Community rallies in support of fire victims one week on

Molly Preston had prepared plenty of cakes and bakes at the event at the Preston Rooms in Ashmanhaugh.

Molly Newstead had prepared plenty of cakes and bakes at the event at the Preston Rooms in Ashmanhaugh. - Credit: Stuart Anderson

Village folk have rallied around three people who were made homeless by last week's devastating fire at Ashmanhaugh.

Scores of people from the village near Hoveton and surrounds flocked to a fundraising morning tea at the Preston Rooms, a community centre in School Road, not far from where the fire ripped across a field and gutted two homes on July 19. 

The remains of the houses burned down in Ashmanhaugh.

The remains of the houses burned down in Ashmanhaugh. - Credit: Stuart Anderson

Visitors chatted over a warm drink, bacon roll or a piece of cake. A collection of donations including everything from punnets of strawberries to pink unicorn toys mounted up, as people bought raffle tickets in hopes of claiming a prize. 

Keith Gant, 75, who was one of those who lost his home in the fire and is now staying nearby, was there with a smile on his face. 

Working in the kitchen at the fundraiser for the Ashmanhaugh fire victims were, from left, Stephen Newstead,

Working in the kitchen at the fundraiser for the Ashmanhaugh fire victims were, from left, Stephen Newstead, Terrance Childerhouse, Jenny Payne and John Pond. - Credit: Stuart Anderson

Keith Gant, who lived in one of two houses destroyed by the fire in Ashmanhaugh, near Hoveton. 

Keith Gant, who lived in one of two houses destroyed by the fire in Ashmanhaugh, near Hoveton. - Credit: Stuart Anderson

Mr Gant said: “I can't believe how many have come here today. Everybody I speak to asks what they can do to help.  

"I was left with a shirt, t-shirt and a pair of jeans but now I’ve got more clothes than I ever had." 

Organising the event was Molly Newstead, 22, of Molly's Makes and Cakes, who normally runs a Tuesday morning community cafe at the Preston Rooms along with her dad, Stephen Newstead. He was busy in the kitchen with a team of volunteers.

Among those attending the fundraiser were, from left, Elisha, Mylo (18 months) and Jodie Dixon, from Smallburgh, 

Among those attending the fundraiser were, from left, Elisha, Mylo (18 months) and Jodie Dixon, from Smallburgh, at the Preston Rooms in Ashmanhaugh. - Credit: Stuart Anderson

At the fundraiser in Ashmanhaugh were, from left, Helen Hams, Shirley James, Angela Lake and Katherine Lake. 

At the fundraiser in Ashmanhaugh were, from left, Helen Hams, Shirley James, Angela Lake and Katherine Lake. - Credit: Stuart Anderson

Ms Newstead said: "It's going brilliantly. We wanted to do it to help the two households who have completely lost everything."

Mr Newstead added: "I’ve lost count of how many rashers of bacon I’ve cooked this morning. It just goes to show the generosity of local people and how good this village is. 

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"We started this cafe after everyone had been isolating during Covid, so they could get together again and have a good old mardle as we do here in Norfolk."  

Rosie Newstead in front of the raffle prizes at the Preston Rooms in Ashmanhaugh.

Rosie Newstead in front of the raffle prizes at the Preston Rooms in Ashmanhaugh. - Credit: Stuart Anderson

A fundraising morning tea was held at the Preston Rooms in Ashmanhaugh.

A fundraising morning tea was held at the Preston Rooms in Ashmanhaugh. - Credit: Stuart Anderson

Sally Daniels, 53, who was born in the village, said the fire was “the biggest shock” the community had been through in her time there. 

She said: I think we’re all still in shock, but everybody’s pulled together well. Everybody wants to do what they can to help.”

The fundraiser raised a total of £2,324.54.

A fundraising morning team was held at the Preston Rooms in Ashmanhaugh.

A fundraising morning team was held at the Preston Rooms in Ashmanhaugh. - Credit: Stuart Anderson