A FUND set up to support the Wearside stables where five horses died in a fire has raised more than £2,000 in less than 24 hours.
The blaze in the early hours of Monday at Station House Stables, in Coxgreen Road, Penshaw, saw five of the animals killed, although 15 managed to escape thanks to the help of a passing policewoman.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation as part of a joint probe by Northumbria Police and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service.
Now, well-wishers who are part of the horse community in the area have created a fund-raising page called “Help for Station House Stables” to generate money for those affected.
So far, more than £2,100 has been collected after more than 180 people donated money. Spare equipment is also being given to the stables.
Horse owner Lyndsey Smith has also set up a “Help for Station House Stables” group on Facebook, which now has almost 1,000 members. “The fire has hit the whole horse community like a tonne of bricks,”said Lyndsey, of South Shields.
“Everybody who owns a horse is just thinking what it would be like if it happened to them.
“It’s upsetting for everyone, especially the children who have lost ponies.
“I can’t begin to imagine how they are feeling right now.”
Lyndsey added that animal lovers around the North East will be trying to support the stables in the coming weeks as bosses and those who have lost horses recover from the tragedy.
“The money won’t come close to replacing what they have lost, but hopefully it will ease the burden on what they have to get in,” added the 26-year-old.
“They’ve lost five horses, but there are 15 still there that need caring for and everything that was there for them at the stables is now gone.”
A horse show at Misty Blue Farm, in Kirk Merrington, Spennymoor, County Durham, on Monday, May 4, will also now be dedicated to raising funds for Station House Stables after organisers pledged their support.
Nine-year-old Zoe Shields, whose show-jumping pony Phantom was one of the animals who died, has been left devastated by the incident.
“She is totally heartbroken,” said Zoe’s mum Sue, of Grangetown in Sunderland. “She’d had Phantom a year and a half and rode her in high-level competitions. He was one in a million.”
Speaking about the fund, Ms Crangle added: “It’s amazing that people in the horse community have pulled together like this and been so kind.
“Obviously, they have the same love for horses as we do.”
Part owner of the stables, Trevor Holmes, said he couldn’t estimate how much the damage is set to cost him, but said insurers have been informed of the incident and will be investigating.
Mr Holmes, who has been involved with the stables for about 20 years, said: “The people here are all devastated by what happened. There’s never been any problems in all of the time I’ve been here. At the minute, I haven’t got a clue how much this will cost, but the insurance people will be coming out soon.”
To donate to the fund-raising appeal, visit www.gofundme.com/sgk3d6p.
•A 37-year-old man arrested on suspicion of arson after a hay fire close to the stables has been released on bail until a date next month as inquiries continue.