Police dogs help make poorly boy's dream come true

Samuel Bethell

A seven-year-old boy from Essex who has a serious heart condition has ticked another wish off his bucket list with the help of the local police dog handling team.

Samuel Bethell underwent three open heart surgeries by the time he was four years old and his mum, Victoria Gibson, has been told by doctors that the likelihood of him reaching his 10th birthday is slim.

The family decided to make the most of the time they have together and they asked Samuel what he wanted to do.

“We started to make a list, called it his Wish List and started fundraising for it. One of them was to meet every animal on the planet,” said Ms Gibson.

When the dog section in Sandon heard, they made a special effort to help him with that wish.

Samuel and his family meeting one of the dogs at Sandon Credit: Essex Police

Samuel with his mum, his dad Rick and sisters Daisy, 11, and Betsy, six, were invited to Sandon to meet the police dogs and see them training.

They met two police puppies, watched them run through some basic exercises and also sat in a police car and sounded the siren.

"It was lovely to meet the family and help Samuel achieve one of his wishes of meeting as many animals as possible," said Sgt Paul Screech.

"I think the highlight of the visit for Samuel was getting to meet and walk trainee police dog Aldo and trainee police dog Dakota, two energetic Labradors," he added.

PC Mark Rickwood and PD Hugo with Betsy, Samuel and Daisy Bethel, their mum Victoria Gibson and dad Rick Bethell Credit: Essex Police

Ms Gibson was 22 weeks pregnant when she was told Samuel had four life-threatening heart conditions and initially doctors told her he might not survive birth.

“He’s been through a hell of a lot already but you wouldn’t know there was anything wrong with him,” she said.

As well as fundraising for Samuel's wish list, the family are also helping to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital, which has supported him.