A PAIR of flood defence volunteers have been sharpening their skills with a crucial training session with the Environment Agency.

The two dedicated wardens, Tom Evans and Vernon Booth who are members of the Skinningrove Flood Action Group, rehearsed opening and closing the flood defences that help to protect areas of the village against the plight of flooding.

Villagers and local businesses were informed about the ‘true to life’ training as the hour-long exercise kicked off with the Environment Agency sounding the flood warning sirens and a field operations vehicle travelled around Skinningrove broadcasting a pre-recorded public awareness message.

Pictured below, Mr Evans, 79, who has been a volunteer flood warden for more 20-years, said: “It was more or less a necessity, living in a village prone to flooding from the river. I thought to myself I’d like to become part of the scheme.

“Looking up and down the country in this day and age, it looks like flooding is going to be a priority making it essential that each village like Skinningrove has its flood wardens.

“The training went remarkably well with everything falling into position. We had the chance to run through the procedures by opening and closing the flood gates. It went perfectly but obviously it ran at a slower pace than it would’ve done during flood water conditions.”

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Vernon Booth, a motor engineer, has lived in Skinningrove for the past fourteen years, said: “I live right in front of the beck so volunteering as a flood warden is not only helping to look after the interests of other people but also the interests of my own.

“The flood defence scheme is important as we have the sea at one end and the beck running through the middle of the village. It’s quite a steep sided valley, where water runs off so we get attacked by water from all four corners.”

Nationally, the Environment Agency are investing £2.6 billion in new flood schemes to better protect 300,000 homes by 2021.

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An archive picture of a flooded Skinningrove

Sarah Duffy, community engagement officer for the Environment Agency, said: “The training exercise is ideal preparation for when the wardens are asked to put their skills into action for real, if and when flood conditions hit Skinningrove. The village is a rapid response area, which means when flooding happens it can happen really quickly.

"Having flood gates and wardens who can work with our operations staff here on the ground means that the village is better protected from the impact of flooding."

If you would like to volunteer as a flood warden contact engagement_northeast@environment-agency.gov.uk