It Could Happen to Anyone

***UPDATE added at the end of the post.***
My plans for uninterrupted stitching came to a roaring halt on Sunday when I heard that Vicky, my lovely assistant, had been in an accident. Frantic phoning around ensued, and awful news of what had happened. Vicky, kind and generous soul that she is, had been caretaking for a neighbour. She lit the wood stove as usual - but she did not know that there was a water jacket on the stove, and that the pipes had frozen overnight. The safety mechanism, a release valve had also frozen. The ice in the pipes rapidly turned into steam and became the equivalent of dynamite. The stove exploded. Vicky was thrown three meters across the room.

Oh so fortunately, her brother-in-law Dave was just outside the house. He rushed in and pulled an unconscious Vicky out from under some burning debris. She was bleeding seriously from her leg so he used his sweater for a tourniquet. He yelled for a neighbour to call 911 and ran back in to the house to grab all the coats hanging by the door and tucked them around Vicky. The first responders arrived in 20 minutes -remember, this is a rural island.

We are lucky to have a emergency centre at the small clinic here on Gabriola. The doctor on-call made a quick decision and soon Vicky was being helicoptered to Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria. She underwent an 8 hour surgery to remove shrapnel (pieces of steel and cast iron from the stove) from her legs. Her husband Mike, brother-in-law Dave and Australian shepherd Tazi drove down to Victoria in the car - a two hour trip.

James, I, and the girls made that same trip the next morning to visit the hospital. Vicky was in bandages from the waist down, and her hands were also heavily bandaged. Miraculously, her face, neck and upper body were okay. No bones were broken except a couple of fingers. Her spine was okay. She was conscious and amazingly herself. "I got blown up", she said and laughed her gentle little laugh. Dave and Mike were pale and visibly shaken, rare for a couple of cool British lads. (The kids - I think of them as kids, even though they are in their early thirties) - are recent immigrants from England.)

We hugged and chatted and listened, and then Mike and Dave went to take Tazi for a walk. James did some reiki for Vicky, and I washed her face and cleaned the soot from her ears and hairline - she said she had been told she looked like a coal miner just come up from the deeps when the ambulance arrived. The nurses in emergency had wiped most of it off but a more thorough job needed to be done. It felt good for me to be able to offer a little care for this sweet girl.

The nurses at Royal Jubilee seemed to be the best - and as James, the eternal flirt, said to one, "Do they only hire beautiful nurses here?" Vicky had a private room, with sunshine pouring through the window. Thank the heavens for universal health care and that Vicky was covered.

She is possibly facing another surgery to remove more of the shrapnel and repair tissue damage. Follow up care and rehab, transportation and accommodation costs will add up, as well as lost time from work for Vicky and Mike. Our fabulous community has already started filling their freezer with home cooked meals and baked goodies. We have set up a trust account so people can donate money. Help is being offered to dogsit and walk Tazi, and to manage Mike and Vicky's table at this Saturday's craft fair. In less than a year, this kind, generous, talented young couple has made many friends on Gabriola - they may be far from their families home in England, but us islanders are doing our best to surround them with love and care.

You can find out more about Mike and Vicky at their websites:  Little Blue Dog Designs, Vicky Bowes Illustration, and their organization Ocean Roots.

James has seen Vicky again at the hospital and she is steadily improving. No estimate yet on when she will be home.


  1. Oh my goodness. What a horrific accident. But even scarier to think of what it might have been! Its always so nice to hear of people pulling together and being kind.

  2. is she gonna be ok?
    what about the house ?
    was anyone else hurt?

  3. Judy - Yes she will recover but it will take a while. Luckily she is young and healthy. The windows and skylight were blown out of the house but all is repairable. The house didn't burn down. And thankfully no one else was hurt, although I think hero Dave is somewhat traumatized. I think it will take a while for everyone to get back to normal, although I also know that close calls like this can cause a person to re-evaluate their lives and refine their goals and direction in life.

  4. Phillippa Green12:58 AM

    Hello Heather,

    I am a close friend from home, I feel so far away and unable to help but feel warmed that there is a whole community rallying around them where they are.

    Is there anyway I can donate into the trust account at all?


  5. oh dear, how horrific! i'm so glad she came through as she did! Any word where to donate?

  6. Anonymous8:30 AM

    Good to be part of a caring community. All the help will help remove her worries and speed up recovery.


  7. Sophie8:34 AM

    I'm Sophie, Vicky's littlest sister. Your blog has been such a comfort to read, knowing that she is being really well looked after by the community around her, especially as we all feel so helpless over here in England. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you for posting this, and if you see Vicky again soon please give her a hug from me xxxxxx

  8. I am Vicky's sister in law and found your blog yesterday evening.

    It is wonderful that she is in such a kind and caring community.

    Any news is welcomed

    Thank you so much

  9. Hi Heather. Reece, Vicky's brother here. I'm so grateful and almost lost for words when reading your excellent blog due to the kindness you and the community are showing to my sister, Mike, Dave and Tazi. Thank you so much for keeping us up to date. The are so lucky to know people like you. It certainly has been a worrying week for us all so far away here in England. Take care, and thanks again :-)

  10. So sorry to hear about Vicky, Heather, but so glad she's survived and everyone is rallying around. To those who don't know about local island people, they are the best and take care of their own! Hoping for her complete recovery, I'll be thinking of her and her family and friends. Hugs!

  11. good grief, these things happen so fast


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