Banbury mother launches online donations group to help nursery struck by fire

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A Banbury mother has organised an online donations group to help the town centre nursery hit by a devastating fire.

Kirsty Cothier has launched a Facebook group page to help the Smart Tots Day Nursery and Pre-School where her two-year-old Dalila, attends.

She said: "When I realised it was my daughter's nursery I immediately wanted to help. I started up the group to help keep us all in one place."

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A spokesperson for the Smart Tots Day Nursery and Pre-school confirmed the facility remains closed today, Wednesday December 2, due to the fire, and that they are in regular contact with the families who use the nursery.

Firefighters respond to the fire at the Smart Tots Day Nursery and Pre-School in the Banbury Town Centre (photo from Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service)Firefighters respond to the fire at the Smart Tots Day Nursery and Pre-School in the Banbury Town Centre (photo from Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service)
Firefighters respond to the fire at the Smart Tots Day Nursery and Pre-School in the Banbury Town Centre (photo from Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service)

The public online Facebook group, Donations for Smart Tots (https://www.facebook.com/groups/696525697672252/), organised by Kirsty already has more than 120 people signed up offering to help the nursery.

Kirsty has also started contacting local businesses to see if they can help the nursery, including Tesco, who she said has already committed to donating several gift cards.

She said: "The nursery looks after our children. They don't know the extent of the damage yet so I'm just trying to help out as much as I can.

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"We're not doing money donations. We're doing clothes, toys and books."

Firefighters respond to the fire at the Smart Tots Day Nursery and Pre-School in the Banbury Town Centre (photo from the Leamington Fire Station)Firefighters respond to the fire at the Smart Tots Day Nursery and Pre-School in the Banbury Town Centre (photo from the Leamington Fire Station)
Firefighters respond to the fire at the Smart Tots Day Nursery and Pre-School in the Banbury Town Centre (photo from the Leamington Fire Station)

The campaign to help is still in its early stages, and they are trying to determine a collection or drop-off location for donations. Kirsty said she is willing to sanitise any donations made when necessary, as they want to follow all Covid-19 safety guidelines.

She added: "Everybody says insurance will cover it, but this is where our children go so we're trying to help."

Kirsty has been taking her daughter to the town centre nursery for about a year.

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She added: "My daughter goes to this nursery, and it feels like having a fire at my own house. My daughter has learnt so much here, she plays with her friends and loves the staff. I can’t imagine her going anywhere else. It's where she is the happiest.

"The staff are amazing, and it's only two miles from where I live so we can walk there."

Four crews of firefighters responded to the fire around 5pm yesterday, Tuesday December 1.

Firefighters with the Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service responded to 999 calls of a roof fire in a children's nursery in Horse Fair, Banbury.

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No one was injured in the fire, and a full evacuation was carried out by nursery staff once the fire was detected by their alarm system.

Four fire appliances from the Banbury, Hook Norton and Deddington fire stations, along with a hydraulic platform from Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service (in Leamington) attended the incident.

Fire crews wearing breathing apparatus rapidly entered the property and extinguished the fire, preventing it from spreading to surrounding buildings.

Thames Valley Police also attended and re-routed traffic in order to allow the hydraulic platform to gain closer access to the building. Using this appliance allowed crews in breathing apparatus to gain access to the roof of the property, and confirm that the fire was fully extinguished by using thermal imaging cameras.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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Banbury Fire Station Manager Dave Edge said: “This was a significant incident where the fire in the roof quickly took hold.

"I want to praise staff at the nursery for their quick actions in evacuating the children, which of course is the most important priority in a fire like this.

"Although, there is significant damage to the roof, I am very proud of how the crews tackled the blaze and the fact that there was no spread to the neighbouring properties shows how well trained our crews are.”

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