Today we reveal that the Community Foundation for Calderdale has won a new award, the Special Award for Outstanding Community Spirit, at this year’s Examiner Pride of Huddersfield Awards.

It’s one of just two categories where there is no shortlist – the award is decided by the judges – and the other is the final award of the night, the Achievement Award.

Pride of Huddersfield Awards

Outstanding Community Spirit: Community Foundation for Calderdale

When devastating funds struck Calderdale at Christmas the damage they left in their wake threatened to wreck businesses and lives.

All along the valley from Elland and Brighouse to Todmorden and Hebden Bridge the water left a trail of misery in its wake with the damage amounting to many millions of pounds.

The floodwater affected 2,800 homes and 1,500 businesses.

It needed a quick response – and the one provided by the Community Foundation for Calderdale was mega fast. For the floods struck on Boxing Day and by that evening an appeal had been set up primarily by the Foundation’s chief executive Steve Duncan and marketing manager Emma Woods-Bolger with help sought on social media.

The Calder Valley Flood Fund was given a £5,000 kickstart by the Foundation and by the end of the first day had raised £25,000.

Video thumbnail, Community Foundation for Calderdale's flood video
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At one point money was coming into the fund at the rate of £40,000 a day and Daily Mail readers alone pledged £240,000.

Steve and the senior management team also approached large organisations for donations to the fund and received big sums from companies such as Morrisons, Harveys of Halifax, Nestle and Marks & Spencer while Ikea donated 10 pallets of furniture.

The appeal raised £1.6m from the public which has then been matched pound for pound by the government, bringing the total to more than £3.1m to help bring emergency relief for the hardest hit.

The Foundation has given out 1,600 emergency grants of £200 while 350 grants of around £500 each have been given to people needing carpets, furniture, white goods such as fridges and freezers and other grant aid. A further 250 grants of £300 each were provided for residents forced to leave their homes while 103 businesses also received grants.

Emma said: “Boxing Day evening brought the news to the whole country that Calder Valley which has become familiar to so many as the backdrop to BBC drama Last Tango in Halifax and Happy Valley had suffered unprecedented flooding.

“Images of upturned trucks, streets turned into canals, shops pulled into rivers and homes destroyed beamed into our homes. On seeing these images many people were moved to offer their support.

Examiner Pride of Huddersfield Community Award, Community Foundation of Halifax for their flood relief campaign. left to right, Pauline Turner, Elsa Ward, Shagufta Sarwar, Michelle Wade, Danni Bailey, Rob Billson, Eilene Kelley, Emma Woods-Bolger and CEO Steve Duncan.

“None of the work we have done would be possible without the people who made donations and for that we will be eternally grateful. Those donations have enabled us to already support thousands of individuals and hundreds of businesses with over £650,000 of grant aid and every day we process more grants and support more people.”

In the wake of the floods the Foundation launched new initiatives, including a legacy fund called WaterMark Calderdale. Local businesses can sign up to sell a product or service and a percentage of the sale will go into a fund that will support people in the event of another flood.

If all the businesses hit by the 2015 floods raised just £10 per week from their sales of Watermark goods the fund would hit over £700,000 in its first year. Multiply that by a few years of no floods and a bit more input from other businesses or some adding more than £10 per week and the fund could easily hit £2m. That money would be there for flood-hit communities to access straightaway in case of another flood – in short, saving for a rainy day.

Emma added: “It’s all about businesses and community working together to look after each other.”

The Foundation has now also set up a scheme called Flood Save Calderdale which will help those at risk of flooding in the future who are not covered by a new Government scheme called Flood RE which promises affordable flood insurance, but only to businesses and homes built after 2009. After flooding in Calderdale in 2012 insurance became difficult to get with many policies having extremely high excesses.

If people pay into its flood protection scheme the Foundation will then match it pound for pound up to £1,000. It has already invested £500,000 into the scheme.

The Foundation was set up in 1989 and receives large endowments from generous benefactors. It then uses the interest from the £9m it now has to help charities and good causes.