(L-R) John Pinch, Robin Pritchard, Virginia Walsh, Julia Eman, Susie Roth, Pat Barber, Pat Close, Phyllis Pinch, Simon Raistrick, Manon Ogden, Paul Ogden

Another visit to the Lune Valley for stop 15 of the B4RN Awards Tour, this time in Whittington!

The INCA and ISPA trophies – won last year – are ‘on tour’ to the volunteers and communities who’ve spent the last decade digging in the full fibre broadband network.

Twelve B4RNstormers came together at the Village Hall for a photo with the prizes and to remember their build.

They were: John Pinch, Robin Pritchard, Virginia Walsh, Julia Eman, Susie Roth, Pat Barber, Pat Close, Phyllis Pinch, Simon Raistrick, Manon Ogden, Paul Ogden and Roy Williamson.

The (once dirty) dozen remembered their project from the very beginning…

Phyllis Pinch “We had to come across a field from Newton. And the farmer said you’ve got three weeks to get it in there otherwise you won’t be allowed in until next year. So we said ‘well it’s now or never!'”

John Pinch “Quite a lot of planning, negotiating with landowners so we formed a committee so we could work out the resources we needed.”

Robin Pritchard “We got a colleague from Gressingham to come and give us a talk on how they’d done it and followed that really.”

Suzie Roth “As we got to houses people would say ‘ooh, maybe we will have that’ and by the end I think it was 98% [connected].”

The blow starting in Whittington, 2015

Pat Close “Once people saw it actually was going to happen…”

SR “BT kept coming out and walking up and down the street and going up ladders – that put a lot of people off.”

JP  “This was unknown, people were uncertain. It wasn’t until it was obvious we were coming round and digging that people came on board.”

PC “I think it’s brought a lot of social cohesion. One person moved into the village during the build and found it was a great way to get to know people and get involved.”

PP “We still have it now. If we want to turn out and do a community project, we know we’ve got a team!”

SR “Phenomenal difference to the village. [I want to recognise] Manon’s cake baking!”

Pat Barber “I think some people couldn’t work out why we were volunteering.”

RP “And they thought we were doing it for financial gain.”

PB “They couldn’t understand why these groups of people on a Saturday had joined together.”

Volunteer Phyllis Pinch, 2016

Julia Eman “One thing I was appreciative of was having been around the whole parish. I got to know a lot of the landscape. We’d get permission to go on land we’d never have got otherwise, I got to see a lot of the village. And when you get familiar with the place like that you think it makes you feel like ‘this is our village.'”

The group wished to give honourable mentions to: Jim Williams; Mike Redmond; Simon Schofield; Rob Back; Julian McCormack; Andrew Schofield; Colin Hope; Nick Hall; and the Parish Council for funding.