Northiam woman 'struggling to recover' after major fire destroys barn

The large fire destroyed Lauren's barn. Picture: Lauren SapstedThe large fire destroyed Lauren's barn. Picture: Lauren Sapsted
The large fire destroyed Lauren's barn. Picture: Lauren Sapsted | ugc
Thousands of pounds have been raised for a woman from Northiam who lost everything in a large fire at her barn.

Lauren Sapsted and her daughter were about to leave the site in Adams Lane, Northiam, on Thursday (April 23) when her daughter spotted smoke.

The flames quickly engulfed the barn and were about to reach the stables where five of Lauren's horses were located.

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Lauren said she managed to open the stable doors, allowing the five horses to run into the field, and join her five other horses.

The extent of the damage inside the barn. Picture: Lauren SapstedThe extent of the damage inside the barn. Picture: Lauren Sapsted
The extent of the damage inside the barn. Picture: Lauren Sapsted | ugc

East Sussex Fire sent six fire engines from from Broad Oak, Hastings, Rye, Battle, The Ridge, Burwash and a Command Support Unit from Lewes to tackle the flames.

Lauren said: "We had literally opened the gate to leave, and my daughter spotted the flames. She said 'mummy the barns on fire'. I said don’t be silly babes the neighbours must be having a fire (as you do) and she said no mummy really the barns on fire.

"We ran down, I didn’t think it looked that bad so ran back up to get a hose. By the time we got back down the entire barn was engulfed and the stables were going up.

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"We had five horses in the stables, five in the field. We ran around opening the stable doors.

The extent of the damage following the fire. Picture: Lauren SapstedThe extent of the damage following the fire. Picture: Lauren Sapsted
The extent of the damage following the fire. Picture: Lauren Sapsted | ugc

"Thankfully the horses ran into the field as the main yard gate was open for us to drive out."

Lauren, who produces and jumps horses, had been in Belgium for training shortly before the coronavirus pandemic. She said it was fortunate that some of the horses had to be left there as she could not get them back before the borders closed.

However, unable to work due to the current crisis, Lauren said she lost everything in the fire.

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"Horse equipment is really really expensive. None of mine is insured so it means starting again," she added.

The barn before the fire. Picture: Lauren SapstedThe barn before the fire. Picture: Lauren Sapsted
The barn before the fire. Picture: Lauren Sapsted | ugc

"I am really going to struggle to recover from this. Neither me or my husband are earning any money at the moment because of the crisis. My saddles alone were thousands and thousands of pounds. My husband bought me the Samshield hat I’d always dreamed of for Christmas that was £500. Everything - 20 years worth of stuff - just up in smoke.

"I am really lucky that I saved the horses. I wouldn’t ever have recovered from this if I had lost them. They are my life and my everything but it’s extremely hard."

Lauren said the horse community has been 'absolutely amazing' since the fire, bringing her haylage feed and some rugs to see her horses through the nights.

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Dane Rawlins, the Olympic dressage rider, bought up four temporary stables so that the horses can be in at night.

Lauren said random people she has never met have been showing up with rugs and buckets, including a young girl at Grove Farm Riding School who donated her birthday money to help out with the stables.

A fundraising page has also been set up to help Lauren which has raised almost £4,000. To donate, please click here.

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