Ten years ago, Jersey was plunged into chaos when it was hit by the worst snowstorm in 34 years

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ON Sunday 10 March 2013, Adam Budworth and his wife, Glenda, settled down for the night at their home near the Railway Walk after celebrating his 39th birthday.

Across the other side of the Island, in their semi-detached house off a country lane in St Saviour, Mike and Lisette Jones were waiting for the arrival of their second child, who by now was more than a week overdue.

As the families went about their evening, hundreds of miles out to the south-west a small but intense area of low pressure was hurtling towards the Island on a direct collision course with Arctic air which had plunged down over the whole of the British Isles earlier in the day.

The clash of the two air masses right over the top of the Channel Islands unleashed a ferocious blizzard – whipped up by severe-gale-force-nine winds – which would leave the Joneses facing a dash to the Hospital in the back of a police 4×4 and Mr and Mrs Budworth trapped under a tree with badly broken backs.

Jersey Met had forecast heavy snow for Monday, but the intensity and length of the storm caught many by surprise. The first tangible indication of unusual weather came during a few hours on Sunday afternoon, when many Islanders noticed a sudden and rapid drop the temperature.

Cars abandoned on La Grande Route des Augerez , St Peter PICTURE: TONY PIKE

The following morning, Islanders woke to a covering of snow. Schools had already announced they would be closed, and within hours the Airport runway shut and the strong winds forced ferries to remain in port.

The moderate to heavy snowfall continued until lunchtime when, for almost an hour, the storm seemed to abate as the snow turned to flurries and there was even a glimpse of brightness.

But anyone who thought the worst was over would be disappointed. After the eye of the storm had tracked west to east across Brittany, conditions dramatically and rapidly deteriorated.

Snow piled down in white-out conditions, carpeting the Island as the strong easterly winds pushed up 8ft-high drifts.

By the middle of the afternoon, roads were strewn with abandoned cars, dozens of trees had been felled and power lines ripped down.

The front pages of the JEP from 14 and 30 March

Buses heading west were terminating at St Aubin, leaving Mrs Budworth – and dozens of other passengers – with no option but to walk the rest of the way home.

As the Island was being battered by the worst snowstorm since 1979, Mr Budworth, whose parents were over from the UK, left his home near the Elephant Park to head down the Railway Walk to meet his wife and accompany her on the way back up the track.

On the way there, a tree caught his attention.

‘There was about six inches of snow and it was quite picturesque. You don’t normally get that type of fall in Jersey,’ he said.

‘It was actually really quite nice. I was looking around and I saw this tree – it was covered in snow and half of it had fallen over.

‘So I took a picture of it, stepped over it and carried on walking down to meet Glenda.’

Twenty minutes later, as they walked back up, the rest of the tree would come crashing down on the couple, trapping them on the ground in the extreme, freezing conditions.

‘I heard a big crack – like a gunshot,’ said Mr Budworth, who is managing director at Grant Thornton in the Channel Islands.

‘I put my arm around Glenda naturally as I reacted to it and we just swivelled and the next thing it was just very eerie. It was like a movie. There was snow blowing around and we were just stuck.

‘I was wedged on my haunches. I had my arm around Glenda and we were just trapped under the tree. We couldn’t move and I couldn’t reach my phone in my pocket so we couldn’t call for help.’

Despite suffering a broken back and compound fracture to her left leg, Mrs Budworth, who was also recovering from a rare form of cancer, managed to move just enough to create space for the pair to roll out from under the tree.

Recalling the moment he knew they had a chance of being rescued, Mr Budworth said: ‘I remember getting my phone out and dialling 999 and they asked which emergency service I wanted and I just said “all of them”.’

Rescuers soon arrived, and with trees still crashing down around them, the couple were taken to an old Land Rover Army ambulance and given repeated doses of morphine.

They were forced to wait in a holding area near the Shell Garden for the roads to be cleared of trees, including a massive oak which had almost crushed a nearby car.

