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Snow warden John planning another 10 years

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Dunkeswell Snow Warden John Barrow was among the first in the county to sign up to Devon County Council’s volunteer Snow Warden scheme when it launched 10 years ago.

Today, there are around 325 towns and parishes in Devon with snow wardens who help to keep their priority routes clear of snow and ice when the county is hit by a prolonged spell of winter weather.

John says he’s contemplating helping out for another decade – with the help of his son and grandson.

John said: “It was a brilliant idea of the Council when they started the Snow Warden scheme ten years ago, especially for out of the way places like Dunkeswell which is high enough to get snow when down in Honiton and Exeter they’ve just got a bit of drizzle. That’s why we joined in year one.

“The Council’s trying to help people to help themselves. I believe in helping yourself a little bit, not sitting back and waiting for someone else to do everything. This is why I think it’s a good scheme.

“The road from Honiton to Hemyock is considered a priority road for the County Council gritters which enables us to do the roads off of that.

“Before this scheme started the local farmers used to get themselves out because they wanted the milk lorry to come, and by the time each farmer had joined up you had quite a lot of roads cleared. That was off their own back to do it. Not everybody has got the use of a tractor but most of the snow wardens I know around here are agricultural engineers or farmers.

“The Beast from the East was the worst winter we’ve had since we’ve been in the scheme but there have been other odd little blips that have only lasted for a day. We’re high enough up that if you have a shower of rain it can freeze, but the benefit of having a bit of salt around can make it possible for people to keep moving.

“I’d like to think I could stick another 10 years – it would be great. But I’m sure my son or my grandson will carry on if I didn’t do it.”

Devon County Council launched the Snow Warden scheme in 2011, following two harsh winters in 2009 and 2010. The Snow Warden volunteers are a key point of contact between the local community and the County Council.

The volunteers receive advice and training from Devon County Council on how to clear snow and spread salt effectively. The local authority also covers third party public liability for the treatment undertaken as part of the Snow Warden scheme.

Photo of Councillor Stuart Hughes
Councillor Stuart Hughes

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management and Snow Warden for Sidmouth and Sidford, said: “It’s people like John that make the Snow Warden scheme what it is today. He knows his local community and does this work on their behalf without asking for anything in return. He deserves our praise and thanks for serving his parish – and thanks go to all of our Snow Wardens right across the county.

“It’s fantastic that he, like many of our Snow Wardens, have volunteered to be part of this scheme over the past decade. Snow Wardens may not need to take any action for the majority of the year, but when it counts, they turn out in harsh weather conditions to ensure that local people can get to where they need to go.”

To find out more about the Snow Warden scheme go to our communities webpages
or contact Parish Council representatives who can liaise with their local Neighbourhood Highway Officer.

More information and travel advice is available from Devon County Council’s Winter Travel webpages or for updates on Twitter follow @DevonAlert