In November 2019 the small Yorkshire village of Fishlake was devastated as the River Don, swollen by unprecedented rainfall, overtopped and flooded a huge swathe of land including over 170 homes and businesses.
As a way of thanking the people and agencies who helped them the people of Fishlake have decided to document their experiences in the form of a hardback book.
Created entirely by residents of varying ages and professions, with little or no experience or knowledge of producing a work of this magnitude, it is a measure of the resilience and tenacity of Fishlake folk that it was produced at all.
Resident Justin Smith said: “One of the residents Neil West who has his own design company had the idea of writing a book as a way of getting something positive to unite people.
"We had a meeting in the village hall in February last year and from it there’s team of five of us have steered and managed the process. We’ve worked with a number of residents who have contributed and helped to put it together. All the residents are proud of the book – it has been a joint effort and has been really positive for the village.
“We’ve now got the finished printed version of the book. We opened the boxes of the finished book on the Monday and the team are all extremely proud of what we have produced.”
With over 85 stories and articles presented alongside 350 photos the book tells the full story of the flood: the personal experiences of the residents and businesses affected, the reasons for the flooding, the contributions of those who came to their aid and the royal and political figures who visited.
The 200-page book was created at the same time as those working on it navigated their way through the maze of insurance claims and juggled the often extensive repair work to their homes and business, as well as dealing with the impact of the first global pandemic in more than a century.
In his chapter Justin tells how he was devastated when his home was drenched in three feet of water – and the surreal moment he met HRH prince Charles, who had visited the village to offer support.
"So, it came to pass that on the 23 December 2019, I experienced one of the strangest moments of my life,” he said.
" I found myself standing in the empty shell of my living room explaining to our heir to the throne how, on that fateful night in November, my home was devastated by the floods."
“The book project has helped me enormously – it’s given me something to work on.”
All monies raised by the sale of copies will be donated to communities affected by flooding.
A copy of the book, will be given to each household in the village, free of charge and further copies will be available to purchase on the day and subsequently on the website here
The book launch will be from noon- 4pm on Sunday 19 September at St Cuthbert’s Church, Fishlake.