We count ourselves among the lucky ones, we saved most of our computers, 90% of our paperwork and we have not had a server in the office for 5 years – I pay £300 each month for every last detail of data we hold to be transferred by the second electronically to a secure centre in Essex, and while our offices have been devastated we are happily ensconced and trading as normal in the old Job Centre.
Thursday 19th November
Around 1pm the water arrives at our door and 7 staff along with Dad John and client Clive Kirkpatrick frantically work to save as much as we can, I then call the phone company and divert the office phones to my mobile and arrange to have our in house computer system set up in our homes ,all while the water level gradually rises up the stairs.
Friday 20th November
Can’t do much but set up 3 teams working from home and we start to contact clients due to depart in the next two weeks to make sure they have tickets etc. John from Mitchells calls to say they may have some temporary premises (Yaba daba do).
Saturday 21st November
0730hrs Sneak past the road blocks through the sorting office yard and over the fence to see the devastation at the office. 0900hrs shake hands with Mitchells on new offices; 1000hrs Staff meeting just to let everyone know what will be happening – half the team will handle the bookings while the rest set up the new premises.
Sunday 22nd November
Put up sign (The same one that went up Kilimanjaro with Cockermouth School in July so it’s seen some action!). Make long lists of things to do. I am quoted in one Sunday newspaper “Gordon Brown is living in Cloud Cuckoo land if he thinks 1 million £ is enough to put Cumbria right”. I am interviewed on SKY along with Tony Cunningham and Minister Rosie Winterton in which I again make the point about funding.
Monday 23rd November
Order new desks, PC cabling, sort temporary phone system butwe are told by BT that it could take 2/3 weeks for lines, do interviews with the Times, Telegraph, Mail, Sun, Observer, Radio Cumbria, Radio 5 Live and Sky News in which I praise the amazing job done by all the emergency services and that United Utilities had an army of staff working 24 hrs BUT BT are conspicuous by their absence.
Tuesday 24th November
1000hrs BT press office calls from London, they will get back to me, 1200hrs A director of BT calls to say we will have 3 engineers within the next 20 minutes…FANTASTIC – the power of the media. The BT lads arrive and do a brilliant job working late into the night to connect all in the Main Street at Mitchells complex.
Wednesday 25th November
I make the front page of the Sun along with pneumatic TV star Jordan with the headline “Floody Marvel” (reference to how quickly we started work again). We drill a hole through the wall and borrow broadband from those nice people at Mitchells and soon have 2 PC’s up and running – PROGRESS.
Thursday 26th November
New desks arrive and we start to see the new office takeshape, I receive a Royal summons to meet HRH Prince Charles (better get Baldrick to dust off ones only suit).
Friday 27th November
We are up to full speed.We have phones, full computer system and I recall all the team to base.Then it’s off to Keswick to meet HRH and his team including Mark Price, Chairman of Waitrose. I tell them the BT story which goes down well and HRH and Philip Green Chief Exec of United Utilities come over and shake my hand and congratulate us on our amazing turnaround.
Saturday 28th November
HRH Prince Charles calls in to the office and takes off his coat and proceeds to chat to all – WOW is this really happening! We are all so impressed that he gets a round of applause when he leaves, am not sure if this is good protocol but what the heck. Saturday PM – I need to kiss the Wife, Cuddle the Kids and Pat the Dog and have a large drink, just not necessarily in that order. Paul (even less hair than usual) Cusack