Published: 16:07, 28 September 2018
| Updated: 13:17, 01 October 2018
The family of a boy whose battle against cancer inspired his parents to launch a charity in his memory have opened a playground at a pub which has played a huge part in their lives.
Two-year-old Alfie Gough's wake was held in the Sir Stanley Gray pub in Ramsgate after he lost his fight with neuroblastoma in 2010.
Now, pub bosses have invested £60,000 in a sunken ship-themed play area - the only one of its kind in the UK.
Thorley Taverns boss Frank Thorley - who owns the pub - played his part in helping to raise money for Alfie's parents, Sarah and Dean, when they were in the process of trying to fund treatment in America prior to their son's death.
And he has continued his support for the couple, who now live in Vancouver, Canada, since they launched the Alfie Gough Trust, which helps children fighting cancer.
Mr Thorley says Alfie's battle touched the hearts of the community and he was delighted that the Gough family could come down to the pub and give the new play area their seal of approval. To mark the occasion, he also pledged a further £200 to their cause.
"It was fantastic to have Alfie's family here," he said.
"Since the trust was set up we have been big supporters of it, holding fundraising evenings across our sites.
"It is a fantastic cause. When you hear about kids who are struck down like that it is horrific, so we will do anything we can to highlight what they do."
Sarah, who is also mum to Harry, six, and four-year-old Louis, visited the new play area with other family members and thanked Mr Thorley for his support.
"My sister-in-law Tracey Todd has worked for Thorley Taverns for many years," the 40-year-old said.
"We have used the pub as a family and held Alfie's wake there.
"We spent time at the new play area with family and friends while we were back in the UK recently. It is fantastic and the children absolutely loved it.
"Thorley Taverns have supported us for the past eight years since we started fundraising. We have been very lucky to have had, and continue to have, such great support from them.
"The charity loves working and being involved with our local community as this was where it all started when everyone stopped to help our beautiful Alfie."
Despite months of gruelling treatment, Alfie died peacefully without pain or suffering due to complementary treatments and support from a nutritional therapist.
The Alfie Gough Trust raises funds so other families can have access to the same services.
Sarah said: "Going through something like this changes you and the day we lost Alfie we felt we couldn’t go through this for nothing; we had to make something positive out of what happened.
"So we created The Alfie Gough Trust for three reasons. Firstly, we wanted Alfie to have a legacy, secondly we wanted to make a difference for children fighting cancer and our third reason was to give something back to our amazing community for all the support they gave our little boy.
"We learned a lot about complementary therapy during Alfie’s treatment and we felt this was a good way to help the children.
"We’ve helped set up a massage therapy room at Great Ormond Street Hospital which has helped so many children on a ward where Alfie spent most of his little life.
"It made us still feel close to Alfie and seeing the wonderful result this was having on so many children makes this something the charity is delighted to be part of."
The new playground was designed and manufactured by outdoor play experts, Creative Play.
Speaking about it, Mr Thorley said: "We selected Creative Play from a number of people and we've been very satified with what they've done.
"They've made a great job of the play area and I'm very happy.
"We’ve had the site for over 20 years and we’ve been gradually developing and extending it.
"Creative Play’s own teams install all of the equipment and surfacing to meet the requirements of the client and their own rigorous quality standards.
Rob Williams, area manager at Chester-based Creative Play, said the project was his most challenging to date but also the one that has given him the greatest satisfaction.
He said: “I went down to meet with Frank and at the time they were renovating a vast area of the pub and had an idea of a theme.
“We looked at having a bit of a traditional playground but with a modern twist so that’s why we went for the sunken ship as the area is by the sea.
“As well as the ship there are little islands around it with a treasure chest, play tower and tunnel. The ship has slides and climbing nets.
“It was a very difficult project. The area of the build is at the bottom of the cliff so there was no road access.
“It was quite a challenge but once we overcame that the build was completed within three and a half weeks.
“It’s one of the best I’ve done. The design of the ship is the only one in the country - you won’t find it anywhere else.
“It’s been wonderful to use its official opening to raise awareness of Alfie’s terrific charity which is clearly so well thought of in the local area.”