When storm Dennis raged across the English village Hampton Bishop in the district of Herefordshire last year causing the rivers to overflow, and cider producer Kier Rogers and his Unimog U 1700 came to the local residents’ aid.
Rural idyll under threat.
Hampton Bishop is located between two streams, Lugg and Wye, joining not far from the small town. When both rivers reached record levels with banks overflowed by more than 1 m, the authorities called out a state of emergency: With impassable streets, the residents were stranded.
Neighbourhood assistance of a different kind.
Kier Rogers is actually a horticulturist, specialising in reinterpreting conventional fruit cultivation methods in modern ways. In 2015, he founded his own Cider brand, Colcombe House, which caters to some of the most famous restaurants in the country. When the flood stroke in Hampton Bishop in the spring of 2020, Kier Rogers became the logistics hero of the calamity. For three days, he and his 28-year-old Unimog delivered urgently needed food items. More than that, he carried his neighbours between their houses and shops that they could not get to anymore.
Fields of application other than harvesting apples.
As a longtime Mercedes-Benz enthusiast, Kier Rogers purchased his first Unimog 15 months prior to the incident. The Unimog has many tasks on the 400 ha large terrain along the banks of the river Wye. One of them is transporting apples to the local winepress house.
Higher, faster, further.
What gave the Unimog the edge over conventional tractors that were also helping out during the flood was a combination of an excellent cross-country mobility and a high speed. With its 24 inch agricultural wheels, the Unimog turned difficult passages into an almost smooth ride. And the truck was able to cross deep sections that other 4×4 off-road vehicles did not dare.
Out and about eleven hours a day.
Among the most spectacular rides were transporting a patient to the nearest hospital, delivering urgently needed thyroid tablets and carrying a gas fitter who fixed the central heating in the house of a child with a disability. “For the first two days of the flood, I was out and about running errands for 11 hours each day”, Kier Rogers remembers.
The state of emergency in the West Midlands even made the headlines, which is why driver and Unimog drove residents to the local pub on two evenings where they were interviewed by television crews and other broadcasting representatives.
Nothing stops a Unimog – mine gave a brilliant performance.
Kier Rogers, owner, Colcombe House Cider
“Crossing deep sections was scary sometimes“, the apple farmer recounts. “But nothing stops a Unimog – mine gave a brilliant performance. I was able to carry up to ten people at a time. Everyone was thankful for the dry hay balls to sit on in the back.” The residents expressed their gratitude towards Kier Rogers for his heroic actions on social media. One of them wrote: „Many, many thanks to Kier and all other drivers. I honestly don’t know how our village would have coped without them.”
Unimog as flood manager.
Russ Ticehurst, manager of Serbus, a company located in Hampton Bishop that specialises in mobile security, presented Kier Rogers with a gift basket as a show of gratitude for his commitment: “Thanks to Kier, we could administer and maintain our server. This way, our customers were saved from server interruptions.”
Russ Ticehurst has also been considering further steps for the future: “We are currently rethinking our flood management precautions and are seriously considering about getting our own Unimog.”