In 2015, Storm Desmond caused devastation in Cumbria especially in the South Lakes where more than 2300 properties were flooded.
Volunteers quickly rallied, helping with everything from making cups of tea to clearing up – many of those affected had not had a hot meal in days, inspiring the establishment of a Meals on Wheels service that operated through December Christmas and into January. Drop in cafes were established, providing solace, company – and very importantly, soup and hot drinks! At the start, the need was relentless, urgent and daily, but cleaning up after flooding is neither swift nor easy, and many months of commitment followed.
Cheryl Berry not only supported this initiative but then took it upon herself to help other organisations and churches by generously supplying soup and meals free of charge from her Kendal restaurant, Romney’s Bar. She organised a van and volunteers to deliver the meals, offered shelter to those most in need and did it all in a spirit of quiet commitment. In spite of it being the very height of the festive season and her restaurant being busy with bookings, her clear priority was to help those in need. On Christmas Day itself, she set out in a van to take plated meals to people living upstairs in their cold damp houses. It would be hard to think of a more welcome guest arriving!
The Cumbria Women of the Year Committee was unanimous in its decision this year; everyone was immensely touched and impressed by nominations that praised Cheryl’s kindness, determination, empathy and humility and by the stories of selflessness under pressure –
Described variously as “unassuming”, “an inspiration”, and “an amazing lady” Cheryl Berry is an outstanding and very worthy winner of Cumbria Woman of the Year 2016.