Christmas, above all else, should be a time for families – a time for the annual gathering of the clan.
It’s the brief moment of the year when the madness and struggles of everyday 21st century life can be put on hold for a few simple. old-fashioned pleasures.
But for Lora Jenkins and her three daughters, a family Christmas in their own home seemed out of the question less than three months ago.
That was when their Fareham semi-detached house was wrecked by an electrical fire.
It was a blaze which started near the television and then destroyed all their possessions.
Lora, a care worker, and daughters Hunni, Harmony and Skyra went their separate ways into temporary accommodation. They expected to be divided well into 2014.
But today we must give credit to Fareham Borough Council’s housing department and the authority’s contractors.
For, in seemingly record time, they have not only rebuilt the Hillson Drive property, but also re-equipped it – and all in time for the Christmas holidays.
It’s akin to something from a television reality programme. For in our story on page 7 today a thrilled Lora says of the council and its contractors: ‘They were brilliant. They went through everything step by step with me. It looks amazing.
‘It’s like walking into a different house. Everything is brand new. It’s been replastered and there’s a new bathroom. It’s incredible.’
We are always quick to criticise councils when they deserve it. But for a change today, instead of a brickbat we are handing out a bouquet.
What Fareham council did for Lora and her children showed a sense of urgency which many others would do well to follow.
And it appears to have consulted her along the way too.
So, not only has she got her home back in time for the family’s first Christmas in Hillson Drive, but she’s also had a hand in designing it too.
Some councils may have a reputation for dragging their heels about most things, but here Fareham has done this family proud.