Inspirational Denmead boy with life-threatening illnesses praised by Prince Harry at WellChild awards

HE's an inspirational boy who selflessly strives to help others despite battling life-threatening conditions.

Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th October 2016, 2:59 pm
Sam Merrick meets Prince Harry and presents him with Mr Monkey, a homemade teddy made from socks Picture: Antony Thompson - Thousand Word Media

Now eight-year-old Sam Merrick has been praised for his amazing dedication to others by Prince Harry at a ceremony celebrating the remarkable stories of seriously-ill children.

The Denmead Junior School pupil was lucky enough to meet the royal before being presented with an Inspirational Child award at a ceremony hosted by the children’s charity WellChild, of which Harry is a patron.

Despite suffering major immune, lung and bowel problems, brave Sam helps families going through similar problems through Sam’s Haven, the charity his family set up as a way of helping the community.

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His bravery inspired others to nominate him for a WellChild award, which he proudly picked up on stage along with other young people who received other prizes in recognition of their amazing spirit and courage.

Speaking to The News, Sam said his award was also a celebration of the work others like him do.

Sam’s Haven offers breaks away for families with children with serious illnesses.

Sam said: ‘Meeting Prince Harry was a dream come true. It was scary but felt amazing.

‘I feel really happy and proud, but this isn’t just about me.

‘It’s about a lot of the other people who help as well.’

His proud mum, Louise Merrick, 35, of Denmead, said: ‘Sam is an inspiration to others. Despite what he goes through, he knows there are a lot of people out there who rely on him to help raise money so they can go on a break.

‘Some days he is in pain, but he moves along and does his best because he knows what it means. Sam is the patron of Sam’s Haven; he has photos taken, people want to meet him. We are very proud of him.’

Speaking at last night’s ceremony, Prince Harry said: ‘This is now my ninth WellChild awards and each year at this remarkable event, I am profoundly moved by the people I have met and the stories they have shared with me.

‘It is one of those moments in life when you are left in awe at the strength of human character, particularly amongst those so young.

‘Watching these children and young people face challenges with such determination, positivity and good humour, never fails to take my breath away.’

Hosts for the night were Dick and Dom and Gaby Roslin and awards were presented by, among others, Sir Rod Stewart with his son Alastair, Ashley Banjo and Perri Kiely from Diversity, Olympic swimming legend Mark Foster and Ollie Locke and Spencer Matthews from reality TV show Made in Chelsea.

Sam Merrick has a remarkable tale of bravery.

Born prematurely, his parents were told he was extremely unlikely to survive, but against all odds he pulled though.

At 15 weeks and one day old, Sam was finally allowed to come home to join his family, which includes brothers Jordan, 15, Kiran, 11 and Liam, 10.

Over the years, Sam has endured endless trips to hospital since his birth because of a chronic lung disease and a rare immuno-deficiency disorder, which means his body’s ability to fight infectious diseases is compromised.