A BRAVE youngster born with four life-threatening heart conditions saw one of his dreams come true after visiting and watching police officers train police dogs.

Samuel Bethell, seven, was wowed as he visited Essex Police's Dog Section with his family

Samuel, from Feering, had undergone three open heart surgeries by the time he was four.

His mum Victoria Gibson says doctors have told the family the likelihood of him reaching his 10th birthday is slim.

She said: “We sat down and told him and he just took it in his stride.

“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 but he’s got quite a lot of other wishes, too.”

One of Samuel’s friends is the son of an Essex Police officer and when she heard of his wish to meet animals, she arranged for him to visit the Dog Section in Sandon.

On Sunday, Samuel went along with his mum, his dad Rick and sisters Daisy, 11, and Betsy, six, to meet some police dogs and see them training.

After first having a tour of a police car he met a couple of Essex Police's new puppies and watch PC Ross Ashcroft and Armour, Sgt Jamie Edwards and Diesel and PC Mark Rickwood and Hugo run through training exercises.

Victoria added: "The kids absolutely loved it. They were shown around the cars and met the dogs.

“Samuel was absolutely amazed. He was shocked by how big the Alsatians are and remarked on their pointy teeth.

"He said to me ‘I’m going to be a really good boy, Mummy, so they don’t have to come for me’.

“We also watched two of the puppies who are brothers running around the field and Samuel said it was like him and Betsy playing.

“We had a really good time, thanks to the dogs and their handlers.”

Dog Section Sergeant Paul Screech said: “It was lovely to meet the family and help Samuel achieve one of his wishes of meeting as many animals as possible.

"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.

"They even played hide and seek with Police Diesel.”

Victoria was 22 weeks pregnant when she was told Samuel had four life-threatening heard conditions and, initially, doctors told her he might not survive birth and, if he did, he might only live for 20 minutes.

However, Samuel proved he was a fighter and had his first open-heart surgery at just six days old, with another two operations by the time he was four.

Victoria said: "He’s been through a hell of a lot already but you wouldn’t know there was anything wrong with him.

“He’s just a normal, bubbly seven-year-old boy who wants to play with his friends all the time. We have to tell him to stop because we know before he does that he’s getting tired.

“He’s like a bagful of beans – he just won’t stop. It’s why he got on with the police dogs so well. He and Betsy tried to chase them but, of course, the dogs were faster than they were.”

As well as raising money to pay for 'Samuel’s Last Crusade' to Samuel realise as many of his wishes as possible, Victoria, Rick and Samuel’s nan Sue are planning to join a charity Walkie Talkie Tower Climb to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital, which has done so much for Samuel.

To donate, visit gofundme.com/f/samuels-last-crusademaking-his-wishes-come-true.