A MUM is abseiling 50ft down an Ilkley landmark to raise money for the children’s hospice that cares for her seriously ill son.

Samantha Phillips, 28, is taking part in Martin House Children’s Hospice’s Cow and Calf Abseil on Ilkley Moor in July.

Her four-year-old son Oakley has been receiving support from Martin House since he was about 18 months old.

Samantha said: “When Oakley was a baby, I realised he wasn’t reaching his milestones like my older children had. We saw a paediatrician when he was 13 months, and she said developmentally he was only at three months.

“He’s four-and-a-half now, but he’s still in the three to six month developmental range. He completely depends on me, he’s non-mobile, non-verbal, and he can’t eat so has to be tube fed. He’s not capable of doing anything for himself.”

Despite a battery of tests, doctors have been unable to diagnose Oakley’s condition, but have told Samantha and her partner Richard that it is life-limited.

Samantha added: “Initially the paediatrician thought he wouldn’t survive past 20, then after further tests, we were told he would probably live to between five and 10. At the end of 2019 we saw his neurologist, and they said we probably have no more than a couple of years. It’s hard to take that kind of information in.

“Every hospital admission is a step closer to the end. He’s been admitted three times in the last year, and ended up in ICU each time. We’ve had an end of life plan in place since he was two-and-a-half.

“Despite it all, he’s amazing. He’s always got a smile on his face. He’s the cheekiest, happiest boy and everyone who meets him falls in love with him. He goes to school at the moment, and he absolutely loves it. All his teachers say he’s the happiest, always smiling and always giggling.”

Samantha and her friend Zoe Hill started fundraising for Martin House in 2019, after the family started using the hospice, raising over £3,000 with a fun day and a sky dive.

She said: “With Oakley, we don’t know how much he understands or recognises, but when we come to Martin House his face lights up as soon as we go in. You can see how much he loves it there, and our other sons Taylor and Leo love it too.

“In the last year I have needed more support emotionally, because we’ve been shielding or in hospital, and I’ve been able to speak to someone at Martin House when I’ve needed it. They are there for us as a family.”

Martin House cares for babies, children and young people with life-limiting conditions from across West, North and East Yorkshire, as well as supporting their families. Its care includes planned respite, symptom control, end of life care and bereavement support.

Samantha and Zoe are both taking part in the abseil at Ilkley Moor on Saturday, July 17.

She added: “I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie, and the skydive was something I’d always wanted to do, so I thought if I’m going to do it, why not raise money for Martin House as well?

“We’d been planning to do another skydive, with things opening up again, but when I saw the abseil I decided I really needed to do it. Zoe’s a bit nervous about it, but I’m buzzing.”

The pair have both set £500 fundraising targets, and you can support Samantha at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ExtraordinaryOakley123. Places are still available to join the abseil – it costs £25 to sign up, and there is a fundraising target of £175. Find out more at www.martinhouse.org.uk/cowandcalf.