17/01/2016 Songs of Praise


17/01/2016

In the aftermath of the recent devastating floods, John Craven uncovers acts of kindness and community spirit in Cumbria as the clean up continues there.


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Transcript


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This winter, the UK has seen the wettest weather on record

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for more than a century.

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Tens of thousands of homes were flooded in the severe storms

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in Northern Ireland, Wales, the north of England

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and right up to Aberdeenshire in Scotland.

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On today's Songs Of Praise, I'm in Kendal,

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one of the first communities to suffer from this extreme weather,

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to discover how the long road to recovery is being

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eased by community spirit and acts of kindness.

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We'll be meeting individuals who were caught up in the rising waters.

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Just absolutely mental. I'm absolutely shattered.

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And we'll see how churches have been a focal point as different parts

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of the community rallied together, forming lasting bonds.

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As a result of all this now, I've made more friends in the last

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four or five weeks than I have in the last 20 years.

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And David Grant is in Twickenham to find out why one young man

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chose to sing a much-loved worship song, 10,000 Reasons,

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whilst undergoing brain surgery.

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And of course, we've also got a selection of inspiring music

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from across the country, starting right here in Cumbria.

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From The Keswick Convention in the majestic North Lakes, here's one of

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my favourite hymns, led by the ever-popular Stuart Townend and band.

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The storms that wreaked havoc in December

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and into January devastated large parts of Britain.

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Schools were closed, hospital services cancelled

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and many counties declared major incidents.

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You know, all our hearts go out to them.

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To be flooded is a terrible experience anyway

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and it's even more terrible when it happens at Christmas or New Year.

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It's just...horrific.

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At this time of year especially.

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Can you just make sure it's unlocked

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and we'll come in and we'll have a chat?

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The Army and other services were called to the rescue

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as thousands were evacuated from their homes,

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and flood warnings remain even today.

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Cumbria was one of the first counties to be affected.

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Storm Desmond broke all previous UK records last month

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when, here in Cumbria, no less than 330ml of rain,

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that's more than a foot of it, fell in just one 24-hour period.

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It completely ruined Christmas for thousands of people

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and it's going to take communities many months to rebuild themselves.

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-MAN:

-30 to 40 houses that have been flooded, at least.

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You can see where the level of the water has reached on this house.

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The Sandylands Estate here in Kendal is an area not used to flooding.

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Storm Desmond took the 3,000 residents completely by surprise.

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Just absolutely mental. I'm absolutely shattered.

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But we got the community coming together and that's brilliant.

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Community worker, the Reverend Jonny Gios, filmed events on his mobile

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as they unfolded and helped a grandmother and two young children

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escape from their home.

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Hold on to Chris.

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Sandylands Methodist Church, where Jonny works,

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became an emergency relief centre,

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working together with other local churches.

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That is for those people who really desperately need

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to get assistance immediately.

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-REPORTER:

-'Their church was flooded,

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'but its members opened the doors anyway today.

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'Their mission, to help the parts of Kendal in most desperate need.

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'They went on to the streets of the Sandylands Estate and into houses

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'which lie devastated. This is not a wealthy community.'

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We are calling on people who are in government, local government,

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to come down here and actually see Sandylands itself and the state

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of what's happened around here and the people who are vulnerable,

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the people who are destitute and really have lost everything

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and have got no insurance,

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to come down and help them and see what they can do.

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The church itself didn't escape the rising floodwaters

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and today it's operating from what they call the Encouragement Cabin.

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Now a building site, everything here has been contaminated by flood water

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and sewage and is heading for the skip.

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But the priority for Jonny and the team is supporting the community.

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And how are you able to help people? Is there any help available?

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That's what at the moment we're looking at,

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trying to get those people who have offered their services

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for plastering, for building work,

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to actually come up from the various areas of the UK to help

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and assist with that work and that's going to take a bit of coordination.

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And how significant do you think it was for the community

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that all this happened shortly before Christmas

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and Christmas was not the same as it should have been for anybody?

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No, I mean, it was a lot of people who lost Christmas presents

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and various things were supposed to be on here at the church -

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Christingle services, carol services - they didn't happen.

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I've really kind of struggled with this over this Christmas,

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but remembering the Christmas message that God sent his son Jesus

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into the mess and muck 2,000 years ago and then we're deployed

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as his ambassadors, his people, to go into the mess and muck

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to help people and to be shining lights for him.

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Repair work after the floods is underway across Britain,

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including at Sandylands Estate here in Cumbria.

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It'll be many months before newlyweds Sarah and Dave Benjamin

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can move back into their new home after it was flooded

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by three feet of water.

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-Wow! Awful lot still to do here.

-Incredible.

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It's bringing all the memories back to me. What can I say?

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-It's just horrible.

-You can see how high the water was.

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-This is a sort of tide mark here, isn't it?

-Yeah.

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-So up to your waist?

