Community rallies around Eastbourne mum after fire destroys home

Tania Welch with daughters Lydia and Tayla
Tania Welch with daughters Lydia and Tayla

TOYS, DVDs, clothes and even furniture have been donated to an Eastbourne mum and her two daughters who lost everything in a devastating fire.

Flames ripped through Tania Welch’s home in Percival Road on September 22 as she and her young children, Tayla Welch and Lydia Arnold slept upstairs.

The 27-year-old mum was woken by the fire alarm and she escaped from the burning building with just the night clothes she was wearing.

All the family’s possessions went up in flames, but kind-hearted people answered an appeal in the Herald and have donated generously to the family.

Tania said, “It means so much, I can’t believe people’s generosity.

“People I haven’t seen for years are now back in my life and helping me out. I can’t thank everyone enough.”

Tania and the girls, 14-month-old Tayla and Lydia Arnold, six, (pictured) are living in Lewes with Tania’s mother but are due to be rehoused soon.

Tania says friends and family have been generous with donations but she was delighted when strangers also came forward with offers of help.

Eastbourne couple Kimi and Richard Westgate, also from Hampden Park, drove a three-piece suite and a wardrobe over to the family in Lewes this week and gave the girls chocolates and pocket money when she visited.

Tania said, “It was so kind of her. She drove all the way over here with the furniture because I don’t drive.”

Kimi explained she had seen the blaze at Tania’s house on the night and felt compelled to help the family.

“I had actually watched Crimewatch that night and there was a horrible arson on the programme, so I went to bed feeling very worried,” said Kimi.

“It was that night I woke up and saw the fire from over the railway line, so I just felt an odd connection and I wanted to phone the family and see if I could help.”

Kimi and Richard boxed up their unwanted items and went via Polegate to pick up the sofas they had found on Freecycle before driving to Lewes to meet Tania and her girls.

Kimi said, “She couldn’t have been more grateful.

“We wish her all the best of luck. She just wants to make sure her children are safe with a future to look forward to.”

Kimi’s friend Emma Field has also been spreading the word among her friends, and she and Kimi plan to take more items over to Tania in the near future.

The Herald has also passed on numerous contact numbers to Tania and she is planning on getting in touch with all those who are willing to donate items to her and her daughters.

“It has been very busy recently with trying to find a new home but I am very grateful for people getting in touch and I am planning on phoning everyone,” added Tania.

“We are slowly getting back on our feet and rebuilding a home.”

The fire started in the lounge and the cause is not known. However, fire investigators have ruled out arson or any deliberate cause.