A grieving mum has shared heart-rending pictures of the damage caused by a fire which killed her two ‘gorgeous, precious’ sons.
Jack Sykes, aged 12, and his nine-year-old brother Paul both died after the devastating blaze was started in the family home by their dad, Darren Sykes, last October.
Their heartbroken mum Claire Throssell has now launched a £70,000 appeal to refurbish the home to a liveable standard so she can sell it and try to move on with her life.
Claire, aged 43, said: “It’s devastating to see the pictures and to know my boys were in there and I couldn’t get to them.
“It’s excruciating. If I had known they were in there I would have walked through fire for them.
“I want to say sorry to the community if they are shocked by the pictures and if their children are upset, because obviously Jack and Paul’s friends might see them.
“They can put two small faces to those pictures. It serves as a warning to everybody as to how quickly a fire can destroy lives.
“I can be in a room full of people I love to bits, but it’s the loneliest place in the world and it always will be without my boys.”
It took just six minutes for the family home on Tennyson Close, Penistone, to become engulfed in flames on Wednesday, October 22, 2014.
Darren Sykes, who also died in the inferno, had lured his sons up to the attic with a new model train set, barricaded the door so they could not escape and then set fire to the property.
Paul died that night, while Jack died in hospital five days later.
Claire said: “The whole house was destroyed. Everything was gone – most importantly my two gorgeous, precious boys.
“The firemen were so brave going through that inferno and I will always be so grateful to them because they gave me the chance to hold my boys as they died.”
The house remains in its fire-hit state as Darren had cancelled the insurance just four months before the blaze.
Now Claire is appealing to the community for their help as she tries to reclaim her shattered life.
She said: “To undertake this renovation alone is too big a mountain for me to climb. Any help, however small, would make a difference.
“This appeal is not just for me, but for the community as well.
“They used to see the boys play in the garden of that house and hear Jack practising his trumpet.
“People used to stand outside the house to hear him play.”
Claire’s hopes are to buy another home in the town – so she can remain close to where her boys’ ashes are interred.
She said: “I want to set up a legacy for my boys so they haven’t died in vain.
“Two innocent children surrounded by such evil – I want to give them a legacy so they’re remembered for who they were and not how they died.
“They deserve to be remembered as the helpful, friendly and talented children that they were.”
The whole community has rallied around Claire Throssell and her family following the tragic loss of Jack and Paul.
Father David Hopkin, of Penistone and Thurlstone Team Ministry, said: “The incident shook our community to the core as we tried in vain to understand the enormity of such a tragedy.
“As well as dealing with her bereavement, it has become clear Claire, on top of everything else, has lost her home.
“Many people have asked me what they can do to help Claire and express their support practically. This campaign will raise funds to help Claire restore her former family home so that it can be sold.”
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