A wedding day not to be forgotten

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A DEVASTATING house fire could not keep a 62-year-old man away from his bride-to-be.

Flames ripped through the David Chubsey’s Port Road home on Monday morning at around 10.50am causing almost 100 per cent damage to the ground floor flat.

But despite having singed hair and ears, with a blackened nose and mouth from the smoke inhalation, David refused hospital treatment and went to Eastbourne Town Hall to marry Mel Jeffery barely two hours after his home was gutted in the blaze.

He spoke to the Herald from outside his gutted home before dashing off to the Town Hall and said, “I was on the toilet and I heard the smoke alarm so I turned it off thinking it was a glitch.

“Then I realised it wasn’t a glitch with the alarm and I saw a wire on the floor catch fire.

“Then everything started to go up. I grabbed my duvet and tried to throw it away from the fire but then the mattress went up so quickly – it went whoosh.

“The noise it made was incredible.”

David tried to move flammable items away from the blaze but the fire quickly took hold.

Doreen Simmons, of Ashington Road, was returning from getting her morning paper with her daughter’s dog when she spotted the smoke.

She went to house and saw David standing in the porch. Doreen encouraged him to step away from the burning building before calling the emergency services.

She said, “He must have been in terrible shock because he just wouldn’t stay where he was. I said to him, ‘sweetheart you need to come away from that smoke’.

“I also called 999 and was on the phone to the operator for about half an hour.”

Other people in the area also called the emergency services and tried to help.

Douglas McNab and partner Betty Long, who live in the flat above David Chubsey’s , managed to escape.

David’s cat Monty also escaped the blaze and although his white fur had gone grey from the smoke, he appeared around an hour later and seemed to be uninjured.

Trevor Lockwood, a friend of David’s, was waiting at the Town Hall for the big day and wondered why the groom hadn’t arrived.

He said, “David was due to get married at midday and when it got to quarter to I started calling him. I could get through on his mobile and the landline was engaged so I thought I would drive over and check he was ok.

“As I drove up towards the house I saw all the smoke and the fire engines.”

Trevor stayed with his friend while the police and firefighters spoke to him. A paramedic also tried hard to get David to hospital as he already suffers from emphysema.

The paramedic said the smoke inhalation could worsen his condition and strongly urged him to seek medical attention but he refused.

Police and fire crews encouraged David to move away from the burnt-out property and his friend Trevor took him off to get married at around 1.45pm.

“The wedding is still going ahead,” said Trevor as he rushed off with David to Eastbourne Town Hall.

David married Mel in the clothes he was wearing when he escaped from the house, but borrowed a jacket from a friend.

Despite David’s ordeal, the newlyweds were all smiles as they walked down the Town Hall steps.