Fire-struck chippie rises from ashes

You'll get by with a little help from your friends, so the song goes. And so Cordelia McLeod found out last week when the business she had been building up all year almost burned down with just over a week to go until Christmas.

You'll get by with a little help from your friends, so the song goes.

And so Cordelia McLeod found out last week when the business she had been building up all year almost burned down with just over a week to go until Christmas.

Ms McLeod owns the Railway Tavern pub and chipshop on Yaxham Road in Dereham and last Friday saw her business and her home above the shop threatened by fire.

But friends and regulars rallied round, and thanks to a few extra pairs of hands on the clean up operation she should re-open tomorrow.

The fire started when Ms McLeod and colleagues began to start up the equipment, leading to a flare up in an air vent under the fryer, causing workers to evacuate the building just before the lunchtime rush.

Ms McLeod said: “You have to look on the bright side. The firefighters said that although it was a common occurrence in a chipshop, it usually happened after the fryer was turned off in which case my son and I would have been asleep upstairs.

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“I like to think I've got a guardian angel.”

Unfortunately for Ms McLeod the fire did ruin what should have been one of the biggest trading weekends of the year for her.

She said: “There is a lot of smoke damage in my flat which couldn't have happened at a worse time of year. Especially as I've worked so hard this year.”

But Ms McLeod was amazed with the response to the disaster.

She had offers of help and even flowers from her regulars who were devastated at losing “the best chips in Dereham” at Christmas.

She said: “Everyone has been very kind. And the staff have worked so hard to help me clear up. I'm very lucky.”