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.
Administrator - 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 administrator 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 updating our website, Facebook page (along with Sue Cashmore) and sending out our newsletters. Jo welcomes any suggestion or feedback from the community as to how we might do things better or differently. Just drop her a line.
Cockermouth Flood Action Group Founder - Sue Cashmore
Sue Cashmore was first flooded in 2005 since then she has been flooded a further three times. Sue became Chair of Cockermouth Flood Action Group (CFAG) in 2008. She has worked with the group members and other agencies to gain flood defences for our town. Sue continues to campaign as sadly the town was flooded again in 2015 despite the flood defences. Sue was an inaugural member of the Emergency Response Group and brings the knowledge she has gained from being personally flooded as well as being an activist to try to prevent flooding.
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.
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 - Andy Turner
I retired in December 2017 after 35 years in the Heavy Goods Vehicle industry, 27 of which were spent at MAN Trucks. I started out as an HGV technician which 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 almost 2 years ago, following my early retirement. 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. I am a National Trust volunteer nd my primary role is welcoming people into Bark House Mountain Base (Bothy) at Ashness Bridge. We have been accepted into the friendly community and made to feel very welcome. We joined CERG as we have witnessed from afar the devastation and heartbreak that happens during and post flood, we sincerely hope we are never called upon but should an emergency situation arise, we will be available to offer help and support to the Cockermouth community as a whole.
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 - Terry Burgess
Although originally from Maryport I have lived in Cockermouth for 43 years and seen first hand the devastation and tears that followed the floodings of 2009 and 2015. I helped friends as best I could with the clear up of their properties and once I heard about the proposed development of CERG I knew that I wanted to volunteer my service as much as I can.