Chair - Brian Mitchelhill
Brian Mitchelhill has lived in Cockermouth all his life and takes great pride in the community spirit of the town. In his professional life, he has served over 26 years with the Fire and Rescue Service, retiring from Cheshire FRS in 2014. In December 2015 floods, he became involved through my Rotary connection with helping the town's recovery. It was during this time that myself and Paul Mogford (on behalf of Churches Together) came up with the idea of forming a group that would be of great help to the community in a number of emergency situations. From these discussions Cockermouth Emergency Response Group (CERG) was formed and I was honoured to be the first Chair. Since then we have formulated a robust emergency plan, brought together a terrific pool of volunteers and whilst we hope never to be called into action, we all stand ready to serve the community.
Paul Mogford is the Operations Director for Kings Church Cockermouth, and the convenor of Churches Together in the Cockermouth Area (CTICA). He also manages a large family event for 2500 people. He is involved in CERG because in both 2009 and 2015, CTICA and Kings were heavily involved in the post flood recovery in the town, and both organisations want to work with other community organisations to help our community be more prepared for emergencies and to recover quicker from them.
Co-ordinator - Jo Crozier
Jo came to work with the board from her (then) role as Cockermouth WI President. This organisation helped in the kitchens during the 2015 floods. She is an experienced administrator having worked in the civil service both abroad and in the UK, as well as in other roles. When our co-ordinator vacancy arose, we persuaded her to take on the role which she does part time. Jo says she hopes to make herself redundant one day! She is also responsible for the day to day running of CERG as well as updating our website and Facebook page. Jo welcomes any suggestion or feedback from the community as to how we might do things better or differently. Just drop her a line.
Treasurer - Hayley Bishop
Hayley Bishop is a Community Development Officer for Cumbria County Council. In 2015 Hayley supported residents during the time of flooding and worked heavily with community organisations in the post flood recovery period. Having seen the difficulties people face following a flood Hayley was keen to support CERG in the creation of a local emergency response group to support communities in the future.
Board Member - Carol Forster
I am originally from Gateshead (so a proper Geordie) and my husband and I were living in rural Northumberland when we chanced upon Cockermouth on one of our regular visits to Cumbria in 2007 and knew we wanted to move here. We initially had a second home in the town but were able to realise our ambition of moving permanently to Cockermouth in 2012 when I was able to transfer to Cumbria with work, and my husband is now working for Cumbria County Council. I have worked for the Civil Service for 18 years and currently work regulating high hazards industries, so hope that my knowledge and experience of emergency planning will assist in the work of CERG.
In my free time you may see me running (slowly) round town or out on the fells and trails, with my husband and our dog, or find me on a netball court.
Board Member - Rob Coles
For the first half of my working life I was an Engineering Officer in the Royal Air Force. I was fortunate to serve on a wide range of units including time in Germany, Falkland Islands and Saudi Arabia. On leaving the RAF we went to New Zealand for 2 years but soon came back to Cumbria. On returning to the UK I set up as a free lance outdoor activities instructor. I have moved in to the training and development world, using the outdoors as a learning tool to help personal and team development now working as an Associate for Outward Bound Eskdale delivering courses to Graduate and Apprentice groups. I agreed to join the CERG Board because I felt I had skills to contribute.My free time interests are mainly based around the outdoors, in particular rock climbing and mountain biking with running the fells to exercise the dog.
Board Member - Liz Hampson
I am Cumbrian born, living here since the mid 1990's. I am a retired police officer with 32 years of public service. From March 2009 to Nov 17 I worked in Cumbria Police Civil Contingencies Unit. My work portfolio included Flooding. I was in the team during the November 2009 floods, the Keswick Bus Crash, the 2010 West Cumbria Shootings and the December 2015 floods. As the only team member living in West Cumbria my local knowledge was always in demand. My role during emergencies was as a Civil Contingencies adviser to Gold & Silver commanders. I am also a founder volunteer with PROMise it 4ward since 2019. I am aware of the long road to recovery and the overall well-being impact flooding has on residents. Our preparedness, resilience and business continuity is always admired at county, regional and national levels. In retirement, I am happy to utilise my skills to help my community.
