Residents of tragic fire street come together for Jubilee party

Jubilee party time for the residents of Clarence Avenue.
Jubilee party time for the residents of Clarence Avenue.

ALMOST two years on from the tragic fire that claimed the lives of three young children on Clarence Avenue, those living on the street threw a special Diamond Jubilee party to reunite the community.

Residents marked the occasion with bouncy castles, music, food and a Jubilee atmosphere as they gathered for the street party, which was won in a competition entered by Sue Smith, who lives on the street.

Sue said that the idea of the street party was to “give everyone a lift”.

“It really has been good, you can see that by the smiles on everyone’s faces,” said Sue.

“It makes us more of a community. We were known as ‘the street where the fire happened’ but now we want to have a happier atmosphere.

“We released three balloons in memory of William, AJ and Maddie and held two minute’s silence for them. Now it is a chance for everyone on the street to speak to each other in happier circumstances.”

It was in the early hours of Friday, November 12, when the three children tragically lost their lives in the house fire, and many Clarence Avenue residents have vivid memories of that night.

One of those, Lesley Salisbury, has recently moved from the street but said a few words before the street party began.

“It is a wonderful that everyone on the street can get together. It is a cliche, but life goes on and something like the Diamond Jubilee can help do that,” said Lesley.

“The day after the fire I remember having the press from all over the country in my house but it was handled with compassion and sensitivity, that night I had to go into hospital as what had happened just hit me all at once.

“The memories are still vivid when you walk past the house.”

Don Bemrose, who along with neighbour Tony Payne and their families have lived on Clarence Avenue longer than anyone else, for more than 36 years, said: “It is a good thing for the street, and nice to get everyone together. It was getting a little bit down - too many people did not know too many people.

“It needed something like this to get everyone together. A little street like this cannot forget what happened, but a celebration like this is for the children.”

Tony said: “It is a nice relief from what people on the street have been through. Not a lot of communities know each other anymore, so it is good for people to be able to meet and speak to each other on a happy occasion like this.”

The party was provided from a competition in Full House magazine, and was sponsored by Reckitts.