GRANT Wylde, a businessman who has lived in Thurrock all his life opened a new cafe in Chadwell St Mary on Tuesday.

Feathers, in Unit 7 of Star Industrial Estate, St John’s Road, Chadwell St Mary was opened in memory of his late wife Michelle, who died in January 2013 after battling Hodgkin Lymphoma at the age of 44.

Grant and his two sons, Sonny, 14 and Warren, 22, who live in Parker Road, have endured a tough year. But Grant was inspired to open Feathers - which was the pet name he gave Michelle.

The couple loved eating out together and the new cafe pays homage to those experiences they shared.

After a busy few months, Feathers is open for business. This week, Your Gazette caught up with Grant.

What do you love about Thurrock and what is it that’s kept you here?

My family and business are here and i’ve lived in Thurrock all my life. There’s a real sense of community and to be honest, it’s all I know. I love it here.

How do you see the future panning out for the borough?

Thurrock has so much potential for growth. There will be more houses, more peopl, that means more business for suppliers and we should embrace the expansion. This is a growing area and we should have big aspirations to be one of the leading areas in the country.

If you could change one thing about Thurrock, what would it be?

The road infrastructure. For all the houses that are being built, we need better roads and more. The infrastructure is too small as it is. Perhaps if the roads were better, there would be less road rage, too. I would also get rid of negativity about Thurrock How do you think other parts of Essex see Thurrock?

How do you think people outside of Thurrock see the borough?

I’ve never really thought about it. I think some people probably say that Grays and Chadwell St Mary are a bit of a dive, but I don’t think that negativity’s true. I just like to get on with my life, enjoy time with my family and do my bit for the community.

What made you decide to set your own business up in Thurrock?

My wife Michelle was a strong, vibrant people's person who had bravely fought a horrid disease. Despite fighting her own battle with the illness, she always gave strength, support and belief to others in need, including a good friend of hers called Billy May, who also sadly passed away from the disease a few years previous to Michelle. With this in my heart and mind and the support from close friends and family, I decided to open a café with a difference – somewhere where people of all ages including families could come for some wholesome food at reasonable prices.”

What involvement do you or your business have within the community?

We’ve been speaking to Macmillan about holding coffee mornings here and raising money for them. Once more people are through the doors, we’ll set up a Facebook competition giving people the chance to win prizes while also giving money to charity.

And finally, what’s do you like most about the Thurrock Gazette?

The Thurrock Gazette keeps us informed and does a fantastic job. I pick the paper up every week, looking to find out what’s happening in the local community, to see what’s coming up and what’s going on.