Withermarsh Green: Community pulls together

A CLOSE-KNIT Suffolk community pulled together on Christmas Eve to offer help as a neighbour’s thatched cottage burned to the ground.

Residents in Withermarsh Green, near Stoke-by-Nayland, are hoping life will get back to normal now following the massive blaze which has destroyed an end-terrace cottage and damaged a neighbouring property.

The occupants of the end-terrace, a mother and it is thought three children, are said to be staying in Shelley.

Neighbours Ann and Bill Humphrey, who live two doors down, said it was “amazing” how everyone came together to help, and wanted to thank the emergency services.

Mr Humphrey, 60, a woodsman on the estate, said the firemen had done a “marvellous” job.

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He said: “People have been so kind. It’s amazing really.

“The phone calls we have had offering help for the neighbours, and for us. It’s been marvellous really.”

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Mr Humphrey, who was one of the first people to spot the cottage was on fire, described how, after the building was evacuated, neighbours had tried to enter to help save possessions.

In the end, they formed a chain and were passed items by the firemen, Mr Humphrey said.

The couple, who have lived there for 35 years, said they were on hand at midnight providing cups of coffee for the firemen. They said they did not manage a wink of sleep.

Mr Humphrey said: “It didn’t seem like Christmas Eve at all. It still doesn’t seem like Christmas.”

There was a great concern at the time, he said, that the fire might have spread to their cottage, but fortunately their home was untouched. The occupants of the property with the damaged roof are said to be staying with family.

Up to 70 firefighters battled with the blaze, which is believed to have started in a chimney before spreading to the thatched roof. Neighbours in adjoining properties also had to be evacuated. Christmas presents and pets were rescued.

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