accessibility & help

Jane’s story: ‘My cottage went up in flames’

When a blazing stove set fire to Jane Horton’s cottage, our fire and emergency support volunteers were quickly on hand to help.

The pensioner’s 100-year-old cottage in Wiltshire went up like a tinderbox after a fire in the flue of her stove got out of control and quickly spread.

The fire service worked hard to stop Jane’s home burning down completely and to save her belongings. Meanwhile, our volunteers raced to the scene to offer support.

Vital reassurance

Jane recalled: “The Red Cross volunteers, Jo and Debs, were incredible – calm, efficient and so thoughtful. They took me into their vehicle for shelter, asked what I needed and gave me vital reassurance.”

She added: “Once the fire was out, they accompanied me back into the cottage to grab some overnight things and also got my insurance claim process started.

“Jo even phoned a couple of days after the incident to check I was okay. I’ve been telling everyone about the Red Cross ever since.”

Splintered debris

Volunteer Jo Riches said: “When something like this happens people are often very distressed, and we’re trained to recognise the signs and keep an eye on them.”

She added: “For example, when we went back to the cottage to get Jane’s belongings, she took her shoes off to go upstairs even though the carpets were soaking wet and splintered debris lay everywhere. We made sure she put her shoes back on so her feet would be safe.”

For fellow volunteer Debs Browning, this was a good night’s work. She said: “The reason I started volunteering is because, if I was in that situation, I’d want someone to be there for me. That’s what motivates me.”

‘So grateful’

Following extensive repairs to the cottage, Jane is now back home and settled again – but she’ll never forget the support she received on that traumatic night.

She said: “It was so important to have those two ladies there to help when everything was upside down and I was struggling to know where to start. Their support enabled me to take control of the situation again. I’m ever so grateful.”

Learn more about our fire and emergency support service


Emergency response stories

We helped the Dawes family after their house caught fire. Their neighbours were so impressed by our volunteers they even raised money to help fund our work.

When a water pipe burst, an elderly couple were beside themselves with worry – until our volunteers arrived.