College helps stricken Uckfield family

Townspeople are clubbing together to help the family made homeless by a lightning strike last weekend.

A family was left with the clothes they stood up in when their West View, Manor Park, home caught fire after being struck by lightning during violent storms on the evening of July 18.

Families of teenagers at Uckfield Community College donated money in exchange for a non-uniform day on Wednesday. College Principal Hugh Hennebry wrote to parents saying: “Those of you who live locally, or follow the local news, may well be aware that the home of one of the families in our college community was struck by lightning and completely destroyed by fire during the storm at the weekend.

“Although people in the community have been amazing and given donations of clothing, etc, there is much they will need on a daily basis. With this in mind we have decided to hold a non-uniform day on the last day of term to raise funds to pass to the family to help them get by.” He asked students to bring in a donation of £2-£3 in return for wearing their own clothes ‘although a minimum payment of £1 will be acceptable for families who will find this difficult.’ By 4pm on Wednesday, students had raised £2,600.

Tesco Uckfield is making a collection. A spokeswoman said: “The family will need a few electrical items when they move into new accommodation and we would like to help them out by supplying them with some essential items i.e. kettle, toaster, iron etc.

Anyone wishing to make a donation can do so at the customer service desk.”

A 13-year-old boy in the house received an electric shock as he was playing with a PlayStation. He and a baby escaped to safety with their dad. The children’s mother came home from work to find the damage.

East Sussex Fire and Rescue were called to reports of the fire at 9.50pm. Three appliances from Uckfield and Crowborough attended. Firefighters extinguished fires on the first floor and roof space of the two-storey house using one hosereel and one large jets. They wore breathing apparatus.

An ambulance was requested for one person, thought to be suffering from a minor electric shock. Crews removed roof tiles and sheeted up the roof as well as undertaking salvage work and making the building secure.

Rupert Taylor from Ringlers Cross heard an ‘ear-splitting crash, like a bomb going off.’

The storm broke at about 7pm delivering torrential rain, continuously flashing lightning and rolling thunder.