Watlington fire victim’s family hail ‘breathtaking’ community support

The aftermath of the Bungalow Fire, Cecil Close, Watlington on Friday Morning ANL-150707-151710009

The aftermath of the Bungalow Fire, Cecil Close, Watlington on Friday Morning ANL-150707-151710009

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The son of a woman who died in a fire at her home last week says he has been overwhelmed by residents’ support since her death.

A football match and music event are to be held in Watlington this Sunday to raise money for the family of Debbie Skipper.

Debbie Skipper, of Watlington ANL-150907-133510001

Debbie Skipper, of Watlington ANL-150907-133510001

Mrs Skipper, who was 59 and had lived in the village for 35 years, died in Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital last Friday, less than 24 hours after a blaze engulfed her home in Cecil Close.

Yesterday, her son Carl thanked villagers for their help, describing their efforts as “breathtaking”.

He said: “I have never experienced this sort of level of kindness. They have gone above and beyond, really.

“I knew people would be offering help and condolences, but I never thought it would go to this sort of level, I really didn’t.

“You don’t really know how close-knit a community can be until something like this happens.”

Sunday’s fundraiser will start with a football match at 11am, with live music in the village’s social club throughout the afternoon and early evening. There will also be a raffle and auction with lots including a helicopter ride.

The event is being organised by a group of villagers, including music promoter Triston Finnis, Matthew Rodwell, Tom Peel, Beth Jory and Daniel Camp.

Carl said: “There’s a special few who have been going out every night. Beth has been selling raffle tickets door-to-door and they’ve been ringing round getting prizes from businesses.

“They have been brilliant. I didn’t think someone would take so much trouble for somebody else.”

Although most of the property was destroyed in the fire, Carl said one comfort had been that a collection of photo albums which his mother kept over the years had survived intact.

He said: “You can replace a TV, a sofa or a kitchen, but photos of memories are the things you need to carry on.”

Mr Finnis, who used to play football with Carl, has known the family for many years and said of Mrs Skipper: “She was just a lovely person. She would always stop and speak.

“There’s no-one in Watlington who wouldn’t know the family because they’re a big part of the village.”

Collections have already begun at several village businesses and Mr Finnis said a former resident had also sent a cheque when he heard about the blaze.

He added: “Everyone seems to be rallying around.”

Anyone who would like to help is asked to contact Mr Finnis on 07447 075036.