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Ice-bound Highland residents helped by true grit

By Caroline McMorran

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A NORTH-west Sutherland councillor has paid tribute to volunteers who turned out in freezing conditions this week to grit driveways and access roads for vulnerable householders living in far-flung Strath Halladale.

Cllr Linda Munro said David Hodge and Stuart Ellis, both members of Porskerra Harbours Association, epitomised the way communities should be helping each other.

Councillor Linda Munro.
Councillor Linda Munro.

Older Strath Halladale residents, and those who require daily visits from carers, were among residents whose house surrounds were gritted this week.

The current cold snap has seen temperatures plummet to as low as -8.5 degrees in some parts, leaving a lethal layer of ice covering roads and footpaths. And the wintry weather looks set to continue.

Cllr Munro said: “I give my thanks to gritter drivers who are doing their level best to keep roads open in unrelenting conditions. But many people in the area live off the road, and their driveways have turned into skating rinks.”

She became concerned when she learned that carers were braving dangerous, off-road conditions in their attempts to reach the homes of clients.

So she called on Mr Hodge who enlisted Mr Ellis and – after raiding Highland Council grit bins and filling a trailer – the pair set to on Tuesday, spreading grit around some eight homes.

David Hodge spreading grit to help out householders in Strathhalladale.
David Hodge spreading grit to help out householders in Strathhalladale.

Mr Hodge, who volunteered to deliver groceries during lockdown, and also maintains the community defibrillator located at Melvich Care Home, said he and Mr Ellis had been pleased to help.

He said: “An elderly person could easily fall in these conditions – just by going out to the bin – and if they live on their own, with the ambient temperatures as they are, it might not be a good outcome.

“Also, if a carer slides and is injured while trying to visit someone, then that is one less carer for the community.”

Related: A835 reopens after night of drama – but drivers urged to avoid area unless journeys essential

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