Couple die in caravan fire tragedy

Pauline and John and little Cameron Thompson
Pauline and John and little Cameron Thompson

A COUPLE tragically died after a fire engulfed their caravan at a holiday park.

John Thompson, 50, and his 49-year-old wife Pauline, who lived at Combe Haven Holiday Park in Harley Shute Road, St Leonards, were pronounced dead at the scene despite valiant efforts by paramedics to revive them.

Firefighters from both The Ridge and Hastings Fire Stations spent just over an hour tackling the flames.

Scores of floral tributes have been left by Mr and Mrs Thompson’s caravan following the tragedy, which happened on August 13 just after 10pm.

Family and friends this week paid heartfelt tributes to the couple.

Their 23-year-old daughter Charlotte said: “We are all devastated. They were lovely people. My dad had the most infectious laugh ever. “They were the best parents that we could have asked for and the most amazing grandparents to my son and daughter.”

Charlotte, mother of eight-month-old Clia and Cameron, aged six, said her parents had called most of their family on the day of their death, because they wanted to spread the news that Cameron had been offered trials at Arsenal Football Club.

She said: “They were so proud of Cameron. They were so happy, they rang everyone. They got to speak to so many people, and that’s a small blessing.

“By the time we got there, they were being pronounced dead at the scene. It was terrible. We’ll miss them so much.”

Mr and Mrs Thompson, who used to run The Shah pub in Ore, also have another daughter, 20-year-old Emily.

Mr Thompson also has three children from a previous marriage: Robert, Paul and Cathleen, who all live in Devon.

Jimmy Carroll, Rother District Councillor for Sidley ward, knew the couple when they lived in Sidley Street, Bexhill.

He said: “They were very hard-working people, they were the sort that worked to achieve something for Sidley and our community, and their family.

“If there was something going on locally, they would get involved in it.

“And now we’ve lost them. It’s a terrible loss. I think there will be a great turn out from Sidley for them. They were very kind and will be sadly missed.”

Ian Vinall, landlord of The New Inn in Sidley, said Mr and Mrs Thompson were a ‘well-liked and fun-loving’ couple.

The blaze is not being treated as suspicious or deliberate. Detective Inspector Emma Heater, from Hastings CID, said: “This is a very tragic incident and our thoughts are with the families of the deceased.

“The exact cause of the fire has still not been established and forensic examinations are continuing.

“I would like to thank the members of the public who were staying at the park at the time of the fire for their patience and co-operation while fire crews tackled the blaze and also, the caravan park staff who bravely tried to gain entry to the caravan, two of whom, had to be treated at the local hospital for smoke inhalation.”

A spokesman for Combe Haven said two employees and a neighbouring caravan owner tried to tackle the blaze with fire extinguishers before firefighters arrived.

He said Mr and Mrs Thompson had owned their caravan since 2007.

“Our team members and guests are shocked by this tragic accident. Mr and Mrs Thompson were valued and popular members of the community at Combe Haven,” he told the Observer.

He added: “The general manager has spent a considerable amount of time with the family and been in continuous contact since this tragedy.”

Inquests into both deaths have been opened and adjourned to a later date.