Lone parent Kerry Cattermole’s masionette was one of ten homes and five shops affected by the blaze on the evening of Monday, August 27.
She had lived in her home above A1 Quality Care for two years with her children Faye, 13, Luca, three, and Royce, six months.
On that Monday, she and her children returned home at around 5pm after spending the weekend celebrating her sister Grace Baker’s birthday in Brighton.
Entering the house, Kerry said she noticed ‘a minute little smell’, as if from a bonfire, but saw no smoke and thought little of it.
She was preparing her sons for a wash when she noticed the smell had grown a bit stronger and went to check all the rooms of the house – but still saw ‘absolutely nothing’.
“No fire alarms went off and there was no smoke,” she said.
It was only after she answered her front door to ‘frantic knocking’ that she learned there was a fire.
Gemma Moore and Rob Jackson, a couple who had been having a drink at the Thomas A Becket pub opposite, had seen smoke from the roof and had rushed to alert the residents.
Kerry credits them with saving her and her family’s lives.
With her children still upstairs, Kerry said: “I shouted up to Faye – you need to come downstairs now. I said it clearly so they wouldn’t get stressed.”
Faye brought the boys down and the four of them left the house together.
Kerry said: “When I looked up there was black smoke. You could taste the fire. It was horrific.”
Faye said: “All the street was filled with people, there was smoke everywhere.”
They were ushered into the Thomas A Beckett pub opposite.
From there, Kerry said: “I watched my daughter’s room burn. Seeing that is just so traumatic. It’s the worst experience you could ever have in your life.
“I’ved lived on my own for 20 years – 20 years of my possessions went up in flames. It’s just devastating.”
Almost immediately, Kerry said donations began coming in for the families affected.
Kerry and the children stayed in a Travelodge immediately after the fire but by the Friday the council had helped them find a two bedroom flat.
In the days since, Kerry said the family remain traumatised and have all had trouble sleeping.
But thanks to the ‘absolutely fantastic’ support of friends, family and the community, they are starting to rebuild their lives.
Kerry said: “These people have been phenomenal.
“Without this support I don’t know where I would be. I think I would have had a breakdown.
“The support people have given me has eased my pain.
“It’s given me a chance for us to start rebuilding our lives.”
Kerry said she would be ‘scarred with these memories’ for the rest of her life but said: “I’m so grateful that my children and I are alive.
“I’m so grateful no one lost their life.” Kerry wanted to give thanks to the following people.
She thanked her family: her mum Susan Cattermole, Mark Cattermole, Ashley John Cattermole, Grace Baker, Royce’s dad Julian Dale Holmes for helping bag up donations despite being exhausted and donated items from his shop, Beverley Healey, Mick Healey, Sammy Healey and Jonathan Harris, Megan Healey and Andrew Rusk, Lydia Healey, Stevie Healey, Ria Healey, Lewis Healey, Tony Healey, Leslie Healey and Georgina Hardy.
She thanked the general public from East and West Sussex for their donations, Arrow Taxis who have helped her with free transport since the fire, the fire brigade, ambulance service, police, the council emergency housing team, The Thomas A Becket pub, Northwood estate agents, Enterprise Building in Tarring, Worthing Job Centre, Faye’s school Chatsmore Catholic High, Luca’s nursery Pumpkin Patch, councillor Bob Smytherman, the charities that helped, Tesco in Durrington for providing donations and funds and New Look for providing a discount on clothes.
Kerry thanked her friends Lucy Cook and Gavin Horn, Emma Bashford, Hannah and Poppy North, Faye Palmer Hodgkins and her daughter Charlie, Ellie Harman, Cheyenne Meyer Andrews, Danielle Smith, Tina Jackaman, Bella Whitham, Kelly McEwan, Angela Knock, Kathryn Sampson, Ione Potten, Kim Raymond, Stephanie Boulding, Dawnie Pattison, Katie Wastell, Zoe Sutherland.
She thanked Abi Miles and her mother Kerry Chilcott, who collected donations, Paul Coyle who helped with his removal van, Jackie Wenham from Christian Bravery and Toni Louise Latham who organised donations.
Kerry and Faye have given any excess donations to Worthing shelter’s charity shop.
Kerry said: “I wanted everyone to get help, not just ourselves, due to experiencing homelessness I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”