The Health and Social Consequences of the 2001 Foot and Mouth Epidemic in North Cumbria
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D. went for a meeting with the Brigadier on the Sunday and he said,” I want this I want that and I want that, how long will it take you to get it up and running? I don’t care what it costs. Just do it.” And D. says, “hold on a minute” and he says, “I’ll talk to you but you can’t just say you want this and that” and he says, “right let’s sit down and let’s sort it out.”

So we phoned every haulier in Cumbria we knew on the Monday. We phoned farmers, markets, wherever, to try for contacts for staff. We phoned recruitment agencies and we had a meeting at Penrith on Monday night with all the hauliers to see if they were in agreement with it, if they would help do it. We were basically pushed into it. We didn’t really want to get involved with it but we were basically pushed into it because being the biggest haulier, in basically in Europe, they come straight to us and basically, pushed us in and says, “you’ll do it.”

At the end of the day, the Government and army can go back home to London. [But] they’re our friends, customers, relatives. We’re still here. We have still got to try and make a living when all those fellas have gone home. When you were going into a farm and taking their lives away, you’re not so keen on coming back, which was the most difficult part of it. Never in a short space of time, in 5 week, it wasn’t a long time, I’ve never heard as many grown men cry as what they did in that time. A lifetime’s work gone within two or three hours.

We had an old man at Aspatria. He was absolutely broken hearted when we phoned him and there was 3, I think it was 3 or 4 wagons went and he said, “ make sure they come half an hour earlier and I’ll get their dinners before they load the sheep” and he fed them and when the sheep was loaded he took them into the house and gave them a cup of tea before they went. Because they were the same way, they knew it was a lifetime’s work.

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