THE brave father and great-grandmother of an inspirational little boy have completed an abseil down the Spinnaker Tower.
Sam Merrick, whose parents Paul and Louise set up the charity Sam’s Haven, watched amazed as more than a dozen nurses and family members made their way down the 560ft tower.
Altogether 40 abseilers raised £5,000 towards the cost of a caravan for families of children who are seriously ill to relax on free breaks in picturesque Pagham, West Sussex.
Sam, who suffers from a range of health problems after being born prematurely, said: ‘It was brilliant.
‘I got to play with lots of my friends and the best bit was seeing my dad do his abseil.
‘I wasn’t scared at all because I know he is brave.’
Sam’s mum Louise, 33, from Bere Road, Denmead, said: ‘We can’t believe how many people came out to support us.
‘It seemed like all Sam’s nurses from the paediatric unit at Queen Alexandra Hospital were there.
‘They didn’t just do the abseil and go – they waited around all day until everyone had finished and cheered everyone on. They are all great sports.
‘There were lots of comments about my husband Paul looking very pale because he was so nervous.
‘But the person I was most worried about was my nan Judy Jeffreys.
‘She is 69 but was one of the first ones to sign up and she took it in her stride.’
In 2012 Sam had a bone marrow transplant from his older brother Kiran.
The youngster has spent two-thirds of his life in hospital and brief stays at Church Farm – the site of the charity’s caravan – have provided much-needed rest and recuperation for the whole family.
And that is exactly what his parents wanted to give other families in their position.
In just a year, Sam’s Haven has made enormous progress.
So far it has raised £20,000 towards paying off the luxury caravan but must still raise another £15,000 as well as finding the £6,000-a-year ground rent.
Entertainers from Church Farm joined in the fun on abseil day, August 22, with Bradley the Bear entertaining the children.
Yesterday it was confirmed by HMRC that Sam’s Haven now has full charity status which means it can claim tax back on items needed for the caravan and claim Gift Aid on donations.
There will be a one-year anniversary celebration on September 14 at Paulsgrove Community Centre.
Go to samshaven.com for more information.