A RADIO station attacked by an arsonist will be back to normal just three weeks after it was gutted by fire, thanks to a huge community effort.

Gateway 97.8FM, based in the Eastgate Centre Galleries, said other stations across the country would have struggled to cope with the turmoil and may have had to stop broadcasting.

An arsonist broke into the Eastgate Centre and set the studio on fire on Wednesday, February 5, at about 11.30pm.

Gateway bosses have been overwhelmed with the response, including help from passers-by and someone who had once been excluded from school.

Yvonne Williams, station managing director, said: “What’s happened has been remarkable. A lady walked by and when she heard what happened, she just started helping to clear things.

“A lad who had been on a training course with us years ago turned up and said ‘When I was excluded from education, you took me in and it’s payback time’.

“When you get results like that, it tells you you mean something to people. It’s very encouraging”

The community radio station is counting the cost of the blaze, which destroyed five mixing desks, a CD player and telephone unit worth thousands of pounds, as well as carpets and walls.

It continued to broadcast by moving temporarily into a second studio and the Eastgate Centre donated a room to hold equipment.

Volunteers have worked tirelessly to clear the burnt out studio.

Decorators have painted the walls, carpets have been relaid and the main studio should hopefully be up and running next week.

Ms Williams added: “I am still checking item by item to get a final cost, but it costs an uncomfortable amount.

“Hopefullywe can rebuild with confidence.”

A 26-year-old man has been charged with arson.