A DEAF pensioner who had a lucky escape when her house was set on fire is back in her home.
And she has praised the community and local businesses for their help in restoring her premises.
Sheila Handy, 77, who wears a hearing aid, was sleeping upstairs at her Clayton West home back in August when her neighbours frantically managed to rouse her to escape the burning building.
Two months on and with the help of life-long friends and neighbours Sheila has spent £16,000 on a brand new kitchen, new central heating and new kitchen roof which were covered by her buildings insurance.
She said: “It was just a black hole after the fire and to have it restored like this is just incredible.”
Sheila, who lives at Holmfield Road, was helped in her plight by neighbours and good friends Marjorie Swift and Claire Westwood.
They enlisted the help of local tradesmen at Paddock Kitchens and thanks to the meticulous planning of project manager Steven Lightfoot the work was completed within six weeks.
Steven, who arrived with flowers for his favourite clients, said: “They initially invited me to come round and give a quote.
“I saw through the black devastation and redesigned the kitchen to meet Sheila’s requirements.
“It had to be rewired and the ceiling had to be taken down. We have replastered, installed a new boiler and new tiling.
“We were just glad we could help Sheila get back on her feet.”
But while the building repairs have been carried out Sheila admits the emotional scars of what happened is taking its toll on her health.
Sheila said: “It’s always on my mind and I hardly sleep at all.
“There is also the upheaval of sorting everything out with the insurance company which is still ongoing.
“I suffer from diabetes and I have found it more difficult to manage since the fire.
“I am seeing a counsellor to help me cope but I am so grateful to my good friends Claire and Marjorie, I don’t know how I would have coped without them.”
Marjorie added: “We have been friends for 50 years so I just did what any good friend would do.
“Sheila has stayed with me while the repair work has been carried out and we are both still haunted by what happened.
“I have a recurring nightmare where I can’t wake Sheila.
“I am also seeing a counsellor and we hope we will soon be able to put what has happened behind us.”
A 13-year-old and 15-year-old boy have been charged with the arson attack and appeared in court last week each facing two charges of arson and recklessly endangering life.
The boys deny the charges and will next appear before the Youth Court at Dewsbury Magistrates’ Court on December 12.