Communities across Reading have come together this month as severe flooding brought some neighbourhoods to their knees.

Following severe downpours across the country as Storm Henk rocked through the southeast, water levels reached record highs in both Caversham and Purley on Thames.

Due to the proximity of the River Thames and its location on a flood plain, both areas often have some form of flooding every year as the water levels rise over the river banks.

Purley village has battled with extensive flooding every 10 years since 2003 when a team of community volunteers was assembled to help vulnerable residents and offer transportation through the flood water across the area.

According to some elderly residents, the community spirit shown in Purley this year has been the difference between life and death.

Shan Jackson has lived in the village for seven years and is currently a full-time carer for his wife who suffers from dementia.

On Friday, January 5, the water levels reached waist-high, thus leaving them housebound.

Shan said: “The support I have had from the wardens and all my neighbours has been fantastic and this has brought the community together.

"People are quick to criticise in life but slow to give credit and I do believe that all the volunteers that helped during this time need recognition.

“They are all volunteers and no one gets paid for what they do. Covid brought people together who didn’t even know each other despite being neighbours and I think that this is exactly the same.”

The 12 Purley village wardens were responsible for transporting kids to school using canoes, delivering shopping and medication to vulnerable neighbours who were unable to leave and ensuring that everyone was safe.

Shan added: “My carers stopped coming at 4 pm on Friday and I had my first carer today (9/1) so I’ve been doing everything for my wife.

“I’ve had 2 heart attacks, a triple bypass and I’m on my second pacemaker but I’m still above ground because of these guys.

“This Purley community is a pinnacle of hope in this town. The community spirit here needs to be spread out across the country because it’s unique.”

Barry Elford from Chestnut Grove is one of the many out offering their help to neighbours during the flooding.

He said that the whole community has pulled together to help those who were trapped in their homes.

Jackie Dainton, who was trapped inside her home for 3 days with no electricity or heat received hot meals from a neighbour during the duration.

She said: "Everyone was so lovely. My neighbour who is Polish introduced us to different types of curries and cuisine which we hadn't tasted before. It was quite the experience."