Trapped shoppers' shutter nightmare

LITTLE did shopper Vanessa Wingard know that a simple shopping trip with her son would turn into a dramatic two-hour lock-in.

LITTLE did shopper Vanessa Wingard know that a simple shopping trip with her son would turn into a dramatic two-hour lock-in.

Mrs Wingard and her 20-year-old son, Gareth Sanders, were shopping in Carphone Warehouse when the security shutters came down unannounced and trapped them inside with staff.

With the only other exit sealed up and an engineer unable to fix the problem, Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service crew had to be called in to save the customers and staff.

Today, Mrs Wingard said she went into the shop at around noon on Sunday and was not able to leave until nearly 2pm.

The 47-year-old, of Haughley Green, said she was shocked to discover the shop did not have an emergency exit.

She said: “We'd been in there for perhaps three or four minutes when the shutter on the front door started to come down.

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“The staff tried to stop it but that didn't work. Eventually it stopped but it had come down so far the door couldn't be opened because it opens inwards.

“I said 'we'll just use the fire escape' but they said they didn't have one; that was the only exit.

“There was another door but it was sealed up and the employees said they didn't have a key for it anyway.

“I couldn't believe that. It meant we were trapped.”

Mr Sanders and one of the employees tried to fix the shutters but they would not budge. An engineer was then called but could not get to the bottom of the problem.

Eventually a retained fire crew from Needham Market came to their rescue and a slim firefighter managed to slip through the door of the shop, at Market Place, Stowmarket, and fix the shutters from the inside.

Mrs Wingard, a postmistress in Claydon, said: “It was funny, but it wasn't at the same time.

“You don't expect there to be only one door in and one door out of a shop like this.”

A spokeswoman for Carphone Warehouse said: “All of our locations, including our Stowmarket store, are already fully compliant with UK safety regulations.

“However, we have ensured that a second exit is now operational in our Stowmarket store. We apologise for any inconvenience that may have been caused”

n Have you been trapped in an unexpected place? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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