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Teign School sweethearts and toddler killed in house fire tragedy

By Herald Express  |  Posted: April 11, 2013

Rosie Benellick and Andy Gunn

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A SOUTH Devon village is mourning the loss of childhood sweethearts who died after a fire.

Andy Gunn, 18, from Bishopsteignton, and his longtime girlfriend Rosie Bennelick, 17, who met at Teign School, died after the house blaze at Honiton which also claimed the life of Rosie's three-year-old brother, Harvey.

Andy's parents have spoken for the first time about the devoted sweethearts who spent every spare minute together. They both died shortly after the fire on Friday.

Rosie's family had moved from Chudleigh to Honiton.

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There were eight people in the house when the devastating fire ripped through the Bennelick's family home at just before 8am.

The young couple died on Friday and the toddler died after treatment for burns on Saturday.

A 36-year-old man and six year old boy were treated and released without serious injury.

Emergency crews have been praised by the family for the way they put their own safety at risk to reach the trapped children.

Andy's parents, Darren and Wendy, described him as 'their ray of sunshine'.

"Andy and Rosie were devoted to one another. She was everything to him," said Darren.

"Andy used to spend every waking minute he could with her and spend up to five hours a night on the phone to her when they were apart. He'd fall asleep with his phone by his side," said his mother.

Now the young couple's organs have been donated for transplant.

"That's the type of youngsters they were," said Wendy.

"Rosie and Andy idolised Harvey and loved babysitting him," said Andy's brother Matt.

The couple met when they were students at Teign School, Kingsteignton, and were inseparable for the last three years.

"He spent all his wages from working at the Cockhaven Manor on petrol driving up to see her in Honiton," said Darren.

His family described him as 'an incredible boy' full of 'charisma and charm'.

"If you walked around the village and asked people's opinion on Andy, they'd all say the same. He touched so many lives and had an infectious smile," said Darren. "He was so popular. Even former teachers have called us up and have been distraught.

"Only a week or so ago he arranged a party for my birthday and just a few days later he's gone."

Preparations are underway for Andy's funeral at the village church at a date to be fixed.

Bishopsteignton vicar Steven West has said that as Andy was so well respected, seats will be removed to create 'standing room only'.

Andy's workplace, Cockhaven Manor, will shut its doors for the ceremony so staff can attend, as will village pub The Ring O' Bells as a mark of respect.

"We want people to wear coloured ties, as Andy loved bright colours," said Wendy.

A fund has been created for the surviving Bennelick family by Beaumont and Mills Removals, of Exeter. As well as cash, donations of clothing and goods to rebuild their home have been flooding in.

Collection points have been set up at Chudleigh and in Newton Abbot.

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