(L-R) Brian Wilkinson, Norman Wilcox, Arthur Laycock, Rachel Murton, Ces Lloyd, Dave Collins, John Poole

We’re up to a dirty (muddy?) dozen on the B4RN Awards Tour with stop 12 at Hornby!

The INCA and ISPA trophies – won last year – are making their way round the volunteers and communities who’ve got the job done over the last decade, digging in the gigabit full-fibre network.

Seven volunteers congregated at the Village Institute to pose with the awards and discuss their project, namely: Dave Collins, Rachel Murton, Norman Wilcox, Ces Lloyd, Arthur Laycock, Brian Wilkinson and John Poole.

They started with how it all began…

Dave Collins: “This motley crew was the core of the diggers. I was the rabble rouser and this is my rabble!”

Brian Wilkinson: “It’s a very community-minded village. It’s really quite easy to motivate people to do things to support community-based projects.”

While there was praise for landowners…

DC: “[One lady] said ‘I don’t understand it. But if it’s for the good of the village, just do what you like!'”

But conversation quickly turned to a host of challenges overcome…

BW: “I think one big challenge was keeping out of the mud! Those January, February days – trying to dig in wellies when it was about this deep in mud.

“I think another big excitement was getting ducting over the bridge. Tommy Hartley was at one end and we were at the other with a winch!”

DC: “I remember Arthur shoving some enormous reels of stuff up over bits of planking over a ditch we dug. Uphill. Pushing this intractable reel of stuff!”

Rachel Murton: “Another occasion we moled very carefully under a greenhouse!”

DC: “My recollection is endless hours reeling off ducts! 200metres of this, 50metres of that. There’s a lot of duct out there and I think I offloaded most of it!”

Ces Lloyd: “We moled under a road. Dave Connor was down this hole, it must have been at least as tall and half again. Unbelievable. Right under the A683.”

DC: “The bit around the station – a shunting yard with gravel in it and digging through that was terrible.”

Volunteer garden dig, 2015

The group spoke about why they volunteered…

Norman Wilcox: “I wanted a decent bloody service. And I got it!”

DC: “If you have an electric car you get ‘range anxiety’ but there’s no equivalent with B4RN, you’ll never think about having enough broadband again.”

“I think the people in this room are probably more community minded than the average person. There is the ongoing benefit, but the actual doing of it brings fond memories.”

SL: “We wouldn’t want to do it again!”

The group wished to give honourable mentions to: Tom Hartley, for his nous, knowledge and experience; Dave Connor, who had true grit and could dig out a tonne of soil; Dave Lee; James Wilkinson; and Neil Wallace.