A grandfather who delivers meals on wheels helped save an elderly customer after she spent a night trapped in a lift.
Terry Hill was doing his usual rounds in Mead Field, in Stiven Crescent, South Harrow, at 7.30am on Tuesday when he realised one of his regulars – a 92-year-old woman – was missing.
The 55-year-old, who works for Wiltshire Farm Foods, looked around the building, which is a sheltered accommodation complex run by Harrow Borough Council.
However when he stepped out into the hallway, he heard a faint sound coming from the lift and realised she was trapped.
He said: “I knocked on the door at first but there was no answer. I rang her phone and then looked through her letter box – the TV was blaring away.
“I didn’t think she’d gone far but when I stepped out into the hallway, I noticed the lift was out of service. Then I heard a faint scraping at the lift so banged on the door several times.
“She responded, and although we couldn’t have a fluid conversation I realised she’d been there all night.”
Mr Hill quickly contacted the fire brigade, who were at the scene within minutes to prise open the door and release the woman.
It soon became apparent she was incredibly confused by her ordeal, so had not pressed the emergency bell or used her panic bracelet.
The woman had become trapped in the lift at 9.45pm the previous night, when she was returning to her flat from a communal area downstairs.
Mr Hill added: “She was a bit shaken up, as someone of that age would be. I didn’t want to crowd around her so I left her in the capable hands of the firemen. They were fantastic.
“I wonder how long she may have stayed there if I hadn’t found her? I dread to think what could have happened.”
The lift is now out of service but council officers said in a statement they hope to have it back up and running next week.
Councillor Glen Hearnden, who is responsible for housing at Harrow Borough Council, said: “We would like to apologise to the woman for what was clearly an upsetting ordeal.
“Engineering surveyors are examining this lift at the moment to see what went wrong and a new lift will be reinstated by the beginning of next week.
“Protecting the elderly and vulnerable is a top priority for the council and we will check all lifts in our sheltered blocks if there is any suspicion of a fault in design.
“While residents in sheltered accommodation usually like to live as independently as possible, we have provided the woman with a support worker and will talk to her about what extra help we can offer.”