Project Rebuild: Meet Elsie and Tipsy

Elsie and Tipsy
(Last Updated On: March 25, 2015)

Today, we met Elsie for a coffee and a chat…

I won’t call it an interview as it didn’t feel like one. Elsie is a fascinating lady, with many stories to tell. Stories that I hope to hear a lot more of.

We talked about her life, the war, her 3000 books and the fire…

A fire destroyed Elsie's home

A fire destroyed Elsie’s home

Elsie’s house in Preston, Torbay was destroyed in a fire on 7th March. Since then the community have raised over £5000 and due to Elsie having no insurance, have started a rebuild project themselves.

One thing is clear, Elsie is overwhelmed by the kindness shown to her by the community since the fire. She told me that it was not expected, how watching the news, there was so much despair and this has proved there is goodness in the world. Elsie said she was ‘amazed and astounded’ and ‘had been given hope for the future’.

Elsie is staying with her friend Debbie. Elsie had been offered a place at a residential home but this would have meant parting with her cat Tipsy. 17 year old Tipsy is also staying with Debbie and is the reason the pair met.

Last September, 12 months after Elsie lost her partner Terry, her cat went missing. Elsie was frantic and put up posters, hoping to find her pet. This led her to The Feline Network, which Debbie manages. By chance, Debbie had rehomed her cat who was brought in as ‘a stray’. Tipsy was with a foster family in Essex. Tipsy was soon home with Elsie.

It is very apparent how important Tipsy is to Elsie. She even brought her down for a photo.

Elsie and Tipsy

Elsie and Tipsy

Elsie has no children and was an only child, Elsie may not have any family but she now has a whole community supporting her.

Elsie has nothing but praise for the people working on her house.
“These are young people with families, giving up time before work to help me”
Elsie’s eyes show how grateful she is.

She told me how some of the workers have been teasing her about her hoarding, we laughed about the 38 jars of marmite they found. Elsie explains how this was war time mentality and how ‘you never knew what could happen’.

You can see the progress of the rebuild so far here:

We talked about the internet and social media. Elsie told me that she had gone on a computer course and enjoyed going online to use google and to order stuff.
Unfortunately, Elsie’s computer was destroyed in the fire but hopefully Elsie will be back online soon. I asked Elsie if she was going to join Facebook, she isn’t ruling it out!

Just before I left, I said to Elsie that she’d had an interesting life. She said to me, ‘And a fire at the end of it..’

This is not the end. As Elsie had said earlier, the community have given her hope.

Let’s help get Elsie home.

You can donate to

If you are able to offer help or supplies for the rebuild, please go to:


Team account for We Are South Devon.