Ottery flood victims celebrate after going 'to hail and back'

PUBLISHED: 20:34 03 July 2009 | UPDATED: 09:36 18 June 2010

IT COULD not have been a starker contrast to the misery heaped upon Ottery in the middle of the night eight months ago.

IT COULD not have been a starker contrast to the misery heaped upon Ottery in the middle of the night eight months ago.

And it was fitting that at the Tumbling Wier Hotel last Friday there was not a raindrop, or hailstone in sight as more than 100 flood-hit residents enjoyed an evening of fun, food, music and dancing to mark the end of an ordeal that broke-up an entire community .

The only tears on show at the Hailstone Hop were those of laughter at an impromptu musical performance by plucky revellers on an evening which also spawned a catchy theme-tune to encapsulate Ottery's unforgettable night of chaos.

Local musician Elaine kept guests dancing and humming her Hailstone Hop song well into the night as the event raised more than £400 for the flooded Feniton Church.

Organiser Barry Fearn, 69, saw two inches of muddy water wreck the downstairs of his Thorne Farm Way townhouse. Not wanting to uproot his beloved pet cats, he stayed in place while repair work was carried out as neighbours were forced to take up temporary accommodation elsewhere. Work to repair three properties on the estate is still ongoing.

Asked at the bash what he thought of the festivities, Barry's answer was simple: "Brilliant. Full stop," he said, "We deserve a bit of happiness."

"This should be the end of our flood ordeal, It's been such a great evening, we hadn't planned anything, only for people to come across, sit down and socialise- and it's worked."

"You only need to look around, there is 108 people here, around 50 households, to see we are close knit. We don't live in each others pockets, but we are a nice community."

"The last eight months can only be described as loosely interesting and very difficult. We've had to fight for a lot of what was our right, but what's done is done. I don't think I'd want to live through it again."

Grateful fellow Thorne Farm Way residents presented Barry with a special model railway gift "with love" for his efforts.

Pensioners Duncan and Pat Docherty also enjoyed the fun having moved back into their chalet bungalow after six months in rented accommodation.

Pat said: "It's nice to be here with all our neighbours and to forget what needs doing for a few hours. We're beginning to see the end."

Neighbour John Druker, considered himself lucky that only his garage was flooded on his 72nd birthday and described the following months, when he was the only one of a handful of residents to remain in his home, as "surreal".

He said: "I never went away, but it is lovely to have friends back. It's nice to get everybody back together again and good to meet people we have never met before from our estate."

The lyrics to Elaine's Hailstone Hop hit are as follows:

"An ill wind blew over Ottery that day

The temperature dropped and the sky turned grey

The weather broke and the world seemed to stop

Welcome to the Hailstone Hop

Harder and harder the rain did pound

Turned to hail bouncing up from the ground

Louder and louder the hailstone plop

Welcome to the ailHaiHHa

HaiH Hailstone Hop

The drains got clogged and it flooded once more

Ottery folk said "we've been here before"

The fireman tried and did their best,

Nature took its course with the rest.

Chorus

That old saying, well it's just not true

The hailstones fell on the righteous too

They started to pray, to their knees did drop

Welcome to the Hailstone Hop

Pam from the Nurseries and Young Matt too

Stale all the damage and felt quite blue

The greengrocer had his wares on display

The hailstone bruised his fruit that day

Chorus

The poor old vicar looked our from his pew

Eyed the weather, got into a stew

He rushed outside and his eyes did pop

Welcome to the Hailstone Hop

Spotlight came just to film our plight

Poor drowned rats getting stuck in the fight

The Vicar and the Mayor and the Mayoress too

Lent a hand to help folk through

Chorus

Time has passed and repairs been made

But we so remember how we had to wade

Even Barry was out with his mop

Welcome to the Hailstone Hop

An ill wind blew over Ottery that day

The temperature fell and the sky turned grey

The weather broke and the world seemed to stop

Welcome to the Hailstone Hop

Chorus

Now this yer party will go with a swing

I hope you're all gonna dance and sing

No-one's gonna say its been a flop

Welcome to the Hailstone Hop.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Sidmouth Herald. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Sidmouth Herald