Sunday, January 29, 2023
GeneralBusinessman praises the bravery of local firefighters

Businessman praises the bravery of local firefighters

A businessman whose premises were extensively damaged when fire tore through parts of the building last week has spoken of his gratitude to those who fought to save both it and surrounding premises. Rob Manley has also expressed his thanks and appreciation for the support from the community in the aftermath of the blaze, which began in the early hours of Friday. Rob said the extensive damage to The Anchor Bar in Newcastle, which he owns in conjunction with Paddy Hutley, has come as a blow in the wake of lockdown restrictions imposed on the hospitality industry. However, the local man added he is confident “that with time, patience and hard work, we will be back up and running stronger than ever”. Rob, who received a call in the middle of the night, telling him the over 100- year-old premises were alight, has praised the “quick-thinking, bravery and willingness” of firefighters and police for keeping the blaze under control and helping to “avoid a much more tragic outcome”. The Bryansford Road business’s kitchen and beer garden bore the brunt of the damage, while the bar interior, which in parts boasts wood panelling and snugs, were spared the flames but have suffered extensive smoke and water damage. Acknowledging that things are “still a bit raw,” Rob said that management and staff “are absolutely heartbroken and in a state of complete shock”. “To be woken up in the early hours of Friday morning and informed that the bar was on fire was just devastating to us all, a nightmare,” he said. “We are in a state of complete shock. Even days later, we still can’t quite get our heads around what has happened,” he said. However, Rob was keen to stress that “the outpouring of support from local businesses, patrons and the community as a whole has lifted our spirits no end.” He explained that over the last few days they have been inundated with calls and messages from local tradespeople, offering their services and equipment, people volunteering to help clear the debris, even local businesses offering temporary jobs to staff until such time as The Anchor can reopen. “The influx of goodwill from the community as a whole has been absolutely overwhelming and heartening – we couldn’t be more grateful to everyone for their good wishes and offers of help,” he explained. Turning his attention to the large-scale emergency operation which started as soon as the blaze was spotted, Rob confirmed that people’s quick-thinking and decisive actions prevented the fire from properly taking hold of Central Promenade businesses which back on to the bar’s site. At the height of the operation, eight fire crews plus a specialist aerial appliancewere used to battle the fire, which was discovered just after 4am and the cause of which is being treated as accidental. “If it wasn’t for the quick-thinking of both the people who called the fire brigade and the firefighters themselves, it’s almost certain that other buildings, including neighbouring businesses and residential properties, could have been compromised, we are just so thankful that no one was hurt,” he continued. “Having made it through a difficult two years with Covid, and even despite further restrictions imposed so late in the year, we had a great Christmas, and we were looking forward to a prosperous new year. We had been busying ourselves planning a whole calendar of events for the forthcoming year and were excited at returning to some sort of normality. “We are confident, however, that with time, patience and hard work, we will be back up and running stronger than ever.” Continued Rob: “We would like to take this opportunity to thank every single person who reached out to show their support. “We especially want to thank the local firefighters and police, whose quick thinking, bravery and willingness kept the fire under control, and helped avoid a much more tragic outcome.” He added: “We just want to add that it has genuinely meant the world to us at this difficult time to see how loved and supported our bar is, and how important the Anchor is to our customers, and the greater Newcastle community. “It is this ongoing, invaluable, support that will spur us on as we begin to rebuild.” This week, a local councillor also commended the emergency services for their efforts. Laura Devlin said she was “shocked to wake to the news” of the fire at the popular venue, premises she described as a “huge part of our local community.” “It is so much more than a pub and a restaurant. It represents so much good in the town between their pub quizzes and longstanding charity work,” said Cllr Devlin. Acknowledging that the damage sustained at The Anchor “is significant” and that “major repair works are required,” Mrs Devlin added: “I want to praise the Fire Service and the local resident who raised the alarm. “My thoughts are with Paddy, Rob and the fantastic team of staff that they employ. Let’s hope that work gets under way and the Anchor’s doors can reopen again soon.”

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