“Oh my goodness!” I whispered as Sarah continued.
“…who threatened to shoot us, and wanted money and..” Sarah blinked her eyes slowly and shook her head as she held her teacup. “..different kinds of things.” Her mouth widened in a grimace as she continued to shake her head.
“And our daughter. We were all bound in our beds and threatened.” Sarah rubbed her forehead and eyes. “My daughter was twelve then. So, recovering from that was quite a challenge but because we’re quite a strong family, I think we recovered from it better than we would have expected.
“Then five months later, our daughter had respiratory arrest at Christmas and she..” Sarah began to rub her forehead and eyes again, blinking. “…had to be put into a coma and taken to Bristol childrens hospital. So I probably spent about three months of that year in hospital staying with her. Hhhhhhfff.” Sarah exhaled slowly.
“So she’s got permanent lung damage. And now she also has a pacemaker and defibrillator cause she has a genetic problem with her heart that they discovered. So it was a godsend that she got so poorly because we wouldn’t have found out about the heart complaint.”
“Yeah.” I said quietly.
“Then my mother died suddenly whilst my daughter was in hospital. So it was really, really a difficult time with three major incidents within five months. And to keep on doing business.. cause it doesn’t stop.
“On the morning that we got held up, heh ha! We were held up at about four o’clock in the morning and at nine o’clock Nigel was serving breakfast for people! The police were in this room taking statements from all of us and Nigel kept nipping in and out! Cause we had a full hotel, we had thirty five guests. And all of them had to be questioned later by the police.” She finished, laughing.
“So those challenges have made us want to raise money for charities more, it really makes you appreciate what you’ve got, when, when, those things have been almost taken away from you. So, the NHS, you know, I just think it’s absolutely wonderful…”
The small bell on the door chimed and we could hear Nigel saying goodbye to a guest. A second later he came back in and Sarah turned to where he sat down.
“We were just talking about how when we do go through difficult times, we do remind ourselves that we are still alive.”
“I think we always had those values it just makes it stronger.” said Nigel, echoing Sarah’s words from earlier. “Because of my brother. I’ve always had those values, appreciated things in life and work hard you know.”
“I saw a sign saying that you were going to do a cycle trip, so what’s that then?” I asked.
“Cycling Dartmoor. A sportif is like sixty or a hundred miles. Lots of hills, so I only do that for charity. Muscular dystrophy, that’s what my brother had, childrens Bristol and Torbay. So I try and do that little bit. I do different things to raise money.” Nigel dashed off again to see to a customer.
“This is only my second time in Devon,” I said, “and I noticed I haven’t heard any Devon accents. Sarah threw her head back and laughed, while I continued, “Nigel is the first…”
“Well it’s not quite, ‘cause he’s originally from Cornwall!” She said laughing again.
“Oohhhh!” I felt a sweep of disappointment.