The community is rallying to help the five families left homeless by a fire that ripped through an Ingoldmells hotel yesterday afternoon (Friday).
Within hours of the devastating fire breaking out at the Sea Lane Hotel, near Fantasy Island amusement park, residents, businesses and community group have launched appeals for money and items to get the families back on their feet in the run up to Christmas.
Skegness Lions Club, led by President Mike Hardy, have been asked to help collect donations of anything to help these families in their hour of need.
He said: “All their possessions have been wiped out - clothing toiletries, all they have is what they stand up in. The place has been absolutely burned down.”
They have made an appeal on facebook and on local radio for items as there are a number of children involved - four women, seven men, three girls aged 12, two and one and two boys aged six and seven.
Mr Hardy said: “The public have been absolutely amazing. The material that is already being gathered. We have had a cot delivered for one of the kids. Withj it being so close to Christmas I am really impressed with everybody’s generosity.”
The manageress of Chapel Garden Centre, Vicky Johnson, contacted the Lions offering to be a collection centre for donated items as well providing storage and use of a van for collection of bulkier items. You can contacted the garden centre on 01754 873558.
The Store House in Skegness is also accepting items as is Candles Restaurant, behind Tesco in Ingoldmells after Gaynor Woodward-Dennis, who knows one of the families involved, launched a Facebook appeal.
The Travellers Rest Motel at Ingoldmells and the Charnwood Hotel in Skegness offered rooms for the devastated families in the short term who had been living in the self-contained apartments at the Sea Lane Hotel. Most stayed at the Charnwood or in caravans owned by the hotel owner.
Jay Oyitch, manager of The Travellers Rest said he could see the rooftop of the Sea Lane Hotel burning from his property.
He said: “I could see everything happening and I am under the same landlords, the Bowlers, and felt that I wanted to help anyone affected. I can understand their position and would have appreciated any help in their situation.”
Mr Hardy added: “They were living there over the winter but now they have nothing. I spoke to one lady involved who said her family has a car but they cannot even use it because they lost the ignition key in the fire.
“We now need to get the donated items to those that need it, getting them fed and clothed and then move on from there to reduce the impact as much as we can.”
Stefen Cooke has also launched a Justgiving crowdfunding page to raise £2,000 to help the families affected and has raised £180 so far. You can go to it by clicking here.
Vicky Johnson, manager at Chapel Garden Centre said they are one of three outlets in the area offering to be collection points for money and household items to help get the stricken families back on their feet for Christmas.
She said: “I only saw it on Facebook late last night and the extent of how the families had been affected. Skegness Lions has started to rally round and I thought we could get involved and get it on our web page and be a collection point to get those guys as much as they need because they have got nothing.
“They have children and have lost some pets in the fire so it must be absolutely devastating.”
She went on: “As a community we need to get together as soon as possible to do what we can for them, at least to give them a decent Christmas. I posted on Facebook at 11pm last night and by first thing this morning I had over 1,000 views on the web page and people were coming in as soon as we opened our doors with money and clothing, selection boxes and so on.”
They are acting as a collection point and will be passing any money donations onto the Lions. The centre is also making up hampers for the families, activities, food and Christmas crackers. They are also offering raffle prizes if needed.
Mrs Johnson said: “It is amazing how quickly people have reacted to help out.”
Supplies needed immediately will be dropped off to the families, while anything needed longer term, such as Christmas gifts, will be passed on later.
* At the height of the blaze, which was reported at midday, there were eight fire appliances and an aerial ladder platform on the scene and the junction of Sea Lane with the A52 had to be closed off. The British Red Cross suport unit had also attended to the families.
It took until well into the evening for firecrews to finish damping down. A Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “There are not believed to be any injuries and the cause of the fire is not known at this time.”
There are a number of businesses under the hotel, including a launderette, Bombay Grill, Sea Lane Tavern and an Indian restaurant, which were closed at the time of the start of the fire.
Sheila Cane said on Facebook: “It started at the back of one of the spot lights on the roof. Only me on the street. I panicked wow I had to phone 999 I was so so scared.”
Andy Hempshall said: “I saw smoke in the sky behind where I live and I drove a few yards around the corner to see what was happening. The rest you see on the video.”
Witness John Shackleton told The Standard: “We were driving past on the way to Skegness and saw the fire and ambulances and the police heading towards the scene.
“The roof was totally gone but it didn’t look like anyone was running from the scene.”
Residents have been expressing their shock on social media. Karen Ellis said: “Thank God no one is hurt. My heart goes out to the owners who are going to be faced with so much devastation.”
Diane Oldham said: “I know the guy who runs these as well as the laundrette and cafe. The nicest bloke ever, feel so sorry for him. He must be gutted.”
Gill Borrill posted: “I have a room for the weekend for anyone who needs it, towels clothes and food. Can sleep three people.”