Aylesbury’s kind-hearted community has rallied behind a family whose home was devastated by fire just days before Christmas.
Terrified Gemma Shaw, of Friarscroft Way, woke to find her house ablaze in the early hours of Wednesday last week.
Thanks to the bravery of her partner Steven Adams, the couple were able to fight their way to safety together with Gemma’s 14-year-old daughter Hope. Sadly their pet ‘jackwawa’ dog Vinnie, aged one, died.
Christmas presents and decorations were destroyed in the blaze and the house was left uninhabitable, forcing them to find alternative accommodation.
But the family has now begun to rebuild thanks to the generosity of the community, which has donated thousands of pounds worth of supplies and offered many hours of support.
Gemma, 38, said: “The support has been completely overwhelming, we’re so grateful and thankful.
“It’s nice to know there are decent people out there.”
Steve Cook, owner of Pegasus Gym in Telford Close, was alerted to the plight of the family through a Facebook message and pledged the support of the Donate Like A Pro community fund, allocating over £1,000 to assist the family.
Steve then turned to Tesco Broadfields’ Lorraine Rogers, Danielle Ackerman and Kerry Cresser to provide essentials including bedding and kitchen supplies, with an Amazon Fire tablet added as a present for Hope, who attends the Grange school.
When Miss Shaw revisited Tesco to purchase much needed footwear and pyjamas for her daughter, staff refused to take her money and paid for her shopping themselves, asking if there was anything else that they could offer.
And a fundraising campaign on justgiving.com, set up by an anonymous Good Samaritan, has raised £1,070 for the family too.
Paul Saw, commercial manager at Pegasus Gym, said: “It was a spur of the moment thing and exactly what the fund was created for.”
“Gemma was completely shocked and surprised, and it was lovely.
“We were happy to help.”
The fire started in the living room and spread upstairs.
Bucks Fire and Rescue tweeted that the family was lucky to survive as there were no smoke alarms.
The cause of the fire is not yet known.
Gemma said: “I woke up to Steven screaming my name.
“He woke Hope and guided her downstairs and saved her from the fire.
“The smoke was so thick I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face”
The windows were blown out in a dramatic explosion, as the family edged past the flaming banister of the stairs to reach safety.
Gemma added: “I thought I could hear the dog crying.
“The firemen told me that it wasn’t possible, but I swear I heard him crying.”
Steven, 37, bravely attempted to rescue the dog three times, but unfortunately nothing could be done.
Vinnie and Steven shared a strong connection during their time together, and the dog would sit on Steven’s shoulder whilst he drove.
“Vinnie adored Steven,” said Gemma.
“He would pace up and down during the day and wait for him to come back.”
Further donations and shows of support are still coming in, with Waitrose donating a Christmas hamper and presents.
A florist in Rickmansworth has also pledged a fully decorated Christmas tree, with friends and neighbours providing pre-wrapped presents to go under it.
Train Like A Pro is always looking for Aylesbury people in need who don’t always get help through charities.
More information about the fund can be found at www.facebook.com/donatelikeapro