NEIGHBOURS in a Lavington street banded together to help a husband and wife after their home was badly damaged by fire and now they’re asking other people to do the same.
Doug and Bernie Tonkin’s bedroom, ensuite and sitting room were destroyed when a heat lamp sparked a fire at their Owen Court home on Saturday morning.
Mr Tonkin was away and Mrs Tonkin escaped with just the clothes on her back when she smelled smoke.
She alerted neighbours Darren and Jayne Keogh before returning to find her bedroom ablaze.
The damage bill was estimated to be in the thousands, with the bedroom and ensuite burnt beyond recognition and a hole in the sitting room ceiling where the fire spread soot and smoke throughout the house.
It was their neighbours who were the first to step in to help.
“It’s just what you do,” said Ms Keogh, who has lived in the house behind the Tonkins for 11 years.
She took Mrs Tonkin shopping and was overwhelmed with discounts and donations from shops like Myer, Hairhouse Warehouse, Pour Mes Amis and her own business, Beautify & Nails.
“I didn’t think the generosity was there any more — it obviously is,” Ms Keogh said yesterday.
A neighbour of 10 years, Cindy Salske, gave what she could and asked the community to give what they can.
“They’re just the loveliest people,” she said.
“They’d do anything for you, they’d drop everything.”
Ms Salske said the couple were too embarrassed to take part in a story for The Border Mail. “Bernie is still pretty shaken,” Ms Salske said.
Both Ms Salske and Ms Keogh said the Tonkins’ need outweighed their embarrassment.
If they understandably couldn’t ask for help, their neighbours certainly would.
“Bernie is a great neighbour and a beautiful person,” she said.
“There are genuine people out there and she’s one of them.”
Anyone who can help can contact Ms Salske on 0422 112 228.