Local community helps elderly couple rebuild home after gas explosion destroys it

Laura Hampson
·4 min read
The home was destroyed from a gas explosion (SWNS)
The home was destroyed by a gas explosion (SWNS)

An elderly couple, whose uninsured home was destroyed in a gas explosion, say they are “overwhelmed” after receiving support from their local community.

Hundreds of people have stepped forward to offer help to Josie Cornish, 75, and her husband Alan, 73, after their home and possessions were turned into rubble.

Nearby businesses chipped in too, supplying labour and materials free of charge, and it is hoped the home will now be rebuilt for Josie and Alan within six months.

The couple were watching TV with their son, Darren, 48, when they thought they could smell gas.

Josie and Darren went to investigate and were “sent flying” when the explosion happened, but luckily the family survived.

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Speaking at the time, Darren said: "It was really scary. I saw my life flash before my eyes. I thought I was dead, I really thought I had died."

Darren Cornish was investigating a gas leak with his mum when the kitchen exploded (SWNS)
Darren Cornish was investigating a gas leak with his mum when the kitchen exploded (SWNS)

Darren, a paramedic, said he feared there was a gas leak so went to investigate with his mum, who instinctively turned on the cooker to try and show it was working correctly.

He said he tried to stop her, but it was too late and the pair were thrown against a wall by the explosion. They suffered burns to their faces and hands and had their hair singed.

"It was like a bomb had gone off,” he added. “I could hear mum screaming.

“I grabbed her and took her outside. Dad was still in the front room sitting in his chair watching the TV - although the television had gone off by this point.

"I lifted mum over the rubble and one of my mates who lived opposite came over to help get them out. There was water everywhere and gas was hissing, so then I just got myself out and waited for the fire brigade to arrive."

Despite being in the room with the explosion, Darren said he only suffered superficial injuries, including singing his hair.

Josie was taken to hospital to be checked and Alan, who recently had a heart attack, was thoroughly examined by paramedics.

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The family feared they had lost “everything” as they didn’t have insurance.

However, the local community in Bude, Cornwall, have since rallied around them and have now made plans to rebuild their demolished home.

Darren said his family are very grateful for all the help they've received.

"A guy called Ian French has got involved as the project manager, he's been talking to Bovis Homes and they've offered to pay for the whole build,” he added.

"The local builders merchants, there's three of them, they all offered to chip in - that's Travis Perkins, Bradford, and Bromells.”

Josie Cornish escaped the blast with superficial burns (SWNS)
Josie Cornish escaped the blast with superficial burns (SWNS)

There's also a Facebook page where people have been volunteering to help and a GoFundMe which has been set up - this has already raised £8,500.

"It's amazing, it goes to show how the local community can all come together at times like this - the support has been incredible,” Darren continues.

"Local builders, plasters, electricians - they've all offered their time for free. Without all the kindness mum and dad would be in trouble, they didn't have any insurance, so without this there'd be no hope."

Darren said his parents were currently living in a "luxury caravan" on some land owned by a family member in nearby Kilkhampton.

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Ian French, who is behind the rebuild, said that over 60 people have volunteered to help with hundreds more expressing their support.

French said: "The local community has just been phenomenal. People that haven't even got any skills or trade, they're just saying, 'Look anything you need, we're quite willing to come up and help in any way we can'.

"I'm just blown away and I'm just so glad I live in this area, it's amazing."

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