NEWS: Fire engine robbed whilst tackling Dulwich Road house explosion

By Erdington Local editorial team

Heartless thieves stole lifesaving equipment from a fire engine as its crew battled the blaze caused by the recent gas explosion in Kingstanding.

Grandmother Doreen Rees-Bibb died during the blast at the house on Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, on Sunday, 26 June, which left another man fighting for his life in hospital and destroyed or damaged six houses.

West Midlands Police revealed today whilst heroic residents and fire crews tried to save lives, someone prised open a cabinet on a fire engine at the scene and helped themselves to vital safety equipment.

A pump, cutters, a hose, and bolt croppers were taken from the fire engine and detectives are combing through footage from the area to identify the offenders.

Chief Inspector Kelly Monaghan said: “This is a despicable act during a serious incident when other members of the public were acting so heroically and selflessly.

“The items stolen are essential for firefighters to act quickly and save lives when it matters most, just like we saw in Kingstanding on Sunday.”

She added: “A side shutter was prised open and a pump, cutters, a hose and bolt croppers were taken. We’re already looking at footage from the area to identify the offenders.

“If anyone has any information please contact us via Live Chat on our website quoting 20/591089/22 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

The outpouring of support for families affected by the blaze was praised by the police, fire service, and Birmingham City Council.

Kind-hearted residents swamped the Kingstanding Inn, Second City Suite, and The Beggars Bush with donations of clothing, essentials and food for the families made homeless due to the blast, which was “most likely” caused by faulty pipework in the property.

A GoFundMe campaign was also set up by Kingstanding resident Sam Wellings, who lives on Birdbrook Road. At the time of writing over £2,500 had been raised in donations.

A vigil was also help one week after the fatal explosion, to remember Doreen Rees-Bibb and show support for those affected.

If you have any information regarding the theft from the fire engine, please contact West Midlands Police via Live Chat at: www.west-midlands.police.uk/contact-us/live-chat quoting 20/591089/22

Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111

For more on the GoFundMe ‘Kingstanding house explosion’ campaign visit: www.gofundme.com/f/kingstanding-house-explosion

NEWS: Dulwich Road house explosion “most likely” caused by faulty pipework

By Erdington Local editorial team

The gas explosion which destroyed a house in Kingstanding and damaged six other properties, leaving a grandmother dead and a man fighting for his life in hospital, was “most likely” caused by faulty pipework West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) have stated.

West Midlands Fire Service came to the conclusion after four days investigating the cause of the devastating explosion on Dulwich Road on Sunday 26 June.

A WMFS spokesman said: “We would like to take this opportunity to again extend our sympathies to everyone affected by Sunday night’s events in which, tragically, a woman lost her life.

“The man who was rescued remains in a critical but stable condition in hospital.”

The spokesman added: “Extensive investigations at the scene of the explosion are now complete.

“Demolition work on Tuesday enabled investigators to safely access and test sections of the property’s internal gas piping.

“They have concluded that the explosion was most likely caused by the accidental and inadvertent ignition of a large escape of gas from a joint in the pipework.”

West Midlands Police officers are also gathering evidence for HM Coroner and family liaison officers continue to support those most directly affected.

The Health and Safety Executive will continue to make enquiries as to whether any work-related activities contributed towards the incident.

The WMFS spokesman added: “We are extremely grateful to the families involved, and to the local community, for their understanding and patience throughout the initial emergency response and the subsequent investigation.

“The community has been fantastic in the aftermath of this tragedy, offering support and shelter to those affected, and we would like to thank everyone involved in that effort.”

The Kingstanding Inn has stopped accepting donations of items for those affected by the blast after being deluged by people bringing clothes and food.

Kingstanding Councillor Rick Payne said: “On behalf of those who have done a stellar job of collecting items for the Dulwich Road relief I just want to make everybody aware they there has been an overwhelming response.

“Thank you everyone that has donated for your generosity, The Kingstanding Inn has been absolutely inundated and has asked me to inform residents that they are no longer taking any donations.

“There was a massive surplus and as a result, following a meeting of the charities who have been working within the community over the past few days, a decision has been made to donate the surplus items to local schools and charities.”

