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Holiday couple praise Brancaster Staithe's community spirit after blaze

A couple who were holidaying in Brancaster Staithe when the village was hit by fire two weeks ago have paid tribute to its community spirit.

Derek and Pat Dewey-Leader, both 85, were staying at Samphire Cottage cottage, a short distance from the heart of the fire.

Derek said: “The dense cloud of smoke generated brought the fire to our attention. Action by local people was immediate, with one woman running into the road and warning motorists to divert as the fire grew in strength.

Part of the blaze left from fires at Brancaster Staithe, photo credit: Derek Dewey-Leader (58359556)
Part of the blaze left from fires at Brancaster Staithe, photo credit: Derek Dewey-Leader (58359556)

“Firefighters worked like heroes to try to stop the blaze from spreading. With the police on the scene, the scale of the threat was rapidly recognised and residents of nearby cottages including ourselves advised to evacuate to Brancaster village hall.

“The noise from the fire was frightening as we heard trees cracking as they burst into flames. On arrival at the village hall we were greeted by members of the parish council and the local vicar and curate plus a local shopkeeper attached to the hall who opened his premises.

“Local teenagers set to work to help. A cooked meal was rapidly organised for everyone involved. Updates on the situation were relayed by the vicar and then it was announced that accommodation would be available for all those who evacuated.

“We were given accommodation for the night together with our two daughters.

“Parish councillor Richard Roberts and his wife Alice gave us a beautiful separate room in the garden and one of my daughters stayed in the main house with another daughter allowed to sleep in her camper. And if that was not enough, Mrs Roberts insisted we had breakfast. All monetary payments were declined.”

Mr Dewey-Leader said he and his wife had also been evacuated during the Second World War when they were bombed out.

“Our lives were rebuilt with the help of friends and neighbours and it was this wartime spirit of community help that the folk at Brancaster recaptured. We shall never forget the help they gave.”

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