A SPECIAL youngster is on the verge of having his own dream sensory garden after a 24 hour snooker marathon raised roughly £3,000.

Nine-year-old Sam Elsbury, of Halstead, was diagnosed with autism when he was just two-and-a-half years old, and is completely non-verbal and struggles in social situations.

The youngster’s family noticed he is most at ease and happiest when playing in the sensory garden and outside space at his school, Edith Borthwick, in Braintree.

So Sam’s family and friends launched a bid to raise enough funds to build him his own sensory garden at home, and the £2,770 raised from family friends, John and Aidan Theedom’s snooker marathon, with more to be added, is a huge step in the right direction.

John said: “It was an incredible day, and an incredible achievement, both in terms of the money we raised and completing the challenge.

“We’ve surpassed our original target, by quite a bit, which is fantastic, and I think it will make a huge difference to Sam.

“Sam spent quite a lot of time with us during the challenge, he was a real star. Situations like that are difficult for him so it was pleasing to see him there smiling.”

John and his nephew Aidan spent from 6pm on Friday, to 6pm on Saturday facing off against 24 different pairs at Halstead’s Royal British Legion.

Sam’s cause has proved popular, with other residents joining the fundraising bid, including Daniel Smith, who ran ten marathons in ten days, as well as Spencer’s Farm hosting a family fun day.

And the pair were humbled by the support they received throughout the community, with residents passing in and out throughout the 24-hour spell.

John added: “We had great support, people were walking in from the street and chucking some money in the bucket.

“The kindness is very humbling, people rallying around a youngster is fantastic.

“Leading up to the event, people would stop me in the street and just give me money, it shows the community spirit we have in the town.

“It does bring a tear to your eye.”

With the final figure still be calculated, John alongside Sam’s parents are going to devise a plan for the perfect sensory garden for the youngster.

To boost their final total, visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/sams sensorygarden