Well-wishers donate food and clothes for families and raise £40k after Lancashire 'gas' blast

17 May 2021, 12:10 | Updated: 17 May 2021, 12:35

Well-wishers have donated gifts and money to help those affected by the explosion
Well-wishers have donated gifts and money to help those affected by the explosion. Picture: LBC / Lancashire Police
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Well-wishers have donated clothes, home furnishings and more than £39,000 after a 2-year-old boy died in a suspected gas explosion in Lancashire.

George Arthur Hinds was killed and his parents Vicky Studholme and Stephen Hinds were injured following the blast in Heysham on Sunday.

A major incident was declared after the explosion destroyed two homes and seriously damaged a third on Mallowdale Avenue.

His two parents have since spoken of their devastation when paying tribute to their "beautiful little angel" over the weekend.

Following the tragedy, a GoFundMe page was set up to help the road's residents, which just before midday on Monday had already raised just short of £40,000.

Read more: 'Beautiful little angel': Family pay tribute to boy who died in 'gas' blast

Read more: Child dies and four injured as 'gas' blast destroys homes in Lancashire

Heather Brandwood, who runs the Hurley Flyer pub in Morecambe, told LBC the pub set up the donation page to help those affected both in the short and long term.

"The first responders were fantastic. They got people out in their pyjamas, slippers and got them to safety. But the secondary stage of that is those people are still in those pyjamas," she said.

"So the knee-jerk reaction is to get these people clothed, fed and sheltered. But the long-term picture is that if these people can't go home as they've lost them permanently, what happens then?

"That's what the GoFundMe was for - so we could make that transition for them that little bit easier and to take away bits of the strain."

Hundreds of people have sent donations of clothes, toiletries and money
Hundreds of people have sent donations of clothes, toiletries and money. Picture: LBC
Food donations have come in to help families displaced by the blast
Food donations have come in to help families displaced by the blast. Picture: LBC

Ms Brandwood added that workers at the pub did not know those involved in the blast but that they wanted to help as "they are our neighbours".

"They are the people next door; the people down the road; the people that needed help. We were just lucky enough to be able to provide that."

She told LBC that people in the community had been "lining up" to aid the pub's fundraising efforts, with hundreds of people bringing clothes and toiletries as donations to those affected.

"They were literally queuing in the cars to drop things off. We've been inundated with people saying they want to come help with what we're doing - whether it's sorting out the clothes or delivering things to the families who need them."

In their tribute on Sunday, George's parents said: “We are devastated at the loss of our beautiful George.

"He was so precious to us. We have no words to describe how we feel and just want time to ourselves to come to terms with what has happened. Our beautiful little angel grew his wings today.”

Lancashire Fire said 10 units were called to the row of homes at around 2:40am on Sunday, where firefighters searched a collapsed property.

Local residents have been evacuated while emergency services, gas engineers and others remain at the site.

Local MP David Morris told LBC he was awake at the time and felt his own house shake with the force of the "loud explosion", despite being around a quarter of a mile away.

George Arthur Hinds was aged two years and 10 months.
George Arthur Hinds was aged two years and 10 months. Picture: PA
A children's toy at the scene of a suspected gas explosion
A children's toy at the scene of a suspected gas explosion. Picture: PA

"You have to be here to see it, it is absolutely heartbreaking," the Conservative MP said.

"It has taken my whole community by shock. A little boy has lost his life. Everyone is human and I saw a little doll on the floor and it really did upset me, it really did upset me.

"The only thing left is the chimney stacks. The thing that is distressing me the most is you can see prams, you can see toys. I can't find the words, it is just horrendous."

Electricity North West tweeted that it had paused electricity supplies to the area for safety reasons while the blast was being investigated.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Ben Norman said an investigation into the cause of the blast would be carried out "slowly and methodically".