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Primrose Hill community rally to fundraise to help fire victim Catherine rebuild

PUBLISHED: 19:00 29 May 2019

Firefighters tackle the Primrose Hill fire in St Edmund's Close. Picture: Jonny Bucknell

Firefighters tackle the Primrose Hill fire in St Edmund's Close. Picture: Jonny Bucknell

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A well-known Primrose Hill community figure said she was "touched" to see a fundraiser launched after a fire saw her home destroyed.

Catherine Usiskin, who has lost her home after a terrifiying fire in Primrose Hill. Picture: Catherine UsiskinCatherine Usiskin, who has lost her home after a terrifiying fire in Primrose Hill. Picture: Catherine Usiskin

Catherine Usiskin, who has lived in St Edmund's Close for more than four decades, fled the blaze on May 21.

Catherine is well-recognised in Primrose Hill for her animals - she has always kept dogs which were often visible on the terrace of her flat.

Catherine, 67, told the Ham&High: "It's been amazing. I have had so much love sent to me. Even when I was on the street with the firefighters still inside people were coming up to me and offering help."

Catherine, who is currently relying on the generosity of friends for a place to stay, is hoping she is able to find a dog-friendly property to rent in the St John's Wood or Primrose Hill areas to see her through the next few months.

"I just need somewhere in the area with its own parking and where I can have my two dogs and my rabbit," she said.

The fire gutted the flat below Catherine's too, and caused damage to a third. She told this newspaper that she'd be looking to share any fundraising proceeds with the other residents affected.

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She said: "I was lucky enough to have insurance - although of course it doesn't cover everythng -but the woman below me, she's not insured and we need to help each other."

Catherine who said she had lost decades' worth of collected books, valuables and memories, spoke of her horror as the fire ripped through her block, threatening her beloved animals.

She said: "I've got two dogs and a rabbit. I was just hysterical. The firefighters were incredible but they couldn't find my poor rabbit to begin with, thankfully they eventually found her hiding.

"The one thing that I can't bear is that my bird, my budgie, died. It upsets me so much."

Friend Jo Lynn started the crowdfunder which can be found at gf.me/u/s4h494.

Jo said: "Catherine is a Primrose Hill personality and a fully paid-up member of the community. I was deeply moved at the thought of losing absolutely everything in a single moment.

"Usually it is something that happens to people we read about in the news, not to someone we know.

"It is so important for a community to come together to help our friends and neighbours over something like this. What if it were you?"

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