Arsonist leaves family homeless at Christmas

Christmas cheer: Sam Woodburn with her children receive gifts.
Christmas cheer: Sam Woodburn with her children receive gifts.
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A MUM and her six children have been left homeless by an arson attack - but Christmas is back on with presents donated through The Star backed Hallam FM & Magic AM Cash for Kids Christmas Appeal.

Pregnant mum Sam Woodburn, and her children Tilly, three, Louis, seven, Zak, 10, Travis, 12, Callum, 13, and Brandon, 14, lost everything in the blaze at their home just five days before Christmas.

Firefighters who battled to save their four-bedroomed property on St Withold Court, Thurcroft, Rotherham, were able to salvage only one bag of clothes for the entire family, and just a handful of the presents from under the Christmas tree.

But last night presents donated to Appeal were handed over to the stricken family - who said today they were ‘overwhelmed’ by the generosity of strangers.

Sam - who is eight weeks’ pregnant with her seventh child - said: “We can’t thank everyone enough. This was meant to be a special Christmas for us because we only moved in to our home last December and at that time we had nothing.

“We were really looking forward to our first Christmas here, a special family time.

“That has all been taken away - but I am overwhelmed by the help we have been given.”

The appeal, supported by Asda and P&A, was launched to raise cash and gifts to provide presents for thousands of needy children in the region. It is hoped that fundraising will top £300,000.

Sam is today waiting to find out whether she is insured for the belongings lost in the blaze - after cancelling her policy earlier this month because she was struggling to afford the payments.

The family’s belongings were destroyed by smoke, water, or the flames which ripped through the house.

Fire investigators said the blaze had been started deliberately, when rubbish was set alight near a gas pipe outside the house.

“I can’t understand why anybody would want to do this to us,” she said. “If it was just kids messing about they need to know what they have done. Our home has been destroyed.”

Sam was out when the blaze took hold and a neighbour rang her with the news her home was on fire.

“He was hysterical,” she said. “On my way to the house I could see and smell the smoke and when we pulled up outside I couldn’t believe it.

“Firefighters said the flames had got into the cavity walls and were spreading through the house - it was built around timber, like a matchbox house.”

Sam’s dad Ian Woodburn, 55, from Bramley, Rotherham, said: “The support we have had from friends, family and strangers has been overwhelming.”

Anyone with information about the arson attack should call South Yorkshire Police on 101.

There are so many places to buy and drop off gifts, including The Star shop in York Street, the radio station in Herries Road, Asda, Smyths Toy Superstore, Meadowhall and there are easier ways to donate – online at {http://||visist} or text XMAS22 followed by your donation amount and send to 70070.