accessibility & help

Cecil's story: 'Cottage fire burned everything'

When Cecil Muggeridge’s farm cottage was razed to the ground, he didn’t know where to turn – but our volunteers were soon at the scene to help.

Eighty-year-old Cecil, who lived in the cottage close by where he cares for his animals, had been out shopping when the blaze started. A passer-by called Surrey Fire and Rescue Service, which in turn called out the Red Cross’ fire and emergency support (FES).

A team of three FES volunteers arrived to find four fire engines outside the burnt wreckage of the building.

‘Huge difference’

Volunteer Martine Brewer recalled: “The house was still smouldering, but the fire had been put out. Cecil came to sit in our specially adapted vehicle and was obviously very distressed.

“We spent a lot of time chatting through things. I think having an opportunity to sit somewhere warm with a cup of tea and talk it all over made a huge difference to him.”

Martine added: “The man’s son lived on site in a caravan so he was able to stay there with him. He didn’t want to leave the place unattended and go elsewhere, because of the animals.”

‘Really worthwhile’

Besides offering emotional support, the volunteers also provided the distraught farmer with fresh clothing and a hygiene pack.

The day represented another satisfying day’s work for Martine, who joined the Red Cross just over a year ago. She said: “This role jumped out at me as something that I thought was really worthwhile and wanted to be involved in.”

She added: “It’s exactly what I thought it would be and I always come away feeling I’ve made a big difference. I was widowed two years ago, and by helping other people I feel I’m also helping myself.”

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