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Family of popular local pub landlord launch charity in his name

3 weeks ago

Family of popular local pub landlord launch charity in his name

The family of pub landlord Sam Mercer, who died following a leg operation aged just 35, have launched a charity in his name to support other people going through sudden loss.

Dad of three Sam ran The Volunteer Canteen in Waterloo, known as The Volly, and was a much-loved local community champion.

His death in February 2023, just days after an operation on his knee, left his parents and three brothers devastated and in shock.

Now they have officially launched the charity Sudden Sam to help others impacted by losing a loved one so unexpectedly.

Tom Hanlon, Sam’s younger brother, says the family feel passionately about giving people the support they need at what can be a very traumatic time.

He explains:

“Sam had a long-standing issue with his knee which got particularly bad in December 2022 so he went in for day surgery on Valentine’s Day 2023. We were going to his house to heat up food for him and my mum was there on the Friday, gave him his tea, kissed him on his forehead and said ‘love you’, and he said ‘love you ma.’ 

“We found him dead in his bed on the Sunday, five days after the operation.

“From the moment we found him, it’s been absolutely horrific. A whole multi-agency process started, involving the coroner, police because it was a sudden unexpected death, and the NHS. It was just endless and we didn’t know what to expect from one day to the next. 

“We very quickly realised that there’s no support for a sudden death, and it’s so traumatic because you’ve got the grief but you’ve also got the shock. He was there one day then next day he wasn’t. 

“There’s support for bereavement in a general sense but what we desperately needed was somebody to tell us what was going to happen because we’d just been thrown into the unknown.” 

Sam’s family set up Sudden Sam at the beginning of the year, with an official launch this week to coincide with what would have been his 37th birthday.

Tom says the charity has four main aims:

Emotional support tailored to the individual. “I found that there wasn’t much support for sibling loss. A lot of people would say, rightly so, ‘how’s your mum?’ and then it would stop there. Sibling loss can be quite isolating so we wanted to tailor the support to the particular type of bereavement.”

Financial support. “We were lucky to have savings but so many people don’t, and especially with sudden loss at a young age, there can be no life insurance because it isn’t always a priority when there’s a cost of living crisis.”

Practical guidance. “It’s about just being a friend to the people going through it and supporting them; explaining the process of an inquest and what’s going to come so their grief isn’t secondary.”

Community awareness. “Grief is awful, no matter what, but we want to educate people on the impact of sudden loss.”

Sudden Sam is in the early stages, but there’s been a huge positive response and the charity has already been able to provide talk therapy and practical guidance for people who’ve lost a loved one suddenly.

They’re in the process of trying to get premises for a permanent base, and the official launch event at Bootle Cricket Club raised more than £6,000 profit to help fund the services. The next goal is to add children’s support, with art and play therapy, after seeing the effects first hand of sudden grief on Sam’s own three young children.

Tom said:

“It still feels unreal that Sam isn’t here. The Volly was a community hub and he truly was a community champion in every way possible. He did everything he could to support local businesses, and he was even given a Lockdown Hero special award.

“The turnout at his funeral was absolutely breathtaking and showed the impact he had. In the speech I did at the launch night I said Sudden Sam has completely taken off and that’s all down to Sam, because he did all the hard work and created the relationships in the community, all that me and the trustees have done is tap into that. 

“People have got behind the charity because there is a big need for it but also it’s down to Sam’s legacy.”

You can donate to Sudden Sam here.

Find all the latest Liverpool news here.

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