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Whitby nurse hitches lift on husband's tractor to beat the 'Beast from the East' and open minor injuries unit

Colette Readman took drastic steps to reach Whitby Hospital after waking to find the couples 300-acre farm in Hawsker covered by snow drifts up to 4ft deep.
Colette Readman took drastic steps to reach Whitby Hospital after waking to find the couples 300-acre farm in Hawsker covered by snow drifts up to 4ft deep.

The efforts of NHS staff to get to work in snowy conditions won national acclaim, but few can be as remarkable as a specialist nurse from Whitby who hitched a lift on her husband’s tractor so she could beat the ‘Beast from the East’ to open the town’s minor injuries unit.

Urgent Care Practitioner Colette Readman took drastic steps to reach Whitby Hospital after waking to find the couple’s 300-acre farm in Hawsker covered by snow drifts up to 4ft deep.

“I open up in the morning but we were blocked in,” said the 51-year-old, who works for Humber NHS Foundation Trust.

“We’ve got about half a mile before we get to a B-road and then another two miles on a B-road before we hit the outside of town.

“The only way I could get to the hospital was by tractor.”

Leaving her Vauxhall Astra on the drive, Colette jumped in the Valtra farm machine and perched by husband John, 52, as he ploughed through the snow.

And the couple were also keen to help other drivers struggling in the terrible conditions.

“We managed to get off the farm and then stopped to talk to a couple of drivers, telling them to get back in their cars until I’d been dropped off and John could go back and help them,” she said. I got to the hospital at 7.55am, just in time to open at 8am.”

Asked if she was “an NHS hero”, Colette, who has worked at Whitby’s minor injuries unit for 15 years, said: “It’s part of my job. It was too far for me to walk and the tractor was there.

“I’m not a great one for the glory,” she continued.

“I just needed to come to work. I’d do it again.”

A spokesman for the Trust said Colette was one of many members of its staff to have “gone the extra mile for the NHS” during Britain’s worst snowstorm for a decade.

Whitby Deputy Ward Manager Pat Steele booked into a local bed and breakfast so she could work the following day and Urgent Care Practitioners Brian Ward and Daniel Foster stayed over after finishing their shift at 11pm.

Ian Tweddell, the Trust’s Service Manager for Whitby and Pocklington Community Services, said: “I’m genuinely appreciative of the efforts all of our staff have made to ensure we have been able to continue delivering services to patients.”

People from around the country took to social media to highlight NHS heroes who went to extreme lengths to get to work and treat those in need. In Scotland, one doctor walked for three hours through deep snow to get in to perform an operation, while elsewhere astaff put in 24 hour shifts to cover the treacherous weather. NHS England’s Chief Executive, said: “In these adverse circumstances NHS staff have taken extraordinary measures to get into work and look after patients.”