The hills quickly disappeared under their winter cloak, as did many of the low lying fields and roads. As Paul headed home one evening after a long, cold day fencing, he called to tell me to take a different route home, Deanhead was completely covered and it didn’t look like the snow blizzard was going to ease anytime soon.
The majority of the time, Paul comes home via the motorway to avoid all the narrow, twisty lanes, especially when he has the trailer on.
However, on this occasion he had headed up and around the mighty Deanhead Valley. It was incredibly lucky that he did. As he approached the bridge that spans the M62 motorway, a drama was unfolding and someone’s life was hanging in the balance.
The gritter wagon that had been steadily working his way up and down the road, clearing the fast-settling snow, had stopped and was parked at a slightly odd angle in the road. As Paul slowed down, he saw his cousin who was also on her way home, was there, with the driver of the wagon.
Slumped at the side of the road was a man, in a desperate state. He’d set out on his usual round of Scammonden Reservoir with his dog, but unlike his countless evening walks he’d enjoyed on the path that skirts the edge of the water, this one was looking like it could be his last.
After suffering terrible chest pain he’d collapsed on the banks above the reservoir. We’re unsure as to how long he was there, cold and no doubt frightened. But through grim determination and perhaps urged on by his faithful dog, he’d managed to get himself up onto the main road.
Luckily for him, he was found, an ambulance called, but most importantly, help was with him. Paul took his big winter coat off and wrapped it round him.
He then emptied his pick-up of all his assorted, muck splattered, heavily stained and pretty smelly items of clothing and wound them tightly around the patient. His dog, clearly aware that something very serious was happening, remained, loyalty and love anchoring her to his side.
Shock and hypothermia were threatening to rob him of his life that he was frantically clinging to. As Paul said to himself in his unique way, “this fella’s nearly eaten his ton o’ muck”.
The resilience of the human spirit never ceases to amaze me. Despite suffering a heart attack, he’d refused to accept this was his time. After a short stay in hospital he was back home, recovering and even made the effort to make contact and thank those involved.
As Paul relayed the story to John-William and I that evening, he was halted mid-flow and an explanation demanded. “A ton of muck?” puzzled John-William
“Aye,” said Paul. “Grandfather always said ‘you’ve to eat a ton of muck afore you die!’”
Jill Thorp, her husband Paul and son John-William farm at Stott Hall near Huddersfield, which lies in the middle of the M62 motorway