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Wennington residents mark anniversary of devastating fire

Published: Friday, 21 July 2023

Residents in Wennington have this week marked the first anniversary of the fire which devastated their village last summer.

Local residents gathered to quietly reflect on the tragic fire that left many without homes.

The day began with some time for reflection in the local church, where a number of residents attended to remember and talk about their experiences of the day.

In the evening, it was followed by a commemorative service, led by Rev. Elise Peterson, the Vicar of Wennington Parish Church.

She said it was a privilege to be walking alongside many of the residents and delivered a message of hope, after what she said had been a “bereavement” for locals.

“It is still rather unimaginable that we continue to work, and hope and pray for homes to be rebuilt and the village to be restored and lives to resume to some sort of normality.”

She said the church had offered what support it could and to make the building a space that serves the community.

She added that “good things” had come out of the situation.

“I’ve had a number of conversations with people over the past year, and in recent days and we acknowledge that the fire was not a good thing, but there have been good things that have come out of the situation.

“Getting to know some of our neighbours that we’ve never met before.

"I’ve got to meet many of you, that I hadn’t had the opportunity to meet before; learning to come together to support one another and encourage one another and trying to look forward with hope.”

Councillor Ray Morgon, the leader of Havering Council, local councillors, members of London Fire Brigade and Havering Council staff who have been supporting residents also attended the service.

Councillor Ray Morgon said:

“It was a very emotional day but it was fitting that the events of last year were marked so that we don’t forget them and that we can continue to work at preventing such events from happening again.

“Over the past year we have worked closely with residents to help them get their lives back on track and we’ll continue to stand with them as they rebuild their homes by giving advice and support whenever it’s needed.”

Eighteen homes were lost during last summer’s fire. Many residents were rehomed in alternative accommodation.

Almost all of the damaged homes have since been demolished and planning approval has been granted for 13 properties so far and rebuilding is beginning on some.

The Council has worked in partnership with other local bodies and provided a range of support, such as helping to clear debris from their homes, carrying out welfare checks and offering counselling, as well as supporting residents to find temporary accommodation.

The Council has recently granted official village green status to Wennington Green.

This will protect the land from development in perpetuity, helping to solidify the community spirit this village has continued to develop in the face of the tragedy.