Friends working to rebuild cancer patient’s fire-hit allotment

Holder House Allotment holder Hughie Murray in his allotment damaged by fire.
Holder House Allotment holder Hughie Murray in his allotment damaged by fire.
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Friends are digging deep to help a cancer patient rebuild his fire-hit allotment – but they need help.

Hughie Murray’s plot at Holder House Allotments in South Shields was damaged when a neighbouring one was hit by arsonists.

Holder House Allotment holder Hughie Murray, centre, with allotment neighbours Terry Colman, Kelvin Steele, Ronnie Simon and Jack Robinson, who are going to help him rebuild his shed and greenhouse, after fire destroyed them.

Holder House Allotment holder Hughie Murray, centre, with allotment neighbours Terry Colman, Kelvin Steele, Ronnie Simon and Jack Robinson, who are going to help him rebuild his shed and greenhouse, after fire destroyed them.

Firefighters were called to the allotments, in Holder House Way, on Monday, September 6.

One allotment owned by Mark Thomas was completely destroyed in the blaze that also killed around 60 pigeons.

Grandad-of-six Hughie lost a hut worth around £1,150, two greenhouses worth £200 each and all of his equipment, including tools and a generator.

Now pals, and fellow allotment keepers, including Terry Colman, Jack Robinson, Ronnie Simon and Calvin Steele, are aiming to return it to its former glory.

Fire Fighters damping down a fire at Holder House Allotments, Holder House Way, South Shieds.

Fire Fighters damping down a fire at Holder House Allotments, Holder House Way, South Shieds.

Hughie, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer five years ago and is undergoing treatment, has had his allotment for almost 40 years. Since his diagnosis, the champion leek grower’s pals have helped him run it.

The 68-year-old, from Whiteleas, said: “I’ve very grateful to the lads, especially Terry, for all they’ve done.

“I didn’t want to give my allotment up when I was diagnosed and they didn’t want me to leave either so they’ve helped me run it. They even pick me up from home and bring me down some days.

“I was devastated when I came down after the fire. I’d only had the hut about two years and I got that after my allotment was damaged in another fire a few years ago.

The remains of an allotment after the arson attack.

The remains of an allotment after the arson attack.

“It felt like we were just getting things back up and running again properly and now this.”

Terry, who has the allotment next door, is hoping people will donate corrugated steel, a greenhouse, or some cash, to help Hughie.

The grandad-of-one, 58, from Cleadon, said: “The lads are going to do all the work, but we just need a bit of help getting all the materials.

“We’re a community here and we all stick together.”

Mark Thomas surveys the wreckage of his allotment after a fire in early hours of this mornng at Holder House Allotments, Holder House Way, South Shields

Mark Thomas surveys the wreckage of his allotment after a fire in early hours of this mornng at Holder House Allotments, Holder House Way, South Shields

Hughie, who is originally from Ireland, added: “I’m just chuffed with the lads. They’ve really helped me out over the last few years and I couldn’t have done it without them. It means a lot.”

Police inquiries into the fire are ongoing.

If you can help by donating materials or cash towards the costs, call Terry on 07845 043515.