A FUNDRAISING page to help a small Whitchurch business devastated by fire earlier this month has smashed its target.

John Ruffell Fitness was one of the businesses opposite the petrol station on Church Street that was damaged by fire on July 1; the business had only just opened again in the May this year, having refurbished an old garage.

The organiser of the JustGiving page, Peter McLeod, said: “The response has been phenomenal.

"They busted their backs getting the old garage ready, before the building was damaged by the fire. No small business should have to go through this, so as a friend of the business, I’m trying to help out in any way I can.”

After meeting the original £500 target within the first 24 hours, they soon raised the goal to £1,000, which was then exceeded the next day.

Following the response from the community, Peter now wants to make the fundraising target bigger, going up to £1,500.

Peter added: “We had an incredible response in the first few days, with the money raised being hit within 24 hours and then doubled within another 24 hours.

"The money then started to tail off and we really want to help a local business that has been having a tough time of it.”

The fire happened when a van caught fire opposite the street from the petrol station in Church Street.

A local firefighter happened to be inside the petrol station when he noticed the van ablaze on the other side of the street and sounded the alarm.

Around 30 firefighters from stations in Whitchurch, Overton, Sutton Scotney, Winchester, and Basingstoke attended the incident.

No one was injured but the businesses that were in the buildings next to the van which was aflame were damaged by the fire and the van was completely consumed by the blaze. In addition to the fitness studio, the building was shared by a car workshop and a garden centre.

Peter added: “So far, they have taken it on the chin, but the hard months are still to come and they will be need to move out of their new premises for about a year before they can return. Any more we can raise will be fantastic.”

To donate to help the business,go to justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jrf-fund.