Heartbroken relatives of deceased house fire victims Josie Leighton and her two sons have told how amazing fundraisers are giving them the strength to carry on.
The accidental, electrical blaze, on Williamthorpe Road, North Wingfield, killed Claire James, 27, and Josie Leighton, 32, and Josie’s children Tyler and Jordan Green while Claire’s seven-year-old daughter Tia escaped with smoke inhalation.
But Josie’s mum Lynn Leighton, 53, and Lynn’s sister Jayne, 53, have been overwhelmed by the kindness of those involved in a massive sponsored march for the grieving families, on Saturday, and a trust appeal for Tia.
Jayne said: “Every day we have just been existing and plodding on but when we saw so many doing so much it made us think we have to keep going and put something back into life. We owe it to everyone to keep going.
“Josie loved her boys so much. She was ever so friendly and was such a lovely person. She has been part of the North Wingfield community all her life and everyone seemed to know her.”
Deeply-moved residents have come together in their hundreds to support the heartbroken relatives of those who perished in the tragic house fire on November 20.
Danette Bradder – a friend of both families – launched a fundraising drive to cover the costs of funerals while kind-hearted Grassmoor resident Lee Forester began an appeal for Tia.
The community responded in droves by backing fundraising events including Danette and friends’ sponsored march and charity day and Lee’s Tia Appeal raising a joint total of over £12,000.
Danette and friends organised the 54 Bus Route Walk from Chesterfield’s Crooked Spire to North Wingfield which turned into a massive march to the scene of the fire where supporters laid flowers and held a minute’s silence.
Danette, of Clay Cross, said: “I felt strongly that I needed to do something. I only meant to set up a sponsored walk to raise a few hundred pounds but there was a massive response.”
Over one-thousand walkers and others went on to pack the North Wingfield Miners’ Welfare Club which hosted stalls, raffles and entertainment to boost the Danette Bradder and Friends’ appeal.
Group supporters included Kelly Ashmoor with a bucket collection in Hasland and Jessica Cross who acquired Chesterfield FC gifts for a raffle. There were also cash donations from The Co-op, The Best One Shop, North Wingfield Post Office, Sainsbury’s and Chesterfield Royal Hospital.
Lynn Leighton said: “Seeing all those doing the walk and their happiness has helped us and given us hope. We’ve been overwhelmed at the kindness and the generosity of everyone which has been incredible. We want to say thank you so much because we really don’t know how we would have coped without their support.”
The Danette Bradder and Friends’ appeal helped raise £5,475 which has been presented to Hoults funeral directors and the North Wingfield Welfare Club to cover funeral costs.
Lee Forester, of Grassmoor, was equally determined to help survivor Tia and thanks to donations he and friends have helped raise £7,668 for the youngster.
He said: “I put something on Facebook saying that maybe we could get some help and a friend got in touch and we set up our Help a Local Child website.”
Lee organised drop-off points for clothes and gifts which have been presented to Tia’s family and launched a justgiving website page for donations.
Tesco’s store at Alfreton donated £1,250 and the company has agreed to match-fund this total and others made similar donations including Sheepbridge’s Fusion Provider, JTF warehouse at Mansfield, Brampton’s Red Lion pub, The Smedley Girls and the Little Leprechauns day nursery. Entertainment event Clay Cross’s Got Talent raised £350, with half of the money going towards the families.
Tia’s dad Dave Harrod has expressed his thanks and Claire James’ uncle Adrian Marson described the amount of support as “truly overwhelming” and as “a source of comfort in this our darkest time”.
The funeral of Claire James was scheduled took place at St Lawrence’s Church, North Wingfield, yesterday, Wednesday, December 4, followed by a committal at Chesterfield Crematorium.
The joint funeral of Josie Leighton and her sons Jordan and Tyler Green is due to take place at St Lawrence’s Church, North Wingfield, from 2pm, on Friday, December 6, followed by burial at Dark Lane Cemetery, North Wingfield.