It was something she did every single day but this time as Vicky Tindle bent down to take the dinner out of the oven, she froze. A strange cold liquid was trickling down her back.
Seconds later she felt unbearable heat and agonising pain as her upper body was engulfed in a fireball.
Manically dousing herself in water from the sink, she screamed for her husband Anthony to help. But he never came.
Shockingly, she was to find out it was he who had poured lighter fluid down her back and purposely set her on fire.
Yet Vicky insists Anthony Tindle was no monster. Hers was not an abusive marriage.
Instead her once tender, loving husband was living with the effects of a brain haemorrhage – and Vicky believes his unthinkable actions were the result of a personality change caused by the brain injury.
“Even now I can’t understand why Anthony did what he did,” she says. “It was such a wicked thing. He was a loving man. He changed when he had the haemorrhage, life became tough, but he had never shown violence like that.”
Nevertheless Vicky, who lives with crippling scars of his attack, cannot find it in herself to forgive him – although she hopes he can get help.
“He could have killed me,” she says quietly, still clearly shaken eight months on. “I knew if I didn’t extinguish those flames I would die.
“I could feel my clothes sticking to my back. My hands were already blistering and I was shaking violently.
“Everything started to go hazy. Skin was hanging off my hands – I looked like something out of a horror film.”
Anthony pleaded guilty to the attack and is now serving a prison sentence but Vicky is still struggling to come to terms with the loss of the loving marriage she thought she had.
“I know it wasn’t the man I married who did this to me. He didn’t ask to change but I still can’t take him back, forgive him, or love him again. I’d be terrified of him.
“I just wish we had asked for more help before. He only had a few weeks of therapy after his operation. I think we both underestimated how severely a brain injury can affect a person.
“I would tell anyone in the position I was in to ask for support, don’t try to manage alone.”
The couple from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, met in August 2004 when Anthony would visit his uncle in the flat downstairs from Vicky’s.
She says: “We just got chatting. Straight away there was a spark between us. After a few weeks Anthony asked if I fancied sharing a Chinese takeaway – and that was it, we never looked back.”
They moved in together after a year and Vicky, 52, describes Anthony as kind and caring. “He would come home with flowers and we spent most evenings curled up on the couch with a glass of wine.”
But after three years Anthony, 47, a warehouse worker, started to complain of blinding headaches.
When he passed out one day in September 2007, he was sent for a brain scan which revealed the haemorrhage and doctors rushed him in to surgery.
Thankfully it was a success and the very next day he sat up in bed and asked Vicky to marry him.
“I said yes immediately,” says support worker Vicky. “The scare had made me realise I didn’t want to waste another second of our life together.”
Doctors warned Anthony’s recovery would be slow and he might suffer mood swings but the couple worked through it.
Vicky says: “Some days he was happy and chirpy, others he was snappy and tired. But I tried not to let it upset me.”
Even when Anthony developed an infection around a bone in his skull and needed another operation, and later endured seizures and epilepsy, there was not a dramatic change in his personality.
“He needed cheering up of course but planning our wedding helped,” says Vicky.
The pair tied the knot in 2008, 14 months after Anthony’s haemorrhage, and Vicky recalls a beautiful day. “I held his hand and as we said our vows, I promised I would always take care of him.”
The depressive days continued although, Vicky says, at his worst Anthony was only merely snappy.
“The rest of the time he was as loving as ever. And I knew it wasn’t his fault,” she says.
Looking back on the day of the attack Vicky can recall only one possible trigger. He showed annoyance when talking about his parents not loaning them their caravan.
“We had booked a holiday cottage and out of nowhere he got worked up,” says Vicky.
Her response was to pour him a lager and leave him to it as she cooked dinner. She assumed he would relax. She never anticipated his next move.
“I heard a roaring sound and saw huge flames gushing up over my head and realised I was on fire,” she says.
Frantic, Vicky’s first instinct was to use her hands to pat out the roaring flames which tore off the skin in horrific swathes. Then, in an astonishing moment of clear-headedness, she yanked on the tap and threw the contents of the washing-up bowl over her head.
“I screamed for Anthony to call an ambulance. He must have done that but he did not help me.
“As the paramedics cut me out of my clothes and wrapped me in cling film, I couldn’t see Anthony anywhere. As the paramedics took me away I knew he had done it – it was incomprehensible.”
Vicky suffered third degree burns to her back, neck, ears and hands and needed several skin grafts.
“The pain was unbearable. I was given drugs to try to help but nothing eased the agony,” she says.
That evening a police officer visited Vicky and explained that after he had set her alight, Anthony had gone and sat in the living room and waited for the police.
Initially he denied what he had done but then admitted everything. He was arrested and kept in custody.
“It didn’t make any sense,” says Vicky. “I had no idea why he would hurt me. His mum tried to call me in hospital but I couldn’t face talking to her. Part of me wanted explanations – but I was so traumatised I couldn’t bear to speak to her.”
Surgeons spent six hours taking skin grafts from Vicky’s lower back to repair the upper area.
“Afterwards the pain was even worse. My skin had to be moisturised several times a day. I needed to wear a tight fitting pressure vest and had physiotherapy to stop my muscles seizing up.
“It was three weeks before I was allowed home. My mum and sister took it in turns to stay with me as I was too weak to do anything for myself. I struggled to sleep and asked myself over and over, why?”
She didn’t hear from Anthony until months later when she received a card at Christmas, apologising.
“He wrote: ‘I don’t understand what happened and why’,” says Vicky.
“Then he said, ‘You gave me some of the happiest years of my life. I will always love you’. I felt so sad, but I knew there was no way back – I was scared of the man he had become.”
Days later he rang and apologised again – shockingly, he admitted he could not even remember the attack.
“As I heard his voice, I started to shake,” says Vicky.
In February at Sheffield crown court, he pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent. He was jailed for 10 years but will likely serve five.
Vicky says: “I did want him to be punished but I also realise he needs support. However, I can’t give it to him.”
Anthony has been in touch twice more but Vicky cannot face him.
“I do feel sympathy,” she says. “He didn’t ask for this. But it was such an evil thing he did. I still live in agony, my skin hasn’t healed and I massage it several times a day. I will live with these scars for ever.
“And the mental trauma is almost worse. I have therapy but I can’t imagine ever trusting anyone again.
“Although part of me still loves the man he used to be, he could have cost me my life.”