05:00AM, Wednesday 01 August 2012
As the first anniversary of the UK riots draws closer a musician who lost everything has talked about rebuilding her life in Windsor.
Wednesday, August 8, marks a year since Carla Rees came back to her Croydon flat to find a burning ash-covered site where yobs had torched her home.
All that remained was a back wall and in the rubble the key work of a flute and a triangle lay, while her two beloved cats had perished.
The alto and bass flautist, who moved to Clewer in Mill Lane in October, said: "It has been really hard as I had everything taken from me.
"I don't know how I have managed to get my life together, and without help from people in the community, family and friends, I am not sure where I would be.
"I used to be the person that played the flute well, but now I am the person that had their flat burnt down in the riots."
The 35-year-old says she has felt 'forgotten' and 'abandoned' by the authorities and still has not received a penny via the Riot Damages Act 1886, which compensates victims.
She said: "There has been no-one there to help, to tell where to go next and what to do, and I have had to do everything myself and have had nothing.
"I have had zero help from the authorities and realised I had to do it on my own."
She says the experience has changed her outlook on life and made her realise all you need is the basics, and she gained strength from the freedom of having nothing or nowhere to go.
Her contents were valued at £140,000 and Carla is finally set to receive an £85,000 insurance pay-out in the coming days - the maximum her policy would cover.
Among items destroyed were an irreplaceable flute collection and 650 pieces of unpublished music, including 25 to 30 of her own musical scores.
She has been told that her former Croydon flat, which she still pays the £300 mortgage on, will be rebuilt by 2014.
But the Royal Holloway University music teacher has no plans to move back because of the painful memories, and has found solace in Windsor.
"I love it here and it has given me everything I need," she said.
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