'They lost just about everything' - Donations for family left homeless after lightning strike
PUBLISHED: 16:30 20 June 2019
A fundraising page set up to help a Suffolk family whose house was destroyed after being hit by lightning has raised more than £1,200 in less than 24 hours.
The appeal was launched by a family member of a man whose bungalow was gutted by a fire which was started by a lighting strike during a ferocious thunderstorm in the early hours of Wednesday.
Andy Harrington and his young daughter, from Shotley, managed to escape unharmed but were left badly shaken by the ordeal.
He told the BBC that the fire was "soul destroying".
Five pumps attended the blaze in the Queensland area of the village, with two hose reels, one jet and an aerial ladder used to dowse the flames.
Mr Harrington's cousin Tina Slater set up the fundraising page on Wednesday evening.
She said: "It all started off with a message to all the family to see if they would like to get some money together for him and his daughter to just get them some clothes if nothing else.
"We are a big family so thought I might as well make use of having such a large family.
"It was a couple of other members of our family who suggested setting up a page. They lost just about everything."
The local community were praised for their actions - not only for helping Mr Harrington to save as many of his belongings as possible, but also for helping a disabled man who lived in the attached house escape the fire.
Jo Baker, who lives directly opposite, sang the praises of locals who sprang into action after seeing smoke billowing from the roof of the property.
She said: "Everybody wanted to help trying to get the chap next door out of his house. It was amazing and that says it all about village life and Shotley."
The fundraising page has now gathered more than £1,200 for the family - who are currently homeless.
- Donate to the fundraising page here
Anne Brighton, operations director for Suffolk Housing, said: "We were sorry to hear of this incident and pleased that no-one was hurt.
"Members of our teams are on site today to assess matters and liaise with residents.
"We are also speaking with the affected customers to make the necessary arrangements while repair work takes place."
Mrs Slater added: "Everyone has been so surprised by the help and support of the local community and I know Andrew is so shocked by the support he has been given. All the family couldn't be more grateful."