Mum pays tribute to tragic youngster

THE homeless mother of a five-year-old girl who died in a blazing wooden chalet has said the loss of her child has not yet sunk in.Stacey Bristow, 22, is back living with her aunt, Barbara Davis along with her other two children and three cousins.

By Roddy Ashworth

THE homeless mother of a five-year-old girl who died in a blazing wooden chalet has said the loss of her child has not yet sunk in.

Stacey Bristow, 22, is back living with her aunt, Barbara Davis along with her other two children and three cousins.

She said conditions are so cramped in the three-bedroom house, in Willet Road, Colchester, she has not been able to fully come to terms with her loss.

Courtney Bristow died in the early hours of last Tuesday morning when flames engulfed a wooden chalet at the Silverwoods complex in Thorrington, a former motel now used to provide temporary housing for homeless people.

She had moved in there from her aunt's the previous Friday.

Most Read

The fire appears to have started when a cushion fell on a candle in the living area of the chalet, where Stacey was sleeping with her daughters Emily, 3, and Lola, two.

Stacey managed to escape the burning single-storey building with the two girls, but by the time she managed to raise the alarm it was impossible to rescue Courtney, despite the best efforts of a staff member.

Yesterday the 22-year-old said: “Courtney was lovely. She could be annoying, but she would always make you laugh at the same time.

“It hasn't sunk in yet. When I'm here with lots of people round all the time, or out with Emily and Lola I think Courtney's still here. It's like she's at school or out with friends.

“But yesterday I went up to bed, and it was the bed where Courtney used to sleep, and I got up and I was just sick. It is still pretty difficult.”

Courtney loved ballet and hoped one day to be a dancer. Mrs Davis said: “She is going to have a toy ballerina in her coffin.

“She will also have some stickers. She used to love stickers. She had a patch on her glasses and she used to put stickers on it.”

She added that she hoped the council would find Stacey and the girls somewhere to live soon because it was too stressful sharing a three-bedroom house with eight people.

“Without all of this tragedy, living like this is no good for anybody. Her own children are not being brought up by her, because everyone else is here and dealing with it.

“She needs her own space.”

Yesterday Peter McDonagh, Colchester Borough Council's homelessness team leader, said: “We are trying to find them somewhere to live until other matters are resolved.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter