The B4RN Awards Tour rolls on to stop 19, this time in Ingleton.
We’re taking the INCA and ISPA trophies – won last year – to the communities and champions who’ve dug in the B4RN network for the last decade.
Four volunteers gathered with Ingleton Viaduct as a dramatic backdrop to be pictured with the awards and to reflect on their ongoing project. They were Phil Papard, Paul Radford, Jack Pickup and Dick Chalmers.
Talk started with the very first community meetings about B4RN…
Jack Pickup – “I fell asleep in my office and next morning I was informed I was looking after Thornton-in-Lonsdale, then making the connection to Masongill. We eventually got to the viaduct and permission to get across there took time but then it was on to the green cabinet.”
Phil Papard – “At the same time there was also a route from Bentham. We came from a caravan park called River’s Edge and we came from there to here. That gave a second route – important for B4RN because it gave a loop, which meant more resilience.”
Ingleton has the added challenge of being, by B4RN standards, quite an urban project…
PP – “Because it’s very built up, a lot of it was done overhead which worked fairly well. So we had two main areas, a peripheral area which, though long distance, was relatively straight forward in some ways, and then central areas where we’ve still got some housing areas to do.”
“In fact, just round here is a high point, we weren’t sure how to get here but we managed to do an aerial crossing which opened up a huge area in this part of the village.”
Paul Radford – “There’s a similar one going up to the church yard. Again, that opened up a whole section down by the swimming pool.”
PP – “Most of the time you can go under the gutters and everything is quite well hidden.”
Any particularly memorable days…
PR – “[Getting down to my area] was a nightmarish dig to start with! It’s a very steep slope. Every time you took a shovel full of earth out, it rolled away. At one point we were coming down and we had people in crampons and ice axes just to stay vertical. Everything you tried to do just became incredibly difficult!”
Dick Chalmers – I was dragged in by a chap who was already involved, when the call came out that they needed more labour for digging on the school field. As a retired teacher, getting a supply in there was important to me.
PR – “The school playing field… we only had the holiday to get it ploughed. We had a good crew out that day, digging it all the way round. It was a long day and it worked by the end of it.”
PP – “One that worked well was when we came from Park Foot we had to come and dig round. It was pouring with rain and we had 15-20 people and we got on with it. It worked extremely well.”
DC – “On the industrial estate. There was one section where getting through was really quite difficult. It was done eventually with several days of digging down – how do we avoid this? Will it emerge at the right place?”
Any advice for new groups…
DC -“Prepare yourself for the long haul. Stick at it because it’s worth it in the long run.”
PP – “Have a plan. Divide the thing up and have a programme where you can get something done with a small objectives.”
And why do they volunteer?
PR – “I personally enjoy it. Getting out for a day in the fresh air, doing manual work, connections, whatever you’re doing it’s just a pleasant day out, doesn’t matter what the weather is doing, particularly.”
PP – “We’re all retired, so we’ve got the time. Although we don’t really talk about it, we want the community to work and it is helpful to the community. In future more people will work from home and I think it all helps. Alright, most people don’t need a gigabit, but 20 years ago I thought the dial-up connection was alright!”
JP – “From my point of view, I’ve been a volunteer in various aspects and organisations all my life and it was just a natural thing to do. Do I like it ? I don’t know! But it’s amazing who you meet, that’s the attraction and it’s something to do!”
The group also wished to give honourable mentions to: Tom Lambert; John Rodgers; and contactor Steve Foster, who “went over and above the ‘Call of Duty’.”