A GROUP of residents who saw hundreds of sandbags they laid along the banks of a dangerous river stolen were heartened when one man took it upon himself to replace them.

The Low Valley Flood Group, re-established after severe flooding in November saw damage to 150 homes, worked for hours over the weekend to lay sandbags and scaffolding boards along the banks of the River Dove, after storms Ciara and Dennis gave its banks little time to recover.

But the rain-battered residents’ efforts threatened to be undone when unknown thieves began to lift the sandbags that were laid only hours beforehand.

Thankfully, reserves were kept in a storehouse on Ings Lane - and resident Joe Rimmington took it upon himself to replenish the sandbags in one evening.

“I only moved two tons of sand bags to stop people stealing them,” said Joe, 30, of George Street. “If I was moving them, I might as well have put them where they needed to be.

“Sue (Bradshaw, chairwoman of the group) and the members of the Low Valley Flood Group deserve all of the credit. Their work must be tireless, not only what they have been doing for the flood defences, but the mental worry of their properties getting flooded must be exhausting.”

The group had received some sandbags from Barnsley Council, which also allowed them access to the storehouse, and they have had the backing of council leader Sir Steve Houghton and local councillors.

Coun Trevor Smith said: “They rolled up in vans and just took them. What can you do with these people?

“These were temporary measures while proper repairs can take place. People, including myself, put into their own pocket to get them.

“You can see the difference between people like that and the young lad who put all the sandbags back out. He must’ve been exhausted when he’d done.”