The owners of a boat holed in an accident on the Kennet and Avon Canal at All Cannings on Saturday night have thanked fire officers for saving their home.

Dale and Becky Haworth were not on board the 45ft cabin cruiser Wildwood, moored near Woodway Bridge when it is thought to have been struck by a passing craft.

Mrs Haworth was horrified when she returned from work at around 8.30pm to see her home of seven years sinking into the water.

She rang the emergency services, and fire crews from all over Wiltshire were soon on the scene. The couple managed to rescue most of their belongings before the water reached them.

She said: “The lads from the fire brigade were absolutely brilliant.

“They fought for over two hours to save our boat. Sadly, they had to give up but not before we were able to secure it to stop it sinking completely.”

Mrs Haworth added: “We were very lucky. The water didn’t reach most of our belongings. We have only lost a few books, some clothing and bedding, but other than that we have got off lightly.”

Mr Haworth and his work colleague Tom Hodkin got into the water and managed to attach a tarpaulin to the hull of the vessel and make it temporarily watertight, but it will have to undergo major repairs in a dry dock.

Mrs Haworth added: “We spent the night with friends but we are now back in the boat with a heater drying things out. It is a struggle but we’ll manage.

“It could have been so much worse.”

Mr Haworth said: “We don’t know which boat hit ours. There are so many hire boats around and you don’t need any kind of licence or training to steer them.

“A 20 tonne boat travelling at 5mph can still make a heck of a dent. A metal hulled boat would show no signs of damage but a wooden boat like ours is very vulnerable.”

Fire crews from Devizes, Pewsey, Warminster and Westbury attended the scene at 8.30pm, supported by a specialist water rescue team from Trowbridge.

Pip Flowers, the commander of Devizes fire station, was among the officers there.

He said: “We used a light portable pump at one end and a larger, more powerful one at the other.

“It was clear after two hours, though, that we weren’t able to keep the water level down.”