BORN at just 26 weeks, Sam Merrick’s parents always knew he’d be a fighter.
The tiny baby has grown into a boisterous little boy but has had to endure endless trips to hospital in his five short years because of chronic lung disease and a rare immuno deficiency.
It has meant a lot of upheaval for the family but the times they’ve spent together at a holiday park have proved so precious and relaxing, Sam’s parents Paul and Louise want to give other families in their position the same opportunity.
Mum Louise, 32, of Bere Road, Denmead, said: ‘Due to our own experience, we have seen first-hand how these breaks away can have a massive positive effect on not only the sick child but the whole family.
‘Having one ill child can have a huge effect on siblings and we have found that spending quality time together as one whole unit has brought us closer when things have been really hard.
‘It’s a time parents can relax and unwind and the children can have some time out without anything medical happening – apart from daily routines, of course.’
The Merricks need £30,000 to buy a caravan at Church Farm, Pagham, West Sussex, and will have to raise £8,000 each year to provide holidays for 15 families.
Sam was given only a 20 per cent chance of making it to his fifth birthday – which he joyfully celebrated in August.
His proud mum said: ‘Right now he is running around the garden. He has defied all odds.’
Sam’s disease has meant he’s caught more than the usual amount of childhood viruses and infections, with the severity much worse.
Doctors found he would benefit from a bone marrow transplant and his eight-year-old brother Kiran was a perfect match.
The operation went ahead a year ago.
Although there are still regular hospital visits, the family take a break at Church Farm caravan park, West Sussex, to help them take stock and that is where they want to buy a caravan for other families to use.
Louise added: ‘We have found this time to be very helpful to us all as a family unit and allowed us to spend time together and concentrate on all the boys, not just Sam.
‘They were all so happy there, walking round with huge grins. And they were actually playing together!
‘I asked Sam why he was so happy and he said, “because there’s no hospital”.’
The first fundraising event is on November 13 from 11am to 11pm. It is a bowlathon at AMF Bowling, in Havant.
Entry is £3.50 per person, per game. There will also be a raffle.
The second event is a Christmas disco at the same venue on December 13, from 6.30pm.
Ticket prices are £4 and include a present from Father Christmas for the children. Bowling will also be available.
To buy tickets, pop into AMF, log on to samshaven.com or search for Sam’s Haven on Facebook.