Wedding cancelled as fire engulfs reception venue in Rye

Neil Speller and Sarah Hopkinson Image copyright Paul Speller
Image caption Neil Speller and Sarah Hopkinson have been forced to postpone their wedding day plans

A bride and groom have been forced to cancel their wedding after a fire badly damaged the hotel where the reception was due to take place.

The blaze at the George, which dates back to 1575, on Rye High Street began at about 04:40 BST on Saturday.

The groom, Neil Speller, said: "I'm just glad everyone is safe, but we have lost everything."

His bride, Sarah Hopkinson, had spent a year planning the wedding and was "very upset", he added.

"It is sad to see because she has spent a lot of time thinking about it for it just to disappear in smoke," he said.

The couple have now postponed their plans.

Image copyright Rikin Patel
Image caption The fire started in the middle of the night at the George in Rye

One of the guests, Rikin Patel, said he was woken at about 04:30 BST by alarms going off and people shouting "There is smoke, you need to leave."

He said of the bride-to-be: "They sent firefighters up to her room. The dress came out in the box but there was a burnt, chemical smell.

"The bridesmaids' dresses came out singed and water-damaged."

Another guest, Helen Gough, tweeted to say she was "touched by the kindness of strangers" and wished the people of Rye good luck rebuilding the "wonderful" hotel.

Image copyright Nathalie Edell
Image caption Fire crews remained at the scene damping down earlier

In a tweet, the hotel said it was "overwhelmed by the incredible support of the local community" following the blaze.

East Sussex Fire and Rescue said no-one was injured in the fire, which is now out, and an investigation into its cause is under way.

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