A GoFundMe campaign was also set up by Kingstanding resident Sam Wellings, who lives on Birdbrook Road. At the time of writing £2,365 had been raised in donations.

For more on the GoFundMe ‘Kingstanding house explosion’ campaign visit: www.gofundme.com/f/kingstanding-house-explosion

NEWS: Community vigil to be held one week after Dulwich Road house explosion

By Erdington Local editorial team

A vigil is being held on Dulwich Road on Sunday 3 July, marking a week after the tragic gas explosion.

At 7pm the community will come together to mark the moment the blast ripped through the Kingstanding home, killing Doreen Rees-Bibb and seriously injuring a man who remains in hospital.

Several people were made also homeless from the incident, and the Kingstanding community rallied round this week by raising money, giving donations, and offering support.

Sunday’s 7pm vigil will be to remember Doreen, age 79, who was killed in the blast, and to show solidarity for the man still fighting for his life. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Kingstanding resident Cassie Harker said:  “Everyone is going at 7pm we are all lighting the candles at the time the explosion happened.

“I’m looking forward to seeing everyone represent our community and come together as one.”

There has been a massive outpouring of grief for “fun-loving grandmother” Doreen, who died at the scene.

Her daughter Karen led the tributes to her mother saying: “We are so devastated that me and my sister have loss our mother Doreen in a fire, it’s the most terrible way to die. We miss her so much.”

Doreen was a popular figure around Erdington and Kingstanding and friends who remember her enjoying nights in The Acorn and the former HQ, now the Pheasant Plucker, on High Street, flooded social media with fond memories.

Former karaoke DJ at HQ Gary Neale said: “She was my friend, and a lovely lady.”

Several people who she had helped in the past by giving sage advice and support also mourned her loss.

Maureen Harwood said: “I’m so sorry, she was such a good friend to me, and helped me.”

Alex Stanley said: “I can’t believe it is true, Doreen was such an angel, I am absolutely heartbroken. She was always asking about me, telling me to get out of Birmingham saying “Alex you are better than this place”. RIP and party hard up there.”

Eight families were forced out of their damaged houses and there have been several fundraising drives to help them, with the Kingstanding Inn, Second City Bar and Lounge, and the Beggars Bush all accepting donations.

Kingstanding resident Sam Wellings, Birdbrook Road, also set up a Go Fund Me which has so far received over £2000 in donations.

Rachael Pike-Franklin said last night (Tuesday):  “We are working alongside some of the families in our community at the Kingstanding Inn the clothes donations have been phenomenal and we are truly grateful for everyone who has been a part of collecting and donating .

“For now we have been asked to not accept anymore clothes donations but are looking for fresh food products to help feed the families in our community at this tragic time.”

Investigations into the cause of the explosion are still ongoing. However, gas suppliers Cadent have confirmed their role in the investigation is over.

Elliott Nelson, Cadent network director for the West Midlands said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of those impacted and everyone in this close-knit community.

“Since the incident, our engineers have been on site working with the emergency services.

“Following a thorough investigation, we can confirm that the gas mains and service pipes in the area are sound and were not the cause of the incident in Kingstanding. The matter now lies with other agencies for further investigation.”

A for sale advert for the house posted two months ago included information about the boiler, which “needed replacing”.

West Midlands Fire Service investigators remain at the scene trying to find the exact cause of the explosion.

In a recent public update, WMFS told: “Wed 29 June, it is likely that demolition work will be needed at the scene, following which the next stage of investigations can be planned.”

For more on the GoFundMe ‘Kingstanding house explosion’ campaign visit: www.gofundme.com/f/kingstanding-house-explosion

NEWS: ‘Bravery and generosity’ – Kingstanding community rally round to support victims of Dulwich Road explosion

Words by Erdington Local editorial team – pics from West Midlands Fire Service

The bravery and generosity of the Kingstanding community has shone through following the tragic house explosion last night.

In the minutes after the blast, 15 local residents tried to save those trapped in the rubble of the burning Dulwich Road house.

