SCORES of young people have created a shrine at a beauty spot in memory of their friend who lived to make others happy.
Sam Loader, 20, from Fitzhead, died suddenly at Lydeard Hill, on the Quantock Hills, a place he loved, on New Year’s Eve.
His distraught father Ian said he, his wife Jill and daughter Kathryn have been touched by the sheer volume of tribute messages they have received.
“His friends say they are going to miss him dreadfully,” said Mr Loader.
“They say how he just cared for other people.
“He had so much time for other people. We just wish he’d found the time to talk about his own problems.
“If anything good comes out of this, it will be that all of his friends become aware of the need to look out for each other.”
Sam, who was educated at Kingsmead Community School, Wiveliscombe, was an apprentice gardener and had been due to take his final exams this month, which he was expected to pass with flying colours.
He was a talented golfer who represented Somerset up to under 16 level and was a member of Oake Manor Golf Club.
“Since he was a boy, Sam could never stay still for any length of time,” added Mr Loader.
“He used to go out every day after work to see his friends. He just didn’t like being at home. He liked to be out and about doing things.
“He loved people. He just wanted to put a smile on people’s faces, to make them laugh. His smile is our abiding memory of him.
“And he loved animals. He would always down tools if he saw a cat or a dog and would avoid stepping on a snail.”
A Just Giving appeal which aimed to raise £200 towards funeral costs had already reached £5,715 by this morning, with donations from 310 people.
The extra money will be used to stage a celebration of Sam’s life once Covid restrictions are lifted, with any residue going to a charity for young people’s mental health issues.
Matthew Alvarez described Sam on Facebook as “an incredible person and an even better friend”.
He added: “You provided me with so many happy memories that I will cherish for a lifetime.
“You made everyone feel so welcome and loved all the time and that’s a trait very few are privileged to have.
“Your loss is a void that cannot be filled and your memory will last forever.”
Sam’s funeral is at St James’ Church, Fitzhead, on Friday week (January 15) at 2pm, with arrangements by Anthony James Funeral Director.
Friends have been gathering at Lydeard Hill to pay tribute to Sam and to comfort each other, laying a number of wreaths in his memory.
If you have been affected by this story you can call The Samaritans on 116 123 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org