Board Member - Andy Turner
I decided to retire in December 2017 after spending over 35 years in the Heavy Goods Vehicle industry, 27 of which were spent at MAN Truck & Bus UK. I am a very practical ‘hands on’ person having started out as an HGV technician this led to a diverse but rewarding career within MAN and the truck industry as a whole.
My wife Lizzie, and I moved to Cockermouth from Wiltshire just over 3 years ago, following my early retirement. We had holidayed in the area and fancied spending our retirement years (when Lizzie’s finally arrives) in the beautiful countryside. We are both very active and love the outdoors, my specific interests lean towards mountain biking and golf also a bit of clay pigeon shooting, but anything outdoors is fine by me. Like my wife we did expect to like living in Cockermouth, but the truth is we LOVE it. We have been accepted into the friendly community and made to feel very welcome. Since joining CERG there has been no water related emergencies (for which we are forever thankful), however during the pandemic CERG volunteers have really shown the community what this ‘body’ of volunteers can achieve when required and from a personal perspective being part of this has and continues to be enormously rewarding and always inspires me to want to do more.
When I was approached to consider joining the CERG Board I felt honoured to be asked and it was a very easy “thank you and yes”. I look forward to engaging with the current Board and will approach the role of a Board Member with enthusiasm and pride and I am very happy to offer support to this wonderful community.
Lead Volunteer - Alison Bolton
I first moved to Cockermouth in 1989, renovated a house on Kirkgate, got married and started a family! Unfortunately, work forced my husband tand I to leave this amazing little town way too soon, but we were so taken with it that we have been coming back ever since and have finally managed to make this a permanent move. Apart from the obvious beauty of the place and it’s surroundings it was the community spirit and welcoming atmosphere that kept drawing us back time and again. When I saw what the people at CERG were doing to foster and encourage that community atmosphere, I jumped at the chance to get on board and do my bit, first as a COVID 19 volunteer and now as a lead volunteer. I want to play whatever part I can in supporting CERG’s efforts to work with and for the people of this town. My background covers: marketing, management training, teaching English as a foreign language and volunteering in all sorts of capacities. I know first hand how much can be achieved when communities come together and as one of the 200 plus new volunteers who registered with CERG during the pandemic I’m excited to see what the possibilities are for Cockermouth with so many people committed to making a difference to the lives of their friends and neighbours.
Lead Volunteer - Helen Hetherington
‘I was born in Newcastle and lived in the North East until moving to West Cumbria in 1997 to take up the post of special needs teacher in Whitehaven. This was a second career for me, having previously qualified as a State Registered Nurse. I was living in Cleator Moor when the 2009 floods devastated Cockermouth. When the North Lakes Food Bank was set up, my husband and I became two of the early volunteers. By December 2015 we were living in Cockermouth and more available to be involved in the Emergency Response Group. This ranged from visiting and supporting folk stranded on the north side of the river to sharing cups of tea and giving a listening ear to people coming into the crisis centre. Being retired allows me to enjoy many things, including trail running, singing and being with my Christian family (Cockermouth Christian Centre) at the ARK, Highfield. I’ve also recently become a volunteer with Cockermouth Linking Lives which is part of the national scheme to combat loneliness and social isolation. ‘
Lead Volunteer - Mike Crozier
After a career spent in the Civil Service both in the UK and overseas, my wife and I settled in Cockermouth. I have now retired, and spend my time playing lawn bowls and occasionally cricket, but mostly as an armchair fan watching sport on television. I enjoy music and have a very eclectic taste running from Led Zeppelin to Matt Munroe via Stan Getz. I keep telling myself I will walk more often in our glorious surroundings, but something invariably gets in the way. I joined CERG as a volunteer due to my huge admiration for the indomitable spirit of the Cockermouth people and their refusal to be defeated by the forces of nature, whilst they still retain a love and healthy respect for our environment.
Lead Volunteer - Deb Coles
My work background is in healthcare and I have lived in the Cockermouth area for over 20 years. We moved here for the outdoors, beautiful scenery and wonderful community.
I have friends who were badly affected by both the 2009 and 2015 floods and helped at the time with post flooding clean up. I volunteered for CERG to offer help to anybody who needs it before during and after any emergency. I feel that being part of an organisation offering assistance hopefully means that it can be provided in an efficient and effective manner.
