Hard work pays off as order is restored to storm-hit Hill Head beach

BACK IN BUSINESS Angela Collingwood, owner of The Shack at Hill Head, which is open again after shutting for a day because of flooding.
BACK IN BUSINESS Angela Collingwood, owner of The Shack at Hill Head, which is open again after shutting for a day because of flooding.
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THE morning after hurricane-force winds and strong tides battered the coast, community spirit shone through as a family worked together to tidy up a promenade.

Angela Collingwood owns and runs The Shack, a refreshment hut on the seafront at Monks Hill car park, Hill Head. When she arrived at work on Saturday morning, the beach had been devastated by the storm from the previous night, which had seen winds so strong two beach huts were blown off of their bases and into the car park.

Beach huts at Hill Head took a battering in Saturday's storm

Beach huts at Hill Head took a battering in Saturday's storm

The Shack is known to be open every day, come rain or shine, so Angela set about clearing the devastation as she knew it was going to be good weather on Sunday.

Angela, 51, said: ‘It was devastating. Fortunately I keep most of my stock in plastic buckets or on shelves so I was able to save it. I took one look and thought “where do I start?”.’

The Shack had been flooded and lots of debris and pebbles had been washed up on to the walkway.

Angela phoned her son, Ashley Barlow, who owns Mayfair Developments, a groundwork company in Fareham, and he came down to The Shack with a digger and they set about clearing the area.

BUSY Angela Collingwood's son Ashley's digger on the beach

BUSY Angela Collingwood's son Ashley's digger on the beach

Angela said: ‘I knew a lot of people had been hit, so I didn’t want to be put on a list and wait my turn. We just got on with it.’

After cleaning The Shack, they cleared the debris off the walkway and pushed the pebbles back on to the beach to create a barricade should the weather turn bad again.

Their hard work paid off as the clouds parted on Sunday and people visited the beach.

Angela said: ‘People kept coming along and saying how lucky we were to escape the storm.

‘They were so grateful that we were still open as dogs need to be walked, whatever the weather.

‘I like to think we are a mirage at the end of their walk. They see The Shack in the distance and they think “is it open?” They are so happy when they realise we are and they can get a cup of tea.’

High tides flooded many back gardens along the Hill Head coast line and blocked the road by Titchfield Haven. This receded over the weekend and the council cleared the car park on Monday.

Percy O’Dell, chairman of the Beach Hut Association, said 20 beach huts on Hill Head and Monks Hill were damaged during the Valentine’s Day storm.

Mr O’Dell said: ‘The huts have moved and twisted on their foundations, luckily most of our members are well-insured. Although, this is definitely the worst we have ever seen it – we have never had this much damage in one go.’