Trowbridge taxi driver is hailed a hero

A KIND-HEARTED Trowbridge taxi driver is being praised by a New Zealand grandmother for rescuing her from an emergency night in a police station.

Kiwi care worker Valarie Flynn, 77, was heading home to her family.

But her flight from Heathrow was cancelled, and she had no where to go.

“I was in a real state,” said Valarie. “I could not go back to the home I was in in Devizes, as the people there are vulnerable and ill, and I had just been to an airport. Nothing was open. I couldn’t even find another cab firm. The only choice I had was to go to the nearest Police Station to get a roof over my head.”

So the Trowbridge-based taxi driver who had dropped her off came back to get her.

“We stopped in a service station and she rang all the B and B’s and hotels she could think of,” said Valarie.

Eventually, after dozens of calls Sally Wright hit gold and found a hotel which was still taking people in.

“She was quite upset as she couldn’t go back to Devizes as her friends who were in isolation,” said Sally.

“At one point I thought I’d be offering her a room in my house or phoning friends with spare rooms!” said Sally, who has run Sally’s Taxis for six years.

But the Swan Hotel in Bradford on Avon came through.

“I’d basically closed hotel,” said owner of the 12 bedroom hotel, James Sullivan-Tailyor.

“But just that day I had read the updates from govt about helping put up key workers. Then Sally rang.”

He says he now has about eight guests, including Valarie – a combination of key workers needing accommodation and other vulnerable people isolating in the hotel.

“Normal service isn’t really on at the moment. We are not doing a buffet breakfast for obvious reasons and we have put in a lot of extra measures. But we are being as flexible as we can.

“One of the residents bought some chicken fillets the other day, so I cooked those up for them. Otherwise, the Co-op and the bakery are still open for pastries for breakfast and we have a take away menu too.”

He is also laying out extra shampoo, coffee and biscuits for the rooms. As for Valarie, she is now hoping she can return to her caring duties.

“I’m 77, but I am as fit as a fiddle.” she said.

“I know I am in that vulnerable group but I am an experienced carer so would like to keep working if I can’t get back to New Zealand.

“I might as well. If care is needed then I can be of help.”

Valarie has been working for Helping Hands as a live-in carer for the past eight years. She is still waiting to hear from the New Zealand consulate as to what to do. But in the meantime she says she has plenty of fruit and biscuits. “If it hadn’t been for Sally, good Lord!” she said.

“At least I’m still laughing and will put this down to life’s rich experience.”

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