'It's been amazing to see the troops rally around me' says house fire victim Nigel
- Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND
An army veteran, who himself has helped former soldiers and prisoners to rebuild their lives, has been left overwhelmed by the community support he has received after a fire at his home.
When Nigel Seaman, a winner of a 2019 Stars of Suffolk Award, left the Ipswich bungalow he shares with his daughter on the morning of Monday, May 17, he brushed against the cooker, turning it on without realising.
At around 1.30pm he was called home by firefighters to the news his kitchen had been completely destroyed and the rest of the building smoke logged.
In September Mr Seaman, who as well as serving in the army, has worked as a fireman at Princes Street, in Ipswich, and as a prison officer, underwent an operation to remove the lower part of one leg.
His bungalow had been specially adapted for disabled use.
He said: "I have to say I have never been on this end of a fire as a victim before and I am quite nervous to go back there because all I can think when I go inside is how lucky I am and how bad it could have been.
"Bear in mind I am now an amputee from service and if I had been laying in my bed alone when it had happened it would have gripped me and panic would have set in."
On hearing it had been so badly damaged in the blaze, and discovering Mr Seaman was not covered by insurance, a friend decided to start a fundraiser with the intention of doing a 'DIY SOS' project to get the home back to a liveable condition.
The Go Fund Me appeal has now raised more than £2,000 and the veteran has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support.
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"I thought I had home insurance but it was cancelled last year and I never checked so I don't actually have any and now it's all gone a bit pear shaped," admitted Mr Seaman.
"I am all OK and that's all that matters and it's been amazing to see the troops rally around me."
Mr Seaman, who suffers with PTSD following his time in the army, has overcome struggles with anger management and a gambling addition, and now works to help others facing similar battles.
He established the Combat2Coffee charity two years ago and uses his experience to transform the lives of traumatised veterans, prisoners in Hollesley Bay and countless others in need of help.
Despite giving back so much to others, Mr Seaman was reluctant to accept any help at first and didn't want to make it about himself.
For him, it was business as usual when he was out at Chantry Library opening up the community coffee shop this week, because he didn't want to let anyone down.
Click here to donate to the fundraiser.