THE devastated family of a Sutton pensioner who died in a house fire have paid tribute to their mum and thanked the brave neighbour who risked his own life to try and save her.
Eighty-three-year-old Sylvia Tomlinson died in hospital just hours after the blaze engulfed her Stuart Street home last Tuesday evening despite an heroic attempt by next door neighbour Chris Baker to rescue her.
Brave Chris (28) smelt burning from his home next door and ran outside, before breaking Sylvia’s door down in a valiant effort to help her.
“I put my slippers on and ran outside the house and saw the smoke and flames through her front window,” he said.
“I tried to kick the door down, I had to kick it about 10 or 15 times before it gave way and I could get in.”.
“There was another door on my right and I saw her in the living room and managed to get her away from the fire.”
Firefighters from Ashfield arrived minutes later and rescued Sylvia from her home but she died a few hours later in King’s Mill Hospital surrounded by her family.
Chris suffered minor burns and was treated for smoke inhalation from the blaze which the fire crew spent around an hour tackling.
Speaking from her home on Tom Wass Road, daughter Karen Clarke said the family were able to spend precious time with Sylvia before she passed away in the early hours of last Wednesday morning.
“We’re all devastated, we’re still coming to terms with the fire. We saw mum outside the house and then spent time in hospital with her because Chris helped get her out of the house and she was still alive. We think he is a hero for what he did,” said Karen.
“But everyone who knew our mum really liked her, she was a lollipop lady at Leamington Primary School for years and all the kids loved her and she loved kids.
“She used to give them lollipops and cream eggs at Easter, everybody knew her and when the kids were crossing the roads, all the cars stopped, they wouldn’t dare not do.”
Sylvia worked at Leamington Primary School for several years and also worked as a cleaner at Sutton Centre as well as being a shop assistant.
She was originally from Edlington in Doncaster, but moved to Sutton in 1949 where she met her husband Sid who died in 1997.
Sylvia was a familiar face at St Joseph’s Social Club in Sutton and was also a keen bingo player.
She was so popular with children and staff at Leamington School that they marked her passing with a two minutes silence this week.
“She was a very independent woman, she had a strong heart and we always joked that she would outlive all of us, she just kept on going,” added Karen.
“The fire service, police and hospital staff did everything they could for my mum, they were fantastic.
“They treated her like a Queen and were very good to us all as well, we could not have wished for her to have better care in her last hours.”
Daughter Sue said she would be missed by everyone who knew her.
“She used to sit outside the front of the house in the summer and speak to everyone who went by, she was well known by everyone and would go out of her way for people, nobody in Sutton had a bad word to say about her,” she said.
And her son Adrian added: “She was the life and soul of any party, she was very sociable and loved a good knees up, she will be missed by all her children, grand-children and great grandchildren.”
A spokesman for Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue confirmed that the fire was accidental and warned other homeowners to protect themselves against fires by purchasing fire retardant bedding, furniture covers and curtains.