Thomas A Becket pub overflowing with hundreds of donations after Worthing fire

The community has shown its generosity in the face of last night's terrible fire in Worthing, with a nearby pub overflowing with donations for those who have lost their homes.

Tuesday, 28th August 2018, 5:16 pm
Updated Monday, 3rd September 2018, 12:16 pm
Tina Knight and Vicki Read from the British Red Cross at the Thomas A Becket pub in Rectory Road, Worthing

Stacey Croft is the landlady of the Thomas A Becket pub in Rectory Road. She was working when the fire broke out at around 6.40pm last night in the block of flats opposite the pub. While the firefighters fought the blaze outside, inside the 25-year-old and her team were on hand to support people being rescued and neighbours nearby, keeping people calm and giving out refreshments and soft drinks.

They also cooked meals for at least 50 firemen, she added.

She said: "These people have lost their homes at the end of the day. It isn't nice and it is the least we can do to help them out and give them something back."

Tina Knight and Vicki Read from the British Red Cross at the Thomas A Becket pub in Rectory Road, Worthing

Today, the pub has become the centre of the relief effort, with the Rectory Road eatery being inundated with donations for the residents of the flats who have lost all their possessions.

The snug is filled with childrens clothes, buggies, blankets, adult wear and furniture - enough to fill a transit van.

Tina Knight is the emergency response officer for the British Red Cross, and was called to the pub with three other volunteers to help co-ordinate the relief effort after staff were inundated with donations.

She said they now have enough donations, adding: "I'm amazed by how the community pulled together during an incident like this."

Stacey Croft, 25, is the landlady of the Thomas A Becket pub in Rectory Road, Worthing

According to Tina, the pub has agreed to keep the donations there until tomorrow, when people involved in the fire can collect what they would like to have before the rest is likely donated to a local homelessness charity.

Vicki Read, a Red Cross volunteer from Cuckfield, added: "It is overwhelming how generous people have been in such a short period of time."

Senior emergency response officer Daniel Jones said: “We’re there to offer compassionate support to people dealing with the aftermath of the fire, and providing practical advice and basic supplies where we can.”

One lady donated a buggy and children's clothes. She said: "We are a community - around here, everyone helps each other. These people have lost everything, and they have young children that won't understand why they don't have toys anymore."

Meanwhile, Abi Miles from Durrington was one of many other residents who helped collect donations following the fire last night.

The 17-year-old, who works at David Lloyd, said she found out about the blaze from a friend who lives next door to the flats that were damaged.

Abi used to work at the salon and barbers in Rectory Road and was concerned about her former colleagues.

When she discovered that some of the residents affected were families with young children, she put a call out on Facebook for donations.

She said the response was ‘absolutely amazing’.

“I must have had about 400 people commenting on my Facebook post,” she said. “I’ve had people from Brighton, Hove, Lancing, Shoreham and Steyning saying they had stuff and they could help me.

“Everyone was willing to help.

“It made you realise that even though people moan about Worthing, when something serious happens everyone pulls together.”

She said she spent two hours last night driving round to different houses to collect clothes, toys, pushchairs, kitchen items and collected more this morning.

“We collected a huge car full of stuff,” she said.

She said of the families who she gave the items to: “They’ve literally got nothing, they were sitting there in their pyjamas.

“It was really upsetting, they were sitting there in tears. It brought me to tears.

“I can’t imagine how it must feel to lose your house.”