A COURAGEOUS young boy hopes to meet Prince Harry when he collects an award recognising his bravery through serious illness.
Samuel Merrick has been recognised by children’s charity WellChild as a winner at its annual awards.
After being nominated by family and friends, the eight-year-old emerged victorious amongst hundreds of candidates in the Inspirational Child category.
Sam, who is from Denmead, was born prematurely, and suffers several health complications, including chronic lung disease as a result.
His medical condition means that he has spent more than half of his life in hospital, undergoing nearly 100 operations.
Sam’s mother, Louise Merrick, expressed the family’s excitement in her son’s ‘national recognition’.
She said: ‘When I see Sam’s smiling face it’s hard to believe he is even poorly, let alone coping with life-threatening conditions.
‘He never complains and is always willing to do what is needed to support charity work.
‘He is an inspiration to us and to so many people who meet him.’
Sam will collect his gong at a star-studded gala in London next month, where he hopes to come face to face with WellChild’s royal patron, Prince Harry.
He has even made a sock monkey to give to the prince at the Dorchester Hotel.
He said: ‘I feel happy about winning the award.
‘I’m really looking forward to meeting Prince Harry because he’s a prince, and I want to be a prince when I’m older!’
Other celebrities who have previously attended the awards include singer Pixie Lott, comedian Russell Howard and EastEnders actor Barbara Windsor.
The awards are judged by a panel of medical professionals, people with an interest in children’s health, and young people suffering serious illnesses themselves.
Sam was recognised by the judges for his persistence through a complicated daily regime, as well as his charity work supporting Sam’s Haven – a foundation set up in his honour which offers respite breaks for local families with ill children.
WellChild’s director of programmes, Linda Partridge said: ‘The awards are a perfect demonstration of WellChild’s commitment to helping as many seriously ill children and their families as we can and embody our aim of raising awareness of their needs.
‘All the panel members are moved by the bravery of the children, the stories of selfless care and support and the dedication of the doctors, nurses, teachers, brothers and sisters who make a great difference to the lives of seriously ill children and young people.
‘Sam truly deserves to be the winner of this award.’