During the severe weather that gripped the UK last week, some garages took the decision to close their doors. But while some spent time with their families, or took advantage of downtime to do a bit more training, for Kris Sheridan, driving around in the snow was much more useful.
With a 4×4 on his driveway, Kris, owner of Intelligent Autoelectrics, offered to ferry those who work with elderly and vulnerable people to the places they needed to be, in an example of community spirit that swept the nation during the ‘Beast from the East’.
“We took the decision to close the garage due to the location of where my Staff live,” Kris said. “Not only that, our garage is on a road that didn’t have any attention from the council so was pretty treacherous! I couldn’t risk staff or customers falling or slipping on the snow. Also, All we do here is vehicle diagnosis and running faults; So a lot of the vehicles we get in require road testing, and that just couldn’t happen.”
While unable to test customer’s vehicles, Kris decided instead to put his 22-year-old Mitsubishi Shogun to use instead. “I had a 4×4 that was extremely capable in the snow, and if I wasn’t working, technically I had some free time on my hands!” He adds. “This, Coupled with the fact that there were genuine people that needed to get to and from work, like carers, doctors and nurses. Their work cant stop like ours can.
“There were a few groups and organisations that were out and about (Severn Area Rescue Association and 4X4 Response Wales to name a few) but from my side, it was just myself and a few people that I knew with 4×4’s that were out helping carers get out and around their calls, Helping nurses get to and from work and helping staff get to care homes.”
Kris ended up helping 8-10 people, and spent most of the Friday afternoon and evening working with Care Cymru, taking one of their carers to various locations to ensure she was able to check in on her patients. “People were extremely grateful for the help,” he continues. “However, as much as they appreciate what we did, it had to be done. I wouldn’t like to see one of my family members go without essential care if it was the other way round.”
While there were many reports of how bad conditions were, Kris was able to gain first-hand experience of the effects of the snow. “The conditions were quite bad. Not too bad to start with as the main roads were busy, however, as the cars disappeared, and the snow got heavier, the main roads started to get a bit hairy! Some of the locations we needed to get carers to were quite remote so were quite challenging.”
And the car that managed this? “My Shogun is a short wheel base Manual with proper old fashioned mechanical centre and rear diff locks. I have owned it a few years and bought it purely for towing and launching a boat, “ Kris explains. “It coped very well and I didn’t get stuck, even towing out a stuck Range Rover at one point!”
With all this, it would be remiss not to ask what Kris’ main tip for driving in the snow would be. “Slow and steady, He says. “Although, if the weather gets as bad as it was here the last few days, I wouldn’t entertain driving a normal front wheel drive car!”