30 December 2014, The Tablet

Praise for church that sheltered people stranded by snow

A group of snow-stranded coach passengers have paid tribute to the Catholic parishioners who opened their church and its hall, and provided them with hot drinks, mince pies and a place to shelter for the night.

Chloe McIntosh, who was one of about 40 passengers aboard a coach travelling from Sheffield to London, spoke of the kindness of a group of parishioners of Our Lady and St Thomas in south Sheffield after they got into an “absolutely horrific” snowstorm near the church.

“They opened the church and let us take refuge there,” she said. After about 13 hours, the coach passengers were eventually taken back to the centre of the city.

Eileen Kinsella, 49, a parishioner of Our Lady’s who lives near the church, said it was quite common for vehicles to become stranded at the bottom of a steep hill near the church when it snowed.

“But on this occasion the snow fell very quickly, and it became clear that the coach was stranded,” she said. “There was a pregnant woman on the coach, as well as several elderly people, and my friend has a key to the church hall so we opened it up, invited the people in, put the heating on and made lots of cups of tea.”

Eileen, her husband Raymond and their children then took all the sleeping bags and blankets they could muster over to the church hall.

“Fortunately we’re big campers so we had plenty of useful stuff,” said Eileen. “I went home to bed, but Raymond stayed there all night, and the passengers left on a new coach early the next morning.”

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