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Sheppey cliff collapse: Mother-of-five whose home has fallen off edge of cliff says family's life has been 'turned upside down'


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A mother-of-five whose house has fallen over the edge of a cliff says the family are "devastated by the loss of their home" and now need to "spend time trying to rebuild their lives".

In a statement made by Gemma Stanley on behalf of her neighbour Emma Tullett, who had to flee her home in Eastchurch on Friday night after the cliff underneath began collapsing, she says their "lives have been turned upside down".

Gemma Stanley makes a statement on behalf of neighbour Emma Tullett

The 42-year-old Co-op assistant manager said: "I now need to spend time with my children and family and would like some privacy at this time as I'm sure you can understand.

"We are all obviously devastated by the loss of our home.

"As you were aware, we left the property with just the clothes on our backs - my children didn't even have shoes on.

"Our lives have been turned upside down by the events of the weekend, events that no-one could have foreseen happening so quickly and on such a large scale. We are just grateful that we all escaped without harm.

"I would like to thank the entire community of Sheppey who have been so unbelievably supportive and have rallied round for us with offers of help."

The house in Surf Crescent, Eastchurch, has fallen off the cliff. Picture: RLH Media
The house in Surf Crescent, Eastchurch, has fallen off the cliff. Picture: RLH Media

Ms Tullett gave special thanks to Pat and Paul of PGK Motors for "their amazingly generous donation of a car", the emergency services including Sheppey coastguard for "their help in getting us all to safety" and "our little community of the Eastchurch Gap who have been amazing in our time of need".

She finished the statement by saying: "I would now like to ask for privacy and time to spend with my family to try to rebuild our lives."

On Sunday, Ms Tullett revealed how the family had just seconds to escape the Surf Crescent property, after she heard cracking sounds and the blinds fell down.

She said: "By the time I'd grabbed my phone I looked out the window and the wall by the front door had completely gone.

"When we got outside, there were bricks all over the place.

Emma Tullett lived in Cliffhanger House with four of her children and her partner
Emma Tullett lived in Cliffhanger House with four of her children and her partner

"My daughter phoned 999 and the fire brigade came and made sure everyone was out and evacuated some of the other houses too."

Ed Cane, whose home backs onto Ms Tullett's house - which ironically is called Cliffhanger - is worried his house could be next as it is just yards away from the drop.

The 67-year-old said Cliffhanger fell at about 3.30am this morning.

"I am worried for my house now," he said. "I keep hearing things and rumbles now, it's probably not, but I'm worried mine will go - especially tomorrow, Wednesday, as it's forecast to rain and it runs down this road like a river."

At about 2.15pm, another part of the cliff fell away, meaning the new edge is now even closer to Mr Cane's home.

Ed Cane's home backs onto Cliffhanger, which fell off the cliff at Eastchurch in the early hours
Ed Cane's home backs onto Cliffhanger, which fell off the cliff at Eastchurch in the early hours

"I'd say it's come a good four foot back, closer to my house."

When asked how the past few days had been for him, Mr Cane said: "Absolutely terrible."

"There's been loads of people here but you ask them a question and they can't answer."

"When I moved here, I expected the house would outlive me but, now, I don't know if it will and I'm too old to start over again," he added.

Julian Green has lived next door to Ms Tullett's Cliffhanger for two years.

Julian Green, 61, lives next door to Emma Tullett's home, which fell over the edge in the early hours
Julian Green, 61, lives next door to Emma Tullett's home, which fell over the edge in the early hours

"When we bought it, they said we probably had about 50 years here," he said.

"Now we're not allowed to live there until we get the go ahead that it's safe to do so - we don't know when that will be."

The 61-year-old retired HGV driver, added: "I am hopeful to go back in there. They can't find anything wrong with my place, there's no cracks in the garden, no cracks in the house, so it's stable. I'm one of the lucky ones."

However, Michael Jones, who lives in nearby Third Avenue, said he and fellow neighbours were worried nothing would be done to help prevent further landslides.

The 64-year-old said: "The worry is that if they don't do anything or put a barrier up, the natural water coming down the road will cause it to erode more."

Michael Jones, 64, lives in nearby Third Avenue, Eastchurch
Michael Jones, 64, lives in nearby Third Avenue, Eastchurch

"Cliffhanger has been here a long, long time and it had the best view on the Island," he added. "I'm sad to see it go.

"We're all worried about our houses now.

"I'm insured but if your house goes over the top, it's not covered. You can get your belongings back and contents but no insurance company on the planet will insure you for the rest."

Shortly before 6pm, Swale council said it was still supporting 15 people from four homes that had been affected by the cliff collapse.

A spokesman said: "They are in temporary accommodation while we work to arrange something closer to their properties.

Emma Tullett's family home fell off the cliff at Eastchurch after a landslide left it teetering on the edge
Emma Tullett's family home fell off the cliff at Eastchurch after a landslide left it teetering on the edge

"We have arranged supplies through the Kent Support and Assistance Service.

"We have commissioned a specialist technical survey to look at the stability of the cliff in the next few days and once we have this, we can make further decisions about the affected properties."

He added: "The site has been inspected throughout the day and we are satisfied the current safety cordon remains appropriate.

"People are being reminded to stay away from the area."

A local woman, Joyce Temple-Savage has also started a GoFundMe page for Ms Tullett's family, raising £685 so far.

Read more: All the latest news from Sheppey

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