A FORMER Dromore man in his mid-thirties had to be airlifted from his snowbound Finnis home after falling ill on Sunday.

A police helicopter (pictured left, on arrival) ferried Francis Rice to Craigavon Area Hospital while his anxious wife Lorraine had to follow along barely passable roads.

As the Leader went to press, doctors were understood to have ruled out heart problems and were awaiting test results in an effort to determine the precise nature of Mr. Rice’s illness.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Rice heaped praise upon police and paramedics, who first battled their way on foot across a mile of snow-covered fields to reach the Carrigagh Road home where the couple live with their three children, the youngest just seven weeks-old.

“It was pretty horrendous for a couple of hours,” she said. “My husband took ill and it was a very anxious time for us.

“The place is buried under 10 feet of snow and we have three kids in the house, including a seven week-old baby.

“I can’t praise the paramedics and the police in Banbridge enough; we are very, very grateful.

“I have never had any contact with the police before and they were brilliant, absolutely fantastic, the paramedics too.”

Lorraine likewise praised neighbours and her husband’s brothers who were among those to pitch in and help.

The Rice family was one of many to fall foul of the freak weather conditions that still gripped the wider Dromara area as the Leader went to press.

“I have never, ever seen snow like it, not in my life,” said one woman, whose room to manoeuvre effectively ended 100 yards from her Ardtanagh Road home.

“It was even worse up towards Carnew,” she said. “We’ve had snow before, of course, and we’ve been snowed in before, but never anything like this.”

In another incident, The Leader understands, one father and son led overnight efforts to dig out the younger man’s grandmother, so anxious was he that she be able to attend his wedding the next morning; sadly, despite all their work, she had to sit out the big occasion.

Other reports indicate the roofs of a number of farm outbuildings collapsing under the weight of snow, while farmers made frantic efforts to save as many of their livestock as possible.