A family who say they have lost everything in a house fire on Boxing Day have thanked the community for rallying around to help them.
Five people including three children were taken to hospital suffering from the affects of smoke inhalation following a fire at a home in Berwick Street, Seaton Carew, in the early hours of the morning.
Mum Gemma Littlewood, 30, her three children Eliza, eight months, Emily, four, and Dylan, 10, all Littlewood, and their dad Jamie Price, 26, managed to get themselves out of the house uninjured but say they have lost everything they own following the blaze.
The family was taken to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough after the blaze at 5.35am on Boxing Day but have since been released.
Gemma’s sister Leesa Hammond, 26, from King Oswy, Hartlepool, launched a Just Giving Page in a bid to raise £1,000 to help the family buy essentials.
She says the family have already been overwhelmed by the generosity of people in Hartlepool who have come together to donate bags of clothes, bedding and essentials to get the family back on their feet.
Mum-of-two Leesa said: “My sister and her kids had only lived there for two or three weeks.
“They were all in bed at 4am when Dylan woke everyone up because there had been a power cut and he had seen smoke coming up the stairs from the kitchen.
“His mam told him to run down stairs and there was a neighbour already shouting through the letter box.
“Dylan opened the door and the kids’ dad who was staying got Emily and Gemma and brought the baby out with a blanket on the head.”
She continued: “They have managed to salvage a few toys in boxes but they have lost everything, including all the presents from Christmas.
“Gemma is just in shock, she has gone back to the house to have a look and its worse than we thought it was.
“But Hartlepool has been brilliant.
“We have had things dropped off at my house and at my mams too.
“Loads of people have been offering to pick things up for us and have been donating things like clothes, kids toys and food hampers.
“They have been brilliant.”
Stephen Picton, who has been heavily involved in Miles for Men fundraising over the years, has been raising awareness of the Just Giving Page on social media.
Jayne Berry, the owner of the Bonnie Babies shop in Middleton Grange Hartlepool, is also said to be supporting the family by offering vans to help pick things up for the family.
Leesa added: “Its been amazing to see how everyone has come together in 24 hours to help.
“I am just hoping to raise as much as we can for her and the kids.”