As others have said my hope is that we will never be needed but we are here to help if required.
Lead Volunteer - Lizzie Turner
I currently work full time as a PA and have done so for over 30 years (mixed with a spell as a fitness instructor). My husband, Andy, and I moved to Cockermouth from Wiltshire almost 2 years ago, following his early retirement. We had holidayed in the area and fancied spending our retirement years (when mine arrive) in the beautiful countryside. We are both very active and love the outdoors.
I joined the WI in June 2018 and have met some wonderful people (including Jo). We thought we would like living in Cockermouth, but the truth is we LOVE it. We have been accepted into the friendly community and made to feel very welcome. We joined CERG as we simply want to offer help and support to our friends and neighbours should an emergency situation arise.
Lead Volunteer - Sue Cliff
Sue Cliff moved to Cockermouth 6 years ago, having visited her mother’s hometown all her life.
She has had an eclectic mix of employments- Police, NHS, community projects, Letting Agent, Project manager and latterly as the manager of Cockermouth Country Market. She has worked with volunteers for many years and hopes she can use all her experience to make things run smoothly in times of crisis!
Lead Volunteer - Dave Dunlop
I work part time as a Heritage Boat skipper driving a 1902 steam launch on Windermere for The Windermere Jetty Museum. I am also a Coastal Skipper, sailing instructor and power boat instructor. I love the water but also know how dangerous and powerful it can be. When angry it needs great respect to deal with the problems that ensue. I helped distribute food after the flooding of 2009, and joined CERG after the floods of 2015.
Lead Volunteer - Karen Shankland
I am a recently retired Headteacher living in Cockermouth, a born and bred West Cumbrian. Realising the importance of supporting local communities during times of specific need, I joined the CERG team during the first COVID-19 lockdown, retirement having given me the time to make a positive commitment to the beautiful town in which I live. I hope that my management, people and organisational skills and experience can be used to further the valuable work that CERG is involved in. Being fortunate to live in such a fab part of the world I enjoy walking, running and cycling....even when it’s raining!!
Lead Volunteer - Mike Bradshaw
I moved to Cockermouth around 18 months ago from a small village in between Blackpool and Lancaster. Now semi-retired, I spent most of my life as a building contractor, as well as compiling a property portfolio and being involved in property management. I am very much a family man, with a daughter and a son, and a lovely Grandson who is the apple of my eye.
I was only too pleased to join the list of volunteers to assist with the shopping duties during lockdown both as a shopper and a co-ordinator, and look forward to helping out again when the need arises.
Lead Volunteer - Sarah Bristow
I took an early retirement from the energy industry in 2017 where I was employed in Meteorology. My role included the calculation and assessment of coastal flood risks at specific stations, and where necessary the issuing of timely warnings. I am hoping that my general background knowledge may be a useful additional resource to the CERG committee. After finishing work, I moved from the south coast (near Brighton) to Cockermouth to live with my partner (a local). To help me to meet people I joined the WI and it is through them that I became involved in CERG, initially as a kitchen volunteer. I also am involved with the FOCC N&W Cumbria (Friends of Chernobyl Children) where I am the Activity Coordinator and Secretary. Since moving here I have become to realise what a friendly and supportive community the town has, and I have personally witnessed this during these recent pandemic times. I am happy to support CERG and the local community in any way I can as required.
Lead Volunteer - Stephen Walker
Originally from the North East, my wife and I moved to Cumbria in 1992, settling in Cockermouth in 2005. Since 1978 I have been involved in social care, in both practice and teaching. I retired from University of Cumbria in 2018 where I was a senior lecturer in social work with lead responsibility for organising student placements. I am now self-employed as a Practice Educator, working with social work students who are on placement. I am involved in the Campaign for Real Ale, both locally and regionally, and am a volunteer at Kirkgate Centre. Most of my experience in social care has been in working with older adults and volunteering with CERG offered me a way to put my experience to use in supporting local people who were in need of additional support, support that was often not available from the statutory agencies. Cockermouth is a wonderful place to live and it is good to have the opportunity to offer something back to the community.
