Five-year-old boy is one of many to have stood out at The News’ first awards to recognise young people.
He has been dubbed the miracle baby by doctors.
Now, five-year-old Sam Merrick has been named as Overall Star of the Year at The News Youth Awards.
The youngster was born at just 26 weeks and doctors told his parents he wouldn’t survive. But he has defied all the odds and continues to battle through life.
Sam suffers a rare immuno-deficiency which means constant trips to hospital.
He is the inspiration behind Sam’s Haven, a charity dedicated to providing short respite holidays for families who are living with children who have life threatening or terminal ilnesses.
Sam, from Bere Road in Denmead, also won the Inspiration of the Year award.
He said: ‘It feels good to win.’
Sam has to take medicines and have injections every day, even through the middle of the night.
His brother Kiran, nine, donated bone marrow to Sam.
Mum Louise, 33, said: ‘I’m really pleased. It’s completely unexpected. To get this overall award means so much.
‘This highlights that it’s not just Sam out there who goes through this. There are a lot of children we meet along the way. I am really proud because he does deserve the recognition for everything he has been through.’
Dad Paul, 38, added: ‘To win the overall award is just amazing. It’s not something I expected at all. That was a big shock.
‘He deserves it all because he’s been through a really difficult time. We all have, as a family.
‘It’s horrendous what he has to go through. It’s continuous medication.
‘But he is always smiling, no matter what we put him through.’
Star of the Family
Winner: Liam Robinson
Runner-up: Marcus Allison
Liam Robinson sadly lost his twin brother Jack to a brain tumour in April this year.
People from across the community nominated five-year-old Liam for the bravery and strength that he showed to his family at such a difficult time.
Now, he has been awarded for his efforts with the Star of the Family award.
The youngster stood by his family as the community dug deep and raised money for Jack to make his final dreams come true.
The runner-up for the award was nine-year-old Marcus Allison from Clive Road, Fratton.
He was nominated by his mum for helping to care for his disabled brother.
Harry, five, suffers from XXYY syndrome and needs round-the-clock support.
Marcus helps clean up after his brother and lends support to his mum.
Star of the Community
Winner: Ellie-May Sheridan
Runner-up: Lillie Faust
Ellie-May Sheridan, nine, was born with an as-yet unnamed syndrome that affects her legs, hips, spine and heart.
Since she was born she has had several operations.
She was nominated by her family for her bravery through her illness and now she has come out on top.
She even helped raise £500 for four-year-old Jack Robinson to help make his dreams come true.
The runner-up of Star of the Community is Lillie Faust.
Lillie, 13, from Cosham, has been a huge supporter of her community and in 2012 she joined the Portsmouth Youth Parliament (PYP) and became one of their youngest ever members.
Last year, she stood as a candidate in the UK Youth Parliament elections and came third.
She has also visited her MP at the Houses of Parliament.
Hero of the Year
Winner: Ethan Riou
Runner-up: Megan Wilson
Brave Ethan Riou won the award for Hero of the Year after he picked up the phone and dialled 999 when his mum collapsed.
The four-year-old from Waterlooville called for help after his mum Laura dislocated her shoulder and fell over, hitting her head on the sink as she fell.
Ethan called for paramedics and looked after his two-year-old brother Finley while he waited for them to arrive.
The runner up is Megan Wilson, 14, who organised a fundraising concert in support of an ex-pupil at her school, Crookhorn College in Waterlooville. Alex Tindall had suffered serious injuries in a bike accident.
So Megan decided it would be a good idea to organise a big fundraising event for Alex complete with singers, dancers and choirs.
She raised £600 for Alex’s recovery fund.
Entrepreneur of the Year
Winner: Chloe Hine
Runner-up: Madison Morris
Chloe was given £300 of funding by O2 Think Big to help young people cope with bullying through music.
She founded Beat the Bullies after she had previously experienced bullying herself and turned to Music Fusion.
Chloe, 14, who studies at Oaklands Catholic School in Waterlooville, helped young people in the area write and produce their songs, just as she did when struggling with bullying.
