Appleton receives accolade

29 April 2010, 14:11 | Updated: 30 April 2010, 12:05

A village has been given an award from Oxfordshire's Fire Service after villagers came together to help out during a massive house fire.

People living in Appleton cleared roads of snow and provided hot drinks to firefighters throughout the night in January 2010.

The fire which started at 8.30pm on 5 January turned into an all-night operation involving 70 firefighters.  The heavy snow and icy roads added to its difficulty.

Villagers came together, opened the village shop and village hall to provide weary firefighters with warmth and respite throughout the wintery night.

David Etheridge, Oxfordshire County Council's Deputy Chief Fire Officer, said: "We knew, as soon as we saw the fire, this was going to be a challenging night. The journey into the village was tough, and because if the snow, it took some time to find the nearest fire hydrant also buried under the snow!

"The opening of the Village Hall was a very thoughtful gesture and the crews were grateful to have the chance to recover; the refreshments were well received, as was the opportunity to re-gather energy to tackle the fire."

Carol Bateman, who runs the village shop, rushed to open the shop once she'd heard of the fire. She took supplies of tea and biscuits to help the firefighters tackle the fire throughout the night.  Other villagers helped clear roads of snow to allow fire engines to pass.

When Carol was told of the accolade the villagers would receive, she was shocked.

"We were very pleased, but I think the people we have to thank are the firemen and firewomen - they were superb! I think the most important thing was that the family themselves, they all got out and they were safe," she said.

A framed letter of thanks and a brigade plaque was presented to people in Appleton village in a ceremony on Thursday 29 April 2010.