And within hours, donations for the families in the houses destroyed or damaged began pouring in and a JustGiving page fundraising page started.

One woman died during the gas explosion; she is believed to be a pensioner who lived in the destroyed house. A man is being treated in Queen Elizabeth Hospital for serious injuries and another four people were treated for minor injuries at the scene.

One house was totally destroyed, three were seriously damaged, and several cars were hit by flying debris. West Midlands Fire Service confirmed 21 people were evacuated from their homes, some stayed with family members and others were found emergency accommodation.

Several people were taken to the Kingstanding Inn, Warren Farm Road.

Kathy, the landlady, said: “After the tragic events of last night, we want the community to know we are happy to help.

“We currently have TCI with us which is a local community charity, and have housed those in need overnight.

“Should anyone need clothing, food, or just somewhere safe to chat, please pop in anytime. One thing this has shown is how our community can pull together.”

Young father Callum Attwood raced into the home to save a stricken resident, but after being praised as a hero by the national media wanted to set the record straight this afternoon.

He said: “I don’t want no credit for any of this there was another 10-15 lads in the garden helping and doing much more. I don’t want no credit for this.”

However, despite his modesty Callum and his fellow rescuers have been hailed heroes by thousands of people of social media.

Kiara Parkinson said: “People can say what they like about Kingstanding but when it comes to it we’re some bloody good people, Callum Attwood and anybody else who put themselves at risk running into a house that’s literally burning to help others in these horrific circumstances should be so proud of themselves.”

Kingstanding resident Sam Wellings, who lives on Birdbrook Road, set up a Go Fund Me page to help the ‘immediate victims of the Kingstanding house explosion.’ At the time of writing the page had received nearly £800 in donations.

He said: “Such an unpredicted accident which will leave many temporarily homeless.

“The money will be donated directly to the immediate victims to cover costs of temporary accommodation, clothing, food and anything else needed in such a tragic time.

“I don’t personally know those affected by the tragedy but as a resident of Kingstanding also I feel the community can support those affected.

Two young girls have been left “with just the clothes on their back” and Claire Deleon is also collecting donations for those in need and has already organised a charity night at Second City, Kingstanding Circle.

She said: “We are doing a collection of anything you have or can donate food, baby supplies, blankets, anything you can think of that can help the family’s out effected from the fire.

“Come on people let’s all pull together as a community, anybody can drop stuff into Second City and just let a member of staff know it’s for the collection, we will also be doing a charity day/night Friday with a live singer, there will be a collection pot, football cards etc on the day and night so please come and join us.”

The club are also donating 50p of every drink sold on Friday 1 July to help support that affected by the blast.

For more on Second City Sports Bar and Lounge visit www.facebook.com/secondcitybar.lounge

For more on the GoFundMe ‘Kingstanding house explosion’ campaign visit: www.gofundme.com/f/kingstanding-house-explosion

NEWS: “I’m scared. I want to stay alive.” A race against time for Kingstanding mother kidney transplant

Words by Adam Smith / Pics supplied by Becky Roberts & family

A Kingstanding mother-of-three is in a desperate race against time as without a kidney transplant she has just two years to live.

Several potential donors have come forward but due to coronavirus the NHS is not testing people, creating “a death sentence” for Becky Roberts.

Without a Caribbean heritage donor Becky will not survive Anti-GBM Disease – a rare disorder where the immune system mistakenly attack vital organs.

Becky told Erdington Local: “I’m scared. I want to stay alive. It has been a nightmare whirlwind; I went into hospital on Christmas Eve in 2018 and was misdiagnosed with food poisoning.

“If I had not have gone back a few days later I would have died the next day because my kidneys were operating at 1%. I spent the next four months in hospital which turned my life upside down.

“I’ve got a one in a million rare disease which doctors say they only see once every ten years.”

She added: “I was told I had five years to live and that was three years ago, so I have two years left. Going private is now my only option because the NHS are not testing live donors due to the pandemic.”

Becky has haemodialysis three-time-a-week, four-hours per day, at the Castle Vale Dialysis Unit, and five of her family have offered to be tested to donate a kidney.

