A miracle we are alive’

A PENSIONER has spoken about how she and her husband were lucky to survive after being struck by tons of tree debris during last Thursday s storms that swept Comet country. Harry and Iris Valentine, both in their 70s, were walking behind Stevenage Arts an

A PENSIONER has spoken about how she and her husband were lucky to survive after being struck by tons of tree debris during last Thursday's storms that swept Comet country.

Harry and Iris Valentine, both in their 70s, were walking behind Stevenage Arts and Leisure Centre when the bough of an oak tree weighing several tons crashed down trapping the couple under smashed wood and branches..

Mrs Valentine is now recovering at their Stevenage home with a broken leg but her husband remains in QE II Hospital, Welwyn Garden City, where he is being treated for multiple injuries.

"It is a miracle we are both alive," said Mrs Valentine, who worked at British Aerospace in Stevenage where her husband Harry, 77, was an engineer on the Apollo space programme until they both retired.


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"I had been to the fitness classes at the leisure centre and had a cup of coffee then Harry and I decided to walk to our car.

"It was blowing hard and the trees were waving around. We got to the bottom of the lane behind the centre and things seemed very calm. I looked up and the big tree was moving.

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"Then there was this big 'whoosh' and part of the tree crashed down.

"That was the last thing I remember until I heard a voice telling Harry not to move. He had been knocked down and bits of tree were all over us.

"I woke up in Lister Hospital on a trolley where the X-rays showed I had a broken leg.

"I am still in quite a bit of pain from the leg and have a bruised arm and hip. Harry is recovering in hospital but we have both survived a terrifying ordeal and I cannot thank those who helped us enough. They were wonderful."

The couple have been married for 52 years and lived in Stevenage since 1975. They have three daughters.

Mr Valentine was transferred to QE II Hospital because Lister was unable to carry out a scan on his head wound after the scanner broke down.

He suffered a heart attack in 1995 and was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997.

"Harry has two broken arms and a cut on his head and hopefully will be home soon," added Mrs Valentine.

"But we will never forget the day we were almost killed by that tree."

In a statement the Valentine family praised the emergency services and the public who helped Mr and Mrs Valentine, particularly a taxi driver who was one of the first people at the scene of the incident, quickly followed by security staff and first-aiders from the Tesco store.

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