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Community rallies to help Pendeen vicar after blaze

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: January 28, 2014

  • 19/01/2013 - Firefighters at a fire in the Pendeen vicarage.

  • Firefighters tackle the blaze in Pendeen vicarage on Sunday.

  • The Reverend Canon Alan Rowell.

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THE vicar of Pendeen says he has been amazed at the warm-hearted generosity shown to him by villagers in the wake of a major fire at the vicarage.

The Reverend Canon Alan Rowell was leading the Sunday morning service as more than two dozen firefighters battled to save the handsome, 200-year-old building in Church Road, Pendeen.

Fire crews from St Just, Penzance and St Ives were called to the blaze which broke out in the vicar's home shortly before midday on Sunday.

On arrival, the firefighters discovered the blaze had taken over a quarter of the first floor and roof, and the crews battled for three hours before the blaze was put out.

Although the whole property suffered the effects of smoke damage, the worst of the problems were confined to one end of the building.

The Reverend Rowell, who has lived in the vicarage since 1981, said his first-floor bedroom and the kitchen below it were the worst-affected rooms.

"My bedroom was completely trashed with the roof collapsing into it and the kitchen is in a very sorry state," he said.

"Fortunately, though, there is a solid internal running the height of the house which meant that the rest of the building isn't too bad and there are three rooms downstairs which I could probably live in almost straightaway when the house is made watertight and the electricity is restored."

However, at the moment, the Reverend Rowell is being put up in a nearby holiday let in Carn View Terrace.

"It's so comfortable that I'm not in any real hurry to move out," he joked.

It was just one of seven or eight properties which have been offered to him by parishioners as a temporary home. Another local resident gave him cash to replace the clothes that he had lost in the fire.

"People have been absolutely amazing," he added.

"They are so warm and generous-hearted in Pendeen.

"I've been able to buy some new replacement clothes which, having always previously got my clothes from charity shops, mean I'm much better dressed now than I've ever been."

Along with his clothes, the Reverend Rowell has also lost many treasured family items including a Military Cross awarded to his grandfather in the First World War.

"I'm retiring in a year's time and have been getting all the things that I want to take with me and putting them all in my bedroom," he said.

"My grandfather's medal is something I would like to keep and the firefighters were very good about looking out for it – they did find some other medals.

"Someone in the village has offered to bring his metal detector to look for it, so I'm hopeful it can still be located."

The Reverend Rowell doesn't know what caused the fire but believes it could have been an electrical fault.

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