Restaurant boss is ‘overcome’ by Teries’ kindness

The generosity and community spirit of Teries was commended this week after a crowdfunding appeal to help a local family hit by disaster raised almost £3,000 in 24 hours.

Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 9:25 am
Updated Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 10:13 am

Thousands watched our online video on Sunday as a popular bistro and bed and breakfast partly collapsed into the raging waters of the Teviot, swollen to bursting with weekend rainfall.

Our photographer Bill McBurnie was there to take photos of the heavy river, and managed to capture the building’s collapse on video when he saw cracks appearing in the wall.

Many of our readers were shocked to see the building’s side wall fall into the river as Storm Ciara took its toll.

Gino Antonacci at Sonia's Bistro in Hawick.

But for owner Gino Antonacci, it was a shocking end to 30 years of serving the public in the town, in both Sonia’s Bistro and the adjoining bed and breakfast.

He said: “A man walking his dog saw the corner come away and came in to warn us, as did local councillor Stuart Marshall.

“There were also cracks inside, so we evacuated the building and no-one was in when it collapsed.

“It went down so quickly. It was an emotional moment after 30 years here.”

The corner of the building went early, and cracks began to show as the waters rose.

The wall took with it part of the kitchen, including the fridge freezer and some stored items, and also an upstairs bedroom.

Gino, who runs the bistro along with wife Sonia, said this week he was in contact with structural engineers, as well as his insurance company, but the building was now off limits.

He said: “It’s a real mess. The building has been condemned and blocked off by building control.”

No sooner had footage of the collapse been shared on social media, than a plan was put in motion to help the Antonaccis out.

The moment the wall crashed down.

At the Hawick Community Council meeting on Monday night, the success of that crowdfunding was revealed.

Braden George, who helps run the Project Hawick social media pages, said: “Following what happened at Sonia’s Bistro we have set up a JustGiving page. Our target was to raise £1,000 and we have managed to raise just under £3,000 in 24 hours.

“That’s all down to the townsfolk of Hawick.

“What happened yesterday has been recognised all over the world and been in papers and on the news across the country.

Sonia's Bistro in Hawick partly collapsed into the Teviot on Sunday as Storm Ciara took its toll.

“People all over the world have also donated to the page because of that.

“It shows the community spirit we have in Hawick and the way people have rallied around.

“The people of Hawick should be commended for that.”

Sunday’s flooding also caused problems further downstream as the town’s football pitch on Mansfield Road, which is often hit by flooding, was under water again.

Councillor Watson McAteer added: “That’s been a fantastic exercise and I would like to see that generosity extended to the Royal Albert, which was hit again by flooding.”

Mr George said they’d look at splitting the cash so the football club could also be supported.

This week, Gino thanked everyone who helped raise the money.

He said: “I’m overcome by the generosity shown by the people of Hawick, but there really is no need.

“It is an incredible gesture ... I’m amazed at the sense of community in this wonderful town.”