Hayley Matthews; Selfless acts at a time of tragedy are inspirational

The horrific sights of Grenfell Tower on fire during the week just won't leave my mind. The sight of people waving from the top floors to then be engulfed by a black cloud of smoke, the descriptions of parents throwing their screaming children from windows in the hope they'll make it safely to the ground and the footage of the entire tower on fire, knowing there are many people still inside, has left me speechless.

Friday, 16th June 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Friday, 16th June 2017, 11:18 am
Firefighters at the scene of the Grenfell Tower blaze. Picture: AFP
Firefighters at the scene of the Grenfell Tower blaze. Picture: AFP

As a fireman’s daughter, I’ve heard first-hand about the horrific incidents that fire has caused. How quickly it spreads and how it can tear through buildings in minutes.

I’ve had it drilled in to me from a young age to take fire seriously and aim to be out of a building as soon as possible in the event of a fire, always to know where the fire exits are, and to have my wits about me. My dad’s been called to many incidents over the years, a lot of them very unpleasant. Fire scares me and the thought of those poor people being trapped, up high, haunts me.

I suspect it will be a while before we know how this was allowed to happen and find out who is accountable. Many residents interviewed in the press seemed angry, and rightly so. They had voiced their concerns and worries about the lack of fire safety, but no-one took heed. My thoughts go out to every single person who has been affected by Tuesday’s events. I can’t even begin to imagine what living hell those people are going through.

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I’m sure we’re all amazed at the firefighters who arrived first. What heroes they are. They managed to save more than 65 people going in to tackle an inferno that we’d later find out would take days to dampen down. They deserve a medal for working through the night. Some might say that was there job. However, they’re risking their lives for us every day and for that I’ll always be eternally grateful. Let’s not forget the local residents who also came running to rescue people from the building. What they did was awe-inspiring. Such a terrible incident and yet such acts of bravery and heart-warming benevolence.

I rack my brain thinking what good, if any, could come of such a terrible incident. I always try and see a silver lining and I have to admit, I have really struggled with this one. However, after a while watching the news there it was, clear as day. People pulling together, showing humanity to one another. Not just a few, but in their droves. Offering support, clothes, food, water and condolences. People who have very little anyway, and are probably some of the poorest families in London, on national TV offering their homes to those who have lost theirs, stating they can take in eight to ten people, reaching out to say “I’m here for you”. The entire community was pulling together on national TV. All races, religions, ages and all backgrounds.

I’m not taking away from the fact that this has been one of the most horrific incidents we’ve witnessed recently and it’s still very raw for everyone to accept, but watching the reporters describe people queuing up to offer their time and help in any way they can is heart-warming. What an amazing, selfless act.

To give your time to those in need the most costs nothing and, for me, it’s the most generous thing anyone can ever offer, their time and their goodwill. Bless them all.

Hayley Matthews – @hotlipshayley – is a TV and radio presenter