Community rallies round after blaze

John and Jacqueline Taylor
John and Jacqueline Taylor

A couple whose home was reduced to a shell by fire have been overwhelmed by the amount of help and support they have received from the local community.

Fifty-four-year old John Taylor and his wife Jacqueline (53), their four foster children and their pet dog, thankfully escaped unharmed when their home at Braehead went up in flames last Friday morning.

John, who would normally have been at work at that time had his alarm not failed that morning, remembers one of the children coming downstairs to tell them the bedroom was “full of smoke”.

The Taylors immediately got all the children out and John went straight back in for the dog. He then tried to return for the car keys but by that time the fire had taken hold.

“The heat and the smoke were unbearable. All this happened in the space of ten minutes.”

Stunned and standing in their nightwear, within minutes neighbours and community groups had rallied round to help them out.

Jackie said: “Mrs Lees, next door but one took the children in and gave them breakfast and kept them warm. The fellow next door came out with a mobile phone for us to use to get in touch with our family in Leeds. Then the owner of the Kirkinner Inn offered us the property to use, as it was vacant. The MP and the MSP came to see us after hearing it on the radio. The community then rallied round and donated so much stuff - shoes, clothes, toys, beds. A lady gave us a garage of stuff to use, even someone in Dumfries arrived with a tumble dryer!

“The pharmacy in Whithorn donated a bag of toiletries. One of the firemen, Dabby McCreadie, went round the supermarkets in Newton Stewart, Aldi, Sainsburys and the Co-op and got them to donate food. The Co-op even had a collection for us. The paper shop also raised money and the staff of the Clydesdale Bank were marvellous allowing us to contact the insurance and the manager even delivering our new bank cards to us here at night. Again, above and beyond.

“We just want to thank everyone who helped us - the church, the Wigtown Community Shop and the Galloway Lodge, who gave cheques.

”People who don’t know us are stopping me to ask how we are and if they can do anything.”

John, shakes his head in disbelief at all the kindness shown to then since the fire, and comments: “This would never have happened in Leeds. The community spirit here is second to none.”

The rented house had been an ideal family home for the Taylors, who moved to the area from Yorkshire several years ago. Last Friday morning, after the alarm was raised at 7.24am, four appliances from Gatehouse, Newton Stewart and Whithorn rushed to the scene.