Messages of support and donations pour in for former youth worker who lost everything when arsonists torched his houseboat

Peter Demkiw's boat moored at March

Peter Demkiw's boat moored at March - Credit: Archant

A former youth worker, who lost everything when arsonists torched his houseboat, has had extra donations and supportive messages since his story featured in the Cambs Times.

Peter Demkiw's boat

Peter Demkiw's boat - Credit: Archant

Peter Demkiw spent 15 years building his boat and named it Cicely Mary in memory of his mother who died when he was a teenager.

The boat was destroyed when arsonists torched the vessel while he was taking one of his three Jack Russell terriers to a vet in Yorkshire where he used to live.

A Go Fund me page is now up to £2,370 with a total of 64 donations after a stranger set up the page to help him rebuild his life.

Mr Demkiw, who travelled between March, Upwell and Benwick in his boat, said: “I’ve had a few extra donations, some nice messages. I’m not sleeping, I look 10 years older these days.

The boat belonging to Peter Demkiw that burnt out at Kings Dyke.

The boat belonging to Peter Demkiw that burnt out at Kings Dyke. - Credit: Archant


You may also want to watch:


“All my family photographs and worldly goods were on it. There was 25 years of car boots and charity shops collecting bits, from 70s motor bike jacket to a British Army issue fork dated at 1947, all my cups were old, I had one dated 1937. Everything on that boat was special.

“They (Middle Level) say I didn’t have permission to be on their water ways, that means they now have four excuses for taking the boat.

Most Read

“So no permission to be on their water, moored on a bank where mooring is prohibited, boat was in a dangerous place when sunk and I didn’t have my name and address painted in two inch letters in white on a black background the length of the boat so they were right to take boat.

“When I entered their water their lock keeper gave me a booklet ‘navigation notes’. I was not asked if I had permission or told I needed it, the booklet doesn’t say anything about mooring on Kings Dyke, and of course I didn’t have my name and address painted in big letters down the side of the boat.

The boat belonging to Peter Demkiw that burnt out at Kings Dyke.

The boat belonging to Peter Demkiw that burnt out at Kings Dyke. - Credit: Archant

“When the boat was sunk it was a danger but the evening of the fire the hull was safely afloat and moored.”

Middle Level Commissioners hoisted the shell of the burnt-out boat from the river at Kings Dyke and billed him £5,800 clearance charges.

“If they had given me another 24 hours I could’ve arranged for a friend to tow it away,” said Mr Demkiw.

Iain Smith, Middle Level chief executive, said the boat had to be removed as it was an obstruction that needed to be dealt with quickly.

He said: “We contacted the owner who said he was in Yorkshire and couldn’t do anything about it immediately so we had to remove it.

“I would ask him to please write in and our members will consider his case.”

Anyone with information should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

To help visit the Go Fund Me Peter’s Fire Fund page.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter