DONATIONS totalling almost £10m have been distributed to Cumbrian flood victims since Storm Desmond hit.

Now, on the three year anniversary, new proposals are being drawn up to help in the event of a future disaster.

If successful, a new national emergency fund will be set up, to kick in following a major incident like the Cumbrian floods.

Andy Beeforth, chief executive of the Cumbria Community Foundation, believes it would help generate even more funds, should they be needed.

Mr Beeforth was among those who spearheaded the hugely-successful Cumbria Flood Recovery Fund back in 2015.

After raising £1m within days, the appeal - which collected public donations to help those flooded out of their homes - went on to distribute almost £10m.

Of this, over £7.2m went to help households, while a further £2.6m was given to groups.

In total, this money has helped 3,157 individuals and families and 168 community groups, charities and sports clubs.

Mr Beeforth explained how the fund was born, even before Storm Desmond had fully it.

“We set it up. We’d previously responded to foot and mouth with an appeal, and the floods in 2005 and 2009,” he said.

“I was out of the county but saw on social media what the water levels were like. It was pretty obvious there was going to be a lot of hardship caused. I got in touch with the board and we set it up that night.

“We raised £1m in the first few days. In terms of the amount of money raised, it was three times more (than previous appeals). It was amazing. People are just very generous and very caring.”

Mr Beeforth said the challenge was to reach all of those affected - from big urban areas to small rural communities, stretching right across the county.

The money initially helped those who’d had to leave their homes at short notice and lost most of their possessions.

It also helped groups carrying out aid work, such as distributing food supplies or opening community cafes where people could go to meet and talk.

Other funds were spent on recovery, helping households up their flood protection for future and supporting community’s to improve their flood resilience - with volunteers now monitoring river levels in their local areas and drawing up action plans to evacuate vulnerable residents in case of a future floods disaster.

He said the community foundation now has a template appeal set up, and remaining funds - ring-fenced for other disasters - have since helped victims of the Millom floods and farmers affected by Storm Emma earlier this year.

He has also been feeding into the proposals to set up a national disaster response charity, which would collect funds and distribute them via community foundations whenever a disaster occurred.

The proposal was submitted to the Government last week.

Summing up the 2015 floods appeal, he said: “It’s a genuine privilege to be part of the story of helping people. It’s hard work, but definitely worth it.”