STAFFORD’S Salvation Army has sent out a desperate appeal for venues after a huge fire destroyed their home this morning (August 29).
The fire service was called to the scene at the Salvation Army’s Faraday Road base at 2.30am, after the blaze broke out when bins were set alight next to the building. Police are treating the fire as deliberate.
Linda Downward, officer in charge of Stafford SA, told the Newsletter: “We were called out in the early hours and watched the flames take hold quickly. The fire service and police were terrific. One fireman said he was sorry he couldn’t save it in time. But they did all they could.
“Everyone is devastated, but at least no one was hurt. To whoever did this, it’s just a building. But many people’s memories are wrapped up in that building.”
She added that it took an enormous amount of fundraising – around £70k at the time - to get the building and the Salvation Army was due to celebrate its 30th anniversary there in November.
“It’s a wonderful building and it was used by the whole community,” said Ms Downward.
The Stafford Corps was used by around 300 people per week including various groups, two stroke clubs, a speech management group, fellowship circles, a school, worship and occasions such as funerals, wakes and marriage ceremonies.
Ms Downward added: “We were also setting up a mental health project and we would supply food parcels. A lot of people depend on the services that were offered there.”
A buildings expert from the SA is coming to inspect the damage, but for now the charity is focussed on finding a venue where they can hold worship events for up to 50 people.
This year marks 125 years the Salvation Army has been active in Stafford and the group had planned to celebrate with a harvest event from September 20 to 21. They are seeking help from village halls and churches to host this event and the 30th anniversary event, which would have been held in the base, on November 2. Call Linda on 07783897957.