‘There are too many people to thank’ - Hartepool nursery rises from the ashes of devastating fire after community’s support

Reg Hutchinson of Grove House Plants, The Drive, Greatham, which has reopened after a fire in December.
Reg Hutchinson of Grove House Plants, The Drive, Greatham, which has reopened after a fire in December.

A village nursery is back in business less than three months after suffering a devastating fire thanks to a ‘fantastic’ community effort.

Husband and wife Reg and Kim Hutchinson who run Grove House Plants in Greatham were unsure if the family business would be able to survive after a blaze destroyed almost everything in December.

The damage caused by December's devastating fire at Grove House Plants.

The damage caused by December's devastating fire at Grove House Plants.

But after a major clean up operation and the community rallying around the nursery has risen from the ashes and reopened.

A fundraising drive raised around £2,500 to help Reg and Kim get back on their feet including an online crowdfunding appeal started by villagers which raised over £1,300.

Reg, 59, said: “There was absolutely nothing left after the fire. It was like a bereavement.

“But I had a brainstorming session with my two sons Richard and Robert and decided we would carry on.

Reg Hutchinson in one of the nursery's new polytunnels built with the help of the local community.

Reg Hutchinson in one of the nursery's new polytunnels built with the help of the local community.

“The village has been fantastic and the customers; helping with clearing the site and putting things back together, even down to making sandwiches and tea and coffee because we had no electrics or heating.

“We are back.”

The fire broke out at around 10pm on Monday, December 10.

Reg and Kim lost almost all of their stock and tools which had belonged to Reg’s father and grandfather.

Over 1,000 square feet of greenhouses were lost including one which collapsed in on itself.

The fire also damaged other buildings on the site and spread to the back of a neighbour’s house.

Five fire engines from Hartlepool, Thornaby, Billingham and Stockton fought the fire were dispatched to put it out.

Up to 20 neighbours formed a human chain to try to save as much stock as possible. The cause is being treated as an accident.

Staff and helpers from the village got to work building new polytunnels, laying new trails, digging drains, putting new electrics in and shovelling 40 tonnes of gravel.

One local business donated a container free for a year.

And a fundraising night organised by Reg’s daughter-in-law Gemma at Seaton Golf Club raised £1,000.

And Reg’s six-year-old granddaughter Erin has even contributed by making a new sign of the nursery’s name.

He added: “It has been heartwarming. There are too many people to thank so we have just put up a sign saying thank you to everyone.

“Everyone that comes up says it looks more inviting now. We have still got a lot of things to do but the bulk is done.

“We are hoping for a good summer now to get people in.”