'We help, she’s one of us'

LEE Eskell will move into her new home at Eskdale tomorrow – which will be full of new possessions.

Ms Eskell’s rented Eskdale property was destroyed by a blaze on Sunday, with only her car and a few clothes saved.

Residents have rallied behind the 63-year-old pensioner since the fire, offering household goods and financial help.

Elders Real Estate Wodonga has also organised a new house for Ms Eskell to stay in, which the company says will have “absolutely everything she needs”.

Eskdale Progress Association has been taking donations.

Secretary Richard Steele said: “She lives in our little community, that makes her one of us.

“We’re going to help her out as best we can.”

Ms Eskell said: “I’m really overwhelmed.

“There’s been a truckload of furniture organised for the house.

“It’s just been fantastic.

“I’ve never seen anything like it.”

She said she was on a constant “low and high all in one” after the fire, which firefighters believe was started by an electrical fault.

“I’ve lost mementos from my parents and grandparents I can never replace,” Ms Eskell said.

“But the main thing is I didn’t lose my life.

“That’s what I’ve been really grateful for.”

Elders property manager Georgette Meunier said staff had rallied behind Ms Eskell and used social media to gather donations.

“She’s my tenant and when I found out what had happened I was shocked for her and devastated,” she said.

“She needed a home and she has got it now.”

Elders has also helped organise government support including rent and a bond.

Nanette Hooper, who contacted The Border Mail to offer a donation, said she had been moved to learn of Ms Eskell’s plight.

“I know what it feels like when things go bad ... I know what it’s like to start again from scratch,” she said.

Three donation drop-off points have been set up at Eskdale cafe, the pub and MG Trading.

A fund-raising event will be held at the Eskdale Hotel from 1pm to 4pm on Sunday, July 6.

“I’m still upset, but so many people have come forward with offers of help and it’s helped take a lot of that pain away,” Ms Eskell said.