“All will concede that in order to have good neighbours, we must also be good neighbours. That applies in every field of human endeavour.” So said United States President Harry S. Truman.
Words that must ring true for Melanie and Jeremy Zanni. The couple who made headlines recently after their home, in Fartown, Glenamaddy, West Ireland burnt to the ground only to be restored three weeks later by volunteers from the local community.
The couple and their nine-year-old son were left homeless after a chimney fire destroyed their cottage. Jeremy was out in the garden feeding the chickens when he noticed smoke coming from the roof, he was able to alert his wife and son and get them to safety. “If it had happened two or three hours earlier, we would have been still fast asleep, we were lucky we could have died,” Jeremy told reporters. To add to their woes the cottage was not insured, because of the thatch on the roof, the couple were priced out of home insurance. So, with no prospect of a pay-out the future for the family was looking bleak.
That was until a local politician stepped in to help, Michael Fitzmaurice heard of their plight from a neighbour and drove up to see the house and the damage for himself. He met Melanie and Jeremy, their distress was obvious. He told them “We’ll put people together that will put your life back together again.” Michael was as good as his word and within hours he had assembled a team of locals to rebuild their home from scratch. The team included block layers, roofers and plasterers, who all gave their time freely to help the family.
Melanie and Jeremy, emigrated to Ireland from France over 10 years ago. The couple settled into village life and became an important part of the community baking for the local restaurants. They were overwhelmed by the support they received, “the neighbours are not just neighbours – they’re superheroes” said Jeremy “It restored my faith in humanity.” The family are now planning to throw a huge party at their restored home to thank everyone for the kindness they have shown.
We often hear that community spirit has almost vanished from modern society so how heart-warming to hear this story of community kindness, one that I am sure we’ll want to share with our own neighbours!