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Family whose home was gutted by fire set to enjoy Christmas after strangers lend a hand

Andrew and Carla Gunnett with children Carrie-Ann, Sarah-Ann, Matthew and Robin. EMN-161221-191926009
Andrew and Carla Gunnett with children Carrie-Ann, Sarah-Ann, Matthew and Robin. EMN-161221-191926009

A family whose home was gutted by fire will still be able to enjoy Christmas thanks to the generosity of friends, family and strangers.

The Christmas spirit has shone through for the Gunnett family following the fire which devastated their council-owned home in New Estate, Swinstead in October.

Andrew and Carla Gunnett and their four children all escaped the fire after five-year-old son Robin woke up his parents at 8.30am, hitting them with his large Mickey Mouse soft toy.

They were immediately helped by neighbours who took them into their home and by friends and family who provided them with food, clothing and a place to stay.

The family are now living in temporary accommodation in King’s Road, Stamford, but hope South Kesteven District Council will provide them with a permanent home soon.

Mr Gunnett, a Grantham taxi driver, said: “People have been very generous and we have managed to get some toys. We had some help from the King’s School Toy Bank. Things have been tight but they will still get a Christmas.

“People have been outstanding, unbelievable. It was a great way of restoring my faith in humanity. It has certainly made Christmas a lot better for us – much better than we ever thought it was going to be.”

The family also received help with donations from Brighthouse in Grantham and Tesco in Bourne, as well as individuals and their parish councillor.

Mr Gunnett said the children – Robin, Matthew, three, Carrie-Ann, 11 months, Sarah-Ann, two – had all come through the experience well and there had only been a few references to the fire by them.

He said: “Mickey Mouse never leaves Robin’s side, but he has said he wants a new one. He has asked about a few of his toys.

“The girls will play with anything that is around, and they are both into Thomas the Tank Engine, but they have all gone.

“Matthew had a huge collection of Tiggers. We have found one or two in the charity shops and they have said they will keep any aside if they come in.”

Carla, 22, is expecting a baby in February and the family hopes to move into a new home before then.

“It would be nice to move into a new house in time for the birth in the early part of February and then we can start over again,” added Mr Gunnett.

The family’s two dogs and cat also survived the fire. Unfortunately, their cat, called Two Socks, died aged 17 on December 12.

Mr Gunnett added: “People in Stamford have been very nice to us.

“We have received a few donations while we have been here.”


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