WORK to help a Blackpool charity rise from the ashes has begun in earnest as public support continues to pour in.
Firebugs targeted Donna’s Dream House on December 21 forcing the charity for sick children to cancel Christmas breaks for the families it helps.
Heartless thieves torched pictures and mementoes of Donna Curtis –in whose memory the charity was set up – as well as gutting the charity’s reception and administrative area.
But a £12,000 flood of donations from kind-hearted residents and organisations means work has now started to get the centre back up and running.
Gifts of toys, computer equipment and cash has seen a steady stream of visitors and phone calls to the Chapel Street site.
Yesterday, as workman moved in to clear fire damaged remains, the South Fylde Freemasons also dropped in and donated £1,000 towards new toys.
Len Curtis, founder of the charity said: “I have been totally overwhelmed by the support we’ve received since the fire.
“We’ve elderly ladies turning up on buses from Fleetwood with their rubber gloves offering to help, it’s incredibly humbling.
“The support we have seen has rebuilt my faith and I can’t wait to get families back in to have the dream holidays Donna wanted them to have.
“I’m so happy to see work starting and hope we can get families back in by February.
A team of family and volunteers are busy picking through the remains of the old office building to look for items which can be saved.
The whole block and health suite will be demolished and rebuilt and the hot tub was also destroyed by fire.
The residential area for families was not affected but is being used for storage as a temporary measure. Now work has started, Mr Curtis hopes it will be fully reopen by Easter.
He said: “We’ve managed to save some pictures of Donna but there are lots of things we can’t replace.
“It’s been heartbreaking but the support has been amazing, we’d have had volunteers back to back if we had asked for them.
“I can’t thank people enough.”
Donna, who was 20, died of cancer on New Year’s Day 1996 and the premises were opened in her name six years later.
David Randerson, chairman of the South Fylde group of lodges said: “When we heard about the fire we applied for an emergency grant and were delighted to donate £1000.
“Many local lodges will be supporting the charity, it’s unthinkable somebody could do this to a children’s charity.
“We’re very happy to give our support.” Police are still investigating the fire.”