Rescued hotel guests praise ‘kind’ Bideford

Joseph Bulmer

Emergency services and volunteers thanked as community comes together in a crisis

HOLIDAYMAKERS evacuated from a blazing hotel in their pyjamas have thanked local people for their kindness and compassion.

More than 50 guests were rescued after fire broke out at Bideford’s Tantons Hotel in the middle of the night last Tuesday week.

Terrified guests – many without their shoes – were taken across Bideford Longbridge to a makeshift evacuation centre at the Royal Hotel while more than 60 fire fighters tackled the fire on the other side of the river.

As those rescued received medical attention, staff at the Royal served refreshments and local charities, Harbour and Barnstaple Link Rotay Club, rallied to re-clothe those who had lost their belongings in the blaze.

Staff from Torridge District Council’s emergency planning team helped supply towels, toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap to allow guests to smarten up.

The Reverend Claire Rose-Casemore from St Mary’s Church offered spiritual support to those caught up in the ordeal.

One guest, who asked not to be named said Bideford “should be proud, very, very proud”.

He said: “Be proud of your police force; be proud of your fire and rescue service; be proud of your ambulance service and NHS support; be proud of the emergency planning section of Torridge District Council. Be proud also for the generosity of the Royal Hotel and the Bideford Churches Group.

“As a family we were very impressed with the prompt but kind, generous and well coordinated support that we received.

“I personally cannot speak too highly of the very kind but thorough and professional way we were looked after, and I am sure that the others will agree with me.”

Leader of Torridge District Council, Cllr Barry Parsons praised police, fire, ambulance, and council and hotel staff.

“All worked together in a common cause,” he said.

“And without the kindness and thoughtfulness shown by all volunteers and hotel staff, the task of looking after the welfare of the evacuated visitors would have been immeasurably more difficult.

“It was most without doubt a successful joint effort and showed the true spirit of a community coming together in a crisis.”

Barnstaple Link Rotay Club’s Boutport Street charity shop supplied so many clothes that it is now appealing for more donations to help restock its rails.

“We now urgently need new quality stock to refill the rails,” said club president Keith Rogers.

“Any quality item from clothes to bric-a-brac and even electrical goods will be welcome at the shop that prides itself for supporting local small charities and good causes.”