Pondworld Aquatics in Wisbech reopens one year after arson

Pondworld in Walton Highway reopens after a fire gutted the premises in 2009. Vanessa Hunt helps Billy Hunt (2) feed the fish. The big yellow Chagoi fish called Shane survived the fire and is happy now in his new home.

Pondworld in Walton Highway reopens after a fire gutted the premises in 2009. Vanessa Hunt helps Billy Hunt (2) feed the fish. The big yellow Chagoi fish called Shane survived the fire and is happy now in his new home.

Archant

OWNERS of a pet store destroyed by arsonists this week declared: We’re back in business.

They vowed to put the past behind them as they reopen this weekend after spending about £250,000 ­rebuilding the business.

Stephen Neccer and his partner Vanessa Hunt braved the raging fire at Pondworld Aquatics, in Wisbech, in an attempt to save their beloved reptiles and fish from death.

But nearly all the animals were killed as the fire, which spread from a wheelie bin, took hold and left the popular Lynn Road store gutted.

No-one has been prosecuted for the crime but Ms Hunt said: “We want to forget the past. Let’s move forward and look to the future.”

The owners offered a £5,000 reward for the conviction of those who burned down the 10m by 30m wooden shop in May last year.

Mr Neccer and his partner were woken in the middle of the night and raced to the scene to find the building well alight.

Mr Neccer beat back the flames to rescue a yellow chagoi fish called Shane, who is now Pondworld’s ­mascot of hope.

Yet the aquatics expert could only look on as his 20-year livelihood was burned to a cinder.

Ms Hunt said: “My partner had been in the business for years. It was his world and is all he has known. To see a grown man cry is something else.

“It was very, very sad. If it is just material things you have lost you can deal with it but these were living creatures.”

Pondworld now boasts state-of-the-art aquatic tanks and an open-plan shopping area.

Ms Hunt said: “We want the ­business to do well again and see the customers back.”

Resigned to the belief that no-one will be brought to justice for what happened, Ms Hunt said: “The only way we will forget the past is if the customers come back and are happy again.”


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Wisbech Standard. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Wisbech Standard