Mile Cross in Norwich rallies around to help one of its own

A Norwich community has rallied around to help a family whose belongings were all destroyed in a house fire.

Hayley Potter, her partner Paul Kemp and their four children - including a month old baby - were left with just the clothes on their backs after a blaze ripped through their house in Mile Cross.

But thanks to an appeal on Facebook and through word of mouth hundreds of items to replace those lost have been donated by friends and ordinary people in the community.

At the moment donated items are being kept at several homes across Mile Cross, but Big Box Storage in Vulcan Road, Norwich has given the family a free storage unit – the size of an average house - where the items can be kept for the next three months free of charge.

Meanwhile, throughout half-term week next month St Catherine's Church rooms in Aylsham Road, Mile Cross will accept all items donated for the family prior to a sale to support the family and Norfolk Fire and Rescue Services.

Ms Potter, 26, said: 'I have been overwhelmed by the generosity and support we have received and I'm so grateful for it. I cannot believe how much people have helped us.

'For our kids to lose their home and all their toys and belongings in the fire, things were looking bleak.

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'We lost about 10 years' worth of stuff that we had been accumulating.

'All we had after the fire were the clothes on our backs.

'But we got food from the Salvation Army and people rallied around and got the kids clothes.

'The children's schools, Heather Avenue Infants and Firside Junior, also helped.

'Some of the things that were destroyed in the fire like photographs, keepsakes, books, and certificates cannot be replaced. 'But everything else we lost we are getting back thanks to people's help and we would like to thank everybody who has rallied around to support us. The children are especially grateful.'

Ms Potter was on the school run when their council house in Rye Avenue went up in flames on Thursday, January 20.

A friend phoned her with the terrible news but by the time she got home the house was well alight and the rooms were gutted. The blaze was later blamed on an electrical appliance fault.

She added: 'The house was gutted by fire. All the kitchen stuff was gone and the leather sofa, toys, the cot upstairs. We had nothing to take from there.'

However, thanks to her insurance, the family, which includes Paul Kemp, 29, who works for Anglian Windows, Alisha Kemp, nine, Liam Kemp, six, Paige Kemp, two, and Maison <corr> Kemp, one month, is now living in temporary accommodation in Spixworth.

She does not know if the family will ever be able to return to their home.

Hayley's friend Paula Hunnam set up the Facebook page and coordinated the campaign to help the family, as Hayley lost her laptop in the fire.

She said: 'Everybody has really helped out and it shows what the community is like. When the fire happened the baby was just four weeks old, so it needed milk more than anything.

'People have since donated nappies, clothes, bedding, and thanks to the appeal being on Facebook and through word of mouth, people as far away as Felixstowe and Thetford have donated items.'

St Catherine's Church rooms will accept donated items for the family from February 23 to 25 with the sale planned for Saturday, February 26.

<t> For more information and how to help visit http://www.facebook.com/pages/Support-Page-for-the-Kemp-family-and-Norfolk-Fire-Service/159495987432421.

<t> Do you know of a Norwich community rallying around to help one of its own? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk.