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School rallies round to help North Lynn fire victims get back on their feet

King Edward VII Academy students have been raising money for brothers Alex, 13, and Thomas, 12, whose home was gutted by fire last week. Picture: IAN BURT

King Edward VII Academy students have been raising money for brothers Alex, 13, and Thomas, 12, whose home was gutted by fire last week. Picture: IAN BURT

Archant 2017

When house fire victims Alex and Tommy Withers arrived at school with nothing but the clothes they were standing in, their teachers and fellow classmates knew they had to help.

King Edward VII Academy students have been raising money for brothers Alex, 13, left, and Thomas, 12, whose home was gutted by fire last week. Picture: IAN BURTKing Edward VII Academy students have been raising money for brothers Alex, 13, left, and Thomas, 12, whose home was gutted by fire last week. Picture: IAN BURT

Thirteen-year-old Alex and 12-year-old Tommy had watched in tears as the devastating fire raged through the North Lynn terraced house they shared with their father Graham and eight-year-old brother Dominic.

They lost everything - but, in an amazing show of kindness, King Edward VII Academy in King’s Lynn has now rallied round to help them get back on their feet.

One student - 18-year-old head boy James Wharf - even offered earnings from his Saturday job, while fellow pupils held a fundraising cake sale and the boys have been inundated with donations of clothes and electrical items.

It started with Belinda Wright, Tommy’s head of year, raiding her unclaimed lost property drawer to give him whatever clothes and accessories she could after the fire on Tuesday, November 14.

Fire has destroyed Graham Withers' home in Sir Lewis Street, King's Lynn. Picture: Ian BurtFire has destroyed Graham Withers' home in Sir Lewis Street, King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

“The fact they’re standing there just in the clothes they’ve got, my initial reaction was: ‘I don’t want you to feel out of place. Let’s do what we can to help.’

Within a short space of time he had new blazers, jumpers, football kit and rucksacks, with Alex getting similar donations.

“I then sent a message to all his teachers saying please be sensitive and please don’t punish him if he hasn’t done his homework,” Mrs Wright said.

“I was totally bombarded with offers of: ‘What can we do to help? What do the family need?’

Fire has destroyed Graham Withers' home in Sir Lewis Street, King's Lynn. Picture: Ian BurtFire has destroyed Graham Withers' home in Sir Lewis Street, King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

“By the time I came back to school on Monday, it was like a Sue Ryder shop by my office door. There were bags and bags of things.”

Principal Lloyd Brown agreed the school would donate a laptop to each of the brothers to keep.

People then started offering money for the boys.

Mrs Wright said head boy James showed “amazing compassion” with his gesture, adding: “For a young man to put other before himself is just incredible. He’ll go far.”

Fire has destroyed Graham Withers' home in Sir Lewis Street, King's Lynn. Picture: Ian BurtFire has destroyed Graham Withers' home in Sir Lewis Street, King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

But she also believes the response has showed the best of the Gaywood Road school.

“At this school, you know that when someone is down on their luck it’s just an automatic reaction that people will help - and that’s so nice,” she said.

“We always chip in when things are down.”

Mr Withers is said to have been tearful when told of how the school had rallied round to help.

Fire has destroyed Graham Withers' home in Sir Lewis Street, King's Lynn. Picture: Ian BurtFire has destroyed Graham Withers' home in Sir Lewis Street, King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

Mr Withers and his children have been staying with his eldest daughter Emma Withers, 26, who lives in a two-bedroom flat with her partner and two children.

The fire service is investigating what may have caused the fire at the house in Sir Lewis Street, North Lynn but Mr Withers believes it may have been a faulty electrical item.

The family are also appealing to the public for help. To donate, call Emma Withers on 07594 425065.

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