The Pirate Ship is a hut located in the garden of Mulberry Cottage, in between the house and The Grange B&B. The ship was built by Ashley and Arthur Thomas in order for them to have something to remember when Ashley's dementia got worse.
2016-2017: Origins of the pirate ship
Ashley Thomas bought the flat pack pirate ship in May 2016 so he could spend more time with his eight-year-old son Arthur before his dementia got worse. He planned to build it with his father Sandy and Arthur, but during the building of the ship, Arthur cut his hand and had to be taken to hospital for stitches. Ashley wandered away from Arthur at the hospital, and because of his dementia he forgot about his son. The pirate ship was later completed by Sandy and Doug Potts. Due to the incident at the hospital, a social worker recommended that Ashley shouldn't be alone whilst looking after Ashley so neighbours Jimmy King and Dan Spencer brought their children over to play with Arthur as an excuse to supervise Ashley. Despite this, Ashley often took the lead looking after the children, giving Jimmy time to relax, and Dan time to study for his upcoming exams.
One night, Arthur hears Ashley, Jimmy and Dan watching a horror movie in the ship and becomes convinced it is haunted. Later, Arthur refuses to play in the pirate ship with former step-sister April Windsor due to the 'ghosts'. Sandy tells the pair ghost stories leaving them terrified. As Dan and Jimmy continue to enjoy their time in the ship, they organise a poker night with Ashley, Rodney Blackstock and Rishi Sharma. The men laugh as they drink rum, but after hearing the laughs of them men from his bedroom, Arthur is even more convinced the ship is haunted and searches for ghost busters on the internet. During the subsequent months, the village children, (including Arthur, Amelia, Angelica, Elliot, Cathy and Heath), bid war against the men with their toy guns. Eventually, the men's wives find out and the situation escalates chaotically, with numerous nerf gun wars and poker nights for the men.
In April 2017, the friends and family of dying Ashley gather at Mulberry Cottage to say their last words to him. During that day, everyone is playing outside in the pirate ship as Ashley slowly fades away with wife Laurel at his bedside.
2018-present: Ship of ill-repute
In February 2018, after Ashley's stained glass memorial window was smashed, Bob decided to help Laurel and Arthur piece it back together. Bob and Laurel try to push aside their pre-declared feelings for one another but things get the better of them and they embark on an affair. The ship became the home for their secret liaisons. By April, Bob's fiancee Brenda had known for weeks and had even spied the pair kissing through the porthole and hadn't said a word.
On Bob and Brenda's wedding day, it went without a hitch although during the reception Brenda kicked Bob out as she realised he wasn't happy. A few weeks later, Bob found a pile of his clothes and possession on fire outside the pirate ship. He thought it was Brenda plotting her revenge until his children Cathy and Heath owned up.
Ever since the pirate ship has been built, it has gained a self-proclaimed 'man club', consisting of:
- Jimmy King
- Dan Spencer
- Ashley Thomas (until 2017; his death)
- Rodney Blackstock
- Rishi Sharma
- Sandy Thomas (until 2018; emigrated)
- Doug Potts
- Bob Hope
- Arthur Thomas (from 2017)
'Man Club' initially started after Dan and Jimmy took it in shifts to babysit Ashley. They hung out in the pirate ship and found it quite relaxing without their wives and children, who Ashley was looking after. Rodney and Rishi were invited for poker nights and watching films in the ship. This is when the club officially started. Bob often joined them in their fun. As Ashley's and Laurel's fathers, respectively, Sandy and Doug became honorary members due to being around the ship so much. Before Ashley died in April 2017, his son Arthur was initiated into the group.
The Man Club reformed in April 2018 to perform a tribute to Ashley's memory. The members (Jimmy, Dan, Rodney, Rishi, Doug, Bob and Arthur) performed a mock twenty-one gun salute to their deceased comrade with Nerf guns.