Year of honour drives widow out of town

Explosion aftermath: Jackie at the hotel where she lived for over two months.      Picture: Steve Taylor.

Explosion aftermath: Jackie at the hotel where she lived for over two months. Picture: Steve Taylor.

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A DEVASTATED widow says she plans to quit Doncaster after an horrific year which saw her home blown up and the death of her estranged husband.

Jackie Dickens, who is partially sighted, suffered her first blow last June when a gas explosion destroyed her flat at Epworth Court, Bentley.

She spent months in The Danum Hotel before St Leger Homes could rehouse her. She now lives in Stainforth.

Then in November her husband, Graham Dickens, from whom she was separated, was found dead in a hotel room in Doncaster town centre.

An inquest this week ruled the death was a suicide.

Now Jackie, aged 46, says she feels cannot stay in the borough any longer and plans to move to London, where her parents live.

She said: “After everything that has happened in the last year, I have decided to go back to London to live. I’ve been in Doncaster for 10 years.

“I had been happy here until the gas explosion last year.

“But at the moment my heart is telling me I’ve got to go back.

“It has been an awful year. I was going through a divorce with Graham, but I was still married to him. We were still talking and I had last seen him the Friday before he died. I was married to him for 23 years.

“I am absolutely devastated about his death, and I had been seeing a counsellor over what happened with the gas explosion. I am still having nightmares about what happened.

“Now I am also seeing a bereavement counsellor. Graham was part of my life for so long.

“I feel as though I need to be close to my family in London. I only have my son in Doncaster now.”

She found her husband’s inquest a harrowing experience.

Jackie, who has been registered blind since the age of eight, was asleep when her flat blew up in June.

She said she did not hear the bang, but woke to find her bedroom wall had disappeared and her bed had gone through the floorboards.

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