By Andy Hirst

A Huddersfield company has provided free flood protection for the town’s main food bank.

The Welcome Centre’s warehouse in Lockwood was flooded earlier this year after the nearby River Holme burst its banks in February.

It was one of several businesses to suffer on the Queens Mill Industrial Estate along with the Star pub on Albert Street which was badly damaged and has since reopened.

Golcar-based Environmental Defence Systems provided free alternative sandbags called FloodSax to Star owner Sam Watt in the immediate aftermath of the flood and has now given more FloodSax worth several hundred pounds to The Welcome Centre.

Welcome Centre warehouse manager Jess Johnstone said: “We had a really narrow escape with the February flood. It just rained and rained and we knew the river was rising rapidly. We tried to get some sandbags but it just proved impossible as it was a Sunday.

“The water came in under our roller shutter doors even though they were closed and came to a depth of around six inches on the floor. Fortunately all the food was on pallets or racking so the water didn’t reach it but we didn’t want to be in that vulnerable position again.

“We put aside a budget for anti-flooding measures. I Googled ‘sandbag alternatives’ and immediately found FloodSax. I was amazed to discover it’s a Huddersfield company so contacted them straightaway.”

Environmental Defence Systems sales and support executive Lucy Bailey said: “As soon as The Welcome Centre contacted us we wanted to do all we could to help them. We decided to donate the FloodSax free of charge so they could spend the money they’d saved on flood prevention buying more items for people who need the food bank to survive.”

Jess said: “Having the FloodSax means we now have that peace of mind knowing we are prepared for flooding whenever it happens, day, night, Sundays or bank holidays.”

All donations for the food bank are now collated at the warehouse and then taken up to the charity’s headquarters on Lord Street in Huddersfield town centre where people can pick them up or be sent out direct to people’s homes in emergencies.

FloodSax ( are multi-purpose so in their dry state can soak up water, but once immersed fully in water the gelling polymer inside absorbs the water and retains it, transforming the FloodSax into an instant sandbag but without any sand. This only takes around five minutes.

The Welcome Centre now has enough FloodSax to protect both its roller shutter doors and its two normal-sized doors.

Almost three million FloodSax have now been sold worldwide and they are used in countries such as the USA, Australia, Malaysia and Sweden.

They were invented by Huddersfield entrepreneur Richard Bailey who is managing director of Environmental Defence Systems Ltd.

* Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR ( specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting. Copyright Andy Hirst.