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APPEAL LAUNCHED IN MEMORY OF TEENAGER SAM

Devon parents Nicky and Nick Allen are spearheading a fundraising campaign – Sam’s Legacy – in memory of their teenage son who died this summer. Sam’s Legacy will help other disabled and terminally ill children in Devon get the specialist equipment they need to enable them to leave hospital, prolong lives, keep them mobile, safe and comfortable and support them in spending quality time with their friends and families. 

To view the family’s story, go to: https://youtu.be/UTIBW_jhj0c

The parents of an inspirational teenager who died this summer have paid tribute to their ‘popular, generous and brave’ son – and have launched an appeal to help other families of disabled and terminally ill children in Devon.

Sam Allen, from Hemyock, passed away peacefully on June 11 at the age of 18 after courageously battling cancer for nearly four years.

During his final months the teenager was given a mobility scooter by leading charity Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children to increase his independence and allow him to spend more quality time with his friends.

Now parents Nicky and Nick are helping Newlife launch an appeal in Sam’s name to help provide essential equipment to make a real difference to the lives of other disabled and terminally ill children in Devon. The leading UK children’s disability charity needs £40,000 a year so it can continue to support families in the county through its range of equipment provision services.

For more information about ‘Sam’s Legacy’, go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/sam

Popular Sam, who studied child care at Somerset College of Art and Technology, was first diagnosed with bone cancer when he was 14. After chemotherapy treatment failed, Sam underwent an operation to have his left leg amputated above the knee.

He remained cancer free until March 2012 when a routine scan found a tumour on his lung, which was removed through successful chemotherapy treatment and surgery. However, the cancer was to return twice more in October 2013 which was treated with surgery to remove the tumour and then again in January this year, when Sam could feel severe pain in his joints.

A tumour was again discovered on his lung, with doctors confirming its size meant nothing more could be done.

With Sam getting weaker, parents Nicky and Nick contacted Newlife Foundation to ask for help in providing a mobility scooter so he could still get around and spend time with his friends, enjoying his final months.

The equipment was provided through Newlife’s Just Can’t Wait service which aims to deliver emergency equipment including wheelchairs, buggies, beds and seating to the homes of life-limited and terminally ill children within 72 hours.

Sam’s mum Nicky Allen said: “Sam was the type of person who just loved being around people. He was so friendly and sociable and was at his happiest when he was surrounded by friends and family.

“We have a really big family and live in a wonderful community-spirited village, but it wasn’t until Sam passed that we realised just how popular he was. Over 300 people came to his funeral and we have had hundreds and hundreds of cards.

“He really was an amazing young man who is missed by so many people.”

The equipment provided by Newlife gave Sam some of his independence back. Nicky said: “The scooter was absolutely amazing. Once we applied, it was with us within a few days.

“Sam was using it within an hour of its arrival and the grin on his face was worth millions to us. The independence it gave him was immense. All the things other people take for granted were suddenly given back to him.”

And having the scooter meant Sam could play a greater part in family life again. Nicky said: “Sam was a very helpful person and the scooter enabled him to do simple things like go to the Post Office to post a letter for me.

“The main thing was that he was able to drive over to see his friends and move about the shops. He loved buying DVDs of films and television shows. The scooter meant he could browse the aisles and wouldn’t have to keep asking the person with him to move him a few feet here and there. He could browse as he wished.”

The scooter also enabled ‘outdoorsy’ Sam to enjoy walks with his family including dad Nick, brother Josh and sisters Lauryn and Kasey.

“He absolutely loved being outside so it was great when we could all go out for walks together as a family,” Nicky said. “It was also great that I could walk beside Sam and talk to him rather than having to push him in his wheelchair where he couldn’t see me.

“Sam was 17 when we were told there was no more that could be done for him so he went from being a relatively independent young man to being totally dependent on someone pushing him around.

“Having the scooter gave him back some of his independence, privacy and dignity. It gave him a level of control over where he went, something we couldn’t give him. I suppose in a nutshell it made him feel more normal.”

Sam was a very active member of his local community, spending a large part of his teenage years with Hemyock 1st Scouts. He was also a keen volunteer and worked with both children and teenagers through Hemyock Baptist Church. The teenager also fundraised for local hospices which, later in life, became a source of support for him and his family.

Like Sam, Newlife is passionate about helping disabled and terminally ill children in Devon and as a result the charity is working with his family to continue his wonderful work through ‘Sam’s Legacy’.

Nicky said Sam always remained positive and upbeat, despite being diagnosed with cancer four times. “He really was a true inspiration.

“All the way through his illness he was extremely positive, even more so when he knew there was no more that could be done, which is amazing really.

“Everyone said what a remarkable young man he was and how inspiring it was to be around him. With everything that was going on he was still fantastic company.”

Two weeks after his death, staff at Somerset College of Art and Technology commended Sam for his bravery as he often went to class in the morning before heading off for chemotherapy treatment in the afternoons. “The award was given to Sam for overcoming challenges and for the sheer bravery he had showed,” Nicky said.

“He was determined the cancer wouldn’t get in the way of his studies so whenever he could he would go to college in the morning and then go for chemotherapy in the afternoon.

“He was a second year student studying child care and that would have been the perfect career for him.”

Carrick Brown, loan services manager for Newlife Foundation’s Just Can’t Wait service, said: “It has been lovely to hear of the positive difference made to Sam as a result of providing the powered scooter – and the positive memories that Sam’s family and friends have because we were able to empower this inspirational young man.

“The strength of  Sam’s friends, family and community, who have kindly shared their personal memories, has the potential to help raise awareness of our services to other families with terminally ill children, and also raise funds in Sam’s memoriam.”

Pictured: Sam

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