A Ballymena couple says they are "heartbroken" after a fire tore through a storage unit at the their home with devastating impact to the business that have put everything into.
Mutleys Inflatables which started as a family run business 31 years ago, was taken over Patrick and Jenny Quinn in 2017. "We took a gamble and put everything we had and purchased the business from the previous owners," the couple told Love Ballymena.
"Mutleys has always been a very well known company and has a good customer base. We have supplied to many fun days for schools, communities, and festivals, as well as homes around Ballymena and even further afield.
The shed with stock neatly stored before the blaze.
"We worked long hours to maintain the equipment and fulfil bookings. There's a lot of work that goes on in the background that people don't see, from taking the initial booking, organising the deliveries, setting the equipment up, cleaning and testing equipment etc and we did this alongside raising our children; it's long hours and a lot of hard work but it was our business and we have great pride in it and what we achieved".
The couple added:
"Our customers are more than just customers - we have returned to many houses over and over again and we have always love seeing the kids so excited with the inflatable that they would have hours of fun on during the hire".
Patrick and Jenny just recently purchased new stock to replace older stock and invested in having all the inflatables PIPA safety tested to renew the certificates ready for the busy summer season kicking off.
The devastation following the blaze.
However earlier this week a blaze broke out on Tuesday evening (23 May) in the storage unit where all the business stock was stored. It quickly took hold and despite the best efforts from a number of fire service crews, the unit was ravaged and stock destroyed.
"The fire crews did their best, but it was just too late," said Patrick. " Our world has been turned upside down.
"Almost all of our inflatables except for a couple of items were lost - extension leads, blowers, safety mats, forklift, tools, a van and so much more was lost as well as the storage unit itself.
"The devastation we have suffered is heartbreaking, this was our livelihood, it put food on the table and a roof over our heads. That feeling of having your world collapse around you is a feeling we would never want anyone to experience. It is utter devastation."
"Our hearts are broken but we've had to go on making calls to customers to explain the situation and try to save any bookings we can with the few things we have left.
"We are working at trying to get some more stock as quickly as possible to try and keep going but it all comes at a cost. We are going through all of this as well as trying cover our bills and take care of our children. We want to push to keep the business going.
"The messages of support from customers as well as the support we've had from family and friends has been invaluable and we are so grateful for it".
Pictured above are Patrick and Jenny Quinn.
As news of the devastating blaze emerged, two Ballymena women decided to set up an online fundraising page in a bid to help support Patrick and Jenny at this very challenging time. So far £1,000 has been raised.
Hannah Craig and Donna Letters appealed to the local community for support. They said:
"This is a family run business and the owners are two of the most genuine, helpful and thoughtful people we know.
"A few of us have decided to get together to see if we can raise any money to help this family out in anyway. This was their livelihood and if any of you have used them before, you'll know they go above and beyond for their costumers.
"We know this is a hard time for everyone at the minute, but we would appreciate anything at all to help Patrick and Jenny".
If you would like to make a donation, you can visit the JustGiving page by clicking HERE.