-Up to our waists in...

-Did you wade in?

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We did, yeah, in contaminated water.

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It was cold, it was dark, it was quite scary, really.

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The fridge-freezer was at the bottom,

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that was floating around banging into things.

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So I was just picking up some of the sentimental things quickly

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and getting them upstairs as best and as fast as I could,

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but my memories of one thing in particular,

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the Christmas tree floating around with the lights on still

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in all the darkness, it was incredible to see.

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And the irony is that you've been Good Samaritans, haven't you?

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We went to help at the church, we were waist-high in water then

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cos it flooded down there at our local church first.

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I went and got a lady out of her property, she was too scared

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to leave, but we managed to persuade her and get her to safety.

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And when we came back,

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our property was probably one of the worst affected.

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And I felt even more violated when all our personal possessions

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were put out in the front for the local council to come and fetch.

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We've had to start again from scratch, it's been...

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But we're here, we've got our faith and we're pulling together

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and I know that, you know, God's here and he is watching over us

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and we're going to be all right.

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And the town's going to rebuild from this stronger, bigger and better.

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And what about Christmas itself? What was that like?

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Christmas this year was about being together.

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It wasn't about lavish gifts, it was just about spending time together

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with loved ones and people who we've met along the way

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and that's what we've done and we've had a better Christmas by not

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spending lots of money and lavishing people, just being together,

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going to church, carol singing...

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It's been fantastic.

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As a result of all this now, people have come together as one

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and I've made more friends in the last four or five weeks

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than I have in the last 20 years.

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-So the flooding has provided a common bond?

-Absolutely.

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So much so that, when I see these people now, they give you big hugs,

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yeah, and the warmth and the strength that helps you

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carry on to get through this is just remarkable.

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We'll be hearing more from Kendal later in the programme

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and I'll be helping to deliver some Meals on Wheels,

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but first here is our next hymn

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and it's one that really resonates with many of the people around here.

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Well, here in the Lake District, there is still no shortage of rain.

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Coming up, we've got a truly inspiring story about a young man

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who sang as he underwent ground-breaking brain surgery.

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But first, we're off to the Hackney Empire in London.

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Can you imagine how anxious you'd be

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if you needed a life-saving brain operation and one of the possible

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side effects was losing the ability to speak and sing?

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That's the situation that physics student

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and keen singer Reuben Hill faced last year.

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And remarkably, to check his brain wasn't being damaged

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during his surgery, doctors woke him and asked him to sing something.

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# The sun comes up, it's a new day's dawn... #

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# The sun comes up... #

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He sang 10,000 Reasons,

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a favourite worship song written by my good friend Matt Redman.

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Reuben is well on the road to recovery now.

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And I've come to St Margaret's Church in Twickenham to

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gate-crash his music rehearsal.

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I had at least three conditions,

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one of which was a brain tumour...

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..and I was told,

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"Yeah, you're going to have to have surgery, we'll take it out."

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That was ground-breaking surgery they'd planned.

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Can you explain it a bit?

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It was awake surgery,

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so during the surgery I had to be constantly singing and speaking.

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'And I knew that if I was going to sing, it should be a prayer,

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'it should be a prayer because'

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if ever I needed a prayer, it was in that moment.

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And I wanted to just appeal to God, so I sang 10,000 Reasons.

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# The sun comes up, it's a new day's dawn... #

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'Reuben's tumour is near the part of the brain that controls speech.'

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BBC cameras followed Reuben's story.

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And his song choice gained worldwide exposure.

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The effect of that has been... It's been kind of extraordinary.

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It meant that what would otherwise have been just a news report

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about some science, really important science,

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turned into something so much more.

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It was like an act of witness that I just couldn't have predicted

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at all and I'm deeply humbled by.

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If I ever had any doubt about the kind of worldwide reach

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of Christian love, now I can dispel that for ever.

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I got loads of Twitter followers all of a sudden

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and I had to send out a tweet saying,

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"Thank you for all these prayers, please don't just pray for me,

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"pray for all the people that don't have anyone to pray for them

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"or who are by themselves."

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It wasn't just Twitter followers who were touched

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by Reuben's act of witness.

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Matt Redman is on tour at the moment,

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but he wanted me to hand-deliver a special invitation.

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Have a look at this.

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Hey, Reuben, Matt Redman here. Hope you're doing well.

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It was so amazing to see how you used this song recently,

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when you came through from your operation.

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Amazing how these songs can show up in surprising places.

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This might be one of the most surprising so far!

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I'd love to meet you sometime

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and was hoping maybe you could come to one of the tour nights.

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We could get to say hi.

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You sound like an amazing person and you've been through quite a journey.

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So it would be great to meet you.

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God bless and hope to meet you soon.

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Yeah, yeah...

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Oh, wow, that's amazing.

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And just before Christmas, Reuben travelled to Oxford to meet Matt.

