accessibility & help

Justin and Claire’s story: 'Help after our traumatic fire'

When the Lush family saw their home go up in flames, our volunteers were quickly on hand to help get them through a traumatic night.

Father of four Justin Lush was fast asleep at his Devon home when he was woken by the sound of a smoke alarm. He recalled: “I went downstairs to look, and saw flames coming out of the cooker and touching the ceiling.

“I ran upstairs to wake the children [his wife Claire was away for the evening], and we made our way downstairs through quite heavy smoke.”

He added: “Once we were all out, I called the fire brigade and shouted to the neighbours to get out of bed as well. By that time, people were coming onto the street and the house was really going.”

‘Brilliant’ support

As their home blazed, the family sought refuge at a neighbour’s house – until paramedics took Justin and two of his children to hospital with smoke inhalation.

Fortunately, grandfather Dave Bendle [Claire’s dad] soon appeared to look after the other two children – and a British Red Cross fire and emergency support (FES) team were right behind him.

Dave said: “The FES volunteers were brilliant. We were in a neighbour’s house we didn’t really know, everything was upside down and we all had that horrible gut feeling that things could have been much worse, so I think they did a smashing job. We got a lot of much-needed support.”

Fresh clothing

Dave added: “They also did so well with the material things. One of the volunteers, Malcolm, came in with these two bloomin’ great carrier bags full of clothes for us, which were all new and still had the labels on. It made me feel very humble. I think the Red Cross does a brilliant job.”

As soon as mum Claire was alerted to the crisis, she rushed home to rejoin the family – and  Malcolm was still on hand to advise her on the next steps, including getting her insurance claim started.

Claire says: “We were so lucky because the Red Cross helped us so much and the fire service was brilliant.

“If anyone reads our story and thinks they might be able to help families in a similar position in future, I hope they’ll consider volunteering with the Red Cross – because we found their support invaluable.”

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