‘I thought she was a goner’

Barbara Rowan with Steve Clark, from George F White in Alnwick.
Barbara Rowan with Steve Clark, from George F White in Alnwick.

An elderly tourist was given a rude welcome to Northumberland as she was swept down the street in last week’s flash-flooding in Alnwick.

Barbara Rowan, who had just arrived in Alnwick on holiday with husband Richard, said she wouldn’t still be here if it wasn’t for her hero, Steve Clark, from George F White, who plucked her from the torrent.

The 66-year-old cannot swim and husband Richard, 67, said: “It was terrifying, she is afraid of water at the best of times.

“I thought she was a goner, I have never been so horrified in all my life.”

Barbara added: “I thought ‘this is it, I’m going to die’.

“My thoughts were of my daughter Clare, who has Downs Syndrome and is severely handicapped.

“As a mother, I just thought ‘who’s going to look after her?’

“I don’t think I would be here if Steve hadn’t got me out, I would probably have hit my head and been knocked unconscious. I can’t swim but even if I could, the force was so strong I don’t think I would able to save myself.”

The couple, visiting from Malvern in Worcestershire, had arrived in Alnwick, on their first visit to the county, at about 3.30pm. Not being able to go to their guesthouse yet, they parked outside George F White, before going for a stroll.

When the sky turned black, they returned to their car.

“The next thing we knew there’s a torrent coming down the hill so we knew we had to get out of the car,” said Richard.

“The water rushed in and we tried to make it to the door and a chap helped me in.”

“A friend of ours died in the floods in Worcestershire five years ago,” said Barbara. “That’s what we thought about, we thought we must get out of the car.

“The water was so forceful, it just knocked me off my feet.”

She was swept down the street, grabbing at lampposts as she went, before she was grabbed by Mr Clark.

“We saw her flying past in a torrent of water,” he said.

“She was hanging onto the lamppost and I just pulled her out of the torrent. The force of the water was incredible.”