Community gathers to share heartache

A COMMUNITY candlelight vigil in memory of much loved culinary identity Barb Sartori will be held at Whitfield tonight.

Mrs Sartori died in a fire at the Whitfield general store early Monday morning, leaving husband Walter, family and friends devastated.

Wangaratta police Detective Sen-Constable Neal Thompson said preliminary investigations suggested the fire was started by an electrical fault in a wall behind the counter in the shop.

He said WorkSafe Victoria would now examine evidence to assist police to find a definitive cause.

Mrs Sartori was well-known throughout the North East and beyond as one of the Three Nonnas, who shared their passion and skills for cooking in their popular Melbourne Food and Wine Festival cooking sessions in the King Valley.

Mrs Sartori, 52, was married for 32 years and leaves behind four adult children, Steve, Michael, Neva, Brianna and a grandchild, Callum.

She took possession of the historic Whitfield general store recently and planned to turn it into her “dream” regional produce store.

The vigil will be held from 6pm to 9pm at the Whitfield Primary School and St Joseph’s Catholic Church.

Close friend Donna Richards, who has helped organise the vigil, said Mrs Sartori played an integral part in the community and many people were feeling lost.

“I think this will give them a chance to come together and talk about Barb who was a friend to so many,” she said.

“She was a key player in so many fund-raising activities and had so many interests, the tragedy has been felt by a broad cross-section of the community near and far.”

Friend Carla Pizzini said it would be a quiet time for prayers and reflection and candles would be available at the church.

“Everyone is completely devastated by the sad loss of Barb; by getting together, praying and holding each other we hope it will help as the community comes to grips with such a tragedy,” Mrs Pizzini said.

“All are welcome and encouraged to come together during this sad and tragic time.”

Later at the school there will be an opportunity to share stories and reflect on Mrs Sartori’s life of giving to others.

Art supplies and cards will be available for children to share their thoughts and feelings.

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