Reminded of what's important

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 21/08/2014
Josh Robinson
JOSEPH JOHNSON/FAIRFAX NZ
STICKING TOGETHER: Josh Robinson and bride-to-be Shannon Watts console each other on their home’s doorstep.

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A Christchurch couple who lost almost everything in a house fire two weeks before their wedding say it has reminded them of what is important in life. 

Josh Robinson, 31, Shannon Watts, 29, and their four daughters aged 4 to 11, were left homeless after a blaze tore through their Mortlake St, Islington, rented home just before midnight on Monday.

Robinson said the fire had changed their outlook on life. 

They lost all their possessions, but the ''main thing'' was that everyone got out alive. 

''It's only stuff, it's only a house. We can make another home. The important things in my life are alright,'' Robinson said.

 ''We're getting married, we know that. Everything else, what will be will be.''

Watts and Robinson, who had no contents insurance, were yesterday overwhelmed by donations and offers of support.

Hornby High School had sourced a new uniform for eldest daughter Nellie-Jane, 11. 

South Hornby School, where the couple's 10-year-old twins Mia and Ella attend, had done the same and offered the family a fees break for the year. 

The primary school had received offers for donations of food, vouchers, clothing, blankets and temporary accommodation after posting a message about the family's predicament on its Facebook page.

''It's started an avalanche of goodwill. It's a testament to the power of social media,'' principal Simon Moriarty said.

Said Robinson: ''People are blowing us away''.

The fire started after the tumble drier either malfunctioned or overheated, sending flames shooting from the laundry, across a porch and into the house.

By the time the smoke alarm sounded, the fire was spreading to the bedrooms.

Relatives staying in the lounge raised the alarm before the family fled with only the clothes on their backs, a cellphone and a blanket as the fire spread.

The family left the city for a few months after the February 2011 earthquake and when they returned their insurance company would not renew their policy.

The couple was determined their Hokitika wedding ceremony would proceed early next month.

They had been together for nearly 13 years.

Their rings survived the blaze and Watts' wedding dress was at the dressmaker. 

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- The Press

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