Terrifying ordeal for 'gay dads' stranded in ford
THEY'RE used to travelling in style, but for millionaire gay dads Tony and Barrie Drewitt-Barlow a trip in a search and rescue dinghy wasn't exactly how they planned to end their Saturday night.
The pair, who were the first same-sex couple to have a child by a surrogate mother, had to be rescued by emergency services after their Range Rover became stuck in more than five feet of water at a flooded ford in Hurrells Lane, Little Baddow.
The couple, who were on their way home from Essex Fashion Week, had to spend an hour on the roof of their 4x4, dressed only in their tuxedos, before being rescued.
"I truly thought I was going to die", said 42-year-old Barrie.
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"I was driving and we'd only come down this way a few hours before.
"We drove through what looked like a puddle and then all of a sudden water seemed to whoosh around us – I don't know where it came from.
"It started to seep into the car and then the electrics went off and, because of the force of the current, the car was spun in the opposite direction we'd been driving. It was really scary.
"I was sitting on top of the seat, trying to stay out of the water, and really panicking, while Tony was telling me to stay calm."
After calling the emergency services, the couple, who have five children through surrogacy, were told to climb onto their roof and wait for recovery.
"I had no idea how I was going to lift myself out of the car, but somehow in situations you find strength and I climbed out the window and Tony followed," said Barrie.
"We stood on the roof and it was like something out of Titanic.
"It was pitch black, there isn't a single street light around there and it was terrifying, I did think we were going to drown.
"I was soaking wet and my £900 Prada shoes were completely wrecked.
"When the emergency services arrived they couldn't do anything for health and safety reasons, so we had to wait for an hour before the Southend coastguard came, and the police helicopter, to save us.
"I do feel really bad that we used so many resources, but we were truly stuck and we're so thankful that they saved us."
Speaking at the offices of his cosmetic research company and surrogacy centre in Chandlers Quay, Maldon, Barrie added: "We'd just dropped my daughter Saffron at a friend's so I'm so pleased she wasn't with us, or any of the other kids, that would have been awful if someone had been hurt.
"The flooding caused about £50,000 damage and the car, which was only two months old, has been written off.
"Tony said I did it on purpose because I want a Bentley.
"But it was a horrible experience and I'm having nightmares about it.
"Now it's over I can laugh about it, but it was terrifying."