Lisesette and Mike Jones with their children, Seb (11) and Josh (9) Picture: ROB CURRIE (35362296)

Over in St Saviour, the Jones family were getting nervous as the lanes around their home slowly piled high with extraordinary amounts of snow.

‘Our first born had been super quick – when we arrived in the Hospital he was born within an hour,’ said Mr Jones, who lived on Rue du Château Clairval at the time.

‘So this time, when Lisette said she was fine and nothing was going on I thought “I remember this last time”. She was overdue and we knew the storm was coming, so I was getting a little bit nervous.’

Describing the events of 11 March, he said: ‘I had a good mate in the States police – James Wileman – and he sent me a message saying “good luck” and he said if we needed anything to just shout.

‘At about 6pm or 7pm that evening we realised it was getting worse, so we decided to get the in-laws around as we had an older child and we would have needed someone to look after him when we had to leave.

‘Then at some point Lisette said that something was happening and she thought it was time to go. In that two- or three-hour window from when I had last gone to the end of the road, all hell had broken loose.

‘I remember going to the end of the road and thinking that it didn’t look good. Looking up the road there was a Land Rover Defender that had been abandoned. I knew that if a vehicle like that, which is about as tough as it goes, gets abandoned then we could be in trouble.

‘So I phoned James at the police and asked if he had a 4×4 and straight away he said “yeah, it’s on its way, sit tight”.’

Half an hour later the vehicle still hadn’t arrived. By now it was being dug out of a drift by the officers who had been sent to help the pair.

‘At this point I was looking at sledges in the loft and wondering how we were going to get down the road to the Hospital,’ said Mr Jones, now aged 44.

‘There were a couple of hairy moments on the way to the Hospital, where the officers asked us to hold tight as they had got stuck there on the way to us and needed to build up a bit of speed.

‘As soon as we were on the down section of St Saviour’s Hill I was starting to get confident. All the time the two police guys were turning round and asking if anything was happening and whether they needed to stop. I think they were petrified that they were going to deliver a baby. Lisette was pretty chilled though.’

Tree surgeons clear a tree that had fallen on an MG at Mont Le s Vaux in St Brelade. The occupants needed hospital treatment Picture: TONY PIKE (01828186)

The snow continued through the evening and night, before eventually clearing the following morning.

But it was bitterly cold for days, with some country lanes remaining impassible for almost a week.

More than 20 power lines in five parishes were torn down by the 54mph winds and flying debris, leaving hundreds without electricity. Jersey Electricity later described the damage as the worst since the Great Storm of 1987.

The day after the blizzard, Mrs Jones – who by remarkable coincidence was born during the 1979 snowstorm – gave birth to Josh, a brother for Seb, now aged 11.

Looking back on the events of that Monday evening, Mr Jones says the family will be forever grateful to the officers who came to their rescue.

‘I don’t know what we would have done without them,’ he said. ‘We would have to have done it at home with the help of Google and some hot towels.’

The Budworths were eventually transported to hospital, three hours after being struck by the tree.

Both suffered multiple injuries, and spent weeks in hospital. Mr Budworth was transferred to the UK to have surgery and pins and plates inserted into his broken back, and also suffered a broken leg.

For many weeks the pair could only walk with the use of a frame, and had to be looked after by family members.

Speaking to the JEP at the time, Mr Budworth said: ‘We are not even 40 years old and we are sitting like OAPs in a nursing home.’

Reflecting on that day, the couple, who have since welcomed Dolly-Rae (7) and Johnnie (3) into the world, know the outcome could have been much worse.

‘We were so fortunate. And we are so grateful to everyone who pulled together to help us that day. The police and fire crews, the TTS people who came out with their chainsaws, the ambulance crews and all the medical workers at the hospitals – we can cannot thank them enough.’

The pair have fully recovered from their ordeal but still have vivid memories of that extraordinary day.

And hanging on a wall at home is a framed copy of a picture of the pair, standing with the aid of frames, which appeared on the front page of the JEP next to a headline neatly reflecting the gravity of their ordeal: ‘We’re so lucky to be alive.’

View more pictures from the 2013 snowstorm here

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