Village rallies to support homeless OAP

A COMMUNITY has rallied round after a 75-year-old woman's picturesque thatched cottage was gutted by fire only days before Christmas.

Will Clarke

A COMMUNITY has rallied round after a 75-year-old woman's picturesque thatched cottage was gutted by fire only days before Christmas.

Fundraisers in Withersfield, near Haverhill, said they had been overwhelmed by the village's heart- warming response after fire tore through Enid Rogers' cottage on Sunday.

It took up to 50 firefighters four hours to bring the blaze under control during the early hours of Sunday.


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The fire at the property in Church Road began in the kitchen and spread rapidly to the thatched roof.

Fire crews had to tear off the roof to prevent the fire spreading and causing more damage to the cottage or to the two neighbouring homes.

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Mrs Rogers, who is best known as the former Withersfield Parish Council clerk and as a school bursar, escaped her home of 30 years shaken but unhurt. She is staying with friends in the village for Christmas.

Celia Hall, a friend of Mrs Rogers, said: “We are all completely shocked - her house has been razed to the ground.

“I think the floors are still there but everything has been smoke-damaged and I don't know what can be saved - it is horrific.

“I don't think she is letting herself believe what has happened and it is going to be massive shock when she sees it.

“But it has been overwhelming the way the village has reacted, even people who don't know her have given clothes and money. And she has been inundated with offers for places to stay - she has a four poster at the local pub if she wants it. Everybody has been fantastic.”

Tom Mytton-Mills , parish council chairman, said: “There were people offering to help at the carol service and Mrs Rogers has been given a Christmas hamper, some clothes and money.

“She only got out of her house in what she had on and when she left she was asking people to lock the door but I think she has been told what happened.”

Mr Mytton-Mills also praised firefighters who had rescued quantities of furniture, mementoes, pictures and photographs from the severely damaged cottage before the smoke, flames and water wrecked them.

Fire chiefs praised the efforts of the men who battled the flames despite difficulties in getting water required for a thatch fire to the scene.

An investigation into what happened has been launched.

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