A BEACH hut owner was left devastated after finding out the place she’d made years of family memories in had been destroyed in an arson attack.
But Emma Burton’s faith in humanity was restored when residents on Hayling Island flocked to help.
Members of the community including businesses, school workers and children stepped forward to assist the 48-year-old in restoring her pride and joy, and raise funds for the cost of the work.
And Emma says she is ‘overwhelmed’ by the support of locals.
Emma, who owns the beach hut off Bound Lane with her dad, said: ‘I found out my hut had been destroyed on Facebook. It happened on Saturday at 6.30am.
‘It was black inside, everything was burnt to pieces. My grandmother’s crockery, among other things that can’t be replaced, have now gone.
‘As a family, we’re angry at what’s happened, we’ve had the hut for six years and in that time made so many memories there. My dad, who is in his 70s, had even started to do it up then it became a bare shell.’
Despite the shock, Emma couldn’t have prepared herself for what came next. She said: ‘The support and help I’ve received from the community since is overwhelming.
‘Me and my family spent the whole weekend stripping the burnt parts of the hut out and preparing to restore it, but we weren’t alone.
‘So many locals turned up to help, offering their time, free expertise and even wanting to donate to a crowdfunding page set up by another Islander.
‘I’ve had a roofer offer to re-do the felt in the roof, a business from Mengham offer to repair the floor – and more – it’s amazing.
‘That one horrible, mindless act has brought out the fantastic community spirit on Hayling Island.
‘I’m so very grateful to everyone who’s helped.
‘I want to thank them by holding a tea party outside the hut.’
Emma and her family hope to have the hut back to its former glory by bank holiday. So far £375 has been raised online.
Chloe Pollard, seven, raised £55 for the hut by making and selling jam tarts at a car boot sale. Mum Sara said: ‘Chloe came up with the idea on her own when she heard about what happened and I’m very proud of her, she’s incredible as is the rest of the community. We stick together in bad times.’
Anyone with information about the attack can call police on 101, quoting 44170179112. To donate, visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/haylingbeach.