Gas blast couple get keys to new house

Richard and Sarah Drinkwater had to wait two years for their home to be rebuilt Photo: ITV News

A couple whose home was wrecked by a gas explosion in a next door property have been handed the keys to their new house.

Richard and Sarah Drinkwater had to wait two years for their home to be rebuilt.

The blast happened in Rosehill Street in Cheltenham two years ago Credit: ITV News

Two years ago Rosehill Street in Cheltenham looked like a scene from the blitz.

A gas explosion at number 34 demolished one house and severely damaged those either side of it.

Richard and Sarah Drinkwater - at number 36 - were sitting watching TV when it happened. Their house came apart around them.

Richard says: "We were just sat here... and obviously the wall imploded on us."

Their home had to be demolished. After two years, it has finally been rebuilt, and they've been handed the keys.

"If I am honest," Alan says, "Through counselling and things like that...it's just a memory and that is really important for us to be able to move back in here and we can put that behind us and concentrate on the future."

Having their house rebuilt has given Richard and Sarah the chance to change the ground floor layout so that they would never be sitting in the same position they were in when the blast happened. In the aftermath, Richard was treated for post traumatic stress.

Sarah says: "I didn't think this day would come. I hoped it would come sooner than it did but it is just the most amazing day I am so excited. What's the best thing about this house? Everything! It's our home. And it is where we want to be. Around the people we love and care about ..what more could you ask for?"

The exact cause of the blast has never been discovered. No one was seriously injured and Betty Hodgkiss, whose house was at the centre of the blast recovered in hospital and has now moved elsewhere.

For Richard and Sarah, they are just happy that they are back in the street they love, in the house they call home.

Our reporter Ken Goodwin caught up with the couple - who have finally got a good reason to crack open the champagne.