THE leader of a church has been left heartbroken after a shock fire caused thousands of pounds of damage and destroyed a community centre.

Andy and Jane Robb, who lead the Billericay Revival Church, have been left to sift through the destroyed Billericay Community Centre where they operate alongside the Billericay Street Pastors following the shocking fire.

The fire, which broke out in the High Street on Thursday, was extinguished quickly but caused thousands of pounds of damage and destroyed equipment used by the Street Pastors and church and has left the community centre unusable.

Mr Robb has called the impact “heart-breaking” but has praised the community for rallying around with support and has emphasised that he “remains full of hope.”

Echo: Fire engines in the town centre as they dealt with the blazeFire engines in the town centre as they dealt with the blaze (Image: William Smith)

He said: “It’s heartbreaking and we have no plan B really and at the moment our hearts are with the community.

“There is a lot more damage to the building than we realised and part of our church, a baby bank called Baby Basics has been totally decimated, everything has been destroyed.

“It has been running for two years and at the moment it hurts, yet we remain full of hope.

“We are not beaten, and people are pitching in, asking to let them help move and we do want to get back up and running soon.”

Phil Norton, leader of Billericay Street Pastors, said: “It’s just horrendous, it just couldn’t really be worse.

“We are sitting here trying to build back and we cannot do a thing until the authorities have investigated the cause of what happened and why.

“We are just trying to make ourselves available, we can’t operate, we have no heating or electricity and all we can do it try to keep each other motivated.”

Mr Norton added that the experience has been “hell” and the vast majority of groups impacted are charities looking to support the Billericay’s vulnerable.

Essex Fire is continuing to investigate the fire and is yet to reveal a cause of the blaze.