Team flood response

500. David Wiseman (Tadcaster)

The Prime Minister has today given out the 500th Point of Light award recognising UK volunteers who are making a difference in their communities. Two years on from the first five Points of Light being awarded to people who had been heroes in their local area during severe floods, the Prime Minister is today recognising a week of winners who stepped up during the floods over Christmas.

The 500th winner is army veteran David Wiseman from Tadcaster, one of the founding members of Team Rubicon, a charity that recruits military veterans and first responders to work as an emergency response team in natural disasters around the world. As well as volunteering in the Cumbria floods in early December, as a Tadcaster resident David brought in 20 Team Rubicon volunteers and set up a command centre to organise the hundreds of civilian volunteers who turned out to help.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Over the last two years it has been a privilege to recognise so many outstanding volunteers who have made a difference in the lives of millions of people across the UK and around the world. From creating community hubs to making sport more inclusive or supporting those tackling serious illness, Points of Light have identified ways to improve the world around them and inspired others to make their vision a reality. “By bringing together the military veterans of Team Rubicon with the power of hundreds of local volunteers, David played a key role in the response to the floods in Tadcaster. I am delighted to recognise David’s service to others by making him the UK’s 500th Point of Light.”

David said:

“I really am honoured and very proud to have been singled out to receive the Points of Light award but genuinely must accept it on behalf of all the Team Rubicon volunteers I worked with during last year’s flooding. After leaving the Armed Forces in 2013, I have found that it feels great to be volunteering through Team Rubicon; it allows me to continue to serve the community by using the skills and experiences developed during my military career.”

Today the Prime Minister presented David’s award alongside the rest of this week’s winners who also gave their time and energy to support their local community through the recent floods:

Tuesday’s winner: Michelle Chapman, Bingley, set up the Bingley Flood Support Group, she commandeered her local Scout hut and invited people to join her through a facebook group – seeing 50 people turn up to volunteer on the first day. Through the group Michelle led hundreds of volunteers to help with food and furniture donations, cleaning houses, sourcing tradesmen and also orchestrated efforts to provide financial and legal advice. They also raised over £14,000 to help businesses and residents affected by the flooding directly.

Wednesday’s winner: Mohammed Sheraz, Rochdale, saw the devastation the floods were causing in his local area and immediately decided to open up the Gower Street Youth Centre around the clock to give residents access to gas, electricity, food and blankets. Mohammed partnered with the Al-Khair Foundation, a UK-based NGO providing humanitarian support and disaster relief and with the charity’s help, led a team of 100 volunteers to help in the clear up operation. Mohammed is now working with the charity to put together a disaster response team and plan for any future flooding.

Thursday’s winners: Tara Vallente and Clare Horsburgh, Keswick, noticed that the flood defences in their town were at full capacity and foresaw the need for food supplies when the local shops started closing. Together they set up a resource centre, which became a community hub for those in need of food and support. Clare called on her contacts in the food distribution industry and coordinated lorry loads of fresh food from nearby supermarkets and Tara used her skills as a PR guru to post requests on social media for specific items such as cleaning products.

Friday’s winner: Manon Plouffe, Cockermouth, opened her Bistro, the Wild Zucchinis Bistro, on Christmas Day to local residents affected by the floods. With her family, she cooked a three-course dinner for 26 people, including vulnerable people who were unable to leave their homes. Manon also served free tea, coffee, soup and hot meals to everyone during the floods and their collection tin raised over £1,800 for the flood relief efforts.

Floods Minister Rory Stewart said:

“I want to express my thanks to all the volunteers who helped during December’s devastating storms, with so many giving up time with their families over the festive period to support communities in need. “I saw first-hand the amazing difference people made, from RNLI teams and Sea Scouts helping to rescue people from their homes to people taking in their neighbours and providing a steady supply of tea and coffee to the emergency services and the kindness, generosity and compassion throughout. “The sense of community spirit was incredible and the volunteers’ efforts exceeded all expectations in every area affected by floods.”

Communities Secretary Greg Clark said:

“We owe a debt of gratitude to those men and women who, seeing the flood waters rising, went above and beyond the call of duty to help their communities. “Whether it was helping with the clean-up operation, offering food and blankets or putting people in touch with much-needed legal or financial advice, this army of volunteers offered considerable support to people when they needed it most. “So I would like to add my thanks to those who stepped up and offered that help, and I’m pleased to see their efforts recognised at today’s reception.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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