Sheffield mum touched by tribute to 'bubbly' youngster who died suddenly at just 13
Schoolchildren in Sheffield have paid a special tribute to a much-loved former pupil who died suddenly aged just 13.
Alfie is one of 160 bear sculptures across Sheffield which have been lovingly decorated as part of the Bears of Sheffield trail, in aid of Sheffield Children’s Hospital, and the story behind his creation is touching and heartbreaking in equal measure.
He was painted by youngsters at Rainbow Forge Primary Academy, in Hackenthorpe, in memory of former pupil Alfie Hague, whose sudden death at his home in January this year remains unexplained.
The moving memorial stands at Crystal Peaks shopping centre, where it will stay until the end of September before taking up permanent residence at the school as part of a shrine to Alfie, including a mural and a bench dedicated to the popular teenager.
Alfie’s mum, Michelle, told how moved she was by the tribute, which she has visited along with Alfie’s dad Matthew, brother Jack and sister Chloe.
“It’s a really lovely gesture. Everybody’s been tagging me in photos of themselves with Alfie the Bear, which I’ve enjoyed seeing, and I’m really touched that the school’s chosen to remember Alfie in this way,” she said.
“People have done lots of things to remember Alfie but this is really special and it was so emotional visiting the sculpture for the first time.”
Alfie the Bear’s blue colouring is a nod to his namesake’s passion for Sheffield Wednesday, while the lovehearts which were individually designed by year six pupils are a testament to the lasting impression he made on so many people.
Following his death, hundreds of people, including Sheffield band Reverend And The Makers, answered a call to turn Twitter blue in Alfie’s memory as the community rallied round in support of his grieving family.
They have since helped Michelle raise more than £6,000 for Yorkshire Air Ambulance, which tried in vain to save Alfie’s life, by taking part in a sponsored walk and buying specially created face masks.
She is glad that Alfie the Bear will be helping to raise vital funds for Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
Rachel Sykes, the teacher at Rainbow Forge who came up with the idea, told how Alfie had made a special impression on all the staff and pupils at the school.
“I’ve been teaching for 21 years and he’s going to be one of those children I will never forget,” she said.
“He was so bubbly and jolly, and he always had something to say. He was a great joker who could make anyone smile but he had a maturity with it too, and he was friends with everyone.
“The bear will go at the front of the school when we get him back from Crystal Peaks, and we’re planning to make a bit of a sculpture park.
“We’ve had a bench donated in Alfie’s memory so we’re going to get a plaque on that, plant rose bushes either side and paint a mural behind the bench to make it a special place in the yard for people to remember Alfie.”