Frail 92-year-old trapped for eight hours after lift break down

John Archbold and his mother Winifred Archbold, (92), were stranded  for hours after the lifts into Lumley Tower in Sunderland failed due to workman cutting through cables while digging a hole in the road outside. Winifred is seen here at the bottom of the 14 flights of stairs to her home.
John Archbold and his mother Winifred Archbold, (92), were stranded for hours after the lifts into Lumley Tower in Sunderland failed due to workman cutting through cables while digging a hole in the road outside. Winifred is seen here at the bottom of the 14 flights of stairs to her home.
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A FRAIL OAP was left grounded for eight hours after the lifts to her 14th-floor flat broke down.

Wheelchair-user Winifred Archbold, 92, had to call police to lift her up hundreds of stairs into her tower-block home.

Winifred was left stranded at the bottom of Lumley Tower, in the East End, after an electrical fault caused the lifts to fail.

Mrs Archbold and her son John had hoped to get home to watch the Sunderland match on Tuesday but at 7pm were told they would have to wait at least an hour for a generator.

Three hours later, the generator arrived but hopes of getting home were dashed when they were told they would have to wait for an engineer to reset the system at the Gentoo property.

Their ordeal continued into the early hours of the morning, as more people were sent to Mrs Archbold’s rescue but were unable to help.

Mr Archbold, 61, said: “I was getting angrier and angrier. Nobody seemed to know what they were doing.

“They later said something about finding alternative accommodation but at this point I didn’t think it was right.

“I asked if we could use the evacuate chair and was told because of health and safety we couldn’t because my mum is too fragile.

“Then we called the fire brigade and they said they couldn’t help because it wasn’t an emergency so we phoned the ambulance but they couldn’t help because it wasn’t an emergency.

“It was getting later and later and mum was getting more and more confused and tired. It was ridiculous.”

As a last ditch attempt, Mr Archbold phoned police at about 2am and pleaded with them to help.

Two female officers arrived and, helped by Mr Archbold and a social worker who was sent to the scene, they lifted Mrs Archbold to the fourth floor before becoming stuck in the narrow stairwell.

“The policewomen decided to phone their office and called out two strapping police guys to help,” said Mr Archbold, a retired psychiatric nurse.

“As soon as they arrived, we got her up in no time. She was shaken and shocked when we finally got her into the flat.

“The police were fantastic but this whole thing was a farce. It’s health and safety gone mad. She should have been up those stairs within the hour.”

Inspector Peter Dent said: “Strictly speaking this doesn’t fall under the normal duties of a police officer but the officers who attended didn’t want to leave the elderly woman stranded for any longer and we’re pleased that we were able to help her back to the comfort of her own home.”

Alan Duffy, head of operations at Gentoo, said: “Earlier that day Gentoo were notified of a power cut and the problem was rectified by Northern Electric Distribution Ltd (NEDL) around 9pm. Unfortunately, as a result the lifts stopped working and engineers were unable to get either lifts fixed that evening.

“Customers with mobility issues were notified of the situation and we worked with other agencies to arrange alternative solutions to ensure minimum disruption.”