TURNING the key in the door of her beloved family home, Tracy Poskett takes a deep breath and steps inside.

“If ever a house was picked by a family it was this one.

“Since the fire it is very hard even going inside, ten minutes at a time is all I can usually bare,” she said.

On September 14, last year Mrs Poskett was in hospital to discuss her treatment for cancer when she got a phone call to say a fire had started at her family home of 13 years.

The blaze, which police and firefighters believe to have been arson, gutted the house she and husband Craig had raised their three children in.

Youngest son Reed, 17, was home at Park Parade, in Spennymoor, at the time but managed to escape uninjured.

Overwhelmed by her bad luck she put off treatment for stage one bowel cancer but says she is now ready to face up to surgery.

The 50-year-old said: “I’ve had low points when it has all got too much, even thought I’d be worth more dead but I will get the treatment as I know I need to get on, this year has to better.”

The property was not insured which has made the clean-up and refurbishment particularly difficult but Mrs Poskett is also determined to move back in by the end of the year.

She said the kindness of people in Spennymoor has kept her spirits up enough to believe it is possible.

She said: “Some lovely people, often complete strangers, have been amazing and won’t how much their help has meant.”

“I wish I’d kept in contact with them all but I wasn’t thinking straight.

“A lady came with new duvets because she didn’t think I’d want second hand, people who knocked on the door to give us clothes and the friends who have kicked my backside and told me to keep going.

“This year needs to be the year things change, if I get back in that house I want a party to thank those that helped.”

She and Reed, who studies bricklaying at Bishop Auckland College, are living in a rented house which owner Liam Huntrods took off the market to give them time to recover. Eldest son Ben and nephew Michael have helped clean the house and other support has included property firm Concept 16 which will help with the bathroom renovation, Ferrydec which donated paint and Lisa Partington who helped them move into their current home.

Unfortunately not everyone has been so kind. Last month, angel ornaments and lights were stolen from a memorial garden for Ben’s son Freddie who died as a baby.

She said: “There have been some people who made promises then disappeared and I was devastated to see what they did to the garden, it meant a lot to me and the other grandkids.”I’m trying not to dwell on that, we’re alive and it is our family home so we have to return.”

Detectives interviewed a man in connection with the arson but discounted him from their enquiries. The investigation remains open.