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Mum praises heroic neighbour who saved daughter's life in fire

Portrush family overwhelmed by help from community


Conard McCullagh, who saved Julie Brewster’s daughter after a fire at their Portrush home

Conard McCullagh, who saved Julie Brewster’s daughter after a fire at their Portrush home

Conard McCullagh, who saved Julie Brewster’s daughter after a fire at their Portrush home

A woman has told of her gratitude for her hero neighbour who saved her daughter's life after he rescued her from the top floor window of their burning house.

The blaze broke out at the property in Victoria Street, Portrush at around 11.15am last Friday.

A fundraising page launched to help the family, who lost all their personal possessions in the fire, has topped £28,000.

Mum Julie Brewster has been overwhelmed by the support of the local community.

The fire started while Juliewas out of the house. Her daughter who was sleeping upstairs was saved by quick-thinking neighbour Conard McCullagh who got a ladder and smashed a window to rescue her.

Conard said: "I had been working from home under the current Covid restrictions and in a Teams meeting when I heard my front doorbell ringing followed by someone banging on the door frantically.

"It was one of Julie's daughters saying that her house was on fire. Initially, I thought it would be a small fire that would be easy enough sorted but when I looked at the house I could see smoke and flames billowing from the windows.

"Julie's other daughter had been upstairs sleeping when the fire broke out and was still trapped inside. I rushed inside but could only get to the bottom of the stairs before being pushed back by the flames and heat.

"I rushed back to my own house to get ladders and an axe and I was able to climb to the top story window.

"Luckily the girl inside had woken up and realised there was a fire. When she got to the window, her face was black with smoke and I was able to carry her down the ladder to safety.

"Unfortunately, the fire was too well developed to save the family dog."

Julie's daughter who was rescued from the fire said the family is "so blessed" to "have neighbours who have supported and helped us our whole lives and now have saved my life".

Julie said she has been moved by the kindness and generosity of the community.

She said: "Portrush welcomed me into the community in 1995 when I knew no-one. Over the years I have built up fantastic lifelong friendships, and now they and the people of Portrush have raised the standard of heartfelt kindness, generosity and goodwill. People have always shown me kindness but now it feels like they have put their arms around me and my family in so many ways with offers of clothing, furniture, food and help.

"This is especially moving when I know people have got their own troubles and are waiting patiently themselves for a light at the end of the tunnel. I will owe a debt of gratitude to this community, the emergency services and people further afield for the rest of my life. I always knew I had good neighbours, I just didn't expect that they would end up saving my daughter's life someday."

Independent councillor Stephanie Quigley who, along with Sophie Irwin and Paula Rogers, set up the appeal said: "There have been losses that can never be replaced for Julie and the family but this financial help removes a huge amount of worry and stress now and in the coming months."

Belfast Telegraph