Man’s quest to find off-duty officer who saved him from house fire
PUBLISHED: 12:00 23 November 2018
A man who was rescued from a house fire as a child is looking for the off-duty police officer who saved his life.
Tony Varghese, 36, was just three when someone threw a Molotov cocktail through the window of his grandad’s house in Burges Road, East Ham.
An off-duty officer who was walking past saw the flames and ran in to help.
When looking through old newspaper clippings at his aunt’s house, Tony found a story about the 1986 incident which included the officer’s name, and now he’s on a mission to find him.
“I was very young, but I do remember it and I remember being a little traumatised as a child,” he said.
“But I’ve always wondered about the policeman.
“I remember him because I always used to talk about him as a child.
“I’ve always wondered but I’ve just never had the opportunity to find him before.”
Pc William Manners was walking past the house when he saw flames coming out the window. He ran in and asked if there were any children inside. He collected Tony and his seven-year-old sister, Jennifer, from a room upstairs, and put them safely outside.
The house, which belonged to Tony’s grandparents, also housed Tony’s parents, his sister, his aunt and his uncle.
“Nobody every found out who did it or why, and no one was ever charged,” he said.
“We all got out in time because luckily, my grandad had shut the door of the room which had the bomb inside.
“But a few weeks later, there was a repeat incident nearby, and two people died.”
Tony, who now lives in Rainham with his wife and three-year-old son, said initially the family were worried about it being racially motivated.
“It was a little bit scary at the time because we were worried about racism,” he said.
“But we just got on with it, the community back then was made of strong stuff.”
Tony’s father bought a house round the corner two years later, and his sister and parents still live in East Ham.
Do you know Pc William Manners? If so, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.