Bridlington street united by tragic fire looks to the future
AS ONE pink and two blue balloons floated over Bridlington, it was a time for remembering the past and looking to the future.
The three balloons were released into the air by residents of Clarence Avenue in memory of three children killed in a house fire there.
William, 9, AJ, 5, and Maddie-Jane, 3, lost their lives, while their mother Samantha Hudson suffered severe brain damage due to smoke inhalation, after a blaze broke out in their home in November last year.
While yesterday's event was intended to mark a new beginning for the street, it started in sombre fashion with a moving speech from nurse Lesley Salisbury, who tried to revive the children on the pavement in front of their home.
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After giving her speech, the balloons were released by young relatives of organiser Sue Smith and Michael Jackson's You Are Not Alone was played.
Lesley, 60, told the Mail: "The balloons mark a symbolic release. This is the end of a chapter, almost.
"I've moved away from the street to North Yorkshire now and part of that decision was because of the fire.
"I don't feel I am deserting the street but I couldn't live here any longer.
"The images of that night will stay with me forever."
The £5,000 Diamond Jubilee street party was held after resident Sue, 51, wrote in to a magazine competition.
Her son Jamie, 17, and grandchildren Charlee, 5, and Harrison, 4, released the balloons in memory of Samantha's children.
Sue said: "I feel relief now – I think the whole morning was building up to the release of the balloons. Now we have done that we can hopefully all start to move on."
The speeches and balloon release were held outside Samantha's former home, which is now occupied by Emma Arpigny, 29, and her partner.
Emma said: "We get asked how can we live here all the time. But we have made this home our own.
"I suggested the balloon release and a two-minute silence so the street can have closure. I'm told the fire brought the street closer together, when everyone supported each other.
"Organising the street party has been a big job and once again everyone has been brought together. But this time it is for a good reason."
After the speech and balloon release, the emotionally-charged day switched to a more happy atmosphere.
Children played on bouncy castles and were handed balloons by a magician on stilts while adults danced to music underneath a canopy of street bunting.
After play time, a table brimming full of food was devoured by residents.
Dressed to impress was Machalla Hall, 33, who wore a vintage housewife's dress. She said: "I use any excuse to dress up, I love it.
"I think it is great the whole street has come out to help organise and enjoy the celebrations.
"We should be free to remember the children as they were and not for the fire tragedy. Now it is time to move on."