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Friday, 25 April 2014

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Barrow charity shop hit by blaze in bid to rise from ashes

A MASSIVE push is under way to try to replace more than £30,000 of charity shop stock lost in a fire.

A clear-out began at the British Heart Foundation store in Portland Walk, Barrow, yesterday, with volunteers and staff clearing the smoke-damaged first floor while contractors dealt with the worst of the damage downstairs.

Everything on the ground floor was claimed by the fire, which is thought to have burned for around 20 minutes on Saturday, December 29.

But BHF workers hope to have the store up and running again by April – and have appealed for donations from the Barrow community to help them re-stock.

Describing the evening of the fire, 27-year-old Barrow volunteer, Peter Bailey, said: “My heart was in my mouth. It was so sad to watch.

“It still feels weird to me now. I’ll do anything I can to get it sorted.”

BHF Barrow warehouse manager, John Fisher, himself a former volunteer, became involved with the Barrow shop two months before its August opening. He witnessed the store’s incredibly successful start, which saw it raise more than £20,000 from thousands of customers within its first week. Of the setback, he said: “I was here with the fire brigade that night. It was just devastating, but we’re going to get it cleaned up and we’re going to start again.”

BHF area manager, Trudy Warburton, hopes the store will re-open in April.

It is thought the contractors will have the destroyed stock removed, the ceilings pulled down and the flooring pulled up by next week, so a refurbishment can start.

Ms Warburton said: “The good news is that we’re on site and the clean-up is starting with a sense of momentum and urgency.

“There’s a lot of camaraderie and everyone just wants to get the job done as soon as possible.”

BHF is continuing to collect donations from all over the area, as far as Kendal and Morecambe.

The priority now, Ms Warburton said, is getting enough stock built back up to start the store from scratch.

Ms Warburton said: “We realise how much of a challenge we’ve got on our hands, but I do feel quite confident that, four weeks from now, we’ll be in a much better position.

“Typically, this time of year people start thinking about spring cleaning, re-decorating, and it’s amazing what they can find when they start cleaning out their garages and cupboards.”

Those who want to donate to the Barrow store are asked to call 0844 412 5000 or visit www.bhf.org.uk/test/van-collection.

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