DCSIMG

Charity fighting back after arson

Volunteers help Len Curtis clean up after the fire at Donna's Dream House.
Pictured front are Len Curtis and grandson Brandon Curtis (seven), with (from left), Mitch Savage and Kirsty Moore (volunteers) and Barabara Curtis.

Volunteers help Len Curtis clean up after the fire at Donna's Dream House. Pictured front are Len Curtis and grandson Brandon Curtis (seven), with (from left), Mitch Savage and Kirsty Moore (volunteers) and Barabara Curtis.

A MAN who aims to give sick children holidays in memory of his daughter has revealed he considered quitting the charity after a devastating arson attack.

Len Curtis said he thought it was “time to call it a day” when fire ripped through the office cabin of Donna’s Dream House in December 2011, causing more than £100,000 of damage.

But after 19-year-old Cairn Major pleaded guilty to starting the fire at Preston Crown Court, Mr Curtis said volunteers could finally put a “horrendous” year behind them.

Mr Curtis, who founded the Dream House in memory of his daughter, Donna, said: “Apart from Donna dying, the fire was one of the most horrific experiences we’ve had.

“It’s been a long drawn out process but obviously it was a massive relief for everyone involved in Donna’s Dream House that he did finally admit it and hold his hands up.

“We’re now well on our way to being back on our feet, but if it had not been for the generosity of the community we would not have been able to re-open and give the holidays that we have been able to since the fire, because as far as we were concerned it was time to call it a day.

“We owe a lot of thanks to an awful lot of people who have helped us through a horrific year and hopefully it will never happen again.”

The office cabin had to be pulled down and rebuilt after the fire, and Mr Curtis said the Chapel Street charity had also been forced to invest in more security to stop it 
happening again.

He said: “The total insurance claim when it was finalised was £124,000, but on top of that we’ve had to spend an additional £60,000 on work to make sure none of this will ever happen again.

“But now we can move forward and we know it’s behind us.”

Major had originally pleaded not guilty to arson and two counts of burglary along with co-defendant Jason Baxendale, also 19.

But on Wednesday, Major, of Tyldesley Road, Blackpool, pleaded guilty to all three charges and Baxendale, of Granville Road, Blackpool admitted one charge of burglary.

The pair will be sentenced at a later date.

 
 
 

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