Freezing pensioner, 92, forced to boil water to wash with after gas stopped working

A 92-year-old woman claimed she was left without heating and hot water for five days – and says British Gas “ignored” her pleas for help.

Mary Sharp has lived in her Clackmannanshire home in Scotland for 28 years but the past week has proven to be among her most testing times.

When her gas stopped working on September 29, the pensioner, who had worked on a dairy farm since the age of 14, immediately placed a call to the British Gas priority line.

An engineer arrived at 9pm that evening but she claimed they said they were missing a vital part to fix the boiler – leaving Mary to her own devices.

The following day, another engineer arrived with no knowledge of needing the missing part.

When Mary asked for a heater, they reportedly refused and she was told to wait for the issue to be solved as it “isn’t yet winter”.

The pensioner, who pays £50 a month on her British Gas home account, was left freezing in her home as temperatures dropped.

“I managed as best I could by wrapping up warm and boiling water to wash with,” Mary said.

“As I’ve got older, I do feel the cold a lot more and suffer with bad arthritis so the cold can make it worse.”

The following day, Mary called for an update and was frustrated to learn the part wouldn’t be available for a further two days.

Her neighbours, Kerry and Vicky Maddock, stepped in to help contact British Gas alongside Kerry’s auntie Annie for an urgent fix – but to no avail.

Despite being assured a manager would call back, Annie claimed she did not receive a response and several social media messages also went unanswered.

Kerry added that the engineers were “unhelpful” and “unsympathetic” to the pensioner’s needs.

She said: “Her [Mary’s] biggest issue throughout has been ‘making a fuss’.

“She is more likely to sit with no heating than complain at the minute.

“Poor Mary just thinks she is being troublesome.

“If we weren’t involved she’d still be sitting now with nothing.”

Finally, by 2.30pm on Monday, October 3 the boiler was fixed – after Mary was left in the cold for five days.

The pensioner is now “worried” about having future issues with British Gas.

She has already sought quotes from independent companies for a new boiler as the situation has been “so stressful”.

A spokesperson for British Gas said the company had recommended a new boiler to Mary in November 2021 due to limited parts and the age of her existing boiler.

They confirmed that Mary’s heating is currently working and a new boiler will be fitted on October 7.

In a statement, the spokesperson said: “We’ve been in touch with Mrs Sharp to confirm her heating is up and running and to let her know how sorry we are about the delay in getting her boiler fixed.

“The parts needed to fix the boiler needed to be ordered and an engineer fit them as soon as they were available.

“We’ve also arranged an appointment to install a new boiler and we’re glad Mrs Sharp is happy with the resolution.”