AFTER a tough year spent in and out of hospital, seven-year-old Sam Merrick has ended it with a magical experience he will never forget.
The youngster has just returned from an all-expenses-paid trip to Disney World with his mum, dad, three brothers and grandmother.
Thanks to the charity Caudwell Children, the Merrick family, from Denmead, were able to enjoy 10 days filled with fun, excitement and laughter.
Sam has a chronic lung condition, immunology problems and has no use of his oesophagus so must be fed directly into his stomach.
His body is unable to process food, so he does not get the nutrients he needs and is prone to regular serious infections.
Since July he has been very unwell, which made the trip to Disney World, Florida, even more special for the family.
The best bit was spending time together
Mum Louise, 37, of Bere Road, said: ‘It has been a difficult year for Sam and he has had quite a few very invasive procedures.
‘To keep him going we’ve been saying to him “just think about America Sam”.
‘It was magical, I can hardly put it into words how amazing it was.
‘And what made it extra special is we had my mum there as well as two volunteers so we could spend time with all the boys, not just Sam.
‘The charity made all the children feel special. Our others boys tend to get a bit sidelined, not intentionally, but because of everything going on with Sam.
‘We were able to have so much fun together as a family. Kiran is 15 and a complete thrillseeker. He went on all the most terrifying rides.
‘Sam loved every minute of it – especially getting splashed by the dolphins.’
Sam said: ‘The best bit was spending time together.
‘My other favourite part was the volunteers because they were really nice.’
Caudwell Children created the annual Destination Dreams holiday in 2007 to give 25 children with life-limiting conditions the opportunity to experience a fully-supported dream holiday.
Trudi Beswick, chief executive, said: ‘By providing 24-hour professional medical provision and a team of volunteers for the duration of the trip, Destination Dreams gives families the chance to create happy holiday memories, often for the first time.
‘I would ask the local community to support us so that we can take more children like Samuel on the trip next year.’
To make a donation, go to caudwellchildren.com.