Lead Volunteer - Helen Tucker
I moved to Cockermouth in 2009, just months before the devastating floods of that year. I taught in Carlisle for 3 years, before being lucky enough to move to Fairfield Primary here in Cockermouth, where I teach French. I also teach languages to adults for Cumbria County Council.
I love the way in which the town pulled together after the floods in 2009, and again in 2015 – a real sense of community. I saw this sense of community again earlier this year, when I set up the Facebook Cockermouth Covid-19 Mutual Aid group. Many of us signed up as volunteers with CERG helping isolating households to access daily necessities. I volunteered both as a shopper and as a coordinator for their shopping line. Cockermouth is a fantastic place to live and work. I’m happy to be able to give something back to our community.
Lead Volunteer - Pat Ford
I moved to Cockermouth over twenty years ago with my partner and young family from the Midlands. We wanted to live and work and in a rural part of the country. We have loved living here and have appreciated the community feeling and wonderful landscapes. After retiring as Deputy Head of a local school I now have time to get more involved in the Community and volunteered with CERG at the start of the Pandemic. I'm hoping my skills gained from the Education sector will be of use to CERG.
Lead Volunteer - Jackie Shepherd
have lived in West Cumbria all my life, and moved to Cockermouth nearly three years ago with my two sons. I love living in Cockermouth and it is the friendly and diverse community that I hoped it would be. Since moving here I have rekindled my love of exercise, become closer to my lovely ‘old’ friends, made some fantastic new friends and I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
I have been a volunteer in scouting for nearly 14 years and joined CERG in April 2020 and have thoroughly enjoyed shopping for those shielding and helping on vaccination days. I look forward to being able to help CERG with whatever the community needs in the future.
Lead Volunteer - Anne Friel
I am Cumbrian born and bred, and lived most of my life here. Retired in 2018, having worked 38 years in banking and accountancy. My career involved working across the North East and Cumbria, as well as Cannes and Paris. My free time interests normally include live music concerts, travel, learning Italian, singing as part of The Cockermouth Community Choir and during the past 12 months, I have taken up running again! My husband & I were able to relocate back to Cumbria, and Cockermouth in particular, about 27 yrs. ago. Both being from the area, we appreciated the quality of life this would present to us as a family, along with being part of a strong community. This area has not been without its’ challenges over recent times in coping with adversity. My previous roles involved dealing with the impacts caused by Foot & Mouth and the 2009 floods particularly involved significant work in business resumption/continuity planning as part of my Practice Manager role. 2020/21 has proved to many of us the need as humans to re-engage and interact with others, which is why I decided to become involved with CERG in January 2021. Once the vaccination programme was underway, I felt the need to “step up” and help as much as I could, firstly as a COVID 19 volunteer and now as a lead volunteer. As others have said, should an emergency situation arise, I am available to help and support the Cockermouth community as required.
Lead Volunteer - Louise Edwards
I taught for 32 years in secondary education- holding several positions of responsibility during my teaching years. I left teaching to join my husband in his business 8 years ago which we sold when he reached 60. We then began our search for our place in Cumbria and Cockermouth was all we were looking for. A very wet day spent visiting the town and chatting to people; we knew we would love being part of the community.
We retired to Cockermouth just over two years ago. In January 2020 I took a part time job at County Fruit stores to get to know people, I felt I wanted to still do some work and where better than back to my roots - my parents had been grocers - my first job as a child was bagging potatoes! A role I was asked to undertake was to deliver orders when the regular driver was off. The pandemic hit after two months in the job, and wow all of a sudden I was out delivering several days a week and finding every street in town and surrounding villages. I was meeting; at a distance so many people who were shielding/ elderly / vulnerable - I knew I was doing a job that was helping people and at each delivery that 'smile, wave, check are you ok' gesture meant so much to so many.
When the chance to volunteer at the surgery came I registered with CERG. It was fabulous to see everyone’s smiles and again know you were helping. I recently attended CERG training with Jo, and it really made me think about the experience so many people in Cockermouth have had during flooding and how important the role of CERG is during times of crisis especially to those in the flood zone- I met so many people during my times delivering that I knew I want to help if I can. I hope Cockermouth never floods again and we are never tested, but if another emergency hits the town I know I want to do all I can to support the community.