SALT OF THE EARTH - Meet David Bridge, who is making lives easier in the village of Danby

It is always heartening to note the sheer volume and breadth of national awareness days we now have in this country, which often can go a long way in helping to raise the profile of an important cause or a topical issue.

By Louise Perrin
Thursday, 20th February 2020, 10:51 am
Updated Thursday, 20th February 2020, 10:52 am

This week saw the return of National Random Acts of Kindness Day – an uplifting celebration of the difference that even the smallest of kind gestures can make, and the positive ripple effect this sends across our communities.

But with every awareness day comes an important reminder that we must sustain our efforts all year round in order to see the best, most meaningful results.

It is wonderful to have a National Random Acts of Kindness Day as a focal point, but we also need to remember that being kind is something which already comes naturally to us, and it's about making sure that we continue to nurture this innate quality by making kindness an everyday part of our lives – something that isn't just random, but a fixture of our normal routines.

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Peter and Chris Knapp with David Bridge - Pic: Richard Jemison

Being kind already comes naturally to the Scarborough district and residents right across North Yorkshire, which is why The Scarborough News, in partnership with North Yorkshire County Council and sister JPI Media titles in Yorkshire, has launched a major year-long campaign called Salt of the Earth to celebrate this, which will share inspiring stories and examples of the very easy but powerful ways that we can all make somebody’s day brighter just by showing some thought.

In the sixth week of our Salt of the Earth campaign, we meet David Bridge, a retired farmer who now lives in the picturesque village of Danby.

David Bridge moved to the village of Danby just over four years ago, settling into a property just behind Peter and Chris Knapp.

In true Salt of the Earth fashion, David is happy to be called on whenever Peter and Chris need assistance.

Smiles all round in Danby - Pic: Richard Jemison

Like the time when Chris fell and David brought her bed downstairs so she was able to get a good night’s sleep, or when the couple had trouble with their fridge because the tray at the back which collects the water needed emptying and Peter couldn’t get down, or see properly, to do it.

Peter, clearly frustrated by his inability to do the job himself, said: “It was such a very simple job. I’m quite a competent general worker, but now I can’t really see what I’m doing. Things have become a little more tricky as old age has come on.”

David immediately jumped in and said: “But it wasn’t simple though was it, Peter? Because you had to lie on the floor to do it.”

It’s not just the quick jobs that David is on hand to help with, he also assists with more complex tasks as well.

David Bridge is making a huge difference in Peter and Chris's lives.

Peter said: “You’ve only got to hint that something needs doing, like we had difficulty pumping water, and David says ‘I’ll take it up to my workshop and have a look at it.’

“The next day, or even sooner, he’s back and he’ll say ‘I’ve taken out the filter and it’s working again now.’”

What is glaringly obvious is not only the affection the couple have for David, but also the affection David and his wife Judy have for them as well.

“What’s really nice, as far as Judy and I are concerned, is they will ring and we come down, they’re not too proud to ask,” said David.

The couple do find ways to return the favours though: “Chris knows when we’re away and keeps an eye out for us,” said David with a smile.

David not only helps Chris and Peter, he is also a volunteer at Memory Lane lunches, which are held as part of Revival North Yorkshire’s mission to prevent loneliness and isolation, particularly among the elderly.

David helps with the set-up and general management of the day, and also delivers lunches, collects attendees ... but most of all “I like to go in and chat with folks,” he said.

Revival North Yorkshire is a Community Interest Company run by Debbie Swales, who proposed David as a Salt of the Earth. Debbie said: “He’s absolutely brilliant, like today, I was short of help and I just rang him and he’s here.”

David is also a member of the Men’s Shed which meets in Castleton Tea Rooms on the last Thursday of the month. “We are just a group of fellows who enjoy each other’s company,” said David. “We do try and help other people though – the other week we moved a piano, for example.”

When asked to describe David, Chris summed it up succinctly as she said: “He’s magic, a helper from heaven.”

Peter said: “David is there for whatever’s needed, whether it be strength or a helping hand.

"He anticipates things that need fixing when he talks to you and says ‘I’ll fix that for you’ and it spreads to his friends, it’s quite contagious.”

David said: “I’m just a people person, I enjoy doing it.

"It’s something different, now I’ve got time ... and I supply them with marmalade as well!”