Brave 11-year-old Sam wins Wellchild photography award

AN 11-year-old has put himself in the picture after being honoured in a photographic competition that shines a light on young pe0ople who are living with serious health conditions.

Thursday, 24th October 2019, 6:47 pm
Samuel Merrick - Drowning On Dry Land

Sam Merrick, of Denmead, came second in the ‘WellChild My Life Through a Lens’ photography competition for his picture Drowning on Dry Land.

It shows Sam doing the peace sign while underwater in a hot tub to illustrate the problems he has breathing, which impressed the judges including photographer Rankin. 

The photograph will be displayed with the other winning pictures at Christie’s auction house in London on Monday, alongside work by over 40 of the world’s top contemporary artists including Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley, Rankin and Anish Kapoor.

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11-year-old Samuel Merrick

It has been added to a silent auction to raise money for the charity. Bids can be placed here

The winning photos were also on display at a private reception at this year’s WellChild Awards, which was attended by WellChild patron HRH The Duke of Sussex and the Duchess of Sussex.

‘When my mum told me about the photo competition, we sat down and thought of lots of ideas but decided to focus on my lungs as they are the worst part of my illnesses,’ said Sam. ‘I said it feels like my lungs have water on them, like if I swallowed a load of water and it went onto my lungs instead of into my tummy. We came up with an underwater shot in the hot tub, which I liked as I got to play too. I decided to do the peace sign and smile as being poorly isn't sad.’

Sam was also a winner in the 2016 WellChild Awards for his charity fundraising and cheerful attitude to the significant health needs he has to cope with having been born prematurely at 26 weeks. The list of challenges facing Sam include chronic lung disease, an immune deficiency, being fed through a tube and breathing via a ventilator.

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Brave Sam Merrick wins WellChild award

He and his family set up Sam's Haven, which is a charity that provides free respite breaks for children with similar health problems.

 The photo competition, sponsored by Venture Photography, was open to young people between the ages of five to 24 from across the UK who are connected to WellChild, either as a previous WellChild Award winner, or whose parents are members of the WellChild Family Tree.

 WellChild chief executive Colin Dyer said: ‘Well done to Sam on his fantastic photo, we look forward to seeing it take pride of place at Christie’s alongside some of the biggest names from the contemporary art world. This remarkable collection of photographs is an illuminating window into the reality of life for a growing population of young people who are living longer lives with serious and complex health conditions. In a world where support is often sorely lacking for them and their families, the work of WellChild in giving these young people the chance to flourish is more important than ever.’

 The photography competition forms part of the WellChild Helping Hands Art Auction which will take place at Christie’s in London on October 28 when a unique collection of contemporary art, donated and in some cases created by over 40 of the world’s leading artists, will be auctioned to raise money for WellChild’s work supporting seriously ill children and their families.

 Through its national network of children’s nurses, home and garden transformation projects and family support services, WellChild gives children and young people with serious health needs the best chance to thrive, properly supported at home with their families.