Ava-May Littleboy's dad on heartache and man the family called its 'rock'

Nathan Rowe and Chloe Littleboy with their daughter Ava-May

Nathan Rowe and Chloe Littleboy with their daughter Ava-May who died after an inflatable trampoline exploded in Gorleston. - Credit: Nathan Rowe

The father of a little girl who died on the sands at Gorleston after an inflatable trampoline exploded has described the family's soul-destroying grief and how he wants to help others.

Three-year-old Ava-May Littleboy was thrown from the equipment on a sunny Sunday in July 2018 and died in hospital after suffering a head injury.

It was a tragedy that never should have happened.

Ava-May Littleboy

Ava-May Littleboy who died aged three in Gorleston. Her father Nathan Rowe is using his experience to train police family liaison officers. - Credit: Nathan Rowe

Her father Nathan Rowe said in the months after her death he was "literally a robot" just "stumbling through life".

During this period he and Ava-May's mother Chloe Littleboy came to rely on their family liason officer (FLO)) Det con Kirk Wilson, their "absolute rock" building a bond of trust and keeping them updated at the worst time in their lives.

The 37-year-old is now helping to train new FLO's and is considering a career in the force, so crucial was the difference they made.

"They are absolute unsung heroes," he said.

"They are the difference between a good day and an extremely bad day. They are going in blind and if my experience can help them to be a better FLO then I will.

Ava-May Littleboy

Ava-May Littleboy who died after the trampoline she was playing on exploded. - Credit: Nathan Rowe

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"Kirk has been our rock. FLO's are the unsung heroes of this story and without them we would not be where we are today.

"He reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in giving some input about how it has worked for us as a family and how we have been looked after and treated.

"I said yes and while it has been difficult to go back through that day over and over again it will benefit other families. 

"They will only learn through knowledge. They volunteer for this and we thank them.

"Kirk stepped back in to support us when they did not need to and it is for that reason I am more than prepared to help them.

"We have a great rapport, we can have that laugh and that banter.

Ava-May Littleboy

Ava-May Littleboy died just as she was 'becoming her own person' her father said. - Credit: Nathan Rowe

"You think of a police officer as law enforcement but the way he has operated with us he is almost like an extra limb and part of the family."

The family, from Somersham in Suffolk, had been staying at the Wild Duck holiday park in Belton where Ava-May's grandparents have a holiday home when life changed forever in an instant.

Floral tributes and cuddly toys at the scene where Ava-May Littleboy was thrown from an inflatable t

Floral tributes and cuddly toys at the scene where Ava-May Littleboy was thrown from an inflatable trampoline Photo: Liz Coates - Credit: Archant

"Ava loved going there," he said. 

"She was a vibrant person who would just get up and get on with things, she wasn't shy she would get involved.

"That morning we went to the beach, had breakfast in one of the cafes and then it happened. Time stood still.

"It was a horrible experience. You go somewhere to have a lovely break and you leave with one person missing, never to see her again.

"That drive back from the hospital knowing our little girl was still there was soul-destroying."

Ava-May Littleboy, who died after being thrown from a trampoline in Gorleston. Picture: Courtesy of

Ava-May Littleboy, who died after being thrown from a trampoline in Gorleston. Picture: Courtesy of the Littleboy Family - Credit: Courtesy of the Littleboy Family

There have been no criminal charges and Great Yarmouth Borough Council has yet to declare if it is bringing a prosecution.

An inquest in March 2020 criticised the safety management of the Bounce About beach playpark.

"I still do not have much joy in anything," he said.

"I am still battling with the knowledge I have lost my daughter.

Ava-may Littleboy, three, who was killed when an inflatable trampoline exploded in Gorleston. PHOTO:

Ava-may Littleboy, three, who was killed when an inflatable trampoline exploded in Gorleston. PHOTO: Abbie Littleboy/Just Giving - Credit: Archant

"The love of things has gone. It has impacted everyone.

"She has been dead longer than she was alive and we still do not know what will happen to those involved in her death.

"It is dragging on and we want it to come to an end.

"We want justice so people can learn from it and hope this will never happen again."

He described Ava-May as "adorable" and a child you "couldn't say 'no' to."

"She was becoming her own little person and finding out about how to be cheeky and get away with it.

"We do think about what she would be like now.

"We always used to say she would change the world. But not like this, not at the expense of her life."

Voluntary role

The family liaison officer role is voluntary and taken on as well as an officer's usual duties.

Although at the start of a deployment they will be give some time to spend with the family, later they will fit it around their normal job and be at the end of the phone 24/7.

Det con Kirk Wilson said he was passionate about the role which was "much more than making a cup of tea and giving someone a cuddle" - neither of which he had done for Nathan, he joked.

FLO's always worked in pairs and were primarily investigators, he said.

"We are a crutch and a lifeline. We are their point of contact and they speak to no-one else.

"Often we are meeting on the worst day of that family's life," he said.

Having Nathan give his side as part of the training made a huge difference, he added.

"Nathan is very honest and no question is out of bounds. He is an amazing young man. I admire him for how he has dealt with it.

"He has spoken at four sessions now. All the feedback has been it is the most gripping two hours of the whole seven day course."

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