VIDEO: Finally hope for couple after river wall and lives collapse

A couple whose lives ‘collapsed’ along with the flood defences by their home may finally have hope thanks to the Arundel community.

Johnny and Belinda Boylan’s house in River Road boasts idyllic views of the River Arun but when the river wall protecting their home collapsed in January 2016, their lives were turned upside down.

The river wall collapse could be a very costly repair. Pictures: Kate Shemilt

The river wall collapse could be a very costly repair. Pictures: Kate Shemilt

However, determined Arundel resident Kim Parkes is spearheading an action group to raise money to repair the wall, which could cost up to £5.5million.

Johnny said: “Without any explanation it all collapsed one night and, along with it, our lives.

“We have been living on the edge of the river in Arundel for two years now with pretty much no help from anyone.

“We can’t do it, we can’t afford it. We don’t have a million pounds to repair this disaster.”

Kim Parkes (right) with Johnny and Belinda

Kim Parkes (right) with Johnny and Belinda

At the time the Environment Agency said repair work could range between £1.8million and £5.5million, offering the couple £200,000 towards the fix.

But now, after two years, experienced businesswoman Kim Parkes has rallied local residents to form the River Road Action Group.

The group will seek to raise funds to repair the flood defences and change Johnny and Belinda’s lives for the better.

Kim, chairman of the group, said: “It is my intention to drive this terrible situation to a conclusion for these poor residents.

“Two years have passed with no solution, leaving homes exposed to the elements of one of the fastest flowing tidal rivers in the country.

“Many avenues have been explored to no avail. Sadly, since the collapse of the river wall behind Johnny and Belinda’s property, Belinda has been diagnosed with motor neurone disease, another devastating blow to this couple.

“I could not sit back any longer. I will be forming a robust team of people to drive this challenge forward, seeking a solution and raising funds to fix it.

“It is a significant challenge but I am convinced it can be achieved.”

The group plans to launch a campaign called The Belinda Boylan Arundel Flood Defence Appeal.