The Great Storm 1987: Toddler’s miracle escape as chimney fell through ceiling

Matthew Nuttall, who was trapped under rubble at his grandparents' home in Bradwell during the 1987

Matthew Nuttall, who was trapped under rubble at his grandparents' home in Bradwell during the 1987 storm. - Credit: Archant

For Matthew Nuttall and his family their dramatic tale of the 1987 storm is one that will always be told round the dinner table.

Matthew Nuttall. Picture: Aldreds

Matthew Nuttall. Picture: Aldreds - Credit: Archant

As a two-year-old Matthew had a lucky escape after a roof caved in on him as he slept at his grandparents' home in Beccles Road, Bradwell.

Described as a miraculous escape, the toddler suffered just cuts and bruises and after being plucked to safety by his grandparents from the rubble had to be taken to the James Paget University Hospital to be treated for his injuries and shock.

Now 32, Mr Nuttall says his lucky escape could have been due to his grandparents, Peter and Colleen High, wrapping him up in a duvet.

Mr Nuttall, who works at a lettings lister at Aldreds in Great Yarmouth, said: 'I think there is some sort of story where they say it saved my life.

Alan Norman's photos of the aftermath of the October 1987 storm around Norwich.

Alan Norman's photos of the aftermath of the October 1987 storm around Norwich. - Credit: Alan Norman


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'They said there was massive crash as the chimney came through the ceiling.'

His grandparents escaped unhurt, although their home did require extensive repairs.

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He had been at his grandparents' home as his parents were in France on holiday from their home in Salisbury Avenue, Great Yarmouth, after they won a free competition.

At the time of the incident Mr High said: 'I had been lying awake because of the wind when all of a sudden I heard a rumble and the roof came crashing in.

'My wife Colleen and I went to get Matthew out of the rubble and all we could see was his face. He was covered in tiles. It's a miracle that he escaped with just cuts and bruises.'

Mr Nuttall says that dramatic night still comes up as a family talking point every year on its anniversary and he had already seen social media messages about his miraculous escape to mark the 30th anniversary.

In reporting the story at the time on its front page the EDP headlined the report 'Toddler's escape' and carried a picture of the bruised youngster.

The story said: 'Toddler Matthew Nuttall was buried in rubble and slates after the chimney at his grandparents' home collapsed, sending part of the roof crashing down on top of him.'

The report added he 'miraculously escaped with just cuts and bruises after being rescued from the bedroom where he had been sleeping at the home in Beccles Road, Bradwell'.

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