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I've had a bit taken out of me but actually, for me as a person,

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I've really grown and become filled.

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I have a sense of being aware that I have so many options

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in terms of what I can do in my life and I want to do

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whatever God thinks is best,

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because if I'm doing his will, then I'll be a very happy man.

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# The sun comes up

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# It's a new day dawning

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# It's time to sing your song again

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# Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me

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# Let me be singing when the evening comes

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# Bless the Lord, oh, my soul

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# Oh, my soul

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# Worship his holy name

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# Sing like never before

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# Oh, my soul

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# I'll worship your holy name

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# And on that day when my strength is failing

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# The end draws near and my time has come

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# Still my soul will sing your praise unending

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# 10,000 years and then for evermore

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# For evermore

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# Bless the Lord, oh, my soul

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# Oh, my soul

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# Worship his holy name

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# Sing like never before

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# Oh, my soul

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# I'll worship your holy name

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# Bless the Lord, oh, my soul

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# Oh, my soul

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# Worship his holy name

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# Sing like never before

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# Oh, my soul

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# I'll worship your holy name

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# Yes, I'll worship your holy name

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# Lord, I'll worship your holy name. #

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In the aftermath of the severe winter floods,

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communities have rallied, as we heard earlier, and in Kendal,

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local churches and businesses have been working together

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to offer practical help.

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Jane and David Robinson live outside the Sandylands Estate

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and they, too, have been volunteering their services for free.

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-So another delivery coming up.

-Hi.

-Hello. What's on the van today?

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We've got chilli and rice today, but also we've got soup

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and we thought we'd perhaps take some cleaning materials

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around for people, cos it's just convenient that we can drop them off

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-for them, really.

-Yeah, great.

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And what got you into this?

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Because you're not from the Sandylands area, are you?

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No, but we're fortunate, aren't we?

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We've been lucky, we haven't been affected by flooding

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and we felt we wanted to just try and help people who had.

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We came down to Sandylands, to the Methodist church,

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cos we realised there was a lot of action here,

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-a lot of people haven't got cooking facilities.

-No?

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You know, they've been totally washed out, their whole lives have

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been sort of rushed out the door in the floods, it's been devastating.

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As you've been handing over the meals,

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you must have heard some fascinating stories.

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I would say tragic stories, to be honest.

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People are just so pleased, apart from getting the food,

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which is just brilliant,

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they enjoy actually having somebody there to talk to and they realise

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that this community cares, actually, and that's a big factor.

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-People are just devastated and overwhelmed by it all.

-Yeah.

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You go to people and they say, "Oh, there are people worse off than me."

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-Yeah.

-And when you think, "Don't think there are."

-Yeah.

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So who's the next customer, then?

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Well, we're going across the road to Mr Duxbury.

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Is this the gentleman who's marooned on the top floor of his house?

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He is, yeah, he is having to live upstairs,

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so we'll take him some food and I thought you might like

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to take him a bottle of bleach which could be very useful.

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-Oh, yeah, of course.

-And, well, you can take him an assortment

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-and see what he would like.

-Take the bucket and see what he wants, yeah.

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-Who's that?

-Mr Craven.

-Yes.

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-He's brought you your dinner today.

-Here's your lunch.

-Oh, thank you.

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-Do you like chilli?

-Yes.

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-Oh, well, you're in for a treat, then.

-Right, thank you.

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What difference has it made to you, Mr Duxbury,

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-getting these meals every day?

-Oh, tremendous. A great help.

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So where were you when the flood happened?

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I was upstairs at the moment, at the time, when I looked out

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of the bedroom window

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and saw the water was level with the garden wall.

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-And you were trapped?

-I was trapped, yes. I couldn't get out.

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-In due course, the water went down.

-And now you're upstairs...

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-I'm upstairs.

-..almost permanently?

-Yes, yes.

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-Thank you.

-Would it be useful to have some bleach?

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-Yes, it would, I'm running short.

-Well, that's an interesting mixture.

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You know you can always get it down at Sandylands Church,

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they always have stuff to help you.

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-Enjoy your lunch, then.

-Thank you very much.

-Nice to see you.

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-All the very best.

-Thank you.

-See you again.

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-Take care.

-Thank you.

-Bye, Mr Duxbury. Bye.

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And that's just about it today from Kendal,

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a town recovering from its devastating flood

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and I'd like to thank everybody here who's made me feel

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so welcome in these very trying times.

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Now, next week, David Grant will be meeting people in a rehab centre

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who are turning to God

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as they try to free themselves from their addictions.

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Until then, here's our final hymn today,

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and it's been chosen by some of the people that I've been meeting.

0:31:220:31:26

Bye for now.

0:31:260:31:27

In the aftermath of the recent devastating floods, John Craven uncovers acts of kindness and community spirit in Cumbria as the clean up continues there, and visits a water-damaged church that's become a flood relief centre.


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