A community has rallied round to donate hundreds of pounds to help a sea cadet group rebuild its base after it was destroyed by a fire.
Training Ship Venomous, the home of the Loughborough Sea Cadets, was gutted by a blaze on February 5.
Firefighters believe the blaze was started by an electrical fault in a fridge.
The sea cadets want to raise £250,000 to build a new base – and have made a promising start, with many donations coming in.
Commanding officer Lieutenant Kay Adey said: “We’re off, with about £1,200 so far in total. It’s excellent for the first week.
“We had the nice big donation from the market traders and a friend of a staff member donated £200 after a bingo win, which was amazingly generous.
“After the story was in the Mercury, I had another call from someone wanting to donate £100.
“The kids had been very upset by the fire but are now getting excited about fund-raising.
“We’re planning a sponsored swim in March and a bike ride to Skegness later in the year.”
The town’s market traders hold a football tote every week for charity and have donated £500.
Tony Simons, chairman of Loughborough Market Traders’ Association, said they were happy to help.
He said: “One of our traders, Roger Boon, used to be a sea cadet and as we raise money on the market each week, we decided to give some to help out.
“We have a football tote among the traders and half the money goes to the winner and the other half to a good cause.”
The total amount the sea cadets need to raise is going to be about a quarter of a million.
Rebuilding the old premises would cost £100,000 but the group has decided to attempt something bigger and better.
Lt Adey said: “We want the new building to have proper sleeping accommodation and a proper galley. We’re going to be expanding sideways, backwards and upwards and, having looked at it, we would like to spend about £250,000.
“The old building was insured but I don’t think we’ll get much from the insurance company – just the cost of replacing the concrete shell of the building.”
The cadets had their first meeting since the fire on Tuesday, using the Combined Cadet Force rooms at Loughborough Grammar School.
Once the remains of the gutted old building in Beeches Road is removed, local building company William Davis will be donating a temporary cabin, and is also offering to help build the new base when the fund-raising is complete.
Anyone who wishes to help the sea cadets can contact Lt Adey on 01509 268 904.