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After the flood: Boston bites back

Battling Boston's back! A show of community strength on Friday - a year to the day since the big flood - demonstrated that the town has recovered and is stronger than ever.

On Friday, the first anniversary of the devastating flood of December 5 last year, the amazing resilience of the town community was celebrated.

Wormgate Bites Back was the title of an event held to mark the comeback of the historic retail lane that was among the worst hit.

Wormgate Bites Back crowd Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window
Wormgate Bites Back... with bacon butties and a defiant impromptu sing-song in the street

Business owners, residents, volunteers who helped them recover from the flood and well wishers joined together to celebrate the resilience of the local community.

And in nearby Church Street, similarly hit by a wall of flood water a year ago, Bateman's Brewery launched Resilience Ale as a celebration of the now-legendary Boston resilience.

Mayor of Boston, Cllr Alison Austin, raised a glass of Resilience Ale in the Britannia Inn, where the cellars had filled with flood water, fridges floated, and the ground floor was all but destroyed by a three-foot deep deluge. She emphasised that the aim of the special brew was to encourage more folk living in the flood risk areas to become even more resilient and sign up for flood warnings and make their own flood plans.

She said: "Resilience Ale celebrates the resilience shown by the Boston community who came together and helped put Boston back on its feet after the flood.

"The Britannia was one of the worst affected businesses from the floods. It is fitting that we are here now. A team of around 120 volunteers gathered here and enabled 'the Brit' to open the next evening, then moving on to help clean up other business premises in Church Street. This is what was happening right across the town.

"The message with this ale is to encourage everyone to sign up for flood warnings. Quite simply: Be prepared, register, make your own personal flood plan and, if ever there is a warning of another flood event, heed the warning and take appropriate action."

The misery of Wormgate a year ago was cast aside at The Big Breakfast - where free breakfast bacon butties were served in the Blenkin Memorial Hall.

Nearby Boston's famous St Botolph's Church (Boston Stump), where flood repairs are still being made, guided tours were given and free afternoon tea and cake was served at the Blenkin Memorial Hall.

Other activities included a visit to the Stump by a fire and rescue crew, who had done so much to help on the night of the flood, a carol service and a light festival (which is organised for Thursdays in December).

Throughout the day a quiz was held for entry into a raffle with prizes donated by Wormgate businesses.

Team rector at The Stump, the Rev Canon Alyson Buxton, said: "There are always 'diamonds in the debris' - and this saying was true of the positive consequences of the flood. The 'diamonds' in our debris was a pulling together of the Wormgate traders and our church community in a new sense of unity and camaraderie."

That camaraderie was also evident at the Britannia. In fact, so many offered their services for free that teams of volunteers also helped other property owners in Church Street deal with their flood damage.

Sea water overwhelmed defences and flooded 830 properties. Despite that, and a continuing campaign which began before the flood to encourage more to sign up for Environment Agency flood warnings, just 16 per cent of properties in the town's central wards are fully registered to Floodline.

An additional 48 per cent of properties can be reached thanks to an agreement with the phone companies.

But this leaves 36 per cent with which there is no contact.

Bateman's Brewery, of Wainfleet, teamed up with Boston Borough Council, East Lindsey District Council, Lincolnshire County Council, the Environment Agency and the Boston Standard to celebrate the remarkable resilience of the town community and encourage more flood warning registrations.

Resilience Ale launch - BBC filming Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window
Mayor of Boston, Cllr Alison Austin, launches Bateman's Resilience Ale in the Britannia Inn. She was filmed by the BBC, ITV and interviewed by BBC Radio Lincolnshire

Resilience Ale went on offer on Friday at the special cost price of just £1.50 a pint. Customers will have to present a completed cut-out coupon from last week's Boston Standard or Friday's Boston Bulletin to qualify for their cut-price pint of Resilience Ale at participating pubs. This will make a commitment to sign up for the Environment Agency flood warnings, which are issued at times of high risk via landline, mobile phone, text and email.

You can register for flood warnings by using the Floodline number 0345 988 1188 or the website www.gov.uk/floodsdestroy

Resilience Ale will be available at £1.50 a pint while stocks last, with a cut-out coupon at:

● Britannia, Church Street, Boston

● Carpenters Arms, Witham Street, Boston

● Coach and Horses, Main Ridge East, Boston

● Duke of York, 7 Lincoln Lane, Boston

● Indian Queen and Three Kings, Dolphin Lane, Boston

● Kings Arms, Horncastle Road, Boston

● Mill Inn, Spilsby Road, Boston

● Napoleon, Fishtoft Road, Boston

● Robin Hood, High Street, Boston

● Ship Tavern, Customs House Lane, Boston.

Flood level stonemason Tony Leonard Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window
Stonemason at The Stump, Tony Leonard, shows his pencilled mark indicating how high the flood water was