Christmas is saved for one Ness family by helpful community

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Residents in Ness, and from all over Lewis, have shown the true spirit of Christmas after a local family were left devastated by a fire.

A porter cabin, container and toy shed at the property of Ali Gunn in Port of Ness were burned to the ground with a blaze last Tuesday – destroying all the contents inside which included all the outdoor toys belonging to the family’s young children.

But the loss of a huge collection of childhood toys which ranged from trampolines and bikes has been significantly eased after the local community rallied behind the family and came to their aid.

Speaking to the Gazette this week Mr Gunn spoke of his gratitude to all who had contributed and been in touch.

“We’ve had lots of offers of help,” explained Mr Gunn, “people have been calling and offering us items and gifts.”

A home smoker which went out of control has been suggested as the probable cause of the blaze which burned through a porter-cabin, a container and a toy shed – each of which were crammed with items.

“I had them all kitted out with fishing gear but we also lost all the kids stuff from the toy shed like trampolines, bikes, slides and climbing frames. Luckily the wind direction kept the fire away from the house.”

But neighbours, friends and local residents quickly stepped in to offer a helping hand and reassure the family, which has three children aged 2, 6 and 7, that the Christmas spirit is strong in Ness.

Mr Gunn, who is a bus driver for Galson Motors, continued: “All the passengers have been asking how we are getting on. It is amazing and shows that when something like that happens how much people care.

“We had lots of donations of money to replace all the items our children lost so they wouldn’t lose out. Two local contractors also offered us the use of diggers to help clear the site.

“Even people who lost relations that same night have been in touch and have text and sent cards even although they lost so much more than we did they were still thinking of us.”

He added: “Thanks to the three fire brigades which attended from Ness, Shawbost and Stornoway and to all friends and family.

And also to all the bus drivers who had a whip round and raised a great amount for us too.”