digging in the network over the last decade.
A group of four volunteers met at the Village Hall to be pictured near where the first trench was dug.
Allen Norris, who has gone on to help other projects down the years, reminisced about getting B4RN going in Dolphinholme back in 2012: “The broadband speed was a joke. It was less than 52kbps!
“One of my earliest memories is coming down the first Saturday morning we were due to have a digging session. I came down here to the village hall at about half past seven in the morning and it was pouring with rain.
“I found a lady named Iris working at the back of the church with a spade, digging a trench in the pouring rain. That just about sums up the determination there was in Dolphinholme to do something.
“We had a strong enough community commitment here. Basically, we’re just bloody minded. We were going to do it mainly because people kept telling us we couldn’t.”
Fellow volunteer Graeme Chapman chimed in: “When I discovered I really needed and wanted fast broadband I called BT. I gave them my postcode and they said ‘oh you live in the sticks, we’ll never reach there’ and that’s when I started to think there has to be something else.”
Once fibre was in, Allen recalls the subsequent drive for sign-ups: “We did a launch in the Village Hall and the plan was it would be the first building to be connected so we were able to provide a service to the community. We had it all set up. We had publicity arranged – press, radio and various others.
“At 6 o’ clock that evening, everything was working. Shortly after, the electricity company cut through a cable and also our fibre at Abbeystead.
“We decided we would go ahead anyway, just by explaining what people would have seen were it working. We got more publicity doing it that way and more sign up just because people were so convinced!”
Allen finished by remembering a B4RN volunteer who’s no longer with us: “Graham Chapman acted as our ‘Wayleaves Officer’. A tremendous guy, a former professor at the University. He wasn’t especially practical but was extremely keen.”