Holidaymakers describe 'wartime spirit'

HOLIDAYMAKERS have described how a 'wartime spirit' broke out as hotel guests helped each other to safety as fire took hold in a next door café in Great Yarmouth.

HOLIDAYMAKERS have described how a 'wartime spirit' broke out as hotel guests helped each other to safety as fire took hold in a next door café in Great Yarmouth.

Many of the 133 evacuees from the New Beach Hotel in Marine Parade were elderly and needed help getting down the stairs to a meeting point at a bus stop opposite the seafront hotel in the early hours of the morning.

But Audrey Bateman, 78, visiting with her husband Howard, 77, said staff and guests rose to the challenge helping to ensure everyone got out of the hotel safely.

The Sheffield pensioner said: “Nobody panicked. They were wonderful. It was a real wartime spirit.”


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She was awake when the alarm sounded shortly after 5am on Tuesday and opened the curtains to see smoke coming from Peppino's Ice Cream Parlour, in Regent Road.

She added: “Everyone was marvellous. They all worked well together. People said, 'Are you alright? Do you want anything?'”

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After leaving through a fire escape to the back of the hotel the guests made their way to an assembly point from where they were bussed to the Marina Centre.

Coach driver Paul Taylor, 43, helped the less mobile before taking them to the leisure centre where staff welcomed them with coffee, tea and toast.

His was one of three Alfa Travel coaches which had brought most of the guests staying in the hotel from parts of the north west and east for a week-long trip on Sunday .

“It is the first time I have been to Yarmouth, but I will not forget it in a hurry,” Mr Taylor said.

Peter Beavan, 70, from Buckinghamshire, could not believe his bad luck because the last time he stayed in a hotel in Dorset at Easter he had to be moved to a place of safety in similar circumstances.

He looked out of the window of his second floor room to see smoke pouring out before getting dressed and leaving with his wife Maude, 76 and daughter Jackie, 46. None of the three suffered any smoke inhalation.

“I could hardly believe it. The last time we were in a hotel we were down in Swanage and at 3am the alarms went off and we were evacuated, so this morning when it happened I thought, 'I just do not believe it,'” he said.

Jane Webb, from Southport, was due to go home today. She said she was already awake when the fire alarms went off and saw the smoke and fire engines from her bedroom window.

“I don't think anybody panicked. We just got on with it.”

The guests were able to return to the hotel an hour-and-a-half after being evacuated to the Marina Centre.

Ingo Maxfield, 26, who runs the New Beach with partner Stefanie Troue, 23, said a dairy delivery driver told the hotel's night porter Kevin Sawford about the fire when he was dropping milk off at the hotel.

The three staff on duty, including the live-in owners, initiated evacuation procedures.

A couple of guests needed treatment at James Paget Hospital for shock and angina while another suffered an asthma attack.

Mr Maxfield added all the guests were moved out within 16 minutes and praised the organisation of staff at the Marina Centre.

Fire service spokesman Martin Barsby said the fire was caused by an electrical fault in wiring in the ice-cream parlour's ceiling. The ground floor suffered fire damage and smoke logging while a neighbouring three storey building was also smoke logged.

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