Over the winter, we have heard heart-breaking tales of the flooding that has deprived many people in the north of our country of their homes and businesses. Some of these unfortunate people are suffering flooding of their homes for a second or third time.
Although those of us lucky enough to have been spared the ravages of rampant flood-water, some people living in the south of England have looked disaster and destitution in the face as the result of the stormy weather we have been experiencing lately.
One such disaster came very close to home recently.
Our village is typical of many small villages, consisting of the village shop, local pub, a church and, the point of this story, a local village garage.
The garage is family concern run by a very charming couple Gary and Debra. The garage boasts of a couple of pumps, a couple of mechanical bays and it can supply you with such sundry items as bird seed, soft drinks and that quaint old habit of manning the pumps you while you stand idly by chatting to either Gary or Debra while they fill your tank.
It was during one of these chats that it became obvious there was a problem. Debra was not her usual chatty self, in fact, she was close to tears. And the cause of this sadness was a hole in a road.
The heavy rainfall the country had experienced over the last few weeks had caused a proportion of a road to collapse and the result was a hole.
John Lennon once wrote there were 4000 holes in the Lancashire town of Blackburn (A Day in the Life, last track on the Sergeant Pepper album.)
The town of Blackburn was able to function quite well with these holes as John Lennon went on to inform us that the holes were rather small, but the hole in the road causing Debra to feel sad was not small, in fact, it was rather large: large enough to cause a road closure.
And the problem was the road closed was the only road that leads to Gary and Debra’s garage.
Their garage was at the wrong end of a dead end street and the hole had appeared some 200 mm between them and the entrance to the road.
Although there was some restricted access to the road, the authorities placed a road-closed sign at the road’s entrance and diversion signs in the area thus diverting traffic away from the village garage.
The result of this municipal action was proving disastrous for Gary and Debra’s business.
The diversion and road closure signs had reduced their fuel and birdseed sales to a trickle and the passing traffic that had been the mainstay of their business was doing just that: passing.
Worse was to come.
The council informed them that there were no funds left in their budget for any road repairs. Nothing could be done until April, and this was early February.
There was no way the garage could survive over two months with hardly any income.
It looked as if we were about to lose our local garage and Gary and Debra were going to lose their livelihood.
I decided it was time for the cavalry to come to the rescue, (when I say cavalry, I mean us, Dor-2-Dor.)
I devised a plan and put it into action.
What was needed was a cleverly crafted message that would alert people to the fact that the garage was accessible and they could still buy their fuel and have their cars MOT’d and maintained as usual.
The next stop was the distribution.
The leaflets were distributed twice over a three-week period to the 842 houses in the relevant area.
I had the local shop hand them to every customer with their shopping and we put them on any noticeboard we could find in the area.
The response has been fantastic.
I spoke to Debra and Gary after the second drop had been completed.
They have enjoyed the busiest two days ever. Not only are current customers calling back but also past customers have been returning. The workshop is booked up for days in advance.
In addition, the icing on the cake is the council have found some cash down the back of the municipal sofa and have begun the job of repairing the road.
It would not be an exaggeration to say Gary and Debra are over the moon and, in some ways, grateful for their hole in the road.
It also goes to show that a well-designed leaflet distributed to the correct target area can produce excellent results.
So next time someone tells you that door drops do not work, tell him or her about the Battle of West Hill Garage.