A British family left destitute by the wildfires ravaging Rhodes have told of their ‘rags to riches’ story thanks to the kindness of the Greek people.
Dean and Charlie Scoffins and their two teenage daughters were forced to sleep on a school playground after they were evacuated from their Jet2 hotel in Pefkos in the south of the island at 3am as the flames grew close.
The family from Grantham, Lincs, could not find any space at the sprawling basketball stadium that was used as an emergency shelter over the weekend and were stranded without shade in the 40-degree heat.
But after suffering ’36 hours of hell’ the Scoffins were treated to a ‘Premiership footballer’s lifestyle’ when they were invited to bunk down on a £3.5 million catamaran by its tycoon owner – one of hundreds of acts of kindness by the people of Rhodes to their under-fire British guests.
Dean and Charlie, Scoffins with daughters Lucy, 18 and Lottie 15, at the harbour in Rhodes
The Scoffins are seen reeling from the heat after being evacuated
Lucy Scoffins onboard the £3.5 million catamaran offered as refuge by its generous Greek owner
Catamaran is pictured in the harbour
Local businessman Christoforos Charisis who told them owners of luxury yachts in the Rhodes Marina were offering their boats as emergency accommodation
Forest fires in Rhodes as seen from the hotel where the Scoffins family were staying
Grateful Charlie Scoffins told MailOnline: ‘If it had not been for the Greek people we would still be sitting in the sun in that school playground.
‘As soon as we found ourselves in trouble it has been the people of Rhodes who have saved us.
‘They ferried us out of the danger zone, gave us food and water and found us this amazing place to stay.
‘I cannot thank the Greek people enough. They have done everything for us. I’m just so grateful to them.
‘The boat owners have given us three nights on their wonderful yacht. Jet2 did nothing.’
The family had enjoyed two days on the beach at the Eagle’s Nest Hotel in Pefkos when they received an evacuation alert on their phones at 11pm on Saturday night from the Greek government.
Unable to sleep Dean went for a walk along the road by the hotel to look for transport. There he discovered a Greek coach driver who had stayed up all night to ferry stranded holidaymakers to safety in the north of the island.
Dean, a bricklayer, told MailOnline: ‘There was no plan from the hotel staff about how to get us out, so I went for a walk to look for transport.
‘This coach came to a halt and I told the driver that my family were back at the hotel.
‘The driver reversed back for half a mile and waited while Charlie and the girls stuffed everything in the bags and ran down.
‘There was smoke everywhere and you could see the flames. The girls were getting really upset.
‘That coach driver was our saviour. No one was paying him. He was just driving around looking for people who needed help.’
The Scoffins were taken to Kleisto High School in Kallithea and offered food and water.
But the building was full and they were forced to bed down on the concrete playground.
The following day they were transferred to the island’s basketball stadium in Rhodes Town, which had become the main crisis centre.
Packed with stranded tourists the family had to make camp outside in the blazing heat.
But it was here that they were approached by local businessman Christoforos Charisis who told them owners of luxury yachts in the Rhodes Marina were offering their boats as emergency accommodation.
The basketball court used to house evacuees is seen here
Christoforos Charisis, who organised the yacht accommodation for the Scoffins and a dozen other British families, today tried to play down the islanders’ hospitality
Scoffins family waits to be evacuated from their hotel in Rhodes
Smoke rises from the hills close to the Scoffins’ hotel
Dean, 43, explained: ‘It was literally rags for riches for us.
‘We had had 36 hours of hell.
‘We were homeless, having to sleep outside at night and then endure 40 degrees without any shade during the day.
‘And then these kind people offered us to stay on their yacht.
‘We’ve gone from being destitute to enjoying a Premiership footballer’s lifestyle.
‘The crew have cooked for us and cared for us. They have been amazing. We cannot thank them enough.’
The family have now been able to enjoy the last few days of their holiday sunbathing on the beach, swimming in the sea and enjoying traditional restaurants – before flying home tonight.
Daughter Lucy, 18, told MailOnline: ‘My friends back home are so jealous. They don’t want to hear about the fire they want to fly to Rhodes to join me on the yacht!’
Sister Lottie, 15, added: ‘It’s great! We’ve got an ensuite bathroom and everything.’
Mr Charisis, who organised the yacht accommodation for the Scoffins and a dozen other British families, today tried to play down the islanders’ hospitality.
He told MailOnline: ‘Yes, the people of Rhodes helped the tourists who were in trouble. But we only treated them in the way we would like to be treated. This is our nature.
‘The whole island depends on tourism. This is not why everyone here is happy to help. But we want the English people to remember Rhodes in a good way. We want them to come back. We need them.’
I am Rakesh Sharma, I associated with Elite News as an Editor, since 2021. I take care of all the news operations like content, budget, hiring and policy making.