Farmer rescues stranded lambs from rising floodwater in Derbyshire


These are the amazing scenes as a farmer risks her life by entering freezing Storm Dennis flood water to rescue some lambs. 

Faye Russell, 26, tied a rope around her waist and handed the end to a neighbour and members of her team before entering the flood water. 

The farmer from Derbyshire was one of a number of people who rescued animals caught out by last weekend’s deluge, including a staff and a veterinary surgery who had to rescue pets at risk inside their rapidly flooding building.    

Farmer Faye Russell, pictured, from Derbyshire had to enter freezing floodwaters to rescue her stranded lambs from drowning

Farmer Faye Russell, pictured, from Derbyshire had to enter freezing floodwaters to rescue her stranded lambs from drowning

The 26-year-old farmer tied a rope around her waist before entering the floodwaters to rescue the stranded lambs

The 26-year-old farmer tied a rope around her waist before entering the floodwaters to rescue the stranded lambs

The 26-year-old farmer tied a rope around her waist before entering the floodwaters to rescue the stranded lambs 

Valley Veterinary Hospital in Gwaelod y Garth, Wales had a five-foot flood after the nearby River Taff burst its banks. Emergency services had to rescue animals from the building

Valley Veterinary Hospital in Gwaelod y Garth, Wales had a five-foot flood after the nearby River Taff burst its banks. Emergency services had to rescue animals from the building

Valley Veterinary Hospital in Gwaelod y Garth, Wales had a five-foot flood after the nearby River Taff burst its banks. Emergency services had to rescue animals from the building 

The animal hospital, which was opened seven months ago, will be closed for the next six months after the water destroyed much of the high tech equipment such as this CT Scanner

The animal hospital, which was opened seven months ago, will be closed for the next six months after the water destroyed much of the high tech equipment such as this CT Scanner

The animal hospital, which was opened seven months ago, will be closed for the next six months after the water destroyed much of the high tech equipment such as this CT Scanner

Ms Russell was forced to act after the torrential rains brought by Storm Dennis started flooding her fields which had already been soaked by Storm Ciara. 

She told The Metro: ‘I said I’m going to have to go first. I didn’t fancy filling out the accident book for anybody else.  If I got in a bit of danger they could pull me out. There were two people on the end of the rope because the current was so strong. It was fierce.

‘It got quite choppy. I was swimming and had lambs under my arms trying to keep them above water. I had clothes and wellingtons on and they were full of water.’ 

On Saturday, Ms Russell and her border collie Tom moved her 300-strong flock to higher ground but she did not anticipate the sudden deterioration in the weather. 

She said: ‘The water came at such a force. At 8am we were fine. The sheep had plenty of high ground. But it was really driving rain. The wind and the rain cut me in two. So the sheep took themselves behind the floodbank and effectively watched the tide come in around them.’ 

At its height, the flood waters reached more than seven feet in height and presented a major danger to the sheep. 

She continued: ‘You just do it, don’t you. I said to somebody “duty calls”. You put your life on the line for your animals, you really do. They come first in any farmer’s life. Any farmer will agree they come above yourself and above anything.’

The River Taff burst its banks after a month's worth of rain fell in less than 48 hours

The River Taff burst its banks after a month's worth of rain fell in less than 48 hours

The River Taff burst its banks after a month’s worth of rain fell in less than 48 hours 

Inside the surgery, equipment including computers in the office were destroyed by the floods

Inside the surgery, equipment including computers in the office were destroyed by the floods

Inside the surgery, equipment including computers in the office were destroyed by the floods

Across much of the UK, Storm Dennis saw flood waters rise as the land was already soaked thoroughly by Storm Ciara

Across much of the UK, Storm Dennis saw flood waters rise as the land was already soaked thoroughly by Storm Ciara

Across much of the UK, Storm Dennis saw flood waters rise as the land was already soaked thoroughly by Storm Ciara 

Ms Russell said she and her team had just completed the busy lambing season and said farmers haven a close relationship with their animals. 

She said: ‘We know them by name. One of them is actually called Pebbles but she was like a big hippopotamus as she swam beside me. They will follow their lambs but you have to give them the confidence to get going. Sheep aren’t very good in water but they were pleased to see me when I got across to them.’ 

Ms Russell said she would especially like to praise her neighbours and the team on her farm for helping her save the lambs.   

In Gwaelod y Garth, Wales, the Valley Veterinary Hospital was hit by five-foot deep flood waters after the River Taff burst its banks. 

The £2 million animal hospital – which had recently been completed – was destroyed by the floods. 

The state-of-the-art veterinary hospital is the most high-tech facility of its kind in Wales and opened just seven months ago, with hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of equipment – including a CT scanner, digital x-ray machines and ultrasounds – all destroyed when a month’s worth of rain fell in less than 48 hours.

All pets were moved to the building’s first floor by staff once river levels rose but soon had to be rescued by firefighters – with one photo showing Border Collie Shadow being floated out of the practice on a sofa cushion.

Now householders and businesses are preparing for the arrival of Storm Ellen

Now householders and businesses are preparing for the arrival of Storm Ellen

Now householders and businesses are preparing for the arrival of Storm Ellen 

Such was the power of the flood water it managed to move this hydrotherapy treatment centre

Such was the power of the flood water it managed to move this hydrotherapy treatment centre

Such was the power of the flood water it managed to move this hydrotherapy treatment centre

The flood water inside the vet surgery will have been infected by sewage

The flood water inside the vet surgery will have been infected by sewage

The flood water inside the vet surgery will have been infected by sewage 

Mark Evans, VetPartners Business Development Director for South Wales, said: ‘The crew from South Wales Fire and Rescue Service that attended were incredible.

‘They had to smash their way through glass panels at the front of the building to gain access.

‘The team was evacuated on boats and dogs were floated out of the building on cushions.

‘Our out-of-hours team reacted very quickly, moving patients upstairs as soon as they were aware the river was rising.

‘They also moved equipment onto work surfaces, but such was the speed of the flooding that the counter tops were eventually submerged as the whole hospital was under 5ft of water in less than an hour.

According to staff at the surgery, the water level rose by five feet in less than an hour

According to staff at the surgery, the water level rose by five feet in less than an hour

According to staff at the surgery, the water level rose by five feet in less than an hour

Luckily no one was hurt by the flood in Wales and all of the animals were rescued safely

Luckily no one was hurt by the flood in Wales and all of the animals were rescued safely

Luckily no one was hurt by the flood in Wales and all of the animals were rescued safely 

‘This was a disaster but we will bounce back strongly. It has been harrowing for everyone involved, but the morale of the team has been incredible.’

No one was hurt, and all staff and pets are now recovering from the ordeal with the animal patients being cared for at one of four branch surgeries elsewhere in Wales.

The damage is currently being assessed and the two-storey hospital, which was opened in an empty warehouse in July, will not be fully functional again for six months.

Valley Vets is part of UK veterinary group, VetPartners.

VetPartners CEO Jo Malone said: ‘The team at Valley Vets have shown such bravery and commitment in the last few days.

‘They are determined to continue providing outstanding care to their patients and that is and always has been their primary focus.

‘They have been through a harrowing time over the past few days, and the entire VetPartners family will help them in any way we can.’

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