Stoke-on-Trent Lord Mayor Denver Tolley has today unveiled a plaque at Bentilee Neighbourhood Centre in recognition of support given to a Bentilee family by the local community following a tragic house fire in December last year.
"It just goes to show how strong the Bentilee community spirit is which is why we thought it was important to recognise that with this plaque."
Watch Manager Mick Warrilow
The plaque has been awarded to the local community by the Safer City Partnership and representatives from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, Staffordshire Police, Stoke-on-Trent City Council and the Resident’s Association attended as well as children from Berryhill High School, Eaten Park Primary School and the Tree Tops Children’s Centre.
Watch Manager Mick Warrilow, who helped to organise the event and played a key role in family liaison following the tragic incident said: "The support that poured in following the fire last December was over-whelming. So many people, businesses and organisations rallied around and donated not only financially but also in the form of clothing, toys, food and other home comforts for the affected family. Various fundraisers also took place at local schools, raising hundreds of pounds to help the family.
"It has understandably been an horrific time for the Hurd and Maskery families however they are incredibly grateful for all of the support they have received and it just goes to show how strong the Bentilee community spirit is which is why we thought it was important to recognise that with this plaque."
Lord Mayor Denver Tolley said Bentilee should be proud and quoted a comment from the late Sam Plank that ‘Bentilee should be the City centre because everyone there works together’.
The Bentilee Neighbourhood Centre provided a room and refreshments free of charge at event, which also saw the neighbours who rescued the children from the property and members of the fire victim’s families attend to thank the local community for all of their support.
Inspector Matt Bennion, who is neighbourhood inspector for the area and was one of the first officers at the scene of the fire, said: "I am very pleased to see the plaque being put in place as it recognises how well this community can come together in times of need.
"I was able to see how much effort was put in by so many residents and agencies which I hope eased the tragic circumstances the family were having to deal with."
Sharon Hurd’s father, Tom Newton attended the event alongside other family members and expressed his gratitude on behalf of all family members of the support received. He brought with him a letter written by Sharon which Mick Warrilow read out to the audience (see notes to editor).
Chris Maskery’s father, Christopher Maskery and his wife Karen Maskery added: "We just want to thank everyone for their support during this very difficult time for us. The support has been fantastic and we are getting our strength from the children."
Thanks have also been expressed to the Manchester and London Probation Service who employ a member of the Hurd family and upon being informed of the family emergency promptly donated a sum of money and other items to help the family.