The unlikely secret weapon behind Norfolk’s Beast from the East farmer army

PUBLISHED: 12:00 11 March 2018 | UPDATED: 22:23 11 March 2018

Bryony Shipsey, intermediate ambulance practioner with East of England AmbulanceTrust. Photo: Bryony Shipsey

Bryony Shipsey, intermediate ambulance practioner with East of England AmbulanceTrust. Photo: Bryony Shipsey

Bryony Shipsey

Praise has been heaped on young farmers who rushed to the aid of ambulance crews stranded in last week’s snow - thanks in part to a clever bit of admin.

A rapid response vehicle stuck in the snow near Long Stratton. Photo: Bryony Shipsey A rapid response vehicle stuck in the snow near Long Stratton. Photo: Bryony Shipsey

Generous members of the public volunteered their 4x4s, tractors and other vehicles to help those stuck in snow drifts as the Beast from the East roared.

But some of the most urgent people in need were medics trying to reach seriously ill patients, like Bryony Shipsey, an intermediate ambulance practitioner with the East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAST).

Miss Shipsey, 23, and a colleague were called to a job near Long Stratton in the midst of the snow and responded in a rapid response vehicle.

She said: “The road was fine and then we hit a massive snow drift. We tried to drag the car out but it didn’t happen.”

Lucy Stowell, Norfolk Young Farmers. Lucy Stowell, Norfolk Young Farmers.

So Miss Shipsey called on her young farmer friends to help and two came to her rescue. But the scenario gave her an idea.

“I thought we could generate a list - which is now a spreadsheet - of volunteers and young farmers happy to help. Most of them had been going 24 hours to help so I got names, if they had tractors and their contact details.”

Miss Shipsey then circulated the list among EEAST colleagues.

“Of course we had plans in place,” she said. But the fact the farmers were already out and about helping meant they could easily reach stricken vehicles.

“If someone was local we could be out within 10 minutes sometimes,” Miss Shipsey said.

Since circulating the list, Miss Shipsey, of Costessey, had been congratulated by colleagues who thought it was a great idea.

Now there are 47 people on the list.

Miss Shipsey said: “One call I had from a young farmer, he said at the end of the day we’re there to help them 24 hours a day 365 days a year, so he said it was about time they helped us. I think it’s amazing.”

Lucy Stowell, chairman of Norfolk Young Farmers, said the response had made her proud. She said: “We had members on snowploughs throughout the county. One of our members was out for 36 hours straight - they did not stop - they did a phenomenal job.”

She added: “It was a real team effort, there were Snapchats and videos going around and it made me really proud because no one asked them to do it, they just had that passion, they wanted to help and keep Norfolk safe.”

Other news

32 minutes ago

Approximately six weeks of works costing almost £40,000 will be carried out in a town lane this summer.

Two Norfolk teachers were recognised today for their exceptional abilities in the classroom.


An expanding Norfolk poultry farm has brought chickens into its traditional turkey business for the first time, in response to rising customer demand for free-range food.

Yesterday, 13:51

There’s a surprising new arrival in the new Sea Lion Bay at Banham Zoo.

Most Read

Monday, May 14, 2018

One of the oldest bands in the British military is heading to Swaffham to mark the centenary of the First World War.

Read more
Town Council
Wed, 06:30

A church says it has lost hundreds of pounds to an estate agent who has gone to ground owing landlords thousands.

Read more
Thursday, February 8, 2018

A teenager who wants to reinstate a former railway line has started a petition to see if he has community support.

Read more
George Freeman
Yesterday, 16:57

Youth club members in Swaffham have held a tea party and debate to celebrate 90 years of British men and women having equal rights to vote.

Read more
Sunday, July 19, 2015

Thousands of people have been given a chance to get up close to one of the most famous units of the British Army at a thank you event in Norfolk.

Read more
British Army

Local Weather



max temp: 16°C

min temp: 9°C

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

Read the Wymondham and Attleborough Mercury e-edition today

Newsletter Sign Up

Wymondham and Attleborough Mercury weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy