Elderly couple left stranded after Eastbourne hotel fire given free room for the night

Staff at an apartment rental agency in Eastbourne have been thanked for helping an elderly couple who became stranded after Friday’s devastating hotel fire.

Sunday, 24th November 2019, 1:05 pm

Yvonne and Cliff Furniss, who are in their 80s, were due to stay at the Burlington Hotel for three nights, starting on Friday (November 22), before continuing their travels to Hayling Island.

However, once they arrived in Eastbourne, the couple, from Bedford, found their hotel was closed due to the fire at the neighbouring Claremont hotel.

Mr and Mrs Furniss had gone into apartment rental agency Room2let, in Seaside, Eastbourne, to ask for directions when they were told of the fire.

Photo by Eddie Mitchell SUS-191122-124428001

Staff members Yasmin Haider, Sarah Smith and Sophie Healey arranged for the couple to stay in one of their properties – a brand new house, with en-suite double rooms – free of charge for the night.

The couple accepted the offer but explained that they had planned to stay in Eastbourne for three nights before travelling to Hayling Island on Monday.

Yasmin said she called the hotel there and added on two extra nights for them so they could arrive on Saturday (November 23).

She said: “The couple passed me their booking receipt – £252 they’d paid and travelled all the way from Bedford.

“I was told (by the Burlington Hotel) that they would get a refund and there was nothing further they could do for us.

“The elderly couple Mr and Mrs Furniss looked panic stricken. It was now 5pm, dark and cold.
“My colleague Sarah acted immediately and said we let out rooms, how about you stay there tonight free of charge and make your way home tomorrow at your own leisure.

“The couple explained they were supposed to stay in Eastbourne for three nights and were then driving on to Hayling Island to complete their short holiday. I quickly rang the hotel they were booked in from Monday 25th and added on an extra two nights for them.

“They tried to offer us money for being so helpful. We declined.
“My colleague then packed them into their car, took them to one of Room2let’s new rooms, with some teabags and milk in hand.”

As they prepared to leave Eastbourne on Saturday, Mr and Mrs Furniss posted chocolate bars to the Room2let office, along with a note which said: “Dear friends, thank you for helping us at a difficult time. Lovely accommodation. Kit Kat for tea break.”

On Saturday, the managing director for the owners of the Claremont Hotel said they were ‘indebted to the emergency services, the local community and staff’ for the response to Friday’s devastating fire.

A fundraiser set up after the fire, has now raised more than £1,800. You can support it here.