Real heroes wear wellies ...

James Reader talks about the Flood Re. Local Heroes campaign recognising local community heroes

Flood Hero Geraldine Brown“In times of crisis, ordinary people can do extraordinary things.  I was reminded of this last week when I went along to the House of Commons to see the announcement of the winner of the Flood Re Local Heroes award.

I first got involved in the campaign back in July, when Covéa Insurance agreed to sponsor the initiative and I was asked to judge the entries. It was a campaign of personal significance to me, as on Boxing Day 2015 my own community was devastated by flooding caused by Storm Eva. In the weeks and months that have followed, I’ve seen first-hand the critical role that individuals can play, both in dealing with the immediate aftermath and in building resilience for the future.

The Flood Re award invited people across the country to nominate their own “Local Hero”; an individual or group who had done amazing things in supporting their community during a flood event or in working to reduce the potential impact of future flooding.  The eventual winner would receive £10,000 to be invested in their community’s response to flooding or to go to a local flood relief charity of their choice.  

Along with the rest of the judging panel - made up of representatives from the ABI, NFU Mutual, Flood Re and flood action groups - I made my way through an incredible 14 entries.  The stories of selflessness and commitment displayed by so many people across the country were inspirational; individuals and groups helping others to recover from devastating floods and working to reduce the risk of it happening again.

We had an incredibly difficult job to narrow down the entries to six finalists, let alone pick a winner; but eventually we made our decision, and last week Geraldine Brown from Yalding in Kent received her award from Floods Minister, Thérèse Coffey.

Amongst so many great stories, Geraldine stood out for her commitment to her community over the past 17 years.  She’s been at the heart of the response to individual flood events – including coordinating the local sea-scouts to rescue neighbours from their homes over Christmas 2013 – and has also worked tirelessly to develop the Yalding Emergency Plan, set up an emergency contact centre, secure funding for investment in local flood management, and recruit and train flood wardens.  As she told me, “we can’t prevent major floods, but we can build up our resilience”.  Her selflessness, even sacrificing her own Christmas to help others, marked Geraldine out as a true local hero.

Being involved in judging this award has been incredibly rewarding.  There are amazing people in our communities who have often been true lifesavers to their neighbours. I’m delighted that Covéa Insurance has been able to help recognise their efforts, and to help promote the work of Flood Re in making insurance available and affordable to many more people living in areas at high risk from flooding."




Notes to Editors:

About Covéa Insurance

Covea Insurance plc is the UK underwriting business of leading French mutual insurance group Covéa, who are number 1 for property and liability insurance in France, generating over 16.3 billion Euros in premiums in 2017.  

Covéa Insurance looks after the insurance needs of over 1.5 million policyholders; delivering financial reassurance through its Standard & Poor’s A+ stable rating, as a guaranteed subsidiary of Covéa. 

The company offers motor, household, protection, pet, mid and high net worth insurance and a range of commercial insurance products, through a range of distribution channels. Employing over 1800 people, Covéa Insurance has a strong people and service ethos, having Investors In People Gold accreditation and is signatory to the HM Treasury Women In Finance Charter. It also has World Class service accreditation from the Institute of Customer Service for its Motor Claims, Home Claims and Underwriting Services teams as well as Chartered Insurer status for its Commercial and Mid/High Net Worth business.

In 2018, Covéa Insurance were recipients of the Personal Lines Insurer of the Year award at both the British Insurance Awards and the Insurance Times Awards and was the top rated insurer in the Insurance Times Broker Service Survey for both Personal and Commercial Lines.

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