When Frances Tighe heard a piercing scream more than 11 years ago, she never expected to see her then seven-year-old son Lewis, engulfed in flames.
While attempting to dry his t-shirt with a lighter, Lewis accidentally set both himself and his parents’ bedroom alight which resulted in severe burns and left him needing skin grafts.
“I was in the back garden putting the washing out,” said Frances, 37, from Lang Avenue, Lundwood.
“I just heard this scream and at first I didn’t know where it had come from, but then Lewis came running out and I saw his shirt is on fire.
“I was so focussed on him that I didn’t realise the house was on fire.
“At the time I didn’t know what was happening, I just remember being on the phone to the ambulance and then putting him in next door’s bath to try and stop the burning.”
Lewis was airlifted to Pinderfields Hospital where he underwent multiple operations and skin grafts over most of his body.
“He was completely out for five days,” said Frances. “I had an 18-month-old as well so I was back and forth to the hospital, it was a stressful time.”
Frances and her family were sent on a holiday by MY Burns Club Pinderfield - a charity within the hospital which helps families of burns victims to enjoy a holiday.
“They were brilliant with us, they took us on a residential trip to Cumbria and it’s where fire-fighters go for rehabilitation. There were nurses and medical staff on hand so the kids could go and play and that meant the adults could relax by themselves.
“There was a gym and a spa and different activities for the kids and it was all paid for by the charity so it didn’t cost us a penny which was lovely after a year of struggle.”
In order to thank the charity for their help, Frances will be doing a sponsored skydive tomorrow to raise money for MY Burns Club Pinderfield.
“I want to give something back because they were absolutely brilliant with us,” said Frances. “I’ve always said that if I was going to do something for charity it would be a skydive and I knew I wanted to raise money for the burns club. I’ve paid for the skydive myself so all the money can go towards helping another family to enjoy a nice holiday away from all the stress that comes with having a child in the burns unit.”
Lewis is now 19 and has been working as a bin man for Barnsley Council for the past six months.
Frances said: “His burns are all right now, he’s actually really confident about it. He lost his nipple on his left side but he is not embarrassed about his body. I think because it all happened when he was so young he has kind of accepted it. He does have to keep exercising to keep the skin grafts in place but he is doing well and doesn’t let it stop him.”
To raise money for the skydive, Frances set up a Just Giving page which raised £200 in the first 24 hours the page was active.
She said: “It’s amazing what the people around you will do, I am really grateful for all the help I’ve been given and money raised so far.
“When it first happened all my neighbours rallied around and helped to get us back on our feet. Some of them helped to redecorate the house because the smoke damage was really bad in our bedroom so this skydive is to say thank you to them as well.”
Frances’ skydive will take place tomorrow from Skydive Langar, Nottingham.
She added: “I think on the day I will be really nervous but right now I am OK. I don’t think I’ll be having any breakfast though because my stomach will be in knots, but it will be worth it.”
Donate to Frances’ Just Giving page here.