Hundreds of military teddy bears which were due to be sent out to mark the 100th anniversary of World War One and to raise money for charity were in a shop on Eastbourne Pier which was partly destroyed by fire last week.
It is not yet known if the fire managed to spread to The Military Teddy Bear Factory and Shop and its owner Sammy Morgan still doesn’t know if her stock was smoke or water damaged after the fire at the Victorian structure on Wednesday afternoon.
Miss Morgan had opened the charity shop only three weeks ago and her team had manufactured a large number of military teddy bears in time for the anniversary of the Great War which were due to be sent out. The sales would have raised cash for injured soldiers and bereaved military children.
Sammy said, “Those bears sit trapped in the shop three quarters of the way down the pier. I have no idea if the fire has reached my factory and burnt it to the floor like some of the other businesses based on the pier which is horrific.
“Three years work could have gone up in smoke. I have a personal goal to raise £2 million pounds and has been selling my handmade military bears since July 2013.
“We were gearing up to a bumper summer season on the pier. We have spent more than £40,000 stocking the shop in the last two weeks only to stand there last week and watch it potentially go up in smoke. To say we are all devastated is an understatement as this terrible fire will effect the lives of many in the local community.
“Our plans are well and truly scuppered. Once we know what we are dealing with we can act accordingly.
“In the meantime we will need to raise £10,000 to get us back to the position we were in before that terrible day.
“It’s essential that this hurdle does not scupper our plans to distribute our military bears worldwide.
“I cannot let my customers down. I am working with the charity Scope to employ a team of disabled workers to help me achieve my goal and at the same time be able to help people who find it hard to get jobs due to their disabilities.”
Anyone wishing to donate to the charity should visit www.militaryheroestrading.org.uk and donate via Paypal.
Other traders have spoken of their devastation over Wednesday’s fire and are in talks with the pier’s management to gain access to the building.