Community rallies round fire victims

Phoenix Fund fundraisers outside fire-damaged buildings in Hastings Old Town. SUS-140506-114922001
Phoenix Fund fundraisers outside fire-damaged buildings in Hastings Old Town. SUS-140506-114922001

THE OLD Town community and supporters from across the borough have rallied around in a massive show of support for victims of the Marine Parade fire raising more than £3,400 in the space of a few days.

THE Phoenix Fund was set up by several businesses in the Old Town for the victims of the fire which destroyed six home on Sunday and left one resident with severe injuries.

Pirkko Pellinen, 66, was forced to jump 30ft from her home and sustained a broken ankle, pelvis and clavicle.

The dentist who is originally from Finland was moved out of intensive care unit at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton on Tuesday and onto the orthopaedic ward.

Her partner Alan Toole has been given the use of a house free of charge by a well wisher in Brighton to save him travelling from Hastings.

And bosses at Tesco in Church Wood Drive this week donated one of their Hudl machines to Pirkko. Staff at Oasis Dental Surgery in London Road have received more than 100 cards from patients and practice manager Claire Hobbs said the support for Pirkko has been immense.

Mrs Hobbs said: “She’s an amazing person and her plight has touched so many people. One patient said she had not slept since she heard the news.

“Pirkko’s two sons have flown over from Singapore and from Finland to be at her bedside. She is making good progress and we were very much looking forward to visiting her.”

The Phoenix Fund has organised several fundraising initiatives in the town during the past week. Rose Ratcliffe, who runs Butlers Emporium in George Street, said: “We raised £300 at a jumble sale on Saturday, the Hastings Guerrilla Circus raised £323 performing through town on Sunday, and Sublime cafe in George Street has raised more than £100.”

Marks and Spencer in Priory Meadow has also had collection buckets in their store and Harris Woodcock, of Harris Restaurant in High Street, said “From day one they have been absolutely amazing. So helpful. They have been fantastic.”

Rose told the Observer that the response has been overwhelming.

She said: “All of us involved in the Phoenix Fund, we all feel that we’ve made met some amazing people through this. Allen Toole was saying he just overwhelmed, and that people who don’t even know him have been willing to help. There has been such kindness.”

More events are planned for June, including an auction and a final big fundraiser on Saturday, June 28, at St Mary in the Castle. The final event will see a fun-packed evening of music and acts in aid of the Old Town fire victims.

Entry is £5 and advance tickets will be on sale from Butlers Emporium. The event is from 6pm until midnight. If you are interested in volunteering or being involved on the night, visit, or call Rose Ratcliffe on 01424 430678.