Meanwhile, Madison Morris was named as the runner-up of Entrepreneur of the Year.
An only child, Madison, from Portchester decided to make her own website with three pages, at the age of just eight so she had other friends to play with after school.
The website is used as a forum for other lonely only children to get together in online games and play.
It has become popular with her friends at school.
Winner: Zach Rumfitt
Runner-up: Sophie Strong
Zach, 16, is a talented young writer.
In the past he has won a story writing competition.
He also won a poetry competition when at infant school.
He has written a play which was performed by his local drama group, the Kings Youth Theatre.
He wants to become a writer professionally.
Meanwhile, Sophie Strong was named as the runner-up.
She struggled with family issues when she was younger and had problems whilst at school.
She has now turned things around and has a 100 per cent attendance record and has excelled in other subjects.
Winner: Jade Kelly
Runner-up: Elliot Swann
Jade has been through some really challenging times but has used her talents to express herself.
Jade sings, acts and dances and has been invited to perform at numerous different events.
The 16-year-old plans to study music theatre at college. She now mentors other students who struggle with their identity.
Runner-up of the Stage Star award is Elliot Swann who has been performing since the age of five.
Now 15, he has performed on stage at Ferneham Hall, the Kings Theatre and even the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton.
He also takes part in school concerts and school productions and is often getting involved in drama and singing festivals.
Elliot hopes to have a career performing on stage when he is older.
Inspiration of the Year
Winner: Sam Merrick
Runner-up: Keeleigh Lorraine Bell
Five-year-old Sam from Denmead was named Inspiration of the Year because every day he has to take all different types of medication to keep him alive.
Members of his family and friends nominated Sam for the award because they were inspired by his courage and strength through his ordeal.
Meanwhile, the runner-up award went to five-year-old Keeleigh Lorraine Bell, a registered blind child born with a rare eye condition.
Keeleigh, from All Saints Road in Buckland, was also born with a rare kidney condition called multicystic dysplastic kidney syndrome which resulted in doctors removing her left kidney.
But the youngster is a keen dancer. She is a member of Abstract Dance and takes part in ballet, tap, modern, jazz, contemporary, street and performing arts.
Winner: Chloe Hine
Runner-up: Alice Milburn
Chloe Hine, 14, came out on top for another award, this time for Music Star.
The music star award goes to a group or individual who can sing, play an instrument or write music with innovative ideas.
Chloe received it for her work in the community to help young people write and produce their songs, just as she did when struggling with bullying.
Meanwhile, the runner-up award went to Alice Milburn, 14, one of the stars of The Poppy Girls, a group of girls who all have fathers serving in the armed forces.
They were picked to release a song called The Call (No Need to Say Goodbye) to raise money for the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.
The girls performed their song in front of the Queen during the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
Learner of the Year
Winner: Skye Johnson
Runner-up: Taylor Dolphin
Eight-year-old Skye Johnson is often coming home with certificates from school to congratulate her on her fantastic achievements.
The youngster, who is a pupil at Hart Plain Junior School in Cowplain, was named Learner of the Year because she is always learning and always working hard, whether she is at school or whether she’s at home.
She has already decided she wants to become a teacher when she’s older.
Meanwhile, the runner-up award went to Taylor Dolphin who was nominated by his aunt.
Taylor has shown great courage and has come on leaps and bounds not only in his schooling but as a family member.
He looked after his brothers and sisters as well as himself and he has made his family very proud.
Best Friend of the Year
Winner: Aimee Houghton
Runner-up: Mollie Downey
Aimee was nominated for the award by her aunt Sammy.
Sammy had to go to Plymouth for six months for residential rehab treatment and Aimee has been very supportive to her aunt.
Meanwhile the runner-up for Best Friend of the Year was Mollie Downey, nine, who has been a companion and friend to Poppie Faust.
Poppie always enjoyed school and excelled in some subjects but she went through some difficult times at school and she didn’t want to attend anymore.
Mollie helped to turn things around for Poppie who even made it to an audition for the Royal School of Ballet.