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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

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Penrith woman is Cumbria's first Snow Champion

Big-hearted Jayne Varty is to brave the winter elements to help her neighbours.

Jayne Varty photo
Jayne Varty

Jayne, 43, from Pategill, Penrith, has become the first person in Cumbria to sign up as a Snow Champion.

Now the county council is searching for around 300 people to follow Jayne’s lead in championing the needs of the vulnerable in Cumbria’s communities.

Jayne is vice-chairwoman of the Pategill Tenants Association and is an active member of her local community

She said: “I have a neighbour with spina bifida, who can struggle to get around in a wheelchair when it’s been snowing.

“There are also many older people living in sheltered housing nearby and for them a trip to the shop round the corner can be pretty dangerous.

“I do it for the sense of community. People often talk about helping others, but not many actually get involved.”

The new scheme aims to recruit around 50 volunteers for each of the county’s districts to help clear snow and ice from pavements near their homes.

This is in addition to the council’s work in gritting priority routes as part of the new £4.1m winter maintenance programme, agreed by the council’s cabinet in September.

Volunteers will be given high-visibility vests, warm gloves, snow shovels and a supply of salt to allow them to treat snow on agreed lengths of footways in local communities.

Similar schemes have already been established in other parts of the UK such as Sandwell in the West Midlands and Edinburgh.

Tony Markley, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet member responsible for highways, said: “This new scheme is an extra investment in winter maintenance, but will only be as effective as the people willing to take part.

“We want to recruit committed volunteers who realise that their efforts can help other people around them.”

Anyone wanting to hear more about becoming a snow champion can contact Cumbria County Council on 0845 6096609.

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