A Strathdon woman’s efforts to support her community in the aftermath of Storm Arwen have been recognised by the prime minister.
Nicola Sedgwick opened up her shop to the community and delivered meals to those without power after the region was battered by winds last November.
Now she has been given the Points of Light award by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
When Storm Arwen hit on Friday, November 26 thousands of homes were without power for days.
Although food trucks were deployed across Aberdeenshire, none were placed in the village of Glenkindie, where Mrs Sedgwick and her husband run the Central Garage and Post Office.
From the Friday night until the following Wednesday, they were unable to run their business as normal – so Mrs Sedwick sprung into action to help others.
She spent the first couple of days looking after her home and family in Tough while checking in on her elderly mother and travelling to Glenkindie to make sure their shop was safe.
By Monday, the mum of three and chairwoman for the Donside Community Council decided she needed to do something to help.
Providing villagers with hot food
No one in the community had eaten a warm meal since Friday, people were cold and she was particularly concerned about the elderly because they had no means of getting anywhere or keeping warm.
Snowy conditions and fallen trees had made travelling quite difficult, and the nearest food truck to the village was in Alford – around eight miles away.
Mrs Sedgwick went along to the truck to ask if she could bring food back to Glenkindie. Although the staff were happy to provide her with the food they had no way to keep it warm.
That did not deter the 47-year-old, who then asked kitchen staff at Alford Community Campus if they could provide something to keep the food warm and thankfully they were able to help her.
Mrs Sedgwick said: “I arranged for food that evening, my mum had a hospital operation which I had to take her in for that day, so very kindly one of them came up and delivered some food to Glenkindie.
“I picked up some extra portions after I dropped my mum back from the hospital to then go out to the people I knew they wouldn’t have gone to further out of the village.”
The next day 80 portions of food were delivered to her business in Glenkindie and she distributed them in her van alongside the Silver Circle, which runs a weekly centre for the elderly residents.
Local gamekeepers also took some of the food to those in the Glenbuchat area.
‘It was about the contact for some of them’
The food deliveries also meant that people who had no means of communication or leaving their homes were given some contact with the outside world.
Mrs Sedgwick said: “I think what people don’t realise is that it wasn’t just about the food or a hot meal, it was about contact for some of them.
“The scariest thing for all of us was we couldn’t communicate, you know? Unless you physically drove to someone’s door you couldn’t actually speak to them or see if they were ok, which is not what we’re used to these days.”
Mrs Sedgwick also washed all the dishes before returning them to the campus kitchen in Alford to be refilled, and continued the effort until the power was restored.
Although pleased to receive the Points of Light award, Mrs Sedgwick stressed others contributed and helped her manage the effort.
She said: “This was a very difficult time for many of the residents in our small rural community.
“Although I have been awarded this award I accept it on behalf of our other community members that supported me and helped during the aftermath of the storm.”
‘Shining example of self-sacrifice’
Andrew Bowie, MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine congratulated Mrs Sedgwick on her award.
He said: “In the aftermath of the initial storm Nicola’s actions in supporting the community were incredible, delivering hot meals and provisions to many local residents stranded in hard to reach places, and utilising her own business as a hub to provide support and a point of contact for those in need.
“It was a shining example of self-sacrifice often putting her own safety at risk to help others.”