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Public praised for donations to help Andy and Laura Whitelaw after devastating fire at Co Armagh home


The scene after the blaze at the bungalow of Andy and Laura Whitelaw

The scene after the blaze at the bungalow of Andy and Laura Whitelaw

The scene after the blaze at the bungalow of Andy and Laura Whitelaw

A Co Armagh couple whose dream house was destroyed in a fire have thanked people for their kindness as they continue their search for a new home.

Twelve days ago Andy and Laura Whitelaw watched their rented bungalow on Castleraw Road in Loughgall go up in flames.

The fire started in the attic of the detached house, where they had lived for only three months, on the night of January 16.

Sparks from a fire they had lit found their way through a hatch in the chimney, setting a wooden truss alight which ultimately gutted their home.

The couple had recently installed an all-night burner, which they had been using prior to the fire with no issues.

After the fire they were left with just the clothes they were wearing and lost many precious family mementos.

Andy (52) and Laura (38) are currently staying in a B&B in Portadown while their dogs Apollo and Heidi are being cared for in kennels as they try to sort out their insurance.

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Their landlord put them up in his own home just after the fire and released their deposit, which can go towards a new house.

Andy, who is originally from Scotland, retired from the Army on medical grounds in recent years as he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Since then Laura, who is originally from Holywood, has been acting as his carer.

The couple married in 2013.

Andy burned his hands as he attempted to save his home and has been left retraumatised after the blaze.

"I think we are still in shock to be honest and it feels like it only happened two days ago," said Laura.

"Among the items we lost were Andy's medals and military paperwork so now it's as though he was never in the Army as all records of his time are gone.

"He is the sort of person who prefers to be helping others rather than taking help himself so this has all been very difficult.

"We still have to visit the house regularly to meet the loss adjusters, which is very upsetting as they try to identify items in the rubble."

Earlier this week friends set up a GoFundMe page to help them get back on their feet again with enough money for a deposit and one month's rent on a new property. It has almost reached its £1,000 target.

"People have been so generous with their donations and it will help us towards a new house," added Laura, who is grateful for the help from several local businesses.

"When we get back on our feet again we plan to give back to the charities that have helped us.

"The kind words that people have shared with us since this happened has been unreal."

While the husband and wife along with their dogs, a Doberman and a Presa Canario, were unharmed in the devastating fire, they are heartbroken at being separated from them.

"Once we get a house we can get our dogs back," Laura added.

"We miss them so much but have been to see them even though we have been told that it's worse for them.

"They think they're going home when we come to see them and then we leave again."

To donate to the couple's GoFundMe page, visit: gf.me/v/c/v2k3/andy-amp-laura-whitelaw-xx.

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