Mum overcomes phone phobia to report gas leak


A MUM overcame her phobia of telephones – to save a street from what could have been a devastating gas explosion.

Cheryl Campbell has suffered from “telephonophobia” – fear of making phone calls – for the past two years.

But that changed on Sunday night when the 34-year-old from Rosyth, Fife, caught the smell of gas and noticed her daughter was feeling sick.

Fearing the street could blow up at any moment, Cheryl reached for the phone and raised the alarm with gas engineers.

The terrace of six homes was evacuated and cordoned off by firefighters while gas experts traced the leak to a neighbour’s home.

Residents of the street have praised Cheryl for overcoming her fear to raise the alarm, saying she could have saved their lives.

She battled her phobia to make the call
She battled her phobia to make the call

Cheryl said: “I get anxious when talking to people on the phone. I get really stressed and nervous. If I have to call, I usually get my mum or someone else to do it.

“I’ve been like that for a couple of years now – but my anxiety has been bad over the last couple of years.”

Cheryl said she was in the house with her son, Logan, four, and daughter, Demi, 10, when the drama started to unfold.

“My daughter had gone up to fill the bath after dinner about 6pm and shouted down that the smell was very strong. She started feeling sick and when I went up I started feeling bad. My head was really sore.

“We just got our houses checked for gas before Christmas so I just thought there was something wrong.”

Cheryl, who normally asks her mother to make essential calls, realised she had no choice but reach for the dreaded phone.

Already in a state of high anxiety, she was told by an engineer at Scottish Gas Network not to touch any light switches. He added: “I don’t wanted to panic you but I need you and your kids to evacuate the property now.”

Cheryl said: “I had two kids, a budgie, two rabbits and a dog and I had to get them out of there. I wasn’t so bothered about the house but about everybody’s safety.”

After the leak had been fixed and the houses ventilated, families were allowed back in at about 1am on Monday.

“The house was absolutely stinking so the gas must have been on for quite a bit.

“I keep thinking the worst and it’s just so scary. What if I had ignored it – we might not have woken up in the morning, or something could have happened to the whole block.

“I could have woken up in the middle of the night and turned on the light without thinking.”

Neighbour Catherine Baxter, 21, said: “If Cheryl hadn’t phoned the gas board, we might not be in our houses today.”