Emmerdale’s Alfie Clarke has been at the centre of one of the most emotional soap storylines in history, which saw long running character Ashley Thomas tragically pass away on Friday following a two-year battle with dementia. Wanting to raise funds and further awareness of the terrible disease, the kind-hearted nine-year-old is now planning on doing a sponsored swim for the Alzheimer’s Society. With an original target of £700, the young actor’s act of kindness has already touched the hearts of soap fans up and down the country, having already reached his target and more - which currently stands at an astonishing £3,844.
Alfie has impressed fans with his outstanding performance in Emmerdale's heartbreaking dementia storyline
Over on his Just Giving page, Alfie writes: “I play Arthur Thomas in Emmerdale and I've been involved with the story line around the Thomas Family dealing with Ashley's dementia. I would like to promote and raise money for Alzheimer's Society. On Saturday the 29th of April 2017 @ 10am, I'm going to swim between 20-40 lengths and would really appreciate it if you would sponsor me to support people suffering with dementia.”
Alfie’s heartbreaking performance as young Arthur has been highly praised by both fans and his co-stars, with John Middleton, who played his on-screen dad Ashley, describing him to Metro as a: “Lovely, lovely lad.” Continuing, he added: “He and his mum both told me that he is preaching to the whole family on dementia now that he understands it – he is quite a character. He is a natural, instinctive actor and he takes notes, he listens.”
Ashley's funeral is set to be another tear-jerking episode
Charlotte Bellamy, who plays Alfie’s on-screen mum, Laurel, added: “Little Alfie is just extraordinary.” Discussing the upcoming funeral scene, she continued: “His mother said to me when we did the funeral that he had never seen a coffin before and the way he handled coming in and seeing John – who did look dead – was very hard for him, but what he did was perfect."
Last week, photos of Ashley’s funeral, which is set to air on Thursday, were released, and it looks to be another tear-jerker with Ashley's loved ones struggling to come to terms with their loss in the aftermath of his death. Charlotte told Digital Spy: "Laurel feels numb after Ashley's death and she's on autopilot. Laurel wasn't prepared to lose Ashley at all, because she thought they had years left together. He's taken so abruptly and Laurel just wasn't ready for it."
She added: "There's a big turnout at the funeral, but that's no surprise really because Ashley has been such a central part of the village over the years. The service is really beautiful and it's a celebration of his life – especially as it's in the church where he served for many years."