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Schoolchildren rally round victims of house explosion

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Dani Brown, West Pembroke Primary School’s head girl, and Shiloh Anderson, the school’s head boy, present a cheque to Tonia Symons and other members of her family who lost their Southampton home in an explosion (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

A primary school raised $1,000 to help a three-generation family after they lost nearly 30 years of family history in an explosion.

Stanley Thompson, 82, said he was “really grateful” for the donation from West Pembroke Primary School, which he added gave his family a chance to start over.

Mr Thompson, who received the cheque during a school assembly, said: “We did go through a very traumatic situation, but each day it gets better because of the children.

“That enthusiasm they have shown towards us has helped quite a bit and we appreciate it very much.”

He added: “They are great children. I’ve talked to a few of them and they understand that it could have happened to anybody.”

West Pembroke Primary School offers a $1,000 donation to a family who lost their home in an explosion in Southampton (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Mr Thompson was caught in an explosion that destroyed his Southampton apartment block on May 2. He was in hospital for a month, recovering from his injuries.

He lived in the complex with his daughter, her husband and their son.

The explosion killed Oscar Mascarinas, 49, and his wife, Jove, 50, and injured two other people. A memorial service was held for Mr and Mrs Mascarinas in Hamilton last week.

More than $15,000 have been raised for the couple’s funeral and their family back in the Philippines.

Mr Thompson, who earlier received $750 from Elliot Primary School in Devonshire, said that he lived with his former landlords after the explosion and later moved to another home close to where he used to live.

He added that the burns he suffered in his lungs were healing and that “each day is getting better”.

Mr Thompson said: “I know I had the angels around me. If it wasn’t for the angels, I don’t think I’d be here.”

He added: “I didn’t think people would be so enthusiastic about this.

“It seems like this tragedy was waiting to happen so that people could show their love, and they have.

“I was very much surprised how everybody rallied around us and helped us.”

Tonia Symons, Mr Thompson’s daughter, said the family had lost decades of history at the apartment during the “terrible tragedy”.

She added: “I wasn’t home at the time but I am still affected by it because we were staying up there for nearly 30 years, so that’s 30 years of our lives that we’ve basically lost.

“Now we’ve got to rebuild our lives with another neighbourhood and friends.”

Ms Symons said they were very thankful for the help of the pupils and that much of the money would help with problems such as their cat’s vet bill after it was hurt during the explosion.

She added: “We’re very appreciative that the children did this all for us, just from the kindness of their hearts, their families’ and their friends.”

Opal Wilson, the principal of West Pembroke Primary, said that the school had been keen to help the families involved as soon as they heard about the explosion.

She added that the school held a grub day where pupils could donate as much money as they wanted and the school donated enough cash to round the figure up to an even $1,000.

Ms Wilson said: “It’s very important to have involved the children because they need to learn from an early age what it means to give from the heart.

“It also teaches them about community involvement.”

She added: “One of the students came up to me and said ‘Mrs Wilson, you never know when this could happen to you’ and I just thought that was priceless.

“We are on the right track to producing our future citizens.”

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Published June 21, 2022 at 10:07 am (Updated June 21, 2022 at 10:07 am)

Schoolchildren rally round victims of house explosion

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