Daughter Aliyah launched a GoFundMe campaign last month which has already raised near to £100than £8,000 as well as several transplant volunteers.

Click here to visit the ‘Help Save Becky’s Life’ GoFundMe campaign page.

The former Great Barr School pupil said: “I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone, I’ve had people I’ve not seen since school get in touch and donate money. I’ve even had people offer to donate kidneys.

“People are so kind; I need every penny I can get to stay alive. We need to raise £86,000 so I can see my children grow up.”

Becky’s daughter Aliyah added: “She has endured more than anybody should, experiencing chemotherapy treatment to help with the disease, losing her hair, and enduring countless operations over the past two years.”

For more click here or search ‘Help Save Becky’s Life’ on www.gofundme.com 

NEWS: Police ‘need answers’ as community mourns tragic death of Erdington teenager in hit-and-

Words by Adam Smith

The tragic death of an Erdington teenager after a hit-and-run accident has sparked a massive outpouring of grief this week.

Liam Mooney died on Tuesday and within 24 hours more than 150 people raised £3,500 for his devastated family and countless tributes were posted on social media sites by teenagers upset by the tragedy.

Liam suffered head injuries when the moped he was a passenger on was hit by a silver car on Monday night at 7.20pm on Rocky Lane, Perry Barr. West Midlands Police, who confirmed Liam was from Erdington, are searching for the driver who left the scene after the collision.

Liam’s family paid tribute to the 16-year-old, who was a familiar face on the Topcroft estate, in a statement, they said: “Liam was a bit of a joker and had a brilliant sense of humour.

“He was also so caring at times. He had not long became a uncle and loved his niece so much. We are so heartbroken and never thought this would happen to us.”

They added: “Liam was not just loved by his mom, dad, sisters and brothers but his nans, grandads, aunties, uncles and cousins. He will be sadly missed by everyone.

“Fly high our beautiful little angel. We love you so much, sleep tight. We will all be together again one day.”

Liam Llewellyn, from youth outreach charity Urban Devotion, worked with Liam and his friends on the Topcroft estate for six years.

Liam told Erdington Local: “Liam was a big character and his loss will create a big hole which will not be filled.

“He was a full of fun and the life of the party, he was always happy to see us and we loved him for the way he was. He was very faithful to his friends and they will be hurting now. ”

Liam, aged 31, added: “As an organisation we have known him and his family for ten years, our motto is ‘Community Transformation – One Life at a Time’ and getting someone like Liam onside is what we are all about because he was so well known in the area.

“It is no surprise to see so many young people speak out about what a great person he was.”

Family friend Chelsea Kelly launched a GoFundMe page called Liam’s Funeral Fund on Wednesday which raised £3,500 in 24 hours.

She said: “Sadly we lost Liam to a tragic bike accident, he’s leaving behind his mom, dad, brothers and sisters and so many friends that will forever miss him

“Liam, also known as ‘Dennis the Menace’ touched every single heart of every person that ever met him, he was the most polite, pure hearted young boy you could ever meet and anyone that did have the pleasure to meet him is truly blessed.”

Frances Carey praised Liam’s kind nature, she said: “Such a wonderful boy who looked after my grandson who had just moved into the area.”

Detective Inspector Adam Jobson appealed for information about the driver who rammed the moped Liam was a passenger on.

He said: “Liam was a teenager and should have had his life in front him.

“This is a devastating time for his family and they need answers about what happened on Monday night.

“We really need to speak to the car driver so they can tell us what went on and help us piece together the full circumstances. It’s imperative we hear their side of the story.”

A police spokesman said: “If you were in the area at the time and saw what happened, or perhaps have dash-cam or cycle-cam footage, we’re keen to hear from you and would urge you to get in touch.

“You can send us a message via live chat at www.west-midlands.police.uk 8am – midnight or call 101 anytime. To remain 100% anonymous please call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

“Tell them what you know, not who you are. Please quote log number 3771 of 22/03/21.”

To donate to Liam’s Funeral Fund on the GoFund me platform visit www.gofundme.com/f/xhb7d-liams-funeral-fund