A children’s nurse has been left with life-changing injuries after a portable heater exploded in a pub beer garden.
Ashleigh Charlesworth, 27, suffered severe burns to her face, chest and hands in the explosion at the Kings Head pub in Great Cornard, Suffolk.
She was rushed to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, Essex – where there is a specialist burns unit – and was on a ventilator for two days.
Two other people, including Ashleigh’s cousin, were also injured in the blast, which is believed to have happened after a customer brought the heater to the pub.
Suffolk Police have launched an investigation into the circumstances leading up to the horrific incident.
Ashleigh worked as a paediatric nurse at Colchester Hospital, Essex, before moving to Virgin Care, and had recently helped deliver Covid vaccinations.
Children’s nurse Ashleigh Charlesworth (pictured) has been left with potentially life-changing injuries after a portable heater brought by a customer exploded at the King’s Head pub, Suffolk
The 27-year-old had been on a night out with her cousin at the time the explosion took place.
She has needed a skin graft on her hands, and has to wear a special face mask to help heal her facial burns and prevent potential infection.
The heater involved in the incident was fuelled by ethanol and had an open flame.
It is believed that Ashleigh and her cousin were burned when a drinker at the pub sprayed ethanol from a spare bottle on to the naked flame as a prank, causing the bottle to ‘explode’.
Ashleigh’s father Paul Charlesworth said: ‘I believe that the injuries were due to the actions of one drunken person.’
‘Someone brought a heater to the pub but it exploded and Ashleigh and her cousin got sprayed in the face.
‘They were badly burned and taken to hospital. Ashleigh was put on a ventilator for two days and needed operations on her hands.
‘The doctors are trying their hardest not to do anything to her face as they hope the skin can heal itself.
‘She’s having to wear a special mask on her face still as these types of burns can carry on damaging skin for days.’
Paul, 55, from Colchester, said it is too early to tell what degree burns Ashleigh has suffered following the incident on April 24.
He said: ‘She is in extreme pain and needs to have her skin chemically cleaned. What’s happened has only sunk in for Ashleigh over the last couple of days.
Ashleigh, 27, (pictured) suffered severe burns to her face, chest and hands in the explosion
‘It’s so unfortunate as she is such a hero who does so much for the NHS.’
Ashleigh’s sister Stacey added that it is too soon to know whether Ashleigh might need surgery on her face.
Stacey added: ‘She has quite deep burns along the left side of her face and around her left ear. It’s quite shocking – it’s not just a little scald.
‘She has had skin grafts on both her hands, which they have taken off her legs – so that’s another wound she has to deal with.
‘We haven’t really had a chance to have a look at her injuries yet because they’ve been bandaged up pretty much the whole time to help avoid infection..’
Stacey added that her sister did not realise what had happened until after the heater had exploded.
She said: ‘Because Ashleigh was sat side-on to where the heater was, she didn’t actually see what happened until it was too late.’
Ashleigh has worked as a nurse throughout the pandemic and has also administered Covid vaccines.
The King’s Head pub has since confirmed the heater was ‘brought onto the premises without their knowledge’ before it exploded injuring three customers including Ashleigh Charlesworth
The Kings Head pub was closed in the days following the incident – but the pub landlords said they were ‘limited’ as to what they could say, in light of an ongoing police investigation.
Posting on its Facebook page, a spokesperson for the pub added: ‘We can however confirm that the heating appliance was not one supplied by the pub, but was brought onto the premises without our knowledge.
‘Our focus is on supporting the enquiry that is taking place while keeping them, and their families, at the forefront of our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.’
Suffolk Police are investigating the incident and are appealing for witnesses.
A statement said: ‘Officers were called shortly before 10pm on Saturday, April 24, following reports of an explosion in the outside area at the Kings Head pub in Bures Road.
‘It is believed the fire was caused by a small portable fuel heater.
‘Emergency services attended including the fire service and ambulance service, and three people were taken to hospital for treatment.
‘The three people, two females and one male, remain in hospital after sustaining serious injuries, which are not believed to be life-threatening but are potentially life-changing.’
A man, in his 20s, who suffered burns in the explosion has now been released from hospital.
Suffolk Police spokesperson said today: ‘The two females remain in hospital receiving treatment for their injuries. Their condition is described as stable and their injuries are life-changing.
‘No arrests have been made or charges. However, a man has been interviewed voluntarily regarding the incident. Enquiries are ongoing in regards to the circumstances.’
Ashleigh’s 27-year-old cousin is being treated at the Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead, West Sussex, which specialises in burns care and reconstructive surgery.
Any witnesses or anyone with information is asked to contact Suffolk police, quoting incident number: 37/20827/21.
Meanwhile, Ashleigh’s sister Stacey is running a GoFundMe page so people can donate to while she is off work recovering – which has so far raised more than £2,000.
To donate, click here.
Source: Daily Mail UK