I have nothing but the greatest possible sympathy for all those affected by the latest appalling floods. I can well imagine the devastation these will have caused, but as a regular visitor to Cumbria I have personal experience of the strength of the community spirit which exists in this most beautiful of counties.
It has been incredibly heartening to see how everyone – from the emergency services and volunteer groups to friends and neighbours – have worked together to provide the kind of mutual support necessary to get through this most terrible of ordeals.
I am only too aware that recovery will take time, particularly for those rural communities which have found themselves isolated from the services of nearby towns. I do so hope that local businesses and the agricultural community might find a way to work together not only to ensure their revival, but also to help those most in need.
For this reason, I have asked one or two of Britain’s most senior business leaders to come with me on my visit today so they can see at first hand what the particular problems and challenges are in case they might be able to do anything to help.
I realize that, unfortunately, it will take many months before all the damage from last week’s floods is repaired. This work will obviously challenge everyone, but I have no doubt you will face this test with resilience and fortitude. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.