Retired Carshalton couple rescued during power cut this Christmas by kind neighbours

Sutton Guardian: Rene and Danny Donnelly eating Christmas dinner at The Grange Rene and Danny Donnelly eating Christmas dinner at The Grange

A retired couple were rescued this Christmas by kind neighbours and a local restaurant after the storm left dozens of families without power for three days.

77-year-olds Rene and Danny Donnelly were plunged into darkness and left freezing after their power went out in the middle of the night on Monday, December 23.

Sutton Guardian:

Mrs Donnelly tried to keep warm by layering up 

Sutton Guardian:

Mr Donnelly keeping warm in the kitchen 

Their house, which is heated by electric throughout, was one of a number in Grosvenor Avenue and Park Lane, in Carshalton, which lost power during the festive period.

Neighbours gave the couple a small camping cooker, candles and hot water bottles while they spent most of their time in the kitchen trying to keep warm.

The couple have three children who live in Newcastle, Berlin and New Zealand and it was the first Christmas they had planned to spend as just the two of them.

On Christmas morning they rang multiple restaurants and only The Grange Bar and Restaurant, in Beddington Park, could squeeze the couple in – despite being fully booked.

Mrs Donnelly, who used to work in magistrates courts, said: “We were using our mobiles and hoping our batteries wouldn’t run out.

“On Christmas Eve we kept ringing and they said they were trying to fix it. We thought it would have been a short-term thing. I kept ringing up – by this time it was too cold – almost hypothermic.

“We thought if we got too cold we would have to go to hospital. It was a nightmare. We were so cold the lady on the switch board said to contact the Red Cross.

“Our neighbours were very good; we don’t know what we would have done without them. They were our lifeline. I also cannot thank The Grange enough – they were so sympathetic. They put the heater on full to warm us up.

“After we had dinner the lady gave us a flask of coffee to take home and when we took it back she said ‘have you had breakfast? I will make you breakfast if you like’. We had bacon sarnies and tea each.

“We are lucky we have got a roof over our head and our neighbours were so kind.

“It’s not the Christmas we planned but it was a good Christmas thanks to our neighbours and The Grange.”

Sutton Guardian:

Mr Donnelly tucks into his Christmas feast

Their roast lamb joint has gone off and they were unable to wash properly because of a lack of hot water.

The couple have lived in the house for 50 years, after they moved in on their wedding day, and have never had such a bad power cut in the past.

Sutton Guardian:

The couple even got a visit from Father Christmas 

Mr Donnelly, a former builder, said: “[UK Power Networks] finally agreed if we could find somewhere on Christmas Day they would pay something towards it.

“There wasn’t anyone from the electricity company who came round. We are 77 years old – but people over the road are in their 80s.

“It was a pretty disgusting performance from the electricity company. One of our neighbours after three days, last night, got onto them and arranged a hotel room for us and a meal to the value of £20. But just after he did that, low and behold the lights came back on.

“We met people with so much kindness over the last few days; it was wonderful.”

UK Power Networks spokesperson said: “Engineers are today continuing to repair overhead power lines which were damaged in Monday’s storm.

"Crews have been moved south from the East of England to help the local teams with complex repairs, which will continue until all supplies are restored.

“When the high winds struck, power was initially interrupted to more than 300,000 customers, but engineers quickly restored supplies to most and the East of England was back to normal by Christmas Day.”


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