A CUP of sugar or pint of milk may be all many owe their neighbours.
But for one Littlemore resident the debt is considerably higher – she owes her life.
After hearing cries for help and seeing smoke billow through the door and window of his neighbour’s flat Mick Boswell leapt into action.
The 49-year-old smashed the glass in the door and hauled the woman to safety through the hole – in just a dressing gown.
Last night he earned the praise of fire crews and paramedics who said his quick-thinking averted a tragedy.
Painter and decorator Mr Boswell was watching TV with his partner Emma Smith at their home in Cowley Road last Wednesday when they heard banging from next door. He said: “Suddenly I heard the girl shouting at the bottom of the stairs, ‘I can’t get out, I can’t get out’.
“The other neighbour was just arriving, so we tried to kick the door down but it wouldn’t give.
“I got my hammer and smashed the glass on the door, then pulled her through.
“It was just instinct; the main thing was to keep cool.
“I wasn’t really thinking, it was just something you do when you hear someone in trouble; all I did was talk to her and calm her down.”
Fire crews were quickly at the scene and put out the blaze before it engulfed the flat and spread to neighbouring properties. Mr Boswell’s partner Emma Smith said she initially froze as the frantic scenes unfurled, but was amazed to watch the humble hero deal with the drama.
She said: “It was obviously very traumatic for her but Mick had such a cool head, he reacted so quickly. I was just panicking.
“There was so much smoke, and you could see flames coming from the window.
“It was all happening so fast with so much going on.
“He is a hero.
“He didn’t even panic when she said she had got out of the bath to escape and had no clothes on. He just told me to get my dressing gown and shoved it through the hole for her.”
The woman, known only as Emily, is staying with relatives, according to Ms Smith.
She was in the bath at the time the fire broke out, but managed to call 999 where Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service helped to reassure her.
She suffered cuts to her hands and smoke inhalation, but her injuries were not believed to be life threatening.
The fire is believed to have started from a faulty electrical appliance.
An investigation revealed that a battery had been removed from the smoke alarm.
Fire service watch manager Shaun Betts said: “The actions of the neighbour were quick-thinking and brave.”
Are you ‘Emily’ or do you know her? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01865 425411.