Deeping St James couple praise amazing kindness of neighbours after blaze destroys daughter’s New Zealand home

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A COUPLE have praised the kindess of people who helped their daughter after her house burned down less than a week before Christmas.

Michelle Simard, 39, grew up in Deeping St James before emigrating to New Zealand. She married, had four children and moved into a dream house by the sea near Auckland. But on her dreams were shattered when an electrical fault set her house on fire.

Michelle spotted smoke coming from her bedroom and quickly got her children Ocean and Soleil, eight, Etoile, six and Aine, five, out of the house. She dashed back in to save passports and computers vital to husband Yves’ work as a freelance cameraman, but within minutes the wooden house was engulfed.

Michelle’s father David Wilson, of Church Street, Deeping St James, said how he and his wife Janice found out what had happened.

He said: “We got a phone call at 4am. Michelle said she was watching her house burning down. It really shook us, we didn’t know what to say.”

Thankfully the family escaped unharmed but they were left with nowhere to live and few belongings. They reached out to the local community for help and were inundated with donations and offers of places to stay.

Mr Wilson added: “They have had so much sympathy from the locals. The school sent out a newsletter and had donations of money, toys and clothes for the kids. It was wonderful because they just had nothing.”

The Simards had a roof over their head for Christmas after an English family heading home for the holidays offered their house for three weeks.

Friends even organised a Christmas Eve party, bringing round food and drink.

Mr Wilson added: “They have been incredibly generous. If it wasn’t for their friends I don’t know what they have done.”

Donations mean the family now have clothes and provisions to get by, but they need somewhere to live. If you can help, please call Mr Wilson on 01778 342897.