Haverhill rallies to provide support for London fire victims

From left: David Roach, Pat Hanlon, Richard Moore and Tony Brown by one of the vans loaded up with donated items for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire in west London.
From left: David Roach, Pat Hanlon, Richard Moore and Tony Brown by one of the vans loaded up with donated items for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire in west London.

The compassion of folk in Haverhill came to the fore as they donated three vans full of items to the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire in London.

Haverhill Arts Centre became a de facto collection point for clothing, shoes, blankets, baby stuff, blankets, toiletries and more besides last Wednesday after the public responded to a call from town and borough councillor Tony Brown to donate items to help those residents made homeless by the tragedy.

And on Thursday morning three 3.5 ton vans - each able to carry some 2 tons of goods - were dispatched.

The first van (loaned by BUK Ltd in Risby) headed to Twickenham Rugby Club in west London, the only place left at the time that was still accepting donated items, while the remaining two loads went into storage at REACH Community Projects in Haverhill.

Cllr Brown said: “It just really inspired people. There’s a lot of ex-Londoners in the town and it was just people’s good will as well.

“They saw the horrific images on the TV yesterday and I think it just gelled the communities and the country together.

“All the volunteers in there were trying to bag it up with different bags and labels and they could not keep up. There were even people on crutches helping.”

Cllr Brown thanked everyone who helped, not just those who donated things but also the estimated 40 volunteers who turned up to help on Wednesday, with others helping to load up the vans .

He singled out Jackie Reader, who arrived at the arts centre on Wednesday and co-ordinated the collection, calling her an ‘absolute star’.

Children were turning up to donate their own toys, one woman arrived with a bag of baby clothes hand knitted by her 90-year-old neighbour, Practical Van Hire and Colin Lansdell also provided vans for free.

Wisdom donated hundreds of toothbrushes, while Tesco in Haverhill and Fulbourn donated items.

Cllr Brown, who also praised the arts centre staff, added: “We had cots and high chairs and people were coming and saying ‘what do you need’ and were going up to Tesco and buying it and bringing it down.

The things stored at REACH will stay there until needed in London, added Cllr Brown, but even if they are eventually not required in the capital they will ultimately go to people who need them.