Essex

Coronavirus: Community rebuilding Heybridge burnt-out home

House gutted by fire Image copyright Mark Booth
Image caption The fire in the semi-detached house is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault

A couple made homeless when their house was gutted in a blaze have been inundated with offers to help rebuild their home.

Tracy and Mark Booth had to move out of their house in Heybridge, Essex, after the fire in April.

Members of community group Colchester Anti Loo Roll Brigade have offered them services including scaffolding, roofing and electrics, free of charge.

Mrs Booth said: "People have just been utterly amazing."

The couple did not have home insurance and had moved into a tent in their garden following the fire.

However, the volunteer group, started in response to coronavirus panic buying of items such as toilet rolls and run by Peter Dutch, helped them find a temporary place to live after hearing about their plight on BBC Essex.

Image copyright Mark Booth
Image caption Tracy and Mark Booth had been sleeping in a tent in their garden

The group then asked for help from local trades to start work on the house.

"Within 10 minutes we were flooded with offers from all sorts of trades," Mr Dutch said. "It looks like we are pretty much going to rebuild their house."

Image copyright Peter Dutch
Image caption Dozens of businesses and tradesmen have offered to help rebuild the home

All the local businesses have offered to provide materials and work for free in their spare time.

Mrs Booth said: "I have no words strong enough to say how grateful and how wonderful they have been.

"I still can't believe the devastation inside and things that have just been totally and utterly destroyed."

Mrs Booth said things had been "a bit up and down" over the past few weeks but the kind acts had restored her faith in humanity.

"Now the scaffolding has gone up on our house and you can see the way forward, so there's light at the end of the tunnel," she said.

"And people on the anti loo roll brigade page have been so amazing, they've sort of kept our spirits up all the time. It's really lovely."

Mr Dutch said the house would be completed as quickly as possible depending on the availability of businesses as lockdown restrictions were eased.

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