She was lucky enough to meet a man, who shared her dreams and had the skills to help to make it come true. Over the past 8 years, Fran and Nick built an extraordinary house made of trees felled from 9 acres bought from the Woodland Trust in Glydyfrdwr near Llangollen. It was lovingly fashioned, a lofty 2 storey, multi-spaced testament to their skills, imagination and immense tenacity in the face of the testing elements of North Wales’ winters and the demands of 3 children.
It had solar power, wood burning stoves, water piped from the stream, a bicycle powered washing machine, a dog and 3 goldfish. It was home to my beautiful grandchildren, two girls and a boy: Uisge, 12, Orrin 8 and Zephyr 6, who have lived a life of many children’s dreams, running wild and free in their woods.
At lunchtime on Sunday 25th February this superhuman effort of human endeavour was reduced to a pile of blackened ash on a large patch of scorched earth. A small chimney fire grew to an inferno and whilst they did their best to extinguish it – all they could do was get the kids and the dog out, retreat and watch, everything they’d built and gathered over their lifetimes, go up in smoke.
She is thankful that the fire didn’t start in the dead of night. It’s unlikely any of them would have survived. We all feel lucky that they managed to escape. They live an alternative lifestyle without the luxuries we take for granted, including insurance and it’s unlikely they could have secured it. They are lucky that they have a core of generous, resourceful friends and family who have rallied in the immediate aftermath. They are now staying with Nick’s mum in Leeds.
After such a traumatic experience most people would upsticks and buy a ‘proper’ house. But Fran and Nick are not like most people. They are determined to return and build another dream house, only better. Using different, less flammable materials, but on the same carbon neutral principles.
Please help them start again. They lost everything: clothes, toys, books, furniture and tools, tools and more tools. It takes a lot of tools to build your own house from scratch.
- Joanna Newton
- Amy Ross
- Helen Hatt
- Jenna Butler
- D. H. Jones
Organizer and beneficiary
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