Former Royal Marine and family are back in East Durham home for Christmas after devastating arson attack
A family are back in their rebuilt home in time for Christmas after a devastating arson attack earlier this year.
Former Royal Marine Sean Ivey, his wife Kate and their two young children were forced to flee their home in Wingate in the early hours of the morning in March.
The family car and caravan on the drive were torched and the flames spread to the house in Taylor Grove.
It happened after Sean, 39, spoke out about antisocial behaviour in the village.
But after almost nine months away and a crowdfunding appeal which raised over £300,000, the family have moved back in and are looking forward to Christmas.
Sean said: “It’s just great to be in for Christmas. It instantly made a difference and had a positive effect on our mental well being.”
The fire at around 1.30am on March 18, destroyed the loft and contents including Sean’s uniform and medals, Kate’s wedding dress and treasured photos.
It also damaged six-year-old Benjamin and eight-year-old Georgia’s bedrooms.
Sean remembered: “I woke up and looked out the window and could see an orange glow.”
The fire reignited the following night. Sean, who used to work at Hartlepool College, added: “There wasn’t a great deal salvageable.
"It was just a shell at one point.”
Five people arrested in connection with the fires were later released without charge.
The family have spent most of the last nine months in rented accommodation while the house was repaired, including walls rebuilt, and redecorated.
An online fund started by Sean’s former colleague Kevin Miller raised an incredible £301,000 with donations coming in from all over the world.
Sean added: “It’s something which we’re totally overwhelmed by and so grateful for.
"It saved our lives and allowed us to be able to rebuild and get back home.
"It’s a case now of putting all this behind us.”
But that is likely to take some time as the family receive counselling and support from The Royal Marines Charity.
Sean, who now works with service veterans charity Finchale Group, based in Durham, said antisocial behaviour is still an issue.
He is also involved in setting up a new charity to improve local youth provision called Commando Kids Youth Initiative.