Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service has joined forces with the family and friends of 72 year old George ‘the hat’ Ball who tragically died last month in a fire in his flat on High Street, Wolstanton.
"We need to make people aware that although they think their elderly family member, friend or neighbour doesn’t look vulnerable from the outside, it doesn’t mean they’re not."
Station Manager, Mick Daniels
As part of the wider older person’s campaign, a hard-hitting poster entitled ‘Do You Know a George?’ will be launched at George’s favourite pub, the Village Tavern in Wolstanton next week with the support of George’s daughter and the Village Tavern landlord.
The poster asks: ‘Do you know a George? George is 72. He lives alone, but he’s not by himself. He is popular and is looked after by his neighbours. He has a standalone heater, smokes and uses a chip pan. No one realised George was at risk. George died in a house fire.’
Station Manager, Mick Daniels said: "The aim of this new part of the older person’s campaign is to highlight the fact that although George was within a close knit community, was mobile and had plenty of friends around him he was still at risk but no one realised.
"George had not received a free Home Fire Risk Check from us, if he had, we could have identified that his heating was not appropriate or safe as well as identifying other potential fire hazards in his home.
"We need to make people aware that although they think their elderly family member, friend or neighbour doesn’t look vulnerable from the outside, it doesn’t mean they’re not. We would urge everyone who has elderly friends or family members to ensure that person receives a free Home Fire Risk Check so we can help to keep your loved ones safe from fire."
George’s daughter Jayne Harris, who has been involved with the design and wording of the poster, said: "It’s devastating what happened to my Dad. I know he was well-loved in the local community and that’s what makes it worse in some ways, we just didn’t realise he was at risk when he went home.
"We don’t want this to happen to anyone else which is why we’re backing the campaign. If it can save just one person from the same fate as my Dad then we can stop another family and community suffering a similar tragedy."
Landlord of the Village Tavern, Keith Melbourne said: "George the hat was a regular in my pub. He was something of a character, well-liked and always smiling. When he’d had enough, a few local lads would take him home and make sure he got there safely.
"It’s hit us all really hard. We honestly had no idea George was at risk, if we had, we’d have done something about it. I hope that by uniting as a community with Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service we can make George’s story as widely known as possible and help to save lives."