After floods tore through Hebden Bridge, the town’s co-ops say the recovery is well under way, aided by an indomitable community spirit.
Liz Kirby, treasurer of the Hebden Bridge Trades Club, which became a co-op last October, said she was proud of the club and the town.
The club has raised £24,202 for the Calderdale Flood Relief Appeal, which is now worth more than £1 million, £9,494 for local flood victims and £10,482 for its own recovery fund. It lost thousands of pounds worth of cellar equipment after water inundated its lower floor.
“We’re in negotiation with our landlord and it will have to be remodelled,” Ms Kirby said. “We can’t keep things down there any more.
“I feel very proud of club because we’ve been flooded ourselves and we just didn’t stop,” she added. “We just got on with cleaning up, feeding people and offering shelter and support.”
The club held a series of benefits including a school disco in aid of neighbouring Riverside Junior School and a record fair which raised £4,225 to help the Muse Music record shop.
Valley Organics worker co-op is also raising funds, which it will use to replace flood-damaged fridges, freezers and stock. It is already half way to its £10,000 target but is still accepting donations through a Just Giving appeal.
Member Ellie said: “When the water retreated it left a thick silt of brown mud in its wake and tide-marks halfway up shop windows. Although we’d moved stock up higher, it just wasn’t high enough. We lost about £15,000.
“After floods in 2012 we were unable to get insurance.”
Local volunteers have been helping members clean and paint the shop ready for its relaunch.
The Egg Factory co-working co-op created a pop-up department store “Hebdenhams” the first weekend after the floods. Traders included Rubyshoesday, Ribbon Circus, Molly and Ginger, Bear Follows Cat and the WEA poetry anthology.
After the success of the first weekend it invited more shops including Wood & Wire, Dynamite and Heart Gallery. On the third weekend Spirals joined in along with local artist Julia Ogden, who sold prints for the food relief fund.
Amy Mellis of the Egg Factory said: “We raised over £1,000 on our cafe, thanks to the massively generous and delicious donations of cake that people made, both friends and people we’d never met. Rubyshoesday and Wood & Wire both held raffles, for a £100 voucher and a beautiful chair respectively, raising another £940.
“Many, many people found their way to the Egg Factory, even though we are out of the way. Local folk and visitors, all eager to spend their cash to support small businesses.”
The Co-operative Group increased the number of stores that sell Porcus artisan sausages and bacon after floods forced two of its shops that usually stock them, at Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd, to temporarily close. The specialist farm business near Todmorden also lost regular orders from restaurants affected by flooding.
Sarah-Jane Clegg, who runs Porcus with her partner Nat, said: “This is a really difficult time for our business. We clearly still have to keep the farm running but with a substantial drop in orders. We would ask people to please support the flood relief by seeking out and buying local.”
Porcus farms 120 British rare breed pigs totally outdoors on the moors above Todmorden.
“The business was doing really well before the floods,” said Sarah-Jane, who gave up her career as an architect to follow her dream of running her own farm. “I’m sure we can survive this setback. We certainly won’t be beaten.”
Porcus products are now available in Co-op stores in Burley in Wharfedale, Pannal, Holmfirth, Harlow Hill, Addingham and three stores in Harrogate.