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Allotment blaze guts sheds at Raymond’s beloved garden – but he’s vowed he’ll carry on growing

December 20, 2021

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A Teesside allotment holder has been left picking up the pieces after a blaze ripped through his beloved garden leaving it a smouldering ruin.

Firefighters were called to Elmwood Road in the Throston area of Hartlepool on Sunday evening after fire broke out at 84-year-old Raymond Charles Atkinson’s allotment.

The blaze completely destroyed two sheds and all the tools and equipment inside them leaving a charred and blackened mess behind.

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The family say it is the third incident at the allotment in the past few weeks. Burglars broke in and stole tools, a generator and a rotavator recently – and, they say, they believe the fire was started last night when they returned for a third time.

Raymond has gardened there for 22 years. He goes to the allotment every day in all seasons and has done since he lost his wife to Alzheimer’s a few years ago.

His daughter Christine Swinburne said he was devastated.

“He’s 84, he doesn’t need that,” said Christine.

“He’s had that allotment for 22 years and he goes up there every day and sits with his friends.

“We don’t know what happens now. We have contacted the council and they are organising a skip to get rid of everything for him.

“He has lost everything, all his tools.

“He is going to rebuild, he won’t let them take him down, he is a very strong man. He has health issues and bits and bobs but he won’t let them take him down.”

Her dad, she says, is known for making up hanging baskets and for growing tomatoes which he sells to help him buy the fertilizer he needs for the next growing season. He started gardening at the allotment when her mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s as a bit of respite.

“When we lost my mum, he stayed there and he goes every single day without fail.

“We know it is going to take a while to get right but we’ll get there,” said Christine.

Two sheds were completely destroyed in the fire and a pile of charred remains were all that was left at the allotment on Monday morning.

A spokesman for Cleveland Fire Brigade said emergency services were called to the scene at 5.16pm to reports of a property fire.

Two crews, one from the Hartlepool station and one from the Headland station, attended.

“Two large sheds were destroyed by fire,” said the spokesman.

The cause of the blaze is still under investigation, said the spokesman.

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