A south Warwickshire man has said thank you to the firefighter who saved his life following a recent blaze which destroyed his family’s home.
Steve Taylor presented Pip Blair with a bouquet during an emotional reunion at Winchcombe Farm, a holiday retreat he runs with his wife Jo Carroll, in Upper Tysoe.
Steve, 64, collapsed while trying to contain a blaze at the farm on January 14th, which raged for more than five hours.
Pip was among the crew from Banbury who attended, along with other appliances from Hook Norton, Fenny Compton and Shipston, managing to resuscitate Steve after administering CPR for more than 20 minutes.
Steve, who has suffered two previous heart attacks, is now continuing his recovery at home after undergoing a triple heart bypass at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. He has also had a defibrillator fitted in his heart.
He said this week: “Pip is a very special person. On the night of the fire I remember my sight going and collapsing onto the stone slabs. Then my heart stopped for three minutes. The next thing I remember was Pip’s warm arms above me and a feeling of safety. I knew I had come back from a cold, dark, silent place. It was a surreal experience and I owe her my life”
On the night of the incident, Pip, who previously worked in the Ambulance Service, was called away from the fire by colleagues to attend to Steve, whom she had to shock three times following his collapse.
She said: “It’s pretty rare to get someone back from cardiac arrest of the extent that Steve had suffered. I’ve only had one other similar case where they survived in my seven years in the ambulance and fire service. He was a very lucky man.
“It was the most amazing feeling when he finally came round. I asked him to squeeze my hand and he did. Then he started talking and at this point I called Jo over. Everyone was so relieved.
“It was so lovely to see him again the other day. When I walked in, there were big smiles, he gave me a big hug and we had a really long chat. It was quite emotional really.”
She added: “The worst part about my job is we do the best we can to help people, whether it’s putting a fire out or administering first aid, and then go and don’t see the aftermath of it all, so it’s good to know there’s a happy ending to this one.”
The family of four is still counting the cost of the blaze which was started by an ember from their log burner. They are now living in temporary accommodation in one of their guest lodges while the repairs are being assessed.
Jo, 51, said: “We’re likely to be out until at least late summer, as there is extensive work to be done to the roof, electrics and plumbing plus there is significant water damage.
“But we’ve been overwhelmed by the kindness of friends, family, villagers, staff, school mummies and guests since the fire. They’ve helped us move into our temporary home, until our own home is repaired and helped us with everything from replacing school unform to books and toys for our children.
“There are no words to express the gratitude and thanks we have to Pip and her colleagues from the Fire Service. We are forever indebted to them for everything they did to help us that night. I still have a husband and my children still have a father because of them.”
Last week Jo and Steve also presented Rugby Fire Station Manger Andy Paxton with a cheque for the Firefighters Charity. And they have already already purchased a defibrillator for the farm with plans also in place to roll out first aid training across their team, which will be delivered free of charge by a friend and former guest at Winchcombe, Gill Cleeve.
Gill, who will become Mayor of Stratford-upon-Avon in May, runs Brookvale First Aid which offers training in first aid skills.
Gill said: “In the UK there are over 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests a year and the survival rate is low – just 1 in 10 people in the UK survive. However early CPR and defibrillation can double the chances of survival, this is why knowledge of CPR and access to a defibrillator is vital, so we can change those statistics.”
Pip agrees: “The more people trained in it the better, especially in places that are in the middle of nowhere like Winchcombe. If we hadn’t been there that night it would most likely have been a very different story,” she said.
Winchcombe Farm is an idyllic five-star boutique holiday retreat on the Warwickshire and Cotswolds border.
The remote family-run retreat nestles on a private estate in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and beneath the famous battlefield landmark of Edgehill. It’s an oasis of tranquillity with just sheep, chickens, moorhens, ducks, ponies and alpacas for company.
Designed with outdoor living in mind, this unique collection of six beautiful holiday homes – includes Warwickshire’s only treehouse – offering the height of luxury and nestling in four sycamore and ash trees – three of them growing through the outside deck and one even growing through the kitchen!
Luxury features range from private hot tubs, hanging chairs, hammocks and outside shower, to barbecue shed, pizza oven, BBQ hut, firepit for toasting marshmallows and even geodesic domes with king size circular bed plus personal telescopes for a spot of stargazing! Guests even receive a welcome hamper on arrival to start their holiday in style.
Inside, the properties are well equipped with all the latest technology including 55-inch SMART TV and DVD and, in the kitchen, a range on lush josephjoseph and SMEG accessories plus all the mod cons.