A family in Angus have been overcome by the generosity of their community after a week of tragedy which left a father in hospital after a stroke just days before their house burned down.
Joanna Rae, 40, was speechless when fellow Charleston resident Joanna Cormack set up a JustGiving page for the family after a fire on Friday, February 5 destroyed their home.
In a matter of days the fundraiser had already reached more than £2,100.
The family face financial uncertainty as their food delivery business has been put on hold while they deal with the fallout of the blaze and health concerns of Joanna’s partner Tony Seal.
Tony suffered a stroke and brain haemorrhage one week before the house fire, on Friday, January 29.
The 51-year old has been in Ninewells Hospital since then and is expected to be moved to the Royal Victoria Hospital, in Dundee.
‘He doesn’t know full extent of fire yet’
Joanna said: “We don’t know when that is going to happen. We haven’t been able to visit him because of Covid, which has just been heart breaking, but we’re in touch through phone.
“He doesn’t even know the full extent of the fire yet. He knows we’re all okay, but I don’t want to bring this horrendous news to him yet.
“He was in the garden starting up the service for the night and I was away getting some shopping for it when he had the stoke.
“He managed to call and said he thought he was having a stroke, which was just terrifying. I couldn’t get home fast enough.
“Luckily my daughter Olivia, who’s only 12-years-old, managed to get him sitting up and called an ambulance before I had come back.
“I’m so proud of her. She helped get the other kids our of the house during the fire as well.”
Log burner believed to have caused blaze
It is thought the fire started from a log burner that Joanna had turned on in a spare room being used by her mother, who had come up from Manchester to help with the children during Tony’s stay in hospital.
Joanna added: “I had put it on and went through to the front of the house, where we were all in the living room.
“We all heard this loud bang and the whole house literally shook. It was like someone had crashed through a door. I ran through the back to the spare room and could see through the keyhole it was all lit up.
“The fire was up the wallpaper and curtains. It was horrendous.”
Thankfully no one was injured during blaze, which took about six hours for firefighters to battle, but the home is not habitable and Joanne does not know when they will be allowed back.
“Everything is ruined, the fridge, freezer, washing machine, all of it is soaked from the fire hoses,” she added.
They are currently staying in Glamis House.
The section of the house where the spare room is located has been burned to the ground.
The family, originally from Manchester, moved up to the Angus village for a quieter life.
Medically-trained Tony was involved in the emergency service responses in the bombings of the Ariana Grande concert in 2017 and the IRA attack while previously serving as a policeman in the city centre of Manchester in 1996.
The trauma of dealing with the 2017 incident and an ME diagnosis for ambulance worker Joanna left the family seeking a different lifestyle.
Settling in Charleston, on the outskirts of Forfar, in October 2019, with four of Joanna and Tony’s seven children, the couple started food business That BBQ Guy.
Originally planned as an events and festival caterer, they pivoted to doing a home delivery service when the coronavirus pandemic shut down the entertainment sector.
Joanna added: “If you had seen this on Coronation Street, you wouldn’t believe it.
“But the support of the people in the community has just been overwhelming and we would like to express our thanks and gratitude.
“People might just think it’s a small village, but this community’s heart is big.”