Members of the South Coast club rallied around to clear up the devastation

The Commodore of Emsworth Sailing Club has praised club members for rallying around and getting the club ‘back on its feet’ following a devastating blaze.

The Hampshire club was forced to close for four days last month after a car crashed

into it, sparking a fire and causing structural damage.

The

collision occurred at 6.36am on 22 April,

an 82-year-old man from the village was rescued from the Volvo

vehicle and treated for non-life threatening injuries. He was arrested on

suspicion of arson and later bailed until 28 May pending further enquiries.

The

car is reported to have struck the building at some speed. A Hampshire Fire and

Rescue Service spokesman said flames from the car, which was totally destroyed,

ignited the building’s roof, damaging 30% of it.

The

club reopened four days later with several temporary measures in place but an

‘unaffected sailing programme’.

Commodore Chris Clode said: ‘Emsworth SC is now fully up and running

again, with no cancellation of any of our dinghy or cruiser events.
 
‘The

damage to the club itself is quite severe, with both structural and

fire damage, but we are fully operational with both bars working and a

full menu in the dining room.

‘Luckily, our franchisees, Ollie and

Eloise Clift, plus their two young children, escaped from the flat above

the club, and although shocked, were uninjured.
 
‘We now have the

task of putting together a schedule of work to repair the damage and

our loss adjusters have appointed surveyors to carry out the work.’

‘Real Dunkirk spirit’

Mr Clode praised a ‘large working party’ of club members who turned out to clean up the

damage and added: ‘There

was tremendous response from the members, and about 50 rallied round on

the 24th, two days after the incident, to wash, clean, scrub and polish

all the smoke damaged items of crockery, cutlery, glassware and

silverware, which was a mammoth effort, but carried out in brilliant

sunshine outside. Real Dunkirk spirit.
 
‘So we opened again for

business on Saturday 26 April, somewhat shattered but with a great

deal of pride that we were able to get the club back on its feet in such

a short space of time after a most unfortunate event.’

Established

in 1919, the club is thought to be one of the oldest in the UK. It is situated

at the top of Chichester Harbour and has about 1,800 members.

The

revamped club was reopened last year following a £35,000 renovation.

A

joint investigation between Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and Hampshire

Constabulary will be carried out.

Pictures: The damage and clear up at Emsworth SC; the three Flag Officers, l to r, Commodore Chris Clode, Rear Commodore Sailing Mike Powell and Vice Commodore Brian Pickersgill, testing the beer before re-opening to make sure it’s still drinkable!