A Bispham family who lost everything in a devastating house fire have been handed the keys to their rebuilt home - just in time for Christmas.
Craig and Karen Haydon and their three children Taylor, Elliott, and Jude watched helplessly as a massive blaze engulfed the home they had spent 11 years building up on March 28.
They spent the next nine months living in hotels and temporary accomodation.
Now they are celebrating after they were finally given the go-ahead to move back into their beloved Coriander Close house this week, and are looking forward to spending Christmas Day in the comfort of their own living room.
Mr Haydon, 37, said: “I feel a little apprehensive and overwhelmed because it’s been a difficult time. We have had a lot of ups and downs over the past few months and we have probebly got a few more to come.
“We’re really pleased to be back in our home for Christmas because we have lived there so long and our boys have spent every Christmas there.
“We can be a family again in our own surroundings.”
Children Taylor, 10, Elliott, seven, and Jude, three, were fast asleep in bed when Mr and Mrs Haydon heard a loud bang coming from inside the house shortly after 11pm on the night of the fire.
Former infantry soldier Mr Haydon, who now works as an engagement advisor, assumed the noise was a toy falling to the floor. But when he got out of bed to investigate, he found flames pouring through the hatch leading to the attic.
He told The Gazette: “I opened it and could just see fire. I shouted ‘there’s a fire, get the boys out’. It was surreal.”
The family luckily escaped with their lives - but lost almost all of their belongings in the blaze.
Mrs Haydon, a student midwife at Edge Hill University, said: “It was horrendous.”
The couple believed that the fire, which broke out in the attic, was caused by an electrical fault.
Mr Haydon said: “We spent 17 nights in the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool before finding temporary accommodation in Cleveleys and moving there.
“We tried to keep the children in a routine, taking them to school and trying to keep a sense of normality for them.
“Jude is only three so he doesn’t really understand what happened so he has been very good. Taylor and Elliott found it quite difficult going from some of the toys they used to have to having next to nothing.
“The help and support we have got over the last nine months has been great, especially from the builders who worked really hard to get the house rebuilt.
“Going home at last and having the children open their presents in their own home is going to be the best Christmas present of all.”