Owners of a small family-run business have vowed to rebuild after they were victims of a targeted arson attack.
Andrew Lamb, owner of MBARK Canal Cruises, has spoken of the heartbreak he felt when he received the call to say that his family’s livelihood was on fire in the canal of Burscough Wharf.
Andrew’s barge, called Alfie Bhoy, was moored at Burscough Wharf when it was deliberately set on fire, along with another barge in the early hours of Sunday, May 4.
He said: “I was fast asleep when I got the call. I was half hoping that it was a joke but when I saw the barge my heart just sank.”
David Phennah, 26, of Mab Lane, Liverpool, has now been charged with arson and one count of supply of cocaine.
Andrew, 45, said: “We are just devastated by this,. The boat was only six months old and business is really going well.
“Our barge does breakfast cruises, afternoon tea cruises, curry Tuesday cruises, hot pot cruises, alternative hen nights, birthdays and anniversaries.
“We have had to cancel 100 of our cruises and disappoint over 1,000 people. We made sure that we have rang everyone and tried to offer alternative dates, but we are disappointing people on their special days.
“I just don’t know why anyone would do this.”
Due to a banking error, Andrew’s barge was not covered by his insurance at the time of the attack, so he is paying for the refurbishment of the barge himself.
He said: “The fire didn’t breach the hull or get to the engine, but the whole of the interior needs to be replaced.
“The outpouring of support from the local community has been overwhelming; everyone has been great.
“With the work of a local joiner, window suppliers in Leeds, Aintree Boats and local painters who have all helped – we would like to thank them all.”
Andrew runs the barge business alongside his wife, Helen, 44. His daughters Jessica, 17, and Rebecca, 15, help out too.
Andrew added: “We are hoping to be relaunch on June 10 in time for my youngest daughter Melissa’s 10th birthday.”
If you have any information on this crime, please call the police on 101. Alternatively telephone Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111 or visit their website www.crimestoppers-uk.org