Alcester community offers its support after devastating fire at Three Tuns pub
Alcester’s residents have rallied behind those impacted by the fire at the Three Tuns. Mandy Downes and Andy Bown, the pub landlords, are well known in the town, having supported the community during the pandemic. The blaze also saw Laura Hemming and Abi Lewis lose their home.
FIRE crews from four counties battled to control a blaze at the Three Tuns pub in Alcester High Street on Saturday, 17th April.
The fire, which broke out around 2.30pm, gutted much of the inside of the grade II-listed pub, which has been run by Mandy Downes and Andy Bown for the past six years. The couple had been on their way to Cornwall for a holiday when they were alerted to the fire and returned home – they lived above the pub.
Crews eventually managed to extinguish the blaze, but it has devastated the pub and also impacted on neighbouring buildings, especially with smoke damage.
Laura Hemming and fiancée Abi Lewis have been left homeless after their flat above the Sue Ryder shop next door suffered major water and smoke damage during the blaze.
Laura told the Herald: “On Saturday afternoon I was celebrating my sister’s birthday in the garden at the Orange Mabel tearooms.
“I went out to get the birthday cake when I noticed the smoke from the fire.
“Abi was having a sleep on the sofa in our living room, so I ran to wake her.
“ When we came out, there was thick, black smoke coming out of the back of the pub.
The fire marshal needed me to stay around, so I was looked after at the shop Molly’s Cotton Tails with my family – the owner Sara was amazing.
“Abi was in shock and needed to be away from the situation. She went and made sure our animals – our rescue cat and four guinea pigs – were looked after. It’s all a blur really. Things are slowly coming back in dribs and drabs. As the days pass, you suddenly remember something.
“We were only allowed back into the flat to get a few things. We are in temporary housing in Stratford – the council have been very supportive.
“I work as a teaching assistant in a local primary school and Abi is a nurse at Redditch Hospital. We’ve both had to have time off work and our bosses have been very understanding.”
The fire has created a fantastic community response in Alcester, with fundraising for the couple and for Andy and Mandy, who is well-known for providing food to those in need during the pandemic from her delicatessen business Pantry Ann’s.
Laura added: “Alcester been amazing, helping us with pet supplies and donating to a GoFundMe page.
“We’ll need to rebuild the last few years of our lives. We were meant to be getting married in August but that will need to be put on hold, so the money will help us make a stable home for us both.
“We’re really aware that Mandy and Andy have lost everything – more than we have – so our thoughts are with them.”
To donate to Mandy and Andy, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/tom-print, and for Laura and Abi visit
www.gofundme.com/f/raise-money-for-abi-and-laura. Cash donations can be given to Sara Palmer at Molly’s Cotton Tails in the High Street.
Friends and neighbours show support for kind landlords
Cllr ANDREW FOSTER
Alcester Town Council
THE aftermath of the fire on Sunday is devastating, especially as it happened when Alcester’s hospitality businesses are working hard to recover from a year of lockdowns as a result of the pandemic.
Mandy from the Three Tuns has done so much for the community throughout the Covid crisis by providing complementary means to vulnerable residents while fighting to keep her other businesses going. We can only thank the emergency services who dealt with the situation so quickly and effectively and be relieved that no one was injured or worse. As it always does, the close-knit community of Alcester will pull together and support all who have been impacted by this terrible event.
Cllr GILL FORMAN
IT breaks your heart looking at the building. Alcester is a very close community and everybody’s hearts and thoughts go out to Mandy and Andy. You can’t imagine what it is like being in their shoes, everything you’ve worked for gone and all your personal belongings.
They are both such lovely people and don’t deserve it.
Orange Mabel tearooms
We had guests in our garden at the tearooms and noticed a plume of smoke – we thought it was a chimney fire at first but quickly realised how serious it was.
I know Mandy so I had the upsetting task of having to call her as she was on her way to Cornwall for a holiday. She had to turn back immediately. We assisted the police and fire brigade as much as we could.
It is such a shock as Mandy is such a great part of our community – she has worked all through lockdown and managed to stay open and work her little socks off. She has done so much for the people of Alcester and it is devastating to see her business no longer exists.
There’s been a real outpouring of emotion and support for Andy and Mandy. It is affecting everyone: it feels like it’s happened to all of us, in a way. It is so devastating.
Andy is rallying and has said he is looking forward to it being rebuilt. Mandy is very shaken and in shock, but feeling blessed no one was hurt.
The fire was so shocking, it went up so fast. We got the impression the firefighters were struggling with the ferociousness of it at certain points.
Andy and Mandy live across from me on the High Street; it’s so awful to see them about looking shocked and shaken still. I think they think someone is going to pinch them in a minute.
It was so terrible to be up at dawn on Sunday and see the burned-out building. People have been staring at it since – it’s shocking. They are just stunned.
The pub supports everyone in the town and Mandy did so much during lockdown, providing free meals to those that need it from Pantry Ann’s. It doesn’t feel fair:this shouldn’t happen to good people. We’re an intimate, friendly community here and Mandy is a big part of that.
The Three Tuns was like a feature of the High Street, such a lovely old building, so everyone who lives in Alcester will want to see it preserved. Losing it would be another knock after all the high street has suffered during the pandemic. Andy and Mandy are very popular in the community so hopefully everyone will support them.