Inspirational Stories Week Five: Rachel Ridler- Mum on a Mission

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Inspirational stories: Many of us have them but may not even realise how important they truly are or are too modest to shout it from the roof-tops. Successes should be shared and enjoyed, especially when certain hurdles or obstacles have had to be overcome to get there. Your story could help others reach their full potential. For this reason, I wanted to find some truly inspiring people who have a story that needs to be told. Each week I will bring you a different story with a different angle but one that you will just have to read. 

This week I was contacted by Rachel Ridler from Mum on a Mission blog and heard of her heartbreaking story of how the new HS2 railway is set to destroy her home.

The Letter

I was sat on my lounge floor, reading a book to my three-year-old son. The strange letter was in my letterbox early this morning, which I thought was odd as the postman always came around lunch time. I had opened it and was scanning it out of the corner of my eye whilst reading the familiar words of Peter Rabbit. I got halfway through and had to stop.  This was a letter that would change my life forever.

I ran upstairs to my husband who had just got out of the shower, in complete disbelief. He had to read it to confirm if what I had read was correct. Unfortunately, it was. HS2, the new high-speed railway, had announced a new route and that route was going to go right through our house. Our brand-new house. On a brand-new estate. Where not even all the houses were built yet.

The words echoed through my mind “It is likely that the Government would need to acquire some or all of your land or property in order to construct the railway.”

My husband and kids rushed off to nursery and work in the usual morning franticness, and I was left dumbfounded at the news I had just received. In half an hour my working day would start too and bang on 8:30am I was due to take an important phone call with a consultant quizzing me about my job and reviewing everything I do. I had to push this news aside and carry on.

The month that followed

What followed that initial letter has been a month of chaos and confusion. We had news crews in the house filming us, reporters on our doorsteps, public meetings and consultations.

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It was all a whirlwind of gossip and emotion and grief. Yes, grief! We were all of us grieving about a future that we had planned in our new homes which may never happen now. Whether that be a peaceful retirement, a community to raise our children in or just a stepping stone to something else, all of that had been potentially shattered through one letter and decision.

In my emotion, I wanted to make sure that no-one else on our estate had to go through this on their own, so I set up a residents Facebook page. But we all know how things can get out of hand on Facebook and soon arguments were breaking out and fraught words being exchanged. I was in the middle trying to get people to understand that we were all coping and dealing with this in different ways and to be kind to each other. After all, we were all in the same sinking ship.

Along with a few others, we were able to organise an Action Group against HS2, raising awareness of the issue in the local area and helping inform people on how to fight it.

team holding up a banner against the HS2 trainline

Life going forward

Through this awful experience that will no doubt affect my life for the next 10 years, our community has been brought closer together than I could have ever imagined. I have met neighbours I didn’t know exist, I have been round for tea in people’s homes and shared hobbies and interests with others. I have been able to speak to mums who have felt isolated on the estate and now we are joining together. I have been able to provide a forum for questions and people to promote their businesses to each other and support each other. This is what real community is, and without HS2 we would still be in the “smile and nod” at each other stage, whereas now there are real relationships forming. I have pushed forward in this to organise Teddy Bear’s Picnic, residents socials and a Christmas Event with a treasure hunt and raffle. Yes, we might be blighted, but that shouldn’t ruin any child’s Christmas. All it takes it to be the one person willing to step up and organise something.

I don’t know if my house will still be standing in 6 years time – the likelihood is that HS2 will be approved and my house will be bulldozed to make way for a 20m high viaduct. But in the waiting, I will continue to support and love everyone on my estate and be there for this grieving community because that is what God has put me here to do. It is not a mistake that I am on this estate and a cruel dealing of the cards, but a position and a privilege that I have been given to be able to journey with these people, my neighbours, through all this.

If you would like to read more of Rachel’s blogs and stories you can also follow her on Twitter.

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2 thoughts on “Inspirational Stories Week Five: Rachel Ridler- Mum on a Mission

  1. Thanks so much for featuring me Emma. I really hope that I can just inspire someone to step up in their community and make a difference, no matter what is going on. That might just being the person to set up a facebook group for their street so there is a forum for ideas/events/questions. Just do it!

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