Officers and members of St Ives Salvation Army were delighted to welcome local people to their newly-rebuilt hall, nearly two years after it was almost destroyed by fire.

Salvation Army Helen Loxley
Lieutenant Helen Loxley at the re-opening of the Salvation Army hall. Photograph: St Ives Local

It was in December 2020 that the blaze from a neighbouring building caused the roof of the hall in Wharf Road to collapse. No one was in the hall at the time, but all the food and toys collected for local children by the Salvation Army’s Christmas Appeal were destroyed, either by fire, or by the water used to douse the flames.

Lieutenant Helen Loxley said: “It was a difficult time, because it was the time of Covid, and when this happened, we thought: ‘What are we going to do?’’ But we started a new appeal, and in 24 hours, we had doubled what we had lost — and we ended up with triple the amount!”

Helen was posted to St Ives with her husband Nathan — also a Salvation Army officer — in 2018. “It’s been full on!” she said. “As well as the pandemic and the fire, we’ve had our third child. Now, after four years, we feel we know the community. There are some great people here.”

Captain Penny Sullivan, who was stationed at St Ives from 2004 to 2008 before moving on to Plymouth said: “The response from the community after the fire was amazing“. Penny has now retired to her home town of Hayle, but continues to play an active part in the Salvation Army’s work in the local cluster which covers St Ives, Hayle, Penzance and Redruth.

As Helen explains: “The Salvation Army is a church, but it is also does a lot of community work — things like parent and toddler and youth groups. Our hall is also used by other community groups and for events like craft fairs.”

On the day of the hall’s re-opening, there were activities for children, craft demonstrations, and lots of cake, so everyone could join in the celebrations.