Ipswich: Blast left our lives in ruins

OUR lives have been devastated and we have lost everything.

That is how Phil Bowers has today described the aftermath of an explosion which ripped through his Chantry home seriously injuring his flatmate Richard Nicholls.

These incredible pictures, published for the first time, show the devastation caused by the blast in December, which left one man without any possessions, and the other without the use of his legs.

Luckily for Mr Bowers, 38, and his 11-year-old daughter Hannah, they were held up at a party and arrived home in Ellenbrook Green just minutes after the explosion erupted causing chaos.

He said: “It was a massive shock to come home, see the windows were blown out and emergency service vehicles everywhere.

“Had we have been home earlier, we would have been sitting in the front room and almost certainly killed. We are incredibly lucky to still be here today.

“It’s been really hard to deal with, especially as my daughter is only 11. It has certainly put life in perspective.”

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Mr Nicholls is still in Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford and has been told it will take at least a year to walk.

Mr Bowers has admitted that the ordeal has left him traumatised and his daughter, a pupil at Hadleigh High School, has been receiving counselling.

“It’s been hard enough for me to deal with let alone how it has affected my 11-year-old daughter,” he added. “Hannah won’t come and stay with me at the moment because she’s still suffering.

“I had to take a month off work because I’m traumatised by it, especially when it was my mate who was blown up.”

The explosion gutted the first-floor flat and blew its windows on to the street below on December 16 leaving Mr Bowers, who had only lived there with Mr Nicholls for three weeks, homeless for Christmas.

Mr Bowers, who is currently staying with a friend in Maidenhall, said: “I lost everything in the explosion. It was all ruined.

“I had to go out and buy new clothes and Christmas presents for my daughter.”

The brick-layer paid tribute to his friends and family who have rallied round since the disaster.

“Both myself, Richie and Hannah have had a lot of support from people at the Belstead Arms and The Smock and I’m so grateful to them for all they’ve done,” he added.

The explosion is believed to have been caused by a redundant back boiler.

n Do you know Richard Nicholls and want to send your message of support? Call newsdesk on 01473 324790 or an e-mail to starnews@archant.co.uk