Two best friends who lost everything after their campervan caught fire in the Highlands say support from the local community has been “fantastic”, the Press and Journal reports.
Helena Harvey, 42 and Ellie O’Brien, 32, had just exited their campervan parked along Marine Terrace in Cromarty when it became engulfed in flames on Friday (15 September).
Most of their belongings were lost in the blaze.
Luckily the duo and their dogs, Callie and Tobey, escaped unscathed.
The pair from Sheffield had been travelling up to Fodderty to visit Ms O’Brien’s ill father and made a pit stop in Cromarty when disaster struck.
Ms O’Brien said: “I think we are still in a bit of shock, but the local community of Cromarty were absolutely amazing.
“They came out with blankets and cups of tea and some people took the dogs for us while we were checked over by the ambulance, so we couldn’t have asked for more on the Friday.”
Ms Harvey added: “There were lots of people watching on and not a lot of people knew what to do, and then suddenly everyone sprang into action, so it was really helpful.”
Locals offered them somewhere to stay for the night, and a cafe gave them pizza for dinner.
Since most of their clothing was destroyed in the blaze, the local thrift shop also allowed the two women to help themselves.
They were even given the game Dobble by someone who heard them mention it was their favourite.
While there were many generous offers, the pair eventually chose to stay at the Royal Hotel after the owner gave them a generous discount.
Ms Harvey said: “It was a real sense of community rallying around total strangers, which for us was really appreciated.”
Intent on still visiting Ms O’Brien’s father, a helpful local drove them to pick up a hire car, which they are also going to use to travel back to Sheffield this evening.
But their bad luck was to continue as on the drive to Fodderty, the hire car suffered two blown tires – causing a three-hour delay.
While they have had a string of bad luck, they are trying to see the lighter side of the situation and think positively.
Following the fire, they also started a GoFundMe to help with the costs, which has already reached nearly double what they set out to raise.
Ms O’Brien said: “To see the GoFundMe go past our target has been shocking but in the best way.
“It’s like we’ve had two shocks this weekend, one has been absolutely awful and the other has been a ray of light in the middle.
“It’s like when bad things happen, look around for the helpers and I think that’s what we’ve found in the local community of Cromarty and Inverness. It’s overwhelming.
“You see so much negativity happen in the world currently and life is not easy for anybody, but to see the generosity and desire to help people who need it, we can’t even put into words how grateful we are.”