HILS Heroes: Hear how Sharon helped prevent a catastrophic house fire

We have been speaking to team members whose acts of bravery have helped keep our clients from dangerous and potentially life-threatening situations. Meet the HILS Heroes who have gone above and beyond to keep older and vulnerable people happy, healthy, and safe in their homes. 57-year old Sharon Wood is a part-time hairdresser who joined HILS’ meals on wheels team in Hemel Hempstead four years ago. A lifelong Hertfordshire resident, Sharon now lives in Gadebridge with her four children, one grandchild, and four dogs; and always looks forward to going out on rounds and meeting HILS clients.

‘It’s the looking after people that I enjoy. I’ve always been a naturally caring person and I’ve had a lot of practise, having cared for four children myself!’ Says Sharon. ‘This job really makes you appreciate what you have, and you’re completely aware that you might be the only person a client sees in a day.’

But working with older and vulnerable people can sometimes bring unexpected challenges. Earlier this year, Sharon was delivering her usual meals round in Watford when she arrived at one of her client’s home and was hit by an unusual smell as soon as she walked through the front door. Sharon found her client sitting in the front room, completely unaware of the smell. The further Sharon went into the house, the stronger the smell was getting, so she decided to investigate and try to find the source. When she went upstairs, Sharon realised that there was smoke coming from one of the rooms, billowing from under a door. Not knowing what was behind the door, Sharon kept the door shut and immediately called the fire brigade who told her to get out of the house with the client as quickly as possible. Sharon knew her client had limited mobility, but she remained calm and managed to help the 86-year-old out of the house before two fire engines came around the corner with their sirens on. Watching from across the street, Sharon tried to calm the terrified client and waited for the fire brigade to let them know what was happening. They could see fire officers carrying burning towels out of the house.

Finally, the fire was put out and to the client’s relief, they were informed that the damage had been minimal, and it was actually Sharon’s quick thinking that had prevented a potentially catastrophic situation. They were told that the fire had started in the airing cupboard when the boiler caught fire. When the fire brigade arrived, the boiler had been just minutes from exploding. After this ordeal, Sharon made sure the client was safely back in her house before carrying on with her meals round.

‘We are incredibly proud of Sharon and grateful to all our teams who are out there every day making sure our clients are okay’, says HILS Meals Services Manager, Steve Bigsby. ‘Her quick thinking undoubtedly prevented an already terrifying event from being much worse, and her bravery is truly inspiring.’