Mother and daughter recall Wrentham gas explosion

A mother and daughter are hoping for a quiet and heartwarming Christmas – a year after a dramatic gas explosion destroyed their home and nearly claimed their lives.

Lynn Brown and her daughter Lucy Green were at their house in Chapel Road, Wrentham, on Christmas Eve last year when the blast ripped through their home, leaving them lucky to be alive.

Now, a year on, they are living in a rented home in the village and are finally thinking about moving back into their home next year, after plans were submitted to rebuild the detached property.

Yesterday, Lynn, 51 and Lucy, 18, who are still receiving counselling, spoke for the first time about how they escaped the explosion, and how its aftermath has affected them.

Ms Brown said it happened at about 7.30am on Christmas Eve when she turned on a kettle to make tea. 'The next thing was like flying through a fire. My hair was on fire,' she said. 'I didn't realise what was going on at first – you don't expect something like an explosion in your home. I screamed to Lucy upstairs to get out of the house.

'I got outside and saw what had happened. I just could not comprehend it all. Even now it is still hard to understand what happened. You see things like explosions on television, on The Bill, but never think it will happen to you.'

Lucy had an even more dramatic escape after she jumped from her mother's bedroom to escape the aftermath of the blast. However, Ms Brown said it was 'extremely lucky' that her daughter was in that room that morning because her own bedroom, which was full of Christmas goodies, was 'obliterated' in the explosion.

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The heat of the blast was so intense that the duvet she was sleeping under actually melted onto her.

Lucy, who works at New Look in Beccles, said: 'I just feel lucky to be here for this Christmas.'

Ms Brown spent two weeks recovering in the specialist burns unit at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford and her daughter spent two days at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Sadly, Ms Brown's mother Ann Sallows died while she was in the Essex hospital, her father Geoffrey Sallows having passed away three months before the explosion. She said: 'It will be sad Christmas as mum and dad won't be here and we are not in our house.'

Despite having to endure a difficult year, Ms Brown and Lucy have been heartened by the support they have received from villagers in Wrentham and people further afield, many of whom sent them cards, letters and gifts.

Lucy's old school, Sir John Leman High in Beccles, held a fund-raising day to help them.

Ms Brown, who works a the Dell residential home in Beccles, said her colleagues had also been a huge help.

She said: 'The support has just been overwhelming, I can't thank everyone enough. After what happened I will never look at life in the same way again. I think of all the little things that used to annoy me and they don't seem to matter at all now. It has put a perspective on things.

'I just feel Lucy is here with me for Christmas – I definitely think someone was looking after us that day.'

Ms Brown has now applied to Waveney District Council to rebuild her home and the plans have already been approved by Wrentham Parish Council.

She said it would be 'wonderful' if she and Lucy could be back at Chapel Road this time next year with and their two dogs Izzy and Ozzy, which were also injured in the blast.

Meanwhile, the Health and Safety Executive is considering whether to bring a prosecution over the blast, which happened after a new boiler had been fitted.

An investigation into the cause of the explosion had to be put on hold until the badly damaged property was declared safe to enter but, after structural checks, the National Grid and HSE officers were able to move in and have since completed their inquiries. An HSE spokeswoman said: 'The investigation has concluded and the HSE is now considering whether or not to prosecute.'

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