Shankill Road retirees thank local community for fixing garden after Christmas arson

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Two retirees from the Shankill Road area thanked the local community for rallying around them after their garden was destroyed in an arson attack over Christmas.

Catherine (Kay) and John (Jackie) Edgeworth were in shock after a shed in their backyard was set on fire on Wednesday, December 29, in what police consider arson.

This caused extensive damage to the back of their Riga Street home, including seven shattered windows, a destroyed shed, melted gutters and the ruin of a greenhouse that Jackie had built 25 years ago with her granddaughter. girl.

Now the couple are overwhelmed after the Shankill community rallies around them to repair their ruined garden.

Speaking to Belfast Live about the support they have received since December 29, Jackie and Kay said they struggled to express how grateful they were.

Jackie said: “The people are amazing here, all they want to do is help.”

The fire was reported to police at around 10:25 p.m., and Kay said she initially thought something fell from their living room wall.

“I opened the door and thought the oven was on fire, the flames were so close,” she continued.



Kay and Jackie Edgeworth

Jackie said: “I thought I was going downstairs to get a basin of water to put out the fire a bit. I think everyone in the street knew about the fire, only us, and we were sitting in the house. . “

The couple have lived at their current address for 25 years and have had no problems during that time. Now they cannot understand why they have been the target of such an attack.

“The only question you want to know is why? I don’t have any enemies that I know of, maybe it was just kids laughing,” Jackie said.

“If it was, that’s sad too. But if it was someone a little older, or if it was something more sinister. I’ve been told that someone maybe wants your house and that’s how he starts, harassing you and trying to kick you out.

“But I don’t believe it for a minute. I still feel like it was a prank or something gone wrong.”

Although they add that what was lost in the fire can be replaced, what cannot be restored, are the memories attached to the destroyed items. Some of the lost items include tools that Jackie had built for 60 years and a pair of rubber boots he had owned for 50 years.

Jackie said: “The more I sit and think about what was in the shed, all the memories. It was a house built by myself and my granddaughter, she was only eight. years old. I had a metal frame and 4×2 wood to expand everything, but it was mostly plastic sheet.

“I would have been there for a few days for hours, just thinking about what I was going to do – I never did. Everything was close at hand. If someone asked you if you had anything thing, you could say ‘yeah it’s in the second drawer’, but now all the rest of the gear in it is gone. “

Following the incident, the local community mobilized and offered their support in words and actions.



The fire damaged many items, including tools John had owned for 40 years

Members of their local church stopped with flowers, while a community group donated a check for £ 100 to help them, and many more helped replace items in the damaged garden.

With all the effort, the couple were able to return to “a kind of normalcy”, with just their windows needing replacement.

Among those Jackie and Kay would like to thank for their efforts are Stephen Paul of Community First, William Turkington of The Shed Hack for replacing Jackie’s beloved shed, CL Garden Maintenance for their clean-up efforts and James Bates for providing them. a new greenhouse. .

“They wouldn’t take anything for that. It’s amazing how nice everyone has been,” Kay said.

“All you can do is say thank you to everyone. If you can think of any stronger words to thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you everyone.”

The day after the incident, Sergeant Green of PSNI said: “A report was received around 10:25 pm that a hangar in a house in the Riga Street neighborhood was on fire.

“Officers attended the scene with colleagues from NIFRS.

“The two occupants of the house were inside at the time, but luckily no injuries were reported. However, the shed was completely destroyed and damage was caused to the exterior of the house as well.

“Investigations are underway into the circumstances surrounding the incident, which is being treated as arson, and I am calling anyone with information about what happened or who has witnessed suspicious activity in the area at the time, to call us on 101 and quote the reference number 1808 of 12/29/21.

A report can also be made online using the non-urgent report form via http://www.psni.police.uk/makeareport/. You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at http://crimestoppers-uk.org/

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