A MOTHER of two from Chard has dropped her normal routine to put all her efforts into helping flooding victims on the Somerset Levels.
Donna Pickles, 29, is co-ordinating the collection of food, clothing, cleaning materials and other vital supplies for those whose lives have been destroyed by the flooding.
She has so far sent out six car loads to the worst-affected areas – the last one went to people in need in Burrowbridge on Monday – despite having no transport of her own.
Donna said: “I have never done anything like this before, but my dad’s family were all farmers, so I know what these people are going through.
“We were flooded in 1995, and it wasn’t half as bad as it is now.
“I have been gathering donations from everywhere – we are looking for the basics people are going to need urgently.
“I’ve been trying to think what we would need if it was us in that position.
“We have done really well – I couldn’t be more proud of how the community has pulled together. It has been very emotional.
“I don’t have any transport – I have relied on lots of lovely volunteers.
“Special mention must go to Lindsey Quinlan, Nina Anderson from the Unit, Sue Symes, Chris Carr and staff at Eleos cafe.”
Donna lives with her partner, Shane Hains, and two sons Connor, four, and Ryley, 22 months, who have all been right behind her.
She added: “Our two-bedroom flat has been taken over by all the donations.
“My family have been brilliant. Even the kids have been involved – they have helped me sort out the items – and I have made sure they know what it is all about.
“I have bought prizes for the lucky dip out of my own pocket, so we have had to cut back on a lot of things and it has been quite difficult.
“I have spent a lot of time away from my kids, but they understand and I will make it up to them when I can.
“I couldn’t have done this without my family, or the community. I will continue to do what I can until the help is no longer needed.”
Donna has already collected £70 online to give to the Somerset Community Foundation, which distributes money where it is needed, and she is hoping to boost that figure through fund-raising events, including a bouncy castle play session and a jumble sale from 1pm to 4pm on Friday at the Unit in Chard.
Chard Football Club is also hosting a jumble sale from 10am to noon on March 15, from which every penny will go to the appeal.
To lend a hand or donate key items such as wellies, waterproof clothing and non-perishable food, you can get in touch with Donna by calling 07873-821387 or visiting the ‘Fund-raising for the Flood Victims within the Somerset Levels’ Facebook page.