Col Maloney was left in tears of despair when his business literally went up in smoke.
The van suffered an electrical fault and was severely damaged by the blaze it caused.
But Col’s tears turned to joy when folk rallied round to help – leaving him stunned.
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Col explained: “Earlier this year I gave up my job in a call centre and scraped together some money, sold a couple of bikes, and bought a catering van.
“I got myself a really good pitch by the tank in Leyland. I got myself a really good reputation.”
Col, who started the business just five years ago, was heartbroken when he discovered the fire.
“It was an electrical fire in the van,” he said. “I’m just in the throes of cleaning it down and getting it back.
“I was gutted, head in my hands, tears. I’ve put my whole life into this van, it’s everything. I couldn’t even afford the insurance at the beginning.”
Col said his heart has been warmed by the response from people who have come forward to help him.
“The amount of people that are offering help, coming out for assistance . . .
“The majority of them are bikers. I’m just blessed by the power of people at this time of year, getting me back on my feet.”
Originally from Bolton, Col, 48, lives with his wife Miriam and son Larry, four, off Slater Lane, Leyland.
He launched an online ‘gofundmeappeal’ with a £1,000 goal, saying: ‘After checking some of the appliances and costing up for replacements and other materials it quickly mounts up. I can cover some costs and some amazing friends are providing materials and labour’. In just three days more than 40 people had pledged over £500.
He said the fire on the run up to Christmas had come at a very bad time. “It’s been very. very hard, we’ve had to make some hard choices this year and cutting back and saving where we can for little items,” he said.
Col, who hopes the van will be and running by the end of January, said: “I feel I’m letting my customers down. I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has rallied round.”