Derby

Whaley Bridge dam: Hundreds volunteer to fix grandfather's bridge

Bryan Ross in front of the broken bridge Image copyright Davina Ross
Image caption Bryan Ross was "heartbroken" when he saw the bridge he built himself washed away

An 85-year-old man has been "overwhelmed" with offers of help after Whaley Bridge floods washed away a garden bridge he built himself.

Bryan Ross lives in the Derbyshire town which was evacuated amid fears the dam would collapse.

During the heavy rain the brook at the end of his garden burst its banks, washing away years of work.

Mr Ross said he cried when he saw the aftermath, but hundreds have now volunteered to help rebuild it.

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Media captionThe torrent was so strong it carried the bridge into a neighbour's garden

Mr Ross spent 12 months building the metal and wood bridge in 2017 but on 1 August, heavy rain raised the brook two metres (6ft) higher than usual.

He said the water was the highest he had seen in 30 years of living there.

The flood tore out the 30ft (9m) long bridge's concrete moorings, pushing it into a neighbour's garden.

"I knew it couldn't stand that sort of treatment. I couldn't watch," he said.

Mr Ross's surrounding Japanese water garden was also destroyed.

"I couldn't face starting again," said Mr Ross, who suffered a stroke since building the bridge.

"To see it had gone after all that work - it was heartbreaking."

Image copyright Davina Ross
Image caption The aim is to get the bridge back to its old position and then repair it

Mr Ross's daughter Davina put an appeal on Facebook to see if anyone could help rebuild the bridge.

Within hours she was inundated with hundreds of offers, including one from the local fire brigade.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Hundreds have offered to lend a hand in the rebuild

Her post has now reached more than 60,000 people, some as far away as the US.

She said: "It's only a bridge but it means a lot to my dad."

Image copyright Davina Ross
Image caption Mr Ross spent a year building the bridge
Image copyright Davina Ross
Image caption The garden was Mr Ross's "pride and joy"

On 31 August, she and the volunteers are hoping to lift the bridge back into position as it is still largely intact.

Mr Ross said: "I'm overwhelmed. I can't express how grateful I feel to people who do not know me but are still prepared to help out."


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