"Normally it's the children who remember the legacy of their parents, but in this case it's the reverse. I am proud and I'm also joyful, because to think about Pablo is to think about joy," reflects Paco Ráez, the father of Pablo Ráez who died over a year ago aged just 20 after a difficult battle with leukaemia.
Before his death, Pablo Ráez led a huge social media campaign for bone marrow donations in order to help those who found themselves in a similar situation to his own. As a result, the number of bone marrow donors in the province of Malaga increased by 1,300 per cent between 2016 and 2017.
To honour the memory of local-boy Ráez, Marbella has opened a large pedestrianised park space on Arroyo Primero boulevard, which will take its name from the heroic young man. The town hall has invested almost three million euros in the 15,000-square-metre area, which took over one year to build. Over the last few decades the space has been mostly disused.
"I hope that this will serve as an example for future projects," stressed Paco Ráez, during a speech. He asked that the local authorities "always put their heart into whatever they do". The firefighter also stated that he wants the space to be used by young people and that it is "somewhere for culture, entertainment, games and peace and quiet".
After Pablo Ráez died in February 2017, more than 16,000 people signed a petition to call for the town of Marbella to create a dedicated public space which would pay tribute to the young local campaigner. The authorities listened and opted to begin construction on Arroyo Primero boulevard, on the east side of the old town near the Monday market. The mayor of Marbella, Ángeles Muñoz, spoke at the opening ceremony and said that the new boulevard will be a "meeting point" . She referred to Pablo as "one of Marbella's most loved and admired residents".
Pablo Ráez boulevard boasts an open-air theatre, two playgrounds, six water-features , a cafe, grassed areas, two outdoor gymnasiums, a recycling point and benches and sunshades to relax under. In the future the boulevard will have a direct connection to Calle Alfredo Palma.