A devastating fire may prevent a West Norfolk charity from delivering vital aid to the communities hit by the Chernobyl disaster.
John and Pauline Rotman, who run Lifeline 4 Chernobyl charity, are waiting to find out if a trailer packed with wheelchairs, clothes and toys will still be able to leave for Belarus on April 17.
Flames swept through a caravan, which is used as an office, a barn and the fully loaded trailer at the couple’s home in Salter’s Lode on Wednesday night last week.
Mrs Rotman said: “I have never been so close to a big fire before and it was just horrific.
“We tried to chuck buckets of water on it, but it was useless although it felt like we were trying to do something.
“John went into a barn with a fire extinguisher as we didn’t want it spreading to our heating oil.
“Our biggest worry is the donations on the trailer as they are desperately needed.”
Mr and Mrs Rotman phoned 999 after being alerted by a passerby, who had spotted the blaze.
Mrs Rotman said: “The firefighters were brilliant.”
But unfortunately the caravan containing photographs of earlier trips to Belarus along with office equipment and important documents, such as the trailer’s manifest, were destroyed.
Now the couple are waiting for a dry day to unload the trailer to see if the donations have been damaged and to put together a fresh manifest, which is needed to take it over to Belarus.
They also need to check the integrity of the trailer.
Mrs Rotman said: “The donations make such a big difference over there. They don’t have a health service or social services to help the children which have disabilities because of the radiation.
“If the families don’t have to pay for items like shoes they can then spend the little money they do earn on medicine.”
The couple founded the charity eight years ago after Mr Rotman joined a mission to deliver aid to the country on the 25th anniversary of the nuclear disaster.
During the early hours of April 26, 1986, one of the four reactors at the power station exploded.
Each trip out to Belarus costs more than £4,000 and the couple collect donations throughout the year.
They are now appealing for an unwanted caravan or portable building to use as a replacement office along with any supplies such as files.
If you can help the charity, call Mrs Rotman on 01366 324496.