A heartbroken mum has been left devastated after her stables were torched just months after launching her first livery business.
Julie-Ann Mill received planning permission from the council to create a livery on land close to the river Tyne, west of South Drive, in Hebburn.
The 32-year-old had recently built stables, which cost more than £4,000, to house her own horses, and added an extra three so she could look after more animals.
The new business meant Mrs Mills could work while caring for her three sons, two of which suffer from seizures, and one has a heart defect and needs regular hospital care.
However, at 4.25am on Saturday the stables were burnt down - the five horses were thankfully in a nearby field and unharmed.
Police are now treating the incident as a suspected arson attack.
I am absolutely devastated.Julie-Ann Mills
Mrs Mills, who is mum to Dylan, 13, Danyl, six and Dale, three, said: “I’m absolutely devastated.
“It was such a lengthy processes to get permission and create the stables, now it’s all gone before my business really began.
“I wanted to do this so I was able to work while looking after my boys, so I didn’t have to depend on help, I was earning my own money.”
The community is rallying round Mrs Mills and an online fundraising page has been set up to help.
Already £420 of a £2,000 target has been raised.
Mrs Mills said: “I want to thank everyone who has offered me support, they are all wonderful and I can;t thank them enough.”
A spokeswoman for Northumbria Police said: “Police are investigating a fire at a stables off South Drive.
“It’s believed to have been started deliberately and is being treated as arson.”
Anyone with information should contact police by calling 101 and quote reference number ‘42306816’.
To donate to the fund visit www.gofundme.com/2fhb3p5v.